So you’ve decided to go vegan. You’ve decided to ditch double deep fried grilled cheese and triple beef patty bacon burgers in favor of animal-free pastures in pursuit of lightening up, boosting energy, and doing your part to reduce the possibility of diseases like diabetes and cancer.
Maybe you watched the woke Netflix documentary What The Health and were inspired by the benefits correlated to trashing animal byproducts. Or maybe it’s the ecological perks that led you here, which suggest going vegan is better for the environment than buying a hybrid car or foregoing a shower for six months. The Vegan Society suggests that meat production (yes, even fish) places immense burdens on the planet, including grain and water depletion, habitat loss, and deforestation. However, a plant-based diet takes only a third of the land needed to support a meat and dairy diet, making it the most sustainable diet for the future of our expanding world.
Yes, many believe in the term “ethical meat,” but I’ll leave the semantics of this up to you. And if you’re a Paleo bro here to pick a fight over cavemen, go elsewhere, since this list is for dudes looking to test out a new meal plan.
Whether it’s the prevention of animal exploitation, a push to eat more fiber, or simply a fun dietary experiment (everyone’s body responds differently to certain food), it’s time to restock your fridge and closet with the most delicious, mindful vegan essentials that will get you through the “I-miss-cheese” stage and have you potentially feeling and looking better than ever.
The biggest change a person will make when going vegan is in their diet. As veganism has risen in popularity across the glove, tons of companies have begun creating vegan substitutes for just about anything. Here are some of the best to get you ready to cross over.
Burger: Beyond Meat
In your pursuit to swap ground beef, turkey, chicken, and fish with meatless meats, you’ll taste your fair share of flavorless, textureless substitutes. It’s fun to try out different brands, but they’re costly, especially if you end up trashing most. The best vegan hamburger and meat substitute we’ve found is made by Beyond Meat. (There’s a reason this brand is being backed by Leonardo DiCaprio.)
These plant-based burger patties come in a lookalike ground beef container, pack 20 grams of plant protein per serving, and contain no soy, gluten, or GMOs. Splash some oil in a pan on medium-high heat and let them char for three minutes on each side (inside temp at or above 165 degrees Fahrenheit). These patties not only look like real burgers but maintain the charred texture and taste on the outside. Plus, they have more iron, less fat, are hormone-free, antibiotic-free, and contain zero cholesterol. Secretly make one for your meat-head friend and watch as they have no clue they’re eating plant instead of cow.
Bless the vegan gods for Daiya, a plant-based, dairy-free food company that is killing the cheese, cream cheese, and cheesecake game. Daiya’s faux cheese is the definition of ooey-gooey delicious (I made mac and cheese with a pack of their shredded cheddar). You can also buy a block to cut into squares for cheese and crackers. Don’t worry about allergies, because Daiya is free of dairy, gluten, soy, eggs, peanuts, fish, and shellfish. They even make oven pizzas, Greek yogurt, and dressings. Mark our words, one of the most difficult items to cut while going vegan is cheese. So get some freakin’ Daiya, and fast.
Coffee creamer: Ripple
Ripple creamer goes through a similar process as your average heavy cream and responds identically in your cup of coffee (meaning no gross curdling as is common with soy, hemp, or almond milks). These guys blend yellow peas with water and sunflower oil, lightly sweeten it with cane sugar, then add vitamin D and other nutrients before homogenization and sterilization. Free of soy, lactose, dairy, gluten, GMOs, and carrageenans (a thickening additive extracted from seaweed used in ice creams, yogurts, and other dairy), Ripple is packed with protein, calcium, and other essential nutrients. It also makes your coffee that perfect natural oak color.
Protein shakes: Evolve
Keep your pump going strong as your flip your diet with Evolve protein drinks and powders. You’d be surprised 1) how much more sustained energy you have at the bar with a vegan diet, and 2) by how many workout protein supplements contain dairy — but not this bad boy. Made with only clean, simple, non-GMO ingredients, Evolve shakes make use of pea protein (which uses fewer resources and requires less fertilizer while returning nitrogen to the soil, making it more fertile and beneficial to whatever is planted next). Owned by CytoSport, the same company that created Muscle Milk, our plant-fueled bodies have dug the taste and recovery benefits of Evolve’s 20-gram-protein, 10-gram-fiber vanilla, chocolate, mocha, and toasted almost shakes. *Flexes in the mirror.*
The other part of going vegan is changing what you use and wear on a daily basis (goodbye, leather). If you’re planning to go fully vegan, then the accessories below are stylish and useful ways to swap out item you might already have.
Bags and Footwear: Matt & Nat
A vegan bag company founded under the principle to honor social responsibility, excellence, inclusiveness, integrity, learning, and authenticity, Matt & Nat have forged a huge line of high-quality, luxury non-leather briefcases and messengers that use zero animal-based materials and are sustainable and eco-friendly — plus they’re sharp as hell. Case in point: the Harman black briefcase from their Unify Dwell Collection. Not only is it vegan, but the lining is made from 100 percent recycled plastic bottles.
Since you’re getting back to the natural way of eating, why not connect with the earth even more and slip into the minimalist, vegan Gobi II Swimrun shoes by Vivobarefoot. Made with vegan Eco Canvas, this shoe is deceptively inclined to adventuring, although it gives the aesthetic of a smart street-shoe. The weather-tight material keeps your feet dry in this vegan, high-design shoe made specifically for winter weather. The sole is hyper-thin yet durable. Even if these weren’t vegan, we’d want a pair. Win-win.
Condoms: Sir Richard’s
Yes, a condom can be vegan. That’s because the strict definition of vegan means a product that is free of animal byproduct and has not been tested on animals. Most latex condoms, according to the Sir Richard’s brand, contain casein, a milk protein commonly used in processed foods. A popular alternative to latex is lambskin (aka sheep intestine condoms), which obviously isn’t vegan. Sir Richard’s, although being made of latex, has gone through the steps to verify all their condoms as vegan-certified and PETA-approved.
Article originally published October 23, 2017. Last updated by Sam Slaughter on February 27, 2019.