Eat Food, Mostly Plants, Not too Much" ~ Micheal Pollan
More and more people are eating nothing but plants. Those that choose to be Vegan are not eating anything that contains animal products like milk, eggs, meat, and animal fat. Not so easy to; animal products are hidden everywhere like in salad dressings, in baked goods, and in menu items. Not only is it difficult to avoid certain ingredients, it is also difficult to ensure a balanced diet containing all the essential nutrients. Here are some tricks to being a Vegan.
- Start Gradually: Modifying your eating habits and choices is not going to come easily. You really are going to miss the meat for a period of time, especially when you get a whiff of your neighbor's barbequed meat next door. Little by little you will find that the cravings disappear. Some vegans that have been meatless for a while cannot stomach even the thought of eating a hamburger.
- Find Substitutes: As you gradually, eliminate meat, dairy and eggs, you will need to find substitutes that can be equally satisfying. For example, in some soup recipes, I will use wheat bulgur instead of ground beef just for the texture and something chewy. Instead of an egg scramble, try a tofu scramble instead. Each substitution should give you the same satisfaction in flavor and taste; otherwise, you'll be tempted to return to the omnivore side of life.
- Learn Cooking Techniques: All vegans struggle to eat enough protein. And one of the major sources of proteins is beans and legumes. However, many fear the gaseous results. By learning cooking techniques that eliminate the possibility of gas, the beans and legumes suddenly look more appealing. One gas-free bean preparation involves boiling the beans for a few minutes the night before and then allowing the beans to soak overnight. As the beans soak, all of the insoluble, gas-producing sugars are dissolved. Draining the beans in the morning eliminates those sugars and leaves the bean gas-free.
- Explore New Ingredients: One of my favorite sources of a complete protein is quinoa. Quinoa is a grain that also contains all of the essential amino acids. I eat it for breakfast, lunch and dinner just because it is so versatile. Please check out my recipe for Roasted Vegetables with Saffron Quinoa (use vegetable broth instead of chicken to go vegan).
- Research Recipes: In today's internet-based world, finding recipes has never been easier. Good recipes which are easy to follow, are easy to make and are tasty are the key to sticking with a particular diet. Check out another favorite recipe from my kitchen for Vegan Broccoli Soup.
- Keep Your Omega's Balanced: Since vegans do not eat fish, it is very important to find other sources of Omega 3 while at the same time reducing the amount of Omega 6 in the diet. A balance between the two Omega's is very important to control pain, reduce risk of diseases, and eliminate inflammation as I mentioned in my article about fish oil. Remember, nuts, canola oil and flax seed all are rich in Omega 3.
- Fill the Vital Nutrient Gaps: Nutrient gaps do happen which is why supplements and vitamins are helpful. Particular gaps that vegans need to watch out for include a lack of calcium, iron, Vitamin B12, and Zinc. Look at this vegan guide to help you fill the gaps.
For more information and a list of resources for vegans and vegetarians, go to the National Institutes of Health's Vegetarian Guide.