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Vegan Views: simple swaps for everyday foods

I know the idea of shopping as a vegan seems rather daunting, as most people just assume vegans only eat lettuce, but grocery shopping as a vegan can introduce you to many more foods and new recipes.

Dairy-Free Alternatives:

Almond, soy, cashew, rice and hemp milk are great replacements for dairy milk. Earth Balance is a great alternative for butter, as are other vegetable oil based buttery spreads. There are many vegan cheese alternatives. Some brands to try include Fieldhouse Chao and Follow Your Heart, along with the rather popular, Daiya. There are a lot of vegan alternatives to ice cream that can easily be found in your local Kroger. There is vegan Ben and Jerry’s, Halo Top, as well as soy, almond, coconut and cashew based ice creams from other brands. There are plenty of soy, almond and coconut alternatives to normal dairy yogurt. The Silk brand tastes nearly the same as mainstream yogurt.

When it comes to plant based protein, the list is endless: legumes, chickpeas, beans, lentils, mock meats, tofu, tempeh and seitan as well as nuts and seeds such as sesame, sunflower, pumpkin, chia, cashews, almonds and flax seeds.

For cooking you can try Nutritional yeast to replace Parmesan cheese, this is a great source of b12. Miso paste is great for adding to vegetables/soups, and low sodium and organic vegetable broth is a perfect base. For baking, use mashed banana, apple sauce, flax or chia seeds as an egg replacer. Agave and maple syrup are an alternative to honey or processed sugar and blackstrap molasses is a great source of iron. 

Some shopping tips:

•Always read the ingredients.

•Things to watch out for: milk solids, egg, gelatin, casein, whey, rennet, fish stock and lanolin.

•When it comes to packaged food, the fewer ingredients the better.

•Buy in bulk and dry when possible, avoiding products with excessive packaging – cheaper for you and better for the environment.

•Write a grocery list before you get to the store; roughly plan meals ahead to avoid over-buying and waste.

•Try different grocery stores – hunt out the cheapest deals on your favorite brands.

•Buy as much whole food as possible; fresh fruit, veggies, starches and legumes as the bulk of your shopping.

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