Ease into the vegan diet with these beginner's tips. By: Lane Nieset
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Guide to Going Vegan

Thinking of going vegan overnight? Think again. My Recipes sat down with Kim Barnouin to get the skinny on what it takes to go vegan. Kim’s new cookbook, “Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook” provides all the facts, figures, and recipes to start and maintain a healthy vegan diet. Here are a few tried-and-true tips to get you on your way:

1. Getting started. “There’s nothing hard or weird about vegan cooking,” Kim says. “It’s not more expensive or more difficult; it just takes a little more thought in the beginning and some planning.” As a mother, Kim doesn’t have much time to cook, so she wanted most of the recipes in her cookbook to be about 30 minutes. With pantry staples such as plain tofu, you can whip up smoothies or burritos in a pinch.

2. Go slow. “As with any diet, you want to really know what you’re doing,” Kim says. Start by making small changes every couple of weeks. It took Kim about two years to make the transition from vegetarian to vegan. You don’t want to feel like your entire life is about to change and you can’t have any of the food you used to have. One of the hardest things to give up for some people is cheese; and that was the last thing that Kim gave up.

3. Find your balance. Some newbies worry that they’ll overload on carbs to replace meat and dairy. Don’t fret; it’s all about moderation. “Be mindful of having a well-balanced variety of foods,” Kim says. “You don’t want to overdo it on anything, whether it be carbohydrates or protein. A girl can’t survive on pasta alone.” Incorporate vegan-friendly sources of protein into your diet by cooking with tofu, beans, or legumes.

4. Map it out. Menu planning makes sticking to a vegan diet a whole lot easier. “Whether you’re vegan or not, I think that’s such a good plan to have as a parent—preparing ahead and knowing what you’re going to make and not wandering through the aisles aimlessly,” Kim says. She suggests choosing recipes for the week that also translate over to the next day. For example, have chili for dinner one night and then have leftovers the next day.

5. Have your cake and eat it too. Kim’s favorite part of the cookbook was the dessert section. She loves giving her favorite dessert recipes a vegan twist. Before you try and whip up Strawberry Shortcake with vegan margarine and almond milk, try keeping it simple in the beginning. Switch out one ingredient at a time. Soon you’ll be able to trade in eggs for EnerG-Egg Replacer, and you won’t be missing out on any of your favorite treats.

6. Go beyond the basics. It can be hard for meat-lovers to get acquainted to the vegan lifestyle, so heavily relying on meat alternatives is an easy way to get away from actual meat. Be aware though, that there are a lot of fake meat products on the market that are very processed. Once you get on your feet, Kim suggests keeping them to a minimum. “With this cookbook, I wanted to show that you can get away from the fake meat products and you still make food from scratch that is very healthy, quick, and satisfying.”

Becoming vegan is a process that varies for each person. By slowly making food substitutions and learning more about the diet, you can slowly ease into it. “Even if it’s something that you do part-time, you notice a really good feeling,” Kim says. “Your body just changes and adapts to [the vegan diet].”