A Rookie Vegan’s Guide: 13 Items to Make Your Meat-Less Mondays Tastier (And Gluten-Free!)!
My wife and I adopted a Vegan lifestyle about a year ago and we just love everything about it, especially the removal of guilt from what we believe is the unnecessary slaughter of millions of animals a year. One of the main reasons we switched was because we felt there was a lot of needless suffering happening to billions of animals around the world, and we chose not to be part of helping that.
Let’s just say it hasn’t been easy to transition our lives to become cruelty-free Vegans. It’s not that we really miss meat at all, it’s more that it’s kind of really tough to find products that are completely animal-free, whether it’s clothing, and food or beauty products. The world is addicted to eating animals and using them for everything; from leather goods to testing for lotions and makeup.
I do not judge anyone’s decision to eat meat and use products that contain animal ingredients. I respect your decision to live your free-will out the way you would like. I just want you to consider a few things.
This post is to help those who want to create a more sustainable environment and Healthier lifestyle for their families, through greener living, such as Veganism. Many people aren’t ready to make the dive into full-on Veganism just yet. A lot of people are taking to the idea of “Meatless Monday,” where they eat products other than meat in an effort to reduce their environmental impact at least one day a week. It has been scientifically proven, that living Vegan lifestyle is one of the quickest ways to reduce your Carbon footprint on the Earth. Currently, about two percent of the U.S. is Vegan
Not only are my wife and I Vegan, but we also have an adverse reaction to gluten, which forces us to eat a gluten-free diet also. I was talking to a friend a couple of months ago and telling him that I was recently having an adverse reaction to wheat. He believed that this reaction wasn’t as much to the wheat itself as it probably was to the chemicals (fertilizers) used on the wheat. He noted that there has been a huge uptick in the number of people becoming sick or intolerant to natural foods like wheat, which humans have eaten for thousands of years without any allergies Things that make you go hmmm…
Here is a quick list of items that have become staples in our kitchen since we’ve gone Vegan. I will mention a few possible dishes you can make with them to help you get started. You will be really surprised at how easy it is to create yummy, nutritious non-meat dishes, which are also gluten-free.
1. Vegetables from your local Farmer’s Market!
This is a no-brainer! Eating a Vegan diet really forces you to eat a lot more vegetables. My wife and I have made it a new family tradition to visit Underwood Family Farms on the weekends and pick all our produce for the week. Our 20-month old daughter, Phoebe, just loves the field trip. There are so many things you can do with vegetables nowadays. The most popular, dicing them up and grilling them with a little olive oil. The picture below is a salad we made from all the yummy veggies we picked from the farm including, beets, carrots, squash, cucumbers and fresh lettuce. Eating a lot of fresh, organic vegetables will make you feel great!
2. Trader Joe’s Soy Chorizo
I bragged about this item before in a post I wrote solely about my favorite Trader Joe’s items. Nothing comes closer to the “real deal,” than this product. The best thing about this Chorizo is that when you cook it, there is no reduction to a pan full of pig fat. The plant-based product cooks well and keeps its consistency. Add it to a brown rice tortilla (mentioned below) with some spinach, tofu, and cheese. Have a hearty quesadilla. Or make Chorizo Fried Rice by adding it to some brown rice, carrots and onions. Lastly, add it to some potatoes and smashed tofu and create a yummy breakfast burrito. You won’t even miss the egg.
3. Trader Joes Brown Rice Tortillas
I love these tortillas! Cook them with a little oil and they get very crispy. The only thing is, they don’t roll the best burritos. But, you can use them easily for wraps and quesadillas.
Tofu is a protein staple of the Vegan. There are so many ways you can cook it. I like the firmer versions. I dice it and use it in stir fries. When you dice it really thin, salt it, and fry it, it kind of tastes like carnitas. Add it to a tortilla with black beans, cheese and rice for a yummy burrito. Can you tell I love burritos? I love to take it and smash it with a fork then add it to fried rice or anything in the morning as an egg substitute for breakfast. You will barely miss your eggs and definitely won’t miss the cholesterol.
Another great source of protein is Tempeh. I love to add this to stir fries and pretty much anything else. Adds great texture.
6. Earth’s balance Spread
You will never miss butter again once you try Earth’s Balance. It works just like butter for all your cooking and food needs.
7. Brown Rice Pasta
Brown Rice Pasta is a great way to get your whole grains. Use this just like you would any other pasta. We realized that we were eating a lot more pasta as Vegans, so recently we decided to shred veggies (lower carbs) and use them as the pasta base instead.
8. Rudi’s Spelt Bread
It’s really tough to find good Vegan and Gluten-Free bread that isn’t hard as a rock. We love this brand. It has the best texture we’ve found.
There are so many Vegan cheeses on the market. I have to say that Veggie Grill has the Vegan cheese down to a science. We buy all different kinds. Make sure the packages says Vegan, though. Because many Vegetarian options have “Casein” in them, a milk product that has been linked to causing cancer. You can also make a bomb cheese sauce out of almonds, click here. Then you can have Mac n’ Cheese or nachos your heart desires. You won’t know the difference.
10. Beyond Meat Crumbles
These are the best gluten-free, Vegan meat substitutes you can find. They taste almost like ground beef. Use them in any beef dish as a substitute. You will be amazed.
11. Amino Acids
One thing as a Vegan you have to make sure you are getting all your vitamins and nutrients. We supplement as necessary and also use Amino Acids a lot instead of salt or soy sauce when we cook. They add flavor and an essential building block for your health.
12. Garden of Life- Raw Organic Meal
This is an awesome meal replacement when you are Vegan. It supplies all the necessary nutrients in a yummy shake form. Now that I am training a lot more to climb Mt. Whitney, I have added this to my meal plan.
13. Tofutti- Sour Cream and Cream Cheese
Not much needs to be said about either of these items besides, you won’t be able to tell the difference.
I hope you find some of these ideas useful. Would love to hear anything else you might do to go Meatless on Mondays or any other days of the week. If you are a Vegan and write a blog, please leave the link in the comments.