Thinking of going vegan? We’ve got some tips and tricks to make following a plant-based diet even easier
As we progress into January, we start to think about our New Year’s resolutions. Many of us will take up a new exercise regime or vow to eat healthier, whilst others may pursue a new hobby or book a flamboyant holiday. One resolution that an increasing amount of people have been trying (and sticking to), is Veganuary – the concept of living and eating vegan for the whole month of January.
There are many reasons why people choose to go vegan. For many, it’s a love and respect of animals that is the driving force, for others, the impact we have on this earth. Some people opt to eat a plant-based diet to be healthier, whilst others simply like to set themselves a challenge. Whatever the reason, if you’re giving it a go, we’ve got a guide to help you along the way.
Cooking at home and shopping
If you’re just starting out, shopping for and cooking vegan food can seem a little daunting. Luckily, these days, many major supermarkets have specific sections with vegan food items, but sometimes it may fall to you to check the labels. Whilst some foods are labelled vegan, many are not, so make sure you watch out for anything that could be classed as an animal product. Watch out for any products labelled ‘dairy-free’ or ‘lactose-free’ as this does not necessarily mean vegan – quite the contrary in fact.
Now you’ve done your shop, it’s time to get into the kitchen. The best thing to do is to make vegetables the star of your dishes – they’re full of vitamins and minerals and keep you nice and full. Make sure you’re eating a variety of foods and are getting your fill of key nutrients – get your protein and fibre from beans, vitamins from leafy greens and iron from whole grains. Don’t miss out on vitamin D – it can be found in non-dairy milk such as soy or almond milk and orange juice – and explore the wonderful world of plant-based proteins. Vegan sources of protein are plentiful, and include tempeh, tofu, lentils and chickpeas to name but a few.
It’s a common misconception that eating out has to be difficult if you’re a vegan. With so many people now eating only a plant-based diet, lots of well-known chains have adapted their menus so it’s easy for you to have your pick! If you’re feeling a little stressed about heading out for dinner, you could ring the restaurant beforehand to let them know that you’re vegan – most places can change dishes easily, and even if the restaurant isn’t specifically vegan, you’ll find that many places are happy to accommodate. Tell your waiting staff that you’re doing Veganuary – it’s a great way to take the stress off and help you focus on your exciting journey.
Many different cuisines already offer great vegan alternatives. If you’re out for Chinese, choose tofu as a tasty meat supplement, and fish sauce can easily be replaced by soy, black bean or garlic sauce. Most vegetable spring rolls and dumplings are vegan, and many noodle and fried rice dishes can be made without soy. Indian cuisine is one of the best if you’re eating a plant-based diet – many of the dishes are already vegan! As long as the curries are cooked using vegetable oil and not ghee (clarified butter) then they’re good to go, and breads such as chapatti, puri/poori are all vegan. If you’re ever unsure, however, then the best thing to do is just ask – you’ll be eating your way around the world in no time!
For more tips, advice and recipe ideas, visit www.veganuary.com