If you’ve been reading our blog posts, you know that we are interested in helping people understand the vegan lifestyle and its importance to our health and environment; we recently introduced veganism for a week and how to get started with your vegan diet.
In a society with meat and cheese on everything, you may think you can only be a successful vegan if you stick to a limited diet and lock yourself away from the world; this is not true!
There are many wonderful food replacements, restaurants and grocery stores that offer wonderful vegan products, and meals that can help you continue to live a full, fun and social life.
Keep reading to learn what to buy, where to go and what to eat when you go vegan.
Easy Foods to Replace with Vegan Items
Non-vegan eaters may think that all you can eat is “rabbit food” and that you’re giving up everything. Here are items that can replace different dairies and meats to give you a full diet.
Instead of Meat:
- Tofu, Tempeh & Seitan: You may not think of tofu or tempeh as vegetables, but they are plant-based and made from soybeans. Seitan is made from wheat gluten. The meat in any recipe can be replaced with one of these plant-based options.
- Mushrooms: When you want a meaty taste, mushrooms are a great choice. Their flavor is rich, earthy and often thick, especially cremini or Portobello mushrooms. They are healthy and filling, and can replace meat in any recipe.
Instead of Cheese:
- Soy Cheese: Soy cheese melts, spreads and tastes like the real thing — without all the saturated fat! But keep in mind soy cheese doesn’t usually provide as much protein or calcium as most types of milk cheese, so add some nuts or another protein source to a cheese-free meal.
- Nut Based Cheese: There are many recipes online and on Pinterest for nut based cheeses, and they are generally very easy to make. One of our favorite recipes is a nacho “cheese” that is actually just jalapeños, carrots, potatoes, nutritional yeast and spices!
Instead of Milk:
- Soy Milk: One of the most common milk substitutes, soy milk, is a nutritional winner. With its light taste, soy milk can replace cow's milk in almost any dish.
- Nut Milk: There are a variety of nut milks on the market including almond, cashew and coconut!
Instead of Eggs:
- Apple Sauce: Using unsweetened apple saucein vegan baked foods is not only a creative way to replace eggs, but also cuts down on cholesterol.
- Mashed Bananas: An egg and a banana might seem totally different, but they’re both great binding agents and can be used in muffins, breads and other baked items.
- Chia Seeds: Mixed with water, chia seeds provide an “egg-celent” egg substitute!
Instead of Butter:
- Coconut Butter: A nutritious, delicious butter alternative, coconut butterhas absolutely no cholesterol (regular butter has about 33 milligrams per tablespoon). Coconut butters also packed with nutrients that aid in brain function, immunity, and weight loss.
Instead of Honey:
- Maple Syrup: It’s full of antioxidants, zinc, iron and potassium, nutrients that help boost heart health and the immune system. Plus, it’s usually lower in sugar and calories than honey.
Going Out to Eat
For too long, eating a vegan meal at a restaurant meant a pile of veggies and not a lot else. While there’s nothing wrong with eating your vegetables, there are so many wonderful and delicious meals that can be made vegan-friendly! Here are some vegan restaurants and chains that offer tasty options.
Reverie in Minneapolis: You won’t skip the fun with this restaurant: “Reverie: a casual all-day cafe. Your new best friend. Top notch coffee drinks in the morning; delicious plant-based meals (vegan) for lunch, dinner, and breakfast; fresh baked goods daily; local craft beer and the best local music at night.” Vegan meals, beer and music? What’s not to like?
Selby’s in Minneapolis: As it says right on the front page of their website, “A plant-based eatery with familiar favorites reimagined as plant-based fare and new, exciting dishes.” This is what eating vegan out is all about. They offer favorites such as Philly sandwiches with “beaf” and “cheeze,” and street tacos; there’s no taste deprivation here.
- Doomie’s Home Cookin’ in Los Angeles: This restaurant is great for full vegans and those who aren’t ready to make the commitment yet by offering dairy cheese by request; some people take a little longer, but at least they’re trying!
- Globally Local: Canada-based vegan fast-food restaurant Globally Local will feature the world’s first vegan 24-hour drive-thru. Notable menu items will be vegan takes on fast-food classics including Famous Burger (a Big Mac-like burger), Vegan Vopper (a take on Burger King’s Whopper), a seitan-based Crispy Chikun sandwich, and an entire breakfast sandwich menu. Globally Local will also serve a kid’s menu featuring the Grilled Gary—a vegan grilled cheese sandwich that’s a nod to last year’s popular internet meme that proposed vegan cheese be called “Gary.”
If you’re with fellow eaters who are not vegan and don’t want to go to a full vegan restaurant, here are great chains that offer vegan dishes.
- White Castle: If you’re on the run and need a quick bite, White Castle offers a Veggie Slider made from carrots, string beans, zucchini, peas, broccoli and spinach, and recently announced a Black Bean Slider made from black beans, red peppers and corn.
- The Cheesecake Factory: Head out with your friends and family and dine on a veggie burger made with brown rice, farro, couscous, mushrooms, black beans, and onion and a penne pasta dish tossed with broccoli, oven-dried tomato, roasted eggplant, peppers, artichoke, Kalamata olives, garlic and pine nuts.
- Olive Garden: Attention: the endless breadsticks are vegan! You can also enjoy these vegan options: angel hair, cavatappi, fettuccine, gluten-free rotini, rigatoni, small shells, spaghetti and whole-wheat linguine. All these can be topped with the vegan marinara sauce or kid’s tomato sauce.
Best Stores for Vegan Items
While most stores have a reliable produce department, many do not always offer products that are necessary for a full pantry and fridge. Here are stores that offer vegan items.
Whole Foods: If you are looking for a champion and partner in your vegan life, look no further than Whole Foods. To start, they offer vegan lasagnas, desserts, burgers, ice cream and a roast. Additionally, they offer an entire page dedicated to educating customers on recipes, nutrition, hidden animal sources and supplements needed to stay healthy.
- Trader Joe’s: Along with Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s offers a page on their website dedicated to vegan shoppers. If you want to make a grocery list for this store, here is a detailed list provided by the company that outlines all of their vegan products.
Costco: Do you love to buy in bulk? Costco has become a vegan paradise recently and shoppers are loving it. Here are two different vegan influencers’ experiences at Costco detailing what they bought and packaged meals that will save you time: Spoon University and Jennifer Chen.
- The Herbivorous Butcher: Located in Minneapolis, this is a super small-batch all vegan meat-free meats & cheese-free cheeses butcher shop prepared by a brother and sister team. The shop offers meal preparation tips to help you make the more delicious meal you can, as well as recipes and an online shop; click here to learn more about this exciting store.
Shopping and Eating
If Whole Foods’ support for vegan eaters inspires you, you may want to start shopping there. Here are two recipes from their website that will show you how easy and delicious it is to shop for and cook vegan meals.
- 2/3 cup raw cashews
- 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
- Pinch fine sea salt
- 1 1/2 pound assorted mushrooms
- 3 shallots, thinly sliced
- 2 1/2 cup mushroom broth or low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or dill, for garnish
Place cashews in a small bowl and cover by about 1 inch with boiling water. Let soak 30 minutes. Drain, discarding soaking liquid. In a blender, combine cashews, 1/4 cup water, vinegar and salt, and blend until smooth; add more water a tablespoon at a time as needed to make a cashew cream. Halve or quarter smaller mushrooms and thickly slice larger ones. Place mushrooms and shallots in a heavy pot and set over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the mushrooms begin to brown; add broth a few tablespoons at a time to keep mushrooms from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Cook, adding more broth as needed, until mushrooms are browned and softened, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in remaining broth, mustard, paprika and pepper. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer until mushrooms are very tender and sauce is thickened, about 25 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup of cashew cream. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with remaining cashew cream on the side.
Celery Root Mash
- 2 1/2 pound trimmed celery root, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
- 1 pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch cubes
- 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 tablespoon tahini
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
Put celery root and potatoes into a large pot, cover with water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until tender, about 45 minutes longer. Drain celery root and potatoes and transfer to the bowl of a food processor. Add almond milk, tahini and salt; process until smooth.
Living Your Life
A vegan lifestyle is not designed to limit people and remove you from a full social life that includes enjoying a meal at a local restaurant. Eating and shopping at vegan spots is easy if you’re diligent and know where to go. Happy eating!
About PLNT BSD
PLNT BSD is a unique apparel line that lets customers express their plant based lifestyle, while looking great at the same time. The company’s vegan apparel is stylish, while avoiding the 'in-your-face' type of approach. PLNT BSD is PETA approved. They use only vegan materials when choosing apparel and use ink that is not tested on animals. PLNT BSD hopes to spread the word and start a conversation about the benefits of a plant-based diet. Not only is a plant-based diet and lifestyle good for you, it's also beneficial to the environment and animals alike. Visit www.PLNTBSDApparel.com for more information on vegan clothing and a plant-based diet and lifestyle.