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If you are interested in helping the animals, but are unsure of where to start, or are not ready to go vegan just yet, here are three easy ways to make your meals a little less cruel.

1. Switch to Earth Balance and stop using dairy butter. I love Earth Balance! You can use it as you would dairy butter in baking and cooking: you can saute with it, melt it, use it as a spread, and bake with it. The Earth Balance Buttery Spread also comes in stick form so you can easily measure the required amount. Earth Balance products are vegan and they offer soy-free alternatives as well. Earth Balance is found in many stores, including Wal-Mart.

2. Use vegetable stock. For many recipes, you can substitute vegetable stock in place of  beef or chicken stock without compromising the flavor. Vegetable stocks are available in the same section of beef and chicken stocks at grocery stores. If you want a chicken-flavored stock that is vegan, you can get that too. Vegan Essentials sell Better Bouillon Powder in beef and chicken flavors that are completely vegan.

3. Eat one less meat dish a week. If you have a turkey sandwich for lunch every day, why don’t you make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch one day? Or if Thursday is stir-fry night, make a vegetable stir-fry and leave the chicken or cow out of the dish. Once you get used to making one less meat-based dish a week, make two meatless dishes a week. And then three.

Even if you don’t go any farther than the three steps mentioned above, you are still making a difference. Making changes to your food choices can be hard and take some getting used to, but I bet that with each change you make you will expand your culinary repertoire and gain confidence in a cruelty-free way of eating.

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