April 21, 2023

Can Eating Vegan & Being a Foodie Co-Exist?

On the pleasure of eating plant-based foods and the perspective of a vegan nutritionist.

If you are not vegan yourself; you must have come across people who consciously choose to follow a vegan lifestyle. Have you ever wondered why?

Photo by fauxels

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There are multiple reasons to go vegan. Veganism helps protect the environment, saves animals’ lives, betters human health (given that your diet is well-balanced), and promotes fair trade, economic relationships and social justice.

The truth is that food-and-drink pleasure has a big, if not the biggest, impact on one’s nutrition choices. People love food that tastes delicious. That’s why it is important to understand that enjoyment and satisfaction when it comes to food should be fulfilled. That can also be done via a vegan diet, despite people wrongly believing that veganism cannot co-exist with wholesome food enjoyment.

‘Eating is a need, enjoying is an art’.


Understanding food enjoyment

Food consumption is essential for survival. However, the pleasure that comes with it is what makes it worthwhile. The way our brain receives pleasure from food or other sources is quite complex. Many different parts of the brain and most of our senses are being used. The sensory information about food is first received via sight and smell.

Paying close attention and trying to minimise the ecological and social impact of the food we consume is equally important to satisfying our psychological needs.

Plant-based food enjoyment

Vegan dieting does not automatically mean healthy dieting. This is why every vegan person’s goal should ideally be a balance between pleasure and health. Mind you, following to achieve 100% pleasure is as unhealthy as 0%.

If I have learned something, then it is that balance is the answer to many things in life, healthy eating included.

Switching from a non-vegan to a vegan diet can also be viewed as a journey of exploration: new food, different food culture, international kitchen, tastes and textures, including all health benefits. Veganism is not a set rule of don’t’s, but rather an adaptation for a better future for all living creatures.

Many diets do not take into account the sensual enjoyment of eating and drinking. Shape your vegan lifestyle around psychological satisfaction so that neither your needs nor the environment get negatively affected.

Mindful eating

Veganism often comes along with mindful eating. What is mindful eating, you ask? Being present when eating, acknowledging and accommodating your bodily needs.

Examples include

  • slowing down and taking the time to savour your food
  • chewing more than usual
  • setting down the cutlery
  • drinking water or having a glass of water
  • not doing anything distracting like watching a movie or playing with your phone
  • being aware of your hunger cues
  • listening to your body’s response to the food

This practice allows for a deeper appreciation of the food, how much you’ve eaten, whether or not you’ve enjoyed your food and can enhance one’s overall eating experience.

Also, a big one for me personally is the get-together with family members or your loved ones for lunch or dinner. Consuming food has always been a social experience for me. I have strict rules regarding dining and lunching. The TV, if there is one in the room, is being switched off and no phones on the table. It may sound strict, but it comes naturally. Also, if you have a balcony or a patio, take your food outside and enjoy. Picnics are also a secret love of mine.

Veganism & food enjoyment put into practice

Thankfully, mother nature has a variety of healthy foods in store for us without exploiting the environment with its animals. It is now in our hands to use those sources accordingly.

Eating vegan doesn’t have to be a boring experience! There are many ways for vegans to experience food enjoyment. Experiment with different flavours, textures, and ingredients, and try to find delicious and creative ways to make meals more enjoyable.

Especially if you’re new to veganism, the first and, in my opinion, the best thing you can do is try to veganise your favourite dishes.

Here is a guide to get you started. You can swap

  • dairy cheese, yoghurt and milk with vegan cheese, coconut/soy/almond yoghurt and plant-based milk like almond, oat, rice, hemp or soy.
  • scrambled eggs with either tofu or just egg which is a vegan egg substitute made from mung beans.
  • eggs in baking with flax eggs. 1 flax egg amounts to 1tbsp ground flaxseeds mixed with 3tbsp warm water, aquafaba (chickpea liquid), 1/4 cup mashed banana, 1/4 cup apple sauce, 1 tbs protein powder and 1 tbsp water.
  • honey with maple or agave syrup.
  • butter with vegan butter, coconut or vegetable oil.

When it comes to meat substitutes, there are obviously processed meat replacements available in stores, but you can also try to make burger patties, sausages, and nuggets from plant-based ingredients like beans and lentils yourself.

  • Tofu and soy chunks usually work well in most meat-based dishes.
  • Mushrooms and cauliflower can be great and highly nutritious replacements for chicken, for example.
  • Seitan is a very proteinous plant-based meat substitute. It’s another name for wheat protein. If you’re living gluten-free, this option is not for you.

You can pretty much turn any recipe into a vegan one. You will probably notice differences in flavour and, perhaps, in texture, but you can still experience a delicious and satisfying meal by making the right substitutions and experimenting with different flavours.

Vegan eating is DIFFERENT. Do not expect the exact same flavours and textures. Sometimes it’s going to be worse than the original, and sometimes it’s going to be better; expect the unexpected.

You can already find a wide variety of plant-based recipes online but don’t feel scared to put creativity to the test and try to come up with your own.

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the activeplantbased pub 🐇