This is one of the things I hear most often. And it can be one of the hardest if you have grown accustomed to meat and dairy. I was certainly one who thought this way. I loved a good steak, hamburger, chicken, hotdog, finished off with dessert like ice cream. But life really is so much sweeter without all that. Your body will thank you for laying off them!
Some say it's hard to make the switch to a whole food, plant based diet, so I recommend starting small. Start by dropping meat one or two days a week and wean yourself off it. I have a good friend that only has meat on Sunday's. My parents have started going a couple of days a week with out it.
I have always had the mindset that if you're going to make the switch to a whole food, plant based (vegan) diet stick with just that and don't do the whole fake meat thing. If you're trying to get away from meat, why eat something that's trying to be meat? That said, there are a lot of products out there that are awesome! And when you are first considering laying off the meat, these could be helpful (they certainly were for us.)
Morningstar makes great stuff and are by far my favorite tasting brand! And they can be found at just your local grocery store. Some of their stuff is not entirely vegan, they will put egg in some of their stuff to hold it together. We love their garden veggie patties, spicy black bean burgers, veggie sausage patties, and meal starter crumbles. We usually have at least one of these in our freezer every week.
Quorn is another great brand. If I'm feeling like chicken I'll buy their chik'n nuggets for my kids (they love them!) and chik'n tenders for some good fajita's or something. This brand is a little harder to find. I find them my the local farmer's market store, but I know places like Whole Foods carries them too.
Seitan that you can buy or make. This link has a few recipes to make your own. I have never had much luck making my own, but my brother has so I know it's possible.
As for cheese, there is a whole other world out there with this too. We usually buy rice cheese. I can't think of the name of the brand that we buy (and we're out at the moment, my kids go through this like crazy!) I actually quite like it. The taste is quite similar to mozzarella. But this is another thing you've got to get at a place like Whole Foods or another health food store. There are other cheeses you can either buy or make, this website explains them a bit more.
I also will use silken tofu as a replacer for cottage or ricotta cheese in my lasagna and pasta's (I'll share my recipes later). The texture is very similar and my family can't really tell. My kids still gobble it up.
Milk, yogurt, and ice cream
We drink almond, rice, and soy milk at our house. It depends on whatever is on sale at Costco that week. We'll by a case of it and it will last us most of the month. (A case costs about $12 give or take for 12 cartons. Much cheaper then the grocery, and health food stores.)
You can buy soy yogurt and ice cream. The flavor isn't bad, but I'm not a huge fan of it so we don't consume a lot of it. And it's something that you've got to track down at your local health food store. My kids like it and will eat it, but I still don't buy much of it.
And with tomorrow being Thanksgiving, lets do a nice and light post. I'll introduce you to some famous vegans. There are more then just a few people you may recognize. :) Just for the fun of it!
Hope you enjoyed these comics! I just couldn't resist!