Veganuary ... and for the rest of year too! Blogger Holly White's 6 tips on how to be vegan
Food blogger and author Holly White switched to veganism five years ago because she wanted to make changes in her lifestyle for personal health and to minimise her carbon footprint. She shares some useful tips that helped her on her journey…
Start small. Veganism isn't just about food, it's an entire lifestyle that extends to excluding, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of and cruelty to animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.
1. Easy does it
Make the changes that feel easy at first. Try the recipes that you think sound the most appealing and delicious rather than diving head-first into proteins you might have never seen, let alone eaten, before. Bulking up a casserole with lentils in addition to whatever protein you have already included is an easy way to get used to integrating them into your diet. Most coffee shops will have dairy-free milks, so experimenting with them in your latte is a nice way to try the options.
2. Stay Social
Don't use veganism as an excuse to isolate yourself. My stance has always been to control what I can and go with the flow otherwise. Don't ruin a dinner party by sitting there with an empty plate making everyone feel awkward. Eat well beforehand, try what you like and don't draw too much attention to yourself. Always offer to bring a dish that you know you can eat.
3. Protein power
It's easy for a vegan diet to meet the recommended dietary allowance for protein. Nearly all vegetables, beans, grains, nuts and seeds contain protein. For example, gramme for gramme, lentils contain more protein than beef. Initially, I simply subtracted meat from my diet and existed off pasta and sweet potato fries and didn't feel great. Learning how to integrate key sources of vegan protein, such as beans, pulses, nuts and tofu, made a world of difference, but it took a bit of time and experimentation. I'm not really into supplements, but I do have some good vegan protein powders and a liquid iron that I'll add to smoothies if I'm doing a lot of exercise or just need a boost.
4. Meal preparation
I don't like to cook every night so I usually pick a day of the week and batch cook some roasted veggies, rice, hummus, grilled tofu, curry paste and some energy balls. Then, I'm set for a few days and can throw a meal together in minutes. I'd advise you to bookmark recipes that catch your eye and store photos of them in a separate album on your phone so that they'll always be close to hand when you're shopping in the supermarket or need some inspiration.
5. Blended households
One of the questions I am asked most often is how to deal with different diets in a busy household. I always suggest that you think of it in terms of food assembly. Having some chicken breast, mince or fish ready to add to a stir-fry or casserole transforms it. It's not about making separate dishes, it's about sectioning off a portion and adding meat to that if other people you are cooking for require it. Most of the flavours of the dish will likely be in the sauce, but if some members of your family are craving meat, make it an easy addition rather than an entirely different meal.
Every airline can accommodate a vegan diet as long as you let them know in advance. I always stock up on snacks and treats such as energy balls, raw chocolate, nuts or crisps (my weakness!) to bring with me on the plane as well.
Do a bit of research on where you're going before you travel. There's nothing worse than a language barrier and a hungry tummy in the midday sun, so having somewhere mapped out for a meal in advance is ideal. I always ask my followers on social media to recommend places to eat, and apps like Happy Cow and Yelp are brilliant.
You can buy a small travel blender or email your host in advance to see if they have one so that you can make a smoothie, adding some vegan protein power if you like, to set you up for the day.