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Getting Yourself Started on the Vegan Lifestyle
Getting Yourself Started on the Vegan Lifestyle
Food & Entertaining | November 1, 2020
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Here are quick tips to get you on your way:

1. Be clear about your goals and primary reason.

Thanks to technology, there is more information, so there’s more awareness. When I first started, I wanted to see if going plant-based was the right fit for my situation. I knew first and foremost that I wanted a mental and physical overhaul. When you read up about going plant-based, you will find a lot of reasons why people have chosen to get plant-powered. The more you are clear about your goals, the better prepared you are at facing the challenges of reprogramming old habits and creating better ones. Whether you are doing it for your health, animal rights, ethics, religion, environment, shifting your relationship with your food sources, or simply because you have seen popular documentaries like What The HealthThe Game Changers, Forks Over Knives, Cowspiracy, or even the movie Okja, starting with your honest purpose or your why will give you a better understanding of how to succeed on your journey.

More than what you’ve seen on Netflix, find you honest purpose and search your why. | Photo by Cottonbro

2. Prepare and plan.

Like with many successful endeavors, preparation and planning are essential. Remember to take the extra step and to take time to plan out whatever you need to plan for—eating out, requesting special meals, informing your hosts at an event or social gathering that you have dietary preferences, grocery shopping, meal planning, and even date night. Make sure to read food labels also as sometimes there are sneaky ingredients added to packaged food. Preparing will save you from the hassle of being an inconvenience to others, having to settle for just eating a sad greed salad, or even ending up being hangry (hungry+angry)!

Make sure to plan ahead so you follow through on your goals. | Photo by Ivan Samkov

3. Get informed and get creative.

You don’t always have to settle for side dishes and boring salads. With so many accessible information from books, magazines, documentaries, videos, social media, schools, groups, support systems, communities, events, and other resources, there is absolutely no excuse for you to settle for anything that just tastes like eating something you aren’t happy with. Save as much information as you can, revisit them, and put your own twist to it according to your own preference. Almost anything can be veganized these days! Aside from burgers and pizzas that are better than the meat-based version, I’ve even seen a crispy and tasty vegan lechon!

With tons of information available online, you can find more ways to enjoy the movement. | Photo by Vlada Karpovich

4. Don’t get too dirty about it.

Balance is key. I could basically eat fries and vegan cheeseburgers but end up with high blood pressure. As exciting as it is to see all the amazing new vegan products sprouting across all food industries, it is also important to remember that it is very easy to be an unhealthy vegan. Focus on fresh produce that you can get creative with, season with the myriad of spices available to you, revisit old favorites and find healthier substitutes for them. Aim to eat less processed and get more nutrient-dense food. Balance is key.

Go to the fresh produce aisle and find items you can experiment with. | Photo by Ella Olsson

5. Invest in yourself.

In the same sense that we spend money to look good on the outside, we should always choose the best quality of what we can afford for all the food we put into our body and also for the tools that will help us in the kitchen.

Never compromise on the quality of food that you purchase. | Photo by Anna Shvets

6. You don’t have to suffer.

Enjoy the process and be accountable for your choices. Now is the opportunity to rediscover your relationship with your food. You don’t have to feel deprived for as long as you focus on adding more nutrient-dense, whole food choices into your meals. I love pizza and I have found so many different ways to make pizza by combining endless ingredients together. If you find yourself giving into temptation or failing, its ok! Just keep going and find what works for you. Don’t be so hard on yourself and just be your greatest ally. You are building better habits after all!

While there are ways to make vegan pizza, it’s not the end of the world if you take that slice from her. | Photo by Cottonbro

Equip Yourself: Your Kitchen Tools & Equipment Guide

The kitchen can be a very intimidating place for many people who may not enjoy cooking. However, the more prepared you are, the more likely you are to feel motivated to try. Be consistent and keep trying. If you decide that you want to get plant-powered, then I guarantee that your life is going to change.

Whether you enjoy cooking or you’re better at ordering food online, learning to create budget-friendly, quick, and tasty plant-based food can be quite simple and fun! Remember that you are re-training your palate and reprogramming your brain. Be open to discovery. You may be surprised at how even the people around you may take interest in your creations! Cooking and eating should be fun, so here are some quick kitchen guides to help you prepare.

Equip yourself with the right set of tools. | Photo by Netaly Reshef

Tools and Equipment List

Aside from your basic kitchen set up of stove, oven or toaster oven, refrigerator, and exhaust, here are my top kitchen tools and equipment that help me get the work done:

10 Basic Kitchen Tools:

  • Can Opener
  • Colander
  • Grater – I like having a box grater that has different sizes
  • Knife set and chopping board – Invest in a good knife and chopping board. If you can get a full set to do different functions, this is better. Your knife will be your best friend in performing all sorts of prep work and your chopping board should be of good quality.
  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • Mixing bowls and prep bowls 
  • Peeler – a good peeler can help you not just take off the skin of some vegetables but it is also a useful tool in shaving vegetables to achieve a different texture or presentation of your food
  • Pans and pots – get the best of what you can afford and make sure they match your stove type
  • Salad spinner – great for prepping your salad greens and fresh herbs.
  • Spatulas and Tongs
  • Strainer or sieve 
  • Whisk

Top 3 Equipment Essentials:

  • Blender/Immersion Blender — great not only for smoothies but for making soups, sauces, vegan cheese, marinades, and other food. I probably use my immersion blender the most because I invested in one with accessories and attachments like a chopper attachment, a whisk attachment, and a blender pitcher. This option allows for easier cleanup and portability. A good bullet blender (NutriBullet or Ninja brands are popular) or stand blenders like Vitamix or Blendtec or the new innovations of a vacuum blender like Kuvings or Ozen are also a great investment especially if you enjoy making all sorts of recipes ranging from sauces, purees, ice creams, dips, smoothies and soups.
  • Food Processor — if you opt to invest in an immersion blender with the food processor attachment, that is sufficient for small batch cooking. However, if you feel you are ready to invest and dive right into your creations, a good food processor is very useful in prep work and even making frozen smoothie bowls, bakes, vegan ice creams, falafels, and other delights!
  • Air fryer — A good air fryer is an excellent alternative to a toaster oven. Try to find the one with a door rather than a pull out basket. The door-type air fryers also work as dehydrators, rotisserie, and mini oven!

Other Useful Tools:

  • Cooling racks— for cooling your baked goods, drying some produce, some can even be used for grilling
  • Dutch oven— a really good investment that lasts for generations if you keep it well and take care of it. You can make lots of stews, soups, roasts, pastas, and even bake your bread in them!
  • Mandolin— great for prepping all sorts of cuts and slices
  • Spiralizer— fun tool for making zucchini or carrot noodles, great way to also add variety of texture to your meals
  • Steamer— great addition to your kitchen not just for healthy cooking but also helps a lot in making other dishes like your very own Seitan!

Vegan Recipes You Can Try For Yourself

Aüa’s Cajun-style Tofu and Red Beans with Brown Rice
Aüa’s Maafe West African Stew
L: Aüa’s Cajun-style Tofu and Red Beans with Brown Rice; R: Aüa’s Maafe West African Stew

*Editor’s Note: Aside from these seriously delicious and healthy recipes, Aüa is also adding a pdf file of essential vegan items in the grocery which you can download here or by using the QR code below.

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I’m very passionate about enjoying life through food experiences and adventures. As an ex-omnivore, it is my personal mission to share fun plant-based creations, encourage others to rediscover eating more greens, and eat in a way that nourishes while doing good for the planet.
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