Review: New Vegan Meat by Unbelievable Alt

In 2019 there were an estimated 600,000 people eating a vegan diet in the UK, up from 150,000 in 2014 and it’s forecasted to keep on rising. With this rise there’s been an explosion of new vegan and vegetarian food products, which is amazing.

According to The Vegan Society, in 2018 the UK was top of world for the number of new vegan product launches (Mintel report). This meant 16% of all new food products launched globally were vegan, doubling from 8% in 2015.

Continue reading “Review: New Vegan Meat by Unbelievable Alt”

7 Foods (and Lots of Tips) to Help You Nail Veganuary

whole foods market veganuary

If you are one of the 250,000 or more people expected to pass on the cheese and meat and take up a vegan diet this January – AKA Veganuary – then this post is for you. It’s also for you if you’ve been leaning towards plant-based eating and cooking for a while, but still need some extra inspo to make it work long term.

I’ve teamed up with Whole Foods Market to share my pick of vegan foodie products to help you have a successful Veganuary (and hopefully, beyond). From meat-free alternatives such as tofu and tempeh, vegan baking essentials, natural sauces and condiments (including vegan mayo!) to sweet treats and snacks, I’ve cherry-picked my faves below.

Continue reading “7 Foods (and Lots of Tips) to Help You Nail Veganuary”

My 8 favourite cookbooks for healthy vegan and vegetarian cooking

fresh india cookbook best vegetarian

I love a good cookbook. I have over 35-40 of them – bought, inherited or gratefully received. A few have proven their worth and have become absolute favourites. They’re the ones I can always rely on to provide me a new or interesting way of cooking with an ingredient. Or offer an inspiring recipe I can pull together with minimum effort and with simple foods I usually already have.

Friends often ask if I can recommend a good book and there are a few I always call out, which I’ve listed here. Each one is best for a different reason, occasion or cooking style. So if you’re looking to renew your repertoire of recipes or need fresh inspiration for healthy, plant-based cooking (that’s still hearty and filling!) then this is the list for you. Feel free to pass it on.

1. World Food Cafe Vegetarian Bible

By Chris and Carolyn caldicott

And it really is a bible. If you’re excited by the variety and flavours of world cuisine you will love this. Organised by region, the authors have cherrypicked recipes that show off the best from that area. I usually turn to this book when I’m looking for a curry, going straight to the index to see the options for my chosen veg (which is how I use most cookbooks) and then I can almost guarantee the dish I find in here wouldn’t be in any other cookbook.

Best for: interesting DISHES from FAR AND WIDE

2. The Happy Pear

by David and Stephen Flynn

This was a gift from a good friend and very quickly became a regular go-to. I’m quite averse to vegan food that’s light or superficial, inadvertently channeling the notion that vegans are not hearty eaters (which is far from the truth, in my case anyway!). The Flynn brothers have taken everyday, popular ingredients such as squash and lentils and not only given them fuss-free makeovers but the recipes are sure to fill you up too. There’s not a drop of pretentious cooking here, just down to earth, wholesome meals that are both inviting and easy to follow.

BEST FOR: keeping the family full and happy

 

3. Fresh India

by Meera Sodha

I received this as a birthday present from another good friend only a few months ago and it’s been the most exciting edition to my collection. I made three recipes within the first few days of receiving it and instantly bookmarked so many more to try. Possibly because I’m obsessed with vegetarian Indian cuisine – you’ll find me at one of London’s local pure vegetarian restaurants feasting on dosa, idly and vada at any possible opportunity – that I was smitten by this book but also because Meera Sodha makes everything so simple. For example, I’ve picked up lots of new (and uncomplicated) ways of cooking Indian-inspired sauces and I found it super easy to take ingredients from one recipe and combine with the method of another, depending on what I have in the kitchen.

Best for: being creative with Indian cooking with hardly any effort

 

 

4. The Nut Butter Cookbook by Pip & Nut

By Pippa Murray

This book isn’t vegetarian or vegan (in fact, apart from the nut butters there’s hardly any vegan recipes) but I have easily adapted ideas and replaced dairy ingredients with non-dairy alternatives. The highlight for me is the Peanut Sweet Potato Gratin – once I’d swapped the cream and milk for coconut milk, it was divine.  I have also discovered super easy ways to turn nut butter into sauces, dips and dressings which has transformed my lunches and dinners. I now make peanut and sriracha sauce almost daily!

Best for: surprisingLy endless ways with nut butter


5. Silk Road Vegetarian

by Dahlia Abraham-Klein

This one was a bit of a wild card which I bought after a recommendation from my uncle, who also loves vegetarian cooking, and despite its slightly old fashioned imagery it’s definitely proven itself. Covering a region I’m naturally drawn thanks to my Iraqi heritage, I often reach for this when I want comfort food inspiration. It’s great for stews and rice dishes.

Best for: traditional cuisine that’s true to its origins

 

6. Cook, Share, Eat Vegan

by Aine Carlin

Who would have thought that one day there would be as many modern vegan cookbooks as there are out today. Bookshops and bookshelves are bursting with them all vying for our attention but it’s hard to see which ones are really worth having. Having eaten a vegan diet for over a decade now (way back when veganism was still very hippie) I feel like my plant-based cooking skills constantly needs challenging and refreshing which is why Aine Carlin’s collections appeal. If you’re looking for the next step up in plant-based cooking I’d definitely recommend this. The ideas go the extra mile to impress but still accessible and easy to make.     

Best for: Impressing guests (but not leaving them hungry)

 

 

7. Riverford Companion: Autumn Winter and Spring Summer

By GuyWatson

I’m a regular customer of Riverford veg delivery boxes (I’ve tried other veg boxes over the years but always come back to Riverford for the variety and generous portion sizes) so it’s no surprise I also love their cookbooks, thoughtfully presented for seasonal cooking. Guy Watson and the Riverford team never fail to reveal a new or enlivening way to prep or cook a vegetable, banishing boredom and educating with their decades of expertise along the way.

Best for: never being stuck with what to do with a vegetable again

 

8. The Dal Cookbook

By Krishna Dutta

An oldie but a goodie. I have no idea how this one entered my life (another gift maybe?) but for lovers of dal (obviously) it’s a must-have. From simple to elaborate and all styles and flavours in between, this is a chance to experiment with over 50 ways to find your favourites. It’s also a bit of a reference book for all things lentil-based, another reason why it’s stood the test of time on my bookshelf.

Best for: Never cooking the same dal twice

 

Would love to hear what your go-to veggie/vegan cookbooks are! Thanks for reading :)

5 Top Tips for Going (and Staying) Vegan

gemma-correll-who-invited-the-vegetarian-illustration-tips-for-going-vegan
Enter a caption

 

If you’re considering a meat and dairy-free, plant-based diet but don’t want to lose friends or your social life in the process then read on…

As someone who’s been vegan for over ten years and vegetarian nearly all of my life I thought I’d share my top five tips. After years of experience these are my go-to ways and shortcuts.

Maybe you’ve discovered your own – would love to hear them – and if you want more tips and tricks (I have so many) don’t forget you can leave a comment by hitting the plus sign below or tweet me @yanarbeauty.

1. Work out your motivation

Why are you doing it? What’s your motivation for taking on this way of eating. It’s also a way of life so the more you believe in what you’re doing the more likely you are to stick to it.

I wrote about my motivations and reasons for being vegan in a previous post here. It was a natural extension of being vegetarian from the age of nine – as my knowledge of the meat and dairy industry (and the impact it has on our health) grew so did my commitment. It’s taken years of education and awareness and I now passionately believe in it, it’s nothing like a fad.

2. Find your own boundaries

At the very beginning when I first toyed with the idea of going vegan I tried to be strict and failed miserably. A very miserable six month start ended up with a huge Christmas binge on cake and chocolate – lesson learnt – extreme and sudden deprivation can only lead to rebellion or failure!

There’s no need to lose your head over it so start gently, especially if you’re going from being a full meat eater. If someone offers you some cheese after dinner or chocolates in the office and you really can’t resist, it’s ok! Take it easy and be lenient and kind to yourself.

My boundaries are meat (obviously) and dairy as a whole ingredient, for example I would never have an egg sandwich but if someone has baked a cake for a birthday then I may have a bite or a slice out of courtesy (and sometimes I won’t – I’ll just judge the situation). I think it’s good to be balanced in mind and make small exceptions when needed and know you’re committed all other times.

3. Be flexible eating out

Eating out my seem like an impossible feat at first but it gets easier once you get the hang of it, I promise. The trick? Be flexible and open minded with the menu (mix and match ingredients and check out the sides menu for vegan-friendly options), be nice to waiters/waitresses, and don’t be anal. By that I mean, if something has a hint of butter in it maybe you can let it pass? For me, as long as butter, eggs or cheese are not the main ingredients I don’t get too caught up. For example, it’s ok if some ghee has been used in an Indian vegetarian meal (it’s likely to be minimal) but I won’t choose a paneer cheese dish. No one likes a food bore so it works for me to be flexible when social and then as true to veganism as I like when I’m at home. That way I get to keep my friends and social life too!

4. Eat more!

Cutting out three major food groups (meat, fish, dairy) means making up the calories, vitamins and nutrients somewhere else otherwise you might waste away or end up looking like a pale, unhealthy, anaemic vegan and that’s no fun. Stay strong and satiated with bigger portion sizes than you’re probably used to – the calorie content of vegetables and pulses is far lower than meat, fish and dairy so you have a lot of catching up to do at meal times.

Anyone who knows me well knows I eat family portion sized meals (and I’m still small) with a mega fast metabolism. In the past I’ve tried dipped into packet vegan / meat substitute foods (non-dairy cheese springs to mind) but found unprocessed wholefoods in their most natural state work best for me. This area is yours to experiment with.

5. Get friendly with fats

My secret to staying fuller for longer is to eat plenty of plant fats… I always have avocados, coconut oil, tahini paste, olive oil, argan oil and rapeseed oil in the cupboard and eat them with food on a daily basis. I use coconut oil instead of butter to spread onto toast (delicious on sourdough or rye bread) and drizzle olive or argan oil on food so it goes the extra mile. Otherwise I’d be starving again very soon! PLUS all of these plant fats are nourishing for skin and cells so it’s a win-win situation.

I do believe you need to be a bit of food lover to be vegan otherwise it’s difficult to make it work as it’s already a restricted diet. Enjoy yourself and be creative within the boundaries and experiment… Don’t be afraid to try something new and you’ll eventually arrive at foods and meals you love. Would love to hear any questions or tips you might have…  Happy eating!

(Image credit: Gemma Correll – my favourite illustration, brilliantly depicted)

How to stick to Veganuary

veganuary Logo-how to stick to veganuary

Good news for celebrity vegans attending the BAFTA awards (Sunday 14th February) as this year vegan food is on the menu. Hoorah! Finally, a plant-based diet without dairy or meat is coming out of the shadows and being noticed by the mainstream as something desirable to try.

I was away for most of January but it seems Veganuary was a huge success. According to the organisers, around 23,000 people had pledged to give up meat and dairy so far, up from 3,000 in 2014. Very impressive.

nondairy milk at morrisonsI’ve been a vegan for around 10 years now (and vegetarian since I was nine) so it’s no new thing for me but there’s never been a better time to go dairy and meat-free.

Blogs and websites are full of inspiration for cooking and health (Green Kitchen Stories, Natural Kitchen Adventures and Sprouted Kitchen are a few of my favourites) and supermarket shelves are exploding with non-dairy produce. Years ago I’d be lucky if found one variety of non-dairy milk. Look at it now! (That picture was taken in Morrison’s a few weeks ago.)  

Years ago it was not the coolest of lifestyle choices. I was usually too embarrassed to say the V-word in case people thought I was weird let alone promote it as something to try. I would always say I’m ‘vegetarian and I didn’t eat dairy’ (mumbled quietly and quickly before anyone really noticed).

Now doing the big V is like proudly wearing the latest wellness badge and touted as the must-try new thing to help you lose weight, stay slim or eat more superfoods. Luckily they were never my primary motivations but definitely an added bonus of not eating butter, cheese, cream, eggs or meat. Some people will try Veganuary as it’s another trend to try, for others it will resonate more deeply and they will hopefully stick with it.

Sticking to a vegan diet has never been hard for me as it was never a fad or fashion. It was something I believed in

I did it for fairly strong ethical and health reasons of my own will. It came from an unwillingness to support the very act and nature of meat and dairy farming. I realised the problems that motivated me to be vegetarian (inhumane, unnatural and intensive farming) still very much existed in the dairy industry so it didn’t make sense to eat dairy and not meat. The more I read about the dairy industry the more I knew I couldn’t support it.

I didn’t want to buy into an industry that’s unethical in its practices (see ethicalconsumer.com report here), pumps its animals with antibiotics and growth hormones which we end up ingesting, puts unfair pressures on farmers to meet unrealistic supermarket quotas, and intensive farming methods that have massive environmental and human impact. I don’t agree with any of those things and don’t want any of them on my conscience.

So whatever your reasons for going vegan, whether it’s to less meat, be more healthy, lose/manage weight or even do your bit for the environment, the secret to sticking to Veganuary after January is to make sure the motivation comes from within.

The more the decision resonates with you personally, the more likely you are to stick to it.

Read up about what you’re doing, learn how to make it work, what sacrifices you may have to make, and how to eat well – being vegan means you omit a few major food groups so it’s important to substitute well so you don’t fall weak or ill. Discover where your boundaries lie (e.g. will you eat honey, but say no to a leather sofa? Or are you happy to have a bit of cake on special occasions (like I am!) particularly if your friend has baked it, but won’t wear a leather jacket. Experiment and you’ll discover what’s right for you and your lifestyle and where you can draw the lines.

If you’re going from full meat eater to vegan then it’s a massive jump so take small steps rather than going cold turkey, excuse the pun. Don’t be hard on yourself for having a bit of cheese after dinner and be open to trying new and alternative ways of eating breakfast, lunch and dinner. In restaurants, be creative with the menu but always smile sweetly at the waiter/waitress when making your extra special requests.

Remember, it’s not a punishment so enjoy it. Done with an open, relaxed and flexible mind it can be a really vibrant and creative way to eat.

It’s the best thing I ever did and if you’re giving it a go, let me know how you’re getting on and hope you love it too.

sticking to veganuary

x

Favourite kitchen gadget: Almond/Soya Milk Maker

I’m lucky I get to try out all sorts of gadgets and fun things for work and very occasionally one will stand out from the rest, be genuinely fabulous and earn a place in my everyday life. This year I found one of those star products: Tribest Soyabella Milk Maker. If you love non-dairy milk, check out my full review of this milk maker and get it on your Christmas wishlist.

Tribest-Soyabella-Nut-Milk-Maker-Healthista-Reviewed-384

Non-dairy milks are massively on the rise and have never been as popular with supermarkets and health food shops exploding with choice, more than I’ve ever seen. So if you are regularly buying soya or almond milk, making your own could be a healthier, cheaper and more ecological way to enjoy it.

Apart from the obvious being fresh, natural and homemade almond milk, the best bit for me is the speed and ease. Making things quick and easy is the sign of a good gadget! 

Once you’ve soaked your almonds for a few hours or overnight, you just pop them in the maker and it takes less than 60 seconds to turn the almonds into milk. Incredible! I believe a 200gm of almonds makes me just under a litre of milk, and that lasts a few days. The water and pulp does seperate slightly once it’s been sitting in the fridge so you just need to give it a stir before using. 

You also know exactly what’s going into it and it’s actually very little – just almonds and filtered water! Flavour is optional so you can add a couple of drops of vanilla or agave syrup but I make it completely flavour-free and tastes great.

For my full review and verdict, including what to do with nut or almond pulp left over from the milk, my review of the milk maker is on Healthista.com here and let me know what you think, and if you have one or tempted to buy one let me know too!

Animal Liberation, Peter Singer, and #WorldVegetarianDay

 

Gemma Correll
 
Yesterday I read Industrial Farming is One of the Worst Crimes in History, an article by Yuval Noa Harari, and had to write this. Especially apt as it’s World Vegetarian Day…

The points he made are some of the reasons I became a vegetarian at 9 years old – not because of some new found fad or even environmental or health movement, but because it dawned on me so quickly there was something inherently wrong, morally and ethically, with the way we eat meat. I then discovered the dairy industry was just as guilty as the meat industry of inhumane, intensive farming so I stopped eating dairy about ten years ago. Best thing I ever did!

The pressure to change farming methods to take into account what sentient creatures go through, has grown gradually since Peter Singer wrote Animal Liberation 40 years ago (a must read for anyone interested in this subject. While you’re there, check out his other book, Writings on an Ethical Life) and now, finally, kinder, more conscientious farming, including organic, is on people’s radars…..

BUT at the same time hideous, mass, intensive farming is the norm (see US and China.. and coming to the UK soon!). Read Farmageddon, the true cost of cheap meat. 

I have no idea what the solution is because the richer people get the more meat they demand and sadly, most humans in power really don’t care about how mass livestock lives or dies. I guess the only thing left is for people to keep demanding more humane ways to farm, and maybe we’ll keep seeing small increments of change over years to come.

AND as a side, even if you don’t care about the animals, you might care about what you eat, especially if you’re a meat-lover. And the better an animal’s life, the better the quality of meat, so win-win for all.

I’ll leave you with my very favourite illustration/cartoon (above): Who invited the herbivore, by Gemma Correll. Happy World Vegetarian Day! 

A meat-free Christmas

So what did the veggie-vegan eat for Christmas? The menu of the day was a mixture of tried and trusted classics (homemade hummus of course) and a few new creations I whipped up on Christmas morning. Being eternally late for everything, there was little pre-preparation but each dish was lovingly put together swiftly on the day…

My meat-free Christmas menu included:

– An Iraqi-style breakfast puff pastry with tahini paste and date syrup. Wow, wow, wow.

– Edamame, pea and mint dip

– Homemade hummus

The brilliantly green edamame and pea dip with delicately sweet flavours was definitely my favourite.

homemade hummus and edamame pea dip.jpeg

– Arabic tea (pictured above)

– Roasted butternut squash stuffed with rice, broadbeans, dill and christmasy spices.

Potato, parsnip and onion rosti  from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s parsnIp recIpes In this weekend’s Guardian.

image

– and lots and lots of roast veggies with marinated avocado on the side.

What a feast! Did you have a veggie-vegan Christmas? Any recipes to share from your day?

 

(Excuse any obscure formatting or typos today! I’m writing on a new tablet and haven’t quIte got the hang of it!)