Friday, August 7, 2020

Plant-Based (Vegan) Diet: The Reality

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I remember standing in my kitchen, almost crying, hungry and completely bored with what I was eating. It was the first week I went plant based, and I really thought that meant that I would be eating this bland, horrible, and anything but satisfying menu. I would eat beans and oatmeal, and I would *try* to get down a salad. But I did it, because, well my life was in danger, and I didn’t have much of a choice.

The food industry has done a marvelous job in teaching our society that there is only one way to be satisfied with food, and only one way to enjoy it. We don’t see things like tofu or even fruits and veggies and grains made to look sexy and satisfying anywhere we look. In fact, when is the last time you saw a commercial for tofu? A typical American family sitting down to a delicious breakfast of tofu scramble burritos with pancakes and fresh squeezed OJ? Go ahead, I’ll give you a few minutes to think about that….

Nothing, right? I mean we’re constantly told that the only way we’re going to enjoy food is if it’s from an animal, if it’s processed, and if it has things in it we can not pronounce. We’re never told that eating a plant based diet is so amazingly tasty and satisfying or that with a few simple changes you can be cooking things that no one would even guess were plant based to begin with.

And sadly, all of this leads to people believing that going plant based, and becoming vegan is “hard” or that they don’t have enough will power, or that I’ve done something really amazing and difficult.

I’ve been on a million diets, seriously. I’ve been on “hard” diets. And they were hard! They were not satisfying at all. They all meant counting something and eating things I generally did not like. And they didn’t work, I mean they would work for a week or maybe more, but in the end they didn’t work. Because they ended, because it wasn’t a way to live for life, it was just a way to lose some weight.

Now, I don’t count anything, I eat. I absolutely love food, making food, going out (when we can), and I don’t worry. Now granted, I’m still not eating large tubs of vegan ice cream or stacks of pancakes, but I found that soon after going plant based, my appetite started changing, and my addictions to certain foods started going away, and so the desire to binge also went away. Not that I don’t have the occasional vegan cookie (thanks Sweet Pea Baking!), but I don’t need 15 of them to feel happy.

The reason why diets fail is because they are not satisfying, and they don’t really make sense for our bodies. We eliminate, add in, take away, subtract, add up, weigh things, time things all to be miserable. I know, because I went through this for years and years before I went plant based.

Going plant based meant that I gave up 3 foods completely. Meat, Dairy, Eggs. That’s it. Now at first, I cried, seriously, I didn’t know what to do or what to eat with out my “staples”. I was programmed, like many of us to think that there were only slight variations of the standard American Diet in order to get healthy. I told people that I really hated tofu, that I was not much for salads, and there was only so much oatmeal I could eat.

Looking back on it, I almost get angry with myself for not doing a little more research up front, so that it wasn’t all so daunting. When I started to find out about alternatives, and vegan cookbooks, I was completely shocked. I remember reading “Vegan with a Vengeance” and thinking that this woman must be nuts, how could a BLT taste good as something called a TLT , and what the HECK is Tempeh anyway?!

It wasn’t until I started trying the recipes out that things started to change. I found myself in an entire new underground world of food. I felt like I had come upon a secret that was just lurking in the recipe section of the book store. I went to the grocery store and found foods that were labeled vegan, substitutes to things, even frozen meals that were actually healthy and delicious. Granted, these things were always there, but I would pass them by snubbing my nose at them because I thought they were going to be nasty. And of course, there was the produce section. Who knew that veggies and fruits could work together to make completely satisfying meals? I felt like Sherlock Holmes, and like many of those cases, the answers were right under my nose! Right in the grocery store. The recipes? Right in the book aisle, or the other place I spent A LOT of time – the internet. Soon, I was looking up recipes online, I would pick my favorite meal and type in “Vegan Lasagna” and go figure , up pops a recipe for Vegan Lasagna!

As the months have gone on, I’ve become like a mad scientists of sorts in the kitchen, and even going out to eat. From time to time I catch myself still feeling like I’ve unlocked some secret door to a huge other world.

I wish I could have told all of this to my former self, the one who thought that she was completely with out self control or any will power to eat right. I tell people often that the way I eat now is the most satisfying way I have ever eaten. I’m not just saying that because my diabetes is better or that I’m losing a lot of weight, I’m saying that as a person who really does enjoy food. I’m Italian AND Sicilian, it’s kind of how we’re made.

And yes, it feels even more satisfying knowing that I am not killing myself anymore, that I’m avoiding a lot of other nasty diseases, that I am putting things in my body that are healthy for it. And there is something to eating living food. Foods that give life to you with out taking a life away. There is something that runs deeper in all of it, something that I wish I could explain eloquently enough. Consuming foods that our bodies were actually meant to digest, opposed to consuming foods that we were never supposed to digest does more than heal your body and help lose weight, it just starts to change you.

I get a lot of feedback from people who tell me that they are just not strong enough, or they don’t have the will power, or they could never give up something, or they don’t like some kind of food they more than likely don’t know much about. I’m here to tell you that, in the end, it’s not only easier, it’s more satisfying and more enjoyable, and more rewarding. That’s the secret.

39 COMMENTS

  1. ninnys

    I have been vegan for almost 10 years now. I find ethiopian food to taste the BEST! I have yet to make it, but I love eating it. I love cooking mexican and Italian food. Well, I really like making any food vegan.

  2. vegan feet

    I’ve come to really love your blog posts. They always come from the heart, and that’s truly inspirational. :]

    Well, the two biggest -ever- things to help my transition into the world of veganism (which, seriously, *is* like an underground movement) were quinoa (<3) and vegan butter/margarine. The former because of its lovely protein content (until I got a handle on that fear that I was gonna die from 'not eating enough protein!') and the latter because of its super-duper multi usability. I still use the same brand to this day!

    And my vegan soul food? Without a doubt, a well-made, warm and 'meaty' bean-based stew. All the deep spiceyness with the fragrence of caremalised onion and garlic and simmering tomatoes and… MMM! Must cook some soon!

    The hardest part is other people's reactions. Though the vegan community, arguably, is tighter than most, it's also not lovely to live in a family — or local community — where veganism is certainly not the norm. Sometimes it would nice to just come home and be greeted by, "Hi, Matt, we made some 'X' which is Vegan-friendly, want some?".

    And I'd love to cook more adventurous foods. Like all people, vegan or not, I've fallen into that habit of eating the kinda same things over and over and over and over and over and over. I'd love to be able to bring tempeh, more vegan cheeses and generally 'advanced' vegan foods. *drool*

  3. Megan

    I’m not yet a vegan. I’m trying to get there. I’ve been a vegetarian for quite some time, and I only use soy milk. The only things that are holding me back are my Fiber One bars I eat for breakfast and the occasional slice of cheese on my morningstar burgers! I’m hoping to make the full transition very soon, once I find something great to replace my Fiber One bars! Thanks for your blog – it’s so inspirational! And thanks for the giveaway – I’ll keep my fingers crossed! 🙂

  4. Kelly

    I think I would have a hard time giving up cheese and meat but maybe if I had a cookbook to show me alternatives I could try it

  5. Josh

    Hmmm . . . vegan soul food? My favorite vegan Jamaican soul food is baked jerk tofu. It’s good hot, but I love it cold on a sandwich, and its super easy, too! All you need is about a pound of extra firm tofu and some Grace jerk seasoning. Press the tofu, and cut it into 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick slices, rub in lots of the jerk seasoning, and put it in the fridge overnight. Bake at 400 for 20 minutes, flip the slices and bake for another 10 minutes or so. And there you have it.

    Also, I got a fantastic recipe for greens from this vegan soul food cooking class I took. I don’t have it with me now, but the liquid smoke is the key!

  6. Brea

    Tank you so much for this give-away! I’m keeping my fingers crossed. The hardest thing for me transitioning was the fact that my hubby is still omni (but VERY supportive). It’s been a challenge finding foods that we both enjoy-to my delight he LOVES eggplant!! Any recipes that you want to share would be awesome, as I’ve not ventured further than grilling and baking 🙂

  7. Sara

    When I first went vegan all the fake meat stuff like “chick’un patties” or soy burgers were the easiest transition and the vegan cheeses helped too. It was sort of meal replacement in the beginning, but the more books I read on the vegan diet the less and less I relied on the fake meat and more on veggies. Now my grocery bill is soo much cheaper because I’m buying produce, whole grains, and spices.
    The recipes that I really enjoyed were the ones that were already vegan so pasta and rice dishes were easily veganized if they were already. There are some really awesome vegan cookbooks and its a shame that my local library does not have more than one! I’m slowly purchasing ones offline. My favorite one is Vegan cupcakes take over the World and The Joy of Vegan Baking because I love desserts. These are also the easiest foods to tempt your meat loving friends with!
    My favorite Soul Food is Macaroni and cheese with cornbread crumbs! I think the hardest thing at first to give up was cheese/milk because its in practically everything, but I found out that I didn’t really like the taste of cheese it was just the idea of having something quick to eat at any time. Now I just always have vegan snacks with me in case I’m feeling left out at a work luncheon or if I walk by the vending machine.
    The other hard part was being able to buy all my groceries at the grocery store. You’re not going to be able to find everything you need at a chain grocery store unless its Wholefoods or something of the like and yes its sort of a hassle to have to go to two or three separate stores to get all your groceries but chances are when you go to that little health food store in your neighborhood you’re helping out a local business. They are also more likely to bring in a product you want that they don’t stock and in turn you are meeting people who might be vegan too! There are plenty of websites and blogs for vegans and most of them LOVE to answer any questions veg curious people have!

  8. Amber

    Thanks for another awesome post. I think reading this might help convince my carnivore boyfriend that he can change his diet happily. Last weekend I made him his first tofu scramble and he loved it, so that’s a start. 🙂

    Thanks again. Keep inspiring, love!

  9. josh

    @Kelly: ‘The Uncheese Cookbook’ by Joanne Stepaniak has some good cheese-ish (cheesy?) recipes . . . some of the spreads/dips are really good, but in all honesty, I have yet to find a really, really good vegan hard cheese substitute. For me, quitting meat was not so hard . . . but cheese is the toughest.

  10. Elle

    You have the most inspiring posts! Let’s see…

    On April 27th of this year, my husband and I decided to follow a raw diet. He’s a diabetic, and the plan was to try to get his blood sugar down w/out meds. Also part of the plan was to integrate, or in other words–raw 3-4 times per week, vegetarian a couple of days, and one “cheat” day for meats.

    By the second week’s cheat day, we were totally over meat. We had smoked some outrageously perfect ribs and were eager to dig in. After eating, we just didn’t feel right. The meat bothered me all evening, and my husband–all night. We found that the flavor of the meat also “clouded” the flavors of everything else we ate. How weird! The flavors of the fresh fruits and vegs we had been enjoying were now being covered up by meat.

    It was that day that we gave up meat. And haven’t looked back. The foods we ate taste amazing, and almost seem like new things we’ve never tried before, because their flavors are truly being allowed to shine.

    Fast forward a couple of weeks, and a copy of The China Study appeared. A week after reading that, we were vegans. In all my life, I never thought I’d hear myself say that. Ever!

    Strangely enough, it wasn’t the meat I missed, but the eggs and cheese–which I never ate a whole lot of to begin with! But, I’m dealing with it, and doing amazingly well. I bought my first Vegan cookbook, Veganomicon, and I’m truly enjoying learning this whole new (and totally satisfying!) way of eating. We alternate every day–vegan/raw.

    Two amazing things happened! Well, three.

    1) More energy.
    2) Wight loss w/out struggling and being hungry.
    3) My husband’s blood sugar readings went from low 200′s to 80′s. WITHOUT his meds.

    I want to shout from the rooftops about this new secret (to use your term) way of eating. It’s truly changed our lives, and I don’t see any way we’d ever go back to eating meats or dairy. Well, I *still* occasionally use a little cheese. But just a little! I’m getting there, hehe!

  11. Billie

    Hello, a newbie here, I just found your blog through twitter. Great articles, found myself spending my morning here. I’m almost a vegan, I’ve been transitioning myself for the past two weeks and really found it very easy. I lost those cravings within the first week, which I couldn’t believe. I feel like I’m going through what you went through in the beginning. I love to cook and looking for vegan recipes has opened up a whole new and exciting world in cooking. I’ve spent most of my time on the computer and books/magazines learning new dishes. I made portobello sliders the other day and they were great! I thought I would miss cheese, but I don’t. I had a veggie burger with tofutti slices yesterday and didn’t taste any difference. 🙂 I’m very concerned about diabetes, it runs in my family. Your blog is an inspiration, thank you.

  12. Aidan

    Hello, my name is Aidan and I just started being vegan. I have been a vegetarian for over two years and recently, from the research I have done and events surrounding me I’ve been curious about being a vegan. I tried to transfer over about 6 months ago, but only lasted for about a month. Being a college student it was hard to find anything to eat after late nights of studying and work, and I ended up just giving in, not wanting to starve myself. I think the major problem i had then was that i did almost no research. I just blindly stumbled into veganism, and didn’t even try to figure out how to get the extra vitamins that i’d need. This time around, I feel as though I’m much more interested in being vegan for more personal reasons, and i feel much more motivated 🙂 I feel that doing your research about which brand names are already vegan, or which resturants offer vegan dishes and so on can make it a lot easier on someone. Also it helps to know why being vegan is a good thing, doing some research on egg and dairy preparation really helped me out as well. I’ve been vegan for 2 weeks now, which isn’t much.. But i haven’t hit any hiccups as of yet! Although I did accidentally eat cane sugar (I had absolutely know idea that is was processed with animal bone!). Anyways thank you for this great website you have and all the information on it! 🙂
    Aidan

  13. Kylie

    1) Experiment and try new foods/recipes. Lots of times new vegans simply cut out foods that aren’t vegan-friendly without finding nutritious subs, or they view being vegan as ‘cutting out’ foods rather than opening themselves up to a whole new world of foods. 🙂 Try different brands/types of cheezes/milks/proteins sold in stores before deciding it all sucks. Buy/borrow cookbooks and be adventurous. Set the goal to try one new food every week. I find it really helpful to a) to stock up on frozen/processed food options for whenever I don’t feel up to or have the time for cooking; b) finding a small collection of easy vegan recipes that I use again and again; and c) making larger amounts of favorite recipes and freezing some for meals in a pinch. Sticking with what works is always good advice.

  14. Kylie

    I’ve been vegan for over 11 years now, and it’s an ever-evolving process. My best advice is actually advice that is helpful when approaching any food plan/food change Here’s Part 2:

    2)Let go of the “shoulds”. You will likely hear alot of them along the way. Vegans shouldn’t eat this/wear that/use this/say that/do this/ be that way. Those voices are hard to get rid of sometimes, but try to let them go and find your own answers. Using another’s standards for whether or not you are “measuring up” to being a *true* vegan (whatever that is) is a sure way to sabotage your own accomplishments, your own voice, and finding your own identity as a vegan. Likewise, being another persons “should”er is not helpful to either of you.

    Veganism is a different journey for everyone. We each fall on a spectrum of lifestyle choices and have a unique and complex set of reasons for traveling on the path. Along the way, especially when meeting others on the path, you’re bound to encounter a bazillion judgments about what being vegan should look like and be about. Those judgments are not helpful, and have a tendency to create inside of us all sorts of pressures and “shoulds” and “should nots” about our own vegan journey. This can be a controversial view, but forget about what others are saying living a vegan lifestyle is and is not, and find within your Self what it means for you.

  15. Kylie

    SO much so that I am leaving my comment in four (OOPS- actually 5) parts to win more chances (thanks for letting us enter more than once)!

    I’ve been vegan for over 11 years now, and it’s an ever-evolving process. My best advice is actually advice that is helpful when approaching any food plan/food change Here’s Part 4:

    4)Educate yourself. Read. Read more. And keep reading. Connect with local or online groups that provide resources and info to support a healthy vegan lifestyle. Find a community, whether virtual or locally, that supports one another on the vegan journey. Be open with your struggles- chances are very likely that someone else has been there or has known someone who has. Ask questions. Ask more questions. Stop by local natural foods stores and browse their book selection, peruse food options and supplements, and use employees as a resource. And keep reading. And keep asking questions. And keep reaching out.

  16. Kylie

    I would love to win Vegan Soul Kitchen. SO much so that I am leaving my comment in four (OOPS- actually 5) parts to win more chances (thanks for letting us enter more than once)!

    I’ve been vegan for over 11 years now, and it’s an ever-evolving process. My best advice is actually advice that is helpful when approaching any food plan/food change Here’s Part 5:

    5)Return regularly to whatever motivated you to become vegan in the first place. Whether it’s for health, weight maintenance, ethics, spiritual or religious reasons, or simply compassion for the animals and the planet, connecting with that motivation is a great way to refocus, re-energize, and re-center to make the path ahead a little easier. For me that means doing things like staying informed about animal rights and the negative impact other lifestyles perpetuate on the environment. A friend of mine keeps a picture of a sweet cow with her to look at when she needs to stay focused. Reflecting on the enormous impact being vegan has on oneself, the planet, etc. makes the difficulties seem more surmountable. It’s so worth it! And it gets easier all the time… 🙂

  17. Gordon

    I am on the cusp of becoming vegetarian. I have recently started eliminating all dairy from my diet. Almond milk, where have you been all my life? And hummus, you sly devil you, why didn’t I meet you sooner? Hummus on wheat bread instead of a hunk of cheese? Of course!

    As soon as I adjust to that, I plan on cutting meat. Oh, meat, I loved you for soooooo long….Yes, I still look at greasy cheeseburgers and drool, but I know that as long as I ONLY drool and do not consume, my body will be happier and my life will be longer.

    I am 42 and need to make a change. I want to see my kids grow old and meat will not get me there. I will stumble, I will crave, but I am taking my first steps toward a better diet, a better body, and a better life…

    And the best thing is, I have a couple of gentle, caring, compassionate Vegan friends who are helping me get there, one baby step at a time…They’re not banging me over the head with celery stalks, but they are encouraging and educating.

  18. Betsy

    Hi!
    I would love a copy!
    I went vegan for religious reasons at first. I am a Christian, and the more I understood the Bible, the more I understood that respecting the sanctity of life meant a lot more than I thought it did!
    I have had other really spectacular things happen since going vegan, including that I no longer have the severe digestive problems I once did, and I also had really bad depression and energy problems before.

    My favorite food is vegan pizza! I really like the Amy’s roasted vegetable kind.

    There are many reasons to become vegan, and I would say what helped me out the most was just learning the many reasons to go and stay vegan. If you are religious I would definitely say that praying about it also helps!

  19. Michelle

    I’m currently transitioning from vegetarian to vegan, and am almost 100% vegan now! The more I learn about how animals are treated and the health benefits of veganism, the more disgusted I get with foods that I previously had no problems with!

  20. Natalie

    I LOVE BEING VEGAN! I’M VEGAN PROUD!
    I’ve been vegan for around 3 years now and I love it. I am the only vegan I know or vegetarian for that matter. So, as the only vegan in my family, I cook for my family, then make my meal a healthy vegan version of theirs. When I went vegan, I lost alot of weight and felt so good – like ton’s of energy!

    I love to try new vegan recipes or make up my own. Truly love grilled veggie burgers with sweet potato baked fries – so yummy! My other favorite are: vegan chili and vegan mac & cheese made from nutritional yeast.

    I have added staples in my cooking – which thankfully are at my local grocery store!: tofu, soy sour cream, soy cream cheese, rice milk, vegan butter, and soy or rice ice cream. There are so many alternatives! I do limit myself on the ice cream or oreo’s!

    What keeps me vegan, besides how my body feels is my LOVE FOR ANIMALS!!!! I so love animals, and it makes me feel good to know I saved some animals lives.

    I get so excited when I see a vegan label on anything at the store – the world is seeing a change – and hopefully more people will catch on on how good vegan’s feel. Obesity is so bad in this country, it would’nt hurt for some to try vegan, then I bet they will get hooked.

    I even wear a vegan braclet every day – I don’t push people on veganizm, but it does come up in conversation – which I do find enjoyable to discuss without pushing.

  21. Alex

    I have been vegan for 10 months, and I have never looked back! I can’t say what convinced me the most or what is the most important thing for me between the ethical, environmental and health benefits of going on a vegan diet.
    It makes total sense to me and I don’t understand how it doesn’t make sense to everyone!

    My favourite vegan foods are: home made mushroom burgers, roasted potatoes with miso gravy, home made humus, sauted kale/tofu and pine nuts in balsamic sauce (hmmmm!), veggie chili (my non vegan boyfriend has mastered this), scramble tofu (again, my non vegan boyfriend makes it better and better each time. And he did say “no way I’m eating tofu!” to start with 🙂 ).
    My favourite cook books to date are: ‘The everyday vegan’ and ‘La Dolce Vegan’.

    My only regret is that I won’t be able to have my mum’s staple birthday cake again (I haven’t found how to veganise beaten eggs). But it’s ok 🙂

  22. Mary

    I just want to tell you that you have helped change my life. A few months ago I was feeling really depressed about my weight and my life, and a friend pointed me to your site. I decided to just give it a try, afterall I’ve tried every thing else. I soon was finding out about all the reasons to be vegan. I feel like it’s given me purpose again.
    On the health front, I’ve lost about 20 pounds so far, more than I’ve lost in years of diets! I don’t feel like I’m on a diet anymore, just this is the way I eat. I am still learning, but I really like things like pasta salads, like the one that you posted is one of my favorites.
    Thank you1

  23. ninnys

    I must confess I already have Vegan Soul Kitchen and love it! I was hoping to win it for my best friend that just became vegan. She is been vegan for about a month now. I was telling her about this cookbook and thought it would be cool if we both cooked from it. I live in CA and she lives in VA. I was hoping we could plan meals together from it. This way we could motivate each other to use less packaged items. I hope you will consider us for the cookbook. You have been great motivation for me in so many other ways. Keep up the great work!

    peace & love,
    ninnys

  24. Sara

    Things that helped make my transition easier:
    Veggie Burgers are great to “bring-your-own” to barbecues, so you don’t feel left out eating just the salad. Soy milk saved my life, but rice milk is now my staple, I probably drink more of that than water. 🙂 Try vanilla rice/soy milk on your cereal or in your coffee/tea first to get used to the texture; that’s what always makes people feel weird about it. But the different flavored varieties (vanilla, chocolate, green tea) helped me come to love soy milk, and now I can drink the plain kind straight up.
    Also, vegan chocolate peanut butter ice cream is pretty darn good too.

    My SOUL food is tofu Pad Thai with lots and lots of peanut sauce and cilantro. I am pretty much Asian inside since spending year in Asia, so any kind of stir fry on white rice makes me feel at home.

  25. pam

    I am not vegan, though studying up on it. I would find it really hard to give up eggs and cheese. I love my scrambled eggs! I gotta find a good tofu scramble I guess.

  26. Jereme

    I’m actually less than a month in, so I guess I’m still in a transitional period. But I do love cooking and have to say it’s one of the things I’m enjoying about vegan life. I was a cook for about 10 years until 2006 when I worked a summer in a tourist trap of a town in Maine. The customers don’t care about freshness, uniqueness, or quality whatsoever. They just wanted to get their steak and cheese with bacon, extra cheese, and mayo quickly so they could get on with their important lives. Got me kind of jaded actually.
    So I left cooking before I got so burnt out and passionless that I wouldn’t even enjoy cooking for myself or family. An all plant diet has not proven limiting in the slightest but freeing. I’m excited to cook again!

  27. Laura

    Thank you for all that you write! It is so great and to the point! I think you are right, we don’t have any positive images of vegetables (although my kids love veggie tales!) lol.

    I became vegan for many reasons, in part it was because of my Christian beliefs, and the ethical treatment of living beings. And my health, while not really bad, I did have weight to lose (which I have, with out trying!).

    I agree, it’s so much easier when you figure out the “secrets”! Once I learned some cooking essentials and recipes I was all set. My kids are also vegan now, and my husband, and they prefer this way to eat now!

    Our favorites are vegan waffles every weekend! We put different fruit toppings on them. They go over very well!

  28. YoVegan

    I love being Vegan! I went through a transition process. I gave up beef because I linked it to horrible menstual cramps and then slowly I gave up other meats the last of which was fish. The last time I had a piece of fish the texture of it bothered me so that I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat it any more.

    I knew I loved cheese and so I found alternatives recipes to make my own. My next thing was desserts. I hated going to church or somewhere else and not being able to have dessert so I found some recipes and started making my own.

    As far as soul food, I found a vegan cornbread recipe that is awesome and I top it with a bit of Smart balance Light. Serve that with the field peas and whew!

  29. julia

    The beginning of this article reminds me of myself. the christmas before I went vegan (I already knew that sooner or later I would end up vegan), I was thinking “OK; that is the last time that you eat christmas cookies!”.. I didn’t know of all the possibilities..

  30. Lindsey

    @Megan, Try some Clif bars. I eat the chocolate brownie ones everyday for breakfast. They are WAY better than Fiber One bars. Luna bars are supposed to be good too. I think both of these brands are pretty mainstream, so you can find them at places other than Whole Foods. If you do go to Whole Foods or another place like that, you will be amazed at the amount of bars they have.

    All the wonderful vegan substitute products out there greatly helped me make the transition – Tofutti sour cream and cream cheese, Follow Your Heart cheese, all the amazing nondairy milks available (my favorites are chocolate soy, hemp, and rice), Tofurky meats of all kinds, Field Roast sausages, Health Is Wealth chicken nuggets, etc. The list goes on forever.
    Also, cooking up a storm and finding amazing recipes in highly rated vegan cookbooks helped me see that being vegan is no sacrifice and is not even near difficult.

  31. maya

    i haven’t yet given up eggs or coffee creamer (actually evaporated milk). i have given up sour cream, which is a big deal to me. but i think homemade guacamole is definitely a suitable replacement.

    i can’t call myself vegan yet, but i am working on it.

  32. Karen

    Cookbooks. Buy them. If you can’t afford them, find recipes online or check out the library. Then, start cooking. Don’t cook? Try Thai, Ethiopian, Mexican, or Indian restaurants; frozen meals; and produce.

    As for soul food, tofu + barbeque sauce = happiness.

    Happy vegan-ing!

  33. Jessi

    I’m almost all the way there as far as being vegan goes . . . I’m still trying to get off the Kashi GoLEAN crunchy bars . . . but that’s my last hurdle. Isa Chandra Moskowitz began my love of vegan cooking – I have all of her cookbooks and haven’t made a single recipe that hasn’t rocked! After exploring more online I found Lindsay at Happy Herbivore (http://happyherbivore.com) . . . not only are her recipes vegan, but they are also mostly fat free, or they use natural fats like cashews. Her nacho “cheeze” made me a believer. Every omni I make this for is AMAZED at how nacho cheesy it tastes and it is so good and NATURAL!!!

    I love to experiment with new recipes and try to adapt recipes to make them a little lower in added fats/oils – I just love to cook/bake in general.

    Another great book is any of the McDougall books – they offer a lot of great information.

    my favorite food right now is scrambled tofu and herb roasted potatoes with LOTS of hot sauce 🙂

    Thank you for having this giveaway!

  34. Josiane

    Yet another great post, Natala! Thanks for sharing your experience in such an inspiring way.

    I’m not yet 100% vegan, but am now very very close to that. I’ve been a vegetarian for several years, and I was thinking that I would happily be a vegetarian for the rest of my life. Well, I’m now a vegetarian who eats a 98% vegan diet: I totally avoid dairy products, and extremely rarely eat eggs. What got me there? A few things, among which discovering the vegan blogosphere, and also realising that I had become mildly allergic to dairy products.

    My vegan soul foods would be anything vegan, really, except maybe for extremely processed vegan food. Any good, natural vegan food feeds my soul.

  35. vegman

    The last thing I gave up when going vegan was cheese. And the hardest part was really just the pizza! Also realising that heaps of products have milk powder and the like in them.
    There aren’t a whole lot of vegan substitutes in Australia so I am usually confined to the obvious vegetable based recipes (I am yet to find vital wheat gluten, soy creamer, a good cheese substitute, coconut milk yoghurt, decent fake meat, and nutritional yeast is pretty hard to come by).

    The things that helped me the most was reading and learning about veganism – by really understanding everything I no longer had to rely on willpower. I now find non-vegan food gross.

    Also, learning a few good staple recipes and slowly introducing a new one now and then works for me.

    Fingers crossed!

  36. veg eater

    (second attempt at winning the cookbook!)

    Actually the hardest part about being vegan, even though it certainly doesn’t sway me, is negative and uneducated attitudes from non-vegans. Just the other day I had 3 different people tell me:

    a) “What’s wrong with you? We need to sort that out!”
    b) “Well, you look well anyway. Not like most vegans.”
    c) And the usual grilling of why I’m a vegan and don’t you know we are meant to eat meat cos we have fangs and thats how we made the transition from apes and got a big brain.

    It’s not even worth replying to those kind of comments.

  37. roxanne

    When I originally gave up meat 28 years ago, I was vegan although I did not know the name for it.

    The ex ran to Arby’s on my first and only attempt to make seitan. (He actually makes it now!) The kids sort of followed him and eventually when he gave up meat for 30 days, everyone became a vegetarian, including me.

    I have been vegan again for almost a year. A young Austrian man who almost became my son-in-law but feels like my son showed me the way with his compassion for all living creatures.

    When I realized that dairy cows and egg laying hens suffered and then were slaughtered, I went vegan. I could not stand the thought that I was causing a creature to suffer.

    What made being vegan fun was all the cool cookbooks such as Vegan with a Vengence, the Vegan series by Sarah Kramer, the Joy of Vegan Baking and all the vegan blogs.

    I find a lot of support with all my vegan friends on Twitter, love you guys!

  38. Theodore

    I have been using Warrior Milk for about 6 months. I tried Muscle Milk and Optimum Nutrition’s proteins but found both too hard on my stomach.Warrior Milk protein doesn’t give me the upset and I like many of their flavors. My absolute favorite is mixing the chocolate and peanut butter flavors. I have had no problems ordering off their website and the products always came quick enough.This protein is really affordable and was a lot cheaper than using Slim Fast shakes which I’ve used in the past. My goal for using the protein was to lose just 5-10 lbs (I was only 130 lbs to start) by replacing meals with the shakes. I have lost 12lbs to date and it was very easy in my opinion because the shakes both taste good and kept me full until my next meal.

Nat
I went on a plant based diet after diabetes almost took my life. Now, almost 2 years later not only have I reduced my type 2 diabetes symptoms, I have lost close to 200 pounds (and still losing). This is a place where I write about my journey as I continue the quest for health, and living a good life for today, and long into the future. Get hold of me on nat@cleanseplan.com

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