new vegan | guide + tips
I'm recently vegan (four months so far) and love it. A friend mentioned they were thinking of going vegan and asked if I had any pointers. I hope this post will invite and welcome more ideas, recommendations and any thoughts you guys might have.
How to do it. Cold Turkey or gradual transition? You know yourself best and what works, so go with that. If you're not sure, my recommendation would be gradual. Start trying some recipes, have one vegan day a week, cut out one of the dairy's at a time - I think milk is the easiest one as nearly every coffee shop and restaurant will have a soy or (even better) an almond milk replacement. Almond milk is nutritious, it lasts a while at home, and isn't that much more expensive than cow's milk. Find out what your weaknesses are and try foods that satisfy the craving in a similar way. These could be replacements ("cheese") or alternatives (seitan/scrambled tofu/fake "meat". Eggs are always hard to give up, especcially if you are vegetarian already. I've found that there are a few breakfasts I like just as much - like spicy beans on toast/vegan black pudding/scrambled tofu/ackee on toast/avocado any way anytime (I'm an addict) or check out this post on how to do every egg dish without eggs at Free From Harm.
Label Reader Extroadinaire. You'll need to become one because milk, milk powder, egg, dairy, gelatine will be found in just about every pre-made non healthy packeted food item. It's not that arduous to get used to, it takes less than 5-10 seconds to check over the packet, and it will increase your awareness and relationship with what is going into your food. Whatever your reasons are for being vegan; I can say with confidence that doing this will only reassure you that you've made a great decision.
2. Eating out. Most places in the city centre offer a vegan option but sometimes you just want to walk into a place and have a decision to make (Smashed Avo on toast is getting a bit stale even for the most passionate of avocado lovers). My favourite place to eat is Earth Cafe underneath the Buddhist Centre. Patricia's food is freshly made from scratch each day, it's all health conscious without compromising on taste. In my opinion it has some of the best tasting food in Manchester. V Revolution is great for a vegan junk food fix, They serve everything from burritos to steak burgers to grilled "cheese" sandwiches. Yum. Soup Kitchen do excellent vegan jamaican style sunday roasts as well as a vegan menu daily - soups/sandwiches and vegan versions of their main hot dishes. I've eaten good food at 1847 and there is always Greens in Didsbury. My favourite surprise venue was the Himalaya restaurant in Levenshulme. I had vegan thali there and it was out of this world. Other faves are Tampopo for a delicious vegan Pad Thai and Go Falafel for...well, falafel. Fuel Cafe in Withington and Tibetan Kitchen and Love Juice in Chorlton also have great vegan juices and dishes on the menu. I gotta shout out to my favourite takeaway in the world who make the best indian cuisine, are vegan friendly and have just opened on Barlow Moor Road in Chorlton - the one and only Barakah Foods. A few places I haven't tried yet myself but have been highly recommended - Teatime Collective in Hulme, The Wonder Inn Organic Cafe at Shudehill, Cowherds in Salford, Lotus Vegetarian Kitchen on Wilmslow Road, Mod's Veggie/Vegan Cafe at the Thirsty Scholar, Las Iguanas on Deansgate is a Mexican restaurant with a separate vegan menu that's supposed to be incredible. I've also heard that Sanskruti on Mauldeth Road make amazing vegan thali and other main dishes. If you want sweet treats then come in to see us and try the delights of Loafing Around - made with vegan, gluten free and refined sugar free ingredients, their brownies, bagels and bakes taste gorgeous. There's more recommendations to be found in the groups and blogs listed at the bottom of this post.
3. Plan ahead. Carry food everywhere. I've been a food carrier for a few years now, and since going vegan this has really made things easier. Making bean dips at home and carrying a tub in your bag, vegan chocolate, a jar of nut butter, raw veggies, vegan pesto, an avocado...the list goes on. Make a list of foods you like that can be carried around and make sure you stock up. I nearly always carry a spoon and knife in my bag too.
4. Use the internet. It's full of inspiration for new meal ideas and whatever pangs and cravings for old eats you're having, a vegan out there somewhere will have had the same thing, and found how to make a vegan version, posted it online and there it will be for your pleasure and enjoyment. Links to my favourite vegan blogs and recipes are listed below.
5. See food as adventure. Many wise souls have pointed out that limits only make us more creative. There are advances in food research and development all the time. Right now we are in a huge time of change where investigation and exposure of our food industry practices are quite rightly coming under the spotlight. The nutrition revolution is also in full swing and with the rise in popularity of vegan, gluten free and sugar free lifestyles there couldn't be a better time to change. I know in the U.S they have started making incredible cheeses from Almond and Cashew milk by feeding them with the same bio cultures used to make dairy cheeses. I'm sure these will cross the pond and be available soon here. Or if you're feeling really adventurous you could have a go at making your own...?
6. Nutrition. I read a lot about health food and work in a health food shop so I know some bits about food but I'm not a nutritionist and I don't believe in prescribed foods/lifestyles/diets that fit every person. I get asked by a lot of people how to eat well and 'what is the thing to eat to be healthy?' and 'what is bad for me?' etc. My belief and answer to this is that it's a combination of education and listening to your own body. Read about nutrition from a variety of sources, look at the skeptic's arguments too, take it all on board and try things in moderation. I would recommend always starting with small changes whatever you do with your body. No-one would run a marathon if they haven't even been for a jog in six months. What you eat is personal to you and your body will let you know if it doesn't like something. Mine is beans. I'm sure you can imagine the signs it gave me, sorry. So I have to make sure I get protein in other forms - most sources recommend we consume between 0.8-1g of protein per kg of body weight. A couple of articles with advice on how to be vegan and healthy are worth checking out from the Vegan Society and the NHS. There are loads more out there worth a read and please let us know if you have any links to more good ones.
- Avocados - the best thing to replace sour cream/dollops of yoghurt/butter etc.
- Almond Milk (or) Hemp, Oat, Hazelnut, Rice, Coconut, Soy - pick your fave.
- Almond Butter/Peanut Butter - then you can make this heavenly peanut satay sauce
- Vegan pesto - make your own or buy from our shop - it's delicious on everything.
- Chia Seeds - use these and/or Golden Linseed (AKA Flax seed) to make an egg replacement
- Nutritional Yeast - adds a cheesy flavour to anything (risotto/pasta/lasagne/toast/bechamel sauce...see ideas of how to use on Ecorazzi and Treehugger and in Jamie Oliver's Mac 'n' Cheese recipe at the bottom of the page...
- A good "cheese" - Violife is the best; it melts, it tastes great and it comes in cheddar/smoked/original/mozzarella.
- Vegan Spread - Biona's coconut spread is lovely, you can also get olive spread/sunflower spread/coconut spread - all to satisfy the butter cravings
- Mayo - egg free of course. There are several brands on the market, we stock a couple of varieties. My absolute favourite is the organic one from Plamil. Can't stop eating it...
- Chocolate - Ombar, Mr Popples, Moo Free, Vego (vegan milk chocolate heaven) and loads of other brands do ridiculously good chocolate bars
- Tofu/Seitan - great meaty and egg like replacements they soak up a lot of flavour when used well
- Coconut Milk + Almond or Oat Cream - add creaminess to risottos, curries, soups, broths
Blogs + Groups + Websites.
Deliciously Ella | Madeleine Shaw | A Girl Called Jack | Jamie Oliver | 10 best (Telegraph) | 10 best (Guardian) | Oh She Glows | Top 50 Vegan Bloggers of 2015 | Post Punk Kitchen | Vegan Recipe Club | Serious Eats | McCalls Organics | Green Kitchen Stories | Sprouted Kitchen | Bettina's Kitchen | Zaatara + Quinoa | Raw. Vegan. Not Gross. (my fave)
Nigella's Falafels (use a Chia egg as replacement)
Please feel free to share, comment and recommend more ideas for this post!