Eating Vegan for Beginners

Tips on Vegan Eating and How to Start Easily

Eating Vegan for Beginners

Eating Vegan for Beginners

Have you thought about giving a vegan diet a go but feel a little overwhelmed with all of the information out there? Does it seem impossible to live without cheese or get enough protein without animal products?

Don’t despair! A vegan diet doesn’t have to be about what you don’t eat; it can be about all of the delicious plant-based foods that you do eat!. With a little bit of know-how, you can cut out the animal products without breaking the bank or feeling deprived.

Creating Balanced, Vegan Meals, Even on a Budget

While you can certainly break the bank buying fancy-pants vegan foods, you don’t have to spend a lot to eat vegan. In fact, if you avoid pricey, processed vegan foods you’ll probably see your food spending go down when you cut out the meat. Here are some examples of inexpensive, tasty foods that won’t kill your budget:

  • Beans. Beans are protein superstars. They’re also cheap, filling, and easy to prepare. If you’re on a very tight budget, dried beans are a great way to stretch your food dollars.
  • Whole Grains. Grains are easy to prepare, and generally pretty inexpensive. If your local market sells grains in their bulk bins, there’s a good chance you’ll find the best deals there.
  • Fresh fruits and veggies. A good way to stock your kitchen with inexpensive, fresh produce is to join a CSA or check out your local farmer’s market. Local Harvest is a great resource to help you track down fresh, locally-grown produce near you.
  • Meat and Dairy Substitutes. I think of these as more of a sometimes food, with the exception of almond milk, since fake meat and dairy products can be pricey and they’re not always a healthy choice, either. For a quick meal, though, or to satisfy a craving, there are lots of faux options out there. I recommend Daiya non-dairy cheese, Field Roast brand sausages, and Tofurkey cold cuts, if you’re new to the meat and dairy substitution thing.

Your best resource for planning vegan meals is a cookbook or website with lots of vegan recipes. Check out the resources section below for some recommendations.

Planning Vegan Meals

Planning vegan breakfasts, lunches, and dinners might seem tricky at first. Here are a few options to get you going!

  • Breakfast. Toast with peanut butter and coffee with almond milk, oatmeal with walnuts and raisins topped with a splash of rice milk, whole grain cereal with almond milk and sliced banana.
  • Lunch. Fresh veggie sandwich with avocado, tomato, sliced onion, and spicy mustard on whole wheat toast, veggie burger with a side of oven fries, pasta salad loaded with fresh veggies and beans
  • Dinner. A veggie loaf (see the resources below!), grilled eggplant in tahini sauce with a side of mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli, tofu stir fry with your favorite veggies over brown rice or noodles, roasted veggies tossed with chick peas in a sesame vinaigrette

Eating Vegan Resources

We’ve got some great resources to help you make the leap over at Eat Drink Better, and there are a few other places that I’ve found incredibly helpful when it comes to vegan meal-planning and finding vegan nutrition information.

  • At Eat Drink Better, our Eating Vegan series answers questions from how to live without cheese to how to fuel your vegan workout.
  • Looking for vegan nutrition information? The Vegan R.D. is my go-to for any questions in that arena. Ginny Messina is a vegan dietician and gives straightforward, honest information about all manner of vegan nutrition issues.
  • This might seem super specific, but I’d be lost without The Magical Loaf Studio. This tool from Vegan Lunch Box helps you create delicious veggie loaves using what you have handy in the kitchen right now. Perfect for whipping up a meal when the cupboard is bare!
  • Need vegan recipes? Some of my favorite sites include, The Post Punk Kitchen, Manifest Vegan (especially helpful if you’re also gluten free), and Fatfree Vegan. If cookbooks are more your thing, check out Veganomicon, Eat Vegan on $4 a Day, and Vegan Lunchbox for some great vegan cooking inspiration!
  • To shop for vegan specialty foods, you can check out stores like Whole Foods or Trader Joes. Online, I highly recommend Cosmo’s Vegan Shoppe. It’s based here in Atlanta and run by two of my favorite local vegan peeps.

This has been a guest blog post for Planet Matters and More. Guest blogger Becky Striepe is site director at Eat Drink Better, a site focused on the health, social, and environmental impacts of our food choices.

[Photocredit: Cyn74]

5 Responses to Eating Vegan for Beginners

  1. What about vegan products I have the most trouble with those.

  2. I’m super confused about this whole topic. I recently started the vegan lifestyle or diet. I was feeling much better physically and lost about 13lbs in 2 months. I have about 35lbs to lose and my weight loss has stopped. I’ve also been getting more and more bored with the food I’m eating. Just eating Vegan isn’t enough, it has to be fat-free vegan and the very few recipes I’ve been able to find online do not make sense to me. They’re expensive and some of the ingrdients I’ve never heard of let alone know where to get them. My budget for food is not as much as I’d like it to be. If I eat one more salad I’m going to throw up! I need some serious inspiration and ideas here! I don’t know anyone who has the information I need, and am hesitant to discuss any of it with a nutritionist…as well I don’t know of any vegan nutritionists! Maybe I’m asking too much? Fat-free or low-fat vegan meals that taste good?? Someone please help, I do not want to go back to eating animal products!

  3. This is really helpful info, thank you!! My biggest concern as a newbie is how to deal with special occasions (when fam/friends throw a party, xmas dinners, weddings etc.) and the vegan choices are slim to none. Also… I have a hubby who is NOT willing to go vegan. Ever. Any advice?

  4. Tori (age 12)

    My Mom and sister are becoming vegan/vegetarian. I’m ok with this its their life, and I think Ill try to eat less meat. The only problem is at school the never have vegan or vegetarian lunches (though the “Meat” they have probably comes from dumpsters). I cant afford to pack my lunch everyday either. At home its hard to make sandwiches to eat because peanut butter makes me throw up. Other than that all we have is lunch meat. DO you have any ideas for either of these? Thanks 🙂

  5. Hello: I am a 68 year old senior. Believe in keeping in shape. I have a heart condition and I need to keep in good health and my weigh down. Right now I am 15 pounds overweight. My question is would the Vegan diet be good for me. I don’t want a diet. What I want is to eat for my health. Since I still work I need to be at my best and with plenty of energy. Also keep my stress down.

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