Got cold feet over Veganuary? Stuck for ideas? Wondering where you’re going wrong (and how to go right)? Then our team of vegan veterans are here for you. Read this vegan food diary for meal ideas, recipes, shopping lists, top tips, easy alternatives and more.
In this vegan food diary, we’ll be posting daily updates on everything from the food we eat to the lifestyle choices we make. Meals will be linked to recipes where possible, and products will be linked to supermarkets. Anything in bold is included in a glossary at the bottom of the article, to help you understand the ingredients and learn about alternatives. Check back for updates, and let us know if you have any requests (or have anything to add yourselves)!
Disclaimer: I’m not necessarily a beacon of health (nor am I a photographer), but I get all my fruits and veggies in and plenty of protein. Everyone eats differently, but if you’re looking to go vegan on a budget rather than spending lots on fake ‘meats’ then we’re on the same page. I take Vegums (of course) and an iron supplement as a precaution only, but you should always keep your vitamin levels topped up after you cut out meat and dairy.
Vegan Food Diary: Day 1:
Breakfast: … was skipped because I was too hungover, so became…
Brunch: This was created by a lovely local eatery (thanks @TheCharlesGeorge), but could easily be made in the comfort of your own home. A couple of Linda McCartney sausages (other brands are available), plus hash browns (supermarket brands are usually vegan, but check the label), beans, toast, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms, smashed avocado, spinach and the slightly rogue but delicious addition of asparagus. Chuck on whatever floats your boat. Check out the Holland & Barrett fridges for some awesome fake bacon if you fancy it, and scrambled tofu (recipe here) makes a great egg replacement too.
Dinner: Roasted veg (peppers, tomatoes, red onion) and salad with a Spanish ‘omelette’ made using chickpea flour and soya milk. There’s a replacement for everything, honest! Recipe here.
Snacks: grapes, plus a load of Free-From mince pies in an effort to eat them all before they go out of date
Breakfast: Crumpets with Flora plant-based Buttery and Marmite (a good source of B12!)
Snacks: Banana, apple, satsuma, granola bar
Lunch: Salad with falafel, beetroot, cherry tomatoes, capers, hummus and hot sauce.
Dinner: Leftover roasted vegetables chopped up and mixed into couscous, with added kale and tomatoes. Cooking with some herby stock, a blob of chilli puree, a splash of balsamic vinegar and a drizzle of good olive oil gave strong Mediterranean vibes.
Breakfast: I’ll be honest here, every weekday breakfast I eat is the same. I’ll pepper in some more exotic ideas for you though! Why not try these overnight oats? Super easy, and can be prepped in bulk for the rest of the week.
Lunch: Leftover couscous with added salad and falafel, beetroot, cherry tomatoes and pickled jalapenos. Couscous is great for on-the-go in the same way that overnight oats are – just pour on the boiling water and fluff up once it’s cooked. Jars of free-from pesto are great to keep in the fridge – just mix a spoonful in for an easy lunch.
Dinner: We’re off out! Eating out as a vegan isn’t something we need to dread anymore, with almost everywhere at least having an option, and lots having a full menu. Tonight is a Palestinian Kitchen – check out the menu here, and make your own here.
The day of the weekly food shop – I’ll report back with the cost once I’ve bought it all! Here’s my list:
- Cherry tomatoes
- Mixed peppers
- Baking potatoes
- Whole wheat pasta
- Dried coriander (I’m not a complete herb fiend; this will last longer than a week)
- Dried basil
- Apple cider vinegar
- Brown rice
- Tinned tomatoes
- Canned chickpeas/butter beans/kidney beans
- Orange juice
- Soya milk
- Washing powder
- Washing-up liquid (Aldi’s own brand of beauty and cleaning prody is cruelty-free and vegan)
£20.06, minus the washing stuff but plus some new vegan ‘Magnums’!
Holland & Barrett:
- Dried soya mince
- Dried soya chunks
- Nutritional yeast – with added B12 – bought for £2.99 from the Special Buys section of Aldi
Remember to take your Bags for Life or totes, and buy loose produce wherever you can!
Breakfast: blueberry wheats (labelled vegan, from Aldi) and soya milk. You have to be careful with cereal – sometimes they sneak in vitamin D2, which is usually not vegan. It can be synthetic, but it’s often taken from lanolin – an oily secretion that keeps sheep’s wool in good nick.
Dinner: Indian takeaway. Oops…
Breakfast: Our old friend tofu scramble on toast!
Lunch: Leftover curries – the dream.
Dinner: Sunday is batch cooking day. We made a massive chilli with soya mince, carrots, peppers, celery and kidney beans, and had the first portion with olive oil baked potatoes. A side of spinach and a blob of Oatly ‘creme fraiche’ and we’re laughing.
We made enough to feed an army so it works out at literal pennies per portion. We’ll eat it throughout the week with any kind of carb we fancy!
Breakfast: porridge made with almond milk and topped with Vego chocolate spread
Lunch: Greggs vegan steak bake plus a slice of homemade banana and chocolate cake!
Snacks: the usual fruit, plus veggie sticks with hot sauce
Dinner: leftover chilli with rice and spinach
Vegan Food Diary: GLOSSARY:
- Dairy replacements
- Soya – the cheapest (head to the drinks aisle, not the fridge as it’s heat-treated). N.B: sweetened is nice on cereal but you’ll need unsweetened for cooking
- Oat – good for coffee and cooking, as it comes as cream too
- Almond – good for coffee – thick and creamy
- Cashew – delicious but expensive!
- Coconut – popular, but only if you like the taste of coconut
- Hemp – harder to find, but very sustainable
- As above – Alpro branded is the most common in supermarkets
- Coconut is often thicker and creamier – better if you’re after a replacement for natural/Greek yoghurt
- Can be made with soya or coconut – usually smoother and harder – better for melting
- Most supermarkets offer own-brand versions of this, ranging from smoked to blue to fruited
- Violife is a popular mild cheddar option (and their cream cheese is good too), or Koko Dairy-Free is a bit more ‘mature’
- Can be made from nuts, especially cashews – usually creamier, but can be grainy. You’re more likely to find these at specialist stores or vegan markets
- Hellman’s (my personal fave – nice and thick, good flavour)
- Follow Your Heart – very popular, available in other flavours including garlic
- Own brands – find them in the free-from aisle, often in a squeezy bottle. Can be more vinegary, like salad cream.
- Ice cream
- Almost all the milks are available as ice creams! Ben & Jerry’s is delicious but extremely expensive. I recommend Wall’s Swedish Glace – great value and you won’t notice the difference!
- Egg replacements:
- Tofu – good for cooking – needs to be flavoured and seasoned yourself. Black salt (kala namak) will give that sulphuric ‘eggy’ flavour
- Orgran – good for cooking and baking – ready to go
- Follow Your Heart – good for cooking and baking – ready to go
- Ground flaxseed (AKA linseed) or apple cider vinegar are often ingredients used in baking, and are cheaper than branded replacements
- Meat replacements:
- Tofu – soya bean curd – available silken (e.g. in miso soup), puffed (e.g. in noodle soup), or most commonly: firm. Firm is what you’re most likely to be cooking with, and can be baked or fried. Marinade it first for as long as possible to give it flavour, and coat with cornflour for a crispy coating.
- Seitan – vital wheat gluten – chewier, seasoned to taste. More ‘meaty’ than tofu
- Tempeh – fermented soya beans – harder, often used in thin slices as bacon
- Meat imitations:
- Sausages – made from soya, vegetables or mushrooms. Personally, I like Sainsbury’s caramelised onion shroomdogs. The texture is bang on! Linda McCartney sausages are more accessible and cheaper though.
- Ham/bacon – Quorn offer packaged mycoprotein (kind of like mushroom protein) ‘ham’ that can be fried to double as decent facon. Good in sandwiches.
- Beef – H&B dried soya mince, or own-brand frozen soya mince – soak the soya mince in stock for more flavour before cooking as normal. Beef strips and roasts are available from H&B also.
- Chicken – Quorn offer a vegan version of their chunks, but I think the texture is off. Own brands are much better value and tastier. Marks and Spencer has the best texture, but is pricier. I like the H&B dried chunks as a cupboard staple – soak these in stock for more flavour before cooking as normal
- Seafood – Quorn for ‘fish’ fingers and Fry’s for ‘prawns’ and ‘fish’ fillets
- Other ingredients that I’d never heard of before I went vegan:
- Nutritional yeast – adds a cheesy tang, sprinkle on top of pastas and chillis, or mix into creamy sauces
- Black salt – adds a sulphuric eggy flavour
- Henderson’s relish – a vegan version of Worcestershire sauce – great to add umami flavour to tomato-based dishes
- Apple cider vinegar – reacts to make baking mixes rise – often used in pancakes
This is the end of our vegan food diary. We hope that you enjoyed the reading. Don’t forget to comment below your thoughts about this article and our delicious meal ideas!