Happy Monday friends. It feels so good to be back home after traveling for over a week. I’m really excited for today’s post because it’s about a topic that a lot of us have been discussing on Instagram Stories and through direct message over the past few weeks (and because I am doing a massive giveaway at the bottom of this post). As many of you probably know I am trying to incorporate more plant based meals into our diet. Since I am useless in this area, I sat down with my friend Krista Goddard, a vegan chef based in Newport, to chat about going vegan and her tips for eating a plant based diet. She also showed me how to cook some awesome vegan recipes and trust me when I say they are SO good (stay tuned for those recipes next week).
**About that giveaway, I teamed up with a few of my favorite bloggers from coast-to-coast to give our readers a chance to win $1000 for a fall shopping spree. Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the post to enter.

J: What prompted you to go vegan?

K: I read the book Skinny Bitch. I didn’t know a lot about veganism but I basically decided once I read the book to go vegan. I had an easier time than I think a lot of people do because I already ate pretty healthy. I went cold turkey.

J: What was the biggest challenge for you going vegan?

K: I had to learn how to cook all over again, but I also discovered I love to cook in the process. I knew it was important to be creative so I didn’t get bored with the food I was making. I started out making the vegan version of meals I would normally eat. Vegan lasagna or a stir fry just substituting tempeh instead of chicken.

J: What does it mean to be vegan?

K: Vegan means absolutely no animal products. No eggs, no dairy, no fish, no meat. Most vegans don’t even eat honey. I’m a little bit more lenient. You have to make it work for you.

J: What are your tips for someone that wants to try going vegan?

K: Vegan products have become a lot more accessible so you can find substitutes for everything. It’s all about the mindset, you can make anything vegan. After a while you just don’t miss what you thought you would.

J: What’s your favorite vegan dish?

K: I love making different vegan pasta dishes and casseroles. Big dishes with grains, veggies and a good sauce.

J: What does your business Vega Table specialize in?

K: I do meal planning, grocery shopping, cooking (and clean up) in your home. For example if someone is having an intimate dinner party or a family dinner I can go in and cook the meal. I also specialize in weekly meal prep, so you can go into your fridge and grab breakfast or lunch and it’s ready to go.

J: Any other tips or things to consider when going vegan?

K: Always read labels, you wouldn’t believe how many things have dairy and eggs in them where you wouldn’t expect.

J: Do you have any favorite apps?

K: Is it vegan is a good one. You can scan a product and it will tell you if its vegan. Healthy living helps determine toxicity of products (food, household, beauty), Happy Cow  shows you vegan restaurants nearby.

J: What about books/cookbooks?

K: Skinny BitchHow Not to Die, Oh She Glows

J: What’s your grocery shopping strategy and the key staples to keep in your pantry and fridge if you’re going vegan or trying to eat plant based? 

K: I always plan out my meals ahead of time so I know what I need before I go the grocery store. It takes a little while (and some investment) in the beginning to build up your cabinets with spices and other essentials but they last a long time.

Pantry

Coconut oil & EVOO
Quinoa & Brown rice
Flax & Chia seeds (protein shakes, salad toppings, egg substitute)
Hemp seed (toppings, extra added protein)
A variety of beans (black, garbanzo, pinto)
Canned tomatoes (for sauces)
Peanut butter and almond butter
Tahini (great for sauces)
Cashews (unroasted, unsalted for versatility)
Nutritional yeast
Apple cider vinegar

Fridge

Tamari (gluten free soy sauce, asian dishes and sauces)
Fresh garlic
Lemons (great for sauces and dressings)
Better than bouillon (vegetable base- great for stocks)
Spinach & Kale
Broccoli, Carrots, Onions
Frozen corn and peas
Almond milk & hemp milk

Kitchen Gadgets

Food processor
Immersion blender
Lemon press
Electric can opener (not a necessity but incredibly helpful in the kitchen)
A few cutting boards of varying size
Sharp knives

A huge thank you to Krista for coming over and sharing some of her amazing vegan recipes. I can’t wait to share them with all of you over the next few weeks. If you have any requests for recipes or questions please let us know in the comments!