If you're unfamiliar with veganism--as I was until just a few short months ago--you probably think it's all about salads and tofu. Yes, tofu is a part of the diet. It's a great source of protein, calcium, and vitamin E. It's low in fat and can be flavored in an infinite number of ways. Also, tofu has shown it can help to lower bad cholesterol and even play a role in reducing the risk for cancer.
In researching my path to full veg-head status, I discovered a handy list issued by PETA. Surprisingly some of my favorite foods are considered "accidentally vegan*," meaning they contain no eggs, dairy or dairy by products, or other animal-based products like gelatin. (* PETA notes on their site that some products considered "accidentally vegan" may contain trace amounts of animal-derived products, such as milk. However, for someone like me who's in the initial phases of the vegan transition, these products are a great help.)
Did you know Oreo cookies and (my personal fave) Nutter Butter cookies are vegan? Yep. They are. Check out their ingredient lists:
Note: Just because it's vegan--even if it's accidental--doesn't mean it's good for you. I'm posting these to show that going vegan isn't as difficult as some people, including myself, think it is. Want examples of some other popular products you probably didn't know where vegan?
Enjoy Ritz crackers with peanut butter? Yep, the crackers are vegan.
Like hot chocolate? Feel free to indulge in Ghirardelli Chocolate Hazelnut, Chocolate Mocha, or Double Chocolate. Just don't add marshmallows. They contain gelatin. (Unless it's a vegan marshmallow. Yes, they exist.)
|My Spicy Red Beans and Rice|
(Recipe coming soon!)
Wondering what to have for breakfast? Try Kellogg's Special K Red Berries cereal, Quaker Lower Sugar Instant Oatmeal (Maple & Brown Sugar flavor), or even Cap'n Crunch Peanut Butter Crunch if you still like to eat like a kid. These are all vegan! Simply substitute soy, almond, rice, or coconut milk for cow's milk. (By the way, the Red Berries cereal with vanilla-flavored soy milk it like eating strawberries and cream with a crunchy topping. Sooooooooooooo good--I'm addicted!)
See? It's really not a huge stretch to go vegan or at least incorporate more plant-based dishes into your menu. As for me and Day 1 of the Challenge, I enjoyed Cap'n Crunch Peanut Butter Crunch cereal with vanilla soy milk in the morning, had a great lunch of hummus and veggies (raw carrots and cucumber) and whole wheat pita bread followed by a banana and some mandarin orange slices, an afternoon snack of a Luna bar and mint chocolate soy milk, and a fabulous dinner of spicy red beans and rice.