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 }

Brittani January 1, 2013

Love the new ideas Angela! I have been following your blog for about a year now and find it a great inspiration when trying to cook vegan meals for my fiancé and I. I will be getting married in about 6 months and am looking into becoming vegan to kick start my year and goals for the wedding. I have been vegetarian for 4 years now and can go vegan for a short time but never stick to it but I’m looking forward to the new blogs to keep me focused!

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Ivy January 1, 2013

Oh my goodness…so excited for your book! You continue to be an inspiration for me! Keep up the amazing work:)

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katy January 1, 2013

I am struggling to stay vegan:( I have 3 meat eaters to cook for a small budget and no time!! living in the suburbs of michigan doesnt help ! Its difficult to find groceries and impossible to eat out/:

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Tania January 1, 2013

I am so happy you are starting this series! Changing our eating habits from eating whatever to vegan is, I find, extremely challenging. Some questions would be how to get the daily recommended portions or protein, calcium, etc. But all these questions I’m sure I can google. My main question is twofold, how do I deal with the cravings for tartar, seafood and mostly cheese, and, how do I get the spouse and stepchildren on board as much as I can.

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Shannon January 1, 2013

I think this will be a wonderful series! My husband and I watched the documentary Forks Over Knives a few months ago and decided to try a vegan diet. I really enjoy it because my story is almost exactly the same as yours–fluctuating weight and battling eating disorders. I’m still very new to this way of eating, and I have not been 100% faithful. I do feel better, though so I want to commit to it. My husband loses weight easily; since September, he has already lost over 10 pounds no matter how much protein I put into him. A couple of the books other readers have mentioned sound helpful. Any other suggestions?

Also, I used to just take a cheap, generic multivitamin, but I’ve been reading up on everything from vitamins to supplements to probiotics. I’m slightly overwhelmed and would love to hear anything you recommend for a 22-year-old female.

Your blog has been immensely helpful to me. I cannot even explain how grateful I am for your recipes because I honestly didn’t think I’d stag committed to the diet at all. When I started eating vegan, I had very little knowledge of how to change my cooking. Thanks to you, the recipes I’ve tried out are so good that even my Southern meat and potatoes family enjoys them.

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Lauren @ Fun, Fit and Fabulous! January 1, 2013

I am extremely excited about this series! I don’t eat a lot of meat currently, and definitely feel better when I eat less; however, I am an extremely active person (I teach group exercise for a livivng), and am always worried that I would have a hard time correctly nourishing my body if I was vegan. I am so excited to learn more!

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Susan January 1, 2013

I’m sure the series will be great – given the enthusiasm and energy you bring to the blog. While I don’t necessarily want to be vegan, I greatly enjoy your recipes, regularly eat a vegetarian lunch and a meat free dinner at least once a week. I look forward to what you have in store for us, your loyal readers in 2013.

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Rachael January 1, 2013

Oh Angela, you make it look so easy and amazing! But as a novice vegan, I am beginning to feel that unless I dedicate alot of time and money into cooking, I will be destined to eat canned beans and stewed veges in a tomato-based sauce for the rest of my life :(
At the moment I am feeling the immense loss of the food groups I have eliminated from my diet, rather than the exhileration that comes with eating whole, clean food. I’m bingeing on ‘bad’ vegan food beacause I’m not satisfied with the food I’m preparing. I was quite vocal about my conversion to veganism, so am really looking forward to your how-to series to turn me around from ‘gosh, what have I done…?’ to ‘OMG, look what I have done!!’

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Katie January 1, 2013

Great idea! I’ve been vegan for a little while now but feel like I still have a lot to learn. One thing I have am curious is about is hownyou handle being married to a non-vegan and whether you ever have to fight the urge to push him toward veganism. My husband is very supportive of me and eats my vegan meals most nights. I don’t like to get preachy at all toward people who eat meat, but occasionally find myself wanting to be with my husband. Mostly because he knows all the reasons I eating animal products and yet seems completely unphased. He watched Vegucated with me recently and seemed moderately affected by it but then went out and got a huge chicken burrito the next day. It was very challenging for me to not ask how the heck he could eat that right after seeing that movie.

Have you ever had to deal with such feelings?

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NP January 2, 2013

Love the blog – a nice balance of healthy recipes and positive/healthy living advice. My questions:
1. I am mostly vegan but also am trying to limit my consumption of processed foods. Any suggestions for the healthiest dairy substitutes (the long list of ingredients on non-dairy margarine is what got me thinking about this topic).
2. Meal planning – day to day.
3. Meal ideas for entertaining – after 17 years of vegetarianism/veganism, I still struggle with coming up with a veg menu that is satisfying to all my guests.

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Lisa Frank January 2, 2013

Oh, I will be so happy to read your new posts, Angela! I’ve been following your blog for about 6 months now and love your recipes. I don’t plan to go vegan per se, but I do want to greatly increase the volume of veggies and fruits I eat and focus on eating more wholesome foods overall. I love to try new foods and will eat pretty much anything, but sometimes meal planning for others who don’t share my food philosophy/palette is very frustrating! This last week we had house guests and I was trying to cater to 4 adults: myself, 1 vegan, 1 diabetic who needs to limit meat/dairy/sugar and has a long list of veggies he hates, and my husband whose motto is “It isn’t a meal without meat” and has an even longer list of veggies he won’t eat. Oh, and I also have a 3 and 6 year old to feed. I was about ready to pull my hair out and tell everyone to go make their own PB&J’s! :)

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Nicole Marie Story January 2, 2013

I think that this will be a great series. Although I’ve already made the transition, my ways are very extreme and unconventional. To have a kind and compassionate resource (in addition to Alicia Silverstone’s The Kind Life) shall be lovely; and if what you produce is good, I shall refer vegan wannabes to it. Happy New Year, Angela!

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bySarahT January 2, 2013

Great idea for a series!

My husband and I eat mainly vegetarian at home, and hubs was recently diagnosed as lactose intolerant – so I’ve become more and more interested in vegan eats. My biggest challenge to switching over entirely has to do with meals outside the home – it’s hard to be at a family function for dinner and only have veggie sides as our options. I can’t imagine any meal consisting only of steamed brocolli and potatoes. Are there super-quick protein additions we could be thinking about?

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christine January 2, 2013

Hi Ange, My daughter is an Ange too, actually she is Andrea but it often gets shortened to Ange. I am you not typical blog reader, I am about your mothers age (my daughter is a couple years younger than you). I stumbled on your blog researching vegan lifestyles and recipes. My spouse and I after being die hard meat eaters our entire lives turned vegan(gasp) a mere 6 months ago. What brought about this big change? Well a friend had been pushing Forks over Knives at us for a couple months and we finally watched it. I then proceeded to watch Food Inc ( in 15-20 minute blocks because I was so appalled and kept tearing up). Since this literally life changing experience we will be forever vegan. We ocassionally eat some fish or dairy due to the fact we travel a lot and my husband eats out on business but at home and about 95% of the time no animal products are consumed by us. I have to say it was harder and yet easier than I expected. I am a “home chef” complete with over 100 cookbooks ( was 200 but I de-cluttered and donated to goodwill)and a gourmet kitchen with every convenience known. Cooking has been my hobby for many years. I was a bit worried how this new lifestyle would affect one of my favourite pastimes (as well as the eating part). I can safely say that we eat fabulous flavourful and more varied meals than ever. We do not miss eating “flesh” and animal secretions in the least. I have lost about 14 pounds and feel fabulous. With the new year upon us I am going to try to lose another 30ish pounds and re-incorporate exercise into my regular routine. I have been a semi-regular exerciser most of my life but a post half-marathon injury about 5 years ago curtailed my running and since then I exercise in spurts. I want to get fit and fabulous by my 55th birthday next year.I have never had an eating disorder other than a great love of food and over eating, I have struggled with weight gain most of my adult life and now I am “older” it is even harder. Anyhow , as I said I stumbled on your fabulous and inspiring blog and I am a lurker who decided to come out of the closet so to speak. I have spent the last several days reading your blog from the beginning. Can’t wait for your cookbook. Luv Sketchie!!!!!! Keep up the great job!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Christine

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suzanne January 2, 2013

I love this idea. You have a way of relating info that is easy to understand, inspiring and Your honesty and ability to be vulnerable allows others (at least me) to feel inspired by you and what you write – and not threatened or feeling like “I could never do that”. Of course, your recipes and photography are incredible!
I would love to read success stories.
The main thing I wonder with veganism – is it truly healthier for everyone? I have read some books, watched documentaries etc.Mostly it makes sense and I believe is the best diet for me, but some people’s health suffers if they cut out all animal products (even very well informed, health minded people). I would never try to convince someone to eat any particular way, but just wonder about this question in general.
Another question – with a vegan diet, I feel like I eat more fat (though it is healthy fat mostly) – but this is a difficult transition for someone who was sucked into the ‘fat free’ fad. Some suggestions for coping with that would be great too.
Thanks for your time and effort on this blog Angela!

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Sheel January 2, 2013

I love this idea!! I decided to go vegan for 30 days in September and loved it. I did find it hard to maintain my veganism when I was out with friends or at someone else’s home though and after the 30 days I chose to make an effort to continue making vegan choices but not be too hard on myself when it wasn’t as possible. But I’d love to get more into it again and I think your posts will be of huge help! Here are just a few questions I would love to know the answers to:

What are your thoughts on nutritional yeast? I try to avoid anything that’s processed so I haven’t started using it and use ground cashews for most cheesy things instead. I’d love to know what you think.
Also, is there a good vegan yogourt out there? I’ve only been able to find one brand so far and it really wasn’t very good.

Also, I think readers’ success stores would be a lot of fun. Can’t wait to read your new posts!!

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Sara January 2, 2013

I agree with many of the other comments about the social aspect often being the hardest part. There can be a lot of judgement, especially from family members, and there is also the “ok, everyone wants to meet at ______ restaurant, what the heck am I going to eat??” I am fortunate in that I live in Los Angeles, where there is a plethora of vegan restaurants and options, and we also have top quality produce available year round, but I wonder what vegans in other parts of the country do!

I wanted to comment also about gluten intolerance that so many people struggle with. I’ve read that in San Francisco, many bakers are experimenting with locally grown varieties of heirloom wheat that western farmers are starting to grow. Apparently there are literally hundreds of varieties with a wide range of texture, color and scents and it seems that they don’t trigger the same allergic reaction as the commercially available, bleached AP flours that most of us are used to. So, it may not be the wheat itself, but rather the way it’s processed. Sunset Magazine had a great article on it (hope for people who love bread but thought they were gluten intolerant!): http://www.sunset.com/food-wine/techniques/new-wheat-flour-varieties-00418000079165/

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Nikki January 2, 2013

Hi Angela – I went vegan for about 6 months last year but since I work pretty hectic hours I didn’t have the time to commit to researching recipes and really finding ones I enjoyed eating that didn’t leave me feeling deprived. I have loved every single one of your recipes, my husband agrees that if I had found this site I would have enjoyed veganism a lot more! I would suggest maybe putting together a list of recommended recipes/shopping list for people who want to give it a shot. Also, I found I ate a lot more carbs on a vegan diet and actually ended up gaining weight, what are your suggestions to avoid that?

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Fran January 2, 2013

HI Nikki

The Starch Solution teaches that it’s great to eat carbs – but unprocessed carbs and without added fat. That would mean bake your potatoes and don’t eat french fries, as an example. Try cutting out the fat and seeing what happens.

Fran

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Shira January 2, 2013

I love this idea! Your recipes are so fantastic, most recently made your roasted tomato and coconut soup… my meat-eating (funny title!) is ooooobsessed with it!! And I am too ;) They make veganism a no-brainer I think! I am mostly vegan my default.. I’m allergic to dairy, meat usually makes me nauseas, and eggs make me sick to my stomach/gross me out majorly (always have, since I was a kid.. the concept/texture). I’ll eat fish or chicken out or at family dinners, sometimes, I’d love more tips on all things vegan such as eating out and more basic recipes, because I just kinda wing it, since it happened somewhat organically. I know you’ve discussed it before here, but info about living with a partner who wants meat would be great to hear too. Your blog is awesome Angela, and I’m totally looking forward to this series!

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Shira January 2, 2013

ETA meat-eating **boyfriend**

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Fran January 2, 2013

HI. Thanks for this Angela!

I’ve been 99% vegan for about 10 months. This high fiber diet is great for my constitution, but not pleasant for people around me. I thought my system would get used to it after a while, but no.

any suggestions you can offer would be most welcome!!!

Thanks!

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Sarah January 2, 2013

This is such a great idea!!!
I am definitely interested in information on substitutes (yogurt, sour cream, heavy cream, butter) and on how to get enough protein without overdoing the soy. Looking forward to the series;-)

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Liz @ I Heart Vegetables January 2, 2013

Angela, you do so much to help educate people on veganism!! Keep on doing amazing things :)

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Ashley January 2, 2013

Hi there! I got a juicer for the holidays and plan on incorporating a juice a day to keep me energized…can you suggest 1-3 recipes for veggie juices please? Thanks!!

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Ashleyy January 2, 2013

excellent! I am a new vegetarian (only a month in!) and I am also looking to incorporate vegan options as well…though I don’t know if I would ever go fully vegan.

There have already been several issues that have come up and I would be interested to see how others feel about it.

for example, I abhorr waste, and if it is a matter of throwing out meat or eating it…what to do? (like for example, my mom gave me a container of pasta and it had chicken it in, as she forgot I was vegetarian…i didn’t realize this until I heated it up at work for lunch…I really struggled with whether it was better to eat the meat or just throw it in the garbage. i ended up trashing it but that is now a guilt i have to face).

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Ellie January 2, 2013

I am moving towards a vegan diet for to be both lean and green in 2013:) So I am in love with this
Thanks

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Autumn January 2, 2013

Angela,

I just wanted to say, I think its wonderful you are putting this together. Congratulations on following where your heart is leading, and really doing what you love. I think this will be so beneficial to many people who are transitioning or contemplating doing so; or even to some who are already vegan! Its always good to read about someone’s journey, with their successes and failures-it makes something seem more attainable and possible; it provides a sense of support knowing someone else out there faced the same challenges etc.

Thank you for bringing such wonderful posts and recipes into my life and many others’! I can’t tell you how many recipes I’ve made from your website and served, especially to non-vegan friends, who have absolutely loved your creations!! (You’re helping me convince the masses my “hippie food” is pretty darn good :p) You are doing amazing things and you ARE making a difference. Never forget that. Happy New Year!!!

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Ann January 2, 2013

This is great! I love getting your advise on these issues.

I’ve been “leaning in” to Veganism for pretty much all of 2012, I still stuggle though with the social aspects of veganism, and the restaurants/travel aspect. I guess in addition to your practical attacks to such situations, what do you tell yourself/how do you stay committed when you’re with friends and family and there is very little on the menu to eat, and you feel like you’re missing out? And, are you always calling the shots on where you and Eric eat out? Doesn’t that feel a little uncomfortable? Anyhoo, those are my thoughts. I’m such a people-pleasing southern girl, and as of now I am cooking and buying vegan, but if I’m invited somewhere I’ll eat what they serve if there is no clear veggie option and I’ll order seafood if there is no vegan option at a restaurant, which is so common!

Thanks for all that you do, you have certainly impacted my household in a major, positive way!

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Christine January 2, 2013

Hi Angela! I’m really looking forward to this. I can tell you that the one thing I struggle with more than anything else BY FAR is how to eat a plant-based diet when others in my household are not, especially when I am preparing food for and feeding those other people. So far, I have found that vegan food just doesn’t taste as good, so I’m having trouble getting my family to be happy with me making a lot of it. I can get them to eat plant-based a couple times a week, but that’s pretty much it. So any techniques or strategies that you have heard would be great. I know there are plenty of vegans and vegetarians whose spouse and kids eat meat and dairy, so I’m guessing there are just some tips on how I can keep everyone well fed and happy. Thanks!!!

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Roxanne Forgue January 2, 2013

Hi Angela!
I just want to say that my boyfriend and I are on week four of going vegan. This is our second attempt. We have fallen off the wagon especially over the holiday season. But I want to thank you because I literally check your page daily and use your recipes for almost every meal. I feel good and I have more energy. Thanks again!
Roxanne

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Angela (Oh She Glows) January 2, 2013

Goodluck and thanks for trying the recipes! I wish you the most success with your goals.

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Christy January 2, 2013

Hi Angela!
Could you do a post in this series on how I can create my own vegan recipes? Where do I start? What ratios do you use in baking? What ingredients should I use? Any other tips and suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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Diana January 3, 2013

This is a great post and I love reading everyone’s comments. I read a book called Healthy Eating, Healthy World by J. Morris Hicks that really convinced me to start changing my diet — for my health, for the environment and for animal welfare. I’m also taking baby steps and my family gets very defensive whenever we talk about my decision, as though I were trying to force them to change as well (their idea of moderation is eating meat twice daily!) Anyways, I’m glad I found this site! Here’s to more and more plant based diets!

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Becca January 3, 2013

I would love to know how to eat and cook when your partner isn’t vegan.

I don’t think Eric is vegan. Do you try ever to “convert him”? Are you sad that he hasnt adopted the diet that you have? Do you two ever eat separate meals? Does he ever want to go to a Steakhouse and you join him although it wont be the best restaurant for a vegan? My husband was never vegan when I was; we made it work, but there were times when I really wished he was.

I am curious how others approach this and of course how you two make it work!

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Yolanda January 3, 2013

Hi Angela. Thank you for your warm heart towards your readers. I must say that you, your blog and your recipes have definitely been an inspiration to me as I try to adapt my eating habits to vegan. Your baby steps approach is sooooo my way of thinking. Because when I try to do it all at once, I too, get paralyzed by trying to be perfect and then say “forget it” when it’s not.

My dilemma is my kids! Girlfriend, they are not into it all. I have to sneak it in. Like, one day, I went to Whole Foods and got the mock chicken salad, which I happen to love. However, I had the guy relabel it as chicken salad because my kids are super smart…they read labels, lol. So, is there a series that you can create for recipes that tweens and teens will like. I should mention that my kids are 11 and 16 year old boys who are football and lacrosse players. Very, VERY active.

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Kristie Clark January 4, 2013

I decided to go vegan but always have ate meat and dairy and all the stuff. Anyone have any advice for a person who is going vegan but family is not. I am hoping they will follow someday but my hubby is meat and potato person. I LOVE this blog! Does anyone have any ideas for good recipes for a newby all together. I will be following this series getting ready to print off now. It can seem a bit overwhelming though at first all the info. So thats why I am asking for advice for a good go to meal etc. Thanks so much!

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Joy January 4, 2013

Thank you, thank you, thank you for being so amazing!

You stated above: “…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.” I do, too! And this is the year I’m breaking out of that box. I’m glad I’m not alone! Best of luck to you! Thanks for steering me toward veganism! Can’t wait for your cookbook!!!

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Michelle January 4, 2013

I’m really looking forward to this series! I’ve been following a roughly 90% vegan diet, and have a new years resolution of going all the way!

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Lisa Langenfeld January 4, 2013

I literally spit out my tea when I read the “will my husband fart less if I soak his nuts” part. HAHA! Still laughing over here! :) Thanks for the post – I love all your recipes and look forward to more vegan ones in the future. I’m not 100% vegan (love fresh seafood and eggs), but I do enjoy vegan recipes.

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Alejandra January 5, 2013

This is a great idea, because I know that people who are transitioning into a plant diet/veganism have loads of questions regarding food and nutrients. I actually have two that has been lingering for awhile and hopefully can get an answer. I have not been a fan of tofu/tempeh and eggless eggs, and was wondering if I can still be a healthy vegan without consuming processed vegan foods such as this. Also, I am allergic to nuts and soy and can not intake any nut or soy based milk. Is there any other alternatives which are nut/soy free and can still provide the daily requirements for calcium without all the added sugar?

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Kiana January 5, 2013

I am not the main meal-cooker in my family, and because I do not control everything made, my family continues to use the unhealthy ingredients that I am trying to shift away from. What can I do to encourage my family that eating vegetarian (and now especially, since i am lactose intolerant, vegan) without sacrificing taste, with recipes easy for the skeptics to cook? I want to find recipes that will ‘convert’ my family to eating with a different mindset. Thank you for this series, I believe many of the ideas behind it are right up my alley!

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Mallory January 7, 2013

There are many great ways to get protein in a vegan diet. Tofu is a must, but there are many grains and legumes that will supply plenty of plant based protein. My favorites are quinoa, lentils, forbidden rice, and black beans.

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