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Going vegetarian (or vegan)

There are many books and articles on the topic and lots of opinions. I remember going to a vegan restaurant, excited that I could eat anything on the menu, and the cashier pegged me as a newbie. I told him I’d been a vegetarian for over 30 years* and rendered him speechless. And then he admitted he’d been a vegan for less than a year.

(*Can we not quibble about the actual number? He didn’t need to know.)

It’s easier now than it used to be, but change is hard. I’m not advocating. People need to make their own choices. But if you are interested, here are a few things to know.

What do you eat?

Well, everything. Anything I want. I eat the vegan version.

My mom and I talked about this recently. It’s amazing how many times we’ve been asked this question. Then she and I proceeded to talk about our favorite vegan foods for 30 minutes. No one needs to feel sorry for us.

Follow Tabitha Brown 

What makes a dish taste a certain way often has more to do with the sauce and the spices. And Tabitha Brown freed my spice drawer. She’s an incredible cook, a vegan and her recipes are amazing. I just watched her make vegan crab salad. Before TB, I was too tentative with the spices. I measured everything. I was afraid to deviate. I didn’t trust myself. Now thanks to the inimitable Aunt Tab, “I do what I want because that’s my business.” 🙂

Vegan swaps

Make a vegan swap in a favorite recipe.

Pro tip: Google “vegan alternative to _______” and you’ll be off and running.

Try premade vegan options

These are packaged foods and should be eaten in moderation.

  • Just Egg (the folded style is my favorite)

  • Beyond Meat breakfast sausage

  • Chao macaroni and cheese

  • Boca Veggie Burgers and Chik’n Veggie Patties

Roast your vegetables in the oven

  • Clean and cut veggies

  • Toss with olive oil

  • Season with your favorite spices

  • Spread them on a baking sheet in a single layer

  • Bake at 375℉

  • You’ll need to experiment with cook times and remember that hard veggies (carrots, potatoes) take longer to cook

You don’t need to impress anyone. Do what works for you. Experiment. Be open to new flavors. Try one new recipe per week or even per month.

If you are Autistic and sensitive to textures, smells or changes to your routine, start very small. If you like mac and cheese, try a vegan version. Or try vegan coffee creamer. It helps to research vegan swaps and read reviews. Recipe reviewers often mention texture, and this might help you decide to go for it or stay away. I also found a few articles featuring Autistic chefs that said that learning to cook helped them overcome food and texture aversion.