My meal planning struggles have reached new heights this summer, since I have to cook all my meals, so I asked my cousin, Kaitlyn, to write about her experience trying the hardest thing in the whole world: her month meal planning as a vegan.
Carnivores everywhere clutch their steaks in disbelief and pray it isn’t contagious.
Family members furtively assure themselves it’s a phase and will be long over with by Thanksgiving.
The rest of the world looks on in various stages of derision and apathy at the tree-hugging hippie trying in vain to save the cows.
Take it from me. In my extensive month as a vegan (plus an additional two as a vegetarian), I’ve achieved a solid understanding of how to make the lifestyle work in spite of the naysayers and nonbelievers.
This incredible woman spent a whole month as a vegan! Read about her approach to meal planning as a vegan and how it affected her race training on the blog #linkinbio Are you vegan? How do you meal plan? #rosanaruns #fitness #crosscountry #race #mealplanning #vegan #veganfood #vegetarian #veganfitness #veganism #veganfit #chicagoblogger #mealplanning #mealplanning #veganmealprep #running #fitness #wellness #sportsbrasquad #miprima
Veganism Itself is Not Hard
Once you stop thinking about all the things you can’t eat, and start thinking of all the things you still can, you fully realize the incredible extent of plant based foods. You approach your local grocery’s produce section with a whole new perspective. The new diet restriction forces you out of your culinary comfort zone.
It takes a little creative initiative at first to find recipes with ingredients that would you would otherwise turn up your nose at (I am directly implying that tofu is nowhere near as bad as it looks), and thanks to the miracles of modern food science, nearly every nonvegan food has been made vegan to varying degrees of success. Cheese, ice cream, egg replacement for baking, and even meat itself.
Do they taste exactly like the original? No, but they aren’t terrible and are incredibly convenient. I say take advantage.
Ok so Maybe It’s Kinda Hard
Let me expand my earlier statement. The concept of veganism is not hard to implement, especially in our modern society with a plethora of vegan foodstuffs and specialty restaurants. Veganism is not hard to do in a vegan-friendly, or highly individual autonomous environment.
Unless you live in particularly vegan-friendly city, have a family and social circle of vegans or very vegan-friendly people, or have the means and time to do at least some degree of meal prep, veganism becomes significantly more difficult.
I ran cross country and track for my high school team. When my coach found out about my foray into veganism, he promptly informed me that it was the stupidest decision I had ever made, it was highly likely I wasn’t getting enough protein, and I was making my recovery harder than it needed to be.
We also traveled a lot for meets during season. Pasta was always ordered en masse the night before the race, covered in meat sauce or alfredo. If you didn’t eat that, you were on your own.
At home, I couldn’t exactly convince my little brothers that vegetables and tofu were just as delicious as tacos, so that left me to make dinners separate from the family meal (after meal prepping breakfast and lunch, there wasn’t the available Tupperware or fridge space to accommodate dinners).
Now, I can accept grown-up responsibilities, but the extra time and energy was wearing on me. I switched over to Vegetarianism, a beautiful egg-filled paradise.
But Chicken Nuggets tho
After a solid three months without meat or chicken passing my lips, I reached my tipping point. Out of the blue, I was absolutely overcome with a craving for chicken nuggets. A few moments reflection later, I could see no reason to continue my animal product boycott. I’d be happy with my nuggets, my coach would be happy I finally listened to him, my life would be overall easier.
My moral fiber wasn’t strong enough to consider the ethics at that point. So I popped some chicken nuggets straight into the toaster oven and haven’t looked back since.
A big part of my life, regardless of diet specifics, is meal prepping. I have to admit, I slack off a bit during the summer, but it is an absolute necessity during the school year, when every spare second needs to be used for studying, sleeping, or otherwise maintaining my sanity. Enter my surplus of Tupperware and sizable use of fridge space.
As far as the planning portion of my meal prep, I just browse the internet until I find a recipe I like enough to eat for a week straight (it helps to build a base of trustworthy food blogs.
Oh She Glows and Minimalist Baker are still a couple favorites from my vegan days). I keep breakfast fairly simple: a bagel with eggs, or greek yogurt and granola most days. Having healthy, portioned, snacks on hand is also a stellar idea, lest you fall prey to the temptation of half a bag of cereal at 2am (guilty as charged).
Don’t make it complicated. Cook foods that taste good and make you feel good. As delicious as fried chicken is, I don’t think my body would thank me if I used it to fuel for long runs. Find your balance.
Mine regularly includes chocolate and copious amounts of pasta, but also lots fruits and veggies. Diet is highly individual. Find the best foods for you, prep it, and make it work.
Huge thanks to Kaitlyn for sharing her experience with veganism (I think I would starve trying to do it for a whole month!). She is going to be a freshman at Tulane University this fall, anticipates living in the dorms will keep her from meal planning through the year.
Have you tried veganism for any period of time? How do your dietary restrictions impact your meal planning?
Let me know on Instagram @xoxorosana.blog