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V is for Vegan


Treat your body and the planet to an animal-free diet

By Mark Reinfeld
Photography courtesy Vegan Fusion

Why Go Vegan? Vegans follow a diet and lifestyle that is free of animal-products and based exclusively on plants. You enjoy all of the amazing fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices that the Earth has to offer, rendering it a top diet choice for active, healthy families, including athletes and sports practitioners.

People go vegan for many valuable reasons: for the numerous benefits for human health, for the sake of farmed animal welfare, or for doing their part to help preserve the planet’s resources for future generations.

Whatever reason resonates with you, adopting a vegan diet is a win-win for our health, the planet and animals.

Transitioning to a vegan diet has proven health benefits: a lower risk or reversal of symptoms of cancers, heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension.

Plant-based foods also assist in weight loss, improved energy and clearer skin. A vegan diet has been adopted and endorsed by Dr. Kim Williams, president of the American College of Cardiology, by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and is touted by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, director of the cardiovascular prevention and reversal program at the Cleveland Clinic and featured in the life-saving documentary Forks Over Knives.

There’s an abundance of evidence that a plant-based diet gives sporty types enhanced performance and recovery and that plants build muscle and stamina ultra-efficiently without the heaviness, digestive trouble, acidity, cholesterol and saturated fat of meat products.

From active families to triathletes, this is a diet that wins all around.

Vegan and raw food chef Mark Reinfeld is author of seven cookbooks and teaches at the Vegan Fusion Academy in Miami, Fla.


Cucumber Salad with Peanuts and Chile
Serves 6


  • 2 large cucumbers, peeled
  • 2 Tbsp. rice vinegar or fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp. agave nectar
  • 1 Tbsp. mirin
  • 1 Tbsp. red chili pepper, seeded and diced or ½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup chopped roasted peanuts
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh minced cilantro
  • 1 tsp. fresh mint
  • ½ tsp. sea salt


Cut the cucumbers in half. Scoop out the seeds, then cut into ¼-inch slices. Add the remaining ingredients and stir well. Serve or store in an airtight container.

Nutrition facts per serving (142g): Calories 63; Fats 3.3g; Sodium 398mg; Carbs 7g; Protein 2.3g.

Image above.

Brazilian Black Bean Soup with Baked Plantain
Serves 6 to 8

Baked Plantain Ingredients

  • 1 large ripe plantain, ¼ inch diagonal slices
  • 1 Tbsp. pure maple syrup or sweetener
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tsp. coconut oil
  • Pinch of sea salt; chili powder; cinnamon

Black Bean Soup Ingredients

  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 ¼ cups diced yellow onion
  • 4 large garlic cloves, pressed or minced
  • 1 tsp. seeded and diced jalapeño pepper
  • 4 cups vegetable stock or water
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained well, or 3 cups cooked
  • ¾ cup diced carrot
  • ½ cup seeded and diced red bell pepper
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn
  • ½ tsp. orange zest
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 tsp. sea salt, or to taste
  • ¼ tsp. chipotle chili powder (optional)
  • ⅛ tsp. ground cloves (optional)
  • ¼ tsp. liquid smoke (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh cilantro


Preheat the oven to 375F. Prepare the plantains: Place the plantain ingredients in a small bowl and mix well. Transfer to a well-oiled baking sheet and bake until golden brown, about 10 minutes, flipping once after 6 minutes. Carefully transfer to a serving plate so the plantains do not stick to the pan as they cool down.

Meanwhile, place a 3-quart pot over high heat. Place the cumin and chili powder in the pot and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add onion, garlic, jalapeño and stir well. Lower heat to medium-high, add the vegetable stock, black beans and carrot and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the red bell pepper and corn and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add all the remaining ingredients, except the cilantro, and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cilantro and mix well.

Top each serving with a few pieces of plantain and enjoy.


No Bake Toasted Coconut Chocolate Energy Balls
Makes 20 energy balls


  • 2 cups vegan dark chocolate chips
  • ½ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup chopped pecans or macadamia nuts, toasted
  • ½ cup coconut flakes, toasted
  • ¼ cup almond or peanut butter
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ⅛ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • Pinch cardamom powder


Place chocolate chips in double boiler on medium high heat until chips are melted, stirring frequently. Place in a large bowl. Set aside ¼ cup of the toasted coconut to sprinkle on top of energy balls. Add remaining ingredients to the melted chocolate and mix well. Measure out 20 servings with a small scoop, roll into balls and place on a parchment paper lined or well oiled baking sheet. Top with remaining coconut. Refrigerate until cool and serve slightly chilled or at room temperature.

Nutrition facts per serving (39g): Calories 194; Fats 15g; Sodium 3mg; Carbs 18.5g; Protein 3.6g.

Click to view this article in IMPACT Magazine's January/February 2016 Issue.