It’s Veganuary! Looking to try some plant-based recipes, but all your favourite dishes contain meat, fish or dairy? Don’t panic! Here are some easy tips for adapting your favourite recipes to make them vegan…

How to adapt recipes to make them vegan

Louise Palmer-Masterson, founder of award-winning vegan restaurant Stem + Glory, shares her top tips to help you ace plant-based cooking this Veganuary and totally impress your vegan guests…

1. Dream up your ideal menu and then veganise it!

You might be surprised at how many vegan alternatives there are these days – these can make it super easy to ‘veganise’ a meat-based dish. ‘Ok, this might not work if you were planning steak and chips, but say you were planning Indian, Italian, Asian or Middle Eastern – pretty much any style of cuisine works actually,’ Louise explains.

‘Compile your signature dishes and then google a vegan version. There are stacks of vegan recipes online and you can literally put in your ingredients, then add ‘vegan’ and ‘recipe’ and you’ll find something!’

2. Start reading packets

Do you know what’s in your cupboards? ‘As a non-vegan you probably don’t know what non-vegan products are sneaked into your everyday cupboard staples,’ Louise reveals. ‘Even now with veganism on the rise, packets are usually labelled ‘vegetarian’ but not necessarily ‘vegan’.’

‘It has been helped by recent changes to the law that allergens have to be written in bold, so it’s quite easy to scan ingredients lists for eggs and dairy which are the main culprits. So be really careful what you use when cooking vegan recipes.’

3. Stock up on vegan essentials

These days, you can find an alternative for most meat and dairy products. While many of these can be made from scratch, there are number of great options at the shops. ‘If you are not such a keen cook, get down to the health food shop and stock up. You can get vegan alternatives to almost anything now. For example vegan mayonnaise is easy to make, but there are a number of off-the-shelf versions that are really tasty,’ Louise adds.

4. Search for vegan wine/beer

Food isn’t the only thing you need to think about: many wines and beers can also contain non-vegan ingredients, so it’s important to check labels carefully if you’re following Veganuary or hosting for vegan guests.

‘Co-op is best for vegan wine labelling and there is a really good website Barnivore which lists all vegan wine, beer and spirits you can buy in the supermarkets. If you’re inviting vegan dinner guests round, they will really appreciate that you have done this research,’ says Louise.

5. Be creative and experiment

While it might be tempting to play it safe when cooking plant-based dishes for the first time, Louise encourages you to get creative:

‘Be bold! I’ve lost count of the number of times I have visited a non-vegan restaurant and asked what they can provide for me only to be offered a risotto or a salad. Worse, when probed that the salad contains that exciting combination of lettuce, tomato and cucumber! And please, from the bottom of my heart. Do not serve stuffed things if it’s me coming to dinner!’

Vegan recipes to try…

Vegan main course recipes:

Vegan starter or dessert recipe:

  • Gluten-free vegan protein blinis – not only will these please vegans, but those watching their weight or avoiding gluten will love them too! Use them for a tasty dessert, or top with hummus for a savoury starter.

Click here for some meat-free, vegetarian recipes from Peta Leith!