Going Vegan: The Basics
From a basic grocery list to pantry staples, here are a few basics to consider when thinking about developing a plant-based, whole food diet.
I highly recommend folk at least TRY a plant-based, whole food diet. I promise it will change your life. Our blood pressure is back to normal, our aches and pains are gone, our cholesterol levels are perfect. Our blood sugars are normal. Our skin is glowing, and on and on and on. Before you start, check out the documentary Forks Over Knives. It seriously changed my perspective on why we think we need animal protein to survive. Real conspiracy theory stuff! *Checking Over Shoulder*
I’ve compiled a quick list of the basic staples you MUST have in your fridge/pantry to help kick-start your plant-based whole food lifestyle. But, before you go shopping, CLEAN OUT YOUR FRIDGE AND CABINETS.
The biggest form of sabotage is to leave cookies, cakes, pies, bacon, and chicken in your house; especially for the first few weeks. Unless you have the strength of Jesus Himself to avoid temptation, I suggest you take my advice. I’m trying to help a brotha/sista out!
Almond milk is the best “milk” substitute in my opinion. The consistency and texture make it an easy substitute for drinking, cooking and baking. Make sure to get unsweetened and unflavored. You can also make your own almond milk using a food processor. My go to is Whole Food’s 365 Value Almond Milk.
Cauliflower is your new BFF. No seriously. Cauliflower is the most versatile vegetable EVER. It can be mashed to mimic mashed potatoes, chopped to mimic rice, and baked to replace meat in your main course. It also takes on flavors well, so you can create just about anything.
I’ll admit it, I’m a BORING eater; especially for breakfast. I am content with eating a bowl Quaker Organic Instant Oatmeal everyday. It’s so good and very filling. Add a scoop of almond butter, cinnamon, and agave and you’ll have a satisfying breakfast. Also, blend up oatmeal in a food processor to make oat flour.
Almond butter (or some other type of nut butter) is a must have pantry staple. First, it is an excellent source of protein. Secondly, it goes great in just about anything, including oatmeal, smoothies, and baked goods. Make sure you purchase an unsweetened brand like Justin’s Almond Butter. And yes, you can make it at home too.
Essential Herbs, Spices an Oils
WE KNOW how to add seasonings! And because I’m BLACK black, Lowry’s Seasoned Salt is still a staple in my pantry. You must also have a good Mexican and Italian seasoning blend, along with fresh basil and cilantro. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is my all time favorite, along with Coconut Oil. Don’t be afraid to try new spices and herbs.
This is a staple. The best meal replacement is a smoothie packed with lots of protein, fruits and vegetables. My favorite protein powder is Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal Replacement Protein Powder. It’s full of vitamins, minerals and nutrients. Check with your doctor before starting a vitamin supplement.
Agave nectar is another staple to replace sugar/honey in my diet. It is a natural sweetener found from the agave plant. I use it in oatmeal, sauces, and smoothies to add sweetness. It can also be used for coffee and tea. As your palette changes, you will not need to use as much sweeteners in your food/drinks. Try Whole Food’s 365 Value Light Agave.
Beyond The Meat “Burgers”
Ok, now I know we are trying to eliminate meat. But if you are transitioning from a diet full of meat, these Beyond The Meat Burgers will save your life. I promise they taste and feel like the real deal. Throw them on a lettuce “bun” with tomatoes, onions, ketchup, vegan mayo and bread and butter pickles, and you’d swear you were eating Wendy’s.
Grains and Legumes
All grains are not bad for you. In fact, whole grains are good for your gut. Organic Quinoa is a favorite of mine. It’s high in protein and fiber, and goes well with anything. I’ve even replaced ground turkey with it for Taco Tuesdays. Don’t forget about beans…all the beans, especially chickpeas.
Sauces and Condiments
Just skip the salad dressing. Trust me on that. But, pick up organic and sugar free versions of your favorite condiments. Also make sure you pick up Soy and Pad Thai sauces for all your Asian-inspired meals, along with lots of Spaghetti sauce. And you must try Sir Kensington’s Vegan Mayo, it tastes like the real thing.
All The Fruits & Vegetables in the World
All black households have an onion and green pepper lying around. But don’t be afraid to try new fruits and veggies. Avocados are amazing. Pineapples and Mangoes are staples for our smoothies, and I’ve tried every variety of mushroom. Try a new fruit/veggie weekly and cook with them often. You’ll fall in love.
I’ll admit, the only thing I drink is water. And lot’s of it. I gave up coffee and I actually function so much better without it. And no, I don’t drown myself drinking 3 gallons a day. But, because it’s all I drink, I’m well hydrated. If you must drink something else, steep fresh fruit in your water. And when I travel, I take a Brita filtered water bottle.