What Do I Need To Get Started On My Vegan Diet


A plant-based diet often requires quite a bit of food preparation and time spent in the kitchen as take-out options are often limited for vegans. This is why it is imperative to keep your kitchen well-stocked so that at any given time you will have what you need to whip up a quick snack, breakfast or dinner on-the-go for those busy evenings. Below is a list of kitchen essentials that will make whipping up those quick meals that much easier. All of the items that I have listed are relatively inexpensive and can easily be found at your local grocer though some may require you to seek out an organic market or a health food store.

1. Fresh fruits and vegetables
2. Almond milk
3. Soy sauce or tamari
4. Nonhydrogenated butter (e.g. Earth Balance or Soy Garden)
5. High quality oils (e.g. extra virgin olive oil, coconut, safflower, canola)
6. Maple syrup
7. Agave or brown rice syrup
8. Raw sugar
9. Nutritional yeast
10. Arrowroot and/or cornstarch
11. Canned tomato sauce and diced tomatoes
12. Soy mayonaise (e.g. Nayonaise, Vegenaise)
13. Staples: Beans, rice, frozen veggies, garlic
14. Baking powder, baking soda
15. Ener-G Egg Replacer
16. Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
17. Rolled Oats
18. Grits
19. Brown rice
20. Raw nuts and seeds (e.g. almonds, pecan, pistachios, walnuts, pine, sunflower, sesame)
21. Herbal tea
22. Vinegar (e.g. apple cider, balsamic, and distilled white)
23. Vanilla
24. Cocoa powder, unsweetened chocolate chips
25. Peanut butter
26. Dried and fresh seasonings: basil, parsley, black pepper, cilantro, thyme, cayenne pepper, curry, garlic powder, ginger powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, oregano, red pepper flakes, onion powder, chili powder and sea salt
27. Tofu, tempeh and seitan
28. Cutting board and professional set of ergonomic knives
29. High-end blender and food processor
30. Good vegan cookbooks (my favorites are: Vegan with a Vengeance, Tofu Cookery, Vegan Soul Kitchen, The Joy of Vegan Baking, Skinny Bitch in the Kitch)

I remember when I first transitioned to a vegan diet I had no clue as to what I needed to have on hand. This resulted in several trips to the store, lots of excess spending and buying a lot of things that ended up being useless. In time I came to realize that there were things that, as a vegan, I absolutely could not live without and those items are specifically what I have included in the list above. That said, use this list not as a grocery list, but as a starting point. As you get the hang of vegan shopping you will discover that there’s a whole world of veggie goodies and secrets out there that you never before knew about. I can assure you, the journey get so much better and this list is a great place to start.

Sunflower Smooches!

Amirah B Free

Is Being Vegan Expensive? 15 Money Saving Tips


Being vegan is by no means expensive. In fact, its no more expensive than a meat-based diet. Furthermore, when you factor in the cost of doctor visits and prescriptions needed to treat illnesses associated with meat-based diets it all balances out.

Sure a pack of faux meat costs a bit more than a pack of lunch meat or maybe even more than a pound of ground meat. However, that is an exception. On the other hand, beans, rice, and fresh veggies are a lot more versatile and significantly cheaper than processed food or a pound of beef. Most importantly, your health is worth the minimal investment of a few extra dollars at the check-out counter because good health is priceless. When your health deteriorates you begin to realize the value of it and the importance of doing what you can to preserve it. That said, here are some money-saving tips for a vegan diet.

1. Avoid buying processed
2. Learn to cook
3. Buy in bulk
4. Store-hop
5. Sign up for coupon specials and visit the food manufacturer websites for coupons
6. Shop at international food stores
7. Purchase some vegan cookbooks from the library or look online for recipes
8. Shop with a grocery list
9. Plan meals before shopping
10. Buy foods that are in season
11. Stick to buying frozen and non-parishables in bulk (when feasible)
12. Take leftovers dinner for lunch
13. Cook in large quantities – eat some, then freeze some (for times when you don’t have time to cook)
14. Prepare homemade snacks
15. Invest in a water filtration system (to avoid buying bottled water)

Implement these and other ideas that you come up with in your budgeting and shopping regime. Making healthful eating a part of your daily life does not have to put you in the poor house and if you believe that you are already in the poor house it doesn’t have to lead to more poverty. Just imagine how many meals you get from a bag of beans at $2 a bag versus a pound of ground meat at $5. More than that think of the health benefits of doing so. In the end your body and your bank account will thank you for this healthy lifestyle.

Sunflower Smooches!

Amirah B Free

Hark Vegans – There Are Hidden Animal Products Lurking About


Yes, vegans there are indeed animal products hidden in many of those alleged “vegan” products. Now, I won’t resort to name calling here, but just be aware that some of the products that you know to be “vegan” are more than questionably so. It seems these days that marketers are exceptionally good at their jobs. They have taken to being very strategic in using key catch phrases to get your attention. So, if you’re not careful they may even succeed at reeling you in.

I know this is terrible and you are just sick about not catching onto this scheme, but don’t beat yourself up too bad. We’ve all fallen prey to this ploy at one time or another. For instance, I don’t know how many times I’ve picked up an item that on its face looked vegan. I mean it had all the right words conspicuously shown on the package. Words like organic, all natural, vegetarian, and dairy-free drew me right in and in my haste I plopped the item into my basket and headed straight for check-out. Then after arriving home, unpacking my bags and upon closer examination, right there on the back of the package under the listed ingredients lay the truth. All types of animal remains stared back and taunted me.

So perhaps we’re being targeted or maybe its just the universe signaling for us to be more conscientious about what we’re buying. Whatever the reason, we have to stop being lazy about reading labels in order to avoid being tricked by wolves in vegetable clothing. We have to continuously educate ourselves as to what’s going on in the world of food to ensure that what we think we’re eating is in fact what we’re eating.

Of course, there are the well-known disguised animal ingredients like glucose, gelatin, lactose, whey, lard, and animal shortening. However, there are a host of others that are not so well-recognized and that are all well-disguised animal-derived ingredients such as natural flavorings, glycerides (can be plant or animal based), lecithin, pepsin, royal jelly, stearic acid, Vitamins A, B12, D1, D2 and D3, just to name a few. Believe it or not, this list is far from comprehensive, there is a laundry list of items.

Now I’m not telling you this to scare you into neurosis. I simply want to ensure that you are aware of what you’re eating and provide you with the opportunity to make an informed decision. Sure, it would be nearly impossible to avoid all of these ingredients. However, you can drastically cut down on your intake of them if you can identify them, which is essentially the point here. After all, knowledge is power.

Sunflower Smooches!

Amirah B Free

Being Vegan – A Love Story


Recently, the question was posed to me, “What do you love most about being a vegan?” Initially, my answer was this. The day that I became a vegan was the day that I fell in love. The truth is that there is so much about being a vegan that I love and because as a vegan I am constantly evolving it would probably be near impossible and beyond to scope of this article to ever articulate all that I love about being vegan.

Nonetheless, I can start by saying that for me on of the best parts of being vegan is knowing that I am committed to something that is inspiring and meaningful. As a vegan I am part of a movement to better the world. Studies have proven that a vegan diet will solve the problem of world hunger. In fact, the United Nations even declared that a plant-based diet can feed more people than an animal-based diet.

Now the second best part about being vegan is waking up to a sexy, vibrant, beautiful, healthy me everyday. I hate to toot my own horn but its true. I mean I just feel sexy as a vegan. My skin has a vibrant glow, I am always energetic, and I couldn’t ask for a better physique. Yes, being a vegan has come with many perks.

Next, I love, love, love the creativity that veganism inspires within me. As a vegan I am forced to keep my creative juices flowing. Finding new things to do with plant-based foods over the course of a lifetime requires ingenuity and adaptability so as an artist I can greatly appreciate this.

Lastly, as a hopeless romantic, I love that being a vegan has made me fall in love over and over again. The same feelings that you get when you experience being in love with another human being are the same feeling that I get when I think of what it means to me to be a vegan. So I just melt at the thought of my choice being one that impacts the world in that choosing a plant-based diet means that more people can get fed and that I help preserve the richness and beauty of our planet. My smile is as wide as the grand canyon when I create a new veggie recipe. My heart skips a beat when I hear its name. I start to glow when someone asks me about what it’s like being a vegan as I anticipate the sharing with someone else all the ways that this life has brought me so much joy. So in essence, I’d have to say that what I absolutely love most about being a vegan is just that, being in love.

Sunflower Smooches!

Amirah B Free

Should We Eat More Than 3 Meals A Day


So now we’re being told by many nutrition experts to eat more than 3 meals a day. Is that to say that if we’re not at least eating 3 meals a day then we’re malnourished? I highly doubt that. Recently, several nutrition experts have proposed that eating small meals every few hours will increase metabolism. However, won’t it also over-tax the body? The body requires a significant amount of time and energy to digest food. Eating so frequently will only overwhelm the body in requiring that even more time and energy be spent on digestion. What will be the result? Lots more lethargic, inactive, over-weight people wandering about.

Nonetheless, I’m actually not going to get into the alleged science behind this new concept because it is irrelevant. I will, however, draw your attention to WHO is advising you to do all of this eating because that information is very relevant. So let’s look at who’s funding the research behind this new concept. Additionally and most importantly, let’s look at who has a vested interest in our eating more. Now THAT’S worth looking into.

So eating more frequently will require us to buy more food. We will primarily buy this food from our local grocer. However, there are deeper pockets lurking about. Yes, considering that we aren’t being urged to eat additional meals that are healthy, nutritious, organic and locally grown it is fair to conclude that the grocers will have obtained the food from large food corporations. Jackpot! Oh yes, the more food we eat, the more food we buy, the more money we spend and the richer the large food corporations get. Ingenious marketing strategy I must admit. Create the need for your product via corporate-sponsored experts and skewed scientifically-based data.

Now despite the ingenuity of these marketing tactics we have to be smarter consumers if not for the sake of our wallets then for the sake of our health and the health of our families. We are intelligent enough to see that the suggestion of eating every few hours isn’t even rational. How so? Well, we know that the human body, in all of its splendor, is amazing. It naturally alerts us to when it is in need of rest, fluids, heating, cooling, and a long host of other things. Among those is the need for food. Therefore, we should probably eat according to the natural rhythm of our bodies rather than a clock. After all, when did clocks become all-knowing? So to answer the question of whether we should eat more than 3 meals a day? Listen to your body and take a look around. Not too many people, if any, are dying of starvation for failing to do so.

Sunflower Smooches!

Amirah B Free