This blogpost is also available in German / auf Deutsch
I hope you all read part 1! If not, check that out first. That way you can read the answers in an order that makes sense! As explained in the first part, on Instagram I asked the somewhat naïve question “What’s stopping you from eating vegan food?” And received lots of feedback! I want to talk about this feedback now, but since there was so much, I’ve divided the blog post into two parts.
Preliminary information and disclaimer can be found in part 1, but here is a short version: This blog post is not a substitute for medical advice or medical treatment. I have researched all statements to the best of my knowledge, and I give sources, which you should read yourself, for all of my recommendations. Also, I do not want it to seem like you all have to become vegan right now! I would not say that I am the perfect vegan either. But how about trying a vegan day? This post is also not sponsored / paid and the blog post does not contain any affiliate links. If you want to support my work, follow me on Instagram or YouTube!
Let’s start with a question that I found super interesting:
How to find vegan friends
“I am the only vegan in my circle of friends. Do you have any tips on getting to know like-minded people? “
Oh yes, I know how it feels! When I started changing my diet to eat vegan, I didn’t know anyone who was vegan. But that has changed a lot recently and now I even find like-minded people from the small town that I come from, friends of friends! Of course, that’s not the norm, but fortunately, there are countless ways to network over the Internet these days. My friends from my hometown do it e.g. they join vegan clubs or something similar, go to vegan festivals, attend vegan weekly dinners, go to animal rights demos and meet people there. A few potential contact points:
- vegetarian forums
- ProVeg (as well as the ProVeg Facebook groups of each city)
- Facebook groups
- Bumble (an app to find partner, friends and business partners)
- And many more, feel free to fill in the comments!
Everyone around me eats meat
How do you handle it when people around you eat meat?
If mutual acceptance prevails, that’s ok. But if they make jokes or comments about the subject, I would not be able to eat with them all the time. And if I hear the same old thing over and over again, like “I only eat organic meat” or something like that, then honestly I can only roll my eyes. But mostly I keep that to myself. As mentioned in my part 1, I always try to be positive and friendly, and when I say something it is always calm, deliberate and fact-based.
Social Settings / work / etc.
- “Social setting, having people that don’t support veganism watch my adaption and struggles”
- “Complicated to prepare tasty, varied, veggie dishes for the office and home “
- “No vegan options in restaurants, feeling excluded, no vegan cafeteria food”
When I started eating vegan, there were no vegan restaurants around. So I almost always brought food for myself to the office, or made salad for lunch. Below, I also have specific tips for quick dishes. Whenever we had a business dinner, I always tried to call the restaurant in advance and talk to them about vegan options. Good restaurants are very open to preparing something, in my experience. If it was spontaneous, I talked to the chef on the spot and explained that I did not eat meat, dairy and eggs and then suggested a few options, e.g. the vegetable casserole without cheese, but with tomato sauce instead. Friends of mine have even brought their own tzatziki (with the restaurant’s consent) or something similar. In Bavarian restaurants, there was often only potatoes and salad for me (a combination, but I love!). But I realized that I was getting better every day at being an uncomplicated vegan in my work life. And if you do find a restaurant that offers a good vegan option, let them know that you like it, write a review and / or post it on Happy Cow! I have a whole blog post about vegan eating out, see here!
Vegan in a non vegan flatshare / with a non vegan partner
Well, I have to say that I was just very lucky, with my shared apartments and of course with Jesse. In my student flats I lived with super nice people and we even shared all the food costs and there were never any problems. My roommates also ate veggie spreads, drank oat milk and ate fruits and vegetables, as well as beans and lentils. When they then bought other things, such as Salami and cream cheese, I got tofu & such. At that time, my diet was not more expensive, actually quite the opposite, since I had opted for whole foods and almost everything, except for nutritional yeast, came from the “normal” supermarket. More in Part 1!
Back then, I often cooked following the recipes from Ohsheglows.com (that was circa 2011) and just picked a blog post every day and cooked it! It was super easy, delicious and not expensive! At that time she never used meat substitutes or tofu, or anything like that (one of her most recent dishes is just lentils, tomato sauce, local vegetables – that’s so cheap!) But I also discovered Overnight Oats and green smoothies!).
Shortly thereafter, the “members” of the shared flat changed and we were then no longer like a family that shares everything, but we still cooked a lot together and since the girlfriend of my roommate had a milk allergy, that also happened to fit well…
Jesse has always been super supportive and at home he has always eaten vegan for main courses and only didn’t when we went out to eat. There was never a stupid comment that I was complicated because he understood why I do that. Sometimes he made himself grilled cheese or chicken, but at some point even that stopped and there was no meat anymore.
Edit: These were not concrete tips, I admit that, I just wanted to say that in shared flats where a very friendly and family-like relationship was maintained, being and cooking vegan was not a problem. They often accommodated me and I didn’t give them too much of a hassle, living their life. But in other flatshares that would not have been so easy! But a concrete tip: cooking together helps to reduce prejudices against vegan food. Vegan food is delicious, full, and versatile (if you do not make just salad, haha). And as in Part 1 mentioned, I do not judge, I do talk about veganism, but not judgmental, and instead fact-based and positive. But a meat-free shared flat is probably a LOT easier (however, I never had that experience to compare).
Vegan in a small city
- “The small selection in restaurants and cafes”
- “Vegan food in a small town.”
- “Vegan ingredients in a small town.”
- “It’s difficult in a small town when on the road and no time to prepare your own meal.”
- “Difficult to eat out in small towns,”
I wrote a whole blog post about eating out as a vegan. Vegan ingredients in small towns, I’m unsure what you mean. Do you think villages? Because even in small towns, where I come from for example, there are health food stores or in industrial areas large supermarkets with small, but usually pretty good organic food sections. As I said before, I also started eating vegan when there were hardly any vegan products in supermarkets, so I relied on whole food and low-processed products. Let me know about specific questions, situations, etc. in the comments here and I can give you a concrete feedback.
Another recommendation of mine: Always ask. In the café, ask for soy milk every time, in the store asks for vegan products, even if you know they do not have it. The more you ask or even say that vegan options are great, the better the chance that vegan products will be on sale in the future. Demand determines the offer!
In Schweinfurt, where I come from, I ALWAYS ask for a vegan milk alternative in a certain café and I will not let it go until there is oat or soy milk 🙂
Costs and time
- “Cost and time!”
- “Is vegan food more expensive?”
- “More simple and inexpensive dishes could help, without much Chi Chi”
The short version: Vegan food is no more expensive or cheaper than a diet with animal products, it just depends.
The long version: It depends. If you buy many meat or cheese substitutes, vegan food is more expensive. But if you stick to healthy whole foods with little processed foods, and reduce your sugar and white flour consumption, the vegetable based diet is even cheaper, in my experience. Simple tofu, beans, lentils, chickpeas, oatmeal, greens, etc. are super cheap and very nutritious. Add in seasonal vegetables and a few luxury products, but eaten only in moderation (nuts, seeds, nutritional yeast, etc.). Below you will find food blogs that are simple and delicious!
No need for superfoods! You don’t need expensive chia seeds, flax seeds are enough for your Omega 3 intake. And you do not need expensive, imported quinoa. Organic soy from Austria is also super high in protein, and beans as well. You do not need expensive almonds or cashews, you can easily make pesto from sunflower seeds, or cheesy stuff with white beans (see my first part and the book “The Uncheese Cookbook”). You do not need Healthy Green Superfood powder. Frozen kale is cheap and is great in a smoothie and super healthy and nutritious. You do not need expensive almond milk. Oat milk with oats from Germany is a great alternative, my favorite actually! In restaurants, vegetarian and vegan dishes are often cheaper than a steak dish.
Personally, over the years, I have turned into a “luxury” vegan. I just like to spend a lot of money on food, buy a lot of organic foods and save money on other things. Furthermore, I also see nutrition as an investment. Maybe I pay a bit more for healthy foods, but live healthier, have more energy. Since I live vegan, I’m actually much less likely to get sick. Buying organic food, as well as expensive vegan products is a personal decision of mine. However, I started eating vegan as a student and did it on a budget! Both are possible!
Vegan when traveling / vegan on the road
- “At home, I almost only eat vegan, but on the road it is sometimes difficult to implement.”
- “Food that is quick to make etc. is generally not vegan and I can not cook it every day …”
- “Mostly limited options when eating out, it’s much easier as a veggie”
- “Eating out or even with the family, they find vegetarian difficult”
- “Traveling (in Asia) stops me”
Here again: Read my blogpost on the topic eating out as a vegan.
To the question “Vegan food takes so long to make”: As always it depends on what you’re making! I’ve always enjoyed cooking. Cooking vegan can be super easy and super fast: noodles and vegan cheese sauce is really fast, or oven vegetables, beans with salad, or pasta with tomato sauce, or chickpea salad, or hummus with vegetables, Overnight Oats To Go, or wholegrain bread with raw food and hummus, there are so many options! What are some fast non-vegan foods that you like to cook? Maybe I can give more specific tips? For years, I took food to work every day, on the one hand to save money, to have a healthy meal and because there was not always something vegan.
Traveling and Vegan: I always find a lot of options with Happy Cow, as well the Vegan Travel Facebook group, or I research in advance what “vegan” means in the particular language (or “no egg, no milk, no meat , no fish, no cheese “) or find out which national dishes are vegan. And it’s also ok if you do not always manage to be 100% perfect vegan when traveling. Do not put too much pressure on it! But doing some research and interacting with the locals, sometimes communicating with hands and feet, is also great fun and has even connected me more with the local people than usual! It is said so often that you can not experience the culture if you do not eat meat. But especially in Southeast Asia, there are many Buddhist holidays, vegetarian restaurants especially for locals. In Vietnam, e.g. we were invited to a temple with other Vietnamese only through eating vegan food. We barely understood a word, but it was a great afternoon! And such things often happened to us!
Laziness / habits
- “Often laziness”
- “My cravings and the fact that I like meat, eggs, milk”
- “Habits, Nurtured Nutrition”
- “So hard to change your lifestyle, not impossible but not the faint of heart”
- “I love ice cream too much”
- “Difficult with family and friends and tempting when eating outside”
- “I’m currently missing the structure in everyday life, it really aware to change. Work in small steps to gradually replace. “
These comments sound as if those people need motivation. Because with a good amount of motivation even a difficult life change is possible, even really big steps.
My tip for more motivation: read a lot and watch a lot of documentaries. After reading the books “How Not To Die”, “Skinny Bitch”, “The China Study” or “Eating Animals” or watching documentaries like “Forks over Knives”, “What The Health” and “Earthlings” I bet you will not want milk or meat … at least not for a while. These books and documentaries deal not only with the health aspect, but also with the topics of environmental protection and animal welfare.
If there is still no motivation after that, then do it in small steps. Vegan on Fridays, vegan on weekends, etc. and slowly approach the lifestyle! Talk with vegans, e.g. at a vegan weekly meal or in forums, and get some motivation!
What are good alternatives:
- “I know too few alternatives.”
- “I have not found one vegan milk product yet that goes with coffee.”
- “For me it’s hard because I love my yoghurt cereal and I do not really know what I can replace it with.”
- “Little things that I do not like the milk alternatives, and that you have to learn to cook again”
- “Basic shopping list would be great, Easy recipes that go fast”
I am very happy to be able to help here!
In terms of basic shopping list: Here I personally orientate myself to the Daily Dozen by Dr Greger. He developed this Daily Dozen based on studies and research (more on that in his book “How Not To Die”), which according to him should be eaten every day. So it’s not about giving up certain food groups, but about what should be on the menu at least once a day. A super positive recommendation I think!
Nevertheless, he recommends limiting refined sugar and white flour consumption. If I do not know what to cook, I just think about what’s on the list that I have not checked off yet. There is also a Daily Dozen App!
So I always try to have the following things in my home (emphasis is on trying, haha):
- Beans, tempeh, tofu, lentils, seitan or peas (mostly frozen)
- Berries (mostly frozen)
- Other fruit (depending on what is in season, but I almost always have bananas, fair trade is important to me)
- Flaxseed (whole, but I grind them before I eat them)
- Various spices, e.g. turmeric
- Cabbage / cruciferous vegetables (usually pickled sauerkraut, but also broccoli and cauliflower)
- Green vegetables (salad, kale, just everything that is green, the darker, the better for me!)
- More vegetables (depending on what’s in season)
- Wholegrain products (Wholegrain pasta, wholegrain bread, wholegrain rice, graupe, greens, etc.)
- I try to drink a lot of water
- And regular exercise
-> That sounds like I do not find everything so expensive …
Here are some concrete alternatives that you have asked for:
- “Butter alternative for mashed potatoes” – Alsan, or very good olive oil
- “Alternatives to yoghurt that taste like yoghurt?” – Just try some out, I like Provamel soy, as well as all other soy yoghurt products, lupine yogurt as well as On protein from Alpro, but that’s a matter of preference
- “Milk, I can not find an alternative that tastes good to me.” – also try several brands. We landed on Oatly oatmilk – unfortunately quite expensive – as our favorite. A friend of mine, however, swears by the oatmilk from Netto. I actually like all the products from Alnatura, Alpro, Provamel and Joya – but that’s generally my “problem” – I like almost everything, haha :)
- “I can not find a good meat substitute, because I reluctantly eat tofu, seitan, etc.”: If the list of protein sources in Part 1, as well as the studies and information linked below are not enough to quell the desire for meat, then you may just be craving the Taste “umami” (this is the meaty flavor) – many vegetables have a lot of umami: Ripe tomatoes, tamari, miso, sauerkraut, dried sea algae, yeast, olives, balsamic vinegar, mushrooms and more. You can sear, caramelise, grill or roast it to intensify the umami taste (source).
“Which main dishes did you get started with?”: Honestly – for 7 years I was cooking meals from the blog ohsheglows.com every day for weeks at a time. After that, I started “veganizing” my favorite dishes. For me it was MacnCheese, lasagna and ragout – all that was super easy to cook vegan! And I found everything in the normal supermarket like Rewe and special things once a month in the health food store. Nowadays, however, the selection in each supermarket is even bigger than it was then! Below are my links to the blogs!
On the subject of cheese: Here I have described in detail in Part 1 everything I have to say!
On the topic of cooking: Apparently this is a sticking point for many – but believe me learning to cook, experimenting in the kitchen, etc. is so much fun once you start! It brings so much joy and brings you back to the ground. You learn that the simple things are often the best – good food, nice company and a healthy life! It just makes you happy. And for those of you that have a stressful everyday life: Even fast meals can be healthy, see above!
A few more questions that I wasn’t able to answer so well, but I will try my best:
“My parents are against it because they think that I will lose even more weight.” – Here I do not know the background so well. Orthorexia and veganism is a topic that should be taken seriously. In general, I can say that you can also gain weight with a vegan diet. I mean there are vegan bodybuilders and vegan football players. In the end, it’s the calories that count. Some examples of calorie-dense and healthy vegan products are carbohydrates like potatoes, whole wheat pasta, wholemeal bread, and proteins like lentils, beans, etc.
“I do not like vegs so much.” – Hmm, then it a vegan diets will be difficult. Maybe it works out, if you just radically try to stick it out for 30 days? Then the sense of taste also changes a bit and then you learn to love many foods that you did not like before.
“Radical or step by step change?” – This is such a personal thing that I don’t any definitive answer for you. For me, it was step by step, but I immediately left out milk (I can not stand it and read some shocking studies). Some, however, prefer to do a challenge, e.g. Vegan for 30 days and then stick with it. It was similar with my dad, who became a vegetarian afterwards (previously a meat eater).
“Fructose intolerance, problems with onions, garlic, wholegrain, etc.” or “I do not tolerate all foods and I am already very limited” or “My nut allergy – worried about getting insufficient protein” – if you have certain intolerances or allergies, which are simply not compatible with the vegan diet, then that’s ok. Often you can not do much. Sometimes intolerances get better if you eat whole foods for longer periods of time, there have been a couple of reports on that, but of course that’s not always the case.
“How to live with this cruelty, how do you deal with that? Makes me sad all the time!” – Phew, that’s really hard. I try to reorient myself to positive examples so that I do not become so sad that so few are interested in more conscious consumption. But I’m not perfect either, and besides, until 8 years ago I ate everything without thinking. That’s why I always try to remember that once upon a time I was totally ignorant and not perfect myself.
“Is it hard for you to do without certain things?” – Only with ice cream and merengue, but otherwise it was pretty easy. I approached it with excitement and positivity and did not see it as missing out on something, but as an improvement of my diet. I’ve come to know and love so many new foods and learned so many cool new recipes! For me it is not restrictive, but has broadened my horizons.
“But I’m still pescetarian” – I did not know exactly what to respond to this, but unfortunately the fishing industry is responsible for much of the plastic garbage in the oceans (source). It’s also mass consumption, unfortunately …
“How do I make the leap from a vegetarian diet to a vegan one?” I did the jump directly, so it’s difficult for me to answer. Maybe with a challenge? One week vegan? One month vegan? And again read the sources that I have stated?
“There seem to be so many different diets that it’s kind of overwhelming me.” – Oh yes, I understand that. There are so many trends in the field of vegan nutrition. Raw vegan, clean eating, and much more! Again, I can only recommend to read fact-based sources. Maybe start with the theme Daily Dozen, even if you still eat meat and milk. It does not hurt, since the Daily Dozen are all super healthy foods!
“I do not want to commit myself and prefer to eat as regionally as possible.” – I can totally understand the approach! Of course, a banana from overseas is not the most sustainable product in the world. But regional does not always mean sustainable. Does the meat and the milk always come from local producers? Also regarding the processed products, sweets? Where does the food for the animals come from? Most of the time this comes from genetically modified soy plantations from South America for which rainforest is destroyed (source). Yes, local is important, but only eating local is not always the best, especially for countries that depend on export. I pay attention to fair trade, conscious and greatly reduced consumption. I buy, for example very rarely tropical fruits, avocados and quinoa. But if this is the case, then I pay attention to organic, fair trade and as short transport routes as possible! Incidentally, the NABU has made a great contribution to the topic of organic, regional or fair trade!
“I have to cook for my 2 year old son and because he does not eat everything, I often have to cook two dishes” – unfortunately I have no experience as a mother! Here you can also refer to Bina and Anna, both vegan mothers! And I love the videos of Ellen Fisher, as she often explains how she teaches her children to eat healthy.
Here again all link tips for more research:
Some books about the subject that I can recommend (these include numerous studies on the topics I mentioned above, order them from your local bookstore):
- The China Study, T. Colin Campbell
- Whole, T. Colin Campbell
- Skinny Bitch, Rory Freedman
- How Not To Die, Michael Greger M.D.
- Eating Animals, Jonathan Safran Foer
- Vegan Klischee Ade, Niko Rittenau
- The UnCheese Cookbook, Joanne Stepaniak (cookbook)
- The Vegetarian Kitchen, Melissa Bushby (total recommendation, cookbook)
- Ohsheglows Cookbook, Angela Liddon (cookbook)
- Vegan Yum Yum, Lauren Ulm (cookbook)
- What the Health – Netflix or via Vimeo
- Forks over Knives – Netflix or Online
- Earthlings – also on Vimeo
- Niko Rittenau – scientifically based information (German)
- Vegan ist Ungesund – also scientifically sound, but very entertaining in comedy format (German)
- Unnatural Vegan – in English, also questions vegan nutrition trends etc.
- Ellen Fisher – super inspiring family with delicious recipes
Blogs that post super simple and quick recipes:
- The Minimalist Baker
- Schnell und Einfach by Eat This
- 15 Min Lunch Bowls by Justine
- Quick & Easy by Ohsheglows
- And of course al my recipes
I’ve really tried typing out all the questions from my Instagram stories and answering them here. If you found certain questions super interesting, please let me know. Then I can write detailed blog posts on specific topics! Don’t forget Part 1 of Vegan Diet: 100 questions from you & my answers!
I am looking forward to your feedback!
PS: This post is, as mentioned above, not sponsored / paid and the blog post contains no affiliate links (the disclaimer below is only automatically always in it). But if you want to support my work, follow me on Instagram or YouTube!