I’ve been vegan for my entire teen and adult life, and most of my friends and family follow a vegan lifestyle as well. For that reason, I often forget that my daily dining habits might not be obvious to those considering a switch to veganism. In fact, many have told me that despite their interest in veganism, they’re at a loss for how one “goes vegan” on a daily basis.
Last week, a few readers suggested that I offer an example of a typical day in my own life, to give them a sense of how to be a busy, on-the-go woman who also eschews animal products. I thought it was a great idea, and I hope this outline conveys that a vegan diet isn’t strange or difficult, can provide optimal athletic fuel as well as your basic nutritional requirements, and is relatively easy to plan and incorporate into any lifestyle.
Before I launch into the “meat” of the column (heh), I want to preface my dining profile with a few reminders. First of all, this is a typical, healthy day in my life. Don’t think that I don’t eat cake for dinner sometimes – this example is just meant to typify what the routine vegan menu resembles for me. Next up, I’m a young, active woman who runs and enjoys strength training and plenty of yoga and walking – I aim for around 3,000 calories and over 70 grams of protein a day. Those are the nutritional needs I’m meeting, and yours may differ, so plan accordingly.
Now, without further ado…My day of dining:
After my run (on an empty tummy but fueled from my bedtime snack, I like to think), I grab:
1 cup of Mueslix combined with chopped walnuts, diced apple and vanilla soy milk
Why: Mueslix is a high-fiber and higher-calorie cereal to keep me satisfied, the walnuts offer omega fatty acids and the soy milk is a source of complete protein.
At work today, I’ll enjoy a midmorning snack of:
Raw veggies with hummus
Why: The vegetables are a source of fiber and nutrients, and the hummus offers some fat and protein to carry me until lunch.
When the midday stomach grumbles hit at my desk, I’ll pull out:
Ezekiel bread with soy deli slices, veggies, avocado and mustard; a small bottle of OJ; a handful of trail mix
Why: Ezekiel bread is a potent source of iron and fiber, and the deli slices are fortified with B-vitamins. Avocado and trail mix offer healthy fats.
In the afternoon, I like to mix it up. If I’m getting in a workout, I’ll go for a fortified energy bar (like a Luna bar) or a take-out smoothie. If not, something like a snack pack of raisins is perfect.
Dinner rolls around, and tonight I’ll whip up:
A black bean burger on a whole wheat roll, along with roasted sweet potato wedges and a side salad. For dessert? A small bar of dark chocolate.
Why: Beans are a great source of fiber, iron and protein, and sweet potatoes contain carotenoids and antioxidants. The chocolate is also a rich antioxidant source – but also just tastes awesome.
I often enjoy a big bedtime snack. Tonight, I’m sitting down with tea and:
A bowl of Nature’s Path cereal, topped with diced dates, nuts and soy milk
Why: Nature’s Path cereals often contain added omega fatty acids, and the dates offer iron along with being a compact source of calories.
And there you have it! This is actually what I’ll eat today, and I’m doing it after a 6 am run, with a full-time office job. You can do it, too. Keep soy milk juice boxes, cereal, energy bars and trail mix at the office so you don’t have to pack them every day. Brown-bagging your lunch takes no time at all, and dinner will cost you 20 precious minutes of prep time.
I hope this offers a little insight to curious readers - send along questions or comments, and I’ll do my best to help.