When undertaking vegan cooking, it is a good idea to develop a thorough understanding of what products and ingredients are not made from any type of animal product, of nutritional requirements and how to meet them, and how to make appropriate substitutions during the cooking process. If someone is cooking for a vegan, it can often be helpful to discuss with him his dietary limitations, as some vegans more carefully restrict their diets than others. It can also be helpful to read vegan cookbooks or to even take a vegan cooking class in order to learn more about in preparing food without the use of animal-based ingredients.
Although many people are aware that foods such as meat, eggs, and dairy are made from or by animals, some food products are not so obviously of animal origin. For example, some people are not aware that gelatin is derived from animal hides and bones. Many wines are made from animal by-products, and many prepared foods contain animal-based ingredients. Individuals who want to get started in vegan cooking should become familiar with common food additives and ingredients that contain animal products and should pay attention to food labels when making purchases at the store.
People who have relied on a diet based in animal foods for most of their lives may have to learn how to prepare a vegan diet that will meet their nutritional needs. Vegans need to ensure that they get enough protein in their diet as well as vitamin B-12. Learning to prepare food from various types of vegan protein sources not only makes for a more varied diet, but ensures that a person's protein needs are met. In general, vegans will need to get their vitamin B-12 from nutritional supplements or B-12 fortified foods. By learning to cook with these fortified foods, a vegan can avoid a B-12 deficiency.
Although some aspects of vegan cooking are fairly straightforward, such as the preparation of salads or vegetable dishes, a cook may need to learn various substitutions in order to prepare other types of food. For example, many breads and pastries typically include eggs and dairy products. By learning how to substitute prepared or homemade ingredients to substitute for eggs and dairy, vegan cooks can prepare a variety of tasty breads and desserts. In order to make vegan cooking more flavorful, aspiring vegan cooks should also learn more about the use of herbs, spices, and flavorings to add depth and character to their cooking.