Don’t Knock It Til You’ve Tried It…..Going Vegan!

A friend of mine recently took the plunge and tried a vegan burger at a restaurant for burgers, pizzas, American style food and doesn’t have Thursday in its name…

I applaud anyone for trying new things, and am a big fan of the old adage as named in the title of this blog post.

Sadly, said burger experience did not work out to be the taste sensation she was hoping for and the poor thing ended up feeling unwell as a result.

I just want to say – don’t despair, one bad vegan burger isn’t the benchmark for all of them. There are lots of different brands out there so it’s worth trying a few if you are willing to introduce new things into your diet.

Christmas 2014 was the last time I ate meat, followed in 2017 by phasing out dairy. More than four years later, I’m a committed vegan and I absolutely love it.

I’m in my mid-40’s so I was a meat eater much longer than I wasn’t but there’s no way I’d ever go back to it. This is a lifetime commitment.

For anyone who says going vegetarian or vegan is hard my answer is – it’s really not. I found it really easy. It just takes a bit of time, trying new things, seeing what works, what doesn’t, what you like, don’t like etc.

I have my likes and dislikes with vegan food. I can’t stand lentils, pulses and beans for instance. Without them though, I’d miss important nutrients for my diet so I find ways of including them within recipes I cook. I always try new things; if I don’t like something, it’s down to personal taste. As it would be for anyone following any kind of diet.

For example, I love Spag Bol. It’s a warming hearty dish, easy to cook and tastes even better the next day. As a vegetarian, I swapped the beef for Quorn. Easy peasy. As a vegan, it’s been more challenging as there are lots of different brands and I’ve made this dish with:

No Bull

Vivera

Meatless Farm Co.

No Bull wins, nice and meaty, keeps its texture and consistency well and looks like meat. Meatless Farm Co came in bottom, the consistency was too soft.

For burgers, I love the Linda McCartney Pulled Pork burger, my boyfriend really doesn’t (more for me!) he likes the Beyond Meat Burger (as used in the aforementioned restaurant) but I don’t.

Personal taste.

I could go on as the same principals apply to dairy alternatives for milk and cheese. It’s trial and error. I can’t use nut milk for instance as my tummy really doesn’t like it and after going through soya, hemp, coconut and cashew milk, I settled on oat milk. Nice and mild but there are lots of different brands to choose from. I eventually settled on Oatly Barista, perfect for hot drinks and on cereals.

I haven’t perfected veganism, I’m still learning about it and there will always be new recipes or places to eat.

I do recommend Veganuary as an excellent resource for anyone wanting to try it.

Also, you can’t go wrong with a decent cookbook and to that end I recommend Bosh. The guys behind Bosh make going vegan a piece of cake (pun intended).

For Italian cooking, the fab Chloe Coscarelli has an awesome take on veganising popular meat dishes.

For adventurous chefs Wicked Healthy will challenge your perceptions.

Yes, I have all these cookbooks and I use them 😀

Don’t forget, you’re changing a mindset that has had decades of conditioning and propaganda thrown at it. Even if you only do this once a week, it’s a good thing.

Propaganda (and how we tackle it) example below….

National Vegetarian Week

From the 15th to the 21st May, vegetarianism is being properly celebrated. I’m ignoring the narrow minded Twitter trolls who love to bully us veggies because they’re the ones making the choice to live in ignorance.

Anyway, I thought I’d share this lovely recipe I threw together at the weekend. Feel free to adapt to your own tastes. Even meat eaters can adapt this for their “needs”.

 

Risotto recipe

Apologies for lack of pictorial evidence but thedish went down rather well and was polished off before the opportunity arose!

The Despairing Veggie

It was probably only a matter of time before I got onto this subject.

Two questions I am asked most frequently are: “How long have you been vegetarian?” and “Why are you a vegetarian?”

Ok, the first question is simple enough to answer; I’ve been vegetarian since Christmas 2014 which is when I had my last meat based meal.

The second question, for me, is also easy to answer. I became veggie because I no longer, could, in all good conscience, continue to eat meat in the knowledge of the suffering that goes hand in hand with the modern meat industry.

But why are people so bothered about me being a vegetarian? That baffles me.

I came late to the veggie party but better late than never, as the saying goes. I’ve been aware for some time now, that the modern-day methods of factory farming are not conducive to treating animals in a fair, ethical, moral and humane way. I chose to educate myself on where my food was coming from. The more I found out, the more I became eager to make changes to my diet.

I moved in with my boyfriend in 2012, he has been vegetarian since he was 18 and I adopted a veggie diet at home simply because it was easier and more economical than having to cook and prepare two different types of meals. Eating out socially would be my “time off” from being veggie.

As someone who is always keen to learn about things and educate herself however, I made the choice to learn more about modern-day factory farming. The things I have learned, are not for the faint of heart.

“But, humans have eaten meat for thousands of years!” I hear you cry.

True, but, thousands of years ago, factory farming did not exist. Our cave dwelling ancestors killed only what they needed to survive, they lived in equilibrium with the land and what it offered them. They also relied on what they could grow.

In my opinion, it is simply not right, that animals are crammed into tiny cages and crates with no room to move. That they are kept in warehouses on concrete floors with no sunlight, no grass under their feet, no freedom to roam. This is prison of the worst kind.

My boyfriend is going down the more vegan route. I admit, I find this more of a challenge but there are some changes I have made to my diet which have been very easy.

Milk – humans are the only animals on the planet that consume milk from another animal. We don’t need cows’ milk, it’s meant for cows, not humans. I made the change to soya a couple of years ago and have since moved onto oat milk which is lovely. The flavour is soft and nowhere near as strong as cows’ milk.

Cheese – a bit harder this one, cheese is really quite delicious and the vegan versions are a long way behind replicating that but, to be honest, I only ever have cheese when eating Italian food and apparently, the vegan parmesans are very good so I guess I will get used to not having my usual cheddar.

Eggs – I used to eat a lot of these, poached is my favourite way to do eggs and in baking, they are a binding ingredient. However, the dairy industry is incredibly cruel so I’ve simply stopped buying them. My diet includes Quorn products though and egg is used in a lot of their food so I’m not quite there yet.

I no longer wear animal skins. My old leather shoes and boots are from a time when I was less informed about the choices I was making so now, I make do with the fake versions (I have always been anti-fur). I haven’t worn wool or silk for years.

You could call me a hypocrite and perhaps you’re right. I grew up on the traditional diet of meat, potatoes and veg. I never really gave much thought to where my food came from until I was much older and it still took me some time to make the changes I wanted to make. Make them I did, however and I feel within myself, much better for doing so.

Aside from the health benefits of going to a plant based diet there are benefits for the planet and our environment, something which every single one of us should be concerned with.

On a simpler level however, vegetarianism challenges me to create and cook meals that are varied, healthy and full of flavour. I don’t go hungry and I don’t get bored either. I have a shelf full of veggie cookbooks and I’m always keen to try something different.

I am not telling you to go veggie, I am not telling you to change your lifestyle overnight. What I am doing is asking you to perhaps have a little more thought about where your food comes from. You might want to continue eating meat, if so, perhaps go to your local butcher instead of the supermarket, buy direct from source where there is a chain of traceability. Support your local community instead. Still want to eat eggs? Buy organic, better yet, get yourself a couple of hens and have fresh eggs every day. Lots of people have their own hens, what better way to have ethically produced eggs?

I love animals. They are sentient creatures, just like humans. They have brains, nervous systems, they breathe oxygen, they feel fear, pain and joy. We keep cats, dogs, rabbits etc as family pets but think nothing of eating a cow, lamb or pig – why are they any different to the rest?

Hopefully, I have given you food for thought (pun intended) with this post and if even one person reading this blog decides to make changes or educate themselves further on the meat and dairy industries or replaces a couple of meals a week with a veggie option then my efforts will have not been in vain.

http://www.quorn.co.uk/

http://www.oatly.com

https://www.vegansociety.com/

https://www.vegsoc.org/