Top tips on why & how to go vegan
Guest post written by: Eleri Hayhurst of Eleri Eats
Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes
It’s January and no doubt after the indulgences and slothfulness of the festive period (nothing wrong with that of course, there is a time and place to be indulgent, sluggish and restful), you may have already had some thoughts about making some dietary or lifestyle changes to improve your health. You may have heard the word ‘Veganuary’ being bandied around on social media or have wondered how to go vegan and switch to a more plant-based way of eating.
Veganuary, for the records, is an annual campaign promoting veganism through the month of January and beyond, to encourage people and businesses to adopt a plant-based diet as a way of protecting the environment, preventing animal suffering and improving people’s health.
Veganism and the Environment
The debate about whether a vegan diet is better for the planet remains divisive and inconclusive. However, if you decide to take the leap, it’s worth being mindful of where your plant-based produce is being transported from. Look out for the Union Jack labels on supermarket produce, there’s usually a decent haul, or if budget allows, opt for seasonal and locally sourced produce where you can. Food Box Finder will point you towards local box schemes, and national veg box suppliers like Riverford Organic Farmers offer UK and land freighted produce only boxes.
Or how about growing your own veg? Start simply with salad leaves and herbs – every step counts.
Another thing, be mindful of soy. Whilst is is a really useful meat and dairy substitute, it’s not necessarily a more sustainable food source. That said, enjoy the tofu, coconuts and delicious exotic fruit and veg as the treat they ought to be. The age-old wisdom of eating all things in moderation rings true here.
Veganism and Health
With the explosion of plant-based products, meat and dairy substitutes, vegan chilled and frozen ready meals, and desserts on the market, it’s easy to fall into the pit trap of vegan ‘junk food’. These foods are fine in moderation but are by no means a substitute for a diet rich in whole unprocessed foods such as fruit, vegetables, whole-grains, seeds, nuts, legumes (lentils) and pulses (beans). When switching to plant-based, it’s even more important to eat a balanced diet to meet all your nutritional needs.
Top Tips for Switching to a Plant-Based Diet
- Plant-based milk, cheese, yoghurt and cream are now readily available for easy switches
- Some excellent and widely available sources of plant-based protein include: green vegetables, beans (baked, kidney, cannellini), lentils, seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, chia, sesame), nuts and nut butter, tahini, green peas, quinoa, oats and other whole-grains. Include as many as you can into your diet
- Eat a rainbow – that is, eat as many different colour foods to optimise gut health and to ensure a balanced diet – variety is the key. Eating seasonally will help with this
- Nutritional yeast contains vitamin B12 (vitamin only found in animal sources) and has a ‘cheesy’ taste that is delicious in vegan pesto, dressings, sauces, soups or stews. You may want to consider B12 supplements for a long-term switch to a vegan diet
- The best way to create flavourful, satisfying and nutrition packed vegan and plant-based food is to create ‘layers’ of flavour and texture. Try adding toasted seeds, nuts, crispy pan fried white beans or finely sliced crunchy veg like white cabbage or radishes for extra flavour and crunch (and nutrients) on top of soups, stews and salads, as well as nutrient rich unrefined oils (olive, sesame, rapeseed, sunflower, nut oils) in the form of herb drizzles, dressings and sauces
If you’re considering a switch to plant-based, either for Veganuary or beyond, take a look at the easy to prepare recipe below to get you started on your journey.
Wishing you good health, delicious food and many adventures in the year ahead.
Sending love x
Author: Eleri Hayhurst at @eleri_eats_ on Instagram
If Eleri has inspired you to try more plant-based food and invest in your wellbeing, why not join us for a Wild Wellness Retreat – a whole weekend of delicious plant-based meals all made by Eleri herself!
Eleri’s Recipe for Roasted Vegetables with Homemade Harrisa Style Dressing and Crispy Pan-Fried White Beans (Serves 4)
For the Roasted Veg and Crispy Pan-Fried White Beans:
- 1 small butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into 2cm chunks
- 1 small head of cauliflower cut into small bitesize florets
- 2 medium potatoes cut into 2 cm cubes
- 250g or small punnet of cherry tomatoes
- 2 red onions, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
- 1 bunch of fresh basil
- Light olive oil
- 1 tin of white beans (such as cannellini or butter beans) drained and rinsed
- Some salad leaves
For the Dressing:
- 125ml of light olive oil
- 2tbsp of tomato puree
- 1tbsp ground cumin
- Juice of 2 limes
- Half tsp of chilli powder
- Preheat oven to 200c.
- Place all the prepared veg in a large baking tray or dish with 2tbsp of oil and mix well. Cover with a piece of foil and roast for 1 hour, removing the foil halfway through the cooking time.
- While the veg is cooking, stir the dressing ingredients together until well combined.
- When the vegetables are tender and a little crisp around the edges, remove from the oven, season to taste and replace the foil to keep them warm while you cook the beans. To do this, heat 2 tbsp of oil in a frying pan on a medium to high heat and pan-fry them for about 3-4 minutes until they are golden and crispy. Remove from the heat and season generously with salt and pepper.
- Pile the roasted veg into bowls and top with the crispy beans, harissa dressing and finish off with some green leaves and enjoy!