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Are you vegcurious?

Updated: Mar 24, 2023

Welcome to vegcurious – the blog for people who are curious about plant-based eating.

If you’re reading this, you may be just starting to think about including more plant-based meals into your diet, or maybe you’ve already started with Meatless Monday or VB6. The point is that very few people start out life eating a plant-based diet. For a lot of people, maybe even most people, the transition to plant-based eating is a process that takes place over weeks, months, or even years, and for some people it’s more like a light switch: Poof…I’m a vegan! That was not the case for me.

"My road to plant-based eating took a full five years and had quite a few twists and turns, plus the occasional off-road detour, along the way."

After volunteering at an animal sanctuary and falling in love with a pig, a few goats and more than one chicken, I decided that I wanted to eat a plant-based diet but I didn’t know where to start or how to confidently and nutritiously replace the foods I had been cooking and eating for my whole life. I worried about getting enough protein, calcium and other nutrients. Today I know that all the things that kept me from making the transition earlier ended up being a big nothing veggie burger once I did a little research. This blog was created to answer your questions about plant-based eating and show you just how easy and delicious it really is.

Why plant-based eating?

Everyone has their own reason for why they want to include more plant-based foods in their diet. Some people do it for personal health reasons. Some for their love of animals. And some for the health of our planet. You may be considering a plant-based diet for one, or all, of these reasons. But, whatever your reason, you may be wondering where to start.

In this first installment of vegcurious, I’m going to share a few different ways that people choose to introduce more plant-based foods into their diet and the different “labels” you will likely encounter on your journey. Let’s start with some of the programs available that you may want to try.

Meatless Monday

The name pretty much says it all! Meatless Monday is a global movement that encourages people to reduce meat in their diet for their health and the health of the planet. The campaign was started in 2003 by Sid Lerner, the Founder of The Monday Campaigns, in association with the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.


The idea is pretty simple. Each Monday you plan your meals and snacks around plant-based options. Over time, the goal is for you to have enough Meatless Monday meals in your repertoire to extend eating Meatless to another day…or two…or more! It’s a very easy and comfortable introduction to plant-based eating.

Eat What You Already Like!

A great way to start your Meatless Mondays is to take the meals you already make and love and tweak them to be plant-based. For example, you can make spaghetti and meatballs using any one of the many plant-based meatball options out there. My personal favourite is Yves, but there are meatballs from Beyond Meat, Gardein, Impossible and lots of other brands and they are available pretty much anywhere you get groceries. Chili is another dish that is very easily made vegan by substituting a ground plant-based meat for your usual hamburger or turkey. One of my favourite vegan meals is fish tacos using Gardein breaded fish filets.


If Meatless Monday seems like a good place for you to start your journey to plant-based eating, check out all the tips and recipes on their website.


VB-6

This stands for Vegan Before 6. VB-6 was started by award-winning chef and cookbook author, Mark Bittman when, at the age of 57, his doctor told him that he was 40 pounds overweight, prediabetic and had high cholesterol. The doctor recommended a vegan diet for Bittman, but he wasn’t ready to go full-on vegan yet. That’s when he created VB-6.

The basic premise is that whatever you eat before 6:00pm should be plant-based. Whatever you eat after 6:00pm can be anything. If this sounds like something that would interest you, you don’t have to start doing this 7 days a week. Try it for a few days and see how it goes. Again…the idea is to rack up enough meals that you love to extend it to all 7 days and start to include some dinners, too!


It's not just about being vegan

In Bittman’s book about VB-6, he has other concerns besides animal products. Remember…his goal was his personal health AND weight loss, so he also recommends no processed foods, no high fat foods, and other restrictions. If you are doing this solely to transition to plant-based eating, then you may want to take VB-6 more literally – as in no animal products before 6:00pm. Period. But processed, or even some higher-fat plant-based products, are OK in moderation.


If you share in Bittman’s personal goals, you can check out his book for more detailed instructions on the full VB-6 plan. It should be noted that while this plan can help you reap the potential health benefits of plant-based eating, being able to consume whatever you want after 6:00pm can still have a negative impact on your overall diet and health.


10-Weeks to Vegan

Just as the name implies, this is a very slow, very gentle introduction to plant-based eating that takes place over 10 weeks. Developed by a Registered Dietitian, 10-Weeks to Vegan provides 10 weekly emails that are designed to make your transition to plant-based eating easy and fun!


10-Weeks to Vegan was started by Vegan Outreach – a 501c3 nonprofit organization that was founded in 1983 with the goal of working to end violence towards animals. The 10-Weeks program is currently offered in over 1,000 cities across almost 50 countries around the world.

The 10-Weeks to Vegan program

Offered completely free of charge, each week you will receive an email with tips and resources to help you transition to eating vegan. You also get to join a dedicated Facebook group where you’ll receive lots of encouragement, recipes, and tips from vegcurious individuals just like you who are starting on their own plant-based journey.


There are also experienced vegan moderators, and a registered dietitian moderating the group to answer any specific nutrition questions you may have.


Vegan...vegetarian...flexitarian?

Now that you're thinking about eating a plant-based diet, you might be wondering about the difference between a vegetarian and a vegan. What about a pescatarian, and a flexitarian? The world of plant-based eating is filled with choice. Here are some basic definitions of the different ways people choose to eat.


This is not an exhaustive list and new mash ups are being created all the time. Not seeing anything that meets your needs? Why not borrow from a few of them to create your very own plant-based bespoke diet. Remember…it’s not about being perfect or about fitting neatly under any one label. It’s about doing what you can to reduce harm – to your health, to the environment and to animals.

"It's not about being perfect, or about fitting neatly under any one label."

Plant-based

First, let’s distinguish between “plant-based” and “vegan” because we are going to be focused on plant-based eating in this blog series. Plant-based refers to a diet that is made up of food derived from plants, while the term vegan is broader and includes the elimination of all animal-derived products in other lifestyle choices such as furniture (leather) or clothing (wool). When the word “vegan” appears in these blogs, it is used exclusively in reference to food and eating.

Vegetarian

This is the broadest of the plant-based diets in terms of foods that are included and is sometimes referred to as “lacto-ovo” vegetarian. While there are subgroups of vegetarians (see lacto, and ovo below), someone who follows the most common vegetarian diet chooses to not consume animals in the form of meat, fish or poultry but will consume products that are derived from animals such as cheese, eggs, and honey.

  • Lacto vegetarians

A lacto vegetarian will follow a vegetarian diet but will not consume eggs. So…dairy products such as milk, ice cream and cheese are still on the menu.

  • Ovo vegetarian

You probably already guessed this one! It’s the basic vegetarian diet again but this time dairy is out and eggs are in.

Vegan

On the one hand the definition of a vegan is simple: there is no eating, or using or otherwise consuming, any products derived from animals. So…no meat, dairy, eggs or animal-derived products like honey or gelatin, but also no leather or other products that were obtained through the slaughter or through the effort of animals. On the other hand…things get more complicated from here. In fact, there are many levels of veganism and I promise I will cover all of them in more detail in a future post. For now, this is a generally accepted definition of your garden-variety vegan (pun intended).

Pescatarian

Any Pisces out there? This one may be for you! From the Latin for “fish”, this diet again takes on vegetarian eating as its base with the consumption of fish and seafood included.


And, finally...


Flexitarian

A Flexitarian diet focuses on primarily plant-based foods but will occasionally include meat, poultry, fish and seafood...because they’re flexible like that! While it allows for more flexibility, it’s still primarily vegetarian.


And, there you have it! However you choose to introduce more plant-based foods into your meals, know that you’re helping yourself, the planet and the animals.


Some light reading:

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I hope this blog has helped you find your way to plant-based eating. Remember…the goal is not to be perfect. Do the best you can and enjoy the journey!


Next issue…Whoops! That’s vegan?


Note: It is strongly recommended that you consult with your primary care physician before making any changes to your diet. This blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended to recommend or endorse any particular product, diet or eating plan.


Do you know someone who is vegcurious? Share this post with them using the link below.

1 opmerking


Gast
24 feb. 2023

Eye suure am veg cureous! I look forward try veggy burgher today

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