I can’t believe we’re already a week in to the New Year! And for those who are giving veganuary a go, or simply trying to eat more healthily, it’s been a week of being more conscious about we put into our bodies. I hope you are all feeling full of happiness and energy!
For those who are taking part in Veganuary, I thought I would pull together some of my favourite lazy vegan food shopping tips; to take the pain out of compassionate eating. The ideas and links are not exhaustive of all the hundreds of vegan and ethical resources out there; these are just what I’ve found easy and affordable to use!
Knowing what to buy
The first thing people ask when thinking about going veggie or vegan is: “But what can I eat?” highlighting that most people think they will be missing out in some way. It can seem like a minefield out there and we often don’t realise that hundreds of the products we buy and meals we cook are already vegan friendly!
Lucky for you, the world of Google can tell you in a second if something contains animal products, and there’s even a smart phone app “Is it Vegan?”.
Remember: The Vegan trademark stamp is on thousands of products, and the inclusion of dairy and eggs is almost always highlighted in bold on most ingredient lists.
My 5 tips for easy vegan shopping:
1. Get back to basics
Invest in the basics so you are stocked up for any occasion. A few essentials include:
- Dried pasta, rice, quinoa, cous cous, barley etc (whatever you enjoy cooking with)
- Tins of coconut milk, beans and chopped tomatoes – all make great bases for dishes
- A well-stocked herb and spice shelf – to add flavour and depth to your cooking
- Vegetable stocks and ready-prepared sauces (for those days when you don’t have the time or energy to start from scratch!)
- Baking ingredients such as flour, yeast, baking powder, dried fruits ect – just in case you’re feeling creative
2. Think veggie
From the above basic ingredients you can experiment as much or as little as you like. For me, I spent the first few months of veganism eating all the food I usually would, but with a veggie twist. If you approach it as a primarily vegetarian diet without the dairy or eggs, it’s a much less daunting task.
3. Experiment with substitutes
With the basic essentials, you can then experiment with substitute ingredients; from egg-free mayo, fish-less cakes and vegan mozzarella, to tempeh, tofu and nut butters. These days there’s an animal product-free version of everything!
4. Must buys
A few things I would recommend purchasing include a big pot of B12 fortified Nutritional Yeast (mixed with crushed cashews it makes a great Parmesan, and gives you much needed vitamin B12), a nice selection of nuts and seeds (these little guys contain almost everything you need!) and a few sweets treats to kick you on track!
5. Your 5 a day!
Last but certainly not least, you are going to eat a lot of fruit and veg my friend! Take the hassle out of shopping and set up an order for a regular veg box from a local supplier. This way you are not only benefiting from eating local, seasonal and maybe even organic produce, you can sit back and let it come to you! My Riverford box literally saves my life, and most weeks it only works out a few pounds more than trudging to the supermarket!
Tips for menu planning
Sometimes it helps – when embarking on a diet or new eating regime – to plan ahead and buy in for specific meals. This takes the hassle out of creating your own concoctions and almost certainly guarantee’s yumminess!
Follow these 3 steps:
- Make a list of your dishes and veganise them. By missing out one ingredient or using a substitute, you can continue to cook staple dishes that you know and love.
- Take the work out of being creative and pick a few new recipes to try and buy the ingredients specifically. There are hundreds of website and blogs out there – and most popular chefs and food sites contain a vegan section of recipes too.
- For newbies and veterans alike, sometimes we need a little help to learn new skills and ideas in the kitchen. Trying out a cooking course, or even asking a friend what they cook, can help us branch out and try something new!
Remember: To check out these easy swaps which make recipes containing eggs and dairy super easy to veganise!
Vegan Home Shopping
All sounds good, but where do I get all this new magical food? Well, here’s a list of where I’ve found affordable vegan foods to make life easy:
- Vegusto – large selection of vegan cheeses and roasts
- Ethical Superstore – has a section with over 800 vegan friendly products!
- V-bites – for naughty but quick dinners (like burgers, “chicken” bites etc)
- Holland and Barratt – they have hundreds of vegan friendly vitamins, food and drink products; from multivitamins, to dairy free cheese!
- Scoff – for delicious naughty treats like vegan fudge and chocolates
- Real Foods – fab products and delivery is free on orders over £24
- Veggie Stuff – They even do vegan cat food!
- Frys – literally the best pies you will taste in your life ever!
Remember: Just because it doesn’t have meat, dairy or eggs doesn’t mean it’s not vegan. Check out this list of ingredient names which are hidden animal products.