A Guide to Going and Staying Vegan

What will I eat?

The list below give a taster of just some of the dishes you can have. Practically all dishes can be adapted so that they are suitable for vegans, and as you explore, you will find there are many new tastes to experiment with.

What is a Vegan?

Someone following a vegan diet would exclude all animal products. This includes meat, animal fats, dairy products, eggs and honey. They would also seek to exclude other animal products from their lifestyle, e.g. leather, fur, wool and silk.

With many of the dishes below you can just follow the link to find a recipe. These are all from our recipe pages. Some of them are available ready-made, in this case it is important that you check the ingredients to ensure the dish is vegan.

watercress and potato soup | carrot and coriander soup | oven roasted tomato soup | beans on toast* | jacket potatoes | houmous | spicy peanut sauce | salsa | cashew and fresh herb dip | beans on toast* | jacket potatoes | yorkshire puddings | gravy | falafel* | spring rolls* | onion bhajis* | vegetable samosas* | tofu burger | veg burgers* | nut burgers* | bean burgers* | sausages | cashew nut roast | cauliflower cheeze | curry* | casseroles* | sweet and sour | malaysian vegetables | quiche | cheeze and spinach pie | leek and mushroom pie | pizza* | lasagne | chilli con beanie* | spaghetti bolognaise* | shepherd’s pie* | risotto* | pasties* | cheatin’ meat*

If it seems overwhelming to give up all animal products, take a step back and take it at your own pace. Turn vegan overnight and you slam your door on the cruelty of the meat industry forever. It is quite safe if done properly. However, some people find they want to move over to an animal-free diet step-by-step, adjusting as they go along.

chocolate raspberry hazelnut cake | mango cake | chocolate fudge cake | walnut and banana brownies | chocolate biscuit cake | banofee pie | trifle | chocolate éclairs | stuffed pancakes | steamed pudding | chocolate | ice cream

and for breakfast you will find cornflakes*, weetabix*. muesli*, toast*, and more.
For a full breakfast try Redwoods rashers, Heinz beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, chips and scrambled tofu.

*If you buy ready-made, check that the dish is suitable for vegans. An extensive guide to vegan products, ‘The Animal-Free Shopper’, is available from the Vegan Society. It includes food, alcohol, DIY and toiletries.

Switching over to animal free ingredients

Instead of...

butter switch to whey-free vegetable margarines and oils
milk try plain, chocolate, vanilla, and almond soya milk. Use it in any way that you’d use milk. Comes in sweet and unsweetened varieties, sweetened is recommended when making the switch from cow milk. Experiment with brands and see which you like
ice cream Toffuti and Swedish Glace make delicious vegan ice cream. Look out for other brands as well, and give sorbets a try as many are vegan
cheese check health food shops for soya cheese, which is great on pizza and sandwiches and in sauces. You can also make a great ‘creamy’ sauce with nutritional yeast flakes
eggs use commercial egg replacers in baked goods. For breakfast, scramble tofu with onions, mushrooms, turmeric, nutritional yeast and mustard
yogurt experiment with the several brands of soya yogurt
jelly look for agar-agar and kosher ‘gelatine’ made without boiling cows hooves and pigs bones
chocolate you’ll find many vegan brands of chocolate in your local health food shop
honey use syrup, date syrup, molasses or concentrated apple juice
hamburger there are now many veggie burgers available
mince use soya mince. Frozen is best - ensure it is vegan. If you use dry soya mince (tvp), try soaking it in vegetable stock first
bacon use ‘Vegetarian Rashers’, now available from health food shops

As you can see it is easy to start by substituting vegan ingredients into your usual meat or dairy-based recipes. Here are some more examples:

  • Fill baked potatoes with garlic mushrooms or margarine and grated Cheezly
  • Take the meat out of your casserole and use vegan sausage, crumbled tofu or tempeh instead
  • Get egg-free mayo for your coleslaw
  • Try veggie burgers and soya hot dogs served with fresh tomato slices, onions and barbecue sauce
  • Use Cheezly in your cheese and pickle sandwiches; cheatin’ ham and Cheezly in your cheese and ham sandwiches
  • If you like baking cakes try our recipes

Specialist ingredients - an explanation

Here is a bit more information about some ingredients used in the production of vegan food. Some may already be very familiar.

Soya Milk

Used as an alternative to cow’s milk by vegans, and people with an allergy to cow’s milk. Can be used in tea, coffee and on cereals, Nowadays, soya milk is much more palatable and undetectable in food and drink and can be substituted for cow’s milk in every case. The various brands of soya milk are quite different in taste so it is worth experimenting.

Other Dairy Alternatives

You will find many other alternatives to dairy products in health food shops (and supermarkets). There are dairy-free replacements for cheese, yoghurt, cream, custard & ice cream.

Cheatin' Meat

There is a large selection of imitation meat now available, from rashers to imitation ‘turkey’ roast. Look out for delicious products by Redwoods and Frys. All their products are vegan.

Tofu

Tofu has become very popular, and is made from fermented soya beans. Tofu is nutritious and very versatile. It is bland, so can absorb any flavour, savoury or sweet. It can be used in stir-fry, pies, scramble and salad; and in sweet dishes like vegan cheesecake.

Tempeh

Tempeh is made from fermented soya beans. It has a very good taste and comes as a solid block that can be sliced and then fried or steamed. It can also be cut into chunks and put into stew.

Seitan

Seitan is a meat-free alternative made from the gluten of flour. It has a firm texture.

Nutritional Yeast

Delicious, gives dishes a cheesy taste. Can be used to flavour many dishes. Should be added off the heat so that the nutrients it contains are not destroyed.

London Living

Vegetarian Restaurants

  • Beatroot, 92 Berwick St, W1. Tel: 020 7437 8591. Fill a take-away box with a choice of hot food and salads
  • Diwana Bhel Poori House. 121 Drummond Street, London, NW1 2HL. Indian.
  • Food for Thought, 31 Neal Street, WC2. 020-7836 9072
  • Indian Veg Bhelpoori, 92/93 Chapel Market, N1. 020-7837 4607. Indian, all you can eat for about £4-5
  • Jai Krishna, 161 Stroud Green Rd, N4. Tel: 020 7272 1680. Indian
  • Mildreds, 45 Lexington Street, W1. Tel: 020 7494 1634. Expensive, good for a special night out
  • Loving Hut, 669 Holloway Rd, N19. Tel: 020 7281 8989
  • Pogo Cafe, 76 Clarence Rd, E5. 020-85331214. £5.75 main course, big portions. All vegan, mostly organic

All the above are vegetarian restaurants/cafes (with the exception of Pogo Cafe and Loving Hut, which are vegan) that offer a wide range of vegan dishes. With over 100 vegetarian restaurants and cafes in London this list is by no means extensive. Vegetarian London is an extensive guide and costs £6.95 from Vegetarian Guides, PO Box 2284, London W1. 

Healthfood Shpes

  • Alara Wholefoods, 58 Marchmont St, WC1. Tel: 7837 1172
  • Brixton Wholefoods, 59 Atlantic Rd, London SW9. Tel: 020 7737 2210
  • Bumblebee Natural Foods, 30, 32 and 33 Brecknock Rd, N7. Tel: 020 7607 1936
  • Bushwacker Wholefoods, 132 King St, W6. Tel: 020 8748 2061
  • Food For All, 3 Cazenove Rd, N16. Tel: 020 8806 4138
  • Haelan Centre, 41 The Broadway, N8. Tel: 020 8340 4258
  • Portobello Wholefoods, Unit 1, 266 Portobello Rd, W10. Tel: 020 8968 9133
  • People & Planet, 80 Sydenham Rd, SE26. Tel: 020 8473 7489
  • Second Nature Wholefoods, 78 Wood St, E17. Tel: 020 8520 7995
  • Wholefood Express, 95 Southgate Rd, N1. Tel: 020 7354 4923. Mon-Sat 10.00-19.00

The above shops sell a wide range of products suitable for vegans, including fresh take-aways like sandwiches and snacks. None sell any meat.

Many ordinary shops now sell vegan products such as soya milk. All supermarkets carry large vegan ranges too. The Co-op and Sainsburys are now labelling their own-brand ranges as suitable for vegetarians and/or vegans.

For more cruelty-free resources in London including where to eat, where to stay and where to shop, check out Vegan London.

More Practical Support and Information

  1. For extensive information on veganism see the Vegan Society’s website or call them on 0845 458 8244. They have a wide range of fact sheets available.
  2. Get a vegan buddy. The Vegan Society operates a Vegan Pledge that you can sign up for any time, with the option of being paired with vegan buddy who will be available to provide advice and support.  
  3. Animal Aid have lots of information about going veggie/vegan, including a free vegan information pack. They also have a website aimed at young people, Youth 4 Animals
  4. If you want to find out more about vegan parenting, the Vegan Society have a good number of very useful fact sheets, or look at the Vegan Family House to see the day to day lives of a vegan family.