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You’ve probably heard the new buzzword plant-based being thrown around a lot lately. And you may have even heard some stats like the ones from Harvard Health Publishing that say people who eat a healthy plant-based diet have a lower risk for heart disease. (Amen to that.) And you might have even considered trying it yourself. So whether you’ve decided to be a little bit vegan for the week or are fully taking the plunge, here are six foods to keep in mind that’ll make going plant-based a whole lot easier (because they taste just as good as the “real” thing).

nut cheese
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Nut Milks and Cheeses

If you’re like us, there’s no chance you’re leaving the milk out of your precious Monday-morning coffee. And you probably also believe that loving cheese isn’t a preference, it’s a lifestyle. So the good news is there are all kinds of substitutes that can fill your cravings. Grab a bottle of Califia Farms Vanilla Almondmilk to pour into your cold brew (it’s got that thick consistency you’re after) and your smoothies. Then try a block of Miyoko’s Sharp Farmhouse. It’s not your beloved Manchego, but it has all the creamy goodness that makes cheese so darn irresistible. (And you won’t have to skip your monthly wine-and-cheese night for fear of temptation.)

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SorBabes

Desserts That Don’t Bother with Dairy

Don’t worry—under no circumstances does going vegan mean you have to skip dessert. It just means you should skip the dairy, which we guarantee you won’t miss when you’re eating a plant-based frozen dessert like SorBabesa treat that’s lower in sugar and calories than traditional ice creams and sorbets. They use roasted nut butters and fruit purees to make sorbets that taste really rich, with delicious toppings that are so indulgent you might feel like you’re breaking the rules. If having a few scoops of any of their seven tantalizing flavors (like SorBabes Peanut Butta Luva, made with caramel swirls, chocolate chunks and roasted peanuts) is wrong, then we don’t want to be right.

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stir fry
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Cuisines That Are Naturally Heavy on the Veggies

Think about it this way: If you eat a steak dinner sans the steak, you’re going to leave dinner feeling pretty sad. So go easy on yourself by choosing cuisines that won’t make you miss meat at all. Mexican and Asian dishes are typically heavy on vegetables and rice, meaning they’re full of so many other satisfying ingredients that you won’t even notice there’s no chicken in your stir-fry.

impossible foods
Impossible Foods / Facebook

Plant-Protein “Meats”

Let’s say you’re really craving beef in your Tuesday-night tacos after all. Lucky for you, really tasty protein alternatives are popping up everywhere. For example, you know that Impossible Foods brand you keep hearing about? It’s a vegan “meat” made from plant protein that looks and tastes almost exactly like beef, aroma and everything. And it’s growing in popularity, so there’s a solid chance it could show up at a bar or restaurant near you. It’s nothing like the black bean burger your mom keeps in the fridge, promise. And if it really does sound impossible, just wait until you try it piled onto a burger bun with all your favorite toppings, or on a breakfast sandwich, or in your burrito, or as the meatballs in your spaghetti... 

salad
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Starchy Root Toppings

Chances are you’re not going to feel satisfied on leafy greens alone. So if you’re fixing a salad, top it with root vegetables like sweet potatoes, yams and parsnips, all of which are starchy and filling. They’re a great way to add a little color and texture to other plant-based dishes too.

chick pea salad
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Chickpeas

Consider garbanzo beans vegan gold. They provide tons of protein like you’d get from meat products, and they soak up the flavors of your dish without competing with any other main ingredients. Plus, they have a thicker texture that most people can get behind. A good rule is to swap chickpeas into dishes where you normally would have used chicken and don’t want to use a processed meat substitute. They’re especially good in stews, soups and salads.

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