For most students, the vegan lifestyle is a terrifying thought. There is a common misconception that a vegan lifestyle is bland and expensive, but this is so far from the truth! There is really no prerequisite to live off lettuce leaves, only wear hemp, and break the bank to become a vegan.
What is veganism?
Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as possible and practical, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.
The vegan society is a great resource to learn more about veganism.
My vegan journey
I have been vegan for over 1 year now and I’m loving every second. I began my transition to veganism by first turning pescatarian and slowly moving to an entirely plant-based diet. I found that this was the easiest way to slowly reduce my consumption of animal produce and educate myself on how to eat well on a vegan diet.
After my diet was sorted, I moved onto ensuring that I was living a sustainable life which was free from animal exploitation or harm. I now opt for vegan beauty products and source clothes that are made from vegan materials.
Veganism is an educational journey of discovery and every day I learn more about how I can incorporate it into my lifestyle. This blog will cover the elements of veganism that I have mastered to help you make informed choices about moving to a vegan lifestyle.
Vegan dietary essentials
Whilst widely vilified for seeming too worthy, a vegan diet isn’t actually that restrictive. Most of the difficulty comes from convenience foods with hidden cream and milk content. Veganism is about adopting a healthier lifestyle, that betters yourself and the environment, which is well worth the hassle of checking a label every now and then.
Canned cupboard essentials
Tinned food is cheap, convenient, and boasts a long shelf life.
Soak tinned vegetables in water overnight or toss them straight into the pan for delicious curries, stews and ratatouille. Use tinned chickpeas to make hummus and add tinned beans into a salad or even eat them on toast (yes, baked beans are vegan!).
Finding replacements for milk has never been easier. There are so many milks to choose from; soya, rice, oat, coconut, and a variety of nut milks. Many of these milks have even been made into dairy-free butters, spreads, cheeses and yogurts so that you don’t have miss out.
I have found that soya milk is best in tea, whilst oat milk compliments coffee perfectly. For breakfast, almond and coconut milk give an additional flavouring to standard oats and granola which is delicious.
Fruit and vegetables
Fruit and vegetables are a key staple in any healthy diet. I make a lot of smoothies, soups, and buddha bowls which encompass a wide variety of fruit and vegetables. The more colourful a dish, the better!
Try buying the ‘wonky veg’ variety for cheaper shopping, they may look a little rough around the edges, but they are equally as tasty as their ‘ideal’ template.
Replacement meats are a great way to avoid withdrawal symptoms from meat and they are often higher in protein and lower in fats and salts. Quorn and Linda McCartney are leading brands which provide great meat alternatives, but now supermarkets also offer very similar produce for cheaper. The majority can be found down the frozen food aisle including vegan mince, diced chicken, bacon rashers, scampi and much more.
Tofu is another stereotypical vegetarian/vegan meat alternative. It’s pack full of protein and if cooked right can be delicious.
While it is possible to stay well-nourished on a vegan diet, some nutrients like vtamin B-12, omega-3 fatty acids, iron, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin K-2, and iodine are a little harder to consume without a supplement or fortified foods.
Vegan recipe ideas
The key with any dish is flavour- and lots of it. The trick to making great vegan (and even non-vegan) meals is adding and experimenting with interesting taste sensations.
Deliciously Ella is my favourite recipe site for healthy, plant-based recipes that do not lack flavour or creativity. If you have a sweet tooth, I would highly recommend trying the sweet potato brownies and the coconut and oat energy balls.
My breakfast of choice is the Nora Cooks simple vegan overnight oat bowl which enables you to prepare your breakfast the night before and experiment with different flavours and toppings, depending on your taste preferences.
Every lunchtime I will have a variation of a buddha bowl. My favourite is the minimalist baker’s sweet potato and chickpea buddha bowl. It’s simple, quick and ridiculously healthy; loaded with four kinds of vegetables, fibre- and protein-rich chickpeas, and maple-tahini sauce.
Tea time is when I prefer to enjoy a more hearty and wholesome dish from the BBC goodfood site. Their satay sweet potato curry, vegan chilli, and falafel burgers are all full of flavour and pack in plenty of vegetables for a filling dish that even non-vegans would enjoy.
Another of my stable foods is the humble smoothie. I Love Vegan has a whole host of tasty and nutritious smoothie drinks and bowls which are simple to make and great if you’re constantly on the go and need a quick pick-me-up at University.
Vegan vanity products are free from animal testing and derivatives (which includes ingredients such as lanolin from sheep’s wool; honey from bees, and carmine which is a red pigment derived from insects often used in lipsticks).
Historically, vegan vanity products have been looked down upon for their ineffective formulas and lack of luxe factory. But that’s all changing. Vanity products have evolved exponentially and now offer high-performing, indulgent-feeling options at affordable prices.
Vegan & cruelty free vanity brands
- Skyn Iceland is a brand as sustainable as it is scientific. The brand offers skincare solutions to treat the damage caused by stress.
- Lime Crime is a vibrant makeup and hair colour brand, that creates products where consumers can express themselves with every colour of the rainbow.
- Cover FX’s customisable foundation drops and setting sprays which enable you to achieve any finish you like, while the eyeshadows and blushers are gorgeously pigmented.
- Isle of Paradise is one of the most inclusive and positive fake tanning brands that provides sunshine in a bottle.
- Floral street was named after the iconic street in London’s Covent Garden, it offers quirky fragrances for you and your home.
- Nailberry provides non-toxic and breathable nail polishes in an assortment of beautiful shades.
- Ecotools fufils all your beauty tool needs with makeup brushes and accessories.
- Love Beauty and Planet ‘s body and haircare range has one goal: to be good for beauty and give a little love to the planet.
- B. Skincare is a family run business that makes natural and affordable products using high quality ingredients.
- Le labo is living proof that luxe and vegan can go together seamlessly, these handmade perfumes are blended on site to save on wastage and smell beautiful.
- E.L.F. ‘s makeup and skincare range is an accessible way of trialling trends and products without breaking the bank.
- Yope is the new chic natural brand for everyday items like body wash, hand wash and hand cream.
- BYBI was founded by two beauty bloggers who wanted a natural range of beauty products that were far from basic.
- Urban Veda ‘s natural skincare products are renowned for smelling beautiful.
- Inka was one of the first brans to create certified organic makeup that doesn’t lack pigment and there’s plenty of options to choose from.
Alongside these fully committed vegan brands are a host of beauty brands heading in the right direction. Charlotte Tilbury, Urban Decay, Glossier, and Hourglass have several vegan options, they just require a little extra research to ensure each product you pick in vegan.
Staying on trend as a vegan
Vegan clothing is a garment made without animal products. Some animal products, like leather, are pretty obvious, but others might be harder to spot.
Sustainable vegan clothing fabrics
- Organic cotton
- Denim (made with organic cotton)
- Recycled nylon
- Tree based fabrics such as bamboo, lyocell, odel, Tencel, rayon, and viscose
- Vegan leather made from rubber, wood, cork, apple, and even pineapple
Vegan and cruelty free fashion brands
- Beyond Skin: Vegan leather shoes and heels made in Spain.
- Blackwood: Vegan leather pouches and clutch bags made using wood and cork.
- Cotton & Push: Vegan lingerie made from organic and natural fibres.
- Ferron: Vegan leather handbags in classic colours with soft curves and utility.
- Hooves: Animal, vegetarian and vegan friendly footwear based in London.
- NAK Fashion: PETA-approved luxury vegan shoes and sneakers.
- Nudie Jeans: Where my favourite dark blue jeans are from. Ethical, sustainable, mendable and vegan.
- OffDutyLDN: Vegan handbags and small accessories, registered with Vegan Society.
- People Tree: The mothership of sustainable and vegan fashion. From basics through to V&A print dresses.
- Rozenbroek: Vegan womenswear and menswear made sustainably in England.
- Ruby Moon: Sustainable swimwear made with vegan and recycled materials.
- Shrimps: Whimsical high-end fashion, with stunning vegan faux fur pieces.
- Stella McCartney: Luxury vegetarian fashion brand advocating against fur and leather.
- Thought: Sustainable fashion brand showcasing natural materials across their prints and patterns.
- Votch: Vegan leather watches made using piñatex and other sustainable materials.
- Watson & Wolfe: Independent store for men’s vegan wallets and card holders.
- Wilby: Gorgeous vegan handbags made using cork, cotton and hemp.
- Wills Shoes: Stylish vegan leather shoes made in Europe.
Making your vegan house a home
Being vegan used to mean finding specialist manufacturers for your home furnishings, but now mainstream retailers are wising up to the trend and adding animal friendly choices to their offering.
Vegan homeware brands
- Haven Home Interiors has a vegan offering with a selection of throws and recycled blankets with a traditional look.
- Rockett St George is a brand which is commended on its efforts in vegan homeware.
- Auro has a specialist range of paints that are based on organic oil resins and plant-based pigments which gives good interior coverage and comes in a surprisingly wide selection of colours.
- P.F. Candle Co. use fruits, herbs, and flowers to scent their soy wax candles.
- Cotton Safe are openly and actively campaigning for the elimination of texic falme retardant chemicals in their mattresses and furniture.
- Muuto is rooted in the Scandinavian design tradition characterized by enduring aesthetics, functionality, craftsmanship and an honest expression.
- Little Tree Furniture is inspired by the tradition woodworking methods and beautiful sustainable furniture in India.
Take your first steps to becoming vegan
Veganism is becoming increasingly more popular, according to the latest research by the vegan society there are around 600,000 vegans in Great Britain. Supermarkets are stocking more vegan options to keep up with consumer’ food choices and more people are signing up to the Veganuary campaign.
Why not try it for a month and take the pledge with Veganuary, a registered UK charity inspiring people to try vegan for January and throughout the rest of the year.
Header image credit: https://veganliftz.com/