Monday 20 May 2024

Vegan Parenting Tips: Raising Children on a Plant-Based Diet

As a first time mum, here are some food focused tips I can share when it comes to raising your child as a vegan. Please note that I am not a doctor, so you should always seek medical advice from your paediatrician or medical professional if you have any concerns. 

Raising children on a vegan or plant-based diet is a rewarding choice, offering numerous health and environmental benefits. However, it comes with unique challenges that requires careful planning to ensure a well-balanced diet for growing bodies. Here are some essential tips for vegan parents to help raise healthy, happy children on a plant-based diet.

1. Ensure Nutrient Variety 

A key to a healthy vegan diet is variety which includes a wide range of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. This approach ensures your child gets a diverse set of nutrients. Rotate through different foods to keep meals interesting and nutrient-rich, and to encourage kids to try new foods to expand their palates and nutritional intake. 

2. Focus on Protein Sources

Protein is crucial for growing children. Vegan diets provide ample sources of protein. But it's important to include them in every meal. Consider beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, seitan, quinoa, and edamame as regular staples. Combining different protein sources can ensure a complete amino acid profile, supporting healthy growth and development. 

3. Monitor Key Nutrients 

While a well-planned vegan can meet most nutritional needs, some nutrients require special attention. Vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids are vital for children’s development. Consider fortified foods or supplements if necessary. For example, fortified plant-based milk can be a good source of calcium and vitamin D, while flaxseeds or chia seeds offer omega -3s. Regularly consult with a paediatrician or dietitian to ensure your child is meeting their nutritional requirements. 

4. Make Mealtime Fun 

Kids are more likely to enjoy meals when they’re involved in the process. Encourage them to help with meal planning, grocery shopping, and cooking. This involvement not only makes them feel valued but also educates them about healthy eating. Use creative shapes, colours, and textures in meals to keep them visually appealing. 

5. Address Social Challenges 

Vegan children might face unique social challenges, especially when attending parties or school events where non-vegan foods are prevalent. Prepare your child for these situations by explaining your family’s dietary choices and providing them with snacks or meals to take along. Communicate with teachers and other parents to ensure there are vegan options available during events. 

6. Stay Informed and Flexible 

Nutrition science is continually evolving, so stay updated on the latest research and recommendations. Join vegan parenting groups for support, recipe ideas, and shared experiences. Flexibility is key - be open to adjusting your child’s diet based on their changing needs and preferences. 

7. Lead by Example 

Children learn by observing. As a vegan parent, set a positive example by enjoying a variety plant-based foods and maintaining a balanced lifestyle. Your enthusiasm for veganism will naturally influence your child’s attitude towards food and health. 

Raising children on a plant-based diet can be a fulfilling journey for the entire family. With careful planning, creativity, and a supportive approach, vegan parenting can promote health, compassion, and environmental responsibility in your child’s life.

Tuesday 23 April 2024

Healthy Vegan Smash Cake | Sugar Free, Dairy Free, Nut Free

A smash cake is a cute way to mark your little one's first birthday. They are smaller than your average celebration cake - perfect for those little hands to dig into. As the name suggests, the whole idea is for your baby to smash the cake and eat it freely. As a result, smash cakes are often made with baby friendly ingredients, free from refined sugar, and packed full of nutritionally dense goodness. 
This plant-based smash cake recipe is one I trialed ahead of my daughter's first birthday. As strawberries are her favourite fruit at the moment, I incorporated some strawberry puree into the cake (those strawberry and apple baby food pouches came in handy!)

To make this cake allergy friendly, simply use a different plant-based milk such as rice milk, and use a gluten-free flour blend instead of spelt flour. You can also choose to leave out the olive oil for an oil-free version, though this will affect the moistness of the cake.

You'll need a couple of four inch cake tins for this cake. The batter can make up to 4 layers. I only made 2 layers and used the rest for cupcakes. 

For the frosting, I've gone for whipped coconut cream, which is made by refrigerating a tin of full fat coconut milk overnight. The coconut fat solidifies at the top of the tin, making it easy to scoop out. You can use as is or sweeten it with a dash of natural fruit puree. 

(Makes four 4" layers)


2 cups spelt flour 

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 ripe bananas, mashed

Pouch of apple and strawberry purée (approx. 120g)

1 cup soy milk 

2 tbsp olive oil 

1 tsp mixed spice


1 tin coconut cream (full fat coconut milk refrigerated overnight)

1 tbsp apple strawberry puree


Strawberries, chopped 

Cake topper


1. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celsius.

2. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix until just combined.

3. Divide the batter into the cake tins. For each 4" cake tin, you'll need about two heap tablespoons of batter. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick stuck in the centre comes out clean. Once the cakes are ready, leave them to cool completely.

4. Make the coconut frosting by scooping out the solid coconut fat from a tin of refrigerated (overnight) coconut milk. Be careful not to add the water that has settled at the bottom of the tin, as you want the frosting to be as thick as possible. You can sweeten the coconut with a tablespoon of apple/strawberry puree if you wish. Whisk until nice and creamy. if not using immediately, keep refrigerated until you are ready to frost the cake.

5. Assemble the cake by filling and covering the cake layers with the whipped coconut frosting. Decorate with fresh strawberries or any chopped fruit of your choice. 

Saturday 6 April 2024

30 Tips for Fuelling Your Body on a Vegan Diet

Veganism has seen a marked increase in popularity as a lifestyle choice over recent years, with a growing number of individuals opting for a plant-based diet for reasons spanning health, ethics, and environmental concerns. Nonetheless, there's curiosity around how one can effectively fuel their body for exercise while following a vegan diet. 

Is it feasible for a vegan diet to provide all the essential nutrients required for peak fitness performance? 

In this piece, we will delve into the synergy between a vegan diet, appropriate training, and nutrition to energise the body for physical activity and enhance athletic prowess. Insights will be offered on the crucial nutrients necessary for optimum fitness outcomes and the capability of a plant-based diet to meet these requirements.

30 Tips and Tactics:

  1. Ensure you're consuming enough calories to satisfy your daily energy requirements.
  2. Adopt a diverse and balanced diet, rich in nutrient-packed foods, including fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes.
  3. Include plant-based protein sources like tofu, lentils, nuts, and beans in your diet.
  4. Plan your meals ahead and always have healthy snacks on hand for workout sessions.
  5. Drink ample water to maintain hydration throughout the day.
  6. Make sure that your intake of vitamins and minerals is adequate, particularly vitamin B12, calcium, and iron.
  7. Opt for whole grains to benefit from a steady release of energy.
  8. Consume small, frequent meals to maintain stable blood sugar levels.
  9. Focus on gut health by including probiotics, fibre, and prebiotics in your diet.
  10. Time your meals to coincide with your workout regime for optimal nutritional benefits.
  11. Post-workout, have a plant-based protein shake or smoothie to support muscle recuperation.
  12. Select healthy fats, such as avocados, nuts, and seeds, to bolster heart health.
  13. Add essential fatty acids from flaxseed or chia seeds to your diet to minimise inflammation.
  14. Contemplate plant-based supplements to bolster an active lifestyle.
  15. If necessary, utilise high-quality vegan protein powders to meet your protein needs through your diet.
  16. Emphasise nutrient-rich, vibrant produce for overall wellness.
  17. Pay attention to portion sizes to prevent overindulgence.
  18. Limit processed foods and snacks.
  19. Incorporate strength training to increase lean muscle.
  20. Never overlook the significance of rest and recuperation.
  21. Maintain a food diary to track your nutritional intake.
  22. Explore various plant-based protein sources to keep your diet interesting.
  23. Consult a registered dietitian to guarantee your nutritional intake is sufficient.
  24. Prioritise sleep to enhance your exercise capability.
  25. Engage in restorative practices such as yoga and stretching.
  26. Monitor your carbohydrate intake to ensure it meets your energy needs.
  27. Avoid heavy meals before exercise to sidestep gastrointestinal discomfort.
  28. Consider a plant-based protein bar as a handy snack alternative.
  29. Include antioxidant-rich foods like berries and leafy greens to aid recovery.
  30. Remain patient, consistent, and dedicated to your health objectives.

In summary, a vegan diet can indeed supply all the essential nutrients needed to energise your body for exercise and support athletic performance. With meticulous planning and a keen focus on nutrient intake, a vegan diet can cater to the nutritional demands of those leading an active lifestyle. Key considerations encompass adequate consumption of proteins, carbohydrates, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, meal planning to optimise nutrition, hydration, and the importance of rest and recovery. With these guidelines and strategies, vegans can effectively fuel their bodies for physical activity and excel in their athletic endeavours. Additionally, enlisting the support of a registered dietitian can ensure comprehensive nutritional needs are met.

Monday 18 March 2024

Cooking Techniques in Nigerian Cuisine | The Art of Fermentation, Drying and Grilling

Nigerian cuisine, rich in flavours and traditions, offers a vast array of techniques that enhance the natural taste of plant-based ingredients. Among these, fermentation, grilling, and drying stand out for their ability to transform simple vegan components into extraordinary dishes.

We’ll explore how each technique is used to create distinct flavours and textures in Nigerian dishes, providing insight into traditional cooking methods and how they can be adapted to modern kitchens. 

Whether you’re looking to experiment with new ingredients or learn more about the rich history of Nigerian cuisine, this article will offer a fascinating insight into the techniques that have helped shape this delicious and diverse cuisine.


Fermentation is a revered practice in Nigerian cuisine, breathing life into dishes with its unique flavours and health benefits. This age-old technique involves the metabolic process of converting carbohydrates to alcohol or organic acids using microorganisms, under anaerobic conditions. In the vegan Nigerian kitchen, fermentation is celebrated through dishes such as Ogi (fermented corn porridge), and ingredients/condiments such as Ugba (fermented African oil bean seeds), iru (fermented locust beans) and ogiri (fermented sesame or egusi seeds).

Ogi stands as a testament to the versatility of fermentation. Made from ground corn, millet, or sorghum, this porridge is left to ferment for a few days, developing a sour taste and a slightly tangy aroma. It's typically served as a breakfast dish, sweetened with natural sweeteners and accompanied by fresh fruits, making it a nutritious start to the day.

The condiments iru and ogiri add depth and richness to stews and soups, imparting a wonderful umami taste. With their signature pungent flavours, a little goes a very long way. 

In the production of garri, cassava undergoes fermentation before it is dried and fried. As well as enhancing its flavour, this technique also reduces harmful compounds, making it safe for consumption. 

Fermented yoghurt drinks - such as nono - enjoyed in the northern parts of Nigeria can be made vegan by using soy milk. Other fermented drinks include palm wine, sorghum beer and burukutu (Guinea corn and millet beverage).


Grilling or roasting is another cornerstone of Nigerian cooking, revered for its ability to infuse dishes with a distinct smoky flavour. While traditionally applied to meats, this technique is easily adapted to a vegan diet, highlighting the natural flavours of vegetables, fruits, and plant-based proteins.

Grilled plantains (Boli) are a popular vegan-friendly treat and street food. Ripe plantains are grilled over an open flame until the skin is charred and the inside is tender and sweet. This dish is often served with roasted peanuts, offering a delightful combination of sweet, smoky, and nutty flavours.

Vegan suya can be made using mushrooms or plant proteins such as tofu and seitan. Grilling provides the signature charred flavour that makes this popular street food so iconic. 

Grilled corn (Agbado) is another popular street food that is made by grilling fresh corn cobs over an open flame until they're tender and slightly charred. Served alongside roasted coconut or ube, this makes for a very filling snack. 

Other foods that taste delicious grilled include: yam, sweet potatoes, and tofu (wara).


Drying is a preservation method widely used in Nigerian cuisine, aimed at extending the shelf life of ingredients while concentrating their flavours. This technique is especially valuable in vegan cooking, where dried fruits, vegetables, and grains become staples in the pantry. These dried ingredients also ensure that seasonal produce can be enjoyed year-round.

Dried mushrooms and vegetables are common in Nigerian vegan dishes, rehydrated to bring soups and stews to life. Drying intensifies their umami and savouriness, providing a depth of flavour that is unparalleled. 

Black-eyed peas, cowpeas, and brown beans are often dried, serving as a staple protein source in vegan diets. They're used in dishes akara, moin moin and bean stews.

Certain grains and tubers are also dried and milled into flour. Millet and sorghum flour can be used to make traditional porridges and fermented drinks, while yam is dried and processed into a flour known as ‘elubo’ for making the popular Yoruba dish, amala. 

Herbs such as scent leaf and spices such as ginger and garlic are also dried and used for flavouring an array of traditional dishes.

In the north, greens such as moringa and baobab leaves are dried and powdered, then used to fortify stews and soups. 

_ _ _

The techniques of fermentation, grilling, and drying are pillars of Nigerian cooking, offering pathways to explore a rich culinary heritage within a vegan diet. By adapting these methods to plant-based ingredients, we can create dishes that are not only deeply rooted in tradition but also cater to a modern, health-conscious lifestyle.

In embracing these techniques, we open the door to a world of culinary creativity, where the essence of Nigerian cooking is preserved, and the delights of vegan cuisine are explored to their fullest. Whether it's through a bowl of tangy Ogi, smoky grilled plantains, or a hearty stew with dried mushrooms, the journey through vegan Nigerian cuisine is one of discovery, tradition, and, above all, taste.

Wednesday 6 March 2024

The Environmental Impact of Veganism

As concerns about climate change and environmental degradation continue to grow, there is an increasing awareness among people about the impact of their dietary habits on the planet. Veganism has gained popularity as a way to reduce carbon emissions, conserve water, and tackle deforestation, among other environmental issues. This article explores the environmental impact of veganism and how adopting a vegan lifestyle can contribute to a healthier planet. From reducing greenhouse gas emissions to preserving biodiversity, we’ll explore the ways in which choosing vegan can help mitigate some of the biggest environmental challenges facing our world today.

  1. Reduces greenhouse gas emissions: Livestock production contributes to 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, more than transportation. By choosing vegan, you can significantly reduce your carbon footprint.

  2. Saves water: Animal agriculture is responsible for more than one-third of all freshwater consumption in the world. Going vegan saves precious water resources.

  3. Reduces land use: Livestock production is responsible for up to 80% of deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, and habitat loss for many other species. By choosing vegan, you help preserve natural habitats.

  4. Reduces pollution: Animal waste is a major source of water and air pollution. Veganism reduces the amount of waste and pollution generated.

  5. Reduces energy use: Vegan diets require less energy to produce compared to animal-based diets, which require energy for growth, transportation, storage, and processing.

  6. Reduces deforestation: The clearing of forests for grazing and feed crop production has devastating effects on ecosystems, biodiversity and the climate. Veganism helps to reduce the demand for feed crops and grazing land.

  7. Reduces ocean dead zones: Livestock manure and fertilizers from crops often end up in nearby rivers and oceans, causing algal blooms and dead zones. Choosing vegan helps prevent this.

  8. Helps preserve ecosystems: The Earth’s ecosystems are being destroyed at an alarming rate, and animal agriculture is a leading cause. Veganism can help preserve ecosystems and biodiversity.

  9. Lowers risk of waterborne diseases: Livestock production is a major contributor to water pollution, which can lead to waterborne diseases. Choosing vegan can help reduce this risk.

  10. Reduces food waste: About one-third of the food produced in the world is wasted. By choosing vegan, you can help reduce food waste and save resources.

  11. Reduces use of antibiotics: Antibiotic resistance is a growing threat to public health, and animal agriculture is a major contributor to this problem. Choosing vegan helps reduce the use of antibiotics in agriculture.

  12. Reduces air pollution: Animal agriculture is a significant source of air pollution, which can cause respiratory problems and other health issues. Veganism helps reduce air pollution.

  13. Reduces global hunger: Land that could be used to grow crops for human consumption is instead used to grow feed for livestock. Veganism can help reduce global hunger by freeing up land for food crops.

  14.  Improves soil health: Livestock production is a major contributor to soil degradation and erosion. Choosing vegan helps improve soil health.

  15. Saves energy: Producing animal-based foods generally requires more energy than producing plant-based foods. Veganism helps save energy and reduces greenhouse gas emissions.

  16. Reduces the risk of zoonotic diseases: Animal agriculture is a major contributor to zoonotic diseases (diseases that can pass from animals to humans). Veganism helps reduce the risk of these diseases.

  17. Reduces the need for pesticides: Intensive animal agriculture often relies on a heavy use of pesticides and herbicides, which can have negative impacts on human health and the environment. Choosing vegan helps reduce the need for these harmful chemicals.

  18. Lowers risk of climate-related disasters: The impacts of climate change, such as extreme weather events, can have devastating effects on communities and ecosystems. Veganism can help reduce the risk of such disasters.

  19. Lowers risk of forest fires: Deforestation often leads to forest fires, which can have catastrophic effects on ecosystems and human communities. Choosing vegan helps reduce the demand for grazing land and feed crops, which contribute to deforestation.

  20.  Reduces water scarcity: Animal agriculture is a major contributor to water scarcity, which puts many communities at risk of water shortages. Going vegan helps reduce water consumption and support water conservation efforts.

  21. Lowers pesticide contamination: Pesticides used in agricultural production can contaminate soil, water, and air, posing risks to human health. Choosing vegan helps reduce the use of these harmful chemicals.

  22. Helps mitigate climate change: Animal agriculture is a major contributor to climate change, but going vegan can help mitigate its effects and reduce global warming.

  23. Reduces plastic pollution: The growth of animal agriculture has led to a significant increase in plastic waste. Choosing vegan can help reduce plastic pollution.

  24. Preserves biodiversity: Animal agriculture is a leading cause of species extinction and habitat destruction. Veganism helps preserve biodiversity and protect natural ecosystems.

  25. Promotes sustainable practices: By going vegan, you are supporting sustainable agricultural practices that help protect the environment and promote food security.

  26. Supports local communities: Choosing vegan also means supporting local plant-based food producers, who often use sustainable and ethical practices.

  27. Reduces the risk of natural disasters: Climate change and deforestation increase the risk of natural disasters such as floods, landslides, and droughts. Veganism can help reduce these risks.

  28. Helps protect wildlife: Animal agriculture often leads to the destruction of wildlife habitats and the killing of wild animals that are seen as threats to livestock. Veganism helps protect these animals.

In summary, choosing a vegan lifestyle can have a significant positive impact on the environment, including reducing greenhouse gas emissions and water consumption, lowering the risk of natural disasters, preserving biodiversity and ecosystems, and promoting sustainable practices. By making conscious food choices that prioritize a plant-based diet, we can contribute towards a healthier planet and a more sustainable future.