back to top
Shopping

17 Tricks I Used To Become Vegan That Might Work For You Too

You don't have to live off salads and grains.

Posted on

We hope you love the products we recommend! Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales from the links on this page.

Advertisement

Here's a very honest account of all the changes I made and the things that helped along the way:

1. I became vegan very, very gradually.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

Whenever I've tried to go vegan in the past, I've always ended up making the same two mistakes:

1. I went cold turkey and gave up all dairy products overnight.

2. As soon as I slipped up, I figured I'd already failed so I might as well give up entirely.

I've tried switching to a plant-based diet a few times before, but I've never manage to stick to it for very long. I did it for two years when I was still at school, but it was much easier back then because my mum did all the cooking. Since then, I've managed to stick to the odd vegan month here and there, but I've always wound up eating some accidental cheese and then swearing off veganism forever.

But this time I was determined to succeed. The first thing I did was give up baked goods that contain eggs. This was relatively easy because I'm not that much of a pudding person. Next, I gave up cheese, which was mind-bendingly hard. And finally I gave up eggs, which was somehow even harder. But giving up food types step by step made the whole thing much more manageable and actually made me think about what I was replacing them with.

Tl;dr: Take your time. And don't give up if you eat some accidental cheese!

2. And I started by making vegan versions of foods I already ate regularly.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

I knew that going vegan was going to require a big lifestyle change, but I also knew that I regularly eat dairy-free meals without even thinking about it. To make the transition easier, I spent some time going through the kinds of meals I cook regularly to figure out which ones I could easily cut the dairy out of.

For example, I regularly make myself a Buddha bowl for dinner when I get home late during the week. I usually fry a bit of halloumi to go on top at the end, but apart from that they're usually vegan. So I cut out the halloumi, and I was good to go.

The same goes for jacket potatoes with cheese, which are a fairly regular dinner for me at this time of year. But as soon as I realised it's just as easy to bake a sweet potato and serve it with some roast veg and a tahini dressing, it was easy to cut out the dairy.

And finally, I tend to prepare big batches of pesto for weekday dinners at weekends. Googling "vegan pesto" led me to this recipe, which is honestly maybe even nicer than the real thing.

3. I taught myself how to cook with new vegetables by signing up to a fortnightly veg box.

instagram.com

I live with my boyfriend and we tend to eat most of our meals together. We find that one of Riverford's medium veg boxes every other week gives us plenty of fresh vegetables with minimal waste, but there are tonnes of other subscription boxes you can sign up to.

Riverford's medium boxes are £13.95 each, which is roughly equivalent to what we'd spend on fresh vegetables from the supermarket. Plus, it means we experiment with exciting veg like fennel and romanesco broccoli, rather than always falling back on the vegetables we already know how to cook.

The best thing about becoming vegan has been learning how to cook new things. So even if you don't want to subscribe to a regular veg box, I would really recommend forcing yourself to buy vegetables you don't normally cook with.

4. And I taught myself more about vegan cooking by signing up to a recipe box too.

Tabatha Leggett / Via BuzzFeed

I'm a good cook, but literally every recipe I know relies heavily on eggs, butter, and cheese.

Last month I signed up to Plant Curious, a plant-based recipe box and omg it was a total game changer! A single box costs £42, and contains recipes and ingredients for three meals. Each meal serves two people, which means you're paying £7 per meal.

My first box contained ingredients for blue tacos with pulled jackfruit and black beans, aubergine balls with gnocchi and ragu, and raw pad thai. All three were delicious (especially the jackfruit, which you can order in tins here), the recipes were really easy to follow, and nothing took more than 45 minutes to make.

Plant Curious have just launched a fortnightly subscription service, which I reckon is definitely worth it if you have the money. But if you don't fancy making a regular commitment, you could always just order one box like I did. You get to try out three new meals, and you keep the recipes so you can always make them again.

Advertisement

5. I spent a lot of time researching vegan substitutes.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

Before becoming vegan, the world of substitutes really baffled me. But I did my research (mostly on Pinterest) and set myself the challenge of making vegan versions of my favourite foods.

I learned so much. Here are some of the things I now know:

- You can use aquafaba (the leftover liquid from a can of chick peas) to make chocolate mousse;

- You can use applesauce to make muffins;

- You can use cashews and nutritional yeast to make cheese;

- Blending frozen bananas makes something that tastes like ice cream;

- You can use mashed bananas and chia seeds to make pancakes;

- You can use avocados and vegetable oil to make cake.

But hands down my greatest discovery is that you can use a flax egg (literally 1 tbsp of flaxseeds mixed with 3 tbsps water) instead of an egg in basically all baking!

You can see some of the recipes I loved here.

6. And eventually I started experimenting with new dishes too.

Tabatha Leggett / Via BuzzFeed

A common misconception about veganism is that it's boring. I actually found that switching to a plant-based diet made me branch out and be more experimental with my cooking.

There are also so many great vegan food blogs online. I found This Savory Vegan, Minimalist Baker, The Vegan 8, Oh She Glows, and My New Roots were really good places to start.

Some of my favourite recipes include these buffalo cauliflower tacos, this vegetable biriyani, and this miso sweet potato and broccoli bowl.

7. Especially ones for my favourite unhealthy foods.

Tabatha Leggett / Via BuzzFeed

I was worried that becoming vegan would mean I lived off grains and avocados. But I was totally wrong. There are soooo many vegan versions of unhealthy recipes and being vegan definitely doesn't mean giving up junk food.

This is a recipe for an avocado chocolate cake, which is honestly the best cake I have ever made. And I'm told that this recipe for fried seitan is almost as good as fried chicken!

8. I made a special effort to find non-boring vegan breakfasts.

Tabatha Leggett / Via BuzzFeed

My favourite part of the weekend is having a lie in and then eating a big breakfast in my PJs, and I was worried that becoming vegan was going to ruin that. Again I couldn't have been more wrong.

Over the last few months, I've experimented with flaxseed pancakes, scrambled tofu, banana bread, smoothie bowls, and peanut butter smoothies.

It's also totally possible to make a full on vegan fry up. Most supermarket hash browns are vegan (McDonalds hash browns are vegan too!), so all you need to buy are vegan sausages and tofu to scramble in place of the eggs.

9. I stocked up on vegan ready meals so I wouldn't have to cook every night.

Tabatha Leggett, Tabatha Leggett / Via BuzzFeed

Like pretty much everyone, I don't have time to cook a full meal from scratch every single weeknight.

Allplants are a new company that deliver frozen plant-based ready meals that are big enough for two people (with leftovers).

I tried their black bean chili, cashew mac and cheese, and jerk jackfruit and honestly all three were delicious. I don't think I've eaten a ready meal since I was a student, but these were totally different to the ready meals I remember. They don't feel at all greasy, the portions are really generous, and at £4.75 per portion they're perfectly good value.

Advertisement

10. I worked out which junk foods are vegan and made sure I always had some in my kitchen cupboard.

Twitter: @ccarolynwestt

Oreos, dairy-free Ben & Jerrys ice cream, Haribo, Green & Blacks chocolate, Doritos, nearly all Walkers crisps (including prawn cocktail yummm), Hobnobs, and peanut butter are all vegan.

This list of vegan snacks by PETA is worth bookmarking.

11. I asked all my vegan friends for recommendations, and discovered absolute game changers like kalanamak.

Via Twitter: @ClockwisePublis, Via Twitter: @MarykeRoberts

A commenter on a post I wrote about vegan cooking recommended flavouring scrambled tofu with kalanamak, an Indian black salt, to make it taste more like egg. Honestly, if you are thinking about going vegan, you must go out and buy some right now, it's like magic. I swear it's the only reason I'm not really craving eggs. You can buy some from Amazon here.

It was also a vegan friend who taught me about flax eggs, which has honestly revolutionised vegan baking for me.

My point is: I felt like going on about veganism was annoying everyone around me but it was actually great because I ended up getting a tonne of recommendations.

12. I found a handful of vegan-friendly restaurants that meat eaters like so I wouldn't have to stop eating out with friends.

instagram.com

This is a list of my favourite vegan-friendly restaurants in London.

But if you don't live in London, this list by Peta tells you which chain restaurants have vegan options. Did you know, for example, that Zizzi and Pizza Express do vegan pizzas? Or that Wetherspoons and Carluccios have a vegan menu that you can ask for? Or that vegans can easily eat at Wagamamas and Nando's?

13. And I figured out which places on the high street sell cheap vegan lunches.

instagram.com

This is a list of lunch chains that do vegan options. I find that Pret has the most options so it's the kind of place you can keep going back to without getting bored.

14. I worked out exactly how I'd manage to eat enough protein and iron so that my mum would stop worrying.

Tabatha Leggett / BuzzFeed

This is a really good blog post about how to eat enough protein as a vegan.

You essentially need to up the amount of almonds, quinoa, and green veg you're eating. Tofu, tempeh, and seitan are all good sources of protein too, so if you're used to cooking with quorn you should consider swapping it out sometimes.

Also, and I'm sorry to be your mum, but I bought a multi vitamin and so should you. I'm taking this one from Holland & Barrett and it's great.

Advertisement

15. I stopped being snobby about vegan products.

Twitter: @nigel4036, Twitter: @insophiesmindxo

It's easy to plan on cooking more quinoa and kale, but realistically there are also going to be days that you just need to get something out of the freezer for dinner.

This Facebook group is full of recommendations for vegan products from British supermarkets like Lidl, Morrisons, and Tesco. I can vouch for the new egg-free range of quorn products, especially the nuggets, which are delicious.

16. And I finally learned how to cook with tofu, seitan, and tempeh.

Holland & Barrett, Whole Foods, Whole Foods Market

Quorn is delicious, but seitan, tempeh, and tofu are much higher in protein. Holland & Barrett and Whole Foods have good ranges of all three, but most normal supermarkets will sell a range of tofu too.

Seitan is insanely easy to cook with: You literally just fry it in a pan with spices. It also picks up flavour really quickly, so you don't even have to marinate it. This recipe for seitan and roast veggie tacos is 10/10.

Tempeh is easy too: You just boil it, and then bake it afterwards. This recipe for marinated peanut tempeh only uses seven ingredients and is gorgeous.

Tofu is slightly tricker. Unless you buy the pre-prepared stuff, you need to press it and marinade it. But you can speed the process up by baking it in cubes in the oven. The best tofu trick I have learned is ripping it into chunks, instead of cutting it up. That way, the flavour sticks better. This crispy baked peanut tofu recipe is well worth a try.

17. I bought a couple of brand new cook books and invited my non-vegan friends round for dinner.

amazon.co.uk

I love having people round for dinner and I was worried that going vegan would mean no one wanted to come round anymore. Not so!

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat isn't a vegan cookbook, but it's the best book I've ever read about mastering the basics of cooking. Obviously lots of Ottolenghi's books are great for vegans, but my absolute favourite book for easy weeknight dinners is Minimalist Baker's Everyday Cooking.

And remember that going vegan is a gradual process: You're not going to change your diet overnight!

Adopting a plant-based diet is a huge adjustment, and it's one that takes getting used to.

I've been going by the rule: If it's reasonable to eat vegan, do it. Otherwise, stick to the vegetarian option. And little by little, I'm getting there.

Some of the products in this post were provided to BuzzFeed free of charge, but we were not obliged to review them or be positive about them in our coverage!

Every. Tasty. Video. EVER. The new Tasty app is here!

Dismiss