With plenty of celebrity endorsements, veganism is more popular than ever. If that star following weren’t enough, the plant-based diet really can boost your health. The problem with this produce-centric way of eating is it eliminates all meat, dairy, and other animal products we typically rely on for nutrition as well as great taste. As it turns out, a halfway approach to veganism may be even better.
In his most recent book, Tiny and Full, celebrity trainer Jorge Cruise, who’s designed diet plans for everyone from Steve Harvey to Chrissy Teigen, is encouraging folks to cut out animal products only for the first meal of the day.”By being vegan just for breakfast and adding in animal-based foods for lunch and dinner, you are not only creating a sustainable lifestyle you can stick to, but you are also ensuring a balanced diet with the proper nutrients,” he said.
We’re giving you an inside look at our recent conversation with the wellness expert and even convinced him to share a few of his favorite vegan breakfast recipes straight from the book.
1. Being a part-time vegan is a happy medium
We all know fruits and vegetables are good for us, but few Americans get enough of either. Even fewer cut back on meat or processed foods in order to eat more. No matter what you tell yourself about the sound health of your eating plan, the research doesn’t lie. Studies have linked plant-based diets to effective weight loss, reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, and a lower likelihood of developing cancer. And Cruise is a big believer. “By eating plant-based foods, you truly are fueling your body for success,” he said.
The downside is the relative difficulty of maintaining such a stringent diet, which is why Cruise decided to target breakfast. “I’ve found that just eating plant-based foods, or vegan, all day long is not realistic for everyone,” he said. Cruise explained that targeting breakfast allows you “to start your day with the healthiest, most detoxifying foods to set you up for the day. Then, you can add small amounts of animal products like lean chicken, fish, and Greek yogurt to make the lifestyle more sutstainable.”
This doesn’t mean lunch and dinner should be all-out binges consisting of huge slabs of meat and cheese, though. “The goal is to fill up on plant-based foods, like fruits and vegetables, then use animal products as a condiment to provide sustainability, balance, and key nutrients,” Cruise said.
2. Don’t eliminate all animal products
With so much good news about cutting out animal products, shouldn’t we all just suck it up and start eating vegan? Maybe not. “It’s easy to become deficient in vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Iron, Zinc, Calcium, and Omega 3s without proper attention and care,” Cruise said. “Many vegans have to turn to supplements, which are expensive and not always easy to keep up with.” Once again, he has science on his side. Research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2009 found veganism can benefit health in a lot of ways, but acknowledged the high likelihood of certain deficiencies without a concerted effort.
Filling in the gaps with supplements is also a bit problematic because they just can’t replace the benefits you get from food. Harvard Health Publications explained real food offers fiber and other nutrients no pill can mimic. “I’m not an advocate for becoming a full-time vegan,” Cruise said. “I intentionally created Tiny and Full as a part-time vegan program to help you get the benefits of the vegan diet, but avoid the negatives.”
3. Vegan should mean plant-based, not just anything without animal products
Animal product-free foods include things like farro, broccoli, and chickpeas. They also include chocolate sandwich cookies, fudge frosting, and bacon-flavored bits. There’s clearly a big difference between these two categories, so it’s important to prioritize eats that are nutrient dense. “When I say vegan, I mean in the truest, most natural form,” Cruise said. This means skipping the processed junk in favor of “whole, plant-based foods.”
4. Consider alternative protein sources
If you’re like many people, you might be scratching your head about where the protein comes in. After all, starting the day with this nutrient has been shown to help ward off hunger and contribute to weight management. You don’t need bacon and eggs to stay satisfied, though. “Pea protein is an excellent source of protein that really helps you stay full on fewer calories,” Cruise said. He’s such an advocate for this newly popular powder that he created his own.
If protein powder isn’t your thing, there are still plenty of other plant-based sources, such as beans, lentils, quinoa, and tofu. The same goes for nuts, as long as you don’t go overboard with the portion size.
5. Go plant-based for breakfast
So why breakfast? A lot of it comes down to willpower. “Determination and drive are almost always strongest in the morning hours when you are fresh,” Cruise said. “This is because willpower is like a muscle; it’s strongest when it has been given a good rest.” Though the concept might seem bizarre, Roy Baumeister, a psychology professor at Florida State University, has done a significant amount of work relating to willpower that supports this theory. His findings indicate it fatigues over the course of the day, so self-control is strongest in the morning.
This applies to any type of willpower, so it’s a pretty simple way to achieve more success with healthy eating. “If you start off with the hardest part, the rest is easy,” Cruise said.
And no worries, you can still eat your favorite morning protein. Cruise explained, “You can eat eggs on my plan as long as it’s not for breakfast.” Just save the scramble or frittata for dinner.
Even guys who dread the morning can throw together a simple smoothie for breakfast. Just toss everything into a blender, give it a whir, and you have a meal in minutes. Cruise’s vibrant orange and banana concoction relies on pea protein to give this one extra staying power.
- ½ cup fresh orange juice
- ½ cup tangerine slices
- 1 medium banana
- 15 grams vanilla pea protein powder
- Ice, as needed
Directions: Place all ingredients in a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into a glass and serve.
Hummus Avocado Toast
While a lot of vegan breakfasts tend towards the sweet side, those who prefer savory foods can get still get a satisfying meal without looking to animal products. This avocado toast has enough protein, fiber, and healthy fats to keep you satisfied all morning long. And feel free to subsitute another type of flaky salt.
- 2 slices vegan whole-grain bread
- 2 tablespoons hummus
- 8 avocado slices
- Himalayan pink salt and pepper
Directions: Toast bread to desired level of doneness. Spread each slice with 1 tablespoon hummus, top with avocado, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Serve.