How to switch to a vegan diet
While veganism has recently acquired a hipster cachet, thanks in no small part to buzzy UK festivals and markets, its surging popularity (that’s a 360 per cent rise to over half a million people in the past decade) can be felt pulsing through the country.
Motivations for making the switch range from health benefits (studies show it can help reduce the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, cholesterol and type 2 diabetes) to animal welfare and environmental reasons, such as reducing your ecological footprint.
But if you’re wondering how to go vegan yourself, or are simply looking to reduce your meat, fish and dairy intake, we’ve got some tips to help you on your way.
Planning is key
Eliminating meat, fish and dairy no longer means a life of eating gem lettuce salads, but it does require some thought. Finding foods which you enjoy is the key to longevity and, as long as you’re keeping an eye on the nutrients you’re putting into your body, it can also be a healthy path to follow.
Check the labels
Although there are certain foods we automatically think of as vegan – fruits, vegetables, herbs, nuts, and seeds – a surprising number aren’t actually free from animal products. Make sure you check the labels of all packaged foods, such as stock cubes, sauces, spreads and wine – ingredients to look out for include whey, casein and lactose, which are all derived from milk.
Try these easy food swaps:
Dairy milk: Soy, rice, oat, hemp, or nut milk are good options.
Read more: Which plant milk is the right one for you?
Cheese: There are numerous award-winning vegan cheeses readily available; alternatively try crumbled tofu or soaked raw nuts in place of cottage cheese or ricotta.
Eggs: In baking, go for a flax egg (1 tbsp ground flaxseed and 3 tbsp water), or try an on-trend tofu scramble or chickpea omelette.
Honey: Sub in agave nectar or maple syrup instead.
Gelatine: Opt for agar-agar or vege-gel, which are both made from seaweed.
Protein: Tempeh, tofu and seitan are the ones to know about. Jackfruit, the tropical fruit native to South America and South-East Asia, is also becoming a meat replacement thanks to its pulled pork-esque texture, but serve it with beans to add protein.