Thinking About Going Vegan? Check Out These Tips!
According to a study conducted just five years ago by the Vegetarian Resource Group there are as many as 16 million vegetarians in the US with half of those choosing a vegan diet. That’s roughly five percent of the population who have gone meat-free. Never mind the many celebrities in sports and music who espouse this diet, real people have chosen to kick meat to the curb. Whether they do so for health or ethical reasons, or matters of economics, that’s a huge and growing trend!
What is a Vegan?
Veganism is a subsection of vegetarianism. Vegans do not eat meat, of course, but they also do not eat any animal products whatsoever. This includes obvious things such as eggs, milk and cheese, but even honey would not be allowed in a strict vegan diet. Some vegans believe that veganism is the only true vegetarian diet. Many vegans will refrain from wearing leather, wool, or silk and will not buy any products that have been tested on animals. Going veggie and vegan is also a good way to save money. This is crucial for a starving artist. Meat is hard on the environment and your food budget.
Choosing a Vegan Diet
People who choose a vegan lifestyle do so for a variety of reasons. Some choose to abstain from eating animal products for ethical reasons. They believe the treatment of animals in factory farm settings is inhumane. Others believe that cutting meat, dairy and eggs from their diet provides them with wonderful health benefits. Some choose to go vegan for environmental reasons, as growing corn to feed cattle, for example, requires much more resources than feeding people a plant-based diet. Most are vegans for all of these reasons. This isn’t to say that giving up animal products is easy. Some of our favorite foods — dishes that we’ve grown up eating — are loaded with butter, eggs and animal proteins. However, there are a few tricks you can use to cook vegan dishes so you will hardly notice their absence.
Health Benefits of a Vegan Diet
There are many wonderful health benefits associated with a vegan diet. Many vegans believe, and health studies have proven, that eating animal proteins and fats increases the risk for a number of diseases including cancer, heart disease, arthritis and diabetes. Eating a diet of fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds and beans reduces the possibilities of developing these diseases. Other benefits of a vegan diet are greater energy, clearer skin, loss of unhealthy body fat and an increase in the resistance to illnesses like the flu and common colds.
One of the myths of a vegan diet is that practitioners will be unable to get enough protein to stay healthy, but plant based foods, like tofu, offer a protein-rich alternative to beef and chicken. As with any healthy diet, you must be smart about what you put into your body. Replacing hamburgers with Doritos would not be wise. Salty snack foods like this may fall under the “accidentally vegan” category, but that doesn’t make them healthy. Vegans need to think about their daily caloric intake and make adjustments to how they get their protein. It is certainly not difficult and is done by millions of people around the world each day.
Quick Vegan Conversion Chart
|Animal Product||Vegan Version|
|Meat||Mushrooms, soy, veggie and bean patties|
|Eggs||scrambled tofu, silken tofu, applesauce, bananas|
|Mayo||veganaise and vegetable spreads|
|Honey||Bee Free Honey|
|Milk||Soy, Almond and Rice Milk|
Here are 6 tips for giving up eggs, dairy and meat completely:
1. Don’t Milk It
At least don’t dairy milk it, anyway. Vegans avoid dairy milk for all the reasons outlined above. With the variety of substitutes available most vegans never miss it. Almond milk, soy milk or rice milk can be used as a substitute on cereal or simply in a cold glass on a hot day. You can also substitute these alternative milks in any recipe that calls for dairy milk. Almond milk can be used in baking bread for a quick dough rise. Soy milk is the thickest and is great for baking as well. Rice milk is sweet, so it’s perfect for puddings and other desserts.
2. Don’t Be Cheesy
Cheese substitutes have come a long way in the past decade or so. Today, there are many more varieties of tasty cheese substitutes available at health food stores. Made with ingredients like tapioca and arrowroot flour, these products mimic the texture and taste of a variety of cheeses, like cheddar and mozzarella. Some vegetarian cheese substitutes contain casein, which is a protein found in dairy milk thus making it not vegan. Take care to read the packaging when buying cheese substitutes. Soy is a popular substitute for cheese that can be enjoyed by vegans and is also a great option for cheese lovers who are also lactose intolerant.
3. Hatch a Plan to Give Up Eggs
Apple sauce, silken tofu, flax seed, bananas — these are all whole food ingredients that can be used as substitutes in baking everything from brownies and bread to cakes and cookies. An especially ingenious vegan trick is to add a little vinegar to the cake mix. It will provide for a moist and light cake leaving no trace of vinegar taste.
While scrambled tofu may be a vegan’s idea of a tasty breakfast, some vegetarians have a hard time kicking the egg habit. Thinking about where factory farm eggs come from and how they are produced should be sufficient inspiration to switch to egg alternatives.
4. Meet more UnMeats
Tempeh, tofu, seitan (if you are not gluten-free), these are a few of the more popular choices for meat substitutes. There are many companies that make products out of these vegan ingredients that have a surprisingly meat-like taste. There are faux chicken nuggets, fake ribs and sausage, not dogs instead of hot dogs, and many varieties of veggie burgers. A good trick to help give your next BBQ a good meat alternative is Portobello mushrooms. These mushrooms have a large flat cap that is tender and juicy and holds up well on the grill.
5. Go Nuts & Get Seedy
Nuts are a great substitute for meat in making loafs and burgers. Walnuts and pecans can be baked with brown rice and mushrooms to create mouth-watering vegan dishes. Lentils, which are actually seeds, work wonderfully too. As mentioned above, almond milk is a suitable substitute for daily milk and cashews can be used to make dairy-free cheeses.
6. Convincing Condiments
Hold the Mayo!
Vegetarians may love mayo, but as a vegan, you have to say, heck no. The raw egg in mayonnaise puts it off the grocery list forever. Veganaise, however, is a brand of vegan mayo spread that can be used instead. There are a number of other mayonnaise alternatives that you can find in your local health food store. You can also make your own egg-free sandwich spread. All you need is canola oil, soy or almond milk, lemon juice, ground mustard and a little salt. Vegan mayonnaise can also be whipped up using silken tofu. Try out a few different variations and see which one you like the best.
There’s No Bee in this Bonnet, Honey
Looking for a substitute for honey that isn’t sugar? How about an honey alternative that is naturally sweet and just as tasty? There are a number of options including coconut nectar, date and agave paste and Honee Bee-Free Plant Based Vegan Honey made with apples, lemon and sugar. You can find these sweet condiments at health good stores or you can make your own.
7. Demand Vegan Deserts
Who needs eggs, butter and milk when vegan desserts can taste equally if not better? There are several alternatives for eggs and milk when baking (see above) and butter can be swapped out and applesauce or Earth Balance Olive Oil Buttery Spread added in place. Earth Balance is a butter substitute, but without emulsifier, hydrogenated oil or preservatives. It is made with a blend of palm fruit, canola olive and safflower oil. With these ingredients in hand, there’s no reason to deny yourself the joys of cookies, cakes or pies made from chocolate, peanut butter or you favorite fruits.
So, there you go. Whether you are currently keeping vegan and need a reminder of the great meat, dairy and egg alternatives, or you are considering adopting this diet and need some tips, I hope you found this hub helpful. Thanks for reading!
Below is a list of Vegan and Veggie Cookbook Reviews I’ve written: