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:
- Gardein: Gardein make some awesome “pre-made” frozen food that work well for family dinners and such. They have many products, and on their site, even some pretty great recipes!
- Candle Cafe: Mac and cheese or the spinach and tofu ravioli (I hated the other option). These are available at Whole Foods.
- Amy’s: Amy’s makes it easy! She writes on the back of her boxes what is vegan. It will go like this…”INGREDIENTS (VEGAN):” if it is vegan. You can search for all her vegan products here: http://www.amys.com/products/product-search just check the “vegan” box and hit search now. Some of my favorites of hers are: “pop” tarts, tofu scramble, veggie pot pie, alphabet soup, no chicken noodle, vegetable barley, minestrone, and chunky vegetable.
- Note: If I take something of the above to work for lunch I always make sure I have an apple or some kind of fruit to go with it…balance! 🙂
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!!
- 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:
- Veg Web: AWESOME resource. Must have bookmarked.
- Alicia Silverstone (great for recipes): http://www.thekindlife.com
- Vegan Thyme: http://veganthyme.blogspot.com << this woman is in Missouri, and she is great! TONS of recipes, the one’s I’ve tried are great.
- Chef Chloe (celebrity vegan chef): http://chefchloe.com/vegan-recipes.html
- The “governing body” :): http://www.vegan.org/index.html At least, in the USA.
My favorite recipes:
- Alicia Silverstone’s cheesey Guac dip: http://www.thekindlife.com/post/cheesy-oozy-guacamole-bean-dip
- Spaghetti meat sauce:
- Nacho cheese:
- Chili: http://lalaprose.com/2011/12/29/recipe-vegan-spicy-chili/
- Cannoli: http://veganthyme.blogspot.com/2009/12/vegan-cannoli-with-chocolate-chip.html
Books and magazines:
- The Kind Diet – this book accompanies the above site. It gives great background, recipes, and insights. I enjoyed it 🙂
- The Joy of Vegan Baking – FUN and great recipes! Much like Betty Crocker for Vegans 🙂
- Veg News – Monthly mag, fabulous resource!
- The Complete Guide to Vegan Substitutes – informative! Something I think you should have when starting out.
- Hearty Vegan Meals: Helpful for families that contain both Vegan and Carnivore.