So you’ve decided to try veganism and start giving a fuck about all the things that go along with that. Go you!
Now you might be wondering…okay cool I am ready and amped but where the fuck do I start?
That’s what this page is all about.
Veganism is not about deprivation. It’s about liberation.
First things first. If there is even a glimmer of a thought that this shit is going to be too hard, then smack that thought right out of your head.
It’s only hard if you think it’s hard. Let me repeat.
It’s only hard if you think it’s hard.
That’s what she said. (Lol, sorry, I couldn’t help it!) Anyway…the more you focus on the negative and what you feel like you’re “giving up” the harder this shit is going to be.
Stop. It’s not about deprivation at all. Shift your focus to all the really amazing things you are about to gain. Feeling better physically, like having more energy. Feeling better emotionally because you know you are doing something that matters, something that positively impacts the world. It’s one less thing you have to feel shitty about. Yeah, let that sink in.
Here’s a little bit of what happened for me:
I lost about 10 pounds immediately when I first became vegetarian (I became vegan a couple years later). My weight leveled out of course, but it was pretty badass.
I almost never get sick anymore, and when I do I recover so much faster.
As mentioned it’s one less thing I have to feel shitty about. I can eat whatever I want, guilt-free every day, and man does that feel fucking good.
I appreciate food more in it’s whole state. Like I am okay with having a couple of sweet potatoes for dinner. No longer do I need to look and my plate and make sure there is a meat, a veggie, and a starch/carb. It has simplified cooking a hell of a lot.
It’s also made me much more creative in the kitchen. I have experienced so many new fruits, veggies, ingredients, and combinations thanks to veganism.
I realized I could really have all the foods I know and love, veganized. Options have become vast in just the last few years alone. Cheese, butter, ice cream, plant milks, chocolate, marshmallows, mac and cheese, pizza, burritos, meatballs, burgers, sausage, “chicken” tenders. It’s all out there and all vegan. (Disclaimer: I actually eat real, whole foods and plants most of the time, but there is nothing wrong with indulging or using these foods as a way to transition away from their animal product counterparts. Everything in life is a progression.)
I enjoy the fun challenge of recreating some of my old favorites from when I was omni in their vegan form or to take a traditional meat-focused dish and give it a new spin. Some of my favorites I have done this with include pho, pierogi, buffalo “chicken,” lasagna (or basically any pasta dish), Chinese pepper “steak,” eggplant parm, chicken picatta, burritos/tacos, nachos, “scallops,” pie, cookies, chocolate (I am also a sucker for desserts).
My level of awareness of the where my food comes from and what’s in it is so heightened now. Sometimes this feels like a bad thing or a burden, but I would not trade it ever. It is mind-boggling looking back seeing how in the dark I was. I am now a pro at reading labels (a necessity you’ll find out) and just taking greater care into the foods I select. Of course I make sure to avoid animal products, but I also try to avoid processed foods, go organic as much as possible, reduce waste (i.e. minimize plastic and other packaging, choose things with minimal ingredients, low or no added sugar, and avoid unsustainable/harmful products like palm oil, support small/ethical businesses, and buy local whenever possible).
I have more purpose. Veganism is becoming more and more mainstream, and it is so encouraging and uplifting to see that change in the world and know I am a part of it. I hope to keep doing more, to help educate people, dispel the myths, and show that veganism is not about deprivation, it’s about liberation.
The Best Vegan Transition Products
Some of these are indulgences. Some are just meant to easily replace that animal crap you are eating now. I have tried a lot of vegan products and brands, so I am giving you the best of the best in my experience. Some of these are not cheap, but if that’s the case I am including some more affordable alternatives.
It’s mature AF—what more can you want? This cheese is all business and all delicious. It melts amazing and the flavor is spot on. I basically eat it right out of the package because I just can’t help myself.
They don’t melt as well as Violife, but they work perfectly on a cold sandwich. This is another where I cannot stop eating them out of the package.
While this one is my least favorite out of the package, it melts phenomenally. Depending on your use case—e.g. grilled cheese—this may be the best bet for you.
Mozzarella Style Cheese
This shit is mind blowing…sometimes I just lick it off the paper it’s that good. (Yes, I am a disgusting heathen.) The drawback it that it’s pricey, but hey, you gotta pay for perfection. I also hate most vegetable spreads because they contain palm oil. That shit is not sustainable. I don’t want to pay for sloths being murdered due to habitat loss. Unsalted variety here.
THIS. IS. THE. SHIT. I sort of have a bagel obsession. Always have.
Most of Daiya’s stuff is okay, but not my first recommendation. This stuff though is pretty up there in the plant-based cream cheese stratosphere. It’s a close second to Violife.
There are a lot of brands of vegan/dairy-free ice cream now that I am not going to even pretend to be an authority on this. That’s probably because dairy-free ice-cream has been around a little longer due to lactose-intolerant peeps and all that jazz. But I have been indulging in SO Delicious for a while and only have good things to say. They started out with coconut milk-based ice-cream (and maybe soy) but over time have broadened to include basically every type of plant milk you can think of. I am not a far of really overloaded heavy ice cream flavors with so much going on that you cannot taste the actual ice cream. SO Delicious is not that. It’s just the right amount of pizazz without being over the top. Plus they make those chocolate dipped ice cream bars (the dipped coconut almond are ridic) that remind you of being a kid and they are SO Delicious (sorry, couldn’t help myself).
Okay technically they do gelato and sorbetto (which I had to look up in order to talk about it here in an educated way). Gelato an Italian style ice cream that uses more milk than cream (most ice cream is the opposite, so it tends to be lower in fat. Sorbetto is simply water, fruit/fruit juice, and syrup/sweetener (kind of like a sherbet except sherbets contain dairy).
Anyway, now that I have dropped knowledge stuff you probably didn’t care about… Talenti finally has some vegan/dairy-free options. I just tried coconut chocolate cookie flavor and it is magical. The coconut flavor is so strong and rich, just the way it should be IMO. It does concern me that this is under the dairy-free submenu and not the vegan one on their site though…maybe it’s the chocolate in there? The ingredients look like they check out though. If I am wrong please let me know. Here are the vegan flavors. Strawberry Hibiscus is amazing.
There are actually a lot of amazing vegan ice creams tbh…and you can get them in pretty much any non-dairy base including soy, cashew, oat, coconut milk, more more.
(Ugh. My inner fatty really wants to go pick these up now. They get nice and crispy and brown, and they are heavenly on a sandwich or buy themselves with some vegan buffalo sauce). Our Shoprite now carries them in a 40 oz bag (it’s probably like 40 tenders lol)…so I can gorge myself all week long. (Okay no I don’t eat these every night, that’s disgusting.) They go great on top of salads, in a wrap with veggies, or by themselves with some homemade vegan buffalo sauce.
Obviously I am in love with Gardein’s tenders, but these really give them a run for their money. They are crispy and taste great. I haven’t found them in large bags anywhere yet (maybe one day??), but that’s fine by me since I am trying to cut back on my processed vegan food consumption.
These are really nice fried up in a stir-fry and on wraps. Alpha Foods also makes some really tasty burritos.
Gardein Ultimate Plant-Based Chick’n Filets
Gardein really knows how to do plant-based chicken I guess… These are my guilty pleasure to the max. They are SO good! They are crispy, thick, and really taste like chicken. They make to-die-for sandwiches. Drawbacks are they are pricey and you only get 3 in a bag…that shit just bugs me…but I can’t really say anything else negative about them.
I have loved these from the moment I first tried them. I know there’s a big differing of opinions between these and Impossible, but to me they taste, smell, look like, and are texturally like the real thing. A big pro for these over the Impossible Burger is that they have no soy in them. (The main ingredient is pea protein.) Usually you’ll find them in the freezers with the other veggie burgers. Although, I have seen them intermingled on the actual meat shelves. If you don’t mind shaping your own patties, definitely grab the Beyond Beef Ground. It’s a better buy—more for your money—and more versatile.
Despite my love for Beyond, I am now an Impossible Burger fan too. The first couple of times I had them was at a restaurant (where it was very dry) and then at Burger King…where I don’t ever really eat…because well…yeah you get what you pay for. So my husband and I finally decided to give these another go and grill them at home ourselves, and they were actually quite good! I still think it’s really easy to dry them out (maybe because they are so thin?), but the taste is quite accurate to a real beef burger, not really the type of burgers I enjoyed as much, but I can see it. These are a great addition to your vegan cookout. Again, for better value I recommend getting the Impossible Burger – Ground and shaping them yourself.
Yeah, I love their products. It also comes in a brat variety. This shit is on point. I never thought I’d find a sausage that tastes exactly like sausage. BBQ season was back in full swing when I found these and the Beyond Burgers. Usually you’ll find them in the freezers with the veggie burgers/similar items.
Affordable Alt: Field Roast Vegetarian Italian Sausage
TBH these don’t hold a candle to the Beyond sausages in terms of meat-like taste or texture, but they still have great flavor and are more reasonably priced. Find them in the packaged health foods section of the produce aisle (where the keep the tofu and that other gross crap that everyone balks at). They also come in smoked apple sage and brat varieties.
Sorry for yet another Beyond rec, but they are just killing it—metaphorically of course. If you are into spicy stuff like me then there is an option for that too. Get spicy.
These are actually pretty good. Again, I don’t think they mimic meat’s taste/texture, but they are a great plant-based alternative with some lovely sweet/smoky breakfasty flavors. I may even prefer these over the Beyond, and that does not happen a lot.
I haven’t had these in a while, mostly because I am trying to eat less processed vegan products, but there was a time where Ed (my other half) and I were OBSESSED with these. We could not have pasta without these also on our plates.
These are my go-to when I need a super quick lunch. Not the healthiest I admit, but I don’t eat them too frequently. My personal favorites are the cheesesteak and pizza flavors just because they are bit different, but you can also get them in
Plant / Nut Milk
The walnut milk is my personal fave, but they have several varieties including almond, hazelnut, cashew, and oat for those with nut allergies or just love the shit out of oats.
These are ridiculous! They may seem intimidating because it’s a powder, but trust me on this, they are worth giving a try. You cannot achieve the yolk like consistency of a real egg with these, but scrambled up with a pinch of black volcanic sea salt they are really close. I was just being a snob about the salt, but it’s supposed to have more of a sulfury-eggy flavor.
Real talk. I never even liked mayo all that much until now. It’s one of those funny things. This stuff 100% puts regular mayo to shame. It’s kind of tangy and of course creamy and dreamy. I use the shit out of this stuff where I am slathering it on my Beyond Burger, a sandwich, or mixing it with some spicy garlic chili sauce to make spicy mayo for homemade sushi or whatever.
The Best Substitutions/Add-ins for Homemade Vegan Staples
We all know we need cow milk to survive (jk only baby cows do), but these products will help you make a more long-term (hopefully permanent transition) to healthy whole foods plant-based veganism.
- Nutritional yeast
- Nuts of all kinds mofo. I rely heavily on almonds for making my own nut milk.
- These almonds are really economical and a good size bag if you are starting out making your own nut milk or just for snacking.
- Beans of all kinds too mofo
- MUSHROOMS – They are your best friend. I cannot live without them for real and now my boyfriend is starting to grow them at home. Living the dream.
- Tofu – This shit is plain AF by itself, but magical with a little finesse. It fries up real nice and can be blended to mimic a lot of cheese-type things (like ricotta for example).