Veganuary: Flexitarian Starter Pack

You may or may not have participated in Veganuary this year. Either way, it’s never too late to incorporate some plant-based foods into your diet.

Whilst there are numerous benefits of veganism (from health, sustainability to ethics), it can seem quite daunting with it being promoted in the media so much recently. After all, Veganism isn’t for everyone, as to put it quite bluntly. Some people unapologetically just love their meat. Consequently, pushing Veganism onto these die-hard meat lovers is never going to end well. If this is you, then perhaps adopting a more flexitarian diet (such as introducing one or two meat-free meals, and eventually days) is enough to contribute to making a positive impact.

Of course, for a vegan, it’s great that vegetarianism and veganism is growing. However, it’s appreciated that the animal-free lifestyle is not for everyone, so below is a flexitarian starter pack that has been put together to help those of you who want to reap some of the benefits of a plant-based diet without giving up meat and dairy all together.

1. Buy your favourite veggies

A lot of people shy away from having a meat-free meal or day as they associate it with being based on ordinary fruits or veggies that aren’t so popular. But if you don’t like broccoli or sprouts then don’t buy them! There is such a large variety of vegetables that you’ll find something that you like! As a rule of thumb though, it’s best to consume a variety of coloured vegetables, to maximise the range of your nutrient intake.

2. Meat-free Meat

Meat-free meat is an absolute God send to those who want to reduce their meat intake but not miss out on “meaty” textures and flavours. It’s a great option for those who are transitioning too. Meat-free meat has gone a long way since just Quorn mince. Now, the possibilities are endless, and the quality has improved too! Linda McCartney’s Country Pies is a good recommendation; they’re such a great option for a comforting Sunday’s dinner – you won’t believe they’re meat free!

3. Make your own lunch

Vegan lunch options are usually (annoyingly) more expensive which can be a deterrent from meat-eaters choosing them over the meat alternatives. In order to still have a meat-free day without spending loads of extra cash, make your own lunch instead. If you’re struggling to think of meat or dairy-free sandwich fillers, a smashed chickpea sandwich, which is high in protein, tastes great too – it has a similar texture to tuna!

4. Eat less processed, more natural foods

To gain the maximum benefits of a flexitarian diet, it’s best to incorporate as many natural foods as possible. Even when you are going to buy meat or dairy products look out for the quality of the ingredients used so that you become more aware of the food you are consuming. Yes, this will sometimes mean that you’ll be spending more on specific products, but the money you save on buying less meat or dairy overall will balance it out.

5. Value your food!

This is probably the most important point, whatever your food choices are, make a conscious effort to value your food more. So, regardless of whether your meal includes meat/dairy, be mindful of the ingredients’ source and minimise your food wastage. After all, there’s little point in going vegan for sustainability reasons if you’re going to be wasting so much food. Planning your week’s groceries and meals in advance definitely helps with this, so that you can avoid buying excess products!


Andri Neocleous


Image: Healthline