Vegan How To Series – Introduction (Why this series?)

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vegan how to 2963b thumb   Vegan How To Series – Introduction (Why this series?)

As the year draws to a close, I’ve been thinking a lot about this space and what I can do in the new year to challenge myself (and hopefully you) in new ways. It probably doesn’t come across this way on the blog, but I often struggle with questions like – What am I doing to make a difference? What can I do to help people and animals? Am I growing on a personal level? Lately, these questions have gone mostly unanswered. Don’t get me wrong, I love sharing my recipes with you (and I know it makes a positive difference based on your feedback – thank you), so I have no plans to stop recipe development. It’s something I enjoy immensely more days than not. But there are other things I could be doing and I’ve felt this pull at my heart strings a lot in recent months. With only weeks to go until my cookbook manuscript is due, I’m feeling worn out and I’m sure this a big reason for the rut I feel like I’m stuck in. The good thing about a rut is that it usually prompts a change for the better (with time). Discomfort prompts motion.

In spirit of change, I’m starting a series on veganism this year – simple posts that can make the transition to a plant-based diet easier. I’m really excited about this. To be honest, it’s something I’ve wanted to do for over a year now, but I tend to suffer from the mindset that if I can’t do it exactly right or if I don’t know all the answers, then I shouldn’t do it at all. Well, this is a rather silly way to go through life, don’t you think? The truth is, I’m the only one holding myself back. I want to share whatever it is that I can offer and trust that it will be helpful for some of you. Even if you have no desire of going vegan or if you are already a vegan yourself, I still hope that this series will be inspiring and peak some curiosity about things you may want to know more about.

Here are some examples of questions I receive every week:

What can I replace yogurt with?

What’s a substitute for sour cream?

I have no idea what to do. Do you have a vegan 101 Series I can read through to get started?

What do you eat each day?

How do I get protein?

What the bleep is a flax egg????

What do I do if I have a craving for an old food?

Why do you soak beans and nuts? Will my husband fart less if I soak his nuts? (Yes someone wrote this once…I almost spit out my drink.)

I want to start TODAY…help me!

It occurred to me that it would be more helpful if I posted my experiences on the blog, rather than simply via email. If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the past few years, it’s that a vegan diet isn’t about what you take away; it’s really about what you add in. I didn’t know this for a long time. For every food that I decided to forgo, I eventually added at least a handful of new, vibrant foods in its place. But first, I had to learn what it is I could add into my diet. This wasn’t easy for me in the beginning and I suspect it’s not for many. Three and a half years into it, I’m still very much learning.

To make this series a success, it’s important for me to have your feedback and input. I’d love to know some of the questions you are struggling with right now or perhaps things you struggled with in the past but triumphed over. Everyone loves a good success story, myself included. [Side note: I’m considering the return of reader success stories, perhaps in a Q & A format – would you enjoy this feature again on OSG?]

For those of you who are making some changes to your diet in 2013, I hope you’ll find this series timely and helpful in your journey. More on all of this very soon.

For more in this series, see:

Part 1: How To Make The Transition

Part 2: Replacing Dairy Milk

Part 3: Homemade Oat Milk

Part 4: Homemade Almond Milk

Part 5:  Ten Tips for eating out as a vegan

I wish you a happy, fun, and safe New Year’s surrounded by the people you love! Happy New Year to you all. Thank you for reading Oh She Glows and bringing me into your home each week. I bid farewell to 2012 filled with gratitude.

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{ 314 comments… read them below or add one }

Alex @ Raw Recovery December 31, 2012

Love this idea, Angela! I know I used to get this a lot: “You can’t be a vegan because you used to be anorexic/restrict.” That mostly came from dietitians and nutritionists because there’s this huge misconception that veganism is synonymous with restricting, and that’s just not the case at all. I love showing friends and family that you can absolutely be healthy (mentally and physically) on a vegan diet and that you aren’t compromising taste by being a vegan either. In fact, going vegan after my last inpatient treatment for my eating disorder (over a year ago!) was what helped me sustain my recovery for so long. I actually find that veganism is one of the biggest things that helps me stay in recovery and even though I’ve had my slips, I’m able to remember the tools that helped me live a happier and healthier life (e.g. veganism, yoga, spending time in nature, & surrounding myself with good people).

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char eats greens December 31, 2012

Love it, Ange!!!

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Lara December 31, 2012

Hi Angela!
I can’t say how much whatever you write inspires me to try to be better every day. I can totally relate to what you wrote in the second paragraph, the things about holding yourself back and so on.. I’d rather say nothing in school than say something that I cannot explain 100%. People keep telling me that being wrong once in a while is nothing to be ashamed of, but I feel it’s really hard to internalize what the say.

When I became vegan over a year ago, I think the hardest part was eating no cheese and whipped cream (I was vegetarian for 6 years before). Ok, whipped cream is still hard, I never manage to get coconut whipped cream right! :D
A happy new year and all the best wishes from Germany, Lara

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Bess December 31, 2012

I look forward to your posts. I would like to add to the list of topics, being a gluten-free vegan. Maybe you could highlight certain recipes or tips if you have any.

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Andrea December 31, 2012

Thank you!! This sounds like an amazing series, and one that I will follow closely (not that I don’t already follow your blog religiously). I found 2012 to be a huge rut year for me – I started a new job that required me to commute 1.5 hours each way to work and my fiancée was promoted to a new position which meant longer hours. I absolutely love cooking and baking, and especially cooking using whole foods, but long works hours have got in the way, and I find that we choose quick, sometime unhealthy options more often than not during the week. I guess my issue is finding quick and simple vegan/vegetarian recipes that are healthy, tasty and exciting! Or, my issue might be in my meal planning – are there things I can do on the weekend to make week night dinners easier? Keep up the great work and happy new year :)

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Liz December 31, 2012

Hi Angela! I love your plan for 2013. My dietary leanings are mostly vegetarian, with vegan sometimes mixed in. The only time I eat chicken or fish is when going out to dinner. There aren’t many veggie or vegan options at restaurants – usually the vegetarian option is something smothered in cheese. The topics that I struggle with and would love you to cover are:
Good protein options for those who hate meat replacements (have tried seitan, tempeh and tofu –yick)
Eating well in restaurants that don’t seem to have good options.
Dishes to bring to family gatherings, I guess more crowd-friendly options…
Breakfast items – I dislike sweet flavors in the morning so if you don’t eat eggs or tofu what do you make that is quick and savory?
Make-ahead meals, or items, that can be “grab and go” throughout the week.
I love someone’s suggestion above about crockpot or Dutch oven meals

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Mik December 31, 2012

I would love to know your thoughts on vegans and blood sugar levels and why it seems that vegans are addicted to sugar (agave is just as bad for it’s affects in the body as HFCS) and also how peanuts cause an auto-immune response in the body as well as legumes being inflammatory. I would love to know your thoughts on these science based ideas or if it doesn’t matter to you because your veganism is all a moral choice not a science based one.

I am the antithesis of vegan being paleo (we love us some meat) but I have loved your blog for a long time and I am curious if you have thought about it the above (or if you are even aware).

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Kristen December 31, 2012

Hi there, I’m not Angela but am a holistic nutritionist. I don’t know one person who went plant based that didn’t get off of medications for diabetes (among healing a plethora of other ailments). The moral? I don’t know one single health minded vegan with blood sugar issues. Grains, while mildly inflammatory (with the exception of wheat which is highly inflammatory), are far less inflammatory than all animal products and provide a much greater nutritional profile. Most of the vegans I personally know, myself included, do not use Agave. Health conscious vegans tend to use sweeteners that have high nutritional profiles and are lower GI like coconut palm sugar, molasses, date paste etc. They are whole, unrefined foods. Sugars are not created equally by any stretch. I personally choose not to eat peanuts because they are not kept properly and are usually riddled with molds, that’s the reason for many of the allergies that we have now linked to peanuts (which are actually legumes and not nuts at all). Cooked vegetables also cause a mild immune response as well, but the benefits definitely and heavily out weigh the minor downside. Animal products are also highly acidic, much more so than grains and legumes, which causes a myriad of health issues. There are 50 years of very reputable science backing plant based diets as the healthiest by a large degree than any other way of eating (and this science was written by meat eaters, vegetarian and vegans alike). Vegans have nearly 50% lower cancer rates than meat eaters and approximately 20-30% less than vegetarians. Hope this helps :)

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Brittany December 31, 2012

Kristen,
I’d love to know more about your work as a holistic nutritionist. I am an RN, and am REALLY interested in shifting more towards nutrition/health than being surrounded by patients dealing with chronic illnesses that could be SOOOO easily reversed by diet.

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Kristen January 1, 2013

Hi Brittany!
I have seen truly amazing things happen with many of my clients who have a variety of medical conditions which doctors say there are no cures for or medication for life will be required. This is simply not true in many, many cases. Diet plays the largest role in health and most people have truly lost sight of what proper nutrition is, especially with fad diet after fad diet being the latest trend and backed by extremely flawed science. Dangerous pseudo science in fact. The population’s view of what’s “healthy” has been so warped, which is why the majority are no longer healthy and suffer with disease that is/was highly preventable. Top five foods that lead to inflammation and disease are refined sugar, free oils (olive oil, sunflower oil, canola oil etc. with the exception of flax seed oil and coconut oil), dairy, refined grains, commercial meats/deli meats/processed meats. Most people consume those foods as staples in their diet. Not only are they highly inflammatory, like I said above, they are highly acidic and lead to more illnesses than I could possibly list. If you’d like to chat further, feel free to leave a way for me to contact you. Health is what I do :)

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Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin December 31, 2012

What a great idea! Even though I’m not vegan, I eat a lot of plant-based meals so I’m really looking forward to this series! I would love to hear about your tips for vegan baking. :)

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jo @ including cake December 31, 2012

I know what you mean about feeling insecure or inadequate when not knowing all the answers, but realising that you don’t need to know everything but just a little more than others around you is all that it takes (p.s you do know a lot!). If you are not already familiar with it check out expertenough.com (in particular the manifesto). Sorry i haven’t actually answered any of your questions :-)

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Olya December 31, 2012

Oh, such series would be a blessing! The question I’m struggling the most with is how am I going to get enough of vitamin B12 and iron in my diet with going vegan. Hearing horror stories about vegan people developing a brain disorder really scares me. Plus we don’t have B12 fortified product, so would just taking supplements be enough? Thank you Angela, you’re such an amazing inspiration and I can’t wait for your book!

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Nikki M December 31, 2012

I have been a vegetarian for almost 3 years. I do like to incorporate vegan dishes when possible. A couple of topics I would like to discuss would be:
1. Small town living and being a vegan.
2. I almost always do some sort of lettuce salad with tons of veggies for lunch, but I’m currently in a salad rut. Healthy lunch ideas?!

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Ana December 31, 2012

That’s a great idea, Angela!!
I would like to learn more on successful vegan baking – for example, how to know when an egg can be substituted with flax egg, or when it could be subbed by applesauce and so on. Also, a small guide on the flours you use, the reasons and possible substitutions would be awesome.

Can’t wait to read your how to series :) Everyone has different experiences being vegetarian/vegan, and it is very enlightening to read these stories. :)

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Jennifer Johnson December 31, 2012

looking forward to this very much! thank you!

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Kristen N. December 31, 2012

I have two questions!

What are some other delicious protein sources, other than peanut/nut butters? – I love PB and it’s my favorite protein source, but I fear that I’m eating too much of it!

Second…

What are your thoughts on fats – “healthy”, “unhealthy”, ect.?

Thank you and good luck on this series!

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Tiffany December 31, 2012

Hey Kristen,

I hope Angela doesn’t mind but I’d like to answer your first question :)

Delicious protein sources that I love are beans (throw them into salads, make lentil soup, hummus, bean burgers) Beans have tons of protein and fiber just get creative and you will find there are so many fun dishes.

Quinoa is another great protein source! I also love to add some hemp seeds to amp up the protein.

whole wheat breads and grains (brown rice, millet, bulgar, wheatberries) also have protein…add some beans and you can increase the protein that way too.

Chia seeds is another way to add in some protein, sprinkle them in salads or make Angela’s chia pudding.

Don’t forget dark green leafy veggies and even broccoli have protein.

Hope this helps! Happy new year :)

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Laurie December 31, 2012

Love this idea for a series!! I’ve followed your blog since the beginning and still tune in everyday. I’ve been vegan for a year now and have never felt or looked better. At age 52, I am in the best shape of my life. My husband watched Forks Over Knives and read the China Study which all helped him to get totally on board and he only now eats meat when he has to travel and I’m not there to cook. I have loved trying out your creative recipes and you have really inspired me that being vegan is a healthy way to go – especially when I was first considering it. For me, knowing how to quickly throw a healthy meal together is key so I love any tips on how you shop, meal plan, store food, etc. Thanks for all you do and Happy New Year!

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Kirsten Lee December 31, 2012

I have been trying to go vegan for 6 months now. It is my 2013 goal to go 100% veg. Some of my questions are:
1. My family or friends do not understand why anyone would be vegan. I live in a smaller community and the “meat and potatoes” meal is a staple. Becasue no one understands why go veg, I am sometimes ashamed of it, the only people who know are my non-veg husband and mom.
2. My husband is non-vegan. He supports me being veg, but will no go veg himself. I struggle when I want to make all these different veg meals and he wants a meat meal.

I really like your recipes since you use REAL food and ingred. I don’t like vegan cheese. And fake meat stuff. Cheese is not supposed to be vegan! Thanks for your authentic real recipes.
This series will be great. I am excited to connect with other vegans, and those still in transition!

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Anneh December 31, 2012

I totally understand your plight! My husband loses all his energy and literally goes pale without animal protein. Our solution: I make a vegan meal, he cooks himself a piece of meat to go with it. It helps that he likes the recipes I make…he once said the only thing wrong with vegan food was that there was no meat in it!

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Michelle @ Eat Move Balance December 31, 2012

Angela, this new series sounds great. I can’t wait to learn more about the vegan diet, what you do to keep it easy, and other tips and suggestions. Great idea!

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Elizabeth December 31, 2012

Awesome series!

I started soaking my husbands nuts and his gas went waaay down. ;)

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nancy December 31, 2012

Hurrah!! So happy with your blog plan for 2013! Though I am not completely veg, I am a plant based eater because that’s what I choose to do and it works for my body. I am not having much success in getting my teenagers to buy in to this idea at all. Having you help us step by step, I think we can make some progress this year, not in making them vegetarians but in making them more healthful eaters who are mindful of what works for their bodies. I am comfortable in the kitchen but sometimes i get overwhelmed with your recipes. I plan to introduce the 2013 concept of one vegetarian dinner for the family each week so I’m counting on you!!

And just fyi: I could live on your rustic banana oat cake. Seriously.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 31, 2012

haha I’m glad you enjoy it! I always forget about that one…not sure why b/c I love it too :)

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Brittany December 31, 2012

Perfect timing! I’ve been vegetarian for a while now. I’m looking to remove dairy and eggs so I’ll be “mostly vegan”. I’m afraid of stating “I’m a vegan”, because I know family/friends won’t understand and will just assume that I’m being pretentious or something. I also travel for work a lot and know that sometimes I might really be in a pickle if I want to eat a well-rounded vegan diet on the road.

I could ask you a-bagillion questions, but I just have one for now: Do you take any supplements and if so, did your doctor direct you to do so, or did you decide to do it yourself? Thank you for your blog!

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Maryz December 31, 2012

This is so great! My husband was diagnosed with rectal cancer in September of this year. He’s been through surgery and is now recovering. This is the second cancer he has fought. We have been doing a ton of research in how to decrease the risk of cancer reoccuring. Everything points to a vegan/vegetarian diet. I have been vegetarian for a year but can not seem to cut the eggs and dairy completely out of my diet. So, with my husband joining me in a similar diet, we are both hoping to cut all animal protein from our diets. The big issue we are having is trying to find portable breakfast and lunch ideas that require no microwaving. I know salads/smoothies/sandwiches are great, but really we need some variety options. Also, what to serve guests…all our friends are big meat eaters!
Looking forward to this great series!!

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sam December 31, 2012

This is such a brilliant idea! I can’t think of any resource out there for this kind of content. Way to go. I think a few things to address – how easy it can be when you need to eat out (if you decide to foray into being vegan), biggest reasons why people go vegan, how it can actually be healthy, and how to make it a HABIT. As the new year approaches I always feel that is the easiest resolution, but the hardest to keep! Can’t wait for the series.

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Anneh December 31, 2012

I love this idea! I’d like to know how to cut back (or cut out entirely) white sugar, which is my most beloved vice. If you can give me a surefire way to stop adding 4 tsp of sugar to my tea without it making me stop drinking tea altogether, I’ll love you forever. I’d also like tips on how to more bravely try new ingredients that for some reason have never made it onto my plate (okra and brussel sprouts, I’m looking at you)…and *why* I should even bother trying those new foods.

On an unrelated note, I made your revamped lentil loaf for Christmas Eve, and it was awesome! It actually made two loaves for me, so I’m still eating leftovers!

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Jody December 31, 2012

I think the series is an awesome idea!! I have been vegetarian for about 4 yrs and have dabbled in veganism on and off throughout that time. I have no problem eating vegan when I’m on my own, but like some of the other readers, social eating is a headache! This is especially true when I’m visiting my family or when they come to visit me; I’m from a Hispanic family and most meals revolve around meat. My mother makes great attempts to make things I can eat, but they contain cheese and I feel awful turning her down after she’s gone through so much trouble. I also have trouble out in restaurants that aren’t vegan, I would like to be able to enjoy more than just a salad when eating out with friends.

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Tiffany December 31, 2012

Hey Angela!

I would love to read a vegan how to series. As a borderline vegan myself it would be extremely helpful! I strive to eat vegan 98% of the time but sometimes I’ll slip up and have yogurt. I’m striving to be 100% vegan soon.

I read a post you wrote a while back…healthy size. I really enjoyed the concept. I think there is too much pressure on women to be a certain size.

My question for you is..do you still weigh yourself using a scale? I find it bothersome to see the numbers go up one day and get frustrated but then the next day the numbers are down. But If I dont use a scale then how do I really know my weight is stable? I’d love to hear your thoughts (readers are welcome to answer too) and how you strike balance. Thank you so much!! Happy New Year!!

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Brooke December 31, 2012

Angela,
What a great resolution, and not only because it so snugly fits next to mine. For years, and more seriously in the past 6 months, I have toyed with vegetarianism and veganism. After watching and reading a great deal of pro-plant works, I am jumping in. The plan is to eat a vegan diet for a year, and then reevaluate. I actually started it a little early, around the solstice. It feels like a true gift I am giving to myself!
As soon as I stumbled on OhSheGlows.com, I high tailed it to the kitchen. Your blog inspires me to cook. Thank you. So many of your recipes are now things I make all the time. In particular the almond thumb print cookies. They were the perfect thing to take to my vegan workplace where many people are also following a gluten-free diet. I have shared that recipe, along with your blog, over and over.
It seems that this vegan how-to is a fitting addition to your site but I completely understand your apprehension. My own passion for health and well-being has led me to become a sort of succubus of nutritional knowledge especially when paired with my educational background. It is not uncommon for friends and family to seek out conversations of health with me, or maybe it’s the other way around… I of course cherish the opportunity to share with them my thoughts and experiences, but can never escape the twinge of uneasiness over how little I feel I actually know. At my preschool we address this problem by realizing it is not that you teach or guide as if you have the answer but simply provide what you already know expecting the idea to unfold and expand in it’s own unique way.
Thank you for being that provider for so many people! Courage is the most attractive quality.
Love and light!
Brooke

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Angela (Oh She Glows) December 31, 2012

Thank you Brooke, what a beautiful comment. :) Thanks for trying out so many recipes and spreading the word! I love what you say about “provide what you know” that is so very true. I hope it to be more of a conversation, than anything.

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Alexandra December 31, 2012

This is exactly the type of series that I would LOVE to read. I’ve been a vegetarian for a year now. I’m trying to monitor my dairy consumption because I often find myself eating it multiple times a day. Sometimes I have trouble getting in my calories “on the go.” I’m a student, commute and almost always bring snacks, lunches and dinners with me around campus. Any tips? Last idea: Dealing with family and friends when they ask about your diet. Some judge, some have lots of questions, some people automatically become nutritionists and tell you its bad for your body- how can we effectively and politely inform people about our food choices? How can we get them to understand that this is an important life style choice we have decided to follow?
I can’t wait to start reading this series :) If you would like to chat or brain storm feel free to email me!

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Lana @ Urban_Lake December 31, 2012

Reader Success stories sounds like a great idea, I always love reading diet and weight loss success stories and I think vegan ones would be just as interesting :) Question and answers format is tried and tested and I always like that way of doing it.

My mum is becoming vegan in the New Year (which I’m SO happy about!) so I think that would be a great resource for her. Love your website and I’m looking forward to your new posts (and your cookbook when it comes out!!!).

Have a great 2013 :)

Lana x

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Jolene (www.everydayfoodie.ca) December 31, 2012

Happy New Year Angela!!!

P.S. I miss Glo bars soooo much.

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Coby December 31, 2012

I have been vegan for about a year and a half. The thing I struggle with the most is have non vegans in the house and sastisfying me and my non vegan family. My husband won’t touch most vegetables with a ten foot pole! I get tired of having to make two meals every night. I would like to know how others deal with this issue.

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Kaylie December 31, 2012

Hi,
I am struggling with family dinners with inlaws who are mostly intolerant of a vegan diet and serve meat at every meal. I usually remedy this situation by cooking our own meals and bringing them to their house each occasion, but does anyone have any success stories about how they have overcome this obstacle? Thanks and happy vegan new year!

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sierra phillips December 31, 2012

Yes!! This is what I have been waiting for. I am considering vegan too. So pumped you are doing this! Just found your blog a month ago and have been reading the post from 2009 and 2010. Addicted! Keep the great recipes coming.

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Sharon Wilson December 31, 2012

This post, and series, is right on time! Last year one of my “New Years resolutions” was to become vegetarian. It really helped to say it out loud and what better jumping off point then the first of the year? It worked beautifully. I really wanted to expand what I ate and going vegetarian helped. I have been juggling the idea of going vegan for as long as I juggled the idea of going vegetarian. I am still going back and forth on going vegan starting Jan 1 2013. I struggle with the idea of completely giving up cheese. Some of my fav go to meals include cheese, like lasagna and mac and cheese. I feel like trying to replace them would be hard, though I know there are easy substitutes. I wonder if I should just cut back some which I already have with yogurt and not adding cheese to simple pasta dishes and mexican dishes/chilis. But when I tried to “cut back” on meat before I gave it up completely I ended up still eating more meat then I wanted to, especially when out at restaurants. I look forward to this series for motivation and confidence to meet my food goals and expand further my food choices for 2013! Happy New Year!

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Jennifer P December 31, 2012

I’m a vegetarian & the closer I try and follow a vegan diet the more my hair falls out even when watching my protein and taking my vitamins. What else can help with this?

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Amber K December 31, 2012

I have been tempted to try cutting out dairy to see if it would make me feel better. But I already can’t have gluten, soy and most nuts. Beans and seeds (like quinoa) arent much easier on my digestion either. I have tried coconut yogurt, but the taste was horrible. My naturopath also says I am not getting enough protein from my current sources and I need to include at least a small amount of meat in my diet even though I hate it. Ugh. I am still curious to see what you have to say though, because I enjoy seeing what works for other people. I really think we all need to find a way of life that fits with our emotional needs and our individual bodies’ nutritional needs.

Whoa, sorry for typing so much!

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Anita December 31, 2012

looking forward to these series. I struggle with trying to blend beans/nuts without a food processor to get a more sauce like texture but know eventually getting one will be worth the investment. I can’t get over the huband soaking nuts comment…too funny haha

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Anita December 31, 2012

looking forward to these series. I struggle with trying to blend beans/nuts without a food processor to get a more sauce like texture but know eventually getting one will be worth the investment. I can’t get over the husband soaking nuts comment…too funny haha

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Margaret December 31, 2012

I think this is a good idea, since it can be hard to transition to a vegan diet and keep up the momentum without good support and ideas from other vegans. For anyone contemplating switching to plant-based, I highly suggest the PCRM 21-Day Kickstart program. Basically it is a challenge to eat healthy vegan meals for a month, and they provide daily encouragement, nutritional information, and recipes to help along the way. I found it to be a good motivator!
http://pcrm.org/kickstartHome/

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Lin J December 31, 2012

Thank you For doing this Angela. I think it’s a great idea. I am veg and slowly moving over to a plant based diet. I’m committing to at least 30 days of a strict vegan diet just to see how it goes. My question regards dining out. My husband is a meat and potatoes kind of guy and I would like to hear some restaurant suggestions. I don’t want to be eating bland salads and side dishes all the time. Have a happy healthy New Year!

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Danica @ It's Progression December 31, 2012

Love this idea!

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