Vegan-curious? Here’s how to get started

PHOTO CREDIT: StatePoint Media

Following a vegan diet doesn’t just reduce one’s impact on the environment, but it’s associated with a range of health benefits, making it no surprise that a plant-based food movement is on the rise.

“With more than 100,000 internet searches per month for ‘vegan recipes’ and ‘vegetarian recipes,’ it’s clear there is high demand for plant-based meals,” said Chef Fred Scarpulla, chief culinary officer at Amy’s Kitchen, an organic and vegetarian food company.

A recent national survey commissioned by Amy’s Kitchen and conducted by Atomik Research finds that 52% of Americans are vegan-curious, and men are even more inquisitive, with nearly three in five revealing an interest in cutting out animal products.

Every individual might have their reasons, but the survey revealed Americans’ most common motivators for purchasing or eating plant-based foods were their health (55%), a desire to protect the environment (34%) and a preferred taste of plant-based ingredients (28%).

No matter why you’re considering a vegan lifestyle, adopting one is not always easy. In fact, 72% of parents in households with dietary restrictions say finding prepared foods that meet their family’s needs is very or extremely challenging.

“Cutting down on meat and incorporating more plant-based foods into your diet doesn’t have to be complicated or restrictive,” Chef Fred said.

Whether you’re transitioning to a vegan diet, incorporating meatless Mondays into your routine or simply curious about meatless cooking, Chef Fred offers the following tips to help you get started:

Don’t restrict yourself

While going vegan might sound like it’s all about cutting foods out, it’s an opportunity to explore new flavors and ingredients you might not have tried before and to indulge in vegan-friendly cuisines from around the world, such as Indian food and Thai food.

Plus, these days, vegan alternatives to a number of favorite comfort foods, like enchiladas, pizza and even mac and cheese, abound.

Keep it simple

As you build your repertoire of go-to vegan meals, take a mental inventory of your family’s favorite dishes. Many of them already might be vegan, or able to made vegan with a few tweaks.

Also, be sure to check out online resources offering vegan meal plans, which can help ensure your overall diet is balanced, satisfying and delicious.

Look for shortcuts

Creating meals from scratch is not always possible for busy families. In fact, 56% of Americans want shortcuts to plant-based meals. Luckily, there are a growing number of convenient vegan meal options available.

Get creative

To reduce prep work, follow recipes that start with already prepared vegan foods.

“Whether you choose to go fully vegan or simply want to incorporate more plants into your diet, rely on solutions that make it easy, convenient and delicious,” Chef Fred said.

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