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A Journey Towards Veganism

A Journey Towards Veganism

March 05, 2020 / Patrick Zavorskas

As I am writing this post, I admit that I have not fully adapted to the vegan lifestyle just quite yet. There has been coffee drank with cream, pizzas covered in cheese and extra parmesan, but the thing is - despite these few mishaps - I actually have found it quite easy to introduce veganism into my diet. I say "introduced", as obviously I have not fully adapted to a vegan diet yet. Though, it has been a little over a three months now in which I decided to attempt in making the switch.

When it comes to veganism, I have met quite a few people who have gone vegan due to dietary restrictions - but most have turned to veganism as a lifestyle choice. It was their way in turning to a healthier lifestyle. It hasn't always been smooth sailing for them though, finding it difficult to give up some of their favorite things. But once they made the commitment, they never since wanted to turn back. 

I wish I could say that the reason I decided to go vegan for some groundbreaking reason that completely mind-blowing - but honestly, I took a stride in going vegan because my partner is vegan. I saw it as an opportunity to better my own diet (which mostly consisted of Taco Bell once a week, the occasional meatball sub, salads - that's healthy right? - and endless cups of coffee), making attempts to better myself and introduce more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lentils, and whatever else I can get my hands on in perfecting the transition. I also saw the opportunity to learn a few new recipes, get my hands dirty in the kitchen, and actually be able to share a dish or two with him along the way. 

When people ask me about the beginning of my transition towards veganism, they usually ask if I find it difficult - the real answer is no. No I do not find it hard. It actually came pretty easily for me, as I found that I wasn't one who depended on needing eggs or dairy - (I always found dairy to upset my stomach in the first place) and I rarely ate meat or used animal products in general. The only time I really ever consumed dairy was in the occasional cup of coffee, which, when available, I usually opt for coconut over cream anyway. My parents also generally cooked more vegetable based meals anyway, really only cooking meat for quick go-to's for lunches, such as chicken salad or turkey sandwiches. At restaurants, I usually opted for meatless options anyway, finding that I had ordered something vegan by chance. This small things have made a huge impact in the transitioning to veganism - and in understanding that this may not be the case for most people, I have come up with a little guide to help ensure your journey towards veganism can go smoothly like mine. 

First Things First - Take Things Easy

Some people assume that going vegan can be easily done overnight, however, for most people, that simply isn't possible. A slow transition and a slower pace towards veganism may be the most sustainable way for many to make the transition rather than a full 180 transition. For an easy transition in going vegan, start it slow. Try introducing veganism into your diet a couple days a week, or opt for the very popular Meatless Mondays, in which you replace one of your daily meals with a meatless and dairy-free option. You will see how easy it can be to actually make a meal that you'll enjoy, can be healthy and filling, and is packed full of all the things you need to make a fulling vegan dish! 

Always Do Your Research - Learn To Plan

In taking more of a transition into a vegan diet, you will find that there are many secret ingredients in which are key in creating your meals and dishes. For the most part, however, you will find that most vegan diets can be supported with a healthy mix of grains, beans or lentils, and produce. With that being said, it can slightly tricky to ensure that you are getting all the nutrients you need in supporting your diet. Make sure you are including rich sources of concentrated protein that include beans, soy products like tofu or seitan, quinoa, nuts, or hemp seeds. You can also include protein-rich vegetables such as asparagus, cauliflower, and broccoli, which can definitely help you reach your dietary daily value requirements

Start With Dishes That You Love - And Do Not Be Afraid To Be Adventurous

Going vegan can truly help expand your tastebuds and palette, helping you learn about all different types of global cuisines, spices, and new ingredients that you have never considered before. If you find that your culinary experience is a bit lacking, this can be an amazing adventure in diving into more recipes and food types. In trying to adapt a vegan diet, I find it rather easy in starting to remake the recipes and dishes that I love into vegan ones, replacing the meat with other protein and the dairy with dairy-free options. This can be as easy as removing the cheese and switching it with a cashew-based cheese or even changing some meat for some other protein like mushrooms or beans. 

When getting comfortable with making vegan meals, try to incorporate new dishes you never made before, looking at uses from new ingredients or new global cuisine you have never leaned into before. There are so many ingredients like kombucha squash or delicata squash, buckwheat, tempeh, maitake mushrooms, jack fruit and more that I have introduced to my diet and have fallen in love with that I would have never thought one about trying before I made the transition into veganism. 

Think Creatively and Do Not Steer Away From Vegan Products

A ton of people think that veganism consists of just eating plants, eating tofu, and truly not being adventurous with their diets. However, there is a lot within veganism that has been untapped, allowing many people to create innovative recipes that can replace any meal you can think of! In being creative with ingredients and learning the properties that go into perfecting a dish, there are countless people that have made recipes that are almost, if not better, than non-vegan dishes. There is Lentil Bolognese to replace your meat-packed pasta dishes, or even Vanilla Coconut Yogurt that I swear is better than any dairy yogurt I have ever had. Even if you do not have the time to create a dish from scratch, there are so many vegan products that can be great for any vegan. Look into products such as Earth Balance for vegan butters, Beyond Chicken for a go-to meat alternative, or Daiya when you do not have the time to make your own cheese. There are always options when it comes to making the perfect meal. 

If you need a little help in creating some recipes or getting your foot in the door, check out my go-to recipes for breakfast and dinner!

A Go-To Vegan Recipe For Breakfast

Coconut and Carrot Pancakes

Serves 3 (3 Pancakes For Each) | From Minimalist Baker 

Gather Together

  • 1 Cup of Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 Tablespoons of Organic Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons of Finely Shredded Unsweetened Coconut
  • 1 1/2 Teaspoons of Baking Powder
  • 1 Pinch of Sea Salt
  • 1 Cup of Non-Dairy Milk - Can Be Almond or Coconut
  • 1 Heaping Tablespoon Non-Dairy Butter - Melted
  • 1/2 Cup of Finely Grated Carrot
  • 1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Tablespoons of Crushed Walnuts or Pecans - Plus A Little More For Garnishing

Instructions

  1. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, sea salt, and shredded coconut in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Then pour non-dairy milk into a large liquid measuring cup, adding the melted butter and vanilla while whisking to combine. Add wet to dry and stir.

  2. Stir in carrots and crushed walnuts and let batter rest for 5 minutes while preheating skillet to medium heat.
  3. Once skillet is hot, lightly grease the surface with non-stick spray or non-dairy butter and spoon on 1/4 cup measurements of batter; there should be 9 cakes (amount as original recipe is written // adjust if altering batch size). Flip each pancake when bubbles appear and the edges look slightly dry.
  4. Cook for another couple of minutes on the other side. Keep warm in a 200-degree F (93 C) oven until all pancakes are cooked.
  5. Serve with non-dairy butter, shredded coconut, more walnuts, and warm maple syrup.

Go-To Vegan Recipes For Dinner

Sweet Potato and Pineapple Stir Fry

Serving Size - Three

Gather Together

  • 2 Medium Sweet Potatoes - Peeled and Chopped Into Small Bite-Sized Pieces 
  • 1 Medium Onion - Sliced Into Rings
  • 1/2 Cup of Mushrooms - Diced
  • 1 Cup of Pineapple - Peeled and Cut Into Chunks
  • 1/2 Cup of Kale
  • 1 Cup of Cooked Rice
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic - Peeled and Minced
  • Salt & Pepper - To Taste
  • Rosemary - To Taste
  • Paprika - To Taste
  • Fresh Parsley

Directions

  1. Heat skillet in a wok until warm over medium heat.
  2. Add sweet potato, onion, and mushroom to the wok, season with spices to taste, and sauté with the cover on for about 15 minutes. Stir the vegetables occasionally to ensure that they do not stick to the wok, cook unevenly, or burn. 
  3. After the 15 minutes, add in the pineapple, kale, and garnish with parsley, also to taste. Sauté once again with the cover on for 10 to 15 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are fork tender. When the potatoes are done cooking, add the rice with two tablespoons of water to the wok. Stir well, warming up the rice until well combined. 
  4. Remove from heat, and garnish with more parsley. Serve warm. 

Creamy Vegan Garlic Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes 

Serving Size - Four  |  From Minimalist Baker 

Gather Together

  • 3 Cups of Grape Tomatoes - Halved
  • 10 Ounces of Pasta - Such As A Fettuccini, Penne, or Linguini (You Can Use Whole Wheat Pasta or a Gluten-Free Pasta As Well) 
  • Olive Oil
  • 2 Medium Shallots - Diced
  • 8 Large Garlic Cloves - Minced or Grated
  • 1 Pinch of Salt and Pepper
  • 3-4 Tablespoons of All-Purpose Flour 
  • 2 1/2 Cups of Almond Milk - Unsweetened, Plain
  • 1-3 Tablespoons of Nutritional Yeast or Vegan Parmesan (Recipe Follows) 

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (204 C) and toss tomatoes in a bit of olive oil and sea salt. Place cut side up on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes while you prepare the rest of the dish. Then set aside.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package instructions. When done, drain, cover and set aside.
  3. In the meantime, prepare the sauce. In a large skillet over medium-low heat, add 1 Tbsp (15 ml // use more, as needed, if increasing batch size) olive oil and the garlic and shallot. Add a pinch of salt and black pepper and stir frequently, cooking for 3-4 minutes until softened and fragrant.

    Stir in flour (or other thickener of choice – see notes) and mix with a whisk.
  4. Once combined, slowly whisk in the almond milk a little at a time so clumps don’t form. Add another healthy pinch of salt and black pepper, bring to a simmer and continue cooking for another 4-5 minutes to thicken. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more salt to taste, minced garlic for zing, or a little nutritional yeast for cheesy flavor (optional).
  5. If you want an ultra creamy sauce, transfer sauce to a blender (or use an immersion blender) to blend the sauce until creamy and smooth. Place back in pan and reduce heat to a low simmer until desired thickness is reached.
  6. Once the sauce is to your desired thickness, taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Then add pasta and roasted tomatoes and stir.
  7. Serve immediately and garnish with extra black pepper, fresh basil, and/or vegan parmesan. Best when fresh, but will keep for up to 2 days in fridge.

For Vegan Parmesan 

Gather Together

  • 3/4 Cup of Raw Cashews
  • 3 Tablespoons of Nutritional Yeast
  • 3/4 Teaspoon of Salt
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of Garlic Powder

Directions

  1. Prepare vegan parmesan by adding all the ingredients together in either a food processor or a blender until a fine powder or meal is formed. Do not over mix, as it will get clumpy. Set aside or keep in the refrigerator for up to one month.  

If you are considering going vegan, these tips can definitely be a lifesaver! Share with us how you will transition in going vegan by following us on Instagram @itouchwearables and Facebook @itouchwearables and by dropping a comment and like. Also, be sure to check out our new articles published daily!

-Patrick


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