Tips on how to do Veganuary
Listen to the podcast series on veganuary here: listen now
How vegan do you want to be?
On the face of it going vegan is an easy decision – and it can be if you want it to be. It’s simply giving up meat, fish, eggs and dairy products right? Well, yes it can be that if you want it to be.
Or you might want to go the extra mile and give up honey too. Or start checking labels to ensure that foods don’t contain ingredients that are derived from animals – eggs and gelatine are the obvious ones. But what about the not so obvious? Some alcohols use animal products in the production process. The wax on fruits may well be shellac (E904) which is a resin secreted by the female lac bug.
And then there’s the clothes – should you give up your favourite leather shoes? Or keep wearing what you have but not buy new ones? Or only buy second-hand?
These are all things to think about. There is no right or wrong answer. Just what feels right for you!
What type of foods do you want to eat?
What’s your motivations for going vegan? Is it to save the planet or is it for health reasons? Do you want to eat more “clean” foods? Do you want to focus on upping your cooking skills? Do you want to loose weight? Or are you just trying to prove to yourself that you can do it?
Whatever your reason, it is worth spending a bit of time thinking about what you want your diet to look like. Changing your diet can mean spending a lot more time in the kitchen. But it doesn’t have to mean that at all.
It is possible to eat largely the same as you did before (depending on how you ate before, of course) by swapping out foods for their vegan alternatives. You can get a lot of vegan look-a-likes e.g. bacon, sausages, meatloaf, beef, charcuterie, tuna, black pudding, haggis, fish, milk, cheese, spread…nearly everything. Eating like this will save lots of time and effort. It will also be expensive and if your goal is to eat foods that look like what they are made of then this may not be for you. Check out this shop for vegan alternatives: https://thevegankind.com
Going vegan is a big change. It requires planning. If you want to eat a balanced diet of largely unprocessed foods then you can do that but it takes a bit of work upfront. My 3-Hour Cooking Week e-book can help with this. It’s a vegetarian plan but with a few swaps the meals can be turned into vegan ones. Get it here: https://virtuelicious.co.uk/product/3-hour-cooking-week-e-book/
Set aside some time to do your meal planning. Get your diary out and work out when you’ll be home and when you’ll need food to take with you on the go, especially when a vegan meal may not be an option.
Work out what meals you want and when you will have time to prepare them. And make sure you set aside time to do the shopping.
Batch cook so that you have some to eat now, leftovers in the fridge and portions in the freezer for another day. Don’t forget to portion up the food so that you can defrost one portion at a time.
Make sure you always have something ready to eat for when you get home ravenous. And don’t forget the snacks!
My meal planner journal covers all this and more: https://virtuelicious.co.uk/product/meal-planner-journal/
Ensuring a balanced diet
Whatever type of vegan you decide to be, ensuring you eat a balanced diet is a must. All too often turning vegetarian or vegan results in a carb heavy, low protein diet. It’s just so much easier to put on a pan of pasta and top with pasta sauce than it is to bake a lasagna packed with lentils and vegetables – that’s just one example. But that lasagna can be portioned up and frozen so you have a nutritious ready meal whenever you want it. It just takes planning.
Make sure that each meals contains protein, carbs, vegetable and what I like to call va va voom.
Eat enough protein
Keep your carbs in check
Eat more veg
add va va voom
The components of a balanced diet
Eat More Protein
- eat more protein by eating more pulses
- make your own hummus (you can get my recipe blend here: https://virtuelicious.co.uk/product/hummus-recipe-kit/)
- sprout your own beans (so much cheaper than buying then sprouted)
- batch cook pulses – a slow cooker works wonders for this
- add nuts and seeds to meals e.g. cashew nuts in your curries, seeds on your porridge
Keep your carbs in check
- eat a variety of grains
- choose wholegrains where possible to keep yourself fuller for longer
- batch cook, portion up and freeze so that they are ready whenever you want them
- substitute some of your carbs for pulses e.g. reduce the amount of pasta on your plate and replace some of it with butter beans; likewise, add beans or vegetables to rice.
- try not to have carbs with carbs e.g. potato curry with rice or a chip butty
- replace breakfast with a non-carb/low-carb alternative e.g. smoothie, rosti, fry up etc.
Eat more veg
- again, batch cooking is key. Roast or steam a load of veg when you get it home from the supermarket. Then store in a large container ready to pick on and add to dishes whenever you want it.
- hide veg in dishes e.g. add pureed veg to pasta sauce, grate parsnip into rice
- sub carbs for veg e.g. cauliflower rice
Add the va va voom factor
- always have onions, garlic, ginger and chillies to hand
- pre-prepare then and either refrigerate or freeze
- don’t be afraid of using ready made blends – just check the label for nasties. Here are mine: https://virtuelicious.co.uk/shop/
- keep the water from steaming or boiling veg – it can make a tasty hot drink or use it to add flavour to sauces
- add texture with seeds, nuts, croutons or raw diced veg e.g. peppers
- make your plate visually appealing with colour and garnishes
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Dare to Dream
Do you remember a time when the milkman delivered milk in bottles which you rinsed and left out for him to collect and reuse once you were done with them? I do! Whatever happened to valuing the resource we have available to us, about respecting it and preserving what we have? It seems that now everything we buy is packaged in some form or other, sometimes triple packed, and we rarely give a thought to the necessity of the packaging. There have been steps taken to reduce packaging – the carrier bag charge goes some way towards it but nowhere near enough. Recycling initiatives are progress but recycling still consumes energy and resources. Best to not use it in the first place. I look forward to a time when we stop this mindless fixation on consumption, I dream of a day when we can take our own containers to the shop and decant our food and drinks…can you imagine decanting milk into your own bottle, buying chocolate by the gram and having no packaging to throw away? Please let your imagination free and help us to achieve a less wasteful future. Dare to dream.