So you’re interested in going vegan? Amazing! I have been vegan for almost five years now and it is one of the best decisions I have ever made.
Veganism is on the rise exponentially. Over 42% of the UK’s vegans alone transitioned in 2018 (Vegan Trade Journal). People are more intrigued and interested in going plant based than ever before. With more plant based options and alternatives readily available, alongside a growing concern for animal welfare, health and the environment – its no wonder people are interested in going vegan.
I’ve had lots of people enquire on the the difficulty of going vegan and question how I managed it.
So if you are considering going full throttle on those plants, here’s some tips:
GOING VEGAN – SOME TIPS
Be kind to yourself!
I know this sounds like a cliche, but it is a case some people take time to transition. Others do it straight away and go vegan overnight. It can take time for some to become prepared and familiar with this new way of eating and products out there. You might enjoy the transition more by going easy and nailing a couple of favourite meals initially. It might be the case that every breakfast is vegan for you to begin with, slowly working your way up to lunch, snacks then dinners. Don’t beat yourself up or feel like you’ve failed if its not an instant transition. It takes time to establish new behaviours and patterns. You will soon be an avid reader of labels and know exactly where to find plant based food in the supermarket. It will all become second nature.
There are so many plant based alternatives out there. Remember all food can be veganised. Going plant based isn’t only about living on kale salad and smoothies! Just google vegan “lasagne” and voila! Supermarkets are now well equipped for the increased demand for plant based products. For me, mock meats definitely helped me transition. I use them occasionally now but they were a staple for veganising dishes initially. Mock meats and tofu might not be your thing – but certain textures and flavours can be attained simply by the way you cut, season or accompany ingredients in a dish. Think of lentils replacing mince meat in bolonegse, marmite to give that deep, rich flavour, oat milk for your creamy latte, chickpea flour to make an omelette, BBQ jackfruit instead of pulled pork. Honestly the list is endless on what you can do and make with plant foods. Supermarkets now even have their own vegan sections. Maybe start by veganising your favourite meals, make them a few times with different recipes and stick to your favourite variety.
Reassure & Include Family
Reassuring concerned family members that being vegan isn’t as complicated as it sounds. Some family members freak out and think your going to drop dead of malnutrition on the spot. Starting out you could always bring your own grub or guide them to the Vegan Society or Veganuary sites for ideas if they wish to cook for you. Involve them in by trying out new places together. A favourite spot for my parents and I is the Happy Pear whenever I go home to Dublin. It feels really inclusive there and doesn’t necessarily label themselves as vegan, even though they are primarily plant based. Soon your family members will realise that vegan food is actually really delicious and not quite as restricted as some presume. You’d be surprised how sharing these satisfying and healthy dishes might even spark an interest in your loved ones in exploring more plant based meals themselves. The important thing is to not isolate yourself in the process as sometimes it can be daunting being the only vegan in sometimes a meat heavy eating household.
Treat yourself to vegan meals out. Hunt down all the vegan cake! Fall in love with food again. Be warned – this is like really fun game! For special occasions, I often go to veggie restaurants like Mildreds or Terre Terre. However there are plenty of high street omni restaurants that cater delicious vegan options – and more recently you will notice they go all out for veganuary. Some even have vegan menus with all the allergens labeled clearly. To be honest, I am in the minority of plant based munchers in my family and friends so there are some readily available high street restaurants that everyone can enjoy with vegan options:
- Pizza Express
- Gormet Burger Kitchen
Explore your favourite blogs for ideas. Create a food board on Pinterest. Join vegan groups on Facebook for support. Whatever your style of cooking is – get some vegan cookbooks. I must admit I first became intrigued in veganism through all the beautiful accounts on Instagram. Some of the following are great for recipe inspiration:
Keep track of how you feel moving from animal products. Are you less bloated? Less heart burn? Sleeping better? More energy? Sometimes all these benefits can really help people stay on track.
Find Your Tribe
Being plant based in a predominantly meat eating world can feel a bit isolating, Be sure to join vegan groups online which in itself is a support forum and place for inspiration. You might find out about vegan meet ups. I’ve made quite a few vegan friends through Instagram which is a bonus. Eating with company is human nature, so invite a friend or family member round to cook up a storm and show off how delicious and enriching vegan food can be.
Watch videos and documentaries on the impact factory farming has on animals and the environment. Read how going plant based can literally save you from innumerable health hazards like heart disease, stroke and cancer. If there is anything you watch today – minus the gorey details, but with such eloquent and gentle explanations, I urge you to please watch the following speeches:
Going plant based will make you fall in love with food again! It really encourages you to think outside the box of your “meat and two veg”. Honestly there are so many mouthwatering flavours out there that don’t require animal products. There are 80,000 forms of plant based foods – all the different textures and flavours for you to discover and rediscover. Going vegan is a great way to get creative with food.
Eat the Rainbow
Not all vegan food is automatically healthy. For instance a lot of the mock meat is processed, high in salt and saturated fats. I’m not dissing this type of food but save yourself from feeling shitty – like all food, if you eat just processed, junk food you will feel it. So eating as much vibrant, colourful whole foods including fruit and vegetables as much as possible will help balance. Fruit is the easiest “fast food” for me.
People go vegan for various reasons, be it health, animal welfare or environmental reasons. Either way it has multiple positive implications. Going vegan gets easier. Once you get into the swing of things it will become second nature to you. You will discover your own favourite veganised dishes that you will be love to share with friends and family. One of my favourite is Dahl or veggie casserole!