It's been the hot topic for the last couple of years, but the Vegan movement is no fad, it's gaining momentum and it doesn't look likely to stop. This means HUGE changes culturally, socially and on an industrial level. I'm not Vegan, but I know I will be in the future, it will just take me time to change habits, of, well a bloody lifetime! Whether that is the right or wrong way of doing things I don't know but in the long run it'll work better for me, my family and the world my kids will live in way after I’m gone (unless being vegan makes you live forever?!...maybe one marketing tag line too far...!) Anyway it goes without saying it is is all a huge personal choice...
I first started considering the ethical side of eating animals after my second baby. I thought it might be a temporary thing, this huge rush of hormones making me feel very emotional and empathetic towards all living things. I started watching a few things, getting some more information, and being particularly shocked by the dairy industry - why didn't I know these things, they were so obvious?! There was no moment I decided to make the leap to plant based, I just started changing the easiest stuff, and slowly. I'd move my hand slightly left in the supermarket from the cows milk to pick up the oat milk, I started buying less meat, trying some different foods I wouldn't have bothered with before, and experimenting with some dairy free cheeses. Then I took the biggest leap and gave up meat. There were steps to this too - when I went out to eat I would allow myself to choose meat if I fancied it. I did the first few times but again in the end, there were other tasty options I would enjoy just as much, so why not just choose them? It wasnt really as easy as that...I spent many years in the media industry entertaining clients in swanky restaurants, eating A LOT. It’s funny how the middle classes are almost proud of eating everything and anything when it comes to meat. Even something like fois gras, something everyone knows is extremely cruel, is seen as almost a badge of honour. Ps I am really not judging for any of your choices, my blog is not for that, I’m just thinking out loud about the psychology of it all, and how I as a human I felt a certain way about meat even though I had a high basis of empathy towards animals from a young age. Then again I’m sure if you asked any kid ‘darling shall I kill this pig for you, grind it up and cook it for your tea?’ they’d probably say ewwwww no way. But if you sold it in as sausages and chips they’d probably go for it right?! But sneaky of us isn’t it...!
So if you fancy started to add some vegan stuff into your shop, here’s my starter for 10. It’s not based on nutrition - I ain’t no nutritionalist but I cook healthy, varied and balanced meals for my family every week and we’re still alive! - it’s just products that might substitute things that are useful for family meals. And nothing too complex that you need to travel to some tiny health shop and spend heaps of wedge, but stuff from Amazon or the big supermarkets.
NB the idea of changing your diet shouldn’t be about swapping in substitutes or using fake processed products to make up for the space where meat once was, we should try to start thinking about veggies and pulses as being a more important part of our plate. However if you’re just starting out these things might just get you on your way, and then naturally you’ll figure it all out.
1. Butter: #florafreedom spread. Available in the big Sains/ Tesco etc. I’ve baked cakes with it too, absolutely fine.
2. Milk: Oatley & Plenish coconut are our faves. Use the above and one of these for white sauces. Seriously just get rid of the cow milk, so easy! Oatley does barista milk which will froth for coffee.
3. Mayo: Tesco do a good free from mayo, doesn’t say vegan clearly on the front but it does in the labelling: Find it HERE.
4. Eggs: The Tofoo Co... I think is the best tofu (in my limited experience!) Use for scrambled egg alternative and loads or other stuff like peking style duck, frying it up with a crispy edge. Relish. Find it HERE.
5. Cheese: Nutritional yeast with b12: get a tub on Amazon, it helps to cheesify stuff. Find it HERE.
Also try out the vegan cheeses in Sainsbury’s. I go for the cream cheese as it’s not so overpoweringly coconuty. Find it HERE. Not great for you probably, but violife do cheese slices which make a good toast. Find it HERE.
6. Yoghurt: Coyo plain yog, Alpro various flavours but watch your soya intake. HERE.
7. Meat: Linda Mcartney - sausages, pulled pork, meatballs, burgers, sausage rolls OH MY! YES look no further!...seriously this stuff is good. Clearly we shouldn’t be trying to just replace meat for another meat like substitute, but if you’re hankering for a burger just know there are always options my friend. Check out the variety HERE.
8. Chocolate - Ok so one slightly wanky thing for you, Cacao. It’s worth buying a small pack, we use it for chocolate milkshakes whizzed up with frozen bananas, dates and oat milk, so yummy. Recipe on the blog here.
9. Ice cream - Swedish Glacé is available everywhere for a nice vanilla. And Ben and Jerry’s have just brought out vegan tubs....have to admit I haven’t tried. Too dangerous.
10. Shopping staples:
Chickpeas - curries, humous, pasta sauces whizzed up, baked in oven for crispy ones
Lentils and pulses - add to hearty soups, curries, make patties if you can be arsed. I buy the sachets of pulses as they’re super quick for salads and kids meals. Baked beans are the classic winner and you can’t go wrong.
Green veg - everything and anything. Stuff like Pak Choi is surprisingly good for you, spinach and it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t mention kale of course...
Nuts - for smoothies, curries, on salads, in wraps, whizz up in pasta sauces (my vegan pesto is here)
Mushrooms - think about meaty veg to give you a variety of textures
Falafel - so great for a filling wrap/sarnie/ salad with some cous cous and tagine style sauce.
So there we are, let me know if you come up with any of ingenious recipes. it's really quite exciting to look at food in a different way...and avocado chocolate moose surely makes everything better right?!
And if you want to learn more head over to Plant Based news, and follow them on Facebook for interesting articles, easy to digest ('scuse the pun) info about nutrition and the meat and dairy industries. Check IT.