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Reply to Sharnett's Post "New to Vegweb"

I am unable to reply directly to your post because the site wants me to type in a word form that isn't even showing.  So I will post here and hope you see it. 



Hi Sharnett!  Welcome!  I must warn you up front that the forums here have been very quiet over the last year.  I have been checking in from time to time and I know a few others respond here and there.  At any rate, congratulations on the decision to become vegan!  It can seem daunting if you are starting from scratch but it's a very doable goal.  Even if you start slowly and replace one or two meals a day with all plant based food, or do a few days a week all vegetarian or vegan, that is a good start.  Some good resources to check out for nutrition and how to get started are (I can't provide direct links as the system won't let me post if I do):


Vegan Outreach...their website has a "starter guide" section with some great tips on transitioning to vegan and you can download their free starter kit booklet as a PDF file or request that they send you a copy in the mail for free.  I like that kit because it gives a basic overall explanation of nutrition for vegans, food substitutes, and suggestions for meals as well as a few recipes. 


When I first went vegan (just over 2 1/2 years ago) I found the book "Becoming Vegan: The Complete Guide to Adopting a Healthy Plant-Based Diet" by Brenda Davis, R.D., extremely helpful.  She goes into great detail about vegan nutrition and uses science based evidence, and she also provides sample menus for adults, children, elderly, athletes, etc.  Extremely informative and helpful.  You can get her book through used for cheap or you might be able to find it at the public library.     


The Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) is also an excellent online resource (they also publish the Vegetarian Journal which is actually all vegan and you can find it at Barnes and Noble bookstores).  Go to their website and click on the vegan info tab and you will get a wealth of information.  I love that group because they do a lot of research and provide information for mainstream people who like to eat out or can't afford exotic or unusual foods.  They provide basic nutrition information and economical but healthful recipes for vegans as well as information about eating out as a vegan with specific information about vegan fare at chain restaurants.  They really do a lot of work for you in figuring out what is vegan and what isn't at restaurants.  They have a book called "Meatless Meals for Working People" which provides not only quick and simple but healthful recipes (which is nice when you are first learning how to cook as a vegan) but they list a lot of common commercial products and brands that are vegan or vegetarian (such as frozen burritos, canned soups, salad dressings, gravy mixes etc).  In fact I have a copy and have been looking for the right person to give it to so if you want a free copy just let me know.  I have mailed books and other materials to fellow vegans online before and it is no problem.  :)


On a personal level, I went vegan overnight (not only as far as food but also nonfood products etc) from omnivore, but it was easy for me because I was intolerant to dairy and did not eat a lot of meat anyway and I loved bean dishes and plant based milks already.  I was also fortunate to receive a small inheritence at the same time (though sad that I lost my Grandma) which helped me replace a lot of things right away.  What helped on a smaller scale though was listing some of my favorite foods that were already naturally vegan friendly and using those as a base and then branching out from there.  For example I liked oatmeal , fresh fruits, beans on toast, that sort of thing for breakfast.  I liked spaghetti with homemade tomato sauce, or split pea soup (vegetarian style), or burritos with refried bean filling and veggies, or baked beans with sauces and gravies on top and brocoli on the side.  So I would make a menu of what to eat each day for a week with what I already knew and had on hand as plant based.  I based my protein concentration (and still do) on beans/legumes, nuts and seeds, whole grains like whole wheat bread, bulgur, brown or wild rice, quinoa, buckwheat and tempeh and tofu.  I learned that I could get my calcium needs met with leafy greens like kale, bok choy, collard greens, and brocoli as well as sesame seeds, molasses, and plant based milks and soy or coconut milk based yogurts.  Leafy greens and molasses as well as most beans are also excellent sources of iron.  I also did a LOT of browsing through Vegweb and I will tell you honestly that I relied HEAVILY on this site in the early days when I was learning to transition all my recipes to vegan versions (as well as find new ones).  There are just so many recipes on here it is insane.  I have a three ring binder notebook loaded with recipes from here.  And there is such a variety, from all raw to comfort food to foreign fare.  I would find recipes I had the ingredients for and use those.  I have since branched waaaay out and my repetoire is vastly more than it ever was when I was an omnivore.  Once you get the hang of it you will not be deprived!  Just make sure to eat enough.  This is the biggest problem for new vegans.  They cut out the meat and dairy but do not replace those calories and then feel week and tired.  I learned I needed to increase the volume of what I ate because I relied more on vegetables and fruits and high fiber foods than before, but I also needed to include healthy fats like nuts or nut butters, avocados, coconut, seeds, that sort of thing for satiety.  I used to make my own bread for a long time because vegan commercial breads are sometimes difficult to find, but I do on occasion use Ezekiel brand or Food for Life bread or Rudys.  I also discovered a local bakery that makes all vegan bread.  But whole wheat seeded bread was also a lifesaver in the early days for satiety.  And sweet potatoes are awesome too. 


Sometimes you can find local vegan or vegetarian groups in your area through "".  Meeting with vegans in person is an awesome experience and provides support and lots of knowledge and experience.  There are also some alternative health food stores that offer plant based cooking classes so if there is something like this in your area check out their classes.  If not, do not be discouraged, you are not alone!  While veganism and plant based eating is getting more mainstream, we are still in the minority and at times it can be lonely.  But as far as food and cookbooks and so on there are tons more options now than ever before.  Another favorite recipe book I have is "Forks Over Knives".  The recipes in there are fairly simple, economical, and very healhful.  That book concentrates on not using oils and does go heavy on tofu which I unfortunately can not tolerate (I can tolerate all other soy just not tofu for whatever reason).  different vegan cookbooks have different focuses.  Most vegan cookbooks however, have introduction sections that help you stock your pantry with vegan pantry essentials (think nutritional yeast, plant milks, earth balance vegan butter spread, cider vinegar, cornstarch, flax meal or seed, etc).  And they have tips on substituting for eggs, dairy, meat etc. so don't overlook recipe books as a resource. 


I could go on and on but I don't want to overwhelm you too much.  I hope this helps!  Feel free to ask questions any time.  Welcome again!




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