Solla Eiríksdóttir. Photo by Gunnlo

Solla's easy ways to become a Vegan at Home

Thinking about cutting out animal products? Take some advice from Solla Eiríksdóttir, author of Vegan at Home

Solla Eiríksdóttir knows being vegan isn’t easy. The chef, restaurant owner and author is from Iceland – a country better known for its fishing industry than its verdant veg patches – and can recall a time when dining at a one of the best restaurants in Reykjavík in the mid 1980s, she asked to served something plant-based, and received “a big plate of canned red cabbage, some orange slices, and raw cauliflower florets.”

Eiríksdóttir no longer suffers from poor dinner offerings; her own restaurants have won international praise; she remains something of a television star in her own country, having served as a TV chef for years; and she has won over celebrity adherents, including Ben Stiller and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Now, in her new book, Vegan at Home, she has some advice for anyone else attempting to go vegan, or even just reduce the amount of animal meat and produce they eat. In this cookbook’s opening chapters, in the pages preceding her own recipes, she runs through a few simple tips that should make veganism easier for first timers.

Take, for instance, this advice, on recipes themselves. “I used to skip any recipe with a long ingredient list because I was sure it would be too difficult,” she admits. “Now I teach my students to read the recipe twice. The first time, read it through from beginning to end. The second time, highlight any special preparations, such as if something needs to be soaked or toasted, then gather the ingredients and equipment, measure everything, and have it all ready before you start.”

A selection of brunch dishes from Vegan at Home

Solla also advocates focussing on a particular dish or technique, until you truly understand the process. “If you want to try out a basic recipe like homemade plant-based milk, I recommend choosing one kind and making that your milk for the week, then make a different one the following week,” she writes. “This also helps you discover which milks work best in different dishes.”

And if you’re trying something new and potentially risky for the first time, such as fermenting vegetables or soaking pulses, watch out for the warning signs. “When fermenting, follow the directions, but if it starts to produce pink, green, or black mould, discard it,” the author advises. “Likewise, if your fermentation smells rotten, get rid of it.”

Finally, remember a vegan regime isn’t necessarily a healthy one; our bodies are all different, and have different requirements at different points in our life. “When starting out on a new diet, it’s essential to be educated or find the information about what food to eat to get all the necessary nutrition the body needs to be healthy,” she cautions. “When the new diet is vegan, it’s important to know where to get your proteins, good fats, and good-quality carbohydrates from. Always take responsibility for your health, so make an appointment with a doctor or qualified nutritionist, especially if you have an underlying medical condition or are pregnant.”

Oat milk

Even if the results aren’t life threatening, they can be a little embarrassing. “In the beginning of my vegan journey, I started to eat a lot of beans because I was so concerned about getting enough protein,” the author confesses. “However, I did not allow my body to adjust. Instead, I ate a huge amount, included beans in every meal, and at one time I thought I was going to blow up with so much flatulence. I learned the hard way that we are all different; our bodies react differently, and we need to use our common sense and adjust slowly.”

Remember, you don’t have to sign up to full veganism immediately. “Instead of changing your diet overnight, let your body adjust through gradual minor changes at a rate that suits you,” Solla counsels. “Focus on adding good things to your diet instead of on what to eliminate. We are all different, so listen to your body, and give it time to adjust to the changes you are making.”

Vegan at Home

For a little more help making those changes, as well as some great recipes, order a copy of Vegan at Home here.