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Mar 23, 2012 05:30 PM

Beginning My Vegan Journey

Hi Chowhounders!

I have decided to become vegan due to my love of animals. I also hope to reduce my family's carbon footprint. This is going to be a huge change for me, but I am committed. I would like to make my own tofu, seitan, and other fake meats.

I have a 3 year old daughter, so I need to be certain that our diet is nutritionally sound as far a protein, iron, and B vitamins. My husband is ok with whatever I decide to cook as long as it tastes good. I am in charge of feeding my little family, and I think that this is a great idea for our health as well as for the planet Earth.

I would appreciate any advice as far as recipes for preparing the fake meats, tofu, and seitan from scratch. I would also appreciate any advice as far as keeping our vegan diet nutritionally sound. Any and all comments on this subject are welcome!!!

Thanks in advance!!!!

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  1. Isa Chandra Moskowitz has written some of the best vegan cookbooks in recent memory. Veganomicon and Vegan with a Vengeance both have recipes for making seitan from scratch. Best of luck with your vegan journey!

    3 Replies
    1. re: operagirl

      her website has a seitan recipe and many others. The strawberry "cheesecake" is really good.

      1. re: magiesmom

        Thank you for showing me this website, magies mom! It is AWESOME!

      2. re: operagirl

        Thank you so much for the information, opera girl!!!

      3. I've been vegan for three years and love it! Good luck with your journey and I concur with the others, Isa Chandra Moskowitz's books are golden. I also really love this cookbook;

        1 Reply
        1. re: marietinn

          Thank you for your input, marietinn. I have gone to Isa's website, and I love it already! I have not explored her books, but I plan on doing so in the future!

        2. I would definitely read some books that specifically focus on nutritional advice for kids. It's definitely possible to raise kids vegetarian or vegan, but there are more nutritional considerations for really young kids that wouldn't really come up for adults, and here is probably not the place you want to get all of your nutritional advice. I imagine there will also be some stressful issues around social issues or times when your child is under the care of relatives or friends, so you may want to read something that focuses on those issues as well. I haven't read this book, nor do I have kids, but this one looks interesting:

          I would take a look at this recipe for seitan "lunch meat"; with some modifications, you can use it to make other seitan-like things (my wife made a great bbq sandwich using a modified version of that recipe):

          Making your own tofu is possible; a soymilk maker may speed things up a little. I'm not sure you'll save money by doing it this way, but you might like the end result better. Tempeh or tofu "bacon" is easy to buy, but also pretty easy to make at home, and while it's not the same as bacon, it can provide some of the taste and texture that you might want.

          Also, check out Asian / Chinese supermarkets, many of which have seitan (fresh and canned), tempeh, tofu (and various other soy products like tofu sheets, dried / pressed tofu, etc.), as well as more processed mock meats at good prices.

          I think one of the biggest challenges is going to be that a lot of the best foods for vegans / vegetarians can be a bit bitter in taste to kids, so trying to cultivate a love for kale and other leafy greens, etc. is going to be important. Try to work them into other dishes without compromising healthiness too much. I like this polenta "lasagna" with kale and mushrooms; I also use the same sauces / toppings but with regular lasagna noodles.

          Another site I follow with some good recipes and ideas for kids is:

          Ethnic cuisines can be a great source of inspiration for making healthy, affordable food without meat analogs, so I definitely encourage you to explore any ethnic cuisines that appeal to you.

          My personal advice is not to stress overly about nutrition -- read up on it and understand the basics (and understand the specific concerns for feeding a child), but don't over-think it. Don't be too swayed by either the soy or milk lobby, but I would definitely be more concerned about the estrogen-like effects of soy, as well as the possibility of developing wheat or nut allergies, with a child. So, that's one reason I'd suggest not over-relying on meat analogs made of soy or wheat, and trying to mix it up a little with milk substitutes (i.e., use almond milk, soy milk, rice milk, hemp milk at various times, assuming your daughter doesn't have specific allergies to those ingredients).

          And, don't eat junk food all the time, but sometimes it is good to make sweets or rich, fattening food, because if you feel deprived, I think it's harder to stick to the diet. If you do find yourself missing something, try to think of ways to provide that kind of flavor, but not necessarily in a literal way.

          For baking, you can make most of the things you made before with some simple substitutions - Earth Balance, vegetable oil, or coconut / palm shortening for butter, soy or nut milk for milk, cashew cream for cream, ener-g egg replacer or flax seeds whizzed with some water for eggs.

          2 Replies
          1. re: will47


            Thank you for your thorough and very informative response. I must apologize because I did respond to you to thank you right after you posted, but I must have made some sort of error because my original response is nowhere to be found!

            Well. thank you for all the information. I have checked out much of it, and it has been very helpful for me! I am still not at the vegan stage, but I am still working toward that as my goal. I have now cut out all meat. poultry, and fish. I am still lacto-ovo, however, I am a work in progress!!!

            1. re: will47

              <<. I imagine there will also be some stressful issues around social issues or times when your child is under the care of relatives or friends>>

              actually my daughter experienced the worst issues while at elementary school.
              the main clique of girls at the school determined that anything other than pizza for lunch was unacceptable and, in order not to be ostracized, my daughter brought cheese pizza for lunch every day until she graduated to middle school.
              it was hellish. . . .

            2. We have also recently converted (we're about 3 months in). My advice is to eat as many fruits and veggies as possible, and you'll do fine health-wise. PPK, as already suggested, is a great beginning source of recipes. Enjoy!

                1. re: mcf

                  When did the new board come to be? Great idea.

                  1. re: SIMIHOUND

                    Just in the past few weeks or so. I've already asked the mods to move the thread over there so more like minded folks can see it.