For me, going vegan was a gradual process. When I turned 16, I knew I wanted to move towards a plant-based diet but I decided to become a pescatarian initially (this involves not eating any meat, except for fish). A few years later when my culinary skills evolved beyond noodles with Quorn and cheese pizza, I progressed to vegetarian and then, when I noticed I was hardly eating dairy products anyway, I took the plunge and declared myself vegan.
Although some people go from meat-eater to vegan overnight, most of us need some time to adjust to this new diet and lifestyle. If you are interested in dabbling in veganism without any pressure or commitment, then look no further.
Here are a few ideas you can incorporate into your daily life to test the waters of veganism, with little or no effort at all…
Since learning about some of the benefits of oat milk (source of fibre, vitamin B12, vitamin D and calcium), my dad tentatively decided to try this in his tea (a very important morning and afternoon ritual which he was nervous to alter). After a few cups, he was sold and oat milk is now his go-to choice for black tea, porridge and cereal.
Top tip: oat milk is best for tea and coffee as it doesn’t curdle, and soya milk is lovely in cereal as it is very light and sweet in taste.
The freezer aisle
Now is an amazing time to be vegan. Vegan options in shops have exploded over the past few years, so if you’re rushing to the shops after a busy day at work or in the library and fancy some oven food (are chicken nuggets calling?) head to the freezers and check out the plant-based aisle.
Here you will find many delicious and easy-to-prepare offerings: Linda McCartney southern fried nuggets and pulled pork burgers, crispy ‘duck’ kits, Chicago Town stuffed crust pizza, sausage rolls and more! There is always at least one vegan option on a promotional offer, so this is always a good time to give something new a try.
If you’re looking for an extra layer to warm you up this Autumn, have a think about how to incorporate clothing into your vegan experiment. I’m a lover of puffer coats and thought I would have to say goodbye to these when I went vegan, but this is not the case - all you need to do is avoid coats with a down/feather filling (this can be found on the label, in the material description online or by asking the shop assistant). You will also save a pretty penny too as down-filled coats come at a premium.
Shoe top tip: Dr. Martens has an ever-expanding vegan range which is very high in quality, there are now 18 vegan styles available which are clearly labelled on their website. Schuh also has a more than decent offering (look out for the green ‘V’ on their website).
Coffee shops are a fantastic way to have a play with vegan options (before I was fully vegan, baristas used to look at me inquisitively when I would order a soya coffee cooler with whipped cream!).
Most large chain coffee shops have a decent selection of plant milks on offer (and more and more places are making these a free option for their drinks). This means that rather than buying 10 cartons of different plant milks from the shop you can experiment during your trip to Starbucks for your morning latte.
Also, don’t forget the ever-expanding selection of lunch-time options including Costa ham and cheese toasties, Pret A Manger warming soups, wraps and sandwiches and Starbucks vegan breakfast burgers.
Top tip: some of my go-to drinks are a Starbucks coffee and caramel Frappuccino with soya milk (hold the drizzle which is not dairy-free and always with vegan whip), a Costa coffee cooler with almond milk and a Caffé Nero soya hot chocolate (great to get you through a long study session).
Impress your friends and family with a freshly baked vegan brownie with no crazy ingredients necessary!
Easy Vegan Swaps:
- Butter for vegan margarine (e.g. Flora) or vegetable/sunflower oil
- Egg for 1 mashed banana
- Chocolate for dark chocolate (e.g. Bourneville)
- Milk for soya milk or, my personal favourite, fresh coffee to bring out those chocolate flavours
- And you’ll be relieved to hear that the other ingredients (flour, cocoa powder and sugar) are already vegan.
If you like your brownies fudgy (aren’t they the best kind?!) then have a look at Jamie Oliver’s vegan brownie recipe here.
Treat yourself to dinner - all in the name of research!
More and more restaurant menus are becoming crowded with vegan options and some even have a dedicated vegan menu. Choosing to try something vegan in a restaurant is a really simple way to expand your culinary horizons without having to track down items such as jackfruit, seitan and tempeh in Tesco.
Top tip: large chain restaurants are usually a safe bet when it comes to vegan options but check their online menus just in case. Pizza Express have recently made almost ALL of their pizzas suitable to convert to vegan while Bella Italia steals the show with the best vegan dessert in town - a soft and gooey caramel cookie cup with vanilla ice cream and caramel drizzle. Wagamama’s vegan menu is also to die for, and fast-food chains such as McDonald’s and KFC have been releasing great options too. Plus, who doesn’t remember the hype about the Greggs vegan sausage roll?
So now that you are fully equipped to dabble in the world of veganism, enjoy trying some different foods and…
Happy World Vegan Day!