I did the above video interview with Matt Frazier of No Meat Athlete for those of you who are doing the vegan challenge. He’s an excellent resource for all things vegan. In the interview, we discussed (among other things) his post on beans and rice variations:
Watch the video interview above, then read the guide below!
Vegan Challenge Guide
This is a guide for those who want to do the vegan challenge. I suggest you ease into it this week, and then go full-on next week.
So what is the vegan challenge? It’s basically refraining from eating animal products, and eating a plant-based diet instead.
Why do it? Well, the reasons can be varied depending on what’s important to you, but here are some reasons:
- To explore a plant-based diet, which can be very healthy (if you eat mostly whole foods)
- To get more veggies in your diet
- To cut back on red meats and saturated fat, if that’s something you’re looking to do
- To explore a compassionate diet
- To cut back on your carbon footprint
While a vegan diet doesn’t automatically mean you’ll be healthy, I’ve found it to be a healthy way to live, and I love it. I recommend everyone try it, if it’s something that you might be open to.
How to Start
Hereâ€™s how you get started:
* Make a commitment to yourself to not eat meat, poultry, seafood, dairy or eggs for 1 month. Tell your friends, family and colleagues that youâ€™re doing the vegan challenge, so you’ll be committed.
* Find some recipes. Here are some, but there are plenty of other good ones! Just pick a couple recipes to start with, and buy the groceries you need.
* Start eating your delicious new diet!
It’s really that easy.
What to Eat, What Not to Eat
You donâ€™t have to refrain from non-food animal products for now â€“ like leather, fur, etc.
Here’s what you should avoid on the challenge:
- meat (including poultry, seafood)
- dairy (milk, cheese, yogurt)
Some vegan avoid honey, and many look for foods that have been processed with animal products, like sugar processed with bone char, or marshmallows that have gelatin. I wouldn’t worry too much about those for now, but if you continue the vegan lifestyle, you’ll want to look those up.
What you can eat:
- Beans, lentils, peas
- All kinds of vegetables and fruits!
- Nuts, seeds
- Healthy fats like olive and canola oil
- Tofu, seitan, vegan “meat” products
- Whole grains, or really grains of any kinds (rice, cereal, breads, etc.)
There are lots of vegan products in grocery stores, like vegan sausages and cheese. You are free to eat any of these, though I would not make them a majority of your diet. If you want to eat vegan for health reasons, shoot for mostly whole foods and less of the processed foods.
I’m not going to answer every question about veganism in this article (online searches are your friends!), but here are some common questions:
Q: Do I need to worry about not getting certain nutrients?
A: For one month of doing the challenge, no. For the long term, you’ll want to learn about how to make sure you get enough B12, Omega-3s, calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin A and iodine … but it’s not that hard (I find it very easy). Here’s a great resource. But if you just do it for 4-6 weeks, you shouldn’t have to worry about any of that.
Q: What about protein
A: For most people, protein needs aren’t that high â€” if you’re mostly sedentary, it’s 56 grams per day for the average man and 46 grams per day for the average woman. If you’re active, you’ll need more (especially if you lift weights or do endurance sports), but it’s not that hard. Eat plenty of whole foods, be sure to include beans, lentils, or other legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds. I also eat some tofu and seitan, and drink soymilk. Here’s a good guide if you want more info.
Q: How do I eat with friends and family?
A: I will often go to a restaurant that has vegan options with friends and family (check out Happy Cow for good options), or if we’re going to eat at someone’s home, I’ll bring a vegan dish or two. Here’s a guide to eating with friends and family.
Here’s a more complete guide to doing a vegan challenge.