As the new year and new decade begins, Veganuary arrives in perfect timing to refresh and recharge after holiday festivities and embark on a more plant-based and cruelty free lifestyle! Baie Botanique’s founder Sophie discusses her top tips for transitioning to a vegan lifestyle.
ONE STEP AT A TIME
Gradually progress into a plant-based diet, one step at a time, Rome wasn’t built in a day. My own experience was to be vegetarian for several years which eventually led to being almost vegan for a few years and then fully plant based, so I always say to my friends you don’t have to do it overnight, it’s a journey which should be enjoyable along the way.
Start by cutting out meat entirely if you already have a low meat intake or by reducing your meat intake if you are a full on meat eater. Incorporate a few plant-based meals into your weekly plan. Once you’ve completely switched meat and dairy out of your diet, you can start living a more plant-based lifestyle, shopping for beauty and homeware products!
The main difference when being plant based with your meals is that there is no longer a central part of your plate as there may have been before for example “meat and 2 veg” now it’s all veg, so dishes take on a different form really. Often it’s a dish with grains, like a veg chilli with brown rice, a stir fry with fermented tofu or a lentil shepherds pie.
I’m not a fan of meat alternatives such as Quorn or retexturised soy protein or soy protein isolate, because from a health perspective they are highly processed and for me being vegan isn’t just an ethical choice it’s also for health reasons and therefore I want to reduce my intake of highly processed foods and live as close to the way nature grows the food. Cauliflower has made a huge entry into the plant based kitchen in the form of wings or bites, jackfruit is another vegan kitchen staple. Both play an important part, along with all kinds of exotic mushrooms in making you not miss eating meat.
Easy swaps are milks such as almond and oat milk, these work well in baking too. Animal milk being a primary source of calcium is promoted by milk manufacturers to get people into drinking milk, not only is it completely unnatural for a human to drink the milk of a cow, the same milk that's supposed to take on the mammoth task of growing a newborn calf into a calf weighing over 300 lbs. We are also the only species that drinks the milk of another species, you don’t see a cat sucking the teat of a pig. Add onto that the hormones and antibiotics pumped into these poor animals as their teats are forced to be so full of milk that they drag on the ground and get infected, I could go on... it's certainly something I had no problem giving up as soon as I turned vegetarian.
Contrary to popular belief, the calcium in milk isn’t fully bio available to humans meaning only a small amount of the calcium around 30% is absorbable. Eliminate milk from your diet completely and introduce ingredients that are high in available calcium - including grains such as Quinoa, fermented soya goods like fermented tofu and tempeh, and eat plenty of green leafy veg cooked only a little to preserve the nutrients. Most people find giving up cheese or eggs harder.
Plan your meals, look at different vegan recipes from different cuisines and find key ingredients that are versatile and that you can use in weekly meals. There are many amazing recipe blogs out there that are so great for getting inspired Loveandlemons.com is one of my favourites. You’ll find that most dishes can be veganised. Plan out day by day, so you have a clear list of what you need for the week and you can plan where to get it - no panic buying day to day during your lunch breaks.
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Research healthy alternatives, interesting flavours which spice up your meals and know what you can and can’t fit within your plant-based diet - there is so much more you can fit into your meat and dairy free eating than you think! The key is knowing what to buy and where to buy it! Research vegan stores, shops and restaurants in your local area - explore new places, brunch spots that you can visit AND get some inspiration for your own meals!
There are some amazing plant based documentaries, just search them out on Netflix. These help to reinforce your new choices and the good you are doing for your body, the environment and animals. Definitely worth a watch to keep you motivated and on track with your new way of living!