Transitioning to a vegan diet means your world opens to a whole new world of possibilities. Often people think that transitioning to a vegan diet means limitation, but when you think in terms of expansion you will see that you have a variety of foods to fill your pantry with.
1. Nutritional Yeast-Miss that cheesy flavor? Nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast made from sugarcane and beet molasses. It’s a source of vitamin B and you can sprinkle it on your popcorn, mix it with your mashed potatoes, or sliced avocado over toast and sprinkle it on top!
2. Wheat Gluten-Wheat gluten is a protein in a powdered form. It’s a doughy and elastic and has a meaty texture. You can use it in place of meat and shape it into “meatloaf,” or smaller bites and stir fry with veggies. It’s also a binding agent and can help to hold foods like mushroom burgers together. For those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities, do not eat this.
3. Nuts- Newly vegans eat nuts like a sport and often find themselves gaining weight or having a challenge losing. Nuts are high in fat and should be eaten in moderation if weight is a consideration. Use cashew nuts as a cheese replacement. Let the raw cashews soak for 4-6 hours then drain the water and rinse. Add them to a blender or food processor with lemon juice until it becomes creamy. Store in the refrigerator and use it as a spread on your toast or with meals as you would any other creamy cheese.
4. Tempeh – This meat replacement comes from soy so, for those with gluten sensitivities, this is a good option. It’s a versatile food and you can slather BBQ sauce and bake it, fry it, grill it, or chop it up into pieces and toss in a salad. It’s a good source of fiber too!
5. Plant-based milks-When making the switch to a vegan diet people will generally drop off meats before dropping off milk and eggs, but experts agree that replacing dairy will have the most evident health benefits. Plant-based milks are plentiful and you can enjoy milks from soy, rice, cashew, and almond to name a few. They’re flavored either naturally, vanilla, or you’ll find chocolate so it will quench the flavors you’re used to.
6. Grains-Did you know that vegans don’t just eat lettuce? What fills up you up is the fiber and that comes from foods like beans (see below), grains, vegetables, and fruits! They’re low in fat, high in fiber and can be used cold in salads, in soups, or as a main staple of your meal!
7. Beans-Beans, beans, the magical fruit…. You know the rest. Pack up your pantry with canned beans, dried beans, lentils, or frozen beans. What can you do with so many beans? Hummus, add fiber and bulk to your otherwise simple salad, soups, stews, and as the main part of your meals. If you’re looking to lean down or maintain a healthy body weight, beans are full of fiber and low in fat so you can eat them without worrying about weight gain!
8. Chia Seeds-Not only is chia seeds a great nutritional additive for your shakes, but if you use 1 tablespoon to 3 tablespoons of chia seeds you have an egg replacer! Let it sit for several minutes until it turns into a gelatin-like substance. Use it to create puddings!
Once you learn the substitutes for your traditional foods you’ll see that being vegan is so easy even a meat eater can do it!