There are growing numbers of people these days who are turning to meatless diets because it’s healthier, for them and for the planet, not to mention the animals whose lives and suffering are spared. But if you haven’t gone meatless before, or are used to vegetarian food based on lots of dairy and eggs, how do you make the transition? Here are some tips for getting stated with a vegan diet.
Find some good recipes
Probably the biggest stumbling block for people is figuring out what the heck they can eat. When I became a vegetarian over 25 years ago, I started out eating just salads, which got very limiting and boring very quickly. So I had to start creating my own recipes.
The internet has made access to literally millions of vegan recipes a possibility. Find a website or a cookbook author whose recipes you like, and start expanding your repertoire of dishes.
Curries, stews, and stir fries are easy to make and usually pack a lot of flavor. They can often be made using inexpensive ingredients, too.
Find a veganized version of something you love
Twenty five years ago, there were no vegetarian options in grocery stores, like there are now, and you were lucky to find vegetarian food in any restaurant, unless you ordered side dishes of French fries or salad.
These days, you can find great options everywhere. Even mainstream grocery stores carry vegetarian frozen and canned food.
Find something you like, in a veganized version. Maybe you can find canned chili beans or a fake burger that is really tasty. Keep some of them on hand so you will always have something you enjoy and can fall back on for a meal in a pinch.
Try food from different cultures
Many people think vegan or vegetarian food must be tasteless, and that you need chicken broth or pork fat to make a dish taste good. Try the Roasted Vegetable Soup recipe or any Malaysian recipe on my blog to end that argument for good!
Expand your culinary borders and try food from other countries. Many of them have thousands of years of history with vegetarian food. For example, Buddhists in many countries, including Japan, China, Malaysia, India and Thailand, have meatless (and in most cases, vegan) traditional dishes that the entire population enjoys.
Try removing the animal products from something that’s pretty close
Chances are, you already have something in your repertoire that is almost vegan, like a bean burrito or pad Thai. Take out the animal product and see if the new version tastes good without it.
Don’t expect it to be the same. There is no substitute for steak, period. But you may find that it’s good without, or you can substitute something vegetable or grain based in its place.
Use some soy cheese in place of the regular cheese in your burrito. Use seasoned cubes of tofu in place of the shrimp in pad Thai. You might be pleasantly surprised.
It may seem like a daunting task in the beginning, but stick with your decision to change your diet. After a while, you are likely to feel better and will get more used to your new way of life. Use these tips for get started on a vegan diet, and you will be on your way in no time flat.