Image from @rainbowplantlife
The rise of veganism has accelerated over the past decade and even more so in the last few years. With the Covid-19 crisis we are all having to question what we can do to mitigate the risks of another pandemic in the future, and meat and dairy consumption have once again been under scrutiny. We asked 3 experts from different backgrounds about their advice on ‘How to go Vegan’….
How to go Vegan… by ROHINI BAJEKAL
Plant based nutritionist
A whole food plant-based diet is one that is made up of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes (beans and lentils) and nuts and seeds. As well as numerous health benefits, this way of eating is suitable for all ages and stages of the life cycle.
Here are 10 tips if you’re trying to eat more plants.
Learn new recipes
Try new recipes to expand your plant-based meal repertoire. I love Vegan Richa, Rainbow Plant Life and Gaz Oakley for recipe inspiration. Attending a plant-based cooking class is a great way to learn new skills. Made in Hackney, the UK’s first plant-based cookery school and charity, is offering online Zoom cook-alongs during the Covid 19 crisis: https://madeinhackney.org/whats-on
Make healthy plant-based swaps
Swap meat for protein, iron and zinc-rich foods such as lentils, tofu and beans. Crowd out animal products and add in healthy plant-based foods.
Transition over time
Transitioning over time allows your gut microbiome to get used to the increased amount of fibre in a plant-based diet and may help prevent bloating. Start with making your breakfast plant-based by swapping cow’s milk for fortified soya milk. Small incremental changes are helpful for some people in order to make this way of eating last.
It’s important to eat enough and feel satiated as plant-based foods are generally less calorie dense. Fill up on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes with some nuts and seeds. Don’t fear carbohydrates – whole grains are consistently protective for human health. Try quinoa, red rice, barley, millet, buckwheat and amaranth.
Learn nutrition basics
The Plant-Based Health Professionals UK website has lots of excellent, easy to follow advice about a whole foods plant based diet, factsheets on pregnancy and other hot topics, free webinars and articles. It also has a directory of health professionals so you can look for qualified experts who understand the science around nutrition.
Add in protein rich plant foods
Protein is the most overhyped macronutrient. We can get all we need from plants and it’s a good idea to add in a plant protein source to meals. Tofu, tempeh, quinoa, beans, lentils, peanut butter, whole grains and nuts are all good sources of protein.
Don’t give up if you slip up
If you eat a slice of non-vegan cheese, don’t beat yourself up. All or nothing thinking doesn’t help and every plant-based meal you eat makes a difference. Just get back on track with the next meal.
Cook a vegan meal for family or friends
Why not showcase how delicious plant-based food is by cooking a meal for your family or friends? Cuisines such as Indian, Thai and Mexican are easy to veganise.
Supplement with B12
Remember to take a good B12 supplement providing at least 10 micrograms daily. Factory farmed animals are supplemented with B12 either through their feed or via injections – why not cut out the middle-man and just take a supplement directly? This one is really important as a deficiency can lead to anaemia or neurological issues so don’t risk it.
Make the connection
Find your “Why” for changing the way you eat. Around 60 billion land animals and over a trillion marine animals are exploited and killed as commodities every year. Animal agriculture has a devastating impact on the environment. Animal products are unnecessary and are often harmful for human health.
Rohini Bajekal is a nutritionist (MA Oxon, MSc Nutrition and Food Sciences, Dip IBLM/ BSLM) and an International Board-Certified Lifestyle Medicine Professional. Through her practice, she provides evidence-based nutrition and lifestyle advice to clients, focusing on a whole food plant-based approach. She is an Advisory Board Member of Plant-Based Health Professionals UK. Find out more about Rohini and her work at www.rohinibajekal.com or via Instagram
How to go Vegan… by Brooke Bond
Vegan instagrammer and pregnant mum of 1
My name is Brooke and I’ve been vegan for 13 years. I was already vegetarian before this after giving up eating animals and making the connection at 12 years old. Back then I didn’t have social media and was unaware of the dairy industry until much later aged 24.
A little part of me was ignorant to how dairy was produced but also without the exposure we have nowadays it was a lot easier to lie to consumers back then . Since giving up all animal products including fish and eggs my health became so much better. My skin became clearer (dairy is well known for causing skin issues) and my energy levels went up.
Going vegan for me seems so obvious and natural now. I find now more than ever is the easiest time as we have so many options available and people are far more accepting. However I understand to some this can still be a daunting experience. This is one of the reasons I built my website. It’s to help others go vegan more easily which in turn would help the animals and the planet.
Here is my advice for people wanting to go vegan but don’t know where to start :
Do your research with an open mind
This means watching documentaries such as Forks over knives, Earthlings, Game changers and Dominion. It means understanding that whatever argument you look for there will always be two sides and if you look for excuses not to go vegan they’re easy to find. Marketing companies are paid big money to distort the truth and lead you into believing eating animal products is good for us and can be ethical. Neither are true.
Join social media and follow vegan/plant-based accounts
This really helps people remind themselves of why they’re vegan. Follow people who not only create great vegan recipes for you to make but also people who post the truth on animal agriculture. Animals do not lie, they’re not actors and there is so much video evidence of just how much cruelty is involved in every country all over the world.
Remember vegan food is just food!
Food that comes from the ground is the most natural and healthy food in the world. Our food is grown not born. Foods such as grains, beans, lentils, potatoes, pulses, fruits and vegetables are exactly the kinds of foods that keep our bodies working properly. Without some of these foods we would not get the nutrition we need and they all happen to be vegan. Non vegans eat these to stay healthy and compensate for the animal products they consume that contain zero fibre and are completely unnecessary to eat. Yes cow’s milk contains calcium but it also contains antibiotics , puss, blood, casein , and cruelty. You can get calcium from tofu, leafy greens, plant milks and nuts without the nasties.
There is nothing wrong with supplements
All diets may require supplements if not enough variety is eaten. But it’s always good to keep in mind all good nutrients come from Mother Nature in the first place. This includes vitamin b12 and vitamin D. Due to where we live and the nature of man-made farming etc it’s not always easy to get nutrients the way we used to. Even animals have to be supplemented now. This is because our soil has changed and most animals for food are factory farmed. Luckily, we can get all we need with a vegan diet and fortified foods with added supplements if we need.
Choose your battles
When I first went vegan after reading a book called Skinny Bitch I couldn’t believe I hadn’t made the connection sooner! I was so excited and passionate that I wanted to tell the world. The problem is the world didn’t want to hear me. This hurt a lot as I didn’t understand why everyone didn’t think like me. It was so obvious, surely? I would get into a lot of debates with people that wanted was to justify their choices and actions. This can make you shut down, however it is still important to always speak up. I had to choose my battles. Nowadays I focus my energy on people who actually want to learn and are wanting to change. It was no good telling my 60 year old father who came from a slaughterhouse back ground that he must go vegan. I use my Instagram to show people the truth, educate and let people come and follow me rather than me chase them. Let people come to you and never be apologetic for your just cause.
Do your best
Going vegan doesn’t mean you are perfect, it’s doesn’t mean you won’t make mistakes. That’s ok. Being vegan just means doing your best to avoid WHERE POSSIBLE contributing to animal harm.
For more information about why vegan, nutrition, and cruelty free products visit my website at www.mykindaworld.co.uk
How to go Vegan… by Charlotte Graham
Plant based Chef
It’s now easier than ever to join the fast-growing community of vegans. Some people are still worried about making this change but my number one piece of advice is to start making small and manageable changes today. Swap out dairy for dairy free alternatives, reduce your consumption of meat and eggs, think twice before you buy something with any animal products in it. Once you see how adaptable and achievable it is, you will be able to maintain a whole vegan lifestyle without feeling overwhelmed or like you are ‘missing out’.
Moving into a vegan lifestyle doesn’t mean you have to give up all the things you love! There are so many incredible food and clothing brands out there who have filled up the market with delicious and exciting vegan products. Plus, a lot of these brands are small retailers so you can support small businesses and shop locally as much as you can which is a great way to use your spending power in a positive and conscious way. Try lots of different things to see what you love and enjoy being able to discover new things that your ‘old’ lifestyle wouldn’t have exposed you to!
I love using instagram to source interesting vegan and plant-based companies. My subscription to Vegan Food & Living has also been a great resource for all things nutrition as well as information on vegan events that are happening around the UK, they have really accessible recipes in each magazine. I love buying vegan cookbooks and some of my favourites are Vegan 100 by Gaz Oakly, Zaika by Romy Gill and Thug Kitchen: the official cookbook. There are plenty of really interesting documentaries on Netflix such as Forks over Knives and What the Health which approach understanding veganism from lots of angles including health and the food industry as a whole. In short, there are plenty of resources available to you so get stuck in!
A little note from Spa-Porter
We at Spa-Porter believe that education will help people make small or large steps to becoming either partly or totally plant based. Inform yourself and make conscious decisions on how you would like to fuel and support your body. We encourage you to treat your body in a loving way, whether that is through mindfulness, self love or what you eat, it’s the only one you’ve got and it’s your home.
Other Instagram accounts we like to follow for recipe inspiration include: