After the indulgence that was December, choosing to start the new year with a plant-based diet is not an easy task! It feels as if we are almost training our brain to think differently and it can feel quite overwhelming. But we are here to help. In 2017, The Isbourne challenged our staff members to go vegan for a week as part of our Vegan Relay and managed to convert a few ardent meat-eaters in the process. Like with everything in life, the key is to discover what your driving force is and to be kind to yourself if you slip up.
Here are our top tips on how to succeed this Veganuary.
1: Swap out your milk
Probably the easiest change you can make is switching to a plant-based milk. Different kinds of milk offer different tastes so it might be a bit of trial and error until you find one you really like. For example, soy and hemp milk can be a bit watery, whilst almond and coconut have a very distinct taste. The ones that most resemble cows milk and will stay nice and creamy in your cup of tea are oat or cashew (although the latter can be quite pricey). Oatly is fast becoming the nations favourite plant-based milk as they have created a special barista blend that works wonders in your morning coffee. Most coffee shops and cafes will offer a plant-based milk alternative and many are even waiving the extra cost as they become a more popular option.
2: Make tofu your friend
This soy-based food can seem a little daunting at first. It is incredibly bland but very absorbent which makes it a fantastic canvas for a whole variety of flavours. We wouldn’t recommend eating tofu on its own! Tofu is packed full of amino acids, iron, calcium and other micronutrients plus an incredible source of protein (50g per block, about the same as a Rump Steak). Use it as a meat substitute by marinading it in sauces and spices (find a great recipe here) or crumble it up and cook it with sliced tomatoes as an uncanny substitute for scrambled egg. The uses of tofu are pretty endless and adding it into your diet will make your meals very diverse and exciting.
3: The great meat swap
Choosing to do Veganuary obviously means excluding any form of meat from your meals. But that doesn’t necessarily mean you won’t be able to still achieve those delicious meat flavours. Many vegan chefs use different types of mushrooms to recreate the taste and even texture of meat with mindblowing accuracy. But if the thought of mushrooms makes you want to vomit, then have no fear! Quorn, THIS, Beyond Meat and Linda McCartney are just some of the brands that offer plant-based meat alternatives that taste and feel much like their animal counterparts. Also, another badly kept secret is the magic of jackfruit. When cooked with the right spices and sauces, jackfruit easily resembles pulled-pork. When you have so many delicious options available, it might be harder than you think to go back to a meat diet come February.
4: Cooking without eggs
Eggs are a massive part of the Western diet but are also some of the most poorly cared for animals in farming. Did you know, in many chicken farms male chicks are ground up alive because they do not produce eggs and are therefore useless to the farmer? We won’t subject you to a video, but if you are curious YouTube has many examples of this happening around the world. Choosing an alternative to eggs can be the most frustrating part of trying out a vegan diet as we don’t have a clear swap in supermarkets just yet so you have to get creative. Aforementioned tofu works wonders as a scrambled egg, but we suggest using banana or stewed apples in cooking. This chart is a great resource for finding your perfect egg substitute.
5: Is honey vegan?
While honey is a naturally occurring substance, it is created by bees as food for themselves so many vegans believe that farming honey is akin to stealing food from the bees. It is also estimated that if we were to pay bees for their time, effort and skill, a jar of honey would cost around $350,000. It puts it into perspective how important bees are to our ecosystem! If you would like to try honey alternatives, agave nectar, molasses, date paste and maple syrup are perfect substitutes, with agave nectar and maple syrup both being lower in calories than honey.
6: Vegan Resources
Hopefully, you now feel a lot less foggy about what to buy on a vegan diet. It really doesn’t have to be a chore! If you’re looking for some easy recipes then we suggest looking at So Vegan and The Plantiful Kitchen who both offer delicious and super simple vegan meal ideas. But a quick google search will offer plenty of ideas. If you’re looking to find reasons to go vegan then The Game Changer on Netflix offers some compelling evidence, while documentaries Cowspiracy and Earthlings take a shocking look into the meat and dairy industries that will make your stomach turn.
But whatever your reasons are for trying Veganuary, enjoy trying something new and expanding your taste buds. There is no harm in reducing our meat and dairy intake, in fact the planet will thank you. If 350,000 people tried Veganury, a University of Oxford study showed that the greenhouse gas reduction would be the equivalent of taking 160,000 cars off the road. There really is nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying Veganuary this year!