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5 Essential Foods for the Plant-Based Diet Rookie

Food | Lifestyle

So, you’ve decided to go plant-based—good for you!

If you’re anything like me, you might be experiencing some initial anxiety over how you’re going to pull it off. Many worry that they won’t get enough protein, or that they’ll suffer from extreme cheese withdrawal, but don’t fret. It’s really not that difficult.

Implement a gradual transition, climb back on the wagon if you fall off, and have the following five essential plant-based diet foods stock-piled in your kitchen to help ease the process.

1. Quinoa

Quinoa is a seed that also happens to be a complete protein, so it’s a great food for those adhering to a plant-based diet. With a light and fluffy texture similar to rice, you can use it in all your favorite dishes. Personally, I love to use it instead of rice in pilaf and stir-fry recipes, and even as a hot cereal.

2. Vegan Cheese

So often you hear people say that cheese was the most difficult thing to give up when they went plant-based. I, too, still struggle with occasional cheese withdrawal, but there are a handful of excellent vegan cheeses on the market these days that fill the void.

Daiya is a great brand that—get this—actually melts! Sprinkle it over pasta, or slice it up for a grilled cheese sandwich. If you’re looking for a cream cheese substitute, Dr. Cow makes an excellent cashew nut version.

3. Plant-Based Milks

Soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk… there’s so many non-dairy milks to choose from! Many contain just as much if not more calcium than dairy milk and come in a variety of yogurts and frozen desserts. By the way, coconut milk can be whipped into a killer whipped topping.

4. Legumes

Legumes include beans and lentils, which can be used in soups, salads, dips, and many other dishes for additional protein. They can also be mashed and used in a ton of delicious veggie burger recipes. You won’t even miss the meat!

5. Vegenaise

I had a longstanding love affair with mayonnaise for quite some time. Unfortunately, we had to go our separate ways, but Vegenaise, made by Follow Your Heart, is an excellent mayo substitute.

The brand boasts a large selection of styles and flavors: organic, grapeseed, roasted garlic, barbecue… you catch my drift. I love it slathered on two pieces of whole grain sprouted bread with slices of tomato and avocado, or in a simple summer potato salad.

These five foods not only helped me keep my sanity when I first made the switch to plant-based eating, they also continue to hold key positions in my culinary line up. I hope they help you in your plant-based endeavors, as well!

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