I'd check out Vegetarian Resource Group (VRG) online and read their FAQ. It's been really helpful for me. They even have a section on "Questions about Food Ingredients" which addresses hidden ingredients in vegetarian food in a more detailed manner. But I was a lacto-ovo vegetarian for a few years before going vegan, and I think one of the main things you can look out for is gelatin, especially in candy, marshmallows, etc. and in pill capsules. You can sometimes find the same supplements in non-gel form or look for different vitamins etc. where the capsules are listed as vegetarian. For example, I take a vegan vitamin D2 supplement in vegetarian capsules (it's vegan as well, it's just meant to show that they're not made with gelatin).
Some vegetarians also avoid rennet in cheese (I'm not as familiar with this though, especially since I no longer eat dairy, but you can find more details on the Vegetarian Resource Group webpage). And hmm... let's see, I remember being shocked to find beef stock in items you wouldn't normally expect. I think Campbell's vegetable soup uses beef stock, so you have to buy their vegetarian vegetable soup version. And in the US, I think some fast food restaurants such as McDonalds use beef stock in their french fries (not that McDonalds is very vegetarian-friendly to begin with). But yeah, those are a few things you can look out for.
As for vegan items on a budget, here is a list from TryVeg:
Plan your meals in advance: It might sound time consuming, but it can be as simple as jotting down dinner ideas a few days ahead. Make lists of things to buy for the week (or month!). This can save you time and money!
Pack a lunch: Don't be tempted to eat out everyday.
Buy in the bulk sections of grocery stores: You can often buy bulk pasta, rice, dehydrated meals, spices and beans. These items are usually cheaper than buying them pre-packaged, and you can get as little or as much as you need.
Use a crock-pot: Soak dry beans overnight; cook them in the crock-pot while out for the day.
You could also pick up a few vegan cookbooks if you wanted An even more cost effective way is finding recipes on some of the vegan blogs online. And there's free vegetarian starter kits that you can order that come with a lot of information that you might find helpful. Anyway, I hope this at least addresses some of your questions. Take care!
The Following User Says Thank You to taskavoidance For This Useful Post: MsTeaTime (01-25-2012)
Does anyone has any advice on how to purchase a variety of vegan-safe foods on a low budget? Something other than chick peas, spinach and potatoes. and as always...legumes.
Being on a vegan diet doesn't automatically translate to healthfulness. A vegan diet can be high in sodium from eating a soy-burger or other such processed foods. It can be high in unhealthy corn-oil fat by frying potatoes or other vegetables. It can be high in refined sugar by eating candy and other treats.
The main thing that would make a vegan diet healthy is by sticking to all natural whole foods like fresh fruit, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains and healthy oils etc..
Being a vegetarian is so tricky, I am one but now I don't see the point anymore because so much stuff you'd never expect contains animal. I will never eat pure meat again, like a steak or burger or chicken since it's always grossed me out, but there's so many ingredients in everything that have some bit of animal. I buy non animal rennet cheese slices and tilamook cheeses, but other things I buy or anything usually I'm sure have animal in them. I don't eat gelatin, but there's still so much more vegetarians always miss. Maybe be a vegan and then you won't have to worry?
I've been a vegetarian for 24 years, a Vegan now for life. It is all about your pallet, when I was a meateater (besides my health was incrediably bad, prediabetic, TChol 360!) at that time I hated the taste of 'healthy food', but over time I LOVE it! It takes slowly changing your pallet. I had about 6 different meals when I ate meat, you know, meat loaf, porkchops, fried chicken, hamburgers, spegitti(sp), burritos. Now that you are a vegetarian, you need to design 6-8 yummy meals for yourself that you like and can trade around like you did meat. Once you get good at this it all comes quite easy. I actually now have 3 times the meals choices that I did before, there is a whole world of foods and dishes to explore once you get away from the standard boring meateater 6!
I also found that if I stay away from processed foods the best I can (soy burgers are yummy but they aren't very healthy, but they may help you as you switch over, than drop them!). Find a veggie club in your town, most have them, your animal shelter should be able to tell you of at least one, or Google it! Start to hang out with 'like minded' people, you will find compassionate people are more stable, haha.
I also found that initially I ate one item meals, beans, or a big bowl of whatever. I was always hungry. Then a fellow vegan friend told me to always count out at least 5 veggie items in each dish, omg, that worked. I lost my big appetite, lost 25 pounds! My TChol is now 145, no diabetis, B/P now normal, shiney hair even though I eat about 35 grams of veggie protein a day my protein levels are normal and I do look better and younger than my meateating counterparts. There is so much science out there now that say that meat eating leads to the major chronic illnesses, but people have to feel that chest burn to 'get it'!
Good luck and keep it up, your body will love you well for it!
P.S.- Vitamin B12 in nature (where the cows get it) comes off of bacteria on unwashed veggies. Cows eat their B12 when they eat their pasture grass et such. We super wash everything that touches our mouth, so we don't get our B12 naturally, so supplement with a nice subling B12. Also, get a bottle of liquid Flax seed oil and squirt a little on your food AFTER you cook it, you will be getting a far cleaner and better for your body Omega 3 than any mercury laiden fish oil, yuck!
The following user gives a hug of support to fineartmarcella: MsTeaTime (01-25-2012)
The Following User Says Thank You to fineartmarcella For This Useful Post: MsTeaTime (01-25-2012)
I found that being a vegetarian in the South is akin to being from Mars - there's almost nothing in the stores! I had to order vegetarian meat substitutes online and have them shipped to me ( Textured Vegetable Protein, not tofu or soy ). I'm currently in Oregon, and it's incredibly vegetarian-friendly on the West Coast. I've been a vegetarian all my life, and I lived in New Orleans and Dallas for several months each.
I suppose that I don't have "the" healthiest diet ever, but I do have a pretty wide variety in what I eat. I use olive or safflour oil when I cook if I need it, and pretty sparingly at that. The only real bad choices in what I eat are sweets and dishes I make homemade with a lot of cheese or are fried ( not often on any count ). I'm not overweight / underweight, don't have any heart or cholesterol issues, but I do also take vitamin supplements. I don't find that I need to take any extra things like protein or b12, because I do get enough in the foods that I eat. ( I take extra calcium because I'm at a higher risk for osteoporosis ). The TVP can be bad for you if you eat it often, but it's something that's still a whole lot healthier than real meat and most of it tastes pretty good, just have it in moderation. I do also consume things like soy burgers and hot dogs, but I generally consume one kind of meat substitute every 2 weeks or so on average. Not including tofu, because I don't really like it and will eat it only at a restaurant - also something I only do about every 3 or 4 months.
If you need or want some recipes, I would be more than happy to help! My family makes a lot of food at home, or buys ingredients and puts things together from that.
As a last note, if you don't see a list of ingredients on something, then don't assume it doesn't have animal products in it. I recently had an udon bowl and left out the packet marked "Fish", but the ingredient list did not have everything by individual packet. I paid for that with 3 days of intense pain and nausea, due to the innocent-looking "miso" that contained anchovy paste. If you've eaten it before, it's a lot easier to have it again even on accident - you won't have the problems a life-long vegetarian would have. But once you've been a vegetarian for several years, you might find it difficult to eat meat products again, whether purposely or accidentally.
The Following User Says Thank You to Sachimi For This Useful Post: MsTeaTime (01-25-2012)
Thanks everyone for their thoughtful responses. By now i've found much resource in Indian foods, my favorite recipe site is Manjula's Kitchen. I've got my ricecooker/veggie steamer. My wonderful boyfriend is a vegan and is quite helpful with noting salt content on many of the foods I consume. Stir fry is also a blessing, Sautee some veggie's in some teriyake saice and throw in some noodles. For quick and easy I like to use ramen noodles (throwing out the seasoning packet that contains chicken) and drain the water, throw them righton top of your veggies.
I'm actually in a college and it's particularly hard to find the healthy vegan options on campus (they require you buy these "meal plans" for your first year, 10 a week. It's a pain but i've talked to the nutritionist and found out some obscure options, they're also working on expanding their vegan/veggie-friendly variety. Fried foods are pretty good, falafels I love in particular, but they do take a toll on the healthy aspect of the diet. Chick peas are a blessing. Ah, and I definately take my b-12 supplement when I don't drink or eat foods that are fortified with it. Like soy, rice and almond milk as well as cereal.
I recently found out that Doritos has an unlabeled ingredient in it...pork broth! yuck, so very yuck, anyway, BTW, unless you consume the muscle flesh of an animal that eats B12, you aren't getting B12 as a lacto vegetarian. Unless you do not wash home grown veggies off and eat them straight, a vegetarian has no other B12 source, not milk (which in its self causes oseoporosis btw, it is acidfying to the body so the body draws calcium out of the bone to balance the pH in your body again, very bad thing to drink or eat, cheese, if you are prone to osteop.)anyway, unless you eat unwashed food you aren't getting B12 as a vegetarian and your brain will suffer horribly over time. Its very easy to supplement and brain sparing!