There are millions of Vegan recipes available on the internet. There are Vegan “what I eat in a day” and recipe videos. There are grocery guides, Instagram food photos as well as ebooks and hardcopies which detail how to make all the best Vegan food. When I first went Vegan, for some reason I didn’t have the initiative to search for these resources, so ended up eating a lot of peanut butter sandwiches and plain rice with beans. But now, more than ever, Vegans have made finding great food extremely easy for anyone interested in changing, so we should all make use of what’s available.
There exists a Vegan alternative to every food you can think of. There are great Vegan chocolates, milks, ice creams, cheeses, butters, eggs, meats, sweets and everything else. If they aren’t available in a traditional supermarket, they’ll probably be in a local health store or online. And if pre-made foods aren’t easy to buy, you can make your own homemade versions which will usually be cheaper and healthier.
It's important to eat lots of wholefoods like oats, rice, potatoes, beans, lentils, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Meals made with the simplest ingredients and combined with a good amount of herbs and spices are usually the best.
There are many cereals that are Vegan. Use a dairy free milk and add things like fruit and nuts. Porridge is also a great option, and tastes great with cinnamon and fruit like raisins, dates, apples or bananas.
Toast or bagels are another option. You can top these jam, fruit, nut butters, hummus, guacamole, dairy-free butter, marmite, fried scrambled tofu, or you can even do a full Vegan English fry up with tofu, beans, mushrooms and Vegan sausages and bacon.
A fruit-based breakfast is perfect for starting the day energised and hydrated. You can have a fruit mono-meal, with just one fruit, you can make fruit salads, smoothies or ice cream, and juices are great to accompany something like cereal. But remember to base the meal off of calorically dense fruits like dates, bananas and mangoes. These can make up a meal, whereas it’s not very easy to make a meal out of things like berries.
For lunch, bread-based meals are very popular. Using fillings like salad, hummus and avocado you can make and buy all kinds of sandwiches, burritos, pitas and wraps. You can also make great little pizzas too. You can also have pasta salads, potato salads, cous cous and quinoa. If you make extra food the day before, using the leftovers for lunch is an easy way of saving time.
For dinner, you can make a Vegan quiche, a stir fry with wheat or rice noodles and potato wedges, curries or chillies with pasta, mashed potatoes or noodles. You can have Vegan burgers or fishless fish products with chips, pasta bakes, potato bakes and all kinds of soups. You can make stuffed peppers or mushrooms, spaghetti Bolognese and shepherd’s pie. Vegan sausages, mash and veg are great and vegan pizza is amazing.
For desserts, you can make or buy so many great Vegan cakes, pies, cheesecakes and chocolates. You can have ice creams, sorbets, biscuits, bars and chocolate mousses. Fruit is also a great dessert.
For snacks, fresh and dried fruit work well, as do rice cakes, crackers and nuts. There are loads of Vegan bars like trek bars, nakd bars, cliff bars, rude bars, frank bars and luna bars. Homemade energy balls also make good snacks. There are plenty of Vegan flapjacks and many biscuits, crisps, sweets and chocolate are “accidentally Vegan.”
Over the years, humanity has found a lot of peculiar ways to make use of animal body parts and secretions, so most people end up owning clothing, cosmetics and furniture that contain animals (or were tested on them). It’s not always financially possible to replace everything immediately, but it’s important to shop mindfully and ensure that no more unethical products are bought in the future.
Most everyday clothing items are made from vegan materials like cotton, hemp, bamboo and acrylic. For example, most t-shirts and trousers are made of cotton and a lot of jumpers and hoodies are made of acrylic or polyester and cotton. Although it might seem like an extra effort checking labels initially, you’ll quickly get to know which products and materials are and aren’t Vegan, so eventually it’ll be effortless.
Avoid purchasing clothing and other products made with leather, which can be sourced from various animals including alligators, sheep, pigs and deer, but cows being the most common. Watch out for types of leather that have other names like buckskin, suede, napa or shell cordovan. In spite of the incredible harm the leather industry causes, real leather has become a symbol of quality, so clothing made from otherwise Vegan materials are often coated with a tiny amount of cow skin so that they can be labelled as real leather to increase sales and the market price. Leather is probably the most common non-Vegan material, found in all kinds of clothing, like bags, shoes, belts, jackets and gloves.
Since leather is often more expensive than synthetic alternatives, products are usually labelled as real leather, which is easy to spot and avoid. Cheap products like shoes, bags and wallets are often made from ‘pleather’- which is plastic leather. There are also fake leather products made from PVC and higher quality products made from materials like cork, kelp and microfibre.
There seems to be a myth that all faux leather products are inferior to cow skin. While cheap, poorly produced faux leather does break down quicker due to cheaper substitute ingredients being used in the manufacturing process, high quality leather alternatives are strong and durable and have a long life span.
Most clothing will have a clear label. For shoes, look on the inside of the heel or the underside of the tongue. There should be a stamp somewhere saying something like “leather upper” or “all man-made materials”, although sometimes there are just stickers with symbols. If it’s made of textile, man-made materials or other materials, they won’t contain leather. But don’t be afraid to email companies or ask in shops.
Just like leather, wool is a very common material, which is found in things like coats, jumpers, socks and hats. Avoid buying anything made from angora, mohair, shearling, cashmere, shahtoosh, pashmina or anything labelled wool. You can buy or knit clothing using materials like rayon, cotton, hemp, linen, bamboo as well as synthetics like acrylic, nylon and microfibre.
Just make sure to check the label and avoid clothing containing different types of wool and look out for materials that contain wool like aba, a fabric woven from goat and camel hair, alpaca wool, camelhair, camlet, cashmere, which is made from the wool of the Cashmere goat, challis and damask, gabardine, jersey, rep, velvet and whipcord (which can sometimes be made of wool), doleskin, duffel, felt, flannel, frieze, gogram, haircloth, woolsey, mackinaw, moreen, motley, paisley, russet, serge, stammel, swan’s down, tammy, tweed, vicuna wool, wincey and worsted.
While fur clothing is becoming less fashionable, fur trimmed coats and boots are still popular. Although finding faux fur should be simple, it is often cheaper to produce real fur than faux fur, so some companies lie about their materials, meaning a product labelled as fake fur, could still be made from an animal. The easiest way to avoid fur is to buy clothing without any kind of fur or faux fur, but if you do want to buy something, you can look on the Humane Society’s list of certified faux fur companies. And if you pull the hair back, you will see either skin or fabric backing. If you want to be certain about it, once you’ve purchased it, cut a few pieces of hair off and burn it. If it’s real, it’ll smell like burnt human hair, if it’s fake it’ll smell of plastic. If you find that it is real, you can take it back to the shop where you purchased it.
Down is found in coats, jackets and other insulated products. But fortunately there are plenty of coats made of materials like cotton and polyester with synthetic insulation like PrimaLoft and Thinsulate. So, look on the label or item description for down, or words like duck and goose and then look for alternative products.
Silk is found in clothing like dresses, scarves and underwear. There are plenty of alternatives made from materials like rayon, nylon, milkweed seed pod fibres, tencel, silk-cotton tree filaments, ceiba tree filaments, polyester, and lyocell.
Also avoid other silk-containing materials such as: camlet, georgette, grogram, grosgrain, moiré (watered) silk, pongee, rep, sarcenet, samite, shantung and taffeta as well as materials which can potentially be made of silk like, chiffon, faille, foulard, mousseline de sole, ninon, organza, satin and velvet.
Cosmetics play an important role in most people’s lives, so it can feel daunting to realise that many of them contain animal products and have gone through various animal testing trials while being developed. To avoid being overwhelmed, many Vegans stagger their shift of cosmetics, and use up old products while gradually searching for new ones and buying them when needed. It’s important to understand that mistakes are inevitable, as long as you always strive to learn more and do the best you can to be as ethical as possible.
Cruelty-free is a misleading term, which means a product is not tested on animals, but can still contain cruel animal-derived ingredients. Other than Vegan logos, there are only about three logos which can be trusted regarding animal testing.
1. Leaping Bunny Compassionate Shopping Guide
2. PETA’s Cruelty-Free Company Search
3. Choose Cruelty Free List
However, not all certified companies actually display these logos because they have to pay to do this, so check the databases above if you’re unsure. Phrases like “This products has not been tested on animals we fund research into alternatives” often still mean that ingredients were tested, just not the final product, so they are not “cruelty free”.