This is the #2 question heard when people learn that you are vegan (#1 being “how do you get your protein?”) The answer is yes, but no more difficult than making any other diet or lifestyle change! The key to success is slowly removing animal products from your diet. It’s important to give your body and mind time to adjust to a major dietary change. Removing items slowly will help you create “plant-strong” dishes that are simple, tasty, and inspirational. It takes real time and commitment to develop new habits, and making an abrupt, extreme change only sets us up for failure.
If you feel ready to leap into the plant-based world and quit animal products cold turkey, by all means give it a go! However, its scary and inconceivable for many people to completely cut out animal products. The western diet places such emphasis on meat and dairy, that it actually makes sense for people to ask a vegan “what the heck do you eat?” For someone who eats everything (red meat, white meat, fish, eggs, dairy), I would recommend cutting out your least favorite meat first. For me, that was red meat. Explore with dishes that incorporate lots of veggies and whole grains, and maybe a small portion of white meat or fish, and small servings of dairy or cheese. Already, you have a “plant-strong” dish. Step by step, remove each animal product, each time exploring new dishes and trying to bulk up the vegetable servings. For example, if making chicken fajitas, use half the amount of chicken you’d normally use and replace the rest with sautéed portobello mushrooms and peppers. Before long, you might notice the chicken isn’t as great as you thought, or that the texture of portobellos is quite meaty, and what makes these dishes so amazing are the colorful, yummy, crunchy vegetables complemented by an herb infused sauce or dressing. When this happens, it’s time to stop buying meat! (Thunder thanks you, picture courtesy of farmsanctuary.org)
Dairy is a completely separate topic that we will discuss in another blog post – yes I plan to write an entire blog post on how to stop eating cheese. I also may eat a vegan grilled cheese while writing it.
The bottom line: embracing a plant-based diet can be fun and tasty! Vegans are neither starving nor deprived! Mother Earth has provided us with an enormous variety of nutrient-packed, colorful, and delicious plants, just begging to be made into something and posted on Instagram with a food-enhancing filter. Below is my recipe for veggie fajitas, a sure crowd-pleaser, and something you can whip up in about 20 minutes.
Easy Veggie Fajitas (gluten free if corn tortillas used)
Time: 20 minutes
3 bell peppers (multicolor), sliced
2 zucchini, cut in half and sliced
1 yellow onion, sliced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1-2 Tbsp Olive oil
1/2 tsp Turmeric
Small tortillas of your choice
Your favorite salsa
Daiya vegan shredded cheese, I used cheddar
Sauté veggies in olive oil on medium heat until they soften. Add minced garlic, salt, pepper, and turmeric. Heat tortilla for 10 seconds in a hot pan or in the microwave. Dress your tortilla with veggies, sliced avocado, cheese and a little salsa. Enjoy!