Amazing Vegan Burgers!

These are sensational and well wroth the effort.  Recipe from One Green Planet

Sweet Potato Burgers With Green Tahini [Vegan, Gluten-Free]

Serves 12-14

Ingredients

  • 1 red bell pepper
  • ½ red onion
  • 2 cans chickpeas
  • 1 cup packed cilantro or parsley (or half and half)
  • 
3 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 3 tsp coriander
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2½ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 large or 2 small sweet potatoes (1½ cup), steamed or baked, peeled and mashed
  • ¾ cup quick-cooking oats

Green Tahini Sauce:

  • 
1/2 cup tahini
  • ½ cup water
  • 
juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 cup packed fresh mint, cilantro, and parsley (or your favorite fresh herbs)
  • 
1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Preparation

Burgers:

  1. In a food processor pulse and chop the red bell pepper and red onion. Pour the chopped veggies into a large mixing bowl. Place the chickpeas and cilantro/parsley into the food processor and blend until the chickpeas are a thick mealy texture. Pour into the mixing bowl with peppers and onions. Place the garlic, almonds, and spices into the food processor and blend until the almonds are a crumbly texture. Pour into the mixing bowl.
  2. Mash the sweet potato with a fork, or place it in the food processor and blend until smooth. Pour it over the contents of the mixing bowl followed by the oats, and stir well to combine the ingredients. Season to taste with more sea salt and spice.
  3. Place the burger batter in the refrigerator to firm up for an hour or longer.
  4. Preheat oven to 375°, and line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop about ¾ cup of the batter into your hands and form into a tight patty. Place the patty onto the baking sheet, and repeat with the remaining batter. Make sure that the patties are not too close to each other on the baking sheet (2 inches separating is good). Bake for 40 minutes, or until cooked through. After removing them from the oven, allow the patties to cool for at least 15 minutes before trying to remove them with a spatula or your hands.
  5. Serve with green tahini on bread, lettuce, or solo. Bon appetit!

Green Tahini Sauce:

  1. Place the tahini, water, lemon, herbs, and sea salt into a blender. Blend until smooth, slowly add in the olive oil.

Mother’s Day vegan brekkie

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That’ll do! This is what Ed and the girls have produced this morning for me. Vegan hollandaise sauce (recipe from http://www.hotforfoodblog.com/recipes/2014/2/27/vegan-hollandaise-sauce) on mushrooms, baby spinach and avocado, on delicious multi seed toast.

Completely delicious!

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How to get enough protein on a vegan diet…

The following is an article from One Green Planet that explains very helpfully how you can get plenty of protein on a vegan diet, even if you don’t want to eat soy products such as tofu, seitan, tempeh etc.

So how much protein do we really need? According to Reed Mangels, Ph.D. and R.D., “The RDA recommends that we take in 0.36 grams of protein per pound that we weigh.” So, let’s say you weigh 175 pounds. You should then be aiming for around 63 grams of protein per day. Now, for some tips on how to achieve this feat, all the while staying plant-based, as well as gluten and soy-free.

Learn to love lentils.

Lentils are a protein powerhouse at around 18 grams of protein per cup. They’re also cheap and versatile. A triple win!

Hail the hemp seeds.

Hemp seeds weigh in at 16 grams of protein per 3-tablespoon serving. I like to add these seeds atop salads and throw them into smoothies whenever possible.

Beans are your friend.

Black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, lima beans…all of them will give you, at minimum, 15 grams of protein per cup. Throw beans on or in to at least one of your meals, and you’ll get a good bit of protein. I like to sneak beans into my breakfasts to get a nice morning protein boost.

Pass the peas.

Other legumes, like chickpeas or black-eyed peas, are a great protein source that can be made into veggie burger patties or cooked in soups, placed on salads, and so much more! These will bring in from 13 – 15 grams of protein per cup.

Quick, eat quinoa!

The gluten-free eater’s go-to rice substitute, quinoa is a staple for me and so many other gluten-free vegans. I eat it probably once every day, either at lunch or dinner. Two cooked cups will add 16 grams of protein to your daily count.

Get those greens.

Even your greens can be a source of protein – especially if you eat them in abundance! Spinach totals at 5 grams per cooked cup, while broccoli will give you 4 grams of protein per cooked cup. If you’re a healthy vegan, you’re eating greens in copious amounts – so add these and other protein rich greens in throughout the day, and it’ll add up fast.

Now, let’s put some of this together to see how easy it can be. If you made a dinner of, for example, 2 cups quinoa (16 grams protein) + 1 cup of black beans (15 grams protein) + a sprinkling of 3 tablespoons hemp seeds (16 grams protein) + 2 cups each of spinach (10 grams protein) and broccoli (8 grams of protein), all stirred up with some delicious vegan stir-fry sauce, your lunch or dinner would be giving you 65 grams of protein – above what is recommended for one day for the average 175 pound person!

Founder of WNY Vegans talks about her diet, misconceptions about veganism

Good article by Melinda Shaw on her experiences as a vegan:

The word “vegan” carries an inordinate amount of caustic weight despite its simple theory and definition. The term sparks trigger quick, flippant responses and reactions based on – from what I have found through casual conversations – a misappropriations, distaste and individual perplexity.

Statements like, “Why would you do that?” “Isn’t is hard to not eat meat?” and “You’re missing out on so many good foods!” spring up regularly, creating inadvertent and glaring testimonies that being “vegan” really means being “different.”

And ultimately misunderstood.

After reading about “Veganuary,” my seminal curiosities led me to dig in a bit deeper in what it is to be truly “vegan.”

I understand the core concepts: no meat, no animal byproducts, and conscious and ethical living practices, but never did I realize that living as a vegetarian, how far off I am from living a vegan lifestyle, thanks in great part to the products I use that contain animal components – as opposed to the foods that I eat.

So “Veganuary,” the promotion of “veganism” last month, afforded me the opportunity to reach out to Melinda Shaw, the founder of WNY Vegans, who spoke about what it is to be vegan.

“A vegan is someone who chooses not to consume any animal products, including meat, fish, dairy, eggs and byproducts made from animals, including honey and gelatin. People generally choose to become vegan for either humane, environmental or health reasons, or a combination of those reasons. Most ethical vegans also generally abstain from using health and beauty products and cleaning products that contain animal ingredients or were tested on animals,” Shaw said.

Also, ethical vegans will desist from wearing fabrics derived from animals, including wool, leather, fur and silk. They also will refrain from attending events and activities where animals are being used for entertainment purposes, such as rodeos, zoos, marinas and circuses.

As a vegan for 23 years, Shaw began living in this manner for “ethical reasons.” Her primary concern was “for the animals.” With more than two decades experience, Shaw attests to the “health and environmental benefits of being vegan.”

“I know that the choices I make every day have a positive impact on the world and do the least harm possible to the animals, my health and the environment. The physical benefits of a vegan lifestyle are tremendous,” Shaw said.

“Today, more people are dying from lifestyle-related disease than infectious diseases! These lifestyle-related diseases are mostly due to high consumption of processed, animal-based foods and lack of physical exercise. We know that most of these diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes and even cancer, are linked to the over-consumption of animal products and can be reversed through a whole-foods, plant-based diet.”

Thanks largely to innate commonsense and research, omnivorous and vegan diets are, nearly to entirely devoid of animal byproducts, thus traditionally lower in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol in comparison to non-vegetarian forms of nourishment. Numerous studies also support claims that vegetarians and/or vegans appear to have a lower risk for coronary heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and various forms of cancer.

With all the health benefits associated with non-meat based diets, misconceptions about herbivorous diets are incredibly and shockingly pervasive in our society, especially one that has access to answers in as little time as it take for someone to think and type in a question on Google.

“The biggest misconception about being vegan is that it’s too hard and the foods are too restrictive,” Shaw said. “Many people who try or become vegan are pleasantly surprised to learn about the huge variety of foods that are vegan and actually enjoy cooking and eating more as a vegan as they experiment with new foods and flavor combinations.

“The other misconception is that vegan food is expensive, which is just the opposite. Beans and rice are very inexpensive. When you remove the costly meat, dairy and eggs from your diet, which is generally about 40 percent of an average grocery bill, that frees up a lot of room in your budget. You get more for your money on a vegan diet.”

As for vegan foods, the variety available is extensive. Per the recommendations from Shaw (and some of her favorites), there are “vegan” meat products like Gardein and Beyond Meat, which she uses when cooking for those who are non-vegan, and nutritional yeast, an accent spice of sorts; high in vitamin B12, it gives food a pleasant, nutty flavor.

“The biggest apprehension from people about being vegan is concern over what they will eat,” Shaw said. “I will often go grocery shopping with people to show them some of my favorite products. Most people are shocked to see all of their familiar food items in vegan form, such as butter, cheese, sour cream, cream cheese, ice cream, shredded cheese and meat-replacements. It’s a big relief when they realize that they can still eat very similar to what they are used to eating, just in a more humane and healthy way.”

Should you want to experiment with being vegan for a day or just a meal, there are numerous local restaurants that offer vegan dishes. They include Saigon Bangkok, Falafel Bar, and Pizza Plant, to name a fast few.

Also, as the old, clichéd, but ever true adage goes, “knowledge is power.” The more information you have on veganism, the better informed you will be about the relatively misconstrued subject matter. Check out these documentaries: Vegucated; Earthlings; Forks Over Knives; and Food Inc. Or try one of these books: “Diet for a New America,” by John Robbins; or “The China Study,” by T. Colin Campbell.

Now you can go seek out, find out and try out what works for you. Like anything in life, options are good, and this is just another one for your consideration.

“Going vegan changed my life”

The following article was published by the Daily Express on Feb 23rd 2015.  Thought it was worth sharing as is always interesting to hear other people’s stories, how they came to veganism, what they struggle with, what their advice is etc…

Healthy living guru Angela Liddon explains how giving up animal products helped her overcome an eating disorder

"I switched to whole foods and lost 20 pounds."

Veganism is a big trend for 2015. Beyoncé announced recently that she is launching a vegan food delivery service and she is just one of many celebrities who have decided to cut animal products out of their diet completely.

For healthy living guru Angela Liddon however, going vegan wasn’t just a celebrity fad. Instead she says that after years of suffering from an eating disorder, it gave her life back to her.

Angela’s problems started when she was just 11.

“When I hit puberty, I started to get curves and gained a bit of weight. I felt I wasn’t thin enough like the girls in fashion magazines so I started to diet,” she explains.

Starving herself for days on end, then binge eating, Angela, now 32, fixated on how much fat she was eating and the amount of exercise she could do.

“Even though I was very thin my body image was worse than ever. I thought that by losing the weight I would accept myself more but found I only became more critical of how I looked. It was a vicious circle,” she says.

It wasn’t until Angela was in her mid-20s that she decided enough was enough. “I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. I lacked energy in my day-to-day life and I desperately wanted to change,” she says.

“My eating disorder also negatively impacted on my relationships as it made me insecure, moody and withdrawn. I knew something needed to give if I was going to have healthy relationships in my life and most of all learn how to accept myself.”

After hearing about how healthy a vegan diet can be she decided to try it out for herself. Soon, she was hooked.

“Eating a balanced plant-based diet gave me so much energy straight away,” she says. “I felt happier, balanced and like I could accomplish so much more. It was a revelation.”

Inspired by her new lease of life Angela, who lives in Ontario, Canada, decided to start a blog to share her struggles with food and how going vegan had turned her life around.

After its launch in 2008 she was inundated with messages from readers. “I was amazed and humbled by all the people who wrote saying that my blog changed their life,” she says.

During the past six years she has created more than 600 vegan recipes and built up six million regular readers. Now, as she launches her first cookbook, Angela says she hopes her journey eating her way back to health will continue to inspire others to go vegan too.

The Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon, published March 4, (Penguin, £16.25) is available from amazon.co.uk

FIVE GOLDEN FOOD RULES

1 MAKE TIME

Set aside time each weekend to prepare food for the week ahead. Roast a couple of pans of seasonal vegetables, soak and cook chickpeas and prep kale and homemade dressing for salads. This will make throwing together weeknight meals much easier.

2 DON’T WORRY ABOUT OTHERS

If you want to make changes, do so for you and you alone. Don’t let outside opinions put you off. You never know, if you feel good, look healthy and your skin’s glowing others may want to do it too.

3 SWEAT EVERY DAY

You’ll feel your best if you get at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. It can be as simple as walking outdoors but make sure whatever it is you enjoy doing it. Mix it up to keep it interesting. Try indoor cycling classes, brisk hill walking on the treadmill, weights and hiking.

4 EAT BREAKFAST

Skipping breakfast is never a good idea as you’ll end up starving by lunch and over-eating. If you want something light have a green protein smoothie or a bowl of vegan overnight oats.

5 MAKE ROOM FOR TREATS

Depriving yourself will only make you want something more. Therefore include room for desserts and treats in your diet, in moderation of course.

Try a raw chocolate pudding made with blended banana, avocado, cocoa powder, vanilla, and sea salt topped with roasted hazelnuts and whipped coconut cream. It’s easy to make and, while sweet, it’s full of goodness.

SMART SWAPS TO BOOST YOUR DIET

Ditch: COW’S MILK

Try: Almond milk. Choose the unsweetened kind and use it where you would normally use cow’s milk.

Ditch: DAIRY CREAM

Try: Full-fat coconut cream. You can whip it just like you would regular dairy cream. It’s great in desserts, puddings, soup and more.

Ditch: BUTTER

Try: Virgin coconut oil. You can use coconut oil in just about everything from raw desserts to baked goods to stir-fries.

Heart-healthy, it has antifungal and antibacterial properties. However if you’re not a fan of the flavour you can use refined coconut oil.

Ditch: MINCE

Try: Lentil-walnut taco “meat”. A mixture of toasted walnuts, lentils, chilli powder, garlic, olive oil, cumin and salt.

Ditch: DAIRY SOUR CREAM

Try: Cashew sour cream. Blend soaked cashews, water lemon juice, cider vinegar and seasoning until smooth.

Live and Let Live

Have just watched this feature length documentary on veganism and would highly recommend it to everyone, vegan or not.

It examines our relationship with animals, the history of veganism and the ethical, environmental and health reasons that move people to go vegan.
Food scandals, climate change, lifestyle diseases and ethical concerns move more and more people to reconsider eating animals and animal products. From butcher to vegan chef, from factory farmer to farm sanctuary owner – Live and Let Live tells the stories of six individuals who decided to stop consuming animal products for different reasons and shows the impact the decision has had on their lives.
Philosophers such as Peter Singer, Tom Regan and Gary Francione join scientists T. Colin Campbell and Jonathan Balcombe and many others to shed light on the ethical, health and environmental perspectives of veganism.
Through these stories, Live and Let Live showcases the evolution of veganism from its origins in London 1944 to one of the fastest growing lifestyles worldwide, with more and more people realising what’s on their plates matters to animals, the environment and ultimately – themselves.

And it has a lovely soundtrack too…

My Vegan Truffle Torte Triumph!

I made this vegan torte last night and have just had a slither and I can safely say it is the best vegan dessert I have ever made and possibly ever tasted.  It’s dead easy to make, looks impressive enough … Continue reading

Top 10 Vegan Pancake Recipes!

Tomorrow is of course Shrove Tuesday, so in case any of you are wondering how on earth you are going to honour such a day without access to eggs, then fear not.  Here are my top ten tried and tested vegan pancake recipes – all of them eggless and still eggcellent!

1. One Ingredient Chef’s Classic Vegan Pancakes  

Vegan Pancakes Syrup

2. Jamie Oliver’s Vegan Blueberry Pancakes

vegan blueberry pancakes

3. Post Punk Kitchen’s ‘Puffy Pillow Pancakes’

Puffy Pillow Pancakes

4. BBC’s ‘Vegan Mushroom and Tomato Pancakes’

Vegan tomato & mushroom pancakes

5. OhSheGlows’ ‘Strawberry Shortcake Stacked Pancakes’

Lemon Strawberry Stacks

 

6. Hungry Curious’ ‘Three Ingredient Vegan Pancakes’  

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7. Vegan Insanity’s ‘Lemon Poppy Seed Pancakes with Blueberry Compote’

Lemon-Poppy-Seed-Pancakes

8. Minimalist Baker’s ‘Oreo Cookie Pancakes’  

9.  Deb Gleason’s ‘Chocolate Protein Banana Pancakes’

Chocolate-Banana-Protein-Pancakes

10. Why not kill 2 birds with 1 stone and make your loved ones some Valentine’s themed vegan pancakes, with Vegan Woman’s ‘Valentine’s Day Chocolate Chip and Strawberry Pancakes’

Quick fry up…

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Here’s a super quick, easy, cheap and healthy vegan fry up I made this morning to lure everyone out of bed on this fararararareeeeezing February morning.

Garlic mushrooms, plum tomatoes and fresh spinach on toast. Sprinkle some pine nuts, coriander and fresh chilli on top for a bit of zing.

Now we’re ready to face the weekend. Happy weekend all x

15 great Veganuary recipes from food52.com

If you’re running thin on recipe ideas then here’s some inspiration from the fantastic food blog food52.com :

Vegan Carrot Bisque on Food52

I don’t love New Year’s resolutions, especially those that involve the words “diet,” “detox,” or “cleanse.” But if the start of 2015 has you thinking about incorporating more meatless meals into your repertoire, then so much the better. This is a wonderful time of year to explore a plant-based diet, and see where small changes take you.

In my experience, it’s easiest and most enjoyable to explore veganism one recipe at a time. Fortunately, there’s a vegan recipe for everyone. Whether you love soups and stews, hearty casseroles, crispy kale salads, or a crunchy platter of seared tempeh, you won’t be disappointed in this round up of hearty — but healthy — favorites from The New Veganism.

Warm Kimchi Bowl with Spicy Broccoli and Sesame-Scallion Wild Rice

Kimchi Grain Bowl

Lemon Tahini Dressing

Lemon Tahini Dressing

Raw Buckwheat Breakfast Porridge

Raw Buckwheat Breakfast Porridge

Tofu Breakfast Scramble

Tofu Breakfast Scramble

Vegan Pad Thai

Pad Thai

Apricot, Date, and Cashew Snack Balls

Date Balls

Snow Pea, Cabbage, and Mizuna Salad with Marinated and Seared Tempeh

Wintery Mushroom, Kale, and Quinoa Enchiladas

Farro with Leeks and Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Yam and Peanut Stew with Kale

Hearty Kale Salad with Kabocha Squash, Pomegranate Seeds, and Toasted Hazelnuts

Raw Kale Salad with Lentils and Sweet Apricot Vinaigrette

Green Smoothie with Avocado

Tempeh and Sweet Potato Hash

Black Bean and Corn Burgers

Photos by James Ransom

For the full article and links to all the recipes then just head here

How to keep your New Year’s resolution to go vegan

Have you resolved to go vegan for New Year and already having doubts?  Are you dreading the first meal out with friends or dinner party invite?  If you are then fear not as I have been there and it is doable I promise you – if I can do it then anyone can as I am someone who can’t stick to anything!  I’ve tried giving up sugar in my tea a million times and I still smoke socially no matter how much I abhor myself for it!

The buggar with veganism is that the first few weeks are by far the hardest but if you can get through January you will feel like an entirely new person and won’t look back.  You’ve just got to get through these next few weeks.  Here are a few tips from the fantastic website One Green Planet to keep you on the vegan straight and narrow!

Trying to Go Vegan for 2015? Here's How to Keep Your Resolution

1. Find Your Motivation

Ask yourself why you want to become a vegan. It isn’t a test; it helps to be able to identify your motivation. There are many paths to veganism and the one you take should match your wants and needs. People are more likely to stick with something if the actions they take are congruent with their goals. Is your main interest in improving your health or losing a few pounds? If so, then maybe what you want is to eat a more, or fully, whole foods, plant-based diet. Is your motivation helping animals or the planet? Then you may want to eliminate all animal products from all aspects of life including food, clothes, make-up, toiletries, furniture and more. Check out 5 Amazing Health Benefits of Embracing a Plant-Based Diet to see what great things could be in store for you.

Many people start out switching to a plant-based diet for their health and later get more involved in other aspects of veganism when they learn about its other benefits to the animals and the planet. Others begin by focusing on being compassionate towards animals and then embrace the healthy aspects. So long as you know why you are exploring the vegan world, you will be less likely to put unrealistic goals or expectations on yourself. And then, you can put more energy into enjoying the experience.

2. Do It in Your Own Time

An important part to becoming vegan is to do it in your own time. There is no rule that says you have to wake up tomorrow and be 100% vegan and animal product-free. That’s nearly impossible for most people! Don’t let other people pressure you or rush you. It’s sad to say but there can be a lot of judgment out there in the vegan world. It’s bad enough that vegans get judged by non-vegans but then, vegans get judged by other vegans for not being vegan the “right” way, or for the “right” reasons, or fast enough, etc. There are some vegans who were raised vegetarian or vegan, which is awesome. They didn’t eat much, if any, animal products and therefore, probably don’t miss those foods or understand why anyone would want to eat them. But most vegans saw the light later and the later in life it happened, the more years of consuming animal products they experienced. Going vegan at age 40 or 50 is not the same experience as going vegan as a teenager or in your 20′s.

Some people become vegetarian and stay there for years before they transition to veganism. Some people go directly to vegan. The important thing is getting there no matter what path a person takes. Maybe you would be more likely to stick with a plant-based diet if you ate vegan 3 days or week or did the “vegan until 6” regimen. Maybe you want to start out eating plant-based a few times and week and slowly increase the number of days over time. Maybe you just want to take a 30-day challenge and see if it works for you. Take time to learn and figure out the best transition plan for you! Check out this Step by Step Guide: How to Transition to a Vegan Diet.

3. Educate Yourself

While you certainly learn a lot by living vegan, being prepared can make things a whole lot easier. You don’t have to study and take tests but you should know a bit about what you’re getting yourself into. A quick Internet search can score you easy lists of what vegans do and do not eat. I know it sounds like it should be easy, right? If it comes from an animal, don’t eat it. If it doesn’t come from an animal, go for it. But animal products and by-products are hidden in so many things and under so many sneaky names, they get by the best of us. You read a label and look for milk, butter, cheese and honey. You don’t see those ingredients so you think you’re in the clear but look again. Is there casein, lactose or whey? What about carmine, gelatin, or albumin? Those are all animal-based ingredients and not vegan. But fear not. You don’t need a biochemistry degree, just some good sources with some handy lists of which foods are and are not vegan. Check out For the Newbie Plant-Based Eater: Your Vegan Starter Shopping List and 15 Sneaky Foods that Might Be Hiding Animal Ingredients. For many helpful guides, check out this array of vegan guides on One Green Planet.

The minute you tell anyone you’re even considering a vegan diet, they will ask you “Where will you get your protein?” Most people think all our protein comes from meat and all our calcium comes from dairy, along with believing dozens of other nutritional half-truths. You might think this yourself. I know I used to think this way. You don’t have to become a dietitian, but getting to know a little bit about nutrition can help you navigate the waters of both choosing what to eat and how to answer the questions you know you’re going to be asked. Learn more by reading How to Tell if You are Getting Enough Protein and 10 Vegan Foods Packed with Protein.

4. Explore Your Options

Maybe one of the biggest mistakes I made at the beginning was to not find out just how many non-animal food products exist in the world. In my pre-vegan days, vegetables meant peas, corn, potatoes and salad. After I made an eggplant dish, I thought, “Now what?” It wasn’t that there wasn’t food out there to eat, I just wasn’t aware of it. There are so many vegetables, fruits, grains and other foods to eat, I can go weeks without eating the same thing twice. It’s amazing how many foods there are to try! And try you must. I used to swear I hated at least a dozen vegetables even though I hadn’t tried them or maybe I had tasted them once. Now, I have a rule that I’m not allowed to say I don’t like something unless I’ve tried it several times and prepared it in different ways. Palates change or maybe you have only had Brussels sprouts boiled. Yuck! If you think you don’t like a vegetable, try it roasted or fried. Roasting brings out the rich nuttiness of vegetables and frying, well, frying just makes everything taste better, doesn’t it? And now, I will fight my husband for the last Brussels sprout. Read my 5 Rules to Start Enjoying New and Unfamiliar Foods to see how I learned to experiment and explore with food.

Eating a plant-based diet doesn’t mean just piling a bunch of greens and vegetables on a plate and grazing through them. You can put as much care and preparation into making vegan dishes as you do any other dish. Make a list of fruits, vegetables, grains and other foods you would like to try and think about how you would like them prepared. You might want to even take the time to write out a few meal plans for a week or two and then buy the ingredients you need to make those dishes. Having a plan definitely beats having a confused meltdown in the middle of the supermarket (like I did). For the best tips, read The Smart Shopper: A Beginner Vegan’s Pantry List for Winter.

5. Use Resources

Thanks to the internet and web sites like One Green Planet, we have 24-hour access to millions of recipes as well as web sites about veganism and any other issues you may be interested in. There’s no need to toss your hands up and say you don’t know how to press tofu when in less than a minute, you can find how-to articles and even instructional videos online. The web is also your place to find cruelty-free clothes, make-up and other products, learn about health and nutrition, and find out which restaurants near you have vegan options. There are also more vegan cookbooks than ever and you can choose whether you want a print version in your hands or an e-version on your phone. Read reviews and get a couple of vegan cookbooks that other new vegans recommend.

6. Don’t Sacrifice, Substitute

Maybe the idea of eating all new foods is too overwhelming for you. That’s fine. You don’t have to. No one wants to give up their favorite foods. It took me as long as it did to go vegan because I thought I couldn’t live without chicken. Then I had a hard time letting go of eggs. But I did it and not because I just learned to live without those foods but because I learned how to substitute for them. There is a vegan substitute for almost everything and if there’s something missing, I can guarantee you someone is working hard to develop it. There are vegan meats, vegan chicken, vegan fish, vegan hot dogs and sausages, vegan milks, cheeses and ice creams, vegan butter, and even vegan eggs. That means you don’t have to experiment with all new recipes and foods. You can eat all your usual favorites, just in vegan versions. Eating the foods you usually eat with just that one change can make it much easier to transition to plant-based eating. What most people come to find is that with the right textures and flavors, vegan food tastes pretty close to the original and many times, even better. Learn more in 10 Food Substitutions Every Plant-Based Eater Should Know, 10 Vegetables that Can Substitute for Meat and How to Veganize Your Favorite Familiar Dishes.

7. Be a Healthy Vegan

It’s easy to buy lots of packaged, vegan, convenience food but it’s not the optimal choice for your health. Technically, you could eat nothing but French fries and potato chips and be vegan but if you don’t get all your vitamins and minerals, you won’t feel well and you will probably give up on the idea of eating a plant-based diet. Do some research and make sure you are getting enough protein, calcium and other nutrients. If you are unsure, take a vitamin supplement. Try to eat mostly whole foods such as whole grains, fresh fruit and lots of fresh vegetables. Yes, even some vegans have to be told to eat their vegetables. Read how to Avoid These 5 Unhealthy Vegan Eating Transition Mistakes.

8. Get Support

It always helps to do things with a partner. See if any of your friends or relatives want to take this vegan journey with you. When I became vegan, my husband did it with me but the two of us often felt alone. We reached out to local vegan groups and went to many pot lucks and vegan functions. Joining a meet-up group or even chatting with some vegans online can provide a wealth of information and support. The majority of vegans we know are online. The vegan community can be very helpful and someone is always willing to answer any questions you might have. Read Finding Community as a New Vegan for more tips.

9. Dealing with Cravings

Cravings are normal. I will say it again. Cravings are normal. I didn’t give up meat because I didn’t like it and it disgusted me. I loved the taste of meat but morally and ethically, I could no longer engage in the cruelty that brought those tastes to me. But becoming vegetarian and/or vegan doesn’t automatically wipe the slate of one’s brain clean. There is a difference between what the brain/mouth/stomach wants and what the conscience will allow. Of course, I now look at meat, dairy, and eggs differently. There are strong emotions that I didn’t have before. But in all honesty, sometimes when I see cooked food on TV or in real life, I have cravings. When I smell certain foods, I have cravings. When I am in certain places or moods that have food associations for me, I have cravings. There are foods I loved that I still miss. There’s a part of me that still wants Buffalo wings, fried chicken, steak, and pizza with extra cheese. The point is that I will not eat them. I will not put my cravings above the suffering and lives of other beings. For me, there is no going back.

Over time, the cravings lessen but I still get them and that does not make me a bad vegan. It makes me NORMAL. Having cravings is not what is important. What matters is what I do about them. I remind myself about the reasons I went vegan in the first place and then it’s simple because no matter what foods I crave, I love the taste of compassion more. And if you do give in to a craving, don’t beat yourself up over it and give up. You’re human. Just get back on track and look forward. For more on cravings, read A Guide to Understanding and Managing Your Food Cravings and 5 Ways to Battle Those Cheese Cravings After You Go Vegan.  Also check out Why Eating Vegan is Not About Being Perfect, But About Being Aware.

10. Review and Reassess

After a few weeks of vegan eating, sit back with a green smoothie and look back over your experience. How did it go? Was it easy, was it hard? Was it something you could easily see yourself doing for a longer time? Or, was it something you can see yourself learning and enjoying as it gets easier? How do you feel? Healthier? Lighter? Happier? Many people talk about not only feeling better physically but emotionally. They say their consciences feel lighter, they feel more at ease in the world and happier. If it was difficult for you, can you pinpoint what was hard about it? Was it something that could be easier with more preparedness, more support, or more practice? And if so, is it something you want to invest your time and energy in?

If the answer is no, then maybe it’s just not the right time for you and that’s ok. You can always revisit veganism later and in the meantime, you can still cut back on meat and other animal foods. If the answer is yes, then it sounds like you are ready to dip your toes a bit deeper into the vegan water. Time to jump in and enjoy!

Veganuary

Veganuary is a global campaign designed to support people across the globe to go vegan for the month of January.

There’s a great website giving you loads of information on the reasons people should try and live a vegan life and masses of other helpful info such as interviews with committed vegans, a shopping directory, recipes, help on where best to eat out etc.

Check out the website here – Veganuary

Are you giving Veganuary a go?  If so, do get in touch – I’d love to hear how you’re getting on!

Could you go vegan for the weekend?

This article was recently published in the Telegraph…  Lot sof people have complained that you can’t ‘go vegan’ for a weekend as it is a much more serious commitment than that.  I have to say I don’t really care if people go vegan for an hour, a week, on Mondays or forever – anything is a step in the right direction and should be encouraged and not disparaged!

What To Eat Now: a vegan diet

While the world celebrates World Vegan Month, our expert resident nutritionist Ian Marber turns vegan for the weekend

BY Ian Marber | 03 November 2014

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Famous vegan, Natalie Portman

 Perhaps I was swayed by the words of film director James Cameron (of Titantic, Aliens and Avatar fame) who says that one can’t be an environmentalist if you aren’t a vegan. Or perhaps it was simply that I have become lazy about what I eat, favouring the same lean meat and poultry with vegetables most of the time, but in recognition of World Vegan Month I tried my hand at a vegan diet for the weekend. Now I realise that one weekend isn’t going to save the planet or do a lot for my health but I wanted to see what it was like, and what I could eat.

Five reasons to become a vegan

1) Health – because veganism leads naturally to eating more fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. By cutting out things with animal fat in, it makes it more difficult to eat badly.
2) The EPIC study was a vast piece of work that can’t easily be summed up. However, it confirmed that vegans were at least as healthy as the healthiest omnivores.
3) Veganism celebrates its 70th birthday this year and its founder, Donald Watson pointed out the irony of feeding our crops to animals for us to eat rather than eating the crops themselves.
4) The cost in terms of energy to maintain livestock – from electricity to water – isn’t sustainable for the planet in addition to the additional methane gas that livestock produce adding to potential global warming.
5) Traditionally vegans feel that it is morally wrong to exploit and kill animals for food when eating meat isn’t necessary.

Bishop-Weston suggests that an easy way to transition to a vegan diet is to take a practical approach, replacing meals here and there with increasing frequency. Here is the menu that we put together for my weekend:

Breakfast

Porridge or museli with non-dairy milk such as soy, rice, hemp, almond, oat, flax, hazelnut and coconut milk

Handful of berries

Chia/ flax/ hemp seeds

Smoothie or green drink, including algae and seaweed

Snack

Apple and a banana, green tea

Lunch

Falalafel salad wrap with hummus or,

Buck wheat noodles and vegetables with tofu and Miso soup

Snack

Toasted seeds or Brazil nuts in dark chocolate

Kale crisps (Pret have them now)

Water/tea

Dinner

Stir-fry with beansprouts, broccoli, shitake mushrooms, peppers, cashews, black beans, kale, carrots, butternut squash, red cabbage and mangetout

Dessert

Vegusto Swiss cheese with oatcake or

Booja Booja cashew nut chocolate ice cream

Thanks for your concern…

I had one of those amusing slash infuriating moments recently that all vegans and veggies have to put up with often.  I was sat eating my lunch (steamed kale, spinach, chickpeas and broccoli with a tahini and lemon dressing) whilst a colleague ate hers (mozzarella and bacon Panini with a packet of crisps).  Over the course of our lunch she tried to explain to me why she thinks veganism is a bad idea.  Her reasoning:

1. It’s too expensive

2. It’s dangerous to cut out entire food groups from your diet

3.  It’s an unnatural diet and not one that we are designed to eat

Hmmm…. I sat there looking from my plate to her plate and back again and wondered how she could not see the irony and complete nonsense of what she was saying.  There was I, a committed vegan for nearly 2 years, eating a plateful of the most nutritious, tasty, cheap, locally grown, organic whole food whilst she sat across from me eating a plateful of high cholesterol, high fat, unhealthy, expensive, factory farmed, deep fried, highly processed rubbish!

Now I’m not saying you can’t eat a really healthy non-vegan diet because of course you can.  But I’m saying it’s astounding how often people will completely ignore the elephant in the room when it comes to discussing the health benefits of veganism.  They’ll start muttering on about vitamin B12, iron levels and zinc and dive straight into the nitty gritty of the possible nutritional shortfalls of a vegan diet if you don’t do it sensibly, whilst ignoring the fact that I’m there snacking on an apple and they’re on their fifth chocolate digestive…

IMG_3314.JPG

World’s best guacamole recipe…

Thanks Flicka for this insanely delicious guacamole recipe.  Tried and tested it today and it is indeed the world’s best guacamole!

3 garlic cloves, 1 to 2 chillies depending on fire requirements, 1/2 large red onion wizzed up so its in tiny chopped pieces, so you can still get some crunch but it flows through all avocado beautifully

2 avocados whipped up in the processor with juice of 2 small limes or 1 very large lime, this keeps the guacamole its vibrant bright green colour even after sitting in the fridge for a day

1 ripe mango fairly finely chopped

handful of very finely chopped coriander leaves

2 large ripe, smelling gorgeous tomatoes ,quartered, deseeded and chopped into fine little squares. Keep middles for bean stews etc.

decent sprinkle of Himalayan salt and some freshly ground pepper.

drizzle of E.V.O oil

mix together and serve with pittas etc, or cos lettuce leaves for guacamole boats.

We had a baby!!!

Barley Rose MacLaren zoomed into the world on Tuesday at 3pm, weighing a hefty 9lb, deliciously pink and chubby.  Hoorah!

This was the first pregnancy I have experienced as a vegan and I have to say the stats are pretty compelling…

I only put on a stone and a half in the whole pregnancy (2 and a quarter with Arcadia and 2 with Indigo) and Barley was not only the biggest (Arcadia 8lb 2, Indigo 8lb 10) but by far the chubbiest and pinkest baby of all three.  I’m also 4/5 years older than I was with the last 2 pregnancies and yet had much more energy throughout.

photo 2 very proud big sisters!

Being pregnant is great as it means you have your bloods, urine, heart rate, blood pressure etc tested regularly.  Mine all tested great throughout.  So to all those out there who still believe you need meat, dairy and eggs to get enough calcium, iron, potassium etc into your diet – it is absolutely NOT true.  So long as you eat sensibly and take a vitamin B12 supplement then a well balanced vegan diet will give you all the nutrition you need!  Add to that the massive increase in energy, the sharpened clarity of thought, the ‘feel good factor’ of knowing that you are eating much more compassionately and I just can’t recommend it enough!

Right –  I’m off to feed Barley.

Next post should undoubtedly be about the dairy industry as there is nothing like breastfeeding your baby to remind you how appallingly cruel the dairy industry is…

IMG_2963.JPG Just had first contraction!

Study: Global Veganism Would Reduce Carbon Emissions More Than Energy Intervention

Yet another study proving what a devastating effect the meat industry is having on climate change.

Producing nearly 15% of the Earth’s greenhouse gas emissions, the meat industry is one of the top contributors to climate change. Slowly, very slowly, movements like Meatless Mondays and Vegan Before 6 have demonstrated the value, and deliciousness, of adopting a vegan diet, but a carnivorous diet is still seen as evidence of prosperity.

In 2009, researchers at the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency calculated that global veganism would reduce agriculture-related carbon emissions by nearly 17%, methane emissions by 24%, and nitrous oxide emissions by 21% by 2050.

The researchers discovered that worldwide veganism, or even just worldwide vegetarianism, would achieve gains at a much lower cost that an energy intervention, like carbon taxes, for instance.

The study demonstrated tremendous value of a vegan or vegetarian diet in staving off climate change, but there are so many other benefits as well. Antibiotic resistance stemming from the meat consumed that has been pumped full of antibiotics would plummet. Pollution rates would drop significantly as factory farms, the biggest polluters in the meat industry, became a thing of the past. General human health and well-being would rise from a plant-based diet free from cholesterol and pharmaceuticals.

By 2050, the global population is predicted to reach a staggering 9 BILLION people. What are we going to do with all the cows currently taking up 25% of the Earth’s land area?