Meal Planning for New Vegans

Meal Planning for New VegansThe vast majority of food in a vegan diet, such as whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables is healthful and should be included in any diet. Peanut butter sandwiches, pasta with vegetables, bean burritos, lentil soup, vegetables, salads, hot cereal, and breads are all vegan. Traditional main dishes using meat and/or cheese can be substituted with soy or wheat gluten-based meat analogs. Eggs may be replaced with commercial starch-based egg replacers, ground flaxseeds, blended tofu, mashed bananas, applesauce, or prune puree, depending on the recipe. In recipes, the ratio of soy/rice milk to cow's milk is identical and a good dairy-free alternative. It is generally recommended that vegan children use brands fortified with calcium, vitamin D, and vitamin B12.

It may be easier to find vegan dishes at ethnic restaurants when eating out, though the increasing popularity of vegetarianism has resulted in a greater awareness by the restaurant community. Most restaurants will accommodate a vegan, particularly if prior arrangements are made. Many ethnic dishes are not meat based. Stir-fried vegetables with tofu, Indian lentil dishes (dal), and hummus are but a few examples. Juice box-sized soymilk is handy for traveling or eating away from home, as soymilk is not commonly available from commercial foodservice. However, most restaurants serve fruit juice.

Omnivore families with one vegan child may find it helpful to serve meals that each person assembles themselves such as a chef salad served salad bar style, tacos, etc. When a meat-containing entree is served, it may be possible to create a vegan version at the same time. A small non-meat, no cheese lasagna can be made while making a meat containing one. Chili, pizza, bean soup, and pasta sauce can all be made without meat or using meat analogs. Another meal planning strategy is to serve a side dish for the omnivores such as vegetable and grain casseroles that can function as the entree for the vegan. The entire family can enjoy a few meatless dinners each week.

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