If you are reading my recipes and thinking ‘What on earth is TVP?!’ Or ‘Where can I get Liquid Smoke?!’
Or maybe you are new to Veganism and and wondering where the heck to start with Vegan food… this article is for you!
Here is your handy little guide to what I have in my kitchen, where to find this stuff, and what to do with it!
Before you went Vegan, you’ll have built up an abundance of kitchen staples already, and buying a whole load of new things will seem pretty daunting! All you need to do is gradually replace everything you have as you use it up, and once you know where to get everything, what you like and don’t like, it will be a doddle. Trust me! I did it!
A lot of people have many misconceptions about Vegan diets being difficult, tasteless and expensive. But a Vegan diet is much like any other diet. As an Omni, you can buy Tescos Finest Mince, Cheese from the posh deli and drink £15 bottles of Red Wine. Or you can choose Lidls Mince, Sainsburys own Cheddar and a £7 bottle of plonk on offer. You get the same from both, but you’re quids in when you shop smart!
A lot of people seem to forget how expensive Meat and Dairy actually is. You can use Meat and Dairy replacement products, which come in at roughly the same price, if not a little more. But most people tend to find that when they have gone Vegan, they eat a lot more vegetables, grains and pulses as they look for Vegan recipes and try new things. So chances are, you aren’t going to be using as much ‘meat and dairy’ as you used to anyway! Although, by buying these replacement products, and pushing the sales figures up, the prices will get lower and lower as time goes on and they get more mainstream. So I definitely think its worth buying these things and encouraging others to do so, as it will benefit everyone in the end!
So let’s start there. What Meat replacements can you get? And where the heck are they?
In my eyes, there are 4 major players in this industry. Linda McCartney, Frys, Vbites and Tofurkey. They all have a wide range of Vegan products, but please be aware that Linda McCartney also do Vegetarian products, so make sure you read the ingredients, but on almost all of the Vegan products, it does say ‘suitable for Vegans’ on the front. In the UK, this is the most mainstream company supplying Vegan products in most supermarkets. Have a look in the vegetarian/free from freezer section. My go to’s are the sausages, chorizo and pulled chicken. They also have pies, pulled duck, burgers, a burrito mix and rosemary and red onion sausages.
Linda McCartney Chorizo – Hot ‘n’ Smokey Chorizo Sweetcorn Pasta⬇
Onto Frys. When I found these products I was astounded by how good they are! All their products are 100% Vegan and the tastiest in my humble opinion. Going straight from Omni to Vegan overnight, these were a god send! There is so much variety and many of the products are super versatile. Their range boasts sausages, pies, burgers, schnitzels, beef pieces, chicken pieces, sausage rolls, chicken nuggets, prawns, and more! Including a delicious roast we had on Christmas day! You can find them in your local health food shop, Holland and Barrett, and even Morrisons have started stocking them!
Frys Roast ⬇
Tofurkey can also be found in health food shops and Holland and Barrett. They have a huge amount of products, far too many to list! They do a range of cold ‘meats’ as well that are great for sandwiches and salads.
Vbites do similar products to Tofurkey. They have a lovely spicy chorizo, bacon and a range of cheeses! I used their chicken peices to create a Satay Chicken recipe and the texture was unbelievably similar to chicken. I honestly don’t think anyone would have known! You can get some from a few supermarkets in the veggie chilled section, and again, health food shops and Holland and Barrett are always stocking these!
Vbites chicken peices – Chicken Satay⬇
Quorn are upping their Vegan range. At the moment, most of their products are veggie, but the few that are Vegan, are super good! One in particular is the Vegan fillets. These are lovely! And can be found in the veggie freezer section of most supermarkets. Please look for the Vegan ones, as they also do some very similar fillets that are vegetarian.
Chopped Quorn Vegan fillets – Lemon Chicken Risotto⬇
Ok. Now we have covered the big brands, I want to move seamlessly on to Mince. Frys do a frozen Vegan mince, and so do Tesco. But in my experience, nothing beats dried TVP mince! From a flavour, texture and pound for pound perspective, TVP mince is brilliant! You can keep it for yonks in the cupboard, it soaks up aaaalll the flavour of your dish, and you get a huge amount for your money! It is certainly the cheapest way to eat mince dishes, I can’t recommend it enough. And, it’s everywhere! In supermarkets, health food shops, amazon, eBay… everywhere! You don’t get much help by way of instructions on the bag, but this is where I can help, so grab yourself a bag and give one of my mince recipes a go!
TVP mince – Chilli ⬇
The TVP chunks seem to have a bad rep. They are exactly the same as the mince, just bigger chunks! They are equally as good, and great for dishes that need more bite! So don’t listen to the rumours and get yourself some! Start with the Vegan Beef Hotpot to get your confidence up using them, trust me, delicious!
TVP chunks – Vegan Beef Hotpot ⬇
In any good kitchen cupboard, there are plenty of cans of beans and lentils etc. It’s especially good in a Vegan kitchen to be stocked up with these. You can throw them into almost any dish to give yourself a healthy energy boost and they are great at making your money go further too, bulking out your dish and making sure there are some left overs for tomorrows lunch.
My cupboard is always stocked with: Red kidney beans, blackeyed beans, cannellini beans, pinto beans, butter beans, broad beans and those essential cans of baked beans for lazy days.
I also always have lentils, chickpeas and sweetcorn. It’s also good to have some tomato passata for those smoother sauces.
I make sure I have an abundance of chopped tomatoes, the base for so many yummy dishes! As long as you have a cupboard stocked with plenty of these, you can make so many different meals, and stretch your money out till payday!
Chilli Bean Tortilla Cups ⬇
I love my Kilner jar collection. They proudly stand in the corner of my kitchen and are used everyday! I use them to house my rice, grains and pasta, as well as a few other things.
Arborio rice for risottos, brown rice for healthy meals, wholemeal spaghetti and penne, rolled oats for breakfast, wholewheat noodles and quinoa.
A couple of other dried things I always have handy are porcini mushrooms, ground flax seeds and various nuts, particularly cashews and peanuts. While peanuts are great for snacking, raw cashews are actually fab for lots of surprising things, like making sauces, specifically cheese sauce, and even cheesecakes! Porcini mushrooms are a little pricey, but you generally get about 100g in a packet, and really only need about 10g for most recipes, so it’s worth investing in things like this and mentally spread your money over the amount of dishes you will use them for. They are actually quite reasonably priced when you think of it that way! So don’t be put off. Always think about how far your ingredients will spread when you are buying them, don’t always be put off by price tags.
Porcini mushrooms – Spag Bol ⬇
I always have a jar full of gravy granuals. Bisto Original is Vegan and perfect for roast dinner! Most people use this one, and aren’t even aware it is Vegan! Other essentials are plain flour, self raising flour and cornflour.
Stocks are also an absolute must have! Make sure you always have some Vegetable stock, I also always keep some red and white wine stock pots from Tesco handy.
Vegan egg! Yes, you can still have scrambled eggs, quiches, omelettes, use eggs in baking, and even make a scotch egg! Follow Your Heart Vegan egg is incredible! You can order it online, it’s not particularly cheep (see what i did there?!) But it is amazing!! It does the exact same thing as eggs do, in everything! And it’s so simple to use! I also have Vegg, which is a different product, again, look online although not on amazon for this one, it’s a rip off! Vegg have an egg yolk!! Yes!! And it’s amazing! You can still have dippy soldiers in the morning!
Vegg yolk – Veggy Spaghetti ⬇
Vital Wheat Gluten! Sorry to all those who are gluten free! Just skip this part! This product really is vital! For making homemade seitan! Which is actually suprisingly easy! And the end result can be frozen. Once you have mastered this, you can make your own ‘wheat meat’ and stock yourself with everything you need. It’s very healthy, and boasts a HUGE amount of protein… not that Vegans are lacking in protein at all… far from it! It is one of those myths that has gotten out of control, but i’ll cover that in my health article. Stop getting side tracked woman! Back to the matter at hand! You can find this on Amazon and eBay and in health food shops too! I highly recommend it. It isn’t my speciality yet, but there are thousands of recipes online!
Vital wheat gluten – Sticky BBQ Ribs ⬇
The last in the category of dried goods has to be herbs and spices. I can’t think of any dish that doesn’t contain at least one herb or spice. It is so important to stock as many of these as you can! If you want your food to be tasty that is… my absolute favorites are paprika, smoked paprika, paprika and paprika. Others I use often are cumin, garlic powder, onion powder, coriander, chilli flakes, chilli powder, garam masala, chinese 5 spice, turmeric, and curry powder to name a few! Oh and how could i forget paprika?! On the herb front, rosemary is my favorite, along with thyme, chives, sage and parsley. Don’t forget about good old salt and black pepper!
Spice mix – Chicken kebab⬇
Oil! Some people will try to avoid oil for health reasons, we all know you can get different kinds of oils for cooking, but coconut oil is amazing, as it doesn’t turn carcinogenic when heated. Lots of people will be put off by the strong, coconutty smell it has, but you have my reassurance that it doesn’t make your food taste like coconut! I have cooked pure vegetables in it and could not detect any coconut flavor. It’s also great for making desserts, teamed with cashews, for things like cheesecakes and pies. So grab yourself a jar and get cooking!
Coconut oil – Chickpea Tikka Masala⬇
Liquid smoke! I have actually fallen in love with a little bottle of sauce. Honestly! This liquid is the best thing that has ever happened to my kitchen! As with porcini mushrooms, lots of people are put off by the price (it’s not actually that expensive though) you only need 1tsp per recipe! That’s a heck of a lot of meals to make with it, and it’s brilliant for giving your seitan a meaty flavour! I get mine from amazon and i always use Stubbs Hickory Liquid Smoke. So just trust me and buy it. Ok?
Oh Sriracha. You complete me! This is superb if you like spicy food, unlike other hot sauces, this packs some serious flavour too! You can pick it up anywhere nowadays, supermarkets galor!
Sriracha – Spicy Cauliflower – Thug Kitchen⬇
Worcester sauce. Most brands contain liquidised fish bits (tasty) but there are some brands that do vegan versions. I grabbed one from Morrisons free from section, they advertise it to gluten intolerant hoomans, but when i delved deeper into the ingredients, to my Vegan delight, I found it was completely cruelty free too! I have heard that you can find a brand called Tiger Tiger in supermarkets as well.
Here is the one I use ⬇
Here we go! Onto dairy replacements!
The most common question I get asked: ‘Help! What milk tastes most like cows milk? They all taste different!’
It’s funny how we, as a species, in the Western world still rely so much on milk! It’s the food source for babies, in every single species including ours! There is no need for anyone past infancy to need milk in their diet, yet when someone faces the prospect of having to omit it from their daily lives, it’s really scary! The dairy industry has really done well with this one! I get it, i’ve been there, I first had to give up dairy when i was, ironically, breastfeeding my daughter and we discovered she was dairy intolerant. I was like ‘Whaaaah?! I have to stop eating milk and cheese?! How will i cope?!’
This is a difficult one to advise people on. Let me tell you, none of the plant milks, or cheeses for that matter, taste like cows milk. None of them. Sorry to break it to you! But it’s not the end of the world! In fact it’s the beginning of a new one! The biggest most important peice of advice i can give you is… stop comsuming dairy. Don’t try to transition with this one, it simply won’t work. Your tastebuds need time to adjust. This is so crucial! Also, when you first try a new milk, unless you are nearly sick, stick with it. Give it, at the very least, two weeks. You will get used to it, and on week 3, you’ll be able to drink a glass of plant milk and guess what you will taste?! Milk! Just milk, plain and simple! I promise you!! Lots of people find it easy and immediately love their new milk, but many struggle.
If you want milk to keep your calcium and vitamin levels up, look for the fortified ones. Some plant milks curdle in hot drinks, and different people have had different results with this, so it’s best you experiement with your own technique! I have only ever had this problem with Oatly, but they have now released an Oatly Brista, which is specifically designed for hot drinks! Those of you with children, i highly recommend Oatly blue. It has the same calcium and vitamin content as cows milk, without the hormones and cancer, bonus!
You can still cook with these milks too!
Wholebean Soya – Easy Cheesy Mash⬇
Cheese. Oh cheese. My love affair for cheese is well and truly over! But guess what? I don’t care! I don’t crave it, it now smells like vomit to me, I actually enjoy pizzas without cheese so much better than i ever did when it was smothered! This was no easy transition for me! If you knew me pre-Vegan, cheese was as much a part of my life as my pants are. It was an everyday essential as far as i was concerned, and i used to chop a bit off and eat it whenever i went into the fridge for anything else. So don’t think i don’t understand! It really is a scientifically proven addiction, and a bad habit you need to make a real effort to stop! As with plant milks, I strongly suggest going completely cold turkey. Just stop it. Simple. But this time, leave it a good few months before you give any other Vegan cheese a go. Or you will be horrified and put off for life! Allow you tastebuds and brain to reset and then give them all a go!
While you wait, let me introduce you to my good friend, Nooch!
Boasting a HUGE amount of vitamins and minerals, this cheesy tub of heaven needs to be in your kitchen! You can transform so many sauces into cheesy goodness, sprinkle it all over your pizza, or even in a marmite sandwich for a cheese and marmite flavour! Vegans go mad for this stuff, and it is so good for you! Great deals on amazon! Or sold in health food shops like Holland and barrett. Why is it called nooch? Nooooch-tritional yeast. You’re welcome!
Nooch – Easy Peasy Pizza ⬇
Mayo? Vegenaise is by far the best mayo I have ever had! I get mine in my local health food shop, most local shops will oder stuff in for you to keep your custom so it’s always worth asking! It’s absolutely incredible!
Creme Fraiche! Soured cream? Oatly have just released theirs to the UK market and I always have to stock up in tesco as they get snapped up!! I use it for soured cream too as the taste is so similar! It’s by far my favorite new Vegan product!
Oatly Creme Fraiche – Lemon Chicken Risotto ⬇
Of course a fridge wouldn’t be complete without an abundance of fresh fruit and veg! Make sure you stock up on all sorts of colours, textures and flavours and give yourself the challenge of using all of them by the end of the week. Lots can be frozen if you dont get round to scoffing them all, but make sure to prepare them first, chop carrots, dice onions, slice peppers etc, so that you can cook them straight from frozen. Most will go mushy if you let them defrost and then you’ll have to chuck them anyway!
Lots of colourful veg – Cajun Stew ⬇
Tofu! I will be doing a separate feature on how to prepare, marinade and cook tofu, but there are lots of pre-prepared tofus out there, health food shops and supermarkets sell it, but my favourite product is Taifun tofu. The smoked tofu is to die for! As is the pizza pizza! It’s a great, healthy source of protein and can be absolutely any flavour you want it to be! So if you have tried tofu before and hated it, you don’t dislike tofu, you just didn’t like that particular tofu, or the way it was cooked! Try again!
Sesame crusted tofu – Ramen noodle Bowl ⬇
We are almost done! Lets gets onto the goodies, naughty foods and accidentally Vegan products!
Good lord, there are so many naughty foods you can have as a Vegan, I won’t be able to list them all, so I will just tell you a few of my favourites! If you want to find a larger list of Vegan treats, just type ‘accidentally Vegan’ into google, and you will be shocked at the sheer amount of Vegan yums there are!
Vego chocolate, moo free chocolate, swedish glace ice cream, alpro ice cream, booja booja ice cream and chocolates (pricey but goood), Tescos frozen churros, co-op custard donuts, alpro custard, alpro cream, oatly cream, bourbons, all oreos except peanut butter flavour, biscoff, most pringles (they are marked Vegan if they are), lots of walkers crisps (again, check the label), lidl apple strudel, some lindt chocolate (check ingredients) jus roll croissants, jus rol pain au chocolat, just rol cinnamon swirls, jus roll puff pastry, all alpro desserts and yoghurts, jelly tots, hartleys glitter jelly… gosh to goodness there are so so many more and 90% are sitting on your supermarket shelves!
Always check the ingredients in the free from isles, many people have bought dairy free carbonara sauce only to find it has ham in, these products are aimed at those with intolerances, not vegans, so do double check.
If something is labelled as vegetarian, you just need to check for milk and egg in bold, or certain enumbers. Here is a list of the main ones to look out for ⬇
So there you have it! I hope this article has helped you, or at least made you feel comfortable enough to think about Veganism… if you feel like there is something I haven’t covered, a question you have left unanswered or you’re having trouble finding any products, please let me know and I will do my best to help you! Either give me an email, or message me through my facebook page!
Now, get out there, and get cooking!