Here’s how to go vegan in Cambridge

Small adjustments are the way to go

Plant-based diets are becoming more and more popular. But wanting to go vegan is one thing: actually going vegan can be quite intimidating. I’ve been vegan for nearly two years, but it took me a while to get there. On the way, I picked up some tips and tricks that helped me cut out animal products while living in Cambridge that may be helpful to others interested in veganism, too. 

Slow and steady

Though cold turkey might work for some people, I was certainly not one of them. The idea of drastically changing the way I eat from one day to the next was intimidating to me, and kept me from trying to become vegan for a while, especially with everything else that goes on during the typical Cambridge term.

It wasn’t until I decided to slowly reduce my animal product consumption that I was able to stick with it. If you are interested in going vegan, my advice would be to take it slow: pick the vegan option in hall a couple of times a week, or, if your gyp limits you to cooking with a toaster and microwave, explore some quick vegan breakfast options to replace your usual breakfast with. 

Granola bars with cocoa powder, raisins, hazelnuts & pumpkin seeds (Image credits: author’s own)

I want to go vegan, but…

Maybe you want to go vegan, but feel hesitant about giving up one or two specific foods. Maybe you just can’t see yourself giving up cheese, or maybe your favourite end-of-term treat is chicken nuggets. If there are only a few things that are keeping you from adopting a vegan diet, consider cutting out all animal products apart from those things.

Though veganism might seem like an all-or-nothing diet, there is no need to strive to be 100% vegan, if that doesn’t seem doable for you at the moment. Any reduction you can make in how many animal products you consume will have a benefit.

What to eat?

A vegan diet can meet all of your nutrient needs – however, you may need to think a bit more carefully about what you eat. A plant-based diets cuts out a significant number of foods. As a result, you’ll need to get some nutrients that you would otherwise get from meat, dairy and eggs from other sources.

The most important nutrient to pay attention to on a vegan diet is B12, which is found exclusively in animal products. If you follow a vegan diet, it is recommended that you take a B12 supplement. These are cheap and easily available – I get mine from Boots. 

If you don’t want to take a supplement, you can eat vegan foods that have been fortified with B12. These include most non-dairy milks and yoghurts (but check the packaging to be sure!). Non-dairy milk and yoghurt is often also fortified with calcium, which is another important nutrient for vegans.

Other sources of calcium include green leafy vegetables, such as kale or broccoli. Protein is another nutrient worth focusing on. Good vegan sources of protein include mock meats, tofu, beans and lentils. My favourite vegan mock meat is the plant-based shawarma, which I get from Sainsbury’s – mock meats there are often on sale, so this can be a good place to look!

Sainsbury’s mock-meat section with lots of sales! (Image credits: author’s own)

To familiarise yourself with nutrients of concern for vegans, and where to get these, you can check out this page. As with any other way of eating, the most important thing on a plant-based diet is that you eat a varied diet, enough to fuel your body – as long as you are meeting your needs, there is no wrong way to be vegan!

Food is tasty – enjoy it!

The best way to become vegan, and stay vegan, is to make sure you enjoy what you eat. The best ways I’ve found to do this is to try new things – treat yourself to nice meals in vegan cafes and restaurants, and explore vegan food by trying new recipes. Finding vegan versions of your favourite non-vegan meals can also be helpful. Some of my favourite recipes I’ve tried recently include:

  • Sesame tofu with spinach. This is a great recipe to try if you’re new to tofu. The recipe calls for egg whites to dredge the tofu, but this is easily replaced with some plant milk.

Sesame tofu with some sweet potato fries, stir-fried cabbage and avocado (Image credits: author’s own)

  • Granola bars . This is a super quick, easy and customisable recipe, and much cheaper than buying vegan granola bars, which can be a bit pricier than non-vegan ones. 

Explore vegan cafes and restaurants

If you don’t fancy cooking, Cambridge has a couple of vegan cafes and restaurants, and many places with vegan options. My favourite vegan cafe is Thrive – conveniently located next to a vegan zero-waste shop. For a nice evening out with some vegan-curious friends, visit the Tipsy Vegan, a fully vegan tapas place that recently opened in Cambridge.

For a quick vegan lunch, Wasabi offers vegan versions of many of their meat and fish options. By allowing you to choose your own burrito fillings, Tortilla is also a great place for a filling vegan option.

If you’re looking for a vegan ready-meal, M&S has a great range of not-too-pricey vegan meals. And, since it’s Easter term, for a post-exam treat Jack’s Gelato does excellent vegan ice cream.

Lime sorbet from Jacks’ (Image Credits: Author’s own)

Don’t stress

My final piece of advice is not to worry about the little things. Many products have trace amounts of animal products. For instance, some types of bread have diglycerides, emulsifiers to improve texture, that are sometimes derived from animal sources; many types of crisps have a trace amount of milk powder.

Remember that by far the biggest difference you can make is to stop buying whole animal products: a gallon of milk, a carton of eggs, a packet of chicken thighs.

If you cut these out, you are already making a huge impact.


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Featured Image Credits: Juliette van Steensel