You need to make a plan!
When I started my vegan meal business the most common thing that beginner vegans told me was that they ate a LOT of cereal because they figured it was a safe vegan option with a non-dairy milk! Very boring!
Making a decision to give veganism a good red hot go requires planning. Please don’t wake up one morning – open your fridge or pantry and declare “I am going to go vegan today”. This almost guarantees failure as we are so unaware of the everyday items in our supplies that contain animal products. If you have decided to commit to a vegan diet, then the first thing you need to do is go through your fridge and pantry and identify products that contain animal derivatives. If you find a lot of these items – consider donating them to a friend who is not vegan – in the interest of reducing waste!
The next step is to make a list of the essentials you need to have in your pantry to support your vegan journey.
Essential Vegan Pantry Items may include:
- LEGUMES – this family of veggie protein superstars include lentils, peas, chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans and many more. These represent your major source of protein in your vegan diet. They’re cheap to buy, easy to cook and super versatile. Plus they are low in fat, high in protein and fibre. I keep a range of different types of legumes with red lentils and chickpeas being my favourite. Try Google for recipe inspo – I am loving salads with lentils added at the moment and if you are pushed for time, the tinned lentils are great to use – providing you give them a good rinse!
- GRAINS – are a great way to add a fibre filled dish that keeps those hunger pangs away. I tend to start the day with oatmeal or yummy Bircher muesli. Rice is a vegan staple that can be made into literally hundreds of dishes. Aside from enjoying brown rice with my vegan meal Dahl products – one of my fave midweek meals is fried rice. Also, try adding barley, bulgar wheat, quinoa as a base to a stack of roast veggies tossed in olive oil, lemon juice and garlic.
- PASTA – you cannot go past pasta for the ideal comfort food! So versatile! Keep it fresh and simple with loads of fresh herbs, pesto, garlic or just drizzle with the best Extra Virgin Olive Oil and olives. If you are wanting a pasta with extra nutrients, then consider trying the lentil or high fibre-based ones for a healthier option. There are some great vegan cheeses now on the market – check out my cheese blog for some ideas and ratings.
- FLOUR – Gone are the days when we only had two choices of flour!! Pancakes are a winner at any time of day, either sweet or savoury with buckwheat flour or spelt flour ideal for whipping up some delicious muffins with frozen berries. Chickpea flour is one I love for its savoury flavour; I use it to fry up an amazing little baby potato Indian appetiser stuffed with sesame and chilli paste! I promise to add the recipe to the blog in coming weeks – please subscribe for updates!
- SEEDS AND NUTS – nuts and seeds are a great snack option and offer a plant- based protein punch! Always have a selection on hand from the following: Peanuts, Cashews, Almonds, Walnuts, Pistachios, Hazelnuts, Macadamia and feel free to add them to your morning smoothie bowl or to lunch time salads. Don’t forget seeds for added nutrients and flavour – chia, flaxseeds and sesame seeds are a delicious sprinkle!
- DRIED FRUITS – dried apricots, apples and dates are a perfect snack for when you feel the need for an afternoon sugar hit! There are some terrific recipes using nuts and dried fruit for vegan muesli bars which are great to have on hand when you are out and about, and hunger hits you. Keep an eye out for recipes on my blog.
- SPICES/FLAVOUR ENHANCERS – nutritional yeast (sometimes known as Nooch) is probably the most used item in the pantry – it has a cheesy, nutty, savoury taste that adds depth to vegan meals and is super versatile. Its great sprinkled over popcorn as a healthy snack or use it to make a vegan cheesy sauce.
Spices are an unlimited source of flavour – go wild!! I couldn’t even count the number of spices in my pantry! If you are new to using lots of spices – then I suggest choosing your favourite cuisine – it might be Mexican or Thai, next Google some vegan recipes and build up your spice stock around these recipes.
Vegan food used to have a bad reputation for being ‘bland’ or ‘tasteless’ – I think times have changed and there is no excuse for not eating super tasty vegan food. This was the first reason that I created my vegan Dahl meal products, because I LOVE the flavours of India and began with my Cherry Tomato Dahl.
- OILS & VINEGARS – Extra Virgin Olive Oil is a must for salad dressings and pretty much everything! For my love of Asian cuisine, I could practically drink Sesame oil – it’s the best flavour!
Balsamic Vinegar is a staple as well as Apple Cider Vinegar, adding a zing to any dishes. Rice wine vinegar is my go-to for stir fries.
- BUTTERS AND CONDIMENTS – these items will definitely play an important role in your vegan transition. There is a huge range that can be used to make a salad dressing, delicious dip or sauce and also topping for so many things. Top of my list is peanut butter, closely followed by almond butter. Mustard makes amazing dressings, jam for a sweet toast topping and of course a vegan butter – there are quite a few on the market which you will find in the butter department of your supermarket. Nuttelex is probably the most popular.