This is normally the first question I get asked when I tell people I am vegan. Except it’s usually more like “What do you EAT?!?!”
It can be quite frustrating having to explain myself all of the time. Watching people’s eyebrows raise higher and higher as I tell them I don’t eat meat. Or fish. Or dairy. Or eggs. Etc etc. But I do understand the confusion as these items form the majority of the western diet these days.
When it comes to the foundations of a plant based diet I usually ease people in gently with the obvious (fruits and vegetables) then keep luring them in with everyone’s favourite carbs (bread, rice, pasta) then finish up with the slightly more hippy lentils, beans and seeds.
The best thing is that pretty much anything can be “veganized”. Before I changed up my diet I have to admit my cooking skills were pretty limited. Even if you aren’t a disaster in the kitchen, if you are used to cooking with animal products it is a huge change. But I have great news! As a vegan you can still enjoy all your favourite foods, it just requires a little more thought in the beginning.
One of the first things I did was buy myself a few vegan recipe books. I’m not sure why as before that I had only ever owned a “one pot meals for students” kind of cookbook that my parents bought for me when I went to university (probably in the hope that I would cook for them when I came home to visit..). I guess I just had in my head the idea that many people do, that a vegan diet is bland and restrictive. But this is all wrong!
Most of my favourite go-to meals have come from a book called “Thug kitchen: Eat like you give a f*ck!“. This is pretty much my kitchen bible at the moment. It has recipes for veggie burgers, burritos, tacos, curries, pasta dishes as well as loads of ideas for sides, soups and salad dressings. The first thing I made was a dairy-free “cheesy” pasta. Despite arguments with my colleagues about whether I could call it “cheesy” if it doesn’t contain cheese, it tasted great!
I have even dabbled a little in vegan baking although it has never been a real passion of mine. There are tons of websites, blogs with tips and ideas for how to replace eggs and dairy in traditional recipes and even more for inherently vegan cakes, biscuits etc. Shout out to my friend Paul who actually made me a vegan birthday cake and also a vegan “cheesecake” which was delicious!
Shop-bought snacks I suppose have been a little more difficult. I didn’t realise just how many common snack foods contain eggs and dairy as well as other hidden animal products. Luckily in the early days I stumbled across this list of “accidentally vegan” foods by PETA so I have never really felt deprived. And when I do stumble across new vegan products I get so excited – it has definitely given me a whole new appreciation for the food that I eat.
Far from being restrictive, I have actually found that going vegan has opened up a whole new world of foods for me. Before I would tend to eat similar meals from week to week and was always quite limited with my food choices. Now I experiment with recipes every week and I am always trying out new ingredients and food combinations.
If you are thinking this all sounds like a bit too much hard work, as well as this I have found a few go-to meals that I can make quickly and without much thought. In my next few posts I will look at Breakfast, Lunch and Dinners – the common food swaps and the types of foods I usually eat during the week.
Even small changes to your diet can have a huge impact on the environment and your health!
If you have any questions or want advice on a particular topic please let me know. Otherwise I hope you find the next few posts useful!