You’re probably familiar with the rules of being a vegetarian: no meat, fish or poultry. But what are the rules of veganism? Vegans are a more extreme form of vegetarian; those following this diet don’t eat any meat, fish or poultry, but also abstain from all other animal products or byproducts. This includes everything from honey to eggs to dairy products to even materials such as wool and leather. You’d be surprised what ingredients are in many of your favorite foods that aren’t technically vegan! Although there is much to be said about the lifestyle revolving around veganism and what products are and are not okay to purchase, we’ll be sticking mainly to the dietary part of being a vegan.
Ready to learn more about switching over to a vegan diet? Udemy’s course on vegan cooking will teach you tons of easy and delicious vegan recipes that will please even the most hardcore meat eater!
Why Go Vegan?
Many people choose to go vegan due to ethical reasons. Many animals raised on factory farms are treated poorly and have to live in harsh conditions, so many vegans believe that if you’re not eating their meat you shouldn’t eat any of their byproducts either. Even if you’re not directly eating the meat, you’re still supporting the industry. Once many dairy cows or chickens are too old to create milk or eggs, they are often sold as meat.
How to Stay Healthy
I’ve been a vegetarian for countless numbers of years, and surprisingly, not many people interrogate me on where I get my nutrients from. This all changed a couple of years ago when I decided to go vegan for the summer just to try it out. Every time I mentioned the word ‘vegan’, people would stare at me in disbelief and say, “so, you’re just eating lettuce? and fruit?” As if all vegans eat are lettuce and fruit. I promise this is not the case!! A vegan diet doesn’t have to be boring, it just requires a little bit of creativity. Vegans get their protein from a lot of the same sources vegetarians do – beans, spinach, nuts, hemp seeds, etc – while they can get their necessary B12 vitamins through nutritional yeast (more on that later). With a diet low in processed foods and high in fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds, it’s hard not to be healthy!
Alright, your vegan breakfast is not going to consist of eggs and bacon, sorry! But that doesn’t mean it can’t still be delicious. During my three months of veganism I swore on scrambled tofu. I know it sounds strange, but everyone I got to taste it was delightfully surprised. The best part is that it never has to be the same. You can switch up the spices and veggies you add to it every day to create something entirely new based on what you have on hand! Another good part – I never really used a true recipe. It all depends on how hungry you are, what ratio of tofu to veggies you desire, etc. I’ll let you in on my favorite combination.
Extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil
Extra firm tofu
Red bell peppers
(all ingredients and amounts are up to your discretion! I usually based my recipe off of 1/3 block of tofu)
- Heat oil in a pan over medium heat – 2 tsp should be fine. Chop up the veggies you’re using and throw them into the pan with the oil. Cook until almost completely sautéed. While cooking the vegetables, begin draining the tofu of water.
- If you don’t drain some of the water out of the tofu, it won’t cook properly. To do this, I’d wrap my block of tofu in a couple of paper towels and set a heavy plate on top of it for 10-15 minutes, changing the paper towels halfway through if necessary. After the 10-15 minutes are up, remove the tofu from the paper towels and crumble it into the pan with your sautéed veggies. Crumbling it up already makes it look like scrambled eggs!
- The tofu doesn’t really need to be cooked, so you’re really just heating it up and crisping it to your liking. During this time, you’ll add the black salt (which is a bit smokier than regular salt), pepper, nutritional yeast (which adds a cheesy, slightly nutty flavor), turmeric (which turns it the color of scrambled eggs), and cayenne pepper.
I know you don’t want me to say salad, so no worries, I won’t. Since so many people need a quick, grab-and-go lunch, this is a simple, delicious sandwich that doesn’t require any use of the stove or oven!
2 slices of pumpernickel bread (or bread of choice)
2-3 slices tomato
2 tbsp of your favorite hummus
4 slices cucumber
1 tbsp diced red onion
1 leaf romaine lettuce
A fingerful of sprouts!
Italian herbs (optional)
- Toast the two slices of pumpernickel bread, because sandwiches are much better when toasted.
- On one piece of bread, spread out the hummus. On the other piece of bread, spread out the avocado.
- On top of the hummus, place the tomato slices, then the cucumber slices, then the onion, then the lettuce, then the sprouts. Top with the piece of bread with avocado. *optional* Put a dash of italian herbs on the top of your sandwich right before closing it up.
- Enjoy! If you don’t mind spending the extra cash, your local supermarket will sell vegan meat slices that you can add onto your sandwich to make it seem more hearty.
While this meal will make use of your oven, there’s hardly any prep time involved! While there are tons of different recipes for Buddha bowls out there, they tend to feature a combination of grains, vegetables and a delicious sauce. Want to save even more time? Make a big batch of your favorite grain (or pseudo grain) at the beginning of the week. This way, you can grab small portions of it for meals throughout the week.
Roasted Buddha Bowl
1/2 cup dry quinoa
1-2 cups chopped veggies of choice (I love broccoli, carrots, red onion, sweet potato and arugula)
sea salt & black pepper
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic – minced
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together broccoli, carrots, onion, sweet potato, salt, pepper, garlic and olive oil. Transfer to a baking sheet and roast for approximately 40 minutes, until sweet potato and carrots are tender.
- While veggies are roasting, heat one cup of water to a boil. Add in dry quinoa, then reduce heat to low and simmer until finished cooking – approximately 15-20 minutes.
- Once everything is finished, add roasted veggies on top of quinoa, add your arugula on top, and finish off with your vegan dressing of choice!
With all of those veggies and grains in your diet, I bet you’ll be itching for something sweet and savory! Being vegan doesn’t mean you have to cut out all of your favorite snacks. Try this simple recipe to make everyone’s favorite: a delicious milkshake.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Milk Shake
2 large frozen bananas
2 tbsp peanut butter (or other nut butter of choice)
1 tsp cacao powder
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup vanilla almond milk (or more, depending on how much liquid your blender needs)
cacao nibs (optional)
- Blend all ingredients together in a blender, and enjoy! Sprinkle finished shake with cacao nibs if desired.
Want to learn more about making desserts from cacao? Udemy’s got you covered.
Give it a Shot!
Going vegan doesn’t mean you have to give up everything you’ve ever loved to eat. There are plenty of vegan recipes for almost all of your favorite meals, as well as new foods that you may never have tried while eating meat! Don’t let yourself be dissuaded by thoughts of eating raw lettuce and carrots; there are plenty of interesting, delicious vegan meals just waiting for you to try them. If you can’t commit to going vegan for good, try living by this diet at least once a week. Every little bit counts!