If you are taking part in Veganuary then you may be thinking about what you can add into your diet to replace the elements that you are removing. However, it’s important to ensure whatever swaps you make are as nutritionally beneficial. Nutritional Therapist Shirley Ward shares her three top swaps and some delicious recipe swaps to try in the first week of Veganuary too


  1. Swap milk chocolate bars for 70% dark chocolate or even better nutritionally is raw chocolate (available from most health food stores)
    Nutritional benefits: the cocoa beans aren’t roasted so contains higher levels of stress-protective flavonoids and the relaxing mineral magnesium plus contain a fraction of the sugar-content of milk chocolate

  2. Swap cream cheese on your bagel for mashed avocado mixed with fresh lime juice, drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and black pepper
    Nutritional benefits: avocado is a good source of anti-inflammatory essential fats plus skin healing vitamin E

  3. Swap butter or margarine for extra virgin coconut oil – delicious spread on rye bread or spelt sourdough.  Nutritional benefits: evidenced anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties


Why not try these delicious “Recipe Swaps” from a dairy-free cheesecake to a plant-based Shepherd’s Pie!


Swap dairy-laden “traditional” cheesecake with dairy-free strawberry cheesecake:


  • 250g fresh strawberries

  • 50ml agave syrup

  • 100g plain organic soya yoghurt

  • 175g coconut milk yoghurt (available from health food stores and some branches of Waitrose)


  • 100g brazil nuts

  • 100g hazelnuts

  • 100g sunflower seeds

  • 20 organic dried apricots

  • 2 tbsp coconut oil

  • Pinch of salt


  1. Mix nuts and seeds together and dry fry gently for a couple of minutes until light golden (not brown)

  2. Put nuts and seeds into processor until broken down into large chunks.

  3. Then add the apricots, coconut oil and salt and process further – don’t over-process, you want a fairly crunchy base

  4. Press this into a non-stick 20cm easy-release cake tin and put in freezer

  5. Next make the filling – clean processor and add strawberries (save a few for decoration), agave syrup and both yoghurts and process to a smooth puree

  6. Pour onto base and freeze for two hours

  7. Remove from freezer just before serving and add sliced strawberries and fresh mint leaves to garnish


Don’t leave out for too long before serving to avoid it becoming too soft to serve.  Delicious and nutritious!

Nutritional benefits:

Nuts and seeds are a good source of essential fats for efficient cell functioning and brain health, dried apricots are a good source of iron, organic strawberries are packed with immune and skin-supporting vitamin C


Swap meat-based Shepherds’ Pie with plant-based Mixed Mushroom “Vegan” Pie:

Simply swap meat/mince for a variety of chopped/sliced mixed mushrooms such as shitake, (ideally dried) porcini, chestnut and button mushrooms, a roughly chopped portobello mushroom is ideal to add “meaty” texture

  1. First finely chop 2 large onions, large clove of garlic, large or 2 medium-sized carrots, large stick of celery.  Gently fry in a tablespoon of rapeseed oil for a few minutes so the contents become slightly golden, to produce flavour

  2. Next, braise the mushrooms gently for approximately 3 to 4 minutes in the stock used to rehydrate the dried porcini mushrooms then add 1 inch of grated fresh turmeric root and mix in.  Fresh ginger can also be grated in to add a bit of spice (optional)

  3. Add ½ litre of good quality vegetable stock to the vegetables, add the braised mushrooms, drain and add tin of beans (any type e.g. barlotti or haricot or mixed beans) and mix through.  Pour into a casserole/pie dish

  4. Now make the topping: cube and steam until al dente a selection of the following – celeriac and/or cauliflower and/or sweet potato and/or crushed peas/petit pois

  5. Drain, season, then mix and lightly mash together with potato masher

  6. Carefully add on top of mushrooms and veg to create a “top”

  7. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until top is lightly golden

  8. Serve with a variety of green leafy vegetables

Nutritional benefits:

Mushrooms and beans are a good sources of plant-based protein, plus vegetables and beans add additional fibre to keep you fuller for longer and to promote digestive health.  Ginger and turmeric are evidenced for their anti-inflammatory and stress-protective properties