How Vegan- The Vegan Toolkit


PLEASE NOTE: the nutritional information I am providing is NOT medical advice or in any way qualified dietary advice, such information should be obtained from a qualified medical advisor and or dietician, I am just providing this information as a guideline for adopting & most of all obtaining a vegan diet.

So when you have made the decision to go vegan and adopt a vegan diet it can be very overwhelming to think about the next steps. You know now WHY you are vegan but maybe aren’t too sure yet on HOW to be vegan. So let me give you a few tools here straight from my very own vegan toolkit.

First of all KNOW WHAT YOU EAT. Buy GMO-Free & Organic! Wherever you are in the world, try to support your locals and buy organic food. I personally don’t EVER shop in the supermarket (I call it the stupidmarket) instead I always try to support local farmers and local businesses as much as I can, I worked at: ALFALFA HOUSE FOOD CO-OP in Sydney, Australia for a few years so I know what I am talking about, there are a food co-ops, local organic markets & farms all over the world though, here in Lisbon we work with COURELAS DO MONTE and MARIA BIOLOGICÁ.



From Eating for Life Magazine:


According to medical authorities, vegans can get plenty of protein without having to pay particular attention to their diets. By contrast consuming too much animal protein has been scientifically linked to osteoporosis-according to a 2003 U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) report, vegetarian women had STRONGER bones then women who ate meat.


Essential NUTRIENTS for vegans:

 Vegan Food Pyramid


Pulses: peas, beans (adzuki beans, black beans, chickpeas (and chickpea/besan flour), kidney beans), lentils, soya foods (tofu, tempeh, soya mince, soya milk)
 Nuts: cashews, almonds, peanuts, pistachios, brazil nuts, walnuts, pine nuts, pecan nuts and hazel nuts. Seeds: pumpkin, sunflower, sesame. Grains: wheat, oats, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, amaranth, pasta, bread, seitan (wheat protein)

Protein Fact: a quarter piece of steak contains 12 % of protein (plus fat, cholesterol and all sorts of bad) spinach contains 13 % of protein (plus anti oxidants, iron, magnesium, other vitamins, NO cholesterol and all sorts of good)

FAT: Flaxseed oil, rapeseed oil, hempseed oil, walnuts, sunflower oil, olive oil, nuts and seeds. Rapeseed and hempseed oils are also rich in OMEGA-3, so no need for fish intake at all.

CARBOHYDRATES: Wholegrain pasta, whole-meal bread, potatoes, wholegrain rice, pulses such as beans and lentils.

CALCIUM: calcium-fortified soymilk, calcium-fortified breakfast cereals and orange juice, tofu made with calcium sulfate, and some dark-green leafy vegetables like collard greens, turnip greens, bok choy, mustard greens etc. Vegetables and fruit improve calcium balance so eat plenty!

Calcium Fact: Like with protein there is a huge misconception on vegan calcium intake, the heavy promotion of the dairy industry makes the public believe that milk is the sole source of calcium, but there is more calcium in 120 grams of firm tofu or ¾ cup of collard greens as there is in one cup of cow’s milk.

IRON: iron-fortified breakfast cereals, spinach, kidney beans, black-eyed peas, lentils, turnip greens, molasses, whole wheat breads, peas, and some dried fruits (dried apricots, prunes, raisins).

ZINC: many types of beans, grains and nuts: black eyed peas, garbanzo, white beans, kidney beans, lentils, lima beans, green peas, chickpeas, zinc-fortified breakfast cereals, wheat germ, tofu, tempeh, textured vegetable protein, pumpkin seeds.


Kale, also known as borecole, is one of the healthiest vegetables on the planet .One cup of chopped kale contains 33 calories and 9% of the daily value of calcium, 206% of vitamin A, 134% of vitamin C, and a whopping 684% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron and phosphorus.



Karos nutrition booklet web

So now we know what we need, let’s start cooking!

Essential Cooking Tips:

Think Healthy: with that I mean there could be the option of a slightly healthier version to a recipe, for example I’d like to stay away from deep frying and using lots of sugar. I always go for the healthier option, in general I think it’s a good tip to be moderate with oil, never re-use oil and use lower fat oils like extra virgin olive or coconut instead of vegetable oil, stay away from canola!

Come Prepared: Prepare your meals as much as your work-space, you always want your kitchen tidy & clean when you start, when you know what you are making, think about what you will be needing, what kind of pans you will be using, how many bowls or plates you will need, try to re-use and use as little as possible, the more you use, the more you need to wash up, ask yourself do I need a food processor, do I have all the ingredients the recipe needs? Get everything ready to go, a good prep makes cooking so much easier! 

Plan your meals: I usually plan my meals but I do leave a lot of room for spontaneous cook-ups. I love “cooking with what you got” something I picked up from working as a vegan chef on board the MY Bob Barker (Sea Shepherd Conservation Society) the ships rely on food donations, I love the freedom that comes with that, it forces you to be creative, to experiment with food combinations, I still work like that a lot of the times, at home but also with my cooking workshops, sometimes even catering, to think outside the box (or well fridge) that is! Plan your meals, but feel the freedom of the countless options there is in vegan cooking and just go with it!

Recycle! The amount of food that gets thrown out on a daily basis in households all over the world is outrageous, from a young age I was aware of that, I grew up in Holland, when I was young there wasn’t much composting or any kind of recycling awareness , so I became a HUGE recycler for environmental & ethical reasons as soon as I could but by recycling I don’t just mean worm-farming & paper, glass, bottles recycling, I am talking FOOD here, a soup one day, can be an amazing pasta the next day, rice as a side dish one day, can be an awesome pie the next day, anything is possible, the first step in all of this is to love your food, treat it with nothing but major respect, so before you chuck food away remember how good it made you feel to eat it.



Oh and last thing: PLAY MUSIC and have a vegan boogie. Seriously music is a must in the kitchen, I cooked for a meditation retreat once, which was silent most of the time, it was just me, vegan food and headphones oh, what a great time we had. My absolute kitchen favorite is: THINK by Aretha Franklin. Try that vegan boogie people!


Other Vegan Factors To Consider:

Salt like sugar, oil and fats to me come with one rule, consideration of moderation. The truth about cooking with salt is: salt (sodium) causes calcium loss, so cook with low-sodium salt and low-sodium foods.
 Caffeine reduces calcium absorption so reduce your intake of caffeinated foods and drinks such as coffee and tea. I am a fanatic tea drinker myself and would advice drinking herbal and caffeine-free tea just the healthier choice, stay away from coffee for so many reasons, that evil black juice is bad, bad, bad.


Reference: SIMPLY VEGAN by Debra Wasserman

Some of the nutritional information provided here comes straight from the book: SIMPLY VEGAN, a book I strongly recommend for anyone on a vegan diet or anyone considering a vegan diet, it’s full of nutritional information for vegans, facts, recipes, menus and really useful information.