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how to go vegan

Updated on August 13, 2011

How To Go Vegan

Going vegan can be tough for many. Because it is such a large change, I often recommend that people try being vegetarian first. This helps you start to change the way you analyze your food and think about it, without causing you to feel so "food-less" that you starve. Anyone without sufficient calories or nutrition will be unhealthy, and I really don't recommend it.

A vegetarian doesn't eat flesh - meat, while a vegan doesn't eat meat, or animal eggs/animal milks. They usually try to find alternatives to anything which harms animals - including entertainment which captures and "breaks" animals. They search for natural health solutions and focus on prevention. The vegan would see animal testing as a last resort, not a first resort. This article does not discuss vegan clothing or products, only vegan diet.

If you are a vegetarian, you can eat cheese pizzas, bean and cheese burritos, pancakes and eggs, enchilada dinners and more.

Vegans can eat all of these things too, but it takes more time, knowledge, cooking and/or planning. For instance, I prepare a type of scrambled "eggs" using tofu. The foods vegans eat often taste as good or better than animal laden foods of the same type if the preparation is done well.

However, it can still help, once you are vegetarian, to go "50%" vegan, and then "vegan-ish" - a vegan who may still eat some vegetarian foods, or eat vegan at home then vegetarian at restaurants.

This is how I became vegan. Turning vegetarian was an instant (and undesired) choice on my part. The story of how I became vegetarian is at: http://hubpages.com/hub/How-I-Became-Vegetarian.   

But I was scared of becoming a vegan - at that time, there were very little products for vegetarians, let alone vegans! But, one day, after eating a huge plate of Alfredo pasta, I almost keeled over gasping, huge pains in my arms. What was wrong with me? I had to loosen my corset (I was on a set in a costume) and sit on the floor, dizzy pale and panting. This is when I learned that going vegan at home, but being vegetarian at restaurants, had naturally "weaned" me off milk. Due to about 6 months eating at home, I had become lactose intolerant!

 

Home Made Vegan Banana Foster

Raw Sugar,non-hydrogenated margarine,cinnamon, and Rum cooked with Nanners, then lit on fire and scooped over Vegan Ice Cream
Raw Sugar,non-hydrogenated margarine,cinnamon, and Rum cooked with Nanners, then lit on fire and scooped over Vegan Ice Cream

WHAT TO DO

1) Go to your local health food store.

When I first went and started searching, I found so many products that I had never tried, I was very happy with my choice to go vegan! My food choices opened up dramatically from when I was vegetarian and stuck in Standard American Diet eating patterns/ideas. Now take some of those products (I can recommend my favorites, after a lot of taste and trial, I know the ones I feel are AMAZING! And which ones are DISGUSTING!). Start cooking with them - create a taco with a faux ground beef, salsa, and vegan sour cream or vegan cheese!


Tofu With Lime

2) Go to vegan restaurants.

You can google vegan restaurants in your area, it's easy. Or join a vegan restaurant review list like vegetarians in paradise or happy cow. Try eating things at these places - remember, if you don't like a dish, there were plenty of dishes at meat restaurants you didn't like either! Try try again.

3) "Vegetarianize" foods at your favorite restaurant.

If everyone else is eating an eel, you can try avocado sushi. Instead of a dairy based dressing, use balsamic vinaigrette. Ask to substitute something for the meat. You can ask if they have tofu, beans, mashed potatoes, or just about anything else you see on the menu.

"If you're just getting started, you may want to try simply "vegging up" your favorite recipes. Try tofu or seitan instead of chicken, ground vegetable burger crumbles instead of hamburger, marinated portobello mushrooms instead of steak, and soy milk instead of cow's milk or cream." (Source: www.vegcooking.com)


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Vegetarian Meal

4) Make vegan friends.

Online makes it easy to search the keyword "vegan" in Myspace, Google, Yahoo groups, or other social networking circles. Don't be fooled that all vegans are alike however. Vegans are a diverse group of people with very different beliefs and health levels, tied together by one common thing: diet. Most vegans (vs. vegetarians who may be in it for health or diet) believe in compassion towards animals and feel that the words "humane killing" is an oxymoron. But even still, there are differences. One vegan may believe in technology as a way to find solutions, another may wish to return to farm and plow lives. Find the kind of people you like who are vegans, and get them to cook meals with you, learn from their tips and practices, shopping ideas, etc.

5) Avoid the vegan police.

You are doing so much for yourself, the animals, and the earth! Don't let the vegan police get you down. Every bit that you do, counts and helps. Some vegans have lost sight of that fact, and will "harp" on other vegans. Ironically, these vegans are also doing non-vegan things themselves. It is impossible to be 100% "pure" in a non-vegan world, where others are testing everything on animals, even water! Once, I was told I was "not vegan" because I took a medication to heal a very painful UTI. This is absurd. Absolutely do not listen to these people - they may not even be vegan! They might just be "hounders." Do what you can and still live a happy, healthy life, and the inspiration that you are will do more for animals than wasting your time quandrying over a certain brand of pen at a business meeting (unless you WISH to do this).

6) Learn about vegan nutrition.

Visit my hub on this topic (below). It is based on over ten years of being vegan, having my blood tested, ten years of research, trial and error, experimenting on myself, and more. Every diet has its nutritional needs and deficiencies. Fortunately, vegetarian haters have been working very hard to quickly help us find ours! I am so glad they have done a lot of work for me. VERY QUICKLY - the most important thing I can impart on this topic is to take a B-12 pill. Do that, (chewables are tasty) and then in a few months, get on my nutrition hub and start taking action on the other recommendations there.

7) Check out my other vegan hubs.

I will be starting hubs on vegan nutrition, recipes, and tricks and tips I have discovered to do odd things such as: Make muffins rise without eggs! etc


8) Use sample menu plans.

These are great for when you run out of ideas!

Breakfast Oatmeal or cold cereal with fruit and nondairy
milk ● Toast, bagel, or English muffin with fruit spread and
peanut butter or vegan cream cheese● Fruit smoothie made
with nondairy milk or soy yogurt ● Pancakes or waffles (many
brands of prepared mixes and a variety of Van’s frozen waffles
are vegan) ● Tofu scramble with hash browns and veggie 
sausage ● Fruit-filled toaster pastry
LunchVeggie burger or dog with fries ● Faux lunchmeat
sandwich with chips ● Veggie pizza ● Bean burrito ● Falafel
pita sandwich with hummus ● Peanut butter and jelly
DinnerPasta with faux meat sauce ● Faux meat tacos,
burritos, or enchiladas ● Veggie chili (see tips on page 9)
Stir-fry with tofu, tempeh, or faux meat ● Faux meat with
gravy and mashed potatoes ● Vegetable tofu lasagna
 
Snacks or Dessert Nondairy ice cream or pudding
Vegan cookies, pie, or cake (see recipes on page 14)
Fresh or dried fruit● Nuts or seeds ● Trail mix ● Pretzels
or popcorn ● Chips and salsa ● Energy bar (vegan Clif Bar)

9) Try Vegan Recipes

VEG RECIPES IN PRINT:

http://vegweb.com/index.php?PHPSESSID=270576d470edc5a21b38c47302bc6100&action=recipecategories

VEG RECIPES IN VIDEO:

http://video.google.com/videosearch?hl=en&ei=faFTSvqMDovWsgPRxbjoBw&resnum=0&q=vegan%20cooking&um=1&ie=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=wv#

MEAT, DAIRY AND EGGS REPLACEMENTS:

http://www.vegcooking.com/VegCooking.asp

MY FAVORITE COOKBOOKS: (simple easy recipes with few ingredients):

Cooking with Peta

Vegan Vittles.

Good Luck! I hope that my hubs help create happy, healthy vegetarians.

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    • SarahSilver profile image

      SarahSilver 7 years ago

      yes some people drink only vegan beers or vegan sugars, etc

    • WryLilt profile image

      Susannah Birch 7 years ago from Toowoomba, Australia

      Great hub - my grandparents are vegan. However they don't go to the extremes that some, as you call them, 'vegan police' do. I know of some vegans who won't drink beer (it is made using fish extracts) or wear leather.

    • profile image

      Lecie 7 years ago

      great advice, hope to read more from you.

    • prasadjain profile image

      Dr.S.P.PADMA PRASAD 7 years ago from Tumkur

      Beconing vegan is really helpful to maintain health.Actually, our body is structured to suit vegetarianism, not meat- eating.

    • DinnerMom profile image

      DinnerMom 7 years ago from Central Florida

      Very informative article. Welcome to hub pages.