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Curious about Veganism?

When I first started writing this, it was just meant to be a simple reply to a comment I received from someone interested in veganism (Hi Cecilia! *Waves*). But by the time I’d finished writing my answer to her question, I discovered I’d written so much that I should just turn my reply into a post! So here it is:

Hi Cecilia (and everyone else who is intrigued by veganism),

I can honestly say that going vegan was the best decision I ever made! I feel better (both physically and mentally), have so much energy all the time, and am just really happy with life in general. :)

I first became a vegetarian (cold-turkey… or cold-tofu?) in middle school, due to a love of animals, and had no intention of going vegan. I liked my ice cream and cheese too much! For the first month of being a vegetarian, I really did miss meat. But have you heard the saying “28 days to break a habit”? I think it’s true; after a month, I was surprised to find that the idea of eating meat suddenly seemed revolting to me.  Once I read up on factory farming and learned about the health drawbacks to dairy (and all the hormones and antibiotics they feed to the animals, which in turn end up in our bodies), I decided I really did want to be a vegan. One of the books that helped me realize this was John Robbins’ Diet for a New America.  And I started to see how odd it was that we’re the only species that drinks another species’ milk.  So I gave up dairy products for Lent after being a vegetarian for one year, and I never went back.

However… I know that the cold-turkey method doesn’t work for everyone. So maybe you’d want to start out by designating a few days a week to be a vegetarian or vegan. Then you could add more days as it gets easier. Or you might want to start by eating one vegan meal per day. Invest in at least one really good vegan cookbook, as well as one good book on nutrition. My go-to book whenever I have a vegan nutrition question is The Vegetarian Way, by Virginia and Mark Messina.

I think it’s probably harder to give up meat than it is dairy because of all the good-tasting dairy substitutes out there. Don’t try fake meat products expecting them to taste like real meat. Instead, maybe start out with meals that are vegetarian on their own, such as pasta with marinara or peanut sauce, coconut curry, veggie stir-fries with noodles, rice pilafs, soups or stews, peanut butter and banana sandwiches (or pb& j), bagels, cereal, baked potatoes with vegetarian baked beans, black bean fajitas, hummus sandwiches, chilis, etc.

Here’s a link to hundreds of completely vegan Healthy Dessert Recipes.

You can try foods like tempeh, but don’t treat them as a meat-substitute; rather as just another delicious and healthy food. Don’t worry about getting enough protein—as long as you get enough calories to meet your energy needs, you will be fine. In fact, many omnivores get too much protein, which can be a problem because protein leeches calcium from your bones! So not every meal has to have a protein component. Besides, grains and veggies actually have some protein, themselves. Plus, there are beans, nuts, nut butters, and foods like tempeh, seitan, soymilk, and tofu (crumbled up veggie burgers in stir fries are good too).

As for the dairy: a great ice cream alternative that even my non-vegan friends and parents like is Purely Decadent ice cream, especially the cookie avalanche flavor.  If you’e wary of soy, try the coconut milk-based ice cream from the SoDelicious company.  I find Tofutti ice cream to be too sweet, but I like Tofutti Better-n-Cream Cheese. I also love Amy’s brand Bistro or California burgers (much better than Boca, I think).  Milk alternatives abound these days, so don’t give up if you aren’t a fan of the first few you try.  I tried three brands of soymilk and two brands of ricemilk that were just ok before I fell in love with Almond Breeze or Silk almondmilk.  Many people also like Vanilla Rice Dream, which has a sweet taste. Oat milk, almond milk, hemp milk… there are so many “milk” choices that it’s just a matter of finding the right one (or two or three!) for you.  Most brands are also fortified with nutrients, so you’ll get the same vitamins as you would from cows’ milk (such as calcium).  Also, flavored soymilks are delicious, even to many non-vegans. Look for Silk spice latte, SoDelicious mint-chocolate, Silk coffee, etc.

If you’re in the UK or USA, Whole Foods Market is a great place to shop, filled with the aforementioned vegan products and more, such as vegan cookies, frozen waffles, and cakes. Or, if there isn’t a Whole Foods near you, just look for a health food store or a natural section of a regular grocery store. Regular grocery stores are becoming much more veg-friendly; you can even find healthy products in Wal-Mart these days.

As for eating out…

I wrote a long post here: Eat Out on a Special Diet

If you go to a party, you can offer to bring a main dish and/or a dessert so that you won’t feel left out when everyone else is eating cake. Most vegan cookbooks have great dessert sections (plus there are so many recipes online and on blogs, as I’m sure you’ve discovered!). If you’re hungry while at the mall, you can opt for a smoothie (make sure you get one without yogurt) or an Auntie Anne’s pretzel (ask them to hold the butter—they hear this request all the time from fat-wary customers).  And if you’re going out to a restaurant, maybe look at the menu ahead of time, and if there isn’t a vegan option, call the restaurant—many chefs are happy for the challenge of making a customized vegan dish (sometimes they get bored of making the same thing day in and day out). Or you can always come up with your own menu item by substituting. For example, if there’s a meat-y meal that comes with a side of veggies, you know that they have veggies. So you could ask for a baked potato or pasta with veggies, or a salad hold the cheese, etc. And go here to see if there are any vegetarian restaurants in your area.

There are so many amazing vegan products and recipes available nowadays that it’s possible to satisfy almost any craving you may have! Just search through my recipe page to see that a vegan diet definitely doesn’t need to be boring ;).

Any other craving I haven’t covered?  Just google “vegan ______” and you’ll probably be amazed by how much comes up!

I’ve probably given you way more info than you were expecting!  Hopefully some of this is helpful! Good luck on your adventure.  And even if you never make the switch to becoming completely vegan, cutting back on animal products at all is a great thing to do– for the animals and for your health. You are not any less wonderful of a person if you find it too hard to be 100% vegan, so never beat yourself up.

Every little bit that you can do helps, and every little person can make a big difference in this world!

Love,
Chocolate-Covered Katie

P.S. I’m always here to talk, both on the blog and the CCK Facebook Page.

 

Katie is the baker, photographer, and author of the popular blog Chocolate-Covered Katie. Her favorite food is chocolate, and she believes in eating a balanced diet that includes dessert every single day. More about Katie—> 
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  1. Romina says:

    Katie, that was amazing. I will point any omni interested in veganism to this post!

    I too did the switch almost cold turkey (or tofu, hehe). I actually never ate dairy or eggs much (except maybe cheese, but that was easy to give up because of its high quantity of saturated fats). For some people it’s impossible though, and transition is most definitely necessary. I think the problem is that the North American diets tend to revolve around animal protein. And I also noticed that “vegetarian” (non vegan) recipes seem so full of cheese or eggs to make up for it.

    Becoming a vegan is really a huge step for some people, and I hope whoever reads this is inspired. Not because all vegans want to convert the world, but because we care and every person who decides to eat even just LESS meat, is making a huge difference. HUGE. Everyone matters. Just like every animal matters. If we’re not vegans for animal compassion, we should be for our health.

    Again, this is fantastic Katie. I hope omnis everywhere read this and are inspired to give up eating animals, and think about what’s on their plate.

  2. kindkitchen says:

    Very cook post-I will definitely show this to any omni friends on the fence-thanks!

  3. kindkitchen says:

    haha cook=cool

  4. Vegyogini says:

    That is a fantastic letter, CCV! You presented a thorough, well-thought-out case for how easy it is to become vegan. I hope a lot of people read it and make the switch! Great work!

  5. Alison Nicole says:

    Girl, that was a fabulous answer and an intriguing one for any omnivore I would say! You hit all the great aspects of being a vegan/vegetarian. Even if someone chooses to be a vegetarian all the vegan products are an extra incentive to become one. I know from experience. Vegan food is so yummy, and it always surprises people. Also, lots of foods we eat everyday are vegan and most people don’t even know! Your post is definitely inspiring for me. Reading it made me so happy because you also mentioned some of my favorite vegan products! Good job, and as always, I LOVE YOUR BLOG!! Thanks for the inspiration, wisdom and sharing your light.

  6. Lizzy says:

    What a great post! I’m still a newbie to veganism so thanks a lot =)

  7. Cecilia says:

    Hi Katie :) Thank you so so much for your very GENEROUS advice, I even printed out your post and highlighted out all the tips n stuff!!

    I think the best way for me is to go lacto-ovo first then progressing slowly to be a full VEGAN!

    I’m actually really excited about this because I just love to bake, it would be funny to see my friends’ facial expressions when they realised that they just ate a tofu cake hehehehe…..*evil*

    Oh btw, I’m currently a soymilk drinker, I just LOVE LOVE LOVE the taste of soymilk – much better than milk actually! However, my tastebuds doesn’t agree on the taste of soy-yogurt :( Hrmm… cheese would be easy as I’m not a big fan of it!ok maybe except brie..hehe.. and as for soy ice cream – I’m yet to try one!!

    Take-out/dining out with my family would be a challenge because as you know they are all “omni”..and we always order abt 3 dishes and share it around…any tips on that? Two of my brothers are almost fully carnivorous so I don’t think they would be too thrilled if it was all “vegan” dishes that they’re eating…

    Last but not least, I live in Aus(Perth) so finding a ‘delicious’ vegan product could be a challenge…so any aus. vegan out there..pls HELP!! :)

    MANY THANKS TO ALL OF YOUR GREAT ADVICE…CHEERS..LONG LIVE VEGAN!!

  8. Melody Polakow says:

    Katie, what a wealth of information you gave you here! Thanks for taking the time to write this out and give her (and probably many people who read your blog) such wonderful tips.

  9. Jenny says:

    Great post! I am pretty new to being vegan, and I can totally relate to your post! I actually started out with the intention of eating vegan only one or two days a week, so I wouldn’t feel pressured. Also, that made sure I didn’t feel horrible if I “messed up” and forgot to check a label. However, the vegan foods are SO yummy and SO nutritious, (unless you are just eating newman-o’s 😛 ) that I didn’t miss any omni foods and I started eating vegan all the time, and then I was inspired to start my blog. I was so excited to share how delicious everything I was cooking was! I hope all omni’s get inspiration from your post, because you are absolutely right: even incorporating a few vegan meals into your weekly diet is a huge benefit to your health, the animals, and the environment!!

    Thanks for keeping all of us inspired and drooling for more!

  10. Jennifer says:

    I too found John Robbins’ book to be very eye opening. Even though I’m already a vegan, I just want to thank you so much for putting this out there. You, along with many other vegan bloggers I follow, lead by example, and show that veganism is not only tasty, but (in my opinion), the right way to live, ethically and environmentally. I think you’re advice would be just the thing for a mind wanting to know more about our lifestyle.

    I like that you don’t recommend everyone go veggie cold turkey. I actually did it gradually, as that’s what worked for me, but also know many people who just up and stopped eating meat. I think whatever works for you is best, if you are an all or none kind of person, go ‘cold tofu’ as you say, if you’re not a fan of drastic change, do it over time, with no pressure, timelines, any of that, only with the goal of eventually becoming vegan. You won’t set yourself up for failure that way.

    What a great beginner’s guide Katie! You rock!

    :-)

  11. Jess - The Domestic Vegan says:

    What a completely fantastic post!! So comprehensive & interesting. I’ve been asked by a few omnis (and vegetarians) in the past about the benefits of veganism & why I love it so much… I feel like my answers were “good,” but wow–this should be printed on a pamphlet & handed out to anyone at all interested–or not interested (yet). :) I’ve already “converted” (well, okay–had a hand in converting) 3 people (YAY!) to veganism, but this is amazing… I should be pushy & send it out in a mass email to everyone I know. 😉

  12. Cody says:

    Very nice. And as someone who took three months to fully become lacto-ovo, and another four years to manage veganism, I appreciate the fact that you don’t take the ‘one size fits all’ approach. So many people seem to think that zero-to-vegan is the only way to go. I’d admire those who did it, but there’s no reason to make the rest of us feel lazy or weak because we don’t work that way.

  13. DJ says:

    Very Well Put, Katie! As you point out, with so many options available it’s no longer a struggle to be a healthy, well-fed vegan! I mean look at us – we’re all OBSESSED with delicious food!

  14. regina says:

    I will join in with everyone else and say waht a great post! I think I’ll have my omni husband read this. It’s a great reference for anyone interested in becoming veg*n!

  15. Kati says:

    Solid advice – good job! I think the key to sticking with it is finding inspiration through books, websites, and blogs. Also, learning to cook for yourself is empowering no matter what your food preferences are – highly recommend that one.

  16. asmexyhousewife says:

    This is a good post! I like how you suggest to try vegan food that isn’t full of meat replacer. I think if more omnivores realized that a lot of “normal” foods that they probably have every day can easily be vegan-ized, it might not be as scary.

  17. Monika K says:

    Great advice, Katie! I like the idea about gradually eliminating meats and dairy from the diet (particularly for my omni family who have been more than willing to experiment right along with me). You might consider making this post a permanent link on your “sidebar.” Way to go!

  18. VegMomma says:

    Holy hannah banana, Batman!
    Great advice, Katie! I love that you are so not condescending!

  19. Bianca says:

    Yea for veggie advice!

    It took me ten years to go vegan. I actually made the change in celebration of my 10-year vegiversary. I gave up meat at age 14 after spending a week with my Indian friend’s family and eating yummy vegetarian Indian food. I realized that if she and her family could stay away from meat, so could I.

    Then 3 years ago, at age 24, I decided it was time to make the next step to veganism. Now, I can’t imagine how I ever ate cheese or drank milk!

    BTW, I just found out recently that Auntie Anne’s pretzels were vegan. I’d always assumed they were not, but I asked at the mall one day. It made me so happy! Thanks for reminding me. I think I’ll go get one this weekend!

  20. ChocolateCoveredVegan says:

    Cecilia,

    Haha, if you already like soymilk, then you have the hardest part done already ;o).

    Here are two vegan-friendly blogs (one is vegan, the other is mostly-vegan) that I read from people who live in Australia: http://travelingvegan.blogspot.com/
    and
    http://vegetationramblings.blogspot.com/

    Maybe they can be more helpful in sharing places to find products!

  21. aTxVegn says:

    Katie, what a wonderful and well thought out post. I went from omni to vegan, but like Romina never was into cheese and butter so it was easier for me. And then the new baking challenges were nothing but fun!

  22. pleasantly plump vegan says:

    well said!!! not preachy, stating the facts . . . just great!

  23. Happy Herbivore! says:

    this is fantastic CCV!

    f-a-n-t-a-s-t–i-c!

    I agree with you – some people can go cold tofu (me!) while other (like my husband) needed to wein both into vegetarianism and then into veganism… best decision i ever made.

  24. Mel says:

    Great post Katie ! Being a new vegetarian with the desire to go fully vegan, those are great tips. I cook mostly vegan meals at home, it’s when I’m out to people’s places that I find it difficult. Thanks, you’re an inspiration! :-)

  25. Rural Vegan says:

    I bow down before that post, CCV. Great info, and everything in your usual helpful, kind words.

    I urge anyone interested in veganism to check out all of our blogs! I can’t tell you how many people tell me they thought we all ate like rabbits until they checked out some blogs and saw firsthand the great food we get! It IS possible to eat amazing food, feel beyond satisfied, and be ethical at the same time. It’s a blessing, not a curse!

  26. Liz² says:

    Awesome job, this is exactly what people need to hear!

  27. Bonnie says:

    When I first read that comment by Cecilia asking for advice on your blog, I thought “Ha, you could write and entire post on that!”
    And you did! and a long post, too, full of good advice. I think I would’ve liked this when I was going vegan.

    Personally, I had more trouble giving up dairy (well, cheese, mostly) that meat. But then again, I was a vegetarian long before I thought about going vegan, and not eating meat has been the norm in our house for a long time. Cheese, on the other hand, is something my family has always been very fond of – so that made a difference, too. I found that the best way to stop eating cheese was going cold turkey, as well. Just stop thinking about it, as there’s (in my opinion) no good cheese substitute that actually tastes like cow’s milk cheese, and focus on other, more delicious foods!

    It’s all different for every person, though, and I think you’ve handled that very well in your post. I hope people searching for advice on going will find this post through search engines – it’s bound to be helpful!

    Oh, and thank you for commenting on the layout change on my blog :) I’m trying to customize it a bit, but unfortunately WordPress doesn’t have many options for that. Oh well!

  28. Veg*Triathlete says:

    This is really great advice, Katie! Solid and thoughtful – nicely done :-)

  29. Ricki says:

    Katie,

    A wonderful, very informative post! I think you present veganism in a really appealing, warm and accepting way for any omni who might be interested. And I agree with Monika, this would be a perfect post to put in the “permanent” list (sounds a bit like a tongue-twister, with all those p’s!!) 😉

  30. Ruby Red Vegan says:

    This post is such a fabulous resource! You’re such a positive influence for omnis, and this post helped me too. It linked me to your post on easy meals, which I just saw for the first time, and now I’m really excited to try a sweet potato burrito or a chik’n parmigiana sandwich. Yum!

  31. Veggie says:

    excellent post, lots of excellent suggestions.

  32. Vegan_Noodle says:

    You are so cool for taking the time to write all of that out!! What a great voice for veganism. I’m sure many other will find it useful as well.

  33. Ashasarala says:

    This was an awesome and informative post. I have a friend who is slowly making the change. When he’s ready, I’ll send him here.

    For me, learning how to cook and prepare foods was integral to becoming vegan. It’s not so necessary anymore with the demand of already prepared vegan foods on the market, but cooking really gives you a plethora of choices in what to have for dinner! I’m glad you mentioned cook books in there. They are my saviour! 😉

  34. Happy Herbivore! says:

    Katie –

    email me (happyherbivore@gmail.com) I want to publish this article on another website (not my blog). I’ll give you details over email – I want your permission to repost (we’ll give you credit!)

  35. Heather McD (Heather Eats Almond Butter) says:

    Thank you Katie. This is very helpful and encouraging. I’ve thought about veganism, but I love my Greek yogurt so much. Maybe someday…you’ve listed some great alternatives for my dairy obsession. Thanks again!

  36. abby of mia picolli piaceri says:

    Thank you so much katie for taking time to read my request. And oh, your very long post is indeed very helpful! I’ll take those in mind while I’m still starting out in my new “health advocy”. Keep posting 😉 Much love, Abby

  37. rhodeygirltests says:

    THANKS FOR THIS CCV. I also think it is really odd that we are the only species that consumes the milk of another, yet I can’t seem to give up yogurt and cheese!

    I try to eat 4 out of 5 mini meals a day that are vegetarian, but it has been a slow progression. Thanks for your tips!

  38. greenknittinggal says:

    Thanks so much for this Katie, I have been veggie since I was 17 ( 2 years now) but for the last few months have been thinking more and more about veganism, mainly for reasons of animal cruelty but also environment and health. I have cut out eggs and now have soy milk on my cereal, to drink and in cooking but still have some troubles with milk hidden in food. I.e I thought Green and Black’s dark choc which i eat every day was dairy free but it turns out it’s not! Also I start university in October and have meals provided and am unsure as to whether there will be vegan options. Any more tips?

  39. Annabel says:

    Wow, Katie! This was an amazing post full of great insight and practical, useful, information!

  40. nicole says:

    I’m so jealous.I’ve always wanted to become a vegan but it’s soooooooooo hard for me. I love cheese. ah!
    I’m already underweight even though I eat a lot like you.
    I’m 99 lbs and 5’4/ I’m also 16 years old. My parents are worried about my protein and meeting the proper nutrition requirements.

    Do you know any vegan cookbooks that can help me out?
    I’m already a vegetarian.
    =) i love your blog.btw

  41. Jessica says:

    This was just lovely, Katie. And I absolutely was beaming with proudness when you said it doesn’t matter where you are at in your lifestyle as long as we all understand that any reduction in the use of animal products helps out the animals and our health as well… Very well put!!!

    *Hug*
    Jes

  42. VegGal says:

    This was so sweet Katie! =) I’m vegetarian and am quite curious about gong vegan. I think I’m going to try it little by little every day. I’ve tried some seriously amazingly DELICIOUS vegan food already!

    I also love how you never once, NOT ONCE, attacked vegetarianism. Very sweet of you Katie. :)

    Keep it coming girl ~VegGal

  43. Just Audrey says:

    This is a great, very informative post. I especially appreciate the product recommendations. Thanks for posting this!!!

  44. Tricia says:

    Hey, i really like your website.
    I became a vegetarian when i turned fifteen, and i’m now sixteen, and for some reason everyone thinks i’m gonna give up or something lol. My brother says he’ll be “proud of me” if i ever eat meat again, but i have no desire to eat meat. (heck, i barely know how to cook it!) I’m also sort of a vegan. Like, i drink soymilk instead of regular, i try to order vegan dishes, and i stay away from cheese mainly because it upsets my stomach.
    Continue what you’re doing with this blog. it’s really cool :)

    1. Aw Tricia, thanks for such a sweet comment! And good for you for sticking up for your values! Someday, your brother will probably change his mind and be proud of you for being such a strong-willed person as to really fight for what you believe in! :)

  45. Oh my goodness, where has your blog been all my life?! Or…at least in the last couple of months as I’ve been dabbling in veganism. Your outlook and tips are just awesome – I’m finding that it’s not nearly as difficult as I expected, it just takes some research. And commitment. And people like you who show that it totally can be done in a healthy, FUN way.

    1. Aww, thanks so much for the sweet comment!!

  46. Hi Katie!
    I’ve stumbled across your blog through Kath’s website. (And I’m so glad I did!) I’ve been a vegetarian for about 3 years, and recently went vegan about 2 months ago. I really LOVE being vegan, but I also live in a small, southern (where everything is fried!) town and it’s hard for me to eat out. It’s become so much of a pain trying to find somewhere to go that I don’t even enjoy dining out anymore.
    Today I went to a steakhouse with my boyfriend’s family and ordered a cheesy, buttery dish just so I could get through the dinner and now my stomach is killing me.
    Have you ever done this? Backtracked for a night, only to be doubled over in stomach pain for the rest of the night?!
    Any suggestions for eating out? I tend to do fine at home, I have ordered and cooked from numerous vegan cookbooks! I just want to be able to enjoy a dinner out every once in a while :)
    Thanks, Stacey

    1. Hey Stacey!
      I’m so glad you found me!! :)
      I’ve actually never purposely eaten something non-vegan, but I did by mistake, once, at a restaurant. I felt AWFUL afterwards. It was so gross.

      If you’re going out to a restaurant, maybe look at the menu ahead of time, and if there isn’t a vegan option, call the restaurant—many chefs are happy for the challenge of making a customized vegan dish (sometimes they get bored of making the same thing day in and day out). Or you can always come up with your own menu item by substituting. For example, if there’s a meat-y meal that comes with a side of veggies, you know that they have veggies. So you can ask for a baked potato or pasta with veggies, or a salad hold the cheese, etc. And go to Happycow.net to see if there are any vegetarian restaurants in your area.
      Also, if you have a choice of where to go, always speak up (don’t say, I don’t care). Suggest an ethnic place, if you don’t want to suggest a fully-vegetarian one. Indian, Ethiopian, and Chinese all usually have good vegan options.
      And, if nothing else, you can always bring your own food. But I try not to call attention to my veganism when out with friends, family, or other non-vegans. I don’t want anyone to feel awkward, and also, sometimes it’s not all about me! Sometimes, I just don’t feel like getting into the debate, ya know? I want to talk about things other than my culinary inclinations. In my eight years as a vegan, I’ve learned that the best way to ensure you’ll get some vegan grub, hassle-free, is to call ahead. This is a good strategy for three reasons: One, you don’t have to call attention to yourself or seem “high maintenance” when the waiter is taking orders. Two, if they can’t accommodate your diet, you have time to make different arrangements. Three, it’s courteous to give the chef a heads-up so he/she can be better prepared. Plus, you’ll probably end up with something yummier if the chef knows in advance about your diet and is therefore able to brainstorm a meal for you.

  47. Ruby says:

    Hey Katie :)
    I just loved this post, its so inspiring.
    I’m a part time vegan, but full time vegetarian :)
    I’m almost 16 now, but I’ve been going vegan for a month every year for the last couple of years, and I actually look forward to it sometimes…weirdly enough…
    I don’t think I could go full time vegan because my favourite foods are ice cream, cheese, yoghurt and basically ICE CREAM!!! 😀 But I love going vegan for a month every year, and I’ll definitely replace some of my usual treats with vegan options from your blog.
    Thanks for being an inspiration!

    Ruby, Australia

    1. Haha I thought I couldn’t give up ice cream either! But there are SO many amazing alternatives that taste just as good, if not better (in America and England at leaast… I’m not sure about Austrailia because I’ve sadly never been). Thanks for such a sweet comment!

  48. Katie says:

    Hi Katie! I have a question. I just went off dairy b/c my daughter, who I am breastfeeding, seems bassist when i eat it. I also have always been a little intolerant of it, but never wanted to part with my favorite foods! It hasn’t been as bad going off dairy as I thought, thanks to your blog which I am so grateful that I discovered via pinterest. Anyway, I am not a huge meat fan but I enjoy it when I do eat it, mostly poultry (never been a huge fan of red meat) but I still can see the health benefits of not eating all those meats, ESP. Considering farming practices these days. Anyway, my real problem with going vegan (which has piqued my interest now that I am off dairy) is that I hate beans (unless it’s hummus or any of your bean baked goods that is!!). To me it seems that unless you eat lots of beans you won’t really get enough protein and it would be hard to survive as a vegan. Any thoughts, suggestions, or advice?? It would be much appreciated!

    1. Hey Katie!
      Good news: I really don’t eat very many beans! At all. (Haha that coming from a girl who puts them in blondies!) And I don’t do the “fake meat” thing either. It is definitely possible (and not hard) to do a vegan diet without beans. You actually don’t even need to worry about protein, because as long as you’re getting enouch calories to meet your energy needs, it’s almost guaranteed you’ll get enough protein! In fact, the average American gets too MUCH protein, and that’s one of the reasons why we have such a high prevelence of osteoporosis (one of the highest, even though we also have one of the highest amounts of dairy consumption). Too much protein leeches calcium from the bones an can overtax the kidneys as well. If you look at a country like Japan, they eat very little dairy, and yet their prevelence of osteoporosis is almost non-existent compared to ours. So, as long as you get enough calories, you’d be surprised at how fast the protein grams add up: a cup of cooked oatmeal has 6 grams! Even a cup of spinach has 5! Here’s a good article I just googled, which lists protein amounts in certain vegan foods. But, as I said, you really don’t even need to worry about it as long as you’re getting enough calories. I probably eat beans only like once or twice a week.
      http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/protein.htm

      You definitely don’t have to do it cold turkey, though! Maybe try going vegan just a few nights a week, or for one entire day a week… that way you won’t get overwhelmed and have absolutely no idea what to eat every day. Sorry for the long, rambling comment! Hopefully it was somewhat helpful :).

      1. Ashley says:

        Thanks so much for this! I don’t have plans to become a full-on vegan or vegetarian, but I definitely want to move much, much closer to that lifestyle. But I’ve also had problems because I too hate beans! (So glad to have found a kindred spirit! :)) I recently cut out (most) processed food and can already tell a big different from that in the way I feel, but want to move more in the vegetarian direction.

        I think one of the hardest things is to find vegetarian/vegan recipes that don’t include beans. I’m definitely going to have to try out some of your non-dessert recipes. Thanks for those and for the link with the protein info! That’s definitely helpful.

  49. Katie says:

    Um weird auto-correct… “bassit” was gassy in my previous post up there.

  50. Erin says:

    Great post!! I eat almost no meat as it is and the only dairy I eat is greek yogurt (mostly for the probiotics). I love all your recipes, have made many with great success and am slowly getting closer to taking the plunge :) Thanks for an encouraging post (and for all your amazing recipes)!!

    1. Ruth says:

      I recently went basically vegan, inspired by reading some essays by John McDougall, the doctor from Forks Over Knives. I was considering adding back yogurt for the probiotics, then learned that there are vegan foods that have the: tempeh, miso, sauerkraut, and kimchi, a Korean food that’s basically really spicy sauerkraut. Even the ‘mild’ store bought kimchi is spicy! Just putting that out there in case, like me, you didn’t know all those foods had probiotics.

  51. Bee says:

    Hi Katie!

    I really want to be vegan, but IDK how to structure the diet so that it is healthy, well-balanced, and not high in carbs (I’m struggling with candida, so my sugar/carbs HAVE to be low…I also have issues with grains—my body just doesn’t handle them well!). Any suggestions? I’m underweight, so I really need to regain my muscle back! Do u have a food log that u post?

    Thanks!!!! :-)

    1. Hi Bee,

      I don’t have a food log. Sorry :(. If you can, talk to a nutritionist. Or, find a good book with sample meal plans. “The Vegetarian Way” by Virginia Messina is a great book, and it has sample ideas for people with different special dietary needs. I’m sure there are others, though. Good luck!!

  52. Jasmine says:

    It was very interesting to read about your decision(s) to become a vegetarian and then vegan. I’ve considered both vegetarianism and veganism since I became aware of how badly animals are treated in the food industry, but always assumed veganism was too difficult to stick to. Also, being a pastry chef means I am familiar with cows milk, eggs, cream, butter etc. and I couldn’t imagine my life without those things. But thanks to your recipes and some articles I’ve been reading, I’ve realised there are alternatives available so I can still enjoy baking without using animal derived ingredients.

    And the icing on the vegan cake is that veganism improves our health and wellbeing. No wonder there are so many coeliacs and lactose intolerant people out there; we’ve been eating things that are slowly destroying our digestive systems.

    Now that I’ve decided to wholeheartedly try veganism, I won’t miss meat because I never really liked it that much, and thanks to your recipes I won’t miss cows milk, eggs, butter etc either :)

    Thank you Katie! 😀

    1. Good luck! I think it’s so awesome you’re a pastry chef… I bet you can come up with amazing dairy-free desserts. Too bad you can’t send me some through the computer screen ;).

  53. Inge says:

    Hey Katie,
    I’ve bin a vegetarian for about a year and a half now, and i am concidering going vegan, but first i have to concince my mom. She barly agreed me being vegetarian, I am only 14 so she wants me to wait till I live on my own. Any tips to change her mind?
    btw I loveeee your blog, especially the secret penut butter cookies :-)

    1. Do a lot of research and show her that you can still be healthy as a vegetarian. If you can, try to find a nutritionist or ask your doctor to reassure her that many girls are vegetarians even from birth, and they’re perfectly healthy :). It’s good to have answers to all the questions/concerns she might have, such as where you’ll get protein. A good idea is to buy a book (or find one at a library) that has sections on vegetarian nutrition. I like “The Vegetarian Way” but there are many on the market nowadays!

      1. Inge says:

        Thank you soo mutch for these tips,
        I will definitely use them, i’ll go to the library right now :-)

  54. Mikamena says:

    I had a very close friend who was vegetarian (not vegan) when I was in high school and I always wondered how she could not eat meat. Now, having been forced to sit through the film Food Inc. in one of my lectures, I began to wonder… how could I? Of course, before delving into full-fledged Vegetarianism, I will finish all of the food in my fridge, but I think I would like to cut down on meat overall. I’m not sure if Veganism is for me, but I’m definitely wavering toward giving up meat for a change.

  55. Katie says:

    When I was in my early 20’s I cut out all red meat and pork, only ate chicken and fish on occasions, but ate tons of dairy. Then after about a year something possessed me to have a hamburger. Not sure what happened, but that was the end. Now I’m in my mid 30’s I have become lactose intolerant and have also realized that dairy is what makes my face breakout worse than when I was a teenager. When I cut out dairy not only does my face look amazing, but I feel great. The best way for me to describe how I feel is that I “float.” I have always been a cheese and yogurt addict. The rest of the animal products I can give up easily. I really want to convert.
    My biggest problem is my boyfriend is a huge meat eater and hates all veggies except corn and peas. I am a full time student, full time mom and full time “wife” with very little time for anything else. I do all the cooking. If I don’t, then we get take out. Any suggestions on how to convert while living with a meat eater?

    1. Honestly, I don’t know because I’ve never been in that situation… If my roommate wants meat, she’ll cook it for herself. She’s so happy when I cook for her that she’s just grateful I’ve made ANYthing. Beggers can’t be choosers ;). I’m sure there must be a book about your situation, though… or I found this: http://www.myveganplanet.com/vegan-information/vegan-advice/my-partner-is-a-meat-eater/

  56. Ashton says:

    I have been interested in the vegan lifestyle for a while. I try to make sure my family eats as many natural, minimally processed foods as possible. I have been hard-pressed to find any natural prepacked or meat-substitute foods. Is this a common issue? Can natural and vegan go together without having to resort to eating just a bowl of vegetables for every meal?

    1. Beans, legumes, tofu, nuts, seeds, nut butters… :) :)

  57. Jessica says:

    Hi Katie! How do you get healthy fats? You know, the kind that works for your hair?

    1. Oh lots of ways :).
      I wrote more about that here: http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2011/03/23/do-you-want-shiny-and-healthy-hair/

      But in short, nuts, seeds, coconut oil, olive oil, nut butters, etc.

  58. LangLang says:

    Hi Katie!
    So for a few years I’ve been thinking about going vegetarian, I hate to think about how the animals are treated and uh killed. Usually I only eat meat during dinner (when my mom cooks) and occasionally eggs and almost never drink regular milk. I was wondering if you think that a person can still be considered vegetarian even if she eats eggs from free range chickens? I can’t really ask my mom to change everyone in my family’s diet by not making meat or anything with eggs, and I’m fine with making something else for the meat, but the eggs would be the hardest part.

    1. Yes, definitely! It’s all about living as compassionately as possible, not about trying to fit into a definition! :)

  59. Colette says:

    Honestly, God created the animals for human consumption and nourishment (see Genesis 1-3). I don’t believe there is anything wrong with eating them.

    1. Jasmine says:

      hi Colette :)
      Personally I agree with you that animals should be eaten, (from a nutritional perspective) but I thought I would point out that not all people are religious so using bible references to prove your point is a waste of time. Vegans and vegetarians aren’t doing anything wrong by God by avoiding animal products so there is no need to bring religion into it.
      I also want to mention that there is nothing wrong with trying vegetarian or vegan food sometimes. Even if you usually eat animal products you could try some of Katie’s recipes just for something new and different :) it’s very interesting and a fun challenge to make food with new ingredients :)

      1. Anonymous says:

        Some also do it for health reasons. Most saturated fats come from animal products.

    2. Hi Colette,
      I think most vegans are more against the cruel way animals are treated (on factory farms) during their lives than the actual fact that they’re eaten.

      1. Jasmine says:

        From my understanding, vegans and vegetarians are also concerned about the environment and the negative effects that animal rearing can cause to the earth. True vegans have many reasons why they choose their lifestyle.There is a lot more to it than just ‘God made animals for us to eat’.

  60. Rebekah says:

    Hi Katie
    I think I discovered your coconut bars on Pinterest when I was just starting the South Beach diet. But I wasn’t happy about the artificial sweeteners in general and discovered Engine 2 Diet. They advocate vegan plus minimal salt/oil/sugar. Anyway, today I saw your no bake chocolate cookies and came back here only to realize you’re a vegan! Hooray! I’m loving your recipes, and excited and feeling so good being animal-free, but I’m looking to find ways around SOS. :) Thanks for your fun blog!

    1. Aw thanks, Rebekah! And good luck with your new vegan adventures… I promise it gets so much easier (and more fun)!

  61. Sarah Lang says:

    Hi Katie! I really appreciate this post. I became a lacto-ovo-vegetarian back in November of last fall, and I’ve toyed with the idea of veganism. I haven’t been able to let go of my dairy and eggs, but I haven’t eaten meat or seafood in 5 months, and really don’t have any future desire to do so. When thinking about veganism, there have just been a couple things that have held me back from converting over.

    1) I’m a junior in college, with 3 more years of school ahead of me. However, I feel that the healthier I eat, the more expensive my grocery bill becomes! At Wegmans (my local grocery store), I asked the cashier, “Anything on Shopper’s Club?” and their response was, “No, you eat too healthy to get the Shopper’s Club savings.” EXACT WORDS. It seems that the healthier, clean, whole, natural, RAW foods are more expensive, while the processed, cheap, crap that can sit on the shelf for millions of years and not go bad is buy one get one free, 50% off, etc. etc. etc. I guess what I’m saying is that I’m afraid of going vegan because of how much more expensive my grocery bill could be! For example, my eggs for breakfast are so cheap! I would need to replace it with something like a tofu scramble I suppose. Vegan options just seem much more expensive which is disheartening!

    2) Some social situations are already so difficult being vegetarian! My boyfriend is VERY tolerant and even made me homemade eggplant parm for me for Valentine’s Day, and will happily eat veggie stir fry, cauliflower pizza, or other vegetarian-friendly options when we cook together. But sometimes, literally the only thing I can order off a menu is the chef salad and a side of cottage cheese, because every single menu item contains meat and/or seafood. People that I am close to think about my vegetarianism and take it into consideration when preparing meals or planning events, but it’s those spur-of-the-moment trips to a chicken wing joint that leave my stomach grumbling.

    I guess my question to you would be – how do you keep a fulfilling and healthy vegan diet without going bankrupt? What are some of your staples that are cheap and easy to keep around the house? And what are your best tactics for dealing with tricky social situations?

    Your blog is such an inspiration to me! I have combed through your site with a fine-tooth comb, made so many of the recipes, and share them with others. I don’t eat meat or seafood, and almost always drink almond milk rather than dairy. I hope that my efforts as a vegetarian are still admirable even though I’m not a complete vegan, and I really value your insight, opinions, and sharing of your personal experiences!

    Thank you :)

  62. Keila says:

    Hello!

    Thank you so much, this article was extremely helpful. I am new to veganism (as of January this year), although I do “cheat” every once in awhile. This is because at school, there are very few food options. I was wondering if you knew or had any ideas of how to make the transition easier for a college student. I was wondering if you know of any cheap, easy, meals, with ingredients that I could keep in my fridge and make when the school has no other options. Perhaps a series of meals that all include the same approximate ingredients.

    I love that you have such a positive view on food. It is very refreshing.

    Thank you very much for your consideration,

    Keila

  63. Caitlin says:

    Katie, I’m really inspired by your story. Over the past couple of years, from learning about animal testing and the downfalls of meats and dairy, it’s really made me want to become vegan, or vegetarian to start. I’ve become lactose intolerant and I’ve never liked eggs so how far off is it?

  64. Ryann says:

    HI Katie,

    You have a great blog, I’m so glad to find so many vegan recipes in one place!
    I’m newly vegan and am looking for a great soy-free non-gmo meal replacement powder and was wondering if you’ve tried Vega One and, if so, what you thought of it. Any other tips on getting enough vitamins/fats/protein would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks!
    Ryann

  65. trajayjay says:

    Some vegans annoy me because they act like eggs are really bad for you. They claim that they are too high in cholesterol (the link b/t dietary and blood cholesterol has been delegitimized) and too high in saturated fat (they only have 1.5 g per egg).

    They also say that they have no fiber, and are therefor bad. But, we like fiber because it slows down the absorption of carbs. And this is especially important because we all know how high in carbs eggs are *sarcasm*. And unless you are only eating eggs, you can get enough fiber from other food sources. In fact, no foods contain all the necessary nutrients.

    They, according to them are also too high in protein and will give you kidney disease. Once again, that’s only if you eat too many.

    You, I actually respect, because you don’t demonize anyone else’s eating habits, and you’re not snobby about other people’s diets.

  66. Bethany says:

    Hey Katie!
    So I am very interested in becoming vegan, but I’m not sure my parents would let me. You see I am almost 16 and I live with my parents, and in the past I have struggled with anorexia, I eat a lot now. I have a very fast metabolism and I find myself eating unhealthy foods in order to not lose weight. So I guess my question is do you have any suggestions for talking to my parents about becoming vegan? I really want to be healthy, I have danced since I was 5 and dream about doing it professionally. I think becoming vegan would be very good for that because it would help me to stay healthy, and eat healthy.
    Okay so I probably gave more information than you needed, but any advice you could give me, or anyone else could give would be amazing!
    Thanks so much!
    Bethany

  67. Ruth says:

    Wish I could be vegetarian/vegan but my parents wouldn’t let me because they’d say I would get too thin and my sister doesn’t like me being healthy (she actually said that, yes, it ‘worries’ her) Any tips?