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12 Jan

Livin’ the Vegan Life: Why & How

Ever thought about diving into the great wide world of veganism? Sure, it may sound like a big undertaking, but when you know what to eat and how to do it, it’s a lot easier than you think. Having years of veganism under my belt, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite easy recipes and hacks for the vegan novice.

Now, there are two main, undeniable reasons to go vegan:

1) For your health.

2) For the planet.

 

In regard to your health, cutting out dairy will influence your skin and body greatly—as it contains a lot of cholesterol, estrogen, antibiotics (since cows are often given antibiotics) and lactose, all of which are no good. You can find your source of calcium elsewhere, trust me on that (i.e. broccoli, okra, soybean, tofu, sesame, tahini, figs, or other dried fruit). The same thing is applied to meat.

Meat itself is a known carcinogen in humans—a source of food that can cause cancer. The American Cancer Society website has an entire page dedicated to listing carcinogens. Under the category of “International Agency for Research on Cancer Group 1: Carcinogenic to humans” is processed meat and red meat. Included in the same ranking of carcinogens includes Asbestos, Arsenic, Tobacco, Radium, and countless chemicals. This is important to recognize because the majority of people are consuming such a carcinogen that is ranked against these other toxins.

A recent study, backed up by over 11,000 scientists, urge people to change their lifestyle too, due Earth’s climate emergency, which is something that I am sure we are all aware of. According to an article by NBC, the study says: “People should eat mostly plant-based food, which will improve health and lower greenhouse gas emissions from livestock, and economies should prioritize carbon-free initiatives and sustaining ecosystems, rather than focusing on GDP growth and the pursuit of affluence.”

Transitioning into a vegan lifestyle does not need to be hard, and here are a few easy ways to implement a vegan lifestyle:

Homemade Hummus

 Ingredients

1 can of garbanzo beans

Lemon juice (one or two slices of a lemon squeezed will do)

Splash of vegetable, avocado, or olive oil

Pinch of salt

Cumin and/or Cayenne spices

1 clove of garlic (add more if you want!)

Tablespoon of tahini (optional, but makes it taste amazing)

 

Put it together in the processor or blender and add it to your meal, or enjoy it with carrots or crackers!

Smoothies/shakes: these are great if you’re on-the-go but you’re craving something filling.

Avo-Green Machine:

Ingredients

1 scoop of vegan protein powder

1 banana

1/2 an avocado (wrap the other half in tinfoil and place in the fridge for your next shake)

Chia or hemp seeds (great for added protein)

Tablespoon of your favorite nut butter

1 small handful of spinach

½-1 cup of almond milk (or your preferred non-dairy milk alternative)

2-3 ice cubes

 

Place all items in the blender and enjoy!

If you freeze your fruit, as well as your non-dairy milk into ice cubes, this adds a thicker texture to the smoothie without it tasting watered-down. This consistency is great if you want to make a smoothie bowl with granola and fruit on top.

The tortilla is also a diverse tool to use for either breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Tortilla Crepe

Ingredients

1 tortilla

Almond butter (or nut butter alternative)

Hemp seeds

Banana

Strawberries

Coconut butter (optional)

Cinnamon (optional)

 

Take the tortilla (heat it up if you’d like) and smear a thin layer of the coconut butter on it. Then add a thick layer of almond butter. Slice the banana and strawberries into small/thin pieces, and then lay them on top of the almond butter. Sprinkle with your hemp seeds and cinnamon and abracadabra!

Hummus & Black Bean Tortilla

Ingredients

1 tortilla

Hummus

A can of black beans

 

Set a pan to medium heat with Earth Balance butter (avocado or vegetable oil will also work) and warm tortilla on both sides. When browned, smear hummus, add beans, and fold the tortilla over. Or another option, add a second tortilla on top!

If you’re on a budget, you can’t go wrong with beans and rice. It might sound boring, but there are ways to make a meal look fancier. Choose brown rice or quinoa, with whatever bean of choice (black, garbanzo, pinto, lentil, etc.)—it gives you a complete protein packed meal. Add some hummus, avocado/guacamole (side note: avocado is also a wonderful substitute for mayonnaise on your veggie burger or sandwich), siracha, or tahini sauce. Add some fermented foods for your gut health—such as pickled cabbage or pepperoncini peppers. And, of course, if you can, add veggies—make it into a burrito or burrito bowl.

Grilling or baking vegetables are one of the easiest ways to cook a vegan meal, and surprise, vegetables have protein in them! Cut large slices of your preferred veggies (such as zucchini and sweet potato) and glaze them in oil (avocado, vegetable, coconut, olive oil) and place them on a greased pan or greased tin foil. Season them with salt and pepper, or whatever other seasoning you love. Put them in the oven at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Then, take them out and flip them over to cook for another 10-15 minutes. When done, add avocado and your homemade hummus, and you will end up feeling like a vegan connoisseur by the end of it.

All of these are simple ways to introduce you to a better, healthier lifestyle. Meanwhile you’ll be reducing your carbon footprint by controlling the foods you eat—it’s that simple.
Angela Dawson

Angela Dawson writes with a tripod of interests in poetry, nonfiction, and journalism. As a Senior Creative Writing major at Chapman University, she keeps busy with an emphasis in Women and Gender Studies and serving as the editor for Calliope, Chapman’s student-run art and literary magazine. You can find three of her poems featured there, and a collection of articles on her website, Morning Brew Blog, which also features her photography.

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