If you read some of my earlier posts you might have noticed that I was vegan for a good stretch of time. About two years, actually. I went straight from a full meat eating diet to vegan. I didn’t pass through vegetarian or pescatarian, so I literally of had no idea what I was doing. One day I just made the change!
I did pretty much everything through a lot of trial and error and hours and hours and hours of reading blog articles. I thought it would be good to post an article sharing what I learned and some tips to cooke vegan food you’ll actually like! There are so many different posts I could write about stocking your kitchen, eating out, and choosing meal ideas (check out my list of 40+ vegan recipes), but this is a general list of tips that you should use to cook as a guideline to delicious meals yourself! Learn from my mistakes – I made them so you don’t have to!
Whether you’re a new vegan, a seasoned vegan vet, or just someone looking to live a more plant-based life, I hope you enjoy these 10 tips to cook vegan food you’ll actually like!
1. Make vegan versions of your favorite foods. Kind of… Is there a comfort food you’re really missing? Do you really love mac and cheese? I’ve got some semi-bad news for you. Nothing will taste exactly like the comfort food you’re used to. However, if you make it your mission to make a “copy-cat” version of one of your favorite non-vegan foods, you’ll be so satisfied when you achieve that! I had plenty of foods I missed while I was vegan, but as long as you keep a (slightly) open mind, you can recreate something pretty close to the original. Plus, with how many meat substitutes there are on the market if you don’t like one, there are plenty of others you can choose from! Don’t get discouraged, you can do it! I remember one time when I went home for Christmas, my mum and I thought up the recipe for Vegan Spring Rolls (the ones pictured above). I used to love shrimp spring rolls, but this version – though not exactly the same – is also delicious!!
2. Don’t forget your sweet tooth! Just because most processed desserts have non-vegan ingredients in them (eggs, milk, butter, etc), it doesn’t mean that you have to give up desserts all together! If you cook and bake at home you can make all sorts of yummy vegan desserts. And if you’re like me and your sweet tooth is really big you can make a LOT of them! The picture above is some homemade dark chocolate peanut butter I was (and still am) addicted to when I was vegan! I put it on everything.
3. Be colorful and play with your food! Take some extra time to make your plates really pretty. If you look at a dish that is beautifully plated, has every color of the rainbow and is styled like it came from a fine dining restaurant, I guarantee you’ll love it more!
4. Cook a well balanced meal. When I first became vegan i was worried I wouldn’t get all the right nutrients and vitamins. Fortunately for us, this is the age of the internet and there are TONS of ways to track your nutrients (I used sparkpeople where you can track any vitamin you’d like as well as calories). Just sort of keep an eye on this, and you won’t have to stress out about it! If you notice you’re missing a vitamin see what foods contain it. If you do this you will actually enjoy your food more because your body won’t be craving particular nutrients due to being deprived of them. So go ahead, fill up on the good stuff, like the Crock Pot Vegetable Curry pictured above!
5. Use fresh seasonal produce. Try to use foods that are in season if you can. If you use farmers market produce the flavors will be fresher and you’ll enjoy your dishes more. There’s no comparison between the flavor of a fresh farmers market tomato versus a store-bought tomato. If you take pride in your produce, you’ll be able to take pride in your meals! If you’re looking for a great farmers market, read this article it spells out all my thoughts on farmers markets.
6. Try different cuisines. If you’re used to eating a typical American diet, you’ll notice it’s pretty protein heavy. However, not all cuisines are that way! Try experimenting with some cuisines that are more vegetable and grain based, like Thai, Chinese, and Indian food! You may find a new go-to dish.
7. Variety is the spice of life. For heaven’s sake, please please please vary your vegan diet. The quickest way to burn out is to eat the same thing over and over (trust me, I’ve done it). There are more sources of protein than just nuts and beans, and there are more options for dinner than a salad, pasta or stir fry. All those things are so delicious, but if you make that ALL you eat, you’ll get tired of it quickly. Mix it up a little!
8. Speaking of spices…Use them. Sometimes vegan food can be a little boring if you don’t spice it up. And I’m not necessarily talking spicy here… rather, more seasoned with spices to give it rich flavor. Nobody wants to eat steamed broccoli and rice for the rest of their days, but if you season the broccoli and rice well, it’s a different story! Seasoning can change the entire flavor profile of a dish!
9. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Wondering if Thai chillies will go well with kale and potatoes? TRY IT. (I’ve never tried that combo, so I have literally no idea what it would taste like). It could be great! Worst case scenario – It could also be terrible. In that case you’ll know not to make that particular combination again. Don’t be too hard on yourself, it’s all a learning experience. If this happens, I should mention another mini-tip: Find some go-to takeout options from your favorite restaurants. The picture above is from one of my favorite all-vegan restaurants in LA called Native Foods. This can help you out if you make a dish that is absolutely inedible (it happens). Then you call up your go-to takeout restaurant and you won’t have to stress about a bad meal!
10. Read and research in your free time – Plan your meals in advance. Pinterest is your shining star. I promise. Use some of your free time and just explore. Read cookbooks! The two pictured were two I really loved using: Meat Free Mondays and The Vegan Cookbook. Take time to look at pictures, comment on blogs with questions, make foodie friends! The sky is really the limit. If you make learning about this new lifestyle a journey as opposed to a chore, I guarantee you’ll enjoy your vegan meals more! Plus if you plan out your meals, you’ll really be looking forward to them by the time you get to cooking!
Now that you’ve learned 10 tips to cook vegan food you’ll actually like, why don’t you try them out? I’ve made a list of recipes to get you started. Here’s 40+ of yummy vegan recipes to try!! Have fun cooking!
23. Homemade Gyoza
27. Carrot Fries
29. Eggplant Rollups
41. Homemade Salsa
Do you have any tips that help with cooking vegan meals? Please leave them in the comments section below!
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