Deciding to take the plunge to give up meat and dairy may feel like the hardest part – and in some ways, it is a big decision from the reasons to doing it to whether or not you feel like your body can handle it – but what comes after is tough too, no matter how much research you do.
At first it’s very daunting: learning how to read labels for what not to eat, bombarding yourself with recipes and studying other ways you can get the protein and nutrients you’ll no longer get from meat.
Then there’s the food part. It’s tough knowing you’ll be giving up some of your favourite foods. What I have found hardest is giving up McDonalds and things like a Saturday night curry or Sunday roast dinner with my family. This has been tough because things like a Sunday roast are less about the taste and more about being with family and sticking to the tradition of that certain meal on a weekend.
Luckily, there are so many alternatives out there for all sorts: milk, butter, meat and chocolate – but finding what alternatives are best for you/which taste you prefer takes a lot of time. It takes months of trial and error – in fact it was only when I met my boyfriend did I finally settle on an alternative milk that makes tea taste like tea!
I’m going to share my favourites for you all – although it’s worth noting that just because I like it, it doesn’t mean you will! Still, it’s always helpful to be faced with more options as there may be some alternatives you might not be aware of already.
Here are my favourite vegan products and vegan alternatives.
Cheese is a tough one for me: I was never a huge lover of cheese or never paid much attention to different types of cheese, but I love things like cheese toasties and a simple cheese and onion sandwich. My favourite vegan go-to cheese is definitely Violife’s original flavour block: it does the job for things like pizza bases, being grated on most meals and also is nice for in a sandwich. The only thing I would say is that it’s a tad rubbery when grating and doesn’t have a ton of flavour, so if having it in a sandwich, it definitely needs some onion or pickle too. Violife’s ‘halloumi’ Mediterranean block has mixed opinions: it’s great in my take of a grilled cheese and chorizo roll, but I wouldn’t say it tastes of halloumi. It’s definitely got tons of flavour and has the right consistency though. Also from Violife: cheese slices work well for basic recipes like burgers or rolls. Mozzarella is great for a pizza topping and in sandwiches, and I can also recommend Tesco’s Free From Original Style Spread for when you’re feeling posh and want a decent cream cheese.
Luckily, most coffee places like Starbucks and Costa now stock Soya milk and other milk alternatives but my favourite milk is hands down Oatly’s Oat Drink. It’s the closest thing to milk I’ve tasted and is perfect in a cuppa or with cereal. The Chocolate Oat Drink is lush too.
I’ve actually found that most vegan alternative meat tastes just like meat when you put it together in a meal, which leads me to think the whole eating meat thing is more to do with sight and presentation. I had vegan hot dogs recently and because I presented them in an actual hot dog bun with onions and ketchup and such, I actually forgot they were meat free. Still, some of my favourite alternatives include Fry’s chicken style strips (great for stir fry’s and curries!), Fry’s chicken style burgers and Fry’s pepper pies and country mushroom pies. Pretty much anything Fry’s! I’m not a huge fan of Linda McCartney’s range but OH MY GOSH her Mini Pork & Apple Sausage Rolls are AMAZING. Seriously. If you love mini sausage rolls at Christmas like me, you’ll be pleased as punch. Just note – these are stated as vegetarian in the name, but are actually vegan too, despite being called vegetarian mini pork and apple sausage rolls.
But seriously though.You gotta try them. I was legit like this when I first tasted them:
OREOS! Oreos, Oreos and nothing else. I joke. But seriously the fact that Oreo’s are vegan is the best news ever. Ben & Jerry’s vegan range is lush too, but some other treats I really enjoy are: Pot Noodle Beef & Tomato flavour, Asda’s Onion Rings (currently munching on these as I type), Chopstix, Walker’s French Fries Ready Salted, Original flavour Pringles, (can you tell I love my crisps?!), Original Hobnobs, Kettle Chips Sea Salt & Balsamic Vinegar flavour, Love Hearts, Nākd bars and many more to discover.
I’ll also say it’s worth checking both Tesco and ASDA for their dedicated Free From sections. Though not all products are vegan in these areas, a majority are and once you’re comfortable understanding labels, you’re bound to find tons of yummy items you didn’t realize are vegan. Luckily, Tesco’s Free From products are really easy to understand – just look out for the label that includes Free From Milk (but obviously check the back too in case it includes egg).
Also, Tesco do a very delicious hummus and falafel wrap as part of it’s lunchtime meal deal!
These are just some of my favourite products that I have discovered over the past few months; every time I shop however I come across new things to try and to add to my favourite shopping list. It’s amazing how easy being vegan can be once you’ve got a set list of products and vegan alternatives for basics like milk, meat etc.
Do you have any go-to vegan products you can recommend? Let me know with a comment!
You can also find me on