Monday, November 1st is World Vegan Day. Initiated in 1994 by the President of the Vegan Society in the UK, it is now celebrated with festivities in multiple cities around the world.
Vegans are vegetarians who abstain from all animal products, including all meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy and honey. A vegan diet can be incredibly healthful if followed properly, but it requires a significant commitment to uphold and it isn’t right for everyone. I certainly applaud the people who have made that commitment and are living as vegans (famous vegans include Alicia Silverstone, Ellen DeGeneres, Woody Harrelson, Jared Lito, Lea Michele, Natalie Portman, Bryan Adams, Alannis Morissette, Jason Mraz, Prince, and others), but there are some gentler forms of vegetarianism gaining momentum as well. Former President Bill Clinton recently became a vegetarian in an attempt to reverse his heart disease. Don’t snicker though…there’s actually a lot of evidence showing that a plant-based diet approach actually WORKS!
Not only that, but a vegetarian diet is far easier on the planet than a meat-based diet is. It takes a lot of natural resources to feed all the animals being raised for livestock!
I was a vegetarian (not a vegan) for a number of years, but have been eating meat for the last 15 years or so. Lately, I’ve been eating less of it, having many meatless meals a week, a practice which would make me a “flexitarian“. I love this idea, because it lets me reap many of the benefits of a healthy vegetarian diet, while still enjoying meat and dairy sometimes!
In honor of World Vegan Day, maybe you’d like to have a meatless meal on Monday. That doesn’t mean you have to go buy tofu or seitan…there are endless options for how to put together a simple meatless meal. In fact, you probably already have many in your repertoire…especially if you allow for eggs and dairy!
I’ll bet you already make or order some of these:
- Eggplant Parmigiana
- Spaghetti with Marinara Sauce
- Cheese Ravioli
- Pasta in pesto sauce
- Veggie Pizza
- Vegetable Lo Mein
- Vegetable Soup
- Vegetable Pot Pie
- Black beans and rice
- Black bean burritos
- Cheese enchiladas
- Butternut Squash Soup
- Black Bean Soup
- Tomato Soup (+ grilled cheese = yum!)
These are all a good starting point, and once you start to play with meatless meals, you can really dial up the healthfulness of your choices, choosing whole grains like brown rice or quinoa or barley and adding beans and vegetables and seasonings while limiting the amount of cheese. It’s much easier than it sounds, and absolutely delicious.
There are a number of great resources on vegetarian cooking. Here are a few cookbooks that I really like:
C’mon, give it a try…one meatless meal in honor of World Vegan Day…your body (and the planet) will thank you!