What Vegans Eat: A Week of Plant-Based Meals
Or: Vegan? Wait, like, nothing from animals?? But what, EXACTLY, do you eat?
Recently, I shared a week of vegan meals on my Facebook Page. Since then, I’ve answered a lot of questions and have been asked by more than a few people if they could reference my posts in an easier way.
So I’m pulling all those posts together into one big blog post here.
I think times really are changing in the meatless landscape – not just all the recent news about significant environmental impact and general health, but I’ve come to realize that the #1 question I always used to get about being vegan was: But how do you get your protein? That has now been switched up to: “Wait, like, nothing from animals?? But what, EXACTLY, do you eat?” I see this as progress!
That question has ramped up even more in the last few days, since the World Health Organization (WHO) announcement that processed meat is linked to cancer, which made for quite a spectrum of headlines, many comparing it to the dangers of smoking cigarettes. Do I think everyone is going to give up meat immediately? No. No, I don’t. But I do think a number of people are quite interested in at least eating less meat, or are interested in learning about new food options they might enjoy just as much. And I think that’d be an amazing thing for a lot of reasons – undoubtedly, there’s the significant compassion I feel for animals. But also because it’s the #1 thing we can do for our environment, and I also have some serious compassion for the current state of this planet.
So I thought I’d try a new thing. I’m sharing an entire week of regular meals that I am normally eating for breakfast, lunch, and dinner – as best I can. Not because I’m going Instagram meal shooting happy but to show how normal, tasty and varied the vegan diet can be. And this was shared during a busier-than-normal week for me. So for any of you considering the possibility of just taking in less meat in your normal diet, here you go:
A photo shared from Sweet Earth Foods– the Big Sur Breakfast Burrito. These are plant-based, non-GMO, high in protein and a really easy breakfast to grab on a busier-than-normal morning. They are available at a lot of groceries and natural foods stores – you can even get them at Target. (Oh, and I had a coconut milk latte from Starbucks).
I grabbed food from a nearby cafe to eat at my desk, as I was in crunch time, working on getting some cool things out for Beautiful Together. Lunch was a tasty vegetarian lentil soup and a large greek salad. I made a couple swaps to the salad (avocado instead of feta / good fats for bad fats) and cannellini beans instead of onions (even more protein to the meal + hey, breath saver!) with a simple oregano dressing.
Aaaand, dinner. Had the fun of having dear friends over tonight and we ordered food from the very popular Mellow Mushroom restaurant, a fun pizza (and more) chain – ours was vegan cheese pizza with mushrooms, olives, and spinach. Plus, a vegan cheese calzone. One of the favorite vegan cheeses used by many restaurants is Daiya, a tapioca-based cheese that is creamy, super melty, and works anywhere dairy cheese would be used. Can be bought at Whole Foods and Fresh Market, at least.
It was another frenzied morning, getting up at 4:30am for an early morning-until-evening field trip to the mountains with my awesome 4th grader. So breakfast was a grab-and-eat-in-car Sweet Earth Foods Curry Tiger vegan burrito (so good).
Lunch was a picnic – I had a hearty sandwich, which was whole grain bread with Tofurkey slices, tomatoes, vegan cheese (another super tasty option is Follow Your Heart cheese), Hampton Creek‘s vegan chipotle mayo, romaine lettuce and a (So Creamy) Kite Hill almond milk yogurt. Of all the non-dairy yogurts out there, and there are lots, Kite Hill is the kids’ favorite.
A big Chipotle Mexican Grill salad with seasoned tofu Sofritos, veggies, black beans and guacamole:
This is easily the breakfast we eat most often – sautéed kale with coconut oil and garlic, Amy’s Kitchen organic, low-sodium refried beans, and we switch up the proteins regularly. Today is No Evil Foods, a seasoned seitan of sorts. I don’t exactly remember which product this was, we bought it at a food market, so it was delivered in parchment paper (all their plant-based meats are made by hand in Asheville, NC) – but it’s quite flavorful. And fresh tomatoes. This is a combination of foods that taste great, is quite filling – and is a great mix of high-protein, fiber, and veggies. Plus, it’s low carb.
Today was a BIG, fresh salad from Whole Foods Market, where I am a ridiculously frequent shopper. I love going to an amazing salad and hot bar with tons of options where THEY do all the prep – so worth the cost for me. Salad was a mix of spinach, tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, spicy black beans and red peppers, pumpkin seeds, grapes, olives, and Annie’s Naturals’ goddess dressing. Tons of raw foods with warm toppings (seasoned cauliflower & curry tofu), one of my favorite combos.
Dinner tonight was Thai, a very easy food option for vegans. (Side note: I once took a 3-day Thai cooking course in Chang Mai, Thailand and they taught us how to make a special vegan topping for a fish dish – then, after a rather complicated effort to create it, we were instructed to pour it over a fish. Wasn’t quite sure why they thought that made the dish vegan, but it was a thoughtful effort??)
SO – dinner tonight: Pad Kee Mao with Tofu. We just make sure to skip the egg and ensure that the base is vegetarian/no fish sauce, whether cooking it or ordering it. Also, vegetarian spring rolls. The easiest way to make sure they are vegan is to make them/ask if they are made with rice paper instead of egg wraps – different restaurants tend to vary the way they make them. Thanks to Thai Spice Kitchen for the pad kee mao photo!
Day 4 – Halloween!
We kicked off this gorgeous day with a late brunch of pumpkin pie pancakes with chocolate chips, fruit, and veggie bacon. (And almond milk lattes).
The pancakes are made from scratch with organic pumpkin, a mix of whole wheat & brown rice flours, and Ghirardelli Chocolate Company bittersweet chocolate chips (which are vegan). Applesauce works to bind them into pancakes, and reduce the fat content (more here), and cinnamon and nutmeg, with a bit of agave, bring on the pumpkin pie flavor.
The butter is Earth Balance soy-free spread, spot-on butter flavor without the dairy, cholesterol, etc. Maple syrup.
Fruit is a mix of pineapple, blueberries & blackberries.
You can find quite a few vegan pancake recipes – and lots of other vegan breakfast options – here, on my pinterest link.
And, even though there are about 20 types of vegetarian bacon out there, this is definitely one of my favorites -> Sweet Earth Foods Hickory & Sage Bacon. I get asked why I eat meat alternatives if I don’t eat meat. For me, it was never that I didn’t like the taste. It was that I didn’t want to support the backstory of what had to happen to get that food on my plate, or the environmental effect, etc. I think a lot of other people who choose to not eat meat, or just eat less meat, feel similarly. Also, this is the bacon that even my dad says “hey, not bad at all”, which is massively high praise!
Lunch & Dinner
Halloween day and evening became a blur of gatherings and trick or treatings.
“Meals” is a strong distinction – it was more like eat here, eat there-ness. That included a delicious vegetarian white bean chili served at a party and a cheeseless mushroom & olive pizza served at another, plus not just a couple Swedish Fish, a vegan treat because it doesn’t contain gelatin (why many vegetarians/vegans skip it). We gave out a lot of them last night and we picked up a lot of them, so now, of course, I have to strategically hide them from myself for the next year.
(Thanks to Vegan In The Freezer for the white bean chili photo.
Day 5 – World Vegan Day! (Actually a thing.)
Breakfast today was pure comfort food, which included a run to Bruegger’s Bagels and a kitchen full of our family and leftover sleepover kids sorting through a tall paper bag of bagels. Mine was a toasted garlic bagel with Earth Balance Soy-Free spread, tomatoes, avocados, sea salt & pepper with Kite Hill strawberry yogurt. (And an almond milk latte).
Tonight I made a tomato vodka sauce, with cashew cream. And I cooked a fettuccini that is a great option for anyone looking to keep a lower-carb or gluten-free diet, since it’s made 100% from mung beans but with no mung bean flavor & still has the chewy taste of pasta (the Explore Asian brand). I also added veggie meatballs, this time Trader Joe’s meatless meatballs, and grilled button mushrooms. So Good.
On the side is lemon pepper asparagus and hot garlic bread with Earth Balance – for those not watching carbs ; )
All shot with Nikon D810, 24-70 2.8 and SB 910 flash.
Shaved brussels sprouts sauteed in coconut oil & garlic, with pepper and Jamaican Jerk seasoning (thanks to Scott Jurek for the recommendation he shared on my Health & Energy program, since I use it all the time); Amy’s Kitchen Organic Low-Sodium Refried Beans; and Steakless Tips by Gardein. I was asked how long it takes to make a breakfast combo like this – about 15 minutes or so. Super high protein & fiber, low carb.
Takeout in the studio from a Japanese restaurant – the vegetarian Bento Box, spicy red curry, spring rolls, salad and avocado roll sushi. Looks much prettier in the restaurant! We just ask that they don’t use fish or oyster sauce.
Teriyaki Stir Fry with Seasoned Tofu. My son actually loves to help me prep the veggies; tonight they were bok choy, snap peas, red peppers, and mushrooms. I like eating just the stir fry as is, and the kids like to mix it into rice noodles, which I serve on the side.
The kids were out of school for a teacher workday, and we ate out at a cafe. I had Sweet Potato & Habanero soup, kale & fruit salad, and an avocado & tomato salsa. They had a spicy white bean stew over rice, bbq tofu strips and jackfruit “tuna” salad.
I get asked about calcium intake sometimes, since we don’t drink milk/eat dairy. Between the high amount of calcium naturally found in leafy greens, broccoli, the fact that our almond/cashew/coconut milks and yogurts are all fortified with calcium, and almonds/almond butter, etc – we are quite set for calcium without supplements. Although we all take a daily multi-vitamin anyway.
Pesto Chicken Panini with Sauteed Broccoli. This consists of vegan pesto made in our Vitamix, with olives, tomatoes, spinach, melty Daiya Cheese and No Evil Foods‘ seasoned hand-made Chicken-esque (love that name).
And the very fun use of our awesome panini grill.
And drinks! I haven’t touched on drinks all last week, but juices like a couple shown here include fresh green juices (kale, apple, lemon, cucumber, ginger) – thanks to All Recipes for the green juice image – and smoothies (almond milk, kale, bananas, pineapples). Also shown is carrot ginger lemonade. Obviously there is a ridiculous amount of nearly endless options here.
And dessert – oh my. Endless amount of desserts. Several people wrote in about ice cream. There are tons and tons of non-dairy ice creams out there that are crazy creamy and flavorful and fun – check out So Delicious Dairy Free‘s line up to start. And dark chocolate. Dark chocolate is always a beautiful thing.
So, there you go – that’s a week of every day eating.