The most common response I get from people about my veganism is "I could never do that." Well, guess what...you can! Really, people, it's not that difficult. Sure, it's tough to eat out, but why do you want to poison your body with fast food anyway? Because it's quick and easy? Well, then expect a quick and easy deterioration of your body and health. Listen, I know how daunting it can seem, especially when the majority of America consumes animal products at every meal. They're everywhere! I used to go to Tom's drive-thru and eat a whole plate of cheese curds. So believe me, I know how hard it is to kick the habit! And that's just what it is. Fast food, fattening and salty food for that matter, is addicting. It should really be added to the list of "drugs," because that is exactly what this food is. (If you can even call it food. It's been so processed beyond recognition, that I would call it "food-like substance.") So come on people, kick it and kiss your sweet, lumpy ass good bye! You will feel lighter, happier, stronger, and healthier!
I realized today that in my quest to Vegucate everyone, I forgot to do a blog for newbies. How dare I! I've been including some awesome recipes and advice, to be sure, but I would like to give all you newbies the necessary materials to help you along your way. My friend and co-worker Levi told me today that he's going vegan for 30 days! Woo-hoo! Kick some ass! I would like to dedicate this post to you and say how awesome you are for taking on this challenge. Once you get started, you'll find it's really not that challenging at all! For all my other non-veg readers, I dare you to go vegan for 30 days as well!
So, first things first. When I became a lacto-ovo vegetarian back in 2004, the first thing I did was order a Vegetarian Starter Kit from PETA. http://features.peta.org/VegetarianStarterKit/index.asp I would also suggest Erik Marcus' Utlimate Vegan Guide. Here's the online version: http://www.vegan.com/ultimate-vegan-guide/ I was completely clueless, but eager to learn. I read a cute little book called the Vegetarian Manifesto here. I would suggest this for teenagers rather than adults, but it inspired me right then to eventually become vegan. The idea was too foreign for me then to wrap my mind around, but it planted the seed. The first book that I would suggest you read is Thanking the Monkey by Karen Dawn here or Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer here. Thanking the Monkey provides excellent information and resources, while attempting to keep it light with some humor thrown in. Eating Animals is a great book about the author's quest to vegetarianism. He gives great accounts from both sides of the spectrum, farmers that raise animals for slaughter to activists that break into factory farms.
You may now be asking yourself, "yeah, but what do I eat." Oh-ho-ho! Everything! Do you honestly think that animal products are the only things to eat? Oh contrare, mon frere! Ever hear of jack fruit? How about daikon? Not eating animal flesh and their secretions opens up a whole world of opportunity, so don't fucking waste it by eating a bunch of vegan processed crap. Sure, it's vegan, but the point is to be kind to the animals AND your body. Be kind. Eat real food. My favorite artwork on what to eat: here. I suggest buying a cookbook and picking out some recipes with fruits and vegetables that you've never tried. Don't be scared, just try it! For years I thought I didn't like a whole slew of foods, which included pretty much all vegetables. I don't think I really ate any vegetables. Of course, my mother use to feed me veggies out of a can, so it's no wonder. Those aren't real vegetables. The real vegetables are found in the produce section, not in the canned foods section. Be adventurous! Don't be boring! I've been vegan for nearly 3 years (anniversary coming up April 5) and I'm still finding fruits, veggies, grains, legumes and nuts that I've never tried. Can you believe I hated nuts growing up? Man, I was a snooze fest!
So what cookbook to start out with? My very first cookbook was Eat, Drink, Be Vegan. here My sister bought this for me. While I love this book, I don't think it's a good overall starter. The best book, for sure, would be Veganomicon by, you guessed it, Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Home Romero here. They do a good job of covering all the basics in the beginning of the book with staple pantry items, different cooking terms, utensils/kitchen ware, etc. Oh, and do yourself a favor, buy yourself some nice pots and pans and knives! Oh how I love my Wusthoff knives! They are sexy! I giggled like a little girl and after every slice exclaimed "look at this" when I first used them. I drove my ex-boyfriend nuts for weeks!
Supplements. Now you can get all your nutrients from your food (and please do) except for Vitamin B-12 and D. They are usually found in fortified foods, but if you want to be on the safe side, go ahead and take a supplement. I covered this in an earlier post, but there are a whole slew of vegan supplements on amazon and at your local co-op. (Please go to your co-op for these things.) Just be sure that they are vegan. It will say it right on the label. Make sure you're getting Vitamin D2 not D3. D3 is animal sourced, usually coming from sheep's wool or fish oil. Here's a great resource for supplements on Vegan.com: http://vegan.com/supplements/ I follow Erik Marcus religiously. I suggest you do as well. He's a amazing!
Stocking your pantry. Odds are that you haven't spent a lot of time in the kitchen. If you have, props to you! But if you're like me, you spent about 5 minutes in the kitchen. Enough time to unwrap the plastic on your meal and pop it in the microwave. Well, when you first start your cooking journey, it can be really, really intimidating, especially when you look at a recipe with a huge list of ingredients. The trick is to flip through your cookbook and find the recipes that have a short list of ingredients, or mostly ingredients that you already have. This way you'll slowly accumulate ingredients to create a beautifully stocked pantry! It took me over a year to get a decent pantry, so don't sweat it if you currently only have a handful of items. A great thing to do is to look for deals in your monthly co-op paper to get even more bang for your buck. Also, buy in bulk! Bulk items will save packaging and money. If you haven't joined your co-op, then go do it already! It costs $10 to be a lifetime member. Here you'll find the best produce and the best people! :-) I mean, don't you want to shop at a store where Chad Vader is the night shift supervisor? Well, not every co-op is as cool as Willy St., but they all still rock!
Well, I hope that covers most of the bases for the newbies. If you have any questions, please shoot them my way! I will be more than happy to help you out. If I don't know the answer, I'll figure it out! Welcome to a new, compassionate, beautiful you! You rock!