Yesterday one of my best friends told me that she and her partner consider following a vegan diet for a week, as a mild detox. They anyway consume little meat and small amounts of dairy products, but going from “a little” to “none” can be quite tricky and overwhelming. A vegan diet excludes meat, fish, seafood, dairy, eggs and honey. It includes all fruits and vegetables, seeds, nuts, legumes, seaweeds and herbs. In an attempt to make it easier for them and any other person following a standard western diet, I decided to make a meal plan including snacks and easy-to-pack lunches for the office hours.
As people who are not vegans are not familiar with many of the ingredients that long-term vegans use in their cooking -such as nutritional yeast, tempeh, tofu and the like- I decided to keep the recipes simple, yet delicious.
I have also not added deserts. If you look online (this website included), you can find tons of decadent vegan dessert recipes. But if you want to detox, stick to fruit to satisfy your sweet tooth.
I did not take for granted that you have a juicer/blender/food processor. If you do though, this is a great week to incorporate natural smoothies in your diet. I promise you that if you add a banana to your smoothie, you can also add a handful of oh-so-healthy fresh spinach and you will never taste it.
A note on soy: soy’s health effects are a matter of controversy. It is praised as super food by some researchers while others feel it can cause some types of cancer and disrupt hormonal functions. As I am not yet convinced which side -if just one- is correct, I prefer to be better safe than sorry. This means that I will occasionally consume a soy-based mock meat as a treat, but I buy soy-free types of dairy-free milk. Fortunately, C 1000, a major supermarket chain in the Netherlands, started selling oat milk, almond milk and rice milk recently and in Albert Hijn (another Dutch supermarket) almond and rice milk are also available. This means that avoiding large amounts of soy becomes easier. Keep in mind though that it is also “hidden” in many processed foods, such as white breads, cookies, muffins and even “healthy” energy bars (these get the ironic quotation marks due to their high sugar content).
Try to drink every day, right after you wake up, a cup of warm water with the juice of half a lemon. You can sweeten it with stevia, maple syrup or agave nectar. Honey is also a choice, but keep in mind that it is not vegan. So if you want to try out how it is to be not just a dietary, but also an ethical vegan for a week, skip the honey as well.
Day 1: oatmeal with soy milk (or other non-dairy milk, if it is available in your supermarket), resins, cinnamon, sunflower seeds and raspberries or other berries
Day 2: two pieces of toast with marmalade of your choice and a cup of soy milk
Day 3: a bowl of vanilla-flavored soy yogurt with berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries) or other fruit of your choice. You can add 2 tablespoons of cereal to give it extra crunch.
Day 4: oatmeal day again
Day 5: two pieces of toast with guacamole (you can make it overnight and keep it in an air-tight container) and a glass of orange juice
Day 6: This can be a Saturday, if you start the vegan week on a Monday, so it is vegan pancake day! You will need some flour, non-dairy milk and baking powder. And some applesauce.
Day 7: Make it a Sunday and spoil yourselves. Re-fried beans and soy sausages with mashed potatoes is what’s for breakfast (OK, brunch)
Snack (here I list many options that are valid for all seven days):
- 1 banana
- 1 apple
- ½ handful nuts of your choice
- ½ handful of raisins or dried cranberries
- a cracker with a tablespoon of sesame seed paste or a nut butter of your choice
- celery, carrot and cucumber sticks
- cherry tomatoes
- 3-4 dried fruits such as dates, apricots, papaya, prunes or figs
- 1 soy pudding (in The Netherlands you can find Alpro vanilla and chocolate puddings in all supermarkets)
- 1 small cup of cold oats (you can make more for breakfast and keep them in a food container)
I designed the lunch menu based on the fact that you are really unlucky and there is no microwave in your office, which means that cold lunches are your best bet. If you do have a microwave though, you can just make more of the dinner options and re-heat it.
Day 1: A cold soup made of zucchini and 2 pieces of whole wheat bread
Day 2: Quinoa salad with lettuce, cherry tomatoes, capers, grated carrot, cucumber, olives, bell peppers and whatever other vegetable you love
Day 3: Hummus sandwich. You just need to blend a can of chickpeas with a bit of garlic, lemon and sesame past (tahini) and you have your own hummus. Add in there a grilled red pepper, some olives, a few sun-dried tomatoes and you are done. Of course you can use totally different vegetables if you prefer. Hummus goes with everything.
Day 4: Rice and lentil salad. You just cook the rice and lentils a bit less than usual, so that they still hold their shape. You mix with a few spices, chopped fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and fresh herbs like parsley, and you are done!
Day 5: Cous-cous. Another great dish that you can enjoy warm or cold. Add fresh herbs, lemon juice, olive oil and chopped vegetables of your choice, and you ‘ve got yourself a very filling dish.
Day 6: Saturday! Bean stew. Get beans of your choice, some kale or spinach, a cauliflower, a broccoli, a carrot, a couple of potatoes. Chop chop chop. Drop them in a pot full of water. Simmer for 20-30 minutes on low heat. Enjoy!
Day 7: Black bean burgers. They take some time, but are totally worth it. Plus, they freeze well, so you can pack your freezer.
Afternoon Snack (same as the morning snack: choose one of the options)
Day 1: Risotto with portobello mushrooms and leaks
Day 2: Pasta with cashew cream. If you do not have a blender/ food processor, you can just use a non-dairy cooking cream instead.
Day 3: Roasted vegetables with mashed potatoes (think of Brussels sprouts cut it half, broccoli, carrots, onions etc)
Day 4: Spinach balls with pesto
Day 5: Vegan pizza. You just buy a lactose-free pizza dough (Pillsbury pizza crust is vegan and so are other more generic brands) and add some tomato paste and vegetables of your choice. You can also add soy cheese on top, but it takes some getting used to and you will need to visit a health food store to find it (at least in The Netherlands)
Day 6: Spicy Thai noodles (or any other noodle recipe that you can find online and suits your taste).
Day 7: Oven-roasted veggie rice.
It is best to choose something that is easy to digest and won’t spike your blood sugar. This is why fruit might not be a good idea, due to the fructose it contains. A piece of toast with a bit of nut butter or vegan margarine and a cup of chamomile and/or lavender herbal infusion is a good choice. Make sure that the margarine that you buy does not have gelatin, if you are really committed to try this vegan diet thing properly.
Good luck with your mild detox and please feel free to contact us for any questions.