What do vegans eat? Grass? Vegetables?
Well, our stomachs aren’t able to digest grass so that one’s ruled out, but what about people who can’t stand the taste of veggies?
If, like new vegan Ne-Yo, you don’t enjoy eating vegetables, you might not be as strange – or as incapable of transitioning to vegan – as you may think! One group of people, called supertasters, naturally hate the taste of bitter foods like vegetables. These people have more taste-buds, making them extra sensitive to tastes that the rest of us might not notice. About a quarter of the population is thought to have this. (And, if you’re wondering if you might be one, try putting blue food colouring on your tongue – if barely any of your tongue is stained, you are probably a supertaster!)
The problem is that while it might be easier to avoid veggies when your plate is half full with meat, vegetables are necessary to ensure you get all your nutrients when following a plant-based diet.
So it is possible to be a vegan when your body can’t stand the way they taste? You bet it is!
8 PRACTICAL TIPS FOR VEGANS WHO HATE VEGETABLES
1. Eat what you love
Create vegetable versions of your old favourites like bean or beet burgers, or you can simply blend a bunch of veggies together and create a pasta sauce. Also it might help to know that when vegetables are cooked – roasted on the top of a pizza, or stirred into a curry sauce – they won’t taste as bitter as they might raw or boiled. It’s easy to throw all sorts of vegetables into a curry and not even realise what is in there!
2. Be creative!
Don’t overwhelm yourself by forcing every vegetable imaginable onto your plate at once. Try getting used to one beneficial vegetable at a time – such as broccoli or kale – and take your time: don’t expect to love them straight away. Be patient with yourself, persist, and keep a positive mindset. If you see a new type of vegetable you’ve never tried or heard of, buy it and find a new recipe to try. Think of this as cooking adventure, and have fun with it.
3. Spice it up or get salty
Adding spices or herbs to vegetable dishes can also help alter their taste. There are all sorts of combinations you can experiment with until you find your perfect spicy veg!
Salt is also supposedly useful for lessening bitterness, but try not to overuse salt as your health won’t appreciate it!
4. Start with what you do like, and add to it
Hopefully there might be some vegetables that you can tolerate, perhaps sweeter ones like carrots and peas. Make sure you eat plenty of these, and try adding new vegetables along with them, in small quantities at first. Mix in some sweetcorn with your peas, add some spinach to your salad. Supposedly, it takes 10-15 exposures to become accustomed to a taste, so soon enough you’ll be throwing in all sorts of veggies to your dish and loving it.
5. Trick your taste-buds
If all else fails, you can get your vegetable intake ‘on the sly’. Try hiding veggies into dishes and making them hard to detect. For example, if you’re making a fruit smoothie with lots of sweet ingredients such as bananas and pineapple, you could easily add a handful or two of spinach and have tastebuds none the wiser!
5. Befriend vegetable fanatics
Developmental psychologists suggest that children who see others enjoying a food will learn to desire that same food. The more you eat in the company of people enjoying their greens, the more likely you are to enjoy them too.
An element of your veg-phobia may be mental, and something you can trick yourself out of. Naturally, people tend to avoid bitter foods because in the wild they may be toxic. But, if your peers are eating cauliflower and asparagus all day long and are still alive, there’s no need to worry right?
6. Eat well to up your nutrition intake.
But, if you really cannot stand vegetables after all of this, you don’t need to despair: veganism still won’t be unattainable for you. Eat whole grains, fruits, legumes (beans, nuts, lentils), take a vegan multivitamin and avoid processed food where possible. You can still be healthy if you do what you can to maintain a balanced diet. Not too fussed about health? Well luckily there are a plethora of vegan goodies out there so regardless of your taste preferences, you won’t be going hungry!
8. Don’t feel disheartened!
Despite common misconceptions, veganism really isn’t limited to surviving on vegetables (or grass). There is a huge array of food vegans can eat, and supermarkets are increasingly upping their vegan ranges. Your options are far wider than you might think – it’s an exciting time to be making the change to a plant-based diet.
Transitioning can take time, and this shouldn’t put you off. Don’t let vegetables control your life – control them! And, if you can, learn to enjoy them too.