I hear this all the time, “It’s hard being vegan. It takes too much time to cook vegan food.” I have to respectfully disagree! There are a gazillion vegan substitutes for foods made from animals like mock-meats, tofu, soy cheese, soy milk, and soy margarine. Some are good, some aren’t. You’ll need to experiment to find your favorites. But, if you have time to make spaghetti with meat sauce then you have time to make spaghetti with mock-meat sauce. Same goes for stir-fry, chili, etc. See where I’m going with this? Maybe I’m just missing the boat here, but I don’t think time has anything to do with it.
My suggestion for cooking, vegan or not, is: Be prepared. Shop for food regularly. Don’t let your pantry, frig, or freezer go empty. Stock up on your favorites. Be prepared. Be prepared. Be prepared. I don’t mean to preach but I learned this over time. It makes being vegan just as easy as being an omnivore. (Although if you are reading this and have mentioned to me in the past that I don’t keep much in my frig, this is still true. I like to shop often for fresh food.)
Did I say be prepared? In addition to stocking your pantry, frig, and freezer with good vegan food, keep healthy snacks on hand. I always have fruits, nuts, and energy bars available, so if I get hungry, I will have a vegan snack close at hand. Grab a handful of nuts, eat them, and then cook dinner.
Speaking of dinner, listed below are some of my favorite mock-meats and vegan substitutes. I found it easier being vegan in the beginning by taking advantage of these products. In time you may not need them as much, but they definitely make it easy being vegan. Have fun, be creative, and enjoy some yummy vegan food!
Smart BBQ (Good for a quick sandwich.)
Smart Tex Mex (Add tortillas, salsa, and you have instant tacos.)
Boca Original Chik’n Patties (Another good quick sandwich substitute.)
Boca Meatless Ground Burger (Great for chili, spaghetti, and tacos.)
Tofurky Holiday products (Alternative for Thanksgiving’s turkey and gravy.)
Mu Tofu Made in Chicago. Look for it at local natural food stores. (Stir-fry anyone?)
Earth Balance margarine (Use it on toast, for baking, and much more.)
Vitasoy Soy milk (Use it in cereal, smoothies, for baking, etc.)
I also like to make my own seitan (aka as wheat meat). I have a great recipe that I will post soon.
A note of caution: Some meat substitutes are not vegan but vegetarian. Unfortunately some of the big companies just don’t get it yet. Check the labels when buying a product for the first time and you won’t be disappointed when you get home.