Vegan Cooking For Dummies®

Table of Contents


About This Book

Conventions Used in This Book

What You’re Not to Read

Foolish Assumptions

How This Book Is Organized

Part I: The Lowdown on Vegan Cooking and Eating

Part II: Vegan Chef Strategies

Part III: The Good Stuff: Vegan Recipes

Part IV: The Part of Tens

Icons Used in This Book

Where to Go from Here

Part I: The Lowdown on Vegan Cooking and Eating

Chapter 1: Vegan Eating Defined

Pinpointing What Vegan Really Means

Eyeing the differences between vegans and vegetarians

Separate but not equal

What Does a Vegan Eat, Anyway?

Noting the Health Benefits of a Vegan Diet

Keeping away from the killer diseases

Weight loss simplified

Raising Vegan Kids and Facing Family Challenges

Getting kids to eat foods that pack a punch

Avoiding common nonvegan ingredients

Chapter 2: Vegan Nutrition from Soup to Nuts

Consuming Enough Calcium

Getting the Lowdown on Protein

Knowing how much you really need

Finding the protein from plants

Uncovering the 4-1-1 on Iron

Recognizing what amount is enough

Identifying vegan iron sources

Finding Vitamins B-12 and B-2

Acquiring Other Important Minerals and Nutrients


Vitamin D


Complex carbohydrates

Part II: Vegan Chef Strategies

Chapter 3: The Vegan Pantry Deconstructed

Announcing the Whole Truth about Whole Grains

Comparing whole versus processed grains

Identifying the benefits of eating whole grains

Buying and storing grains

More Than Just Good for Your Heart: Keen Beans

Understanding why beans are good for you

Eyeing the abundant options

Soy Vey! The Vegan World of Soy Foods




Soy sauce

Fake out: Faux meats

Laying the Foundation of a Vegan Diet: Vegetables and Fruits

Eating fresh and seasonal first

Including frozen, canned, and dried foods

Making room for mushrooms

Storing produce

Into the Blue: Sea Vegetables

Finding the fronds in your area

Savoring seaweeds for wellness

Packing Powerful Nuggets of Protein: Nuts and Seeds

Exploring the nutrition of nuts and seeds

Sorting and storing

Delving into Herbs and Spices

Considering Condiments

Contemplating Cooking Oils

Chapter 4: The Right Tool for the Job

Choosing Knives: You Just Need a Few

Identifying the knives to include in your vegan kitchen

Caring for your knives: The how-to

Picking Pots, Pans, and Bakeware

Using what you already own

Discovering what works best

Avoiding aluminum

Utilizing Utensils

Trying Out Fancy Gadgets and Appliances for Extra Credit

Chapter 5: Focusing On the Principles of Vegan Cooking

The Nuts and Bolts of Cooking Techniques


Boiling and simmering

Sautéing and stir-frying

Baking, roasting, and broiling

Cooking Grains and Beans

Getting grains perfect on the stove

Making grains in a pressure cooker

Boiling beans

Preparing beans in a pressure cooker

Preparing Common Vegan Ingredients



Fruits and vegetables

Sea vegetables

Nuts and seeds

Cooking Two Ways in a Vegan Kitchen

Making a conscientious compromise

Staying strictly separate

Adapting Old-School Recipes to Be New and Vegan

Egg substitutes

Milk replacements

Mock meats

Better butter

Fake cheese for real taste

Rescuing a Recipe

Chapter 6: Stocking Up: Savvy Shopping Strategies

Considering Your Main Shopping Options

Cozying up to the health or natural food store

Hitting your local grocery store

Shopping seasonally with farmers’ markets and CSAs

Considering convenience stores, delis, and everywhere else

Going online: Cyber shopping

Making a Shopping Plan

Planning a menu

Putting together a basic list

Looking at Labels

Identifying nonvegan ingredients

Recognizing items that are Certified Vegan

Knowing the Differences among Organic, GMO, and Conventionally Raised Foods

Part III: The Good Stuff: Vegan Recipes

Chapter 7: Getting a Vegan Jump on Your Day with Breakfast

Starting Off Right with Savory Tastes

Beginning with Something Sweet

Refashioning Old Favorites

Chapter 8: Bodacious Beverages

Sipping Some Morning Glories

Warming Up with a Hot Drink

Chapter 9: Crafting Creative Condiments

Sprinkling In Some Flavor

Drizzling on Some Deliciousness

Chapter 10: Dips, Sauces, and Spreads

Spreading It on Thick

Savoring Sassy Sauces

Jumping in the Dip

Chapter 11: Savoring Snacks and Appetizers

Rounding Up Healthy Snacks for Running Around Town

Touchdown Treats and Goodies for Gatherings

Chapter 12: Breaking Bread

Baking Easy Breads

Creating Some Hidden Treasures

Sweetening Your Breads

Chapter 13: Salacious Salads

Loving Your Lettuce

Creating Bean-Based Salads

Adding Grains to Salads

Pressing and Marinating Salads

Chapter 14: Soups and Stews

Taking Stock of Vegan Stock Recipes

Creating Worldly Flavors in a Bowl

Chapter 15: Sitting Down to Sandwiches and Lunch Wraps

Whipping Up Sandwiches as Your Main Dish

That’s a Wrap!

Chapter 16: Enticing Entrees

Tasting Some Asian Persuasions

Making One-Pot Meals

Throwing a Tasty Pizza Party

Adding Ethnic Flair to Your Entrees

Chapter 17: Scintillating Sides

Selecting the Proper Side Dish

Field of grains

Little bites

Wrappin’ and Rollin’ Your Side Dishes

Eating Ethnically

Veganizing Some Favorite Holiday Sides

Fortifying Your Body with Super Sides

Chapter 18: Devouring Delicious Desserts

Crafting Some Grain-Based Desserts

Getting Fresh and Fruity

Baking Cookies and Bars

Concocting Some Cakes and Tarts

Vega-lutionizing Old Favorites

Chapter 19: Mighty Menus: Planning Out Your Vegan Week

Jump-Starting the Day: Breakfast

Snacking and Planning Light Meals

Going for Heartier Fare: Main Meals

Being Festive: Holiday and Special Occasions

Part IV: The Part of Tens

Chapter 20: Ten (Plus One) Emergency Snacks for Desperate Vegans

Tings Corn Sticks


Hummus and Pita

Salsa and Tortilla Chips

Refried Beans and Lard-Free Tortillas

Olive Paste and Rice Crackers

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches

Fruit Leather


Soy Yogurt

Fruits and Veggies

Chapter 21: Ten Quick and Almost-Homemade Vegan Meals

Burrito Bar

Mediterranean Picnic

Spaghetti Dinner

Salad Banquet

Snack Meal

Cracker Dip-a-Thon

Soup and Dippers

Veggie Burger Bonanza

Tortilla Stuffers

Frozen Pizza Party

Appendix: Metric Conversion Guide

Vegan Cooking For Dummies®


About the Author

Alexandra Jamieson, CHHC, AADP, has been seen on Oprah, The Final Word, 30 Days, and The National Health Test with Bryant Gumble. She was even featured in the award-winning documentary Super Size Me (2004). In her two books, Living Vegan For Dummies (Wiley) and The Great American Detox Diet (Rodale), Alex offers remarkably sane — and tasty — advice on how to detox, live healthfully, and feel fantastic.

Her knowledge of nutrition has been artfully developed through years of both professional and self-led study. Alex now commands a matchless repertoire of nutritional wisdom and food savvy. She is a professionally trained healthy gourmet chef, having studied at New York City’s Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts. She refined her techniques by cooking professionally in Milan, Italy, as well as at a variety of popular New York City restaurants. In addition, Alex is a certified health and nutrition counselor. She studied with groundbreaking pioneers in the field of nutrition at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.

Alex also traveled the world, visiting more than 20 countries, premiering Super Size Me (an Oscar-nominated documentary), and acting as a messenger for the power of holistic nutrition and healthy detoxing. In every country, she sought out healthy vegan food and was pleasantly surprised to find great options everywhere. Time and again, her clients experience the magic that happens when they feel great in their own bodies. Members of her programs step up to a new level of confidence and willingly expand and explore bigger dreams and authentic goals.

A healthy and energetic vegan herself, Alex lives in New York City with her family, including her vegan son, Laken, and a lively boy cat named Sue.


This book is dedicated to everyone who is thinking about going vegan, has gone vegan, knows someone vegan, or was vegan and is now dipping their toes back in the water. My hat is off to you and your efforts to live well, be healthy, and make a difference in this world.

And to my son Laken, who loves good food. I love you, handsome.

Author’s Acknowledgments

Writing a book is a team effort. While I measured, mixed, baked, and tested in the kitchen, the amazing folks at Wiley were backing me up, every step of the way. My deepest thanks and acknowledgements go to the following people who made this book possible: Copy Editor Megan Knoll, Recipe Tester Emily Nolan, Technical Editor Rachel Nix, who also did the nutritional analysis for the recipes, Acquisitions Editor Lindsay Lefevere, whom I was delighted to work with again, and Project Editor Chad Sievers, who kept me on track and focused. Thanks to the Composition Department folks who helped with the layout and design work. Thanks also to Rich Tennant who creates all the fun and smart cartoons for these books.

Publisher’s Acknowledgments

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments at For other comments, please contact our Customer Care Department within the U.S. at 877-762-2974, outside the U.S. at 317-572-3993, or fax 317-572-4002.

Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Acquisitions, Editorial, and Media Development

Senior Project Editor: Chad R. Sievers

Executive Editor: Lindsay Lefevere

Copy Editor: Megan Knoll

Assistant Editor: David Lutton

Technical Editor and Nutritional Analyst: Rachel Nix

Recipe Tester: Emily Nolan

Editorial Manager: Michelle Hacker

Editorial Assistant: Rachelle Amick

Art Coordinator: Alicia B. South

Cover Photos: T.J. Hine Photography

Cartoons: Rich Tennant (

Composition Services

Project Coordinator: Sheree Montgomery

Layout and Graphics: Carl Byers, Joyce Haughey, Christin Swinford

Proofreaders: Rebecca Denoncour, Betty Kish

Indexer: Potomac Indexing, LLC

Special Art: Liz Kurtzman

Photographer: T.J. Hine Photography

Food Stylist: Lisa Bishop

Publishing and Editorial for Consumer Dummies

Diane Graves Steele, Vice President and Publisher, Consumer Dummies

Kristin Ferguson-Wagstaffe, Product Development Director, Consumer Dummies

Ensley Eikenburg, Associate Publisher, Travel

Kelly Regan, Editorial Director, Travel

Publishing for Technology Dummies

Andy Cummings, Vice President and Publisher, Dummies Technology/General User

Composition Services

Debbie Stailey, Director of Composition Services


When I was asked to write Vegan Cooking For Dummies, I jumped for joy! You see, learning to cook healthy vegan food is what got me to where I am today, and I love sharing my passion for healthy food with others.

My culinary adventures began when I discovered that animal ingredients made me feel heavy, slow, and tired. As soon as I eliminated dairy and meat and began experimenting with nutrient-rich plant foods, I easily lost the extra 20 pounds that had crept on since college, felt more energized, and began thinking more clearly. Cooking with vegan ingredients means choosing cruelty-free, lower-carbon-footprint foods that not only increase your physical health but also make it easy to live lighter on planet Earth.

Although this book focuses on cooking vegan meals, it also touches on how living a vegan lifestyle can have a positive impact on the environment and human health. If you’re interested in understanding more about the whole vegan lifestyle, check out my book Living Vegan For Dummies (Wiley).

About This Book

When the United Nations recommended in June of 2010 that a global shift toward a plant-based diet would help prevent further global warming, I knew the vegan world was about to get a lot bigger. More people are discovering how food is produced and processed, and how food choices have an impact on their health, the health of other creatures, and the environment. More and more celebrities, world-class athletes, and artists are “coming out” as vegan to endorse a lifestyle that supports creative and physical achievement, and everyday folks aren’t far behind.

Vegan Cooking For Dummies is for home cooks, experienced and new vegans, carnivores and long-time vegetarians who are interested in moving away from some or all of the animal foods in their diets, and the people who love and want to support any and all of those groups. I’ve written it to be your go-to guide for vegan recipes, nutrition, and meal planning. To that end, it provides more than 150 great vegan dishes you can prepare at home, as well as info on getting all the necessary nutrition and planning your vegan diet, including a sample one-week meal plan to help get you started.

Conventions Used in This Book

To make this book easier to digest (pun intended), I’ve used a few conventions.

Whenever I introduce an unfamiliar food or term, I put it in italics and include a definition or description nearby.

Bold text highlights keywords in bulleted lists and action parts of numbered steps in the nonrecipe text.

All Web addresses appear in monofont. When this book was printed, some Web addresses may have needed to break across two lines of text. If that needed to happen, I didn’t put in any extra characters (such as hyphens) to indicate the break. So just type in exactly what you see in the book, as though the line break didn’t exist.

Here are some additional conventions that apply to the recipes:

Plant milk refers to any nondairy milk such as rice milk, soy milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, nut milk, or oat milk. Feel free to choose your own adventure here (although keep in mind substitutions may affect the recipe results and nutrition facts, as I note later).

All temperatures are Fahrenheit.

All vegan margarine is trans fat-free and nonhydrogenated.

All soy sauce is low-sodium.

Nutritional facts found with each recipe are based on the ingredients used as the recipes are written in this book. If you make substitutions, the facts will change, and the recipe may not turn out as written.

Ingredients and recommended foods are the vegan version. For example, if I mention salsa on a snack list, I’m referring to dairy- and meat-free salsa even if I don’t specify “vegan salsa.”

Be sure to read the recipes through from start to finish at least once before you begin cooking. Then you can make sure to have all the necessary ingredients, tools, and time you need to make delicious food.

Preheat your oven at least 15 minutes before you put anything in it to cook.

What You’re Not to Read

Although I like to think that all the information here is important, you can skip some items if you’re pressed for time or just want to get the basics and get out. Here are some things you can skip over:

Sidebars: These gray shaded boxes offer inspiration and ammunition for the vegan road ahead. They’re not necessary for cooking good food, but they offer good information.

Anything with a Technical Stuff icon: These bits contain information that’s more technically or historically involved than what you need for the basic discussion at hand.

Foolish Assumptions

When I put this book together, I made some assumptions about readers (also known as you) who’d pick up a book like this one:

You like to eat, but you want to avoid animal products.

You’ve cooked a little or not much at all, but you know you want to start making more of your own food.

You’re curious not only about vegan recipes but also about nutrition.

You wonder whether a vegan diet can really be tasty and satisfying, and you’re used to the typical meat-and-potato American diet.

You have a loved one who’s a vegan and you want to be able to cook one simple meal everyone can enjoy.

You aren’t afraid to take a risk and eat a diet that’s considered “weird” by much of your culture — cool vegans are a little outside the mainstream, and that’s how we like it!

How This Book Is Organized

Vegan Cooking For Dummies is pretty easy to navigate. All the chapters that work together are found in the same part. The book starts out with some lifestyle and general information about vegan living; it’s an overview of why you may be vegan or are considering going vegan. Then it moves into preparing yourself and your kitchen to start cooking, which leads to the recipes. The grand finale is the Part of Tens, a fan favorite in all For Dummies books. Here’s how the parts break down:

Part I: The Lowdown on Vegan Cooking and Eating

Part I lays out what a vegan diet encompasses. It details reasons people choose to go vegan in the first place and covers the ways in which choosing this diet can lead to health and environmental benefits. This part also discusses vegan nutrition and the challenges that may arise in a vegan family.

Part II: Vegan Chef Strategies

This part offers the nuts and bolts of making a vegan diet work. Part II includes how to set up a vegan kitchen with basic ingredients and tools, what foods offer necessary nutrition, and the foundations of healthy vegan cooking. It includes information on adapting old recipes to include vegan ingredients and helps you figure out how to shop for and store food items.

Part III: The Good Stuff: Vegan Recipes

In this part, you can find vegan recipes for every time of the day or night. From breakfast, special beverages, lunch, snacks, dinner, desserts, breads, and condiments, this part provides a one-stop-shopping experience for the vegan cook. In the final pages of Part III, you can also find menu planning ideas and meal suggestions for special occasions and holidays.

Part IV: The Part of Tens

The Part of Tens is an icon in the For Dummies world — it’s an institution! These lists come in handy when you’re shopping in unfamiliar territory or don’t have time to whip up something from scratch. One chapter shows you how to get kids to eat healthy foods — that can help omnivores and vegans alike!

Icons Used in This Book

As you read through the chapters of this book, you’ll find the following icons that are designed to grab your attention. The useful bits of information attached to the icons range from gotta-know-it to technical trivia. Here’s what each icon means:

remember.eps Be sure to play close attention to the information next to this icon. The guidance offered here helps you eliminate risks and make good choices.

tip.eps This icon alerts you to important tips and handy bits of advice to help, inspire, and ease your way along the vegan road.

warning_bomb.eps Pay special attention to information tagged with this icon. It shows you how to avoid costly mistakes and common missteps.

technicalstuff.eps This icon points out information where I’ve gone into the scientific side of things. You don’t have to commit this information to memory, but it’s interesting stuff.

Where to Go from Here

If you’ve ever read a For Dummies book, you know they’re written so you can skip around from part to part or chapter to chapter without worrying about missing important info because you didn’t read the book from start to finish. If you want to know about nutrition first, go to that chapter first. Life is short! If you want to dive into the dessert chapter first, go for it!

If you’re new to vegan cooking or have just been told that your spouse or teenager is “going vegan,” I recommend starting your journey at the beginning of this book and reading every page. You can find important aspects of vegan cooking that may be new to you, including how to cook whole grains, avoid hidden animal ingredients, and consider nutrition, shopping tips, and meal planning strategies. If you’re already well versed in the basic ground rules of veganism, feel free to skip ahead to the recipes in Part III to start cooking!

A few other suggestions: Whether you choose to go 100-percent vegan today or just integrate several vegan meals throughout your week, Chapters 3 through 6 can help you get prepared so you have the tools you need for successful, healthy cooking. Maybe you have vegan kids at home who are actively involved in school clubs and sports and need ideas on what to send with them so they have great energy. The snack and lunch recipes in Chapters 11 and 15 can be lifesavers for you! Is your newly vegan kid coming home from college for the holidays? If you’re at a loss as to what to make that will help him feel included, look to the menu suggestions in Chapter 19 for ideas.

A vegan lifestyle and diet can be healthy, fun, and full of new tastes and experiences. Every meal is another chance to eat healthy, feel great about your place in the world, and save another animal from being killed. Enjoy the journey of adventures as they unfold! Feel the satisfaction and joy that comes with knowing you’ve committed to one of the most conscious paths available in this life. Be well, and here’s to your health!

Part I

The Lowdown on Vegan Cooking and Eating


In this part . . .

The chapters in this part are like the road map for your vegan adventure. This part guides you through what you need to know to begin, starting with the definition of what a vegan is, moving through the health benefits of this diet, and ending with the nuts and bolts of plant-based nutrition. These chapters show that a well-rounded vegan diet provides everything a human body needs for healthy development and vibrant energy. I guide you through the basics of finding important nutrients like protein, calcium, and iron, as well as highlight some common nonvegan ingredients to avoid.

Chapter 1

Vegan Eating Defined

In This Chapter

Exploring veganism and how it differs from vegetarianism

Discovering just how much nutrition a vegan diet can provide

Moving the whole family to a vegan diet

A vegan diet is clearly gaining in popularity these days, and for very good reasons! You have probably overheard a friend talking about going vegan. Or maybe you saw a story on the news about a celebrity or famous athlete giving up meat and dairy. Perhaps you’ve realized that your health isn’t what it used to be, or you’re having a hard time losing weight with the traditional diet you grew up with. Or else you’ve read that raising animals for human consumption is bad for the environment, and that the animals aren’t treated well.

In this chapter, you discover the health benefits of a vegan diet, the differences between different types of vegans, and how to get started making this diet a whole lifestyle. Don’t be scared — more and more resources, restaurants, stores, online support groups, and premade products are available every day.

Pinpointing What Vegan Really Means

Vegans go beyond what ordinary vegetarians eat and buy in their lifestyle. A vegan diet and lifestyle avoid all animal products — all of them. The following sections point out what vegans really are and how they differ from vegetarians.

Eyeing the differences between vegans and vegetarians

Vegans are sometimes called strict vegetarians. No, vegans won’t slap your hands with a ruler if you mispronounce seitan (for the record, it’s say-tan), although some hardcore vegans may want to throw a bucket of red paint on you if you’re wearing a fur coat.

Vegans are stricter than vegetarians because vegans don’t eat any animal products. Vegans avoid eating, drinking, wearing, using, or consuming in any way anything that contains animal ingredients. Although many vegetarians can happily note that no animals are directly killed to provide them with food, a vegetarian diet still indirectly contributes to animal abuses, as well as health concerns and environmental degradation. Vegans even go as far as avoiding health and beauty aids that have been tested on animals.

A vegan diet contains everything except eggs, milk, cheese, butter, all other dairy, meat, poultry, fish, shellfish, or honey. You can find different kinds of vegetarians, all of which still consume some type of animal foods. Here are the main types:

Lacto: No meat, fish, poultry, or eggs, but does include dairy like milk, butter and cheese.

Ovo: No meat, fish, poultry, or dairy, but does include eggs.

Lacto-ovo: No meat, fish, or poultry, but does include dairy and eggs.

And then you find the kinds of vegetarians who still eat turkey on Thanksgiving, or fish when they want to. These folks sometimes call themselves flexitarians. There’s truly a rainbow of diversity in this alternative diet world!

Separate but not equal

Even among vegans, you can find different categories. The vegan lifestyle actually has three different subheadings, and some people are very solidly in one camp or another. Some people, like me, go back and forth among the three, integrating the best of the options available.

The cool thing about these three styles of eating is that they all offer amazing ways to heal the body from disease and imbalance. Start reading up on all three, and you may find yourself attracted to one and decide to dive in! Here are the three and what they entail.


The macrobiotics dietary school is based on traditional Japanese foods. The term was created from the Greek words for “macro,” meaning large, and “bios,” meaning life. The diet is mainly composed of unprocessed vegan ingredients and integrates recommendations for eating slowly, chewing well, and using seasonal, local ingredients as a way to live a long and healthy life. This diet includes whole grains (especially brown rice), beans, sea vegetables, veggies, fresh pickles, grain-based sweeteners, and small amounts of cooked fruit and has been used to cure many people of obesity, arthritis, skin disorders, and cancer.

Many macrobiotics include fish in their diets but no other animal products. But a good percentage of them avoid all animal foods and live a vegan lifestyle. As time goes on, some macrobiotic chefs and counselors have started to expand the foods they use and eat to include more seasonal and local ingredients, as well as fruit. Check out Macrobiotics For Dummies by Verne Varona (Wiley) if you want more in-depth information about this lifestyle.


Raw foodists choose to eat a plant-based diet that is prepared in certain ways to avoid heating it and damaging the nutrients and enzymes in the food. A raw diet sometimes includes raw fish, eggs, or meat, but as with macrobiotics (see the preceding section), a very large number of raw diets are vegan. A raw food vegan diet has been shown to reverse heart disease, cure cancer, and solve digestive problems and depression.

This diet eats uncooked, naturally pickled, or slightly prepared fruit, vegetables, sea veggies, grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. Raw practitioners typically soak and sprout grains and beans first to make them easier to digest and activate their health-promoting enzymes. Raw foodists use special dehydrators to create flaxseed crackers, nut cheeses, kale chips, and fruit leather. They also use powerful blenders to create delicious desserts and smoothies.


This traditional diet and school of medicine began in India more than 5,000 years ago. Based on traditional Indian herbs, spices, foods, and natural cleansing techniques, this diet has become more popular in the West due to the rise in fame of Dr. Deepak Chopra.

Ayurveda states that everyone has one of the following three body types:

Vatta: This person usually has a thin body type, and has a tendency to be more “airy” and creative in temperament. These people often develop nervous system and colon imbalances, and often feel cold in their extremities.

Pitta: These “hot” people are usually very athletic in build and fiery in temperament. Common disorders for pitta types are migraines, inflammation, and acid reflux.

Kapha: A combination of water and earth elements, these types are stable, strong, and relaxed when balanced with a supportive diet. When unbalanced, these people can become overweight, depressed, and develop high cholesterol.

No matter whether you’re vatta, pitta, or kapha, you can find foods to balance your energy and health. Although many recipes in ayurveda include milk, yogurt, and ghee, or clarified butter, many vegans adjust the food to be animal-free.

What Does a Vegan Eat, Anyway?

So now you’re going to venture into a world free of dairy, eggs, meat, poultry, fish, butter, and cheese. If you’re like the average person, you’re asking “Well, what can I eat?” The surprising answer: everything else! Vegans don’t eat animals, but they do eat a huge range of plant foods. Vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, sea vegetables, soy foods, beans, sprouts, breakfast, lunch, dinner, desserts, and snacks are all there for the taking.

If you’re just starting to explore vegan eating, you may worry that you won’t get enough calories, iron, calcium, protein, or whatever else. Can you get all the nutrition you need from this diet? You bet! Protein, calcium, iron, and vitamin B-12 are the nutrients you need to be aware of when you’re first starting your vegan diet. But these vitamins and minerals are readily available in a varied diet of whole grains, beans, fruits, veggies, and sea veggies. In fact, many scientific and health organizations and government bodies have stated that a well-planned vegan diet can provide everything a human needs for good health. Both the American Dietetic Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics agree that a vegan diet can satisfy a human body’s nutritional requirements.

The secret bonus of these plant foods is that they provide a lot more than protein, iron, and calcium. Vegans get more fiber, vitamins, healing phytochemicals (plant chemicals), and antioxidants than most omnivores (those who also eat meat) do because plant foods are filled with them. Chapter 2 covers more information on recommended daily intakes for these and other nutrients.

The great thing about eating vegan food is that it can be just as delicious as anything you grew up eating with meat or dairy. Healthy cooking techniques have come a long way since the beige and lumpy days of the ’60s and ’70s, when vegetarian cooking first became popular. From savory, rich appetizers and entrees to decadent, sweet desserts, the recipes in this book and other vegan cookbooks show you how plant-based cooking can satisfy any craving.

Countless vegan foods are available to you after you know what you’re looking for. The chapters in Part III give you a plethora of recipes you can try to introduce yourself to vegan cooking. With more than 500 vegan cookbooks on the market, you’ll never be at a loss for inspiration when you get comfortable cooking for yourself.

Noting the Health Benefits of a Vegan Diet

The health and food connection is finally coming to the attention of the media and the public at large. The bottom line is that if you want a healthy, vibrant body, you should eat food that is healthy and vibrant! If you fill your tank with garbage food, you’ll feel like garbage. That’s where a vegan diet comes into play. Eating a vegan diet can prevent diseases and simplify weight loss. The following sections examine these advantages in more depth.

Keeping away from the killer diseases

The great news about a vegan diet is that it can help protect you from the most dangerous illnesses affecting people in the Western world. Vegans have healthier blood pressure levels, consume no cholesterol, and have a lower risk for heart disease.

tip.eps Check out The China Study (Benbella Books) by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell II for more about the different rates of diseases for vegans and omnivores. This well-documented book uses evidence spanning the globe and presents compelling data to show that veganism protects your health.

The whole, plant-based meals you enjoy as a vegan are lower in saturated fat and higher in potassium, which both help to lower blood pressure. Meat and dairy foods are high in fat, salt, and artery-clogging cholesterol. These are fantastic reasons to move to a vegan diet — and to make vegan meals to share with anyone in your life who is at risk for heart disease!

Cancer may soon eclipse heart disease as the number one killer of Americans and Canadians. Eating a whole, plant-based, vegan diet shows a lot of promise in both preventing and even curing some cancers. Breast and ovarian cancers seem to be influenced by the amount of animal protein and dairy in a woman’s diet. Incidents of intestinal and colon cancers are also higher in populations that eat more meat and dairy.

Weight loss simplified

Eating vegan also makes maintaining a healthy weight easier. Plant eaters generally consume much less fat and a lot less saturated fat than meat and dairy eaters. Overweight and obese people who want to shed pounds can find a vegan diet really useful because they naturally consume fewer calories if they focus on whole, unrefined vegan foods.

Vegan foods such as nuts, seeds, veggies, fruits, beans, and whole grains are also high in fiber. A fiber-rich diet fills you up more quickly than one based on refined, low-fiber foods, and feeling fuller sooner causes you to eat fewer calories. The added bonus of fiber rich foods is that they help your body move waste out through your intestines better, which maintains your body’s ability to absorb nutrients properly. Smooth move, vegans!

warning_bomb.eps Especially if you’re going vegan for weight loss, you need to watch what you eat because you can be a junk-food vegan! Living on fried veggies, refined bread products, and sugary treats that just happen to be vegan isn’t a healthy choice. Avoid the pitfalls of the standard American diet when you go vegan — just move away from the processed junk foods entirely.

Raising Vegan Kids and Facing Family Challenges

Whether you’re raising kids vegan from day one, transitioning your entire family to a plant-based diet together, or trying to support one curious teenager at home, be assured that this diet can and does provide everything kids need to stay healthy. You may encounter some challenges, depending on how old your kids are, how rebellious they are, and how much they care about animals and their own health.

Most kids are naturally finicky — whether it’s engrained in their DNA or they see that it pushes Mom’s buttons, they just want the food they want. Slowly transitioning from your standard diet to one filled with vegan meals is probably best to help the kids from feeling overwhelmed. The following sections show you how to make sure your vegan kids get the nutrition they need in foods they won’t try to feed to the dog and offers suggestions on getting everyone on board with this new plan.

Getting kids to eat foods that pack a punch

To provide optimal nutrition for all the children in your home, choose nutrient-dense foods like avocado, nut and seed butters, enriched grain products, hemp, flaxseeds, and enriched plant milks. Kids need a good variety of protein, iron, calcium, and healthy-fat foods, plus all the other minerals and vitamins that adults need. Because kids have smaller stomachs than adults, they can more easily fill up on fiber-rich foods like fruit, pasta, and grains.

tip.eps Your child’s tastes will change — sometimes daily. Here are some tips for enticing little ones to eat healthy foods without driving you crazy:

Make most meals family-style, with a variety of healthy foods that kids can choose from. Don’t get into the habit of making a different dinner for each person — you’re not a short-order cook. Studies have shown that kids make healthy meals for themselves if offered an array of healthy options.

Studies suggest that a kid will reject a new food up to 12 to 15 times before accepting it. Keep introducing healthy stuff that you like, and eventually they’ll eat it, too. Many adults balk at new foods as well; if you’re not sure about a new vegetable on the first try, keep at it! You may end up loving it after a few tries.

Get your kids involved in the kitchen. Have them pick out recipes and help with the shopping list. Take them to the grocery store to pick out a new veggie and enlist their help in creating the table setting. Even a 3-year-old can help mix waffle mix or stir a bowl of ingredients with some assistance.

Be a good example. Mirror, mirror, on the wall — who likes eating their veggies? You do! Show your kids that you love your healthy meals and set an example by enjoying a variety of good options.

Don’t force it. Making a fuss out of your kid not eating can create tension and a power dynamic that’s tough to stop. As long as she has access to only healthy foods throughout the day, she’s likely to get what she needs.

tip.eps Tweens and teens may resist changes to their diet more than the little ones. Have a family meeting about why you feel changing the family menus is important. If animal welfare issues play a big part, watch some age-appropriate videos about how animals are treated in factory farms. Most kids are natural animal lovers. With your help, they’ll connect their food choices with the suffering of animals. If health concerns influence your decision, be honest with the family about your thinking. They’ll learn from your logic, and the family can grow together with the same morals and ideas.

If you’re worried your kids will freak out at the idea of eating seaweed and tofu at every meal, reassure them that some of the foods they already know and love are in fact vegan. Here’s a sample list of kid-friendly vegan meals to calm their fears:

Whole-wheat noodles with lentils and spaghetti sauce

Baked sweet potatoes with steamed green beans drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with nutritional yeast flakes

Oatmeal with apples, cinnamon, and freshly ground flaxseeds

Pancakes spread with sunflower seed butter or almond butter and drizzled with pure maple syrup

Rice and beans wrapped in a tortilla with sides of salsa, guacamole, and tofu sour cream

Rice crackers, carrot sticks, red bell pepper slices, and cucumber slices with Cashew “Cheese” Spread from Chapter 10

Toasted Nori Strips from Chapter 9 with a miso soup filled with tofu, mushrooms, and green veggies

Sauteed seitan with roasted potatoes

Three-bean chili with whole-wheat rolls

Veggie pizzas with zucchini, mushrooms, and vegan cheese

Veggie burgers on whole-wheat buns with baked potato fries and fruit juice-sweetened ketchup

Quinoa and bean soup with steamed broccoli

Avoiding common nonvegan ingredients

Adopting a vegan diet for yourself and your family means avoiding animal-based ingredients in food, but if you pick up a box of food in your grocery store and read the label, the terminology listed as edible ingredients may mystify you. How can you know whether something’s vegan if you don’t know what it is?

Here is a list of some common animal ingredients you see on food labels. Check out Chapter 6 for more advice on knowing what to look for on labels.

Albumen: Made from eggs, milk, and blood from animals

Bone char: Derived from animal bone ash, used to process white sugar

Carmine or cochineal: Red pigment made from crushed beetles, found in foods, makeup, and supplements

Casein: A cow’s milk protein

Methionine: Essential amino acids made from eggs or cow’s milk

Pepsin: Made from hog stomachs

Rennet: An enzyme made from calves’ stomachs

Whey: Made from milk