The Vegan Diet: What it is, how it works, and recipe ideas

vegan food

by Hayley Kadrou |
Published on

The Vegan Diet: What is it?

Going vegan can be everything from a diet regime to a wider lifestyle, but for now we'll focus on veganism from a food perspective alone.

Being vegan means cutting out meat and fish, as well as all other animal derived products - such as eggs and dairy.

Many vegans also chose to avoid honey, too.

So cut out the Saturday morning fry ups – simple, right? Wrong.

Where is gets more complex is the ingredients that turn up in food that you wouldn’t look at and think of as ‘animal derived’ – such as gelatine in sweets, egg in fresh pasta and milk in chocolate.

There are many reasons why people adopt a vegan diet, from environmental to their love of animals, or simply a distaste for meat, so don't assume everyone adopting a vegan diet is doing it for the same reason, or shares the same opinion.

Can vegans still have a balanced diet?

Jimmy Pierce, a spokesperson for The Vegan Societyexplains:

"Well-planned vegan diets can be devised to support optimal health at any age and life stage.

"It provides all the essential nutrients and minerals we need but, like any way of eating, you need to make sure you are getting everything you need nutritionally.

"Include plenty fresh veg and fruit, pulses, grains, nuts and seeds, make curries, soups, stews and you can still have the odd vegan burger, pizza, fajita or pasta dish."

Despite what is commonly thought, there are plenty ways you can get nutrients that are usually found in meat.

For example, nuts, lentils, tofu, soy milk and quinoa are all high in protein, and for a quick iron fix vegans can turn to beans, dark green leafy vegetable such as spinach and cereals.

Tips for going vegan

Although it may seems like a big challenge, Jimmy insists that: “It’s never been easier to be vegan. There are vegan alternatives to pretty much everything now. Whatever your favourite dish, you can so easily veganise it.”

And many high street restaurants are getting on board, too.

With so many subtitutes available in mainstream supermarkets now, you can easily access alternatives to your usual diet.

Swap out your regular milk and try one of the many options from rice, soy, almond to coconut milk to find what's right for you.

Switch up eggs for protein-rich tofu, and mince beef for soya mince (like this one from Sainsbury's)

and brands like Linda McCartney do a great vegan range, from sausages to pies.

Jimmy also advises:

“When shopping, look out for the Vegan Trademark, which is the original and most established standard for products that are free of animal use, meaning the ingredients and processes have been checked by The Vegan Society.

vegan trademark
vegan trademark ©vegan society

*The Vegan Trademark symbol to watch out for *

"Some other products state the manufacturer thinks they are suitable for vegans, while lists of ingredients often embolden allergen, so check these for the likes of egg, milk and cheese and so on.

As well shops like Wholefoods and Holland and Barrett clearly stocking vegan-friendly foods, supermarkets like Sainsbury's are also increasingly making is easily for vegans to decipher products - at least amongst thier own brand, labelling whether it's vegan clearly alongside the rest of the nutritional information.

“Join local vegan groups on Facebook, go to vegan fairs, chat to people and share tips," Jimmy also advises.

Vegan recipe ideas:

Recipe: Vegan Roasted Rosa Chick'n Schnitzel

vegan recipe roasted rosa chicken schnitzel


  • 1 box Fry’s Meat Free Schnitzels

  • 1 punnet Baby mushrooms

  • handful of fresh Thyme

  • smoked paprika

  • fresh lemon juice

  • large Rosa Tomatoes

  • fresh garlic – sliced

Find the instructions HERE.

Recipe: Vegan and gluten-free Braised Cauliflower and Puy Lentil Tabouleh

vegan recipes
vegan recipe ©veganuary


  • 100g Puy lentils

  • 1 bay leaf

  • 220g bulgur wheat, rinsed in cold water

  • 450ml boiling water or veg stock

  • 1 small cauliflower, cut into small florets, roughly 2cm in size, stalks finely diced (waste nothing!

  • large pinch of ground cumin

  • large pinch of ground coriander

  • large pinch of sweet paprika

  • large pinch of ground turmeric

  • small pinch of ground cinnamon

  • one half teaspoon sea salt

  • 4 spring onions, finely chopped

  • one half a cucumber deseeded

  • finely diced 2 ripe tomatoes, deseeded and finely diced

  • 1 tablespoon great olive oil

  • half a handful of dried apricots, soaked for 2 hours, then drained and finely chopped

  • a handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

  • half a handful of fresh mint leaves,

  • finely chopped seeds from 1 small pomegranate

  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

  • 1 x pomegranate dressing

For the garnish:

  • 4 tablespoons pomegranate seeds

  • a handful of chopped fresh parsley and mint

Find the instructions HERE.

Recipe: Vegan Sweet Potato Burgers

recipe vegan sweet potato burger
vegan sweet potato burger ©veganuary


  • 2 cups coarsely mashed sweetpotatoes, about 2 large sweetpotatoes

  • 1 cup organic refried black beans

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

  • one third panko or gluten free bread crumbs

  • one third cup flour (or all-purpose gluten free)

  • 1 vegan egg, already mixed/prepared (egg replacer or tablespoon ground flax or chia mixed with 2 tablespoons warm water)

  • 1 and halfteaspoons smoked paprika

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • half teaspoon pepper

  • one eighth teaspoon cumin

  • 2-3 tablespoons coconut or grapeseed oil, for cooking

Garlic Aioli:

  • 3 bulbs of roasted garlic (slather garlic in olive oil, season with salt & pepper, wrap in aluminum foil and roast in oven at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes)

  • three quarters cup plain vegan mayo

  • 2.5 tablespoons lemon juice

  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Recipe: Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups with Toasted Coconut

vegan chocolate cakes
vegan chocolate cakes ©veganuary


  • three quarters -1 cup ground up pecans (I use a Vitamix to make them the consistency of graham cracker crumbs. A food processor would work too!)

  • half cup of toasted coconut (sweetened or unsweetened – I like sweetened)

  • half cup vegan butter

  • three quarter - 1 cup of natural peanut butter (crunchy or smooth)

  • 2 dark chocolate Lindt bars (This tastes the best!)

  • one quarter cup of nuts or extra coconut for the tops

For the instructions, see HERE.

Recipe: Vegan Raw Spiced Apple and Date Pie

vegan apple pie
pie ©veguary


For the crust:

  • 200g macadamia or cashew nuts

  • 150g pecans or walnuts

  • 50g dates

  • a large pinch of sea salt

For the filling:

  • 150g dried apples, roughly chopped

  • 480ml apple juice

  • 375g apples (about 3 or 4)

  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

  • 8 big fat dates (medjool are ace), soaked until soft

  • half a teaspoon cinnamon

  • a large pinch of nutmeg

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extrac

  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup

  • a small pinch of sea salt

For the topping:

  • 90g pecans or walnuts, finely chopped

  • 4 big fat dates, finely chopped

  • half a teaspoon vanilla extract

  • a large pinch of ground cinnamon

For the instructions, see HERE.

*Thanks to:

Jimmy Pierce, The Vegan Society and*

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