Advice? I'd love to be vegan - but where I live there isn't much pre-made vegan food for sale (no vegan cheese whatever), no vegan restaurants, and I don't have the time to spend making much food from scratch. Being vegan would alienate me from my partner, their family and my family. I really want to, but I don't know how I can become vegan. Just being vegetarian is hard enough sometimes when dealing with people here. I love baking and cooking, and yet most vegan food looks sallow and grey..
Thanks so much for reaching out; I’m honored to share my experiences with you and offer suggestions that I hope will be of some help. :)
You certainly have a unique challenge in not having vegan foods immediately available in your local stores in addition to not having a lot of time to cook, but it can be done! There are lots of quick, easy, and delicious vegan recipes that can be made with whole foods such as produce, legumes, rice, pasta, etc. that you should definitely be able to find in your local grocery store or supermarket. Below are some of my go-to favorites.
Breakfast - This can be tough if you’re used to a breakfast centered around eggs, but there are lots of other yummy choices!
- Oatmeal - Made with water or nondairy milk (such as almond or soy, if available) and toppings of your choice. Suggested toppings include dried or whole fruits (such as raisins, cranberries, blueberries, etc.), brown sugar, maple syrup, or molasses. You can even mix in a canned fruit puree like pumpkin or sweet potato with some pumpkin pie spice – YUM! You can also make overnight oats in a Crock Pot for an even quicker morning meal, or pick up some oatmeal from Starbucks (they make theirs with water) if you have one in your area.
- Engine 2 Vegan French Toast – This is my new favorite breakfast! So simple yet so tasty! Directions: Mash up 1 banana, and mix with ½ cup nondairy milk, 1 tsp cinnamon, and ½ tsp vanilla extract. Dip bread in the mixture, place in a nonstick pan on medium heat, and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side (or until lightly browned).
- Waffles - I love this recipe. Lately I’ve been substituting canned pumpkin puree for the apple sauce, and pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon. Viola! Pumpkin Spice Waffles.
- Smoothies - An excellent, nutritious, quick, and easy breakfast choice! I’ve linked my smoothie Pinterest board for lots of concoctions to try out. You can also always create your own based on your tastes.
- Toast with your favorite toppings – Your favorite nut butter (i.e. peanut, almond, etc.), fruit, etc.
- Chia Pudding - Most grocery stores and supermarkets are selling chia seeds these days. If yours doesn’t, you can always ask the store manager to start carrying them (and anything else they don’t have available, for that matter!).
Lunch and Dinner – All of the recipes below can be prepared in around 30 minutes, most of them in less time than that.
- Sloppy Chicks - This is my favorite vegan Sloppy Joe’s recipe. Serve up with a side of sweet potato fries, roasted potatoes, or whatever you like!
- Chickpea Salad Sandwich - There are lots of chickpea salad recipes on the internet, so I’ve only linked one example. Perfect for a bagged lunch!
- White Bean Panini - My favorite sandwich recipe. If you don’t have access to Vegenaise, there are tons of vegan mayo recipes available on the web.
- Quick and Easy Lentil Helper - A plant-based take on Hamburger Helper! Really easy to make and tasty, too!
- Chickpea Piccata - This is my boyfriend’s favorite dish! He asks for it every week. This probably takes the longest out of all the recipes I’ve listed, but should still be done within 30 or so minutes. Well worth it, I promise!
- Tacos – Here’s where you can get creative. Black beans, pinto beans, and/or lentils should all be available at any supermarket. Throw some in a tortilla with some seasonings (I suggest cumin, cilantro, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, etc.) and make it your own! Add salsa, guacamole, diced tomatoes, rice… whatever you like! With some good guacamole (or even just mashed up avocado with a little salt), you won’t even miss the cheese!
- Pasta – It’s super quick and easy to boil noodles and heat up a jar of marinara sauce, so pasta is a great go-to! I like to add white beans for a bit of protein, fiber, etc. It might sound weird, but it works! You can even puree the white beans into the sauce with a blender if you don’t want to eat them in your pasta whole. Want some parmesan cheese on top? This vegan Parmesan cheese recipe is easily made from cashews. I love it!
Some other great sources for quick and easy vegan recipes are the Happy Herbivore Cookbooks, and Pinterest. If you feel that you need more convenience foods, snack foods, cheeze, etc., subscription boxes are a great way to go when these things aren’t available in your area:
If you feel like making the transition without cheese substitutes will be difficult for you, might I suggest you check out my previous post on plant-based cheese alternatives?
I know I’m getting pretty long winded here, but I did want to touch on your concerns about how others will react to your vegan lifestyle, should you choose to make this transition. I was worried about the very same thing. I live in the southeast region of the United States, right in the middle of barbecue and “meat and potatoes” country. I’ve been surprised at how receptive and accepting most people have been to my lifestyle; many have even been inquisitive and shown genuine interest in it. Not everyone reacts that way, so I feel it’s important to be mindful of how we deal with the “nay-sayers.” Lindsay Nixon wrote an excellent article on the subject, so I’ll direct you there.
All the best to you! Please feel free to reach out anytime you have questions, need support, etc. I’m always happy to help!