Tips for Going Vegan
by Emma Kapusniak, OPFV Volunteer
If you’ve reached this page it’s probably because you’ve heard going vegan is good for you or good for the environment or both.
You’re obviously right. Every time you have a vegan meal you get to feel good about yourself that you are using less resources and probably eating less fat, processed ingredients food and consuming less calories. Simply put every time we eat an animal or an animal product like milk or cheese or eggs we are not only feeding ourselves but we are eating the resources it took to feed the animal. Since we aren’t as hungry or thirsty as a full size cow and we don’t like to roam around outside in a field like a sheep (at least most of the time) it’s a safe bet that eating plant based meals is better on water use, land use and carbon emissions (of course veg production still cause carbon emissions but you are only eating one human size portion not a years of cow sized portions).
So that said let’s talk about going vegan.
The most important thing to remember is going vegan isn’t easy and it takes time. You don’t need to go vegan on January 1st and never look back. It’s a process, so cut yourself some slack and just do your best.
It can be confusing knowing what’s vegan. It can feel like you’re going to end up eating salad for every meal or burn a hole in your wallet buying organic fresh vegetables and protein substitutes (Quorn is not the answer). So to start you off we have a put together a list of 10 core foods which will help you on your journey to becoming vegan. These foods all have a few things in common. They are available in all supermarkets (and most corner shops), are multi-purpose so can go into different meals and they are cheap as chips (ok so one of them is chips).
1. Peanut butter
it’s simple but glorious. It’s a sandwich filler for kids and adults. It’s a toast covering for breakfast. It’s full of nutrients. You can buy it in glass jars so no plastic. If you love to make things you can make it yourself. What’s not to love.
Just add a jar of pasta sauce or try a lentil ragu for a delicious hearty meal.
Beans on toast, beans on potatoes, beans in chillis, beans in stovies, beans in soups, beans in salads. Just beans everywhere. They are a great source of fibre and protein and are even comforting on a cold winters day. You can make your own salads and soups or just buy them pre-packed from the supermarket for a quick and easy lunch.
For a great vegan breakfast why not turn to porridge, you can add berries to make it sweet if you like. Try oat cakes with your soup or as a snack at work with peanut butter (but make sure you buy a dairy free variety – check the free from section in the supermarket) You can also use oats to make a cheap alternative to milk. Just add 1 cup oats to four cups water and run through a blender then sieve (forget soy milk it’s the best oat milk is the best one in coffee and they do it in cafe Nero too) The left over oats pulp can go back in the fridge and make porridge later. You can also make oat meal cookies with dark chocolate (yes dairy free chocolate).
Lentils are your best friend (other than plane old potatoes and bread) if you want to go vegan but keep your creature comforts. They make a great meat substitute in bolognaise style dishes which can be used as a pasta sauce in a veggie cottage pies or lasagne and you can always make a wonderful Indian daal curry (it’s great for using up carrots).
Add your favourite vegetables and some soy sauce stir fry and your good to go. Or if you’re feeling adventurous try a risotto (using vegetables, white wine and olive spread instead of butter).
Bloomer, flat bread, Pitta, wraps anything goes.
8. Olive spread / olive oil
Try an Olive oil based butter instead of butter but check the label because not all of them are dairy free. Olive oil can be used in cooking and also mixed with your favourite herbs and spices to make a salad dressing as an alternative to mayonnaise.
Chipped, baked, mashed, boiled, sautéed or even saag aloo it doesn’t matter the potato is the king.
Like beans Chickpeas can be used in soups, curries and salads but they get their own spot on the list because of falafel. Buy it pre-packaged in balls or as a burger or if you fancy avoiding that plastic packaging make it yourself. All you need is chickpeas, olive oil, garlic, onion and whatever spices you like a masher and a hot pan.