Have you ever wondered what vegans eat? Do you fancy trying more plant-based foods yourself? Do you have some vegans coming over for a meal or to visit and wonder what to cook for them? Don't despair! Here's a few hints and tips to help you!
Not all vegan food is labelled vegan. Generally, if something is marked vegetarian, and the ingredients list doesn't contain eggs or milk (which will be in bold because they are allergens) or honey, there's a good chance it's "accidentally vegan". For example, original bisto gravy and flora margarine are vegan!! Check out https://veganuary.com/accidentally-vegan-products-uk for more details.
It doesn't have to be complicated. After all beans on toast is generally vegan. Most people eat vegan food most of the time without even thinking about it - think fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, pulses, bread, dried pasta, rice, some cereals.
Now that veganism is more mainstream, there's animal-friendly alternatives for virtually every animal-based product in your local supermarket. Meat, fish, milk, cheese, butter, yogurt, cream can all be substituted with plant-based alternatives. Just check out the free-from section in your local supermarket and you'll be spoilt for choice.
Get Festive with an alternative Christmas Dinner
There's an abundance of vegan options available in all major supermarkets this year, but if you fancy trying something special, and wowing your guests, why not give these festive recipes a try?
Recipe – Christmas Soup (serves 4)
3 small onions
3 cloves of garlic
1 medium sweet potato
2 medium parsnips
2 tbsp oil
1½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
10 sprigs fresh thyme
1½ litres vegetable stock
100g vacuum-packed chestnuts (can substitute with cashew nuts)
A handful of dried cranberries
1. Peel and finely chop the onions and garlic. Roughly chop the sweet potato and the parsnips (no need to peel),
2. Put the oil into a large saucepan over a medium heat and, once warmed up, add the onions and garlic. Gently cook for about 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
3. Add the sweet potato, parnsips, salt and black pepper. Remove the leaves from the thyme sprigs and sprinkle in (leaving some aside for garnish).
4. Cook for another five minutes. Add the vegetable stock and chestnuts, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer for about 15 minutes.
5. Remove from the heat and blend with a stick blender until smooth. Taste and season with more salt and pepper if you think it needs it.
6. Finely slice the dried cranberries and garnish each serving with a sprinkle of these, along with a few of the reserved thyme leaves.
Vegan Christmas Pie (serves 6)
320g ready-rolled shortcrust pastry (eg jus-rol)
4 large flat mushrooms
1 red onion
120g brussels sprouts
1 tbsp olive oil
110g vegan stuffing mix (eg Paxo sage and onion)
8 vegan sausages in skins (eg Richmond Meat Free)
2 tbsp cranberry sauce
2 tbsp dairy-free milk
2 drops soy sauce
1. Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/Gas Mark 5
2. Remove the stalks from the mushrooms and place on a large baking tray. Peel and finely slice the red onion and add to the tray (keeping separate from the mushrooms), and trim and slice the sprouts, adding them to the remaining space on the tray. Drizzle or spray with oil, season well with salt & pepper and roast in the oven for 15 mins.
3. Meanwhile, make up the stuffing mix according to the packet instructions, and set aside.
4. Slit the skins of the vegan sausages and tip the sausage meat into a bowl, discarding the skins. Mash together with a fork.
5. Grease and line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper, and using the tin as a template, fully line the tin with the pastry.
6. Layer up the pie starting with the vegan sausage meat. Spoon it in small pieces into the bottom of the tin, then gently level out with a fork. Lay the roasted onion on top of the sausage meat, then dollop over the cranberry sauce, spreading it right to the edges with the back of a spoon. Next, lay out the four roasted mushrooms in a line, overlapping slightly as necessary. Add the stuffing in small pieces, pressing down with a fork to level out. Finally, scatter the roasted sprouts over the top of the stuffing.
7. Brush a little water around the pastry edges of the pie, then lay out the remaining pastry over the top to form the lid. Use a fork to crimp the edges of the pastry together, then use a sharp knife to trim off the excess pastry. Use any leftover pastry to decorate the pie eg holly leaves, stars, etc.
8. Mix the dairy-free milk and soy sauce to a glaze and brush over the pie lid. Bake for 30-40 mins until deep golden brown.
Recipe – Luxury Vegan Chocolate Cake (serves 8)
Ingredients - for the cake
250g plain flour
350g caster sugar
85g cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
300ml almond milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
125 ml vegetable oil
250g grated courgettes
dairy-free butter for greasing
Ingredients - for the icing
375g icing sugar
75g dairy-free butter
1½ tbsp cocoa powder
4 ½ tbsp boiling water
1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4
2. Grease two 23cm/9 in non-stick springform cake tins with dairy-free butter. Line bottoms of the cake tins with greaseproof paper.
3. In a large bowl, sieve together the dry ingredients - plain flour, caster sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda.
4. Add the wet ingredients – almond milk, vanilla extract and vegetable oil. Mix well.
5. Add the grated courgettes and mix until all is well combined.
6. Divide the mixture evenly between the two cake tins.
7. Bake in the oven for 25-30 mins until an inserted cake skewer comes out clean. Leave the cakes to cool in their tins for 5 mins then carefully remove the sides of the spring form cake tins. Run a palette or rounded knife on the inside edge of the cake tins first to make sure the cake comes out neatly. Ensure the cake is completely cool before icing.
8. Once completely cool, prepare the chocolate icing. In a bowl, melt 75g of dairy-free butter with the boiling water. In a separate bowl, mix together the icing sugar with 1½ tbsp sieved cocoa powder. Add the melted butter to the sugar mixture and blend well until you have a smooth icing.
9. Assemble the cake by placing one cake on a serving plate. Spread some chocolate icing over the first cake, then top with the other cake. Ice the cake all over with the remaining chocolate icing using a palette knife.
10. Add further decoration as required and serve with your favourite plant-based pouring cream.