Throughout the last few years, I have started to notice that in every grocery store I visit, there are more and more vegan products available. My first impression of the new dietary lifestyle was that it was a cousin of a vegetarian lifestyle — similar… but not quite the same. However, I have always been curious as to what vegans eat and why people choose to eat this way. This article will serve as a beginner guide to better understanding what a vegan lifestyle entails.
What It Means to be Vegan
The word ‘vegan’ is far more significant than just a symbol on food products at your local market. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines veganism as “a strict vegetarian who consumes no food (such as meat, eggs, or dairy products) that comes from animals.” In fact, being vegan is more of a lifestyle change than a dietary choice, because a vegan person will turn away from any type of product created with animal origin in it. This means avoiding products with animal origin in clothing, footwear, accessories, toiletries, household items, and products tested on animals. It is truly an animal product-free lifestyle.
Sources of Protein
It can be challenging to discover high vegan sources of protein. Some of my favorites include:
Foods Vegans Typically Avoid
As noted previously, a person adapting to a vegan lifestyle avoids all foods of animal origin. These include, but are not limited to:
Since vegans don’t eat any animal products, red and white meats, fish, eggs, or dairy and insect products, such as honey are not included in their daily diet. Vegans are more likely to pack their diet with a wide range of mindful, foods high in vegetable protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, and good fats. These include fresh fruit and vegetables, peas, beans and lentils, whole grain kinds of pasta, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices.
Transitioning to Vegan
If you are one of the many people interested in learning more about adapting to a vegan lifestyle but are unsure of the proper steps to take, know that this transition does not have to be a difficult one. Remember that going vegan is a learning curve. While quitting your typical diet cold turkey is a passionate and dedicated approach, it may not be the most practical one for you.
If you do not necessarily adapt well to an overnight lifestyle change as I do, there are other ways to ease yourself into joining the vegan club slowly. Start by searching your local grocery store for protein substitutes and adjusting your weekly grocery list to incorporate more of these foods. Then, make it a goal to replace one meal each day (or every other day) with these proteins and ingredients. Start doing some recipe research in your free time; either in your local book store or on Pinterest boards to discover which recipes you’d crave and how to cook these new and somewhat foreign protein replacements.
Easing into a new lifestyle choice is nothing to be ashamed of, and quite frankly, cravings for fresh foods don’t always develop overnight. Make it your goal to establish more vegan lifestyle choices at a pace that is comfortable for you.
Types of Veganism
Within the vegan lifestyle, there are several different adaptations. Healthline shares a few examples:
Dietary vegans: You can become a vegan through just your diet alone because veganism was initially defined in nutritional terms. In fact, dietary vegans are those who choose to avoid products of animal origin in their diet but continue to use them in other everyday products, such as clothing, hygienic products, and cosmetics.
Whole-food vegans: This refers to Vegans who develop their diet to include dishes rich in whole foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and seeds.
Low-fat, raw-food vegans: This refers to a subgroup of “raw vegans” that choose to limit their consumption of high-fat foods, including nuts, avocados, and coconuts. This type of veganism relies mainly on fruit and small amounts of other varieties of plants.
Treat your taste buds to new vegan foods and different flavors! There are thousands of vegan recipes out there. During this culinary journey, you’ll encounter delicious new recipes and exciting variations on your all-time childhood favorites. You may be surprised by the number of dishes you can prepare for things already in your pantry.
Tofu Benny with Hollandaise
If you are looking to spice up your Sunday brunch, this Tofu Benny with Hollandaise sauce from Hot for Food Blog is your recipe for success. There are several ingredients necessary to create this culinary masterpiece. The tofu benny requires:
- 1 pkg of smoked tofu
- 2 tsp coconut oil
- 5-6 C baby spinach
- 4 tomato slices
- 2 vegan whole wheat English muffins
You will want to start by cutting the brick of smoked tofu into quarters. Then heat a pan over medium heat, add the coconut oil, and fry the smoked tofu on either side until lightly browned or crisp and heated through. Remove the tofu from the pan, and add the spinach. Sauté it for a few minutes until wilted and cooked through, but still bright green in color. Toast your English muffins while you’re frying the tofu and spinach. Then assemble your tofu benny by placing the tofu and spinach on top of your toasted English muffins.
Now that you have created a serving of tofu benny, you’ll need to top it off with The Hot for Food blog’s secret sauce. Some ingredients you will need to make a delicious batch of hollandaise sauce include:
- 1/2 C sliced raw almonds
- 1/2 C unsweetened almond or soy milk (can also sub water)
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
- 1/2 tsp ground mustard
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp white pepper
Combine the ingredients listed above into a large bowl and mixing on high until the mixture is creamy and smooth. Once your sauce is thoroughly blended, pour into a large pot and heat over the stove for several minutes to warm before serving. Be sure to wait until your tofu is almost finished before heating, as overheating the batter will make the sauce thick.