Im asked a lot about how hard I found it switching from an almost lifelong vegetarian diet, to a plant based/vegan diet. It as been almost 3 years now and I will forever be on a plant based diet. But, in truth, for the first week or so I lived on risotto and humous as I was totally unorganised and unprepared. I know some of you are doing Veganuary, and some have mentioned that you might try “meat free Mondays’. Others are thinking of continuing on your journey with a plant based diet when Veganuary ends. So, whatever your plan, hopefully this will give you a few beginner vegan tips and help you be more organised that I was!
Long term readers of my blog would know that you will never get me preaching at you. All I aim to do is support you with some tips that helped me. Even the smallest reduction in the animal products you consume, will have an impact for the better. As with any changes in diet, if you have any health concerns you should always check with your GP prior to undergoing any drastic diet changes.
My Beginner Vegan Tips
Whatever your reason for a dalliance with a vegan or plant based diet, well done. Cutting down on meat and dairy will, amongst many other benefits, massively help our planet. According to the experts, the number one best thing we can do to help the climate crisis, is cut down, (or cut out completely), on eating meat. If you need any other motivation to keep you on track, here are six other reasons for going plant based, even one day a week;
- You could help lower your risk of heart disease
- It will hep you cut out unhealthy processed meats
- You will be helping world hunger. Almost half the worlds crops are used to feed animals, not people.
- Your cooking skills will get a whole new string to their bow
- Reduce risk of species extinction
- Reduce suffering of animals
I could go on and on about the plus points, but I think you get my drift. I wrote about the benefits I personally saw myself when switching from my vegetarian diet, to totally plant based in my four months of being vegan post.
So, here are some hints and tips to help you on your way in your plant based diet quest;
Be Organised – This would be my number one tip. Until you find your grove with vegan cooking, you will find you are constantly finding you may not have the ingredient you need. It can weaken your resolve if every meal feels like hard work! So, I would recommend sitting down with a pad and pen, and doing some meal planning. I still tend to do this, even now. The reason I still like to do it is I hate waste! If a recipe only requires say, half an onion, I like to try to plan so that I use the other half the next day. Planning out my meals also means I have a comprehensive shopping list when I do the supermarket run! Some of the things you will use a lot of are;
- Plant based milk – I love Oatley Barista for tea/coffee, Rude Health Almond for cooking, smoothies, porridge etc
- Nutritional Yeast – You will use this more than you ever thought possible!
- Nut Butters – Great for sweet treats, I love Katies Nuttery (their “Nutella” is to die for).
- Fresh Vegetables – Include things like sweet potato and butternut squash as they make amazing, hearty curries
- Coconut Milk – Having a tin or two of this in your cupboard is a staple
- Seasoning – I have a huge herb and spice collection now, and love experimenting with flavours.
Use Pinterest – I found that searching for meal ideas on Pinterest gave me lots of inspiration, but also helped me write a shopping list for what I would need to prepare plant based meals. I made a board for dinners, desserts etc, then started stocking up my kitchen cupboards with key ingredients. (you can see mine here if you fancy some inspiration) Im trying to eat more healthy plant based meals (trust me, there is such a thing as unhealthy plant based meals, hello chips), so I have done the same again recently buying things like coconut sugar, spelt flour, buckwheat flour etc
Batch Cook – This has been a game changer for me, and something I have only recently started doing. I am the only non meat eater in my house, and although Nik and the boys will try the occasional plant based meal, they wouldn’t eat it every day. Im often just cooking plant based for me. Most of the recipe books etc, will have meals that feed four. I still make that quantity, but divide it up and freeze the other portions. I freeze them in the cartons that take away Chinese etc come in, as its the perfect portion size. It makes life easier to know there is always a plant based meal in the freezer.
YouTube – I use YouTube lots for recipe inspiration. I like it as you get to see how things are actually made, (and what the end result should look like). Sometimes I find that easier than reading how to make something. I have a few YouTubers that tend to be my go-to’s. These are Niomi Smart, Sustainably Vegan, Caitlin Shoemaker.
Bloggers – I think half of my vegan meals come from the amazing vegan bloggers that I follow. I could not survive without them! Again, I will tell you some of my favourites. Healthy Living James, Deliciously Ella, Minimalist Baker and Little Blog of Vegan if I want to bake!
Make your life easy – If you are cooking for a family that are not vegan, it can feel like a mission. Try to think of meals that you can adapt a little to cater for you. For example, a roast dinner. I can have pretty much everything except obviously, the meat (and normal yorkshire pud). I then might do a vegan cauliflower cheese for me instead of the meat. Or a vegan option from a supermarket such as Vegan Pie. It is no more work, and makes life easier.
Remind yourself why you are doing it – When you decided to try a plant based diet, you must have had your reasons. They were strong enough reasons for you to be motivated to make the change. Well, keep reminding yourself of them. Write them down. Have a post it note in the kitchen with a reminder. Remind yourself you have made it half way if you are doing just January. I know it can feel like hard work, but I promise you if you use the tips here, you will get there.
Some websites for Vegan Supplies
Sometimes, it can be tricky to get some vegan supplies, especially if you live in more rural areas. I have found the following sites useful for sourcing so may of the things I like to have to hand. Lots will be doing money off codes too at the moment as it’s Veganuary;
I hope this has been of use to you. I have kept it short and sweet but I am always happy to answer any questions. You can email me, or even get me on any of my social media. Instagram – Twitter – Facebook
I wanted to leave you with a few sources that I think, provide amazing information. They will help you to understand why a plant based diet is beneficial. They will give you some facts and figures on the difference you can make. They can provide more beginner vegan tips. Some of the information you may find a little uncomfortable watching, (more so the documentaries) but I think they are a great resource for information.
Documentries to watch;
- A Life on our Planet – David Attenborough. A powerful watch. A must watch. Available on Netflix
- Cowspiracy – Available on Netflix. it explores the climate aspect of a plant based diet. Very interesting and enlightening
- Called to Rescue – A ‘happy” film about the animals rescued from meat and food industries. You can watch it online for free
- The Game Changers – This had a huge impact when it was released, probably due to it’s all star cast! Available on Netflix
- Before The Flood – Amazon. Although not really a vegan documentary, it does explore and shed light on the climate impact eating meat has
- 73 Cows – A short film about a beef farmer who became the first in Britain to swap trading animals, to sustainable vegan farming. Available online
- If you have the stomach for it, Earthlings will stop you eating meat forever! Passionate vegan Joaquin Phoenix narrates, but I warn you, it is INCREDIBLY TOUGH TO WATCH. I watched about 9 minutes and cried the entire time!
Websites to visit
My favourite Vegan cookbooks
I have a lot of vegan cookbooks. I mean…a lot! I can not resist a new one when they come out. Plus, I get bought lots by friends and family on birthdays, Christmas etc. I have a large selection, but do have a few go-to’s. These are all fairly easy to cook from, even with my limited skill set in the kitchen!
Any of the Bosh books. I love them all and use them weekly. I think the Speedy vegan one is a great place to start.
Deliciously Ella. Again, any of her books are amazing. The original Deliciously Ella recipe book was the first vegan cookbook I bought. I still use it all the time, but also love the Quick and Easy book.
Niomi Smart – Eat Smart. The recipes in this cook book are all healthy. Niomi is a goddess, and she always inspires me to eat healthier. I use a lot of her recipes on a weekly basis.
Fearne Cotton – Happy Vegan. I love this book as all of the meals are geared towards family. They are simple and easy, just as I like my recipes to be. Fearne’s wonderful personality comes across in the book to, so it is a pleasure to browse.
To sum up my Beginner Vegan Tips
Do not beat yourself up if you slip up. Even as recently as last year, I ate something not realising it had milk in it, (it was a bag of crisps if you’re wondering). Slip up’s will happen. It is all new to you. Just remember that any change you make, is change. It is all good!
Enjoy what you eat. While things like tofu may not float your boat, I promise you beautiful, tasty meals can be created using only plant based ingredients. I have a few of my own creations in this posts, Food Inspired by my Travels. You can also tweak so may of the meals you may love, (bolognaise, shepherds pie, chilli, roast dinner, curry etc) to make them plant based.
It is also getting so much easier to eat out vegan now. I love going out for dinner. A tip I would give you is look up the menu before you go, to make sure there is choices for you. Remember what I said about preparation? Well it is the same when eating out. Anyone that knows me, knows I love me some cake! Afternoon tea is one of my most favourite things to do. So many places now do a vegan version, so you honestly, do not have to miss out.
That is it from me, (finally). As I mentioned, please please always feel free to get in touch if you think I can help in any way. I am a foodie. I love food. So if you want help with vegan food, I am your (wo)man! Until next time my little plant eaters,
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