A beginner’s guide to going Vegan

By now, we’ve all settled down after Beyoncé teased us with her “big news.” As it turns out, she wasn’t announcing a new album or tour; she was simply informing us that she was vegan (again)—for 22 days. Let’s try to move past this disappointment and take away something positive from Queen Bey’s nutrition move.

A vegan diet is nothing new and, depending on where you live, there are probably a handful of decent vegan restaurants around your ‘hood. So why did Beyoncé feel that her ‘new’ diet was so newsworthy? It’s likely due to the fact that she and Marc Borges, exercise physiologist and fitness trainer to the stars, have joined forces to create Vegan Meal Delivery by 22 Days Nutrition. But besides their #businessgoals, this way of life is definitely worth considering—whether you choose to do so for environmental, ethical or health purposes (or all of the above).

On the health front, many nutritionists believe that North Americans consume far too much meat, which they claim is not necessary to maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, if you’re like us, you were probably raised on a meat-centric diet, and going vegan can seem intimidating. Many people wonder how they’ll ever feel full. It’s actually quite satiating if you load up on plant-based proteins. To help uncover some golden ones, we spoke with Toronto-based nutritionist Meghan Telpner for recipes and tips on cooking with a few vegan ingredients you may not have used before.

Tofu

Telpner recommends that you purchase certified organic or Non-GMO tofu. “Firm tofu is ideal when using your tofu as your main dish, such as in a stir-fry, scramble or soup,” she says. “Choose soft tofu when adding it to creamy desserts.” Since tofu doesn’t have a strong flavour, pair it with great marinades and sauces, as it’ll punch up the taste.

Recipe: Baked Mac and UnCheese

Tempeh

“Tempeh is a fermented soybean cake,” says Telpner. “It’s probiotic-rich and is one of the healthiest soy-based foods. It has a meaty texture and can be chopped to function as a replacement to ground beef in tacos, nachos and Bolognese. Tempeh also pairs amazingly well with sweeter marinades, like a citrus honey or maple balsamic.”

Recipe: Tempeh Testicles (don’t let the name scare you)

Nutritional Yeast

Telpner explains this ingredient as “one of the few plant-based sources of vitamin B12.” It’s commonly used as a cheese replacement, sprinkled on pasta or in vegan mac and cheese. “It is delicious when blended into a smooth cream with cashews, water, lemon juice and sea salt to make a cream cheese or sour cream replacement,” she adds.

Recipe: Vegan Shepard’s Pie

Chickpeas

Chickpeas are a power legume: They’re filling and rich in protein. Telpner says to use them in a chili, stews or to make hummus. They’re also great in salads.

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