All posts by Joey Bruno

vegan bean and legume recipe collection

Vegan Bean Recipes: Savory and Sweet Dishes to Keep You Satisfied!

Bean Burger Recipes

Bean Soup Recipes

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Hearty Black Bean Soup by Urban Naturale

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Greek White Bean Soup by Little Cooking Tips

​Sweet Bean Recipes

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Vegan Protein Black Bean Brownies by Protein POW

benefits of beans

The Benefits of Beans: We Explore the Scientific Research

Everyone has heard the infamous saying. You know, the one that has to do with beans being a magical fruit and them making you toot? Let's take a deep dive into the science behind beans and legumes to find out if they are magical, good for your heart, cause flatulence, and much more!

The Basics of Beans and Legumes

What is a Bean?

To many people's surprise, a bean is actually a seed! They are formed in pods by a group of flowering plants called the Fabacae. These plants can come in a lot of different varieties, but their main commonality is that they fruit beans or legumes.

compilation of beans

Compilation of Beans

What's the Difference Between Beans and Legumes?

Much like how all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares, all beans are technically legumes. As stated above, they all originate from the same group of flowering plants, but certain types of these seeds have been classified as beans (such as black beans and black eyed peas). For the purpose of this article, we'll be using the terms interchangeably because they all contain similar nutritional properties.

Nutritional Value Overview

Beans, often touted as the "poor man's meat" have long been a staple in the diets of cultures across the world. With their well-rounded macronutrient profiles, versatile culinary uses, and beneficial phytochemicals, it's no wonder why beans have a special place on our plates. Given the benefits that they bring, without the baggage of animal products, we think that they should be embraced by members of all socioeconomic classes!

kidney beans nutrition raw

Nutrition Facts of Kidney Beans (100g Raw) from Wikipedia

As displayed by the nutrition facts, beans are one of the most nutritionally well rounded foods on the planet. They have high amounts of protein and carbohydrates as well as large quantities of RDAs for micronutrients and minerals. We're looking specifically at kidney beans here, but the macronutrient ratios and abundance of vitamins and minerals will remain pretty much the same or similar for any type of bean or legume.

Studies Done on Beans and Legumes

Beans and Heart Health

Although many people think that its meaning is only reserved for athleticism, your resting heart rate is actually a big indicator of your risk for heart disease and overall mortality. Researchers studied over 20,000 men and women concluded that there was an independent relationship of resting heart rate and cardiovascular disease. Independent meaning that certain factors were weeded out statistically to confirm that resting heart rate is not just a byproduct of poor heart health, but rather a cause of it.

It's no secret that aerobic exercise is one highly recommended way of reducing our resting heart rate, but what if beans could do the same thing? 

There's actually some comparable evidence on this. These researchers (who were actually studying bean consumption vs. diabetes) had 121 subjects with type 2 diabetes eat at least 1 cup of legumes per day or have subjects increase fiber consumption via whole grain products such as breakfast cereals and brown rice.

The legumes group saw many benefits from their intervention including a statistically significant drop in systolic blood pressure. Their resting heart rate also dropped ~3.1 beats per minute!

This led researchers to conclude the following:

Incorporation of legumes as part of a low-GI diet improved both glycemic control and reduced calculated CHD risk score in type 2 DM.

For some greater depth into this study and this topic - please check out the video below.

Slow Your Beating Heart by NutritionFacts.Org

Beans on Lifespan and All Cause Mortality

All cause mortality, otherwise known as simply dying from anything, is often a broad marker chosen by researchers to evaluate whether or not there is a correlation between taking an action (or lack thereof) and not dying. These researchers did a long term study on 785 people between 1988 and 1991 from four different ethnic backgrounds (Japan, Sweden, Greece and Australia) around similar age groups to see if any specific dietary habits resulted in a decrease in mortality risk. Here's what they found:

​Based on an alternative Cox Proportional Hazard model adjusted to age at enrollment (in 5-year intervals), gender and smoking, the legume food group showed 7-8% reduction in mortality hazard ratio for every 20g increase in daily intake with or without controlling for ethnicity (RR 0.92; 95% CI 0.85-0.99 and RR 0.93; 95% CI 0.87-0.99, respectively).
Other food groups were not found to be consistently significant in predicting survival amongst the FHILL cohorts.

This means that no matter what ethnicity the participants were, an increase beans was the only dietary behavior that was shown to increase survival rates among the participants in the study.

Check the video and link below for a more details on this subject.

Beans and Lifespan by NutritionFacts.org

Beans and Diabetes & Blood Sugar

Insulin resistance (which is the main impairment of type 2 diabetes) was shown in this study to be inversely related to bean and whole grain consumption. Researchers took 3871 healthy Korean adults and had them complete a nutritional evaluation survey. Based on the surveys, researchers grouped the participants into five logical categories based on their consumption of 63 different foods. The categories were as follows:

  • Diverse Diet Group
  • Western Diet Group
  • Whole Grains and Beans Group
  • White Rice and Kimchi Group
  • Alcohol and Coffee Group

Researchers took the participant's fasting glucose levels and used these numbers to determine their insulin resistance. After making all the proper statistical adjustments, researchers found that those in the Whole Grains and Beans Group had a 20% reduced prevalence of insulin resistance. Researchers quoted:

After adjusting for potential confounders, subjects in the highest quintile of the whole grains and beans pattern had a 20% reduced prevalence of IR than those in the lowest quintile and displayed a significant trend (OR for highest quintile = 0.80, 95% CI = 0.61– 1.03, P for trend = 0.013). No association was observed between other dietary patterns and IR.​
Check the video and link below for a more details on this subject.

Diabetics Should Take Their Pulses by NutritionFacts.org

Canned Beans vs. Cooked or Dried Beans

If you've gotten this far, you're probably thinking about increasing your intake of beans. If you're planning a trip to the grocery store, you'll quickly notice that you are presented with two options: canned or dried beans (which come in bulk or in a bag). Suddenly, you're faced with a dilemma - which type of beans to buy?

​Luckily, these researchers in 2011 did the necessary work to help guide our decision making process. They scored beans on their nutrient density as well as their nutrient to cost ratio. 

They found that canned or dried beans, often found in the bulk section of the grocery store won out on both of these metrics: They were more nutrient dense as well as more affordable. However, the difference wasn't big enough to count out canned beans all together as they are more convenient and a healthy alternative. The researchers quote:

Results highlight the benefits of choosing dried beans and also illustrate that canned beans, when drained, provide a healthy alternative. Beans, regardless of type/form, are a nutrient rich food and should be encouraged as part of an overall healthy diet.

However, given the sodium content of many forms of canned beans - reaching for the labels that have "reduced sodium" or "no salt added" is always going to be the preferred option.

Check the video and link below for more details on this subject and study.

Canned Beans or Cooked Beans by NutritionFacts.org

Do Beans Make You Fart? Beans and Flatulence

OK - so you've read all about the benefits of beans, but you still have one major concern: gas. The truth of the matter is that no one likes having the urge to fart in a social setting. It makes for an uncomfortable stomach and a social awkward situation. The sad part is is that people will actually avoid beans because they are afraid of having extra gas!

How To Stop Beans from Causing Gas by Dr. Joel Fuhrman

The relationship between beans and gas isn't as simple as eating them causing it. If you're new to eating beans you may experience a temporary increase, but this isn't permanent. As Dr. Joel Fuhrman explains in the video above, the more beans you eat the better your body gets at breaking down the resistant starches which in itself has several benefits such as colon cancer prevention.

If you're a person that has had an extra sensitive reaction to beans in the past and can't handle eating a single serving, Dr. Fuhrman recommends that you slowly transition by eating smaller amounts such as a teaspon or tablespoon twice a day and slowly work your way up until your body builds up the bacteria that can handle larger amounts.

Delicious Bean Recipes to Try

Quinoa Black Bean Burritos by Tess Begg

In this video, Tess Begg shows you how to make delicious and easy oil free black bean burritos with quinoa. With the rise of Chipotle across the globe, burritos have actually become a standard part of the Western diet. Unfortunately, most are filled with meat and cheese which aren't going to give you any benefits in terms of disease prevention. Luckily, these burritos are just as if not more delicious and contain lots of healthy grains and plant foods!

Vegan Sugar Free Baked Beans by Whole Foods Plant Based Cooking Show

​Baked Beans are a staple in American BBQ, but are normally loaded with processed sugar which can potentially negate the benefits of the beans themselves. Luckily, this recipe shows you how to make this staple dish with whole foods, no oil, no processed sugar and low salt!

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Brownies by Plant Positive Running

Many people think of beans as a savory dish, but their starchiness can be used to make some truly epic desserts, like these black bean brownies! Plant Positive Running uses beans as well as sweet potatoes to make brownies that will make you never want to eat the "real" thing again!

Vegan Protein Brownies Made with Aquafaba by Protein Pow 

We decided to include another black bean brownie recipe for one special reason: aquafaba. Many people don't know this, but aquafaba (the viscous water from beans or legumes) is being used in vegan baking as a replacement for eggs. It can even be whipped into stiff peaks to make things like meringue pies!

Conclusion on Beans

As the research has shown, beans are one of the top health promoting food that you can possibly eat. Their impact on disease prevention, management, and overall lifespan has been made clear by the research. We've put the flatulence concern to rest and so there's only one thing left for you (the reader) to do.

Start incorporating beans into your diet!

vegan mushroom recipe collection

Vegan Mushroom Recipes You Don’t Want to Miss!

Mushrooms are one of the most unique foods available commercially because they come in so many different varieties. Each of these varieties have their own unique flavor profiles and textures giving tons of creative opportunities in the kitchen. The earthiness of mushrooms makes them great replacements for meat as displayed in the recipes below:

Mushroom Soups

Given the nature of the soup, they allow the cook to embed a great deal of complex and deep flavors and textures. This makes mushrooms the perfect candidate to craft vegan soups that are unbelievably sophisticated in taste, even if the recipe is simple. We promise that if you start experimenting with some of these recipes, you'll never be bored of vegan cuisine ever again!

vegan kale mushroom and miso soup

Vegan Kale Mushroom Miso Soup by Kara Lydon

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Tom Ka Gai Vegan Inspired Mushroom Soup by Lexi Bites

Intensely Mushroomy, Mushroom Soup

Intensely Mushroomy, Mushroom Soup by Poppy and the Beas

Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup by Nutrition Refined

delectible mushroom soup

Delectable Cream of Mushroom Soup by Plantiful Wellness

creamy mushroom soup

Creamy Mushroom Soup by Petit World Citizen

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Vegan Buckwheat Mushroom Soup by Nutriholist

lentil mushroom soup

Vegan Lentil Mushroom Soup by Namaste Green

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Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup by Be Nice or Leave Thanks

Mushroom Gravy

We like to think of gravy as the kind of "ice cream on the cake" of savory cooking. Sure, you can make a mean batch of mashed potatoes, but topping it with the right gravy will just take everything to the next level. Much like for soups, mushrooms are the perfect way to make vegan gravies that will knock your socks off!

vegan mushroom hummus recipe

Vegan Mushroom Gravy by Hope Foods

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Vegan Mushroom Gravy by Nikki Dinki Cooking

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Vegan Mushroom Gravy by My Little Tablespoon

Mushroom Entrees

For most people living in Western cultures, meat is always the "main dish". However, once you start exploring plant based options, you start to realize that this is awfully limiting and often downright boring and un-creative. These recipes show you just how easy it is to make a complete main course with mushrooms and no meat whatsoever.

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Stuffed Italian Mushrooms by Catherine of Veg Charlotte

Golden Polenta with Cannellini Beans and Mushroom Sage Gravy

Golden Polenta with Cannellini Beans and Mushroom Sage Gravy by Letty's Kitchen

vegan spinach mushroom roll

Vegan Spinach Mushroom Rolls by Leslie Durso

cheezy portabello mushroom burger

"Cheezy" Mushroom Portabello Burger by Barefood'n Happy

CAULIFLOWER CILANTRO SMASH & SIMPLE MUSHROOM GRAVY

Cauliflower Cilantro Smash with Simple Mushroom Gravy by Karma Chow

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Vegan Mushroom Risotto by The Vegan Edit

vegan mushroom satay skewers

Vegan Mushroom Satay Skewers by Primal Gourmet

kimchi mushroom burgers

Kimchi Mushroom Burgers by My Goodness Kitchen

mushroom and tofu quiche

Mushroom and Tofu Quiche by Amora Sweet & Natural 

mushroom gravy with mashed potatos

Vegan Mushroom Gravy w/ Mashed Potatoes by Live Clean Kitchen

sweet and sour vegetables with mushrooms

Sweet and Sour Vegetables with Mushrooms by Vegan in Athens

Have a vegan mushroom recipe that you feel was unjustly left of the list? Please let us know and we'll check it out and get it added!

mushroom benefits and nutritional value

The Science of Mushrooms: Nutritional Value and Health Benefits

The Basics of Mushrooms

What are Mushrooms Anyway?

Most people are aware that mushrooms are a type of fungus, however, many people are unaware of how complex and important mushrooms are for our health and ecosystem. Some characteristics of these fungi, without getting too biologically technical, are highlighted below:

  • Fungi "eat" by absorbing dissolved molecules from their environment (they don't photosynthesize).
  • Fungus is defined as a group of which include yeasts, molds, and of course mushrooms.
  • They act as the main decomposers within an ecosystem.
  • Most of the time, you don't notice fungi unless it is "fruiting" (via mushrooms or molds) which is their method of spreading spores.

In simple terms, when you eat a mushroom, you're eating the "fruiting body" of a larger organism. The primary purpose of the fruiting body is spreading spores through the air to continue the growth of the overall organism.

Nutritional Value of Mushrooms

For the purpose of nutrition, we should consider the most commonly available mushroom in supermarkets, aptly named the "common mushroom". These mushrooms actually come in two separate colors - white in brown. Baby Bella and Crimini mushrooms are the two types of common mushrooms you've likely seen. 

In addition to the two most common names listed above,  they can also be called:

  • Button Mushroom
  • White Mushroom
  • Champignon Mushroom
  • Cultivated Mushroom
  • Chestnut Mushroom
  • Portabello Mushroom (when it's fully mature)
mushrooms nutrition facts

Nutrition Facts for the Common Mushroom

Much like plant foods, mushrooms are low in calories and high in micronutrients.  While the above chart shows a low percentage of the vitamins that mushroom contains, it's important to note that 22 calories of cooked mushrooms would be quite small in terms of portion size and daily caloric needs.

That being said, if you ate 100 calories of mushrooms, you'd be getting around 5X the micronutrient percentages listed on the nutrition facts above.​ Mushrooms also contain 0.14 grams of protein per calorie which is actually greater than chicken which has 0.11 grams per calorie. If eaten in enough quantity, mushrooms can actually be a decent lean protein source.

Studies Done on Mushrooms

Mushrooms and the Immune System

SIgA, short for Secretory immunoglobulin A, is the immune system's first line of defense for our body's mucosal surfaces. Mucosal surfaces are membranes made up of epithelial cells. These cells facilitate absorption and secretion in glands and intestines.

Mucosal surfaces line certain tracts and glands in the body including : 

  • The Mouth
  • Gastrointestinal Tract
  • Respiratory Tract
  • Genitals
  • Breast Glands

These sites are our body's primary ways of absorbing things from the outside world such as bacteria, viruses and toxins.

Increasing our body's secretions of SIgA increases our initial defenses thus increasing our overall immune function. 

​Researchers who conducted this study decided to put white button mushrooms to the test to see if consuming them lead to increased levels of SIgA in the saliva.

Being that the mouth is one of our body's primary mucosal surfaces, having increased levels of SIgA in our saliva increases our ability to fight off bacteria, viruses and toxins from the outside world.

Twenty-four healthy volunteers were asked to eat their normal diet, but the volunteers in the test group were told to consume 100g of blanched white button mushrooms per day for a week. Researchers then tested the participants' saliva. They found those in the test group had over a 50% increase of SIgA for 2 weeks, which then returned back to baseline by week 3. Researchers therefore concluded that white button mushrooms do indeed have potential health benefits for improving immune function on the body's mucosal surfaces.

The dietary intake of A. bisporus WBM significantly accelerates sIgA secretion, thereby indicating its potential health benefits for improving mucosal immunity.​

It's also been shown by this study (in vitro/test tube) that mushrooms won't increase inflammation. Rather, they have an anti-inflammatory effect. This is good news for those who may have an overactive immune system from conditions such as allergies.

Some edible mushrooms species have a potential anti-inflammatory capacity in vitro, suggesting that they could be regarded as a potential source of natural anti-inflammatory agents.

See the video and link below for an expanded view of this topic.

Mushrooms and Our Immune System by Dr. Michael Greger

Mushrooms and Our Arteries

We know that CVD or cardiovascular disease is the number one killer in Western and developed countries.

"The etiology (development) of CVD involves, in part, a complex process of development and deposition of cholesterol ladened fatty streaks within aortic blood vessels and appears associated with oxidative stress and inflammation" (source)

To simply summarize, the first level of protection against cardiovascular disease would to avoid high levels of bad (LDL) cholesterol in the blood. The next level of prevention would be avoiding inflammation so that fatty arterial streaks are not developed. In periods of inflammation, certain processes such as monocyte adhesion can occur:

Monocytes are white blood cells that can potentially get absorbed into the cardiovascular system hence the term monocyte adhesion.

These researchers conducted an experiment in vitro (test tube / culture dish) to see if specialty and common mushrooms can inhibit certain cellular processes that are associated with inflammation in the arteries (such as binding of monocytes), which is associated with CVD.

Here's what happened:

Human aortic endothelial cells were soaked in a control medium or a medium containing extracts of several different mushrooms:

  • Agaricus bisporus (white button and crimini)
  • Lentinula edodes (shiitake)
  • Pleurotus ostreatus (oyster)
  • Grifola frondosa (maitake)

​After being incubated overnight, researchers found that the cells that were incubated with the mushrooms bound significantly less monocytes in pro-inflammatory conditions which again is an associative factor of CVD.

Researchers quoted:

These data provide evidence that dietary mushrooms can inhibit cellular processes such as adhesion molecule expression and ultimate binding of monocytes to the endothelium under pro-inflammatory conditions, which are associated with CVD. As a result, these findings support the notion that dietary mushrooms can be protective against CVD.​

For those among us who are budget conscious - the common white mushroom actually performed the best, so there's no reason to go out seeking any kind of expensive and exotic fungi.

See the video and link below for an expanded view of this topic.

Mushrooms and Our Arteries by Dr. Michael Greger

Mushrooms and Breast Cancer

Research has shown that an enzyme called aromatase plays a big role in the development of breast cancer. This enzyme is responsible for synthesizing estrogen which can be utilized by tumors to proliferate (source).

Because anti-aromatase phytochemicals are also present in plant foods such as white button mushrooms, researchers decided to investigate whether or not  white button mushroom extract in a petri dish (in vitro) could prevent the proliferation of breast cancer cells (study here).

Researchers confirmed that this was indeed the case. They concluded that: 

Diets high in mushrooms may modulate the aromatase activity and function in chemoprevention in postmenopausal women by reducing the in situ production of estrogen.

In addition, based on the first study we referenced in which researchers actually tested mushroom extracts in mice - researchers concluded:

...​consumption of 100 g of mushrooms per day would be sufficient to suppress breast tumor growth in women

This means that you don't need to eat tons and tons of mushrooms to see the benefits!

See the video and link below for an expanded view of this topic.

Mushrooms and Breast Cancer by Dr. Michael Greger

Potential Downsides of Mushrooms

Special thanks to Dr. Joel Fuhrman for pointing out this research in his article on mushrooms.​ We highly recommend that you check it out to learn more!

While it's clear that mushrooms have a ton of benefits, it is also important to examine what some potential drawbacks may be. The primary drawback of mushrooms seem to be from consuming them raw, much like Kale which we touched on in our other article.

In this study​, scientists took the uncooked common mushroom (Agaricus bisporus) as mentioned above and fed it to mice in a feeding trial to test the very hypothesis of uncooked mushrooms being carcinogenic. Researchers were unfortunately able to induce the mice with cancerous tumors in several different areas throughout their body.

However, cooking the mushrooms does reduce their agaritine content substantially, but doesn't degrade it completely. While the evidence on mushrooms and cancer is far from conclusive, there are still huge health benefits from eating a moderate amount of cooked mushrooms per day.

Given that researchers recommend that you would only need approximately 100 g per day to reap the benefits, we recommend eating mushrooms regularly, but not in overzealous amounts. More isn't always better. And always cook them!

Delicious Mushroom Recipes

Mushroom and Potato Stew by The Vegan Corner

Stew can be a comforting meal on a cold winter day. Because we don't recommend eating meat products on Thrive Cuisine, mushrooms can do the same job that meat would in a stew providing an earthy, nutty, and umami flavor as well as a different texture than vegetables. This stew is simple, delicious, and super nutritious so we suggest you give it a try!

Basic Vegan Mushroom Gravy by The Vegan Video Pantry

Mashed potatoes and gravy are one of the biggest comfort foods out there. Using mushrooms to make gravy creates some of the deepest and richest flavor notes you're ever going to taste. The Vegan Video Pantry makes the process simple in the video above!

Portabello Mushrooms Sliders by The Edgy Veg

Because of their high protein content that we discussed before, mushrooms can actually make great burgers! In this video, the Edgy Veg shows you how to create some super simple sliders out of mushrooms and some other great vegan toppings. Enjoy!

One Pot Creamy Mushrooms Pasta by Cooking with Plants

When it comes to simplicity and deliciousness, Cooking with Plants never disappoints. This easy to create pasta dish will please the entire family without breaking a sweet in the kitchen. Highly recommended for those busy week days.

Conclusions

While they are often overlooked as health promoting foods (compared to fruits and veggies anyway), there is definitely a place for mushroom consumption in a diet focused on well-being and disease prevention. Based on what we learned throughout all the studies, regular white button mushrooms should be consumed regularly (but no need to exceed 100 g per day.)

Just be sure to cook the mushrooms before you eat them!​ Raw mushrooms don't taste particularly good anyway!

ultimate list of vegan berry recipes

Ultimate List of the Best Vegan Berry Recipes

If you read our Benefits of Berries article, you're probably looking for more ways to incorporate berries into your diet. We've compiled some of the best delicious vegan recipes with berries from around the so that you can follow them step by step or use them for inspiration to create your own versions.

Let us know your favorite recipes in the comment section!

Please note: Even though they are all vegan, some of these recipes are indulgent (high calorie and not 100% whole food ingredients)​ so we recommend that you save those for special occasions. That being said, if you are going to indulge, no reason why you can't reap some of the benefits of eating berries at the same time rather than processed sugar, eggs, or dairy?

Do not fear though, we've also featured a bunch of 100% whole food recipes as well, perfect for every day healthy living.​

Berry Small Snacks

If you're looking for quick eats to have for breakfast, lunch or snacks these are going to be the recipes for you. All of these recipes are either single serve or can be divided into smaller portions to eat throughout the week. Many of them give you excellent ways to reap all the benefits of berries as well as other whole foods such as nuts and grains.

pbj collard wraps raspberry

Raspberry PBJ Collard Wraps by Lauren Vacula

vegan raspberry cheesecake bars

Vegan Raspberry Cheesecake Bars by Choosing Chia

one bowl vegan blueberry muffins

One Bowl Vegan Blueberry Muffins by Danielle's Kitchen

vegan raspberry chocolate bar

Vegan Raspberry and Chocolate Chip Bars by Divine Healthy Food

blackberry cashew vegan cheesecake

Blackberry Cashew Vegan Cheesecake by Luxia

vegan banana blueberry muffins

Vegan Blueberry Muffins by The Expat Dietitian

RAW VEGAN BLUEBERRY BANANA CHEESECAKE

Raw Blueberry Banana Cheesecake by Everyday Vegan Kitchen

vegan blueberry cheesecake healthy life resdesign

Vegan Blueberry Cheesecake by Healthy Life Redesign

Smoothies and Frozen Treats

Putting berries into smoothies or other frozen treats is one of the most popular ways to enjoy them! Using berries or other fruit as your primary sweetener in these types of eats gives you all of the enjoyment of processed sugar without any of the guilt as well as tons of benefits from the fiber content, water content, and phytochemicals.

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Blueberry Mango Smoothie Bowl by Rachel Carr

vegan blueberry banana ice cream by createnourishlove

Vegan Blueberry Banana Ice Cream by Create Nourish Love

blueberry ice lollies

Blueberry and Coconut Ice Lollies by Family Friends Food

Baked Goods & Pastries

Now onto everyone's favorite: the indulgent baked goods. These recipes  are perfect for entertaining, special occasions, and for impressing your non-vegan friends. Many people have the misconception that you can't enjoy desserts that make your eyes roll back in your head if you've decided to adopt a plant based diet. These recipes prove them wrong and give you a chance to eat some berries to boot!

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Vegan Raspberry Cheesecake by Del's Cooking Twist

vegan-hamantaschen

Vegan Raspberry Hamantaschen by Kosher in the Kitch

vegan raspberry tea cake

Vegan Raspberry Tea Cake by Food and Beveridge

Amazing-Vegan-Blueberry-Loaf-Bread-6

Amazing Vegan Blueberry Loaf Bread by Two Raspberries

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Vegan Blueberry Zucchini Bread by Emilie Eats

vegan blueberry chia muffins willbakeforbooks

Vegan Blueberry Chia Muffins by Will Bake for Books

vegan blueberry banana bread athletes

Vegan Blueberry Banana Bread by Sarai Pannekoek

vegan banana blueberry muffins

Vegan Blackberry Banana Muffins by Eat with Andrea

Do you have a recipe to add to our collection? Please do leave a link in the comments section below or via our contact form!

best vegan kale recipes

Ultimate List of the Best Vegan Kale Recipes

If you've read our Benefits of Kale article, you're probably looking for more ways to incorporate kale into your every day life. For those of you who love trying new things, we've put together a compilation of the best (vegan) ways to prepare kale.


Kale Chips

Let's face it, potato chips are absolutely delicious - that's what makes them so addicting. However, there's no denying that they aren't particularly great for the human body. They tend to contain more refined oil than actual health promoting whole plant foods. For people who are missing that satisfying and comforting crunch, plant-based kale chips can provide a delicious alternative.

Check out some of the delicious recipes below. Variety is the spice of life and there are tons of ways new and interesting ways to prepare kale chips.

Sriracha Kale Chips

Sriracha Vegan Kale Chips by Eating by Elaine

loaded kale nachos full

Loaded Kale Nachos by Destination Delish

vegan seedy kale chips

Seedy Vegan Kale Chips by Organically Mandy

maple bacon kale chips easy veagn life

Maple Bacon Kale Chips by Easy Vegan Life

Raw-Dehydrator-Cheesy-Kale-Chips-1-@OmNomAlly

Raw (Dehydrated) Cheesy Kale Chips by OmNomAlly

beet and kale chips (1)

Beet and Kale Chips by Nutrition Artist

cheesy turmeric garlic kale chips

Cheesy, Turmeric, Garlic Kale Chips by Whole Lovely Life

Garlic Kale Chips

Dino Garlic Kale Chips by Confetti Kitchen

ZA’ATAR SPICED AIR-FRIED KALE CHIPS one arab veagn (1)

Za'Atar Spiced Air Fried Kale Chips by One Arab Vegan

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Raw Vegan Kale Chips by Art of 4 Elements

nacho kale chips

Cheesy Nacho Kale Chips by Flora Foodie

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Vegan Cheesy Kale Chips by Garlic Matters

raw vegan kale chips amanda (1)

Nacho Cheese Raw Vegan Kale Chips by Amanda Nicole Smith


Kale Entrees

Being that kale isn't all that calorie dense, it is best incorporated into a bigger meal. We've compiled some awesome entrees that feature kale as an accessory or as one of the main components of the dish. All of them are 100% plant based so you can be sure you'll be reaping the benefits of nutrients and phytochemicals.

mushroom-and-kale-pesto-penne the happiness kitchen

Mushroom and Kale Pesto w/ Cashew Parmesan by The Happiness Kitchen

VEGAN ROASTED CAULIFLOWER, GARLIC AND WHITE BEAN SOUP WITH KALE CHIPS (1)

Roasted Cauliflower Soup with Kale Chips by The Hanging Spoon

Kale Pesto Pasta

Kale Pesto Pasta Zoodles (Dairy Free) by Easy GF Recipes

vegan stuffed mexican sweet potatos

Vegan Stuffed Sweet Potatoes w Black Beans and Kale by Serving Realness

parsnips and pastries kale stuffed peppers

Vegan Italian Kale Stuffed Peppers by Parsnips and Pastries

kale pistachio pesto

Kale Pistachio Pesto by Makingsof

speghetti squash and kale vegan pesto

Spaghetti Squash and Kale Vegan Pesto by Tina Paymaster

vegan kale quinoa bowl kitchen paper

Vegan Kale Quinoa Bowl with Peanut Dressing by The Kitchen Paper


Kale Soups

There's nothing quite as comforting and as flavorful as a well-made soup.  Soups give you the opportunity to cook with a wide variety of flavors and let them fully develop by cooking it for long periods of time. All of these vegan kale soup recipes are an awesome way to get essential nutrients while enjoying a variety of deep and developed flavor profiles.

broccoli kale soup

Broccoli Kale Soup by Amcarmen's Kitchen

POTATO, WHITE BEAN & KALE SOUP epic

Potato, White Bean, and Kale Soup by Epicurean Vegan

kale and sweet potato chowder catching seeds

Kale and Sweet Potato Chowder by Catching Seeds

vegan sauage soup

Vegan Sausage Potato Kale Soup by Herban Yums

cashew-kale-chickpea-soup-img4 by skinnyfitlicious

Cashew Kale Chickpea Soup Skinny Fitalicious

acorn squash kale soup

Acorn Squash Kale Soup w/ Vegetable Broth by Fashionable Foods

kale and sweet potato soup w cumin

Kale and Sweet Potato Soup w/ Cumin by A Modest Feast

swisschard and kale kidney bean soup savory eats

Kale, Swiss Chard and Kidney Bean Soup by Wholesome Savory Eats


Kale Smoothies and Smoothie Bowls

To many people, the thought of eating kale for breakfast might sound crazy! However, by combining kale with fruit and putting it in a smoothie or smoothie bowl, you can get in your greens at any point during the day. These blended creations also allow you to combine kale with other nutrient dense ingredients to give you everything you need to stay happy, awake, and focused throughout the day!

peaches n kale smoothie bowl eat your way clena

Peaches and Kale Smoothie Bowl by Eat Your Way Clean

young coconut and kale smoothie

Young Kale and Coconut Smoothie by Plant Based Recipe

kale coconut smoothie

Coconut Kale Green Smoothie by Dr. Vikki Petersen

kale ginger smoothie bindu

Mango Kale Ginger Smoothie by Mimi's Vegan Kitchen


Kale Dips and Sauces

If you didn't already know, kale and basil make an awesome combination! Throw in some nuts in there for extra nutrient absorption from the fats and you've got a fabulous pesto. We've got a bunch of recipes for you to try and they are all slightly different so be sure to browse around, experiment, and find your favorite!

kale dip gracious vegan

Vegan Kale Pesto by Gracious Vegan

vegan kale pesto

Vegan Pistachio Hemp Pesto by Greens and Fries

yummy plants kale artichoke dip

Kale Artichoke Dip by Rebecca Gilbert Author of It's Easy to Start Eating Vegan

pumpkin seed kale pesto (1)

Pumpkin Seed Kale Pesto by Run Like Kale

The-Best-Vegan-Kale-Pesto-The-Wild-Manifesto.-e1481056914626

The Best Vegan Kale Pesto by The Wild Manifesto

kale pesto with pumpkin seeds

Kale Pumpkin Seed Pesto by Jane's Healthy Kitchen


Kale Salads

There's nothing quite as refreshing and fulfilling as a well-made salad. As simple as it may seem, creating a delicious salad in your own house can actually be quite challenging (I know from experience). Follow these recipes step by step and you'll be creating restaurant quality kale salads in no time!

kale salad almond dressing

Kale Salad with Almond Butter Ginger Dressing by Rise Shine Cook

avacado kale salad vegan nomad

Avocado Kale Salad by Vegan Nomad Life

detox kale salad

Detoxifying Kale Salad by Leah's Plate

kale stawberry tahini

Strawberry Kale Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing by Feeding Your Beauty

soul in the raw masaged kale salad (1)

Massaged Kale Salad by Soul in the Raw

Baby-Kale-Salad-with-Nectarine-Balsamic-Dressing-2-033

Baby Kale Raspberry Salad w/ Nectarine Balsamic Dressing by A Harmony Healing

food without regrets green detox kale salad

Green Detox Kale Salad by Food Without Regrets

vegan kale caesar salad spinach for breakfast

Vegan Kale Caesar Salad by Spinach for Breakfast

kale with seasame tahini sauce

Kale with Sesame Tahini Sauce by Jane's Healthy Kitchen

cranberry-bread-kale-salad

Cranberry Bread Kale Salad by ABC Vegan

Want to contribute your own vegan kale recipe? Please link it to us in the comment section!

berries antioxidants benefits longevity

The Benefits of Berries: The Disease Prevention Superfood!

Berries are delicious, versatile, and – yes – a superfood. As well as containing an abundance of important vitamins and minerals, berries contain some truly special properties that can help protect you against a whole host of diseases and even improve your recovery from exercise.

Why Are Berries Good For You?

Low in Calories and High in Nutrients

Berries are a perfect example of what one might refer to as a "nutrient dense food". Unlike something like a candy bar which is high in calories per weight and low in nutrients, berries have the opposite classification. They are extremely low in calories and high in certain vitamins, minerals, and fiber. They provide nutrients that are essential to your well-being, even if you don't consume that many (although we do recommend consuming them daily)!

raspberry blackberry nutrition facts

Nutrition Facts or Raspberries and Blackberries

Berries are High in Antioxidants

Antioxidants are a wide range of foods that are categorized by a common behavior:  they prevent the build-up of reactive oxygen species (ROS), such as free radicals, which otherwise go on to damage DNA membranes and proteins. This cell damage can then promote aging, disease, and cell death.

Theoretically, the more antioxidants you consume, the higher your chance of avoiding cell damage and circumventing the problems that can spring from it, such as cancers.

There is also evidence that antioxidants can modulate gene expression to increase cellular stress defenses, which means that antioxidants can help cells recover from past damage. When people were put on an antioxidant-heavy diet they successfully regulated 25 more genes against damage than the control group, a statistically significant result.

In other words, consuming more antioxidants seems to protect your cells from damage as well as enabling them to recover from exercise.

A number of foods contain antioxidants, but berries are the frontrunner. They sail ahead in antioxidant content compared to other fruits – blackberries, for instance, have 25x more antioxidants per cup than bananas.

Dr. Gregor from NutritionFacts.org Discusses the Best Berries 

Berries are Rich in Phytonutrients

Berries are also rich in phytonutrients – which are natural chemicals found in plant foods which have proven themselves to have massive benefits. 

Most people talk about micronutrients, macronutrients, and minerals, but very rarely are phytonutrients discussed. In fact, you may have not even heard of them. The word "Phyto" which is greek for plant implies that these chemicals can only be found in plant foods. This means you won't be getting them in any kind of animal products.

raspberry yam smoothie

Vegan Raspberry Yam Smoothie from ModPhysique

So many phytonutrients have been discovered that it would be impossible to list them all. 

It is important to note that different kinds of phytonutrients are associated with the color of the food as they are responsible for providing pigmentation.​

One phytonutrient that you may have heard of is lycopene because it is often times advertised by ketchup companies as a benefit to their condiment. Be warned, though - when you consume food products outside of their whole plant form there is a good chance their benefits have been at least partially compromised. You're also usually consuming a lot of baggage such as excess sugar and fats as well with these types of processed foods.

​Lycopene is responsible for giving a red color to tomatoes, watermelon, and pink grapefruit and has been linked to lowering the risk for developing prostate cancer.

Berries have a unique combination of phytonutrients with specific benefits. We will discuss  these benefits in depth in the studies section below.

Berries are High in Fiber

We all know that fiber is an important element of your diet – but why?

Apart from helping to promote bowel health by preventing constipation and overparticular disease, fiber is being shown to be a critical aspects to overall health and wellness.

It has been linked to a whole host of benefits including: reduced cholesterol and blood sugar levels, as well as lowered rates of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer, breast cancer, and even all-cause mortality.

In addition, there are strong developments being released about fiber intake and gut bacteria.​ Considering that humans evolved eating a high fiber diet (despite modern-day popular misconceptions), this makes complete sense.

Depriving your gut bacteria of fiber can have severe consequences such as:

  • Increasing the colonies of coloinic mucus degrading bacteria within the gut.
  • Promoting aggressive colitis (inflammation of the colons inner lining).

Luckily, berries contain a ton of fiber, but we still obviously recommend eating whole grains and beans.

BONUS: Want to learn more about what real "paleo" diets were like and the importance of fiber? Check out the video below:​

What we can learn from fossilized feces.

Studies Done on Berries:

Preventing Platelet Aggregation

The GBD study also known as the Global Burden of Disease Study is a full review of all causes of mortality across the globe. Not surprisingly, they found that the United State's biggest killer was our dietary habits. Having a diet low in fruit was one of the major contributing factor to this conclusion. They estimated that if Americans turned around and started to meet their daily recommendations of fruits and vegetables over 127,000 lives would be spared and $17,000,000,000 in annual medical costs would be saved.

This all has to do with the platelets in our blood. Even though they are normally harmless, platelets can become activated which can cause inflammation and thus harm to our arterial walls leading to atherosclerosis.

Strawberries have shown in an antiplatlet effect​ both in a culture dish and in human tests.

Scientists gave subjects a daily pint of strawberries for an entire month ​and saw a statistically significant drop of circulating activated platelets. Other berries were shown to have a positive effect as well.

The video below does a great job of explaining this in a way that text may fall short. You can also use the link below the video to get a full list of the cited sources.

Inhibiting Platelet Aggregation

Acai Berry Study Review

In 2012, the Natural Standards Research Collaboration published a comprehensive study review on acai berries based on previously conducted research by other scientists. Their review resulted in several findings, some interesting and surprising while some to be expected:

  • Acai berries have the highest antioxidant capacity of any food that's been researched to date.
  • Concentrated phytonutrients from acai berries were dripped onto cancer cells in a petri dish. The result was a big rise in the mortality of those cancer cells.
  • Immune cell function was boosted in an in vitro (culture dish or test tube) setting.
  • A human trial spanning 3 months showed the reduction of pain levels in people with several conditions after consuming a daily acai juice blend.
  • Ten overweight people given acai pulp every day saw a reduction in their fasting blood sugar, insulin levels, and cholesterol.
  • Acai supplements  are not an appropriate substitute for the real thing and could be dangerous.

Check out the video below to learn more and be sure to use the link below the video to view the full list of cited studies to explore further.

Clinical Studies on Acai Berries

Berries and Parkinson's Disease

Pesticide exposure is recognized as a major risk factor for Parkinson's. This can occur on a job site or by living in communities where high levels of spraying occurs. It can even occur in your own home if you're using household pesticides.

DNA mutations caused by pesticides can result in misfolded proteins which is one of the main contributors to neuro-degenerative diseases such as Parkinson's.

Pesticides are so effective at this, that they are even used in a lab setting to give lab animals Parkinson's Disease.

Flavinoids have been shown to protect against these harmful proteins in a lab.

There is also one promising human study to date where high intakes of berries (and apples for men) was associated with a significantly lower Parkinson's disease risk.​

​The video below shows an interactive journey through these studies and per usual you can get the full list of cited sources through the link.

Berries vs. Pesticides for Parkinson's Disease

Black Raspberries and Oral Cancer

Because petri dish studies showed that black raspberries inhibited the growth of cancer and pre-cancer cells, scientists decided to study the impact in humans.

They took people with pre-malignant oral lesions in their mouth and had them apply a black raspberry gel for 6 weeks. There were many cases of improvement and even some cases of complete regression of the lesions.

Scientists are even beginning to study loading tiny oral implants with black raspberry powder that perform a consistent release of phytonutrients over the course of a month.

Be warned though, these berries are more rare and expensive than your conventional berries, but these studies are still a testament to the power of berries. They are not blackberries!

Black Raspberries vs. Oral Cancer

Berries and Muscle Soreness

Delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS after working out is an inflammatory response. One group of scientists studied soreness and strength after a difficult bout of bicep exercises. One group was given cherry juice while one group was given cherry kool-aid (for the control group).

The group who got the cherry juice not only reported less pain, but actually maintained more of their strength over the next 96 hours.

Who needs whey protein for recovery when you have cherries?

Full study citations available at the link below.

Reducing Muscle Soreness with Berries

Blueberry and Cancer Fighting Cells

Natural Killer Cells are a type of white blood cells known as lymphocytes, and they are one of the immune system's natural responses for fighting off cancer cells. However, following a long endurance exercise session (such as marathon running) your Natural Killer Cells are nearly cut in half. After regular servings of blueberries for 6 weeks, participants were able to maintain their Natural Killer Cells at normal levels. This is because their levels from blueberry consumption had increased by around double.

Another amazing performance from berries.

​Full study citations available at the link below the video.

Boosting Natural Killer Cell Activity

Elderberries vs. Influenza

Although you may have not heard of them, elderberries have actually been put to the test versus the flu in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study which is considered to be the “gold standard” when it comes to testing the efficacy of a treatment. These types of studies are usually expensive due to the amount of rigor and therefore reserved for things like drug trials.

elderberry extract influenza

Elderberries are Commonly Made into Syrups or Extracts

However, in a study published in 2004 done on the 1999-2000 influenza season in Norway, scientists decided to put Elderberry Extract to the test on 60 patients ages 18-54 suffering from flu-like symptoms.

Participants in the study were either given Elderberry Extract Syrup or Placebo Syrup 4-5 times per day for a series of 5 days. During this period, participants recorded the severity of their symptoms on a visual analog scale which is commonly used for subjective metrics that are hard to measure or quantify.

Those given the elderberry extract found relief from their symptoms an average of 4 days earlier compared to the control group and were less likely to need to receive “rescue medication” or additional intervention.

Although this study was rather small (60 participants), it’s still quite telling of the potential that this berry has in actual-real life interventions rather than just theoretical.

Because these berries are hard to find, you can either grow your own, buy the extract online, or use this locator to explore your local options via Norm’s Farms.

Delicious Berry Recipes

Acai Berry Smoothie Bowl

Popular in California, the acai bowl is one of the most delicious and refreshing breakfasts (or snacks) that there is. It's packed full of antioxidants and phytochemicals and has the energy to sustain you through the early parts of your day. You can actually top it with whatever you want, but coconut, granola, and nuts give balance out the bowl and add other essential nutrients. 

Acai Berry Smoothie Bowl by Tess Begg

Blueberry Pie Smoothie

Feel free to scale down the recipe below to make a smaller portion of you wish. This smoothie is easy, quick to make and is going to give you tons of those Natural Killer Cell promoting blueberries that we talked about earlier.

Blueberry Pie Smoothie by Falconcara

Cherry and Chocolate Soft Serve

A much healthier take on the original Cherry Garcia, this ice cream is a delectable treat which won't leave you feeling guilty. Just like the acai bowl, you can even eat it for breakfast! Eating more fruits and vegetables shouldn't be about depriving yourself. Recipes like this one are even more delicious than their unhealthy counterparts.

Chocolate & Cherry Soft Serve by Forks over Knives

For even more recipes check out our Ultimate List of Vegan Berry Recipes article!

Conclusion

Based on the research we've looked at, it's safe to say that berries should be very regularly consumed by most people. You're not going to find any other group of foods with the specific properties that berries can provide, but make sure you're also eating plenty of vegetables like kale which contain even more benefits.

Don't stress about finding all sorts of exotic berries either. Find berries you can afford, recipes you love, and get them into your diet on a regular basis without stressing yourself out. If you don't want to eat them straight, use the latest kitchen technology and some of our creative recipes to make whole berries into delicious meals.

Want to learn how to grow your berries or find a farm in your area? Check out the Raspberry & Blackberry Association!

going vegan a step by step guide

How To Go Vegan: The Ultimate Step by Step Guide

Deciding to adopt a vegan lifestyle can be a daunting and seemingly challenging task. One may think they need to give up all the foods that they love, cut ties with all their non-vegan friends/family, and drive a Prius.

This is simply not the case.

Veganism comes in many different forms, but is grounded in one definition:

Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing, entertainment or any other purpose. 

There are almost infinite ways to eat a vegan diet, from eating Oreos and drinking Sprite all day, to a more health-conscious version based on whole fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and legumes.

For anyone to truly go vegan long-term, they must have the proper reasoning and motivation to do so, and this brings us to our first step on how to go vegan: Learn and Understand the Why.

Step 1. Learn the Why Behind Adopting a Vegan Diet

People adopt a vegan lifestyle for 3 main reasons:

  1. Ethical
  2. Environmental
  3. Health

Although many people go vegan for number 3 (health reasons), having a reason beyond yourself makes sticking to the lifestyle and avoiding temptations much easier.

Ethical Reasons

As per the definition of veganism, avoiding cruelty and exploitation of animals is the most compelling reason to go vegan.

150 billion+ animals each year are slaughtered every year for the sake of our own consumption, a truly staggering number. (Source: Adaptt.org Kill Counter).

From fish to chicken to pigs, all vertebrates share the same ability to feel pain. (Source: Recognition and Alleviation of Pain in Laboratory Animals).

ethical reasons small

Meat is the Corpses of Other Sentient Beings

Meat eaters will consume about 7,000 animals over the course of their lifetime. Your personal choice does have an important effect on the world around you. If you cannot be the change you want to see in the world, how can you expect others to change?

Not only are the animals killed, but they are subjected to a life of misery and torture since the day they are born.

Many people find it easy to brush these facts to the side, but imagine if your beloved dog or cat was being sent off to slaughter - your feelings would no doubt change.

Extreme suffering is just that, and once you know the pain and torture that your meat has gone through, it becomes increasingly difficult to consume it with a clear conscious.

For an in-depth perspective off the full truth behind the animal agriculture industry, we highly recommend the documentary Earthings which can be viewed directly on YouTube.

Earthlings Part 1.

The official website for the documentary and its creators can be found here.

Environmental Reasons

Animal Agriculture is one of the most resource consuming and greenhouse gas emitting industries.

The information we're shown on environmental issues tends to be greatly skewed and tends to ignore the staggering truth behind animal agriculture. Many people simply don't know "the inconvenient truth" behind the food products that are familiarly and comfortably consumed on a daily basis.

climate change animal agriculture

The Facts About Animal Agriculture and Climate Change are Staggering

The fact is, the act of feeding, transporting and slaughtering animals is a huge burden on resources as well as a major contributor to environmental destruction.

Livestock and their byproducts are responsible for 51% of greenhouse gas emissions, while transportation only accounts for 13% . (source 1.)(source 2.)(source 3.)(source 4.)
Most water in the United States is used for animal agriculture, with growing feed crops for animals accounting for 56% of US water consumption. (source).

Many so-called “environmentalists” will make you feel guilty for driving your car or running the shower too long, but just taking a look at the figures below shows how off-base those claims are. The consumption of animal products is a far greater threat to the environment than almost any other activity that we humans partake in.

We encourage you to check out some of these facts and figures below as well as their sources to help educate yourself on the truth behind the destructive nature of the animal agriculture industry.

Gallons of Water Required

Outcome

477 Gallons of Water

1 Pound of Eggs

900 Gallons of Water

1 Pound of Cheese

1000 Gallons of Water

1 Gallon of Milk

2500 Gallons of Water

1 Pound of Beef

660 Gallons of Water

2 Months of Showering

Amount of land needed to feed a vegan for a year is 1/6th of an acre, whereas a meat acre requires 18 acres of food.

For those who want to dive deeper into the environmental side of veganism, we highly recommend starting with a documentary called Cowspiracy.

Cowspiracy Trailer

The full documentary is available on Netflix or available directly from the filmmaker's website.

Health Reasons

While one of the more controversial subjects of veganism, the topic of health and veganism can lead many people astray. Despite conflicting opinions from bloggers and online news websites, scientific consensus is clear.

The American Dietetic Association, which is the largest body of food and nutrition professionals, state that:

Appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.

Here's a link to their official statement.

A common argument against veganism is that our ancestors ate meat, which helped us evolve into humans, and therefore we are designed to do so. However, this is a misrepresentation and misunderstanding of what the research indicates.

Research done by the University of Sydney details how cooked starches played a huge role in our evolutionary development and provided our brain the high-demand of glucose it needs, suggesting the "Paleo Diet" many people follow today is not actually the diet of our Paleolithic ancestors.

In addition, one of the common characteristics of the longest living cultures in the world, known as the Blue Zones, is that they all eat a predominately plant based diet, centered around legumes, along with daily light exercise and socialization. 

These cultures all ate upwards of a 95% plant based diet, mainly reserving meat for celebratory occasions. One section of the Blue Zones, the California 7th Day Adventists, ate no meat at all.

A 13 year study of this population concluded they have "perhaps the highest life expectancy of any formally described population."

This presentation “Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death” gives a brief journey into what the actual peer-reviewed scientific literature says about the effects of vegan diets.

Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death by Dr. Michael Gregor

Another great documentary to watch on this topic is Forks over Knives.

To conclude, we've briefly discussed:

  • The longest living cultures in the world consume little to no animals
  • Adopting a plant-based diet can reverse or prevent our most deadly diseases (detailed in video above)
  • We can end the suffering and death of billions of sentient beings each year
  • Animal agriculture is destroying the rain forest, wasting water resources, and polluting the environment more than anything else on the planet

With all of these factors in mind, adopting a vegan lifestyle is the single most impactful decision one can make to reduce environmental harm, animal suffering, and chronic disease.

After you’ve learned about the many reasons to adopt a vegan lifestyle and decided you are ready to make the change, the next step is to begin your transition!

Step 2: Decide How To Transition

Depending on your situation and preference, transitioning into veganism can be done overnight or gradually. While eating vegan is very easy and hassle-free once you’ve got the hang of it, one needs to accept that transitioning to veganism after eating a standard western diet for decades may require a bit of extra effort starting out.

However, this shouldn’t be treated as a daunting task, but rather an exciting opportunity to explore new recipes and cuisines!

Overnight Transition

The overnight transition, while the most ambitious, may be the preference of some who feel strongly about adopting a vegan lifestyle and want to put it into effect right away.

When doing this, it is important to have a basic plan of what meals you plan to make, what you plan to shop for, and where you can eat.

This will be discussed in more depth shortly.

Finish the Remainder of Your Animal Based Foods

Another method is to slowly transition to veganism by working through all the remaining animal products left in your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. This will give you some time to wean yourself off animal products and slowly incorporate more plant based dishes into your daily routine.

slow and steady vegan transition

Reaching the Finish Line is the Most Important Thing

While doing this, it is important to identify your favorite comfort foods and learn how to create a vegan version of these foods.

By the time you’ve consumed all the animal products left in your home, you will have a great understanding of how to shop and cook vegan!

Slowly Adjust Your Diet

Another way to become accustomed to plant based eating is to incorporate plant based meals slowly into your life day by day. This will allow you to gradually learn how to eat plant based meals and become accustomed to full days of vegan eating.

An example of this would be to start eating completely vegan on Mondays, and the rest of the week you are free to eat how you like. You would then gradually incorporate more days with full vegan eating until you’re ready to fully commit!

A variation of this would be to transition meal by meal, e.g. only eat vegan for breakfast, then breakfast and lunch, then breakfast lunch and dinner.

Step 3: Learn How To Shop

While many think going vegan requires having to go to health food stores to shop and only eating at a few specialty restaurants. This is far from the truth.

One great advantage of transitioning to veganism these days is how easy it is to find vegan options at every grocery store and the majority of restaurants.

Going vegan can be inexpensive and easy to shop for at regular conventional markets or online. Check out our guide on how to go vegan on a budget.

This list of already made store bought vegan food by Vegan Wolf is a really helpful resource as well.

While transitioning, we recommend trying....

Meat Substitutes

While transitioning, we recommend trying out a few different brands of meat substitutes that taste and feel nearly identical to real meat. Most of these brands can be found at your local supermarket/Walmart. A few great ones to start out with are:

You can use the store locators on the website above to see if those brands are carried in a supermarket near you which they most likely are.

Tofu, Tempeh, and Seitan are also great for using in place of meat for various recipes. You can cook them in the same sauces and spices you would meat to achieve an amazing, healthy new meal to your diet. 

delicious looking tofu vegan

Delicious Asian Style Tofu

Check out some of our favorite recipes below for meat substitutes:

Beans and lentils can also be hearty, protein-rich replacement for meat on your plate.  They can be used to create meat-like meals such as meatloaf and burgers!

Check out some of our favorite bean/legume based recipes here:

Cheese Substitutes

For many, giving up cheese may seem hard or near impossible. However, there are plenty of identical tasting substitutes that are available without any animal products! With the demand for vegan options growing over the past decade, these brands have come a very long way in refining their recipes.

Here are some of the top vegan cheese brands (You may even like them better than the real thing!): 

vegan cheese pizza vegan transition

Pizza Made with Vegan Cheese

Or, there is plenty of quick and simply ways to make Cashew Cheese at home.

Check out some recipes here:

The options are really endless!

Cultivate Your Love for Plant Foods

For many people following a SAD (Standard American Diet), some of the most health promoting Vegan items may seem bland and unpalatable. 

However, if you never branch out beyond the vegan replacement foods that we just finished covering, you won't reap all of the health benefits of going vegan.

The most healthful foods that you can consume are ​whole plant foods (beans, legumes, greens, potatoes, nuts, seeds, fruits etc). These are the foods that are most abundant in health promoting micronutrients and phytochemicals and have the least amount of calories. 

plant foods disease prevention

Whole Plant Foods Are The Healthiest Choices You Can Make

As you make the transition, we highly recommend filling more and more of your plate up with these kinds of whole foods so that your palate becomes accustomed to them. ​

If your taste buds are used to eating jelly donuts and hamburgers which have high amounts of concentrated sugar and fat (and low amounts of micronutrients per calorie), whole plant foods are simply going to seem plain and boring.

However, over time your taste buds will readjust to their normal levels and healthier foods will become just as pleasurable if not more pleasurable to consume than the foods you're currently used to.

Many plant-based doctors liken the process to quitting an addictive drug such as cocaine.

While this may seem like an extreme example, when you start to realize how overstimulating the standard Western diet actually is, you'll come to agree that this example isn't too far off.

Although it's a bit of a long watch, this is one of the best introductions to the concepts behind plant-based nutrition by Dr. Fuhrman which we reference several times on Thrive Cusine. 

Live Longer, Stronger, and Disease Free by Dr. Fuhrman.

We highly recommend giving it a watch and implementing these principles into your vegan journey if you're seeking health and longevity.

Learn the Best Ways to Cook Plants

If you've ever turned on the Food Network or any TV station, you're likely to have seen shows that focused on making meat the center of the meal. There's so much emphasis on teaching people all the different ways to cook meat that people neglect to talk about how to prepare plant foods with culinary excellence.

broccoli vegan transition

Rosemary Roasted Broccoli by Simply Fresh Dinners

Preparing plant foods doesn't have to be complicated either. Usually simplicity of ingredients, spices, and cooking methods are the best ways to bring out flavors. Don't look at going vegan as a restrictive choice, but rather one that is going to expand your palate and help you appreciate different flavors. Assistance from the modern world of great kitchen appliances such as blenders, can be of great help in the kitchen allowing for easy cooking and easier clean-ups.

Where to Shop

As previously mentioned, most or all of the brands and foods mentioned in this guide are available at Shoprite, Walmart, Kroger, or any supermarket. 

If you live near a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's, this will give you even more options, but they are not necessary.

When you begin to transition into more whole plant foods, there become even less constraints because you can find vegan staples such as sweet potatoes, lentils, legumes, produce, etc. at pretty much any supermarket.​

If you have budgetary concerns, we created an entire guide on how to shop vegan on a budget which you can check out below. Even if you're not on a budget, the guide is sure to be helpful in navigating your first few months as a vegan.

going vegan on a budget guide

In addition, websites such as Forks Over Knives, even offer  free plant based meal plans to help you kick-start your vegan lifestyle.

Step 4: Learn How to Dine Out

Vegan Options in Unlikely Places

Eating vegan at a restaurant is a great opportunity to explore new dishes and cuisines. While in a pinch, there are many chains that offer vegan options you can grab in only a few minutes even at some of the most unlikely fast food restaurants:

Check out some of the above options to learn how you can eat vegan even at some of the most common fast food and casual dining restaurants.

Ethnic Restaurants

You will also find that eating out at ethnic restaurants will have a wide array of meatless dishes. Many Eastern cuisines such as Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indian, and Vietnamese, will typically have a large vegetarian selection because of the high Buddhist  population in these regions.

vegetable masala indian vegan guide

Indian Vegetable Masala

Just be sure to ask if there are any eggs or dairy in the vegetarian options as many of them don't traditionally use the word "vegan", but rather "vegetarian" as an all-encompassing term.

Yelp and Happy Cow

yelp and happy cow logo

Simply searching “vegan” or “vegetarian” on Yelp will yield a variety of reviews customers have left for restaurants near you that mention these terms.

Last but not least, one of the best tools for finding vegan options at a restaurant is the app Happy Cow. It’s free to use on your computer or you can get it for only a few dollars on your smart phone. In the click of a button, HappyCow will show you nearby by far the easiest way to find vegan-friendly places to eat near you wherever you may be

Step 5: Understand & Avoid Cravings

Your Taste Buds Will Change!

Remember, if you crave certain foods while food going vegan, this may not last forever. Your taste buds literally change as you adjust your diet. The more plants you eat, the more you’ll crave them. 

Short Video on Taste Buds from NutritionFacts.org

As discussed in the previous section, there are tons of great tasting and inexpensive plant-based alternatives to all your favorite animal ingredients. If you’re craving mac & cheese, go buy some vegan mac & cheese. Don’t be afraid to treat yourself to a decadent meal or dessert from time to time.

You should never feel like you’re restricting yourself on a vegan diet or you're likely to simply give up.

What is Umami?

One way to satisy meat cravings is to eat foods with more umami. Umami is the 5th taste that, although less well-known, is deeply ingrained into the way we enjoy food.

The Umami flavor can be best translated as “pleasant, savory taste”.

We taste umami through our glutamate receptors, meaning foods high in glutamate will give you that savory, meaty taste. Cured meats, fish, cheeses, and even breast milk, are all high in glutamate.

However, there are plenty of plant based sources you can incorporate into your life to satisfy this craving, such as:

  • Fermented Foods (Tempeh, Sauerkraut, Soy Sauce)
  • Mushrooms
  • Tomatoes
  • Seaweed
  • Nutritional Yeast
mushrooms umami vegan tastes

Mushrooms Are High in Umami Flavor

For a huge Umami hit, check out this amazing recipe for Teriyaki Tempeh and Shiitake Mushrooms with Sriracha Soba Noddles.

There are so many different types of mushrooms in there with rich and complex flavors so be sure to check out your local store's selection next time you're out shopping!​ You can even order your own kits to grow them in abundance through companies like Mossy Creek Mushrooms.

Step 6: Wear Vegan

The Truth About Leather and Fur

Adopting a lifestyle that seeks to avoid harm to all animals extends just beyond what’s on your plant(plate). Millions of animals are subject to cruelty and death each year to make fur, leather, and cosmetic products.

Please watch these two 60 second videos for a glimpse into the reality behind the fur/leather industry. 

Be warned: the footage below is graphic, but it is important to educate yourself on the reality of these industries rather than living in ignorance.

Leather Industry in 60 Seconds

Fur Industry in 60 Seconds

After coming to realization about the cruelty behind these industries, many ask if it is necessary to get rid of all their fur coats, leather couches, makeup, shoes, etc.. The answer is that it’s up to you. Throwing out those items won’t undo any damage.

Vegan Clothing Options and Make Up Brands

Fortunately, modern technology allows us to make faux leather that is virtually identical to real leather. Look for the phrases "Manmade materials or PU Leather" on the shoe tongues or shoebox to see what material the shoe is made of. In recent developments, "vegan leathers" are even being made from banana trees, resulting in a much more environmentally friendly supply chain.

Faux Fur is also easily available and virtually identical to real fur.

Just to give you some examples of what are out there as far as clothing and makeup:

zappos vegan options clothing

Lots of Vegan Clothing Options at Zappos!

For people who wear makeup, it is important to also be mindful of makeup brands that test on animals:

Amazing Resources

Happycow

As mentioned earlier, this is an amazing resource for finding restaurants with vegan options in your nearby area or any area you plan to go. Equipped with reviews, descriptions of vegan options, and directions, this is a must have!

Nutrtionfacts.org 

Every year, this non-profit organization reviews all the published peer reviewed medical/nutrition literature and reports their findings in short, easy to digest videos. Scouring scientific literature is no easy task, and most information finally makes its way to the average person in the form of a half-researched news article or health blog. Nutrtionfacts takes the most cutting edge research and presents it directly to the end user in an entertaining fashion.

OhSheGlows 

One of our favorite recipe websites, OhSheGlows is home to one of the most popular and acclaimed food blogs on the internet, and she even has a few best selling cookbooks! From the Vegan Alfredo to the dozens of cookie recipes,  everything on this site is simply delicious! She even has an app for easy recipe access on your phone.

Frequently Asked Questions & Myths

Do Individual Purchases Matter?

If you’ve found any of the statistics, videos, or ideas presented in this guide disturbing or immoral, it is important to know that you personally can make an impact and have your opinion heard.

Every dollar you spend is a vote of support for that particular brand and industry. By boycotting industries you find immoral and putting your hard earned money into cruelty-free businesses, it has tremendous impact.

It is no coincidence companies such as Tyson Foods has become an investor for Beyond Meat and Silk has been bought out by Dean Foods, one of the largest dairy processers in the world. Big companies are beginning to recognize the demand for cruelty-free alternatives.

So, Do We Still Buy From These Companies?

The answer is yes. It is nearly impossible to only eat at vegan restaurants, shop at vegan supermarkets, and buy from 100% cruelty-free brands.

The point is that by supporting the cruelty-free options offered at big chains and large companies, your dollar supporting the demands for those options only. If you purchase vegan options from these large companies, they will see a demand for it and begin to stock more of these options and stop spending money on restocking animal products.

While these companies no doubt participate in acts that can be viewed as “evil or immoral” to most vegans, it is important to recognize that they have one job: making more money.

With that in mind, they also possess the resources to actually shift the economic landscape of the food industry, so sending them the right signals to move away from animal-based products is crucially important.

What About Protein?

We’ve covered this topic in depth in the article Ultimate Guide to Protein Sources On A Vegan Diet and The Guide To Building Muscle On A Vegan Diet. There are a number of athletes who have adopted and thrived on a plant based lifestyle, some notable figures include:

Dealing with family/friends?

While you’re bound to be the subject of jokes and teasing from unaware friends/family, especially at first, approach dealing with them with a calm and patient manner. Getting angry and defensive is never a good option. Some will open up and ask questions while others will not.

How to Deal with Negative Family and Friends as a Vegan

It is always best to be educated why you chose to make the decision to go vegan so when approached you can be confident and helpful. 

What About Grass-Fed and Cage Free?

At an environmental level, “grass-fed” beef is even more harmful and unsustainable than factory farmed meat.

You can check out more on that topic here on One Green Planet.

At an ethical level, the idea of “humane” meat and slaughter has been shrouded in misconception. Is there an ethical way to rape or murder a human being? Given the overwhelming consensus that you can live a long, healthy life on a plant based diet, there is no reason to support the slaughter of innocent animals.

You can read more on that topic here at Humane Myth.

Weren't Humans Meant to Eat Meat?

Many will cite that “we’ve been eating animals for thousands of years” and “we’ve adapted to eat meat” as arguments for the cruelty and necessity of modern animal agriculture.

However, when the largest body of nutrition professionals in the world state that vegan diets are nutritionally adequate for all stages of life, the longest living cultures in the world share a similarity of plant-based eating, and research now suggests cooked starches played the main role in human brain evolution (source), these arguments fall flat.

Paleolithic ancestors also ate upwards of 100g of fiber a day, an amount only achievable by eating a high volume of plant foods.

The Facts About Paleo Poo by Dr. Michael Gregor

It is also important to consider the concept of surviving vs. thriving.

While it is true that meat is a very nutritionally dense option for a hunter-gatherer with no other options around, that doesn’t mean it is still necessary for us to consume animal products in modern times, especially given the evidence presented above.

Don't be fooled by "Appeal to Tradition" and "Appeal to Nature Fallacies" which claim meat is necessary on baseless claims of it being natural or in our history.

Wrap Up

We hope you will take the time to consider all the information presented in this guide and put it into action. We encourage you to further explore even the immorality and unsustainability of the animal agriculture industry as well as the benefits of plant-based nutrition.

This guide is by no means a comprehensive look at all of the issues discussed and learning about these issues should be a continuous process. This article: 10 Things No One Tells You About Going Vegan, by Nicole Solomon at Crixeo does a great job outlining some of the things you probably won't come to learn until you've been vegan for at least a few months, but might be comforting and sobering to learn beforehand.

We hope to have armed you with the necessary knowledge to begin your journey to veganism.

vegan on a budget

The Ultimate Guide to Going Vegan on a Budget: Learn to Craft Your Own Meal Plan!

If you're already vegan or thinking about adopting the lifestyle, but concerned about it being too expensive, you've come to the right place. Veganism is not a lifestyle reserved for the rich, famous, and privileged, but rather a way for everyone to eat healthfully and in accordance with their morals. Stick with the principles and tips we've laid out and become a smart vegan shopper today! By the time you're doing reading you should have all sorts of ideas on how to craft your very own budget vegan meal plan.

Is Going Vegan “Too Expensive”?

One of the most common objections that I get to going vegan is that it’s “too expensive.”

However, when you break it down, you would think that the logical thing to do would be to have the opposite reaction.

Just think about it for a second: In order to produce a portion of meat or any other animal products that animal must be fed plant foods (and lots of them). Therefore, consuming the plant foods directly yourself should be cheaper than filtering the plants through an animal to create a piece of meat or glass of milk.

is going vegan expensive

Keep More of These and Your Health at the Same Time

For whatever reason, the word “vegan” seems to make people think of super expensive specialty foods that they see in a lone aisle or corner of their local grocery store. And from an outsider’s point of view, it’s completely understandable to think that eating vegan is more expensive.

Many specialty prepared vegan foods are more expensive than their meat-based counterparts. The reasons for this are many and quite complex, but the main are:

  • Government subsidies to the animal agriculture industry.
  • A lack of supply and demand for these specialty products.
  • Companies purposely marking-up their vegan products trying to appeal to the “higher end” consumer.

But now that we’ve got that out of the way – let’s get back to the core question:

“Is going vegan (in a healthful way) going to increase your grocery budget?”

The answer: Heck no! In fact, when done correctly, you'll be eating clean and saving green.

Becoming a Smart Consumer

Much like anything in life that you want to do well, you’re going to have to put in a little bit of effort to move yourself out of the SAD (Standard American Diet) category.

standard american diet

Standard American Diet Practitioner

Many people move though the grocery store do so with blinders over their eyes, just throwing anything and everything in the cart that appeals to their most basic urges and visual cues.

There’s a reason why food companies invest so heavily in packaging. They have a small window to catch your attention in the aisle and the ones with the biggest bucks are going to have the resources to know how to impact you on a subconscious level.

It is your job to overcome this barrage of urges and visual cues and to become a smart consumer!

Once you do this, I promise you that going vegan is going to be as good for your bank account as it is for your health!

Understanding Calories in Relation to Budget

Most of the time when people talk about calories it’s in more of a negative context: eating fewer of them to lose weight.

While eating fewer calories may be necessary for shedding pounds – that does not mean that you should be making your buying decisions based on low calorie counts.

In fact, you should be doing the opposite.

Cutting calories happens in the kitchen, not in the grocery store.

When you’re shopping on a budget, you’re trying to achieve a balance of calories, nutrients, and cost.

For example:

A bottle of oil has a ton of calories in it, but very few nutrients.

A head of greens has a ton of nutrients in it, but very few calories.

Neither of these options are going to be ideal as main staples of your diet.

Side note: You should be eating lots of greens and we'll show you how to shop for produce later on in the article, but on a budget its going to be difficult for them to make up a majority of your calories because their cost per calorie is so high.

You’d have to eat truckloads of greens just to meet your daily caloric needs and the functions/processes in your body that require vitamins and nutrients would quickly be hindered if you just drank oil.

The solution?

Embrace what I like to call the staple foods of a budget vegan diet!​

Your Staple Foods​

Grains, Beans, Starches, Legumes

It’s grains, starches, beans/legumes, and root vegetables that are going to give you the perfect balance between calories, nutrients and most importantly - cost.

To make things easy, I’ve compiled a list of a bunch of items that fall within this category so that you can start to think of ideas for your next grocery list.

Beans and Legumes Galore!

Beans/Legumes

  • Black Beans
  • Fava Beans
  • Kidney Beans,
  • Lima Beans
  • Chickpeas (garbanzos)
  • Lentils
  • Peas (Split, Black Eyed, etc)

Root Vegetables/Starches

  • Potatoes (Yams, Sweet, Purple, White, etc)
  • Rutabaega
  • Turnip
  • Parsnips
  • Beets
  • Fennel
  • Yucca

These staples are going to give you the most bang for your buck when it comes to cost, calories, and nutrients, and can also be used in so many ways that can be delicious (more on recipe examples later).

Pay attention to the prices on these items next time you’re in the super market.

They are going to be your best friends when it comes to getting an adequate amount of calories and nutrients.

Just to give you an idea of what I'm talking about (without going too deep into the nutrition side of things) I’ve done a few Google searches to illustrate the nutritional impact of these foods.

For ease of reading, everything is measured out to one cup.

white rice vegan budget
kale nutrition vegan budget
sweet potato nutrition vegan budget
lentils nutrition vegan budget

You can see above that cup for cup - sweet potatoes and lentils are the best in offering you a decent amount of calories as well as micronutrients as compared to white rice and kale.

White rice is almost completely void of any micronutrients while kale would just be way too expensive to meet all of your caloric needs.

Nuts & Seeds (Cashews, Almonds, Pecans, Pumpkin Seeds, etc.)

Since they are one of the healthiest ways to get fats and other essential nutrients on a vegan diet, I wanted to give nuts their very own section. They can be kind of expensive if you don’t know what you’re doing. I would also recommend doing a bit of local and online research before figuring out your best source for nuts because the prices can vary quite a bit.

nuts and seeds

Go Nuts for a Sane Amount of Money

Most likely the cheapest way you’re going to find nuts is online.

We recommend sites like Amazon.com, Nuts.com, and Jet.com.

Remember that even if something ships free, the shipping is built into the cost of the item.

That being said, if you’re shopping online for groceries, you need to go big or go home. The savings are going to come because of the bulk options that you cannot find at your local supermarket.

The 10 lb. bag of cashews on Amazon by SincerelyNuts is my go-to for cashews (the main kind of nuts that I buy).

If you want, you can check it out here.

The most important piece…

Take a look at the cost per pound you can find online versus the cost per pound in the grocery store as that should be your only means of measuring cost. If your local grocer is running a sale on nuts/seeds be sure to get the final calculation on cost per pound and compare that to the prices you can find for bulk nuts online.

Nutritional Yeast

Any experienced began cook knows that nutritional yeast is an absolute staple. It’s chock full of nutrients (and B-12 in most cases) and is the one of the few ingredients that is going to reliably give you that cheesy/umami flavor. It’s great for making vegan cheeses and even great just sprinkling on anything that you’re eating.

nutritional yeast vegan cheese

Nutritional Yeast Flakes

However, much like nuts, the prices for nutritional yeast can fluctuate greatly!

The price fluctuations can actually be worse than nuts because it’s still considered more of a specialty item and less of a commodity.

The stuff has a super long shelf life, so again you need to buy in bulk.

This 10 lb. bag is what I usually get from Amazon and it has saved me a lot of money and time.

Don’t be afraid to check multiple stores or listings on Amazon to see if you can find the best deal.

There's a vegan cheese recipe at the end of the article just in case you're unsure of how to use these delicious flakes!​

How to Shop for Produce

Just because produce isn’t going to make up the majority of your calories when shopping on a budget, it doesn’t mean that you should forget about it.

In fact, you should be trying to consume as much produce as possible (especially fruits and greens) as it fits your recipes and budget. Think of eating produce as more of an investment than a cost. You simply can't find the phytonutrients and antioxidants your body desperately needs to prevent disease in any other food group.

Even though this is an article about shopping on a budget, the video below from Dr. Furhman will illustrate why ​you should look at buying produce and other whole plant foods as more of an investment than anything else.

It's a bit of a long video, but is definitely worthwhile ​for anyone who wants to understand nutrition.

Why You Shouldn't Slack on Produce

That being said, let’s talk about a couple tips for getting produce at the least expensive price possible.

The Basics of Shopping Seasonal

The super market may seem like a magical place where all this great stuff comes together to be in one place for the taking (it’s quite amazing when you think about it).

However, it is still bound by the rules of economic forces.

When things are in greater abundance, they are more likely to be cheaper.

When things are scarce, they are more likely to be more expensive.

produce on a budget shop

Get More Greens for Less Green

Couple these principles with the ease of production of the item as well as the distance they must travel and you’ll slowly begin to understand why some produce items are more expensive than others.

This is why understanding which produce items are in season and which ones aren’t is going to be critical to you saving money.

Items that are in season should be drastically cheaper than non-seasonal ones.

Don't Be Scared of the Frozen Section

The video below goes over the current science on fresh vs. frozen produce. I suggest giving it a watch as its only 3 minutes.

As a basic overview though, fruits and vegetables that are frozen are normally done so shortly following the harvest. Fresh fruits and vegetables on your grocery shelves go through a process of transportation, light exposure, etc which takes a toll on how nutritious they are.

This is not to say that frozen is always better or vice versa, it just depends.

Regardless, don't lose sleep over whether you're going to eat fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables. They are both great for your health.

In fact, I would recommend that you hit the frozen section and the fresh section to compare prices, assuming budget is your number one priority.

Negotiate with a Manager

What? Negotiate with a manager? Are you crazy?!?

Nope.

It’s totally do-able.

Believe it or not – grocery managers have quotas to fill and in many cases are happy to move inventory as quickly as possible!

It makes them look good to their supervisors and it can save you quite a bit of cash.

raspberries vegan diet

Can I Get All These Raspberries?

You can do this with fresh and frozen produce (and pretty much with anything else).

To make it easy, I’ve prepared a script of what you can say (be sure to be upbeat and friendly!).

“Hello there! I was wondering if I were to buy these items in a large enough quantity if you’d be able to offer me a percentage off?”

That’s it. Just ask.

The worst they can say is no! I’ve actually done this many times and have about a 75% success rate.

Only Buy What You Can Freeze, Jar, or Eat!

This rule mainly applies to fresh produce, because if it’s frozen you have a long window to consume it.

We’ve all been guilty of it. You see a great deal on greens and buy way more than you’re capable of eating before they go bad.

Or maybe you thought you could eat them all, but didn’t account for meals that you were going to eat out, business trips, or any other occasion that knocks you out of your normal routine.

Basic rule of thumb: If you’re buying something perishable, ask yourself the hard questions, and be sure to consume it BEFORE your non-perishable items. Be sure to consider any events you have coming up that are going to mess with your normal schedule.

Some of these tips may be obvious to some readers, but for those who are just moving out and starting to do their own shopping, they are critical.

Asian or Latin American Grocery Stores

Special thanks to Vegan Runner Eats for this awesome tip. I actually used to shop at a place called Twin City (which was a Hispanic supermarket) before I relocated. Be sure to check out their guide as well using the link above for some gems on the subject of vegan budget shopping.

For those of you who have these smaller markets in your area, they are definitely worth checking out. They usually have the cheapest fresh produce by far! The place that I mentioned above (Twin City in New Jersey) actually used to sell avacados for $75 cents! You also may be able to find things that you can't find at the big chains such as Chinese eggplants or plantains. 

General Supermarket Rules

Understanding Unit Price

The unit price basically states the cost per X amount of an item.

Say you’re looking at 2 bottles of soy sauce (these numbers are purely for the sake of example). One is $3.99 and one is $4.99. Because the two bottles are not the same size, the unit price of the $3.99 one is ($5.00 per liter) while the $4.99 one is ($4.59 per liter).

This means that in terms of cost versus the amount you’re getting – the $4.99 soy sauce is cheaper.

However – BUYER BEWARE!

Unit prices can be very tricky.

understanding unit price

Get Your Calculator Ready

When investigating prices, you must always look at the UNIT ITSELF to make sure you’re comparing apples to apples and not apples to oranges.

For example: One section of the store may have the unit price in ounces and a similar item may have the unit price in pounds.

Keep your eyes open for this type of thing so that you don’t get duped into a worse deal.

Looking at the Weekly Circular

WARNING: As someone who's looking to stay away from animal based junk food, the weekly circular is going to be a complete waste of time 90% of the time.

However, the other 10% can score you some really great deals. I noticed that my local Weiss market had a (BOGO) Buy One Get One FREE Deal on a 1 pound bag of almonds or walnuts which brought the total unit price to $4 per pound! 

This was a better deal than any price that I've found online.

Keep in mind that local stores are always trying to liquidate and move through inventory so you may catch one of your vegan staples at a huge discount if you keep your eyes open.​

Specialty Vegan Items on a Budget

I must admit, I’m a sucker for vegan specialty items.

I love cashew milk, I love mock meats, and I love Brad’s Kale Chips!

Sometimes my impulsive-self gets the better of me and I go ahead and splurge on these items.

seitan stir fry

Delicious Looking Seitan Stir Fry

However, there is absolutely no reason not to make these kinds of products yourself right in your own home for way cheaper!

Here’s a quick lesson in what you’re paying for…

A majority of the cost for these specialty items doesn’t come from the ingredients themselves.

In most cases, it comes from the following:

  • The labor for crafting the item (in the case of mock meats).
  • Because it’s heavy and costs money to transport (think nut milks)
  • A mark-up for “branding”.

The good news is, you can most likely make a majority of these things yourself. To make things easier on yourself, it may be worth investing in some new kitchen appliances, such as a high powered blender to make nut-based creams a breeze or a spiralizer to cut new and interesting vegetable shapes just to change things up.

​Here are just a few examples on how to make my favorite specialty vegan items (milks, meats, and cheese) on a budget!

Keep in mind that the bulk upfront ingredient cost might be a bit pricey, but making these things yourself on a consistent basis will save you a bunch over the long run​.

How to Prepare Your Own Nut-Based Milks​

Buying Silk or any of those other nut milk brands can get super expensive (and you're getting a lot of water anyway).

In this video, Anya from Cooking with Plants shows us how to make almond milk on the cheap by using whole plant ingredients.​

How to Prepare Your Own Mock Meat (Seitan)

In my experience, seitan is mainly used as more of a "beef" mock meat, but can be used for chicken as well. It can cost a whole lot from the store, but making it yourself can greatly reduce the cost.

Keep in mind that you may have to spend a bit more up front on the bulk ingredients such as vital wheat gluten. However, just use the principles laid out in this article and you'll be able to have your (mock) steak and eat it too!​

How to Prepare Your Vegan Cheese

While vegan store-bought cheeses have come a long way, brands like Daiya can get awfully expensive. Making your own with whole plant ingredients will be a healthier and cheaper option in the long run (once you get all of the ingredients). Check out this recipe from Laura of Raw Vegan, Not Gross.

Cooking with Your Staple Foods

Wow! You made it to the end of the article. You’re now on your way to becoming a smart vegan shopper.

But now you must be thinking: “Wow those were some great tips, but what do I actually buy?!”.

Not to fear.

I’ve gone ahead and included some of my favorite budget recipes below so you can get to shopping, eating and cooking!

Bon appetite!

Vegan Lentil Dahl Recipe

Vegan Chickpea Sweet Potato Burger

Lentil Loaf (Meatloaf out of Lentils)

Wrap Up

If you've made it to the end of the article you should be convinced. Eating vegan, if done correctly, is the cheapest and healthiest diet that you can follow. Stick with the advice in the article and start enjoying the savings and health benefits right away.

Be sure to offer any additional tips and share your thoughts in the comments section below!