It’s not really a question of survival as a going vegan can be one of the healthiest lifestyle choices you can make, but here are 30 tips written by a long-term vegan, that might help as you start your amazing vegan journey.
1. Eating whole food plant based is a diet of abundance
Great news if you like your food! You need to eat a lot of the right foods to get your quota of carbs, fats, proteins, fibre, micronutrients, vitamins and minerals so eat up!
2. Not all vegan foods are healthy ones. Junk food can be vegan too
For long term benefits experts recommend including fresh leafy greens, vegetables, grains, fruits, beans, peas, lentils, nuts seeds and sea veggies or check out the vegan pyramid on google images.
3. Subscrible to this website
This whole Vegan Food UK website is set up to provide new & old vegans alike with news, guides and recipes on the simplest and best vegan foods across the country.
4. Don’t think going vegan is no big deal
It’s a huge deal. It takes planning, restraint and effort. It can have a knock on effect to friends and family. There’s a lot to learn. It affects your social life. And it can also be the best decision you will ever make.
5. Other resources
Obviously Vegan Food UK is great for finding inspiration help and support – it’s why we are here, but Youtube and Pinterest are also great resources. Also websites like Viva!, PETA and The Vegan Society. Veganuary, Barnivore is great for discovering what alcohol is vegan.
6. Nutritional info
If you’re looking for a scientifically backed non-profit-making website for pro-vegan nutritional info, try Dr Greger’s nutritionfacts.org
7. The deal with soya
Soya -organic non-GM, it’s considered to be a healthy protein source for vegans with cancer-protective qualities when eaten as part of a healthy vegan diet. Don’t be swayed by arguments put about by the pro meat and dairy lobby in the USA who try to persuade you otherwise.
8. Meal prep
Bulk cook and freeze! Make a fridge salad bar! Make packed lunches! Travel with nuts and fruit in your bag! Plan ahead! All great ways to feed yourself well and cheaply and not getting caught out.
9. Vegan cheese
Most people unavoidably miss cheese when they go vegan, in fact for some people it’s the reason why they say they can’t go vegan in the first place. We strongly recommend firstly giving up cheese and going ‘cold turkey’, there is still no vegan cheese that tastes exactly like cheddar. However, most supermarkets stock vegan cheese now and it’s getting very close to the original dairy products. At the moment, we think possibly Asda have the best vegan cheese at a supermarket, but shop around and find the right one for your tastes.
10. Dairy free milks
Add vegan milks to slightly cooled hot drinks to avoid curdling . Try all different ones to find your favourite or make your own using nuts, oats or seeds.
11. Eating out
Ask around, phone ahead, ask to see a restaurant’s allergens list, ask if you can speak to the chef, have some ideas of what you’d like to eat if they say you have a choice, even write down for the server the items you don’t eat (meat fish fowl eggs dairy and honey). Do what you need to do to get the service you require. Don’t be afraid of ‘making a fuss’. Veganism is worth making a fuss for!
12. Mistakes along the way
Slipped up? Move on! Don’t dwell on your failures. We all have accidental ones from time to time – like finding out that most Kellogg’s cereals contain animal-derived Vitamin D., or wine isn’t always vegan. ???? Learn from the experience.
13. Avoid trolls
It’s tempting, but don’t get into discussions about food choices with people who just want to ridicule you. Save your breath for people who are genuinely interested and want to learn.
14. The daily grind
Once you call yourself a vegan everything you buy, wear, eat and drink will be up for scrutiny from others. You will become a walking advert for veganism. That’s quite a responsibility, but something to be proud of too. Just do your best.
Eating on holiday can be a challenge. Check out the HappyCow app for local vegan eateries. Ask online for recommendations. Email your hotel. Consider self catering. Take ingredients like nutritional yeast / marmite/ hot sauce etc away with you. Travel with fruit, drinks, sweets, biscuits and snacks.
16. Mix it up
Don’t get stuck in a vegan food rut. Variety is the spice of life! Try opening a vegan recipe book at a random page and plan to make whatever dish it opens at. Try new products or ideas when you see them. Subscribe to the Vegan Food UK Youtube Channel for simple and fun recipes
17. Be adventurous!
Don’t tell yourself you don’t like certain foods till you’ve given them a real chance. Remember too that your tastebuds change over the years.. Things you hated as a kid you may actually love now. Certainly tofu, tempeh, quorn are worth more than a couple of tries. Actual food allergies are a serious matter but don’t condemn certain foods that you think you might be sensitive to, until you’re sure they don’t suit you, as you may be unnecessarily missing out on yumminess.
18. Blood tests
Consider asking your GP for a full blood test to establish your body’s nutritional starting point before embarking on a vegan ‘diet’. Iron, vitamin b12 & vitamin d3 levels, kidney, thyroid and liver functions, cholesterol levels etc etc. can all be simply tested to establish, from the start, how your vegan diet is affecting your long term health. Self-medicating with over-the-counter vitamin and mineral supplements without tests to establish if they are required, is at best, potentially just wasting money and at worst, doing yourself potential harm. Hopefully you have a GP or nurse who is understanding and agreeable to you getting this test on the NHS.
19. The documentaries
20. Easy recipes
Have a few ‘go-to’ recipes in your repertoire so you always quickly rustle something tasty up without too much effort. There are millions of easy tasty vegan recipes on line or get yourself an easy vegan recipe book. Also keep an eye on the recipes section of this site for more super easy recipes being added each week
21. Nutritional yeast
I’d never heard of it before, but it’s a condiment that looks like fish food flakes and can be put over any savoury dish, added to sauces, dressings, soups, vegan cheese mixtures etc. it gives everything a lovely nutty cheesy taste and can be a source of vitamin b12. It’s available mostly on line and in health food stores. It’s a pantry must-have!
22. Remember that your GP may not have nutritional training
Traditionally GP’s have not been supportive of vegans. But thankfully things are improving as attitudes, training and research are changing mindsets. Just be prepared that your healthcare providers might not be as excited about you going vegan as you are! Just stay resolute if you believe that eating a varied and adequate nutritionally balanced vegan diet is the best for animals, conservation, longevity and health.
23. Stay hydrated
Drink water! Eight glasses a day is ideal. Jazz it up by infusing fresh fruits herbs and cucumber in it overnight for variety if you like.
24. Vitamin B12
Vegans need to supplement their diet with B12. This is because we don’t get this very important vitamin from a modern vegan diet (i.e. washed vegetables, clean water). It’s found in soil, and in some supplemented foods like nutritional yeast. But for most of us, supplemented foods alone are not a reliable enough source, so it’s best to take a regular supplement . Plenty of info on this on all the vegan websites or check out information at Veganuary.com.
25. Certain things may speed up
Toilet habits will change when you stop eating animals and their secretions. Vegetable matter passes through much much quicker than meat, so stock up on loo rolls! You may also pass more wind at first than you did before, but things settle down after a while.
26. Try your best
Don’t look to be the perfect vegan. There is no such person. Success lies in doing the very best you can. Be proud of your achievements and let go of any guilt you might feel in not being able to do more. We don’t live in a vegan world.
27. Connect & network
It can be a lonely path without support from other vegans. Use Vegan Food UK and local vegan groups to make friends, meet up etc.
28. Be inspired
Instagram is a fantastic place to discover new vegan foods and creations from vegans all over the world. You can now follow hashtags as well as people, we recommend #veganfooduk #veganuk #veganfoodporn
By going vegan you are doing an incredible thing, but after a while you may want to go that one step further and get involved with some activism campaigns around the country, which is fantastic. Activism can be as simple as leaving an “I ate here” card, or signing petitions for which change.org has thousands, or it could be taking part in Cube of Truth & Earthling Experiences. Some well known vegan activists on Youtube are Earthling Ed, James Aspey and Joey Carbstrong.
30. Have fun and spread the joy
Vegan Food UK has been running for several years now and the reason as to why it’s the largest vegan food community in the UK is mainly because it’s fun, friendly & supportive! We are all connected by our choice to consume only plants and not animals, so why not make plant-eating fun? If you find a new vegan product, then tell the world! If you make your first victoria sponge made purely of plants, then take a photo of it and display it on social media for all to see. In turn, give that physical or virtual hug out to any vegan who needs your support…we are all in this together.
Many thanks to Cherie Catchpole for contributing this survival guide for new vegans.
Cherie is a qualified Rouxbe cook and runs the amazing Sunshine on a Plate page