Whether it’s for your health, the environment or animals, there are plenty of good reasons to go vegan. Here are five tips to help you trial a meat-free month from author, dietitian and No Meat May ambassador Dr Kate Marsh.
Adapt your favourites
The best place to start is to make a meat-free version of your favourite meals. If you enjoy stir-fries you can replace the meat or chicken with tofu. For Mexican wraps or tacos, substitute the mince for red or black beans. On the BBQ you can substitute veggie patties or sausages or try kebabs with marinated tofu and veggies. Indian curries made with lentils or chickpeas make a tasty alternative to meat-based curries. Burgers can be made with a bean or lentil patty. Or try lentil bolognaise rather than your regular spag bol. The options are endless.
Don’t just cut the meat
Going vego or vegan isn’t just about cutting out animal protein. This will leave you feeling unsatisfied and lacking in important nutrients such as iron, zinc and protein. It’s important to replace these with good sources of plant protein including legumes (e.g. lentils, chickpeas and canned or dried beans) and soy products such as tofu and tempeh.
Get the balance right
The best way to get all the nutrients you need and to feel satisfied with meat-free meals is to balance your plate with a combination of vegetables or salads, wholegrains and plant protein (such as legumes, tofu or tempeh) plus a small amount of healthy fats from foods like nuts, seeds, avocado, nut butters or tahini.
In the beginning it can be more difficult to think of ideas for tasty vegetarian meals. You can make this easier by finding some good cookbooks or online recipe sites to provide ideas and inspiration. With the increase in plant-based eating, there are plenty of options available! Having a variety of tasty plant-based meals is the key to making the transition to a meat-free diet sustainable. Instagram has become a treasure trove for mouth-watering vegan recipes.
It’s much easier to make changes to your eating if you have the support and encouragement of others around you. If friends or family members don’t want to join you, consider finding support through an online community or social media. Campaigns such as Veganuary and No Meat May can be a great way to get started as you’ll be provided with tips for adopting a vegetarian or vegan diet along with the support and encouragement of thousands of others who are also taking part. If you are making the change for health reasons or need more individualised advice and support to make sure you are meeting your nutritional needs, consider seeing a dietitian who specialises in plant-based eating.