Going Vegan – Some simple tips

I really don’t like to cook. I mean, I really have no interest in gourmet meals. Spending hours chopping vegetables and sauteing stuff is not fun for me. I have far better things to do with my life. Part of the appeal of the PRE-vegan life is that if I wanted something to eat, I could just grab something and eat it. Never mind that it wasn’t healthy, or whatever, the fact remains that it was extremely easy to open the fridge and grab a piece of cheese or a slice of turkey, slap it on some bread and call it a sandwich.

I don’t have that option anymore. The closest I can come to is slicing an apple and eating it with some almond butter.

To keep things kind of simple, I like to go to the salad bar at work and just get a container full of pre-cut fruits. That way, if I have cereal with almond milk for breakfast, I can throw a handful of different fruits on it. Instant healthy breakfast. I usually try to make a huge salad and eat off it for a few days. Soups are my friend. Start with a good low-sodium veggie broth and then add whatever vegetables are left in the kitchen. Today, I have squash, cabbage, a tomato, and some cut up portabello mushroom. I always put in a bit of brown rice and some kind of bean, as well…. make sure you cook it long enough that your beans and rice get soft. Some combinations work well, others… not so much. But I have found that you really can’t go far wrong with veggie broth and vegetables, regardless of the veggie.

The recipe for black bean burgers in the Engine 2 Diet makes several… enough to last me through a bunch of meals. I can eat them on a whole wheat bun with lettuce, onion, etc or put one on top of some brown rice. They are good just eaten alone, as well.

I think the key to becoming vegan is to just jump in and do it. I researched vegetarianism for a long time before I decided to do it, and even then, if someone asked me what vegans eat, I would have been hard pressed to come up with a lot of options. But hunger is a strong motivator and as soon as I decided that from this point on, I no longer consume animal products, I started getting pretty creative in crafting meals for myself. And I find that I don’t miss meat or butter or mayonaise at all.

I have to admit, though, that I do miss the ease of picking up a Heinen’s cheese pizza after my shift at the grocery store.

Going Vegan – This will help.

So I went to the library the other day and got several books on veganism and vegan cooking. My favorite to date is not even a cookbook. It’s Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell B Esselstyn, Jr. He gives a lot of great reasons to go vegan, and outlines the health benefits and the patients of his who have reversed their heart disease, including large blockages simply by switching to his plan. (Which, incidentally is the one I am following… no meat or animal products, no sugar, no white flour, no oil.) I have already done a ton of research, including reading Caldwell’s son Rip Esselstyn’s book (which I linked in another blog) and Joel Fuhrman’s Eat to Live, so I pretty much skimmed through the first half of the book. If you aren’t yet convinced about becoming vegan, or going completely plant based, read the first half and get the medical facts.

In the meantime, I found myself in the section written by Esselstyn’s wife and this was where I stuck gold. It was very matter of fact and very simple. She outlined a lot of ways to put together quick and easy healthy meals without getting all crazy about it or buying a million different kinds of weird foods from health stores. She listed tons of simple, easy ways to eat plant based without spending hours at a time in the kitchen. I liked her ideas about black beans over brown rice, with bowls of various cut up veggies to put on top. Add some salsa, and you are set. She stressed repeatedly how important it is to read the labels. For example, I am eating what is labelled “sprouted grain” bread, from a health food company, expensive, etc… well, I had skimmed the label when I bought it, but somehow I missed that it has yogurt in it. So, that bread is going to the squirrels and I got a new bread that is oil and animal product free.

My trip to the grocery store this morning took a lot longer than last week, but I stocked up on veggies and then read the labels for everything else. Did you know that some vegetable broths have oil in them? Neither did I… got a Heinen’s brand organic for a good price. (I love my grocery store.) Got some beans, some balsamic vinegar and a couple of cans of artichoke hearts. (The jars tend to be marinated in oil.) So, after getting home from the grocery store, I made myself some 100 percent whole wheat pasta (read the ingredients here, too… not all whole wheat pastas are only whole wheat.) For a sauce, I am simmering some┬áBrussels sprouts, artichoke hearts, and black bean and corn salsa with a little veggie broth. After the sauce is done, I will throw some green onions on top. I could also nuke a potato and use a little salsa, green onion, finely diced peppers. etc.

It has been just over a week since I went fully vegan, and only a couple of days since I decided to go oil free as well, but I feel better today than I have in a long, long time. I am not getting dizzy anymore, I have a ton of energy, and the usual menstrual pimples that I get once a month didn’t show up this month. (Surprise bonus!) Also, I restarted P90X at the beginning of this week and have had plenty of energy for that, as well.