Veganic So you want to live veganic. But the question is: where do you start?

The grocery store, of course!

Your best bet is to shop at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, Wild by Nature or any other specialty market. Many traditional supermarkets tend to jack up the prices of their all-natural and organic selections, especially the ones where those selections are so limited, so shopping at one of the stores I named can save you some money. Plus you have tons more options.

You want to make sure your diet is balanced–the more colorful your shopping cart, the better. This may sound a little cheesy, but envision the Food Pyramid in your head and you walk up and down the aisles. The foundations of your diet, regardless whether you eat meat or not, should be grains and greens. Then follow with protein, fruit and dairy (substitutes).

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. After all, it literally means breaking the “fast” your body goes into between dinner and your morning meal (unless you’re a midnight snacker). For both vegans and vegetarians, I’d say whole grain cereal is the way to go because it’s quick, convenient, and not to mention delicious. Kashi has a great line of organic options such as Strawberry Fields flakes and Autumn Wheat biscuits, and Cascadian Farm’s organic Fruitful O’s, Cinnamon Crunch and Multi Grain Squares cereals are some of my favorites. You can choose to accompany your cereal with soy or almond milk, but my personal preference is Pacific almond milk (not unsweetened…there’s literally no taste to it). Having a breakfast like this will provide your body with the necessary carbohydrates and calories you need to energize for the day, plus Vitamins A and D and Riboflavin. I like to sneak in a serving of organic fruit (bananas, strawberries or blueberries are always great with cereal) for an added nutritious bonus.

Now I won’t go through each meal because that would get boring, but I’m sure you get the idea. I will suggest staple foods to buy that are crucial for any diet, though. I’ll delve more in depth with meals and recipes in later posts.

I always buy a package of organic mixed greens–they’re great for salads, obviously, but I also love putting them on my sandwiches and veggie burgers. Organic gala apples make for delicious snacks because they’re packed with dietary fiber, which fills you up. Another great snack is rice cakes (I always make sure my pantry is stocked with a package of Ludenberg organic brown rice cakes). I love pairing them with peanut or almond butter or dairy-less chocolate hazelnut spread for a healthy, protein-infused treat. Justin’s is my favorite, although it’s a little pricey at about $10 a jar. However, less is always more, so it’s possible to make your jar last about a month if you use it wisely. Those gala apples go well with nut butters, too.

And we can’t forget the protein and dairy (substitutes). There are tons of brands such as Lightlife, Gardein, Turtle Island Foods and more that specialize in meatless foods–chicken, cold cuts, burgers, hotdogs, you name it. Vegans have to be careful though because not all meatless products are egg-less, so be sure to check the ingredients. I’ll have a post dedicated to this topic later on. As for dairy, Stonyfield Organic yogurts are really good, as is its milk. Vegans can enjoy organic yogurts from companies like WholeSoy, whose products are soy-based rather than dairy-based, and Daiya is perhaps the most well-known producer of vegan cheese products.

Now that you’ve seen all these options, you should feel good about making this great change to your diet. It’s totally possible to be not only vegetarian, but vegan too, without sacrificing nutrition and taste. Explore those brands for yourself and look out for them the next time you go food shopping.

(And if that’s not enough to excite you, check out VegNews Magazine’s GoVegGuide.)

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