How varied is your diet? Do you tend to make a handful of the same recipes or visit the same restaurants, week in and week out? Have you wanted to experiment with a new type of cuisine or a different type of diet, but just haven’t brought yourself to take that food leap? If you’re reading this, you are probably a foodie to begin with and don’t mind trying something new, especially if it’s within your comfort zone. But when’s the last time you shook things up, went out on a limb and tried something new? And more importantly, what’s holding you back?
To shake up my food routine this year, I decided to go vegan (no meat, no dairy, no animal products) for a few weeks this summer. Some of you already live the vegan life, and my hat is off to you. Others are probably thinking: “Why?” Well, for a variety of reasons, but three stand out.
- It’s healthy and good for me (if done right.)
- It exposes me to different foods that may not have been on my radar.
- It makes me pay close attention to nutrition and ingredient labels.
So here’s a recap of my recent vegan journey. Careful planning is essential whenever you decide to try a different way of eating, even if it is only for a short time. But the rewards usually rock, especially if you find a new cuisine, restaurant, recipe or even make a lifestyle change. So get out there, experiment and make your taste buds do a happy dance!
Some Products I Liked and Will Try Again:
- Silk vanilla milk substitute. I’m not a big milk fan to begin with, but I did like this, at least with cereal and in coffee.
- Earth Balance vegetable organic buttery spread
- WayFare (We Can’t Say It’s Cheese) cheddar spread
- Light Canola Mayonnaise
Go Away, You
- Fake cheese slices (I won’t call out a specific brand as I’m pretty sure they are all bad.)
- Vegan homemade ravioli pasta recipe (just the pasta, not the sweet potato filling or the mushroom topping). I’ve made homemade pasta before that was light and heavenly, but not vegan. This stuff may look good, but it wasn’t. Trust me.
What I Missed Most:
- Dairy (especially cheese and yogurt)
- Tuna fish sandwiches
One-week Vegan Food Menu
I have condensed two weeks into one to show you just some of the possibilities. I had enough leftovers from some of the dishes to last at least two weeks.
- Breakfast: Rice Krispies with fresh strawberries and Silk Lite vanilla milk
- Lunch: Tomato sandwich with vegan mayo, chips
- Snack: A fresh peach
- Dinner: Creamy Mushroom and Lemon-Spinach Risotto and cucumber, tomatoes and onions in red wine vinegar
- Breakfast: Peanut butter and banana sandwich
- Lunch: Pita stuffed with hummus, tabouli and chickpea salad
- Snack: Chips and pico de gallo
- Dinner: Stuffed grape leaves, potato salad (no dairy), tomato slices
- Dessert: Oreo chocolate cream cookies (yes, they are vegan!)
- Breakfast: Raisin Bran with Silk vanilla
- Snack: Banana
- Lunch: Subway Veggie Delite on wheat with spicy mustard and no cheese, chips
- Snack: Peanut butter filled celery
- Dinner: Pasta Puttanesca with tossed salad
- Breakfast: Ruby red grapefruit and granola bar
- Lunch: Tossed salad with lettuce, mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, avocado and light balsamic dressing
- Snack: Stuffed grape leaves
- Dinner: Sautéed squash and zucchini, baked beans, sliced tomatoes
- Dessert: Oreo chocolate cream cookies
- Breakfast: Maple and brown sugar oatmeal with sliced bananas
- Lunch: Mediterranean salad (minus feta)
- Snack: Chips and pico de gallo
- Dinner: Samosas and Chana Masala with rice
- Breakfast: Chunky cinnamon applesauce, peanut butter granola bar
- Lunch: Peach and tomato gazpacho
- Snack: Pickles and olives
- Dinner: Dinner: Black bean burger with fries
- Breakfast: Peanut butter and jelly sandwich
- Lunch: Portobello mushroom with fake cheese and fries
- Snack: Triscuit thins with tapenade
- Dinner: Black bean and rice burrito, guacamole and chips
What I gained from shaking up my diet (and luckily it wasn’t weight – I actually lost 5 lbs. in two weeks.)
I now will get out of my current breakfast rut of just having yogurt or cheese toast, and start eating thinks like cereal with Silk, peanut butter/banana sandwiches, etc.
I am much more knowledgeable of the local restaurants and markets that are vegan friendly (not just vegetarian) – these are easy to find on the Internet, and I’m partial to those that serve Mediterranean or Indian cuisine.
Finally, I learned about how vegans get protein from my doctor and blogger Veggie Grettie, who I’ve been following for a while now: http://veggiegrettie.com/2012/08/16/how-vegans-get-protein/
So don’t be afraid to shake things up in your eating world – you may just stumble upon something new and delicious that will become part of your food routine.
Eat, drink and be merry!