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“I Couldn’t Eat Vegan – or Could I”?

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Are you one of those people who really can’t imagine eating vegetarian, much less vegan?  You may be closer to eating a plant based/vegan diet than you think!  That’s because much of the food you now eat is already vegan, or could easily be made vegan.  Let’s take a look.

Breakfast!  Do you eat cooked grains (such as oatmeal)?  Waffles?  Toast, fruit, or smoothies?  These are all easily made (or ordered) vegan.  Just don’t use eggs or dairy (remember that most butter and cheese are dairy).  Eggs are not needed to make pancakes, omeletes, french toast or even quiche and it is easy to replace the dairy in many breakfast foods by using plant-based butters and milks (like oat, almond or cashew).   Make sure there’s no “whey”, as that is the most prevalent protein in dairy.  Breakfast burritos?  Make them with veg refried beans, black beans, potatoes, cooked grains, your favorite accompanying veggies (tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, avocados – all familiar, right?) and your favorite salsa.  Wrap it all in a corn tortilla or a whole grain tortilla (check to insure there’s no lard, especially if using white flour tortillas), and life is good, indeed!

Now on to lunch.  That same burrito just mentioned for breakfast could easily become lunch with the same ingredients – or turn it into soft or hard tacos!  There are also a myriad of sandwiches to explore!  Check the bread (again, watch for whey or nonfat dairy solids), and cover the bread with hummus, mashed beans of all kinds, avocados, tomatoes, lettuce, thin slices of zucchini or summer squash, cucumbers, olives, pickles and more.  There are many “mock meats” that are great on sandwiches as well as vegan cheeses.  There are veggie rich salads. What about mayo?  There are “Nayonnaise” and “Just Mayo” brands and you can also make your own.  Mustards are almost always vegan as is catsup.  There are many vegan hot dogs and veggie burgers available commecially or make your own – what about a black bean & walnut or good burge r?   And, you can eat peanut butter and jelly, jam or bananas in any vegetarian or vegan diet.  Haven’t explored other nut butters?  Try cashew butter or almond butter and you may never go back to the familiar peanut variety!

Don’t want sandwiches?  There are numerous soups and stews that are quite filling (try vegan green chile or bean & pasta brocolli or zucchini soup.  Check the broth to ensure that it is not chicken or beef based.  Make a big batch on the weekend and freeze in one-serving containers for taking to lunch or for quick dinners.

Want a more substantial hot meal?  For most people, this means dinner.  Feel free to eat that at lunch (as we often do) and a lighter meal in the evening.  There are endless versions of stir fries and so many sauces to explore!  Eat them over a variety of grains including brown rice (we love Basmati brown), quinoa, bulgur, noodles galore (Italian and Asian).  There are tomato sauces (like marinara), peanut sauces, curries, gravies (like cashew and southern gravy).  And we often serve varieties of stews over various grains.

What about snacks?  The obvious and easy snack food is fruit of all kinds!  This includes bananas, apples, oranges and more.  There are also veggie sticks and dips such as salsa, hummus, or tofu bites (so easy to make and unlimited coatings and dipping sauces).  Nuts of all kinds.  And not that we are promoting them as a healthy way to eat (they are not), but many chips are vegan also.  And my fav, guacamole!  And how could we forget veggie sushi!

Did you think we missed desserts?  There are serious vegan chocolates (yes, I eat one every night and lick my fingers clean), and more amazing vegan desserts than you can ever imagine.  We are not talking just pristine fruit (although that’s a fabulous option; can you say “mango”?) but desserts ranging from frozen buy-it-in-the-store “ice creams” and some pies, to simple-fast-and-easy confections that you can make and people will drool with delight (like Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups!)

Looking for great recipes that have been tried and tested?  We can make it easy for you!  Simply click on “ The Vault” at VegansEatWhat.com.    If you’re looking for something that you don’t find there, let us know.  You might be surprised at the treasures that await you…..

Justina holds a law degree from the University of Denver and a certificate in Plant Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies at eCornell.  She has eaten a vegan diet since 1990 and steered a local vegetarian group since 1998. Justina serves on the the board of VegansEatWhat.com. and is devoted to teaching and educating people about the many benefits of plant-based diets.

**The photo in this blog was created by VeganStreet.com, a great resource for information on plant-based/vegan diets and lifestyles.

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Author: Justina Walls