In my early vegan days, I thought I had to recreate my old meat and cheese dishes. I'd make my own Setain, eat tofu scrambles for breakfast with bagels, eat veggie burgers like crazy, and make tons of vegan pizza. While I still enjoy some of these things occasionally, I've moved past this style of eating. I'd call it a sort of evolution. Both for the effort of simplicity and health, I really try to maintain a high fruit and veggie diet - low on processed foods (YES! I consider grains, tofu, setain, tempeh, vegan cheese PROCESSED - certainly better than their animal unfriendly counterpart, these items are still processed. Once I realized that, I put a big "proceed with caution label on them).
What follow is my daily guidelines for eating. I really do go through these each and every day in my head when trying to choose "what's for dinner." I am by no means perfect, but I try my best to maintain some semblance of this. Sure I fall off the train occasionally and end up eating the processed vegan foods, and my body pays the price.
Here are my commandments for HEALTHY vegan eating:
- Try to get most of your meals from a plant based diet (i.e. eat a MAXIMUM percentage of fruits and veggies - preferably in their raw state).
- Limit grain intake. (I've been accused of being a grainitarian in the past. Looking over my daily eating caused me to agree; try it, you'll be surprised).
- All sweet treats should be a whole food, FRUIT source. (Sometimes we think we want a chocolate or candy, but really it's a carb thing. A piece of fruit will serve two purposes - 1) get rid of your carb craving. 2) leaving you feeling refreshed and energized. Other sources of sugar can only do one).
- Get over counting grams of protein - it's a myth. Relax, as long as you are following #1, your body will take care of itself. Protein is only ONE of many nutrients that our body need on a daily basis. Tofu only has very few of these (yet it's high in protein), but fruits and veggies have so much more.
- Don't listen to FAD FOOD hypes. Udo's oil, VEGA, vitamin pill, "magic"/superfoods all of these are so expensive and really cannot replace continual MAXIMUM fruit and veggie intake. I take no vitamins, and I am still a healthy, energetic person. I am not pale, scary, green, deathly skinny, or malnourished.
- Pay attention to how you feel after you eat certain foods. When I eat fruits and veggies, I feel amazing and energized. After a yummy meal at a delicious vegan restaurant, I feel like sitting on the couch. Why? Fake chicken, fried foods, too many grains, possible over eating was it worth the bad feeling? I believe in "treating" myself, but the more and more I listen to my body, the more I wonder really if eating like this is treating myself in any way. I like to run long distances. It is a treat to find a new trail, get lost, and/or go on an adventure. Eating crappy foods limits my ability to "treat" myself in this other way. If I had to choose between a delicious bowl of vegan ice cream and an awesome scenic run, the run would ALWAYS win.
So I'll leave you with my preferred way to treat myself:
No way I could do this stuff eating CRAP!!