Friday, May 29, 2015

Ⓥ Tips and Tricks Part 1; Food

I've been vegan for over ten years now and, while I know I take the whole thing a bit farther than most vegans do, I feel like I have, over the years, acquired a fair amount of useful knowledge. So I just thought I would share some helpful tips with you. This is information that I feel would be of use to anyone who is new to veganism, is thinking of becoming vegan, or is simply interested in limiting their contribution to animal exploitation.

1-Whenever anyone asks me for advice on becoming vegan, the first thing I always say is "Buy a rice cooker." Honestly, this appliance has been the most useful thing I have ever owned. I have never found a single grain that doesn't cook perfectly in my rice-cooker, and without any real effort on my part. It doesn't just have to be grains either; for the most part, you can just throw all of your ingredients in there at the same time, and just leave them until it shuts off. Seriously, it will change your life.

2- I, personally, do not like to cook (hence my reliance on the rice-cooker) but, if you do like to cook, Pinterest is probably the best place to find vegan recipes. Just type in "vegan" at the top, and I guarantee you will find endless delicious recipes for anything you could imagine.

3- When it comes to buying vegan and cruelty-free products (without unlimited financial resources), I find that the secret is to know where to shop. Two of my favorite places to shop for vegan food and other products are Vitacost and iHerb. They both have similar products, but each has some that the other doesn't and the price differs one way or the other between the two, depending on the product. Still, it is well worth a little checking back and forth to get good quality stuff without spending a ton of money.

4- Personally, I like to keep things simple (again, cooking is not my thing) so I tend to have a few basic staple foods that I rely on. I think my very favorite staple foods are nut and seed butters, especially almond butter. They are delicious in pretty much any way you want to use them; sandwiches, dips, sauces, spreads, whatever.

5- Another great staple food I found recently is teff. If you haven't heard of it, it's a tiny grain from Ethiopia that is full of all sorts of nutrients, and very high in protein. It tends to cook into a big clump, but if you just fluff it with a fork it gets a really nice sort of couscous-like texture. I love it!

6- Anyone who has been vegan for any length of time probably knows about nutritional yeast. It is a great way to add a slightly cheesy taste to any food. Plus, again, full of great nutrients (including the elusive B12). Also, most cats absolutely love the stuff. This was the only way I got my, exceptionally picky, cat on a vegan diet.

7- Speaking of vegan companion animals, Evolution Diet is the best vegan "pet" food around. I won't pretend that it's cheap, but it's worth the price. My animals have all done remarkably well on it, and are healthier than they ever were on meat-based foods. A lot of other people have had similar experiences.

8- For the longest time, I refused to use any sort of protein supplement because I didn't want it to seem like I thought my diet was deficient in any way. I absolutely still stand by that, I easily get everything I need in order to be healthy with no help from supplements. However, when I started working out more, I realized that all of these meat-eaters who work out were drinking protein shakes in order to build muscle. So I thought "if they can do it without people assuming their diets are deficient, then so can I!" I've been drinking Sunwarrior for several months now, and it has definitely made a huge difference for me. It took some getting used to because, as I said, I've never had protein powder before, but I've grown to really enjoy the stuff.

9- If you're looking for a quick, healthy, vegan snack, I recommend larabars. Most of them are made of only fruit and nuts, and they taste great. Be careful though, they used to all be vegan but they have come out with a few new flavors that aren't. Just look for "vegan" on the label.

10- Probably the most expensive, and unnecessary product I buy is Solar Energy Gum. The way I see it though, if chewing gum is my only real vice, I can afford to splurge a bit on it. You might not guess it, but vegan gum is kind of hard to find, and even when it is vegan it's still usually full of nasty chemicals. This one is healthy though, and has a ton of B vitamins to help give you energy (hence the name). Okay, this isn't really a food, but close enough.

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