Adopting a plant based lifestyle or going vegan can seem daunting and overwhelming. “What can I eat on a vegan diet?” “What can’t I eat on a vegan diet?” “Where do I start with a vegan diet?” “What about my
*DISCLAIMER: THIS POST CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS. THIS MEANS I MAY EARN A COMMISSION, AT NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE TO YOU, SHOULD YOU CHOSE TO MAKE A PURCHASE USING MY LINK. I ONLY LINK TO PRODUCTS I LOVE AND KNOW YOU WILL LOVE TOO.
The Decision to Elimi
nate Animal Products from your meals
Congrats! You’ve decided to start researching eating more plants and eliminating animal products from your meals. Welcome to the “Veg Life”!
You are likely thinking, “great, now what? Am I going to be eating salads and pasta with red sauce for the rest of my life?” If you are, that is okay, that is what I thought too. But then I started watching YouTube videos of vegan food and following some vegans on Instagram and I realized, there are SO many more options than I had ever considered.
So What Can I Eat as a Vegan?
No beating around the bush here, we are jumping right into what you can eat when you go vegan.
You can eat tacos – fill them with beans or our Best Damn Taco Filling. You can eat pasta – with red sauce – or you can make
In fact, we even have an ebook full of plant based bowl recipes with different sauces and nut pate accompaniments. The options are endless.
Okay, but what about protein and calcium and carbs?
Please know, you are not alone in these questions. We have been told our entire lives about the importance of meat for protein, dairy for calcium, and that carbs make you fat. Do you know who writes those guidelines? The industry. Don’t worry, I was appalled too. Watch What the Health or read the book – I was floored and disgusted that the very industries touting those claims make money off our believing them. It is such a scheme!
So what about Protein?
Well, according to the World Health Organization, “The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight or 0.36 grams per pound. This amounts to: 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man; 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman.” So, you’ve likely been “overdosing” on protein for years.
That isn’t the question though, the question is “Where do vegans get their protein?” We get it from beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, tofu, tempeh, leafy greens, peas, and all of the variety of foods we eat.
I recommend you read the book Proteinaholic, by Dr. Garth Davis for a more in-depth look into protein and the American obsession with it.
Okay, I get protein, but what about calcium?
This one is a personal favorite, as I had experience with this myself. At one of my annual physical appointments, right after going vegan, I shared with the nurse I was vegan and I honestly expected her to be excited for me. She was not. In fact, she lectured me on calcium and handing me a printout of all the foods I should be eating… dairy yogurt, dairy ice cream, dairy milk, etc. etc. etc. I went home and told my husband I didn’t think I could do this vegan diet because of calcium and in his true fashion, he bombarded me with resources that supported our plant based diet and countered all the crap (it was crap) on that printout and what the nurse said.
So what are those resources:
- Here is one: Dr. McDougall on Calcium
- and another: The
PhysciansCommittee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) share their take on Calcium and Osteperosis
Who are these people?! These Doctors!?
One of the questions I had, as we started researching this diet: “If these doctors are touting, celebrating and supporting a plant based lifestyle, why aren’t all doctors sharing it with their patients?” I mean if Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn was able to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease in his patients, why aren’t people I know who are suffering from heart disease offered this
diet lifestyle as a cure or preventative measure?
I wasn’t really ready for the answer to that; and that answer has changed my entire life. Take the twenty-nine and half minutes to watch this interview with Dr. Michael Greger of Nutrition Facts.org that was put together by Plant Based News. In short, it is all about money!
So you watched it, ready to learn about other plant based doctors and health care professionals sharing evidence based research?
- Dr. John McDougall, MD
- Dr. Caldwell Essestyn, MD
- Dr. T. Colin Campbell, PhD
- Dr. Michael Greger, MD
- Dr. Neal Barnard, MD
- Dr. Michael Klaper, MD
- Dr. Matt Lederman, MD
- Dr. Alona Pulde, MD
- Dr. Thomas Campbell, MD
- Dr. Garth Davis, MD
- Dr. Pam Popper,
- Julianna Hever, MS, RD, CPT
The above is a small sampling of plant based supporters. There are more resources – books, documentaries, and youtube channels. Some of the below resources are health-based, some are environmental, and some are animal based. These are the ones that we recommend; again, there are more out there. Some of my favorite documentaries are:
- What the Health
- Forks over Knives
- And one of my favorites: Hope: What You Eat Matters
Food I get, what about everything else?
Everything else comes. As you familiarize yourself with the instances in your life that are derived from the exploitation of animals, you will have an ah-ha moment and you will pivot.
Maybe it is as you are walking through the zoo, looking for vegan food and realize, “wait, the zoo isn’t really a vegan place” Perhaps next time I will take my children to a sanctuary. Or when you are shoe shopping, purse shopping, wallet shopping, or belt shopping you select the ones made that are made with
You’ll realize as you navigate this non-vegan world that you are doing the best you can. You will make the decision on “how vegan” something is based on your personal feelings. Maybe you are a vegan who eats and uses honey (I am not and I do not believe we should be taking honey from bees), or you are a vegan who takes pharmaceuticals because you have to.
Maybe you are a vegan who wears
In a nutshell, you’ll eat your tasty plant based foods, maybe splurge on vegan junk food or comfort food, or support vegan restaurants, and you’ll make this world a better and more sustainable place by adhering to a vegan diet.
Going Vegan Resources
Cookbooks are one of my favorite resources to help people when they are trying to go vegan or eat more plants. There are so many that offer both an educational and set up guide and delicious recipes. Some of my favorites include:
- Vegan For Everybody, America’s Test Kitchen
- The China Study Cookbook, LeAnne Campbell (see my review here)
- Plant Based on a Budget, Toni Okamoto, (see my review here)
- The Colorful Kitchen, Ilene Godsky (see my review here)
- You can also visit our Amazon shop for others we use frequently.
There are some books that I’ve read that have changed how I look at veganism and I believe will help you on your journey. Whether you buy these or borrow them from the library, I find them to be good reads
- What the Health, Kip Anderson & Keegan Kuhn
- Mind if I Order the Cheeseburger, Sherry Colb
- Esther the Wonder Pig, Steve Jenkins, Derek Walter
- Main Street Vegan, Victoria Moran
- Vegans Daily Companion, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau (I’d recommend anything by her, she has an excellent perspective on veganism).
- The Starch Solution, Dr. John McDougall – This book helped me get over my fear of carbohydrates.
- How Not to Die, Dr. Michael Greger
I’ll leave you with this, over five years ago, my husband started talking about the health benefits of a plant based diet – at that time, we only considered eating more plants, never going full vegan and making it a lifestyle. Six months and tons of research later, I was eating delicious plant based food, and realizing I didn’t need to “eat those babies” anymore and I changed my life for the better forever. Where ever you are on your “going vegan” journey, just know that the animals are forever grateful you are even considering a lifestyle where you eat more plants.
Watch my “Eat More Plants Speech”