Veganism, while growing within many sectors of the population, is still a mystery to most of us carnivores. Meat and animal products are so prevalent in our grocery stores, it can be difficult for many of us to imagine a transition to vegetarianism, let alone veganism. The exclusion of cheese from my diet alone makes me sweat. But what do vegans eat for breakfast lunch and dinner?
What does it mean to be vegan?
Veganism is a wide-ranging term that includes several philosophies regarding respect for animals. One commonality among all vegans is that they do not consume meat or animal byproducts. Obviously, they do not eat beef, chicken, pork, etc.
It also means that all dairy, eggs, and fish or anything made with those products is off limits. Oftentimes, veganism is a philosophy that extends beyond diet. Most vegans also oppose the use of fur and leather for clothing, animals used for product testing, and the industrial farming system.
Practically speaking, veganism is attached to a lifestyle that contains more restrictions, but many added benefits. For instance, vegans can rarely shop at a “regular” supermarket.
However, a niche culture around veganism has grown in most cities around the globe. Specialty markets, while more expensive, offer intimately-produced, oftentimes-local goods whose quality cannot be matched by your typical grocery store fare.
Farmers markets have seen a renaissance lately and are oft-supported by vegans looking to obtain local produce and finely made artisan goods. Through this locally-focused commerce, vegans help to create vibrant cultures around their philosophies.
What are meat substitutes?
Substituting animal product ingredients for plant-based ingredients is a common theme in vegan cuisine. Tofu and plant-based “meat” products can replace the protein in almost any dish. Burgers, pizza, and even deli meat all have their vegan alternatives.
Seitan is often a vegan substitute for chicken. It is made from wheat. Seitan “Wings” are a common menu item at Vegan restaurants.
Tempeh is another meat substitute that is commonly found in vegan diets. Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans. However, tempeh is considered less processed, which is always good news for vegans. Tempeh is often used in Asian vegan meals as a substitute for any classic protein.
Perfect vegan Breakfast
Smoothies are a popular option for many vegans as a go-to breakfast. Smoothies are customizable, easy, portable, and delicious. Common ingredients include all sorts of fruit, nuts, seeds, almond milk, coffee, etc. A good smoothie, however, relies on the appropriate balance of
all ingredients. Be sure to include some sweet and salty, add some acid, and always use nuts or seeds to include some protein and healthy fats.
What about a vegan lunch?
Salads feature prominently in vegan lunches. Salads are a great way to get a great mix of flavors and nutrients in one dish. Adding legumes, nuts, and seeds give vegan salads both texture and often-elusive protein. Recently, vegan delis have been popping up in cities nationwide.
My local vegan deli features substituted versions of reuben, chicken salad, philly, and cubano sandwiches. They even offer a side of seitan bacon for those who must really miss meat!
Easy to make vegan dinner?
The key to a vegan dinner is finding an appropriate substitution for a typical protein-based dish. Either a plant-based meat substitute or hearty vegetable can be good substitutes for classic proteins. Meaty mushrooms, eggplant, and cauliflower can be prepared in a way that help them mimic meat in several dishes.
Recently, the plant-based food trend is bringing faux chicken, ground beef, and sausage to the dinner table. Companies like Gardein, Impossible, and Beyond produce lines of plant-based “meat” that are becoming staples in grocery stores and restaurants (even Burger King!) worldwide.
Protein is often not the only part of the meal that must be substituted. A lot of fresh pasta, for instance, is made with eggs. Vegans must be very careful when shopping to make sure that the ingredients in any processed foods are free from animal product. Due to this, most vegans shy away from processed foods – especially those readily available in most grocery stores.