We recently asked the BuzzFeed Community to give us the food tips and tricks they'd recommend for people trying veganism for the first time. Here are their super helpful answers:
1. Start with foods that are naturally plant-based.
"Focus your attention to foods from regions that naturally tend to be plant-based. Don’t try to replace your favorites all at once but look to eating beans and grains for satiation. Tacos, burritos, curries, Asian noodles, chili and cornbread, cannellini beans and pasta, are all friendly and easy ways to feel full and nourished."
2. Curries and Mexican FTW!
3. Try to avoid meat and dairy substitutes for as long as possible.
"I wouldn’t suggest jumping right in to meat alternatives, trust me they will taste a lot better when you haven’t had a burger in a year. If you go straight from having real meat to meat alternatives, the thought may make you feel sick."
"Do a cheese detox before trying vegan cheese! I waited about 6 months and it gave my tastebuds a chance to adjust because it is a very different taste. I would also recommend trying to get your hands on Mozzarisella, it's the best vegan pizza cheese."
4. But if you need substitutes, here are some that come recommended:
"Cheese for yeast flakes! It makes the transition easier, trust me. Just sprinkle it on top if you’re craving a cheesy taste."
"For me, cutting out dairy was the most difficult part. So here’s some recommendations to hopefully help someone else! Milk: so many awesome alternatives (soy, coconut, nut, hemp, etc.) but my absolute fav is oat milk. Oatly is the best brand imo. I actually strongly prefer it over dairy milk even if I wasn’t vegan. Cheese: Fieldroast’s Chao has been the best I’ve tried so far. Great for grilled cheese, pizza, sandwiches, etc. Also a fan of Follow Your Heart brand and Kite Hill’s ricotta. Butter: Earth Balance is fantastic. I’ve also heard Miyokos is outstanding (for cheeses too) but I haven’t tried it yet! "
5. Read the labels on everything.
6. Go ham on garnishes.
"Nuts and seeds are seriously slept on. Roast them on top veggies, sprinkle on pasta or salads, or make your own trail mix. They're so versatile."
"You MUST use spices and herbs – fresh herbs will change your life!"
7. Take note of how you feel.
"A lot of people are allergic or intolerant to soya and quorn so try things but make note of any reactions (usually a dodgy tummy). If you want to be a 'clean-eating' vegan then stay away from junk food and meat/dairy substitutes, they are usually bulked out with carbs and fat. If that doesn't bother you, go wild."
8. Purchase vegan cookbooks and follow vegan IG accounts for inspiration.
9. But if you find that to be a little too much, stick to the easy stuff, of which there is plenty.
"Jumping right in with the plan of learning a million new vegan recipes is awesome, but can be super overwhelming. Fall back on the easy (and cheap!) stuff – PBJ, pasta with marinara, smoothies, oatmeal, falafel, soups, chili (just minus the meat), etc. Chipotle is also my fav dependable easy option for a quick and yummy vegan meal."
10. Supplement your new vegan diet with vitamins to keep your energy levels up.
11. Focus on eating more vegetables.
"Don't think of it as losing access to food. Just start focusing more eating a ton vegetables and everywhere you can have a vegetable instead – do It! Mac and cheese lover? Try sweet potato mac. Big taco fan? Chickpea tacos it is. You'll feel better and not like you are being deprived of anything. Also Oreos are still vegan if you're in veggie overload."
12. Try a recipe for your favourite comfort food.
"When I’m making vegan mac and ‘cheese’, I make a white sauce using unsweetened soya milk heated and thickened with cornstarch. I then add salt, smoked paprika and mustard powder. Maybe it doesn’t taste like traditional mac and cheese, but the smoke paprika definitely is reminiscent of smoked cheese, and it works for me!"
13. Treat yourself to a dinner at well-reviewed vegan restaurant.
14. And finally, ease yourself in.
"I would recommend not going cold turkey. Maybe start with one meal a day then one full day a week etc. It’s much easier to sustain if you don’t make it too hard on yourself! :)"
Submissions have been edited for length and clarity.