The ve­gan chal­lenge

Don’t at­tempt Ve­gan­uary un­til you’ve di­gested this, writes Flic Everett

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - Weekend Life - The Tele­graph

The so-called ‘Ve­gan­uary’ idea – where you go ve­gan for the month of Jan­uary – started five years ago and has boomed around the world.

Re­search shows ve­g­an­ism can of­fer pro­tec­tion against heart dis­ease, some can­cers, di­a­betes and high blood pres­sure.

So, if you’re ve­gan-cu­ri­ous, or even ve­gan-de­ter­mined to give it a try this Jan­uary, here’s how to do it without los­ing your mo­ti­va­tion or your friends!

Do it prop­erly

A ma­jor di­etary change needs care­ful plan­ning, and there are cer­tain vi­ta­mins and min­er­als your body needs that are gen­er­ally found in an­i­mal prod­ucts, such as vitamin B12. If you don’t have enough, you could suf­fer anaemia and dam­age to your ner­vous sys­tem, so make sure you eat foods for­ti­fied with B12, such as plant milks, soy and break­fast ce­re­als, or nu­tri­tional yeast, which has a cheese-like taste and can be sprin­kled on any­thing savoury.

Or take a sup­ple­ment (just check it’s ve­gan, as some mul­tivi­ta­mins come in a ge­latin shell). You’ll also need Omega-3 and 6 (in nuts, lin­seeds and rape­seed oil). Try al­gae sup­ple­ments in­stead of fish oil.

If your hair be­comes weaker, you’re not get­ting enough pro­tein, so eat more nuts, pulses, soya and plant oils, or sup­ple­ment with ve­gan pro­tein pow­der.

Don’t get too hung up

Evan­ge­lists may in­sist you can’t eat av­o­ca­dos be­cause they’re pol­li­nated by ex­ploited bees, you can’t have figs be­cause wasps die in the fruits, you can’t have bis­cuits be­cause they might con­tain palm oil, and as for soya, the crops are de­stroy­ing the rain­for­est. All of this is true, but most ve­gans stick to a man­age­able path and just aim to do as lit­tle harm as pos­si­ble.

Stock up

Your usual shop, just without meat, milk and cheese, won’t cut it. There are cer­tain basics but the ini­tial out­lay will pay div­i­dends, as your weekly food bill will drop dra­mat­i­cally.

Stock up on nu­tri­tional yeast (for­ti­fied with B12) to thicken sauces; plant milks (most find oat or al­mond milk the nicest); nuts to scat­ter in sal­ads or stir-fries. Look out for agave nec­tar in­stead of honey, tinned or dried beans and puls- es for pro­tein, ve­gan cheese and yo­gurt. If you like a “meaty” taste, try brands like Fry’s or Quorn.

Start meal-plan­ning

If ready meals, spag bol and pizza were your pre­vi­ous goto’s you’ll need to think ahead. Ready-made ve­gan meals are few and far be­tween, and far from cheap. Find sug­ges­tions on the Ve­gan­uary web­site ( veg

an­ )

Cur­ries, chill­ies with soya mince and risotto and piz­zas with ve­gan cheese are all sim­ple op­tions. And read la­bels: a lot of prod­ucts con­tain milk pow­der or whey for no ap­par­ent rea­son.

Don’t preach

We’ve all heard the jokes: “How do you know some­one is ve­gan? They’ll tell you.” But there is truth in the cliche. Be­cause when you’ve made a huge life­style and eth­i­cal com­mit­ment, like all new con­verts, it’s tempt­ing to get evan­gel­i­cal about it By all means ex­plain your rea­sons when asked. But oth­er­wise, un­less you want to lose friends and ir­ri­tate peo­ple, keep your ve­g­an­ism to your­self.

Take-your-own to din­ner par­ties

The in­vi­ta­tions dwin­dle some­what when you turn ve­gan, purely be­cause many hosts have no idea what to serve you. Make it easy on them and of­fer to bring your own food. It works best if you cre­ate a ve­gan ver­sion of what they’re hav­ing – for in­stance soya mince chilli in­stead of beef. It stops them pan­ick­ing and de­mys­ti­fies ve­g­an­ism.

Check your drinks

Not all al­co­hol is ve­gan be­cause some is fil­tered through fin­ings in­clud­ing isin­glass, a ge­latin made from fish blad­ders. Very few wine or beer bot­tles state whether they’re suit­able for ve­gans, al­though in­creas­ingly brew­eries and wine­mak­ers are pro­vid­ing al­ter­na­tives.

Do your re­search

A few years ago, eat­ing out was a night­mare. Now, in big­ger cities there are ve­gan res­tau­rants and cafes, or at least some­thing ve­gan on the menu at reg­u­lar res­tau­rants and cafes.

And if you want to dou­ble check, call ahead and ask. The chief area that still needs work is plant milk in many in­de­pen­dent cof­fee shops, so take your own in a travel cup. –

HEALTHY OP­TION: Nuts, which are a source of pro­tein, and health­ier pizza and pasta of­fer­ings, right, also make for tasty ve­gan meals

SCRUMP­TIOUS: A good Chi­nese meal can also be en­joyed as a ve­gan

PASTA TIME: A veg­etable lasagne can also do the trick for ve­gans

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