Veganism for Beginners
Veganism is becoming an increasingly popular lifestyle choice, with the UK topping the list for vegans. In the USA, vegan food sales have risen by 27% since 2020 and in Asia, 13% of the population across the region identify themselves as being vegan.
Yep, the trend is growing. More and more people are beginning the vegan life for a variety of reasons. It could be that you want to be healthier, don’t want to use products that are associated with animal harm and cruelty, or perhaps it may be for spiritual or religious choices.
Whatever your reason for adopting veganism, we will run you through all you need to know to get you started on the journey.
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How do I start being a vegan?
With any life-changing choice, you have to begin by asking yourself: Why do I want to become vegan?
The answer to that question is very varied. Each person has their own reason as to why they want to lead a vegan life. Knowing the reason helps you with your motivation. It’s easier to stick with something when you know the purpose of doing it.
Next, start to become more educated about veganism. Do you have any vegan friends? Talk to them and get their support.
Learn how to read the labels on the packets of the items you are choosing (what exactly is inside the food?). Also, avoid any products that come from animals such as eggs, dairy, meat. Again, some of the ingredients in the products you buy may have been made from animal by-products. Something you want to avoid as a vegan.
Take the transition slowly. Always when changing habits it takes time and commitment to get used to the change. Begin by eliminating any meat products from your diet that you aren’t going to suddenly get a craving over. Then, progressively replace any meat and animal products in your diet with their vegan equivalents.
One more thing, if you slip up along the way and end up eating something non-vegan, don’t beat yourself up over it. Mistakes are bound to happen.
What should a beginner vegan eat?
You’re at the supermarket and excited about going vegan, then wonder: What can I eat as a vegan?
Fruit and vegetables are fine. Soy-based products can also make it into your trolley. Grab yourself some legumes and nuts, too.
If you want some fiber, wheat and seeds can help.
Vegan-based dairy products allow you to still enjoy your cheese, milk, and butter. For meat, look at tofu equivalents (which taste pretty darn close to those meat products that you have given up).
One word of caution, if you are allergic to soy or nuts, then you will need to avoid those in your diet.
What foods are excluded in a vegan diet?
Because veganism is all about not consuming any animal-based products meat, dairy, and eggs are all off the menu.
On top of that, some ingredients involved in the manufacturing of the items that you are thinking about buying may have used animal products in the process. Again, this is where education comes in.
Read about the products. Research the companies that you are buying from to see if there are any parts of an animal used in their manufacturing.
Additionally, some more environmentally-conscious vegans refuse to purchase from companies that are either directly or indirectly involved in the destruction of rainforests and other ecological systems.
What is not vegan in bread?
Ah, bread. A staple food for many people. Who doesn’t enjoy a wee piece of toast or two in the morning, then a quick sandwich at lunchtime?
But, you have decided to become vegan. Surely bread is on the safe-list for you. The good news is that it is, well most of the time. This is because it is made of four simple, vegan-friendly ingredients:
However, sometimes bread can contain things that go against veganism:
- Eggs – some types of bread such as brioche use eggs
- Sugar – white sugar uses animal bones to give it the white color. Usually, you don’t know if the sugar contained in bread was made this way, so it’s best to avoid bread that contains sugar.
- Milk or Cream – how many of you knew that these dairy products can be used in making your favorite loaf?
- Buttermilk – an ingredient used in specialist breads.
- Lecithin – can come from soy-based products but also may be derived from egg yolks (uh-oh, a dairy product!)
If you are concerned about the ingredients in your bread, you could always make your own. Then you know exactly what’s in the slice you are about to eat. Plus the aroma of fresh-baked bread is one of the best smells in the world.
What do vegans eat in a day?
When you ask an omnivore what they eat in a day, the answers are as varied as the people you ask. So it is when you ask the same question from vegans. Everyone is different and the daily diet of one vegan can be completely different from another.
Additionally, what a vegan eats reflects if they have allergies that require them to avoid certain products and food as well as their personal beliefs. For example, one vegan may think honey is okay while another vegan may tell you to avoid it due to the exploitation of bees used in obtaining it.
Typically a vegan may have a breakfast that consists of wheat, seeds, oats, and/or fruit. Lunch can be a salad, pasta-based dish, or tofu-inspired meal. When it comes to dinner, you can let your imagination run wild. Maybe you want tacos or a meat substitute made from tofu.
There are plenty of recipes available that provide you with great meal plans for the day and week. Later in this article, we will provide you with some recipes that you can try as you take your first steps into the world of veganism
What can vegans eat for breakfast?
Breakfast, the most important meal of the day. But now you have decided to begin being a vegan, that typical meat-based breakfast you are used to is no longer an option. So, what can a vegan have as their first meal of the day?
You may be surprised to find that sausages, bacon, and eggs are still okay. What!?! You screech. Yep, these are all still fine because some clever souls have made vegan-based equivalents.
Here are a bunch of other breakfast options for beginner vegans:
- Wheat, oats, and dried fruit based cereals
- Plant-based milk
- Hash browns
- Soy or coconut yogurt
Oh. so many ideas for breakfast. It’s simply a matter of how creative you want to be in the morning with your breakfast.
Complete vegan meal
When it comes to meals, a complete one is something that provides you with the nutrition, proteins, and minerals that your body needs such as calcium, iron, and B12. Because you have forsaken meat (which is one of the main sources of protein in one’s diet), means that you have to ensure you are getting everything that you need in veganism to have a healthy and balanced diet.
A well-rounded vegan diet has you consuming:
- 5 or more fruits or vegetables daily
- Low-fat drinks and yogurt (vegan-based obviously!)
- Rice, pasta, or potatoes
- Beans and other legumes
- 6 to 8 cups of water or other drink
- Soy and soy-based products
If you feel that you aren’t getting the vitamins and minerals that you need then you can take supplements.
Just because you have turned your back on your meat and animal-based food life, doesn’t mean you have to miss out on delicious meals. A quick search on the Web will return countless recipes for vegans.
Here are just some samples to get you started on your vegan journey.
To get your engine revving for the day, try one of these recipes. The first one is from Love & Lemons and the second is from Loving It Vegan
Whole Oat Porridge
- 1 cup whole oat groats, soaked overnight
- 4 cups additional filtered water
- Pinch of sea salt
For the Whole Oat Porridge (base recipe): Drain and rinse the oat groats and transfer them to a blender. Add 4 cups fresh water salt and pulse until the grains are coarsely ground. Pour into a medium pot and bring to a boil over high heat, whisking frequently. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until the grains are soft and the porridge is creamy. Serve hot, with desired toppings.
Vegan Protein Shake
- Add soy milk, peanut butter, frozen banana (can also be fresh banana), cocoa powder, rolled oats, chia seeds and dates to your blender jug.
- Blend until smooth.
- Pour out into glasses and serve.
You’ve had a busy morning and your tummy is telling you it’s time for a meal. Here are a couple of recipes that hit the spot for lunch.
Vegan Chickpea Curry Jacket Potatoes (From BBC GoodFood)
- 4 sweet potatoes
- 1 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 ½ tsp cumin seeds
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- thumb-sized piece ginger, finely grated
- 1 green chilli, finely chopped
- 1 tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- ½ tsp turmeric
- 2 tbsp tikka masala paste
- 2 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
- 2 x 400g can chickpeas, drained
- lemon wedges and coriander leaves, to serve
- Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas
- Prick the sweet potatoes all over with a fork, then put on a baking tray and roast in the oven for 45 mins or until tender when pierced with a knife.
- Meanwhile, melt the coconut oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and fry for 1 min until fragrant, then add the onion and fry for 7-10 mins until softened.
- Put the garlic, ginger, and green chili into the pan, and cook for 2-3 mins. Add the spices and tikka masala paste and cook for a further 2 mins until fragrant, then tip in the tomatoes. Bring to a simmer, then tip in the chickpeas and cook for a further 20 mins until thickened. Season.
- Put the roasted sweet potatoes on four plates and cut open lengthways. Spoon over the chickpea curry and squeeze over the lemon wedges. Season, then scatter with coriander before serving.
Here is a Mexican-inspired lunch meal from Taste.com.au
Healthy vegan tacos
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 500g butternut pumpkin, peeled, deseeded, cut into 2cm pieces
- 1 large red capsicum, deseeded, cut into 2cm pieces
- 400g can black beans, rinsed, drained
- 2 tsp pure maple syrup
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 small red cabbage, shredded
- 95g (1/3 cup) natural coconut yogurt
- 3 tsp tahini
- 8 small gluten-free corn tortillas
- 1/2 small avocado, thinly sliced
- Lemon wedges, to serve
- Preheat oven to 200C/180C fan-forced. Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Combine the paprika, chili flakes, and cumin in a small bowl. Place the pumpkin and capsicum on the prepared tray. Lightly spray with oil. Sprinkle with the spice mixture. Roast for 30 minutes or until golden and tender, adding the black beans to the tray for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Use a fork to lightly mash the black beans after cooking.
- Meanwhile, combine the maple syrup, 1 tbs lemon juice, and a large pinch of sea salt flakes in a large bowl. Add the cabbage. Toss to combine. Set aside for 5 minutes to pickle. Drain.
- Combine yogurt, tahini, and remaining lemon juice in a small bowl until smooth. Preheat a chargrill pan over high heat (see tip). Cook tortillas for 2-3 minutes on each side.
- Divide pickled cabbage among tortillas. Top with roast vegetables, sliced avocado, and a dollop of tahini yogurt. Season with pepper and serve with lemon wedges.
You come home from work and are feeling tired and peckish. Let’s get some dinner sorted through two inspirational recipes from A Couple Cooks and Nutriciously
Vegan Fettuccine Alfredo
- 1 pound fettuccine noodles (use gluten-free, legume, or zucchini noodles if desired)
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 small head cauliflower (1 1/2 to 2 pounds), enough for 6 cups of florets
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup raw unsalted cashews
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- ⅛ teaspoon onion powder
- 1/8 + ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Pinch nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- Finely chopped parsley, to serve
- Mince the garlic. Chop the cauliflower.
- Make the pasta: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil the pasta until it is al dente (start tasting a few minutes before the package recommends: you want it to be tender but still a little firm on the inside). Then drain the pasta and return it to the pot.
- Meanwhile, start the sauce: Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven, pot, or saucepan (that has a cover) over medium heat. Add the cauliflower and cashews and saute for 4 minutes until lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes until fragrant. Add the vegetable broth, onion powder, black pepper, nutmeg, and ½ teaspoon kosher salt. Bring to a simmer, then cover and cook 6 to 7 minutes on medium-high heat until the cauliflower is tender when pierced with a fork.
- Blend the sauce: Carefully transfer the contents to a blender and add the remaining ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ¼ teaspoon more black pepper. Blend on high until a smooth sauce forms.
- Serve: Pour about 5 cups into 1 pound pasta (1 cup will be left over), or use it to taste. Top with finely chopped parsley and serve immediately.
Easy Thai Vegetable Stir Fry
- 1 medium kabocha squash, cubed
- 1 medium eggplant, cubed
- 2 cups button mushrooms, sliced (140 g)
- 1 cup baby corn
- 1 medium broccoli, cut into florets
- 4 oz sugar snap peas (115 g)
- ⅔ cup firm tofu (150 g)
- 2 scallions, diced
- ⅓ cup veggie broth (80 ml)
Stir Fry Sauce
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tsp cornstarch
- 2 tsp coconut sugar
- 1 tbsp white vinegar
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp ginger, grated
- ⅓ cup water (80 ml)
- Pinch of chili powder
- Thai basil
- Cashews (raw or lightly toasted)
- Brown rice, cooked
- Put all of the sauce ingredients into a jar, close with a lid, and shake well.
- Cut the tofu into cubes and put them in a bowl. Drizzle with stir fry sauce, coat evenly, and set aside to marinate.
- Put a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat and add the cubed winter squash along with some water into it. Cook for around 5 minutes until it has slightly softened, then add the rest of the vegetables together with the veggie broth.
- Sauté everything for about 6 minutes, stirring frequently, until the liquid is absorbed.
- Finally, add the marinated tofu together with the stir fry sauce to the pan and cook for 4-5 more minutes, stirring frequently.
- Once the veggies have become tender-crisp, remove from heat and divide them into serving bowls immediately. Take a small bite and adjust the taste to your liking.
- Serve your vegetable stir fry with brown rice and top with Thai basil and cashews.
- Enjoy warm or let cool and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 5 days and reheat in a microwave at your convenience.
So, there you have some inspirational ideas to help you out on your vegan journey. As we mentioned, there are countless recipes available online for you to try. If you are creative in the kitchen, let yourself experiment with different ideas.
It’s all about enjoying yourself and creating well-balanced meals that will meet your daily dietary requirements.
Vegan food list for beginners
Now you have stepped into the vegan world, you have to think about replacing certain items in your pantry and refrigerator. Here is a handy list of items that you should consider stocking up on as you transition into being a vegan.
- Plant-based milk and yogurt
- Seeds – sesame, sunflower, pumpkin.
- Legumes such as chickpeas, black beans, and pinto beans
- Soy and soy-based products (avoid these if you have an allergy)
- Oils – olive, coconut
- Vinegar – rice, balsamic
- Dried fruit
- Coconut flakes/shredded coconut
- Vegan chocolate chips
- Vegan chocolate
- Fruit and vegetables
- Vegan-friendly sugar
- Baking powder
- Baking soda
- Salt and pepper
This is just a basic list to get you started on the road to veganism. You will find that as you go shopping your list will grow and change depending on your needs. So don’t feel like any vegan food item list is set in concrete. These things are fluid and changing.
Vegetarian vs vegan
You may be wondering what’s the difference between being a vegetarian and being a vegan. After all, both types of individuals avoid eating meat.
The line of separation lies with vegans refusing to have anything that is derived from animals such as dairy, eggs, honey. If there has been the slightest contamination of the product using any animal derivative, then vegans will avoid it. Yet, with vegetarians, it’s acceptable.
Can you lose weight by going vegan?
When it comes to losing weight, plant-based diets are seen as a great option to help people shed those unwanted pounds. But can you lose weight by choosing to go vegan?
The short answer is yes! Studies have shown that overweight people who go on a vegan diet that contains the same amount of calories as a meat-based one do lose weight. Othe research also backs up the fact that veganism can help get rid of body fat.
Why are vegans always tired?
When you begin your vegan life, you may start to feel lethargic and tired. You wonder: What’s happening to me? It’s nothing bad, you are just missing out on a couple of things that meat naturally gave you. Those two things are B12 and iron (specifically heme iron which plant-based foods are lacking).
One way to overcome the issue is to mix and match your food and drink. For example, the Vitamin C in orange juice is great at helping your body absorb the iron found in oats. But it’s not just oats that have the iron that you are needing. It is also contained in tofu and seeds.
If you still feel tired, look at taking B12 and iron supplements as well as consulting with your nutritionist, doctor, or other health professional.
Vegan for beginners book
If you love reading and want to add some vegan books to your collection here are some great ones that will help you begin your new lifestyle.
Plant Based Cookbook For Beginners: 600 Healthy Plant-Based Recipes For Everyday
This book gives you an amazing range of recipes ranging from your main meals to snacks when you feel a little peckish. Do you like desserts? No problem, there are great ideas to keep you and your family happy after dinner has finished.
The 30-Day Vegan Meal Plan for Beginners
Do you feel like planning meals is a chore? Does the idea of creating a menu for an entire month fill you with fear and dread? Relax, here is a handy book that makes planning so easy and stress-free. It provides you with meal ideas, information about veganism, and a shopping list. Brilliant, huh?
Going Vegan for Beginners: The Essential Nutrition Guide to Transitioning to a Vegan Diet
Whenever we start on a new journey in life, we would like to have information about the lifestyle we have chosen. Here is a great book that helps you transition into a vegan life. It provides you with step-by-step guidelines as well as information on how to handle those tricky situations such as eating at restaurants or visiting friends for a meal. Also, you can discover why veganism is such an awesome life choice.
Vegan for beginners pdf
If you love printing things off or uploading them to your favorite e-reader, pdfs are incredible. Here are some pdfs to help you as a beginner vegan.
The Vegan Society offers a great little pdf for those starting in veganism. Grab yourself a copy of Vegan 101.
Nutriciously offers a downloadable Grocery List that will make your vegan shopping so much easier. You do have to submit your email address first before you can access the list.
My Darling Vegan gives you a free 33-page ebook full of recipes to get you going with your vegan diet.
The Vegan Society of New Zealand has a handy 10-page guide that covers the basics about veganism, as well as providing you with a meal planner, recipes, and a directory of other vegan websites that they recommend you check out.
Enjoy your Vegan Life
Veganism is becoming an increasingly attractive lifestyle choice. Why someone chooses to become vegan is a matter of personal conviction and could be that they want a healthier lifestyle or contribute to ending animal cruelty and exploitation.
In this article, we have merely scratched the surface of what is required to start being a vegan. There are plenty of websites that provide awesome support, guidelines, and recipes so that you can reap the full benefits of veganism.
We want to end with some cautions. Make sure that you are choosing to become vegan for the right reasons. Don’t think of it as a fad, but see it as a complete change in your life, because that is what it is. It requires determination and dedication.
Also, consult with your health professional and discuss the idea with them. Though there are no adverse health issues with being a vegan, you will find that some nutrients, proteins, and minerals that you were getting from animal-derived food can be lacking in plant-based food.
Once you are ready to go, take that awesome first step and enjoy being a vegan.