Holly Johnson: « Going vegan was like switching a light on for me »

Holly Johnson, host of the Simply Vegan podcast joins I am. I have to discuss her route to veganism, the festive treats she highly recommends and to share some advice about living a vegan lifestyle

Simply Vegan’s Holly Johnson transitioned to a vegan lifestyle a little over four years ago and she’s passionate about all things plant-based and planet-friendly. As the host of her popular podcast discussing all things veganism, she’s had access to some of the greatest minds in the vegan sphere, and she actively advocates and celebrates a way of life that incorporates vegan eating.

Initially, her reason for becoming a vegan was linked to an issue with her skin and gut health. The inspiration to make the change came after attending workshops around vegan cooking where she learned more about the wider and positive impact of veganism, as well as ways to create beautiful meals.

« It was like switching a light on, » Holly enthuses. « It was as if I’d lived my life in the dark and now I could see what was going on. »

Holly’s recommendations

Fast forward to the present day and Holly has become an expert on vegan products and cooking, thanks to her research and the guests she interviews. Right now, she’s focused on the fantastic vegan festive treats and letting her audience know about the best buys in our high street stores, including vegan cheese and chocolate.

« I was impressed by the Asda range, » she confides. « They’ve got a wellington with a mushroom duxelles, that’s pretty good. And Violife’s new Camembert ‘cheese’ is a gamechanger if you ask me… »

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Holly is aware that for people who are new to vegan eating, inspiration beyond what can be bought off the shelf is crucial. « Check out Derek Sarno on Instagram – he does all sorts of things with mushrooms. »

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Living as a vegan

Holly also addresses some of the regularly asked questions about veganism on I am. I have, including food costs, time and the perceived difficulty of cooking for a household.

« It can be tough, » she says smiling. « But then I’d say it can be tough cooking for a household whatever you’re eating! I don’t necessarily think that it’s a vegan issue, however, I do get that if you have vegan and non-vegan family members it can be tricky. »

Holly shares how she negotiates mealtimes when half of the house is vegan and the other are vegetarian or occasional meat-eaters. « It’s about respecting that everyone in your household is on their own journey, » she notes.

Simply Vegan podcast host Holly Johnson

Switching to a vegan diet?

« If you’re thinking of switching to a vegan diet, don’t try and do everything all at once, » Holly explains. « Just take one day at a time. You don’t have to say you’re vegan, you can say that you’re eating predominantly plant-based or trying a plant-based diet. »

Making changes but cutting out the pressure of labelling your choices seems to be important for a lot of people. « I think that’s the way the movement is going in general, » Holly continues. « It’s not an all or nothing approach, it’s more about cutting down your meat, fish and dairy intake and looking into it. So, watch the films, read the books and then, once you start to educate yourself, there’s no going back. »

What to cook?

Holly maintains the importance of keeping the pressure off when it comes to food prep. « Just start by cooking familiar meals. If you eat a lot of Italian food, look at how you can swap out the mince in your lasagne for something else. There’s all the soya-based minces out there, personally, I prefer to use lentils, mushrooms or even ground up walnuts that give you a slight crunch. »

« It’s all about texture, » Holly concludes. « It’s about giving vegetables texture, flavour and experimenting with spices and herbs. Also, watch some YouTubers like So Vegan. Have fun, get creative and just experiment! »

Listen to Holly’s episode of I am. I have.
Listen to the Simply Vegan podcast.

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