5 Foods to Kickstart Your Plant-Based Transition

This week, I want to talk about how you can begin cutting animal products out of your diet. We are going to take a look at the first foods that are easiest to cut out, and what alternatives they can be replaced with.

For some, making the leap to veganism can feel like a huge ass stretch. I understand this completely – making this decision is changing the fundamental nature of how we fuel ourselves, every meal, every day. By all means, it is getting easier every single month, as new and better plant-based alternatives become available, but it is still a big change, and change, as we know, rarely comes easy! For some, going cold tofurkey is the way to do it, but for those of you who are more compelled to slowly incorporate changes, I have pulled together a list of how you can make some small and easy swaps that will make a BIG difference – to your health, to the animals, and to our planet. 

Milk is hands down the easiest product to swap out. Over the last few years, the plant-based milk industry has EXPLODED and we have been inundated with choices – soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, oat milk, to name just a few! These milks are in the aisles of all supermarkets, and I would hazard a guess that at least 95% of cafes stock them too. In fact, the global non-dairy milk industry is projected to reach revenues of over $38 billion by 2024. The best thing is that these milks taste SO good, and don’t leave your tummy reeling afterwards. There is honestly no reason to be using cow’s milk in your pancakes, on your cereal, or in your morning coffee. If you want to read more about why the dairy industry is so harmful, please check out my article here

Butter and margarine take an easy second place on my list. If you don’t have a tub of Nuttelex in your fridge, you should go on and hop over to the shops to get some. This is just one of the plant-based spread alternatives, but it’s my favourite that I’ve tried so far. I honestly think if you blindfolded me and performed a taste testing, I would not be able to tell the difference. My parents have even made the decision to swap butter out completely, and now purely use Nuttelex! In Western society, we use butter on the daily – think toast, sandwiches, popcorn, baked goods, potatoes etc. By making this swap you are reducing your intake of saturated fats AND decreasing the demand on our gorgeous animals.  Like I always say – VOTE WITH YOUR DOLLARS.

For those of you with a sweet tooth (umm, me), do not think for a second that you will not be completely satiated and fulfilled with sickeningly rich, sugar-sweet desserts when you decide to become vegan. This, for me at least, starts with chocolate. Did you know that, as a general rule, most chocolate > 70% cocoa is vegan? Yes, those dark Lindt blocks you cheekily devour after dinner are filled with plant-based goodness (and a little sugar and maybe some fats). If dark chocolate is not your vibe, there are an abundance of vegan chocolates now on the market – milk choc, white choc, chocolate freckles, whatever tickles your fancy. Woolworths and Coles have a bunch of options, as do the more specialised chocolate shops like Haigh’s and Koko Black. 

Whilst we are on the topic of sweet, creamy goodness, let’s talk about icecream. When I first became vegan, I was obsessed with banana nice-cream. Basically, what this involves is blending frozen bananas with a dash of mylk and turning it into a delicious icecream paste. Topped with berries, granola and cacao nibs, this is always an amazing staple dish. But when I’m craving a more traditional type of icecream, I reach for something a little creamier. On these occasions, I feel so lucky to live in a place where vegan icecreams are now stocked in all the major supermarkets. Some of my favourites to grab for dessert are Over the Moo (the caramel flavour is to die for), and of course, the new vegan Magnums!

Having people over for a barbeque, or asked to bring a platter to a friend’s place for dinner? Dips are such a perfect way to show off how easy the vegan lifestyle can be. They’re one of those foods that are not only ‘accidentally vegan’, but they’re delicious, healthy and perfect for sharing. Instead of opting for the french onion or tzatziki, reach for the hummus, guacamole or baba ganoush – just be careful to check the ingredients; some brands still sneak some nasties into the tub!

All these options are incredibly easy to incorporate into your daily lives. While making these swaps may not seem like much to you, every day that you make the choice to choose health and love over traditional animal products, you are lessening your environmental footprint and saving the lives of animals bred purely for human greed and demand. I say with complete sincerity that every single step counts. If we can all take baby steps towards creating a kinder and more sustainable future, imagine the impact we would make.

Dara HayesComment