Posted by DC1346 at 08/14/13 13:29:42Welcome to the site.
My name is David. I am a Culinary Arts instructor and I did not become vegan until 1 1/4 years ago.
Why did I become vegan?
I had an ovo-lacto vegetarian friend (who ate eggs and dairy products) who was concerned about her intake of saturated fats and cholesterol. Knowing that I was a chef, she asked me to create some low fat protein entrees for her. I immediately thought of vegan cuisine.
Since I don't like wasting food, it didn't make sense to me to create vegan entrees only to throw them away ... so I gave up meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, dairy products, and granulated white sugar (which is sometimes whitened using animal bone char) and went on an all vegan diet.
I have now been on this diet for 1 1/4 years and have found that so long as I have access to foods that resemble the non-vegan foods I used to eat, I could be perfectly happy on a vegan diet.
I have since published 4 vegan cookbooks as part of a series called The Unintentional Vegan.
Volume 1 is beef. Volume 2: Salads, Dressings, Dips, and Appetizers. Volume 3: Chicken. Volume 4: Pork.
All of these are available as e-books through Amazon.com. If you don't have a kindle, you can download kindle software to your computer.
I also maintain a website called: unintentionalvegan.com
I initially lost 40 lbs. while on this diet but gained some of this weight back since I've been working on a new cookbook, The Unintentional Vegan: Sweets and Desserts. (sigh)
Although I don't miss non-vegan foods, the only real problem I've had is that since I live in a rural area, there are no vegan let alone vegetarian friendly restaurants. Going out to eat with friends has been problematic as I haven't been able to find anything to eat other than a plain garden salad, a plain baked potato, or a plain bean tostada.
I have compensated for this by having friends over for dinner. I also sometimes eat prior to going out but I HATE watching other people eat even if I have already eaten.
In terms of what you should do, this depends upon too many factors that I can't even begin to address.
I don't know what your culinary skills are. Do you enjoy cooking from scratch? If so, that's a plus in your column. If you don't cook, then going vegetarian could be expensive. I don't know what the restaurants in your area are like but most areas at least have supermarkets with a modest selection of vegetarian foods. The problem with this is that whenever you go out to eat or pay to buy processed frozen foods, you're paying for the convenience.
One of the things I've noticed as a vegan is that vegan food can be tremendously expensive. The cost of purchasing vegan scallops or ready to use meat products can be more expensive than buying the real non-vegan food item. Since I live in a rural area, purchasing any such vegan foods would also incur the cost of purchasing these items with an insulated food storage container packed with dry ice.
Posted by Laylita315 at 08/15/13 15:49:05Hi David, Thank you so much for your response!That really helped me out a lot. I do like cooking, but I do not have much time, as I have two jobs and will be taking some classes online in a few weeks. However, I was thinking of cooking some meals ahead of time. I am considering being a lacto vegetarian but I am looking at as sort of a stepping stone to becoming a vegan.
Posted by cmroes at 08/15/13 19:54:15Hi Laylita, I recently became a vegetarian. The transition was easier than I thought it would be. I heard that some people felt sick as they detoxed. I didn't any problems. I also was concerned that I would miss eating chicken or seafood or even red meat, which was never really a big part of my diet. I wasn't as tempted to go back as I feared. The only issue I have is going to restaurants. Like David, I also live in a small city without any vegetarian/vegan restaurants. I have noticed that if I do go out to dinner and tell the wait staff that I am a vegetarian and ask them to prepare a vegetarian alternative they usually will. I have enjoyed trying new recipes and find that vegetarian blogs and sites are very helpful. My favorite cookbook is How to Cook Everything Vegetarian by Mark Bittman. I think I might check out David's book and site as well. My main advice is that if you discuss becoming a vegetarian with some meat eaters out there, they may try to talk you out of it. As with many things in life, I believe that you should follow you inner voice and don't give in to others. If you believe that it's right for you than it's right. Being a vegetarian was the right choice for me at this point and I may become a vegan later. I hope this helps.
Posted by DC1346 at 08/15/13 21:29:36I will admit that it's easier to be a lacto vegetarian or even a lacto-ovo vegetarian than a vegan. I will also admit that one of the non-vegan foods I really miss are scrambled eggs. I HAVE created a recipe for vegan bacon strips. (That's in The Unintentional Vegan: Pork.) I've also created recipes for vegan sausages (also in the pork cookbook) but my vegan scrambled eggs don't yet taste like scrambled eggs. (sigh)
I think making food in advance is a good idea. I have a 2nd freezer that I use for just this purpose. I originally bought this freezer to take advantage of the meat sales that a local supermarket had. Chicken for 29 cents a pound or a five lb. package of burger with five lbs. of boneless chicken breasts and five pounds of sausage for just $20 always caught my attention before I went vegan.
I now use this freezer to stock vegan foods. This has been particularly useful since I'm writing a vegan cookbook series, so any extra food I have can be portioned and frozen for later use.
Even before I went vegan, I always appreciated eating something different every day. Although I am a bachelor, I've never been one of those guys who'd make a large pot of stew or chili or spaghetti sauce to eat throughout the week. I enjoy variety in whatever I eat and using a freezer to store leftovers has been very useful.
If you're looking for quick, convenient, and CHEAP, Augason Farms has some ready to use vegetarian meats. Surprisingly enough, I found these products in Wal-Mart. They're not in the grocery section ... they're in the canning section that's adjacent to kitchen wares.
Look for mason jars and they'll be in the same aisle.
Augason Farms sells vegetarian taco meat, beef, chicken,and bacon in 2 lb. + cans for about $10.00. These cans include recipes. I've refined these recipes to use these products to make meatballs, patties, and vegan bacon in my cookbooks. (Unintentional Vegan: Pork and Unintentional Vegan: Chicken.)
These Augason Farms food products are textured vegetable protein based ... so they don't really hold up well to sauces. This is why my recipes call for them to be rehydrated, mixed with rice flour, and steamed prior to using them to make patties, meatballs, or bacon strips.
Another great product (mentioned in the cookbooks for pork and chicken) is Butler Soy Curls. This is a dehydrated, unseasoned bean curd product that can be rehydrated in a flavorful broth.
If you rehydrate the soy curls in a vegan broth (mushroom, vegetable, "chicken," or "beef," the soy curls absorb the moisture AND FLAVOR.
If you add food coloring (red, yellow, and blue), you can also dye this product so it looks brown - the color of cooked meat.
I've used Butler Soy Curls to make chicken curry, chicken with dumplings, and sweet and sour pork. The cooked product looks like meat and it also tastes more meat like than the Augason Farms TVP products.
I am currently working on a vegan fish cookbook and have used Butler Soy Curls to simulate crab cakes as well as flaked fish.
I anticipate publishing this cookbook before the end of the year.
Best wishes and again, welcome to this site!
Posted by eristdoof at 08/18/13 08:49:37I've never heard of anyone having "withdrawal problems" moving onto a veggie diet, mainly because your body is already used to these foods, it's just the proportions that are changing. I have heard of people who have been fully veggie for a while (lets say at least a year) and then eat a meat dish have digestive problems but nothing major or long term.
You will find that a lot of Meat eaters will be skeptical that you are getting enough protein/vitamins. Protein deficiency in developed countries is very rare because most people have protein overload. Having a mixed veggie or vegan diet will in most cases be nutritionally excellent and usually healthier than a meat eating diet.
Posted by Plant Strong at 08/23/13 20:56:33Hi Layla,
I decided to become a vegan (plant-based whole foods) because of the health benefits and my love for animals. I was uneducated about being a veg*n for most of my life, I spent a lot of time researching the subject and ultimately decided to become plant-based (no eggs, dairy, cheese, and very limited oils). If I had known the things I know now after my change of diet and lifestyle I would have changed to this way of eating many years ago with no second thoughts.
I suggest checking out David's book above, it sounds like he has a lot of valuable information to help you. I also recommend watching the movie "Forks Over Knives" for the long-term scientific and health related studies and information you will learn here that may help you to decide which type of veg*n you would like to become. This movie is available on NetFlix and Amazon.com
Also check out a new cookbook called "The China Study Cookbook" this has a lot of easy and tasty recipes to get you started. "Eat To Live" and also "Becoming A Vegetarian" each of these books has really excellent information.
Sometimes it can be a challenge to find a veg*n meal while dining out, but don't let that discourage you, things will change in time, eventually there will be more options for veg*ns.
I hope this little info helps, please ask if you have any specific questions I may help you with. Best wishes =)
Posted by happycowgirl at 08/23/13 21:16:55Hi Laylita,
You've received such great advice already, I really can't add anything to it!
I guess I can share my own experience if you have a minute. I've been vegetarian for 25 yrs. Like you, I went vegetarian for animal rights reasons. I started by cutting out meat, then almost immediately also cut out fish. I felt great and thank heaven I made the choice to go veg so long ago. I don't think I'd be the healthy person I am today (especially given my family history), if my compassion for animals didn't extend to my becoming veg.
That said, I'll let you in on my biggest regret. It took me forever to go vegan. I FINALLY did it. I've been vegan for 2 years now. I cannot begin to tell you what a feeling of absolute health it is for me being vegan. It is SO much better than being vegetarian. I used to get a cold, get the flu with the change of seasons, you know, get sick a couple times a year like everyone else did. Do you know that since going vegan 2 YEARS AGO I have not been sick once! I've not had so much as a cold or even feeling under the weather. It's absolutely amazing. I'm almost to the point of daring people to sneeze on me because I feel so invincible to sickness!
Personally, I feel that people who are compassionate toward animals are some of the most beautiful souls in the world. I feel like the gift of health we receive from being vegan is like the universe thanking us back. I guess that's a little silly. It's just my thought! : )
Anyway, the point of all this is to encourage you not to wait any longer. You'll be so happy you made the change! Come to the Happy Cow community all the time for support.
Wishing you the best!
Posted by vegandesi at 09/24/13 05:19:36Go to slaughter house and watch cattle die. You will never be the same and never eat beef again.
For vegan products try www.eco3p.com
Hindu's have been vegans for thousands of years.... eating beef is a 21st century fad.
Tip: replace beef steak with a portobello mushroom steak and mushroom gravy :)