When I was first considered joining the Ultimate Oxygen Challenge my major concern was following the meal plan. Most fitness focused meal plans are heavy on things like chicken, salmon, cottage cheese and Greek yogurt. As a vegetarian with dairy issues, I didn’t know how much of the plan I could actually make work for me. When I checked out the details it said there would be substitutions for vegetarian and even vegan diets. Since my biggest desire was for the workout plan anyway, I took that bit of assurance and said okay.
When we got the first look at the plan, I was disappointed to see that there were vegetarian “options” but not a lot of guidance on how to make the substitutions. Erin did include meatless meal plans – one week of a vegetarian plan and one week of a vegan plan, but to meet her macro suggestions (40/40/20) it would take some major tweaking for both. In the two weeks I followed her plan I found it virtually impossible. That was part of how I chose my coach and committed to the Team Amanda plan. Amanda’s suggested macros are 40/30/30, although this may change in the last few weeks as we get into shred mode. I had been close to those levels anyway and found that I felt really good eating that way.
Amanda only offered a list of vegetarian substitutes, not a full week plan. Thankfully as a personal trainer, health coach and long time vegetarian I knew how to make the plan work for me. Not all my teammates are so lucky however. I’ve seen a lot of posts in the Facebook group on how to make vegetarian and vegan modifications. With new people joining all the time, I thought sharing how I’ve made the Team Amanda plan work for me might come in handy.
Breakfast has been the easiest. Eggs are standard on both plans. I love oats too. If you’re vegan however, you’re going to need something different. A tofu scramble is an excellent choice. You can have a smaller portion of oats and make my Roasted Broccoli Tofu Scramble and get about the same amount of calories and protein. You might also try a green smoothie for breakfast instead. Amanda has a Green Goddess on her meal plan that is delicious! This Avocado Mango Smoothie from Vegetarian Times is similar; just add a vegan protein powder to get the right macro nutrient profile.
In month one, I made Amanda’s Burger Wrap with a Vegan Original Boca Burger. Even non-vegetarians can do that for an easy swap. For her Chick-Avo sandwich, marinated tempeh makes an excellent substitute for the chicken. In month two, I’ve swapped the tuna quesadilla for a wrap made with Happy Sea Salad from The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions cookbook. For her Chiquinoa recipe, I’ve been using Gardein Chick’n Scallopini in place of the chicken breast. Unlike many of their faux meat products, it’s gluten free! I treated myself to fermented hummus from Echigo Farm. It tastes delicious and it helps keep my tummy happy with all those lovely good bacteria!
The Healthy Pizza from month one was a huge hit! I made a bigger version to serve two using a paleo crust from Pizza Crust Creations. There were no leftovers but I know Brian loved it too. During month two I’ve been making the Competitor’s Standard a lot. I love sweet potatoes and steamed broccoli so I have no trouble eating this two or three times a week. I just substituted 4 oz. of baked tofu for the chicken. For the Healthy Burger I use the black bean burgers I normally make or this White Bean Bistro Burger from Oxygen Magazine.
I love the High Protein Rocky Road Protein Pudding from month one! It made it easy to give up my beloved pumpkin pie oatmeal. This recipe from Muscle and Fitness is the same as protein pudding on the meal plan – but minus the pumpkin and cinnamon. You can easily make this vegan but using Vega Protein + Greens, which is what I opted to do since I don’t do casein protein. In month two, I have fallen in love with Amanda’s 1 Minute Magnificent Mug Cake. For a vegan version that is just as delicious, try the Chocolate Mug Cake (pictured above) from the Vega Team. I also still grab protein bars for snacks at work with apples, baby carrots or dry roasted edamame. I’ve even found a Quest Bar or two that I like. (Try the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.)
The key to any meal plan is finding the spirit of it and make it work for you. Both coaches say to feel free to move around meals (brinner, anyone?) and include your own favorite clean eating recipes. As a vegetarian or vegan, you can make anything work for you as long as you have good resources and a little creativity.
I like not thinking so hard when I make the grocery list right now. I’m hitting my macros (pretty close) most days as well as eating cleaner than I probably ever have before. I still planning on splurging a bit in Peru, but I’ll have my eggs, oatmeal and fruit (the Power Continental) for breakfast and pack plenty of nuts, edamame, bars and shakes for the trip. Thankfully the trip is during the build muscle phase!