Veganism: the cultural reset that’s changing the way we plate up

Something’s happening in the world of food preparation and it goes by the name of veganism. The ultimate in cultural shifts, it’s been around for millenia but suddenly, it’s gotten a revamp.

Vegan, plant-based, cruelty-free. Whatever your preferred way of describing a life without animal products, you can’t deny that the movement has gathered serious momentum in the last few years. Forget outdated stereotypes of hippies and lentils because these days, being vegan is pretty damn sexy. And we’re not just talking about PETA’s claims that being vegan makes you a better lover either.

For your own health, the environment and animals, embracing veganism offers a lot of benefits but how do you jump in with the existing 600,000+ plant-based individuals in the UK? Is there a secret handshake you need to learn (no there isn’t, don’t worry) and what can you do every day to move towards plant-based perfection? Wonder no more because we’re going to tell you about five easy swaps that you can make to start your vegan love story, today.

1. Start with the treats

The easiest way to make a change is to start with something infrequent. This will keep the pressure off and give you plenty of room for experimenting. Switching out tried and tested takeaway choices for something plant-based will make the transition easy and painless and if you don’t love something, you haven’t bought a big shop’s worth of it. And yes, we know chips should be vegan, but you’ll need to ask how they’re cooked. If the oil is used for animal products as well, that’s a no-go. So maybe get more adventurous with your delivered dining and actually indulge in something artisan and special. You know you’re worth it. Oh, and don’t forget to include dessert!

2. Audit your cupboards

Once you start deep-diving into your kitchen cupboards you’ll find a surprising amount of things are already vegan. Chickpeas, chopped tomatoes and rice are all a great start. Not to mention most flours, all herbs and spices, baked beans and protein staples such as nuts and seeds. But don’t forget the egg noodles and tins of readymade macaroni cheese lurking at the back. Simple swaps mean that you can still eat the way you like to while adding a little more love into proceedings as well. Egg noodles can be switched out for rice versions and when it comes to mac and cheese, leave it to the experts and order in a creamy masterpiece for your treat night. Trust us, we — ahem — know what we’re talking about here.

3. Meet some meat alternatives

When you’ve got the basics covered, get down and dirty with the meat substitutes that are out there. Chances are you won’t find the perfect vegan bacon on your first try and narrowing down the various mince alternatives can seem like a mission but take your time and remember that you don’t have to actually buy any of them. If you want to go down the whole foods route, your body will thank you, that’s for sure and so will your wallet. That being said, a little of what you fancy does you good so don’t shy away from biting a burger or two.

4. Sow some wild oat (milks)

Not just a bugbear for the dairy industry, plant milks are a real issue but one that you’ll have to tackle at some point. Whether you love oat, soy, pea, hemp, rice or one of the other increasing odd-sounding dairy alternatives, you’ll need to find your milk match. This will be even more important if you like milk in your hot drinks, are a cereal muncher or enjoy cooking at home, as you’ll need to find the right blends for your favourite recipes. Top tip: no one dairy substitute does everything. Be prepared to find a few go-to choices for different applications!

5. Get saucy

A final tip is to get an arsenal of go-to sauces under your belt. There’s nothing more off-putting than venturing into a new dietary lifestyle only to find the food dull or tasteless and, let’s be honest, not all veggies taste of much. That’s why you need to master a tahini drizzle, a balsamic jus and maybe a satay glaze. If you can dress up your side dishes with some flavour, you’ll never get bored of plant-based eating. And until you’ve had satay glazed tofu, you haven’t lived.

Getting to grips with veganism is like starting a new relationship. You’ve got to take your time, get properly acquainted and take a few risks, but the rewards can be spectacular if you open yourself up to some new experiences.

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