So you want to be Vegan? Ok, well here’s a “starter” list!

Something a lot of my friends and family have asked for lately, and something I had a hard time finding when I started, is a “starter” list of what you need to know, or things that can help you when starting the Vegan journey! I hope you find it helpful…and if I am missing something you would find helpful, let me know – I’ll work on an answer! 🙂

Basics to have on hand:

  • Soy milk creamer: Whole Foods has a good selection.
  • Agave Nectar: BETTER THAN HONEY, but honey substitute 🙂
  • Milk: Soy milk, Almond milk and Rice milk are the best one’s. Almond is probably the best of the bunch, but I’m allergic to nuts 😦 so I usually use Soy instead. Hemp always leaves a funny taste in my mouth so I steer clear of it. Brand wise I stick with the Whole Foods brand, usually unsweetened.
  • Marshmallows: There are vegan marshmallows (thank goodness!). Whole foods carries them in the baking isle, and sometimes in the cold food isle where the tofu is (fresh marshmallow).
  • Egg Replacer: best kind is Ener-G, it is usually in the baking isle @ whole foods
  • Sour Cream & Cream Cheese: Tofutti makes a good one, so does Follow Your Heart.
  • Vegannaise: Mayo substitute that I’ve used in potato salad, and spreads for sandwiches. Good mayo substitute.
  • Butter: Earth Balance is the best. I like the Soy Garden, Original and Whipped (In that order)…They also make an awesome vegetable shortening that is Vegan. 🙂
  • Cheese: Daiya is the only kind I would recommend. I like it mostly IN things (like my nacho cheese, recipe below) and chili, etc..It melts really well and comes in the main types (mozzarella, pepper jack, cheddar). I use it sparingly on things like salads, but that’s just me 🙂

Good vegan pre made stuff…these are the things that get me through at work:

Things to be careful of and watch out for:

  • There are a lot of foods that have eggs and butter and you would never think about it. My list includes: some bread (including things like Naan), some pasta, guacamole pre made or at restaurants (has yogurt of sour cream frequently) and often “veggie” burgers (egg).
  • Just because it is “vegan” does not mean that it is HEALTHY. Sometimes, not so much….so be careful!
  • Honey and Sugar: For both of these, it depends on your view of what “vegan” is – neither sugar nor honey contain any animal products, but how they are made is what causes the “sticky” subject!
  • DON’T be afraid to ask questions about what is in food when you are at restaurants!!

Fast food:

  • Taco bell seven layer buritto, minus sour cream and cheese
  • Wally’s Subs has tofu that is fabulous on taco’s and burritos
  • Subway and Jimmy John’s veggie subs (JJ’s minus mayo/cheese – I add extra veg and guacamole)
  • Qdoba and chipotle – you can get veggie options at both

Blogs and such:

My favorite recipes:

Books and magazines:

Vegan Food Happiness: Meatless “Meat” Spaghetti Sauce

One of my favorite meals since becoming a Vegan is Meatless “Meat” Spaghetti sauce with Linguine noodles.  It saves my life on a daily basis!

It’s fairly simple – take my favorite vegan marinara and add meatless meat crumbles (my favorite brand is Trader Joes).  Warm the crumbles and add italian seasoning to them as well as a little minced garlic – then add in 2 or 3 jars of the marinara (did I mention this makes a TON of food – which I end up freezing) and simmer for 30 or so minutes.  I also add 4 cups of fresh mushrooms.  I love mushrooms…my friend Heather can speak to that 🙂

Something else I have found – heating on the stove top instead of in the micro makes a huge taste difference…so I’ve taken to making only the noodles that I want for that meal.  Happy me!

One of two things I am having a hard time getting over now comes into play – Parmegiano Reggiano cheese.  Not a ton, but it makes such a difference in taste of pasta….someday I will hopefully find a substitute!!  Alas, today is NOT that day.