My name’s Tori & I am a vegan!
For the most part when I tell people that I am a vegan the response is positive; people are naturally interested and will ask questions. This can however be daunting as if by adopting this way of life I am somehow now an expert on the environment, animal welfare and health & nutritional benefits. Unfortunately, I don’t have all the answers, but I do have my experiences and the lessons I have learnt by adopting a plant-based diet and I’d like to share them with you.
I first embarked on this journey last January by challenging myself to Veganuary, the challenge was to eat a plant-based diet for the month of - you've guessed it – January! Having been a vegetarian for pretty much my whole life I thought that this would be an easy transition, however I won’t lie, it wasn’t as easy as I had imagined. When you’re new to this way of eating it can appear intimidating and overwhelming. I’ve been there, I’ve experienced those exact feelings. So, I have pulled together my top tips to help you step into and simplify the world of vegan eats. Whether you’re fully vegan, veggie or just incorporating more plant-based meals into your diet, I hope these insights help you on your journey.
1 Keep it Simple. Becoming vegan or adopting a plant-based diet does not mean you have to become a gourmet chef overnight. It can be as easy as porridge for breakfast, delicious fruit smoothies for brunch or simply taking your favourite meals (for example spaghetti bolognaise) and substituting the meat for vegetables or lentils & beans. Literally just pick one of your favourite meals e.g. a shepherd’s pie and add “vegan” to your Google search. There will be an abundance of simple, easy plant-based methods to make your old favourites with a vegan twist.
2 Stock up on staples. There is no doubt that preparing a home cooked meal is ideal but let’s face it, we all have busy lives whether it be work commitments, running around after children or even keeping up with social commitments and sometimes we need a quick fix. Keeping your freezer and cupboard stocked with frozen fruit for smoothies, tins or beans and lentils and even Linda McCartney sausages (My fave!!) can take the pressure off when you just do not have time to cook. There is no shame in using pre-made products. They can be super nutritious and make cooking up a wholesome meal a whole lot easier and most importantly, save your precious time.
3 Make hay while the sun shines! When you have the time to cook your stews, soups or curries then make more! Literally make double or triple, I’m not saying eat it all at once but simply keep the extra portions in the fridge or freezer for those times when you are in a hurry. This means you can grab a box of bean chilli or roasted veggies out of the fridge (or out of the freezer the night before) and then tuck in with minimal cooking time.
4 Quick fixes. Find your go to meals, for me this is probably a tofu stir fry or pasta and sauce. Think about quick easy meals that you can throw together when you are in a rush. Meals that take minutes to throw together but leave you feeling nourished and satisfied. Experiment in the kitchen and find your go-to 15 minute meals. When you come home late at night you’ll be so grateful that you have them in your memory bank!
5 Enjoy the ride. Creating any change in life can be daunting, especially if this challenges your everyday routines and rituals. When I set out on this journey I decided not to be daunted but to be intrigued, not to see it as a depriving way of life but to see it as a new culinary adventure. So I would say to you if you are thinking of moving towards a more plant-based lifestyle to embrace and enjoy it! Do not think about what you may be missing; instead think about what you could be gaining.
Hopefully you haven’t taken this blog as me preaching to you, that isn’t what I’m trying to do but the production of red meat, especially beef, has a gigantic negative effect on our environment. I care greatly about our planet. One simple step I can take to help it is my household’s meat consumption. Andi is still a chef and our business is in catering so I can’t completely cut out a meat but we source locally and responsibly in an attempt to reduce the negative impact that it has on the planet. If we all made one small change to our lifestyles to help the environment, the impact would be monumental. I truly believe that every little helps.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog and good luck if you decide to embark on the Veganuary journey.