Going vegan is easier than you think – it just requires making a few conscious decisions about the way you eat and live. If you’re going vegan for Veganuary, you might be wondering what kinds of food you’re able to eat. I’m going to start you off with five delicious and highly nutritious plant-based foods which you can eat with almost any meal. You can even make and grow some of these at home, too!
What is Veganuary?
Veganuary is an event that people can take part in around the world, which involves going vegan for January. The event aims to show how accessible veganism is – no, it’s not just for the rich and famous Hollywood elite!
Veganism, from a Plant Geek’s perspective, can be a really great way to enjoy the produce you have grown in your back garden. Not only is everything you grow vegan, but it is also has little impact on the environment, it doesn’t contain nasty chemicals, and it gives you great satisfaction to cook and eat something you’ve made entirely from scratch.
5 vegan foods for Veganuary
Sweet potatoes aren’t just for making fries. This an excellent vegan veg, which can be made into a baked potato, crisps, mash, or much more. Sweet potatoes contain potassium, fibre, and exceptional amounts of vitamin A.
If you’ve got a sweet tooth and you’re wondering what kind of vegan puds are available to you, try making sweet potato brownies. The sweet potato brings a mouth wateringly soft texture to the brownie, while other ingredients such as almond butter, maple syrup and coconut sugar add sweetness.
Sweet potatoes thrive in warmer climates, but can be grown in the UK. Pick a hardier variety and plant in warm conditions when there is no chance of frost.
These days, you don’t have to visit a specialist shop to find plant-based milk. In fact, you can find a handful of different varieties at most well known supermarket chains (though if you can buy independent, please do!).
Plant milks include almond, coconut, rice, milk, soy and oat. Almond is a particularly popular variety, and it’s one which you can make yourself. What you’ll need to do is soak almonds in water overnight, rinse, peel, then pop them in a blender with more water. Pour the mixture over a muslin cloth into a jug, and you have almond milk!
If you love spreadable food, nut butter is the stuff for you. And it’s not just peanut butter taking centre stage here; almond, cashew and hazelnut are also common varieties too.
Making almond butter at home is similar to making almond milk. However, instead of soaking the almonds, you toast them. Then, pop the nuts into a food processor and blitz until they turn into butter (be patient, it will happen). Add salt accordingly, plus a sweetener such as maple syrup or agave, if you really wish.
Great for thickening meals like stews, soups and curries, lentils are a vegan staple. They low in fat and salt, and contain plenty of protein, iron and dietary fibre, which is ideal for your digestive system (if you’re interested in more ways to benefit your digestive system, you could also try digestive enzymes formulated for vegans).
Lentils can be difficult to grow at home, with a low yield. However, you can grow them from lentils found at the supermarket if you’re really determined. Just make sure to buy whole lentils – not split.
Rice is another greatfood for bulking out your plate. With more protein than potato, it’s great for a vegan diet. Brown and wild rices are nutritious as well as tasty – use these in meals such as stiry fry or paella, or again in a stew or curry.
Like lentils, rice can be grown at home, but unless you’re the proud owner of a paddy field with just the right weather conditions, don’t expect much of a harvest. Luckily, rice is quite cheap in most shops.
Are you going vegan for Veganuary? Let me know in the comments section below!
Michael has been involved with gardening and plants since he was just five years old. He is a self-professed Plant Geek, and was listed in the Sunday Times top 20 most influential people in the gardening world, thanks to his plant hunter role at Thompson & Morgan.
Michael was responsible for new plant introductions such as the Egg and Chips plant and the FuchsiaBerry and keeps busy travelling the world in search of new plants as well as lecturing worldwide, including stints in Japan. He is very active on social media – so why not give him a follow at @mr_plantgeek or Facebook. You can also listen to The Plant Based Podcast with Michael and co-host Ellen-Mary on iTunes, Spotify and Google.