I may not be the most knowledgeable vegan there is, I admit there’s still a lot I have to learn. I tried the lifestyle for over 2 years back in High School and for the past 4 months there’s been a huge difference in how I’ve progressed this go around. When I first started I relied solely on my eating habits to lose weight, but now I’m incorporating exercise into my routine. However, the things I’ve learned about cooking, and from nutrition, have changed my outlook on just how important it is to eat the right foods. This is a guide to my vegan necessities, a small list of the foods I’ve relied on to help me get through the beginning.
1.Your Milk Replacement
The average American drinks 20.4 gallons of milk a year (Huffington Post) so if you are vegan, or are considering a vegan diet, a milk replacement will be a huge staple in your diet! I chose coconut milk as my replacement because it wasn’t something I had tried before. Another great option is almond milk, sadly I cannot drink it because I have a sensitivity to almonds. Regarding soy milk, here’s a great article explaining why you should stay away from it or drink it in moderation. (Ten Reasons To Never Ever Drink Soy Milk)
Obviously if you’re vegan you’re going to be eating a lot of tofu! Tofu is a curd made from mashed soy beans. To prep your tofu, cut a slit in the top and drain out excess liquid. Remove your tofu from the package and place it between two plates lined with paper towels to absorb the moisture from the tofu. Next, place something heavy on top of the plates to press the absorbed water out of the tofu, I use a tea kettle filled with water! Replace paper towels as they become saturated. Press your tofu for at least 3 hours unless your using your tofu in a soup or in a cream. Remember to enjoy tofu in moderation, it is a soy product.(refer to soy milk)
Grains are extremely important when considering veganism. They often make up the core of our meals and help keep us feeling full and satisfied for longer.
Some grains to consider are:
- Rice (Brown or Jasmine)
What’s the one cliché question every vegan is asked… “Where do you get your protein if you don’t eat meat?” Well, from beans, of course! That’s not our only source of protein. Others include: Quinoa, Spinach, Pumpkin Seeds, Tofu, and Avocado. But beans make up a large portion of our much needed protein. My favorite are Dark Red Kidney Beans with some rice, soy sauce, and hot sauce!
5. Protein Powder
Speaking of protein…let’s talk protein powder. I add a scoop of this in my morning shake and together they keep me full till lunch and helps me recover from my workouts! This particular protein powder is pea protein. It’s gluten free, soy free, and allergen free and most of all, vegan! I purchased it at my local Natures Harvest, I told the employee working that I was vegan looking for a cheaper protein powder and he was super helpful! So if you live in the outer Philadelphia area be sure to check out Natures Harvest!Also be on the look out for any vegan friendly food stores, they have lots of hidden treasures that your average grocery store won’t carry.
I know what you’re thinking ” Vegan Mayo? Ew!” but this stuff is great! Not just as a vegan replacement but for cooking as well. Use your veganaise to make a yummy veggie dip, pasta sauce,or sandwich spread. I use my vegenaise solely for Tofu Cream, a staple in my kitchen, I put it on everything!
7. Vegan Friendly Chocolate!
Who doesn’t love chocolate? You would think Vegans couldn’t enjoy this delicious treat or bake a traditional chocolate chip cookie, but you would be wrong. There are many vegan chocolate options! Head to your local food store and hit up their “Vegetarian/Vegan” section (usually located by the fresh produce) and see what goodies you can find!
8. Boca Burgers!
I am in love with Boca Burgers! They are an extremely convenient meal for those of us who have very busy days. They are microwaveable soy protein patties that come in many different variations, but so far I’ve only found the Spicy Chik’n flavor to be vegan exclusive so be sure to read the labels. I know that Vegan burgers and other ‘meat options’ have a bad rep, but these patties are genuinely delicious.
9. Nutritional Yeast Flakes
Again, if I haven’t sold you yet on the idea of veganism, I’m sure you’re thinking “Ew! Yeast?” but these act as a cheese replacement in your recipes! Here’s a great article about the benefits of this more mysterious product What Are the Benefits of Nutritional Yeast Flakes.
10. A Butter Replacement
What would we do without butter? How would we enjoy a simple slice of toast, or bake some slammin’ cookies! Vegans don’t have to go without these things, there are plenty of vegan butter options out there. This is my preferred brand, Earth Balance Vegan Spread. Go out and find what’s best for you!