September 28, 2009

How to be Vegan (and have a Life.) ~Roger Williams.

One of the things that I hear a lot from people (including elephant’s editor) is that they would love to be vegan, only it’s next to impossible to go out, eat and drink vegan, and be merry.

I agree—to an extent. Being vegan is a fairly radical diet approach. I have to cut out all meat, eggs, cheese and dairy.

But I am here to tell you that it is not the hardest thing to do, and it will have a profound effect on you.

The first step to veganism is to take the traditional view of dinner as the largest meal of the day…and reverse that. By making breakfast the largest meal, you resolve a few issues:

  1. You are breaking a 10 – 12 hour fast (depending on when you had dinner) when you wake up, and you need to refuel.
  2. Generally, you eat breakfast at home, which is the easiest place to be vegan,
  3. Eating small meals as a vegan is always easier, and #4 you will sleep easier on less food in your digestive system.


Start the day off with a large bowl of organic oatmeal that you buy in bulk (affordable, less packaging!); mix in a little fruit (I love dates, raisins, apricots, apples, peaches are good too) and soy milk. Then slice up some fruit (I like half a melon and banana). Eat slowly, reading a magazine, newspaper, or reviewing the latest post from desertstandard.com and @halfacat elephantjournal.com (! ~ ed). This will allow you to eat a good, full meal as your stomach eases into having something in it, and will help you rise and shine more easily.

By making breakfast large, you will be less prone to the dreaded midday crash that leads to the kind of lunch where you eat way too much. Leading to the ever useless post-lunch food coma where you get next to nothing done except for some crappy games of solitaire.

At lunch you have options, either pack something simple like a mock meat sandwich, some almonds, a banana, and some applesauce, or you can go out. Eating out vegan for lunch and dinner are pretty similar. At a sports bar you can get a garden burger with a salad. At a Thai, or other ethnic restaurants, you can usually substitute meat for tofu.  At a pizza joint you can request no cheese and more places are making soy and rice cheese available as well.

The search engine Yelp is a great resource to search for vegetarian and vegan restaurants around your neighborhood. To make the transition from vegetarian to vegan, especially when eating out, request  to eliminate cheese and egg products from the dish. There are many reasons that people do not eat dairy; some are ethical and others are medical. You should never feel that you need to explain yourself to a business, and if they aren’t happy to remove an item from a dish that is their highest food cost while still charging you full rate then they don’t deserve your business.

In a lot of restaurants you can tell them that you are vegan and they will come up with something for you, especially a nice place. Just be nice about it and they will go out of their way to accomodate. Naturally you should tip at least 20% for such service.

Most breads are also vegan.

When out on the town remember a few simple tactics for sticking vegan: #1 drink more water, #2 think chips and salsa, #3 eat the fruit garnish from the cute girl’s drink next to you, and #4 keep smiling.

In the end remember to do your best to eat with a conscious mind, always being aware of what you are consuming. Being vegan doesn’t require a snobbish or religious attitude. It just requires that you care about what you are putting in your body and what it takes to get that food to your plate.

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