With a record-breaking 500,000 people signing up for Veganuary 2021, switching to a plant-based lifestyle is one of this year’s most popular New Year’s resolutions. Whether you’re making the change for health reasons, the environment or for the animals, adapting to a new lifestyle is tough. It’s easy to say you’re going to do Veganuary, but actually sticking with it all month? Much harder. Here at TEA+, we believe that routine is the key for making permanent, positive changes. We asked our favourite vegan blogger, Emma, for some tips to help you on your vegan journey!
My vegan journey began in the Summer of 2017, when animal agriculture documentaries and vegan ‘What I Eat in a Day’ YouTube videos became more prominent online and caught the attention of 23 year old me, a meat-eater. I never thought it would be possible for me to become vegan - I mean, I’d given ‘plant-based’ a try a couple of times, but always eventually slipped up, mainly due to food habits I’d grown up on! Having no vegans or vegetarians in my family, it was easy to just ‘give in’ to what everyone else was eating- I didn’t cook from scratch a lot so would fall back on pre-packaged food, assuming it would be way too much effort to go 100% vegan (how wrong I was!).
However, after finding vegan alternatives for my favourite snacks and meals, I got into a routine and never looked back. I got organised and started meal planning, which I still do each week. I also made sure I always had vegan snacks in my bag, just in case - I can’t count the amount of times this has helped me when I’ve been on holiday. Changing my daily routine made it much easier to adapt to veganism.
After making the huge step, I soon found myself exploring a whole new world of recipes and cuisines which I had never tried, let alone heard of before. Now, I find myself cooking pretty much every evening from scratch, testing new ingredients and recipes, and not missing any of my pre-vegan food faves.
For me personally, the key to helping me on my vegan journey was discovering some great essentials- ingredients which are so versatile and you’ll be able to use in so many recipes! Below I wanted to share with you some of my absolute vegan essentials, which I hope you’ll find inspire and help you during Veganuary!
Dairy replacements - Milks, cheeses, etc.
- Dairy-free spread.
- Plant-based milk - try find a long-life version rather than those found in the fridge aisle, they last a lot longer plus it saves you room in the fridge! Also don’t forget to stock up on coconut milk for cooking.
- Vegan cheese - there really are so many to choose from, personally I prefer a nut-based cheese such as cashew. Shop around and see which ones take your fancy.
- Dairy-free cream.
- Sauces - mayonnaise is always handy to have!
Proteins and Carbohydrates - Grains, legumes, nuts and all that good stuff!
- Pulses - chickpeas/garbanzo beans, lentils, black turtle beans, gungo peas, kidney beans, cannellini beans, the list goes on!
- Rice, quinoa, couscous - great bases for so many meals.
- Nuts - not just for snacking! Cashew nuts help make a lovely sauce when soaked and blended with other ingredients.
- Tofu, edamame and tempeh - we love soybeans! Firm tofu is great for cooking and so versatile.
- Seitan - why not try making your own using a bag of vital wheat gluten?
- Nutritional yeast - adds a nutritious ‘cheesy’ flavouring to any meal, plus available with added B12!
- Liquid aminos/soy sauce.
- Black salt - for an ‘eggy’ flavour, perfect for tofu scramble!
- Paprika - I love using ‘smoked paprika’ in my cooking.
- Syrup - try agave syrup or maple!
- Liquid smoke - perfect for adding a deep smokey taste.
Fruits and Veggies - Nutrient-rich and great for those healthy fats!
- Potatoes - switch up your meals by using sweet potatoes every now and then!
- Mushrooms - my absolute favourite veggie, I use mushrooms in so many recipes. Switch it up by choosing some ‘oyster mushrooms’ for a meaty texture.
- Berries - frozen berries are great too for adding to smoothies and breakfasts.
- Leafy greens - spinach and kale are always useful or cooking.
- Root veggies - such as carrots, onions, beetroot, radishes.
I hope my list of vegan essentials helps you on your Veganuary journey, and that you have fun experimenting with new flavours and recipes. Don’t forget - take it one day at a time, and honestly, don’t feel like you have to go out and buy everything at once. Use this as a guide to help you gradually grow your vegan kitchen! Enjoy, and have fun cooking!
- Emma aka @TheBrummieVegan