So what do vegans eat? The answer is lots of tasty food that’s also good for you. Staples such as fruits, vegetables, pulses, rice, pasta, and bread are usually vegan. What’s more, becoming vegan opens up new food options, and you’ll find your diet becomes more varied as you try lots of tasty new foods.
Prepare your kitchen by using up, or giving away any non-vegan foods. If you share your kitchen with non-vegans try to create a vegan only space, such as a separate cupboard and shelf in the fridge, to store your vegan goodies.
Make a list of vegan breakfast, lunches, dinners and snacks to include:
- meals you eat that are already vegan
- meals that can easily be adapted
- new recipes to try. There are loads in books and online, two of our faves are Vegan Recipe Club and Bosh. We also love The Happy Pear; in addition to their recipes they have a range of vegan cooking courses.
Don’t worry if you are on a limited budget, being vegan doesn’t have to be expensive. Animal Aid’s Plant-Based Cooking on a Budget is full of tips and recipes.
Below are a few meal suggestions to get you started, or follow our 7 day menu plan.
Soups, salads and sandwiches make quick and easy lunches.
For sandwich toppings try, houmous with avocado; vegan cheese and pickle; vegan egg mayo or yeast extract and tahini.
Or how about a falafel wrap or vegan burger – home made or shop bought – in a bun?
There are lots of evening meals to choose from – curry, stir fry, burritos and roast dinner to name just a few.
Frozen or dried soya mince, lentils or other pulses can be used to replace the mince in spag bol, chilli, cottage pie and lasagna. The cheapest option is to buy dried pulses – you can cook in bulk and freeze. For quicker cooking use a pressure cooker, and a slow cooker allows cooking without any attention. Tinned or ready cooked packets of pulses are the best option if you are in a hurry.
Nutritional yeast (also called nooch) is our favourite go to ingredient. It’s an inactive yeast with a nutty, cheesy flavour and can be added to soups and salad dressing or sprinkled on pasta and makes a great white sauce for lasagna.
If you have no time for cooking, there are an increasing range of vegan ready meals and convenience foods to try, including meat substitutes which make handy swaps when you are transitioning, or if you are the only vegan in your family.
Desserts, treats and snacks
For sweet treats, there are lots of delicious tasting vegan chocolates to sample, and vegan baking is easy. Aquafaba (which is whipped up water made from drained chick peas) is a super cheap alternative to egg whites that can be used in lemon meringues, cakes and so much more. Our guide to Vegan Baking has more tips.
Supermarket finds include fruit strudels, donuts, non-dairy ice cream and yoghurts.
Snacks can be healthy – try Nakd bars, nuts and seeds, oat cakes with nut butter, fruit smoothies or banana ice cream (easy to make by freezing peeled bananas then whizzing in a blender with vanilla essence and peanut butter or cocoa powder) and chai pudding.
Plant based milks such as soya, oat, rice and almond can be used as an alternative to dairy milks for drinking and cooking. There are so many different brands and types to try, if you don’t like one try something else.
Once you have decided what to eat it’s time to go shopping. Although some specialty vegan foods can be found in wholefood shops and the free from section of supermarkets, most vegan foods such as pasta, bread, rice and veg can be found in the regular supermarket aisles. You can also shop online with supermarkets where you can normally filter for vegan products, or from Alternative Stores or other vegan websites.
Check out our shopping list to help you get started.
Read the label
Products can still be suitable even without a vegan label. Does it say suitable for vegetarians? If yes, check the allergy advice for eggs and milk, then look for honey, if none listed then it’s likely to be vegan. However, there are other animal ingredients that might be present, check the Veganuary label reading guide for more information, and if still in doubt contact the manufacturer.
Sometimes alcohol contains animal products, but don’t worry you can still enjoy your favourite tipple! Banivore is a great app which lists the vegan and non vegan friendly beers, wines and spirits. Some supermarkets also label their own brands of beer and wines.
To make sure your eating a balance diet, take the next step and Find out about nutrition.