Whether you’ve been eating a vegan diet for ten years or ten days, you’re bound to have a non-vegan craving from time to time. So what should you do? Rather than giving in, here are some tips on how to crush non-vegan cravings.
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Find Vegan-Friendly Alternatives
Sometimes the easiest way to “scratch the itch” is to seek out a food that’s similar to what you’re craving. Today, there are a variety of vegan alternatives that replicate not only the taste, but also the texture of their non-vegan counterparts. There are also a lot of vegan restaurants that are cooking up delicious animal-free cuisine that tastes better than the real thing! If you’re having a craving for the following foods, explore some great vegan-friendly alternatives to eat instead:
Craving scrambled eggs? Make a tofu scramble. If you want that sulfur, egg-like flavor, try adding black salt or kala namak, which you can buy at Indian markets. You can also try one of the vegan egg substitutes, like “JUST Egg.”
Cheese is one of the hardest non-vegan foods to shake. Luckily, vegan cheese has stepped up its game. From slices to gourmet spreads, there are plenty of prepared options available. You can also make your own with cashews or tofu.
Nutritional yeast is another popular cheese alternative that can be sprinkled on top of foods like pasta or veggies. It can also be incorporated into recipes to provide a cheesy flavor.
Dying to sink your teeth into a big, juicy burger? You can still do that on a vegan diet! More and more companies are starting to offer meat-free burger patties that look and taste like real beef. Other plant-based foods known for their “meaty” texture include portobello mushrooms, tofu, beans, and seitan.
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Whether you’re craving crispy fried chicken or buffalo wings, there are plenty of finger-lickin’ good vegan options out there. Tofu, seitan, tempeh, chickpeas, and even cauliflower are all amazing vegan chicken substitutes.
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Did you know that you can still have some types of sushi on a vegan diet? Most traditional sushi restaurants offer veggie rolls and vegetable side dishes that won’t make you miss fish. However, more restaurants are starting to pop up that specialize in plant-based sushi options.
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While there’s a growing number of fish-free options appearing in the vegan frozen food section, tofu and hearts of palm make great whole-food substitutes. Also make sure your pantry is stocked with seaweed products such as wakame and furikake.
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Understand Why You’re Having Cravings
Most cravings are triggered by mental factors such as stress or physical factors like lack of sleep, poor diet, and dehydration. Food can also be tied to memories or emotions. It’s why you seek out “comfort food” when you’re feeling sad or you crave your mom’s homemade soup when you’re feeling sick. The next time you have a food craving, pause and think why you’re craving that specific item and figure out how you can address the underlying cause.
Make Sure You’re Eating Enough Calories
One of the top reasons people fall off the vegan wagon is because they complain that they’re always hungry. If you’ve only recently made a transition to a vegan diet, it’s important that you eat enough food. Incorporate plenty of calorie-dense foods into your daily meals, like legumes, nuts, seeds, and potatoes.
Remember Why You Went Vegan
Whether it’s for the animals, the planet, or your health, sometimes all you need is a reminder of why you went vegan in the first place to break your craving. The next time you notice you’re having cravings that would make you stray from your vegan diet, take some time to watch one of the popular plant-based documentaries, like “What the Health” or “Forks Over Knives.” Another option is to create a daily reminder. Write down your “why” on a post-it note and leave it someplace you’ll see it every day, like on your bathroom mirror or the refrigerator door.
The Toughest Craving
Some of the hardest foods to give up when transitioning to a vegan diet are dairy products. Cheese (and all dairy products) contain opiate-like compounds called casomorphins, which attach to the same brain receptors as addictive drugs. According to the plant-based doctor and author of “The Cheese Trap” Neal Barnard, when these compounds attach to these receptors, “the brain releases dopamine, leading to a sense of reward and pleasure.” In other words, cheese is physically addicting! However, most people stop feeling cravings after three weeks.
Give Your Tastebuds Time to Change
As with any new lifestyle change, it takes time to adjust, especially if you were eating a lot of processed foods before. This is where the power of habit comes into play! Some people say it takes 21 days to form a new habit, but research shows it all depends on what new habit you’re trying to create. Every time you choose to eat a vegan meal, the more likely you are to stick with it and not give in to those non-vegan cravings. You’ll also find that your tastebuds will adjust over time, and fruits and vegetables will become more flavorful.
Like any emergency, it’s best to be prepared! Make sure your kitchen is stocked with healthy options, like fruits and vegetables, to keep curb your cravings. And if that’s not enough, keep your favorite vegan treat on hand to squash those cravings.
Visit Beyond Sushi in NYC
We hope you better understand how to beat non-vegan cravings. When you’re ready to fuel up on a nutrient-rich, vegan meal, choose Beyond Sushi as your vegan restaurant of choice. We’re best known for our innovative, plant-based offerings and globally-inspired menu that will leave a lasting impact on both your palette and the planet. Dine-in with us or order takeout or delivery today!