If you are considering trying out a vegan diet this January I’m sure you have already thought about the “whys….
This blog is a little bit about the “how”
You don’t have to reinvent your whole diet to change to a plant-based eating style
You are only eliminating animal products: (meat, fish, dairy and eggs) which leaves an enormous amount of food for you to choose from.
To start, it would be good to check out your fridge and pantry to find out what you already have that you can eat. Pasta, rice, peanut butter, most breads, canned tomatoes, chickpeas and kidney beans, jam and jelly, coconut milk, curry pastes, marinara, canned beans, many chips, nuts, crackers, and cookies, herbs and spices, many instant soups, tea, coffee, and fruit juice… There is a good chance that half the foods you already eat are vegan!
You can buy most of your vegan foods at the supermarket
To make it super easy, you can buy some vegan “meat” products, so if you are used to having sausages and beans for example, you just have a vegan sausage.
There are some great plant- based “meat” products out there, and all now available in the supermarket. Because more people are eating at least some plant-based meals, supermarkets are catering for the increased demand.
Its a good idea to plan your meals and snacks for the week and make a list of the vegan foods or ingredients you need to buy
Have a think about what you want to eat the first week and make a shopping list of any vegan foods you need to buy. At the supermarket, you will spend a bit of time reading food labels to ensure the products you are buying don’t have any animal products in them. (I also try to avoid products with palm oil, due to the environmental damage this causes.)
You will find product labels stating that there may be traces of milk or other non vegan foods in the product. This means it was processed using machinery that also processes non vegan products. Whether you want to exclude these food items is your choice. If you do, you may find it more difficult to find vegan foods you can buy. For myself, I will buy and eat these products as the animal ingredients were not added and the amount present will be negligible.
Likewise, some vegans don’t eat honey while others do.. At this initial stage though, I wouldn’t get too hung up on this one..
Swaps for week 1:
Sausages : buy vegan sausages. Linda McCartney sausages are very tasty, but there are many other brands you can find.
Meat/Fish/Hamburgers: many vegan burgers are now available in the supermarket. Variety include “chicken Style” , black bean, chickpea or just a plain veggi burger. Brands that are really tasty are :
Frys- they do chicken style burgers and also nuggets; Get Vegged – does a tasty veggie burger;
Gardein – does chicken style schnitzels and “fishless” fillets which actually taste a bit like fish! Great for fish and chips..
Tofu has a bad rap, but as it doesn’t have a lot of flavour, is great to cook with. It is an excellent source of protein, and takes up the flavours you add, so can be a great base for a healthy and very tasty meal. If you enjoy cooking, this one is for you!
Oil/Butter/Margarine: there is plenty to choose from and you probably already use some plant based oils. Nuttlex is a good margarine and you can buy an olive oil based or coconut based margarine with this brand. Olive oil, rice bran oil, or any other plant based oil is acceptable.
Milk: there are many plant based milks to choose from. Soy milk is good for coffee, but some people prefer almond milk. I like oat or macadamia milk on my porridge or breakfast cereal. It’s really a matter of trying different types of plant milk and different brands until you find the ones you prefer.
Soy milk takes a little getting used to, and when I was transitioning, this was a major hurdle for me as I disliked the taste. After only a week though, it tasted fine, so it is definitely worth persevering!
Cheese: Vegan cheeses have also improved. you can buy the cheddar style cheese which you can grate over food and it melts, so good for pizza or lasagna. There are also cream cheeses, or feta style cheeses. While they won’t taste the same as the animal-based cheeses, over time you get used to the different flavours. I now find I don’t miss the cheeses I used to love and find vegan cheese gives me a similar experience. Brands I find tasty are: Sheese – they do a cheddar style and greek style cheese. BioCheese -have a cheddar and nice feta style cheese as well as a few other varieties. Different vegan cheeses can also be found at health food stores.
Eggs: if you are trialing a vegan diet due to your concern for animals, and if you have your own chickens you may prefer to keep eating their eggs. Otherwise, you will also want to exclude eggs from your diet. Alternatives are : tofu can be used in place of eggs for a scramble at breakfast time; in cooking, you can buy an egg replacer in the supermarket, banana’s or chia seeds may also be alternatives used in recipes.
Stock up on tins of beans – baked beans, kidney beans, black beans etc are very useful to use in stir fries, soups etc. You may also want to get some vegetable stock in place of chicken or beef stock.
There is an endless variety of food available so you should never be bored.
You can “veganize” your existing recipes with a little bit of thought. Just replace non vegan ingredients with vegan ingredients.
(Check out the book: :”The Complete guide to vegan food substitutions” by Celine Steen and Joni Marie Newman.
There is a huge amount of information and recipes on the internet so you should have no end of inspiration for what to eat.
Good luck and enjoy!