Vegan Alternatives Veganuary 2020

Are you taking part in Veganuary 2020?

I've been offering some help and support to a bunch of friends lately and thought I'd share some tips.

Best place to start? I mean besides not eating meat!

I'd say find a milk alternative that works for you - given that most of us are Tea/Coffee/Hot Chocolate drinkers, making this transition runs a lot more smoothly if you can enjoy your morning coffee.

There are so many choices out there it can be hard to start. 
The most popular are Soya, Almond and Oat.
I've also tried Coconut, Rice, Hazelnut, Cashew, Hemp, Pea and Tiger Nut!

Personally I've found oat milk to be the one that I prefer,  it didn't take long for this one to be "the norm" for me and now I prefer it's taste over any other milk, including cow milk. 

There are a few things to keep an eye on, some milk alternatives vary depending on the brand - cheaper ones tend to be padded out with oils, thickeners, preservatives, sweeteners and stabilisers so keep an eye on the ingredients lists - my favourite oat milk contains 3 ingredients - Water, Organic Oats and a pinch of sea salt. 
Plenish - Vegan milk - Little House LovelySome have added vitamins which can alter the taste - for example, I like Plenish oat milk - the original one is super but then Plenish also do an "enriched" smaller bottle that tastes really odd - like a metallic fishy taste. 
Plenish - Vegan milk - Little House Lovely

Sometimes alternative milks - particular nut based ones, can curdle in coffee, its to do with a combination of the heat of the milk and the acidity/ strength of the coffee. I love my Nespresso machine and have found that if the coffee is a level 5 or below it won't curdle. 

Following on from milk, the next place would be finding a butter alternative. I think long term goals would be working towards a whole foods plant based diet and its well known that the combination of bakery goodies and oils are what makes vegans doughy! .... but when you are just starting out, it can be helpful to transition by replacing animal products with an alternative, and also its January and nothing is better than a butter hot crumpet when its freezing outside!

Over the years I have tried a lot of butter alternatives and most of them are very margarine like and not buttery at all. I have found one that I like and is buttery enough to fill that gap - Naturli - but it is very hard to find - it is only stocked in a few Sainsbury branches and even then, its often out of stock. It comes in the smallest tub you can imagine so if you find it, stock up on a few at a time (it usually has a long date and can be frozen) Naturli can also be bought as a block which is really good for baking but is even harder than the tubs to find! 
Naturli - Vegan butter - Little House Lovely

When it comes to chocolate, most vegan chocolates tend to be dark and often quite bitter. It used to be hard to find a good milk chocolate alternative but over the last couple of years, there have been some amazing additions to the Vegan chocolate scene - some of my current favourites are the vegan Galaxy smooth orange, King Monty rice pop sticks and Moo Free Lime and Sea Salt (I was hesitant to try this flavour at first but was surprised by its deliciousness!) 
King Monty - Vegan chocolate - Little House Lovely

When it comes to meat alternatives there are so many choices its crazy! When I went veggie in 1992 there wasn't any easily available meat replacements, I started out with this dried soya stuff that you had to soak in hot water before using it. Now, some of the meat alternatives are so meaty I can't stomach them! Pulled Pork style Jackfruit is one that for me is too meaty so if you are really missing meat texture, this is a good place to start.
All supermarkets now have their own ranges and whilst these are a great stepping stone, I think long term the alternatives can be unhealthy (but never as unhealthy as meat!) as they contain a lot of processed ingredients, oils and additives. The long term objective should be to transition towards a whole foods plant based diet which with time will naturally start ti occur as your taste buds adjust and you get past the addictiveness of some animal products. 
The Beyond Burger has been something that meat eaters and vegans alike really enjoy. 
Beyond Burger - Vegan Burger - Little House Lovely

Cakes - ready made vegan cakes are slowly starting to pop up in supermarkets. One of the big issues with vegan cakes is that to make them is quite scientific, you can't just replace like for like in a recipe, it is more complex than that. Some vegan cakes can have unpleasant textures, many seem to be sandy, or the complete opposite and extremely dense. I've found that the Oggs Lemon cake is a brilliant alternative and is becoming more widely stocked - I've spotted it in my local Waitrose and Sainsbury stores. 
Oggs Lemon Cake - Vegan Cake - Little House Lovely

Honey - As honey doesn't contain any animal proteins, some vegans still eat it - if you are still consuming honey please try to buy from your local beekeeper, mass production of honey is unnecessarily unkind to both bees and our environment. If you are avoiding honey I have found that Honey is particularly tasty and very true to genuine honey in its flavour and texture. Can be found on the Plant based Artisan website or in Selfridges.
Honea - Vegan Honey - Little House Lovely

I put together a little YouTube video exploring some of the alternatives mentioned if you would like a little more info. 

Emma x


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