After the last discussion about what a vegan is you might be asking yourself, “What in the world does a vegan eat?” This is a common question for people who are being introduced to veganism. I had the same question myself. When I decided to go vegan, I had no clue about nutrition. I ate at steakhouse restaurants and fast food joints.
When faced with the challenge of restructuring my diet, I felt confused. I ate a lot of rice, bean, and veggie bowls the first month. The mentality of cooking vegan meals is entirely different from what most Americans grow up feeling is “normal”. Most of us are meat and potatoes people with meat as the centerpiece of every meal. It seems overwhelming to try to picture the traditional dinner plate as one without meat. A dinner that consists of only the sides? How strange!
There are a lot of notions about what vegans eat. Do they eat only rabbit food? Do they eat fruits and vegetables? Do they eat almost nothing? In truth, I ate less of a variety of foods before I was vegan than I do now. There are many ethnic cuisines that are vegan or vegan friendly. This opens up a whole new world of tastes to many vegans.
I wouldn’t touch curry when I was a meat eater and now I eat it as often as possible. In the broad sense, vegans eat a plant based diet free of animal foods or derivatives. That encompasses so much more than just fruits and vegetables. Vegans can enjoy grains such as oatmeal, rice, and even the nutritious and exotic sounding quinoa.
They also eat tofu, tempeh, nuts, nut butters, seeds, beans, lentils, almond milk, edamame, dairy free ice cream, coconut milk, and soy milk. It is now even easier for people to be vegan with the addition of faux meat and cheese products if they miss the familiar taste and textures. Instead of looking at it through the lens of what you
can’t won’t eat, look at it as what you want to eat to fuel your mind and body with amazing nutrition.
It used to be that only health food stores carried convenient vegan options but many grocery stores are starting to have frozen, refrigerated, and packaged food designed for vegans on the go.
My local Kroger has just as many frozen vegan foods as the Whole Foods nearby. These are great options for people who are busy, need something quick to take to work, or tired moms (like me!) who just don’t want to cook sometimes. Vegans eat anything they can imagine in the world of plant foods.
Here is a recipe for Vegan Gluten Free Lasagna that is simple to make. My meat eating friends request it and my one-year-old son loves it!
- 1 box lasagna noodles (I get the rice noodles due to my gluten allergy but feel free to use any variety you like)
- 1 jar pasta sauce (read the label to make sure it doesn’t contain dairy or high fructose corn syrup)
- 1 1/2 cups of variety of frozen vegetables (I like zucchini, squash, and broccoli but California blend is delicious as well)
- Fresh spinach (organic if possible, it’s on the EWG dirty dozen list of foods with the most pesticide residue)
- Daiya brand mozzarella and cheddar or other variety of vegan cheese, optional
For the tofu “ricotta”:
- 1 pound firm tofu, drained
- 1 cup fresh spinach
- 1/2 cup fresh basil
- 1-2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
- 1 teaspoon sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
- 3 or 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Boil the lasagna noodles according to package directions. While boiling, place the ingredients for the tofu ricotta in a blender or food processor. Start out with 1 tbsp of oil and add more as needed. Blend well.
When noodles are al dente, drain. Lightly steam the veggies until thawed.
In a 9×13 inch baking pan put a thin layer of tomato sauce. Place three lasagna noodles lengthwise for the second layer. Place a third of the tofu ricotta on top of the noodles and spread. Add spinach, a layer of marinara, and a layer of veggies. Repeat the layers of lasagna noodles, tofu ricotta, spinach, marinara, and veggies until the pan is full. If desired, top with vegan cheese.
Place in oven for 30-35 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving.
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