If you’re literally starting from scratch with a vegan diet and lifestyle we’ve asked Cara-Lisa Sham for some help with the basics.

“For quick meals, I recommend stocking up on organic canned lentils and chickpeas. These are high in protein and ideal for making quick and simple nutritious soups, stews and curries. If you have a little more time on your hands raw lentils and chickpeas are best – simply soak overnight and then steam for 20 to 30 minutes, before prepping your soup or stew. You can also use your chickpeas to make your own homemade hummus.”

She says the Vegan lifestyle is all about plant-based eating: “So it is always good to have salad essentials such as tomatoes, avo (because avo goes with everything), lettuce, rocket and cucumber available in your fridge. Also stock up on raw nuts and seeds to enrich salad or veg dishes with some extra protein and healthy fats.”

And for those of us who may have thought that there are no such thing as healthy carbs, think again. “For healthy carbs, I advise stocking up your pantry with flax crackers, 100% rye bread, quinoa, brown rice and sweet potatoes. These healthy wholegrains pair well with just about any veg dish, and will ensure sustained energy and balanced blood sugar levels throughout the day.”

One of the toughest transitions could be moving on from essentials like milk, cheese, yoghurt and the like which make their way in our daily diets in virtually everything. But Cara-Lisa says there are essential substitutes you could add to your fridge that will help with the migration to a Vegan eating plan.

“The most obvious substitute requirements on a Vegan eating plan would definitely be dairy – this is often the most difficult to “give up” given that there are so many meals and foods that contain dairy. My favourite dairy substitute is almond milk – this works so well in tea, coffee and for baking. 

“If you are a yoghurt fan, then coconut yoghurt is the next best thing – coconut yoghurt is made from coconut milk and/or cream which is then cultured to offer that yoghurt-like flavour and consistency.”

For the cheese lovers, you can opt for Vegan cheese. “This is made from cashew nuts and nutritional yeast, which adds a wonderful cheesy flavour. It’s a great alternative, and it does melt, so it can also be used on pizzas. If you enjoy feta cheese in your salad, then opt for tofu – smoked tofu is particularly flavourful and tastes fantastic in salads or topped over your favourite vegetable dish.”

Pictures: Instagram.com/Caralishious