Susan Hart: November is World Vegan Month

Taking better care of the earth’s resources and the environment, ethical issues about animal welfare, the use of antibiotics and growth stimulants in animal production or the health advantages of a plant-based diet. These are just some of the reasons why an estimated 1 million UK adults are now following a vegan lifestyle.


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For some people it’s none of the above but they have allergies to dairy products or are lactose intolerant, hence the increased popularity and availability of soya-based dairy alternatives


But on the whole being a vegan is more of a lifestyle choice and a philosophy than a diet.

miso-non-veggieYou can now buy ethical clothing, shoes, toiletries and makeup. But during ‘world vegan month’ I’d like to focus on the food aspect of being vegan.


Over the last year I have seen a number of changes occurring across the Nottingham hospitality landscape, as well as an increase in wheat free/gluten free cakes and goodies, I have also noticed more vegan options in shops, supermarkets and eateries.


For instance did you know that the Peacock Hotel on Mansfield Road, Nottingham has a 100% vegan kitchen, Zaap, a Thai street food restaurant on Maid Marian Way had a good range of vegan options, Cafe Roya in Beeston is a vegan and vegetarian restaurant that does amazing food, Chakh le India on Trent Bridge does great vegan starters.  The Parlour in West Bridfgord has an impressive range of vegan cakes.  And the Alley Cafe, which has been around for years is still turning out great healthy vegan food.  Not to be outdone Sainsbury’s has launched a vegan cheese range and Tesco has launched a selection box suitable for vegans

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Many vegans have a lower BMI (body Mass Index), lower cholesterols levels and a lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease.


For some the transition to being vegan is a staged process; they cut down on red meat, then only eat fish, progress to becoming vegetarian then decide to take the plunge and go 100% for a plant-based diet


For those people the move can be manageable and not too daunting. But if your main protein source as a vegetarian has been eggs and dairy then it can seem more of a challenge. But as I’ve mentioned above supermarkets are now producing more products that are suitable.

front-menu-peacockThere are now many non-dairy alternatives.  Soya has the most similar nutritional value to milk and can be used in sweet and savoury dishes.  Always buy the unsweetened versions for a better nutritional balance.


If you think a vegan diet is worth trying then why not come to my vegan cookery classes more info can be obtained by following this link simply veg . I will also be running a Vegan Christmas cookery workshop every Saturday in November ; you can find out more on my blog page vegan merry Christmas


Three simple food tips


Tip #1 – If you love eggs then consider making scrambled eggs with tofu.  It has a similar texture and can be delicious.  Many baking recipes can be made without eggs, or use linseeds soaked in water.

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Tip #2 – For vegetarians considering the move to a vegan diet start incorporating more beans, pulses, nuts and seeds in to your meals.  These will become the protein staples on a plant-based diet i.e. bean salads, chilli, curries, and pasta dishes.  Use nut butters in sandwiches and savoury dishes. All these protein sources are high in fibre, low in cholesterol and generally low in saturated fat

Tip #3 – Learn to love labels. Some foods that appear vegan could contain meat or fish by-products. Look out for bonito (fish) in Miso, cochineal or E120 (a red food colouring) found in some alcoholic drinks, bakery, biscuits, desserts, drinks, icings, pie fillings, sauces and sweets. Worcestershire Sauce (anchovies), Marshmallows and jelly sweets (gelatin) or Beer (Isinglass).

world-vegan-monthEating a balanced diet is important for all of us, however vegans may have to pay particular attention to their intake of B12 and iron.  Some cereals, breads, non dairy spreads and milks etc are fortified with B12 and as long as you have plenty of green leafy veg, dried fruits, pulses, oats and other wholegrain you should be ok for iron.


For more advice about adopting a vegan diet visit the vegan society website