I’ve been a vegan for around two years now. Within this time span, I have expended much energy trying to emulate the likes of Caitlin Shoemaker and Jasmine Briones, vegan chef extraordinaires who concoct dishes that look nothing short of amazing.
Pre-blogging career, I experimented with YouTube (you’ve gotta fall before you fly, right!?) and convinced myself and the ten viewers I had that I was a wizard in the kitchen. I worked my butt off to replicate recipes and went even further to attempt and create my own recipes.
It took a dramatic failure with an attempted microwave mugcake for me to come to my senses. I realized I was playing into a stereotype I didn’t even fulfill!
You absolutely do not have to be a master chef or even a mediocre cook in order to be vegan!
A plant-based diet doesn’t have to be as fancy as it sounds. A whole food, plant-based diet itself is grounded in simplicity—eating food in its most natural and whole form.
So to the prospective vegans who are hesitant to adopt this lifestyle—fret not! Here are a few tips to help you begin this journey.
Tips for the Inept Vegan Chef
Learn the Most Basic of the Basics
Knowing just a bit about cooking and preparation methods will undoubtedly come in handy throughout your life. You should acquaint yourself to the following processes and methods:
- Cutting, dicing, and mincing veggies (onion, garlic, and beyond)
- Steaming Veggies
- Preparing Grains (rice, quinoa, etc.)
Rack Up Your Spice Rack
I love changing up my regular dishes by trying out new spices and herbs; they can completely change the flavor profile of a dish! On top of that, there are so many different health benefits to the multitude of spices and herbs.
I recommend starting a Pinterest board for go-to recipe inspiration. Even if you don’t like to follow recipes exactly, you can regularly refer to this board to give you inspiration and get you going in the right direction with your dishes.
Everyone has at least one go-to meal. For a while, mine was cereal, though I recently realized that it might not be the most balanced meal. Find what your staple go-to meals are and know how to whip them up. My current go-to meals include chili, baked potatoes and beans, and vegan waffles with nut butter and banana! I know others often turn to pasta with marinara sauce, stir-frys, sandwiches, wraps, and burritos.
Meal prepping is a great money-saving and health-promoting strategy for anyone constantly on the move. It sounds daunting, but it really can be quite easy!
My Meal Prepping Strategy:
- Batch cook a sufficient quantity of grains to put in your daily meals.
- Cut up some veggies to mix and match throughout the week.
- Prepare at least two sources of protein that will go with most cuisines. I usually make a bean dish and some kind of tofu dish with flavor profiles that taste good with pretty much all other veggies and grains.
- Have tons of greens on hand. Greens and a grain are always the base of my nourish bowls—meaning I consume a LOT of both!
- Store your prepared ingredients or meal components in glass containers and you can mix and match what you are craving for each day of the week.
If you need a little meal planning guidance, you can get plant-based on a budget meal plans here.
Some very handy gadgets that are perfect for us “non-chefs.” These tools allow us to just toss in some ingredients and come back to a fully cooked meal!
Did you know rice cookers are literally miracle workers!? Here’s SOME of what they can do:
- Cook rice (of course)
- Cook Beans
- Steam Veggies
- Make Soup and Stews
- Make Hummus
- Cook Tofu
- Make Cake
- Make Banana Bread
Pressure cookers like the widely coveted Instant Pot are another great option that can take the place of a rice cooker. You can use a pressure cooker to cook rice, beans, lentils, soups, stews, and beyond faster than ever. It’s a great time-saver!
One of the easiest ways to make soup is to blend a bunch of veggies and some broth together in a blender and then warm it up over the stove (or even in the microwave)—so easy!
You can also use a blender to make a ton of sauces for your nourish bowls. Blending an avocado, some lemon juice, and tahini makes a perfect dressing packed with healthy fats!
I hope this motivated individuals who, like me, like to just throw things in a pot and call it a day. You can adopt a plant-based lifestyle even if your cooking experience is limited to toasting bread and slabbing some peanut butter on it.