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Lesson 2. Tips for successful transition to plant-based diet

Tips for a successful transition to a plant-based diet. 

YouTube Video

Vegan Cooking: Tips for Success 

This lesson will focus on giving you tips for a successful transition to a plant-based diet.


1. The most important transition advice: 
    Manage the inane chatter surrounding a transition to a plant-based

2. The second important bit of advice: 
     Get ready to feed yourself over and over again

3. New vegans need food-emergency kits to survive in animal-laden food 

4. Understanding your protein requirements

5. Quiz

Manage the inane chatter

Avoid getting bogged down with distracting discussions that come up with the topic of going vegan. These discussions often revolve around topics that have nothing to do with maintaining a plant-based diet. 
People just feel a need to comment.   

Typical topics are: “So you want to lose weight?”, “I can’t believe you can afford vegan food”, “I lift weights, I have to eat meat to bulk up”, “There’s no better source of protein than meat”, “Do you eat only organic?”, 
“Vegan food has too many carbs”,  “I can’t live without protein”, “I don’t do GMOs”, “Man=carnivore”, “See my teeth – they are the teeth of a carnivore”, “Animals don’t feel anything”, “Animals don’t think”, 
“Cows like it, I don’t want to deprive them”, “They’re raised for this purpose”. 

Find a way to park all these bits of unsolicited information so you can continue on your path towards living a life without killing others.

Get ready to feed yourself over and over again

Be prepared to feed yourself three times a day for the rest of your life.

Find your favorite recipes and stick to making them. Build your repertoire of recipes by building on ones you know you like. (For some reason, people choose to cook the weirdest things when they first go vegan.)

Avoid the “love to write and write” recipes. (For some reason, many vegan recipes use 20 ingredients that can only be found in far-away lands.) Just reading some recipes makes you dizzy. Don’t get bogged down when you’re hungry looking for new recipes. Have a handy list of your favorite recipes nearby.  

Stick to making recipes that don’t require more than 7 ingredients. 

When you cook, freeze half of it for times when you’d otherwise lapse into ordering a pizza with cheese fries. Stock up your freezer with your own nicely-packaged treats. Cook fresh rice and defrost.   

Stock your home with the grocery list of items you need to cook most of your meals (non-perishables and frozen items). Buy your lentils and frozen veggies in bulk. There’s a grocery list for the recipes in this course in Part 4.  

Be generous with your use of oils, salts, nuts, and spices in the beginning. For some reason, when people first transition to a plant-based diet, they unknowingly remove all oils and salt especially. (Then they complain that their food is boring.) When giving up meats and dairy, you will naturally be giving up lots of fats, so you can afford to treat yourself with more oils than you otherwise would. 

Always have some legumes soaking (covered in Cooking Legumes, Part 2a).

Always have some legumes cooking in a slow cooker /crock pot (covered in Cooking Legumes, Part 2a).

Always have something fermenting on your countertop (this is advanced) (covered in Recipes, Part 3, of this course).

The smaller the legumes and grains, the quicker they cook.  
Start with these red lentils, mung beans, and french lentils.

Substitute butter with your favorite oils.  

Come to terms with the fact that you will probably miss cheese for the rest of your life. Take pleasure in knowing that you aren’t hurting any calves. 

Come to terms with the fact that you will probably miss bacon for the rest of your life. Take pleasure in knowing that you aren’t hurting any piglets. 

Be daring, learn how to make soy or almond milk early on (covered in Cooking Legumes, Part 3f). You’ll be thrilled with your new independence.

Considering buying yourself a rice cooker. 
Just throwing ½ cup lentils with ½ cup rice into a rice cooker makes a nearly-complete meal. Fry up some frozen veggies and you have a delicious meal quickly. 

Consider buying yourself a pressure cooker. 
Legumes (even the big ones like kidney and lima beans) cook up in about 30 minutes or less in many cases when starting from scratch. During this time, you can be frying up some ginger, onions, seasonings, nuts, and tomatoes to add to the legumes once they’re done (covered in Cooking Legumes, Part 2a).     

ER kit for new vegans

Due to the difficult nature of finding affordable, satisfying vegan food sources outside of the home, it’s good to have a survival kit with you every time you leave the house. Find what high-protein nut and/or grains dish or sandwich combo works for you and keep it with you at all times. 
Here are some things that work for me.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on whole wheat / grain bread 
All nut-butter sandwiches (cashew, sunflower seed, and soybean butters)
All whole grain breads
Bags of nuts
Chickpea and other legume-y snacks
Thermos of soup or stew (of some previous meal)
Tahini (sesame paste), seasoned or unseasoned
Humus (chickpea paste), seasoned or unseasoned

Worried about having gas? 
At Vegan Cooking we are cookers, eaters, and teachers. We have no medical knowledge. You might need to consult your doctor. But in lieu of having any medical knowledge to manage gas, this is what we do when we cook our beans. 

Cooking with canned beans
We believe that there is some ingredient that they put in canned beans that causes gas and tummy discomfort. Not sure what it is. We believe that this is the reason that beans get a bad rap. We prefer to make dishes from dried beans because this problem does not seem to exist when you eat dried beans. If your lifestyle requires that you use canned beans, here are a few suggestions to help you cope. 

1. Drain off the water in which the canned beans are stored. 
2. Rinse them a few times. 
3. Cook beans now using the instructions in Cooking Legumes, Part 2a. 

Cooking dried beans 
The gas-generating part of the bean is in the skin. It is water-soluble. To release (and get rid of) this part of the bean, do the following steps before actually cooking the beans.  

1. Put beans in a pot.
2. Add water until the beans are covered – but no more than that.
3. Bring beans and water to a boil.
4. See the sudsy-looking bubbles? That's the ingredient that causes gas. It’s being released into the water.
5. Throw out this sudsy water.
6. Repeat this process three times.
7. Cook beans in your recipe. 

Other suggestions to manage the gas that comes from eating beans:
Eat beans every day. Your system gets used to the fiber. The gas goes away.
Consider consulting your doctor.  

About how much protein do we need in a day?

According to the group Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine, PCRM.Org, there’s a simple way to calculate an approximate recommended amount of protein required for every person.  It is

Body weight (lbs) X 0.36 = recommended protein intake in grams

So if I weigh 145 lbs., I would need about 52 grams of protein per day (145 lbs X 0.36 = 52 grams).

Read The Protein Myth and the calculation for the recommended amount of protein at

What do we know about legumes?

Legumes are an excellent source of protein, among other things.
One ounce of uncooked legumes is about 7 grams of protein.
One ounce of uncooked legumes is about one handful of legumes.
(One cup of dried legumes has about 56 grams of protein.)

India has about 1 billion people – most of whom have never eaten any meat. They live well on legumes and other protein sources. 


Q:  I make the mistake of telling others I’m going vegan, they tell me my hair is going to fall out. 
      What do I do? 
A:   Find a way to park the discussion. 

Q:  I’m rushing out of the house and I haven’t had breakfast, what do I do? 
A:  Grab a loaf of whole wheat bread from your freezer and your bottles of peanut butter and jelly. 
     You can always make a sandwich at your desk. 

Q:  I come home from work and I’m starving. Do I look for a recipe online to cook? 
A:  Definitely not.  Cook something you already know or get something from the freezer.  
      Often, just starting a fresh pot of (brown preferably) rice gets a good meal started.
Q:  It’s late and you don’t know what to cook. 
A:   Fry up frozen veggies with onions, ginger, and peanut butter. Add soy  and hot sauce. 
      You’d be surprised how nutritious and delicious this dish is.  

Q:  About how much protein is in most legumes? About how much is an ounce?
A:  One handful of legumes is about one oz. and this is about 7 grams of protein.

Q:  About how much protein do you need to have every day? 
A:  According to PCRM.Org, you can calculate this by multiplying your body 
      weight times 0.36 to arrive at the recommended  protein intake in grams. 

Q:  What do most vegan households have on their counter tops all the time?
A:  They have a container of legumes soaking in water.

Q:  What do very busy vegan households usually have running?
A:  A slow cooker with a batch of legumes cooking in water only. 

Q:  What do most vegan households usually have in their freezers at all times?
A:  Many frozen baggies of cooked legumes to heat up with rice or potatoes.  

Q:  I’m going to use canned beans. But they give me gas. How can I avoid that? 
A:  Always drain off the water in which the canned beans are stored. Rinse them a few times. 
     The gas-causing part of the bean is in the skin. It is water-soluble. This is usually enough to 
      de-gas beans. But for added de-gassing, consider bringing the rinsed, canned beans to a boil 
      then pour off water a few times and drain off the sudsy stuff on top. Throw this water out 
      and cook with fresh water. See Cooking Legumes for more info on this topic.  

Q:  I work 50+ hours in a food dessert – how can I cope?
A:  Cook your meals on Sunday and freeze some in baggies. Take the baggies
      with you to work and reheat there. All legumes and pasta dishes reheat really
      well. Take high protein, satisfying snacks with you to your workplace. 

Q:  You’re in a restaurant and you don’t see anything that is plant-based? 
A:  Ask the waiter to help you come up with a solution.  (You’ll find cooks have a repertoire of 
      recipes they never get a chance to show off. I’ve noticed they are quite generous with their 
      vegan creations. Explain why you eat plants only. 

Now you have some tips on how to transition to a plant-based diet. These survival strategies will help you manage your sustenance while you learn new recipes and coping mechanisms in an animal-laden world. 

Write to me to report any mistakes, ask any questions, or make any requests at

Cooking can be dangerous

Be mindful that all cooking and kitchen activities can be dangerous. Use caution at all times and teach children to respect the potential dangers. I always have an aloe vera plant nearby to apply to any cuts and burns I get. Aloe vera does wonders. 

Boe Devi,
30 sept. 2013 11:31