Eat Vegan with Yummy Plants

Making even small changes to your diet can lead to big results.

By Michelle Valigursky

To embrace the vegan lifestyle means making choices with respect to diet, but the lifestyle can begin with simple choices that anyone can make. Alumna Rebecca Gilbert 97MBA “healed from chronic joint pain by switching to a vegan diet,” she says.

Her book It’s Easy to Start Eating Vegan offers readers practical suggestions on adopting a healthier diet including easy egg and dairy substitutions, ideas to stock your vegan pantry, plant-based protein sources, tips for navigating social situations, sample meal plans, and tasty, easy-to-make basic recipes.

The Rising Popularity of Veganism

It's Easy to Start Eating Vegan

Recent years have showcased celebrities and public figures choosing to eat a plant-based diet. With self-reflection, Gilbert explores why someone would choose to be vegan. “I healed from chronic joint pain by switching to a vegan diet. I was a former competitive figure skater; intense and constant knee pain ended my professional career,” she points out. “I chose to go vegan shortly after completing my graduate studies at Emory and within five weeks I was back on the ice. The pain completely disappeared.”

Such positive results may be individualized, but Gilbert knew she had to share what she learned with others. “Switching to a plant-based diet changed my life in such positive ways that I was inspired to help others,” she says. “In 2010, I founded the vegan lifestyle website yummyplants.com and began public speaking. In the summer of 2014, I published the book It’s Easy to Start Eating Vegan which is now available at select Whole Foods on both the east and west coasts and is being used by the San Francisco public school system for Home Economics classes.”

There are many reasons why one might want to switch to plant-based eating. “It’s good for our health. A vegan diet can reverse heart disease, type-2 diabetes, and obesity. It’s good for the environment. It reduces our carbon footprint. It’s good for our resources. We can feed more people using the same arable land. It’s absolutely good for the animals,” Gilbert shares. “We can meet all of our nutritional needs from the plant kingdom.”

Small Changes Lead to Big Impact

If someone is interested in making simple changes to his or her diet, Gilbert has a few recommendations to get started. She advises, “Learn what products are available. These days there’s a vegan substitute for almost everything! Vegan ice cream, butter, yogurt, creamer, whipped cream, and even artisan vegan cheeses are widely available. Mock meats for chicken, beef, pork and even faux fish are available at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and recently at Target.”

To begin eating a plant-based diet, Gilbert recommends you “Stock your pantry with vegan versions of the foods you love. When you’re ready to make the switch, it will be a snap to prepare new versions of old favorites.” To simplify the process, an entire section in It’s Easy to Start Eating Vegan is dedicated to listing common brands, easy substitutions, and suggestions to stock your vegan pantry.

Gilbert highly recommends setting yourself up for success. “Swap out the foods that don’t matter to you. If you don’t care so much about what you put in your coffee, start with that. Swap dairy creamer for almond, soy, or coconut creamer,” she says. “Feeling blasé about butter? Use Earth Balance vegan butter (made with sustainably sourced palm oil) on your morning toast or veggie side dishes. These substitutions taste great, have zero cholesterol, and are widely available.”

She offers this fun fact. “Your taste buds will actually change over time as you change your meals. As you get more comfortable with new ways of cooking and continue making easy swaps, you’ll find that swapping out animal-based products for plant-based ones gets easier and easier. You’re also likely to find that you feel “lighter” and have more energy. Wishing you radiant health and an abundance of all good things!”

To learn more about the Vegan lifestyle, please visit the Yummy Plants website. Click the links below to see recipes for the dishes featured at the top of this page.
Chili
S'mores Pudding
No Chicken Salad

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Michelle Valigursky