I can't blame myself for how I would reply to these questions. I didn't know much about protein and for most of my life, I too thought meat was the only real place to get protein (some vegetables have protein too!). As for what vegans ate...I didn't even know what a vegan was until college let alone what they ate. Then came the moment...I met one of these vegans.
I've come to learn that there is rarely a better way to understand something than just diving head-on into whatever that thing is. For me, I wasn't ready to do that, nor was I really that interested. It took meeting someone who was vegan to truly pique my curiosity.
My sophomore year at Rutgers I was accepted to participate on an Alternative Breaks community service trip in Tennessee. For those of you who don't know, Alternative Breaks trips are community service trips that occur during winter and/or spring breaks and some schools offer shorter trips on select weekends. Well, one of the other "Alt Breakers" on this Tennessee trip was vegan and so I have to thank her (Thank you, EB) for unknowingly and unintentionally (that I'm aware of) planting the seed that took two years to, let's say, sprout.
A year and a half later I was training for my first triathlon that was to take place in June 2012 and for my 21st birthday that May, my mom gave me a copy of Finding Ultra by Rich Roll. Now I had already watched Food Inc. and then Forks Over Knives not too long after. It was Forks Over Knives that I think led me to pescatarianism (Val was already pescatarian for a couple months at this point), but during those few months after eliminating all meat except for fish from my diet, I was feeling great. I think it was this feel-good sensation that made me so susceptible to the words within Finding Ultra's covers.
An overweight former athlete, Rich Roll turned himself into an endurance machine by embracing a plant-based diet and using that diet to enhance his training regiments. This formerly overweight individual went from speeding through the channels, to speeding through oceans, on roadways, and around mountains; he became an Ultraman.
You can read an article by Rich Roll here: http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/07/21/rich.roll.getting.fit/
Anyway, I knew that if Rich Roll can compete in and complete these ultra endurance events then I too can train for my athletic endeavors on a vegan diet. It took some warming up to, but on July 23, 2012--the day after I completed my first sprint triathlon--Val and I made what I would argue was one of the most life-changing decisions I had ever made: we began embracing a vegan diet.
I don't think I learned more about food in the then 21 years of my life than I have over the past 16 months. I'm pretty sure the only food that existed, to my knowledge, consisted of animals, rice, and beans (Benitez,remember?). Oh and in high school I discovered Nature Valley bars. Okay, so that's obviously a stretch, but kidding aside, I would have thought "kale" was someone saying "hail" funny and "quinoa" was a country I had never heard of before. And even though I knew there were all different kinds of beans out there, I would have bet money that red kidney beans were the only ones humans were able to consume (or at least that's how my parents made it seem). Now, all different kinds of beans and legumes/pulses are staples in my diet and I think if all the kale in the world were to dry up, Val would wither away as well.
So, back to that question...Do I just eat vegetables? While they are still a large and important part of my diet, I eat way more than just vegetables. Over the course of my blogging you will be able to see what my typical diet consists of ("coffee" and "lentils" will probably be the biggest hits) as well as the other foods Val and I enjoy. Oh, and when I say, "enjoy" I mean "enjoy".