So I’ve been thinking about this for a while, wondering how hard it would be to do vegan. I remember cooking for a dinner party for vegan friends years ago and really struggling to know what to make (“So we can make beans right? Aubergines? What about pastry? No that’s got butter and lard in it” etc), but that was about 20 years ago and things are different now. There’s a lot more vegan stuff on the shelves.
In the past I’ve been a vegetarian; was so for a number of years until I went to live on a Greek island and the meat was local and much better, and my current stance is that I try and have meatless days at least two or three times a week and when I do eat meat, I choose it carefully. I look for meat that has had a nice life, and a quick humane death.
But I’m also conscious that what I’m being told might not be the truth. Brands that have ‘Farm’ in the name probably haven’t ever seen an open field, for example. So I try and get stuff from farm shops etc, but hey. I’m a busy mum with two businesses to run. There ain’t always time. Food boxes, by the way, are a good call here. But I’m going to do something to see just exactly how easy or hard it is – I’m going to go vegan for a month. Boyfriend gloomily suggests I will produce as much methane as a cow.
Tempeh is harder to find, which is good because actually it looks like some kind of nut-filled turd
So the first thing I do is a big shop online, so I have time to read ingredients and really think about what I’m buying, and I’m immediately struck by how much stuff is actually vegan anyway. Jusroll pastry, for example. Bread. Pasta. This is going to be a doddle, I think, happily tapping away at the screen. But the second thing that struck me is how much of my usual shopping isn’t vegan. Lea & Perrins for the Bloody Mary (anchovies) and my beloved mayonnaise (“Oh yeah, that’s got egg in it, hasn’t it, duh”), I’m finding animals and fish lurking in bottles and tubes throughout my kitchen.
As I’m doing the online shop I’m also browsing the web for vegan recipes so I know what to buy. What the hell is tempeh? Is that different to tofu? It’s a whole new world. Tempeh is harder to find, which is good because actually it looks like some kind of nut-filled turd. I will have to try some – but I might have to work up to that.
I’m not going to waste food, so there’s no throwing away stuff I’ve already got. I’m just going to work through the perishable stuff until it’s gone, and keep give the other stuff to Vegetarian Teenage Daughter Who Doesn’t Actually Like Vegetables. As I’ve been away for the weekend I get back and the fridge seems bare, but what’s actually in there? Milk, cheeses, leftover free range chicken, a jug of stock I made with the bones, eggs… good grief, I’m a carnivorous beast.
I cautiously look at the PETA site, as I’m always keen to avoid horrific images of tortured animals before bedtime, and download the Vegan Starter Pack. The back cover has a picture of a cute piglet with the caption ‘I am not bacon’ which perversely immediately makes me want bacon.
Inside it says, ‘Would you eat your dog?’ I eye up the young plump Alice Pug and the jury is out. There are some lovely vegan recipes in the thing though.
The shop arrives and I’m shocked at how much I’ve ordered. What a lot of vegetables.
So – let’s talk about tea with soya milk. Just so you know, my usual morning routine is one-cocodamol-and-two-cups-of-tea-before-I-feel-human followed by two soft boiled eggs a bit later on. I’m worried about veganing my breakfast, not gonna lie, probably more than any other meal of the day. Not sure why the idea of soya milk makes me feel a bit sick but it does. Bean milk? WTF?
I try it gingerly in my tea – it’s actually OK, but not a keeper. A bit nutty – I’m immediately thinking it will be way nicer with coffee, and on muesli – but I can just about bear it. I can’t face two cups though. I have a peppermint tea instead and feel healthy (and smug).
To the egg conundrum. I usually buy free range eggs, and where possible from farms rather than supermarkets because I know only too well that ‘free range’ supermarket eggs are not much better than caged hen fruits. I’ve prepared for this one as it’s the biggie, I just love eggs – so I give this Tofu Scramble recipe a bash.
Honestly, it’s absolutely delicious, but mostly so because of all the other stuff – I play a bit with the recipe, create a salsa to go with it, and drop the bread part, and swap black beans for cannellini because that’s what’s in my cupboard. It’s not exactly eggs, but it’s pretty close in appearance and it’s very filling. It’s also quite a faff, compared to sticking two eggs in hot water for four minutes. But I have made a lot, and I’m thinking I’ll keep half for tomorrow.
A win – if you’ve got time to make it. Really tasty and very filling. Easy to bump up with vegan bacony slices, mushrooms and fat seedy toast for a big weekend Full English type thing too. So far, so good.
But I’m already thinking about lunch and dinner and what the hell I’m going to make (thinking soup for lunch, some kind of vegetable pie for dinner) and am conscious that planning and cooking food is going to take up more of my time than usual.
Vegetarian Teenage Daughter Who Doesn’t Actually Like Vegetables is already wary and suspicious, and has begged not to be made to eat vegan food so she’s getting the cheese and stuff in the fridge. And tomorrow morning I’m going to try and plan three days’ worth of meals, so I don’t have to think about it all the time. And I need to start thinking about clothing, makeup and cleaning stuff too. Ho hum.