Eight Easy and Delicious Ways to Eat More Veggies in 2017

Nutrition-packed vegan diets have been shown to prevent or fight obesity, cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. And, if you’re worried about protein, don’t! Vegan diets give you plenty. In fact, The American Dietetic Association says veg diets are appropriate for, “individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.”

And, of course, when you eat vegan, you’re not only helping yourself; you’re helping the the planet (animal agriculture being a major contributor to climate change), and the animals. It’s a win/win/win!

Fortunately, we’re living in a kind of golden age of veganism. Every month, we’re seeing amazing new products and restaurant options, whether it’s nonallergenic milk made from pea protein, the “Impossible Burger,” which even trained chefs can’t distinguish from beef, and Miyoko’s Kitchen’s delicious, melty, cashew-based mozzarella.

Below are eight easy, nutritious, and delicious tips for adding more plants to your diet. You can buy many of these products at any supermarket, but you’ll find the best selections at Natural Health Center (West Main), Sawall’s (Oakland), The People’s Food Coop (downtown), and Earth Fare (Westnedge).

1) Follow in the footsteps of 7-Eleven and many other institutions, and ditch the egg-based mayo. Plant-based options such as Hampton Creek’s Just Mayo and Follow Your Heart’s Vegannaise give you all the taste and texture, with fewer of the calories and none of the cholesterol. (Wasn’t that easy?)

2) Replace eggs in cooking and baking with apple sauce, flax seeds, a banana, silken tofu, or a product like Ener-G. (Google for expert techniques, or check out a cookbook.) Oh, and pancakes and waffles work just fine without eggs. (Add some nuts or vegan protein powder for more oomph.) And don’t forget the nondairy milk…which reminds me…

3) Join the nondairy club! Nearly half of all Americans now drink at least some nondairy milk every day. (Source: Mintel, April 2016.) So, the next time you stop by Biggby Coffee or Water Street Coffee Joint—not to mention, Dunkin’ Donuts or Starbucks—ask for soy, almond, or coconut for your latte. (Smooooth!) At home, have fun trying out the many flavors and varieties of soy, almond, cashew, hemp, coconut, and pea-based milks. (My household uses vanilla-flavored soy for coffee, and cashew for everything else, including baking.)

4) Shop, and dine, ethnic! Chinese, Indian, and Middle Eastern are three great cuisines with LOTS of vegan options. (Also, check the “ethnic foods” aisle of your supermarket.)

5) Try the new generation of plant-based meat replacements, like Gardein, Morningstar, and Beyond Meat. Seriously, they’re amazing! Low calorie, and (in some cases) low sodium and non-soy. On busy days just pop one in a toaster oven, or throw it in a casserole, sauce, or stir-fry, for a nutritious and comfy main course. (You’ll find them in the freezer section of your local supermarket.)

6) Swap out the superfluous. Many breads, snacks, condiments, and other packaged foods contain small amounts of dairy or egg you’d never miss if they were gone. Fortunately, most products’ allergy labeling now makes these unwanted ingredients easy to spot so you can choose another brand. (And many now sport a big, friendly V-for-Vegan label!)

7) Google is your friend. Google “vegan _____,” filling in the name of your favorite food. You will be amazed at what’s out there.

8) Last but definitely not least, check out your friendly, neighborhood vegan group. Everyone, regardless of what they eat, is always welcome at Vegan Kalamazoo events, including potluck dinners, restaurant outings, walks, parties, cooking classes, and other great events. You’ll meet great people and get great recipes and cooking tips. (There are also veg groups in Grand Rapids, Holland/Lakeshore, and Niles.)

About the author: Hillary Rettig is cofounder and organizer of Vegan Kalamazoo, whose motto is, “Yes, there really is a VEGAN Kalamazoo!” She also writes, teaches, and coaches in the area of creative productivity and entrepreneurship. She lives in Kalamazoo’s Stuart Neighborhood with her partner, a Kalamazoo College physics professor, and their rescue dog, Billy, a fifteen-pound pomeranian with a thirty-pound attitude. Contact her any time at vegankalamazoo@gmail.com .

New Vegan Options in Kzoo!

Every month Kalamazoo gets a bit more vegan! Below are some great new restaurant and food options from our friends at Bigbee Coffee, Natural Health Food Center, Sawall Health Foods, and Water Street Coffee Joint. Plus we’re happy to announce two new local vegan-friendly restaurants: Chau Haus and Maru Sushi.

Join our Facebook group for fun discussions of food, animals, movies, current events, and all things vegan.

Please remember to put your holiday dollars where your vegan heart is. A gift certificate from one of the dozens of vegan-friendly restaurants and other businesses listed on our Website will be very appreciated, and you’ll be doing your bit to grow our local vegan economy.

We have some amazing events planned in 2017 and I can’t wait to see you at them. I always welcome your suggestions for the group, and am here to answer any question you might have on anything vegan.

Biggby Coffee. Specific locations (Texas Corners, Schoolcraft, and Sprinkle Rd/E Michigan Ave) are currently testing coconut milk (and already offer soy). Unlike a certain national chain, Bigbee doesn’t charge extra for dairy alternatives.

Natural Health Food Center is now selling MacroVegetarian ready-to-eat vegan meals, including dumplings and Pad Thai.

Sawall Health Foods has added PIZZA to its deli offerings. Their menu now includes two-all vegan pizzas: Schiacchiata (squash, arugula, etc., and “walnut parmesan”) and Funghi (mushrooms, etc., and cashew truffle cream), and you can veganize several of their other pies. In the name of research 🙂 I had a pie and it was delicious. Top it off with their Amorino super-rich sorbet (vegan, of course) for dessert.

Water Street Coffee Joint has lots of news. Last fall’s vegan apple cake was a hit, and now they are planning: “new vegan layer cake-cherry almond…chocolate hazelnut cake to follow in late January. New vegan sandwich, available ALL the time-walnut and white bean spread with roasted pears, roasted red peppers and fresh spinach on sprouted, organic, multi-grain bread.: Also, “several new salads that are vegan as well as a quinoa stir-fry. Keeping 1-3 soups per week vegan as well. Sweet potato coconut will be back soon!”

And a hearty Vegan Kalamazoo welcome to…

Chau Haus Schnitzel Station. A unique, new place right next to the State Theater. Come for wonderful vegan German food, friendly people, and music jams. Owner Francis says: “Since so many vegans have been coming in to the Chau Haus, I have been able to add a few more things to the menu, and run vegan daily specials. I can also accommodate gluten free diets. I’ve got barley burgers, mushroom schnitzel, the vegestopheles sub, and a vegan soup every day.”

Maru Sushi. The beloved Michigan “Japanese fusion” chain is opening a Kzoo branch downtown (427 E Michigan Ave., next to Hopcat). Per our good friends at VegOut Kalamazoo: “Most of Maru’s vegetarian rolls are vegan. Those that aren’t can easily be altered with a simple sauce substitution. Just ask. Megan’s favorites are the Green Turtle, the Archer, and the Boogie veggie rolls. Or try the Tofu Hibachi Grill, vegan when ordered without the teriyaki sauce.”

I Can Haz Vegan Flu Shot?

It’s that time of year again‭! ‬The time many of us roll up a sleeve and get‭ “‬stuck.‭” ‬But did you know flu shots‭ ‬aren’t vegan‭?

Vegans‭ ‬do‭ ‬their‭ ‬best to not use any products derived from an animal‭ (‬like‭ ‬meat,‭ ‬dairy,‭ ‬leather,‭ ‬etc.‭)‬,‭ ‬or services in which animals are exploited‭ (‬like circuses‭)‬.‭ ‬So how come‭ ‬flu‭ ‬shots aren’t vegan‭?

Flu‭ ‬vaccines are‭ ‬inactivated flu viruses that,‭ ‬once injected into you,‭ ‬spur‭ ‬your immune system‭ ‬into creating protective antibodies‭ ‬without actually causing‭ ‬any‭ ‬disease.‭ ‬That means that,‭ ‬when you later do actually encounter a live flu virus,‭ ‬your body is already primed to knock its lights out.

Unfortunately,‭ ‬the viruses used in most vaccines are‭ ‬grown‭ (‬a.k.a.,‭ “‬cultured‭”) ‬in fertilized chicken eggs.‭ ‬Like all eggs,‭ ‬these‭ ‬are obtained‭ ‬via‭ ‬industrial chicken farming,‭ ‬in which the laying hens are jammed into‭ ‬cruel‭ “‬battery cages” their whole lives, and the male chicks (who can’t lay eggs) are killed shortly after birth, often in horrific ways.

Does that mean vegans can’t get flu shots‭? ‬Heck no‭! ‬there are actually‭ ‬two‭ ‬great‭ ‬non-egg options available‭ ‬right here in Southwest Michigan:

  • Flucelvax is grown primarily in animal cell (Madin-Darby Canine Kidney) cultures.‭ ‬Although not technically vegan due to the use of cells originating from dogs‭ (‬and some egg at the beginning of the process‭)‬,‭ ‬this process almost certainly involves far less cruelty and death than egg-based vaccines,‭ ‬in part because you can clone many cultures from a single kidney cell.‭ ‬Another plus is that Flucelvax covers four flu strains,‭ ‬versus traditional vaccines that cover three.‭ ‬You can get a Flucelvax shot at Target and CVS.
  • Flublok represents a new generation of vaccines in which a protein from one virus is combined with parts of another virus.‭ ‬This combination is further blended with insect cells and replicated.‭ ‬It’s also not strictly vegan because insect cells are used during production,‭ ‬but no bird or mammal cells are used.‭ ‬The manufacturer,‭ ‬Protein Sciences Corp.,‭ ‬also claims that their procedure produces an exceptionally clean vaccine:‭ ‬“Flublok…does not contain any preservatives‭ (‬e.g.,‭ ‬thimerosal,‭ ‬which contains mercury‭)‬,‭ ‬egg proteins,‭ ‬gelatin or latex.‭” ‬The company also says it‭ ‬contains three times more antigen than traditional flu vaccines‭ ‬and has shown increased effectiveness over them.‭ ‬You can get it at Target,‭ ‬WalMart,‭ ‬and‭ ‬Meijer.

Both of these should be covered by most insurances.‭ ‬Be sure to call the pharmacy first to ensure that your chosen vaccine is in stock‭! ‬You may get asked if you’re allergic to eggs.‭ ‬Just tell them you’re vegan and have an ethical objection to egg consumption in any form.‭

Here’s a great article that goes into more detail on‭ ‬vegan flu shots. The author cites a report on research into vaccines grow entirely on plant cells, so be prepared for more vegan options in the future.

Now,‭ ‬a confession:‭ ‬I‭ ‬actually‭ ‬got my flu shot earlier this week while getting my annual checkup,‭ ‬and it was nonvegan.‭ ‬Then,‭ ‬a couple of days later,‭ ‬I had a‭ ‬conversation‭ ‬that inspired this article.‭ ‬I’m a super dedicated vegan,‭ ‬but am not going to waste time beating myself up for my lapse:‭ ‬I’ll just make sure to do the right thing next year.‭ ‬That’s how it rolls when you’re vegan.‭ ‬It’s probably impossible for anyone to be‭ ‬100%‭ ‬vegan,‭ ‬given the ubiquity of animal products in every area of our society and economy.‭ ‬But we try to do our best,‭ ‬and to do a little better each year.‭ ‬Vegan Kalamazoo is here to support you on that,‭ ‬so don’t hesitate to‭ ‬send us your questions!

Many thanks to VK member‭ (‬and pharmacist‭) ‬Katia Burke-Pappas and the great people at the‭ ‬Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine for technical assistance with this piece.‭ ‬Also,‭ ‬please join our‭ ‬Facebook group to discuss this article and much else.


Kalamazoo’s Ultracyling Champ: “I feel more energetic and healthier eating vegan.”

I’m thrilled to introduce you to Vegan Kalamazoo’s own Valerie Litznerski, who, a couple of weeks ago, won the Tejas 500 ultracycling race and so is currently the reigning female U.S. ultracycling champ. And she did it all on the power of plants! Valerie was kind enough to let me interview her, and I’m sure you’ll find her as inspiring as I did!

What is ultracycling?

Ultracycling races are 100 miles or more.  The UMCA has a series of races throughout the country and several international races that range from 100 to over 4,000 miles. Participants accumulate overall points and category points for standings.
How did you get started?
I got bored going to the gym.  My parents had bought me a nice bike years ago and so I figured that I’d take it outside. Every time I rode farther, it was so exciting to me.  I did my first century (100-mile) ride that year and my first race the next spring.
How do you train?
I ride a lot. 🙂  I followed a structured riding schedule and cross train in the fall and winter.  There are a few other vegan cyclists on the team that I am on, and it just so happens that we like to ride together too.
How long have you been vegan, and what inspired you to go vegan?
I’ve been vegetarian for 17 years and vegan for 3 years. I felt like dairy wasn’t contributing to my diet.  Ice cream was a major food group, especially after hot rides when I was feeling nauseous.  It just made sense to move on from that. I really appreciate having a smaller carbon footprint.  I believe that it’s completely unnecessary for  animals to be brought into this world and mistreated, just so that I can eat.
How has veganism helped you as an athlete?
It has made me more mindful and more informed.  I try to eat more organic and look for ways to limit processed foods.  That being said, I certainly indulge after long rides and have room to improve, but I feel more energetic and healthier eating vegan.
Any upcoming races?
By completing the Tejas 500, I qualified for solo Race Across America (RAAM). It is a dream of mine to do that race, but I have a lot of growing that I need to do personally and in cycling before I attempt RAAM.  I’ve dreamed about RAAM since I first learned what it was.  In the near future, I’m looking forward to competing in more 12- and 24-hour races and other 500 mile races.
What else do you do besides racing and veganism?

I look for opportunities to volunteer and give back. I’ve helped out at races and am the secretary of the Kalamazoo Bicycle Club.  I love being able to document and sometimes contribute to the ongoing discussion and activities that impact the future of cycling in this community.  I received mentorship from so many members of the club.  So taking on a position with the club is the least that I can do to give back. I also have the opportunities to work with other team members of Team Clark Logic in various volunteering activities.  The annual benefit for Open Roads in partnership with Intentional Yoga is a favorite.

Kudos to Valerie for her wonderful success! Also, check out VegOut Kalamazoo‘s interview with her.


So Lucky to be in Kalamazoo!

We Kalamazoo residents are lucky in so many ways—we get to live in a great town with great culture, sports, and other amenities, in a great part of the country.

tuttleWe’re also lucky to have a great pool of local vegan knowledge and talent, of the kind you usually only find in big cities. Last year we enjoyed top-notch speakers on veganism and religion, veganism and social justice, and animal law, among other topics.

And now we’ve got an internationally recognized vegan celebrity coming to town! He’s Dr. Will Tuttle, author of the bestselling World Peace Diet. He’s speaking on Healing Our World: A Deeper Look at Food at WMU’s Wesley Center at 7 pm on Tuesday, September 20. More info here. Please come to this FREE lecture, and invite your friends.

We’re also thrilled to announce, in partnership with the wonderful People’s Food Co-Op, two new cooking classes: Cooking with Vegan Proteins (Tuesday 9/13, 6-8 pm) and Cooking for Diabetes I (Tuesday 9/27, 6-8 pm). Only 12 students per class! So register ASAP either in person at the Co-Op or by calling 269-342-5686.

Busy cooks, reluctant cooks, and non-cooks: Vegan Kalamazoo’s got your back! On Sunday, 9/10, at 2:00 p.m., join us for a discussion of Ten Easy and Delicious Ways to Add More Plants to Your Diet at the wonderful (and highly vegan-friendly) Natural Health Center. More info.

Attention literature lovers! On Wednesday 9/28 at 7:00 p.m., we’re inaugurating the Animals and Nature Discussion Group at the Kalamazoo Public Library. September’s topic is “Animal Memoir,” and the recommended reading is Helen MacDonald’s bestselling H is for Hawk, but we’ll also be discussing James “All Creatures Great and Small” Herriot, John “Marley & Me” Grogan, and others. So bring your fave and join us!

You’ll find the entire list of upcoming events, including our ever-popular Living Vegan Social Groups, here; and we recommend you join our Meetup group (easy and free!) to register for events, stay on top of changes, etc. (We are no longer posting events on our Facebook group, but are having some great conversations there, so please join us there, too!)

Finally, don’t forget that this year’s Grand Rapids VegFest, our region’s premier vegan event, is Sunday, September 18. We have carpools!

Please remember that:

*Everyone, including vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores, is always welcome at our events!

*Most events are free except for cost of restaurant food, movies, etc. (We do ask for an optional $2/person donation to help defray group expenses.)

*We always welcome your questions or suggestions. Email me at vegankalamazoo@gmail.com.

One final announcement: Molly Wieber of the exchange program FLAG is seeking a local host family for Ruchi, a high school student (and winner of a prestigious, merit-based State Department Scholarship) who doesn’t eat meat or eggs. I know from personal experience that hosting an international student is a wonderful experience for all concerned! If you can host Ruchi or know someone who can, please contact Molly at mwieber@flag-intl.org.

See you at the events!

Tues, Sept 20 @ 7:00 pm: Bestselling Vegan Author Will Tuttle Speaking at WMU!

tuttleVegan Kalamazoo is thrilled to announce that on Tuesday, September 20, Kalamazoo will be hosting a true vegan visionary and celebrity, Dr. Will Tuttle. Author of the bestselling The World Peace Diet, Dr. Tuttle will be lecturing on Healing Our World: A Deeper Look at Food at The Wesley Foundation Student Center at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo.

In his talk, Dr. Tuttle makes explicit the invisible connections between society’s routine abuse of animals and our broad range of problems—psychological and social, as well as health and environmental. He will explore how animal agriculture and our food choices have far greater consequences than most of us realize, especially for social justice.

Doors will open at 6:30 pm, with free refreshments available. The lecture will begin at 7:00 pm., and will be followed by a Q&A. This event is free, but an optional “love donation” will be requested during the Q&A portion of the event. Dr. Tuttle will also be selling copies of The World Peace Diet and his latest book, Circles of Compassion, for $20 (cash / check / credit card accepted).

Venue: Wesley Foundation (WMU Campus) 820 Rankin Ave., Kalamazoo, MI

RSVP requested in advance on our Meetup page. As always, at Vegan Kalamazoo events, everyone is welcome, including vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores.

Speaker Bio: Dr. Will Tuttle, visionary educator and inspirational speaker and musician, has lectured and performed widely throughout North America and worldwide. His doctoral degree from the University of California, Berkeley, focused on educating intuition and altruism, and he has taught college courses in creativity, mythology, religion, and philosophy. A recipient of the Courage of Conscience Award and the Empty Cages Prize, he is a Dharma Master in the Zen tradition. Devoted to cultural healing and awakening, he is author of the international best-seller, The World Peace Diet, published in 16 languages, and is editor of Circles of Compassion. Creator of 7 much-loved CD albums of original piano music, he’s noted for clear and inspiring presentations that often include his music as well as evocative animal paintings by his spouse, Madeleine, a visionary artist from Switzerland. See www.worldpeacediet.com for more details.

Eating Vegan On Vacation!

It’s getting easier and easier to eat vegan while on vacation. A couple of years back, my partner and I found a vegan cafe in REALLY rural Colorado, for example; and last year (wonder of wonders!) we found an amazing all-vegan ramen restaurant right smack in the main Tokyo train station. (Only problem was that the lines were always long!)

Here are some suggestions for finding vegan food on your travels:

  • Use Google. Specifically, search on: “vegan DESTINATION NAME.” Typically some restaurants will pop up, but also many times you’ll get the name of the local veg club or Meetup. That organization will often post an up-to-date list of local vegan-friendly restaurants and shops, like this one! :-), or you can email them for more info.
  • Use Happycow and VegGuide, which are like vegan versions of Yelp, and very comprehensive.
  • Trip Advisor offers reviews of lots of vegan-friendly restaurants, B&Bs, and inns.
  • Ethnic restaurants, including Lebanese / Mediterranean, Chinese, Indian, and Thai ones, typically have loads of great vegan options.
  • For a faster meal, Chipotle, Blaze Pizza, Native Foods, and Tropical Smoothie Cafe all have terrific vegan options.
  • For “emergencies,” bring along some peanut butter, hummus, or Kind bars (only the “pressed” bars marked vegan are vegan). Also, my partner and I carry shelf-stable “juice boxes” of soy milk for coffee, cereal, etc.–although we always ask for soy milk, etc., to let the restaurant or store know that there is a demand.

If you have any comments or other suggestions, please leave them on our Facebook group page!

Summer Is For Grillin’ And Chillin’… Vegan Style!

Summer is for grillin’ and chillin’…and don’t forget: when you grill Vegan Style you get all the great flavor with none of the cholesterol and saturated fat!

And you also get none of the heterocyclic amines (HCAs), chemicals that result when you cook meat at high temperatures, and that the National Cancer Institute says cause cancer.

Here are some great links on vegan BBQing:

  • Many great how-to’s for grilling veggies
  • How to grill your proteins (tofu, seitan, tempe)
  • 10 great grilling recipes!
  • 23 more recipes plus some vegan pride!

Eating healthily is soooo complicated—or is it?

You can focus on Dr. Fuhrman’s GBOMBS: Greens, Beans, Onions, Mushrooms, Berries, and Seeds. (Dr. Fuhrman is author of the bestselling Eat to Live and other excellent diet/health books.)

GBOMBAnd check out the Environmental Working Group‘s lists of Clean 15 and Dirty 12:

Clean 15 – Foods that tend to be relatively free of pesticides, so you don’t have to buy organic.

Dirty 12 – Foods that tend to be heavily treated with pesticides, so try to buy organic.

You’re done!

Okay, there’s a bit more to it than that—but maybe not too much if you’re vegan.

Remember: Vegan Kalamazoo is here to help! This summer we’ll be doing a lot of tabling, so stop by and see us at…

  • The Kalamazoo Dog Walk – This Saturday May 7
  • Kalamazoo Farmers’ Market – Third Saturday of the month, May – August
  • Portage Farmers’ Market – Fourth Sunday of the month, May – August
  • Kalamazoo PRIDE – June 9-10

We’ll be happy to answer your questions. (And if you’d like to help table, that would be great! Tabling is fun and you don’t have to be an expert. Email me if you’d like to do it.)

You’ll also meet many friendly, fun, and helpful vegans at our informal Living Vegan Social Club get-togethers:

  • Saturday May 14, 10 – noon @ Fourth Coast Cafe (Westnedge)
  • Monday, May 23, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. @ Tropical Smoothie Cafe (West Main)

Remember—everyone, including vegans, vegetarians, and the veg-curious, is always welcome at all Vegan Kalamazoo events. All events are free except for cost of food, movie, etc. (An optional “love donation” to help defray expenses is appreciated.)

More info / RSVP on all events on our Meetup page (preferred) and Facebook page. (We’re also sharing lots of recipes and other fun stuff on Facebook!)

See you healthily this summer!

Five Ways To Go Invisibly Vegan

Here’s to a healthier, kinder, and more environmentally sustainable future! Okay, let’s not talk about bacon or cheese. Let’s talk about chili, stir fries, and muffins. Below are five ridiculously easy things you can do to invisibly veganize your cuisine. By invisible I mean that, in a blind taste test, you wouldn’t know the dish is vegan.

1. Join Harvard, 7-Eleven, and many others and dump the mayonnaise: use Hampton Creek’s vegan Just Mayo instead. Winner of a Serious Eats blind taste test, it’s clearly freaking out Big Mayo (a.k.a., Unilever, maker of Hellmann’s/Best Foods), which stupidly sued teeny weeny Hampton Creek to try to force them to change the name—a move that epically backfired.

2. Replace eggs in baking and cooking with apple sauce, flax seeds, a banana, or one of these. If you want a twofer, also swap in nondairy milk for the dairy. And by the way, pancakes and waffles work just fine sans eggs—you don’t even need a substitute. (Add some nuts or vegan protein powder for more oomph.)

Hillary's Freezer!

Hillary’s Freezer!

3. Try meat substitutes. Seriously, the new generation, like Gardein and Beyond Meat, is amazing: great taste, texture, and appearance; also, not too much salt and relatively straightforward ingredients. They are often soy- and gluten-free. The Clever Housewife did a blind taste test of Beyond Beefy Crumbles with her family and neither spousal unit nor child units noticed; and Bill Gates invested in Beyond Meat after he couldn’t tell the difference between the company’s chicken product and real chicken.

Most supermarkets now carry these products, so…check out our freezer! At the end of a busy day we pop one of these babies into a stir fry, chili, casserole, or sauce with a bunch of veggies, and we are there. Here’s a giant page of meat (and other) substitutes.

4. Swap out the superfluous. Many breads, snacks, condiments, and other packaged foods contain superfluous dairy or egg. Check out PETA’s ginormous list of “accidentally vegan” foods to see if there’s a swap you can make.

5. OMG, TRY THE DESSERTS. Vegan. Desserts. Rock. You get all the sweetness and flavor, with less grease and weight (and calories, cholesterol, etc.) That means you can eat more of them! Check out the vegan dessert page of Chloe Coscarelli, winner of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars; and non-bakers should know that you can buy premade vegan desserts at many supermarket bakeries. Also, there’s a lot of fabulous nondairy ice cream out there. My favorite brand is Coconut Bliss, and of course we’re all waiting to see what Ben & Jerry’s does with their new vegan line.

For more ideas, check out one of the bazillions of vegan cookbooks out there, or Google “vegan _____,” filling in the name of your favorite ingredient or dish. You will probably find some surprising equivalents. I once randomly (ahem) searched for “vegan Tootsie Rolls” and found that they exist in the form of TruJoy Choco chews. In the service of my cause (ahem), I did a taste test and found them to be good and true.