Credit: Alex Sandoval

And they’re great for meat-eaters, too!

My experimentation with a plant-based diet started in college. Ditching meat was easy for me, but I struggled to completely commit to a vegan lifestyle—which includes foregoing not only animal products that you eat, but also other animal products that you don’t consume (like wool and feather down in your wardrobe).

About a year post-grad, my fast-paced New York City lifestyle caught up to me; I felt my body needed a break and could benefit from cleaner eating habits. So I decided to *finally* commit to a plant-based diet for exactly one year.

(To clarify, plant-based refers to the diet followed by many vegans. However, veganism is a lifestyle that goes far beyond food choices. While I personally opted to avoid leather and other animal byproducts during the year, you can still follow a plant-based diet without being vegan.)

If you follow a plant-based diet, you’ll likely do a lot of cooking on your own. In fact, I like to say that ditching animal products actually made me more creative and adventurous in the kitchen because it forced me to cook for myself for the vast majority of my meals—I never felt like the modified dishes I ordered in non-vegan restaurants were worth the price, plus, you never know exactly what ingredients are going into your food when someone else is cooking. Instead, I preferred developing my own recipes at home and making different dishes to keep my palette satisfied, like hummus from scratch.

During my 365 days of plants, I quickly discovered a handful of cooking essentials that I now consider crucial for any plant-based kitchen. These handy kitchen tools are not only great for people that want to overhaul their diet, but also for anyone who simply wants to incorporate more fruits and veggies into their meals.

From a money-saving spiralizer to a non-stick silicone mat, these 9 vegan kitchen essentials saved me both time and money during my yearlong exploration into a plant-based diet. Read on to discover why I consider them all to be necessities in my kitchen—and how they improved my cooking game for good.

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