With the new year comes new resolutions. And after the feast of delectable eats the holidays had brought, many people’s New Year’s resolution revolve around diet changes. If you are looking for a new diet to transform your health than I recommend a vegan diet. Some people believe it’s hard to transition to a no-meat and no-dairy diet, but keep reading to find out how easy it can be for you to make this dietary change by following this list of top ten essential items you need in your vegan kitchen.
- Milk Alternatives
Instead of using regular dairy milk, you have the option to keep soy, cashew, or almond milk in stock. All these milks have less fat than dairy milk. Soy and cashew milk have twice as much as calcium as dairy milk, and almond milk has a lot of protein in it if that’s what you’re looking for. These milk alternatives are great on their own or can easily be used as an ingredient for cooking and baking.
- Margarine or Vegan Butter
My favorite brand of vegan butter is Earth Balance, but I also like I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter as well because it’s tasty and more affordable. The great thing about vegan butter is that it cooks and tastes just like dairy butter. You can easily use this is in your cooking and everything will taste the same old buttery goodness.
- Vegan Bread
Before going vegan, I used to love to eat whole wheat bread but after going vegan I was sad to learn that most whole wheat breads have either or both honey and milk in it. In fact, it can be rather difficult to find vegan bread in general. But there definitely are vegan breads out there. You’ll have to check the ingredients, but locally baked bread is frequently vegan. Oddly, these local breads are often kept in a different aisle than the national brands in supermarkets. If you are interested in national brands, then I recommend Ezekiel or Dave’s Bread.
- Vegetable Oil/Olive Oil
Not only is this great for cooking up some veggies on the stove-top, this is also great to use in baking as well. If you like baking cookies, cakes, or other pastries you can use veggie oil to use as an egg substitute. You just need to use two tablespoons for one egg.
If you aren’t used to snacking on veggies, then I highly recommend getting hummus to dip your veggies in. This delicious snack can be homemade by simply grinding garbanzo beans and adding lemon juice and seasonings to taste. I like to dip bell peppers, cucumbers, and carrots in hummus as a light, delicious snack. But you can also use crackers and other vegetables to dip in it as well.
- Rice & Beans
These are probably the most essential thing to add as a staple in your kitchen. If you season it right, you can have a variety of different tasting rice and beans all depending on the seasonings you use. I like making Mexican-inspired rice and beans, but I also try my hand at Indian-inspired rice and Chinese stir-fried rice.
Speaking of spices, that brings me to my next must-have item you need in your vegan kitchen. You can make any vegetable taste delicious if you know how to just season it. And you don’t have to stick just to seasonings, you can also use sauces. My dad makes the best roasted broccoli by roasting the broccoli in a mixture of brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce. But having a good selection of seasonings can help you adjust to incorporating and eating more vegetables in your diet. Seasonings can be pretty pricey, but if you are new to cooking then I recommend buying a pack of selected seasonings so you can get your money’s worth.
Did you know that potatoes contain all your daily vitamins and minerals except for Vitamin D and calcium? Potatoes in my book are the best things ever. You can cook them whole, slice them and bake them, or fry them up. Any way you cook them they are simply amazing. My favorite way of cooking them is cutting them up, toss them with garlic salt, pepper, paprika, and crushed pepper flakes and bake for twenty-five minutes at 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
My daily eats for fruits are bananas, cuties, and grapes. For bananas you can freeze them and put them into smoothies later. And speaking of smoothies, this is a great breakfast idea that makes it easy to pack in your fruits for the day. I buy frozen fruit (the tropical mix) in the frozen section at the Dollar Store. So, it is possible to find frozen fruit for cheap.
If you’re not fond of eating your vegetables then try seasoning them and experimenting with cooking recipes. I often find that it’s easier to start with the ones you like and slowly incorporate new finds into your diet.
I hope this list can help you start a new lifestyle in the new year, and if you want more vegan foods to add to your grocery list just keep reading below to see the best vegan alternatives to some of your already favorite foods.
Extra Items for Your Vegan Kitchen
If you are completely new to not eating any meat or dairy, then here are some extra recommendations to help you for when you do have cravings for meat and cheese.
- Chao Cheese
This is the best vegan cheese I have ever tried. I like the original flavor best. This is pretty pricey, so I buy it sparingly when I do crave some cheese in my sandwich. It’s mostly made from potato, corn, and soy tofu, but it tastes exactly like processed slices cheese.
- Tofurky Sandwich Meat
I love sandwiches, so when I went vegan it was hard for me to give up turkey. However, Tofurky makes a great tofu based “turkey” substitute. The best price I’ve found this for is at Trader Joes at only $2.50 per pack, which is a great price for sandwich meat.
- Veganaise (Vegan Mayo)
I love putting mayo on my sandwiches, burgers, and basically everything else. And vegan mayo is just the exact same thing as regular mayo except for the eggs. Vegannaise is a bit pricey, so I recommend buying Best Foods Vegan Mayo. For a large jar I bought it at Safeway for only $3.50, which is half the price of Vegannaise.
- Gardein “Meat” Products
I absolutely love Gardein! They have a huge range of awesome “meat” options. My favorites are their “Chicken” Strips, Orange “Chicken,” and their Pork-less Buns. The pork buns are to die for, my non-vegan husband can’t even taste the difference that’s how tasty they are.
- Daiya Soy/Coconut Yogurt
This is a great yogurt substitute if you need one. My non-vegan husband loves to have one of these with his breakfast.
- Tofutti Cream Cheese
My last recommendation is this cream cheese. I prefer it to Daiya’s vegan cream cheese, and it’s usually half the price of Daiya’s too. This cream cheese also works well in cooking too. I made vegan jalapeno poppers using this and it tasted amazing.