“It’s not all tofu (though some of it is)”

 Foods I discovered since going vegan!

I went vegan for ethical reasons but after I took the plunge, my main concerns were dietary. How would I get the protein I needed to supplement my gym work? Would I be able to live without bacon? Would I ever enjoy the food as much??

Like most of the worries bouncing around this skull of mine, these proved to be unfounded.

The first thing I noticed was that even the protein-y stuff- the lentils and legumes- were carb-y too.

Luckily, I wasn’t an Atkins advocate, and I knew the carb-demonising by parts of the dietary community was rubbish. This was actually a bonus. Whether I am trying to bulk up or cut down, my body needs carbs to fuel my workouts. And lots of them. I was getting two macros for the price of one.

But I’m not gonna lie, I was gutted about the eggs… I loved those runny yokes on my morning toast. I also loved boiling them in the evening for a low-carb protein hit to feed my muscles through the night.

I was gutted about the cheese too. And, despite all the vegan sites reassuring me about the protein, I did wonder how the hell was I going to get my 140g+ a day? (unless I started mainlining my protein shakes).

“Tofu”, they cried.

“And tempeh”.

                                                “What the fuck is ‘tempeh’?!”

^ tempeh!

These are, in fact, two of the foods I have grown to love.

Partly from necessity. As if I want to get my macros as unprocessed as possible, I really did need to get on board with them. They both give a good 30g each, so were the natural replacement for the chicken breasts and red meats that were my staples.

And luckily, they were easy to get on board with.

Tofu felt like a weird texture at the start. Rubbery even (never been a quality I look for with my foodstuffs). But I’ve grown to love it, for its sheer versatility.

Diced, seasoned and baked. Into salads. Soups. Curries. Stir-fry. Even on its own as a late-night, low-carb, high-protein snack, to feed my torn muscles through the night.

Then Tempeh.

An Indonesian food made from fermented soybeans (apparently.)

I had to really look to find this bad-boy in Sainsbury’s.

Google was my friend, and I found a site that recommended marinating it in peanut butter.

https://www.loveandlemons.com/tempeh/

My wife improvised with some soy sauce and some sweet chilli. Boom! Another lovely evening box-set snack.

(To be fair, I think most things would be nice marinated in peanut butter… But let’s not stamp on my own point here)

I have yet to try it in a stir fry, but it goes great in a salad, and finger-picked from a bowl as we watch “Succession”.

Then lentils. Yes, lentils. I barely knew you existed before I went vegan, but now we’re like old Vietnam buddies. I am loving the carb and protein double-header. In soups, yes, but especially in pasta form, where they give 25 grams of protein per serving- 2.5 times durum, aka ‘normal’, pasta.

I also have a new-found love of tomatoes and mushrooms. I don’t know why those two, and I don’t know why now, but this pair have catapulted from mere plate-fillers to highlights of my meals. This may just be my taste buds changing, but either way, I thought the seismic shift here deserved a mention too.

A lot of the fake meat alternatives are tasty- lots of protein, low fat and low carbs- but heavily processed too.  I still eat them a few times a week- the vegan duck being my favourite. Usually mixed in with light soy sauce, some veg, and a big-ass bowl of Mexican rice. You know it makes sense!

I have managed to shop around a find a few that are minimally processed, so I’d absolutely recommend you do the same.

Almond milk and oat milk have added a new taste to my protein shakes and morning muesli. I have lost the protein I got from cow’s milk but, pah, it was only about 6 grams at a time anyway. I can take that hit.

All in all, going vegan has had me discovering new foods every single week. Often creative. Always surprised. Very rarely disappointed. And I can still lift heavy stuff in the gym occasionally too.

Win-win-win-win-win.

I’m very happy with my choice.

Toni and Tracy also have some fantastic suggestions to help you discover new vegan foods, check them out!

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Pete

Pete

Qualified personal trainer, nutritionist and occasional guilty scoffer of family-size portions of vegan chocolate

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