Making the switch to a vegan diet is challenging, but can be very rewarding. It’s definitely not for everyone, and if you experience health-related issues after making the switch, you should consult a physician. But for most of us, it contributes to more physical energy, clearer thinking and is a lot of fun!
I plan to update this post with my favorite tips and recipes, so come back often for more of both as I navigate my vegan journey.
What's the difference between Vegan and Vegetarian?
Vegetarians don’t eat meat, but they do consume animal byproduct – mainly dairy. I boil it down to this: If you can consume any part of an animal without killing it, you’re a vegetarian. Vegans don’t consume any part of an animal. We don’t eat animal, wear animal, and we are very conscientious about every single thing animal-related and we stay away from all of it. This includes animal-tested products. Cruelty-free products are way more prevalent than they’ve ever been, and they are affordable.
Give your taste buds time to adapt
Be prepared to acclimate to new foods. For instance, mayonnaise is a common meal condiment. From burgers to potato salad, mayonnaise is used in a lot of foods. I’ve switched to Follow Your Heart’s Veganaise (I’ll add it to a list of good substitution items below). It is a solid mayo substitute and can be found at most major grocery stores in the Vegetarian section. The point is, it does not taste identical to dairy-based mayonnaise, but over time your taste buds will adapt to the new flavor. It may not be easy with every vegan food you try, but that’s why I’m making a list of things so similar, it’s a good idea to just prepare to love some things more and more over time.
Don't let people shame you for choosing a vegan lifestyle
There’s nothing wrong with choosing to be vegan. People are afraid of things they don’t understand. On the other hand, you should always try to be patient with friends and loved ones that don’t understand. It’s amazing how easy it is for meat-eaters to try to make a person feel bad because they don’t want to murder an animal to survive. Don’t let them shame you. Humans have the distinction of being able to choose their habits and rituals. You are not alone!
You're in good company!
There are so many vegans! I just read Morrisey’s book Autobiography describing situations in which he had to explain his choice or lose friends over it… Lots of people are vegan. Famous people, non-famous people, infamous people. You are in very good company.
Save money by cooking
A vegan diet can be difficult if you eat out a lot. And it can also get pretty expensive. While there are lots of great restaurant choices – more and more all of the time, in fact – it doesn’t hurt, after you find some foods you really like, to experiment with making your own food at home. In fact, you can prepare your own meals if you plan to be out and about and aren’t sure you’ll be able to find a restaurant that serves vegan dishes. I can certainly start you off with a few recipes below!
I’ll add to the list as I go, but cheese is not something I have advice for, yet. There are vegan cheeses, so experiement.
Mayo – Follow Your Heart “Veganaise”
Ranch Dressing – Follow Your Heart “Vegan Ranch”
Tartar Sauce – Follow Your Heart “Veganaise Tartar Sauce” (maybe just plan to replace all of your condiments with Follow Your Heart condiments, lol)
Milk – Soy Milk (I like Simply Nature’s “Soymilk Vanilla”)
Milk Chocolate – Dark Chocolate
Meat Patties – Black Bean Patties
This will get you started! Other substitution items will become more apparent as you begin vegan cooking.
Black Bean Hummus
Hummus is so good, but when it’s Black Bean Hummus… I get a little obsessed.
I went years buying a ready-made amazing Black Bean Hummus in North Carolina, but when we moved back to California, I could not find a good one. The best was found at Follow Your Heart in Chatsworth, but it’s a bit of a drive for me. Segue to me learning how to cook vegan dishes.
This recipe is crazy good! And if you’re not a big fan of garlic, just leave it out! Either way it is delicious! I skip the baking part and use it as a dip for sliced jalapeno peppers (after de-seeding) and baby carrots. And I found a small chop/puree device for one person (since those food processors can be huge and expensive) that works perfectly for what I need.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
made these and dip them in Soy Milk… Ah!!!! So good!!!
Keep checking back! More great vegan recipes to come!