Vegan Boot Camp

“Garden Boots”

Originally uploaded by brezomayo

A dear friend of mine was recently diagnosed with cancer, and changed her lifestyle radically, including adopting a vegan diet. She asked me for a primer, and I am reprinting it here.

1. You don’t have to replace meat. Just subtract it.
Seriously. This one’s easy. Just remove it from your diet, remove it from your table, from your refrigerator. It is nearly impossible to eat a 2,000 calorie diet without getting enough protein. There is protein in potatoes, in orange juice, in pasta. Vitamin B-12 is the only nutrient lacking in the vegan diet, and there is an easy fix for that, below…

2. These Vegan items are worse than meat: Avoid:
• Hydrogenated or Partially-Hydrogenated oils
• Hydrolized Protein
• Mono Sodium Glutamate (MSG)
• White or Enriched Flour (Avoid Wheat flour unless it’s specifically listed as Whole Wheat)
• Corn Syrup, especially High-Fructose Corn Syrup
• Cottonseed Oil (always in a “may contain” list, because it’s not officially approved as a food except in war emergencies)

3. These Vegan Items should be minimized:
• Omega 6 Oils (Soybean, Peanut, Corn)
• Refined Sugar
• White Rice

4. Non-vegan filler ingredients to avoid:
• Casein (milk protein)
• Marshmellows and Jello (Gelatin is boiled hooves and bones)
• Whey (milk protein)

5. Eat lots of these:
• Organic Seasonal Fresh Fruits and Vegetables (you already do this!)
• Organic Frozen Berries (Get your antioxidants year round – flash frozen is fresher than shipped from Chile)
• Organic Whole Grains (Mix it up: Whole Wheat, Brown Rice, Oats, Spelt, Quinoa)
• Raw nuts (Walnuts, Almonds, Cashews)
• Raw seeds (Sunflower, Pumpkin, Sesame)
• Fatty fruits (Avocados, Olives, Coconut)
• Organic Omega 3 Cooking Oils (Safflower, Sunflower Canola)
Organic Omega 3 Raw Oils (Olive, Flax, Hemp)
• Organic Yogurt (Get your probiotics. Milk, Soy or Coconut Based. Coconut is my favorite.)
Chocolate — the good stuff only! Organic and Dark, with cocoa butter (avoid milk and/or butter fat!) Lots of antioxidants and good fats.

6. Beverages to avoid:
Everything (but water!) If you’re thirsty, drink water. If you’re not thirsty, you don’t need a beverage. OK, maybe sometimes you do. So try herbal teas…

Coffee Replacement: Try Green Tea or Yerba Mate. Yerba Mate tastes like dried grass clippings, but it has a unique blend of caffeine-like elements that perk you up without giving you jitters. It also has lots of anti-oxidants.

Alcohol Replacement: Try Kava Kava juice, or Kava Tea. This is a tropical nut that has soothing/relaxing properties. Great for after-dinner conversations.

7. Strange Vegan Ingredients to Explore:
• Nutritional Yeast: Savory replacement for salt or parmesan. Sprinkle on stir-fries, popcorn, Slightly salty cheesy flavor. Why eat it? Loads of B Vitamins, especially B-12, which is the only nutrient difficult to get enough of on a vegan diet
• Braggs Amino Acids: Replacement for Soy Sauce. Better nutrition, less sodium, no preservatives. Great in salad dressings or in soup stock.
• Miso: Fermented soy paste. Hundreds of varieties exist. Great vegan soup stock.
• Stevia: As sweet as aspartame, this natural leaf extract powder has no calories, and is a great sugar replacement.
• Agave Syrup: Much lower glycemic index than sugar or honey. More subtle than maple syrup, so is better as a general sweetener.
• Hemp Oil: No psychoactives, unfortunately, but loads of antioxidants, a perfect blend of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, and hundreds of other nutritional compounds.

Protein Craving Solutions:
You don’t need these, but sometimes one just craves a hunk of protein:
• Tofu. Fatty, mostly tasteless, very flexible and filling. The firm version makes great entree steaks. The medium version is a crumbly replacement texture (but not flavor) for soft cheeses or scrambled eggs. The soft version can replace eggs/cream in desserts.You will need to season it! Try breading it with nutritional yeast and flax meal. Sautee it with garlic and braggs amino acids. Or just pour on the herbs and spices.
• Tempeh. Slightly less processed version of Tofu. More texture, less fat. Slice thin, season and fry to replace sausage or bacon.
• Seitan/Gluten. Wheat Protein. Easy to make yourself — just knead bread dough under water until the starch washes out. Or buy packaged.

Cheese Craving Solutions:
Cheese is hard to replace, but you can eat other savory fatty foods:
• Avocados
• Artichoke hearts
• Artisan Olives
• Roasted nuts
• Spreads (Hummus, Babaganoush, olive tapenade)

Recipe Examples:

Morning Smoothie:
1 Banana
1/2 cup frozen or fresh local seasonal berries
1/2 Cup Yogurt (soy or coconut works fine)
2 tbl Flax Meal
2 tbl Hemp Oil
Add Veggie-milk or Juice for consistency, depending on your blender.

Greens plus a Berry A Seed and a Bean
Pick one of the following to add to each leafy green salad:
1. Dried Berries (Raisins, Cranberries, blueberries, Goji Berries)
2. Raw Seeds (Sesame, Pumpkin, Sunflower, etc.)
3. Legumes (Garbanzos, Kidney, Cashews, etc.)

Ricotta Replacement:
Mash the following into 14 oz brick of medium organic tofu:
• 2 tbl olive oil
• 2 cloves crushed garlic
• 1 tbl nutritional yeast
• salt, pepper and herbs to taste

Hummus Recipe
1. Two parts Garbanzos to one part Tahini.
2. Drain Garbanzos, but save liquid to add back for consistency if needed.
3. Garlic, Lemon, Olive oil to taste.
4. Blend in food processor until smooth.
5. Sprinkle with paprika or black pepper/oregano

Lots of love and good eating wishes!

One Response to “Vegan Boot Camp”

  1. leslie Says:

    What a good post. I’m vegan already, but these are all terrific things to be reminded of. Thanks!

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