The most frequently asked questions I receive are about my vegan diet. I know not everyone agrees with the lifestyle and it’s been known to make people very defensive about their own nutrition and food choices, so please keep in mind I’m writing this for those who are interested and who have asked about it. I’m not trying to make any enemies, talk down to those who eat meat or win over any converts! Eat what you want, yo, and I’ll do the same.
(We’re annoying, I get it.)
With the disclaimer out of the way, let’s do this thang.
It’s not just about weight loss
I’ve been eating a plant-based diet for a little over a year now. You guys know I’ve had a lot of success with it as far as weight loss goes, and as much as that was a selling point for me back then, it has become way more about the nutrition. Having to eat more fruits and vegetables was a huge challenge at first. HUGE. I was never a big meal eater to begin with (I should belong to Snackaholics Anonymous) and all of a sudden I had to fit in all these servings of stuff I didn’t really enjoy eating. I was not diggin’ it. When I realized vegans eat more than just lettuce and carrot sticks, things changed big time.
Also, so much of what you eat and why you’re eating it is mental. I know I snack like crazy when I’m stressed out and I don’t eat at all when I’m depressed. I would go for comforting, heavy, fattening foods to satisfy myself and just keep eating and eating without even considering what damage it was doing to my body and mind. I’m not trying to be all hippy kale goddess, but it’s true! You’ll notice when you start filling yourself with whole foods, you will not only start dropping weight, but you’ll start breaking free of those mind games food was playing with you. You’re truly going to feel better in every way.
You won’t be deprived of the yummy stuff
Okay, If you’re going to do this, don’t go into it being all depressed that you’re depriving yourself of all the foods you love. You’re not going to die, I promise. There are SO many healthy alternatives and meat free/dairy free substitutions for your favorite dishes, it’s just going to take a little bit of thinking and effort on your part to learn what to eat and most importantly, WHY you’re eating it. That’s the key to sticking with this long term.
It’s not about dousing everything in ranch dressing or melted cheese anymore (though there are amazing recipes for non-dairy ranch dressing and cheese sauces, Google it)… it’s about making a serious effort to change your health and letting go of the hold unhealthy food has on you. I’m still working on that too, don’t get me wrong. When my period is coming, all I want is nasty gas station nachos with jalapenos.
It just takes time and dedication. And you have to want to do this.
You will be harassed about protein
Read about how vegans absolutely do get enough protein and read it from unbiased sources, please. It’s the most frequently asked question you will receive and you will be treated like you are an idiot for not considering the all-hailed “complete animal proteins”. Protein is in almost everything we eat, if we’re eating the right way. I am not withering away and neither will you, I promise! Sorry to be defensive about this.
But really, I should show you my muscles. I could win a fight with a cow right now.
Also important: B-12.
Do your nutritional research so you’re ready for these conversations! You don’t want to be caught with your pants down. Unless you’re into that sort of thing.
Okay, Dr. Phil wannabe over here is stepping down from the stage. On to the fun and much less boring stuff…
In My Pantry
These are staples I always have on hand. I didn’t know what half of these things were when I started, but now I can’t live without them and they’re essential in making those alternative dishes I was talking about.
Note: I buy and eat plenty of other things as well. Be sure you’re eating a well-rounded and varied diet of fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, whole grains, nuts, seeds and legumes.
- Raw almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds
- Black beans and garbanzo beans
- Nut butters – cashew butter, almond butter and sunflower seed butter… all fabulous
- Coconut oil
- Nutritional yeast – NOT Brewer’s Yeast. I know it sounds disgusto, but it’s great stuff
- Agave nectar
- Dates (for a natural sweetener)
- Whole wheat pasta
- Whole wheat pita bread – great for veggie sandwiches and for dipping
- Kale – for my favorite kale chips
- Hummus & Pita chips/veggie sticks
- Edamame – from the freezer section at Trader Joe’s
- Frozen bananas – When bananas just start turning brown and I don’t have time to eat them, I break them in half, throw them in plastic baggies and freeze them. These are a great base for non-dairy ice cream and to toss in smoothies.
Oh She Glows – Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Blizzard (THE BEST. And made with frozen bananas!)
Non dairy alternatives:
- Almond Breeze Almond Milk
- Tofutti Better than Sour Cream (they have a cream cheese too)
- Ghirardelli semi sweet chocolate chips are accidentally vegan
- As are… OREOS!
Tips for eating in restaurants
Some of these might be “DUH” to you, but I’ve been stuck and confused in restaurants too many times to not include this.
- Look up the menu online beforehand. It helps to be prepared before you walk in there.
- Don’t be afraid to ask them to leave the chicken/shrimp/cheese off the salads.
- Vinegar-based dressings are your BFF
- Substitute! If you don’t want the side of mac and cheese or mashed potatoes and gravy, opt for steamed veggies or a baked potato.
- Minestrone soup plus a side salad is perfect for lunch
- Veggie sandwiches usually come with cream cheese, so just have them leave it off and use mustard, oil/vinegar or whatever condiment you prefer.
- Pasta with marinara sauce, leave off the parmesan cheese
- Get the veggie burger
- If all else fails and you’re out of options, eat the stupid thing. No one’s perfect!
Sources for great recipes
Carrie On Vegan
Oh She Glows
Healthy Happy Life
Amy’s Nutritarian Kitchen
FatFree Vegan Kitchen
Healthy Bitch Daily
Search Pinterest as well!
Hopefully I answered some questions for you in this novel of a post. If you all have anything else to ask or add, feel free to do so in the comments.