I’m always curious about how people approach eating in their everyday lives, beyond the recipes and discussion-worthy meals. These kinds of ordinary details can be so fascinating, telling a story about who someone is and what their days feel like. (I was riveted by this photography book at my library, showing how 80 people from around the world eat—but heads-up, it’s not at all vegan.)
At a practical level, learning about others’ regular meals on regular days can also be really helpful. In my case, cookbooks did very little to help me get in the habit of cooking for myself every day. What did help was learning new habits, short cuts, strategies, and simple meals. I get so much inspiration from hearing about how others eat—do they plan ahead? How do they get their greens in? Honestly, how often do they just eat toast??
Today, I’m excited to be launching a series asking people what they eat for lunch—you know, that mid-day meal that doesn’t tend to take too much of our time or mental bandwidth, the meal we’re often eating on our own, or packing to work/school, or juggling while we’re busy with children or other responsibilities. And this being Easy Animal-Free, you’ll hear about animal-free lunches, of course :)
To start, I asked six health experts what they have for lunch, so we can steal all of their healthy secrets. I adore each of these women, and highly recommend following the links below to stay up to date on their brilliant work. I found their answers to the question, “what do you have for lunch?” to be so interesting and helpful. I hope you do, too!
On beans and greens:
I’ll always be grateful to Ginny Messina for her books and website, which emphasize what we need to know to thrive as vegans, and which I relied on myself to learn about healthy vegan eating. She’s a registered dietitian with a masters in public health, and has devoted her career to ensuring that vegans have access to evidence-based nutrition information. She also writes and speaks about preventing ex-vegans, and promoting body positivity in the vegan community—both so valuable.
Ok, be honest, who else is planning on trying that spaghetti? Check out Ginny’s website (which contains super helpful resources), follow her on Twitter, and if you have any vegan-curious women in your life, I consider her book Vegan For Her a must. I’ve also heard Never Too Late to Go Vegan is THE book for older people considering veganism.
On eating through the fridge:
If you’re curious about improving gut health or incorporating more plants to manage inflammatory disease, Desiree Nielsen is your woman. She’s a registered dietitian, host of cooking show The Urban Vegetarian, and author—her anti-inflammatory cookbook, Eat More Plants is slated to be released this summer, and is available for preorder. She’s also a mama of two young ones, and writes about plant-based pregnancy and children.
On packing a filling salad:
I first heard Michelle McMacken, MD, on the Rich Roll Podcast and I was blown away with her intelligence and compassion. She’s board-certified in internal medicine, and she serves as assistant professor at New York University’s School of Medicine and primary care physician at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue. And look at this plant-based lifestyle medicine program she’s responsible for!! They help people living with chronic disease eat plant-based and get healthier. I could just cry.
On the glory of soup:
Pamela Fergusson is a vibrant ethical vegan living with her husband Dave and their four children in the mountains of Nelson, BC. She is not only a registered dietitian, but she also has a PhD in nutrition (!!!) and is constantly lending her invaluable expertise to initiatives that promote plant-based eating, including with me at the Plant-based Policy Centre. If you’re interested in nutrition advice from a knowledgeable, warm, lovely person, check out Pamela’s online nutrition practice, which serves clients across North America.
On cooking on Sundays:
Amy Symington is a force in Toronto’s plant-based movement. She has a masters degree in nutrition, and works as a nutrition professor, chef and researcher. It seems like if there’s a plant-based initiative to assist with, Amy is there: volunteering at the Toronto Vegetarian Food Bank, developing recipes for the Toronto Vegetarian Association, serving as the Nutrition and Kitchen program coordinator at Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto, and more.
On head-sized salads:
Julieanna Hever is a dynamic, passionate, brilliant vegan, and I’ve loved following her online presence for many years. She’s a registered dietitian with a masters of science in nutrition, and among her many gifts to the world, she authored Plant-Based Nutrition (Idiot's Guide), The Vegiterranean Diet, as well as two peer-reviewed journal articles on plant-based nutrition for healthcare professionals. She counsels clients around the world via PlantBasedDietitian.com and as Nutrition Director of Efferos, Inc.
Thank you so much, Ginny, Desiree, Michelle, Pamela, Amy and Julieanna! Your lunches sound delicious and nutritious, and I’m so grateful for your work to make healthy plant-based diets accessible to all.