With an eye on climate change, more and more people are making the decision to be vegan. We are taking a look at just how easy it is to make the shift from a meat-eating diet.
Greenhouse gas emissions caused by the intensive production and processing of animals for food is having a significant impact on global warning. As a result, there is a growing movement towards more sustainable food consumption that eliminates the need for high nitrogen fertilizers for fodder while addressing needless animal cruelty.
People new to veganism are often faced with a challenge as they end their reliance on processed foods and move into a cuisine based on individual ingredients that doesn’t rely on dairy or fats for flavour. Approach veganism gradually, cutting out meat and fish at first before gradually reducing egg, cheese and other dairy products. Using a vegetarian diet as a stepping stone is often a good idea.
Take time to do your research, understand what makes a balanced, nourishing diet and how to find alternatives to meat derived minerals and proteins. You’ll soon find out that all our staples can be found in beans, cereal crops, fruit and vegetables.
Protein is often a concern for people considering veganism, but you can take heart in knowing that it can be easily derived, along with iron, from seeds, oats, nuts and legumes as well as broccoli and kale. Green, leafy vegetables are a source of calcium which is also a legally required additive in all bread. Be sure to get exposure to sunlight for your vitamin D.
Look at what you are currently eating and see how your favourite dishes can be adapted to suit your vegan diet. Make a note of the vegan dishes you currently eat and enjoy, these will probably be curries, soups and stews, and make them your dishes to rely on when you’re stuck for ideas for dinner. Build on these favourite dishes, adding and substituting ingredients, and before long you will have your own in-house menu.
For inspiration delve into dishes from around the world, explore and experiment with flavour, taking in elements of Asian or middle eastern dishes. Revisit your favourite holiday meals and explore a whole range of flavours and textures using fresh produce, herbs and spices.
Vegan food has a real emphasis on flavour and before long you will soon learn how to replace your meat and dairy ingredients with tasty substitutes. Be adventurous and use this opportunity to try vegetables and legumes that you would have previously overlooked.
Take a traditional meal, like lasagne or shepherds pie, and replace the minced beef in the sauce with lentils, beans or mushrooms, giving the dish the same texture while complementing the tomato-based sauce. If you prefer, this can also be achieved with Quorn, tofu or other meat substitutes which benefit from rich, tasty marinades.
Replacing dairy can be difficult but it can be done with a little patience. If you take them white, soya milk can be used in coffee and tea. Nut based milks derived from almond and hazelnut are more commonly appearing in shops, perfect with breakfast cereals, porridge and muesli. Most people new to veganism will remark that they miss cheese but alternatives, with full flavour, are now being produced from tofu and cashew milk.
Find a good vegan restaurant and use it as a source for inspiration. Experiencing new recipes and meeting likeminded individuals will build your confidence and helps develop a community you can rely on for support. Share your enthusiasm for veganism and introduce friends and family to your adventurous new diet. Food, in all cultures, is about eating well and sharing good company around the dinner table, don’t be isolated in your decision to embrace veganism.
Choosing veganism is a very positive move towards tackling the important issues of animal cruelty and climate change. Deciding what we eat and how it is produced can make a huge difference to maintaining an eco-friendly sustainable lifestyle.