I often read comments from vegans that ‘once you make the connection, going vegan is very easy’. Indeed, in theory this is true, however I don’t feel like scorning others for finding it difficult to cope with the mere practicalities of going vegan helps anyone.
We are all different, and the best way to promote this lifestyle is to show compassion and understanding towards fellow humans by meeting them where they are! For this reason, I found this detailed account by Tabatha Leggett on how she made the switch from vegetarian to vegan extremely useful for newbies, who are aiming to make the transition.
Check it out:
“Hi! I’m Tabatha and I’ve recently made the switch from being a vegetarian to being a vegan.
Here’s a very honest account of all the changes I made and the things that helped along the way:”
I became vegan very, very gradually.
Whenever I’ve tried to go vegan in the past, I’ve always ended up making the same two mistakes:
- I went cold turkey and gave up all dairy products overnight.
- As soon as I slipped up, I figured I’d already failed so I might as well give up entirely.
I’ve tried switching to a plant-based diet a few times before, but I’ve never manage to stick to it for very long. I did it for two years when I was still at school, but it was much easier back then because my mum did all the cooking. Since then, I’ve managed to stick to the odd vegan month here and there, but I’ve always wound up eating some accidental cheese and then swearing off veganism forever.
But this time I was determined to succeed. The first thing I did was give up baked goods that contain eggs. This was relatively easy because I’m not that much of a pudding person. Next, I gave up cheese, which was mind-bendingly hard. And finally I gave up eggs, which was somehow even harder. But giving up food types step by step made the whole thing much more manageable and actually made me think about what I was replacing them with.
Tl;dr: Take your time. And don’t give up if you eat some accidental cheese!
And I started by making vegan versions of foods I already ate regularly.
You might also love these 16 Incredible Vegan Cooking Hacks Any Vegan Should Master
I knew that going vegan was going to require a big lifestyle change, but I also knew that I regularly eat dairy-free meals without even thinking about it. To make the transition easier, I spent some time going through the kinds of meals I cook regularly to figure out which ones I could easily cut the dairy out of.
For example, I regularly make myself a Buddha bowl for dinner when I get home late during the week. I usually fry a bit of halloumi to go on top at the end, but apart from that they’re usually vegan. So I cut out the halloumi, and I was good to go.
The same goes for jacket potatoes with cheese, which are a fairly regular dinner for me at this time of year. But as soon as I realised it’s just as easy to bake a sweet potato and serve it with some roast veg and a tahini dressing, it was easy to cut out the dairy.
And finally, I tend to prepare big batches of pesto for weekday dinners at weekends. Googling “vegan pesto” led me to this recipe, which is honestly maybe even nicer than the real thing.
I taught myself how to cook with new vegetables by signing up to a fortnightly veg box.
I live with my boyfriend and we tend to eat most of our meals together. We find that one of Riverford’s medium veg boxes every other week gives us plenty of fresh vegetables with minimal waste, but there are tonnes of other subscription boxes you can sign up to.
Riverford’s medium boxes are £13.95 each, which is roughly equivalent to what we’d spend on fresh vegetables from the supermarket. Plus, it means we experiment with exciting veg like fennel and romanesco broccoli, rather than always falling back on the vegetables we already know how to cook.
The best thing about becoming vegan has been learning how to cook new things. So even if you don’t want to subscribe to a regular veg box, I would really recommend forcing yourself to buy vegetables you don’t normally cook with.
And I taught myself more about vegan cooking by signing up to a recipe box too.
I’m a good cook, but literally every recipe I know relies heavily on eggs, butter, and cheese.
Last month I signed up to Plant Curious, a plant-based recipe box and omg it was a total game changer! A single box costs £42, and contains recipes and ingredients for three meals. Each meal serves two people, which means you’re paying £7 per meal.
My first box contained ingredients for blue tacos with pulled jackfruit and black beans, aubergine balls with gnocchi and ragu, and raw pad thai. All three were delicious (especially the jackfruit, which you can order in tins here), the recipes were really easy to follow, and nothing took more than 45 minutes to make.
Plant Curious have just launched a fortnightly subscription service, which I reckon is definitely worth it if you have the money. But if you don’t fancy making a regular commitment, you could always just order one box like I did. You get to try out three new meals, and you keep the recipes so you can always make them again.
I spent a lot of time researching vegan substitutes.
Before becoming vegan, the world of substitutes really baffled me. But I did my research (mostly on Pinterest) and set myself the challenge of making vegan versions of my favourite foods.
I learned so much. Here are some of the things I now know:
– You can use aquafaba (the leftover liquid from a can of chick peas) to make chocolate mousse;
– You can use applesauce to make muffins;
– You can use cashews and nutritional yeast to make cheese;
– Blending frozen bananas makes something that tastes like ice cream;
– You can use mashed bananas and chia seeds to make pancakes;
– You can use avocados and vegetable oil to make cake.
But hands down my greatest discovery is that you can use a flax egg (literally 1 tbsp of flaxseeds mixed with 3 tbsps water) instead of an egg in basically all baking!
You can see some of the recipes I loved here.
And eventually I started experimenting with new dishes too.
A common misconception about veganism is that it’s boring. I actually found that switching to a plant-based diet made me branch out and be more experimental with my cooking.
Especially ones for my favorite unhealthy foods.
I was worried that becoming vegan would mean I lived off grains and avocados. But I was totally wrong. There are soooo many vegan versions of unhealthy recipes and being vegan definitely doesn’t mean giving up junk food.
I made a special effort to find non-boring vegan breakfasts.
My favourite part of the weekend is having a lie in and then eating a big breakfast in my PJs, and I was worried that becoming vegan was going to ruin that. Again I couldn’t have been more wrong.
It’s also totally possible to make a full on vegan fry up. Most supermarket hash browns are vegan (McDonalds hash browns are vegan too!), so all you need to buy are vegan sausages and tofu to scramble in place of the eggs.
I stocked up on vegan ready meals so I wouldn’t have to cook every night.
Like pretty much everyone, I don’t have time to cook a full meal from scratch every single weeknight.
Allplants are a new company that deliver frozen plant-based ready meals that are big enough for two people (with leftovers).
I tried their black bean chili, cashew mac and cheese, and jerk jackfruit and honestly all three were delicious. I don’t think I’ve eaten a ready meal since I was a student, but these were totally different to the ready meals I remember. They don’t feel at all greasy, the portions are really generous, and at £4.75 per portion they’re perfectly good value.
I worked out which junk foods are vegan and made sure I always had some in my kitchen cupboard.
Oreos, dairy-free Ben & Jerrys ice cream, Haribo, Green & Blacks chocolate, Doritos, nearly all Walkers crisps (including prawn cocktail yummm), Hobnobs, and peanut butter are all vegan.
This list of accidentally vegan foods is worth bookmarking.
To check out the rest of the tricks that helped Tabatha make the switch, head towards the original piece here.