I think that the world would be a better place if our New Year’s Resolutions focused on helping others, animals, or the planet, rather than changing our bodies, detoxing or dieting. One fantastic way to do that is to take part in Veganuary. It’s not too late to start, and veganism isn’t ‘just another diet’ as it’s based upon ethics which is hopefully something we can all get behind. A 2016 study showed that there’s been a 360% rise in veganism in the last 10 years and if that figure is anything to go by then 2017 is going to be the easiest year to go vegan yet. I know a lot of people who’ve ended up living vegan lives after trying it for a month and maybe going vegan for the month of January will be what does it for you. I’m going to hit my 11 year vegan anniversary in March so I wanted to share seven of my top tips for going, and staying, vegan.
1. Find the best alternatives for you.
Of course a life without cheese would be no fun but there are so many vegan cheeses on the market now that finding the one for you should be an exciting challenge. My top tip is to spend a few weeks cheese free, and then to start introducing cheese sauces made with nutritional yeast, VioLife stuffed grilled cheese sandwiches, and Vegusto topped crackers back into your life. As for switching up your milks, there are so many vegan milks on the market these days that replacing your semi skimmed is simple. Make the switch by picking up a carton of soy, almond, hemp, rice or even macadamia nut milk.
As for eggs, there are so many amazing ways to replace them these days it actually kinda blows my mind. From aqua faba meringues (yes, this clever chickpea water trick really does work) to eggy tofu scrambles seasoned with black salt (aka the Indian spice kala namak) or Melinda’s Tofu Scramble Seasoning Mix (find this in Infinity in the baking aisle above the flour), replacing eggs has never been easier. Switching up your mayonnaise is just as simple as switching milks thanks to Follow Your Heart’s Veganaise, I bet you can hardly tell the difference. As for honey, try a drizzle of agave syrup on your morning oats, this is another fantastic and easy switch. If you haven’t yet hopped aboard the veggie train, then you’ll want to try some meat and fish replacements. V Bites Fish-Free Fish Fingers, Fry’s Vegetarian Cocktail Sausage Rolls, Taifun’s Tofu Wieners, and Tofurky’s Smokey Maple Bacon Tempeh are amongst my favourites.
2. Branch out and try new recipes.
Before going vegan I spent a year or so living as a vegetarian and my cooking repertoire consisted of pasta with pesto and cubes of cheddar cheese, spaghetti with canned tomatoes, and beans on toast. As soon as I went vegan I realised this wasn’t the ideal situation so I bought some cookbooks and learnt to cook and bake. Here are a few of my favourite recipe sites to get you started. Firstly, cookbook author Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s shiny new website is my go-to for everything from a simple chocolate cake recipe, to Roasted Red Pepper Mac and Cheese – you really can’t go wrong here. Seitan is My Motor is the place to go for more involved baking recipes with a German twist, start with Spekulatius Cookies and then move on to the more complicated Baumstreizel. California based blogger Vegan Yack Attack is a food writer and photographer for Veg News magazine and her blog runs the gauntlet from simple recipes like her Crustless Bacon Brussels Quiche to the more involved Thai BBQ Beer Cabbage. Lastly, Glasgow based vegan chef and activist Emily’s blog Vegan Lass is the place to go for hearty recipes like Seitan Piccata and Spinach, Herb and Almond Feta Pies. If you normally cook British or Italian based cuisine but prefer a proper cookbook to a blog then step outta the box and try whipping up some Indian dishes from Vegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen or dabble with Vietnamese, French and Chinese dishes from Terry Hope Romero’s fantastic cookbook Vegan Eats World.
3. Dine Out
If you’re sitting there thinking that all of this sounds great but far too much effort, then you have no need to worry. Eating out as a vegan is easy these days. Brighton is full of fantastic vegan food, from Infnity Food’s own Kitchen on Gardner Street to Boho Gelato’s fantastic vegan ice creams, you can find whatever you want to eat in the city. My top pick for an upscale dining experience is Terre a Terre, but if you find yourself craving pub grub then you need to head to the Hope and Ruin on Queens Road to try Beelzebab’s seitan kebabs and loaded fries. Purezza on St James Street is the place to go when you need a pizza. I know omnivores who’ve eaten there without realising that is was a 100% vegan place. Moshimo is another great spot that does more than just cater for vegans, and I’ve never heard a bad word about The Chilli Pickle’s vegan options. Download the Happy Cow app if you’re planning on heading out of town. I’ve used this crowd sourced directory of vegan, veggie and veg friendly restaurants and stores in Vietnam, Taiwan and Albania amongst other spots around the world and it’s never failed me.
4. Go cruelty free.
This is the perfect time to assess your beauty and cleaning products to see if you’re buying from cruelty free brands where no animal testing has taken place. The rules around animal testing for cosmetics are complex but ideally you’re looking for a fixed cut off date and a commitment to only buying from suppliers who don’t test or trade in animal tested ingredients. A lot of companies claim that their product isn’t tested on animals but use ingredients that have been tested by someone else, which is pretty shady. Buying from an ethical company like Infinity Foods who check into these things for you is a great place to start.
5. Make vegan friends.
Maybe you can convince a friend or family member to take this journey with you but if not then try to find some supportive vegan friends. Brighton’s vegan group on Meet Up is friendly and welcoming and they host regular meet ups to eat and share food. If you want to connect with some animals to help you remeber why you’re doing this then how about volunteering at Friend Sanctuary one Saturday a month with the London Animal Rights group or the London Vegan Group.
6. Think outside the box.
Veganism can be quite single issue but if we want more people to join the movement then we need to think outside these narrow margins and take other concerns into account. One way to do this is to download the free Food Empowerment Project app, this Californa based group sit at the intersection of human and animal rights, and their chocolate list will help you make sure that you’re buying truly cruelty-free cocoa products (read more about ethical chcocolate here). Palm oil is one of the other issues to think about. A lot of vegan products contain palm oil and there are two ways to keep on top of the ethics here. Firstly, you can try to buy products that don’t contain any palm oil, companies like Meridian make palm oil free nut butters and vegan cheese brand VioLife and Vegusto are 100% palm oil free. Secondly you can check the ethical ratings for products like margarine or biscuits that do contain palm oil on sites like Ethical Consumer – brands like Biona and Doves Farm have excellent ranges compared to some supermarket brands. Once again, Infinity Foods has thought about this, and their policy is to never knowingly sell products that contain unsustainable palm oil.
7. Treat yourself!
This is not the time to detox, cut back on fat or carbs, or go sugar free. Veganism is fun so grab a box of Booja Booja truffles and a bottle of biodynamic wine and enjoy!
Jojo has lived in Brighton for 12 years and has been vegan for over a decade. She’s been travelling for the last 18 months but comes back to eat her way around Brighton as often as possible. Jojo writes the travel, food, and lifestyle blog Vegan in Brighton and is the travel agony aunt at Driftwood Magazine. She dabbles in zine making, wants to stroke every dog, is a self described angry feminist, and she dreams of opening an animal sanctuary one day.