My top tips for any vegans, plant-based eaters, aspiring vegans, curious meat eaters, and/or just anyone who may be slightly intrigued!
Keep a food diary
When I first decided to go vegan I found it extremely useful to keep a food diary. This helped me to notice my ‘weak points’ with meat and dairy which then allowed me to look into suitable alternatives or routines.
For example: I often used to have a glass of cows milk before bed (warm or cold). When I say glass, I really mean pint. I found that I was associating this action of having a pint of milk with bedtime and tiredness. After noticing this, I started to drink a hot mug of rooibos tea before bed. With perseverance and time this drink has now become my bedtime beverage of choice. However, for when a light cup of tea won’t do the trick, but only a thick warming mug of creaminess will do, you may benefit from a hot mug of Oatly milk 😛
Check restaurant menus before leaving the house
(or just find a good way of explaining your dietary choices to waiting staff)
A lot of us will understand the struggle of turning up to a restaurant to be greeted by the most vegan unfriendly menu (that horrible moment when you glance over the dishes and they don’t even openly advertise what choices are vegetarian). Doomed. I’ve never been a fan of screaming out ‘BUT I’M VEGAN YOU KNOW’ in a crowded meat-hungry restaurant. So, this is where pre-planning comes into play. You have multiple choices to avoid any awkward scenes:
1. Pick the restaurant to suit your dietary choices
2. Research the restaurant before arriving (particularly important if you have no choice). If they have no options, email or ring in advance.
3. Arrive at the restaurant unknowingly of your future situation and take initiative by asking the waiting staff before being seated whether or not they are able to cater for vegans. You can walk out in style before even being seated if they are unable to help.
4. Not done all of the above? Have a quick easy sentence ready to tell the waiting staff when they take your order. Mine is normally simple, like ‘I do not eat dairy, meat or eggs, what am I able to eat?’. Yes, no mention of vegan. This word can create an emotive response which is often what causes a scene. I find it is better to go straight with what it is you don’t eat.
Last of all. Do not kick up a fuss if they do not cater for you. The whole world isn’t vegan, just yet ;-).
For me personally, I often pick and choose the places that I eat so that I don’t end up in these situations and luckily I have accepting friends who like trying new food! However, we aren’t always so lucky. So follow these rules and never feel awkward in a restaurant again. Hurray for internet and preplanning.
Never give up
I have to be honest, I have often somehow made some astonishingly terrible dishes. We all have and do. That’s why the term ‘develop’ is used in cooking, because not everything starts perfect.
Experimentation is fun and messing around with new recipes can be extremely rewarding. Just don’t let a few mistakes here and there stop you!
My kitchen could be swamped in foresaken brownies, just because the quantities of raising agents don’t work, or the quality of chocolate ruins the flavour, or worse, they are an oily mess melted into the sides of the baking tray. But the reward is amazing.
When it comes to mainstream media, recipes, and the restaurant world; Veganism is definitely still in its infancy. We are pioneers who are creating and experimenting new exciting vegan food. There were definitely many eggs curdled in the original creation of a hollandaise sauce, so we can afford to create tough cookies, flat meringues and bland vegan cheeses.
Keep an eye out for more tips as and when they come to my mind…!