A Simple Blueprint to Eating Less Meat, Dairy and Processed Food + Vegan Tempeh Sloppy Joes

November 24, 2015 / Molly Patrick /

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Most people overthink taking meat, dairy, eggs and processed food out of their diet. Which is why I’ve designed a simple blueprint to eating less meat dairy and processed foods that you will find below.

If you’re new to this way of eating, it can be tricky to navigate all of the new foods that will now be part of your life that were once foreign to you. When I first thought about going vegan, I thought that my food would be limited and there would be less choices for me to eat. But I found that the exact opposite was true. Here’s why.

When the diet includes meat, dairy, eggs, and processed foods, most people end up eating the same things over and over again because it’s easy, it’s there, and it’s familiar.

Eggs, yogurt or cold cereal with milk for breakfast, meat and cheese sandwiches for lunch, cheese pizza for dinner, and chips and cookies in between. Oh, and cheese, lots and lots of cheese. Damn it, cheese!

When people think about taking meat, dairy, eggs and processed foods out of their diet, the thought leaves them paralyzed with fear because: what the hell will they eat?

People find this daunting as shit not because it isn’t possible to take these items out of the diet and still eat like a damn champion eater, but because it’s foreign and unfamiliar.

They’ve rarely had a breakfast that doesn’t consist of eggs or cereal with milk, they can’t imagine lunch without deli meat, and if cheese and chicken is to be avoided, what the hell do they do about dinner?

The reality is, once we take these items out of the diet, we end up replacing them with other things, and honestly, the possibilities are like Dolly Parton’s boobs, endless.

So what happens is that our whole world of food opens up and we’re flooded with options that we had no idea even existed. And it turns out, that world of food can be damn tasty.

So if you’ve been wanting to eat less meat, dairy, eggs and processed foods, but are hesitant because you’re worried you won’t have many options once you drop these things from your diet, I’m here to give you another viewpoint, a little cheerleading, and to break down of exactly how to go about doing that in 4 easy steps.

I’ll start with the difference between Vegan and Whole Food Plant Based.

Vegan = A lifestyle that excludes meat, dairy, eggs, and anything else derived from animal products, such as honey and leather.

Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB) = A way of eating that focuses on whole plant foods – veggies, fruit, whole grains, legumes and beans, and nuts and seeds. This is basically a vegan diet, but without anything processed, including oil and sugar.

Regardless of your current diet or your healthy eating goals, sit back, relax and follow along. Here’s a simple blueprint that will make it easier  – I’ve got you.

ONE: Write down in detail what three days of typical eating currently looks like for you. Include breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. Here’s an example:

Breakfast:
Bacon, 2 eggs, toast with butter, a banana and milk

Lunch:
Turkey sandwich with mayo, tomatoes, lettuce and mustard and sour cream and onion potato chips

Dinner:
Spaghetti and meatballs with marinara sauce, garlic bread and a side salad with ranch dressing.

Snacks:
Cheese and crackers and a candy bar

TWO: Decide what direction you want to take your eating and then start making some alterations to the meals that you wrote down.

Do you want to try eating Vegan for a while and just ditch the meat, dairy and eggs, or do you want to try Whole Food Plant Based eating and go without meat, dairy, eggs and processed food, including oil and sugar?

This is not a trick question and it’s entirely up to you. I promote Whole Food Plant Based eating because it’s the healthiest of the healthy – nutritionally speaking, but if you want to start out transitioning with Vegan foods and work your way towards Whole Food Plant Based, that’s awesome too.

You can even do a mix. There’s no right or wrong way to do it.

So the second step is to choose which direction you want to go (Vegan or WFPB), look at the meals that you wrote down, and scratch out anything that falls under the category of what you want to avoid.

Here’s how this would look if you were taking the Vegan route.

Breakfast:
Bacon, 2 eggs, toast with butter, milk, and a banana

Lunch:
Turkey sandwich with mayo, tomatoes, lettuce and mustard and sour cream and onion potato chips

Dinner:
Spaghetti with meatballs and marinara sauce, garlic bread and a side salad with ranch.

Snacks:
Cheese and crackers and a Milky Way candy bar

THREE: Next, you would write in Vegan alternatives in place of everything you crossed out (or WFPB if you went that route, but I’ll work that out with you in a sec). Here’s what this might look like:

Breakfast:
Vegan bacon, scrambled tofu, toast with Earth Balance buttery spread, almond milk, and a banana

Lunch:
Vegan turkey sandwich with vegan mayo, tomatoes, lettuce and mustard and cracked black pepper potato chips

Dinner:
Spaghetti with vegan meatballs and marinara sauce, vegan garlic bread and a side salad with vegan ranch

Snacks:
Vegan cheese and crackers and a vegan candy bar

This took only a little tweaking to make this day of meals totally vegan. A fantastic start for someone just starting to toy around with the idea of dropping meat, dairy and eggs from their diet.

Vegan transition foods can be a blessing for people who want to make the switch, and this menu is void of animal protein and animal fat, which are two of the key factors that make eating meat, dairy and eggs so unhealthy for your beautiful bod.

Okay – let’s say in step two instead of trying a Vegan menu, you wanted to try some Whole Food Plant Based eating. Awesome! Let’s high five and work that shit out.

Along with taking the meat, dairy and eggs out of the meals that you wrote down in step number one, you would also take out anything processed, including oil and sugar.

Let’s take a looksy at what this would look like:

Breakfast:
Tofu scramble with lots of veggies, sprouted toast with almond butter and a banana

Lunch:
Veggie sandwich on sprouted bread with Lemon Tahini Dressing and a side of steamed broccoli with Coconut Aminos and sesame seeds

Dinner:
Whole wheat, brown rice or zucchini pasta with marinara sauce, lots of veggies and whole roasted garlic cloves, and a side salad with Cashew Ranch Dressing.

Snacks:
Hummus and cucumber rounds and some dried figs or dates

This took only minor tweaking as well, and you’re left with a hearty, micro-nutrient rich day of eating

FOUR: Whether you chose Vegan, WFPB, or a combination of the two, follow this blueprint for three days worth of food and then follow through with it. It sounds crazy, but you will notice a positive difference in your energy and how you feel after just three days are up.

If you feel better, keep it up. If you want to tweak some things, have at it.

Just know that Vegan alternatives are super easy to find and you don’t necessarily have to go to fancy health food stores to find Vegan versions of your fave foods. And if you want to dabble in WFPB eating, it’s even easier and cheaper because most of your grocery shopping will take place in the produce section instead of the packaged food section, saving you cash money in the bank.

See, it’s not so mysterious and complicated after all! And it’s even easier when you let us do the planning for you and sign up for our weekly whole food plant based meal plans.

Let’s recap:

  1. Make a detailed list of three days worth of your current meals, including breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.
  2. Decide if you want to go Vegan or all the way Whole Food Plant Based (with Vegan you won’t eat meat, dairy or eggs, with Whole Food Plant Based you won’t eat meat, dairy, eggs, or processed foods). Go through your detailed list of meals and scratch anything out that falls under the category of what you want to avoid.
  3. Go through that same list and add in Vegan or WFPB options to each item that you scratched out.
  4. Follow that meal plan for three days and see how you feel.

Whatever direction you want to go, give yourself some love for being open and ready to make some changes – you deserve all of the health and happiness that this world has to offer. Allow this to be your process, and do whatever feels best for you.

Today’s recipe will turn tempeh skeptics into tempeh believers. Trust me, just make this – it’s WFPB and insanely satisfying. Share a picture with our private Facebook group when you make it!

Tempeh Sloppy Joes

Author: Molly Patrick of Clean Food Dirty Girl

Ingredients

  • 1 cup onion 120g, diced
  • 1/2 cup green bell pepper 85g, diced
  • 1 cup celery 120g, chopped
  • 1 package tempeh 2 cups / 225g, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tablespoons dried basil 8g
  • 4 large dates pit taken out and simmered in water for several minutes
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 15 oz . cans of tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup fresh parsley 12g, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  • Heat a large pot and sauté the onions for 5 minutes, stirring frequently and adding a splash of water when they start to stick to the pan.
  • Add the bell pepper, celery, tempeh, garlic, and dried basil, and cook for an additional 5 minutes, stirring intermittently and adding just a splash of water when the ingredients start to stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • While the veggie / tempeh mixture is cooking, drain the dates from the water (be sure the pit is taken out) and place them in the blender along with the soy sauce, water and apple cider vinegar, and blend until totally smooth, about 1 minute.
  • Pour the date mixture and the the tomato sauce in with the veggie / tempeh mixture and stir.
  • Simmer on low, uncovered for 35-40 minutes stirring frequently. The longer it cooks, the thicker it will become. You want the consistency to be nice and thick, not soupy.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • When you turn off the heat, add in the parsley and give it one more stir.
  • To serve, spread some lemon tahini dressing on a whole wheat or sprouted bun, add a generous amount of Sloppy Joe mixture and pile high with spinach and onions

Notes

This freezes well, so if you have extra, pop it in the freezer for another time.

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I hope that you have a happy week. May it be filled with easy transitions.

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Written by ex-boozer, ex-smoker, Co-founder, and CEO, Molly Patrick. They will help you eat more plants while throwing perfection down the garbage disposal.

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22 Comments

  1. Leah McClellan on November 26, 2015 at 12:18 am

    This is hilarious! I really was laughing out loud. The Dolly Parton reference made my list of Best One-liners of 2015.

    I’ve been vegetarian since my teens, and just-about-vegan for a few years (yeah, cheese is hard to give up, yogurt once in awhile, and milk in coffee sometimes. But eating animal stuff in general is just gross to me). Thing is, I get busy and distracted or have various calamities all happen at once—or whatever, a few things are tough right now—and I fall back into my trap that’s not so different from what you describe. Granola (even home-made muesli) or oatmeal for breakfast (with almond milk usually, often homemade), cheese sandwich or hoagie, rice and beans, pasta with beans (like garbanzo) or broccoli or tomatoes/tomato sauce, maybe a veggie pad thai with tofu or veggie curry with cashews or tempeh—if I make the effort, which isn’t often. Or quinoa veggie burgers from Trader Joe’s or other processed vegan option—TJ’s packaged Indian food is pretty good, and hummus with crackers is fine for dinner, as far as I’m concerned. Snacks are fruit, generally. Not much for sweets here, fortunately. But I don’t often eat that well. Today was not great—cereal, then the pasta/tomato sauce/TJ quinoa burger, then some crackers. Some coconut water and a banana. Veggies take time to cut up and all that…cooking, then you have dishes to wash…~whine~ lol

    So I want to do better, and the webinar sounds great! The meal plans, too, so I signed up. I like that the BBQ tempeh can be frozen. I’m just not into cooking though I’m perfectly capable. But I really want to get some sort of routine or habit going here—it’s just too important. Looking forward to it!

    • Molly Patrick on December 2, 2015 at 8:38 pm

      Hi Leah –
      I’m super glad you signed up for my webinar.
      I’m sharing a ton of info and I think you will find it really useful and refreshing. It sounds like you’re on the right track!
      xo
      Molly

  2. Rina on December 2, 2015 at 11:31 am

    I’ve been following your blog for a while now, but I believe this is the first recipe that I’ve actually made. Oh my FUCKING god, it was good! When I was cooking it, I thought, “It’s alright” and the lemon tahini dressing was, “OK.” But, something magical happened when I put them together. Even my teen daughter ate and said I could make it again. Now THAT is high praise.

    • Molly Patrick on December 2, 2015 at 8:41 pm

      Rina!
      THANK YOU for taking the time to tell me this! It made my entire day.
      I am so glad you and your kiddo enjoyed them.
      Any healthy meal that a teenager says yes to is GOLD.
      You should try more of my recipes!
      xo
      Molly

  3. Tom on January 12, 2016 at 11:13 am

    I’m really happy to have found your blog. I’m a middle aged guy trying to lose weight and get rid of some health issues. I recently tried low carb and hated it, felt awful. I’ve tried plant based recipes before but usually found them lacking and not very tasty or, on occasion, really good but obviously unhealthy. But your recipes have changed that! This sloppy joe recipe is so incredibly flavorful and the lemon tahini sauce is amazing! My boyfriend tasted it and said he was going to steal some of my lunches this week. I’m hoping to go to about 80 percent plant based, I don’t seem to do well at 100 percent. And I’m really hoping this will improve my health. Thanks for the great recipes! Also, I love the Saturday fuckery!

  4. Molly Patrick on January 12, 2016 at 10:20 pm

    Hey Tom –
    So happy to hear this! Keep up the awesome work.
    xo
    Molly

  5. Highlandlilly on January 31, 2016 at 10:00 am

    Could lentils be substituted for the tempeh? My family has an aversion to tempeh.

    • Molly Patrick on January 31, 2016 at 12:36 pm

      Absolutely! Lentils would be delish.
      xo
      Molly

  6. Highlandlilly on January 31, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    Great! With homemade spelt buns…can’t wait!

    • Molly Patrick on February 1, 2016 at 12:38 pm

      That sounds perfect!
      Tell me how they turn out.
      xo
      Molly

  7. Eden on July 7, 2017 at 7:09 am

    Thank you! Great write up and recipe! How many servings would you say the sloppy Joes make? I’m thinking of making this for guests. Thanks!

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on July 8, 2017 at 4:29 am

      This would feed a family of 4-6. If you have good eaters I would double it…. it freezes well if you don’t eat it all.

      • Eden on July 8, 2017 at 4:57 am

        Awesome, thank you!

  8. Terri on October 31, 2017 at 12:36 pm

    5 stars
    I made this last night – so yummy. I like spicy so next time i might add some red pepper flakes and the carnivore in the house loved it!!

  9. Sarah Ure on January 4, 2019 at 11:31 am

    Tomato sauce = ketchup in New Zealand. Do you mean a tomato pasta sauce of some kind? Would passata work?

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on January 6, 2019 at 1:50 pm

      Hi Sarah, Indeed, tomato sauce = passata or blended tomatoes. If you ever see tomato paste in our recipes, this refers to concentrated tomatoes (we’re told it’s called tomato puree in NZ / Australia). Thanks for checking out CFDG! ~Karen

  10. Lili on March 24, 2019 at 6:46 am

    Would another type of sauce go well with this? I can never get used to the taste of tahini no matter what brand I get, and, unfortunately, the tahini taste is too strong for me. Thanks for any suggestions! Can’t wait to try this receipe out. First time cooking with tempeh!

    • Team Clean Food Dirty Girl on March 24, 2019 at 5:46 pm

      Hi Lili, Hmmm, I’m wondering if you meant to post this on a different recipe? I’m not seeing tahini as an ingredient in this one. ~Karen

      • Lili on March 25, 2019 at 5:40 pm

        No, it’s step number 8 in the directions: “To serve, spread some lemon tahini dressing on a whole wheat or sprouted bun, add a generous amount of Sloppy Joe mixture and pile high with spinach and onions.” Sorry for the confusion! I’m wondering if there’s another type of sauce/spread that would go well on the sandwich. Do you have a suggestion? Thanks!

  11. Lili on March 25, 2019 at 5:42 pm

    No, it’s step number 8 in the directions: “To serve, spread some lemon tahini dressing on a whole wheat or sprouted bun, add a generous amount of Sloppy Joe mixture and pile high with spinach and onions.” Sorry for the confusion! I’m wondering if there’s another type of sauce/spread that would go well on the sandwich. Do you have a suggestion? Thanks!

  12. Sandra on April 15, 2019 at 8:28 am

    5 stars
    Oh, Molly.
    Gurl, you put your foot in this one. That means it darned good!
    Love it.

  13. Sarah on July 29, 2020 at 10:43 am

    Ijust love this receipe! When I was at my favorite store to get tempeh, oh no they were out! Not wanting to try a brand that I didn’t know that was flavored, I decided to wait til another day. BUT what did I spy on sale no less? Eggplant, beautiful purple eggplant! Yes I did! And Yes Yes Yes I’m loving it!
    Thank you

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