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 }

Amy B December 31, 2012

I am so excited for this! I have been vegetarian for about 9 mos and moving in the direction of completely plant based for 3. It is my new year’s resolution to stop giving in to cheese and do it for good. I don’t have any questions that haven’t already been asked, so for now I am off to make a lentil walnut loaf and roasted brussel sprouts and potatoes! Happy New Year!

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liz December 31, 2012

Angela,

Thank you for this incredibly thoughtful and well-written post. As an aspiring vegan, I look forward to your series! My question is: As someone with a thyroid condition, I am supposed to limit my soy intake. I know that those fake vegan meats aren’t ideal anyways, but so many vegan recipes call for tofu and tempeh. Do you have suggestions for quick and substantial vegan entrees that aren’t soy-based? While I dearly love cashew cream mac n’ cheese, given the prep time it simply isn’t a realistic weeknight meal. But maybe there are some shortcuts I am missing here….

Many thanks and best wishes for a happy and fulfilling new year!

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Shannon December 31, 2012

how to eat out!! It has been the most frustrating road block for me to still go out with friends/ coworkers (particularly in large group or those that I’m not close enough with to just persuade into a veg-friendly place) without just sipping on my drink and eating toast. I get so overwhelmed by the volume of people that don’t eat vegetables at all or that eat meat or cheese on EVERYTHING that it’s hard to still feel included in a group setting sometimes and there just aren’t always veg places convenient. would looove to hear advice on this, from you Angela and other veggie-goers alike

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Jami December 31, 2012

@Shannon. I feel the same way. Eating out is rough sometimes. I have to keep telling myself that if I eat vegan while dining out that I am not depriving myself. I ALWAYS feel better when I leave out meat and dairy. It should be a no brainer, but it’s hard not going with the crowd!!!!

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Averie @ Averie Cooks December 31, 2012

Great job on de-rutting yourself and YES you are overworked, probably overtired, and just stretched super thin right now. You’re *almost* there with the manuscript and just think how much time you’ll feel like you have in your days after it’s done :)

Happy New Year and can’t wait to see what kinds of questions you tackle. Whatever you pick will be fun to read about!

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Jennie December 31, 2012

I will be following this series for sure…it’s a great idea. I have been vegetarian for almost 10 years and twice tried to go vegan – both times lasted about one year of full veganism before I slowly started adding occasionaly dairy and eggs back into my diet. The onset of new relationships was the struggling point for me each time. I find it very easy to be vagan when I’m single but much more difficult when in a relationship. I want to cook food that my boyfriend will like as much as his meaty dishes. Your basil-cashew lasagna has been a HUGE hit and some of my vegan dishes are liked by him…but he doesn’t like many other traditional vegan foods.

So my question is: How can I motivate myself to stay 100% vegan while living with and cooking for a non-vegan boyfriend (who is very willing to try vegan foods so long as they taste good!)

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Sarah December 31, 2012

I’m really looking forward to this series!

I am not vegan, nor do I intend to be (right now anyway), but I do try to load my diet full of non-animal foods as best I can. I look forward to learning more ways to do just that!

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Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar December 31, 2012

I’m excited for this! Can’t wait for 2013. All the best in 2013!!

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Stephanie December 31, 2012

Hi Angela!
I have been a vegetarian for 4 years now. I have had no challenges giving up meat. However, I LOVE cheese…and it has standing between me and veganism for quite some time. I have read quite a bit of literature about the treatment of dairy animals, etc and nothing has made me take the final step of giving this love up. How do you give up something that you adore so much? Cold turkey? Gradually? Lets be honest, the cheese substitutes, cashew cheese, etc just aren’t even close. Help! I need motivation. I would love to make 2013 the year I FINALLY become a vegan :)

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Stacie December 31, 2012

Angela,
This will be an awesome series (like all of your work). Thanks for developing/creating/sharing your thoughts on this topic. Fits your blog perfectly! As always, thank you thank you thank you for what you do. Such a blessing. Keep up the great work!! I can’t wait for your cookbook! Happy New Year :)

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Jami December 31, 2012

I am so excited for the new series on “how to veganism”. I often have just those same questions. Thanks for doing it!!!Looking forward to seeing what new things I can learn…Happy 2013!!!!!

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Barb Mc December 31, 2012

This is a great idea! It sounds just like the little tutorial I need. I guess my basic question is “How do I get started?” Maybe you could make suggestions for going vegan for one meal at a time. Focus on breakfast ideas for a post, lunch for another, etc. I think sometimes it just seems so overwhelming to try and change everything all at once. Looking forward to the info!

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Melissa December 31, 2012

This is great! I’ve been vegetarian since April 2011 but really want to make the switch to full vegan. I became pregnant the beginning of 2012 and welcomed our first baby in September. Toward the end of my pregnancy I started adding cheese to my diet (just a craving) and eggs right after his birth (major craving) and ever since I’ve been making sloppy food choices. I really want to get back on vegan track starting tomorrow!! I look forward to your new series :)

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Jennifer-Anne December 31, 2012

Great idea! Thank you!

Would love to have you include some reader stories at different angles and perspectives on implementing plant based diets and eating styles.

Would love to hear how to approach plant based eating without all the commercial substitutes for dairy and meat. [ie. fake cheese, fake meat, etc]

Looking forward to the series.

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a farmer in the dell December 31, 2012

Angela, I love this! I have been toying with the idea of going vegetarian/vegan for a while. I have been working on an organic vegetable farm for over 3 years and have been enjoying a mostly plant based diet ever since! I have never felt better and love the flavors of fresh wholesome food! The only issue I have with vegetarians/vegans/meat eaters alike is processed foods. Many of my vegan friends eat a HIGHLY processed food diet. I am not a fan of the “fake” meats or cheeses. You do not seem to use those products very much and I would be curious if you would ever post about that? Thanks again. I love your blog and recipes!

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Blaine December 31, 2012

Been vegan a year or so. What I really miss is strong blue cheese melted on warm fresh sourdough bread drizzled with honey. Or any sweet fig spread on bread with a veiny blue cheese. Or… You get the point. Strong cheese with sweet honey or date or fig with toasty fresh bread

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Pamela December 31, 2012

What you share is inspirational…..I am moving to a vegan lifestyle and I have learned so much from you. I agree your new approach would be very helpful to newbies like myself
Thank you for all that you have brought to my nutritional life!

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Kari @ bite-sized thoughts December 31, 2012

This is a great idea Angela :) I’ll definitely look forward to reading the posts – although for the record, I love the ones you already do, too!

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Julie December 31, 2012

This sounds great! I went vegan for lent. My biggest challenge is cooking two sets of meals. While my family is willing to “taste” my vegan recipes, they are not willing to change their lifestyles. (One southern meat and tater husband, and two teenagers.) I learn so much from your site. Just from these comments alone I have discovered the tofu press?? I would have loved that info a few months ago when I was starting this journey! And while the internet can be helpful, it can be very overwhelming!

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Brittany January 1, 2013

LOVE THIS IDEA!!!!!! LOVE YOUR BLOG – by far the BEST Vegan blog I am aware of – I feel so grateful for all of the time, work and effort put into the amazing posts featuring brilliant recipes, amazing photography and wonderful words. I am so inspired by your lifestyle, and am so thankful I stumbled upon it! It has definitely had an impact on my life and I tell as many people as I can about it. THANK YOU, Angela!

Some things I’m interested to see:

1. Oil-free recipes

2. I’ve been vegan for about 10 months and have never felt better. Right now I would say I’m still “on fire” for this amazing lifestyle, but I’ve read many people talk about how they were vegan for X months/years, but “fell off” or slowly started adding animal products back into their diet. Any advice on how to remain 100% committed? I am hoping it doesn’t happen to me…

3. I’m not sure what your opinion of this would be, but I think it might be kind of fun to have a once weekly kind of “open mic” where all of us followers can share ideas, ask questions, and get our questions answered. Just a thought!

4. I’d love to hear from others on how to deal with eating a vegan diet when you HATE to cook. My mom absolutely hates everything to do with cooking, so she will either do take-out, eat plain beans or vegetables (blah…) or eat non-vegan things (as a result of the accessibility/convenience of it) – I want to help her, but since she hates cooking, I don’t know what to do. It’s unrealistic for me to try to prepare all this food for her every week (and I also feel like I’m babying her), but I just don’t know how to help her in a productive way.

Many thanks for everything, Angela! Wishing you a beautiful start to 2013! :)

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Courtney January 1, 2013

I’m so excited and grateful for this post. I’ve been a “flexitarian” for several years…I’ve even converted my husband to flexitarianism. I don’t drink milk at all. I rarely eat meat and I buy eggs from a friend who owns chickens, but even then I buy them once every couple of weeks. I really want to be a vegan. The biggest problem I’ve faced is cheese. I love cheese in all forms. What can I do to replace cheese and make the transition easier? Also, how do you handle going out to eat with friends at non-vegan friendly places? Oh, and one more question…how do you handle reactions from friends and family? Almost all my family thinks vegan=crazy and they try to sabotage me whenever I try to go vegan.

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Liz January 1, 2013

I’m vegetarian and am always looking for more ways to Vegan my meals up. I am looking forward to reading your series. :)

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Sarah January 1, 2013

I’d love any tips on transitioning from vegetarian to vegan. I’ve been a vegetarian for over 7 years now, mainly because of a genuine dislike of meat rather than ethical reasons. I also avoid a lot of dairy and other animal products like eggs – also due a general dislike/repulsion by them.

I’d love to transition to a cleaner vegan diet but I am having difficultly making the change because I feel I am “giving things up” in a way that I didn’t have in becoming a vegetarian. I LIKE cheese (..without rennet) but I’m was very turned off by steak/chicken/etc so the transition to vegetarianism was natural. Do you have advice on how I can continue to lean towards a vegan diet when I feel like I’ll miss many foods?

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Kacey January 1, 2013

I absolutely love this idea. I’m already vegan but I’m sure I’ll still find it really helpful, and I bet it will be super great for people starting off the new year with a new diet. I was looking back on some of my old resolutions yesterday and loved seeing my progression to veganism. In 2011, I decided to be more mindful of my dairy and egg consumption. In 2012, I resolved to go completely vegan for at least one month–and not only did I do that, but I have been for the last 7 months! 2013 will be an easy one: Stay vegan :). Can’t wait to read this series!

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Amanda January 1, 2013

The ‘nut soaking’ question. Omg. SO funny!

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snenny January 1, 2013

GREAT idea for a blog series :)

As several readers have mentioned, one of the things that is difficult about veganism is the social aspect – how to make eating at restaurants and with friends. I also have coeliac disease, meaning I can’t eat gluten, so I really do worry that I’m going to a pain in the bum to my friends!

Another good question that seems to have popped up a few times is speedy or go-to meals. I’d love a few to add to the repertoire :D

Thanks again for your inspirational blog. I come here every day for a read!

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Lindy January 1, 2013

I don’t want to impose my new found lifestyle on anyone and it is going to be an issue I imagine. I’d love to see a post in this series about the social aspect of this. My husband is already worried and questioning me what I’m going to do when we visit his family in a couple of weeks and drive across country when we return home and have to eat “on the road”.

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Cori January 1, 2013

This post couldn’t have come at a better time! My husband and I decided to go vegan and this is our first week.

Some questions/ideas that would be interesting to me or some of your readers:
- It would be awesome if you listed some of the nutrients that vegans have to be careful not to miss, and the best way to get them (sample foods, supplements).
- What are some general, research-based health benefits of veganism vs. some of the myths
- What are substitutes for some of the more expensive vegan foods/how to save money shopping as a vegan

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Jessica January 1, 2013

This is perfect timing for me! I always joke that I’m a part time vegan. I was pretty consistent about veganism until I became pregnant last year – worried I was not getting enough protein for the baby I began eating meat again. 5 months postpartum I’d like to go back to being vegan again.

Here are my struggles –

1. What can I snack on besides raw veggies, hummus, and carb heavy items?
2. Quick dinners that do not involve a lot of pasta? My husband and I both work and with a baby the last thing we want to do at night is cook a complicated meal.
3. What can I eat for lunch besides salads?

I hate the thought of eating meat substitutes – they are expensive and too processed. Some cook books like skinny bitch just incorporate recipes constantly using these which is so annoying! :)

Like some other commenters we need a diet for endurance athletes – I am a runner and my husband is a tri guy.

I just recently was given forks over knives cookbook that has some nice recipes but they take quite awhile to make.

Thank you!!! Love this and your blog :-)

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Maureen January 1, 2013

I love the idea of this series, and I so need this in my life. We flirt with veganism by trying to eat at least two vegan meals a day. I have also mostly reduced our dairy two fold in the last year. I realized that although I am addicted to cheese, I could still enjoy a meal without it. We also learned about many dairy alternatives that we worked into recipes easily. Our goal for this year is to reduce it even more, maybe going several days without dairy. Your website is fantastic inspiration, thank you thank you.

My problem is saying goodbye to a fried egg sandwich. I know it sounds pathetic, but I absolutely love them. I haven’t been able to find a good substitute. It is filling, easy to eat on the go in the morning, and has a unique flavor. I discuss on my blog that I have found the best solution is to not find an identical food but an alternative. For example, I used to love crabcakes, but zucchini fritters became my new obsession when I turned vegetarian years ago. They don’t taste the same, but in the end serve the same purpose. My vegan friend suggested a tofu scramble, and that just doesn’t do it for me.

Any advice on a good equivalent to the classic fried egg sandwich?

Thank you, Thank you

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Leigh Ellen January 1, 2013

Angela, In January 2012 I resolved to move towards better health. My oldest son joked me, “I’m not worried, Mom. It will last about two weeks.” Well, that challenge was all I needed. A year later my husband and I are loving our almost completely vegan lifestyle and my 4 kids are almost there. As I look at my colorful plate I do not feel deprived at all. I feel blessed and full. Ironically, my “mocker” is the one most sold out as he has learned the reasons why we are doing what we are doing. As our extended family members began to see the positive changes in our lives, many of them have joined us. Your blog has been so helpful. I was a pretty good cook before our change, and I found many of the recipes in the health books tasted terrible. My kids still shudder at the mention of kale because of a bad soup experiment. Finally, in your blog, I found someone who was living the lifestyle we wanted and knew how to cook! Most often, I get thumbs up around the table when I make something from your blog. I am excited for the new direction you are taking. Thanks for continuing to share your journey!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) January 1, 2013

Hi Leigh Ellen, Thank you for your beautiful comment! I am so happy to hear about all the changes you and your family are making. Thanks for reading and trying out the recipes!

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Tracey January 1, 2013

I am SO excited to see this. Perfect timing. I’ve been pondering this for awhile, and this morning I got up, and in the true spirit of New Year’s I decided to read your blog for inspiration for the coming year. I can read the signs. Thanks so much!!!
Happy New Year!

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Angela (Oh She Glows) January 1, 2013

Aw I’m so happy to hear that Tracey! All my best

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Lori B January 1, 2013

I would love more info on kid friendly recipes, quick and simple recipes, and recipes that are weight loss friendly. I love reading your blog and can’t wait for the book!

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Katherine January 1, 2013

Thank you in advance! I ADORE your blog and am thrilled about this upcoming series. I’ve been a vegetarian for 10 years and am trying to make the full switch to vegan (I manage about 5/6 days a week). This series is definitely going to help!

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Grandma Carol January 1, 2013

Happy New Year to you and your entire family Angela! Love your recipes!! Can’t wait for your cookbook!!

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Audrey January 1, 2013

Hi Angela,

I love your blog & get so much out of it. Beginning last spring I began eating less meat and would like to transition to a vegetarian diet. The main problem I have is completely committing to this diet especially with my family. I was diagnosed with celiac disease last year, and my family and friends are very supportive and cautious with making sure I have plenty of food that is gluten-free whenever we have get-togethers. I feel bad adding another aspect to my diet that people need to worry over when we do potlucks, travel, etc. Any tips for making this transition easy for everyone involved? Thanks!

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Patti January 1, 2013

I’m very excited about this new series. I’m four months into my own transition to a plant-based diet, and I think I would really benefit from this.

thanks,

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Sonal January 1, 2013

I’m thrilled to hear about this series, it is going to help me and others like me so much, who would love to be vegan but find it difficult to let go of some things and need more advice and guidance! Thanks Angela! Happy new year! :)

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Amy (DishonDesignGal) January 1, 2013

I am excited about this! Just discovered you yesterday when I was blogging about nut butter and subscribed! I’m slowly cutting my meat out and will probably be a vegetarian at some point. I’ve been juicing for the last year and today am starting the Eat to Live Plan. I can’t wait to try some of your recipes! Happy New Year!

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Chris January 1, 2013

This is wonderful news! My exciting news is as a 60 year old, with 2 overlapping stents
in a main artery, I needed this vegan diet and oil free. My news is my annual
cardiologist visit showed my bp the lowest ever in my adult life, cholesterol and
triglycerides down….in short I am healthier now than ever. We had our first
vegan Christmas with a meatless loaf from your friend at blogfatfreevegan.com.
I find loaves (like your lentil loaf) great options since they freeze in portions
beautifully with instant meals at hand, whereby I just add whatever veggies
I feel like to go along with it. Your blogs are wonderful and inspiring. I have shared
your website with many and look forward to it and your emails everyday. And I can’t
say how good we felt eating a kind diet at Christmas!

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Chris January 1, 2013

One suggestion on your website. If the most recent comments can be at the
beginning, it would help instead of scrolling through pages to see if a reply was made.

Thank you, and all the best of health and joy in 2013!

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Lindy January 1, 2013

I found Oh She Glows a few weeks ago and love it! I have been vegan for exactly 3 and 1/2 days. I’ve been juicing like crazy and even made a vegan mac n cheese that we all loved! I can’t wait for this series as I have much to learn. My friends call me a “foodie” as I love to cook and make great meals for my family. After gaining 20 # in the last year or so at the start of menopause, I am ready to make a change. My husband is a bit skeptical and I don’t think he believes I’m serious. Everything I’ve eaten in the last few days has been wonderful. I never believed eating a plant based diet could be so good. I already feel better and I don’t think it will be difficult at all to make this change. I just need some direction and advice now and then, so thank you very much for starting this series!!

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