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What I've learned about being vegan for a week:

1) Get ready to do a lot of reading. Between looking up vegan recipes for the food that I wanted to eat as well as reading ingredient labels in the supermarket, there's a surprising amount of reading for this lifestyle. I have to look up whether certain brands of bread or yogurt were considered vegan (since it's not specified on the label but a quick look-through of the ingredients confirmed that all of them were plant-based), so I've even had to read message boards (shudder) and r/vegan (double shudder)

2) Unless you want to pay a lot of money for pre-made and highly processed vegan meals, be sure to have enough time for meal-prep and actual cooking. This past week, I made a lot of food at home, which is the optimal situation for a baby vegan, I think. While the actual recipes aren't difficult, there's a lot of pre-cooking preparation that needs to be done, such as peeling and cutting vegetables, soaking beans and grains, etc.

For me, what helped was that when I realized this was the situation, I just went ahead and made a big batch of that recipe so that I could eat it for several meals. Like, when I prepped the butternut squash for the pasta sauce, I peeled and cut the entire thing, roasted all of them in the oven and then separated the squash for portions for the sauce and another portion just to eat as roasted vegetables. The nice thing about this procedure is that the vegetables actually stay okay in the refrigerator for a few days (and could even be put in the freezer for future use) and actually taste better the day or two after they're cooked.

3) Learn to love different spices and condiments. I have a new affinity for nutritional yeast. Before this week, I've only used it in popcorn but I've since learned that it's an acceptable cheese replacement. So, each time I made pasta with a vegan sauce, I would top it with a good handful of nutritional yeast and just be so happy.

4) The blender will become your friend. Between making sauces and smoothies, I think I use my blender several times a day.

4a) A smoothie is a great way to load up on greens. Add more vegetables than fruits to your smoothie otherwise you're just consuming liquid sugar calories.

5) Most vegan food looks gross but is actually far more delicious than its non-vegan equivalent.

6) Carbs will be your friend. I love pasta and bread but I think to get the optimal outcomes from the vegan lifestyle, I need to moderate the amount of carbohydrates I consume. I should really pile on the salads and grains a lot more.

7) A lot of vegan food and ingredients can be pricey, so be prudent in the grocery and don't buy every single thing if you don't need it at the moment or don't know how to use it or if you don't know if you'll like it.

7a) Try at least one new vegan product each time you go food shopping so you'll get a sense of what you like and what you don't. For me, the So Delicious coconut yogurt is a NO, but the Silk yogurt (despite not being certified vegan) is a big fat yes.

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reika

August 2017

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