Vegan starter pack
As a new vegan, or someone who is interested in this lifestyle change, it can be terrifying first. You need to adapt to a new way of living and you need some cornerstones to help get started. This article is about to give you some help in the beginning. There are whole books focusing on the topic, but if you need some essential guide first, this may help.
This list is probably longer than your actual needs, and this is not a must have list for you, just a little help to check what you actually may need.
There are tools which can help you in your everyday life, but it depends on you and your lifestyle, what you actually need. There are books, which can help your mind to be on the right track, to help understating what carnism is, and there are a few cookbooks here to get started. There are ingredients, you might not even heard before but will have a dominant place in your cupboard from now.
Let’s start with essential ingredients.
Replacing milk is easy. There are so many options, I can’t even follow. Just to name a few: almond, rice, hemp, coconut, oat, soy, etc. Also these can come with flavors, such as vanilla or chocolate. You can either buy it ready, or make them at home easily. There are plant-based milk making machines (see below), or you can use your blender as well: just put a cup of rice / coconut shred in it, some hot water and mix for a few minutes; when it is ready just filter it with an equipment or with a nylon sock or through some linen or with a nut milk bag. You can soak the ingredients for the night prior, but it is not necessarily. When the milk is ready (you can add, salt, sugar, oil, vanilla, etc.), and you can use what is left for cookies. If you put more rice / coconut in it, then you can make it a cream.
If you need milk with not so dominant taste you can use oat or rice. If you don’t mind having an extra flavor in your coffee / cake, you can use coconut or almond milk. Soy milk is always controversy, some people loves it some hates it. Always try different brands before saying you don’t like a flavor.
Replacing eggs are easier than you think. For omelets you can use chickpea flour, mixed with some oil and black Himalayan salt (it has the taste of an egg). For scrambled eggs you can use tofu, just shred it, add some turmeric powder for the color, and make it the same way you would do it with an egg.
For muffin, sponge cake and dough (yeast cake) you can easily replace eggs with apple sauce (or banana, but banana will add an extra flavor while the apple won’t).
For other type of cakes you can use grounded flax seed. Mix it with water, leave it for awhile, and it will have a mucoid consistency like and egg.
For foams there are premade ones (you just need to whip), which are totally plant-based (still make sure it doesn’t contain milk). The other way is aquafaba, which is the leftover water in a chickpea / bean can. Sounds weird I know, but you can whip it and even make meringue with it, just make sure the one you choose is not that salty. There is a whole book on the topic (see it in the book section).
For good source of omega fats you can eat grounded flex seed or chia. It is easy to put them into sauces and ragouts, they won’t change the flavor of the dish, but you need to use stronger seasoning. They give the dish a bit of mucoid consistency if you put too much, so use them with moderation. If you don’t ground them, your body won’t absorb them well.
Seitan is a good way of replacing meat if you would like. The consistency is similar, but you have to season it strongly. It is made from gluten, the main protein of wheat. If you are on a glutenfree diet then avoid it, and use soy / tofu instead. Soy is non GMO in many countries, but if you avoid GMO, please, check the source.
Nutritional yeast is something most vegans haven’t heard before going vegan and keep it now in the front row of their cupboard. It is full vitamin B-s, so it is good for your body and gives a bit of creaminess to dishes and a cheesy flavor.
B12: choose a vegan friendly version.
Nut milk machine: you have to check the capacity (refers to the volume of liquid the machine can make/hold at once) if you can make smaller amount and bigger as well (as some of them can only make 1 liter, and that can be a lot for crèmes and not enough for milks). Check if it has a filter, if not, then you have to filter the milk yourself. Some can make soups and many other things (baby food, juices, porridge), which can be useful for many, but irrelevant for others. With some you can make the milk raw or cooked. About machines: the stronger is better. Check them here.
If you are into the raw lifestyle, or you have plenty of fruits and veggies which you would like to dry out, you may consider getting a dehydrator. It can make you raw bread, „meatballs”, fruit pancakes or just simply make dry figs, tomato, plums, etc. They are perfect as snacks, or dip them into any veggie patties. Check the capacity you need and what the machines can offer (the amount of stuff you make in one go, etc.). You can choose from these.
I think if there is one essential tool, than it is a good blender. You can make smoothies (just blend any fruits and veggies with water and / or nut milk), or cream soups, raw vegan cakes or even nut milk (you can read the how, above in the nut milk machine section). The stronger you buy, the smoother the result will be. Some can handle frozen fruits as well, along with ice, if that is important. If you put some frozen bananas in it with vanilla / other fruits / chocolate / date, you can get the perfect (n)ice cream for the summer. Check blenders here.
Meal prep container. Even that veganism is booming worldwide, it can be still tricky sometimes to get food on the road. You can never go wrong if you are prepared. You can make your own food at home and take it with yourself to work, travel, etc. They come in different sizes.
There are several type of vegan ice creams in the supermarket, but they can be full of nasties you don’t want to eat. You can make nicecream at home, like I explained above in the blender section, but you can make any other type of ice creams with an ice cream making machine.
If you are wondering what the hell tofu press is, who would need it, let me explain it: you can use the tofu, slicing it into cubes, but if you want to make sure it absorbs the biggest amount of seasoning and all the goodies you use during the preparation, you have to press the liquid out. You can do it manually with books, and other DIY methods, but there is proper equipment for this if you change your mind.
Juicer. No need to explain I guess, if you are up for good juices, than you might need a juicer. For oranges, you can get the manual version, cheap and easy, but for other fruits and veggies you may need a proper machine. You can use the leftovers in cakes and food in general. They also work well as a face mask, just skip the beetroot and the carrot, they leave a stain on your skin (beentheredonethat). There are several options here.
Have you heard about zoodles? Noodles made out of zucchini? If you are on a raw diet, it can be very handy, but even if you prefer cooked food, it is a good way to combine raw and cooked dishes, to make sure you get your daily dose of vitamins from fresh ingredients. Some zoodles with some cooked sauce is a great example for that. For making zoodles you need a spiralizer, there are several sizes. If you just use it for fun sometimes, get a small one, but if you use it more frequently then you might need something which is easier to handle and works faster. From small manual ones to bigger electrical ones, there are several options here.
Chopper seemed useless for me, till I got one. Mine is too fast, if there is such a category. I put chunks of cabbage in it, push it down (that’s how mine works) and in a second it is so finely chopped, almost like a puree. It is useful for chopping things into really small pieces very quickly and also great for nuts. If you have a smaller child, who would love to help, but you don’t want to give her/him a knife, with a chopper the kid can help. If you go somewhere where there is no electricity (such as forest), there is a manual version. Stainless steel is always the best option with every machine.
Hand blender is easy to use for soups and ragouts. One of my favorite quick and healthy dish is to throw different veggies on oil and onion into a pot, braise it, then I use my hand blender (not to make the whole pot a cream), on just some parts, so it will still be a ragout, but with some extra creaminess. With the endless variation of the vegetables and seasoning, you can never go wrong. When I am lazy to clean my blender I even use my hand blender for smoothies. I have a high plastic cup with it, so I just throw my fruits, maca powder, wheatgrass powder and it is ready in a second.
All-in. There are machines which can almost make all of the above functions with attachments. There is even an extra tool for this kitchenaid: vegetable slicer, great for lasagna made out of zucchini.
There are hundreds of vegan or vegan related books now on the market, you can find a collection here (it grows daily). After making several interviews with vegans, I have an ultimate list of books almost everyone suggested.
If you need cookbooks for inspiration:
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