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The above I think is the impression a lot of people have when they first hear you are vegan. You spend your days munching on carrots and other raw plants, and THAT IS IT. And yes, some vegan actually do live strictly on a raw plant diet and somehow do not drop dead of starvation or nutrition deficiency-related disease. Weird…what is this sorcery?! O_o I hope I can get to that level of awesomeness one day.
What do vegans eat?
So…what do vegans eat? I get this question a lot from my non-vegan friends and family (and even strangers when they find out I’m veg), and it still hits me as an odd thing to ask. But I realize it comes from a place of wanting to understand and know more, so I don’t mind answering it all…I just never feel like I have a very good answer.
We eat the same things as you, just not animal products. Or we eat plants. I try to give specific examples, but legit, it’s tough. And I think that’s because I don’t really “think” about what I am eating too often—and honestly, I don’t always love to cook, not because I don’t like the act of it, more so because I always feel like I am scrambling, and it’s one more thing I have to do, so I’ll usually just throw together the quickest thing I can think of. And it’s not always the healthiest option. That’s part of the purpose of this blog though. To grow and strip out all the BS that gets in the way of what I actually care about, and be better, do better. We’ve all got room for growth, but first, you need to break down the roadblocks.
Anyway, I digress…
The answer to “What do vegans eat?” is actually really subjective.
That’s because, like anyone, we are all individuals who fall on a spectrum, we all have different comfort zones when it comes to cooking, time, health level, etc. I am not all raw, or even the best vegan when it comes to health. I do eat a decent amount of pasta and bread (I recently started making bagels every weekend), I probably cook with oil more than I should, and I do rely on vegan pre-packaged products sometimes.
But…here’s what I typically say when I get this question…
This is what vegans eat…or at least what I eat.
I eat pretty much the same things as you [“regular” omni human], except I sub in plants for the animal products or just leave those ingredients out completely.
Whoa, revolutionary! Sorry, yes I can be a sarcastic asshole. Breaking stereotypes ftw!
A good example I like to give is burritos or tacos. Everyone loves them, me included. I just substitute the ground beef (which I never liked much when I was an omnivore anyway) with beans or vegan ground meat. Rice is a must. It makes it way more filling and fulfilling for me. Guacamole (or sliced avocado if I’m lazy) is also a must. No question about it.
I eat a lot more simply than I used to as well, which actually suits my lazy cooking style quite well. Now when I am hungry I have no problem throwing some potatoes or a squash in the oven to bake and just eating that. I love topping them with homemade guac, and, I’m a firm believer that hot sauce makes everything better.
One of Ed and I’s favorite dishes is pho. While this Vietnamese soup is totally not vegan originally, we make it so by using veggie broth with some coconut milk added, TONS of mushrooms, tofu, and veggies like bok choi or some other green, and sprouts, avocado, and jalapenos.
While we’re on the Asian train, these are definitely some of my favorite dishes to make as a vegan because they cater to my love of noodles, all things spicy, lots of herbs, and vibrant complex flavors. And, I usually can throw together a half-decent soup or noodle dish out of whatever’s in my fridge pretty quickly.
I eat a lot of salads for lunch because they are quick, easy, and I can customize based on my laziness or what’s in my fridge. My favorite is one loaded with veggies like cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, chickpeas, tofu, olives, something for crunch and texture like pumpkin seeds, and olive oil and vinegar dressing.
When I do eat breakfast (yes, again I am a real human and do not eat perfect, Instagram ready breakfast bowls every day), it’s usually some fresh fruit like a carton of berries or a banana. When I’m feeling fancy (or it’s weekend) I might do something like chia pudding with fruit, cocoa powder, and maple syrup, steel-cut oats (again similar type toppings), or as mentioned, my new obsession is homemade bagels with vegan cream cheese. I still eat cereal sometimes…there’s this thing called almond milk, guys.
I also make my own vegan chocolate, and it is literally SO easy it’s not even funny. I’ll think about sharing…not sure if I like you like that yet though.
It all sounds pretty standard, right?
Because it’s not that weird, or different, or out of the box. It can be an adjustment if you typical fare is meat, a starch, and a veggie (usually a small portion of this). I know, I’ve been there. Baby, I wasn’t born this way (but I’m grateful I found my way), I ate the standard American diet at one time too.
But change is possible if you want it, and if you adjust your perception. I think what made it easy for me was that I did not go the transition away from meat to a plant-based diet focused on how hard it would be. I challenged myself and thought, It can’t be that hard, and by God what do you know, it wasn’t.