Image shows a delicious taco for a veg diet

Veg Diet Transition Tips-Part 1 of 2


Tasty and delicious alternatives to animal ingredients are now becoming much easier to find than ever as many people are becoming conscious of the eco-friendly and healthy benefits of a veg diet. Check out the following helpful tips to help you easily make the transition.




Where to shop for Vegan Foods?


You can now shop for veggie burgers and other mock meats as well as soy, rice and almond milks in almost every supermarket nationwide, including Walmart and Costco. If you don’t see a certain product at your local grocery store, just ask, since store managers want suggestions from their customers. A large percentage of the foods that you already eat are vegan, including chips, breads, crackers, cereals, and soups, along with staples like rice, pasta, oatmeal, beans, nuts, vegetables, fruit, and peanut butter.


Convenience foods cut cooking time. Supermarkets and natural foods stores stock a good selection of instant soups and main-dish veg convenience items. Many canned soups, such as minestrone, black bean, or vegetable, are veg-friendly. Flavored rice or other grain mixes, like curried rice or tabbouleh salad, can be stretched into an entrée with a can of beans. Visit the frozen food section for international veg frozen entrées such as corn and bean enchiladas, lentil curry, or veg pad thai. Or try vegetarian baked beans, refried beans, sloppy joe sauce, and meatless spaghetti sauce from the canned goods aisle.


Image shows yummy pasta of a veg diet


When You’re Away From Home. In Indian restaurants, you’ll find wonderful vegetable curries, lentil soup, potato-filled samosas, and other delights. Eating at Chinese restaurant? Try the bean curd (tofu) or vegetable dishes, or ask for rice and garlic eggplant. Some Asian restaurants even offer mock meats! Having Mexican food? Order bean burritos, tacos, and tamales without the cheese, or make a hearty meal out of refried beans mixed with Spanish rice and served with fresh tortillas, salsa, and guacamole. Ethiopian, Japanese, Middle Eastern, Thai, Vietnamese and other ethnic restaurants also offer delicious vegan items.


For restaurants that don’t offer veg entrées, ask if the chef can whip up a vegan entrée. Most restaurants will gladly accommodate special requests. If attending a catered affair, catch the waiter before you are served and ask him or her to remove the chicken breast from your plate and slip on an extra baked potato. Some airlines offer veg meals if you ask in advance; or you can always bring a meal on board with you.


When dining at someone else’s house, let your hosts know in advance that you’re a vegan. Offer to bring a vegan dish to share. This is a great way to introduce others to vegan eating.


Order your next pizza without cheese but with a mountain of vegetable toppings. Make homemade pizza with nondairy cheese, mock pepperoni, and vegetable toppings.


Find vegetarian cookbooks at your local library or bookstore and have fun experimenting with new foods and recipes.


Backyard barbecues are fun with vegan burgers and hot dogs. Top veggie burgers off with ketchup and mustard or with more creative condiments, such as salsa, guacamole, and hummus. Baste vegetable shish kebabs or soy chicken strips with Italian dressing or a teriyaki marinade, then grill them until the vegetables are slightly blackened. Or grill thick slices of marinated vegetables like eggplant, zucchini, or tomatoes.


Check out ethnic groceries for special veg foods. Middle Eastern delis offer stuffed grape leaves, falafel (a spicy mix of beans made into patties and “meatballs”), hummus (a tangy spread made from chickpeas), and eggplant spreads. Italian markets are a wonderful place to find hearty homemade breads, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh pasta. Enjoy Mexican-style beans-and-rice dishes, Japanese vegan sushi with avocado and cucumber, and Thai and Indian curries.


The simplest dishes are often the most satisfying. Brown rice, gently seasoned with herbs and lemon and sprinkled with chopped nuts or sunflower seeds, is a perfect dish. Have spaghetti with marinara sauce or basil pesto noodle.


“Leave off the cheese, please.”  Order your entrée or salad with no cheese. Many dishes can be easily made cheese-free. Ask for guacamole, rice, or extra salsa in your burrito or on your tostada instead of the cheese. Put more vegetables on a dinner salad or add some beans, nuts, or baked tofu chunks instead of cheese.


When traveling, pack plenty of veg snacks like instant soups, fresh fruit, raw vegetables, trail mix, granola bars, and homemade oatmeal cookies. Do some research on vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants in your destination city at Happy Cow before your next trip.




If you’re just getting started, you may want to try “vegging up” your favorite recipes with these substitutes.


Meat:  Try texturized vegetable protein(TVP). TVP has a texture like ground beef, and is wonderful in tacos, chili, and sloppy joes. Look for it in the bulk food section of the health food store. Replace the beef in burritos with beans and grilled veggies. You can also try the following mock meats: veggie burgers, “beef” crumbles, “roast beef” slices, “hot dogs,” “turkey,” “ham,” “chicken,” and “chicken” patties. Not only are mock meats delicious, they’re also high in healthy plant protein, low in saturated fat, and they contain zero cholesterol.


Image shows tasty stir fried tofu chunks of a veg diet


Milk: Try soymilk, almond milk or fortified rice milk; Use them in any way that you’d use cow’s milk. Top your oatmeal or cold cereal with fortified rice or almond milk. Make smoothies with enriched vanilla soymilk or drink an ice-cold glass of your favorite soymilk with your meal or snack. Most recipes calling for milk can be made with soymilk instead. If it’s a soup or other savory dish, be sure to purchase plain soymilk for cooking. Also try the delicious nondairy coffee “creamers”!


Butter: Most margarines are vegan; also try vegetable, coconut, and olive oils.


Ice Cream: Try Soy Delicious, Tofutti, Rice Dream, Soy Dream, or fruit sorbets.


Cheese: Use vegan cheese for pizza, sandwiches, toppings, and sauces. Try Tofutti, Follow Your Heart, Daiya, or VeganRella brands. Sprinkle nutritional yeast on popcorn or pasta for a cheesy flavor instead of parmesan.


Cream Cheese:  Try Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese. Make creamy dips and desserts using silken tofu in place of sour cream or cream cheese.


Sour Cream: Try Tofutti Sour Supreme.


Eggs: For baking, use Ener-G Egg Replacer, bananas, or applesauce. For breakfast, scramble up some tofu with veggies, turmeric, nutritional yeast, and soy sauce.


Mayonnaise: Try Vegenaise.


Please click here for Veg Diet Transition Tips-Part 2

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