Chef David Bailey
You have to be brave and really start enjoying experimenting with new ingredients.
It's all too easy to simply substitute unhealthy meat-based products for unhealthy vegan ones - a veggie burger, large chips and a coke are undoubtably delicious once in a while but definitely not the key to unlocking the health benefits of a plant-based diet! I struggled myself with this for a while when I first became vegetarian and it took a while to leave behind the idea of a meal being the meat with some vegetables as the adornments. So many people (not to mention their sometimes sceptical nearest and dearest!) really worry that they won't be able to get the correct nutrition and you do have to think about it. I find it really useful to try and balance my meals by making the biggest part a carbohydrate (like wholegrain brown rice, quinoa, millet, wholegrain pasta or potatoes) followed by the vegetables (ideally including something dark green and leafy, like my all time favourite kale) and then adding a smaller amount of a high protein food such as tofu, nuts and seeds, beans and pulses and so on...
You have to be brave and really start enjoying experimenting with new ingredients. The thought of meat alternatives sends most meat eaters running for the hills, but there are actually many healthy and extremely tasty options. Make yourself familiar with tempeh, tofu and seitan and you'll find you're able to replicate the texture of meat dishes as well as boost your fibre and protein intake. Do try and source organic wherever you can though as many soy based products are GM. These substitutes will take in any flavour you choose so be bold! All you have to do is marinate the tempeh or tofu in whatever takes your fancy (my personal favourite is soya sauce and maple syrup) let it soak in and saute or bake off. Miso is another ingredient well worth getting to know. Good quality miso paste makes a beautiful soup on it's own but you can also add it to other soups or use as a stock to really deepen the flavour. I also like to use a lot of legumes in my cooking as they are great for making you feel full and for balancing blood sugar levels as well as being a great source of fibre, carbohydates and protein. Hummous is so readily available or easy to make yourself and you can add anything you like to it. Smoked red peppers, sundried tomatoes and garlic all work really well. Keep a load in the fridge and you'll always have a healthy snack you can spread on bread or crackers or dip vegetables into. I also think it's well worth buying yourself a good quality blender -Vitamix is the best if you can. Breakfast smoothies using whatever fruit and vegetables come to hand, nut butters, omega oils and a whack of spirulina are extremely nutritious and a great, easy way to start the day.