Happy New Year! The new year is often a time of self-reflection and processing what happened during the previous year and focus on maintaining progress towards their new year resolutions. Instead of a resolution, this year I’ve chosen to ask myself, “how can I continue to choose myself this year?”. The most common resolution theme that I see are health related (working out, change in diet, etc...). However, like many goals, they are rooted in unrealistic expectations and often lead to unmet goals. Today I’d like to share a few of my favorite tips/products to investigate as you consider embracing a vegan or plant-based diet.
1) Make a Plan Make a list of the foods (breakfast, lunch, dinner) you currently enjoy eating and use that as a guide for creating alternative meal options. You will be more successful on this journey if you categorize it this way.
2) Mushrooms are your (or maybe just my) best friend Mushrooms are truly fascinating. There are over 1000 species of mushroom. Among the edible species, some are highly medicinal, and others are more commonly found in the grocery store. These include; Shitake, Oyster, Portabella, Lion’s Mane, Maitake, and more. Each of these mushrooms taste different, but they all have a thick texture in common that is excellent for meat substitution.
3) Ta c o s T u e s d a y , Wednesday, Thursday... every day The beauty of a tortilla is that you can throw literally any food item in the middle of it. I love making tacos with mushrooms, sauteed veggie, bean/rice, potato, scrambled tofu, “meat” crumbles, etc...
4) Take it easy on the starch It’s very easy to embrace a vegan diet when your is reliant on starchy food such as pasta, potatoes, and bread. As an alternative, I recommend plantains, quinoa, millet, cassava, and occasional rice (basmati), sweet potatos
5) Seeds, nuts, and grains You may wonder, “how will I get enough protein to sustain my energy?” Consider: hemp seeds, chia, organic oats, almond or sunflower or peanut butter.
6) Dip it good! Dips such as hummus (which is high in protein and creates a creamy texture in food), guacamole, pesto, and salsa, olive tapenade, are great to add to many dishes or can be eaten as sides with tortilla or plantain chips, veggie chips, or cut up vegetables.
7) Healthy fats are great for your brain, heart, and overall health We sometimes think that embracing a healthy lifestyle means cutting out food with fat in it. My favorite healthy fats include Cold pressed Olive Oil (good quality), avocado, ghee (if you’re not completely plant based), coconut, cashews (in moderation)
8) Pack it all in a Smoothie Smoothies are a great way to incorporate fruits and veggies into you daily routine
9) Vitamins and Green Powder The truth is, you may not get all the nutrients your body needs on a vegan diet, and in reality, most people are not getting all the necessary nutrients they need when eating meat. Consider incorporating a multivitamin and/ or Green Juice Powder to ensure that you are getting the B vitamins and other vitamins and nutrients your body needs to thrive.
10) Non-Dairy Products While non-dairy milk, such as almond, oat, and coconut have become popular, tasty, and easily accessible, the world of vegan cheese still struggles to catch up. Letting go of cheese seems to be one the most difficult things for people who are new to embracing a plant-based diet. But it’s not all bad! The brands that I enjoy the most are Myokos, and Follow Your Heart, Kite Hill. I also frequently use Nutritional Yeast Flakes, coconut milk, and sometimes cashews to make “cheese” or as cream and dairy substitutes.
There are so many more tips that I’d like to share in the upcoming weeks, and I’d love to hear your questions and thoughts! Ife is a Pasadena Native, currently working as a mental health therapist providing therapy to individuals, ages 17-elder adults. She works from a holistic perspective and is passionate about supporting people with their health through food, nutrition, and sound healing.