“It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.”
The American Dietetic Association
Our Vegan Food Guide will help you to make the transition smoothly to a vegan diet. It is surprisingly easy to become and remain a healthy vegan, although as with anything new, a little bit of preparation is needed at the beginning to make sure that the transition goes smoothly and without difficulty.
It might seem that removing entire food categories from your diet would leave you feeling somehow limited in choice, but when going vegan, people feel it is quite the opposite as they explore new foods that they had never tasted before. You do not have to be an experienced cook to make delicious and nutritious vegan meals.
What do vegans eat?
Most of the time, vegans cook easy and fast meals that centre around popular foods such as pasta, potatoes, rice and beans. Going vegan does not mean you have to miss out on the dishes you used to be fond of.
Basically, almost any recipe can be made vegan by subsituting ingredients. A shepherd’s pie or lasagna can be made with tofu, minced soya (TVP) or lentils, burgers with beans or tofu, white sauce with plant-based milk, gravy sauce with yeast flakes. Vegan versions of dishes such as French toast, scrambled eggs or Irish breakfast can be easily made. Vegans also indulge in desserts like anyone else. Vegans eat ice-cream, cheesecakes, brownies, cakes, muffins, scones, biscuits, to name a few.
People who do not enjoy cooking can get vegan convenience foods such as frozen dinners, canned and dehydrated soups, canned beans, vegan burgers, sausages, soy cheeses, etc.
Making the transition
Do not assume that you have to go vegetarian first (avoiding meat only). Some people go vegetarian as a stepping stone before going vegan and it works for them, but it is not necessarily the best way to become a vegan. One of the best way to make a smooth transition is to find substitutes for the foods you have always enjoyed.
Make small substitutions straight away.
According to Jack Norris and Virginia Messina, authors of the nutrition book “Vegan for Life”, making small substitutions are the changes that can be done straight away without any difficulty. These changes will not make any difference in your meal preparation but will greatly reduce your intake of animal products.
- Substitute plant-based milk (soy/rice/oat/nuts) for animal-based milk.
- Start using vegan mayonnaise and margarine.
- Substitute vegan chocolate for animal-based chocolate.
- Use vegan yogurts, cream, custards instead of animal-based ones.
- Use vegan salad dressings or use olive oil and lemon or vinegar.
- Trade vegetable broth or bouillon for animal-based broth in recipes.
- Use vegan gravy instead of animal-based gravy.
Which products are suitable for Vegans?
You do not have to spend a fortune at your local health food store in order to get vegan food. Most supermarkets stock a good range of products suitable for vegans, and often label them as such.
Start reading and understanding labels. There are many apps that can help you understanding labels. Most of the time, animal ingredients hide in a number of products that you would not expect to find (for example: whey, gelatin, rennet, cochineal, casein, etc). It can be a little bit challenging and tedious at first, but you will soon get to know which products are suitable for vegans with just a glance at the label. Remember that it does take a bit of practice, but it is worth it as it is important to be aware of what you put in your body, whether you are a vegan or not.
An easier way is to buy the same products for a week or two, and increase your range of vegan products slowly. This will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed when you go shopping.
Read next: Replacing Dairy Products