Are you toying with the idea of going vegan? Or maybe you just want more plant-based elements in your meals. Here are 3 easy steps to help you get started.
Perhaps you recently saw one of those jarring PETA videos. Or you want to take some calculated steps towards improving your health. Maybe you’re worried about the effects of meat production on the environment. Whatever your reasons are for wanting to know how to start a vegan lifestyle, the next step is to figure out how to make the change.
This can be daunting as you’ve probably been cooking and eating one way your whole life and suddenly cutting out all animal products can be a huge challenge. Our advice is to take it step by step.
Before we get into the steps, just a small note.
It’s all very well to suddenly go cold-turkey and cut out all meat products overnight, but sometimes that is not the best answer for you. Whether choosing to gradually phase into a vegan lifestyle or to slam the door on all animal products immediately, we recommend you consider these three things first:
1.Eating healthy is important, so try to avoid rushing to fast food to compensate for the animal products you were eating.
Freshly caught fish is definitely healthier for your body than vegan ‘prawn-style things’. It really depends on what your motivations are for making the change, but we recommend that you try not to sacrifice your health for veganism. Rather, be smart about the vegan choices you make.
2. Read your labels.
We have a whole blog dedicated to this. A choccy biscuit may be vegan but it’s doesn’t have the nutrients your body needs. See the blog here.
3. Listen to your body.
If you start to feel lethargic, if your injuries don’t heal as fast as they used to, or if you are constantly craving something, this means you perhaps aren’t getting the nutrients you need. The body will not feel sated until you’ve met its nutritional requirements. We recommend seeking out a nutritionist or getting blood tests from your GP to see what you are lacking and adapt your diet accordingly.
Here are our 3 steps on how to start a vegan diet for beginners
Step 2: Follow these chefs and publications that offer loads of easy-to-follow recipes and will inspire and motivate you on your journey.
Step 3: Cook your normal meals and start to sub in plant-based alternatives.
To help you with some ideas about how to start swapping out your animal products for vegan substitutes, we have put together a few tips and tricks for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Breakfast is probably the easiest one. The main ingredients you need to substitute are milk and yoghurt.
Smoothies without yoghurt
Instead, you can use a nut butter (like peanut butter or almond butter) and oat/soy/almond milk. Add extra bananas to boost the creaminess. Adding in protein powders (with research) will help maintain your protein levels if you usually eat eggs for brekkie. You can also turn your smoothie into a delectable smoothie bowl like the one pictured. PRO TIP: Weigh out bags of fruit and freeze them for the week and just blend in the morning for a quick option.
Baked beans on toast
You can use canned beans but if you know how to make your own, that’s even better. Substitute olive oil for butter or use a vegan mayo or vegan cheese instead. PRO TIP: Choose a good quality low GI bread to keep you fuller for longer.
Oats without dairy
Use water or oat/soy/almond milk to make your oats and add nut butters, seeds, fruit, cacao powder and/or nuts for a bomb of nutrients. PRO TIP: To save you time in the morning, choose quick-cook oats or prepare overnight oats the night before.
Find vegan rusks for your coffee in the morning (We offer them in-store 😉 )
If you’re a coffee and rusk type of person, there are vegan options for you so you don’t have to miss out on your morning treat. You may even convert your whole household to them. Small wins for Team Plant-based!
These can be a bit trickier, especially if you work in an area where there aren’t many vegan options available at the local diners.
A yummy sandwich filling is smashed chickpeas with vegan mayo and lettuce, tomato, etc. PRO TIP: If you’re eating at a restaurant, ask them to leave the animal products like cheese off your salad, soup, sandwich or wrap.
Leftovers to the rescue
Make more of your dinner the night before and use the leftovers for your lunch. It’s economical and if you make a lot, you can also freeze portions and have easy, ready-made lunches/dinners for when you’re in a hurry.
Have a second brekkie!
If breakfast is your favourite meal of the day, make oats for brekkie and a smoothie for lunch or some deliciously decadent avo on toast.
Always have your own snacks on hand
Snacks like nuts, carrot sticks, wasabi peas, popcorn and vegan choccies should get you through the afternoon slump. Most chips are vegan friendly, although not the healthiest option.
Dinner is the place where you can really start to experiment with those vegan substitutes. Start gradually. If you try to master tofu, tempeh, aquafaba, vegan cheese and seitan all in one go, you may get overwhelmed. If you are pressed for time and need to get some vegan takeaway, there’s no shame in that. Try not to make a habit out of it though as takeaway is usually not a very healthy option.
Chickpeas and salad
This is a quick and easy dinner when you are tired and busy and can’t be fussed to stand in the kitchen for an hour.
Use your usual stroganoff recipe but sub out beef and sub in some scrumptious mushies.
You can buy vegan patties from your supermarket or you can make your own. PRO TIP: Use one big Portobello mushroom instead of a patty. Grill or braai/BBQ it and drizzle with a homemade vegan pesto (basil, garlic, salt and olive oil in a Blitzer). Add tomato, lettuce and whatever else you like. YUM!
Instead of your usual mince, get yourself some vegan mince or use lentils as a substitute.
These are just a few ideas of how to start going vegan by ditching the animal products and plant-basing your palate. Tofu is a very handy little vegan product. If you don’t have a clue where to start with cooking it, head over to our tofu blog and you’ll be a tofu master in minutes.
We hope these tips and tricks will help you on your vegan journey.
If you have any questions or want to know more about any aspect of vegan cooking, please email firstname.lastname@example.org