Thinking of going Vegetarian or Vegan?

July 13, 2017

Hello blog readers!

I wanted to write a post outlining some advice and tips for those thinking of transitioning to vegetarian or vegan, I've had a few people reach out to me and ask for help so I figured this would be helpful. As most of my followers, readers and friends know I recently transitioned to Veganism which I spoke about in a Let's Talk post not so long ago (you can find that post HERE). Since giving up meat and eventually dairy I've learned and noticed a fair few things worth writing about, so here is some advice to anyone curious:

"I'd love to change my diet but it can be so restictive!"

Alright, I know it can seem that way when you've been used to eating a certain diet your whole life and suddenly you're removing one or two categories you're used to. But surprisingly I've found MORE options to eat as a vegetarian and a vegan! Vegetables, rice, pasta, bread, beans and potatoes used to be something I'd just rustle up with a side of chicken or tuna but since ditching meat I've explored new ways to cook these things so that they taste just as good if not better without meat! It also helps that there are substitutes you can use to help wean you off meat and dairy, when I first gave up meat I lived on Quorn or Tesco mince, soy "chicken" pieces, "meatballs", "bacon" and "sausage rolls" and I barely noticed a difference! In terms of dairy I am a huge lover of; Violife "cheddar", Alpro soy milk and yogurts and Tesco free from chocolate, these all have a taste that appeals to me and as someone who loves cheese and chocolate its great that those options are available. For further information of what I eat as a vegan and some of my vegetarian meals, you can visit my instagram page where photos of the food are available (CLICK HERE) or visit my twitter where I have a thread of my meals (HERE)

"But...what about protein?? And vitamins?? I heard vegans are really malnourished"

It may surprise you to learn that most protein is found in plants and can be in a higher amount than in meat! As for vitamins, I already take multivitamins to help my energy levels for the gym, and since being meat and dairy free I've had no issues where I've had to take more than my usual once-a-day multivitamin tablet! Its true that some vegans may have health issues due to the diet change but switching such a large part of your diet can take a while to get used to, like with any diet that focuses on or eliminates a certain food category. Below is a photo that is great for learning about protein intake in a meat or dairy free source:
Spinach, Kale and Broccoli are my favourites!
"My family wont let me switch, they're used to meat and dairy!"

I fully understand this, I used to live with a parent who's ideal diet consisted of steak and eggs as part of his weight training, and neither of those things appealed to me even back then. Since living with my mother I've been allowed to eat and buy whatever foods I need necessary for my diets. But I know for others it isn't that simple, some families no matter how hard you try just won't change their minds, it can be frustrating and disheartening. My advice here is to see if you can learn to cook for yourself and if so, make as many meals without meat or dairy that you can! If your mum or dad does the cooking maybe watch how they do it and have a go by yourself in your spare time but adapt the recipe, failing this ask them to make their usual dinners for you without meat or dairy on the plate. If they REALLY wont change their minds and are being difficult then definitely prepare your own foods and if you have some money spare buy your own ingredients!

"I don't even know where to get vegan food??"

Neither did I at first, but you have to remember that "vegan food" is mostly fruits, vegetables, pasta, rice, beans and peas which you probably eat plenty of already! Those are easy to find at local supermarkets or fresh fruit and veggie stores, just have a good browse and see what you'd like to try. However if you mean vegan dairy or meat alternatives then I understand that this can be hard, in my town the biggest supermarket we have does one frozen shelf of Quorn and meat free stuff and they don't have half the stuff I'd like. I sometimes have to pick up my vegan stuff out of town if I'm already out and about, which I know for some isn't an option in terms of travel or finances. My best recommendation would be Tesco, Lidl, Co-operative, Herons and Farmfoods - these all do at least SOME meat and dairy alternatives, and the Tesco Free From section also has chocolate, biscuits, pasta, couscous, crisps and baking materials. Heron's and Co-op have great Linda Mccartney products as well so have a browse in there if you can!

"I can't afford to go vegan!"

I honestly get where you're coming from here, my mum and I have very little money and it can be a struggle as we eat different diets mostly. Thankfully I've learned to spot bargains and offers that help immensely, for example in my local Tesco they always have reduced veggies, hummus, stir fry stuff and bread and providing its in good quality it can feed me for a few days or even a week. Lidl has bags of porridge oats for 40p and you get half a kilogram, their couscous sachets are 35p each or you can get a big bag of plain couscous for 60-85p depending on their offers. Pasta sauce can be as a cheap as 35p, cans of beans and peas are 30p each and bread is extremely cheap their. My best advice here is to plan what you're going to make, I usually enjoy a bean and veggie vegan mince which goes with; potatoes, rice, pasta or just on its own! Most meals are super easy to make and if you make a big batch you can use them for up to three or four meals! This helps with saving money and the cost of your diet in a big way, I used to do this with meat products before I switched due to money problems and its super helpful.
Top left; Mince and jacket, top right; lasgane, bottom left; shepherds pie, bottom right; tacos
"But what about eating out? And takeaways? Will I have to stop those??"

Short answer; Nope! I still enjoy the Chinese or the Pizza place as a vegan and I've eaten out at several places both as vegan and vegetarian. Here are some places I've eaten at which may help you when out and about;


That's just a few places I've eaten meat or dairy free and each time the food was amazing! When dining out you can opt for a fully vegan or vegetarian meal but most places will be happy to modify their menu for peoples dietary concerns. Take aways will be happy to do the same, I usually get a vegan calzone from my local pizza place and they know me well enough by now that they automatically put no dairy or meat on my foods and I don't even need to ask! You can also make your own junky foods at home, I recently made a wonderful vegan pizza - all you need is a recipe and the ingredients!

I hope this post has been helpful to those who have asked for a bit of advice or extra help and if you do have any questions you can tweet me at @itsallzara or email me at zaraanne@hotmail.co.uk

Itsallzara

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1 comments

  1. Really enjoyed reading this! I can't eat pulses or soya so my attempts at going vegan have failed really quickly unfortunately, but I'm not a bit of a 'reducitarian', I'm trying to be a veggie and I'm not buying meat to cook but might eat it in a restaurant because veggie options tend to include things I can't eat! Will keep trying, thank you for the inspo!

    Molly - goodgollymisssmolly.wordpress.com xx

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