A Getting Started Guide for New Vegans

Veganism has come a long way in the past decade, with an explosion of blogs, cookbooks, products and resources, as well as an overall awareness. Of course, this is all very good, but all of the information can be very overwhelming if you’re new to the lifestyle.

My yoga instructor has decided to go vegan and was asking me about getting started. I’m certainly not an expert or a nutritionist, but I thought I’d put together some resources and recommendations to help her in the transition and to share it here to help any of you in the same boat. It’s just a quick guide and, eventually, I’d like to build on it enough to create its own page. And please feel free to add any tips of your own in the comments.

Books

Vegan Yum Yum” — As much as I love Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s books, I highly recommend “Vegan Yum Yum” for anyone starting out. Most of the recipes are very simple to make and budget-friendly. I still make her mac and cheese recipe on a regular basis.

Magazines

VegNews — In addition to recipes, this magazine offers tons of information about new products, destinations, as well as facts about living a meat- and dairy-free lifestyle. I’m always inspired to be a better vegan with each new issue.

Websites

Happy Cow — This site offers a list of non-vegan ingredients.
Post Punk Kitchen — I know I said to wait on her cookbooks, but her site is great way to find food ideas and to build yourself up to more involved recipes.

Advice

Try not to get into the frozen food, veggie burger rut. There is so much more to vegan food than veggie burgers and frozen dinners. Don’t get me wrong, they have their place, but if you depend on them, you will burn out quickly. Plus, they’re super expensive.

Don’t beat yourself up for not being 100 percent vegan. Even if your goal is to be 100 percent vegan, 100 percent of the time, there will be a time when you slip up, either knowingly or unknowingly. And that’s okay. Being vegan shouldn’t be about beating yourself up all the time or feeling guilty.

Don’t let the naysayers get you down. It’s going to happen. You’re going to come across that family member or friend who just doesn’t understand why you’d want to give up cheese. I’ve even had a so-called friend put non-vegan ingredients into food and purposely not tell me. The best thing is to be polite with these people and just let it go.

Have fun. While some may see the vegan diet as restrictive, I see it as just the opposite. Since becoming vegan, my eyes have opened up to so many new ingredients and recipes that I never would have been exposed to before. And I have a blast exploring all the possibilities.

Also, check out The Pantry page to find out how to stock your pantry.

More to come …

I hope you all are well! I’ll have some food posts up soon!

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Brooklyn Deli Macaroni Salad

This pasta salad recipe is an oldie but goodie. It was one of the first recipes I made when I first purchased “Veganomicon.” The base is made up of Vegenaise, white vinegar, sugar, salt and lots of cracked black pepper. Shredded carrots, radishes and peas are then tossed with the dressing and macaroni. The recipe makes a ton, so it’s perfect for a cookout or potluck alongside some barbecue-baked tofu and corn on the cob.

Butternut Rancheros

Can you believe it? Two new dishes and two back-to-back posts. I know, it’s crazy.

Our CSA items have been dictating our meals, so I needed to find a recipe that would be a great fit for the small butternut squash I received. The first place I looked was the Post Punk Kitchen website, where I found this Butternut Rancheros recipe. And, seriously, it’s one of the best dishes I’ve had in a while. The beans are so flavorful and pair perfectly with the roasted butternut squash.

I did change up a few things. The original recipe calls for cumin and coriander seeds, but I only had ground for both, so I just added it to the onions, jalapenos and garlic instead of roasting first. Also, the recipe calls for blending the onion and tomato sauce mixture before adding the beans, but I just left them whole. And, honestly, my only reasoning was that I didn’t want to have to wash my blender. Call me lazy. And I had some flour tortillas that needed to be eaten, so I threw them on the side, but they’re not necessary.

The dish comes together really fast. While the butternut squash is roasting in the oven (be careful slicing it!!), you can prepare the beans. And it’s really budget-friendly, too, if you have the spices on hand. I’ll definitely be making this dish again.

Enjoy!

CSA Week 11

This week’s CSA pickup was another good one. It included a few items that we haven’t had before, such as carrots, tomatoes and a huge bunch of basil. I used the basil to make a delicious walnut pesto, which I served with diced tomato and whole wheat linguine.

The tomatoes and basil also went to one of my summer staples: tomato sandwiches.

I roasted the carrots with last week’s turnips and beets for a light vegetable plate. I’m going to use the beets in this week’s pickup to make the Roasted Yellow Beet Salad with Warm Maple Mustard Dressing from the PPK website.

I hope everyone is doing well. I’m going to be playing around with the site layout and design this week, so bear with me as I fumble my way through the changes.

Lentil Tacos with Yellow Garlic Rice

While I certainly don’t find anything wrong with meat substitutes, we do try to eat them in moderation because they tend to contain high amounts of sodium and even some weird ingredients. Prior to making these tacos, I would typically use Fantastic Food’s Taco Filling Mix, which is pretty tasty in a junk food kind of way. But when I came across the recipe for these Ancho Lentil Tacos from Isa Chandra Moskotwitz on the Post Punk Kitchen blog, I was pretty eager to give them a try. And, boy, they did not disappoint.

The lentil filling was packed with flavor and took on an almost meaty texture, which surprised me. I did make a few changes to the original recipe. I used red chili powder in place of the ancho chili powder, which is why I’m not calling these by their original name. I also used Valentina Mexican Hot Sauce, which is the best hot sauce in the world, if you ask me. I’m not a big fan of heat and this sauce packs just a little bit of heat and tons of flavor. I served my tacos on corn tortillas, and piled on shredded lettuce, fresh salsa and red onion.

For my side, I made Yellow Garlic Rice, a recipe from “Viva Vegan.” (Unfortunately, the recipe for that isn’t available online.) Making this rice recipe just reminded me that I really need to start cooking more from that book, especially with summer fast approaching. There are so many delicious-looking recipes in it that scream “backyard cookout.”

Anyway, if you’re looking for a quick and nutritious meal that is easy on the budget, I highly recommend these tacos. You won’t be disappointed.

Enjoy!

Vegan MoFo

In case you didn’t know, November kicks off VeganMoFo, the Vegan Month Of Food. The event encourages everyone to write about vegan food as often as possible during the entire month of November. The idea is to bring awareness about veganism to the masses, which is a good thing.

And being the 3rd of November already, I have some catching up to do! I plan on making a casserole from Vegan Yum Yum tomorrow, so expect to see a post about that soon!