Veganism is a growing lifestyle choice around the world and there is no better time to celebrate its progress and raise more awareness than World Vegan Month.
World Vegan Month was born out of the founding of the Vegan Society in 1994, and every year since, November the 1st has marked World Vegan Day and has now grown into world Vegan Month. This month aims to highlight how accessible and beneficial the vegan lifestyle can be, and hopes to encourage the curious minds of many future vegans. So what better way to add to this celebration than to write from one vegan to a curious mind and hope to clear up some of the myths of veganism.
The top myths of veganism have to be:
- Its too expensive.
- Its too hard.
- It’s anti-social.
- It’s not yummy.
Now…time to prove all of the above wrong.
As a student, living on a budget is part of the package – yet there is a big assumption that to be a vegan as a student, it would require you to spend your whole student loan in Waitrose and Whole Foods. So here are my tips to being vegan on a budget:
- Frozen fruit and veg, not only are they always cheaper than fresh fruit and veg but use by dates aren’t a worry.
- Canned food is your friend. Cans are a great way to stock up your cupboards due to their long sell by dates and cheap price labels. My favourite is tinned beans, baked, kidney, chilli, broad.
- Don’t be a snob. Buying own brand is always a good idea whether its your soya milk or your ketchup, own brand will always save you a pretty penny. Sainsbury’s own brand even make sure all their products are cruelty free which is great to save money whilst buying your toothpaste or your nail varnish remover.
- Student friendly super markets are always vegan friendly super markets. It is still possible to shop in cheaper supermarket alternatives. For example, Lidl even has a page dedicated to vegan recipes on their website.
- Shop in the evening. You will find tonnes of reductions!
The assumption that its too hard to be a vegan can not be more untrue especially now with the growing vegan alternatives available. My top tips for making the transition to veganism are:
- The Free From aisle. Most super markets now have a Free From aisle filled with all the vegan alternatives making the shopping experience a lot easier.
- PETA’s website has multiple little tricks for turning vegan but the thing I feel inlove with when I first turned vegan was their ’44 Accidentally Vegan Snacks’. Lots of food’s you’ve already been eating are accidentally. Oreos, Bourbon biscuits, Skittles, Doritos chilli heatwave and Lightly salted, Lotus Biscuit spreads, Jus-Rol Pain au chocolat are just a few.
- Social Media is your best friend. Now I know many students find themselves passing time scrolling through all possible social medias instead of starting the long avoided essays. Now these are great platforms for find quick easy vegan recipes, my two favourites are Youtube and Facebooks Bosh page. These are also great ways to save money as there is no need to buy recipe books.
- Get creative. This is perhaps the most important tip. Veganism is only hard if your scared to try something new. Learn to love cooking and you can cook some amazing meals.
- But…Student friendly meals such as jacket potato, pasta, oven chips are all still possible. Being vegan doesn’t mean your whole food shop has to change. The only thing that will change is your awareness.
Veganisms growth across the world has battled against the assumption that it is an anti-social lifestyle. Although once it may have been hard to eat out and enjoy social life as a vegan this is no longer true.
- More and more restaurants are vegan friendly with many even having menus dedicated to vegans. My favourites are zizzis (which also always have discount codes you can sign up to), wagamama and pizza express (also have great discounts with NUS cards).
- Always ask. If restaurants don’t have any vegan dishes on their menu, then always try and ask in advance if restaurants can provide vegan dishes for you. I always do this and have never been turned away. Many of the best dishes I’ve had have been at the request of dishes, many even creating whole menus for me. This also spreads the vegan message and shows restaurants that it is profitable and needs to be accessible.
- Happy Cow app. The Happy Cow app is a great platform that can be used to find any vegan restaurants near you. Download it now, it’s only £3.99 and will be a life saver!
- Drinking is often a huge part of student life. Now nearly all spirits are vegan, its is often only the cream-based liquors that aren’t, but then again even baileys have a vegan alternative now. Beers and Ciders, however aren’t always vegan friendly, but that’s easily tackled with a quick and easy google search. The ones I usually stick too are San Miguel, Corona, Budweiser, Carlsberg. Stella Artois beer (BUT NOT CIDRE).
- At the end of the day veganism only has to become anti-social if your friends don’t decide to support you.
Now perhaps the biggest myth of veganism is that it is not yummy. Not only are many of our favourite brands bringing out new products such as Ben and Jerry’s, Baileys, Linda McCartney. But here are a few of my favourite cheap and easy recipes I use on a daily basis as a student:
- Banana ‘nice’ cream. Now this is a perfect one for when you leave your bananas just that little bit too long. When your bananas start to get over ripe its time to chop them up and put them in your freezer. Now all you have to do is add your choice of dairy free milk to your frozen bananas and blend up and voilà. Your very own banana ice cream. The more confident you get the more exciting it gets. Add any extra fruit of your choice to change the flavours, and even add cocoa powder to make chocolate ice cream.
- Heaped Sweet Potato: This is a great way to spice up the classic ‘jacket potato’. Simply bake a sweet potato how you usually would and top it with which ever topping you like. My favourite is smashed avocado or chickpeas and chilli’s with dairy free yoghurt.
- Stir fry: stir fry is an easy study meal and can easily be made vegan. Simply change egg fried noodles for rice noodles, and exchange the meat for mushrooms. When making a stir fry I often buy the ready prepared stir fry vegetables (and add extra mushrooms) to make things easier and quicker. These packets can also be frozen and cooked from frozen to make portion control easier long lasting.
- Portobello mushroom fajitas: Mexican is always my favourite and can easily be made vegan. A staple and my all time favourite is fajitas. Most fajita mixes are already vegan, I use the Old El Paso Smoky BBQ Seasoning Mix and simply add this to my vegetables which usually consists of mushrooms, peppers and onions. I often make my own guacamole as I find most premade tubs unnecessarily contain milk. For the guacamole I mash avocado with a fork and add chili flakes, lemon or lime juice, and then red onion and a pinch of salt, pepper and garlic powder. Simply add all of the above to a wrap and top with salsa and perhaps a sprinkle of vegan cheese and hey presto, dinner is served.
Some things I believe to be essential for a vegan to have in their cupboard at all times are spices, add them to anything and everything and its impossible to make boring meals. I find spices are a great thing to have as they last for such a long time and can be made cheap through buying super market own brand and your collection can grow over time.
Why not try veganism for World Vegan Month and see how you find it? Join the Movement today.
Written by Jessica Leighton
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