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Food fads come and go, but one trend that seems to be lasting the key test of time is being Vegan. More and more people are adopting this away of life as it can provide many health benefits as well as being much kinder to the environment. In the EU alone, livestock farming is meant to produce more CO2 emissions than cars and vans combined.
To that end, some of us may be looking to adopt this diet in our lives. Maybe for January, maybe just once a week, or maybe totally throughout the year. One thing that may stop people adopting it, is down to the restrictive nature of it. Having a restrictive diet can often mean you end up bored and not looking forward to food.
But that does not have to be the case. In our guide to eating great Vegan, we highlight why being Vegan is anything but boring.
Being Vegan means that you do not eat anything that has any form of animal product in it. So while a Vegetarian will not eat meat or fish, a Vegan will not eat meat, fish, eggs, cheese or any other dairy. Additionally, items like gelatine that comes from pig fat - or any other product that has some form of animal fat - is not eaten.
For that reason, many Vegans look past the kitchen and into their bathrooms. There, they sometimes cut out certain beauty products that contain animal fat. Many beauty products now assert being Vegan on the packaging as a result.
The problem with being Vegan is that animal products provide us with many of the nutrients we need for our bodies to function properly. Some of those nutrients are difficult to find elsewhere so it's important to try to replace them with a substitute as best you can.
For example, the main food type that is often missing from a Vegan diet is protein. Meat is so often the source of this food group and it is unfortunately one which is difficult to replace with plant based substitutes.
It's not impossible though. Pulses like Chickpeas are a good source of protein as well as tofu, chia seeds and nuts. The issue with plant based protein is that its genetic makeup makes it difficult for humans to utilise. To get over that, foods with high levels of vitamin C need to be eaten at the same time. So if you are eating hummus, for example, eating it with a pepper can help your body take in the amino acids from the proteins that we need.
Additionally, meat based foods are a good source of B12 which is needed to help keep your energy levels up. You can take a B12 supplement to do the job, or simply eat fortified foods where the B12 is added. For example, breakfast cereals or breads can be rich sources of the vitamin.
When a person is getting used to a Vegan diet, it can seem quite limited initially. By not being able to add flavour or interest with meat based products, people often worry about having a very dull appetite. The following foods should therefore become your friend if you are finding your Vegan diet repetitive.
Nuts are a fantastic addition to the Vegan diet - and much needed too for iron and protein. They’re great as there are so many different varieties but they also can be used in so many ways. You can make delicious nut butters with them. You can crush them up and blitz them into a homemade pesto. You can use them to add crunch to pasta dishes and stir fries, or you can simply eat them as a snack.
When cooking with animal fat, taste wise you benefit as the fat within it is often delicious to human tastebuds. Without it, it can be difficult to have a depth of flavour that we often like our meals to have. To replace it, get to know your spice rack a little better. They can add a huge amount of interest to a variety of dishes and really liven up a menu.
In addition to spices, flavoured oils are a quick win when it comes to cooking Vegan food. Using lemon infused oils can add a citrusy feel to your salads and pasta dishes, while a chilli oil can transform Vegan pizzas and breads.
Tahini is a wonderful ingredient that can be used in so many ways. What’s particularly great about tahini to a person that is Vegan is that it is jam packed with antioxidants and a brilliant way to add healthy fats to your diet that will be missing due to the lack of fish and other lean proteins.
The texture of tofu will often put many people off eating it - but when cooked properly it is absolutely delicious. And, is a great transporter of flavour and will often fit into all many dishes and cuisines. It can often be used as a straight meat substitute in all manner of recipes too so it is very easy to use. Plus it is incredibly good for you thanks to having all nine essential amino acids in it, as well as iron and calcium in addition to that all important protein.
If you are not used to using these ingredients, becoming a Vegan can be quite intimidating. Learning to cook without meat can be difficult, and then not being able to cook without eggs or dairy is harder still.
If you are totally overwhelmed by the prospect, it can be a good idea to start using a meal delivery service that specialises in Vegan food. Using a Vegan meal delivery kit service can demonstrate to you quickly how the diet does not have to be as restrictive as you may initially think it. It will give you the confidence to build up your Vegan repertoire, without leaving you to trawl the supermarket shelves for Vegan only ingredients which can be time consuming.