If you or someone you know follows a vegan diet, you may be familiar with the phrase ‘I can veganize that,’ and with an ever increasing number of vegan-friendly products popping up on shelves in supermarkets around the world, it has never been easier to cut down or cut out animals from your diet without compromising on taste.

The world is changing, and plant-based diets are becoming more and more mainstream. We can see this  through surveys like a 2014 one that found 1 in 10 Swedes to identify as vegetarian or vegan, and in the many online guides that are on hand to help us find the best places to eat when we are traveling to different cities. But whilst enjoying an amazing vegan meal out is a doddle in 2018, stocking our own cupboards with healthy, nutritious, plant-based products can be more of an intimidating task. And with such a plethora of online resources available at our fingertips, sometimes the sheer amount of choice and content out there can make it difficult to know where to start.

We shouldn’t keep meating like this

Why would you look to replicate the taste and texture of meat if you choose not to consume any animal-derived products? It’s a question I asked myself before becoming vegan, but the answer is simple. The vast majority of vegans do not stop eating meat because of its taste. They do it for health, environmental or ethical reasons. Happily, there are a huge number of alternatives readily available on the market. From ground ‘beef’ and chick’n tenders to Beyond Meat sausages and fishless filets, plants have never been so satisfying. When creating from scratch, soy beans, kidney beans, black beans, chickpeas, lentils and grains seasoned with your favourite flavours make fantastic substitutes to any dish. Using an ingredient like seitan (wheat gluten) can create a texture so deceptively meaty it’s difficult to convince your brain otherwise, and tofu is like a blank canvas, limited only by creativity and inspiration.

The milk of human kindness

A wise person once said, ‘The hardest part about being vegan is having to get up early and milk all the almonds.’ Many people will have tried a plant-based milk in the past and hated it. But here’s the thing: our taste buds are all different, and the choices we have are vast. Soy milk, almond milk, oat milk, cashew nut milk, coconut milk and hazelnut milk all taste incredibly different. Whilst soy milk may be a great ingredient in baking and sauces, cashew milk may be preferable in tea and coffee, and almond milk may be the beverage of choice in smoothies. It’ll take some experimentation, but with a little time and effort you’ll find what appeals to you. And thanks to the magicians at Silk, there’s even a range of almond-based coffee creamers to choose from!

It’s not Goudanough for me

Similar to milk, it’s easy to have a negative experience with vegan cheese. But don’t despair – there are still many tasty choices that mimic hard cheeses, melty cheeses, cream cheeses and creamy cheese sauces. Companies like Daiya Foods, Follow Your Heart and Violife have a big selection of products to choose from, but you can also make your own. Lots of smaller health food stores will also stock locally-made vegan cheeses. It will take a little time, but soon enough you’ll find the products that suit your lifestyle – and taste buds.

I scream, you scream, ice-cream, no cream

For many omivores, the ‘but, bacon’ argument prohibits them from going vegetarian. For many vegetarians, the ‘but, cheese’ argument stops them from going vegan. For me, I struggled with the idea of never again eating ice-cream. Those were dark, dark days, full of unknowing. And then I discovered So Delicious Salted Caramel Cluster. I don’t think it’s an understatement to say that my life became illuminated in vibrant colour after that. Of course, now that Ben & Jerry’s and Haagen Dazs have both brought out their selections of vegan ice creams, we’re all going to be just fine.

Bake, bake, bake Senora

Eggs, butter, yoghurt … you name it, there’s a vegan alternative available that will suitably mimic any ingredient you need in order to create the dish you desire. So whilst following a well-planned, whole-foods, plant-based diet is the best way to maintain a healthy balanced life, everyone needs a cheat day once in a while. And if you’re a passionate baker, there’s no reason your baking skills need to fall by the wayside. In fact, the world of vegan baking is alive and kicking.

Choosing a vegan lifestyle can feel daunting at first, so try not to put too much pressure on yourself to cut out everything immediately. Transition is key, and giving yourself the time to discover new foods is part of the fun. Over time, you will find yourself navigating supermarkets completely differently, seeing the potential in the ingredients you peruse instead of feeling perplexion. And before you know it, you’ll discover vegan food to be anything other than bland. After all, there’s far more on the menu than just lettuce.

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