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Archive for the ‘Nutrition’ Category

The Part-Time Vegan

I’ve been a vegetarian since December 2006. Since then my attitude towards food has changed a lot. I wrote more about those changes in my five-year veggie-versary post. During those 5+ years I’ve tried to go vegan several times. Why? First of all, I love and respect animals. All of them. And I don’t want to cause them any harm. Plus, I do believe that a plant-based diet is not only healthier for humans but also better for the environment.

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While I do enjoy vegan food a lot, I’ve always found it very hard, almost impossible, to be 100% vegan for more than a few days.

Following a meat-free diet in this part of the world is challenging, in many ways. First of all, I’m surrounded by omnivores, who strongly believe that a vegetarian or even vegan diet is unhealthy, that I’m at the risk of malnutrition, and what not. Some even think that I’m suffering from an eating disorder!

I know a total of two or three people, who are also vegetarians, but we are not close friends. I don’t know any vegans in real life. I know I shouldn’t care what others think or do, but always being the odd one is not fun at all.

Aside from that, I’ve noticed that my biggest challenges are free food and eating out. I love baked goods, especially elaborate birthday or wedding cakes (be still my heart). Unfortunately, none of them are vegan, and they are full of processed sugar and white flour. But they are so freaking delicious!

Plus, I don’t want to be that annoying person at a restaurant, that bombards the waiter or waitress with tons of questions and special orders.

I used to think that if I can’t be 100% vegan, it’s not even worth trying. Recently, I’ve changed my mind about that.

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I’m not trying to be perfect anymore! Instead, I’ll eat vegan meals and snacks as often as I can, while allowing myself to follow my cravings. So I may or may not have a piece of non-vegan cake, and I may or may not have some non-vegan ice cream on a hot day, and I may or may not order a pizza with cheese when I’m going out with my friends. I might even have scrambled or hard-boiled eggs when I’m stuck at a hotel where the vegan breakfast options are more than sad.

A few weeks ago I’ve stopped using animals products when preparing my own food, as you can see in some of my WIAW posts. I won’t call this a transitioning phase, as I’m not sure where I’m going. I also won’t call myself a vegan, as I do still occasionally consume foods that contain eggs or dairy. At the moment, I’m about 80 – 90% vegan, and that’s enough for me.

Well, this is where I stand right now. Maybe I’ll be a real vegan one day, maybe I won’t. I don’t know. But I do know that I feel absolutely amazing on a plant-based diet.

How would you describe your diet? Plant-based, paleo, omnivore?

See you!

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(Note: I’m not an expert in nutrition. I’m just sharing my personal experiences and some knowledge bits that I’ve found online.)

Healthy eating is probably one of the most popular New Year’s Resolutions every year. But what does ‘Healthy Eating’ mean? Some say carbs are bad for you, others say fat is evil, some say you have to eat every 2-3 hours, others say you should starve yourself for up to 24 hours, some say you have to eliminate salt, others say you have to eliminate sugar. It’s so confusing!

But there is one thing that almost all diets agree on: Vegetables are good for you!

Most dietary guidelines recommend consuming at least five servings of fruit or vegetables a day, depending on your usual caloric intake.

One serving equals:

  • 1/2 cup of fruit
  • 1 medium piece of fruit
  • 1/4 cup of dried fruit
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) of 100% fruit or vegetable juice
  • 1 cup of leafy vegetables
  • 1/2 cup of cooked or raw vegetables

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A few weeks ago, I joined the Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge. Part of this challenge was to aim for seven servings of fruit and vegetables each day. That sounds like a lot, but I quickly got used to it, and it’s even become natural for me now.

So, how do I do it?

First you have to find your favorites, in other words fruit and vegetables that you truly enjoy eating. My current personal favorites are apples, bananas, clementines, carrots, zucchini, broccoli, bell peppers, tomatoes, and cucumbers. On the other hand, I really despise celery, fennel, and beets, and I’m allergic to kiwis. I won’t force myself to eat things I don’t like, and in my opinion, you don’t have to, either.

The next step is going to the grocery store and buy those fruit and veggies. That’s kind of obvious. In order to be able to eat a lot of vegetables, you have to buy them first.

The key to getting in seven servings of fruit and vegetables a day is to have one or two servings with every meal or snack. Squeezing all seven servings into one single meal is practically impossible.

Here are some sample meals and snacks, based on my recent eats (that is actually what I ate on last year’s Christmas weekend):

Breakfast with vegetables and juice

Breakfast with vegetables and juice

As I prefer a savory breakfast, I usually add some raw vegetables (cucumber or carrot sticks, tomatoes) and a small glass of 100% fruit juice to my usual sandwich. That’s at least two servings of produce already.

Soup and Salad

Lunch - Soup or Salad

For lunch, I prefer something light, like soups or salads. Depending on ingredients and portion sizes, that’s about two or three servings of vegetables per meal.

Betchussam and Kidney Bean Curry

Asian dinners

We often have Korean or other Asian dishes for dinner. That includes exotic sides like seaweed salad, mung bean sprouts, and kimchi (spicy pickled radish). I’d estimate that most of my dinners contain about two servings of vegetables.

Smoothie and Fruit Salad

Smoothie & Fruit Salad

Whenever I get hungry between meals, I snack on some fresh fruit (clementines, bananas, apples) or I make myself a smoothie with frozen fruit or defrost a fruit salad mix. That’s one more serving of fruit.

As you can see, it all adds up. With a little practice, eating lots of vegetables and fruit is not that hard. And it’s delicious, I promise!

How many servings of produce do you eat per day? Do you try to eat more vegetables?

See you!

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