How-To Go Vegan: tips, tricks, products and recipes to make veganism an easy(er) transition

By Gee Cadoret |

Vegan favourites

Choc Affair Orange Dark chocolate £2.75

Cauldron Organic Tofu £2

Make a marinade of crushed garlic, soy sauce, grated ginger and honey, and let cubed tofu soak for 15 minutes before pan-frying in 2 tbsp rapeseed oil or adding to a vegetable stir-fry.

Violife Original Flavour Block (cheese) £2.50

Great on crackers with chutney or in wraps with avocado, tomato and salad. This vegan “cheese” was my favourite of all the alternatives but doesn’t grate very easily due to quite a rubbery texture (if you like really processed cheese, you’ll love Violife). Melts well but bear in mind vegan cheese is usually made with coconut so tends to be sticky when melted. 

Cypressa Tahini £2.60

Tahini is one of my favourite ingredients as it’s so versatile. The creamy quality makes a great dressing when combined with the juice of half a lemon, 1 tbsp olive oil, a good pinch of salt and 1 tsp apple cider vinegar. Use warm water from the kettle to stop the dressing from separating. I also use 1 tbsp tahini in vegan pasta sauce with nutritional yeast, onions, garlic, leeks, mushrooms and a little boiling water. 

Plain Koko (yoghurt) £2

Stir into vegan porridge, dollop on spicy curries, or have on its own. Although it’s made with coconut, the flavour is extremely mild, so can easily be used in savoury dishes in place of sour cream or Greek yoghurt. 

Oatly! Oat Drink – Barista Edition £1.80

Smooth, creamy and super dreamy. This is pretty much the only milk alternative I drink, as every other one I’ve tried has been too watery to use in tea and coffee. This one mimics the same fullness of cow’s milk, making it really satisfying. 

Savoury Engevita Yeast Flakes £3.49

Nutritional yeast or “nooch” can be used to make any dish that needs a savoury boost. If I make a soup that tastes a bit plain, nutritional yeast adds a nice depth of flavour. It’s also used to make cashew vegan “cheese”, and if I don’t fancy using Violife I’ll sometimes top my pasta or chilli with nutritional yeast on its own, as it melts and has the same tangy flavour as cheddar cheese.

Vitamin B complex tablets £3.69

I bought mine cheaply from Aldi, but these supplements are available from most big supermarkets and drugstores. Well-absorbed forms of vitamin B-12 (vital for healthy blood cells and nervous system) are only found in animal products, meaning that the vegan diet can put people at a disadvantage. However, many plant-based alternative products such as dairy alternatives, nutritional yeast and cereals are naturally fortified with B-12, so all hope is not lost. Nevertheless, I take a B-vitamin tablet supplement every day anyway. 

Recipes for all your vegan ventures

Here are a few examples of what I made during Veganuary. I rarely stepped far outside my comfort zone with the food I made, but I did have to make some tweaks. Full disclosure: I slipped up a few times in the first week, which is why I’d say to anyone attempting Veganuary – don’t beat yourself up about it. It’s a big adjustment, and the idea is that you’re doing your best with the positive intention of eating less-to-no animal products. So, if you realise there’s milk in your vegetable stock, or mindlessly eat an all-butter shortbread with your cuppa, then don’t stress – it’s not a competition

Vegan Ramen

Vegetable coconut curry

Jackfruit fajitas

Curry laksa noodle soup

Italian bean stew

Butternut squash and celeriac soup

Whenever I came to cook a meal, soup seemed like an easy way out of having to think creatively if I’m being totally honest. I would start by seeing what veg I needed to eat up, then roasting the veg and adding it to my generic soup base. Have fun playing with spices and herbs to figure out what goes best with what. I sometimes add coconut milk to a spiced soup to make it filling and creamier, and beans can be added whole for a nice chew, or blended in for a thicker texture. 

For the base:

Chop a large onion, 2 sticks of celery, a thumb-sized piece of ginger (peeled) and 2 cloves of garlic.

Sweat off the onions then add the chopped celery, ginger, garlic and 2 tsp ground cumin. Once soft, season well with salt and pepper and add a vegan stock (if using a cube, crumble in). 

For the veg:

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.

Chop a whole peeled butternut squash into small cubes and half a celeriac root (also peeled).

Mix the chopped veg in a bowl with 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp cumin and salt and pepper, then spread on a baking tray and roast for 20 minutes, or until you can easily cut a knife through the cubes.

Add to the soup base and stir well to combine. After 5 minutes, add 1000ml boiling water from the kettle (add more if you like your soup to be looser).

Blend with a stick blender or in a mixer, then add in a tin of coconut milk.

Serve with fresh coriander

Quinoa salad with avocado, tomato and dill 

Salads, when done well, are such a joyous part of eating vegetables for me. Quinoa is a gluten-free grain that boils quickly and is a great addition to salads that need to be bulked out a bit. Couscous can also be used as an alternative. 

For the dressing: 

Make a dressing by combining half a tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp white balsamic vinegar, juice of half a lemon, a handful of chopped dill and salt and pepper in a bowl. 

For the salad: 

Thinly slice half a red onion and cover with the dressing; let macerate for five minutes.

Cover 1 cup quinoa (I usually do more to keep in the fridge for meals later on in the week), with 2 cups boiling water.

Boil with the lid off until the water is absorbed, then take off the heat and put a lid on the pan for a further five. 

Whilst the quinoa cooks, toast 1 tbsp sunflower or pumpkin seeds in a dry frying pan over a medium heat, moving them around every couple of minutes until you can smell them and they are golden-brown. 

Slice 1 ripe avocado and 2 medium tomatoes (I like to de-seed mine). Put in the bowl with the onions and dressing and mix well.

When the quinoa is fluffy, top with the salad, seeds and some fresh rocket.

Voila!

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