That Time When My 15YO Daughter Went Vegan!: 10 Tips for Vegan Beginners
A few years ago, we hosted an event with the award-winning, vegan celebrity chef and author, Bryant Terry. And my daughter was hooked!
His cookbook , The Inspired Vegan, is one of the best! We invited families into Manhattan for a cooking demo and presentation with Bryant and his wife on healthy eating for toddlers and parents. As life goes, when you seek to help educate others something will likely rub on on you. And in this case, it was my daughter. The evening spread was catered by the super yummy V Spot cafe, located in Brooklyn. My daughter, who has had long periods of vegetarianism despite my meat-eating ways, wanted to try it. And of course, I wanted to support her. Although we dived in head first and pocketbook second–it can be expensive at Whole Foods–I wish she would have tip-toed into the waters for an easier transition. As much I tried to educate myself, there was a lot I didn’t know.
If you have a teen who wants to transition to veganism or are thinking about it yourself. Natalie Slater, resident vegan of healthy snack food company I Heart Keenwah and author of “Bake and Destroy: Good Food for Bad Vegans,” offers these 10 great tips to help people transition to the vegan lifestyle.
1. Try not to think of going vegan in terms of what you can’t eat, but rather, in terms of what you can eat. Vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, and beans – prepared in endless ways.
2. Commit to making one swap a week until you’ve eliminated animal products from your diet. Swap is the key word here. Replace meat with more veggies or meat alternatives like Beyond Meat, Gardein, tofu, seitan, etc. Replace dairy with store bought or homemade alternatives. Don’t just subtract from your diet or you’ll have a tough time.
3. Join the community. Start following vegan Instagram accounts for recipe inspiration and daily motivation. Look for vegan meetups in your area, and join non-judgmental Facebook groups like What Fat Vegans Eat.
4. Stock your pantry with vegan staples like:
- Vegetable broth
- Non-dairy milk
- Nutritional yeast
- Maple syrup
- Flax meal
- Canned chickpeas
5. Explore! Borrow flavors from vegetable-heavy cuisines likes Thai and Indian. Spend some time reading vegan recipe blogs and try cooking one new dish every week.
6. Be prepared. If you travel a lot, or live somewhere that isn’t so vegan-friendly, carry healthy snacks with you. Some suggestions:
- I Heart Keenwah Quinoa Clusters – Chocolate Sea Salt is perfect for sweet cravings + a protein boost. Also, the Quinoa Puffs in Sweet Chili pack a punch with a mix of sweet flavors paired with habanero and jalapeno flavors
- Roasted nuts – a little protein shot on the go
- World Peas Fava Crisps – the ranch flavor is addictive
- Individual packs of nut butter – because sometimes a bagel will save your life
- Whole fruit – don’t be afraid of being a vegan stereotype, you eat that apple and you eat it proudly
7. Be prepared… to talk. People are going to ask you where you get your protein. They’re going to ask you if you miss cheese. They’re going to ask you if you were stranded on an island with nothing but cows what you’d eat. Have snappy answers ready for them. (My answers are: The same place elephants get their protein – from plants. No, because I still eat cheese – it’s made from cashews and almonds. And finally, I’d eat whatever the cows are eating.)
8. Get educated to stay motivated. Watch movies like “Forks Over Knives” and “Earthlings” and read books like, Diet for a New America. The more you know, the more motivated you will be to stay vegan.
9. Don’t worry about cheese. There are tons of alternatives like Follow Your Heart, Treeline, Miyoko’s Creamery and Daiya. You can even make homemade versions from ingredients like nutritional yeast and potatoes.
10. Be kind to yourself, and to others. Remember, being vegan isn’t about perfection, it’s about doing the best you can. Be patient with yourself and once you become a vegan guru, remember that others are still trying. Help them, don’t judge them.