So, you want to become vegan?
However you found your way here, I’m SO happy to welcome you to the wonderful world of vegan food and living 🙂
With more and more people choosing to be vegan, it’s easy to be daunted by all the information out there. And for each of those people there are dozens of reasons why they’re choosing a cruelty free lifestyle. For animal welfare, for the environment, for the planet and for their health are some of the most commonly cited reasons. But whatever YOUR reasons, they have to be right for you.
When Phil and I first met he was a smoker – a habit I’d always hated. But pressuring him into giving up smoking was never going to work. HE had to be ready to give up or he’d likely never succeed. It’s the same for any change of habit or lifestyle.
What does it mean to be vegan?
Being vegan is literally the exclusion of all animal products and animal by-products from food, clothing and lifestyle choices. Veganism as a diet was first defined by The Vegan Society in 1964. And while it’s been subsequently refined over the years, the definition remains the same:
“A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”
How do you become vegan?
Pace yourself. Not everyone can become vegan overnight. There are more things to consider than you might at first appreciate. We’ll get to those 😉
Make small changes if that’s all you feel ready for. Try Meat Free Monday or vegan breakfasts for a week. Try swapping cow’s milk for a vegan milk – there are SO many to choose from these days. Our personal favourite is oat milk – it’s so rich and creamy!
Find vegan equivalents to your favourite foods. With the rise in veganism, so comes the rise in variety of vegan food. There are very few things these days that have not only been veganised but have been done better than their original counterpart. Hand on heart we prefer vegan sausages and burgers ANY day of the week – less fat, no cholesterol and definitely no strange gristly bits.
Prepare to become VERY familiar with reading ingredient labels. Because animal products are often found in places you least expect it! Like beer and wine where isinglass (which comes from the organ fish use to control their buoyancy) is often used as a filter. Sweets or candy very often have milk or gelatin as ingredients.
Be aware your body might detox. This also depends on how drastically different you change your diet overnight. If you transition slowly rather than cutting everything out overnight you’ll probably not even notice any difference.
Be prepared for people to have opinions about your choice. Not everyone will understand nor accept. You might even be a little nervous about telling family and friends. I recommend this fantastic article from Powered by Mangoes if that’s something you might be experiencing.
It will get easier. And you’ll likely make mistakes. Don’t beat yourself up. Not a single one of us is perfect 😉 I bought cheese topped baps 3 weeks after I’d become vegan *insert eye roll*
Embrace the new and wonderful ingredients you’ll encounter! Tempeh, seitan, nutritional yeast, umeboshi, flax ‘eggs’, aquafaba, jackfruit and quinoa to name a few! Even cheese made from nuts! They may sound weird but used properly they’re beyond delicious and I feel sorry my taste buds missing out for all those years! They’re also incredibly versatile – lending themselves to many savoury as well as sweet recipes!
Top left: Flax egg – ground flax seeds and water used as an egg substitute in vegan baking. Bottom left: Aquafaba meringue – made using (of all things) chickpea water! Perfect for Lemon Meringue Pie. Right: BBQ Jackfruit Sliders – full of juicy flavour and just like pulled pork. Delicious 😛
Eating out might become more of a challenge. It IS getting better. And there are dedicated vegan bloggers out there like Vegan Olive who are doing all the legwork finding great places for us to eat!
Accept you might have to take dietary supplements – even though well-planned vegan diets should contain all the nutrients our bodies need to stay healthy.
Making sure you get the right balance of nutrition as a vegan
Vegan nutrition is genuinely not the vexing activity certain portions of the media might have you believe. We’re not all dying from protein of calcium deficiency. And yes, protein is VERY easy to come by, even as a vegan. This is a great little article from The NHS about vegan nutrition.
Vegan nutrition photos above courtesy of Simple Happy Kitchen.
You may also have heard of a fantastic film called The Game Changers – a documentary all about the benefits of eating a plant based diet as an athlete. For us mere mortals there’s a LOT of science to consume in this film. But it shows that no matter what your lifestyle is – be it couch potato or elite world beating (and world record breaking!) athlete it IS possible to thoroughly thrive on a plant based diet. It looks at the science behind what we eat and how consuming meat has been marketed to us over the years.
Being vegan doesn’t mean you have to miss out on your favourite foods!
Can I get a hell yeah?!
As previously mentioned, there’s more and more vegan food readily available in supermarkets now. And there’s an absolute wealth of vegan recipes for you to try .. let me tempt your taste buds with some of our favourites
Vegan Mayonnaise – creamy and garlicky and so much more flavour than anything shop bought!
Creamy Mushroom Sauce – rich, herby and so so versatile!
Double Chocolate Banana Bread – we make this a LOT – to the point of buying extra bananas just so they go over-ripe 😉
Spiced Apple Cake – one of the most popular recipes among our followers – soft and unctuous and bursting with spices and juicy apples!
We also have a wide variety of vegetarian meals and scrummy sweet treats if that’s where you want to start. Ditching dairy can be the biggest change as it’s found in so many products. From everything you might expect like cheese and the milk you put in your tea to being added to bread, meals, junk food, snacks and treats.
Meat Free Sausage Rolls – actually working on a vegan version of this as I type 😉
Sausage and Halloumi Bake – super easy to whip up for a quick, filling and warming weeknight meal
Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie – protein rich with a lovely and crusty parsnip mash topping
Fava Bean Shakshuka – so tasty and moreish
Double Chocolate and Orange Muffins – keep ’em plain for a quick breakfast (they freeze really well!) or pile on the frosting for a decadent treat!
Toasted Teacakes – seriously, who doesn’t love a toasted teacake?!
And finally – if you have ANY questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I’m as passionate about veganism as I have been about anything in my whole life. The food is amazing and the animals, the environment and even your own body will thank you 🙂