Top 10 Tips to Help you on your Vegan Journey

  1. Join Vegan Groups on Facebook

There are so many great support groups available on Facebook. These groups are full of thousands of people just like you who are going through just what you are. It’s like a small online community where you can ask questions on veganism, share recipes, and share your own advice. For someone starting out this is a great support network and I really learnt a lot.

Facebook pages that I can recommend are:

  • Veganuary
  • Vegan recipes for beginners
  • Vegan intermittent fasting for women
  • Sebi Alkaline and electric foods
  • Vegan beginners 101
  • Plant based eating
  • Keto vegan and vegetarian for beginners
  • Whole food plant based

VEGAN SUPPORT GROUP

  1. Buy a vegan cookbook or search recipes online

If you’re not into social media or simply want an alternative way to search for recipes you can do so online or buy a book. At the start people tend to focus on what they miss, maybe it’s the lack of chocolate cake and chicken nuggets making you want to go back to your original diet. A good way to get over those craving is to search a vegan recipe for what you already love. What I have learnt is there is next to nothing that doesn’t have a vegan alternative:

VEGAN RECIPE

  1. Watch documentaries to remind yourself why you are doing this

Everyone has hard days and food can be very comforting. It can seem a lot easier to go back to what you know and enjoy. When you change to do something new, this is a normal feeling, so don’t feel bad on yourself. The best thing you can do is educate yourself further on why you made this change initially.

Here are some documentaries that I have watched since becoming vegan. Please beware that the animal videos are particularly upsetting and not for the faint hearted. I really applaud the amazing people who took the time to make these as I can only imagine how awful it must have been. These documentaries spread awareness to people who have no idea what is going on and hopefully convert many people to veganism.

  • Dairy is Scary – YouTube
  • What the Health – Netflix
  • Cowspiracy – Netflix
  • Earthlings – YouTube
  • Dominion – YouTube

VEGAN DOCUMENTARY

  1. Don’t put pressure on yourself and give in to the pressure of others – this is your personal journey

I doubt any vegan woke up one morning and threw out everything that contained animals’ products in their house. I am not just speaking about food but also clothes, toiletries, makeup, furniture etc I just think this is unnecessary waste as you have already purchased the items and would be financially impractical (unless you have loads of money).

Whether you had planned to go vegan for month or if you suddenly decided overnight, this is your life and your decision, and you do this in the best possible way for you. Whatever you do, and however you’re doing it, the most important thing is that you’re making a difference. What matters is that your choices are protecting animals daily, protecting the planet and protecting your own body. You do not have to stop everything in one go.

I was able to cut the animal products in food straight away but in regard to clothing I am still learning – it’s not always as simple as avoiding leather products and there are so many glues and chemicals found in the items we purchase that are derived from animal products. All I can recommend is that you do things in your own time, as when you do, your setting yourself up for success. You will come across many people on the same journey as you but are most likely at completely different stages of the journey. Let’s all create a positive environment where we can share and help others.

PERSONAL jOURNEY

  1. Follow food pages on Instagram and Pinterest to make your supermarket shop easier

There are so many AMAZING vegan Instagram pages sharing a variety of options to help us. Loads of pages have great food inspiration, I’m sure we can now make anything all you have to type in is #VEGAN(FOOD TYPE) and thousands of recipes and videos will come up.

I also follow Accidentallyveganuk which has been an absolute life saver. This page reposts instastories and posts of others who have found accidently vegan products in the local UK supermarkets. This is so helpful as means you don’t need to trail though ingredients of every single product you find on the shelves. In my first month of turning vegan I went to Milan and was very worried about what I would be able to eat. Luckily it was easier than I thought but when I got to the airport, I had a couple of minutes to grab something before boarding the plane. Luckily, I spotted Oreos which had been featured on accidentallyveganuk so I immediately knew they were vegan and could quickly buy them.

VEGAN SOCIAL MEDIA

  1. Look at the menu in advance before booking a restaurant

When I get invited out to a restaurant the first thing, I do is check their online menu. Some restaurants don’t label their options clearly with VG so in that case it’s best to email in advance. There are very few places I have been unable to attend as I can normally find at least one option or put together some sides to create a main. The only time I’ve had difficulty is with set menu’s such as brunches, I normally am unable to get my monies worth as I can only eat one item. I am positive that within time restaurants will improve this.

VEGAN RESTAURANT

  1. Don’t assume that you will automatically be healthier if you go vegan

I think back in the day; you probably wouldn’t have to work too hard to keep healthy and on top of your weight as there used to be hardly any vegan options. Vegans would mainly only have wholefoods, fruits and vegetables as an option – so vegan = top of your health game. Nowadays, I am not complaining, but there are so many options and many of these options consist of vegan junk food. In my first month of going vegan I put on weight trying all the delicious junk food options and going to all these cool trendy restaurants. I have reigned it in now and focus a lot more on a healthy balanced diet. It’s just great to know that you have similar options as everyone else now.

VEGAN JUNK FOOD

  1. Your taste buds and craving will change

Obviously, if you have been eating meat and dairy almost every day for 20 + years you will be used to the taste and go into withdrawal when you stop consuming it. This is normal, but just like anything else, (such as getting up early or going to the gym), you must be determined to achieve what you set yourself out to do.

Most people struggle with cheese as this is highly addictive. More so than most of you probably realise. There are scientific studies that have proven that cheese can trigger the same parts of the brain as hard drugs – no surprise there then that you can’t stop thinking about those mozzarella sticks.

My answer to this is, where there is a will there is a way, and there are always lots of lovely dairy alternatives. I was very impressed with Papa John’s vegan pizzas and pizza express. Just because you’re vegan it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice once loved foods from your diet completely.

VEGAN EDUCATION

  1. Educate yourself

As you learn more you tend to get less shocked about things that contain animal products and realise how essential it is to read the ingredients on any new items you find. Never Assume its vegan. Here are some of the items that contain animal products that shocked me:

  • Wine – Some wine companies use animal products like egg whites, fish bladder and gelatine to filter their liquids – Gross
  • Beer – same as above goes for beer companies – eww
  • Bloody Mary cocktails – this cocktail weirdly often contains anchovies. How unappetising.
  • Salted Peanuts – many packeted salted peanut brands contain milk powder.
  • Crisps – again milk powder
  • Lactose free almond cheeses – despite the lactose free that probably attracted you in the first place, this product can often contain casein which is a cow’s milk protein.
  • Sugar – some white sugar is bleached with bone char – yuk
  • Vitamin D3 (a common food additive) – this food additive is made with a substance derived from sheep’s wool.

EDUCATION

  1. Take and research into supplements to ensure you get a varied and balanced diet

As I have a thyroid problem, I regularly get blood tests, and this highlights any deficiencies I may have. It has been highlighted (before going vegan) that I have lower calcium than most people. I take one calcium tablet daily along with Lysine to ensure that my calcium levels remain up where they should. The lysine helps facilitate the transportation of the calcium into the muscles. Many people assume that I have a calcium deficiency because I don’t drink milk – this couldn’t be further from the truth as calcium is added to plant-based milks anyway and often in high doses. There are studies that have proved that those who consume dairy have weaker bones than those who don’t – I bet that surprised you.

Two weeks after my vegan transition I noticed that I felt extremely tired, it was suggested that this could be due to a lack of B12, so I went out to purchase a B-Complex multivitamin and within a few days felt much better. I take a mixed B vitamin supplement which consists of a mix of B2, B3, B5, B6 and B12. You can also try and get additional B12 naturally but eating marmite and nutritional yeast.

VEGAN SUPPLEMENTS

I hope this list helps you on your vegan journey.

Instagram @keziakco

xxx

Veganuary – living 6 days on a vegan diet

veganuary

Before everyone starts ranting and raving about what defines vegan, I am not living the complete vegan lifestyle which I know includes involves living a completely cruelty free lifestyle. I am purely testing out the health benefits from the vegan diet – food and drink only here.

As you can see from my blog, I am very into health and fitness and diet has always been very important to me. Saying that, I often indulge in meat, fish and dairy daily. In fact, I don’t think there are many days at all that I have been without all these food groups until now of course.

This has been a challenge and a bit of a shock to the system, but all is well so far and I’m even enjoying it.

First things first – essential preparation:

  • State of mind

You must be mentally ready to start this diet just as you do with any diet. They always say that starting something on a Monday or first of the month means it’s more likely that you will stick to it. I started on Saturday the 5th of January and enjoyed a Domino’s pizza on the 1st of Jan (don’t judge me).

  • Education

Before starting what some people might think of as an extreme diet, education is the key! I encourage you to read books, search the internet or pick up a magazine and understand what you are getting yourself into. Learn about the benefits to health and the environment and any negative impacts. There are some good documentaries on Netflix, I watched ‘What the Health’ and ‘Cowspiracy’.

  • The food shop

I decided I can’t go into this without having all the tools to help me. The last thing you want is to be starving and have nothing tasty that you can eat. This will just set you up to fail and you will immediately start eating what you were before or become ill.

I did my food shop in my local Tesco, now after speaking to other Vegans it is probably the worst choice in supermarket for vegan products. People keep recommending Sainsbury’s, so I’ll give that a go on my next shop.

What I bought:

  • Pomegranate
  • Red cabbage
  • Beet root
  • Tesco Free From Vegan Cheese
  • Jus-Rol vegan puff pastry
  • Linda McCartney 2 deep dish country pies
  • Strong Roots Spinach and Pumpkin Burgers
  • 5 Alpro Go On Mango Yogurt Alternative
  • Oat milk
  • Miso Soup

Total – Just under £20

The trick is to prepare your meals in advance. Know what you have in your cupboards and if you may need to pop to the shops before you get home. Make enough dinner so that you can take the left over for dinner the next day. As the world is learning more about veganism more places are accommodating for the diet. I have been able to find some lovely lunches to buy at work but that may be because I’m based in central London where you can find anything. Itsu is one of my faves with an extensive vegan range to choose from, and just to make it easier its about 20 meters from my office.

I made an absolutely delicious cauliflower tabbouleh, roast sweet  potato and spicy red kidney bean dish featured in the image below. Yum to mindful eating!

vegan dinner

If you love eating out and live in the London area check out vegan restaurant Mildred’s, they even have a bottomless brunch! Have a read of my review for more information.

Today is my 6th day as a vegan and I’m feeling fine and I can carry out the same activities as before.

Negatives

  • Bloated

Day 3 was the worst for me. I put on my gym leggings and I can honestly say I looked pregnant. I think it’s just due to my body getting used to me drinking triple the amount of water that I’m used to and 1 million vegetables. It’s a change to the body so I’m hoping over time this will go away and ill be back to normal. Many people say that they are less bloated, I guess this is just a great example of everyone being different and having a unique experience.

  • Tired

I was feeling very tired and lazy with no motivation to do anything. Now this could be to do with the change in diet, but you also must bear in mind that I have only just returned to work after almost two weeks of eating and doing nothing over Christmas. It could just as easily be the change in routine or both. As I read that the vegan diet can make you feel sluggish due to the lack of B vitamins found in meat I decided to buy a supplement. I went to Holland and Barrett’s and bought Nature’s Way ALIVE! B-complex. They are soft jell multi-vitamins including vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6 and B12. They claim to help your energy release, boost vitamin C and reduce tiredness and fatigue. They taste like low sugar gummy bears and are of course vegan. I’ve been taking these for the last couple of days and I feel much better.

alive vegan b vitamin supplements

If you want to try the vegan diet I recommend stocking up on these. As mentioned, you can get them in Holland and Barrett’s for £14.99 and currently they have a sale buy 1 get one for 1 p – excellent deal.

If you don’t live close to Holland and Barrett, you can also find these on Amazon by CLICKING HERE.

Positives

  • No cravings for meat

I can honestly say I have not once felt this dying need to eat any kind of meat. I do think about steak from time to time, but I never really ate it apart form when I went to a restaurant anyway. I now have the option to select things that I wouldn’t normally be interested in and learn many new recipes and flavours.

  • No stuffed feeling after a meal, even an extremely large one

Normally I don’t eat between the hours of 1 pm-8 pm as after lunch I don’t have a snack, I travel home from work and go straight to the gym. By the time I’ve showered and prepared for the next day its 8pm and dinner time. By this time, I am starving and eat a huge dinner of everything I can get my hands on. Usually after this I am stuffed! This very full feeling is something we are accustomed to and I didn’t even notice it until I had the absence of it. I’ve still been eating in the same pattern, but I suppose my food just digests easier and quicker.

  • Trying new recipes and foods

I find it so much fun browsing the supermarkets for unusual healthy products and finding ways to incorporate them into my diet. I love cooking and looking up new recipes, so it has been great for me so far. I’ve had the opportunity to book new restaurants – Tell Your Friends (blog post coming soon) and new recipe book – Joe Wicks Veggie Meals with Workouts. It’s all exciting stuff in the name of health.

  • Cheaper

6 days on and I still haven’t had to return to the supermarket. You can season vegetables just as you would meat, so you still get loads of variation. Vegetables are cheaper than meat in general which makes for a healthy, ethical and money saving lifestyle.

This week I’ve managed to burn 1700 calories in two gym sessions so as you can tell my fitness isn’t deteriorating. I still feel able to get enough energy together for a solid workout.

You can buy vegan products in all the supermarkets:

  • Tesco – increased range for Veganuary
  • Sainsburys – Increased range for Veganuary
  • Asda – Increased range for Veganuary
  • Morrisons – clearly labelling all its own brand products that are vegan
  • Waitrose – has a dedicated vegan section
  • Iceland – dedicated vegan freezer section
  • Marks and Spencer – increased range for Veganuary

 

You can sign up to receive a free meal plan from the official Veganuary site here – https://veganuary.com/

I recommend purchasing the Joe Wicks Vegetarian cook book and substituting any non-vegan products. You can buy that bye CLICKING HERE.

As you know from my other blog posts I highly recommend all the Joe Wicks range. It has really helped me with quick and easy recipes that cater for vegans. He also creates recipes where all the ingredients are easy to find in the local supermarket. If you’re looking for quick easy recipes and a bit of veggie inspiration, look no further.

Good luck and I hope you enjoy Veganuary as much as I am.

 

Insta @keziakco

xxx