What better way to honor Earth Hour 2013 than to release a vegan menugraphic that supports environmental sustainability. According to the Environmental Working Group, animal-based foods have very high carbon footprints. They state that if every American stopped eating meat and cheese for one day a week, it would be the same as not driving 91 billion miles – or taking 7.6 million cars off the road. Pretty powerful, huh?
The purpose of this menugraphic is to show you the variety of foods you can enjoy on a vegan diet. I included foods that can be purchased at restaurants, are readily available at your local supermarket and are relatively fast and easy to prepare. I hope you find this infographic fun and useful. Remember that going meatless just once a week can have a great impact on the future of planet earth.
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Approximately 2.5 % of the U.S. population are vegans but since veganism is gaining popularity in recent years, that number will surely increase. According to Google’s Trends Application, more and more people are searching for the term vegan. Many celebrities are also touting the benefits of becoming a vegan. You may have seen the Justin Timberlake vegan sketch on SNL.
There are several types of vegetarianism for you to explore if you feel that a vegan lifestyle isn’t for you:
- Lacto-ovo vegetarian – Includes dairy and eggs but not flesh of animals.
- Pescatarian or Pesco-vegetarian -Includes seafood, dairy and eggs but not the flesh of animals.
- Flexitarian – Mostly vegetarian but occasionally eat meat.
Just in case you were wondering:
- Vegans-Do not eat animal products (ie. dairy, eggs, processed food containing animal derived ingredients) and do not use leather, fur, silk, wool, cosmetics, and soaps derived from animal products.
- Raw Vegan- Do not eat vegan foods that have been heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit.
Choose whatever works best for you. The point is to eat more of the good stuff; whole grains, veggies, fruits, legumes, nuts and seeds. You can easily adjust the menu to fit your vegetarian lifestyle. I am a flexitarian.
Remember that some nutrients are harder to get from a vegan diet so you must supplement or eat foods and beverages fortified with them. These nutrients are vitamin B12, vitamin D, DHA, calcium, iodine and iron.
- Vitamin B12– nutritional yeast, fortified breakfast cereals and some almond, soy or rice milks.
- Vitamin D– fortified almond, soy or rice milk, UV-irradiated mushrooms, and fortified orange juice.
- Iodine– sea vegetables (kelp, arame, kombu, wakame, and hiziki), and iodized salt.
- Calcium– collard greens, tofu set with calcium, fortified almond, hemp, soy or rice milk, soy yogurt, turnip greens, tempeh, kale, bok choy, okra, mustard greens, navy beans, almond butter, almonds, broccoli, etc.
(Having problems with calcium absorption? Vitamin D enhances calcium absorption. Phytic acid and oxalic acid decreases calcium absorption.)
- Iron– soybeans, squash, pumpkin seeds, cashews, pine, hazelnut, peanut, almond, white beans, lentils, oatmeal, barley, bulgur, buckwheat, millet, fortified cereals, dark leafy greens, dark chocolate, cocoa powder, tofu, chickpeas, tempeh, variety of beans, etc.
(Having problems with iron absorption? Vitamin C enhances iron absorption-eat oranges right after a meal. Tea and coffee decreases iron absorption-avoid with meals.)
- DHA– green leafy veggies, flax seeds, hemp seeds, soybeans, seaweed and walnuts.
Some Key Points to Remember:
As you learn more about a vegan lifestyle, you can experiment with foods like seitan, amaranth, hemp seeds, goji berries, acai berries, veggie meat and cheeses. You may also want to avoid foods that may seem vegan but actually aren’t.
- Include a protein source with every meal to satiate your hunger.
- Eat a variety of foods.
- Supplement if necessary. Especially vitamin B12 and vitamin D (in the fall/winter months).
- If you’re feeling weak and cranky, you’re probably just not eating enough (include protein and healthy fats with every meal).
- A vegan diet that is built around vegan cookies, doughnuts, cupcakes, chips and candies isn’t healthful. These treats can be included occasionally but should not be the foundation of your meals.
- If you’re craving meat and cheese, add umami to your meals. Try miso, ketchup, low sodium soy sauce, dried seaweed, marmite, balsamic vinegar, mushrooms, and sauerkraut.
What are your thoughts on veganism? Do you think you can go meatless for just one day a week?