BAM BAM's GUIDE TO VEGANUARY
Like with any kind of lifestyle change or challenge, some people find things easy and some people find things hard, so here’s my absolute comprehensive guide to getting through 30ish days of doing a nice a thing for the animals and for your body. This post will guide you through the mentality of going vegan, and also how to eat well, because honestly most of you don’t want to eat dry crushed walnut tacos and you shouldn’t have to (unless that’s your thing, looking at you raw vegan friends with your nut magic).
Firstly, you’ve decided that you’re going to try plant based for a bit, that’s great! Pat yourself on the back. You’ve also decided that it’s new year new you (probably) and that you’re going to be super healthy, get back to the gym, and god forbid give up the gin. Well CHUCK THAT OUT THE WINDOW! I’m joking, you do you, but absolutely do not take your resolutions as gospel and call yourself a failure when you eat a chocolate bar and down a bottle of something stress relieving. Falling off the bandwagon is common, especially if you’ve set loads of goals and it’s january of a new year after a bloody awful one; so please, don’t beat yourself up. Just take it as it comes and get back on it. If you “cheat” and have a choccy biscuit, or a bit of cake, or anything not vegan, don’t give up. The next thing you put in your mouth will be vegan and that’s okay – I ate biscuits in the office without reading the label for ages in my early days (and now if anything that’s sniffed dairy comes near me I get tummy ache). The same goes for all the other things if you’re serious about them. You didn’t go to the gym on the day you said? Just do a 15 minute work out in your living room or go another time. We’re not perfect and it’s a journey, as long as you get to your destination a couple detours shouldn’t hurt.
Secondly, you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. You’ve filled the cupboards with rice crackers and the fridge only has wholesome veggies in it and you’re sooooo hungry. You just want chips and the kebab shop is calling your name! I’ve got you, PREPARE! Before you do your big old healthy start of the year shop, get your nose on pinterest and meal plan. You don’t need to be strict, but come up with some tasty looking meals you know you can make, or follow the recipe for, and then look up your favourite snacks and their vegan alternatives. Make sure you have plenty of snacks, crisp/fruit/biscuits/bars/popcorn/nuts etc in the cupboard if you can. Join the Vegan groups and follow the pages for Vegan Supermarket Finds or Accidentally Vegan and use that search button – they have set up brand new vegan posts just for you lot, I’ve just seen it (and yes people will get annoyed for answering a question they’ve answered 30 million times but also people will be very nice and give you loads of advice because we’re a mixed bag of A*holes and Angels). Veganism has come so far so fast recently and there’s something out there for pretty much every craving – someone has a solution for whatever you’re asking.
There are 2 types of vegans online, WFPB (Wholefood plant based) and Junk food, and then there’s the rest of us reading their recipes. It’s really easy these days to just swap out your meat and dairy with vegan counterparts in the supermarket, but now’s a good time to have a look at your diet and decide how you want to eat. Don’t go full WFPB if you love your junk, and probably don’t live off chickin nuggies for the next month if you want to feel better – try a bit of everything and make it work as the weeks go by, you don’t want to overwhelm yourself and spend a month eating food you hate.
The first week is the hardest. Don’t take what people say for gospel, the amount of times I see #GAMECHANGER on some naff product, gah, I can’t roll my eyes back far enough. The point is, we all have different tastes and somethings you’ll like and somethings you’re going to spit out at the table. So do give stuff a try but you will find some of it vile (looking at you coconut based cheeses) and some of it will make your dreams come true. Put things in your basket you want to give a go, but honestly the likelihood a cheese toastie is going to be perfect for you this month is slim to none – that’s a journey we all take – into the territory of making your own vegan cheeze, or spending big bucks on the good stuff (Artizan cheezes that break the bank and blow your mind). You may also be someone that likes the supermarket stuff – Applewood really was a #gamechanger for toasties. Check your cupboards and make sure you’ve got an ample supply of seasonings and sauces to fix anything that’s not quite nice. There’s not a lot a bottle of Henderson’s Relish can’t fix IMO, and Nooch (Nutritional Yeast) is absolutely life – add it to sauce, sprinkle it on foods, bathe in it…
Have a good look around the supermarket and make sure you put some treats in for yourself, you’ll be less likely to fall off if you’ve got something in to satisfy a sweet tooth. The other important thing to do is read the label, those facebook groups and pages are pretty good for showing you what is vegan but you can still surprise yourself. You can download label scanning apps for this but they’re not 100% accurate and miss a lot of accidentally vegan things off. You can always tweet the company to check the ingredients too! There’s plenty of instant noodles, pastas, just roll pastry items, most breads etc that are all accidently vegan.
Top tips: Look at the bold for milk and egg allergy warnings, Vitamin D catches people out often as it’s usually animal derived unless stated suitable for vegetarians (D2). If it’s red, CARMINE IS A BUG and so is Shellac. Not all foods that we can eat are labelled as such, like oreos and those turkey flavoured crisps.
If you’re loading up on vegetables, you’re going to need to eat more. Check the nutrients and calories on an app like My Fitness Pal as you can most likely eat a bit more than usual because you’re not eating loads of meat and cheese. Just make sure you balance it out because some of those alternative goodies are loaded with calories and carbs just like the real thing. You’re also going to bloat at first, don’t worry, it’s because you’re suddenly changing your diet and your body needs to get used to it, give it a week before you decide you’re intolerant to gluten or something. Yes, you’re going to need to fart more for a while.
None food items, have you thought about those? Superdrug, supermarket own brand and ethical companies (look in Health and Vegan shops) all have Vegan and cruelty free products, like toothpaste, hair products, make up. Cruelty Free isn’t synonymous with vegan, check the ingredients, there’s usually a suitable for vegans mark these days. I love to use superdrugs vegan range of creams and body scrubs, or Lush when I can for more zero waste options as well as local businesses that make these things. It’s taken me a long time to get through and replace all my stuff with vegan products, because I’m environmentally conscious I wasn’t going to just chuck everything out and start a fresh – I’m nay rich! – replace things as you need, and it needn’t cost the earth. The same goes for clothing and shoes, my boots still have a few years in them but I know others that gift things they don’t wish to keep using.
The biggy, you’re going to get comments from someone, whether it’s your family, friends, colleagues or all of them. Honestly, tell them to F off, or shrug it off with some bang up banter, however you can deal with it best. It does stop, and if it doesn’t you can just snip snip, cut them out of your life (because they sound like assholes, it’s your choice to do what you want and who cares if it’s just a phase, you’re not an angsty teenageer wearing too much eyeliner)! They eat accidentally vegan food all the time no doubt, an old colleague of mine would eat vegan regularly (it was beans on toast for lunch with the marg I would buy, but it was still a thing). My family made fun of me for ages, and said it was just a phase, now look, they helped me start a vegan business and they gobble up my food on the reg.
Also, don’t be an apologist, you’re a badass for giving this a go and it’s okay if you slip up, or are posting something we’ve seen a million times or are asking a question we’ve answered a billion – of course please for the love of seitan use the search function or google first but really it’s okay, because nearly every vegan has been in your shoes.
VERY IMPORTANT HEALTH ADVICE!
Do yourself a favour and get yourself some Veg1 tablets from the vegan society, even as (especially as) Omni’s people rarely are getting all the nutrients that they need which includes B12 and Vitamin D. It all depends on your diet, for example store bought plant based milks are mostly fortified (albeit all differently) and when buying nutritional yeast I always say buy the one with added B12, but it’s better to be safe than sorry, especially if you’re having a lazy week and aren’t eating your veggies. Be good to your body, and eat your vitamins though guys.
In conclusion, do a bit of research on food you like to eat, make sure you get some easy frozen foods and sweet treats for when you just can’t be bothered or when that masterpiece you spent 2 hours on gets put in the bin immediately, read the label, if you fall off just get back on it, season your food well, try everything, don’t spend ALL your money on expensive alternatives, play with your food, and ignore the haters, it’s time for you to have an awesome 30 journey as a vegan!go
TLDR, how to eat vegan:
I want you to enjoy the food you eat, not feel like you’re missing out because we’re not missing out.
One of the best things to do is to think of meals you already like to make and eat, and figure out the best way to replicate those.
A basic knowledge of cooking is really useful, especially if you want to save money.
How to sub foods properly!
I’m not going into the ethics of companies and parent companies, because I think this is long enough and there’s enough people shouting about nestle online for you to figure that out yourself when you like, these are just super easy ways to eat good food!
Flora (aside from buttery because they’re wimps) works for sandwiches, toast and baking.
Naturli Block is an actual butter alternative, not just marge.
Look in your local health food/vegan store for more like Pure and other Soy based Spreads. As long as you’re not a total butter snob, this is an easy sub.
Black Salt/Kala Namak – found in your local middle eastern store or even poundstretcher sometimes, this dark pink coloured salt smells like sulphur and tastes like eggs, add it to anything you like.
Easy Vegan Egg Yolk – make dippy eggs, you will not regret and it’s super easy!
Chickpea Batter – makes great omlettes, scramble and quiches, this is just like the powdered egg alternatives in the shops but is way cheaper.
Tofu – makes great scramble, quiches, egg mayo filling, cheesecakes and sauces (see tofu section)
Chia seeds and Flax seeds – ground up these are perfect baking egg alternatives
There’s loads of options for meat alternatives in the supermarket and in your vegan and health shops, most of the supermarket ones are pea based.
Give them a try and take note of what they are made of and you’ll figure out what you like and don’t. For example, I absolutely love Richmond vegan sausages but I HATE the Beyond meat stuff.
There’s also a varying amount of bacon alternatives. Nothing tastes like bacon, and honestly I’m fine with that. The closest on the market is the Naked without the Oink one (various supermarkets have just launched their own brand version of this exact same product, you can tell because the packaging is identical) and that’s because it tastes like frazzles (which btw the cheap versions of are usually vegan). There’s loads of vegan minces, chickin style foods, processed foods like burgers and hot dogs, ready made things like chickin dippers, kievs, kebab style meats and more in the fridge and freezer sections. It’s not just Linda Mccartney and Lentils any more my friends.
Firm Tofu – great for making nuggets, frying, scramble, mincing etc. Remember to season well and cook according to what you’re making. EG if I’m putting it in a curry, I’ll coat it in seasoning and cornflour then shallow fry or air fry or bake so it gets a crispy coating, if I want it to be even firmer i’ll press it or freeze/thaw/freeze/press to alter it’s texture. If you’re totally new to tofu, I suggest buying a brand like Tofoo first – it’s super firm and easy to work with. You can also go to your local east asian supermarket and see what they have (there’s usually shelf stable jerky style tofu/seitan snacks there too)
Silken Tofu – great for baking, desserts and asian soups
TVP – comes dried and is great as a mince substitute or to change the texture of seitan, add lots of seasonings like marmite, stock or hendersons relish to make it beefy
Soy Chunks – also dried, easy cupboard staple to throw in curries, stews, noodles etc
Here’s a super handy tofu guide that goes into more detail and includes recipes
You can purchase locally made and artisan seitan in vegan and health food stores, or make it yourself if you have time to experiment and want to play. There’s a bunch of seitan groups online and loads of blogs with many recipes. If you’re up for the challenge, go in with an open mind and make small batches. You may get it right first time, you may get a super chewy blob – you have to learn how to work the dough same as you do with baking bread and playing with pastry. Remember it is mostly just gluten so it’s no good if you’re allergic.
High Protein Wholefoods
Lentils – perfect mince substitute, add Hendos, marmite or beef oxo for things like shepherds pie, or bolognese.
Chickpeas/Butter Beans etc – great in stews and currys.
Quinoa – cook it with stock and it won’t taste like ass, high protein full fo the good stuff.
Chia Seeds and Flax – great for baking if you’re into making bars and things or adding to your porridge.
Dairy – Milk/Cheese/Yoghurt
It’s best you try them all till you find the one that goes best with your cereal, porridge, coffee and tea.
Personally I prefer Oatly Semi for everything, but when I’m being a gym freak I use more unsweetened soy milk as it’s lower calorie. These to me are the closest in consistency to dairy milk.
Rice milk is a little thinner and sweeter, pea milk exists, almond milk and other nut milks are a thing (but on the health benefits/ethical scale I don’t rate them at all), and there’s also hemp milk. You’ll find the right one.
If your milk is going super weird in your coffee it’s to do with the strength of your coffee reacting to it, it’s safe to drink but you either need a lower acidity/ lower temp coffee or to switch milks.
Cheeze is a trial and error game, give them a go but go in not expecting much and you’ll be much happier when you like one! Cream cheeses are easier, they’re all pretty similar and the Feta style ones are pretty bang on. Halloumi isn’t going to be the same, I’m sorry.
Cheeze sauce is easy – make a roux and add NOOCH (Nutritional Yeast), paprika, mustard, pepper and whatever else a recipe tells you too for next level mac or broccoli bake. You can also google vegan cheeze sauce and pick on of the ones that uses potatoes and carrots to make the sauce, they’re super tasty sauces but more effort than I have on any given day IMO. Worth a try though!
Yoghurt – there’s a bunch, try them, the greek style one’s are really good and they all make great overnight oats, promise.
Protein powder – perfect for bulking and muscle growth
There’s loads on offer, Huel does vegan stuff, I use a complete protein blend from the health food shop (its soya, pea and rice protein) in vanilla flavour which is super tasty in shakes and things, there’s also hemp, pea, soy and other single proteins available. If you’re into that you can look into it yourself no doubt but they do exist and they do work.
I don’t understand people that only own salt and pepper, get yourself some paprika and that and make your food pop, but also these things are super useful to help you covet the flavours you’re so used to.
Beef Bisto Gravy has never seen a cow in its life, your gravy game can still be strong.
Oxo have brought out meat free beef oxo cubes, I swear by them.
Henderson’s Relish is better than Worcester sauce, fight me.
Beans. (In the health/Vegan shop you can get beans and sausages in a tin, it’s a thing)
Various legumes are a good idea if you’re WFPB.
Chicken Seasonings are usually vegan (like chicken rub etc or nandos spice blend)
Vegan mayos vary in how good they are – some are very acidic, it’s a trial and error sitch.
Most sauces are vegan, read the label
Use Nutritional yeast and a roux to make cheeze sauce – add paprika, mustard, chilli for extra bang.
Agave and Maple Syrup and Golden Syrup will all sweeten as well as honey. IF you see something saying sugar isn’t vegan, ignore them, that’s just the americans who put bone in their sugar to make it white, we’re alright here on our tiny island.
Chickpea “choona” salad – it’s nothing like tuna but it’s a bang up sandwich filler. There’s a recipe but honestly, put what you like with it.
Tofu Bahn Mi – A beautiful french asian classic (Just fry the tofu and shove it in your bread with salad)
Tofu Egg Mayo – Super easy, you don’t have to boil any eggs!
Ham and Cheeze – You can get Vegan Deli meats in the shops, or make them with seitan, and if you’ve found a cheeze you like, you’re golden!
Hummus! – We complain you think we stink of hummus but it is tasty AF, great with salad!
CRISPS – Just have a crisp sammy and feel good about it.
MARMITE – with cheeze, peanut butter, just marg, sausages, avocado (recent discovery, it’s a beautiful match), anything you like marmite with.
Sausages! or whatever other meat subs you can find, Squeeky do a range of sandwich fillers like vegan chicken tikka pieces so you can shove that in your bread and eat it.
Avocado – with salad or deli meats or chickpeas or marmite or vegan bacon
SLT – Something lettuce tomato – literally any of the above with LT.
Falafal – add mayo, spinach, hummus, and enjoy
Vegan Slaw – I LOVE slaw, and it’s easy to make and even buy vegan now ( I like to add mayo to mine)
Meatball Sub – There’s a few meatball alts in the shops, add marinara and there you go!
TOASTIES – put anything in there, slap it in your toastie machine and see how it goes. That Applwood has a great melt on it, bet it would be ace if you had it with beans and loads of Hendo’s.
Or get fancy and buy antipasti and stick in a baguette.
If there’s anything you think I can add to this guide, let me know and i’ll stick it in there, I hope this helps you on your journey!