Are you curious about Vegetarian and Vegan diets but slightly intimidated?
You can keep following me on this blog for tips on how to do both without burning a hole in your wallet (yes, eating healthy is exciting and isn't expensive) and you can check out other awesome plant-based blogs such as Minimalist Baker, Fancy Plants Kitchen, Twist of Lemons, and Oh She Glows just to name a few.
There are also a handful of fantastic, user friendly vegetarian and vegan cookbooks to help get you started and experimenting in the kitchen. And no, you won't be eating rabbit food.
Super Fresh by Jennifer Houston and Ruth Tal. Canadian-based Fresh Restaurant co-owners have published several vegan recipe books. Their latest, Super Fresh, is easy, has great visuals, and rather simple recipes for smoothies, juices, and meals. I purchased a copy in their vegan restaurant earlier this year while visiting Toronto.
Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook: Eat Like You Give a F*ck by Thug Kitchen. I'm not too familiar with Thug Kitchen but I've read raving reviews and of course Gwyenth Paltrow name-dropped the blog a few years back. Definitely has a following and worth while to check out.
Vegan Cooking for Carnivores by Roberto Martin. I'm borrowing this cook book from a friend and love the pictures, descriptions, and fairly easy processes. The cookbook offers tasty vegan alternatives for your favorite dishes including mac & cheese, grilled cheese for grown ups, tofu egg salad, sliders, corn chowder, etc. I've made a handful of recipes from this cookbook and truly love the dishes.
The Vegetarian Flavor Bible by Karen Page. The wonderful thing about this cookbook is that it provides culinary inspiration and information about spices, flavors, vegetables, and traditions. If you have a few ingredients in the kitchen but aren't sure what to do with them, this cook book will steer you on a path to making some great vegetarian dishes. (I just ordered it on Amazon)
How to Cook Everything Vegetarian: Simple Meatless Recipes for Great Food by New York Times columnist Mark Bittman. Again, I haven't tried this cookbook firsthand, but I know how wildly popular many of his other cookbooks are.
Here are a few suggestions to start out eating a plant-based diet. Keep in mind, a Vegetarian eats all dairy products but no meat, fish, or poultry. A Vegan eats no animal products whatsoever. That's right, no cheese, eggs, butter, or milk. It's really not as hard as you may think and you may be pleasantly surprised with the results.
Which level are you?
Level 1. (The Part-Time Vegetarian or Vegan)
You chose one meal a day that is either all vegetarian or all vegan. Celebrity fitness trainer and author Jorge Cruise published a new book, Tiny & Full, explaining why if you are going to chose one vegan meal a day, make it breakfast. He essentially says, "Be a Vegan until lunch." He says, this helps create a sustainable lifestyle you can stick to while ensuring a balanced diet and the proper nutrients. He also places emphasis on plant-based foods and eating more vegetables and fruits throughout the day, or what I can grazing.
Level 2. (The Intermediate Vegetarian or Vegan)
You chose one day (all three meals) a week that is either all vegetarian or all vegan. You may have heard of "Meatless Monday" originally coined in 2003 in the U.S. It has since gained international notoriety with the help from Sir Paul McCartney's website Meat Free Monday and is now a common health initiative in hospitals and schools around the U.S. The idea is that just one day a week without consuming meats can help improve your health and reduce your carbon footprint.
Level 3. (The Full-Time Vegan or Vegetarian)
You are ready to take the plunge and go vegetarian or vegan for 4 -6 weeks to see how you feel and if you truly do miss the meats and dairy products. (I hope to be suggesting easy full day meal plans soon.) The 22 days nutrition Vegan challenge is a great free starter kit that plans out all of your plant-based meals for you.(I've made several stand alone meals and they are easy and delicious.) 22 Days Nutrition also offers meal delivery service. Vegan Easy.org also offers a free 30 day easy Vegan challenge. Eating Well offers a free 28-day vegetarian meal plan that allows you to chose how many calories you want to consume each day.
For those who don't enjoy grocery shopping and love food being delivered to your door, try a vegan or vegetarian meal delivery service such as The Purple Carrot or Blue Apron. I will write a separate post listing available vegan and vegetarian meal delivery services.