I don’t want this blog to be a personal soapbox for all things vegan. My intention is not to preach, only to encourage! I enjoy sharing my own recipes that happen to be plant-based (older recipes are vegetarian) because that is the way I choose to eat. I would find it very difficult to offer any other way of cooking; I have been vegetarian for over twenty years, and mostly vegan for almost two years. I have been ‘officially’ vegan since January 2017 – and so has my amazing husband! I strongly believe that a plant-based future is a sustainable way of life for us and our planet and any steps towards that – whether it is ‘Meat Free Mondays’ or the month-long ‘Veganuary’ – should be embraced and celebrated. At its heart, true veganism is respectful compassion for all living creatures and a passionate belief that a plant-based diet is the healthiest for all humans.
Sadly, the meat and dairy industries have made generations of people very dependent on their products, to the point where there is nervous confusion about cutting back or giving up and there is simply no need to be. It’s now easier than ever as all kinds of companies – from corporate giants to small, ethical family-run businesses – are all jumping on board and embracing the demand for plant-based alternatives. There is a ‘vegan version’ of just about everything. It’s a hugely exciting time and it truly is just the beginning! If you’re a meat-eater and still a bit confused about what you can feed your veggie guests or newly converted teenager, take a look below.
Stuck on a Sunday? I get asked about this all the time. ‘What do you eat on Sundays?!’ We Brits are obsessed with Sunday dinners. This is what you do: In a big roasting tin, roast potatoes and veggies in olive oil alongside some stuffing balls and a Linda McCartney pie (if you want something quick and easy) or go a bit fancy and make a nut roast or shepherdess pie. Smother it all in vegetarian gravy. Trust me, any vegan or vegetarian guest in your house will fall over themselves with gratitude for this, and it’s a doddle to cook alongside your own dinner!
DO NOT eat any meat or fish or any product derived from a slaughtered animal, for example gelatine, rennet etc. When someone says they are vegetarian ‘but they eat fish’ – what they actually mean is that they are pescatarian.
DO eat eggs and dairy. Be aware however that some cheeses contain rennet. (Most cheese is clearly labelled vegetarian. If in doubt, have a quick check of the ingredients.)
There are also less commonly used variants on the traditional definition of vegetarianism: Ovo-lacto indicates the traditional vegetarian consumption of eggs and dairy. Ovo-vegetarian indicates no dairy. Lacto-vegetarian indicates no eggs. Pescatarians should not be considered vegetarians, as they routinely consume fish.
DO NOT eat any product derived from any animal in any form whatsoever. This includes meat, fish, dairy products, eggs and honey – as well as foods containing traces of these or any by-products of slaughter. Many products are specifically labelled as vegan, but most are not. A cursory glance at the ingredient list will solve any mystery. Traces of eggs and dairy are generally labelled in bold (as they are allergens) so they are easy to spot. Occasionally honey will trip you up, but to be fair it isn’t used in food that often.
What about leather? A person who eats a vegan diet but, for example, buys leather goods might simply use the term ‘plant-based diet’ rather than ‘vegan’, as veganism tends to be a lifestyle rather purely about diet. Vegans do not buy leather or any other material derived from an animal. Second hand leather etc (or leather already in a new vegan’s wardrobe) is a contentious issue. Personally, I will wear my old leather shoes etc as it would be a waste to get rid of them, but I will not replace them with new leather products.
Handy links (I will be adding to this!):