A good vegan meal is the one you love without meat and dairy.

Original image by Edgar Castrejon

I recently spent a few days on the Oregon Coast with my best friend who focuses on healthy choices which includes a mostly whole-foods, plant based diet. My husband and I have been eating less meat and dairy and I was looking forward to learning more about what recipes are good and what we should eat. The weekend and our time together did not disappoint. Never does.

When we first started to talk about a healthy eating plan, she asked me one simple question. “What do you like to eat?” I wrote down a few meals we eat on a regular basis and Tiffany showed me how to “veganize” our old favorites. It was that simple.

Over the next few days, we ate dairy free corn chowder, no meat balls with homemade spaghetti sauce, an easy kale salad and one of my all time favorite standbys – take-out Thai.

“Day by day, you’ll be making your best effort at creating better health. And day by day, you’ll find yourself looking better, weighing less, and feeling more energy and confidence. It doesn’t happen without effort. But that’s what makes it great. You earn the right to be healthier, happier, more vital, beautiful, and alive. Enjoy it. You deserve to look and feel great.” 

― John A. McDougall

I’m home now and here are a few takeaways from our weekend retreat:

Learn as much as you can. Be aware of what you are eating. Start reading ingredients lists. Know what is in your food. Product ingredients are listed by quantity — from highest to lowest amount. This means that the first ingredient is what the manufacturer used the most of. A good rule of thumb is to scan the first three ingredients, as they make up the largest part of what you’re eating. If the first ingredients include refined grains, a type of sugar, or hydrogenated oils, you can assume that the product is unhealthy.

Surprisingly, I learned that plain water, instead of butter or oil, makes an excellent sautéing liquid. It prevents food from sticking to the pan and still allows vegetables to brown and cook.

My friend shared two apps that are very helpful starting out. Dr. McDougall Mobile Cookbook and Forks Plant-Based Recipes offer great recipes, health and kitchen tips and allow for creating shopping lists. The Forks app allows you to view the Shopping List by aisle or recipe.

Connect with others. Attend a Vegan Meetup (via Zoom right now) and discuss living a healthy vegan lifestyle. Share your favorite vegan recipes and make new friends! Join a Facebook Group. Instagram provides beautiful photos of delicious plant based meals. I’m so fortunate to have my friend as a great resource for me. She is very passionate about sharing her knowledge with others. She inspires me!

Be inspired. There are generally three main reasons people choose to go vegan: for environmental, ethical and health reasons. If going vegan is something you are interested in doing, it is worth exploring which ones speak to you (it could be all three!) and tapping into that to keep you motivated.

Changing your diet and maintaining it isn’t about willpower. Instead, it’s about taking the right approach. Let’s start with “What do you like to eat?”

Author: Livingrealaloha