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 }

Andrea Z January 1, 2013

Love this entry! My question for you is, what is wrong with organic cage-free eggs? They have been a staple in my diet and I’m trying to learn why I should stop eating them, and also what I can replace them with. Thank you! Happy New Year!

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Judy January 1, 2013

I would enjoy reading this series Angela. I especially like inspiring stories of others. I like the way that you include whole foods into your recipes as I stay away from processed foods as much as possible.
Your passion and drive to be the best you can be is awesome and that comes through in your posts. Thank you!
I am looking forward to your cookbook.
All the best to you and your family in 2013!

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Marlene January 1, 2013

Just wanted to let you know your blog has made a huge differencetransformation in my life. I wanted to transition to a vegan diet because of a heart problem and after watching Forks over Knives and reading I still was not completely able to commit because of the lackluster recipes I tried… until I discovered your blog! I am so excited to learn even more through your series because I know first-hand how this change has improved my life. I am off all heart meds and my labs are now near perfect compared to a year ago. Cannot wait for your cookbook and thank goodness for perfectionists like you!!! Keep up the wonderful job you are doing. You do make a difference and thank you so very much.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) January 1, 2013

Hi Marlene, Congrats, that is tremendous news! I am so happy to be a part of your journey.

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jane January 1, 2013

I am so glad you decided to free yourself up to share… :) Looking forward to it! Happy New Year :)

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Danyal January 1, 2013

I think this is wonderful. I’m mostly vegan, I just can’t kick CHEESE! (I live in Wisconsin)

I absolutely love your blog, Lentil Loaf was a hit for my Thanksgiving. I think by just spreading the delicious vegan recipes to those who never knew vegan meatloaf could taste so good helps transform us. Thank you thank you thank you and wishes to you of a most healthy and happy new year, Angela!

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Ana Garcia January 1, 2013

I would love to add more vegan foods to my families routine. As a traditional portuguese family there are not that many vegan recipes that are passed down through family or shared through friends because it’s not part of our food culture. As a mom and wife I’m always trying to look for ways to incorporate healthier meals at home, unfortunatly I’m not always successful but I’d love to have more information. I’ll look forward to your posts!

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Nicole January 1, 2013

I badly want to juice so that my family and I can start the day with an abundance of fresh fruits and veggies, but cannot afford a vitamix. Is there any alternative ways to juice??

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Sara January 1, 2013

You should try Angela’s recipes for green smoothies! All you need is a blender, I use my magic bullet which I think was only $40. You can just blend up all the veggies you want, granted some work better than others..

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Cindy January 1, 2013

Thank you Angela for listening and following through on your inner “nudge”. Having gone mostly vegan in the past year, I look forward to your excellent ideas on how to maintain and thrive with this new eating adventure. And, it is an adventure. Vegetables play so well with each other. I have been amazed at how many combinations go well together by just tossing vegies and grains and spices together. Cooking has become fun again after many years of doing it the same old way. I don’t say this lightly, I used to be a cooking instructor in San Diego. Happy New Year, and thank you for your inspiration.

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Amber January 1, 2013

I think this is a great idea! My boyfriend and I have decided for our New Year’s resolution to go vegan. We’ve tried a couple of your recipes before and loved them!

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Daria January 1, 2013

I found that going vegetarian for awhile before going vegan really helped in the transition. When I’d already been forgoing meat for awhile, the meat question, normally a very big problem for people becoming vegans, became a non-issue.

As a vegan I find the most difficult thing finding substitutes for milk, cream, and cheese in recipes. Where those ingredients aren’t the main part of the recipe but are still necessary. Soy milk and other substitutes sometimes work but can make the whole recipe taste off.

Any help with that would be much appreciated. Thanks.

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Mary January 1, 2013

I am a want-to-be vegan who is successful throughout the day and when alone with my husband. The challenging times for me are holidays and, when my children are home from college on break, succumbing to their desire for their favorite meals which contain meat and cheese. Help! I need suggestions for these two situations. Also, pizza – good, New York style think crust pizza – it’s my downfall.

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pamela January 1, 2013

Wow. You have so many comments – I have no idea how you even read them all. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know you have already made a HUGE difference in my life. I have been trying to go vegan for about 4 years and only this year did I really make the switch, although of course, it was all those gradual changes. My main inspiration was your blog and your delicious recipes and your compassion for us all as well as yourself. I never comment but I read your blog every day and watched you climb up that mountain in Arizona and take the trips to Canada and move …. and post yummy chocolate chip cookie dough nut butter. SO, as 2013 opens, just a bit THANK YOU to you for already changing my life for the better. xoxo

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Grace January 1, 2013

Great idea, Angela. I have been a vegetarian for a year now. While I eat mostly vegan, I tend to eat dairy and eggs when they are in baked sweet goods. I have a huge sweet tooth and have had a love affair with sugar for as long as I can remember. I have a large mental block about cooking/making my own meals.

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Emily January 1, 2013

I love love your blog. I thInk the serIes Is an awesome Idea. Last New Years I discovered your blog and decided to go meat free for the year. I’d say it was fairly successful, besides the holidays I stayed away from meat. Now I want to take the next step with getting dairy and eggs out of my diet. In the beginning, how did you do it? Jump right in or was it a more gradual process. I love cheese so much so it is quite a temptation for me and I don’t have the best self control. Also I have struggled with being a little over weight so I am kind of scared of carbs. Which makes me hope I don’t gain more weight bc of the carbs In a vegan dIet. Thanks!!

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Heidi Cullinan January 1, 2013

I enjoy all your posts, the recipes and the stories and the how-tos.

I’ve been vegetarian and various stages of vegan over the past two years, discovering last summer that I have an official egg and milk allergy and that it’s the source of a great deal of the health issues I’ve had. My body feels very fragile and broken from the inside to the outside, not just muscles and weakness but a sense of a whole that is still being rebuilt. I’ve found that I feel much, much better with a strict whole-food, vegan, low-grain diet, but I’ve also found that I’m still negotiating the balances within me: if I don’t get enough of one something or another, I’ll get a crazy deep craving that makes me sick if I don’t address it. I still eat meat on occasion, but it’s a condiment now, this additive I use when my body gets very angry about its absence. I like to keep playing, though, finding a better balance.

I’ve also found your blog in particular to be a huge help in both replacing old favorites and in finding new ones. Comfort food is now vegan mac and cheese and your naughty & nice enchilada casserole. Reading this blog and other vegan websites helps me feel less alone and less frustrated when trying to sort out food: it’s a big difference to be vegan or nearly vegan because I don’t have a choice and because I make a conscious decision. Reading Oh She Glows and other blogs make me feel positive about my diet and less like it’s something I have to do but more like my body being smarter and healthier than my brain when it comes to food.

More than once I’ve cried after making a great vegan recipe; finding good food when so much sense of familiar food has been taken away is a gift I cannot express properly the meaning of. Whatever you do with the blog, I’ll continue to read. I think you’ve found a wonderful niche that both suits your personal purposes and fills needs in others you didn’t expect. In short, true art.

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valerie January 1, 2013

I too am really looking forward to this series. I’ve been vegetarian for years but would really love to be vegan…only thing holding me back is my addiction to convenience foods! I would love to know how to make cooking more convenient to fit in with my busy lifestyle. Also, how to handle social situations where eating is a focus? Thanks so much for this series!

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Deborah January 1, 2013

I’m very excited about this series. I doubt I’ll ever be 100% vegan, but my diet contains fewer animal products every month. I love reading healthy substitutes for foods that I’ve eaten my entire life. Probably the best thing I’ve tried is the soaked & seasoned walnuts in place of meat on a taco salad. I can’t wait to read how you and others make substitutions for meat, dairy, etc. and how people have evolved into a more vegan lifestyle.

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Amy January 1, 2013

This is perfect timing as I complete my transition into a plant-based diet with the new year. Thank you (and everybody leaving comments) for developing this resource! I really appreciate it!

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Jeannie January 1, 2013

Hi -I have been actually trying to figure out how to eat vegan and gluten free and it’s such a big change that I am definitely getting overwhelmed. Some info I would like to see in your series is
Why did u choose to eat vegan? All the benefits.
What to eat for meals and snacks?
How to make sure your getting enough macronutrients -carbs, protein fat?
Getting enough calcium, b12 etc?
How to make meals easier to make?
How to get hubby on board or cook two diff meals?
How to eat when you eat out or at a friends!
Best sugar option if you eat sugar?
Pantry items?
Fridge items?
Safe cleaning products, perfumes, makeup, bath items , laundry cleaners eyc?
How to grow own veggies?
Eating organic!
Than you!!

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Heather January 1, 2013

I think this series would be a fantastic idea!
I have been vegetarian for 4 1/2 years and early in 2012 I made the decision to cut out dairy and refined sugar from my diet. I still eat eggs and honey, but the majority of my diet is plant based. Since I was a teenager I have suffered from cystic acne, depression, and anxiety. I never felt like I had the energy that I should, and I always felt like my body was broken, or missing something crucial.
The first few years of being on a meat-free diet left me feeling confused. I thought that it would be a healthier lifestyle and that I would feel better and maybe my skin would improve. But it wasn’t until last year when I really started to do some research and evaluate my diet that I realized how much white flour, white sugar, milk, cheese (my FAVORITE!), pastas, breads, sweets, ect. I was consuming, and how very little plant-based foods I was getting on a daily basis.
I finally decided that I had to cut these things out for good (which meant no cheesecake…. oh I wanted to cry!). I do not like feeling as though I have no control over what I put into my body. I had an AHA! moment when I realized- you truly ARE what you eat! The things you put into your body are what build you and keep you going.
Since cutting out milk and sugar from my diet, I have felt amazing! And I have much clearer skin! And I honestly crave healthy food now, not junk!
It has certainly taken a lot of effort though, and a lot of research. I feel most of my free time is spent looking up recipes or in the kitchen (although I have started to love this rather than dread it).
So I would definitely love to see more recipes that can be made in bulk and stored when you need a quick snack or dinner (like your veggie burgers!).
I would also love to know more about how to get enough calories into a plant-based diet. I know that most people try to limit their calories, but I have always been slightly underweight and have always struggled with gaining weight, no matter what I eat.

I am grateful to the amount of time and effort you put into what you do! I come here regularly to find inspiration and yummy recipes and I love your sense of humor and all of the great photos! Thank you!

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Jeannie January 1, 2013

Also any must have books? Cookbooks? Movies that may help,

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Jessie January 1, 2013

Love this idea! I have been vegetarian for over half my life and have been vegan on and off for the past couple years. I would love to learn more about your transition as well as Q&As with readers’ challenges and successes transitioning to a plant based diet. I love your blog and look forward to this new series!

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Jenn January 1, 2013

Thanks for this! I was vegan-ish for a year and a half in NYC, but since living in Mexico for the past 2.5 years have gone back to mostly-vegetarian. While it would be VERY HARD to be vegan in this culture and with the selection of grocieries I can buy, my goal is to lean as much as I can in that direction. The thing that gets me here is that, because tofu is very expensive here and there is no tempeh or wheat gluten, I just eat veggies and beans all the time. And then I get to a point where my body is so absolutely starving for a heavier protein-rich meal that I eat a little meat, to satisfy that deep cellular-level hunger. I’d like to avoid this pattern — any ideas are welcomed, with a focus on starting from the basics (dried beans, rice, assorted veggies, etc).

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Lily January 1, 2013

I don’t know if I’m expressing myself well, as I’m not an native English speaker, so bear with me please :) I have been a vegetarian for a few years now. I came to this from the ethical and environmental side of the thing, but I would hope to keep myself healthy too.. So here I am.

I’m not consuming any milk lately, because of all the things I’ve seen and learned, but I would like to keep things like yogurt on the menu by maybe switching more to the vegan side.. Same goes with cheese and egg replacement. But I’m really confused about how to feel about these substitutes?

My logic keeps telling me to eat food that is as simple as possible, with foods that are less processed and with less additives and ingredients. For example ( I think a lot of people have seen this in the internet ) the image of ants on a plate “choosing” real butter over ( normal / reduced fat ) margarine. This is part of a reasoning that makes me feel like butter would be the way to go for some occasions, but can I make myself overlook other things “for ants”? Anybody care to share their wisdom? Could someone enlighten me a little by telling how are products like, another example, Earth Balance seen? It has, among other things, soy beans and palm oil.. What about the environmental and social impacts of Palm oil? Then, a lot of the soy in the world have to do with OGM, so I have to buy organic? Not the case with Earth Balance, ok, but other products.. Tofu, soymilk?

Oh, I think my head just exploded..

Help! :)

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Kathleen January 1, 2013

Angela,
This is such a great idea! (And judging by the comments so far looks like I’m not the only one who thinks so.) I have been vegan for almost a year now but I still have so much to learn and will undoubtedly be re-inspired by your new series. Can’t wait. Happy New Year!

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Red Deception January 1, 2013

I’d be curious to see a regular post on your daily easts. I’m vegan myself, but always feel like I’m in a rut. Same thing every day, because I’m not sure what else to do with my meals!

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Amy January 1, 2013

Ditto!

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Laurie January 1, 2013

Hi Angela – I am relatively new to your website but am already addicted to the overnight oats and also the date granola bars. They have become a staple in my house. I would love some suggestions for working mothers on how to find the time to cook healthy (vegan – ish) and how to get a 4 year old interested in healthy foods. I find myself always under a time crunch and this makes it hard to cook healthier at least for me. I so want 2013 to be a year of better health including weight loss for me (about 25 lbs). Thanks for providing such a great website.

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Janine Mcgowan January 1, 2013

Hi Happy New Year….I have been thinking about becoming a vegan living in a house of three terrible meaters I need help where to start even with my grocery list. I live in a small town(4 hours is nearest city Adelaide)…..so my shopping for certain things like flax eggs will be very limited……I love your post and reading comments from all over the world

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Amy January 1, 2013

So excited to read!! LOVE your recipes and am craving more knowledge to make sure my body is getting all the right nutrients! My biggest struggle is feeling trapped into eating more carbohydrates when eating out (someone else chooses a place with few options).

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Megan January 1, 2013

Maybe a guide for how to tweak substitutions? For example, I’ve had good luck with flax eggs in cookies and quick breads, but not so much with veggie-burger-like bean patties (that hold together great with a chicken egg, but are crumbly and dry with a flax egg). Perhaps a list of suggestions for things like “if your dough is too crumbly, try…” and “if your cookie dough is too soft, then add…” ?

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Ali @ WHOLEistically Fit January 1, 2013

Wow, this is going to be a wonderful series and I can’t wait! :D I’m not vegan, but because I write a healthy living blog, I’m excited to learn more about this dietary lifestyle so that I can better serve my readers who follow a vegan lifestyle. One of my questions is about GMOs – what are your thoughts on them? In my limited research on the subject, it seems that they are ubiquitous in many soy and other vegetarian products. I’d love to hear your take on them and if you try to avoid them or not and why. And, if you do try to avoid them, what are your favorite non-GMO brands etc.

Happy New Year, by the way!! May 2013 bring with it movement and growth from the rut you feel like you’ve been in. :)

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stephanie January 1, 2013

I am so excited about this! I found your Blog about a year ago and read regularly. I am a pescatarian and have thoroughly enjoyed your recipes. Thank you for all of the helpful information.

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Sara January 1, 2013

Such a great idea, going vegan seems so intimidating for me. I don’t think I would ever go completely vegan, but I love trying out your recipes and cutting out dairy as much as possible. In the new year I’m going to try buying earth balance instead of butter and cutting way back on my cheese consumption. I do love cheese and yogurt.. and I think it would be very hard to give them up. I’ve tried a couple vegan cheeses and they are ok.. Have you found a good substitute for yogurt? Another reason for not going vegan is that I have my own chickens and I love fresh eggs and knowing exactly where they come from makes me totally ok with eating them!

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Adrienne J January 1, 2013

Such perfect timing! Just this past month, my husband and I decided to attempt to go Vegan after seeing some not so nice animal videos. I’m a little overwhelmed with the transition and cannot wait for the series to begin!!

I have one topic to ask about. How do you refuse non-vegan foods in public? How do you prepare to eat in social and/or family settings? We don’t want to hurt people’s feelings but we also don’t want to ‘cheat’ for the cause.

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Kali January 1, 2013

I am so excited that you will be sharing some of your wisdom on transitioning to a vegan lifestyle. I have been working on my own transition from vegetarian to vegan over the last few months and was sort of waiting until after the holidays (at my mom’s request!) to make it easier on my hosts food wise, although I’ve been mostly vegan for the past month.

There are a few things I am still struggling with. I find it really difficult to go out and eat or go to others houses in some circumstances. Often I can suggest a place to go at which it is easier for me to get a vegan dish but other times I am not in the position where I can do so (it’s rude, or no one wants to go there) and I find it really hard to find something on the menu that doesn’t have dairy in it that’s easy to omit upon request. What do I do? Also, when going to others houses, sometimes I can bring my own dish so there is something to eat, which is great. I did that last night for our New Years Eve Party. However, all I got to eat was my dish (the salad) because everything else had dairy or meat or both in it, and then I was starving for most of the night – I ended up eating a lot of the vegan dessert I brought to fill up and then felt sick from all the sugar I ate. How could I have better handled that situation?

I am also struggling with replacing chocolate. I know there is vegan chocolate out there but it’s just not the same as chocolate with some milk fat in it. Any recommendations on some awesome brands?

Finally I am struggling with others opinions about my diet choices. I have done a lot of research on how to go vegan and thrive, but my meat-eating friends don’t think it’s enough. I also struggled with an eating disorder in the past and I think they are having a hard time believing that my change in diet actually stems from healthy thoughts and not from old unhealthy beliefs. How do I reassure them that I know what I’m doing and I am actually doing this for my own health?

Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge – I love reading your posts and trying out your recipes! Your butternut squash burritos have become my new favorite dish :) Happy New Year!

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Laura January 1, 2013

I love your site tho I’m mostly a lurker. Because of your site, I started doing the Green Monster about 5 months ago. Shocked that I love it. Now my whole family does it a few times a week. Because of that, we’re headed into juicing which we love. You make healthy choices appealing to even us pizza&burger loving peeps. I’d say this series is a great idea. My struggles are replacing my old icky standbys… But we’re getting there! And can completely relate to the flax egg & nuts questions. Your tutorial on whipped coconut cream was a lifesaver. Thanks for all you do!

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Carolyn January 1, 2013

Hi Angela,

I found your blog about a month ago and have really enjoyed it. I would love to get ideas for more hearty vegetarian/vegan meals which would satisfy my carnivore teenage boys who never stop eating! Happy New Year and thanks for being so inspiring.

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Kate January 1, 2013

Angela,

This is great. I am not vegan, nor do I intend to go that way anytime soon, but I do like to consistently incorporate vegan/vegetarian meals into my diet. Your ideas and recipes simply can’t be beat! I also have a dairy allergy, so can always use ideas for substitutes for creams, yogurts, etc.
I am also interested in what Barbara said above, about your fall-back, quick, weekday “come home and need to make something delicious immediately” meals.

Thank you for all your work on this blog, and sharing your stories and skills with us. Here’s to 2013!

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Florence January 1, 2013

You are totally awesome Angela! I know exactly that feeling of wanting to do something on a level that will have more of an impact, and knowing that you are able, but figuring out the best way can be extremely challenging. I definitely think this is a great idea! I am in. My family and I eat veggie about 80% of the time and have all the vegan substitutes on hand most of the time…but it is still in my mind for some reason…just easier to stick an animal protein in somewhere along the way… I get real upset with myself because I love animals more than anything and after seeing what they endure..I am not able to comprehend how it is that I can still buy some piece of meat or fish and still have any conscience. I am SO looking forward to clicking on your page every other day or so and reading your words of wisdom, inspiration and pure deliciousness. By the way those coconut bars are AMAZING!!! THANKS for all you do and WHO YOU ARE!

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Tish January 1, 2013

Angela, wondering if you will write about how people raised on the standard American diet have a preconceived notion that then need large quantities of protein for each meal or a large animal based meat as the center of their dish and then they try to translate that to veganism with using meat replacements.

I think the most important thing about being vegan is understanding and freeing yourself from thinking that every meal needs to be focused on a large protein, i love having a bunch of veggies for a meal that are considered sides in the Standard American Diet. Like you said it is not about taking away the animal products but adding in all the plant based products.

Tell people they don’t need to focus on getting XX amount of protein, they don’t need to worry about replacements for dairy products

My husband is a 2:40 marathoner vegan and does not take any protein supplements, eat anything to try and hit a protein goal or get extra protein and never eats meat or dairy supplements.

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