How I Make it Easy: My Vegan Diet
Most of us hear "vegan diet" and think deprivation. That's because vegans are usually defined by what they don't eat: No meat, dairy, eggs or other animal products, like honey. But vegan food can be delicious, varied and very satisfying. Ask 25-year-old Jessica Olson (pictured left), a self-described "Domestic Vegan" (see her blog) from Minneapolis, Minn. Her healthy diet is anything but restrictive or bland-and she doesn't spend her life hungry or attached to the stove, either. Since she's been eating vegan-about three years-Jessica says her skin is clearer, her energy is up, and her digestion is more efficient than ever before. The best benefit: "I feel really joyful." Check out how Jessica made "going veg" work for her:
Vegan Diet: My Go-To Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
A smoothie. It keeps me full for hours. I blend almond milk, any kind of fruit, and ground flaxseeds or some hemp powder to really pack a big protein punch. You don't need milk in a smoothie for creaminess: Add a frozen banana instead.
A giant salad with all the trimmings. Not boring diet food! I love this tomato, corn and lettuce salad. But you can just start with whatever greens you like and add whatever veggies you have on hand (don't forget about roasted or grilled vegetables). I add a protein (marinated and baked tofu, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, or chickpeas...) and finish with a creamy, cashew-based dressing.
Coconut milk curry. That's my current favorite, and it has tons of veggies, rice noodles, and sauteed seitan (a wheat-based protein substitute). Or I cook a three-bean chili topped with cubed avocado in under 30 minutes. Steal my recipe here.
Vegan Diet: How I Shop and Cook
Shopping is easy: I often shop at Whole Foods but even places like Target are now selling things like hemp milk and vegan (nondairy) ice cream.
I don't spend any more time cooking than a non-vegan; I just cook different things. When I am tired or hungry at the end of a long day, I whip up a stir-fry or soup in no time. I also like to marinate and bake tofu for sandwiches, salads, and snacks. My must-have kitchen gadget is a blender! I use mine at least once a day for smoothies, hummus, soup, salad dressings, or even homemade nut butters.
Vegan Diet: Making Eating Out Easy
When I'm stuck at a restaurant with no clear-cut vegan options, I zero in on soups and salads, since those are usually plant-based. I ask whether the soup is made with vegetable broth (sometimes vegetable soup isn't). If so, I get it and order a side salad and vinaigrette. If I'm really hungry, I may order a baked potato and drizzle it with olive oil instead of butter. Worst-case scenario? I end up with a lackluster salad, enjoy the conversation and the company, and eat something better later on. "How do you eat in restaurants?" is one of the most common questions people ask me, so I wrote more about it on my blog.
Vegan Diet: My On-The-Go Snacks
•Larabars. My favorites are Cinnamon Roll, Pecan Pie, and Ginger Snap.
•Whole-wheat PB&J sandwich, especially if I know I'll be somewhere without veg food.
•Taco Bell's bean burrito without cheese, if I'm in a real pinch.
Vegan Diet: Yes, I Get Plenty of Protein from Plants
Protein doesn't come only in meat or dairy (or supplements), but it's also in many plant foods. Legumes, beans, nuts and tofu are just a few sources, and my diet is rich in those.