The number of people turning to a plant-based diet in the UK is growing rapidly. According to the latest research conducted by The Vegan Society, there are 600,000 vegans in the UK, accounting for around 1.16% of the population.
On World Vegan Day, thousands more of us might be thinking of ditching the bacon sarnies and switching up our diets, but making a long-lasting change to your eating habits isn’t always simple.
Here, we asked a handful of vegan and plant-based eaters to share some top tips for removing meat, dairy and other animal-based products from your plate.
Top tips for going vegan
1. Find your ‘why’ and check out your local restaurant scene
Plant-based influencer Loui Blake says: “It’s easy to stay motivated when you have a strong enough reason. For most people it’s either health, animal welfare or the environment – or perhaps it’s a combination of all three. Either way, having a reminder of why you switched to veganism, that’s clearly visible each day, can help to provide motivation when things become challenging.
“I’d also recommend finding a local vegan restaurant or one with a great vegan offering and making it your local. You’ll typically find other people there with a similar interest or appreciation of vegan food, and being able to look through the menu and order anything you like can make life easier.”
2. Follow as many vegan food accounts as you can
Brett Cobley, a chef, vegan entrepreneur and author of the bestselling cookbook What Vegans Eat says: “If you’re going vegan but aren’t sure what to cook each evening, I’d recommend updating your social feeds so you’re following some foodie key influencers and accounts. That way you’ll constantly be inspired by tasty vegan food.”
3. Find your alternatives
Victoria Bryceson, vegan lifestyle expert and organiser of Vegan Events UK says: “These days, it’s really easy to be vegan because you don’t have to miss out on familiar tastes and textures you already enjoy.
“Many supermarkets now stock gourmet vegan cheeses, ice cream and alternatives to bacon, and you can find lots of other specialist alternatives online. For instance, there’s now a ‘Follow Your Heart’ vegan egg that you can use to make delicious quiches and scrambled eggs.
4. Think about taking a multivitamin
Rob Hobson, nutritionist for Healthspan says: “While there’s no reason you can’t get everything you need from a vegan diet, it might be wise to include a multivitamin and mineral supplement into your daily routine – at least while you start out.
“This is because it can be tricky to get adequate nutrients like iron and B12 if you don’t fully understand the foods you should be eating on the vegan diet, like beans, pulses, lentils, dark green leafy vegetables, tofu, nuts and seeds. Try Healthspan Multivitality for Vegetarians and Vegans (£9.95 for 120 tablets).”
5. Take your time
Rimi Thapar, founder of LoveRaw vegan chocolate says: “Take small steps at first. Cut out one item, such as red meat, and then when you’re ready, cut white meat. Even being a ‘little bit’ vegan helps with sustainability and your health.
“The change can be daunting if you go you go cold turkey overnight, and you may be more likely to give up. It takes a while to adapt to a new shopping list, new recipes and new regime, but take your time and you’ll get there in the end.”
6. Learn to cook genuinely delicious food
Alex Petrides, founder of Allplants says: “Before going vegan, I assumed that a plant-based diet would be bland, boring and hard work, but it’s a real journey in learning about how food sustains you and how flavour really works.
“When you think about it, most flavour comes from spices, herbs, sugars and salt; these are all natural, plant-based sources of flavour that can turn broccoli or even a potato into something delicious and special.
“With that in mind, don’t settle for boring dishes. See your switch to plants as a chance to experiment with flavour and taste – and to expand your cooking repertoire. I’d recommend investing in a few specialist vegan cookbooks that can inspire you to get creative in the kitchen.”
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