Cutting out meat and dairy from our diets can seem slightly daunting at first. When I first decided to start trying veganism, I think my belly cried at the idea of no more chocolate and ice cream. I was also worried about not being able to eat anything when I went out for dinners with friends and family, but soon I realised that so many cafés and restaurants cater for the vegan diet (some even specialising in it) that I really had no reason to be worried at all. The lifestyle has certainly gained much more positive publicity over the past few years, with celebrity spokespeople such as Lucy Watson and Ella Woodward (Author of the famous “Deliciously Ella”) and even rumours of the Duchess of Sussex, Megan Markle, favouring a vegan diet.
When starting out, there are two “beginners tips” that I wish someone had told me when I was a vegan newbie. The first: don’t be harsh on yourself. It usually takes a good year for someone to gradually change their diet at a healthy pace to be vegetarian or vegan. This could mean gradually cutting down on red meat, swapping meat for fish dishes, and trying oat milk instead of cows milk. Small changes won’t shock your body and are good for your mindset, keeping cravings at a minimum. The second: preparation. Even though so many eateries are vegan-friendly, it’s worth doing your research beforehand and keeping a snack in your bag just in case. Preparation is also key when doing your weekly food shop, thinking of the meals you want to cook that week and research ingredients before heading out to get them. A little bit of prep can save a lot of time wandering around the supermarket.
I have compiled a list of a few of my favourite recipes, some are old favourites and others more recent. All of them are simple, tasty and nutritious:
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons organic sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup non-dairy milk (I use oat milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla
maple syrup and fresh fruit to serve
Mix ingredients and use a non-stick pan to cook. This recipe should make about 4 servings, it’s easy to double up if you need more.
Roasted red pepper pasta
For the sauce:
2 red bell peppers
1 red onion
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup cashews
1 cup unsweetened almond or soy milk
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika powder
9 oz fettuccine
chopped fresh parsley, to serve.
Preheat the oven to 350 °F. Cut the red bell peppers and the onion into stripes.
Together with the garlic, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes.
Cook the fettuccine according to the instructions on the package and set aside.
Get the bell pepper, the onion, and the garlic out of the oven and place them in a high-speed blender together with the remaining ingredients and process until smooth.
Pour the red bell pepper sauce into a saucepan and heat it up for a couple of minutes. Stir in the cooked fettuccine and serve immediately. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley… Enjoy!
½ cup basmati rice
1 cup of water
2 pinch salt
2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1-2 tbsp curry paste
1 can coconut milk (1 can = 1.5 cups)
1 can chickpeas
1 tbsp soy sauce
2-3 medium tomatoes (or handful cherry tomatoes, chopped.)
1 cup basil, fresh
Add the rice, water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil. Keep an eye on the rice – when the water is boiling put a lid on it, reduce the heat to low and cook for another 8-10 mins (or as per packet instructions).
While this is happening chop the onions, garlic, basil and juice the lime.
Put the oil and onions into a large pan and cook on low-medium heat until the onions start to soften and turn clear about 5 minutes. Add the garlic for a further 1 minute.
Add 1 tbsp curry paste and the milk, stirring until the curry is dissolved. Add another pinch of salt. Taste test – if you’d like your curry a little stronger then add another tbsp.
Throw in the drained and rinsed chickpeas and soy sauce, and cook on medium heat for around 5 minutes, bringing the curry to a boil. If it starts to burn, reduce heat immediately.
Add the chopped tomatoes, chopped basil, soy sauce and gently simmer the curry for another 2 minutes. Give it another stir.
The rice should be done by now too – fork it through to make it fluffy.
Serve the curry and rice together with popadoms and naan bread as optional sides.
The best vegan chocolate cake recipe
I found this recipe at https://veggiedesserts.co.uk/best-vegan-chocolate-cake/and it is amazing. Moist, fluffy and delicious!
300 ml (1 + 1/4 cups) vegan milk (soy, almond, oat)
1 tbsp lemon juice (or white vinegar)
150 g ( 2/3 cup) vegan margarine/butter
3 tbsp golden syrup (or agave or maple syrup- maple will make a slightly less sweet cake)
1 tsp instant coffee granules (OPTIONAL) or espresso powder
275 g (2 + 1/4 cups) plain (all-purpose) flour
175 g (3/4 cup) sugar
4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda (baking soda)
For the vegan chocolate frosting (double to cover the sides as well)
75 g (1/3 cup) vegan margarine/butter
200 g (1 + 2/3 cups) powdered icing sugar (confectioner’s sugar)
4 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp water
Preheat the oven to 180° C/160° C fan/Gas mark 4 (350F). Lightly grease 2x20cm/8inch round baking pans.
Stir the lemon juice (or vinegar) into the milk and set aside to thicken and ‘curdle’ slightly into buttermilk.
In a pan over medium heat, melt the margarine, syrup and coffee granules together. Set aside to cool slightly.
Sieve the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) into a large mixing bowl and whisk together.
Pour the milk and melted margarine mixture over the flour mixture and stir well until it becomes a smooth batter.
Divide the mixture between the two prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean.
Allow the cakes to cool in the tins for 5 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, to make the icing beat together all ingredients until smooth.
When the cakes are completely cold, sandwich together with half of the icing. Spread the remaining icing over the top of the cake.