Veegends: Vegan Weekend Prep

Nutrition Challenge

Twelve-month challenge: eat vegan the first weekend of each month. Just 24 days out of 365 without meat/fish, eggs, or dairy…Not necessarily with the goal of becoming a full-time vegan, but rather to broaden our horizons, and find healthier options for eating.  Some of the recipes may well be incorporated into your regular home cooking, and you may be surprised how satisfying and filling a plant-based diet can be.  We’ll kick off 2020 with our first Veegend, aka Vegan Weekend!

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What’s a Veegend?!

Veegends: just two little days a month without any animal products whatsoever.  No meat or fish of course. But also, no eggs. No butter.  Or even (gasp!) cheese.  I know; I feel your pain.  Cheese has been the downfall of many a vegan wannabe, including myself…we’ll explore some dairy options and alternatives.  For some, eggs are a stand-by breakfast that might be a challenge to forgo. And if you’re a steadfast carnivore, you may wonder how on earth you could find satisfaction without chicken, pork, beef, or fish on your plate.

Even as a long-time vegetarian it can sometimes be difficult to forgo dairy, eggs, or fish.  Rather than make drastic, sudden changes in diet, I propose we allow ourselves a gentler introduction to new foods or modified ways of preparing favorite classic dishes. Whether you want to eat more healthfully for your own benefit, to lessen your impact on the planet, or are an aspiring ethical eater, Imagine’s Veegend vegan weekends are a great way to ease into plant-based eating.

Over the course of the upcoming year, we’ll explore products and recipes that provide similar taste, texture, nutrients of some popular foods from the meat and dairy aisles. We’ll look at how changing up portions and proportions in our regular diet makes eating only plant-sourced foods much easier than we might have imagined.

There is a misconception that a vegan diet is an expensive alternative to our more standard Western diet.  Certainly, a stroll through your local grocery confirms that you can indeed spend a small fortune on vegan products.  Vegan cheeses, butter, and egg substitutes or non-meat burgers can cost a small fortune–Just this morning, I spotted a small bottle of vegan mayo at my favorite food co-op for (drum roll…) fourteen bucks! That’s a bit spendy, and the price tag alone is enough to discourage change. But in reality, eating fruits and vegetables doesn’t have to be an extraordinary drain on one’s pocketbook.  Imagine Veegends will explore ways to create some of the meat, dairy, and egg substitutes at home, usually for much less than the commercial counterparts, and virtually always yielding a fresher, better-tasting end product.  And, to make it even more do-able, the Veegends begin in January, traditionally a time of renewal and health resolutions, and cold enough weather to want to warm up the kitchen with a cooking adventure.

I know that time is precious, and weekends fly by, so I’ll modify recipes to make them quick and easy to execute.  As much as possible, the vegan weekends will rely upon ingredients usually accessible at regular grocery stores.  I’ll include some recipes that entail more time or less-common ingredients when the end result justifies it and will review some ready-made options as well.

Vegan Weekend One will feature some of my favorite, chef-tested vegan recipes.  Some ingredients to have on hand can be purchased ahead. We’ll explore that in another post.  We’ll rely heavily on fresh produce from your grocer or local farmer’s market, but we’ll also look to spices and seasonings to give food umami, or the “meaty flavor.” I suggest investing in a cast iron pan, as the iron will help flavor your meatless proteins (and makes them healthier, too!).

Before the new year kicks off, you may want to try some Meatless Mondays, or going without animal products for a day or even a meal, to get yourself used to eating more vegetarian-friendly foods–and wean yourself from relying solely on meats, if that’s a big part of your diet. And get ready for some vegan treats to come!

Additional Reading

Benefits of increasing plant-based eating, even for non-vegetarians

Tips for transitioning to a vegan diet

Are Cashews Good for You?

What’s to Know About Eating Vegan?

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