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Vegan - too hard?

Have you put switching to a plant based diet in the too hard basket?

I have been eating vegetarian food for a long time now, and even for me the switch to vegan was a daunting task... here are some suggestions, from experience and a little brainstorming that might help you along your journey!
First Steps... the experimental phase
1. Don't try to do it all at once - unless you thrive on this kind of whole-life overhaul of course - in which case you probably don't need much help or advice to make the jump!
2. What are you most afraid of 'giving up'? Experiment with alternatives with this FIRST to make the rest seem easy!
I have always loved my coffee, and I'm a flat white drinker. For me the hardest thing (in my mind) was going to be the switching to either black coffee or soy milk coffee. The first option felt like 'giving up' of my daily treat and the second option seemed like sacrilege! Well, New Year was coming so I made it my resolution. I ordered coffee with soy milk for about 10 days running. The first week was a struggle and after that I was a convert. Not all soy milk is created equal but most cafes here (Melbourne, Australia) use Bonsoy which is delish. In the house I use Vitasoy which is also excellent.
3. Research research research. Start a Pinterest board for inspiration, buy a beautiful vegan cook book (my first was Isa Does It by Isa Chandra Moskowitz - yes, Isa herself laughs at her name!! - which was the perfect choice for a vegan convert.) Isa keeps health in mind, but this book ain't all about raw salads. This is about quick, delicious, hearty, mouth-watering food using mostly everyday ingredients. 
4. Weird Ingredients. You will no doubt come across some dubious sounding ingredients that you are simply not used to buying. You won't end up loving them all and you might even get by without using anything too unfamiliar depending on the kind of food you prefer. For me it was nutritional yeast that was that 'huh!?' ingredient. Now I use it all the time in my vegan cheeses, sprinkled on pasta, in baking etc, etc. If you don't want to invest in something quite expensive that you only need a tiny amount of in a certain recipe, simply gather a few more recipes that also use this ingredient. It is all part of the experimental phase!
Keep Going - forming habits
Now it's time to really get stuck in. You have most of the ingredients for getting started, you have tried out a few recipes and you have changed that one thing that scared you most (Yay for soy milk flat whites!)
If you really are a meat and three vege type person (do you still exist!?) then your local supermarket should have ready to cook vegan alternatives in the fridge and or freezer. Vegan mince, meatballs, sausages, 'chicken strips', burgers etc etc all just sitting there!
Write out a list of all your usual pre-vegan favourite meals. Whatever they are there are probably tasty vegan alternatives. Sausages and mash? Macaroni Cheese? Burger and fries? Lamb Curry? Whatever it is it can be veganised... within reason! Get out your vegan cookbook and jump online to find veganised versions of your favourites.
Back to the research and keep adding to your repertoire. You can't just stick to vegan meats... I suspect they are not the best things to be eating on a daily basis... but they are great at BBQ's, as quick and easy meals and as a treat. Get stuck in to stir-fries, curries, pasta dishes, baked veges, home made vege bakes, salads, soups etc.
Great vegan meal ideas...
  • Muesli, fruit and non diary milk
  • Avocado on toast with salt pepper and olive oil
  • Usual favourite cereal with non-diary milk
  • Spinach, tomatoes and mushrooms on toast
  • Porridge made with water topped with maple syrup and berries
  • Peanut-butter and banana on toast (go with it!)
  • Homemade giant banana muffins
  • Avocado and salad sandwich
  • Couscous salad with olives tomatoes and cucumber
  • Vegetable sushi
  • Vege-burger and fries
  • Pasta Salad
  • Wrap with falafel, hummus and salad
  • Vegetable and tofu rice-paper rolls
  • Stir fry with tofu, cashew nuts and veges
  • Curry of roasted eggplant/aubergine and cauliflower in Tikka Masala sauce served on brown rice.
  • Oven roasted veges. 
  • Mushroom Risotto
  • Vegetable Targine
  • Mexican wraps with guacamole, salsa, refried beans and salad.
  • Lentil burgers in buns with salad and oven roasted chips
There you go - some tips and pointers to get yourself started. Effort? A little, but anything new is an effort until it becomes a habit.
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