How To Go Vegan In 6 Easy Steps

by Anda Mtshemla

vegan

noun veg·an \ˈvē-gən 
a strict vegetarian who consumes no food (such as meat, eggs, or dairy products) that comes from animals; also:  one who abstains from using animal products (such as leather)
(Merriam-Webster)

Since going vegan nearly a year ago now, I’ve seen so many positive changes in my life; my skin cleared up, my grades improved, I got a job– all, obviously, direct results of a plant-based diet. Since good health is trending, I figured I’ve done my share of stumbling clumsily through veganism so, I’ve turned my biggest challenges into a list that will help you in starting your vegan journey successfully.

1. DON’T GO COLD TURKEY

Despite this being bad for obvious vegan reasons, jumping straight from consuming animal products regularly to a completely plant-based diet might really shock your body. While I doubt the switch will actually negatively affect your body, it may make it difficult to curb animal product cravings in the future, should they come.

Start slow; a good start is, of course, cutting out all meat products and replacing them with imitations. Next, let go of the cheese and other dairy products. Continue to cut out and replace things from your diet like this until you have fully transitioned.

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via GIPHY

2. GIVE YOUR PANTRY A MAKEOVER

Unless you follow a meat and egg-dense paleo diet, I truly believe that any food cupboard can easily be transformed into a vegan paradise. You will be surprised how much of what you already have is perfectly suitable for vegan consumption so don’t go getting rid of everything in your pantry just yet.

Since we’ve decided on a slow transition into veganism, when say, your mayonnaise finishes, replace it with vegan mayo. Try a different bag of chips instead of the non-vegan variation you usually buy. Swap your honey for agave or maple syrup, opt for soy or almond milk next time you run out of dairy. The possibilities are endless!

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via GIPHY

If you need a little help setting up your pantry, click here.

3. LEARN HOW TO READ “VEGAN”

While there are the obviously vegan food products in stores like fresh produce and the few clearly marked items, there are a plethora of things in the store that aren’t necessarily marketed as vegan or labelled as such but perfectly fine for you to eat.

The best way to go about finding out if a food item is vegan is to turn it over and search the ALLERGENS first. If there is no milk, eggs or any of the obvious non-vegan ingredients, that’s one tick for it. Next, look for the “E numbers.” This one is a little bit trickier but easy to get the hang of since there aren’t that many that are animal derived. E22, for instance, is gelatine and should be avoided. E992 is beeswax which as a vegan, you’ll likely not want to eat. Once you’re clear on those two things, throw it in the basket!

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via GIPHY

Here’s a comprehensive list of all the E numbers that you can keep handy for uncertain moments. If you’re still unclear on whether something is vegan, you can always Google!

4. PLAN YOUR MEALS

Once you’ve got your pantry right, create a meal plan with what you have. This is not in a miserable, dieting kind of way but more a way for you to get into the vegan swing of things. Collect recipes you’d like to try and meals you know you’ll enjoy, and note them so you know what you’ll be preparing for every meal. Trust me, your experience is going to be far more enjoyable if you’re not worrying about what you’re going to make for dinner.

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5. BE CREATIVE WHEN EATING OUT

Food has become extremely social in our modern society; we eat to celebrate, you go out for a meal with friends to catch up and at times, you may even be eating purely to pass time. For this reason, when you become vegan, you may start to feel frustrated in social situations as vegan options are sometimes difficult to come by.

American rapper, Andre 3000 said in Esquire,  “I was a hardcore vegan for fifteen years. I’ve even done raw. But socially it became horrible. I was kind of just sitting at home eating a salad. You become mean. That’s not good for you,” which, I get, but I couldn’t disagree with the man more.

Don’t be afraid to ask what vegan options are available at a restaurant; some restaurants have entire vegan menus that are available on request, so you don’t have to be content with a salad or plate of chips. Alternatively, search Happy Cow for a vegan-friendly restaurant near you and suggest it next time you go out to eat with friends. Take your own snacks along to parties and events etc. Don’t be like Andre.

6. FOLLOW 24KARROTS

Yeah.

No, but on a serious note, the vegan community isn’t very well established, especially in South Africa so it’s important to garner inspiration from all corners of the Internet and align yourself with people that get it. There are a number of groups on Facebook where vegans share experiences, recipes, vegan finds and most importantly, memes.

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A little extra guidance…

Vegan-friendly products and restaurants in South Africa: Click Here
Vegan Society SA Facebook page: Click Here
The video that helped me quit dairy: Click Here
The most important documentary in vegan history: Click Here
Vitamins and deficiencies: Click Here
DISCLAIMER: The statements expressed in this article are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Readers should seek their own professional counsel for any medical condition before starting or altering any dietary plan.

 

The 3-Ingredient Apple Pie Pockets

by Anda Mtshemla

One of my favourite things about grocery shopping is finding accidentally vegan items. My latest “Not-Made-For-Vegans-But-Perfectly-Suitable-For-Them-To-Eat” discovery is ready-made puff pastry. The stuff famous for being packed with a tonne of butter to produce its flaky texture? Yup, vegan.

While most store-bought variations are vegan, there are some brands that contain animal products so make sure you read the ingredient list.

For this recipe, I’ve used this amazing accidentally vegan find as a shortcut to one of my favourite desserts at the moment and yes, you only need three things!

You will need:

1 cup applesauce

1 roll puff pastry (400g)

splash of soy milk (to be used as egg wash)

Method:

Pre-heat oven to 180°C

Roll and smooth out the puff pastry sheet

Cut the pastry sheet into equal sized rectangles (a sheet this size gets you about 12 rectangles)

Spoon the applesauce into the centre of half of the rectangles, leaving room around the edges

Place the empty pastry rectangles on top of the applesauce filled ones, gently pressing down the edges of each one

Secure the edges of each pie pocket by gently pressing them down with a fork

Lightly score each of the pie pockets and brush generously with soy milk

Place in the pre-heated oven to bake for 12-15mins

Serve warm and enjoy on its own or with a serving of vegan ice cream

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3-Ingredient vegan apple pie pocket

The 3-Ingredient Chocolate Mousse

by Anda Mtshemla

As a vegan, most chocolate products are pretty much out so you’ll find yourself consuming a lot less chocolate. The upside, I’ve found, is that you consume higher quality chocolate because, with the animal products omitted from the chocolate you’re eating, there’s a lot more room for that cocoa to shine.

This is an important thing to remember for this next recipe. Since we’ll be using a little bit of an unconventional ingredient, you need to make sure you find a good quality cocoa powder, or just one you know you enjoy, to use because that’s what’s really going to transform the flavour of this simple dessert.

You will need:

1/4 cup cocoa powder (sub for cacao if raw vegan)

2 tablespoons sweetener of choice (agave, maple syrup, granulated sugar)

SECRET INGREDIENT: 2 ripe avocados

If you prefer a richer, more chocolatey mousse, you can skip the sweetner in the recipe completely!

Method:

Scoop avocados into blender along with your sweetener

Blend until completely smooth

Blend again while gradually adding cocoa powder

Serve as is or refrigerate and serve chilled

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Delicious and Healthy 3-Ingredient Rich Chocolate Mousse