Sunday, February 6, 2011

It’s Vegan Week! Ready to Give it All Up?

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Okay, so that’s not really a thing, but we at Eights & Weights are making it a thing. Yesterday, a few Eights & Weights readers started on the challenge to go vegan for a week. Basically, we are trying to promote the awareness that we may need to eat a little less meat and animal products to live a healthier lifestyle, not that you must treat animals right or must be vegan to be healthy. We can get some of our protein from other healthy sources, like plants (obviously). What do you think? Would you like to join us? Yes, we started on Saturday, but it’s never too late to start your own vegan week challenge!

The difference between being vegan and being vegetarian is that vegetarians don’t eat meat, but vegans don’t eat any products from animals, including but not limited to eggs, cheese, butter, ice-cream, and milk. I know it sounds like a daunting task to give up the basic things you eat every day, but there are so many substitutes now that you may not feel it as much as you think.

In our effort to go vegan this week, I thought it would be great to share a few meal options you could try. 

Eating Out
If you find that you have no time to cook, or you have to eat out every day, there are still vegan options you could incorporate into your diet for the next week.
  • Salads: Most places give a bean option for your salad instead of meat. I wouldn’t suggest just sticking to garden salad because you still need your protein, so get some beans in there. However, if you go to a restaurant that has no vegan options on the menu, ask for substitutes! Ask if you can substitute the meat in one of the salads for beans, corn, tofu, or any other meat substitute.
  • Sandwiches: Luckily, most fast food restaurants now have vegetarian sandwich options. But make sure you ask if it is considered vegan as well because some vegetarian sandwiches may contain eggs or other animal products. If you don’t see any options on the menu, ask if they can make a substitution for you. Be careful with the bread you choose as well because some bakers do put eggs in their bread. When in doubt, stick to a wrap instead of a bun or a slice. 
  • Rice and noodles: When you eat at a lot of Chinese, Thai, Mexican, or any other rice-based food, it’s easy to mix it up by simply adding a lot of vegetables and asking to take out the meat or eggs. Chinese restaurants are usually very good with providing a ‘healthy’ portion of their menu where they can make most substitutions you want. And if Chipotle has taught me anything about Mexican food (yes, shoot me now), it is that if you have enough beans, salsa, green peppers, and onions, you can freely skip the meat altogether. 
  • Soy and wheat: Now, if you must have something that tastes like meat (somewhat), let me introduce you to the world of tofu, tofurky, and mock duck. You can find these in a lot of restaurants nowadays. Aren’t we luckier than our parents?
  • Desserts: A lot of health stores sell great vegan cakes. I tasted this chocolate vegan cake from Whole Foods a few weeks ago, and I had my mouth open wide (after I chewed) because it was so good. But the key is to always ask. I know a lot of bakeries that don’t necessarily advertise that their cupcakes are vegan, but if you ask, they’d tell you which ones are the vegan ones.

Eating at Home
If you like to cook, or just like to save money, and cannot fathom how you would do it without your beloved chicken, here are some options that could help you out.
  • Spice it up: Well, the truth is that a lot of Africans and Indians like spice. And we can take some lessons from the Indians because they have the ability to create a very tasty meal without the word ‘meat’ coming close to it. Africans (Nigerians especially) have a lot of meat-based foods, but we can simply cut out the meat and add some more spices to give it a great tasting flavor. A good example of a spicy vegan option is a potato curry.
  • Traditional and Vegan: Sometimes, we think we have no vegan meals at all, but that is not necessarily true. There are a few meals that can be made without any meat: Vegetable soup (efo), bean cake (moin-moin or akara), jollof rice, yam pottage, and many more!
  • Pasta: I know the Italian restaurants sometimes make it seem like you can’t make pasta without cheese, but you definitely can. You can actually make your marinara sauce from scratch too if you are worried about store-bought ones containing meat products. In fact, this link here from contains a variety of vegan marinara recipes that I think are awesome: Vegweb. But marinara is not the only think you can eat with pasta. You can create garlic-based pasta stir-fries, or even make lasagna with spinach and tofu rather than cheese and meat. 
  • Alternatives: There are so many vegan alternatives you could use to cook meals at home. For example, if you needed to use eggs, you could replace that with cornstarch or mashed tofu. If you needed to use cheese, you could replace it with soy cheese alternatives. For curries, you could use coconut milk instead of meat stock. Oprah gives some vegan alternative options on her website: Oprah's site
  • Breakfast: For breakfast, soy milk is the one item that holds all vegan meals together. Once you have your soy milk and wheat cereal or oats, you’re good to go. Don’t like milk? Well, there are other options like whole grain bread (make sure it’s vegan) and peanut butter.

Have any questions about going vegan? Please leave a comment or contact us at, and we’d be happy to help. Send us your email to be included in the daily tip email group for vegan tips this week, or for general fitness tips all other days.

Cheers Eights & Weights!

NOTE: We are not organizing this challenge because we at Eights & Weights are incredibly sympathetic to animals. On the contrary, we believe in the right to kill and eat.

1 comment:

  1. loool
    love the disclaimer
    i am fasting this month, i cant lose my protein untop of that, a girls gotta survive, maybe id try this in march


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