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How to eat meat free

If learning about the environmental effects of factory farming has left you wondering how you can make dietary changes that will benefit the planet, we are here to help! Eliminating animal products from your diet is easier than ever before. Check out the information below and begin your journey knowing that you will be making a positive impact on your health, the health of our planet and the lives farm animals.

One Step at a Time

Some people go veg all at once while others take it one step at a time. An incremental approach is fine and any reductions in animal products are important. The first steps may seem to be the hardest, but most people will tell you that the transformation was rewarding and not as difficult as they feared. Remember, each step along the way means less green house gas emissions, less water used and less air pollution.

A Taste for Compassion

While many people who are interested in eating in an environmentally friendly way find experimenting with new foods to be an exciting way to break out of a repetitive culinary rut, some worry that the kitchen will become an alien landscape. Fear not! Meatless meals can suit any number of tastes. If you like, your favorite dinners can look, smell and taste much the same as they did before. With the growing number of mock meats and other specialty products on the market, you can still experience all the flavors and textures you've grown to love without the saturated fat, cholesterol and environmental destruction associated with meat, dairy and eggs.

Embracing New Habits

Raising chickens for egg production and cattle for dairy consumption unfortunately causes the same negative effects as raising animals for meat production, but it is possible to eliminate these products from your diet. For some people, this can initially be a challenge. Present in so many foods and introduced to us at a young age, high-fat dairy foods and cholesterol-laden eggs can be difficult habits to break. But even these addictive products can be purged from your diet in phases. Start making the switch by replacing dairy milk with soymilk or rice milk, and move on to replace cheese and other products with non-dairy alternatives from there.

Similarly, you can begin to drop eggs from your diet by avoiding using them as a main ingredient as in omelets or quiche. Then begin to substitute eggs with egg replacers in baked goods and batters. While you may not find all vegan dairy and egg substitutes to your liking, you are sure to discover some new favorites. Just keep experimenting with different brands and recipes until you find the ones that work for you. You're diet will be egg- and dairy-free before you know it!

Abundance, Not Deprivation

Many people have discovered that reducing or eliminating animal products from their diets has opened their eyes to a whole new world of foods they didn't even know existed before. There really is an abundance of foods available to satisfy a variety of tastes. Experiment with ethnic foods, try a new vegetarian recipe every week and check out area vegetarian restaurants. In no time at all you might realize that your diet is more diverse and plentiful than it was before.

Ask for Help

Nobody is perfect, so don't be afraid to ask for help or advice if you need it. There are plenty of cookbooks, blogs and websites to aid compassionate people as they change their diets. Health food store proprietors and vegan food manufacturers are great sources for vegan product information and are happy to offer advice and recipe ideas or ask us veg@farmsanctuary.org.

Check out the recipes below to begin your journey.

Additionally, there are many online veg recipe site, including vegweb.org. Remember, each animal free meal you consume, is benefiting our planet!

Breakfast Tofu Scramble

1 teaspoon olive oil or canola oil
1/4 cup grated carrot
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 pound fat-reduced regular tofu (firm), rinsed, patted dry and crumbled
1 or 2 teaspoons Red Star Vegetarian Support
Formula (T6635+) nutritional yeast flakes
Salt or your favorite seasoned salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1 Tablespoon minced fresh parsley (optional)

1. Heat the oil in a 9-inch or 10- inch skillet over medium-high. When the oil is hot, add the carrot, scallions, and turmeric, and saute the vegetables for 2 minutes.
2. Add the tofu, yeast flakes, and seasoning, to taste. Mix well, and continue to cook over medium, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes or until hot.
3. Stir in the parsley, if using, and mix well. Serve at once.
Nutritional Yeast: This inactive yeast is rich in minerals and vitamins and lends a "cheesy" flavor to soups, pasta dishes, gravy, and vegetables.

Stick-To-Your-Ribs Chili

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 ripe, medium tomatoes, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 15-ounce can red kidney beans, pinto beans or black beans (about 1 1/2 cups, rinsed well and drained
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce (1 cup), or 1/3 cup tomato paste mixed with 2/3 cup water
1 cup water
1/3 cup bulgur (medium ground)
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 Tablespoon sweetener of your choice
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice or cinnamon
Pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste
salt, to taste

1. Place the olive oil in a 4 1/2-quart saucepan or Dutch oven, and heat it over medium-high. When the oil is hot, add the onion, celery and garlic. Reduce the heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the onion is tender.
2. When the onion is tender, stir in the remaining ingredients except the salt, and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the saucepan with a lid, and simmer the chili for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Season the chili with salt, to taste. Serve hot.
Bulgur Wheat: This quick-cooking form of whole wheat contains beneficial fiber, protein, vitamin E and several important minerals. Often used in Mediterranean dishes, bulgur is best known as the main ingredient in tabbouleh salad.

Seitan & Mushroom Stroganoff

2 Tablespoons cornstarch
3 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/3 cups vegetable broth or water
1/2 teaspoon garlic granules
2 Tablespoons tahini
2 teaspoons canola oil or olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced onion
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
4 cups sliced fresh mushrooms
2 cups thinly sliced seitan strips
ground black pepper, to taste

1. For the gravy, place the cornstarch and soy sauce in a 2-quart saucepan, and stir them together well to make a thin, smooth paste. Gradually whisk in the vegetable broth or water and garlic granules. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat, and cook the gravy, stirring constantly with a wire whisk, until it thickens and comes to a boil. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and beat in the tahini using the wire whisk. Cover the saucepan with a lid, and set it aside.
2. Place the oil in a large skillet, and heat it over medium-high. When the oil is hot, add the onion and garlic, and saute for 10 minutes.
3. Add the mushrooms to the onion in the skillet, and cook, stirring often, for 5 to 7 minutes longer.
4. Stir the seitan strips and the reserved gravy (from step #1) into the onion and mushrooms in the skillet. Reduce the heat to low, and cook, stirring often, about 5 to 10 minutes, just until the seitan is heated through.
5. Season the stroganoff with ground black pepper, to taste. Serve at once over rice or egg-free wide noodles. Seitan/wheat meat: Pronounced "say-TAN," this wheat gluten protein product has a wide range of mock meat applications, and works especially well as a stand-in for beef.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Creme Pie

1 pre-made vegan piecrust
1 cup peanut butter Filling
2 boxes silken tofu
12 ounces non-dairy chocolate chips
3 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Place silken tofu into a food processor and blend until smooth.
2. Melt chocolate chips in a double-boiler.
3. Add melted chocolate chips to tofu and stir to combine.
4. Add maple syrup and vanilla extract and stir until blended.
5. Spread the peanut butter in the bottom of the pie shell.
6. Top with the chocolate tofu mixture.
7. Chill pie until ready to serve.

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