You’re vegan? What do you eat?

Janice Daniels


I think I speak for all vegans when I say this is one of the most annoying questions I get asked. This and “Where do you get your protein?”

First off, I eat. If anything, I probably eat too much and it’s never much of a hassle for me to find something filling and satisfying at any restaurant and/or at home.

When I first started eating healthy – not eating vegan, just eating healthier in general – I couldn’t cook and had no confidence in the kitchen whatsoever. Cooking used to mean melting cheddar cheese in between two flour tortillas in the microwave. Now, I can say I have mastered making delicious, creative meals – without burning things (most of the time) – in the kitchen.

I’m not saying I’m good at cooking but, every time I do it, I feel more confident about it. As they say, practice makes perfect and my progress in the kitchen is consistently proving it.

Peanut butter and banana toast for breakfast.

I would say breakfast is the least complicated meal of the day for me. It’s usually something that only takes a few minutes to make, such as oatmeal, peanut butter and banana toast, or some sort of whole wheat or bran cereal with almond or soy milk. Sometimes I’ll get adventurous (usually on the weekends) and whip up something like whole wheat pancakes with homemade pumpkin apple butter or tofu scramble (tastes like eggs!) but that’s pretty rare.

I like to save my kitchen time for dinner. Besides, what kind of human would I be if I cooked for every single meal of the day? I’m already vegan – I don’t need to be any more of an outcast.

I spend hours (seriously) browsing the internet for recipes. You know how most people spend time procrastinating on Facebook? Well, my procrastination consists of googling things such as “vegan Indian recipes,” “vegan Ethiopian,” “benefits of chia” and “nutritional yeast macaroni and cheese.” I have found my calling, and that is food. 

School lunch! Frozen beans, which have yet to be thawed in the microwave, and diced pomelo fruit for lunch.

Curried pumpkin and broccoli for dinner. 

For lunch I’m not as lazy as I am with breakfast, but I am also not as gourmet and crafty as I am with dinner. My lunch is a vegan, home-cooked version of what you might see in a HUNGRY-MAN meal. Every weekend I make a few batches of different dishes – could be beans, Spanish rice, chana masala, couscous salad, mashed potatoes or anything else – I divide them up, put them into sandwich baggies and then freeze them for them upcoming week.

In the morning, I’ll take one or two of those baggies, put them in a small airtight tub to take on the go and then I’ll heat it in a microwave at school (or wherever I happen to be) when I am ready to eat. I always grab a piece of fruit to go with my lunch as well. This way of eating is convenient, delicious and leaves somewhat less of a hole in my pocket.

Fruit and nuts are important staples in my diet as well. I don’t think I have ever gone more than a few days without having some sort of fruit in my kitchen. I grew up in a household that, to this day, never fails to have bananas lying around somewhere and as a result, I feel like a pantry without bananas is an empty one.

I also am an avid buyer of grapefruits, apples, raisins, unsweetened applesauce, almonds, peanut butter and just recently, PRUNES! I’m a pooper, alright.

Whether I’m cooking or eating out, dinner is always different. It can range from burritos to Indian food – which has been my favorite kind of food to cook lately – and on my lazy days is usually something along the lines of oats with raisins, a bean burrito or a peanut butter and banana sandwich. 

Just because I don’t eat meat or dairy products – doesn’t mean I don’t get adequate nutrition. Out of all the foods noted, I seem to be a pretty balanced person, right? I’ve got protein, fiber and magnesium all from beans and nuts. Calcium from almond milk (a serving provides 50 percent of the daily value the average person needs), potassium from foods like potatoes and bananas, vitamin A from carrots (which I eat a TON of) and greens, vitamin C from a variety of fruits and vitamin E from whole wheat cereals and the overabundance of nuts I allow myself to consume.

As for the protein question, you’re better off not asking it because it only sounds ignorant. Protein is probably the easiest thing to get.

On The Vegetarian Resource Group website it states, “It is very easy for a vegan diet to meet the recommendations for protein as long as calorie intake is adequate. Strict protein planning or combining is not necessary. The key is to eat a varied diet. Almost all foods except for alcohol, sugar and fats provide some protein. Vegan sources include: lentils, chickpeas, tofu, peas, peanut butter, soy milk, almonds, spinach, rice, whole wheat bread, potatoes, broccoli, kale…”

The hardest part about being vegan is that I have to work a little harder than before to prepare and think about meals, but I think people should be doing that anyway, whether they eat meat or not. It’s a shame when people don’t think enough about the food they are consuming. Have you ever stopped to think about what are in those wee little mystery nuggets before you ate them? I think I would rather die than have another one of those darn things.

Janice Daniels can be reached at [email protected]