How to go vegan during isolation

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Have you thought about going vegan in 2020? Is your self-isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic crushing your plans? Now is the perfect time to start and go VEGAN-20, especially when you have all that extra time on your hands.

Getting started is the first hurdle in any journey; it’s now April and you’re deep in self-isolation, supermarket shelves have been ravaged and you don’t where to start. In the spirit of the times, though, don’t panic. The hurdles are easy to overcome because you live in the right place. Australia is the third-fastest growing vegan market in the world boasting two of the world’s Top 10 most vegan-friendly cities: Melbourne and Sydney. 

So let’s get into it. We’ll start with what’s in your fridge and cupboards right now. Sort out your pantry and find those foods that are already vegan, or even ‘accidentally vegan’. Vegan foods may include dried or tinned legumes, tinned tomatoes, dried herbs and spices, vegetable stock, flours, sugars, dried 100% grain-based pasta, rice, polenta, plant-based oils, spreads and sauces. Your fridge should, already, be stocked with fresh fruit and vegetables. These ingredients will make up your vegan staples. Anything not vegan, pack together nicely into an iso-care package and give to a loved one, neighbour or, better still, an international student or asylum seeker or similar who may have lost their job and will not allowed to access any Federal Government assistance.

Still confused about which foods are vegan? Thoroughly read the labels on each product and look for ingredients like milk and milk solids, egg, and meat-based stocks. Also, ingredients with a number may be animal-derived. Identify these ingredients by using PETA’s animal-derived ingredients list. Or, you can download the Fussy Vegan app which lists brands and food items as vegan or not vegan (you need to pay f$9.99 for the Pro version).    

You can then swap meat for plant-based proteins such as tofu, tempeh and even ‘mock meats’. Australian supermarkets already stock vegan ‘beef’ burgers, ‘prawns’, ‘chicken’ and ‘fish fillets’, milk and cheeses. Dairy milk can be replaced by soy, almond, rice and oat milks (do think of the environment, too, so oat and soy milks are your best in this case). You can also purchase vegan versions of cheeses. The bean juice (or aquafaba) found in tinned chickpeas can be used easily as an egg-white substitute. Avocado is another hero ingredient that’s used to make desserts like chocolate mousse. You’ll also need ‘nooch’ (nutritional yeast); a great source of B12 that’s food for your nervous system. Nooch can be sprinkled on top of pasta or added as a seasoning to your cooking.  If you’re stuck at home, place an order online with your local supermarket, or a vegan specialty shop. Just type ‘vegan shopping Australia’ into your search engine for options in your area. Wherever you can, of course, try and shop local and source produce as locally produced as possible.

So, what can you cook? Just think to yourself: anything you can cook, I can cook vegan! Yup. There’s a constant supply of vegan recipes – for any meal of the day – right at your fingertips. Check out websites like VeganEasy.org. If you need extra support while you’re self-isolating, you can sign up to their free 30-Day Challenge and menu plan. Do you love Italian food? Of course you do. Check out Nadia Fragnito at The Vegan Italian Kitchen. If Thai food is more your jam, visit Chef Na’s Plant-Based Kitchen. For sweet treats, bake from Sara Kidd’s Vegan Baking recipes or watch her YouTube channel. Need more vegan inspo? Then, head to mindbodygreen or One Green Planet. Finally, as with any way of eating, make sure you eat the right amount of nutrients and add NutritionFacts.org to your vegan tool kit.  

Don’t forget to search through Gram, too. We’ve got plenty of vegan goodness such:

Baked Almond Feta

Loaded Miso-mashed Sweet Potato

Coconut Ice-cream Affogato

Chocolate bars

By the time your self-isolation is over, and COVID-19 is a distant memory, you’ll be confident to head out into the world and sample all the incredible vegan food your city has to offer. Just make sure you download the HappyCow app so you can dine globally with confidence.                  

Justine de Jonge

Justine is a Melbourne-based travel writer with a passion for all things vegan and a necessity for all things gluten-free.

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