During my pleasant conversations with work colleagues about how I no longer eat any meat or dairy, it has been exclaimed on occasion ‘Oh my God you are so restricted!’
It’s similar to the question ‘But, what do you eat then?’ and it’s a common question/assertion, and no one saying this is ever rude or nasty, but they are genuinely shocked, and often genuinely do believe I am left with nothing more than twigs and leaves.
In fact, the opposite is true.
The assumption that a diet free from animals is devoid of substance is indicative of just how restricted the standard Western diet is.
For instance, often I bring out an avocado at work and some have asked me what it is, they have never seen one.
People on the Western diet may spend £150 plus on their weekly food shop at a supermarket, including the lunchbox favourites; snacks, crisps, sweets, bars, pots etc. which the kids could not live without. Usually staples such as cheese, milk, eggs, chops, steaks, prawns, mussels, fish fingers, turkey dinosaurs, burgers, buns, and token amounts of regular fruit and veg.
Most aren’t buying or even seeing the myriad foods on offer past those supermarket walls.
Speaking to people around me, I have found many are unaware of the existence of foods such as:
The varieties of lentils:
- Brown/Spanish pardina.
- French green/puy lentils (dark speckled blue-green)
- Yellow/tan lentils (red inside)
- Red Chief (decorticated yellow lentils)
- Eston Green (Small green)
- Richlea (medium green)
- Laird (large green)
- Petite Golden (decorticated lentils)
- Masoor (brown-skinned lentils which are orange inside)
- Petite crimson/red (decorticated masoor lentils)
- Macachiados (big Mexican yellow lentils)
The different types of bean and all the different flavours, textures, and uses of each of these.
Obviously, there are veganised replacement products of any foodstuff you can buy – with varying results of course, but those are not what a plant-based diet need consist of.
Here is a list of foods I have cooked with or snacked on this week alone (Sunday to Thursday)
Vegan cheese (Violife) – in wraps or sandwiches
Soy Mince – bolognaise and chili
Passata – bolognaise and chili
Onions and garlic – raw and cooked in sauces and sandwiches/wraps
Mushrooms – in sauces and a raw snack
Green beans – in vegetable broth
Broccoli – steamed in broth and raw in smoothies
Carrots – in broth, grated into bolognaise, and smoothies
Berries – strawberries, blueberries, blackberries – in smoothies
Peas – in sausage and mash dinner
Potatoes – in sausage and mash dinner, and broth
Gravy granules – in sausage and mash dinner (Bisto for meat is vegan 😛 ) – add some red wine or yeast extract for a kick
Veggie sausages – in sausage and mash dinner, in sausage and mustard sandwich
Oven chips – with sausage and beans for dinner
Bread and fajita wraps – sandwiches and wraps for lunch
Mustard – sandwiches and wraps for lunch
Crisps (potato chips) – snack
Olive oil – on salad and in sauces
Pasta – with pesto and bolognaise
Fresh basil – in homemade pesto
Nuts – walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, cashew nuts, pistachio nuts – snacks and walnuts in pesto
Beans – turtle beans, kidney beans – in broth and chili
Bok choy – broth
Spring greens – broth
Spirulina – smoothies
Apples – smoothies
Kiwis – smoothies
Tangerines – snack
Bananas – snack
Avocado – with chili, sandwiches, spooned out as snack
Hummus – in wraps and with chips for dipping crudités
Tofu – tofu sandwich
Sundried tomatoes – in salad
Artichoke hearts – in salad
Capers – in salad
Peppers (capsicums) all colours – in sauces and as crudités
Cereals with soy milk – evening snack (many cereals are vegan)
I’ve eaten each of these foods in various combinations over the past five days.
Here are some of my meals and consumed foods in visual form:
Does this seem restricted to you?
I think it is in fact far more varied than the stark variations on the meat and two veg of the typical Western diet.
For details on staple recipes, please see my previous post, But What Do You Eat?
You don’t even have to miss out on comfort foods when vegan, like mac ‘n cheese, for which you can find my recipe here.