People with a vegan diet eat everything except animals and animal products.

Whereas there may be many reasons to switch to veganism, in my case it took place after attending a retreat which helped me connect with that deep concern for all sentient beings that we all share.

Having said that, it took me a while to learn what “vegan” food is and what isn’t.

So for those of you who may be wondering, vegans refrain from eating beefporkchicken or fish. At the risk of pointing out the obvious (please read my next post for more on this), beef is the meat of a cow, pork is the meat of a pig, chickens and fish are easily recognisable as animals, and although popular marketing strategies would have you believe that they don’t count or are not sentient beings, modern science tells us that they do feel pain much the same way us mammals do.

What else comes from animals? Dairy products – milkcreamcheese, yoghurt and butter (or anything that contains them, like most commercial biscuits, for example), but please note there are vegan (plant-based) options and substitutes for all of these products and, depending on where you are, can be fairly easy to obtain. Personally, I don’t stock up on vegan yoghurt or cheese, but I do have oat or soy milk and vegan butter in the fridge at all times.

What else? Eggs and bacon.

Now that what vegans don’t eat is clear(er), the question might still remain, what do we eat, then?

Well, the photo on the left shows what later became a delicious cream of tomato, which I made the other day and am still enjoying today, either with a couple of slices of toast (spread with vegan butter), or with a bread roll from my local bakery.

The photo on the right shows a few of the ingredients for two other dishes. One is a delicious rice dish I just learnt to make thanks to my aunt Gloria in Peru, with black olives, golden raisins, and an olive oil, garlic and Peruvian chile pepper (ají) dressing. The other is a fresh lettuce, spinach, onion, mango, avocado and sunflower seed salad with balsamic dressing.

When I first became vegan I went through a transition period, during which my staple diet was more limited than it used to be as I learnt to adapt my cooking skills and transform all meat-based dishes into delicious vegan alternatives, including shepherd’s pie (with a lentil and chopped vegetable base), hamburgers (with chickpeas, lentils or beans as a base), vegan meatloaf, stuffed peppers and aubergines, pasta arrabiata, scrambled tofu and the incredibly versatile bechamel sauce.

To conclude – any dish you are fond of can be made vegan.

And becoming vegan can take place without any hardship. This is important to point out because many believe it is difficult, but it really wasn’t, for me at least.

Have you got any questions about veganism? Please feel free to ask in the comments below.