How to Go Vegan: Guide & Recipes

Here’s how to go vegan: a beginners guide and all the healthy recipes you need. Plant based eating can be affordable, filling and delicious!

Vegan Sloppy Joes

Looking to start a vegan diet? You’ve come to the right place. Here at A Couple Cooks, we’re experts in plant based cooking and cookbook authors. Alex and I have devoted our careers to making eating vegetables delicious! While we don’t eat a strict vegan diet, the majority of the recipes we eat are plant based! We’ve learned all the tricks to making this lifestyle affordable, filling, and most of all: delicious! Here’s a crash course in how to go vegan, and all the recipes you need!

What is a vegan diet?

First things first: what is a vegan diet? A vegan diet is a diet that excludes all animal products. Here are the foods that are off limits:

  • Meat
  • Fish and shellfish
  • All dairy (milk, cheese, sour cream, butter, yogurt)
  • Eggs
  • Honey

Don’t worry, that still leaves lots and lots of things to eat! Here’s what is part of a vegan diet:

Tip 1: Understand vegan protein & how to stay full!

Here’s one of the most important parts of eating vegan: plant based protein is key for staying satiated and full. The most important part of eating recipes without meat and dairy is to make sure they’re packed with plant based protein. If not, we’ll be hungry an hour later! There lots of options for adding plant based protein to your meals to make them filling and nutritious. Here’s are the top plant-based protein filled foods:

Choose from a variety of sources!

When you’re eating lots of protein from plants, it’s important to get a wide variety of protein sources. The point isn’t just to eat a can of black beans every day! According to Harvard School of Public Health, make sure to mix up your sources so no “essential” components of protein are missing. For more on plant based protein and lots of recipes, go to All About Plant Based Protein.

Is soy healthy?

According to the Harvard TH Chan School of Nutrition, soy is a nutrient-dense source of protein that can safely be consumed several times a week. It’s likely to provide health benefits—especially when eaten as an alternative to red and processed meat!

Tip 2: Eat whole foods!

When thinking about how to go vegan, consider this: focus on whole foods and a variety of veggies! It’s possible to eat a vegan diet and eat only processed foods: chips, crackers, fries, and the like. Here are a few tips for eating whole foods:

  • Try to cut down on packaged foods and make your own instead! Try our crackers, chips, pita chips, nacho cheese, etc.
  • Read the labels of anything pre-packaged and make sure that anything you buy has minimally processed ingredients. Try to avoid lots of preservatives and additives.
  • This will require more time in your schedule for cooking! See Tip 4 below.

Tip 3: Consider B12.

Dairy, eggs, and seafood have the Vitamin B12, which is important for avoiding anemia and does not occur naturally in plants. If you eat a fully vegan diet, you may need to add a supplement (specifically vitamin B12) to make sure you receive all the nutrients required. Consult your doctor for more.

Tip 4: Make time and space! And find a buddy.

What does going vegan mean? Carving out more space in your life to cook! Are you already in the practice of cooking on the regular? Here are a few things to think about as your make this diet change:

  • Baby steps: it doesn’t happen overnight! It takes a while to figure out your tastes and what recipes will be your go-to’s (see below for all ours!). Give yourself the grace and time to figure it out over weeks and months. It’s all about long term sustainability!
  • If a recipe bombs: try another! Cooking is all about finding things that work for your life and your personal tastes. If you make a recipe you don’t like: find another and try that one! Have the courage to keep trying new flavors and techniques.
  • Find a buddy. This is one of our top recommendations: find a buddy: friend, roommate, spouse, partner — who can help navigate the change with you. Share recipes with each other! Talk about things you like, and things that didn’t work. Food is all about relationship, and having a cheerleader is half the fun.

Tip 5: A few foods to watch for!

When you go vegan, here are a few foods to remember are off limits and what to substitute:

  • Honey: Use maple syrup instead!
  • Worcestershire sauce: Look for vegan Worcestershire sauce (standard contains anchovies)
  • Caesar dressing: Has anchovies and Parmesan; look for vegan Caesar
  • Pesto: Has Parmesan: use our Vegan Pesto
  • Mayonnaise: Has eggs: look for vegan mayo or use our Cashew Cream as a substitute

And now, our top go-to recipes for how to go vegan!

All our vegan recipe collections

That’s not enough? Here are our plant based recipes by category:

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

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