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Starting a vegan journey - some questions(31 Posts)
DH and I aren't ready to go fully vegan yet but we are having several vegan days per week etc. On my part it's mainly for environmental reasons and his is mainly health (he watched a film about various sports men and women and the benefits they claim.) I'm aware of the risk of vitamin deficiencies especially B12, calcium etc.
I've bought a couple of magazines but all the recipes have ingredients I've never heard of (e.g. liquid smoke, 10 different types of flour.) I don't mind buying things that are new to me but will become storecupboard staples but I really don't want to spend a fortune on stuff that I'll rarely use. I've stocked up on tins of various beans and pulses. What else do I need?
We are both busy people with little time / inclination for cooking so any advice on shortcuts, which are the best ready meals, and that kind of thing would be much appreciated. We tend to cook from scratch at the weekend and freeze portions and during the week eat from the freezer or ready meals.
We both enjoy eating meat so some products / meals which pretend to be meat would be great. I tried Quorn years ago and wasn't overly impressed - has it improved in recent years?
Supermarkets / food stores I can easily get to are Aldi, ASDA, Morrisons, Sainsburys and M&S. Basically I just need some suggestions as to how to do a vegan / plant based diet with the minimum effort.
I only transitioned over to fully vegan 2 months ago so by no means an expert but lentils and chickpeas are definitely your friend. A variety of frozen veg is also hand for quick dinners. I love oven roasted veggie in pasta and all sort of curries. I haven't used liquid smoke or nutritional yeast yet but I'm sure someone will be along to tell you about those. Peanut butter is hand for a quick filling snack. I eat lots of crumpets with Flora and marmite too!
I mainly eat vegetables but if I fancy a replacement I buy the Vivera 'Kebab' and fry it up for a sandwich with tomato, avo and lettuce. I actually prefer it to real bacon and so does my omni DP! If you're out and about the standard of vegan burgers is generally v.good too. I would say don't bother with the cheese until you've had a long break from it - if you go straight from dairy cheese to replacement it'll just taste awful. I've been without it long enough that a slice of the pretend smoked gouda in a sandwich with other stuff actually tastes good to me now but I honestly would just cut it out to start with.
Just saw you mentioned ready-meals; I avoid RMs in general but the M&S 'dirty fries' are so so good (get two - I find one box isn't enough for me!)
I've finally finally got to grips with tofu.
I buy The Tofoo Co naked tofu ( Tesco)
Cut into cubes, marinade in soy sauce for 20 minutes. Roast with any veg & root veg, with garlic and spices. Add noodles maybe?
Before this tofu was a failure for me which was really annoying.
For batch cooking, a slow cooker is your friend. Curry, chilli etc.
Pasta with roast vegetables. My daughter does a good homemade pesto from the Girl called Jack, Bootstrap cookbook. She has a basil plant to save money for that.
My DH and I watched "Game Changers" and, as we are quite sporty, decided to try plant based eating a couple of days a week.
So, typically we eat things like pasta and rice dishes with tomato based sauces, veg curries, soups etc. Breakfast for me is easy as I love a crumpet with Marmite (anything with Marmite really!) or muesli with almond milk.
Lunch - soups, wraps with hummus and grated carrot and red peppers, pasta and sauce.
My fav dinner is mushroom and spinach pasta - I cook the pasta with a veg stock cube. I slice two handful of mushrooms into a pan and fry off with a bit of olive oil and garlic, add some frozen spinach and once the mushrooms are cooked I stir through half a tub of hummus and add some of the pasta cooking water. Delicious and quick!
If you have a good stock of frozen veg, tinned tomatoes, selection of dried herbs and spices then those are good basics for meals. Hummus, avocado smash, salsa all good for spreading on toast. Rice, pasta, couscous, salads all combine well. I've not gone down the liquid smoke or nutritional yeast route myself yet. Wtf is liquid smoke anyway?!
Haven't decided yet if we will go fully vegan, but definitely conscious of being more plant-based with our food choices. There are some Facebook groups I've joined for recipe ideas - Vegan Recipes For Beginners and Forks Over Knives. VRFB posters can get a bit distracted with vegan lifestyle stuff and sometimes seem a bit preachy, but I ignore that and just search for recipes. Pinterest is good too, but tends to be more American based. I follow @elavagan on Instagram for recipe inspiration. I'm just starting out but I think that with a bit of time and trial and error in the kitchen, it could be a new way of eating for us.
It took me three months to learn to cook vegan. To begin with I had to follow recipes all the time but now three years later I just chuck stuff together like I used to as an omni.
I don't have special ingredients but I do have a lot more beans, pulses and spices in my cupboard than I used to.
Bootstrap cook has a lot of easy vegan recipes.
I love smoked tofoo tofu and vivera kebab meat but don't use many meat subs.
Some great advice here; thanks. Especially about the cheese and the places to look for recipes.
I can see that DH is going to find it harder than I am, as he doesn't like peanut butter or marmite. Mind you, I detest cauliflower and roasted cauli seems like a vegan staple from what I've seen.
I'm not proud of using ready meals but I'm being realistic. If being vegan means spending an hour every night chopping veg, soaking lentils etc. then it's just not going to happen.
I'm always attempting to eat less dairy (already veggie) and our go-to dishes are:
Spaghetti bolognese substituting the mince for a packet of those ready cooked puy lentils (can use dried but requires more planning to soak/cook in advance)
Various curries, particularly katsu (use marg to make roux) with tofu or just lots of veg
Mapo tofu with rice https://www.theguardian.com/food/2018/oct/27/mushroom-mapo-tofu-recipe-meera-sodha
Vegetable stir-fry with either tofu (use Tofoo as a pp has mentioned, there are a lot of pretty slimy tofus out there if you're not sure what you're doing) or fake chicken. Usually with vegetable gyoza and a dipping sauce on the side. Just Google stir fry sauces and almost everything is dairy-free, although most include honey so depends on how strict you're being.
Noodles with peanut butter/sesame dressing. Serve at room temperature and literally takes minutes. Guardian does a good recipe, obviously without using egg noodles. Soba are nice.
Veggie chilli with cauliflower rice/normal rice/baked potato
Pasta and pesto - just look for dairy free pesto. Theres a pretty good range.
Veggie sausage, mash and beans/peas with red onion gravy
The guardian has a good range of vegan recipes that don't take too long. I wouldn't go down the nutritional yeast route just yet, you can mainly eat normal food without too much effort!
Fake meat wise ones that go down well in this house are Quorn mince (has egg in) and more recently we have tried one called What the Cluck which is freakily like chicken. I don't know what it's made of and too scared to look but the texture is uncanny. The Beyond Burger is the most meaty of the burgers I've tried. Finally Linda McCartney fake shredded duck is my guilty pleasure with cucumber, spring onion, hoi sin and pancakes. By the time it's all fried up and covered in sauce could almost pass for the real thing!
Never forget that oreos are vegan so you won't starve!
Don't know where the paragraphs went- sorry about that!
We have been plant based for a year - I was vegetarian before that which helped us transition. The DC eat what they choose and in practice are pretty much veggie.
We eat very seasonally as we have an allotment. This week we are having mushroom and lentil soup, butternut squash laksa, rainbow chard sag aloo and a squash and aubergine bake with bulgar wheat.
In terms of convenience / junk food, I like quorn fishfingers (plastic free!) and taifun tofu weiners.
My favourite tofu brands are taifun and tofoo as countries of origin mean no deforestation involved.
If you like river cottage recipes I strongly recommend Much More Veg. Other cookbooks we use a lot are Fresh India and the Green Roasting Tin which is half vegan and half veggie (but you can modify some of those).
I don't like supermarket vegan cheese much but I do like Nush spread with chives. I've made my own soft cheeses - not difficult, just need a high powered blender and time to soak cashews. Lots of recipes online eg strictlyrootsvegan.wordpress.com/2018/05/07/fermented-cashew-cheese-with-flowering-oregano/
Ps you don't need weird ingredients! We don't use nutri yeast or black salt or liquid smoke. I bought the special gluten and made seitan steaks once when we did veganuary - ok but we are mostly happy eating vegetables!
Also meant to say I use Bosh! a bit and get emails from It doesn't taste like chicken.
Familiarise yourself with food products that are ‘accidentally vegan’:
Belvita breakfast tops, Hobnobs, Ginger nuts, Oreos, pink wafer biscuits, Co-op doughnuts, Doritos lightly salted or chilli heatwave, most brands of Bourbon biscuits, Ritz crackers.....I could go on!
Violife is one of the most popular vegan cheese brands, and in most major supermarkets. Violife Prosciano block has strong, nutty flavour and is ideal for grating over pasta dishes or using in other Italian recipes. I’m also impressed with their Mediterranean block which has a taste and texture that’s very close to real halloumi.
I’ve found that Cheddar-style block from Sainsbury’s is virtually indistinguishable from cows’-milk Cheddar. It crumbles slightly but also has a firm block texture. You can grate it, melt it, or cut it into chunks or slices – basically, this is a perfect all-purpose cheese.
Tesco has a great range of vegan cheese, from plain Cheddar-style to blue cheese.
Nutritional yeast is well known for adding a cheesy flavour to dishes. It’s ideal for putting in sauces, and it also contains loads of essential vitamins such as B12. Jamie Oliver has a good recipe for macaroni cheese using both nutritional yeast and vegan cheese. www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/pasta-recipes/vegan-mac-n-cheese/
I also like Goodfella’s vegan pizzas.
My quickest vegan meals are:
Falafel burgers www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/5605/falafel-burgers
Tofu stir fry
A packet of flavoured couscous with chickpeas/tofu/vegan Greek cheese alternative.
Quick lentil curry www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/coconut-squash-dhansak
Microwave chilli www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/microwave-chilli
Halloumi and hummus burgers www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/halloumi-burgers
Satay stir fry www.cauldronfoods.co.uk/recipes/vegan-satay-tofu-stir-fry
I also really like these recipes:
Shepherd’s pie www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/vegan-shepherds-pie
For ready meals/convenience:
Goodfellas vegan pizza
OP we're the same, trying to eat vegan as much as possible.
I really love the Bosh! book and have heard that the Fearne Cotton book is good too.
On my meal plan for the rest of this week is:
Burritos made with refried beans
Veg Gumbo (from Jamie Oliver book Veg)
Breakfast Dinner (vegan sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes, beans, hash browns)
All quick and easy dinners with ingredients that are cheap!
My ancestors have been began forever. In terms of avoiding prep, you can get ready to eat lentils and so on.
Is quorn vegan now? I thought it had milk powder in but that might be old now.
Re flour, is that just someone tarting up recipes for the sake of it?
I just assumed Quorn would be vegan as it's a mushroomy kind of stuff, isn't it? I didn't know about the milk in it. Can anyone knowledgeable advise?
This page is a pain, you have to click on the query but here it is
Standard quorn contains egg. There are also quorn vegan products, which are specifically labelled as such
I went on a vegan cookery day, one thing we made was a fab Spanish omelette.
Fry up some pre boiled potatoes, and onions. The eggy bit is gram flour ( chick pea flour) I think it's 1 cup of flour to one cup of water. It makes a yellow batter which you pour on the veg and then let it set. It looks authentic and tastes really good.
A few tips more tips to add:
Liquid smoke or smoked salt is very nice in bean chillies. However, it's not at all necessary. If you see it somewhere, pick it up. It's cheap enough and lasts for ages.
Toast up some almonds and/or pine nuts. Blitz up in a food processor or blender with equal amounts of nutritional yeast and a pinch of salt. Makes a very good pasta topping. Bit like parmesan. Keeps for a while in the fridge.
I usually spend an hour or so on Sundays or Monday evening chopping up veg and cooking lentils. I then have stuff easy to hand in the fridge for the week. Any root veg keeps well peeled in water in the fridge, other stuff just goes in other containers in fridge.
I love getting various noodles and miso paste, curry paste, spice paste etc from my local Chinese shop. That with veg and either tofu or peanuts/cashews makes quick and easy midweek dinners.
Linda McCartney sausages are yummy. You can also defrost them and roll into meatballs for spaghetti and meatballs.
All alpro milks are fortified with b12. Just had a health check a few months ago anfy levels were great. Have been vegan almost 7 years and do take a b12 supplement when I remember (every other day?)
We watched the Gamechangers doc on Netflix and found it fascinating. We had been trying a mostly vegetarian diet for a month or so before that but now are doing vegan meals during the week and then vegetarian at weekends (I have a cheese addiction and don't think I could be full time vegan!)
I highly recommend the BOSH! book for a beginner, we have enjoyed everything from there so far and I am really enjoying experimenting and trying to use veg in different ways 😁
Higgidy and pieminister do some vegan pies for nights when you don’t want to cook cook. I’m also a fan of Linda McCartney sausages for an easy meal. M and S have some yummy vegan meals in their dine in deal. Their vegan mac and cheese is lovely.
Quorn hot and spicy burgers are vegan and are exactly like takeaway chicken burgers. Love them!
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