It all comes down to the question on how "clean eating" is defined. As hopefully we are all evolving, my point of view has considerably changed over the last five years. Read more about it, at the end of this blog post.
The fact is, 90% of my clean recipes anyway were plant based and vegan by nature. What I've done now is to hand pick my favorite simple vegan recipes and showcase them on this page for your convenience. I'll also explain in this blog post the 3 most common reasons for going vegan.
Easy vegan recipes from all over the world
Plant strong, whole food recipes don't have to be bland, complex or time consuming. They often combine international eating habits and trends, which make them more exciting.
- The Asian cuisine provides many inspirations for curries and Asian soups, pasta and rice dishes with tofu, bean thread noodles, crunchy vegetables and exotic spices. The creations are enriched with fine sauces made of creamy coconut milk, soy sauce or refreshing oil-lime dressing. A vegan staple from the Indian cuisine is Garam Masala Dal.
- Popular ingredients from the North African cuisine include fiber rich chickpeas and bulgur. They are seasoned with spicy vegetable stock and mixed with raw vegetables to make a salad, for example.
- A vegan staple from the Middle East is Hummus and another popular vegan recipe is Baba Ganoush, a flavorful eggplant dip.
- Thanks to the Mexican kitchen, we enjoy the gorgeous guacamole. The protein rich quinoa has its origins in the Andes.
- The variety of herbs from the Mediterranean region will pep up pizza, pasta and casserole dishes. A vegan classic from Italy is the Spaghetti all'arrabiata.
- The French neighbors enjoy Ratatouille and in the heart of Europe (Germany) you'll find the mayo-free and light Swabian potato salad.
- And of course, there now exists a multitude of traditional American dishes in a lighter, vegan version like the Homemade Mac and Cheese or Alfredo sauce, an Italian invention that has been popular with Americans since 1922.
Clean & vegan breakfast ideas
Easy vegan meals
Easy vegan dessert and cake ideas
Well planned, is often half cooked!
Here are some tips for quick and easy vegan recipes in stressful times or when you have to hurry:
- Pre-cook brown rice, quinoa or bulgur for several days and use it for different dishes
- Use frozen vegetables (this saves chopping time and frozen vegetables often contain even more vitamins than fresh produce)
- For soups and stews, double the amount and freeze
- Prepare your own pesto with fresh herbs and nuts in large quantities and keep it in the refrigerator
WHY GO VEGAN?
There are many reasons in favor of a vegan diet. Depending on the individual's point of view, they may be weighted differently.
Here are the 3 most common reasons for a vegan diet or a vegan lifestyle:
1. GOING VEGAN FOR ANIMALS (ETHICAL VEGANS):
Mass animal farming has reached such horrible levels today that many people no longer want to support it. It is only a matter of profit and animal well-being is completely ignored.
Farm animals such as cows, pigs and chickens live in the tiniest places and are massively restricted in their natural way of life.
The idea that cows graze happily on green pastures, as often suggested in advertising, is only true in very exceptional situations. Farm animals often see sun for the first time when they are going to the slaughter. A cruel thought for me!
In addition, many animals in mass farming usually reach only 5% of their natural life expectancy.(1)
As repeatedly seen in the media, there are often new scandals in the way animals are treated, especially during the slaughter process. The consumption of eggs and dairy products is also inevitably associated with animal suffering.
For example, many people do not realize that a cow, just like a human, actually only produces milk when it has a little calf. So she needs to get pregnant all the time. The calf is then usually taken away from the cow a few days after birth.
Food scandals caused by factory farming are also part of the daily reality!
If you want to dig deeper into this sad reality, I recommend watching "Earthlings", a very popular documentary about meat consumption and animal farming.
Sidebar: I sincerely respect people with a vegan lifestyle (my 16-year old daughter is one of them, for the past two years) and I understand their ethical reasons. Sadly, many vegans opt for store bought vegan junk food products, instead of discovering the huge variety of easy, plant-based meals. Hopefully my easy vegan recipes can offer some inspiration for home cooked meals.
2. GOING VEGAN FOR HEALTH (DIETARY VEGANS):
Numerous studies have shown that today's meat and dairy consumption is directly linked to lifestyle diseases such as obesity, cardio-vascular disorders, diabetes and elevated cholesterol levels. Also some types of cancer can be attributed to animal based nutrition.
If you want to look more intensively at the topic veganism and health, I recommend the following documentations and books:
3. GOING VEGAN FOR ENVIRONMENT AND COMBATING WORLD HUNGER (environmental Vegans)
Animals aren’t the only ones who suffer from modern factory farming, but also the environment. According to the UN, emissions from livestock account for 14.5% of all human-caused greenhouse gases. It also pollutes our soil and groundwater.
In addition, animal based products require a lot of water. In one kilogram of grain-fed beef, for example, 15,000 liters of water are required. (2)
Only 1% of this water is consumed by the cattle themselves, while the remaining 99% is needed for the feed production. A third of the world's cereal harvest and even a staggering 85% of the world's soy harvest are used for animal feed in factory farming. (3)
And this although staple food is scarce in many countries and people are starving...
These three were probably the most important reasons for going vegan, but by far not all.
The word "vegan" can be very misleading
There are many different subtypes of veganism from junk food to whole foods, to raw vegan, to ethical vegan, high carb vegan, low carb vegan, vegan keto, health conscious vegan, orthorexic vegan, animal activist vegan.
As you can see, the word "vegan" can be very misleading and loaded with a political agenda... just too much and everyone battling against the others because everyone knows best...
Putting everyone in a camp and declaring war on the other camps is a popular strategy of the media and food industry. The more controversy and confusion they create the more the status quo prevails.
The meat and dairy lobby is huge and has no interest in losing their consumers for any of the above reasons.
Healthy nutrition - experts have a high consensus
Although certain interest groups together with the media won't stop to create confusion, most serious health and food researchers do agree on the basic principles of an optimal diet. I'd like to cite in this context Dr. Dean Ornish, which stated the following in an interview recently:
"But if you actually look at the evidence in its aggregate, there is a consensus that an optimal diet is a whole foods, plant based diet that’s naturally low in fat and refined carbs, and as close as it comes to nature as you can. "
In other words, modern medical science is quite clear that in the vast majority of cases, a plant strong, whole foods diet, rich in fruits and vegetables and low in sugar and processed foods, may reduce an eliminate many chronic illnesses of our times.
Why I don't call myself "vegan"
It is interesting to see that baby boomers like me tend to be motivated by health reasons and millennials and generation Zers, are often motivated by different reasons (e.g. ethics, sustainability).
Although I care about our health and the health of the world, I don't categorize myself as a "vegan".
I think the word "vegan" has become rather divisive and doesn't really do a lot for people in their relationships. Often it becomes a kind of "us versus them" thing. Isn't it funny how "words" sometimes fail to clarify communication?
I prefer to tell and show people what I eat (...most of the time a huge whole food plant based variety) instead of telling them what I'm not allowed to eat.
As I prefer to add before I subtract, I like to call myself plant based rather than vegan because of that.
In which direction is leanjumpstart.com heading?
While I always tended to avoid meat, I could have never imagined giving up on dairy. The Food revolution summit 2018 however, was so eye-opening, that besides of meat now also dairy (like e.g. milk and cheese) has totally lost its attraction to me - for health and ethical reasons. I'll share more about the evidence based research in a future blog post.
Don't get me wrong, I think I'll never become dogmatic about food and you won't see me transitioning to a 100% vegan lifestyle. The following quote sums it up for me very well:
"Don't let perfect be the enemy of good."
I've started with an 80/20 approach to clean eating many years ago. Today I'm eating probably 90% of the time a clean, plant strong and whole foods diet, which is very rich in fiber.
I love the flexibility it gives me to make some exceptions from the rule (e.g. when my almost 80-year old Dad is cooking his famous goulash once a year), even though these exceptions are becoming increasingly rare.
While you'll still find some meat based and vegetarian recipes on this blog from a time when my clean eating definition was different, expect in future many creative plant strong whole foods creations to come, which are easy vegan recipes by nature.