WALK-UP ORDERING OPEN WEDS-SUN!

How to Take the VegWeek Challenge: Vegan Recipes and Health Benefits

Many people casually look into a plant-based diet - it’s easy to read an article about what a typical vegan diet looks like and why it’s important; sometimes you tell yourself, maybe I’ll try it for a week. What if that week is coming up?

We at PLNT BSD are looking forward to VegWeek, taking place from April 17-23! We want to do it together; here’s a little more about the week to get you started.

About VegWeek 

Compassion Over Killing (COK) first launched VegWeek in 2009 because of Maryland Senator Jamie Raskin – now U.S. Congressman – who commented during an interview that a simple way each of us could help the protect the planet is to choose vegetarian foods at least one week out of the year. Since Rep. Raskin represented the Maryland District where COK is based, the group reached out to him about his idea, and together they created the first-ever Takoma Park VegWeek celebration — and he was the first person to officially sign up for the 7-day Veg Pledge! 

U.S. VegWeek notes that, “Energized by his now mostly vegetarian diet, which he refers to as ‘aligning my morals with my menu,’ Rep. Raskin continues to encourage others to make kinder, greener, and healthier food choices — and he’s helped VegWeek expand to reach thousands of people nationwide.”

Congressman Raskin is in good company. Millions of Americans, including Former President Bill Clinton, Jessica Chastain, Miley Cyrus and John Salley, are touting the many benefits of choosing more vegan and plant-based meals. In fact, according to the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, meat consumption nationwide has decreased 12% since 2007.

The website says, “There are 52 weeks in a year. Why not make one of them meat-free? That’s the idea behind VegWeek, a nationwide (and increasingly international) campaign empowering thousands of people to pledge to choose vegetarian foods for at least seven days as a way to discover the many benefits and flavors of vegetarian eating.  Every time we choose a meat-free meal, we can protect our health, the planet and animals!”

As we mentioned in our last article, eating a plant-based diet saves animal and plant habitats: Did you know that worldwide, almost a third of arable land is used for animal agriculture — much of it to just to feed the pigs, cattle and chicken many are so fond of consuming? That’s why animal agriculture is such a major contributor to deforestation and desertification (which happens when livestock grazing destroys native vegetation and speeds up soil erosion). Both phenomena contribute to the extinction of whole species of animals like orangutans, red pandas and sloths. Not to mention, animals right here in the U.S. are being greatly impacted by animal agriculture. It’s estimated that U.S. livestock grazing impacts 14 percent of threatened or endangered animals and 33 percent of threatened or endangered plants.

Eating a vegan, plant-based diet also includes health benefits such as:

  • Improved Heart Health
  • Improved Vision
  • Improved Skin
  • Improved Blood Pressure
  • Improved Cholesterol
  • Improved Blood Pressure
  • Lower Rates of Cancer
  • Weight Loss 

Now that you know a little more about VegWeek, here are some recipes to follow to help you on your journey. 

Delicious Vegan Recipes for VegWeek

 

 

 

 

If you think eating vegan or plant-based means having a piece of raw celery and broccoli, think again. Check out favorite dishes made with a vegan tilt. 

Soft and Chewy Chocolate Oatmeal Breakfast Bars 

Start your week off right with these delicious, nutrient-rich and easy-to-make breakfast bars from one of our favorite websites, Two City Vegans; check out the site for even more recipes that you’ll want to keep eating, even after VegWeek is over.

Ingredients: 

  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • 2 tsps. agave nectar or maple syrup
  • 3 heaping Tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp. hemp seeds
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips
  • ⅓ cup cranberries or raisins 

Preparation and Cooking

Preheat the oven to 375.

Mix all the ingredients together in a mixing bowl.

Put the mixture onto a shallow baking sheet and flatten them out so they're about half an inch thick.

Bake for 15 minutes and let them set to cool.

Slice into bars or bites and enjoy.

Jamie Oliver’s Raw Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese

This vegan take on a classic meal will make you want to make enough for lunch the next day!

Ingredients: 

  • 4 courgettes
  • 350g cherry tomatoes
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stick celery
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 beetroot
  • 1/2 red chili
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • Parsley
  • Half a red pepper
  • Half a red onion
  • 50g sundried tomatoes
  • 100g walnuts
  • 4 dates
  • 200ml of soaking water (for dates and sundried toms)
  • 50g chopped baby plum tomatoes or tomberries
  • 4-5 florets of cauliflower
  • 2 handfuls fresh basil leaves

Preparation and Cooking 

To make the ‘spaghetti,’ spiralise the courgettes into long curly strands or peel into long thin strips using a julienne peeler or a normal vegetable peeler. To make the cauliflower ‘parmesan,’ blitz the florets in a processor until it becomes a grainy consistency (if your cauliflower contains a lot of water you might need to place the ‘parmesan’ on absorbent kitchen paper to soak up a bit of the moisture).

To make the sauce, roughly chop the sun-dried tomatoes and stone the dates. Place both in a small bowl, pour the 200ml of water on top and place in the fridge to soak overnight. Place the walnuts in a bowl, pour enough water over to cover all the nuts and also place in the fridge to soak overnight (soaking the walnuts makes them easier to digest and gives a lovely chewy texture similar to mince).

Peel the carrot, beetroot, onion and garlic and roughly chop. De-seed and finely chop the chill and red pepper. Roughly chop the celery, parsley and rosemary needles and zest and juice the lemon. Chop 50g of the cherry tomatoes into quarters and set aside (these are to sprinkle over the top when serving).

Place the garlic, rosemary and chili in the bowl of a food processor and blitz until finely chopped. Add in the carrot, celery, red pepper and onion, and blitz again to form a chunky consistency. Drain and rinse the walnuts and add to the other ingredients in the processor with the beetroot, fresh tomatoes, lemon juice and zest, dates and sun-dried tomatoes (including their soaking water as this will be flavorsome), parsley and half the basil leaves. Process the mixture until it forms a thick sauce and the walnut pieces resemble a minced texture. Depending on how juicy your tomatoes are, you might need to add a little extra water to thin the consistency. Season to taste if necessary.

To assemble the dish, simply scatter the courgette spaghetti over a large platter, pour over the sauce, sprinkle over the chopped tomatoes, cauliflower ‘parmesan’ and top with the remaining fresh basil leaves.

Butternut Squash “Mac ‘N’ Cheese”

If you find yourself struggling to get through VegWeek (or even the first day) and you want to dig in to a bowl of your favorite comfort food, try this vegan-inspired version of a classic dish: Mac ‘N’ Cheese.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 butternut squash, peeled and chopped (yields: 3.5 cups raw)
  • 3/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened + unflavored soy milk), or more to thin out
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • 6-7 Tbsp. nutritional yeast (provides the cheesy consistency)
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp or a bit more of dried Italian seasoning
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp tumeric powder, optional (gives the orangey color)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp paprika + more to season
  • Your pasta of choice (I used ~450 grams/4.5 cups dry penne for the casserole) + mix-ins

Preparation and Cooking

Preheat the oven to 350F and line a baking sheet. In a bowl, season the chopped squash with some oil (~1 tsp) and kosher salt (couple pinches), and stir. Add it to the baking sheet and roast in oven for 40 minutes, flipping once half way through baking. 

Assemble your cheese sauce ingredients (cashews, non-dairy milk, garlic, lemon, salt, nutritional yeast, pepper, mustard, seasonings) and add just the cashews to the food processor. Process until a fine crumb forms similar to corn meal. Now add in the rest of the cheese sauce ingredients and process until smooth. Leave the sauce in the processor as you will be adding the squash.

Cook your pasta according to package directions. When squash is finished roasting, add it to the food processor and blend it with the cheese sauce until smooth. Adjust to taste. The sauce will thicken up with time. If at any point the sauce becomes too thick, you can add a bit of milk to thin it out.

Drain and rinse pasta with cold water. Now add the pasta back into the same pot and add your desired amount of cheese sauce on top. Stir well. Add in any desired mix-ins like peas or broccoli. You can either heat this up in the pot, or pour it into a casserole dish (I used a 4-cup dish), sprinkle on breadcrumbs + paprika, and bake it at 350 for about 20-25 minutes. The casserole will serve about 4 people if you use 450 grams’ dry macaroni or penne. Store any leftover sauce in the fridge and use within a few days. 

Are You Excited for VegWeek?

You don’t have to give up your favorite meals during VegWeek; you just have to make a few simple changes to make them vegan and plant-based. Want more recipe ideas? Check out these 26 Vegan Comfort Food recipes from Buzzfeed that will help you create delicious dishes for the week. We are excited to begin VegWeek and hope you sign up and join us for a fun and tasty week; don’t forget that a plant-based diet isn’t just a trendy thing to do for a week, it really has a strong, positive impact on your health and the environment! 

 About PLNT BSD

PLNT BSD is a unique apparel line that lets customers express their plant based lifestyle, while looking great at the same time. The company’s vegan apparel is stylish, while avoiding the 'in-your-face' type of approach. PLNT BSD is PETA approved. They use only vegan materials when choosing apparel and use ink that is not tested on animals. PLNT BSD hopes to spread the word and start a conversation about the benefits of a plant-based diet. Not only is a plant-based diet and lifestyle good for you, it's also beneficial to the environment and animals alike. Visit www.PLNTBSDApparel.com for more information on vegan clothing and a plant-based diet and lifestyle.