Though the reasons may vary, veganism is on the rise. Some do it for health reasons, other do it for environmental reasons while still others do it for ethical reasons. Regardless of what your reason is, going from a cuisine that includes meats and dairy to one that is devoid of any animal produced substance can be extremely hard. While some of us may be able to go cold turkey, most of us need to be weaned off our habits and this includes meat and dairy. Here are some great ways to start working towards a completely vegan cuisine.
Say Goodbye to Sugar: Were you worried? Thought you had to face a life without the sweets that get you through the day? While processed sugar is a big “no no” in the vegan lifestyle, you can still cater to your sweet tooth with natural sweeteners. One of the best vegan friendly sugar replacements is agave juice or syrup.
Agave is close to one and a half times sweeter than sugar which means you’ll have to use less to get the same sweet effect. Much like honey and maple syrup, it can be used as a sugar substitute in desserts, entrees, and beverages. Guava nectar is free of chemicals and low on the Glycemic Index which makes it great sweeteners with those who have type II diabetes.
Be Snack Savvy: Believe it or not a lot of your favorite snacks are not vegan friendly. A great way to replenish your cupboards with snacks that follow the rules is to check out gourmet food stores or organic food stores or centers. These places often have a great selection of healthy and vegan friendly snacks as well as other neat organic stuff.
Often time it’s hard to give up your favorite snacks, but there are some great substitutions. For example, if you love chips and dip or veggies and dip, try soy chips or veggies with hummus or veggie pâtés. If your one for nachos, try using black beans or refried beans topped with vegan cheese in replace of the normal toppings. For a sweet tooth substitution look for soy milk ice creams, as well as some of your favorite cookies made to fit your diet.
Minus the Meat: Thanks to the modern wonders of food science, there are tons of great meat replacements out there that come pretty darn close to tasting like meat. The veggie burger is no longer a tasteless slab of cardboard. Instead many vegetable, tofu, soy, or bean based meat substitutes like hotdogs, hamburgers, chicken nuggets, and even cold cuts taste terrific. Experiment with different brands, flavors, and types of meatless alternatives early in your vegan days to help you find what you like and make it simpler to make the transformation.
Get Rid of the Dairy: Like I said there have been a lot of advancements in the world of food science which means that you can find great substitutes for your favorite dairy products. This includes milk and milk products like cheese, sour cream, and butter. The only thing left for you to do is pay attention to ingredients and read the labels. Most grocery stores will have a section dedicated to organic and vegan foods so look there first.
By introducing these substitutions into your diet you will eventually find that you can safely satisfy most of your cravings. If you find that you’re having a hard time staying on the right track or if you’re afraid of jumping into veganism to quickly, try to change your diet in stages. Each week remove a different animal protein. Eventually you’ll get there and when you do you’ll feel better and be healthier. To make sure you stay healthy, be sure to follow a diet full of calcium, zinc, protein and vitamin C.