This is part 2 of the series “A beginner’s Guide to veganism”. You can find Part One here
Your first shopping trip as a vegan should be an exciting affair; and it will be if you keep a few points in mind. It would be lovely if I could honestly say that as a vegan I support my local health food shops and exclusively vegan businesses and boycott all supermarkets but this just isn’t the case, and can’t be for the vast majority of vegans. For most of us the supermarket is our friend and in the UK at least is becoming increasingly vegan friendly.
I do have mixed feeling about this and will return to this again later in the series. For now though saddle up, pack your canvas bag, we are off.
Step One: Plan what you want to buy. If you go to the shops blind and buy your normal goods but without the usual animal products you will come back with little you can make a meal out of. Look through some recipe books and make a shopping list. Make sure you have all you need for some substantial plant based meals.
Step Two: Make time. You are going to be amazed how long your first shop takes if you plan on buying anything processed. Of course you are going to mainly be eating wonderful home cooked meals but a few snacks are always nice to have on standby. They will try and sneak milk into these snacks. Milk powder gets everywhere. Some supermarkets here are starting to label products as suitable for vegans but most don’t. Luckily they list milk and eggs as an allergen so it is fairly easy to spot these. Then it is just a matter for skimming for honey and gelatin. And shellac. And a bunch of other stuff. You’ll get use to it but for now plan in an extra 15 min or so.
Step Three: Buy a few new ingredients. I assumed that when I became a vegan it would all be about taking things out of my diet. I was very wrong, the last couple of years has really been about adding many new foods to what I eat. Toasted buckwheat, wheat berries, nutritional yeast, tempeh… As I mentioned in step one you want to go in with a list. Don’t come out with either nothing at all or a basket of produce you have never heard of before. Instead go for lots of foods you know and love but add a couple of things you haven’t tried. Challenge yourself to find a way of eating it before the week is out.
Step Four: Focus on taste. In the weeks that follow you will want to understand more about nutrition and ensure you are eating well balanced meals. However I think it is highly unlikely that you are going to develop a dangerous deficiency all that quickly. Vegans are always asked about where we get our protein, iron, calcium etc and these are all good questions but they are honestly nothing to worry about. Cook delicious meals with fresh vegetables and whole grains and you will feel great.
Step Five: save up your pennies and head to the health store. OK, so I said you’d be using the supermarket and you probably will but it is fun to play in the health food store once in a while and fill up on goodies.
I love food shopping as a vegan. I like emptying my trolley at the tills and seeing that it is full of fresh vegetables, pulses and grains. I like finding smoked sun blushed tomatoes or black garlic and knowing I am going to be able to make something great out of it. I love finding new ingredients and looking for a recipe to put it in.
I love knowing my shopping habits are making a difference. I hope you love it too.
Here is something to get you started
For the cornbread
1 cup soy milk
1tsp white wine vinegar
1 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup self raising flour
1tsp baking powder
1tsp chilli flakes
Put the soy milk, oil and vinegar in a bowl and set aside. Mix the dry ingredients together and then beat in the milk. Spoon into a greased 9 inch cake tin and bake for 25 minutes at 180C until it starts coming away from the edge of the tin. Let it cool for 5 minutes before turning out.
For the chilli
1 onion – sliced
1 red pepper – sliced
5 mushrooms – sliced
1 hot chilli
1 tsp cumin
1tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 can kidney beans in chilli sauce
1/2 cup of cooked quinoa
1/2 cup cooked green lentils
1/2 cup of cooked bulgur wheat
5 chopped tomatoes
Kettle of boiling water
Fry the sliced onions, peppers and mushrooms for 5 minutes before adding the spice and then the other ingredients. Simmer for around 10 minutes and add a little hot water or tomato if it looks like it is drying out.
For the guacamole
1 clove of garlic crushed
Juice of half a lime
Mash it all up together – well obviously
Serve it with rice after a long walk in the cold.