Going Vegan

I find myself offering advice on transitioning to veganism more and more lately (yay!), so I thought it would be nice to have a list of helpful resources in one place.

To get a better understanding of animal rights and how veganism intersects with other social justice movements, I highly recommend checking out these fantastic blogs:

Vegan Femnist Agitator
The Vegan Ideal
My Face Is On Fire
Our Hen House
L.O.V.E. (Living Opposed to Violence and Exploitation)

Nutrition and Veganism Basics

I always always recommend getting a copy of Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis, RD and Vesanto Melina, MS, RD, two vegan dietitians. It provides a very thorough examination of vegan nutrition requirements.

Another newer resource which I have yet to read is Vegan for Life, by Virginia Messina, MPH, RD and Jack Norris, RD. Messina also has a great blog with nutrition advice, resources and research called The Vegan RD. (Note: I don’t necessarily endorse all of the resources on her site, though. For example, Vegan.com is a crap website. Don’t waste your time there.)

Vegan Freak: Being Vegan in a Non-Vegan World by Bob and Jenna Torres is a great resource for those interested in transitioning to veganism. It offers a no-nonsense discussion on ethics and provides an excellent picture of what veganism is truly about (hint: it’s not about weight loss!).

Vegan Food Blogs

There are a ton of vegan food blogs out there. These are some of my favorites:

FatFree Vegan – I’m not so into the fat-free idea but I love that so many of these recipes are or can be made wheat- and/or gluten-free (I’m wheat-sensitive) and they’re all fairly quick and easy to make. Plus the focus is on whole foods rather than meat and cheese analogues, which is healthier and more affordable.

Manifest Vegan – A gluten-free vegan food blog proving that you can, in fact, be gluten-free and vegan and it can be delicious!

xgfx – A site with recipes and resources for gluten-free (or gluten-sensitive!) vegans

VeganYumYum – Beautiful photography and delicious recipes. And there’s now a cookbook and even an iPhone app!

Cookbooks

I have a confession: I have a bit of a cookbook addiction. And I have no intention of getting clean.

How It All Vegan by Sarah Kramer and Tanya Barnard – This was the first cookbook I ever used (not the first one I bought, but the first one I used with any regularity, mind you). In addition to vegan basics, this cookbook offers easy substitutions for beginning vegans and some cool DIY ideas too (how to make your own toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoo, etc.) The recipes are easy to understand and prepare. Quite a few rely on faux meats/cheeses, which I found helpful as a vegetarian transitioning to veganism.

1,000 Vegan Recipes by Robin Robertson – This cookbook is referred to as “The Bible” in my house. Obviously, I love it. I adore Robin’s recipes, most of which are fairly quick and easy to prepare. I’m no foodie and have no time for fancy frou-frou dishes. While some of Robin’s recipes could be considered that, most of them are designed for busy folks like me who just want yummy, healthy vegan food. There’s also an excellent reference section on pantry stocking and cooking basics for veggies, beans, grains, etc.

Vegan Planet by Robin Robertson – Dishes inspired by world cuisine.

Quick Fix Vegetarian by Robin Robertson – Don’t worry, all the recipes here are vegan. And they all can be prepared in 30 minutes or less!

Vegan on the Cheap by Robin Robertson – Sensing a pattern here? Robin Robertson is awesome. Each recipe has a breakdown of cost per serving and ideas to incorporate should you want to splurge a little.

(I’m anxiously awaiting the arrival of Robin’s vegan slow-cooker cookbook and a new quick-fix one as well.)

Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero – I don’t use this cookbook as much as I thought I would, mostly because Isa is a bit of a foodie. A majority of her recipes are fairly labor- and time-intensive and many use hard-to-find and/or expensive ingredients. That said, the reference section at the beginning is excellent (dare I say better than that of The Bible?) and it does have some fantastic recipes.

Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero – I think I’ve probably used this cookbook more than V’con. It’s got some great base recipes as well as fancier cupcakes.

100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes by Kris Holechek – I am so glad I found this cookbook! It contains the single best recipe for vegan chocolate chip cookies that I have ever found.

The Dirty South/Hot Damn and Hell Yeah by Vanessa Johnson/Ryan Splint – A split zine cookbook with a southern/southwestern flavor. Full discolsure – I’ve never actually made anything from the Hot Damn portion of the zine. But I did discover the best ever vegan cornbread recipe in The Dirty South, as well as an amazing biscuit recipe.

See? I told you I had a problem.

Shopping

For folks not near an urban center, being vegan can be more difficult but definitely still doable. If you don’t have a health food store near you, you can still obtain essential vegan goods through sites like Cosmo’s Vegan Shoppe and Vegan Essentials, both of which carry not only food items but also health and beauty supplies and vitamins and supplements.

Shoes – I am a shoe-addict. Anyone who knows me knows this. Luckily, there are tons of cute and/or sexy vegan footwear options available nowadays. You can definitely find shoes sans animal products at vegan-specific sites like Alternative Outfitters, Vegan Chic, MooShoes, and Vegetarian Shoes (all of which also carry accessories like belts and wallets too). But you can also find some pretty killer choices at sites like Endless and Zappos. Rather than searching the actual “Vegetarian” or “Vegan” category on those sites, instead try searching by price. Shoes around $70 and under tend to be vegan, though you have to watch out for the occasional suede shoe thrown in there. Madden Girl shoes are almost always vegan and Chinese Laundry, Michael Antonio, Miss Me, and 2 Lips Too all have a wide selection of vegan options as well. (And if you’re looking for taller boots and have wide calves like me, Torrid tends to have a few non-leather options.) Note: In case it’s not obvious, I’m only speaking about women’s shoes here. Sorry to the male-identified folk, but I have little experience with footwear options for you. The same price range doesn’t seem to apply for men’s shoes, so it’s probably easier to stick to the vegan-specific sites when searching for your shoes.

Makeup – This can be a tough one for us vegans. Even when you can find a company that’s cruelty-free (ie. doesn’t test on animals), many of the individual items may still contain animal products. The two main ingredients you have to watch out for are carmine (crushed up bugs…yeah, ick) and beeswax.

I love Urban Decay because they have a list of which products are vegan. I use their Ink for Eyes cream eyeliner and have a couple of lipsticks and eye shadows. (Sadly, I used to use their eyeshadow primer exclusively, but apparently I have to find a new one. A labeling mistake was just discovered and the primer was never actually vegan. Boo. Hopefully Urban Decay will find an alternative for the Isopropyl Lanolate soon and reformulate!) Sadly, like a few other cosmetic companies, Urban Decay has decided to expand their market to China, which by Chinese law requires animal testing. So UD is no longer safe. I’m also in love with Sugarpill cosmetics. They have amazing high-pigment shadows, both in matte and loose, glittery formulas. All of their loose shadows are vegan and a majority of the matte ones are as well. For nails, OPI polish is now all vegan (older colors might have contained guanine, derived from fish scales, but it is no longer used in any of the polishes). And while I don’t know for sure, I would assume that Nicole polishes are also vegan since they are owned by OPI. Nicole is, indeed, vegan, as are a great number of other polishes that I’ve been made aware of by a fellow vegan blogger at Vegan Claws. My new favorite brand is Zoya. Gorgeous colors, quality stuff and their polish remover is fantastic too.

A fantastic, comprehensive source for vegan makeup is Cruelty Free Face. Melisser Elliott, who runs both CFF and The Urban Housewife, is a vegan makeup artist (and blogger and author) compiling a huge database of vegan makeup (and you can help!). The list is already more comprehensive than any other I’ve found and it’s not even complete! She also provides tutorials and offers tips. Seriously, vegan femmes, we are lucky to have this resource!

So there you go, my favorite resources for new vegans! I know that going vegan may seem intimidating at first. Trust me, I was there once too. But once you get the hang of it, it’s second-nature. And I promise, you can give up cheese.

Vegans, do you have any favorite resources you don’t see here? Leave ’em in the comments!

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