Thinking About a Vegan Diet? These Simple Swaps and Meals Help You Get Started
I take a lot of ribbing when people hear that Iâm vegan. In fact, one of my best friends, tells me the term translates to âbad hunter.â I became a veganâ"someone who eats no animal productsâ"after reading The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell, which chronicles research that found that people who consumed more animal products were more likely to suffer from diseases such as cancer.
While eating meat and other animal products work for some athletes, itâs also entirely possible to fuel your body for riding without meat or dairyâ"provided you eat whole, unprocessed foods, and not empty calories like chips and soda.
And if going full vegan is too much of a commitment, you can try implementing one day a week (like meatless Monday, for example) during which you refrain from animal products or meat. To help, check out these smart swaps and some of my favorite vegan recipes below.
[Find 52 weeks of tips and motivation, with space to fill in your mileage and favorite routes, with the Bicycling Training Journal.]Preride Breakfast
Oatmeal: Cook Â¼ cup raw oats with Â½ cup almond milk or water. Steel cut oats are best but take longer to cookâ"unsweetened Quaker instant oats prepared in the microwave work in a pinch. Top with raw, unsalted sunflower seeds, chopped walnuts, fresh berries, a tablespoon of honey or agave nectar, a tablespoon of ground flaxseed, and almond milk. Add more fresh fruit for additional calories.
Nut Butter and Jelly: Use 100-percent fruit spread and whole grain bread. Whether you use peanut, almond, cashew, or hazelnut butter, choose one thatâs 100-percent nuts, with no added sugars.
Buckwheat Pancakes: Combine 1 cup buckwheat mix (like Hodgson Mills) with Â¾ cup unsweetened applesauce, chopped nuts, a sliced banana, Â¼ cup ground flaxseed, and 1Â½ cup almond, rice, or soy milk. Make 4-inch-diameter pancakes, then top with fresh berries or other fruits, and pure maple syrup. I typically make at least a dozen of these to have as a snack during the day, on a ride, or for a quick preride meal. You can sandwich two together with honey, jelly, or peanut butter, or make a large batch and freeze them for the future.Midride Fuel
Dried fruit and nut mix: Combine your choice of nuts with raisins, Craisins, or other dried fruits.
Bananas or other fresh fruit: Easy to fit in your jersey pocket, and contain sugar, carbs, and and electrolytes so you wonât bonk.
Dark chocolate: My favorite is from Belgium, but Endangered Species and Trader Joeâs make tasty, organic versions. Look for one thatâs at least 70 percent cacao.
PB&J: See above section.
Larabar Snack Bars Variety Box
KIND Healthy Grains Granola Bars Variety Pack
Bobo's Oat Bar Variety Pack
Endangered Species Chocolate Extreme Dark Chocolate (88%)
$43.00Postride Recovery Meal
Fruit and veggie smoothie: In a blender, combine crushed ice, fresh and/or frozen mix of berries (like strawberries and blueberries), banana, kiwi, pineapple, ground flaxseed, and 100-percent pomegranate or other fruit juice to liquefy the mix. Iâve thrown in aÃ§ai and goji juice and vegetables such as baby carrots, kale, and spinach on occasion. You can get creative with these and come up with your own favorite mix. Iâll take a fresh fruit smoothie over a powdered recovery mix any day.
Tortilla wrap: In a spelt or whole-grain tortilla, combine black or pinto beans, quinoa or wild rice, spinach, avocado, and salsa.
Monster salad: In a large bowl, combine mixed greens, spinach, chopped tomato, cucumber, baby carrots, snap peas, shiitake mushrooms, olives, avocado, raw unsalted sunflower seeds, and nuts of your choice. Toss with a dash of balsamic dressing, or make your own (below).
Salad dressing: In a blender, combine dates, cashews, sunflower seeds, 100-percent fruit juice (like Doleâs blend of orange, pineapple, and banana), balsamic vinegar, and brown rice vinegar. A heaping tablespoon of almond, cashew, or peanut butter tastes great in the mix as well. The dressing tastes like peanut sauce and provides filling protein thanks to the seeds and nuts.