What’s Vegan Cooking All About?

Veganism has become very popular in recent times, as people realize just how unhealthy society’s eating habits have become. We are a meat-loving culture, and sadly, go to unethical lengths to get the meat we crave. Because of health concerns, ethical concerns, or both, more people are deciding to give up meat and, differing from vegetarians, all animal products. Their diet shifts to one based on whole grains, vegetables, fruit, beans, nuts, seeds, and vegan versions of popular foods.

When did veganism start?

Evidence for veganism has existed for 2,000 years, but the movement didn’t have an official platform until the 1940’s. Donald Watson, an English vegetarian who did not consume dairy, met with five others who shared his vision to talk through ways to spread their message. They disliked the label “non-dairy vegetarians,” because it was clunky, and ended up deciding on “vegans.” The Vegan Society was born. Watson is considered the father of modern veganism, and until his death at age 95, he advocated for organic farming and pacifism.

What are the benefits of veganism?

A diet free from all animal products has a lot of benefits. Just a handful include:

• More energy
• Healthier skin, hair, and nails
• Fewer migraines
• Fewer colds and flus
• Improved heart health
• Improved resistance to cancer

While studies have shown that veganism can lead to a lower BMI, it should not be adopted purely for the sake of weight loss. “Vegan” does not mean “lower-calorie,” and other healthy habits like exercise and drinking water should accompany the diet if you want to lose weight.

How to Transition to a Vegan Diet

Wanting to become a vegan? How would you go about it? There are really only two steps when you break it down: adding food, and then cutting out food and replacing it.

When you’re starting out on your vegan journey, the easiest first step is to start adding food into your diet rather than cutting it out. That means buying more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, tofu, nuts, and so on. You start making vegan recipes alongside non-vegan ones, and familiarizing yourself with vegan brands. This way, you can see just how many options you do have, and figuring out what you do and don’t like, without feeling like you’re starving.

Once you’ve been adding vegan food to your diet for a little while, it’s time to start cutting out food. The good thing about this step is you don’t have to say goodbye to them entirely. What you do is cut out, and then replace. That means instead of drinking milk, you start getting dairy alternatives like soy, almond, or even cashew milk. Instead of regular cheese, find a vegan cheese brand.

The art of substitution is key to being a vegan with a varied diet. Here are some classic subs that vegans rely on:

Eggs
For cooking, crumbled tofu is very similar in texture to scrambled eggs. For baking, subs include applesauce, flax eggs, and mashed bananas. As a binder, oat and soy flour, rolled oats, bread crumbs, potato flakes, and cornstarch work well.

Beef/chicken stock
Veggie stock is the obvious alternative, and many vegan food brands make stocks that taste like chicken or beef.

Butter
Vegetable oils and vegan margarines (like Earth Balance) are popular.

Yogurt
There are soy and coconut oil yogurts with different flavors that can be eaten straight or used in baking.

Gelatin
Used in baking, gelatin can be replaced with agar powder or agar flakes.

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