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How to turn vegan: Follow this easy guide and you won’t miss meat, dairy, junk food

Quitting meat and dairy products might sound intimidating. But turning vegan is easy if you know the right substitutes.

more lifestyle Updated: Mar 22, 2018 09:21 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
Vegan,Veganism,Vegan food
While you can use nut and plant based milk in place of dairy, mock meat comes very close to replicating the taste and texture of meat.(iStock, Shutterstock)

The vegan movement has been gaining ground across the globe, and with good reason. Many take to it for the love of animals -- a vegan doesn’t consume any food or product which harms animals. Proponents of veganism also say the diet is better for your health and skin. However, being vegan goes beyond not consuming animal meat (poultry, seafood, eggs, etc) and animal products like milk or honey. It’s a lifestyle that rejects using leather, silk, cosmetics that are tested on animals, etc.

To make your switch to a vegan diet easier, we talk to Paroma Bhattacharya, blogger at Animagus Eats, a platform dedicated to delicious vegan food recipes. “It is easier to be vegan in India because of the wide range of wonderful vegetarian dishes in the Indian cuisine. Many of these vegetarian dishes are vegan by default and if not, they can be ‘veganized’ easily using simple dairy substitutes,” she says.

Bhattacharya breaks down easy ways you can adopt a vegan diet, covering everyday meals, chocolate, junk food, and milk, cheese and meat substitutes:

Meat substitutes:

“Mock meat comes very close to replicating the taste and texture of meat. Mock meat comes in the form of sausages, burger patties, etc. In case you don’t have access to mock meat, then tofu or tempeh is a great option. Another good alternative is soy nuggets - they taste great in curries and in any dishes that need a meat substitute.”

Dark chocolates are usually vegan, so be on the lookout for dark chocolate bars. ( Shutterstock )

Milk substitutes:

“Plant Milks/Non Dairy Milks are all the rage right now. Vegan milks that are available in India are Almond Milk, Soy Milk, Coconut Milk and Rice Milk. You can buy plant milk/yoghurt products from popular packaged brands. You can also easily make plant milk at home. Almond Milk, Cashew Milk and Oat Milk (milk from oats) are extremely simple to make and are also easier on the pocket than store bought products. These plant milks can be used in baking, cooking, tea/coffee, breakfast, the works.”

Butter substitutes:

“An excellent butter alternative is nut butter. Peanut Butter, Almond Butter, Cashew Butter - all these nut butters are now easily available in India and can also be easily made at home. If you’re a fan of the traditional melty butter, it is also possible to replicate this in a vegan way at home through online recipes.

Cheese substitutes:

“For cheese, vegan cheese alternatives are popular worldwide and are slowly beginning to surface in India. In the meanwhile, cashews and nutritional yeast are the go-to ingredients for all cheese loving vegans. Cashews are your best friend and you can use them to make a number of different cashew cheeses at home. Nutritional yeast is a magical ingredient that looks and tastes like cheese (almost like parmesan) and is a great to add a cheesy flavour to all your dishes. Nutritional Yeast is available in vegan stores and on online stores. It can seem a bit expensive but one pack/bottle will last you a long time.”

For chaat lovers, bhel puri, pani puri and sev puri are great options. ( Shutterstock )

For chocolate lovers:

“It’s good to be aware of local Indian chocolate brands that are vegan; for example, Mason and Co. Farmers’ markets are also a great place to find local vegan chocolate makers. In general, dark chocolates are usually vegan, so be on the lookout for dark chocolate bars. Also, Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup is accidentally vegan (according to PETA), so feel free to drizzle it over all your desserts and breakfast dishes. You can also make vegan chocolate at home. You can easily buy vegan cooking chocolate in local stores - be sure to buy the dark chocolate bars (they’re vegan). You can use vegan cooking chocolate to make all sorts of decadent treats ranging from regular chocolates and cakes, to mousses and hot chocolate drinks. Finally, you can also use Cocoa Powder and Raw Cocoa Nibs in your breakfast/desserts, to give your dishes a chocolatey flavor.”

For junk food fans:

“This one area where you will never run out of delicious treats. For chaat lovers, bhel puri, pani puri and sev puri are great options. At home, make sure to always stock vegan snacks like banana chips, popcorn, nuts, kurmura (puffed rice) for homemade dry/wet bhel, chana, etc. And you’ll be happy to learn that a lot of the savoury snacks we get in local farsan shops are also vegan such as bhujia sev, moong dal fry, khatta meetha mixtures, potato chips, etc. If you like sweet treats, then look for vegan sweets like dry fruit bars, etc. You can also make your own sweet snack/energy bars at home using nuts, oats/granola and dates.”

Everyday meals:

For breakfast: “You should keep bananas (fresh and frozen - for smoothies), fruits, vegan milk, vegan bread, jam, nut butter, chia seeds, flax seeds and cereal in stock. Smoothie bowls, chia seed puddings, oats/porridge and peanut butter-jelly sandwiches make great breakfast options when you’re in a hurry. For a traditional Indian breakfast you can go for - dosa, idli, poha, upma, paratha, etc.”

For lunch and dinner: “It’s a good idea to have a pantry full of chana, rajma, dal/lentils and fresh vegetables. Popular vegan friendly main course dishes include rajma, dals, vegetable curries, khichdi, chana masala, pav bhaji (skip the butter!), fried rice, noodles, etc. Experiment with baked/grilled dishes, different curries, fresh salads, soups and for the carbs, rotate between healthy options like brown rice, roti and whole wheat and eggless bread/pasta/noodles. You can also have healthier meal accompaniments (instead of carbs) such as quinoa instead of rice and zoodles (zucchini noodles) instead of pasta/noodles.”

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First Published: Mar 22, 2018 09:18 IST