Before we get started on our tips and guides to starting this journey, let's look at what veganism is.
More often than not, veganism is defined by what one can't eat -rarely do people focus on the variety of foods we can eat on a vegan lifestyle.
Being a vegan means that you don't consume animals and their by-products. This means we don't eat beef, mutton, chicken, fish, milk, eggs, cheese, and animal-derived ingredients found in food such as gelatin (from animal bones) and whey (from milk).
The great thing about being vegan now is that nearly all animal-derived foods have plant-based versions and/or substitutes. If you loved meaty burgers, sausages, and bacon you can easily switch them up for plant-based versions. Instead of having your pizza with dairy cheese, you can have it with plant-based cheese. This means that vegans can now enjoy food that not only looks like non-vegan food but also taste incredible!
Below are our top 8 tips to get you started and rooted in veganism.
1. Plan Ahead
Please don't get started on your vegan adventure without a solid plan of what you will eat. Especially for the first few days. Trust us, having no plan is a recipe for falling off the wagon. Before you begin, think of what you'd like to eat for all meals (including snacks) and prepare for that. Preparation may look like getting plant-based milks for your tea or coffee in the morning etc. Some people find it easier and more effective to have a weekly meal-plan, that way, they can plan ahead for what to stock up on during their grocery run and possibly meal prep.
Here are some meal ideas to get you started:
Oats (made with plant milks), topped with fruits, nuts & seeds.
Toast with vegan margarine, avocado, sliced tomatoes, peanut butter, etc.
Chapati - this Kenyan flat bread is absolutely delicious when hot with some piping tea.
Mahamri (authentic coast ones) - the real coast hamris are actually vegan (they use coconut milk & no eggs)
Breakfast cereal with plant based milk or yogurt.
Full Breakfast: plant based sausages, tofu scramble (or a gram flour pancake - used as a sub for omelletes) lyonnaise potatoes, charred tomatoes, baked beans, mushrooms etc.
Tea, Coffee, Cocoa or fruit juices.
Bhajia, Viazi Karai, Fries
Sandwiches (soy meat balls)
Pasta salad or a hot pasta dish
Rice and legume of choice (beans, green grams, chickpeas etc)
Flat bread such as chapati, roti or naan with your favorite curry (veganize your own recipes)
Dinner rolls & soup
Seitan, cauliflower etc. 'steaks'
Nuts & Seeds
Potato (and other veggie) crisps
Cakes & Cookies
2. Ease Yourself In
There's no need to start eating exclusively salads if that's not your thing. If you like ice cream, just have the plant-based version. So don't feel pressured to reinvent your eating habits. Keep an open mind and remember that you can have everything you had before in a plant-based version so switch like for like.
3. Stock Up On Everyday Vegan Foods
So many everyday groceries are actually vegan and some are even accidentally vegan. Items like pasta, rice, most bread, peanut butter, jams, chickpeas, baked beans, coconut milk, curry pastes, legumes, oats, most crisps, biscuits, herbs, spices, coffee, tea, and many more. There's a good chance nearly half your pantry is usually vegan. Check out our shopping guide for more tips on what & where to shop
4. Veganize Your Favorites & Try New Recipes
There are so many vegan versions of non-vegan food. A lot of which is quite affordable and accessible here in Africa. If you loved your mum's beef samosa recipe you can veganize it using soya or tofu. If you love snacking on rolexes you can easily swap the omelet with a spicy gram flour pancake. While you're on this journey try as many recipes as you can. There's a serious gold mine on the internet so you can find a variety and find your tastes and style.
5. Be Persistent
When you start trying vegan products, you definitely won't love them all. So if your first soy milk encounter was bad, try another brand, or even another type of plant milk like almond, oat, and many others. This is the same for plant-based cheeses and meats. Try a bunch of them and different recipes and you'll definitely find your favorites.
6. Think About Packed Lunches & Keep Snacks at Hand
If you live in an area with little to no vegan restaurants, you may like to think about carrying packed lunches to work. This is also great because you'll be playing a part in taking care of the environment by reducing packaging used for take-out. It's fairly easy to find vegan snacks in supermarkets and shops such as nuts, crisps, chevda, dried fruit, granola, and more. Keep in mind that on a vegan diet you might have to eat more than you previously used to. This is because non-vegan food is more calorie-dense than vegan food.
7. Find Your Tribe
People have different reasons for going vegan and they're so many different kinds of vegans! Find your tribe and people o the same path as you which can also offer support. Find vegan online groups such as our different FaceBook groups and discover diverse vegans from vegan bodybuilders, vegan activists, and vegan foodies! Wherever your interest or passions lie, you can definitely find like-minded individuals.
8. Be Kind To Yourself
Everyone makes mistakes, so be gentle with yourself if you do. Whether you eat something non-vegan accidentally or you caved and gave into temptation, that doesn't that mean you're not vegan, it just means you're human. Remember why you decided to go vegan, regroup and move forward!