In starting the transition to a vegan diet, there are a few different strategies.
Some people shift into a vegan diet slowly, starting with vegan ‘analogues’— plant-based foods whose taste resembles animal products. Others simply take out the animal products from their diet and replace them with plant foods with which they’re already familiar. Still others concentrate on experimenting with entirely new vegan foods, often from international cuisines. Thankfully, there is no shortage of vegan foods to help make the transition. In fact, most of the food we eat is vegan, without us knowing it!
Even better, grow your own food! If you have a porch that can hold large plant containers or a front or back yard with just a little space, start a garden of your own. Growing your own food is a healthy and cheaper way to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. Get to a library or bookstore and find out what grows best in your neck of the woods and get planting.
VEGAN MEAL IDEAS
With a little time and practice, you’ll develop a new routine for planning meals and cooking. We recommend getting a good cookbook and experimenting. Visit our recipe archive and try out some vegan recipes. We also recommend the amazing recipes from the Post Punk Kitchen and Healthy Happy Life. In the meantime, here are some simple and healthy meal ideas to start with:
- Bagel with soy cream cheese
- Cereal/granola with Soy/Almond/Rice/Hemp/Flax/Coconut milk
- Fruit smoothie
- Oatmeal made with soymilk and strawberries/ Maple syrup & brown sugar
- Toast with nut butter and jelly
- Toast with nut butter and sprinkled with Cinnamon & Sugar
- Tofu Scramble with with veggie sausage
- Vegan pancakes/French Toast with Potatoes O’Brien
- Vegan Muffin
- Wheat farina
- Ants-on-a-log (Celery with peanut butter and raisins on top)
- Apple with nut butter
- Chips & Salsa, Chips & Guacamole
- Clif Bar, Luna Bar, LÄRABAR
- Crackers and soy cream cheese
- Fresh fruit
- Fresh veggies and non-dairy ranch dressing
- Frozen grapes
- Hummus with carrots or Pita Chips, White Bean Dip and Pita Chips
- Kale Chips
- Peanut Butter & Co. “Dark Chocolate Dreams” on a banana
- Pirate’s Booty -Veggie, Tings Crunchy Corn Sticks
- Pretzels, Popcorn (top with nutritional yeast for a cheesy flavor)
- Raisins, figs, dried fruits
- Sunflower or pumpkin seeds
- Vegan jerky: Stonewall’s Jerquee, Primal Strips
- Baked potatoes and baked beans
- Bean burrito with Spanish Rice
- Beans, rice and salsa tacos
- Dairy-free pizza loaded with veggies (You can top with Daiya cheese, Chicago Soydairy’s Teese, Follow Your Heart Mozzarella, Nutritional Yeast Cheese, or just veggies)
- Falafel in a pita pocket, topped with Tahini paste (Also known as tehina, it is a paste made from ground sesame seeds)
- Pasta with cannellini beans and marinara sauce, Pasta with meatless meatballs
- Peanut butter & jelly sandwich
- Spicy Tofu Lettuce Wraps
- Stir fried veggies with Tofu, Tempeh, Seitan or other mock meat
- Taco salad- with vegetarian refried beans, salsa, guacamole, vegan sour cream, and taco sauce, over a bed of corn tortilla chips and lettuce
- TLT (tempeh bacon, lettuce and tomato- with Vegenaise) and Sweet Potato Fries
- Vegan Chili
- Vegetable lasagna with tofu “ricotta”
- Vegetarian hotdog, Vegetarian hot dogs wrapped in Crescent Rolls, Chopped vegetarian hot dog with vegetarian baked beans
- Veggie burger: Quinoa Burgers, Black Bean Burgers, Lentil Burgers, Soy Burgers
- Veggie lunchmeat sandwich
- Fruit sorbet
- Soy “cheese” cake
- Soy or coconut milk ice cream
- Soy yogurt and fresh fruit
- Vegan cake, pie, cookies, cupcakes & muffins
- Vegan rice pudding & vegan tapioca pudding
REPLACING EGGS, there are several options for substituting eggs in a recipe depending on what they are needed for. You may want to experiment. Here are some possibilities (each quantity is equivalent to 1 egg):
• Ener-G Egg Replacer – great for cookies and bread
• 1 mashed banana – great for cake and sweet bread recipes
• 2 tbsp flax meal (blended with 3 tbsp water) – Great binder. Good for cookie and bread recipes
• 2 Tbsp Arrowroot Powder , corn starch, or potato starch blended with 3 tbsp water – good for some baking recipes
• 1 tbsp soy milk powder + 1 tbsp cornstarch + 2 tbsp water – good for some baking recipes
• 2 Tbsp mashed silken tofu or plain soy yogurt – good for some baking recipes.
• Both silken and regular tofu can also be used to make a quiche, eggless “egg” salad, & a breakfast scramble, similar to scrambled eggs
• 1 Tbsp whole or freshly ground chia seeds + 3 Tbsp warm water. Let sit for 5 or 10 minutes before using. Great for binding & baking.
Most grocery stores carry a great variety of vegan products and many have a Natural or Health Food section. Soy, rice, coconut, hemp, almond and oat milks are also available at many grocery stores, and work in most recipes calling for cow’s milk. Each has a different flavor, experiment to see which best suits you.
Soy margarine’s (that don’t contain the dairy product ‘whey’) and soy yogurts are also available at most stores. Probably the single analogue that has had the most trouble pleasing vegans is soy cheese. Several brands are available, but don’t expect it to taste exactly like your favorite cheese. Daiya is a new and popular vegan cheese that is known for its cheese-like consistency and melting properties. There are several awesome cream cheese substitutes and no vegan refrigerator is complete without the mayonnaise substitute Veganaise.
You may also want to try out some of the recipes from The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook.
There are several brands of soy, rice, and coconut frozen desserts. Most supermarkets carry at least one brand.
The most important thing is to keep trying different things – don’t let one type of yogurt you don’t like keep you from trying others. Many meat and dairy alternatives taste so different from each other.
Here are some of our favorite staples:
Amy’s Lentil Soup
Annie’s Goddess Dressing
Earth Balance Margarine
Field Roast Sausages
Galaxy Foods Vegan Gluten Free Parmesan Grated Topping
Gardein Chick’n Strips
Liz Lovely Cookies
OrganicVille BBQ Sauce
Pirate Brands Veggie Booty
Primal Strips Meatless Jerky
Red Star Nutritional Yeast
So Delicious Ice Cream
Soyatoo! Extra Creamy Whip
Suzanne’s Ricemellow Creme
Sweet & Sara Marshmallows
Tofurky Meatless Deli Slices
Tofutti Cream Cheese
WholeSoy Soy Yogurt
There are vegan options at many restaurants, including Italian, Mexican, Indian, Thai, Chinese, Middle Eastern, and Ethiopian. If you’re on a fast food schedule, some pizza places, Taco Bell, Burger Kings and Subways have vegan options. Check out vegguide.org for a vegan restaurant near you!