Trying to health up your diet? Cutting animal products may be one way to do it. Research consistently shows that people who eat a vegan diet, that is refrain from all foods that contain animal products and byproducts including eggs, dairy and sometimes even honey, have lower rates of heart disease, diabetes and many other health ailments. If the thought of permanently cutting meat from your diet makes your stomach growl, there’s more good news. A recent Harvard study found that just swapping out one daily serving of beef for nuts could reduce the risk of dying early by as much as 19 percent. Cutting out meat periodically is also shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke by as much as 20 percent according to Consumer Reports. Not only that, eating more veg is better for the environment. Did you know you can save more water by not eating a pound of meat than from refraining from taking a shower for 6 months?
While Meatless Monday is a great way to dip your toe into plant-based eating, going animal-product free for a full weekend is a more powerful way to reap the benefits of this better-for-you lifestyle. We know the thought of adopting a new diet – even for just a few days – can be a lot to swallow. Here are some easy and gentle tips to get started. Who knows, you may just find that the bevy of delicious and healthy options ahead of you lead your weekend veganism to stretch into Monday and beyond.
Start with an open mind
Going vegan does not mean salad is your only option – though fresh greens topped with organic ingredients are pretty tasty. Almost any dish can be made vegan with a few clever substitutions. Still, when you first start eating vegan, we caution against trying to replace your favorite recipes with their vegan counterparts. You’re much more likely to enjoy your new diet when you’re not reminiscing about the meals you used to eat. Take your palate around the globe and consider new ingredients, preparation methods and spices. We’re particularly fond of this vegan tagine. For inspiration, collect recipes from vegan bloggers. Here’s one of our favorites.
Tofu? Tempeh? Nutritional Yeast? Greens? Rice? Quinoa? After selecting the vegan recipes you’d like to prepare, hit the grocery store the day before your vegan-eating start date to purchase everything you’ll need. This way, you’ll be ready to hit the ground running come Saturday morning. What’s worse than realizing you’re short an ingredient when you’re in the middle of cooking?
Consider exotic produce
Let curiosity be your guide. Never had a particular fruit or vegetable? Bravely, give it a try. At worst, you can spit it out and never buy it again. At best, you discover a new favorite and impress your friends with your produce prowess. Here’s a guide for how to use less common vegetables.
Budget extra time
Starting any new endeavor requires an initial investment of time before feeling confident and comfortable. A new diet is no exception. Begin gently by allowing yourself extra time for tasks like grocery shopping and cooking. Get in the kitchen before you’re starving to allow for leisurely food preparation. This will also minimize the likelihood of grabbing something unhealthy when hunger strikes.
Cut convenience foods
Sure, Oreos, bagels and brownies are vegan, but that doesn’t mean they’re good options for your vegan weekend. It may be tempting to opt for convenience foods when eating vegan – especially if cooking your own meals seems daunting. But the health benefits of a vegan diet are quickly diminished by indulging in foods that contain excess sodium, hydrogenated fats and sugar. If cooking your own meals makes you nervous, remember to start simply. A roasted sweet potato topped with sautéed veggies or roasted chickpeas is delicious, simple and packed with nutrients. Here are 30 easy and filling vegan recipes to get you started.