Day in the Life of a Vegan: Featuring Nathan

VeganEveryone meet my vegan mentor, guide, guru, sensei... you get it.

Nathan has played a significant role in supporting me to go vegan for the month, and he’s been a huge motivator in helping me stay vegan. He’s introduced me to some of his favorite vegan products and inspired my cooking with new and delicious plant-based recipes. For this week, I decided to sit down with Nathan and get his perspective on his decision to go vegan and how it impacts his daily life. Keep reading for Nathan’s favorite tips and hacks on everything vegan. 

Why Did you go Vegan?

My wife and I decided to go plant-based about 2.5 years ago after realizing that we could get all the same nutrients from plants that we were getting from meat, dairy, and eggs. We had just watched several documentaries that showed the living conditions of animals in the food industry, and how those poor conditions are carried into the products that we eat. While the word “vegan” is the easiest way for someone to understand our dietary habits, my wife and I actually consider ourselves plant-based because our motivation is more related to our own personal health and what we are putting in our bodies, rather than based on a cause.

What are the toughest challenges and greatest rewards you’ve faced since becoming Vegan?

The toughest challenge is definitely finding what to eat when you’re feeling lazy. We’re lucky to live so close to Los Angeles, and all the great vegan restaurants that have been popping up around the city. But when it’s a Wednesday night, after a long day at work and you don’t want to cook, it can be tough to figure out what to do. With delivery apps like DoorDash and some great vegan options at the restaurants in our city, we definitely always find something. But I can’t tell you how many times it feels like a chore just to figure out what to do for dinner when I don’t feel like cooking.

That said, I feel that being plant-based has changed the way I plan a meal. Before, I would pick a meat, veggie, and starch/grain— and that would be the formula for every meal. Now, I have to re-imagine how my plate will look. Especially if I want to make sure we’re getting all the right nutrients. And of course I want it to taste great!

In our house, there are two rules we try to stick to: use whole foods as much as possible, and get as many colors on the plate as possible. So creativity is key, and it’s been a really fun challenge to come up with new meals and new ideas.

On a health note, another great reward I would say is that I feel better. In retrospect, when I was eating meat/dairy/eggs I had a lot of stomach issues that I assumed were normal or that I would just ignore. After the first month of being plant-based, I noticed that I didn’t experience these gut issues as frequently. I also feel more energized eating plant-based. I don’t feel as heavy after a meal.

What advice would you give to someone on the fence about going Vegan or changing their dietary lifestyle?

I think having a partner or friend go on this journey with you is one of the best things. I’ve talked to other people who switched to plant-based/vegan and they also agreed that someone to support you is important. It’s great to have someone to explore new recipes and new restaurants with.

The other thing I would tell people who are thinking of going plant-based/vegan is that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Maybe I’m a little different than many vegans in this way (and this is one of the reasons that I don’t like to use the word vegan as much). I heard Natalie Portman once talk about how great of an impact Meatless Mondays has on the environment. How if everyone cut out meat one day a week, it would have great positive repercussions on the environment. I feel the same way about people’s health. I meet so many people who are “mostly vegan”, and I think this is great. Every little bit helps. Not only for the world and environment, but especially for our bodies.

Favorite Vegan Spot in LA: Jewel*

*Full disclosure, it’s not 100% vegan. There’s a wave of places in LA that do “mostly vegan”— which usually just means they’ll toss an egg on if you want. Honorable mention here is definitely Kitchen Mouse, which has a similar “mostly vegan” menu.

Current Favorite Vegetable or Vegan Product: Red Cabbage. I know, weird. But it’s so pretty, and goes great with most dinners.

Vegan Truth I Wish More People Knew: Vegan food can be just as delicious as any other meat/dairy based food. Also, of course, the whole “you get plenty of protein on a plant-based diet if you do it right” thing.

Recent Recipe Inspiration: Creamy Garlic Mushroom Pasta (a definite favorite in our house)

If you had to eat one food for the rest of your life what would it be: Probably Korean-inspired, BBQ chickpea tacos with either a Sriracha crema or a good spicy peanut sauce

Grocery Essentials: Chickpeas. Arugula. Lemon. Mmmm. Now I’m hungry.

Vegan Cooking Hack or Tip: InstaPot. Or what used to be known as just a pressure cooker. Brown rice in 20 min? Dried chickpeas in under an hour? Yes, please.

Favorite SR Product: Oh, definitely Golden Milk. No question.

Anything else you think should be shared…

Any good vegan meal can instantly become amazing with a good sauce. We love to make spicy peanut sauce and avocado/Sriracha cremas. If your whole-food meal seems like it needs to be kicked up a notch, just google “tasty vegan sauce recipes” and thank me later.

 

Interview by: Natalie Anzivino