Plan Your Meals
Plan Your Meals
It's easy to plan vegan diets that easily meet nutrient
needs. Grains, beans, and vegetables are rich in protein and iron. Green leafy
vegetables, beans, lentils, nuts, and dried fruits are excellent sources of
calcium. Vitamin D is normally made in the body when sun shines on the skin.
Those who have regular sun exposure do not normally need to get vitamin D in
foods. The only foods that contain significant amounts of vitamin D are those
that are fortified with it, such as commercial breakfast cereals, supplemental
dairy products or soymilk, and multivitamins. Vitamin B12 is plentiful in some
traditional Asian foods such as miso and tempeh. However, in the world of modern
processing, the vitamin is not found in plant foods to any reliable extent.
Although vitamin B12 deficiency is uncommon, strict vegans should be sure to
include a source of this vitamin in their diet. Many commercial cereals are
fortified with vitamin B12, as are many soy products, including some brands of
soymilk. Multivitamins are also a good option.
The switch to a vegan diet is easier than you might think.
Most people, whether vegans or meat-eaters, typically use a limited variety of
recipes; the average family eats only eight or nine different dinners
repeatedly. You can use a simple, three-step method to come up with nine vegan
dinner menus that you enjoy and can prepare easily.
First, think of three vegan meals that you already enjoy.
Common ones are vegetable stir-fry, vegetable soup, or pasta primavera. Second,
think of three recipes that you prepare regularly that can easily be adapted to
a vegan dish. For example, a favorite chili recipe can be made with all of the
same ingredients; just replace the meat with beans or texturized vegetable
protein. Substitute bean burritos (using canned refried beans) instead of beef
burritos. Many soups, stews, and casseroles also can be made into vegan dishes
with a few simple changes. Finally, check out some vegan cookbooks from the
library and experiment with the recipes for a week or so until you find three
that are delicious and easy to make. Just like that, with minimal changes to
your menus, you will have nine vegan dinners.
After that, coming up with vegan options for breakfast and
lunch is easy. Try muffins with fruit spread, cholesterol-free French toast, or
cereal for breakfasts. Sandwiches, with spreads like hummus or white bean pate
with lemon and garlic, pasta salads, or even dinner leftovers make great
- Convenience foods cut cooking time. Natural foods
stores stock a huge array of instant soups and main-dish convenience items.
Regular supermarkets also carry many fast vegan foods. Many canned soups,
such as minestrone or black bean, are vegan. Flavored rice mixes, like
curried rice or Rice-a-Roni, can be stretched into an entre with a can of
beans. Or try baked beans, refried beans, sloppy joe sauce, and meatless
Ask for it! Even restaurants that don't offer vegan
entrees can usually whip up a meatless pasta or vegetable plate if you ask.
If attending a catered affair, catch the waiter before you are served and
ask him or her to remove the chicken breast from your plate and slip on an
extra baked potato. Airlines offer vegan meals if you ask in advance; ask
your travel agent to order you one, or call the airline reservations number.
Order your next pizza without cheese but with a
mountain of vegetable toppings.
Find vegan cookbooks at your local library or
bookstore and have fun experimenting with new foods and recipes.
The best bets for finding vegan food when dining out
are international restaurants. Italian, Chinese, Mexican, and Indian
restaurants all offer a wide variety of vegan dishes.
Texturized vegetable protein (TVP) is fat-free, has a
texture like ground beef, and is wonderful in tacos, chili, and sloppy joes.
Look for it in natural foods stores.
Summer barbecues are healthy and fun with meatless hot
dogs and burgers. Or, for a real change of pace, grill thick slices of
marinated vegetables like eggplant, zucchini, or tomatoes.
Check out ethnic groceries for special vegan foods.
Middle-Eastern delis offer stuffed grape leaves, falafel, and eggplant
spreads. Italian markets are a wonderful place to find hearty homemade
breads, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh pasta. Indian and Asian markets offer
many vegan delicacies, also.
The simplest dishes are often the most satisfying.
Brown rice, gently seasoned with herbs and lemon and sprinkled with chopped
nuts or sunflower seeds, is a perfect dish.
Add variety to your diet with ease by preparing
familiar foods in interesting new ways. Cook rice in a mixture of water and
apple juice. Toss broccoli with raisins, sprinkle sunflower seeds or chopped
almonds on vegetables. Simmer carrots, turnips, cabbage, or parsnips in
orange juice. When traveling, pack plenty of vegan snacks like instant
soups, fresh fruit, raw vegetables, trail mix, granola bars, and homemade
oatmeal cookies. Fill a cooler with sandwiches and individual containers of
juice and soymilk.
Citations and References