First of all I want you to ACCEPT that this is a lifestyle change and not just a diet. The lifestyle aspect will seem more daunting than the change in food choices because you are opening you mind to a completly new way of living. ACCEPT that it is not going to easy for everyone. ACCEPT that you are going to come across some people who won’t understand why you are choosing this lifestyle and also understand that they don’t need to understand. You don’t need to make them understand and some people will never understand it is just how it is. ACCEPT that you now must learn a whole new way of eating and seeing food. A way that goes against everything you have been taught since birth. A whole new way of living!
DON’T THINK ABOUT THE THINGS YOU ARE REMOVING FROM YOUR DIET. THINK ABOUT THE BEAUTIFUL ABUNDANT FOODS YOU ARE GOING TO BE ADDING IN!
You are vegan, thinking of going vegan, newly vegan, a little bit vegan, vegan on a Monday (some may argue whether that is even possible lol) level 1-10 vegan or just interested in what I have to say about being vegan!
We can all relate to each other in one way or another and 98% of us have been meat eaters or at least dairy consumers since birth. I ate meat and dairy for the first 31 years of my life. So we have all been on both sides of the coin!
You may be familiar with a few things that happen when you decide to “Go Vegan” when that “switch” in your brain goes and there is pretty much no going back!
- You cry! (I cried a lot)
- You feel like you have been lied to by every single governing body, teacher and doctor you have ever had!
- You get an over powering urge to independently save the world and all its animals all on your own!
- You feel overwhelmed and not quite sure what you are going ever eat again now all food groups have been removed from your diet!
- You ring all your family to tell them about what you know and instantly become a pushy vegan forcing your opinion on everyone and asked to respect their choices as they respect yours!
- You read every single packet in every single supermarket and say out loud really loud “WHY THE F*^CK IS THERE MILK IN THIS”
- You see the world and the people in it very differently!
So these are just some of the symptoms of going vegan and they happen to all of us. The first thing I am going to say about them is that THEY ARE NORMAL!! and feeling those things is NORMAL. We are all our own kind of normal. What used to be your normal is now not normal and your new normal is in most peoples eyes a little bit odd! But don’t worry, going vegan doesn’t automatically turn you into a stereotype! You will change yes! you will annoy people yes! you will inspire MORE! This is totally unavoidable. The transition is huge and so many aspects of your life will change. Don’t let this scare you, embrace the change and start letting new things and people into your life. You will feel lonely at times. You will feel like you aren’t being heard or understood by some of the closest people in your life and it probably won’t feel very nice. You are up against cognitive dissonance! When human morals do not align with our actions and we are challenged, we react in all different kinds of ways. Most reactions from people who aren’t vegan are because their morals are being challenged in alignment with their actions. When the transition to veganism happens we are in a position to align these two things leaving us feeling free, pure, clean, cleansed, happy, content are some of the words you hear from people. Most human beings at the heart of everything are compassionate. You see a little piggy at a petting farm or a lamb or calf and the natural response is to say awwwww and you love the animal, most humans love animals. When you begin to see animals in a different light you don’t then go home and eat the animal. You are in alignment and it is the most amazing feeling in the world!
“The state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioural decisions and attitude change.”
My main purpose in writing this blog is to help where I can in your transition. Offer some reviews on my favourite products and to give some very simple nutritional advice derived from my own knowledge some of the top plant based medical doctors. The world health organisation and the UK health guidelines.
My favourite vegan food products and recommendations
My first recommendation is to sign up to The Vegan Kind boxes! I had a year subscription from a very dear friend for my birthday and they are a great way of sampling some really awesome tasty vegan food, snacks and products. You also get a recipe card with each box too.
This is a combination of two boxes but gives you a good idea of the quality of the products.
DO NOT FEEL LIKE YOU NEED TO REPLACE THE ANIMAL PROTEIN! This is an easy thing to do as we are conditioned and programmed to make sure we eat enough protein. We are protein mad!!! all you have to do is look in the supermarket and you can buy things like protein bread and protein cereal and protein porridge and protein peanut butter!! It’s everywhere we look, drilling into the minds of the population that we must eat protein. It is almost prioritised above everything else when really your diet only needs to be around 5-10% protein tops!! Up until now your main source of protein has been from animals so you are naturally going to feel like you need to source it from other places, when in fact it is in everything you eat. If you look closely at the World Health Organisation recommendations for protein, the chances are on your old animal based diet you will have been eating WAY too much of the stuff and in fact, if you are eating an abundant varied caloric rich plant based diet, it is almost impossible to not eat enough protein on a plant based diet. Problems occur more with sever calorie restriction and starvation when the body probably isn’t getting enough of everything.
My favourite places to find protein are in everything I eat and this is based on a healthy whole foods non junk food diet. Obviously if you are eating a junk food diet vegan or not vegan it isn’t the healthiest option and malnutrition is possible. There are lots of under nourished and over fed vegans.
My favourite sources are:
- Dark leafy greens
- Brown rice
- Vegan patties
- Home made burgers using the ingredients above
Here are a few short educational videos regarding protein requirements and the harmful effects of animal protein in the diet. Please watch these over the next few weeks. Knowledge is power and it will really help you relax around the whole protein “fiasco”
- The great protein fiasco
- The protein combining myth
- Protein intake and IGF-1 (cancer promoting hormone)
- Plant – Based Bodybuilding
These are all things I had no idea about. Through my whole 33 years of living some of this stuff was such a smack in the face!! you can’t hide from it and the reality is real. Did you know that 30% of the earths land mass is use for animal agriculture and human greed!! the amount we consume is consumed through greed and taste not necessity.
Click here for more information about the effects of animal agriculture on our planet as this is a huge separate topic. You can also watch the documentary Cowspiracy which exposes a lot of information regarding the environment and certain charities who are supposed to be protecting this planet.
There are so many plant based milks on the market and it is very much a case of trying them all until you find one you like. Think about when you normally drink milk? Is it on your cereal or porridge or tea and coffee. You may want to try different ones for different things. Ask on a vegan group on Facebook and you will get a million different responses from people which will leave you even more confused lol!! Also know that plant based milk is not like cows milk and you are unlikely to find one that replicates the taste. See plant based milk as a welcomed change and allow yourself to see it as a plant based milk not a cows milk substitute.
My favourite milks are – “Rice Dream rice milk” for my tea and coffee – This milk never separates like other milks do and I have tried a lot. The milk separates when it reaches contact with hot water. Boiling water can vary slightly in boiling temperature so one that separates for someone may not for you! minefield yes lol!! I like Rude Health milks on my muesli and cereal. It is so tasty and naturally sweet and my kids also love it. My little one has rice milk on her cereal as it was the first one she really enjoyed. Soy milk is great for baking and sauces and things like Yorkshire puddings. Not so nice in tea and coffee. But I do enjoy a soy latte from Starbucks they are the best!
You don’t really need to replace the dairy in your diet with non dairy milks for the sake of calcium as you will be getting plenty of calcium from all the extra plant based foods you will be eating. But it is nice to have the option. Most people consume some kind of milk. I really enjoy trying different plant based milks. If I see one I haven’t tried I will always pick it up and give it a try.
Click on the image below to hear a short 3 minute video about what Dr Gregor has to say about calcium from cows milk V plants.
Cheese is something people eat for taste. Nothing more, nothing less. We do not need it in our diet for nutritional value. It is literally just one of those things people say “ohhhhh I couldn’t give up cheese” But with a bit of will power and the urge to save the world and all the animals from human greed like I mentioned earlier, it’s pretty easy to give up cheese!! especially with all the AMAZING vegan cheeses on the market!
So some of my favourites are – Violife, Sainsbury’s vegan cheese, they have a whole range of different cheeses usually found in their free from section. Tesco also do a vegan cheese selection.
My all time favourite vegan cheese has to be from Asparagasm They also run a vegan cheese work shop where you learn how they make their wonderful vegan cheeses!! I don’t eat cheese very often, I tend to have it as a rarity in my diet and enjoy it when I do.
You can also make amazing cheese sauces using cashew nuts and even vegetables!!! this is my absolute favourite vegan Mac n cheese recipe and it’s made from veggies!! I KNOW!! weird hey? But it is really nice. Here is a video of someone making it lol!! (don’t watch with kids lol – bad language). Even my brother liked it, we made it together once after watching the video haha!!
This is a cheese board with raw crackers and chutney.
You can also buy vegan pizza from most large Sainsbury’s stores which is topped with vegan cheese – or make your own using a just roll janet pizza base, pizza topping and vegan cheese of choice.
Eggs are actually gametes. Gametes are sex cells, a female gamete is called ova or egg and the male gamete is called sperm. Both designed to bond with each other when fertilised. that is their function.
Chickens do not lay eggs for humans to eat, despite any argument people offer to you about owning their own chickens, they are not for humans!! Eggs are also the highest concentrated form of dietary cholesterol you can find. There are laws stating that eggs cannot be counted as healthy or nutritious based on the amount of cholesterol and saturated fat found inside them. You can watch this rather comical short 4 minute video by Dr Gregor which will give you some helpful information on the egg industry.
In the nicest possible way you need to let your passion and health take over here and accept that you will not eat anything remotely eggy tasting again lol except for vegan egg! There are some really good egg alternatives on the market and a few I have tried! in fact I cooked vegan egg and had to throw it away as it was way to eggy and stank my flat out! all the windows were open and I didn’t buy it again! HOWEVER it is very popular in the vegan world so try some vegan egg! you may like it. Other alternatives are tofu scramble and vegan omelette mixes which are awesome if you like that kind of thing. The brand below also do a cheese sauce which I am a huge fan of.
You can find a tofu scramble recipe by clicking on the picture below. The minimalistic baker has some really nice recipes so check out the rest of her site whilst you are there.
And this breakfast muffin from BOSH is another awesome way to recreate popular egg dishes.
This is your bread and butter!! We all like a treat and something tasty and some good old fashioned traditional meals but your nutrient density is what your body needs. It’s your fibre, your vitamins and minerals, your water and pretty much everything your body craves. Cravings come from being under nourished not under fed. So eating fast food for example. People eat the meal that is packed with calories yet little to no fibre and little to no goodness, the body finishes and all you have done is given it calories not nutrients. The body is still hungry, which is why the feeling of hunger generally returns pretty quickly, so then you eat more, still hungry, eat more. Before you know it you are obese and all the gut biome in your gut knows is junk food! So this is all it will want. Bringing forwards the term “over fed and under nourished”. It is a huge vicious cycle!! So many people are stuck within this cycle! To get out of this cycle requires a completely different way of seeing food and eating. It is a huge transition because I have been through it myself and it requires the will to change and to have an excitement around filling your body with goodness. Making food a lifestyle not a diet.
I am just going to fill your mind with colour and show you some of the large nutrient dense meals I have pretty much on a daily basis! I have not always eaten this way and it is something that came with time. When people ask me what I eat as a vegan and assume I don’t eat a lot or varied foods. It always makes me think about what I ate before I was vegan. I can almost guarantee my plate never looked like this and buying fruit and veg was very rare! I literally can’t even think what I used to eat before.
For those who love cake
YES vegans eat cake!! woohoo!! My all time favourite cake recipes are by BOSH.
Hit the BOSH link below and it will take you to their wonderful Facebook page!! So many amazing EASY recipes!
You will come to realise that you don’t need eggs to make cakes after making a few of their recipes! Here are a few cakes I have made, minus the princess one. That was made by The Travelling Cupcake in Andover for my youngest daughters birthday. They did such a fantastic job and it was 100% vegan. The Victoria sponge was made for my birthday by my amazing friend Sophie.
Although these are recipes I use as a standard recipe. I have tried a lot of different recipes and also adapted some for my own preference. A small google search will give you thousands and thousands of ideas and recipes but your standard chocolate and Victoria sponge recipes I recommend BOSH.
This is the bosh Victoria sponge recipe with 1/4 cup of flour subbed with a 1/4 cup of cacao powder to make it chocolate. YUMMOOOS hey?
Eating out as a vegan is getting easier by the day!! Restaurant after restaurant are getting on the vegan menu train! Including small cafes and coffee shops (minus costa coffee they suck!!) The list below is from the top of my head and only chain restaurants and coffee shops. If you download the mobile phone app “Happy Cow” directory, this will bring up more independent places to eat, based on where you live.
- Harvester – Vegan options
- Toby Carvery – Vegan menu (ask for one on arrival and ask for your veg fresh)
- Pizza Hut – Vegan options
- Pizza Express – Vegan options
- Zizzis – Vegan menu (My absolute faves)
- Nandos – Vegan options – wrap only!!
- Bills – Vegan options
- Wagamama – Vegan options
- Cafe Nero – Vegan options
- Starbucks – Vegan options
- Prett – Vegan options
- Boswells – Vegan options
- The Lounges – Vegan menu
- Cosy Club – Vegan menu
- WHS – Co-Op – Sainsbury’s – Boots – All have vegan sandwich options in their takeaway sections.
Eating out doesn’t need to be complicated and the easiest thing you can do is look at a menu before you go, if it isn’t one of the places above, give them a call so they know you are going. Most chefs are amazing and are more than willing to help. I went to an Italian restaurant once and they didn’t have anything vegan on the menu but I just let them know and they brought me out the most amazing pizza (well they brought me out ham and pineapple first but were VERY apologetic hahaha)!!! They made the garlic bread with oil not butter and topped my pizza with tons of vegetables and the most amazing pizza sauce. Worst case scenario I just order a jacket spud with tons of salad (It’s just food) and who doesn’t love a big spud!
I have a whole blog dedicated to this topic!! So click the marmite picture below and it will re direct you to my B12 blog. (PLEASE READ!!!) also watch this 9 minute video from Bitesize vegan discussing vitamin B12
Things you won’t even know are vegan and found in every supermarket
Most of the things in the article below you probably already eat, which makes it even better that they are all vegan!! It can feel so overwhelming going into a supermarket after going vegan! This list will really help because it means you can make a list before you go without having to read labels!! Sainsbury’s and Tesco especially the bigger stores have really good dairy free fridge sections. With selections of cheeses and butter and milks, desserts and yoghurts and most dairy free ice cream is found in the normal free from freezer sections.
If you have children as I do, do not worry. As your knowledge grows you will make the changes you need to based on your own parental instincts and personal ethics. It will feel like the right thing to do. You will be told by people to “give your children the choice” It is only when we go vegan that we start to give our children the choice. I know when my two were little I never used to ask them if they wanted to eat chicken pig or a plant based option I just gave them the pig or cow or chicken and they didn’t have a clue what it was. I didn’t give Phoebe the choice at the age of one whether to drink cows milk or a non dairy alternative I just gave her the cows milk and my youngest is intolerant to cows milk.
I had to cut it our her diet as she used to get huge blister spots. She had them for 8 months and they wouldn’t go. I took her to the doctors and they gave me a cream and said it was a virus called Molluscum and would go within 4 years!! (really didn’t sit well with me) So I took it upon myself to do my own research and stop her dairy and not give her the cream so I knew it was the dairy (she was still having small amounts of dairy at nursery and her dads). Within a week they were drying out and within 3 weeks they were gone. The picture on the left was when I initially cut the dairy out. She had them all over her body and in her groin and hair line and ears. The picture on the right is 3 weeks later. She hasn’t eaten dairy since. The reason I have put this in here is because it is VERY common in children. So if you child has the same thing just cut the diary and see if it goes.
Going vegan opens our children up to so much choice. So many more options and it also allows them to grow up in a world where they are more aware of where food comes from. It will become a very natural progression for them and you. My little Chloe asks people all the time if they drink cow milk, it is quite funny and cute.
It did take me a while to find alternatives for them, and also getting them to try them. Kids are stubborn little things lol but if you don’t buy the stuff they used to eat they have no option but to try the new things you buy, they are not going to starve themselves. Kids gut biome and taste have to change just like adults do so it is a challenge for everyone!! My 10 year old has only just found a vegan yoghurt that she likes and she’s been trying them for over a year now.
I have a cupboard high up that the kids can’t reach and it has a whole variety of biscuits and snacks and crisps. I don’t like this being in reach as they would help themselves so I monitor this kind of food.
Here are some of the things they enjoy in their packed lunches and lunches at home. They really love their cucumber and pepper and fruit! usually this goes first before any of the other stuff and before they wouldn’t even tough peppers! It made me really smile when they started to enjoy peppers and different kinds of vegan cheeses and yoghurts.
This is normal in our house now, we don’t even think about it yet I totally get how daunting it is at first!! but I hope these images just help keep it really simple for you. One thing I find most kids like too is broccoli lol!! my kids love it and will have nearly a whole head between them with a dinner and these things you can buy frozen along with every other kind of veg and fruit you can think of. This saves money as well!
There is a new Facebook page called Vegan Kids Magazine
This in my eyes is the BIGGEST obstacle. In an ideal world and having a wonderful supportive family like I do it is an easy effortless transition because they support and cater for your new lifestyle change. However even my parents had the same questions as most do, as when I initially went vegan my whole family still ate a standard UK diet. The only difference is that they know I would have done it for good reasons so they were open minded enough to support me and listen.
As I have already said, this is a whole new way of life. Almost a rebirth lol you are learning a whole new way of living and eating so of course you are not going to have all the answers to all the weird and wonderful questions your family members will ask you and that is perfectly fine.
The first thing I am going to say is DO NOT TRY TO “CONVERT” THEM!! lol yes it is very natural once you have all this new information to let your nearest and dearest know but trust me when I say they may not be ready to hear it or want to hear it. Lead by example and just be your own kind of vegan initially. Let them know that you are no longer eating or wearing anything used in the exploitation of animals and that they do not need to do anything other than support you as best they can.
When they are asking you questions you need to figure out what part of them the questions are coming from! If they are generally interested and the questions are coming from a place of care and support and you don’t know the answer you can just let them know that you will send some information over to them by email, as there are other people who are better at explaining the answer to their question. If their question is coming from a place of defence or trying to mock you or catch you out then you really don’t have to answer or defend yourself because it will just leave you feeling pretty crappy. You will learn with time that some people just aren’t interested and you are best just leaving them to it. These people will generally think you are forcing your opinion on them and would respectfully like you to respect their choice to eat meat as they respect your choice to be vegan! (just smile and nod and move on)
Their questions will vary from environmental questions, health questions, comparing us to lions and ethical questions. Make sure that you have a little collection of video clips saved to send them (I will link some below). I found with my family it was far easier to send them the information and for them to watch. In which they did and over time they have evolved. My mum is now vegan and my dad tries to eat as plant based as he can and both their decisions to eat more plants was for health reasons after watching the information I presented to them.
Documentaries I recommend for families are:
- Cowspiracy (Environment)
- What the health (health/environment)
- Forks over Knives (health)
- Eating you alive (health)
- Land of Hope and Glory – look into current day animal agriculture in the UK (ethics)
- Earthlings (Ethics)
- Live and let live (health)
- The truth about cancer (health)
If they are not prepared to watch the information then there is no need to discuss anything with them. It just demonstrated that they are not willing to be open to new information and you are up against their conditioned thoughts not new information.
I think I have covered pretty much everything for now. Just enjoy the journey! It is forever changing and you will learn something new every day and just keep your eyes and mind open to new information.