Category Archives: Agony Aunt

Here you can ask our Agony Aunt any question you like about going vegan. Use the form at the bottom of the page to fill in your details.

Here you can ask our Agony Aunt any question you like about going vegan. Use the form at the bottom of the page to fill in your details.

Agony Aunt

I live outside the UK, can I still take part in the Great Vegan Challenge?

Yes, we welcome Vegan Challengers from all countries. We have links with some international groups, so there may be a group nearer to home: check our list.

Every time I put soya milk in my coffee it goes all weird. Am I doing something wrong?

I’m afraid that soya milk curdling in coffee is an age-old vegan problem. My first piece of advice is to ensure that the coffee has cooled slightly before adding your soya milk. Then, stir the coffee whilst adding the soya milk and add quite a lot. Some brands also work better than others, such as Sunrise Café Expert, which is specially made for coffee, and Alpro Soya Original, which seems to work better than most. You may also wish to try a different type of non-dairy milk, such as rice, oat, almond, hemp or coconut.

Can you recommend a vegan vitamin supplement?

Absolutely, there are several multi-vitamins specially formulated for vegans. Seven Seas produce one called Multi Vitamins Plus Minerals for Vegetarians and Vegans, which is widely available. Holland & Barrett also have their own version called Vegan Multivitamin & Mineral. The Vegan Society even have their own called Veg1, which is available in both blackcurrent and orange flavours.

I’ve stripped my diet of all animal products, but can’t afford to replace my leather shoes. Am I still vegan?

Don’t worry, no one expects you to throw out all your old leather/wool/etc clothing and buy new ones, I certainly didn’t when I went vegan. I just bought vegan replacements when my old stuff wore out. So yes, as long as you’re not buying animal products, you’re still a vegan.

I have a wheat/gluten intolerance and I’m struggling to find vegan products I can eat. Do you have any advice?

Fortunately you can meet all of your nutritional needs on a wheat-free vegan diet, but, as you say, finding products is a bit more challenging. Most products made by vegan companies Fry’s and Redwoods seem to contain wheat gluten, so are obviously no good to you.

However, I’m glad to say that all products made by Bute Island Foods are vegan and gluten-free. You can buy these in most good healthfood shops and they now supply Tesco with their own-brand dairy-free cheese. Also, the tofu products made by Cauldron are all vegan and gluten-free and available from most supermarkets. It seems that many products made by Goodlife are also vegan and gluten-free (although some aren’t) and are available at many good healthfood shops.

Bread is likely to be a problem as most gluten-free versions seem to use egg, but things like gluten-free dried pasta are usually vegan. Some products in supermarket ‘freefrom’ aisles are both vegan and gluten-free, but you will have to check I’m afraid.

My best advice is to generally avoid processed foods and go for a more ‘from scratch’ approach to cooking. You can find a fairly extensive list of gluten-free vegan recipes here.

I’ve noticed that some wines are marked as vegetarian, but not vegan. What is in vegetarian wine that’s not in vegan wine?

Many wines are clarified using animal products, including isinglass (from fish), blood, bone marrow, insect shells and gelatine. Obviously these are unsuitable for both vegetarians and vegans. However some wines are clarified with egg white or milk products, which makes them okay for vegetarians, but not vegans. Sainsburys, the Co-op and Marks & Spencer all label their own wines as suitable for vegans, where applicable. The website Barnivore.com also has a very comprehensive list of which wines (as well as beers and spirits) are suitable for vegans.

What’s a good vegan alternative to cod liver oil tablets?

Flaxseed oil, also known as linseed oil, is a great substitute for cod liver oil tablets as it is a good source of Omega-3 oils. It should be eaten cold (not used for frying) and kept out of direct sunlight. It’s even available in capsule form from certain retailers. Rapeseed oil and walnuts are also good sources of Omega-3 oils.

Do I need to consult my GP about going vegan?

Unless you have an existing medical condition, especially one relating to your diet, it’s probably not necessary to speak to your doctor about going vegan. A vegan diet can provide all the nutrients you need, as long as it is balanced and varied. Your Great Vegan Challenge Welcome Pack has information about the best sources of specific nutrients and you can also get vegan supplement tablets from most pharmacists if this is a worry. Of course, if you are concerned, there’s no harm in speaking to your GP as well.

I’ve heard some E-numbers are not suitable for vegans, is that true?

Yes it’s true. Whilst a lot of E-numbers (food additives, such as colourings and preservatives) are artificial chemicals, some are derived from animal products and so are not suitable for vegans. The most common ones to avoid are E120 (cochineal), E441 (gelatine), E542 (edible bone phosphate), E901 (beeswax), E904 (shellac), E913 (lanolin) and E966 (lactinol). There are others that can be either plant or animal derived, so it’s often a good idea to avoid foods containing lots of E-numbers.

There’s no healthfood shop in my town, so where can I get things like vegan cheese and burgers?

More and more supermarkets are stocking vegan products these days, so that’s a good place to start. Check the ‘Freefrom’ section, as many of the products there will be vegan friendly. Also, in the freezer section you can often find products like Linda McCartney sausages, Country Pies and Mushroom & Ale Pies, which are vegan. If you still can’t find what you’re after, there are specialist online shops that will deliver vegan goods to your door. The biggest ones are www.veganstore.co.uk and http://www.alternativestores.com