There’s two things I love a lot in life and that’s books and cooking, and as I’m not currently reading any books I want to do I thought I’d write a little about cooking. Yes I know this is meant to be a book blog, but I really like cook books? So I guess that counts. Plus this is my blog, so I can post what I like.
This week I had a go at doing a fully plant based diet for seven days. Before this week I ate an predominately vegetarian diet, with some fish (although I’d rarely cook fish for myself) so it wasn’t too big of a jump in terms of changing my whole diet. The main difficulty I found when cooking at home was not relying on a ‘cheese-crutch’, in which I’d just sprinkle a bit of cheese on top of any lazy dish. I found it quite easy to cook plant based food for myself at home but it found it more difficult when I wanted to buy anything pre-made. On Tuesday I was on campus all day and hadn’t packed enough food for myself so my only cheap and filling option was some Sultan’s fries, plus I couldn’t have mayo which made my fries even sadder. Lancaster does fortunately have a lot of places that offer great vegan options such as The Whaletail Cafe, Roots Cafe, The Radish Cafe and The Sunbury Coffee House (which I mention in further detail below).
I kept a food diary of all the meals I cooked this week. So here’s what I ate this week:
- Breakfast: Toast with plant-based margarine
- Lunch: Roast sweet potato with veggies. I love roast sweet potatoes as they’re so tasty and easy to prepare. Jab them with a knife then microwave for 6 minutes on high, then bake of 30mins at 200 degrees. I then sliced my potato open and cover with diced vegetable and some salt and pepper and baked for a further 20 minutes. I then added some breadcrumbs and baked for a further 10 minutes.
- Tea: Home made pot noodle. This is super simple to make! Put in a bowl: any veggies you have thinly sliced, a nest of rice noodles, ½ tsp chilli powder, tsp garlic powder, tsp vegetable stock, 2 tbsp soy sauce. Cover with boiling water and cover with a plate for about 5 minutes.
- Pudding: Pudology vegan millionaires cheesecake. Overall I didn’t really enjoy the pudding, I found the chocolate layer a little bitter, and the consistency wasn’t very creamy. The search for a good vegan pudding went on.
- Tuesday (my lunch and snacks I premade on Monday evening as I was on campus all day on Tuesday):
- Breakfast: Toast again
- Lunch: Simple Lentil Curry with Rice
- Afternoon snacks: Carrots sticks and violife halloumi style ‘cheese’ with hummus. Vegan pineapple cake. The violife cheese has a salty and savoury flavour just like halloumi, it did feel slightly oily and I would compare it to paneer cheese more closely than halloumi. The pineapple cake was made by my friend and fellow Vagina Monologues member Abi for our charity bake sale that day. It was so good! So I nabbed the recipe from her https://www.kidspot.com.au/kitchen/recipes/3-ingredient-pineapple-cake-1777
- Tea: some pretty sad chips on campus because I din’t pack enough food 😦
- Breakfast: Mushroom and cheese tortilla. The cheese was Sainsburys own vegan cheddar style grated cheese. It had a nice savoury nutty flavour and melted well. I would compare it to a brie cheese rather than cheddar as it was quite mild.
- Tea and Cake Study Break: Earl Grey Tea with Lemon (not milk as I’d usually have it) and a vegan carrot cake at The Sunbury Coffee House
- Lunch: The same as Monday but with some nutritional yeast sprinkled on top, which brought a nutty, cheesy, savoury flavour to the dish
- Tea: I was still really full from lunch so just had some toast
- Breakfast: A load of dried apricots and a couple of YoYo fruit winders
- Lunch (I say lunch, but I think I was snacking on this from 12pm until 4pm): vegetable rice, mini corn on the cobs, carrot sticks, homemade whole-wheat tortilla chips, and green pepper slices with hummus
- Tea: I just ate more veggie rice
- Breakfast: two mini corn on the cobs (unconventional I know, but I just really love them)
- Lunch: Pasta with lentil and vegetable sauce with nutritional yeast sprinkled on top
- Tea: More of the lunch time pasta
- Breakfast: Porridge with dried apricots
- Lunch: I was back at The Sunbury Coffee House again for a social, I had the vegetable wellington with roast potatoes, veggies and gravy. It was so good! And it was one out of 4 vegan options I had to choose from, I really didn’t expect to be spoiled for choice when dining out this week so that was a bonus.
- Tea: Mac and cheese style pasta bake. I made the sauce by boiling 1/2 a carrot and peeled sweet potato until very soft, I drained off half the cooking water, added 2 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp chilli powder, 1 tsp vegetable stock powder, 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, a pinch of salt and pepper, then blended the lot. Poured this sauce over a portion of cooked pasta (i saved some of the sauce for the next day as I’d made too much),, I then baked the pasta with some bread crumbs on top for 30 minutes. An extra sprinkle of nutritional yeast to serve and it was really good! Although not the same as a dairy mac and cheese it was super tasty, and I’d definitely make it again. It was half way between mac and cheese and an america style sweet potato casserole.
- Breakfast: Porridge
- Lunch: The extra sauce from Saturday I turned into a soup by adding a little more water and heating through. I ate it with a wholemeal tortilla as I had no bread.
- Tea: Lentil curry with rice
I enjoyed challenging myself to cook new things this week, but I think the challenge came more from the fact I knew I’d be blogging about it rather than any restrictions that came with the plant-based diet. I love vegetables and I always have so I didn’t feel like any of the meals I cooked were in anyway disappointing or lesser-than the meals that I would normally cook. I also had in the back of my mind this week the pros of a plant based diet that are so much bigger than me and my kitchen (the animals and the environmental impact), but I found it very difficult the remember these things – unlike in a piece of meat it is much more difficult to see the animal when looking at a block of cheese or a creamy dessert.
I don’t know if I’ll continue with the plant-based diet full term. The main things I’m considering as the negatives of this week were cost and convenience. The vegan cheese replacements (including nutritional yeast), although nice, were way more expensive gram for gram than diary cheese, although I suppose this expense is balanced out as I used a lot less ‘cheese’ this week than I usually would. The vegan desserts I brought and browsed in the supermarket were also a lot more expensive than the diary options. Although I really enjoy cooking, it was sometimes tiring to have to cook food to take to campus, knowing there’d be no good options for me to buy there, which made the plant based diet feel inconvenient. I wasn’t dining out much this week and the one place I did go had plenty of options for me, but I know this won’t always be the case. In the past I’ve sometimes struggled to find a vegetarian option on a menu never mind a vegan option. More and more large food corporation, such as Pizza Hut and MacDonald’s, are trialing vegan options in store, which shows that veganism is slowly creeping into the mainstream and I hope will set a precedent for other food outlets to follow suit. I know the more people demand plant based choices the cheaper and more accessible they’ll become.
I think I might continue the plant-based diet but on a more flexible basis. I’m certainly never going to refuse eggs from my parents hens. Those hens are raised so well and are obviously really happy – seeing how happy and characterful they are was one of the reasons I stopped eating meat during high school. It’s really annoying that there’s no national symbol for vegan food as there is with vegetarian, so I don’t think I’ll be checking the back of packets on every item I buy for traces of animal products unless I can definitely guess it’s in there. Maybe in the future when my food budget is bigger I’ll revisit veganism properly, but for now I think doing what I can within my means and circumstances is certainly better than doing nothing at all and being completely mindless about my food choices.
I hope you enjoyed this post (and made it to the end) any comments, recipes and recommendations would be appreciated.