The Essential Vegan Toolkit is a fun guide on what to eat.
Nutrition is made so complicated, when in fact the science is pretty clear. In the words of American food campaigner Michael Pollan: ‘Eat food. Mostly plants. Eat less’. In other words, either be vegan or as close as possible to it, and base your meals around local seasonal foods, rather than processed foods that carry health claims.
Other species have no problem. Tigers know what to hunt for, and birds know which berries to eat from the trees. Why are we the only species that has to pay hundreds of pounds to get ‘experts’ tell us what to eat, how many calories to count, what we can’t eat, and what products we must buy, to ensure proper nutrition? Combine with regular exercise (walking’s fine) and try to relax (stress kills), to give yourself the best chance. Michael’s 64 food rules include:
- Don’t eat anything your grandmother would not know
- Comes from a plant? Eat it. Made in a plant? Don’t.
- Don’t get your fuel from the same place, as your car
- Don’t eat cereals that change the colour of the milk!
- Don’t eat anything with more than 5 ingredients
- Avoid foods with ‘health claims!’
The Veg Space is a food blog created by a professionally trained chef. Her Four Week Vegan Meal Plan is fab and free! Just enter your email address to receive a PDF to your inbox for 4 weekly shopping lists, 28 easy vegan dinners and a full guide to using the meal plan.
What Supplements Do We Really Need?
Most health shops and chemists have aisles and aisles of expensive supplements. In truth, as long as you eat properly, you likely don’t need any of them. However for busy lives and poor food choices in shops, sometimes it’s good to take a simple multi-supplement as a back-up. Choose one based on plants in sustainable packaging, and talk to your GP first, if taking any medication or pregnant/nursing.
NHS recommends folic acid for women trying to conceive (and up to 12 weeks after conception) to prevent spina bifida in babies. Foods to avoid in pregnancy include fish (so avoid cod liver oil) and foods high in vitamin (like pate or liver sausage).
- Get Nourished offers quality biodegradable boxes of supplements including pre-natal blends). Feel is another good brand of therapeutic-dose supplements in biodegradable packaging (the beauty supplements are promoted by Cheryl Cole, though there’s no guarantee they will make you look like her!)
- DR.VEGAN supplements are sold on subscription in metal tins, and refills. These have wonderful reviews and start working within days, though they do smell a bit like compost!
- Vegums makes fruity gummy vitamins in metal tins, including omega 3 blends. Created by two pharmacists, these are also suitable for older children, who simply take half the dose.
Ethical Nutrition Co was founded by a cancer survivor. This affordable range in sustainable packaging includes a , magnesium (for muscles and vegan vitamin D (from lichen, good for bones).
Birds know what to eat, better than us! E B Watts
Next time you think the big supermarkets care about your health, look at how they are designed. American food campaigner Michael Pollan writes that iff supermarkets really cared, they would have central aisles packed with fresh organic produce. Instead, you’ll find:
- All have the same design: 2 or 3 aisles of fresh produce, then most of the other aisles are full of processed food. Most stores sell the processed cereals at eye level (porridge oats at the bottom), milk at the far end corner (so you can ‘buy things’ on the way).
- And most have no clocks or windows, so you kind of lose your mind. They’ve even found people interviewed in supermarkets with things in their trolley they did not know they had put in there! That’s the power of advertising, when you’re watching an ad late at night on TV, then go bleary-eyed to the supermarket next morning.
- If you drive daily to the supermarket, that’s petrol and wear and tear on your car. You often end up buying more ready-meals, and they are more expensive than making your own meals with real (cheap) ingredients.
- Local shops employ local signwriters, they have lunch at the local pub and buy from local suppliers. All of these tend to be create more jobs. The shop workers at the supermarkets may be local, but often the managers aren’t, ‘driving in from head office’.
Michael’s book Food Rules is small enough to fit in your bag, if you need a reminder on what to buy at the supermarket, if you have no choice but to shop there. He condenses all his knowledge into 64 simple rules. It’s a good layout: one page lists the rule in one sentence, then the facing page gives a few short paragraphs on why. Here are a few to keep in your head:
Don’t buy ingredients your great-grandmother would not know
Eat food from a plant: not made in a plant.
Don’t get your fuel, from the same place as your car
Don’t buy cereals, that change the colour of the milk!
Protein powders are often used by vegans, as a good way to easily get some quick nutrition into smoothies. You can get enough protein just by eating a good balance of foods. But vegan protein powders are useful if recovering from illness, for athletes or for people who for whatever reason, could do with some extra protein. You can find many alternatives to whey, from pea to hemp protein powders.
Organic Protein Shakes from Wales
These organic protein shakes from Wales are sent in compostable letter-box friendly packaging, if you need a little health boost. Everything is made with natural healthy ingredients. Keep chocolate away from pets, use a letterbox guard for home delivery. Fit Box is a protein shake selection. This is a carefully chosen selection of award-winning protein blends and powders (also sold as a gift hamper) including:
Nutrient Pure Protein Powder has over 55% protein, made with cocoa and vanilla, sweetened with coconut blossom sugar
- Super Protein Powder (contains hemp and pea protein plus maca, beetroot and lacuma that is good for building muscles
- Hemp Protein is rich in essential fatty acids and other nutrients.
- Pea Protein can help your body absorb calcium and has a lot of amino acids, to build tissue and muscle
- Rice Protein is easily digested so good on gentle stomachs, can help to speed up the metabolism.
- Organic drinking chocolate is made with quality Ecuadorian cacao and Madagascan vanilla, sweetened with coconut blossom sugar
- Smoothie recipe card & information
The organic wellbeing blend is a blend of 7 organic raw superfoods including barley grass, wheat grass, spirulina, sea chlorella, hemp protein, Romanian beetroot and kelp (check with your doctor if on medication, before drinking/eating lots of greens).
We’ve all heard that we should eat more ‘wholefoods’. But what exactly are they? In a nutshell, whole foods are anything that has not been processed. So brown rice and brown bread are wholefoods, but white rice and white bread are not. You have to be careful, because many companies market their foods as whole foods, when they are not really. A ‘wholefoods’ cereal may be clever at making it appear healthy, but in reality it’s mostly sugar, and just a bit of wholefoods added.
Joe Wicks is a popular exercise coach in the UK, who kept the nation fit during lockdown, with his YouTube videos. He says quite rightly that he would never follow advice from dieting clubs that ask you to eat an apple-flavoured ‘wholefood’ snack bar with lots of ingredients. His advice: just eat an apple. Here are some good wholefood recipe books, if you would like to try a few genuine wholefood recipes.
Dreena’s Kind Kitchen is the latest book by a popular Canadian chef. All her recipes use wholefood ingredients. This one includes recipes for:
- Lemon Poppyseed Muffins
- Potato-Cauliflower Scramble
- Zucchini (courgette) Fritters
- A-Game Chili
- White Bean Corn Chowder
- Beyond BEET Burgers
- 1-Minute Alfredo
- Lentil Sweet Potato Meatloaf
- Charming Apple Crisp
- Holiday Dinner Torte
Plant-Powered Families is also by Dreena. All these recipes are taste-tested on her own family. Recipes include:
- Pumpkin Pie Smoothie
- Vanilla Bean Choc Chip Cookies
- Cinnamon French Toast
- No-Bake Granola Bars
- Creamy Fettuccine
- Sneaky Chickpea Burgers
- Apple Pie Chia Pudding
Get It Ripe and Ripe From Around Here are both beautifully designed books of wonderful recipes by a Canadian chef, who focuses on organic, local and seasonal foods. Recipes (including meal plans) include Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins,, Pear Parsnip Soup, Asparagus & Spring Onion Quiche, Blueberry Lavender Ice Cream, Ginger Rhubarb Galettes, Strawberry Shortcake, Plum Upside Down Cake, Sweet Cherry Pie, Blackberry Peach Cobbler and Apple Spice Ice Cream.
Whole Food Vegan Baking offers recipes made with natural ingredients like chickpea flour. Learn the science behind swapping sweeteners, omitting oil and picking plant-based ingredients. Recipes include Apple Pie!