Occasionally, friends or readers will ask me for advice on going vegan. What should they eat to get proper nutrition? What are some basic meals they can turn to over and over again? And hey, could I maybe help them design a menu plan?
I actually said "yes" to that last question for a close friend about five months ago, and I'm ashamed to admit that I haven't done that yet. He really wants to give veganism a try for his health, but he's not going to make the first move on his own. And yet, I've been putting it off and putting it off. Truth is, writing balanced meal plans for another person is hard, especially when you don't know the likes, dislikes, cooking skills, etc. of that person. I'd rather just give him a book with a meal plan that someone else has already designed.
Lucky for me, Oldways, a nonprofit food and nutrition organization, has just released its Oldways 4-Week Vegetarian & Vegan Diet Menu Plan! I'll probably be re-gifting this to my friend after this review.
This skinny booklet (84 pages) isn't filled with chapters on nutrition. It's just what it says it is — a menu plan. There are a few pages of tips (8 simple steps to health, 5 steps to a fabulous salad, stocking your pantry, and substitutions), but most of the pages contain detailed menus with a couple of accompanying recipes. And the menus are carefully balanced to include whole grains, fruit, vegetables, and protein. And the best part? The menus account for leftovers!
For example, Day 9 begins with whole grain toast, vegetable breakfast hash, cranberry juice, and coffee. And for lunch, you can have lentil soup (recipe included), whole grain crackers, salad, a banana with peanut butter, and jasmine tea. Dinner is millet cakes (recipe included), mashed root veggies, brussels sprouts cooked with tempeh and sesame vinaigrette, an orange, and coffee. I love all the coffee in here!
Anyway, I didn't follow a meal plan for this review, but I did cook a few dishes using the recipes in the book. Remember that Vegetable Breakfast Hash from Day 9?
Tofu scramble + hash browns + mashed avocado + toast = one delicious breakfast. And a very satisfying breakfast at that.
One thing to note: This is a both a vegetarian and vegan plan, so some meals call for eggs or cheese, but when they do, a vegan alternative is always offered. For example, this hash recipe called for eggs, but I used tofu instead. Simple swap.
I also made the Beet Salad from Day 3. It was supposed to be served with tomato-lentil soup, whole grain crackers, and a banana. But I had my salad with a quinoa burger on a sprouted grain bun.
This is a fantastic salad! I always forget how much I love cooked beets on a salad. But this was perfect. Earthy beets (I used red, yellow, and striped beets) meet sweet dates and crunchy walnuts, and they're all tossed with a simple balsamic vinaigrette. Yum!
This Oldways menu plan would be perfect for new vegans, and this time of year, so many people are resolving to give up meat. I think I'll push my friend to do just that and give him this handy guide. At $10, this guide is a total steal!