After last week’s column where we focussed purely on meats, it seems only fair to devote this week’s column to the joys of vegan eating. If you’re a meat eater, your meal planning probably revolves around selecting the meat first, then the vegetables or salad to go with it. You might want to step occasionally into a whole new food world – vegan cookery.
Here’s an idea – try making one family dinner during the week ‘vegan night’ and prepare a healthy vegan meal. This has lots of health benefits for you –
- More variety: You’ll be trying out some different foods, increasing the variety in your diet.
- More nutrients: Vegan food is high in fibre, legumes, vegetables and fruit – all great sources of vital nutrients.
- Less fat: A vegan diet is naturally low in saturated fat.
- Something new: You can experience some different non-animal protein sources. Often these are exotic foods from different cultures where vegan food is a natural part of their culture.
Vegan food excludes all animal protein sources, obtaining all protein from plants. (Vegetarian food excludes animal meat and fish, but usually includes animal protein from egg and dairy sources.)
Everyone needs protein, so vegetarians have to be careful to obtain enough protein in their diet to stay healthy. Vegans need to be particularly vigilant to ensure they reach the target of 0.8g of protein per kg of their ideal weight. (For example, a person with an ideal weight of 70kg needs 56g of protein every day). But if you’re eating vegetarian/vegan only one or two times a week, you don’t need to be quite so vigilant.
Animal protein sources already contain complete proteins. To form ‘complete’ protein, a vegan meal should include legumes with nuts or seeds, or legumes with grains. Or all three – legumes, grains and nuts/seeds. Each food type contributes some of the essential amino acids. Put together they form ‘complete’ protein.
Here are some ideas to help you get started with interesting vegan food:
- asian stir fry of marinated tofu (legume), vegetables and noodles (grain)
- curry of chick peas (legume) and vegetables served with rice (grain). Sprinkle with some toasted cashews to serve
- eggplant and bean (legume) and vegetable stew served on a bed of cous cous (grain)
- Indian Dahl (legume) and rice (grain) with vegetables or salad on the side.
- Spicy laksa soup of tofu (legume), vegetables and soft hokkein noodles (grain).
You can find vegan recipe books at the local library or bookstores for some more ideas. Indian and asian recipe books will naturally include many vegan recipes. Add some variety and spice to your diet this week with a vegan meal or two!