2021 December 27
After I started eating mostly vegan, some friends and relatives asked what I usually eat. This post talks about my diet and has some thoughts for other people who are considering eating less meat.
For context, at the start of 2018, I began cooking vegan food, and in 2020, I also began to order vegan or vegetarian options at restaurants when available. I made this dietary change because factory farming seems pretty bad and because it reduces carbon emissions.
I’m still loose with my diet outside my home because occasionally places don’t have good vegan options. That looseness makes eating vegan more sustainable for me, especially in social situations and during travel, so I’d encourage other would-be vegans to incorporate flexibility into their diet if they’re worried about the strictness of a typical vegan diet.
Even before 2018, my lunches and dinners usually consisted of rice, a protein, and sautéed vegetables (often combined with the protein). The difference now is that I’ve changed the protein from chicken, tuna, and eggs to tofu, black beans, chickpeas, lentils, and occasionally fake meat.
Here are examples of protein recipes that I’ve liked:
Like every home cook, I substitute and skip ingredients in recipes a lot to avoid buying things I hardly use. I also usually use a low-calorie sugar substitute instead of sugar, but that’s for health reasons rather than vegan reasons.
I rarely bake, but it’s easy to make vegan versions of many baked goods. Substitute flax egg for egg, vegan butter for butter, and soy milk for milk.
For finding restaurants with vegan options, HappyCow is the go-to resource.
I ate animal products with a vague sense of moral guilt for many years, so I’m glad to have adjusted my consumption to align better with my values. I remember I would eat lots of meat because I liked lifting weights and was concerned about getting enough protein, but ironically I achieved personal records in my lifts in mid-2018 after I changed my cooking. Of course, there was also just an unwillingness to stop doing what I’d always done. For my whole life, nearly every lunch and dinner had come with a portion of meat. It took me another two years to start adjusting my dietary choices outside my home since I was concerned about options and taste, but it really wasn’t a problem once I started. I don’t miss eating meat.
Given that modern cuisine isn’t always vegan-friendly, I don’t think people should feel pressure to always be vegan—reducing consumption is still good. I wouldn’t necessarily endorse spending a lot of extra time, energy, and money to be a complete purist. If you’re considering eating less meat, you can gradually substitute other dishes into your diet and see what feels sustainable for you.