If you’re going vegan, I would recommend eating all of the food you already have or giving it away as you make the transition, rather than just throwing it in the trash. After all, a big part of this lifestyle is lessening one’s impact on the environment. Also, slowly making changes is easier than going cold turkey- at least I thought so. I found that by the time I got to my last few non-vegan items, it felt kind of gross even eating the stuff. Frozen cheese pizza instead of a fresh vegetable stir-fry? No bueno.
The next issue will be to sort through the variety of options you now have to replace the former food staples in your kitchen. Here are the products I would initially buy to re-stock my refrigerator and cabinets:
- Soy Milk or Almond Milk – plain or vanilla-flavored
- If you are a fan of sandwiches, vegan bread (no milk or eggs) or whole wheat wraps
- Olive oil
- Earth Balance vegan alternative to butter
- Several cans of your favorite varieties of beans
- If you’re like me and you like to snack, yummy vegan snack foods: tortilla chips, vegetable chips, hummus, granola bars, trail mix, etc.
- 3 or 4 items you can use to throw together a salad: spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, red bell peppers, avocados, and a vegan salad dressing, like olive oil and vinegar
- Vegan cereal or breakfast food (most cereals are vegan, so this really isn’t too tricky)
- Vitamin B12 and Omega-3 Supplements – Vitamin B12 is not found in plant-based diet, and Omega-3 fatty acids exist, but not in large enough quantities
If you like to bake, you will have to pick up different items here and there, depending on the recipe and the cook books/websites you use. Some recipes call for xanthan gum, arrowroot powder, or different kinds of flour. Since these items can be rather pricey, I would advise waiting to purchase them until you are sure they will be of use to you. It is a good idea to have the following items available, though:
- Agave sweetener
- Vegan chocolate chips
With these items in your pantry, you will be at a good starting place to start whipping up some vegan dishes. Remember to use seasonal produce, which is cheaper, more flavorful, and contributes less to globalization and global warming. Try shopping at farmers markets. For busy nights, try out soups and frozen dishes from Amy’s Kitchen, sold at lots of mainstream grocery stores these days. You don’t have to buy and try every vegan product all at once. Becoming vegan is a process and a daily adventure. You can do as little or as much as you want to start out. Sure, there are lots of expensive products out on the market, but if you are a smart consumer, I think you will find that your grocery bill will be reasonable. Just try not become a smug vegan as you walk out of the store with your healthy vegan groceries in your canvas tote bags.