The word “veganism” is catching on, with many people jumping on the plant-based bandwagon, from top athletes like 190-lb NFL wide receiver Griff Whalen(1), former hunter turned plant-based ultrarunner Scott Jurek(2), and ultra-endurance athlete Rich Roll(3), who transformed his overweight body into a plant-strong powerhouse. There’s firefighter Rip Esselstyn(4), actor and author of The Kind Diet Alicia Silverstone(5), former cattle rancher turned animal rights advocate Howard Lyman(6), vegan race car driver Leilani Munter(7), and entire families going vegan such as that of cookbook author Dreena Burton(8) –all have realized the benefits of a plant-based diet.
Then there are folks who become vegan for health reasons or weight loss, for animal rights or environmental issues, or simply to try it out to see what difference it makes.
To be clear, a whole-foods, plant-based diet is one based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lentils/beans, nuts & seeds with no animal (including dairy) products.
Here are some of my tips for transitioning toward a plant-based diet:
1) Take a look in the pantry. Spaghetti noodles and a meatless marinara sauce make a vegan meal. Add some sauteed garlic, mushrooms, spinach, white beans, & dried herbs for a heartier dish. With tortillas, rice, and a can of beans make a burrito and stuff it with guacamole, salsa, chopped fresh spinach or steamed kale.
2) There’s healthy vegan and not-so-healthy. Eating vegan donuts and cookies, cheeseless pizzas, white bread, dousing oil on everything, and drinking sodas may be vegan but not so healthy. Focus the majority of the daily diet on whole foods (both raw & cooked vegetables mostly, followed by fruit, lentils/beans, nuts & seeds).
3) Don’t care for greens? Try them in a smoothie. A standard blender should be able to blend these two single-serving smoothies: Creamy Orange & Green Smoothie: 1 cup water, 3-4 peeled and chopped oranges, a big handful of spinach, a few sprigs of fresh basil, peeled & finely diced cucumber, and 3-5 frozen strawberries (let thaw a bit & chop). Nutty Berry Banana Smoothie: 1 cup non-dairy (soy/almond/hemp/coconut) milk, 1-2 TBS nut butter, 1/2 banana, 1-2 handfuls spinach and about 1/4 cup frozen berries.
5) It’s okay to take it slow–gradual elimination of meat and dairy is fine. Give yourself time and you will notice a change. Go online to wwww.drfuhrman.com and read about many successful stories of people eating more plant-based.
Look up www.pcrm.org (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) to learn about their kickstart program.
Stay tuned for next month’s issue for a sample plant-based meal plan.
Meanwhile, check out the resources below along with more recipes on The Colorful Vegan Facebook page!
8) http://plantpoweredkitchen.com Burton’s latest book is “Plant-Powered Families”
Disclaimer: I am not a dietician and write only about my personal experience with eating a plant-based diet. Please consult with your physician before transitioning to a plant-based diet if you are on medications or have existing dietary and/or health conditions that may be affected by a sudden change in diet.