Although it can be difficult—especially on a college campus—going vegan can certainly help lead you to a healthier lifestyle. Automatically, living the vegan lifestyle cuts down on many fats and cholesterol found in animal products, and turns us toward more nutrient dense foods such as fruit, veggies, and organic proteins. Because the demand for healthier and vegan food is increasing, there are many delicious options to replace meat and other animal products. Plus, one person going vegan can save countless animals per year…and gives us an excuse to hit up Strong Hearts Café or Core when we’re wandering around Syracuse.
Explaining “fake” meat…
Choosing to eat foods that are not animal products does not mean that you have to go without protein. Also keep in mind that supermarkets such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods offer many vegan replacements of foods you might normally eat.
There are lots of substitutes that can be as satisfying if prepared correctly. Seitan, tofu, and tempeh are commonly used replacements for meat in different dishes. These substitutes take on the flavor or whatever spices you use, so it is easy to change up how you prepare them whether you like chipotle seasoning or pesto sauce.
- Seitan is made from wheat gluten. In my opinion, seitan tastes incredibly close to chicken and keeps me just as full. It has nearly the same amount of protein as sirloin steak, and even more than two medium eggs.
- Tofu is made from soybeans and is gluten-free. Naturally, tofu is very low in calories, so not only can it act as a protein but may also aid in weight loss.
- Tempeh is made from soy. It contains lots of calcium, which as we know is very important to incorporate into our diets to prevent osteoporosis in our later years. Additionally, tempeh contains a low glycemic index, which is a new way of measuring how foods affect our blood sugar. Essentially, this means that consuming foods with a low glycemic index like tempeh are more beneficial in helping to prevent illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, different types of cancer, depression, and type 2 diabetes.
Other important vegan basics:
- Made of chickpeas, hummus is a great way to incorporate a filling of protein into your vegan diet.
- Black Beans. Good news—you can still fulfill your Mexican craving! Throw together a vegan burrito bowl with quinoa, spinach, black beans, and avocado!
- Organic Peanut Butter. One of my personal staples, peanut butter is great with so many different snack foods from apples to rice cakes and beyond. If you are feeling a sweet craving, mix together a little peanut butter with a vegan ice cream like Luna and Larry’s vegan vanilla.
- Almond Milk. Fortunately, almond milk is a delicious way to keep getting your calcium to substitute for dairy products. There are a variety of flavors such as chocolate, coconut and vanilla—available sweetened or unsweetened!
- Lentils are high-protein, plant-based legumes. They are delicious in soups or mixed into salads.
Here are some amazing recipes to think about if you challenge yourself to go vegan!
By Sarah Kinzler