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Vegan Cooking Tips for Beginners

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Vegan Cooking Tips for Beginners

One of the trickiest parts for folks transitioning to a plant-based diet is that sense of re-learning how to cook and to feed yourself. Sure, there are lots of vegan convenience foods out there, but fake meat products aren’t much better for you than the real deal, even if they are cruelty-free.

The other trick to vegan cooking is learning how to “veganize” your favorite recipes: sub out the animal ingredients with plant-based alternatives. With some savvy substitutions, you can cook up cruelty-free versions of many of your favorite foods! Here are some simple tips for transitioning to a plant-based diet.

Re-imagining Your Dinner Plate

Rather than mimic to fit the standard American “meat and potatoes” meal with veggie substitutes, the key to a healthy plant-based diet is rethinking what a meal really means. Americans eat far too much protein, and there’s really no need to center a meal around a protein with veggies as the co-stars. Instead, put those fresh fruits and veggies front and center for a filling, nutritious vegan meal.

Instead of the meat and two sides, try centering your meal around beans, whole grains, and fresh veggies.

If you’re craving comfort food, there’s nothing wrong with occasionally splurging on vegan faux meats. Just make sure you look for products with organic or non-GMO ingredients, since most faux meats contain soy or corn, which are commonly genetically modified.

One of my favorite ways to make a more “traditional” style meal is to whip up a big salad to pass alongside a veggie loaf from the Magical Loaf Creator. This handy tool from Vegan Lunch Box lets you choose the ingredients you want to use and generates a unique recipe just for you. I’ve been using this for years, and it’s never failed to produce a tasty bean and veggie loaf recipe.

>>Next: Common Vegan Substitutions

Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by beebrulee

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Becky Striepe

Becky Striepe is a freelance writer and vegan crafter living in Atlanta, Georgia. Her life’s mission is to make green crafting and vegan food accessible to everyone! Like this article? You can follow Becky on Twitter or find her on Facebook!


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12:38PM PDT on May 28, 2014

Brandon F.- You are 100% correct!

12:11PM PDT on May 1, 2013

I agree with Genoveva. It really isn't very hard to adjust. Our taste buds have been trained to enjoy meat, butter, eggs, etc. I have found that the longer I go without it, the less I think about it. I can honestly say that I no longer miss anything about animal-based foods. It does take a little time, but I want everyone to know that they can kick the meat. One thing that stumped me was knowing what to buy. I thought I'd be confined to corn, tomatoes, onion, green beans, and potatoes, lol. I had no idea how many foods I had been missing out on. My dishes now are more colorful, flavorful, and nutritional than ever before. Here's a helpful list to get you started:
Now, i just grab whatever and make my meals on the fly. Thanks for the tips Becky. It's people like you that make the transition much easier.

3:45PM PDT on Mar 20, 2013


3:38PM PDT on Mar 20, 2013

Fantastic starting-out tips here. As Shalvah says, when a culture's food traditions base themselves upon "meat and potatoes" or "meat and 3 veg" (as it is here), it's tricky turning it around. Just today, in Australia, I heard the question: "What is our national dish?". Answers by TV people included Roast Lamb, and Pie Floater (meat pie on top of pea soup - which, interestingly, I have never eaten!). I, personally, have had no difficulty excluding meat as such; my difficulties were with the egg and milk parts... I've now got there, but still working through it...never having been particularly food-oriented.

3:35PM PST on Dec 4, 2012

Signed the pettition

8:15PM PST on Nov 29, 2012

I am vegan and I know for a fact is not difficult to eat this way, and the more you cook vegan recipes, the more you learn, the more you like them, also you'll find it repulsive to eat recipes animal based as a final an morally right conclusion.
Love this article thanks you!

4:09PM PST on Nov 29, 2012

Signed and noted

2:17PM PST on Nov 29, 2012

Signed petition.

2:17PM PST on Nov 29, 2012

Great tips thanks.

10:12AM PST on Nov 29, 2012

Thanks for the tips.

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