Hi friends! How are you?! I want to warn you, this is a BIG post! Honestly, I could have split this post up into a food question and answer series, but then, I don’t know, that would keep you guys waiting even longer? Anyway, this is a big post with questions about going vegan, adding more veggies into your diet, and details what I eat (with links to recipes too!) Hooray! Hope you enjoy!

Any tips to add more vegetables to lifestyle?

This is a really easy and tough answer. On one hand I want to say, just grab something that looks interesting, bring it home, cook it, and eat it. On the other hand, I know that if things don’t go well— it might leave a bad taste in your and your families mouth on that new food. So here are (what I hope will be) some…

helpful tips to add more veggies in your diet:
  • I think the easiest thing might be to ask yourself: what are your favorite foods? And how can you include more vegetables into that specific dish? For us it’s pretty easy, we love soups, curries, and pastas. We can easily  grab a new veggie and incorporate it into any of these. What do you love? What do your kids love? Maybe try adding a veggie into your favorite soup. Even if its something like a noodle soup— maybe grab a turnip and a carrot—- or cabbage, or anything really.For the most part, the vegetables I’d suggest staying away from are:  eggplant or artichokes, as those can be really awful if not cooked well.
  • Make yourself try one new vegetable a week. Try it raw, cooked, whatever you prefer. I would always suggest considering a cook like Mark Bittman’s vegetable book. This would help explain how to cook almost any vegetable you pick up— how to roast, boil, bake, whatever.
  • Maybe soups, curries, pastas, and other dishes with blended flavors aren’t your thing. That is okay too. Maybe you like to have a plate with three different items served individually on your plate… if that’s the case then what are your favorite spices and herbs? Try sautéing or roasting a new vegetable with your favorite frequently used seasoning.
  • Add a new vegetable to your salad— try it thin sliced or grated. Add chopped vegetables to a snack plate and serve with your favorite dipping sauces. Add more greens to smoothies or make yourself vegetable juices. The possibilities are endless.
  • With Marlowe we encourage trying new vegetables but we don’t push it too much. You never want the dining table to be one of bad emotions and quarrels. Eating should feel nourishing, not painful. But she’s tried and liked enough stuff, where she typically doesn’t give us too much of a struggle to try new food.
  • Food doesn’t have to be complicated and fussy. I mean, don’t get me wrong, we love slow cooked meals with layers of flavors, and layers of vegetables, but we don’t always cook this way. Sometimes we just choose a vegetable or two, a grain, and maybe a protein. We often serve grains plane, and the vegetable might be cooked in our favorite herbs or spices— for me it’s often ginger and turmeric. For Marlowe it’s often cumin and paprika. Or we serve it our favorite rice bowl style.

Can you tell me more about being vegan?

Being vegan is actually pretty easy! I mean, there are factors that can make it a bit more challenging too of course. Things that can make it more difficult: your location/access to fresh food, your family/roommates, your motivation for change, and your willingness (or lack of willingness) to break routine.

I actually didn’t eat a lot of vegetables before going vegan. I think I had my first salad at 18. And the “salad” mostly consisted of dressing with a touch of vegetables. I ate like garbage for most of my life. But I didn’t go vegan for my health. I actually went vegan because I started questioning the egg and dairy system. When I looked into it more I found myself grossed out— for the animals, but also for the stuff I was putting in my body. The more I learned, the more determined I was to change. Even now I live like this. I lust for knowledge in all aspects of the health and food industry. #nerdalert

So when I wanted to go vegan: I tried, and tried again but kept failing.

Finally, I challenged myself to do a detox. I told myself that I didn’t have to eat this way forever— I was going to clean my system and then take each day of veganism at a time. Each day was a new day and I could make the choice to keep going or give up. After two –  three days of juicing I worked my way into a vegan diet— I bought things like broccoli for the first time in my adult life. It was a big deal. Or it felt like one anyway.

I was determined to put in the effort, cook new foods, and have fun in the kitchen with a world a new vegetables. After two weeks of eating this way I realized that I had felt better than I had ever felt before. I no longer had stomach pains, constipation, or an excess of mucus. I spent my entire life plagued by chronic sinus infections. And I never got a sinus infection again after going vegan. I was convinced that a vegan diet made sense and I kept going.

The first two weeks are by far the hardest. All the very real cravings are there and the detox symptoms are making themselves known (if you ate really bad like me).  And to make this more difficult:  people often tend to feel sicker before feeling better. Most people give up the first few days/week because they think their new, healthier diet is making them sick. But the reality is that’s your body taking in new nutrients and detoxing/expelling the bad. You’re detoxing, its a natural part of life. The worse you ate before, the worse it will feel to transition.

I tell everyone to give themselves three to four weeks to fully make up their mind if the diet is for them.

Do keep in mind that you can eat vegan and still be a terrible eater with a terrible diet. You can also eat vegan and take in too little or too many calories. Just because you’ve taken meat and cheese out of your diet— doesn’t mean you’re suddenly eating well. You still need to make sure you’re eating a well-rounded and balanced diet filled with greens an antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables. While only eating French fries is in fact vegan, it’s not by any means a healthy diet.

And while mock meats and cheeses will have less cholesterol, antibiotics, and hormones, then real animal flesh and cheese— it’s not the answer for everyday eating. Mock meats can still be filled with chemicals, gmos, food additives, and can be really bad for the earth too— just like animal farming. Use these things to transition if necessary, but I would highly recommend working them out of your diet as much as you can and sticking to real, whole foods found in nature.

How I like to look at it is— if you were dropped in a forest or jungle, what would you eat? Chances are you’re not going to stumble upon a cow and kill, butcher, and eat it raw. You’re far more likely to look for a banana tree, mango tree, apple tree, blueberry bush (or whatever fruit is in your current location). Are you going to eat a raw chicken? Or find soy protein isolate? Probably not. Your diet in the real world on planet earth, in the pre-industrial revolution time would have been whatever you could find or grow yourself. Try to eat as much of those things as you can now.

Tips on transitioning to vegan eating?

  • Don’t pressure yourself. Again, eating should be nourishing, not painful.
  • Eat a new vegetable everyday— or at least every week!
  • Drink lots of water. Drinking water will make you feel better, feeling better will make you ant o keep up your lifestyle/diet.
  • Eat real food as often as you can. Keep mock meats to a minimum. Plants over processed, always.
  • Involve your friends or family if you can. Sometimes its easier and certainly more fun to do it with other people. You can shop together, try new recipes or restaurants together and more.
  • Take it one day at a time. Sometimes the idea of all or nothing or a forever change is really scary! Just remember that each day you get to make a choice on how you want t eat. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about doing your best!
  • Dont eat things you don’t like. Nobody said you have to go vegan and eat all your least favorite foods. That sounds like torture. Try eating all your favorite vegan foods often.
  • Throw out the old, non vegan stuff (well, donate it). It’s like any big lifestyle change, you have to set yourself up to succeed, not to fail. Keeping all the cheese in your fridge “just in case” wont help when you’re starving and that’s the first thing you see. Stock up on the good stuff.
  • Consider meal planing. It’s easiest to make food mistakes when you’re starving. If you’re living a super busy on the go lifestyle, consider meal planing and prepping so you always have vegan snack options on the go.
  • Have fun with it! Seriously buy yourself some new vegan cookbooks, get into the kitchen, and have at it. Remember, it’s not about being perfect, it’s about living your best life yet.
  • Buy The Plantiful Table if you haven’t yet (haha, had to throw that in)
  • Throw a potluck! Have everyone bring their favorite vegan dishes too! You get to try new vegan dishes and have a great, delicious time.
  • “You can still eat pizza” -Alex. It’s true, just being you go vegan, doesn’t mean that you have to deprive yourself! You can make really delicious version of the foods you once loved.
  • Just have fun with it. Dont over think it, it wont help. Get in the kitchen (or marry a chef) and explore the world of vegan cooking. (Maybe with a glass of wine in hand, if it helps). (And yes, wine is vegan).

What do you eat in a day?

I’m not super complicated when it comes to food. I mean, I guess I am in the fact that I have all these food allergies since getting sick— and I have specific dietary preferences that I would like to hold on to (vegan, duh). But outside of those things, I’m pretty happy eating most of the same foods on the day-to-day or throughout the week.

These days I try to stay mostly raw. If I can do breakfast, lunch, and snacks raw, before having a cooked dinner, I’m happy. Dinner is usually a big hot portion of food. I try not to eat too late, as I notice I have nightmares if I do. (Gassy stomach = nightmares and teeth grinding for me). My other big food rule I like to follow is I try to never eat raw food after I’ve had a cooked meal. It’s terrible food combining and straining on your digestive track. I eat all my raw stuff first— then cooked. We have this rule for Marlowe too. She can eat as much fruit s she wants, but once she has cooked food, she’s done.

Breakfast

I start each day the same: a giant portion of fruit. This can be in the form of an acai bowl, smoothie, smoothie bowl, or just a raw fruit bowl — sometimes with some bananas milk and toppings.

recipes:

Lunch

For lunch I try to have a big salad, lettuce wraps, veggies, sushi (raw or with rice) or another smoothie bowl. I try to follow my gut and taste buds on this. Sometimes I can keep eating more fruit and sometimes I want something more on the savory side. It all depends.

recipes:

For snacks in-between I like fruit for sure. Often times another banana blueberry smoothie. But sometimes I’ll have rice crackers, all fancy style.

Dinner

For dinner, we mix it up a bit more. This is almost always a family decision, haha. We all figure out what we’re in the mood for. We opt for curries, soups, or pastas (with brown rice noodles) often. But sometimes we just keep it super easy and have some greens like a kale salad or kale chips with a giant portion of oven baked fries and some other accompaniment. Sometimes we like to spend a good time in the kitchen making really complex meals, but we usually don’t. We want things that are filling, pretty healthy, veggie filled, and delicious for sure.

My cookbook, the plantiful table is FILLED with mostly savory dinner type dishes if you ant to check it out!

recipes:

Other food things:

I also just bought a new juicer. I had my old one (this one) for 8-9 years! I like both juicers a lot, but I gotta say, I think I like my new one more. There is more chopping prep involved, but it’s easier to clean and doesn’t over abuse my veggies. Now I start my morning with a big glass of celery juice and then making a second green juice for something refreshing midday. Pros: it’s delicious and healthy. Cons: I’m going poor from juicing.

During Travel:

When we travel a lot of this goes out the window, but I just do my best.

What Marlowe Eats:

A few people actually asked what Marlowe eats. You can continue to see those posts HERE.  I do hope to start sharing even more of what I eat and not just what Marlowe eats in the near future since a lot of you guys have asked! You guys can see more posts on what I eat and my diet changes over the last three years HERE if you’d like.

And voilà a giant post about vegetables! I think the biggest takeaway is: no one is perfect, don’t over think things, just try new food and have fun! That’s the best thing you can do for yourself 🙂  If you have more questions, feel free to ask in comments! Happy veggie eating friends!

PS. All these amazing family photos were taken by my friend Joe. He is an AMAZING photographer. I mean, who can actually make supermarket family photos look good? He can! And his whole family is vegan and amazing. He is New England based and primarily wedding/couples focused, but totally travels and take great photos of all the things. Check him out HERE!

10 Comments

  1. Hi Drea!

    Loved this post, so inspiring! Can’t wait to try more and new veggies in my diet!

    I did want to mention a surprising fact I learned recently: that a lot of wine is actually NOT vegan. Most wines use animal-derived products in the process of making the wine, and so it isn’t “automatically” vegan across the board.

    Here’s an article explaining more information:
    https://www.peta.org/about-peta/faq/is-wine-vegan/

    Thankfully, there are wines that ARE vegan, but you have to look for them specifically!

    • Yes! you’re totally right! Honestly, I was going to get into the whole thing, b ut then I didn’t because I felt like I was going to overwhelm people with more info on the longest post ever haha. I know whites tend to not be as vegan friendly– but I hated white wine, so I guess I just overlook that haha. I dont drink anymore at all, but I used to use the site barnivore.com to figure out what to drink and not drink 🙂

      side note: I miss wine. 🙂

  2. Hi Drea,
    We are a family of 5, my kids are under 4. I have tried including vegan foods to my kids, but I always en d up feeling I need to include too many legumes in our diet to have our protein intake. I know the protein issue is not as big as we feel it is, but my prblem is I don’t know if I am feeding my kids a balanced diet.
    I have a lack of perspective when I look at a vegan dish, I can not see the different food groups to see if we are doing ok, can you help with this? Can you direct me somewhere where I can learn to make complete vegan dishes?
    My husband has a rare disease and he needs to up his protein intake a lot. He does have some protein supplement shakes but I feel I either offer him beans every day or I am not providing him enough for his needs.
    For our family going vegan might not work yet, but I would love to slowly change our diet. I don’t want to supplement B12, so how many eggs or red meat do we need to eat not to supplement it? Like if we had red meat once every two weeks would that be enough?
    I am reluctant to supplements so I would rather eat animal products every now and then than rely on supplementation. I might sound horrible for this, but so far this is my opinion.
    Excuse me please if I sound too harsh, I am trying to learn and wanted to be clear on where I stand an probably learn why I am wrong on some of my beliefs.
    Thank you!
    Leire

    • Hi Leire!

      I think he reality is that not anyone person knows what the perfect diet is. We’re so far removed from what we would eat in nature, it’s ridiculous. We’re pumping chemicals/hormones/antibiotics into livestock and then eating them. Pretty sure thats not what nature had intended us to do. We’ve also killed off most of the beneficial nutrients in soil, so we have to eat significantly more vegetables to reach the nutrition value that we would have 100 years ago.

      As far as protein, I’d suggest reading this book: https://amzn.to/2GECQN1 or maybe even this one if you want to get really nerdy into the process of digesting protein into your body: https://amzn.to/2GBf9p0

      There is protein in everything. An avocado roughly has 4 grams of protein, a cup of spinach has more than 5 grams, 1 cup of brown rice has 5 grams of protein! Oh! And ONE tablespoon of spirulina has 4 grams of protein! A tablespoon! And even fruit has protein… you can find 3 grams of protein in a mango and so on and so on. Unless you’re at the point of absolute starvation, of maybe if you had some sort of medical condition, you’re not going to have problems from “lack of excess protein” an average, well rounded diet has plenty.

      As far as the b12 and eggs… let’s say that one egg is 60 grams give of take (I asked the chef next to me on this). And 100 grams of egg equals about 15% of your daily value of b12. Then you would need approximately 11 eggs (give or take) to reach 100% of your daily value of b12 for that one day. And if you really want to go deeper, unless you’re buying REALLY good farm eggs, you’re not even reaching that. Conventional, living in a dark box eggs, wont have that much nutrition. And meat isn’t much better. Now, I dont know about you, but I’d much rather give marlowe things like kombucha/fermented foods, seaweed, or a supplement than give her 10+ eggs a day.

      The reality is that not so many foods are fortified with it, that you’re not any less likely to be deficient in b12 if you’re vegan, than not. We’re all sort of screwed in the world of food and nutrition, we’ve damaged the food system SO much. All we can do is our best. For us, we make sure Marlowe eats some greens, healthy whole fats, and fruit and veggies everyday. She LOVES legumes and grains, so she eats them frequently enough where we definitely dont worry about protein. She’s naturally thin (but I was thinner as a child), but growing super tall (she’ll be taller than me before I know it), she basically NEVER get’s sick, and is a smart little bee– not showing signs of deficiencies with anything. So I’m personally okay with my food choices with her. We do our best.

      Oh and as far as supplementing, I hear you, I would 100% always prefer to eat real food than supplement. I supplement for myself because I’m trying to heal my body from the garbage it went through. For Marlowe, I give her a b12 vitamin ever two weeks or so. Or whenever we remember. But she eats foods with naturally occurring b12, so again, I dont worry. You just gotta do what feels right for your family 🙂

  3. Hi Drea!

    I love your blog so much. It’s such an amazing source of inspiration for me and always leaves me in a good mood after reading, which is kind of amazing given everything that you’ve been through and continue to go through–you always somehow manage to leave us with optimism. So thank you. Thank you so much for being here and sharing your life and thoughts with us.

    That being said, I was wondering what you do for inspiration. Favorite blogs? Obviously sunshine. But I think it would be awesome if you did a post of favorite things/things that inspire you/motivate you.

    Also, I’m a big reader, so I love it when you post what you’re reading! More of that would be awesome 🙂

    Thanks for being you!

  4. Can you recommend a book about the raw first and nothing after a cooked meal?
    And thanks for the read, love food talk 😀

  5. I’m catching up on your posts girlfriend! I really want to do this, I want to go vegan. The beloved husband and my mother are holding me back. I gave into a steak tamale the other day…peer pressure, they ran out of poblano. It was good, but I didn’t love it. I’m going to try your tips and recipes. My plan is to get my husband on board. My mother, the meat eater for both of us and the neighbors, will never change. Zoë I feel would be up for it…maybe I’ll start there! Hmm

    xo,
    J