About a week after my son was born, my husband and I were sitting watching Netflix. We were sleep deprived and decided to watch a newer documentary that came out called “What the Health.” About 30 minutes into this documentary , we were both wanting to live a more plant-based diet.
Budget has always been a necessity to our lives. We have never made tons of money and have always had to watch how we spent. Cutting traditional protein/animal products out of our diet has actually made eating well a bit more budget friendly.
I decided to become a vegan and am now 3 months in. If you haven’t watched the documentary, I recommend it. Listen — I’m not against meat. I do think we have a lot of bad practices here in the States. I do think that Cows are ruining our atmosphere — in terms of how we raise them. I do think we all eat WAY too much meat. But — again — if you do , there’s no shame in it. That’s not why I went vegan and I’m not here to judge. I just decided that for my own dietary desires, I wanted to give this plant – based life a go.
And let me tell you — I love it. I’ve never felt better.
I am not what I would call a “philosophical” vegan. I eat honey. (gasp) I know. I sometimes will eat a baked good that someone put an egg into. My goal was to cut out dairy and animal proteins. I was already milk free and Gluten free. I just added these to the list. I wanted more vegetables and fruits in my life. These were my goals — and veganism has allowed me to do that. I stick to it at home 100% — and when I go out, sometimes I have to make a tiny concession — like something is cooked in butter instead of oil. I don’t freak out. It happens. I just wanted to use the Vegan lifestyle to guide my eating habits ; to shape them to be more plant- based.
So here is why I enjoy being Vegan :
I get way more veggies in my life than I normally would.
I FEEL amazing. My skin, hair, nails, look great. ( I think , and have been told :)) I never get that “after meal” schlump – where you’re tired and blood sugars are all over the place.
Has expanded my cooking/baking skills. I’ve learned so many new “hacks” that I otherwise wouldn’t have ever known. I love to expand my cooking skills and this has challenged me to do so.
I wanted to provide some “how to’s” when it comes to trying out a more plant-based diet. So I came up with a list of ingredients to keep on hand. These are Vegan staples that you should keep in your cabinet. I provided links to purchase these items as well!
1.) Nutritional Yeast : This product is used to create any Vegan cheeses pretty much. You will find it in TONS of Vegan recipes. So make sure to have it on hand. It offers a lot of B12 to your diet. (Something many Vegans can lack) . I like Bob Mill’s Brand. You can buy it here : Bob’s Red Mill Large Flake Yeast, 8 Ounce
2.) Cashews : You will find that theses are used to make a lot of Vegan sauces or to make cheeses. You soak them in most recipes for a few hours before using. Buying them in bulk in necessary. You’ll use them so often. Check these out Kirkland Signature Cashews, 40 ounce
3.) Flax Meal : When you cut out animals products but you still want to bake, you need alternatives. Flax meal is used not only as a flour sub, but as an egg substitute. You can make Flax Eggs with Flax meal and water. You will see this used in pretty much every Vegan baking recipe. I also love Bob’s Red Mill brand. You can get it very affordably. You’re going to want this in bulk as well. Trust me. Bob’s Red Mill Organic Brown Flaxseed Meal, 32-ounce (Package May Vary)
4.) Spices : So when baking and cooking with a lot of veggies, having a loaded spice cabinet is a must. Some spices that you see over and over again in Vegan cooking I provided below.
- Smoked Paprika : I had never cooked with this until I became Vegan. I notice it in a lot of recipes. I like Trader Joe’s brand and you can get it here in Amazon. Trader Joe’s Smoked Paprika
- Ground Cloves
- Onion + Garlic Powder
- Ground Mustard : This is another I never really used before. This can pop up from time to time in recipes and has been really nice to have on hand. Simply Organic Mustard Seed Ground Certified Organic, 3.07-Ounce Container
- Chili Powder
- Cayenne Pepper
- Cardamom : You see this in a lot of curry dishes that are Vegan. Expensive spice — but so tasty and good to have in your repertoire. McCormick Gourmet Organic Ground Cardamom, 1.75 oz
- Thyme, Parsley, and Oregano
- Vanilla for baking
This covers pretty much what is in my spice cabinet right now, and I find that I am almost never having to go buy anything for recipes and have what I need on hand.
5.) Oats — a lot of Vegan baking using oats. I am Gluten Free as well, so I like to buy GF oats. If you are like me, check these out. Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Quick Cooking Rolled Oats, 32-ounce (Pack of 4)
6.) Milk alternatives : So obviously you now need an alternative to milk for baking and recipes. I love the Coconut/Almond blend from Califia. We buy it from BJs. I couldn’t find the blend on Amazon, but here is the link to purchase the Almondmilk version in bulk. Califia Farms Almondmilk, Creamy Original, 48 Ounce (Pack of 8)
7.) Vegan Butter : This is helpful for cooking or baking. I love the brand Earth Balance. I couldn’t find their butter spreads on Amazon , but they sell them at Whole Foods, Earth fare, and other health food stores. They have a soy free option as well and I find them to be very reasonably priced. Here is a link to their website.
So that will get you to a great start! There are obviously lots of things I could add, but these are the staples to building your cabinet and fridge up!
Blogs and Recipes
Now onto my favorite blogs for recipes. I have a few websites that I frequent every week when I am going to plan my meals. These are absolute treasure websites. They have made going Vegan so much easier!
1.) The Minimalist Baker : This wife/husband duo hacks recipes like lasagna, fried foods, cakes, brownies, soups, etc. They find staples that you might miss and they find a way to make them plant-based. They’re amazing!! I eat 3-6 of their meals per week. NO JOKE Check them out! Also almost all of their meals are 10 ingredients or less. LOVE.
2.) The Full Helping : This website also serves as inspiration for our menu each week. She has an amazing Vegan Mac and Cheese. I mean it’s better than regular mac and cheese. I AM SERIOUS. We love it. If you want Veganism made possible : check her out.
3.) Cookie and Kate : So Kate is a vegetarian, not a Vegan. BUT a lot of her recipes she offers tips on how to tweak them to be Vegan, Gluten Free, etc. We’ve eaten off her recipe list a lot as well!
This is where I would start , and you may not really need to look further. I have barely tapped into these websites — because they’re constantly putting out new recipes, and I’ve been a Vegan for 3 months.
If you have any questions about tips or tricks of starting to eat a more plant-based diet, PLEASE comment. I am happy to answer! Also, if you have little ones (mine is 3 months old) — I will be leading him into a Vegan/GF life when he starts eating solids. So I will continue to update our adventure with kid friendly recipes as he grows!