A Simpler Approach to Eating a Plant Based Diet
Moving to Asia completely changed our approach to eating and cooking plant-based. Food we’d learned to rely on in the United States, such as hemp seeds, chia seeds, peanut butter, tempeh and nutritional yeast were now unavailable or difficult to access. How would we make vegan cheese for our lasagna? How would we get our protein? What were we going to eat? What was going to happen to our muscle without protein? How were going to SURVIVEEEE? Well, we did. And we learned a much simpler approach to eating a plant based diet along the way.
Although we couldn’t access the above mentioned foods or other common western items in Taipei like we were used to, we were still able to get around. The biggest change actually happened when we were on vacation in Vietnam, which was one of our first trips we planned a month after we moved to Asia. And we decided to stay in Vietnam for quite a long time. There weren’t even some conveniences here for vegan food as we knew it.
Going out to restaurants, there were only items like tofu, greens, pumpkin and beans available. Also some fruits and toast for breakfast. Due to lack of choices, we accidentally began eating a truly whole food, plant based diet. What were we eating?
- Vegetables, and very few selections of them, mostly Chinese greens such as Morning Glory
- Fruit, such as bananas and mangoes
- Grains, mostly rice and some oats
- Legumes, limited in quantity and mostly beans, lentils and peanuts
- Tree Nuts, such as cashews, almonds and walnuts
The simple stuff. Straight forward, no frills. No hemp or chia seed smoothies, no healthy Amy’s vegan burritos from the store, no fancy vegan cheeses. It seems we’d previously fallen into a fluffier, admittedly self-imposed, food trap in America. A newbie to the world of plant-based eating, we made cooking too complicated.
We were also focusing too much on protein, which happens to a lot of people in our society of protein obsession. Regardless of your vies on protein, we also learned that protein comes from so many different sources. We’d become so fixated on tempeh, tofu, hemp seeds and quinoa as main sources of it that we didn’t realize there were less expensive and common ways to get this. Such as beans, rice, seeds, many vegetables and roots. Many western countries just aren’t educated on these ingredients and their nutrient value. Many western cities and countries are also very fortunate for the endless options of ingredients and foods in every store, however in hindsight made it things rather complicated and wasteful.
How Did It Impact Us?
Over time, our health and energy started to go up. We’ve learned a combination of the above plants are all that are needed to be healthy and strong. Ingredients can be more straight-forward, while still delicious. There are still many recipes to make using basic plant-based ingredients. The focus becomes trying new flavors with spices and herbs, rather than relying on expensive, store-bought ingredients. So, we’ve been taking it back to basics and it’s been making a world of difference in our lives.
Our relationship with food is constantly changing. Our taste buds change and adjust, our shopping habits change, our body is always learning how to react to new foods. Within this ever changing landscape, taking it back a few steps with a simpler approach to eating and cooking makes our lives easier. Taking a look at common ingredients within the categories I listed above, such as greens, grains, beans, lentils, legumes, etc. will take you far for your nutrient needs and help you even get more creative in the kitchen!
I’m not saying we’ll never having any of those fancy items again, however we started Moving Mangoes as a place to make life simpler in the world of plant-based eating. We are getting back to our roots. We look forward to sharing our approach with you, based on some key principles. Awesome recipes and sources are coming your way to hopefully make your lives easier, too!