Hi - when I started, I used "How it all Vegan" - that has easy to find ingredients. Then I heard of The Kind Life - and that is the BEST book for learning all about being a vegan. You MUST read that if you haven't :) It has ingredients that at first I had never heard of but I was determined to slowly find them and build up my pantry. That book has changed my life. "A Hip Chick's Guide to Macrobiotics" is another compliment to TKL. "Color Me Vegan" is a fun easy to find ingredient one.
"The Vegan Table" by Colleen Patrick Goudreau is a favorite among my non-vegan friends, and I think it is pretty user-friendly. There are a few recipes that call for specialty items but not many. Hope this helps!
In terms of making the transition easier, first, give yourself a break! It's hard to go vegan overnight when you are used to eating meat! Just realize that every time you make another delicious vegan meal, it's a step in your intended direction, but don't beat yourself up if you stray because guilt never got anyone anywhere! : ). That said, make sure to have easy snacks on hand, because when you are out and about, the last thing you want to feel is famished! I make a bean dip (Alicia has a recipe for hummus on the site right now) and dip raw veggies (such as carrots, kale or cucumbers) or crackers in it. Next, a mixed bag of dried fruit and nuts are always good. A piece of fresh fruit and some almond or organic peanut butter is also great. Granola is another option. There are tons of great snacks out there, but those are the ones I eat most often. Start experimenting with whole grains and different types of beans. Try canned beans first if you have the money, just to get you used to eating them. Soups are another great option. A bean soup, salad and a piece of bread are a filling vegan meal. And for a while, you could experiment with vegan "meats." Field Roast makes good ones. Pick up a great vegan cookbook and just start cooking! Beans, nuts, nutbutters, seeds and whole grains such as quinoa are the most filling of vegan foods. Add veggies for some extra bulk and nutrition. You can do this!
Give it time. My transition from vegetarian to vegan came after reading The Kind Diet. It just made the difference with me. There are many great blogs and cookbooks to get great, simple recipes. One of my favorite cookbooks is Vegan Yum Yum. Lots of great pictures and most recipes are not too complicated and very delicious. Try going on vegan mofo blog roll 2010, a site that kicks off once a year and vegan bloggers sign up by the hundreds with links to each vegan blog. Here is the link: http://veganmofo.wordpress.com/blog-roll-2010/ You will find tons of vegan blogs with more recipes than you know what to do with. (I'm on there too- the raw cooked vegan).
Appetite for Reduction is an amazing cookbook, and super easy recipes, too! It is based entirely around whole foods, and foods that are readily available in any grocery store, big or small. I'd definitely check it out!
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