The L-Plate Vegan
So what do you eat?
The thought of cooking a vegan meal can be daunting – where
do you start?! Luckily most vegetarian and even meat-based
meals can be easily modified and turned into vegan delights.
A very handy book for vegans is The Animal Free Shopper by
the Vegan Society, as it lists
thousands of products, all of which are cruelty-free. You can get your copy
from Viva! for £4.99 (plus £1 p&p).
Most supermarkets now stock many vegan products (look especially
in their ‘free-from’ section), but there are other
shops that will broaden your horizons. Track down your local
health food store, or save your strength and find a one-stop
online shop. Log on to the Vegan Store which
has a range of goodies (www.veganstore.co.uk)
or Veggie Stuff – an online veggie supermarket
(www.veggiestuff.com). The Essential
Trading Co-op has a huge range of products and, as
well as a cash and carry service in Bristol, will deliver to
certain areas in the south (www.essential-trading.coop).
If you’re in the Cambridge or Northampton areas go to
the Daily Bread Co-operative
(www.dailybread.co.uk). For vegan confectionery, wines and
beers (and a wide range of books and merchandise), go to Viva!’s
website www.viva.org.uk. For health and nutrition books and
products go to the Vegetarian & Vegan Foundation (www.vegetarian.org.uk).
Soya milk is made from… wait for it… soya beans
and is available from almost every supermarket and all health
food shops. It comes
in a variety of types: sweetened, unsweetened, calcium enriched, organic, with
wheat syrup and as flavoured milkshakes. It can be drunk as it is, or used
in hot drinks and cooking in the same way that you would use cow’s milk.
They all taste different, so if you don’t like one, pick another brand
or style until you find the ones that suit your taste. You can also find milk
replacements made from rice, oats and peas. Plamil is a vegan
company and their products are approved by the Vegan Society. Their dairy-free
milks are available from health stores nationwide. If you’re a supermarket
shopper, try Provamel sweetened soya milk or
a supermarket brand such as Waitrose’s soya, rice and
Butter is obviously made from milk so it is easiest to switch
margarine, many of which are vegan. Some margarines contain milk derivatives
such as whey or E-numbers from an animal source, but most supermarkets stock
at least one suitable own brand margarine or look for Pure’s Dairy
Free Soya Spread or Dairy Free Sunflower Spread.
Health food shops will also stock a selection of vegan margarines including: Granose’s Vegetable
margarine; Suma’s Sunflower Spread, Organic
Reduced Fat Sunflower Spread, or their Soya Spread; Biona Organic
Vegetable Margarine and Organic Olive Extra Margarine – made
with olive oil; Vitaquell Extra Dairy Free or Bio
margarine. If you like a block of ‘butter-style’ margarine
for baking, try Rakusen’s Tomor, available
from Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and many
health food shops.
Cheese is also made from milk, and in some cases uses an extract
from calves’ stomachs, called rennet, to curdle the milk, so it isn’t
even vegetarian. However, there are plenty of soft and hard vegan cheeses available
these days which are made from soya beans instead of milk. For hard vegan cheeses
try Redwood Wholefoods’ Cheddar Cheezly (red
and white cheddar) or go for one of their new flavours such as Cheezly
Nacho style, Garlic & Herb, with ‘Bacon-style’ Pieces or Mature
Cheddar-style with Cranberries. Also try the range from Bute
Island called Scheese – there’s a large
selection including Mozzerella, ‘blue’ flavour, Hickory
Smoked, Cheshire and Cheddar – but
if you’re expecting it to melt, you might be in for a long wait! If you’re
craving cheese on toast or pizza, then there are now several melty cheeses
available. Redwood’s New Super Melting Cheezly
range includes Cheddar slices, Gouda block, Edam
block and Mozzarella block and slices (from health
shops inc. Holland & Barrett or direct from www.redwoodfoods.co.uk). Vegerella is
also for you – it comes in Cheddar, Mexican and Italian flavours
and can be used just like dairy cheese! So you should find at least one to
suit you in your health food shop. Tofutti produce meltable ‘cheese’ slices
in Mozzarella flavour.
There are also plenty of soft cheeses on the market. Fromsoya make
a range of flavours, including Horseradish, French
Onion or Garlic & Herb. Redwood produce Sour
Cream & Chive Flavour and Garlic & Herb
Flavour Cream Cheezlys. Especially scrumptious are
the Creamy Smooth Dairy Free Spread
Range from Tofutti. Flavours include French
Onion, Garlic & Herb, Herbs & Chives and Original and
they taste identical to dairy cream cheeses but with no trace
of cholesterol. The tubs are much bigger too!
For Parmesan to sprinkle over your spaghetti bolognese, you
can buy Parmazano (in tubs in the Italian
section) from Tesco, Waitrose or
health food shops – it tastes identical and can be used
to make great cheese-style sauces as well.
How do you replace eggs? Well if you’re hoping for a
vegan hard-boiled egg you really are out of luck. No one has
invented the ‘soya egg’ yet (thankfully!), but
the good news is that you can buy egg replacers from most health
food shops. These are really only useful as a binding agent
in baking, but it does mean you need not go without your cakes
(you can even use them to make meringue!). We’ve made
some darn good cakes using No Egg from Orgran (incidently
their Chocolate Sponge Pudding Mix is rather
tasty too). However, there are many ways to bake fantastic
cakes without using eggs – Rose Elliot, the renowned
vegetarian and vegan cook, suggests mixing in orange juice
to give a light sponge, very similar in texture to one that
is made with eggs. Other people use bananas or other fruit
to bind their cakes, and these work just as well. Strange as
it may sound,
others use vinegar and it really does the trick! If you miss your
morning scrambled egg on toast, try scrambling tofu instead – see tofu
section for recipe on page 16.
As with most things, there are vegan alternatives available
usually milk-based yoghurts. Again, some are better than others, but there’s
nothing wrong with trying them all, just to be on the safe side! Provamel,
for example, make the yummy Yofu Exotic Dessert range, the
delicious children’s Strawberry and Banana Yofu
(recommended for adults too!), as well as plain Yofu. Although
they are widely available in health food shops, some supermarkets are catching
on, and they can be found in Tesco and Asda.
Dairy ice cream obviously contains dairy products, usually
in the form of milk or milk derivatives. If the label on your
icecream, however, reads ‘non-dairy’ or uses the
phrase ‘non-milk fats’, don’t assume that
this makes it vegan. The chances are that these may be pork
or other animal fats. That’s the bad news.
The good news is there are loads of scrumptious vegan ice
creams (most made from soya) widely available out there! If
you want to treat yourself, try the range from Tofutti.
They’re available from health food shops and are delicious,
scoring an all time record 11 out of 10 from Viva! taste-testers!
Choose from Better Pecan, Madagascan
Vanilla, Strawberry Supreme, Chocolate
Cookies and Vanilla Chocolate Fudge – mmm!
Another great ice cream product to look out for made by Toffuti is
called Rock ‘n’ Roll; it’s
a bit like Vienetta and you should be able to find it in larger Sainsbury’s or Tesco stores.
What’s more, they’ve recently added to the range
and you can now find individual cones and bars that really
get those taste buds tingling.
More excellent vegan ice cream to look out for is First
Glacé Oat Supreme, an oat-based
range that includes the amazing Strawberry Sensation and Vanilla
Chocolate Fudge Swirl. They also make a
Classic Vanilla that’s rich and creamy enough to
eat on its own and wonderful with hot and cold puddings for when you really
want to indulge yourself.
Swedish Glacé make a whole range of
ice creams; Raspberry, Strawberry, Chocolate, Mocha & Chocolate,
and Vanilla. They’re all vegan and can
be bought from health food shops and from some supermarkets,
including Waitrose, Tesco, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s.
It’s hard to recommend one as they are all great, but
we keep on
coming back to the chocolate time and time again!!
Mother Hemp has also come up with a delicious
dairy free range of Vanilla, Strawberry and Mint
Choc Chip made using the creamy milk extracted from
crushed organic hemp seeds.
If you find it difficult to get hold of vegan ice cream or
fancy something fruity (!) you could try sorbets and fruit
lollies instead. Check out: Asda Ice
Snaps in Orange and Lemon flavours
or their Really Fruity Tropical Sorbet; Iceland Strawberry & Banana
Ice Breakers; Bird’s Eye Wall’s Calippo
fruit ices in Strawberry or Tropical and
their Fruit Fives (lollies); Marks & Spencer Orange
Juice Bars or their Mini Lemon & Lime
Bars andTesco Slimey
Limey lollies... get licking!
From health food shops and some supermarkets you can buy soya
cream (Granose Soya Creem and Provamel’s Soya
Dream are both great), but although you can use it
in cooking, it is a pour-it-on type of single cream, not a
whip-it-and-heap-it-on type. Still, it means your apple pie
need never go naked.
Cheese is also made from milk, and in some cases uses
an extract from calves’ stomach, called rennet, to
curdle the milk, so isn’t even vegetarian.