Going vegan without dying in the attempt

12 April 2016

If you think that cutting out meat, eggs or dairy from your diet sounds daunting, try going without all of them all at once. In fact, imagine eating no animal products at all. Welcome to the vegan world. Could you survive?

First of all, being vegan is about far more than just what you eat; it’s a whole lifestyle choice that encompasses other aspects such as what you wear, what you wash with and what beauty products you use. It’s a comprehensive alternative to consuming, using and depending on animal products.

In terms of diet, vegans eat no meat, fish, dairy, eggs or honey. Vegans are much stricter than ovo-vegetarians (vegetarians who don’t eat eggs but do eat dairy) and lacto-vegetarians (who don’t eat dairy but do eat eggs), but they share some common ground with raw vegetarians, who only eat raw food.

Highly restrictive for some, ethically sound for others, veganism certainly requires you to keep your body’s nutritional needs in mind: vegans should make sure they get the calcium they aren’t getting from dairy products and the unsaturated fats they aren’t getting from blue fish. And they need to be creative enough to put together a varied, fun and satisfying diet that’s both nutritional and tasty. You don’t want to end up being tempted by a juicy steak because your quinoa dish didn’t turn out to be quite as exciting as planned. If you really want to become a long-term vegan, you need to put some serious effort into coming up with imaginative, creative ideas.

Luckily, though, we’re in 2018: there are plenty of interesting alternatives on the market for eating a healthy, tasty vegan diet.

You’ll find lots of ideas in the largely unexplored world of cereals, which extends far beyond pasta and rice to include rye, quinoa, sorghum, spelt, bulgur and oats, among others, which are all excellent bases for making tasty bread or dishes with fresh vegetables.

More alternatives? Pulses, which provide vegetable proteins, carbohydrates, fibre, minerals and vitamins; fruit, rich in fibre, vitamins and packed with antioxidants; and nuts, which give you a healthy energy boost and are an excellent source of healthy fats. Get your creative juices flowing by taking a look at this pistachio hummus.

In addition, you can replace cow’s milk with other vegetable drinks, such as almond, rice or soya milk. And instead of meat, there are a thousand and one ways of cooking tofu, seitan or tempeh: stir-fried, bread-crumbed, in a soup… You can make great hamburgers and meatballs from textured soya protein, and delicious falafels from chickpeas.

For a nutrient-packed breakfast, there’s nothing better to start the day with than a smoothie bowl, with fresh and dried fruit, cereals and chia and sunflower seeds and even vegetables such as kale, which has more calcium per calorie than milk and more iron per calorie than beef; try out some of the recipes below. Who ever said there were no healthy alternatives?

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