Vegan, one meal at a time

We’re 2+ weeks into the new year. How are those resolutions holding up? If you decided (or someday may decide) to cut back on meat, dairy, eggs, and other animal products after being a full-on carnivore, you may find yourself struggling a bit if you dive in all at once. Tara Parker-Pope, the wellness columnist at The New York Times, has some tips on how to make the transition a bit easier. Since it echoes my own thoughts on leaning into change, my favorite suggestion comes from the end of the piece:

[D]on’t try to replicate your favorite meaty foods right away. If you love a juicy hamburger, meatloaf or ham sandwich, you are not going to find a meat-free version that tastes the same. [Susan] Voisin [of FatFree Vegan Kitchen] advises new vegans to start slow and eat a few vegan meals a week. Stock your pantry with lots of grains, lentils and beans and pile your plate with vegetables. To veganize a recipe, start with a dish that is mostly vegan already — like spaghetti — and use vegetables or a meat substitute for the sauce.

“Trying to recapture something and find an exact substitute is really hard,” she said. “A lot of people will try a vegetarian meatloaf right after they become vegetarian, and they hate it. But after you get away from eating meat for a while, you’ll find you start to develop other tastes, and the flavor of a lentil loaf with seasonings will taste great to you. It won’t taste like meat loaf, but you’ll appreciate it for itself.”

For other sage advice, head here for the full article.

Birthday dinner

Vegan truffled chanterelle, celery root, and potato gratin. Photo by kylewm (Kyle Mahan) via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)



  1. Little Sis

    Great advice. Trying to replicate a meat dish usually leads to disappointment – especially at the beginning. Baby steps, a little at a time, great experimentation all help a lot.

  2. the food fighters

    My sister-in-law and I got into a friendly argument over her tofurkey at Thanksgiving. I favored the heritage bird, myself. I was vegan for 15 years before I met my husband. My atheist husband agreed to a Catholic wedding and I agreed to eat meat. I’ve never looked back. But. . . . being on a budget requires vegan meals at least a few times a week. I’ve found, however, that most vegan dishes are vastly improved with a sprinkling of bacon on top. I read this article when it came out and am so happy you posted it–it’s practical, encouraging and unsanctimonious (The opposite of many of my posts, come to think of it!).

    • Todd Ingram

      Thanks for the comment, but you’re too critical of yourself — your posts are practical and encouraging, and what I suspect you’re calling sanctimonious I’d call passionate. So keep it up!

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