This month I’m celebrating a decade of being meat-free. I went vegetarian in September of 2005. Two years later, I went vegan. In those early days of vegetarianism, I remember how every meal was a decision. I was used to my habits, making the things I always made, grabbing for my usual snacks. When I decided to stop eating meat, I had to create new habits.
Over the course of 10 years, of course, my habits have continued to change and evolve. Every meal is vegan, but I go through phases where there’s more salads, more soups, heartier meals, more indulgent meals… Depending on the season and how busy I am or am not, my everyday meals get tweaked.
Often non-vegans will tell me they don’t have “time” to go vegan. Since they aren’t in the habit of making vegetarian meals, I think they imagine that every meal takes a significant amount of work and planning. The truth is, most days I look in the refrigerator, see what’s there, and pull something together on the fly.
In many ways, my meals aren’t so different than the things I ate before I was vegetarian. There are more vegetables in them, sure, and no meat, obviously, but many of the cornerstones are the same: tacos, pizzas, salads, sandwiches, stir-fries, curries… (For 10 vegan meals you already know how to make, check out this post.)
In reality it doesn’t take more time to make tacos with beans or a cheeseless pizza with bell peppers and mushrooms. Often it takes even less time, because vegetables don’t have to cook as long. (My propane tank on the grill seems to last forever now, because even though we grill a ton, vegetable skewers, veggie burgers, and garlic bread just don’t take that long to cook.)
What Vegans Eat:
For people who are curious about what vegans eat or think that a vegan meal requires extensive time in the kitchen, here are pictures from one day in my normal life. Obviously, I don’t eat these things everyday. My meals change from day to day. However, this breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snack are pretty typical.
Breakfast: Tofu Scramble & Toast
I’m usually not hungry first thing in the morning, and so I’ll just have coffee with cashew milk. After an hour or two, I’ll make something savory and hearty to start the day. This day I made a quick tofu scramble with toast. On the weekends I go all out with more vegetables or make breakfast burritos. However, since this was a weekday, I just used onions, garlic, curly kale, tofu, and spices. (An even easier morning meal in the same vein is eggy tofu and toast.)
Lunch: Pineapple Fried Rice
A few hours later, lunch was vegetable fried rice with pineapple. I pulled out some vegetables – carrots, onions, garlic, and bell pepper. I sautéed them in a little oil, and then added a bag of frozen rice that I’d let thaw a little on the counter while I cooked. (Trader Joe’s sells them in 3 packs, and they’re really handy to keep in the freezer for a fast lunch or dinner. I also freeze my own homemade rice.) I added fresh pineapple, cilantro, peanuts, tamari, sriracha, and limes for squeezing on top. (For a full recipe, check out this fried rice or noodle stir-fry.)
Snack: Hummus with Carrots & Celery
By the late afternoon, I always like a snack. This day I pulled out some leftover homemade hummus from the refrigerator and quickly sliced one carrot & one celery stalk for dipping. I sprinkled the hummus with a pinch of sumac.
Dinner: Lentils with Greens and Baked Fries
For dinner, I made lentils, sautéed collard greens & kale, and baked fries. This is one of our standard meals that I’ve been making for years. Everything is ready in about 30 minutes, and I usually make enough for leftovers.
So that’s a normal day in this vegan’s life. This is the first time I’ve ever done a post like this. Let me know if it’s something you’d like to see more often.
Curious about how much protein I ate on this day? Check out my next post: Where do vegans get their protein?
For more everyday vegan meals, check out these posts from the “What Vegans Eat” series: October, November, December, and January.