Ready to go vegan? Whether you're in it for the animals, the health benefits, or the environmental impact, you've got our support. And between soy-rizo, vegan leather, and a plethora of plant-based blogs to follow, it's never been easier to make the transition.
But without a plan, sticking it out can be a challenge. So we sat down with plant-based blogger, author, and general food muse Ella Mills of Deliciously Ella for some insight into how to live your best (and long-lasting) plant-based life.
1. Eat foods you enjoy.
For anything to be sustainable it has to be enjoyable, so make sure you enjoy everything you’re eating and aren’t feeling deprived in any way. Plant-based/vegan food can be delicious—it’s so much more than simple salads! So make sure you get creative and try new ideas to keep you inspired.
2. Transition in a way that works for you.
There’s no one size fits all when it comes to anything in life, including the way we eat. So make sure you make it work for you, and if that means doing a gradual transition or simply adding many more vegan foods into your diet, then that’s great.
3. Set yourself up for quick success.
Stock your cupboards with great staples so that you always have components of meals at home... it makes cooking when you’re short on time so much easier. I always have:
- Spices (turmeric, cumin, cayenne pepper, paprika, chili flakes, and mustard seeds are my go-to’s)
- Beans, lentils, and chickpeas
- Oats, quinoa, spelt pasta, rye bread, and brown rice
- Canned coconut milk
- Canned tomatoes
- Olive oil, tamari, and sesame oil
- Maple syrup, coconut sugar, date syrup, dried apricots, and raisins
- Almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts
- Nut butter and nut milk (or rice/oat milk)
4. Eat fresh.
Find great local shops, farmer's markets, and local ingredients. Using great quality, seasonal produce often makes your meal taste so much better, especially if it’s based around a vegetable, which most vegan meals tend to be.
5. Eat a rainbow.
Some of the best things about vegan food are how colorful it is and how easy it makes getting your five portions of fruit and veggies each day. Try new ways of adding in produce and don’t be nervous about trying more unusual fruits and veggies. Jerusalem artichoke soup, for example, is so creamy and delicious; roasted celeriac fries are amazing and a nice change to regular or sweet potatoes; or steam and purée squash with soaked cashews for a smooth ‘cheesy’ sauce with pasta or a veggie bake. I recently tried a pulled jackfruit burger, which was amazing! There are so many interesting ideas and options out there; you may just have to work a little harder to find them.
6. Study up.
Do lots of research to find new ideas and ensure you don’t get stuck in a cooking rut: Inspiration is key, especially at the beginning. There are loads of amazing blogs, websites, social media accounts, and cookbooks out there to help you get motivated.
7. Don't forget about your vitamins.
Be abundant with your cooking and make sure you get all the vitamins and minerals you need. You do need to be mindful of getting enough protein and iron with a vegan diet, and lots of people find a B12 supplement helpful, so do have a look into this and check with your doctor to see what you might need to supplement.
8. Eat simply.
Find simple new go-to’s that work for your schedule. Lots of people think changing to a plant-based/vegan/healthy diet has to be complicated and time-consuming, but it really doesn’t. And it doesn’t have to cost more either. Try simple things like overnight oats for breakfast (a simple combo is mixing oats, almond milk, peanut butter, and a splash of maple in a mason jar in the evening and storing in the fridge;) or sautéeing tomatoes for three minutes until they’re blistered and tender then serving on sourdough with a generous sprinkling of sea salt and olive oil.
9. Cook for anyone and everyone.
Be flexible and non-judgmental with those around you. We all make different dietary decisions and should respect everyone for their own choices. I’ve found the best way to get people excited about vegan food and change any negative pre-conceptions they have is to cook for them rather than preaching at them. Always focus on the positives, not the negatives.
I always cook them hearty, familiar meals: I love sautéeing garlic and onion with celery, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, turmeric, cayenne pepper, and dried coriander, then cooking potatoes and cauliflower in the spice mix with coconut milk, before stirring in chickpeas and wilted spinach at the end. I serve it on miso and sesame infused brown rice and do a maple and cinnamon apple crumble for dessert. Everyone licks their plates clean, they leave satisfied, and way more open-minded to vegan cooking, which always makes me happy.
10. You don't have to convert anyone.
In the same vein, allow your friends and family to adapt to the recipes so that you can all share and celebrate vegan food, without forcing them to become fully vegan instantly. If adding chicken, fish, cheese, or eggs makes your friends and family more likely to try something new and more receptive to plant-based cooking, as well as allowing them to enjoy the meal more, then that’s a great thing. It also means their plate will look more familiar, which as I mentioned above, I find is the best approach.
Ella Mills is the founder of Deliciously Ella, best-selling author, and owner of Deliciously Ella Deli's in London as well as a line of retail products. Her newest cookbook, Natural Feasts: 100+ Healthy, Plant-Based Recipes to Share and Enjoy with Friends and Family (Deliciously Ella), just launched in the U.S. in October! Ella’s personal journey of how eating well healed a debilitating illness inspired her to begin sharing her healthy and delicious recipes with others.
The original recipes in Natural Feasts offer a fresh spin on plant-based meals and make it easy to incorporate them into your daily routine. Ella’s delicious meals and approachable personality have garnered her an engaged social media following with more than 1.2 million Instagram followers.