Veganism is a multifaceted philosophy. Every individual has their own motivations and causes they support. People assume a plant-based diet is strict and limiting, but it's not like that at all. When in reality, you discover a plethora of new foods you had no idea existed. Eliminating animal-products fosters a deeper appreciation for the farms and the workers who produced the food we enjoy.
A plant-based diet allows you to deviate from the heavily marketed, prepacked foods with full autonomy to choose anything you wish. The best part is, a plant-based diet is by nature a healthier lifestyle. So worry less about choosing the "healthiest options" and listen to your gut. It can be difficult to know which veggies pair well together or where the best source of protein comes from, but knowing good brands and alternative products make transitioning to a vegan lifestyle effortless and much easier than you'd expect.
Don't compare animal products to their vegan alternative.
Meat is often the hardest for people to give up or simply find a satisfying alternative. The reality is, if you're willing to give up meat and all other dairy products, you won't be missing out on much! It is important to acknowledge that vegan alternatives are their own products with their own distinct and unique flavors. The look and feel may be the same, but the flavor will be different, and that's OK. In all honesty, you'll be disappointed biting into a vegan sausage with the mindset that it will taste like a beef/pork/veal sausage.
Whatever your reasoning is for becoming vegan, appreciate the flavor of these alternatives for what they are, not for what they are replacing.
There are five main products you will be replacing: meat, butter, yogurt, milk, and cheese. Discovering plant-based alternatives will open Pandora's box to a universe full of new flavors. If you are new to cooking or cooking doesn't come easily to you, here are five animal-based products that have simple, plant-based alternatives.
The Big Five: Meat, Butter, Yogurt, Milk, and Cheese.
These five sources of animal products have a vegan alternative that can be purchased in your local grocery store or made at home with minimal ingredients!
1. Meat (source of protein)
- Chickpeas, lentils, nuts, seeds (hemp seeds are a great source), quinoa, tofu, tempeh
- Homemade cashew cream butter
- Any palm-free vegan butter (Earth Balance, Miyoko's Kitchen, Melt Organic)
- Dream: Almond Dream or Coconut Dream
- Kite Hill: Almond Milk Yogurt
- Nancy's: Organic Soy Yogurt
- Silk: Soy or Almond
- So Delicious: Coconut Milk Yogurt
- Stonyfield: O'Soy Organic Dairy-Free Yogurt
Navigating your grocery store.
Vegan options aren't marketed as well as animal products. Typically, there is a discrete vegetarian/vegan section in the health food area of the store. Tofu, tempeh, vegan sausage, vegan butter, vegan cheeses, yogurts and a-like foods will be found in the refrigerated sections, sometimes near the hummus. Look for the vegan certification logo which can be found anywhere on the product, but most commonly found near the nutritional facts or bold on the front.
Trying different brands and experimenting with these new alternatives is fun, but it also makes you hyper-aware of the quality of food you are putting in your body. Spending two or three minutes comparing coconut-oil butter spread to palm oil butter spread makes you question our use of butter; what foods we spread it on, how much we use when baking, and the farm-table manufacturing process. Beginning the journey towards a vegan lifestyle starts in your gut. Fuel your body with plant-based, products that are healthy for you and healthier for the environment.
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