Thinking of going vegan but unsure where to start? First you need to stock up your cupboard with some vital vegan ingredients.
My top vegan stock cupboard ingredients:
Chickpeas – these are literally my life. I use them pretty much daily. Use them to whip a nice homemade hummus. Marinate them and add them to salads, wraps or rice!
Chickpeas are extremely tasty and a vital source of protein and fiber for vegetarians and vegans they also contain vitamin K, folate, phosphorus, zinc, copper, manganese, choline, and selenium.They are a legume and also contain exceptional levels of iron, vitamin B-6, and magnesium
Find the method on my chickpea recipe page.
Non dairy milk – This is a staple, it’s great for adding into sauces and dips but also as a milk alternative in beverages and cereals. My favorites are coconut milk for protein shakes/smoothies and on a cold winter’s morning there is nothing more scrumptious then coconut milk in your porridge.
I also have almond, great in tea and coffee and cereal. As these are the two I find the tastiest they are what I always use when baking and whenever a recipe suggests using a milk alternative.
Beans – Oh my, I love beans. Baked beans have always been a continual and I would say vital food that is in my cupboard and now im vegan if it’s possible I have even more cans! However these are not the only beans that should be in the cupboard so cannellini, butter beans, kidney beans and black beans. You can get these in cans but also dried. I tend to have a mix of both for quick meals or ones when you have forward planned and can soak and spend time cooking them up.
Agave – This is a great alternative to honey, its sweet and delicious. A natural sugar, you can get light or dark. Both are delicious. I use as an extra sweet hit in recipes that suggest a little sugar. Fantastic option for pancakes and drizzled over your granola with dairy free yoghurt in the morning.
Legumes – Split peas and lentils. These can be dried or in tins. Great for soups and curries! So filling and tasty especially when used with the right spices!
Spices – Any and all spices, they add such huge flavour and depth to your recipes and meals. Since being vegan my taste buds have dramatically changed, I can taste all the subtle difference from a variety of spices that are added to meals whether they are complex or basic. My favourite spices that I use consistently, crushed chillies, cumin, smoked paprika, garlic powder, paprika, hot chilli powder and turmeric.
Nutritional yeast – Now this is an essential for your vegan cupboard that I had never heard of. If you are craving and are missing that cheesy-ness in your new vegan lifestyle then you NEED this! Add it to your shopping list now it is a nutritious vegan food product which adds not only an insane cheesy flavour but also has added protein, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Stock – Always ensure you have some vegetarian stock cubes in your cupboard you can also use flakes as sometimes you do just want to add a little flavour to your dishes.
Tahini – This is your staple ingredient for making hummus, you can make hummus without tahini but tahini takes it to a whole new level.
Oils – You need oil for a number of different meals, for general cooking as well as for dressings, baking, dips and sauces. My top oils – olive oil, vegetable, coconut and sesame.
Maple syrup – This is a great natural product and again like agave syrup it is a great natural sweetener for meals as well as adding to pancakes, dressings and breakfast.
Dried mushrooms – This is alongside your stock, I often add a couple in with my veggie stock, to add a slightly richer taste. If you are trying to make your meals appear and feel more meaty than dried mushrooms is a must especially when added and paired with a vegan bolognese.
Chickpea salad recipe:
To find out more about different chickpea recipes read my page – my favourite chickpea recipes.
This chickpea salad serves 2 as a main meal, Ingredients:
- 1 tin of chickpeas
- Olive oil (or vegetable oil)
- Agave/maple syrup ( I like using a mix depends what’s in the cupboard, but a big glug of both)
- 50g lightly toasted pine nuts ( other nuts, walnuts or pecans can be used instead)
- Handful or kalamata olives (destoned, or any tasty olive you prefer)
- 50g sun dried tomatoes ( semi sun dried tomatoes work well as well)
- 10 quartered cherry or plum tomatoes (I like using a mix of both and if I am serving as a salad with a BBQ I like to use a variety of little toms with different colours)
- One bag of peppery salad with lots of rocket!
- Spices – cumin, crushed chillies ( I love loads of spice, start with a teaspoon of each I normally do 2 or 3)
- 1 avocado diced
- Dressing 2 tablespoons of sun dried tomato oil, juice of one lemon, teaspoon of cumin season with salt and pepper.
How to eat vegan when you are out and about?
Before arranging to eat out I always ensure I suggest places that have a few vegan options. Ensuring I have done my research and deter away from places that have a limited option for me. These days quite a lot of restaurants and cafes have veggie and vegan options.
If the restaurant or cafes don’t state that a meal is vegan I look at the vegetarian options and see if I can work out what’s in there that is not vegan, normally egg or cheese. If it’s cheese then you can just ask for it without.
Egg is a no no for vegans and if something has been made with egg incorporated they are not going to be able to not use the egg. However lots of place are becoming more aware of veganism and will have at least one or two options that us vegans can consume, and normally they are absolutely delish!
What to do when there a no vegan options?
Worst case scenario you end up going to meet a friend for lunch or dinner and there a no vegan options and the veggie options have egg incorporated or without the cheese your just left with a bowl of leaves.
Then most establishments will be happy to accommodate you, as they are used to people with allergies and should be able to adjust a dish.
Look at what they have on the menu as sometimes you could be the only expert in the room and you could suggest alternatives to add to your meal.
Otherwise, I stick to chips ( although check how they cook these, as sometimes they fry everything meat fish etc all in the same oil) I know not the healthiest but better then watching everyone else tucking in.
Where can I eat vegan?
I tend to stick to the main chains, as I know that they have a lot of vegan options especially the italian chains who all now appear to have vegan cheese for their pizza.
My top vegan restaurants
- Pizza express
- Turtle Bay
- Yo Sushi
These are just a few of my favorite and frequent restaurants that I visit that cater for vegans but as they also cater for all, it means it is the perfect place for you to dine and socialize with any of your friends and family and if you are vegan you do not need to feel like you need to be the awkward eater.
Everyone can enjoy and you can sit back and relax knowing that as these restaurants have vegan menus that they know how to look after your vegan needs!
Of course there are plenty of other vegan and vegetarian places and when you are visiting towns and cities you will find family run and one of a kind places that will cater for vegans, or will have one or two delicious vegan options on their menu.
When you find these places they will be your own personal hidden gem that you will then love to visit and take your friends and family for a vegan lunch or cake or two.
My personal favourites so far:
- Okomoko in Farnham Vegan cafe
- Rawberry in Winchester Vegetarian Cafe
- Pi Pizzeria Winchester – has a delicious vegan pizza
What ingredients are vegan?
The question is actually what ingredients are not vegan?
- Beeswax and Honey.
- Casein or Milk Byproducts.
- Confectioner’s Glaze on Candy.
- Gelatin and Gelatin Products.
- Isinglass in Beer and Wine.
- L. Cysteine in Bread Products.
- Whey in Bread and Sweets.
What is the easiest way to become vegan?
One other helpful insight into becoming vegan that I have found is to ensure you have your morals and principles outlined for yourself so when you are questioned (which you will be!) by friends and family you have some facts and some details that they can maybe argue with but they are your reasons and no one can take that from you.
Watch some documentaries, listen to podcasts and do a little research just so you have some key facts. People who aren’t vegan who I have met generally just don’t know enough about how or why people make the change, so if you can share some of your expert advice and that makes them make a little change then that’s a good thing for all of us.
My recommended and top documentaries.
What the Health
This is a documentary from 2017 that talks about and looks at how a plant based diet can prevent chronic diseases and why perhaps we do not know enough about the statistics and findings of what affect a plant based diet can have on our bodies in a positive way.
A documentary from 2014 that looks at the impact of animal agriculture on the environment.
Forks over knives
This documentary looks at how if we change to a plant based diet we can illuminate or prevent specific diseases like cancer and diabetes.