Almost every wedding we cater lately has vegan/vegetarian guests. My goal is to prepare delicious cuisine that excites all tastes. This post written by my friend Heidi Schild gives great insight into the vegan/vegetarian lifestyle.
What started as a challenge turned into a lifestyle that I will continue forever. A little over 2 years ago, a friend introduced me to a 30-day “Veganuary” program where the participant signs up to follow a vegan diet for the month of January. I had already given up red meat some years ago, but I thought, well… I could do this for a month, right?
The decision to adopt a vegan lifestyle may stem from one’s ethical view. Others may want to begin eating this way just for their health. Admittedly, I began for health reasons. My family history of chronic disease was the catalyst for my decision. Luckily, I had not yet succumbed to heart disease or diabetes, but I had always struggled with weight management, so I was ready to give this a go.
So, what is a vegan? A vegan eliminates all animal products from their diet. This includes fish, poultry, red meat, eggs and all dairy products. Some vegans will also take a pass on honey and choose not to wear any clothing that was made from animals, like leather or wool. A vegan gets all their food from grains, vegetables and fruits.
So, what about vegetarians? What’s the difference? There are several classifications of vegetarian. There is the lacto-ovo (include dairy and egg in their diet), the ovo (eggs, but no dairy) and the lacto (includes dairy, but not eggs). There are some vegetarians who also eat fish and call themselves pescatarians. The vegetarian diet can somethings be a transition for some who want to eliminate unhealthy animal products and may eventually lead them to veganism.
Within the realm of veganism, there is also a whole food, plant based (WFPB) sector. Technically, you could eat Oreos, French fries and Beyond Meat burgers and still be a vegan. The WFPB lifestyle is what I follow. This method focuses on the high nutrient/lower calorie density of the foods chosen. For example, a pound of spinach has 104 calories, nearly 13 grams of protein and negligible fat. A pound of whole grain pasta has 1683 calories, close to 60 grams of protein and 7 grams of fat. And while this is an extreme example, you can see that by eating mostly low calories vegetables, you become more satiated and tend to consume fewer calories from the higher range foods. Whole (unprocessed) starches – think sweet potatoes, squash, brown rice – to name a few, legumes (beans), fruits, vegetables, nuts (in moderations) are the staples of the WFPB life. The WFPB lifestyle is gaining momentum as an alternative to taking pills to treat chronic disease.
There is scientific evidence that eating a WFPB diet can reverse heart disease, diabetes and other western lifestyle diseases. Documentaries, such as Forks Over Knives, What the Health and Eating You Alive are all powerful films that prove that adopting this lifestyle can change your health for the better. If you’re the least bit veg-curious, I urge you to watch any of these movies or pick up a copy of The China Study to see for yourself how life-changing this is!
And vegan food is never boring. I can prepare a cheesy nacho sauce that is dairy-free, and no one can guess that it’s vegan! Waffle fries made without oil are a favorite in my house and so is quinoa taco night – oil free, filling and delicious.
It may seem overwhelming to eat and cook in a completely different way than what many of us are used to. I believe strongly in this lifestyle that I decided to pursue a Health and Wellness Coach certification so that I could help others.
At Simply Gourmet, our menus have several meatless and Vegan options~
- Mushrooms Bourguignon, Wild Rice/Vegetable Confetti Pilaf
- Paella Valencia/Wild Forest Mushroom Sauté
- Middle Eastern Falafel/Hummus/Tzatziki
- Vegetable Curry/Cauliflower Rice
- Singapore Noodles, Vegetables/Black Bean/Garlic Sauce
- Vegetable Tofu Pad Thai
- Cannellini Bean/Roasted Vegetable Cassoulet
- Penne Puttanesca
- Grilled Vegetable Ratatouille/Ditalini Pasta
- Empanadas, Vegetable/Potato/Fresh Herbs