Eating Vegan – Two weeks in

When I tell people I’m eating vegan 5 days a week, they often ask what I’m going to eat. As though cutting out meat and animal products, means you’re left with nothing.

This really wasn’t a concern for me. I’m a competent cook, I like most food and I have some basic knowledge about nutrition. Rather than worrying about what I was going to eat, I was worried about what I wasn’t going to eat and how much I was going to miss it.

I am not a fan of the idea of meat substitutes and it’s unlikely that I’ll be trying any of that soon. I’d much rather wait for the weekend and have the real deal that some highly processed crap that tastes of dust. However, I have been keen to try fake cheese, butter, egg, cream, milk and yoghurt. Although I’m still not particularly pleased with their ingredient lists, these are the kind of everyday ingredients that I depend on for flavour and texture. And, although I can’t think of anything more disgusting than making a meringue out of chickpea water, I bet I end up giving it a go one day.

Anyway. This is what I’ve learned so far…

Fake Cheese
Is pretty disgusting to be honest. At best it tastes like cheap cheese slices… at worst it has an indescribable taste that repeats on you all day. Violife is bearable (but doesn’t melt), fake cheese spread is grey and errr… doesn’t spread and fake feta is one of the most disgusting things I have eaten in a long while.

I think I need to treat myself to a trip to the Incredible Nutshell and see what they have to offer…

Almond milk tastes ok, is fortified with vitamins and has the same amount of calcium as cows’ milk. It’s bearable in tea and lovely in overnight porridge. Soya milk isn’t good.

I think being vegan is mostly about making and eating hummus. It’s easy peasy to prepare, tastes great and, with all those chickpeas, veggies and tahini, it’s packed with goodness. To make my hummus I blitz tinned chickpeas with a teaspoon of tahini and a good drizzle of olive oil (as much as it takes to get the right consistency). I then add whatever flavours I fancy… garlic, chilli, parsley, coriander, roast carrot, roast squash, lemon juice, spices… whatever I have to hand really. For instance, today I made one with leftover roast carrots, parsnips and potatoes. And it’s lovely!

Favourite Meals
Pulled jackfruit pork

I’m pretty sure it was the guardian who introduced the meat lovers amongst us to jack fruit and, having tried cooking it as pulled pork a couple of years back, I was quite happy to give it another go. See, jackfruit, cooked as pulled pork, tastes like pulled pork. Yes, of course that’s because you’ve doused it in loads of sauce, but who cared?! Because it feels like pulled pork too, and that’s probably the most important factor. I loosely followed this recipe – mostly for the technique and obviously not for the spiralised onions – and it was as good as I remember. Only problem is that I put in a bit too much hot paprika and it was a bit too hot, but that was my own fault!

I can’t remember the exact recipe, but it would have involved blitzing chickpeas, onions, garlic, chilli, fresh coriander, cumin and a little flour together, forming balls out of the mixture and baking them in a hot oven for about half an hour. They’re delicious, easy and pretty healthy so we’ll be seeing a lot of falafel in future.

Stir fry

Can’t go wrong with a veggie stir fry, can you? Psb, greens and mushrooms stir fried with a little garlic, ginger, chilli, spring onion and dark soy. I already had some cooked rice leftover from the previous night, so that went in too. Lovely.

Lentil bolognese

Essentially this but without celery (coz I didn’t have any) and with a little smoked paprika (it makes everything taste a bit meaty). Oh and I used split yellow lentils, as well as red (coz I was running low on red).

Cauliflower steak

Yeah, yeah, I know cauliflower ain’t no steak. BUT, cauliflower slices fried in a hot pan for a minute or two, until their nicely coloured, then roasted for 20 mins, or until tender, it is tasty. Obviously not a steak, but a tasty meal nonetheless.

Favourite cookbooks
I don’t own any vegan books as such, but Prashad is veggie and most of the recipes are vegan too. Longtime favourites include tarka dahl and potato and aubergine curry. They’re quick and easy to make and taste amazing.

HFW’s Veg
Again, not vegan, but veggie with many of the recipes being vegan too. Bizarrely I haven’t cooked anything from this since deciding to eat vegan, but I’m going to have a look for some ideas for next week.

What’s next
Well, I’m going to try and give some proper fake cheese a go. I also fancy trying some tempeh and I might have a go at making my own pesto. Exciting times, eh?


3 thoughts on “Eating Vegan – Two weeks in

  1. Rather you than me! A few steers there on what to stay clear of! At Chez Dawes we are meat free half the week but not because we’re saving the planet. Just have plenty of veggie recipes. Vegan is a step too far. And no over expensive organic food either.

    1. It all comes down to personal choice and I’ve been having the vegan debate with myself for around 18 months. This is my compromise… to the world… my health… my tastebuds… and the farming industry. As for organic I don’t choose to eat organic fruit and veg, but I do buy the odd bit from work when it’s looking good and is reasonably priced (as it often is to be honest). When it comes to animal products, unless I know the provenance, I’ll go for organic as this gives me a little comfort in respect of the welfare of the animals.

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