The Green Girl's Guide to Going Vegan
Hello, I’m Frankie and I'm a vegan!
Before you get totally put off and make a swift exit from this post, I’m not scary or militant about it! I just wanted to share with you how I became a vegan and why. Here's a little back-story as to how I got there...about 10 years ago, my boyfriend at the time kept saying he wanted to become a vegetarian. I was adamant that as I did the cooking, I wasn’t going to join him, however I said he was free to cook for himself and we could both then do our own thing; funnily enough he changed his mind after that! One evening we were watching a cooking show and they sent ferrets down rabbits holes - I used to have a pet rabbit as a child, and as my boyfriend had already planted the seed, meat lost its appeal pretty quickly for me! While I didn’t mind cooking, I didn’t actually know any vegetarian recipes, which meant I had to relearn how to cook. I started by replacing meat with substitutes and quickly discovered that I love reading cookbooks! I began to enjoy spending time in the kitchen and the process of learning how to cook lots of different meals. I began to love cooking; being a vegetarian forced me into being more inventive and discovering new ingredients I had never tried before. Butternut squash, sweet potatoes and quinoa became firm favourites.
For 10 years I was happy being a veggie and didn’t miss meat at all. I found plenty of options when I went out, had loads of recipes I could cook and felt better in myself. Then I watched Cowspiracy. I feel like this makes me sound very easily swayed by visuals - I suppose I am but honestly, the facts and statistics were scary so I began to make the change over to vegan. I had drastically reduced my dairy intake anyway as my daughter is allergic to milk, eggs, soya and wheat, then after my husband moved out last year, it made life easier to cook food both Luna and I could eat. With change comes obstacles and for me that has always been cravings for halloumi and chocolate! The changes I have made make a good excuse for trying all the vegan alternatives out there. If anyone knows of any good chocolate brands, please let me know so I can test out some more!
Turning vegan can seem totally daunting, so for anyone that wants to give it a try or make the change I thought I would share a few things I have learnt over the last few months. It's worth noting; cafes and restaurants are really wising up to the benefit of becoming vegan-friendly now; visiting those who are and having a look at what they offer is sure to give you inspiration and confidence in your own kitchen.
My store cupboard essentials:
Lentils - love these, so versatile, great to make bolognese, burgers, salads.
Butternut squash and sweet potatoes - I use these all the time and they keep for ages.
Sun-dried tomatoes and jars of roasted peppers - Aldi and Lidl do them super cheap.
Quinoa and rice - great staples to add to wraps and salads.
Beans, beans and more beans - chilli, stews, burgers,
My most made meals:
Burritos/quesadillas/chili - Mexican food is my favourite
Avocado, lime and pomegranate salad wraps
Vegan burgers with sweet potato chips
Lentil bolognese and pasta
Mango and roasted veg salad - sounds an odd combo, it’s amazing!
Things I sometimes find tricky:
Eating out - As mentioned above, more and more places are getting better at offering vegan options, and with the exception of one place I have never had a problem. (Backstory; we were having lunch and I had taken Luna her own food as she has lots of allergies, the cafe told me I couldn’t feed her that as I had to choose from their menu as "they catered for everyone" - there was 1 Ella’s kitchen pouch that Luna could eat. So this woman was willing to let an 18 month old potentially go hungry out of principle....needless to say we haven’t been back!)
Dinner at family events - There’s always a relative who has a comment or it throws the host into a panic! I must admit friends have seemed pretty unfazed by cooking vegan. I always offer to take food, or make dessert if I’m not hosting.
Snacks on the go - No more endless bars of chocolate *tears* instead I end up making healthy choices. So not really an issue, more greed on my part!
The best bits:
I feel so much better. My skin has cleared up drastically. Last summer I developed a wonderful case of adult acne, lucky me, while I took medication which helped, I’ve since stopped and my skin has stayed remarkably clear (touch wood). My IBS is also much less of a problem than it used to be too.
I’m helping reduce global warming. It’s hard to discuss these points without sounding preachy! By not buying meat or dairy I’m not contributing to deforestation and animals raised in cruel conditions.
It doesn’t have to be more expensive and it really has given me a new lease of life in the kitchen!
My favourite cookbooks:
Thug Kitchen - all of them
Bowls of Goodness
Minimalist Baker - Everyday Cooking
A Modern Way to Cook
Raw - Solla Eirksdottir
Honestly Healthy - Cleanse
Veganism and shopping ethically is becoming a topic discussed much more frequently, with more famous faces joining the crew. There are a host of comedians, actors, artists and sports people including Sara Pascoe, Olivia Wilde, Joaquin Phoenix, Miley Cyrus and Jared Leto. The rise in popularity just means that more options are becoming available all the time - Ben & Jerry’s launched their own vegan ice cream this month - It's definitely not all lentils and dry biscuits!
On top of giving my diet an over-haul, I now also made sure that the products I use on my myself, Luna, and the house are vegan and BUAV approved too. Ethical Superstore is fantastic for cleaning, cosmetics, household and store cupboard essentials. Lucky Go Happy is one of my favourite places as they do lots of natural bath and body bits for kids, along with fruity toothpastes and amazing ethical, organic clothes. I suppose my advice is, if it’s something you are interested in, take a look at these sites, do some research and take the plunge! If you have any questions, please don't hesiate to get in touch!