I’ve had some friends recently express interest in trying a vegetarian diet and they had a few questions that I thought I’d answer on my blog to share with everyone. Since there are so many expert resources out there on how to start a vegetarian lifestyle, I’m going to link over to their sites. I also wanted to share what my typical weekly meal plan looks like, so you can find that in this post as well. Keep in mind that I’m a creature of habit, meaning that I’m completely fine with eating oatmeal and a banana every morning. For those of you that don’t do this, I’ve added some variety to this meal plan to show you all the wonderful ways you can eat like a veg-head for every meal. Also, something to note is that I make dinner for two people and we always have leftovers, which makes for a great lunch the next day or another dinner for the next night. With all that being said, let’s get started…
Choose Veg partnered with Mercy For Animals to create an amazing and vibrant website. They provide a wealth of information that range from tips on how to start eating vegan that includes a 7-day meal plan to issues on animal rights and the environment. They can even send you a free starter guide! Another great resource comes from PETA, who tends to get a lot of flack for being extremists, but I just see them as passionate people who want to make a major change. They also have a great website with tons of information, including a two-week vegan meal plan with recipes. And of course, Oprah has to one-up everyone with a three-week vegan menu from Kathy Freston’s “The Veganist.” There are more websites out there, but those were my favorites with meal plans that I think would be most helpful.
Another great resource of information is Dr. Joel Fuhrman. He’s appeared on several documentaries that my husband and I have watched and we recently bought his book, “Eat to Live.” We just watched his video called “3 Steps to Incredible Health” and it’s definitely worth watching. It’s only an hour and provides so much insight on how to eat healthy and how to make this lifestyle change (this is not a diet, people, this is a way of life!).
Some of you may be wondering how I transitioned to not eating meat. I would say that I experimented with tons of different recipes and used alternative meat at first. It’s OK to use the fake meat when making the initial switch, however I wouldn’t recommend eating it all the time because it’s highly processed and extremely high in sodium. Now, I know what’s on the forefront of your minds and that is, “How do you get your protein?” The reason I know this is because this is hands-down the number one question that all vegans and vegetarians are asked. The short answer is that you don’t even need to think about it. Honestly, you don’t need meat, or even tofu, to get your daily amount of protein. Grains, beans, nuts and leafy greens provide plenty of protein. The No Meat Athlete wrote a great article on this topic and articulated everything I’d ever want to say about protein.
Before I share my weekly meal plan, here’s some of my advice…
- Be willing to try new things because you never know what you might end up liking. My friend hates pumpkin, but she loves my veggie chili that calls for canned pumpkin.
- Give it some time for your palate to open and for your body to repair. It will take days or even weeks for your taste buds to change and for your body to respond positively. Your body will go through withdrawal because you’re basically getting rid of a food addiction. In a couple of weeks, though, you’re going to start craving fruits and vegetables – I swear, I’m not making this up!
- Watch documentaries like Forks Over Knives, Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue, Vegucated, and Food, Inc., which can all be found on Netflix. These movies changed my life and I will never look at food in the same way again. They provided very resourceful information when I was making the switch to being a vegetarian.
- Join groups on Meetup to find other vegetarians or vegans to try new places to eat out or to pick their brain about eating a plant-based diet.
- Start slowly by either committing to Meatless Monday or a meatless week so not to create too much anxiety or stress with changing your lifestyle.
And without further ado, here’s my weekly meal plan – once again, nothing spectacular, but food that I absolutely love cooking and eating.
The Vegan Wannabe’s 7-Day Meal Plan
Breakfast: 100% whole grain rolled oats, sprinkled with flax seed meal, pumpkin seeds and cinnamon, and topped with a sliced banana; fresh berries
Lunch: Large salad with a spinach and kale mixture, tomato, cucumber, red bell pepper, green onions, mushrooms, beans (any kind but I love garbanzo or kidney), avocado, sunflower seeds, nutritional yeast, flax seed meal, orange, pear and walnuts
Dinner: Moroccan Eggplant and Couscous
Snacks: fresh fruit
Breakfast: Ezekiel English muffin with peanut butter and sliced banana; fresh berries
Lunch: Large salad (see above)
Dinner: Veggie chili
Snacks: apple; bell pepper slices
Breakfast: Ezekiel English muffin with Tofutti cream cheese and avocado slices, a banana and fresh berries
Lunch: Curry chickpea salad sandwich with leftover Veggie Chili
Dinner: Sweet Potato Burritos with a side of steamed broccoli and spinach salad
Snacks: peach; celery with peanut butter and raisins
Breakfast: Smoothie with almond milk, frozen berries, banana, peanut butter and cinnamon
Lunch: Leftover Sweet Potato Burrito with a kale salad
Dinner: VeggiePatch Falafel with Peppers
Breakfast: 100% whole grain rolled oats with mixed fruit
Lunch: Leftover Falafel wrapped in a whole-wheat tortilla with hummus and a spinach salad
Dinner: Crockpot Veggie Gumbo
Snacks: carrots and hummus; kiwi
Breakfast: Sweet Potato Pancakes and Tofu Scramble
Lunch: Chickpea Salad Sandwich and leftover Gumbo
Dinner: Lime Orzo with Veggies and kale salad
Snacks: berries; whole grain chips and salsa
Breakfast: Cereal in almond milk with berries and banana
Lunch: Leftover Lime Orzo with Veggies
Dinner: Sweet Potato Lasagna and spinach salad
Snacks: mixed fruit salad; sliced cucumber and peppers