A simple beginning point for when you know you want to start a vegan diet but you just don't know where to start!
Veganism is growing, no matter how you cut the slice of statistical pie! Various surveys estimate that 2-6% of the United States population identifies as vegan.
But something that’s even more interesting is that global analytics company Nielson found that 39% of Americans are trying to actively incorporate plant-based foods into their diets, despite not identifying as vegan.
So whether you are aiming to go full-vegan with your diet, seeking more information on whether or not to do so, or wanting to learn more about plant-based foods every so often, this one's for you. Today we’re exploring how to safely and easily start a vegan diet.
If you're still on the fence about a vegan diet, be sure to check out my post on the benefits of a vegan diet.
Learning about the Vegan Diet
Before transitioning to a vegan diet or starting to incorporate parts of a vegan lifestyle into yours, it's important to identify why veganism interests you. Once you know your WHY, it will be easier for you to identify your reasons for continuing the practice.
Many people choose to eat vegan because the meat and dairy industries are very harmful to both animals and the environment.
Veganism can also be a healthy way to keep blood pressure in safe zones and even lower rates of heart disease.
Or maybe you're interested in making a positive impact to the environment. While switching to an all-vegan diet may seem impossible due to the world’s farming sustainability, plant-based diets require ⅓ of the land to sustain a family vs. the amount needed to support meat and dairy diets.
No matter the reason for you to start exploring a vegan diet, remember that no journey is perfectly linear.
Here on Happy Food Healthy Life, we keep it real. You can read more about me here, but know that although I do consider myself vegan, there are some moments where a bit of cheese, milk, or eggs may happen.
Some people like to gate-keep the vegan diet as an esoteric and elite lifestyle, and I’m not about that! I believe a vegan diet can be attainable for absolutely everyone!
What can I say - I am only human, and I am proud of the 95%-”ish” plant-based lifestyle I live! I’m not ashamed of the cheese pizza and baked goods that sneak their way onto my plate every once in a while.
So whether you are years into your vegan diet or just getting interested in throwing in some vegan-oriented meals out there, you deserve to lead your life the way you want to and find your own reasons why.
Stocking up on Vegan Snacks as Substitutes
You’ve determined why you’re interested in delving into vegan diets. But should you dive in head-first and cut out all animal products, or take a slower approach?
It’s important to recognize that old habits die hard, especially when the habit is taking a hearty bite of an egg omelet in the morning and you’re already feeling low from waking up on the bad side of the bed.
So when it comes to starting a vegan diet, it can be more effective to remove one animal product staple at a time. This is especially true when you still have a plethora of animal products in the fridge. Wasting food helps no one!
Thinking of this process as a means to add-in new, exciting snacks and foods is also a great way to stay motivated for new experiences instead of sad about losing old ones. Here are a few favorite ways to get started:
- Replacing cow milk with soymilk, almond milk, or oat milk
- Applesauce and mashed bananas to replace eggs in baking
- Chickpea batter or Just Egg for omelet and egg dishes
- Peanuts, coconut flakes, dried apricots for healthy snacking
- Fritos, Ritz Crackers, Ben & Jerry’s Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough when you really want to indulge
Milk is one of the most popularly consumed animal products in the United States, with the average per person yearly consumption of milk amounting to 141 pounds in 2019. Thankfully, there are numerous substitutes available for vegan diets and those who are lactose intolerant.
While soymilk can taste a bit sweeter than other choices, almond milk tastes nutty and sometimes watered-down. Oat milk comes in a variety of different flavors, including chocolate. So if you’re looking for a more hearty alternative for chocolate milk on a rainy night, oak milk may be the choice for you.
Giving up egg omelets can seem impossible, with the average per-person consumption of eggs in the United States sitting at 288 eggs per year. Thankfully there are a plethora of options for replacing eggs in baking recipes.
Chickpea batter (like in my Vegan Eggs recipe) and specific brands of egg replacements, such as Just Egg, use mungbean and other plant-based ingredients to create protein-full mixtures similar to traditional eggs.
Finally, stocking up on both natural and processed vegan snacks is a wonderful way to take the first step toward a vegan diet. Peanuts, coconut flakes, and dried fruit are great options, while processed foods including Ben & Jerry’s Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough can scratch that sweet and salty itch.
Learn to Love a Handful Of Vegan Favorites
Living a vegan lifestyle doesn’t mean you can only eat ingredients and snacks, though! There are countless amazing options when it comes to full-on vegan meals.
Some of my favorites that you can learn to make right here on Happy Food Healthy Life include:
- Baked Cauliflower Wings
- Vegan Mac and Cheese
- Easy & Creamy Vegan Tomato Soup
- One-Pot Classic Mushroom Vegan Bolognese Sauce Recipe
- Smashed Chickpea and Avocado Salad Sandwich
When it comes to cooking complete vegan meals, there is almost no traditional dish that is off-limits. My baked cauliflower wings are a wonderful substitute for chicken wings, a popular party finger food. After making mine, I had to admit that I liked them better than chicken versions.
Remember that most meats in cooking can be replaced by cauliflower, tofu, or even specific imitation meats. With a little bit of creativity, sauce, and internet searching, nothing is impossible!
Starting your Vegan Diet Journey
Starting a vegan diet can be intimidating. It can feel like there are so many ways to mess up and things that can just plain go wrong. But by identifying your personal goals to going vegan and taking baby steps, you’ll be set to go vegan little by little.
Looking for a little more structure in your journey? My free e-cookbook is the perfect cheat-sheet for getting started with a full week of vegan dinner recipes! The cookbook also holds a list of every necessity when it comes to a plant-based pantry that I rely on to fuel my life.
You can get it delivered straight to your email inbox and use it for easy inspiration to jumpstart your vegan journey and as a backbone for busy weeks. Let’s do this, together.
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