So you want to be a vegan, great! We highly recommend it. First of all, don’t think of it denying yourself things, just consider the vegan life as your new personal food normal. Here are some benefits I ‘ve experienced right off the bat as a vegan. I always hated fish and it was always around. Now I don’t need to make excuses for not eating someone’s scrumptious fish they took all day to prepare and I don’t have to pretend to like sushi. The same goes for my grill-master friends and their charcoal smoked sausage, steak and pork. These cheap meats taste like I licked an actual grill top. “Awe, sorry grill-masters, wish I could but I’m vegan.”
I know there will be animal products that you will miss. The more you learn about it, the less you’ll crave it. I’m talking about chicken being covered in feces, pink slime, the hormones in milk working to give you cancer. Then there’s the beautiful animals we torture and kill. The poor defenseless animals. Yes, I went there. Carnivore conflict? I know Julia is always ready with facts about being a healthy vegan and standing up to those artery clogged Paleos. I usually say I feel great and leave it at that. All the heart disease you will avoid, blood that flows fast and free, that’s what it’s all about. Oh yeah and you’ll look younger.
When you start, you can eat tasty but not necessarily nutritious fake meat and cheese to ease into it. Julia and I have some staple meals that are not always healthy: Pasta with broccoli and red sauce, chick pea/vegetables with curry sauce, guacamole, brown rice (we have a rice cooker), vegetable stir fry, tacos/burritos, cheese-less pizza, green smoothies, frozen bananas, buffalo “chicken” made with tempeh, organic oranges and apples, large salads with plenty of bright vegetables, lentil soup, chili, Dr. McDougall’s soups (we have boxes shipped to our house), peanut butter and jelly, whole grain cereal with rice or almond milk, and the list goes on and on. We even made vegan protein powder a part of our day.
If we are going out to eat (or ordering in) we recommend pizza without cheese, vegetarian Indian dishes, Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Mediterranean, Turkish, delis, burger places that have a vegan burger, and salad at almost any place. When ordering out, make it very clear that you can have no dairy, eggs, butter, cheese or animal products. You’ll find out which restaurants are extremely accommodating. If they don’t seem to care, take your business elsewhere. We have had a pizza delivered to us with cheese and we had to send it back.
Want to be super healthy? There are so many routes to go. Most of the nutritional vegan diets are based on starches, vegetables, fruit, low-fat, nuts, seeds, no oil uncooked (raw), unprocessed, rice, and grains. There are so many version of the vegan diet. Here is a great example of some of the best vegan diets listed by John McDougall, MD.
Barnard Diet (by Neal Barnard, MD, founder of Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine): Based on starches, vegetables and fruits. Diet is low-fat. Emphasis is on no animal foods, ever.
Biblical Daniel Diet: More than 2500 years ago a diet of vegetables and water was found to improve the health of men in 10 days, compared to men eating meat (the king’s food).
China Study Diet (by T. Colin Campbell, PhD): Based on starches, vegetables, and fruits. Animal foods may account for 10% or fewer of foods consumed.
CHIP Program (The Complete Health Improvement Program by Dr.HansDiehl): Based on starches, vegetables, and fruits. Emphasis is on eating low-fat.
Esselstyn Diet (by Caldwell Esselstyn, MD): Based on starches, vegetables, and fruits. No nuts, seeds, avocados, or other fatty plant foods are allowed. Emphasis is on eating very low-fat.
Engine 2 Diet (by Rip Esselstyn): Based on starches, vegetables, and fruits. Emphasis is on eating very low-fat.
Fuhrman Diet (by Joel Fuhrman, MD): Based on green and yellow vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds. Not always low in fat. Small amounts of animal foods allowed. Emphasis is on eating “nutrient-dense” greens.
Hallelujah Diet (by Rev. George Malkmus): Consists of 85% raw, uncooked, and unprocessed plant-based food, and 15% cooked, plant-based foods.
Kempner Rice Diet (by Walter Kempner, MD): Based on rice and fruits. More plant foods and a few animal foods are allowed after recovery. Emphasis is on eating very low sodium.
Macrobiotic Diet: Based on grains (rice) and vegetables. Fish, seafood, seeds, and nuts may be eaten occasionally.
McDougall Diet (by John McDougall, MD): Based on starches, vegetables, and fruits. Healthy, trim people can eat some nuts, seeds, and avocados. Animal foods for holidays, at most. Emphasis is on eating starches.
Natural Hygiene Diet (by Herbert M. Shelton, ND): Advocates a raw food diet of vegetables, fruits, and nuts; and also periodic fasting and food combining.
Ornish Diet (by Dean Ornish, MD): Based on starches, vegetables and fruits. Low-fat dairy, some fish, and fish oils are used at times. Emphasis is on eating very low-fat.
Popper Diet (by Pam Popper, PhD): Based on starches, vegetables, and fruits. Emphasis is on eating very low-fat.
Pritikin Diet (by Nathan Pritikin): The original diet was based on starches, vegetables and fruits. Small amounts of meat, poultry, fish, and low-fat dairy are allowed. Emphasis is on eating very low-fat.
So have fun! Victoria Moran, the author of the book “Main Street Vegan” told me that the trick to staying vegan is when you take something you like out of your diet, put two things you like, in. We’ve been vegan for a year and a half and feel great! Sluggishness, stomach upset, and so much more disappears. Some vegan diets claim to reverse heart disease and diabetes. There is so much to gain. Be a vegan, it’s fun!