When a person first becomes vegan, it can be a little overwhelming trying to figure out what vegan ingredients to have on hand or what recipes to try. One good way to transition is to focus on the vegan foods you already eat, but increasing the amounts. Do you like fruit? Excellent! Don’t just eat one banana or one watermelon slice, have four or five. Having rice and beans for supper? Just add a serving.
Substitutions offer another way to ease into veganism. If you already like curry chicken, just omit the meat, and add tofu. Love lasagna? Use your same recipe, only with vegan cheese. Making vegan chili can be as simple as omitting the meat and adding extra beans, mushrooms and other veggies. Always remember, when you substitute vegan ingredients for meat, you’re getting higher nutritional value and lower saturated fats.
Now that you’re a vegan, you also get to try out some nutrient-dense foods that you may never have never had. Quinoa (pronounced keen’wah), is an excellent source of vegan protein and calories, and can also be served hot with sautéed veggies, or in a cold salad with dried fruit and lemon juice. Cooked lentils make a super meal, packed with iron and calories, and delicious with only curry spice. Cubed eggplant simmered with sautéed tofu, onions and turmeric will satisfy your hunger and provide ample protein, calcium, Vitamin C and many other nutrients.
If you’re looking to include high calorie vegan foods to replace animal products, there are plenty of delicious options available. Avocados, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds all provide plenty of calories and can be the base of many awesome vegan recipes.
Some folks like to begin their vegan journey by replicating meat using soy-based meat products. While these vegan foods are still highly processed and not the best nutritionally, they can help a long-term meat-eater transition to veganism. Bacon, sausage, turkey and other meats are replicated using soy, pea proteins, salt and other plant ingredients to help you feel like you are still eating meat.
Once you’ve increased the vegan foods you already eat, made some substitutions and included ‘new to you’ plant foods in your diet, you will quickly build your vegan ‘repertoire’ and be ready to try new vegan recipes.
Bliss in my Belly!
Chef Neelam Patil
Chef Neelam is creating quite a stir in Berkeley and around with her Bliss Belly Kitchen. Using only the best ingredients to deliver a nourishing, caring, delicious meal, she cares not just about nourishing the body, but about the soul too! Chef Neelam loves to source directly from farmers and wants to bring more and more people into connection with the local land. Prior to starting this, Neelam cooked in some of the best vegan restaurants in NYC and was Guest Chef at the International Center for Meditation and Well Being in Boone, NC. She has been studying meditation with her teacher, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for the past 14 years. Serving all Organic & Vegan meals to all of East Bay once a week, Chef Neelam is one to watch for!