Advice for new vegans

November 29, 2010

Lots of questions in the queue from newsletter signups this week!  Jeff asked for advice for newbie vegans, but before I answer him, just what is a newbie vegan, anyway?

I could have split this into 2 videos, but it felt right to keep it together even if I missed a point or two to keep it short.  As always, that’s where you come in!

What one tip would you give a new vegan?  It could be based on your past experience, a recent “aha” moment, or just something you think more people need to know.  Share in the comments!

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Lauren November 30, 2010 at 1:35 am

Don’t give up because you make a mistake. Jason did a vid on this a while ago. but I think it is really important. Persistence. It gets easier with more practice, and its ok to make mistakes.

Also, buy lots cookbooks and experiment with food!

How new are you? just considering vegansism? If you are still and omni and want to go vegan, doing it all at once may not work for you. I had a cheat day once a week for about 3 months. then I I moved the cheat days farther apart. one day everything just clicked and i haven’t looked back.

Also. Sites like this are great, but if you can find vegans in your neighborhood, that helps a lot. having people to cook with and make food with is amazing. Or even just having someone to talk to that agrees with you. an echo chamber isn’t good, but a space where you don’t have to constantly defend your views, or have to see suffering you want to avoid is a nice break from the rest of the world.

Amanda November 30, 2010 at 2:01 am

When I went vegan, I was replacing all of my meat with tofu, because that was the only substitute for meat I liked. That was until I bought the “New Farm Cookbook” and holy seitan, batman! It opened my eyes to how to make so many vegan foods from scratch, so you’re not buying the processed tempeh, or the veggie dogs with a perverse amount of sodium, you’re making your own, and it tastes so much better.
Also, trying a bunch of recipes on is a great way to keep your belly happy.

Erin November 30, 2010 at 2:15 am

I’m with Lauren and Amanda for sure- join and find your local veg community, then buy some great cookbooks (or surf vegweb and the ppk site) and just start doing.

I think phasing things out can be a more reasonable goal than just throw out half the food in your kitchen (or more for some people). I think just vowing not to buy animal products again while you finish up what you have and replace it with plant-based products is a great idea. I just met a couple who was vegetarian for years, and after a meetup with our group that was primarily vegans, they decided to become vegan. They said they still have some quorn “meat” in the fridge and stuff like that that they are going to finish and then start fresh as they run out. It’s a lot easier on the pocketbook and makes for a more gentle transition.

Haley November 30, 2010 at 6:48 am

I think what helped me lots starting out was cookbook shopping/reading and asking questions to the people at my local Whole Foods. I had no idea what most of the stuff I was now going to be cooking with looked like or where to find it and that really helped lots. Also if there are vegan restaurants in the area go and try the food there! If you fail a few times cooking things a new way sometimes seeing how others prepare it correctly can help you not to give up in a burnt fit of despair. (no one ask about my first seitan attempts…OK? IT DID NOT HAPPEN!)

Jason November 30, 2010 at 8:55 am

Wow! Thank for the amazing suggestions – I love love LOVE posting a video at night and waking up to see so many great comments that push the initial idea to whole new places. You’re awesome.

I’m seeing a trend here, and I touched on it a little in the video but the comments really own it: try new things, and get a little out of your comfort zone. That’s where growth happens, in veganism and in life – and like Haley suggested, it’s OK to disavow all knowledge of your more spectacular “learning experiences” 🙂

Twisted Cinderella November 30, 2010 at 12:01 pm

I have cooked all my life as early as I can remember, but I found that cooking vegan was a really new experience for me. Learning to flavor foods in different ways, learning to cook in different ways, experimenting with new recipes, visiting blog and forums and really having fun with the learning process has been fun for me. Prince Charming has said that I am the only vegan he has ever met (we live in Newfoundland and he dated one before we met) who cooks such great food instead of simply living off of side-dishes.

Colleen November 30, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Some of the best advice I got when I first went vegan was not to drink soy milk solely as a milk replacement, not to compare vegan burgers to omni burgers, etc. – but rather to treat each new thing as its own thing. So, the first soy milk I tried, I didn’t like it – but instead of thinking “Oh no, it doesn’t taste like milk, it’s yucky, I can’t do this!” I thought, I don’t like this soy milk so I’m going to try a different kind next time. Just treating things like themselves and not replacements really helped me with the inner brain stuff.

Jason November 30, 2010 at 1:52 pm

TC, I think it was last week in a video where I mentioned that I learned an amazing tofu scramble secret in Newfoundland, so I know your vegan community has it going on and Prince Charming definitely gave you some high praise there!

Colleen, it gets really funny when you have a vegan version of a dish without ever having had the non-vegan style, so there’s absolutely nothing to compare it to! I’m like that with risotto and huevos rancheros, which as you know I’m in love with, but I always wonder if I’d love them more or less if I actually had something to compare them to!

Colleen December 1, 2010 at 11:19 am

Good point – I’ve never had non-vegan huevos rancheros either. My big one is carrot cake – I always thought making cake with a vegetable was a totally dumbass idea but when I went vegan I decided to try everything I could. Carrot cake is the bomb diggy.

Molly Horn December 10, 2010 at 9:31 pm

My best piece of advice:
Read up on nutrition. Too many vegans go back to meat because they “don’t feel well” as vegans, and this is usually due to a nutritional deficiency of some sort. If you take a little time and educate yourself about what constitutes proper vegan nutrition, you’ll stand a much better chance of staying vegan for the long haul, you’ll feel better, and your meals will taste better, too. 😉

Liz Winn February 12, 2011 at 10:47 pm

After over half a dozen attempts at becoming vegan, this time it’s really stuck, and has felt, for the most part, effortless. I’d reach the 2-3 week stage and crater each time before, but it’s been 5 months now.
The difference:
When I crave meat, I eat more beans.
When I crave cheese, eat olives or avocados.
When I don’t eat enough greens, things get rocky. Gotta have plenty of greens.
And the “discovery” of nutritional yeast has been a big flavor boon.

Robert February 21, 2011 at 1:17 am

After doing much research, I have decided to become a vegan. One thing that worries me is making sure I have the correct ballance of foods. Another problem I worry about is finding a few ‘dishes’ that I make over and over again without having enough options. I am not a picky eater, though there are a few things (such as olives) that I don’t enjoy. Can anyone offer any advice and maybe point me to an online page that could offer me menu ideas — both to give variety but also to make sure I am getting enough nutrition from the foods I am choice.

And if anyone knows of a good online forum where I can become a member, that would be great too!! thank you so much!

Amanda February 24, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Robert, try which is a great starting point. You can type any ingrediant in the search field, and get hundreds of vegan recipes with that ingrediant. Some are super easy, some are complicated and take all day. I have found a couple of staples there which I make all the time, such as the tofu sour cream and vegan pizza crust.
good luck!

Tee June 28, 2011 at 5:11 pm

I have not decided to switch just yet and am very, very new to all of this. I am a very picky eater to begin with and have trouble finding things I like to eat. I have checked out some of the ingredients on some of the so-called vegan products and they have milk, whey, and or eggwhites in them. Why is this? I need help! I love all kinds of raw veggies and fruits and have always been an amimal lover and hope to make the switch very, very soon! Please help!

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