When you become a vegetarian or vegan it takes a bit of time to adjust to. Believe me, most cuisine is not geared towards us veggie eaters. Having patience is essential, as is knowledge of this new lifestyle. I spent a few years being a flexitarian, then became a pesca-vegetarian, and now I’m a Chinese-vegetarian (I consume milk products and don’t eat onion/garlic). I’m sure veganism is next.
What I’m trying to illustrate is that making a lifestyle change takes time, and doing it slowly might be the best way to ensures it sticks. Its not just adapting, but educating yourself on alternatives, as well as what works and doesn’t work for you. The following are some of the tips I’ve discovered:
Ethnic Supermarkets are Your Friend
Many of us bicultural Latinos have the advantage of being really adventurous when it comes to food, which we should use that to our advantage. Why not venture to the ethnic supermarkets in your area. They have ingredients not found in chain supermarkets, and “fresh” items are super economical. For example, I go to a Chinese vegetarian supermarket where I buy all my faux meats. I also go to Indian supermarkets for my fresh herbs and vegetables, and a Russian supermarket for pickeled goods. Your mouth and wallet will be very happy. Of course, the type of ethnic markets are going to vary in each location, but make an effort to find out which ones are in your hood.
Okay, I know some of you might be mad that I posted Costco but hear me out. When certain fruits and veggies are in season, you’ll find them at Costco. Not only is the quality great (Costco has very stringent standards on who they carry), but there is less wait between the producer and your table, and they end up lasting longer. For example, currently Florida strawberries are in season. A huge packet was only $4.00 – enough for 5 breakfast smoothies 🙂 I also buy my nuts and cheese there. (An entire block of good Vermont Cheddar is around $10)
I mean the cool, futuristic rice cookers. Not the ones with a glass top that most Latinos grow up with. Why you ask? Well, because you can make a huge pot of rice and leave it on for days. Seriously. This means that there is a hot, steaming bowl of rice waiting for you. If you are too scared to leave it on, then just keep a container in the fridge and nuke it. I’ve gotten all sorts of diverse, delicious rices from those ethnic supermarkets
Carry a Baggie of Food
I get so tired of eating the same food, I now bring a bag of goodies that will either tie me over until I find good grub, or greatly enhance what I order. Trail mix, for example, will make any salad more appetizing. Granola bars are manna from heaven. Instant miso is great for work. Just make sure to find those snacks that satisfy you, and buy yourself a little bag to keep them in. You’ll be surprised how much money you will save in the process
If you have any tips, please share them with our community. We need to support each other – being a vegetarian/vegan is hard enough as it is in today’s world 🙂 And remember, take it one day at a time.