Let me borrow a quote from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and apply it to a totally different context: vegans are meeting a machine with a movement. The animal-industrial machine is the leading cause of environmental degradation, habitat destruction, and the second-largest sectoral water consumer. Factory farming releases more emissions than the entire transportation sector combined, specifically releasing methane gas that is more destructive that carbon dioxide.
My shift to a plant-based diet was largely an environmental effort. In the two years I’ve been vegan, I’ve learned about the wider impact of shifting away from meat and dairy. Issues include human rights, animal rights, reproductive justice, rainforest protection, world hunger, and health. Being vegan allows me to live my activism every day. It’s personal, political, and progressive.
So what does my movement look like on a day-to-day basis? It looks like this!
Breakfast: Almond butter on toast with banana, strawberries, and blueberries
Breakfast is often a hearty serving of fruit, in some form or another. I’m a sucker for Dave’s Killer Bread, which gives me a hearty serving of whole grains and seeds (great for protein!) On this particular morning, I spread my toast almond butter and topped it with sliced banana and a sprinkling of cinnamon. My housemate and good friend, Sam, even brought us strawberries from his Dad’s garden! Plus coffee and a side of blueberries, I’m off to a great start. When I’m missing my best friend Emma, I just mimic her morning coffee by adding almond milk, cinnamon, and a bit of vanilla or agave to my cup! I’m also in the habit of stirring in a bit of coconut oil, a healthy fat which stores in your ketones and gives your body a more consistent source of energy than the spike-and-drop of caffeine.
Lunch: Mango, peach, pineapple and blueberry smoothie bowl topped with fruit and chia seeds
I have a hearty summer appetite, and sometimes I want a filling lunch that will keep me cool. The logical answer? Smoothie bowls. This one is frozen mango, peach, pineapple and blueberry. I topped it with all of the above, plus kiwi and some chia seeds. Chia seeds are great for heart health and protein. I also like to put them in my oatmeal. In a pinch, chia seeds can be used to make two-ingredient, low-effort pudding parfaits! Recipe linked here. Sometimes we buy too much fruit at my house and you can see the blueberries getting a little limp and sad. Freezing them allows me to prevent waste & prepare for a delicious, quick meal like the one above!
Dinner: Sweet potato & quinoa black bean burgers with homemade chipotle mayo
Okay, this might be one of my best creations of all time. Check out these posts on the BFF Vegan Instagram @bestveganfriends for the recipes: black bean burger and chipotle mayo. Not only are sweet potato black bean burgers SUPER DELICIOUS, but they’re also very affordable. As a college vegan on a budget, I am obsessed with anything involving these two ingredients. I highly recommend sweet potato & black bean hash. Quinoa? Beans? Two key sources of protein. I keep mentioning protein because there’s this overarching myth that vegans don’t get enough of it. Ditch that belief right here, right now. As long as you’re eating an appropriate calorie count and those calories aren’t coming from a junk food diet, we’re all getting enough protein. I could go on to talk about total proteins and amino acids, but I’ll save y’all the babble. Try this recipe. It’s easy, delicious, and you can make massive quantities for very little out of your pocket.
Dessert: Strawberry-rhubarb coconut milk popsicles
So, I normally wouldn’t eat this much fruit in a day, but I’m trying to compile some of my favorite, wide-appeal meals here. These popsicles are to die for. They’re so adaptable, too! I just used a can of full-fat coconut milk and blended it with strawberries and rhubarb from my garden, which I’d sauteed for about ten minutes in a saucepan over medium heat. Because rhubarb is pretty tart, I added 1/3 cup of agave. This recipe can be modified with ANY fruit; using coconut milk as the base, your options are LIMITLESS.
If you have any questions about a vegan diet, comment below! I recommend documentaries like What the Health, Forks over Knives, Cowspiracy, and Earthlings. Gary Yourofsky’s “Best Vegan Speech You’ll Ever Hear” is a bit aggressive for some folks, but I appreciate his blunt approach. PETA offers a free vegan starter kit, just click here!