Going Vegan 101

This girl is going vegan for a month! Why you ask? Last February I decided to give up beef after realizing how little of it I ate. It’s been a year and to be honest, I don’t miss it AT ALL. I’ve discovered so many great alternatives to the foods I thought I would miss the most, like Beyond Meat and Impossible Meat, that I don’t even crave beef anymore. When it comes going vegan, I’ve been doing my own research, speaking with friends and experts who have chosen this lifestyle, and there are a few main reasons I am going vegan for a month:

All Star Salad from Fresh Restaurant
  1. Consuming more WHOLE foods – going vegan means eliminating meat and animal products. Inevitably, I’ll turn to other foods that I may not have otherwise which are richer in composition. I go into more detail about the kinds of foods I’ll be eating but it includes whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lentils, beans, nuts and seeds.
  2. Reducing my carbon footprint – vegan diets are considered to be highly sustainable. Animal agriculture is the largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, which directly impacts climate change. “Producing half a pound of beef generates the same amount of emissions as driving a car 9.8 miles. Producing half a pound of potatoes is only equal to driving a car 0.17 miles.” (See Note 1)
  3. Shedding a few pounds – although losing weight is not my main motivation, I’ve read that following a vegan diet can contribute to dropping a few pounds . The foods often make you feel fuller longer and are high in nutrients like fibre and antioxidants.
  4. Reducing the risk of certain cancers and diseases

If you decide to try a vegan diet, please make sure to do your own research and always consult your doctor.

How I’m Starting

By no means am I going cold tofurkey (LOL!). I’m taking it slow and going week by week. I feel like cheese is going to be the hardest thing for me to give up! My end game isn’t necessarily to maintain a vegan diet, instead, determine where I can make some sustainable changes for the long term. Here’s my week by week plan to going vegan:

Week 1 – Vegetarian Week – Eliminate meat and fish
Week 2 – Vegan-ish Week – Eliminate eggs, honey & butter
Week 3 – Vegan Week 1 – Eliminate cheese
Week 4 – Fully Vegan

After Week 4 the goal is to reflect on the month and determine where I can make concessions and where I can potentially reduce my consumption of certain animal products.

Dinner spread from Reyna on King

Food to Buy

The biggest piece of advice that I read about going vegan was to plan. I am making myself a meal plan and making sure my fridge and pantry is stocked with the basics, especially snacks!

Whole Grains: rice, quinoa, gluten-free pastas
Meat Alternatives: Tofu, tempeh
Vegetables (meaty ones): mushrooms, potatoes, jackfruit, eggplant, cauliflower, beets
Fruits & Vegetables: your favourite fruits and vegetables to make salad, bowls, stirfrys etc.
Lentils
Beans & Legumes – black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas
Nuts: almonds, brazil nuts, walnuts, pumpkin seeds
Peanut Butter and Nut Butters

I’m also making a list. of foods and cuisines I love that are easily vegan, like Thai or Indian, which will help with my meal planning especially when I want to order out. A list of restaurants in your area who have delicious vegan options is also a good thing to document.

Supplements

Vegan diets can sometimes lack in key nutrients so it’s been recommended to look at adding supplements so you can ensure you are getting these key essentials. As always, please contact your doctor before adding any supplements to your diet.

  • Vitamin B-12: mainly present in animal products. It protects the nerves and red blood cells. Plant-based sources of this vitamin include fortified cereals and plant milks, nutritional yeast and yeast spreads.
  • Iron: important for blood health. Beans and dark leafy greens are good sources.
  • Calcium: Calcium is crucial for bone health. Eating tofu, tahini, and leafy greens will help keep calcium levels up.
  • Vitamin D: protects against cancer and some chronic health conditions, and it helps strengthen the bones and teeth.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Important for heart, eye, and brain function, there are three types of omega 3 fatty acid: EPA, DHA, and ALA. Walnuts and flaxseeds are good sources of ALA, but seaweeds and algae are the only plant sources of EPA and DHA.
  • Zinc: important for the immune system and the repair of DNA damage. Beans, nutritional yeast, nuts, and oats are high in zinc.
  • Iodine: important for thyroid function. Plant-based sources include seaweeds and fortified foods.

Meal Planning

Week 1: Jan 18-24: Vegetarian Week (no meat or fish, eggs allowed)

Monday

Breakfast: Oatmeal (oats, flax seeds, chia sees, brown sugar, maple syrup, crushed almonds)
Lunch: Sriracha falafel wrap (Extreme Pita)
Dinner: gluten free spaghetti w sautéed red pepper, mushrooms and spinach
Snacks: n/a

Tuesday

Breakfast: Oatmeal (oats, flax seeds, chia sees, brown sugar, maple syrup, crushed almonds)
Lunch: avocado toast and eggs
Dinner: homemade ramen (rice based) with bok choy, mushrooms & carrots
Snacks: apple, Make Good granola bar, chips & guac

Wednesday

Breakfast: Oatmeal (oats, flax seeds, chia sees, brown sugar, maple syrup, crushed almonds)
Lunch: veggie pizza
Dinner: chopped salad (tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, parsely, lemon juice, salt, pepper, harissa spice) with Yves Falafal Balls and garlic sauce (hummus, lemon, garlic, dill)
Alt Dinner: Grilled cheese. and tomato soup
Snacks: n/a

Thursday

Breakfast: Evive Smoothie
Lunch: ceaser salad (no bacon) with falafel balls and garlic sauce
Dinner: chili
Snacks: popcorn, Make Good granola bars

Friday

Breakfast: Evive Smoothie
Lunch: spinach salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, beet vinaigrette and grilled halloumi cheese
Dinner: veggie pad thai, veggie and tofu panang curry, mango salad (Khao San Road)
Snacks: gluten free banana muffins, popcorn, Indian pakoras

Saturday

Lunch: Oaxaca bowls from Kupfurt & Kim
Dinner: Vegetarian Pizza

Sunday (Travel Day)

Lunch: Burrito Boyz – gluten free bean and cheese burrito with all the toppings, no refried beans
Dinner: Mandy’s Salad – The Wolfe – tamari dressing, mixed greens, arugula, kale, quinoa, cherry tomatoes, avocado, shredded carrots, toasted walnuts, toasted sesame seeds, shaved parmesan

Week 2: Veganish Week (no meat or fish, eggs, butter)

Monday

Lunch: greek pasta salad – cucumber, tomatoes, shallots, feta cheese, oregano, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, S&P, gluten free pasta
Dinner: homemade Indian food – lentils, rice, eggplant and flatbread

Tuesday

Breakfast: Evive smoothie
Lunch: gluten-free cheese pizza, Ceaser salad and broccoli
Dinner: mushroom risotto – cremini mushrooms, spinach, parmesan

Wednesday

Breakfast: Evive smoothie
Lunch: leftover Indian food from Monday night
Dinner: Vegan sushi from Bloom Sushi

Thursday

Breakfast: Evive smoothie
Lunch: Beyond Burgers on Gluten Free buns (cheddar cheese, pickles, onions, tomatoes, spinach, tabasco, ketchup and mustard) with waffle fries
Dinner: Falafel and halloumi bowls

Friday

Lunch: Gluten-free spaghetti with tomato sauce and roasted broccoli, parmesan
Dinner: Spice Brothers Butter Paneer bowl (basmati rice, three bean salad, butter paneer)

Saturday

Breakfast: Evive smoothie
Lunch: bagel with cream cheese and tomatoes, oat milk cappuccino
Snack: croissant,
Dinner: Mandy’s salad, The Endless Summer – summer dressing, romaine lettuce, mixed greens, kale, quinoa, shredded carrots, cucumber, avocado, tempura onions, pomegranate seeds, sesame seeds, cilantro, basil, tamari mock chicken

Sunday

Brunch: Gluten free pancakes & Evive smoothie
Snacks: Miss Vickies sour cream and sweet chili chips, pistachios
Dinner: n/a – stomach was feeling a bit off so didn’t each much today. In other news, my boyfriend at two pizzas. I hate his metabolism.

Week 3: Vegan Week (no animal products)

Monday (Feb 1)

Breakfast: coffee with Silk almond vanilla creamer, Evive smoothie with oat milk
Lunch: Grilled wrap – gluten free tortilla, spinach, falafel, hot sauce, tahini, hummus, tomatoes and cucumber
Dinner: Mushroom pasta with spinach (gluten free and vegan)
Snacks: Smart Sweet gummies, cauliflower crackers, mixed nuts

Tuesday (Feb 2)

Breakfast: tangerine, coffee with DF creamer
Lunch: Homemade Indian food – rice, eggplant and potato sabji, channa masala, mixed greens
Dinner: Homemade brocoli and tofu pad Thai
Snacks: Oreos, cauliflower crackers, Smart Sweet gummies

Wednesday (Feb 3)

Breakfast: tangerine, Evive smoothie with oat milk, Coffee with Silk Vanilla Almond creamer
Lunch: 1/2 GF veggie flatbread and spinach salad
Dinner: leftover broccoli and tofu pad Thai, pistachio latte with oat milk (Starbucks)
Snacks: Oreos, smart sweet candy

Thursday (Feb 4)

Breakfast: n/a
Lunch: Peanut Lentil soup from Mandy’s
Dinner: GF spaghetti and tomato sauce
Snacks: dried apricots, 6 bean salad, 1/2 avocado, sesame snaps, chocolate coconut energy balls

Friday (Feb 5)

Breakfast: Coffee with Silk Vanilla Almond creamer
Lunch: 6 bean salad
Dinner:
Snacks: chocolate coconut energy balls

Saturday (Feb 6)

Breakfast: Evive Smoothie with Oat Milk
Lunch: homemade Indian food (kidney beans , eggplant, basmati rice), 1/2 Mandy’s Salad
Dinner:
Snacks: sesame snaps, two bite cinnamon rolls,

Sunday (Feb 7)

Breakfast: oatmeal
Lunch: Buffalo ‘chicken wrap’ from Fresh restaurant
Dinner: GF & VG pizza from Pizza Liberetto, red wine
Snacks: n/a

Week 4: Vegan Week (no animal products)

Monday (Feb 8)

Breakfast: clementine, Pistachio latte w/ oat milk (Starbucks)
Lunch: Naked burrito bowl (no cheese) or dairy based sauces
Dinner: chili garlic tofu with cauliflower rice
Snacks: VG and DF cupcakes from Almond Butterfly (Toronto)

Tuesday (Feb 9)

Breakfast: Coffee with Silk Vanilla Almond creamer
Lunch: Homemade Chaat Papri
Dinner: Rice noodle stir-fry with carrots, broccoli, red pepper and zucchini
Snacks:

Wednesday (Feb 10)

Breakfast: Coffee with Silk Vanilla Almond creamer
Lunch: Impossible Meat burgers (vegan) with french fries from Burger’s Priest (Toronto)
Dinner: Mushroom Risotto
Snacks: Tortilla chips & salsa, Golden Milk

Thursday (Feb 11)

Breakfast: Coffee with Silk Vanilla Almond creamer, Evive Smoothie with Oat Milk
Lunch: Mediterranean Salad (cucumbers, tomatoes, shallots, parsley, EVOO, lemon juice, spices) with falafel
Dinner:
Snacks:

Friday (Feb 12)

Breakfast:
Lunch:
Dinner: Gluten free gnocchi & tomato sauce with ceaser salad
Snacks:

Saturday (Feb 13)

Breakfast: Coffee with Silk Almond creamer
Lunch: Roasted vegetable vegan pizza
Dinner: Gluten free bean burrito with veggies and hot sauce
Snacks:

Sunday (Feb 14)

Brunch: Coffee with Silk Almond creamer, Gluten-free pancakes, avocado, waffle fries
Dinner: Broccoli and tofu pad thai
Snacks:

Monday (Feb 15)

Breakfast: Coffee with Silk Almond creamer
Lunch: Gluten free spaghetti with tomato sauce, mushrooms and spinach
Dinner: Grilled cheese sandwich, tomato and red pepper soup, stir-fry broccoli, Golden Milk

Note 1: Source: 15 Vegan Lifestyle Benefits That Will Make You Never Look Back

One Comment Add yours

  1. simply_mo says:

    YES, YES, YES every beginner vegan should read this!!

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