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Making the switch from the meaty, cheesy Standard American Diet, to a healthy, sustainable vegan diet can be a difficult one at first.  However, knowing what healthy, vegan food options are out there makes the process a whole lot easier.  Here is a list of vegan foods that will make your transition to a plant-based diet delicious and nutritious.

  1. Daiya Vegan Cheese.  Love the health and compassion of a vegan lifestyle, but still crave cheese and the foods that it goes with, like nachos, grilled cheese, and pizza?  Well, Daiya has come to your rescue.  This amazing all-natural “cheese”-like product comes in shredded “cheddar”, “mozzarella”, and “pepper jack” varieties, melts like real cheese when it’s heated, and even the flavor is spot on to the real thing.  No more missing your former cheesy favorites.
  2. Quinoa.  This grain of the moment seems to be everywhere right now, and with good reason.  This grain, which is actually a seed, is a complete protein (meaning that it has all the amino acids that your body needs in the correct amounts), has a mild flavor, cooks quickly, and can be paired with just about any dish.
  3. Hummus.  This Middle Eastern chickpea spread has been around for thousands of years, and is still a staple today amongst many vegans, vegetarians, and other foodies.   It’s a good vegan source of protein and iron, and can be served as a dip for veggies or chips, or as a spread on sandwiches or bagels.  Hummus comes in a wide variety of flavors, from classic to roasted red pepper to artichoke and garlic, or you can get creative and make your own at home.
  4. Kale.  The praises of dark leafy greens cannot be sung loudly enough.  The entire group is known for their excellent vitamin, mineral, antioxidant and fiber content, and kale is no exception.  One cup of kale has your entire day’s supply of vitamins A, C and K, plus provides you with iron and calcium.  It can be eaten raw, steamed, or sautéed, and even makes a good base for your favorite green smoothie.
  5. Nutritional yeast.  You may have heard that the one nutrient missing from a vegan diet is vitamin B-12.  This is not entirely true.  There are some vegan foods that are fortified with B12, and nutritional yeast is one of them. However, not ALL varieties are fortified, so make sure to do your label reading. Check out more information about B12 for vegans here. Nutritional yeast also contains complete protein, and is another source of iron.  This deactivated yeast has a nutty, cheesy flavor, and makes a great substitute for parmesan cheese in many instances.
  6. Chia seeds.  These tiny seeds are, in fact, the same seeds popularized by the “Ch-ch-ch-chia” commercials of the last decade.  They’ll grow you a Chia Pet, but also can supply you with a full day’s supply of omega-3 fatty acids in one tablespoon, even more than flax seeds.  Chia seeds are great mixed in a smoothie, or with your cereal, and can even be used as an egg substitute in baking, since they form a gel when combined with liquid.
  7. Almond milk.  Getting off the moo juice can be easier than you think with great alternatives such as almond milk.  This dairy-free, soy-free milk substitute can be used any time that you would normally use milk, has a great mild flavor, and offers a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, including calcium.
  8. Protein powder.  Add some extra vegan protein into your smoothies and baked goods using a protein powder supplement.   Protein powder varies widely in source, quality and flavors, so you may want to try out a few before deciding what works best for your lifestyle.  Brown rice protein is a popular favorite, with Sun Warrior being a highly recommended brand.
  9. Tofu.  This popular soy-based vegan protein source often gets a bad rap by meat-eaters, mostly because it’s something different and unknown.  Tofu has an endless list of uses, including baking, frying, sautéing, and soups, plus it will take on the flavor of anything that it is cooked with.  With the assistance of some good recipes, tofu can become your new best friend.
  10. Coconut milk ice cream.  Craving a pint of your favorite frozen chocolaty treat?  Try one of the varieties of coconut milk ice cream from brands such a Luna and Larry’s and So Delicious.  These are just a decadent as the real thing, and will leave your craving completely satisfied.