Saturday, 20 September 2014

Going vegan- the final word

So I am definitely no longer vegan. Over the past couple of weeks I have eaten some fish and a reasonable amount of cheese, but there was no huge animal protein blow out. In fact it was actually quite hard to stop being vegan. I never intended for this to be a permanent change of eating habits, but once I'd done my thirty days I was quite disinclined to switch back to pescatarian eating. I really can't rationalise this, but somehow without the 'rules' of veganism I just felt an immense sense of confusion about what I should eat. Anyway, after a period of readjustment I am now enjoying the delights of (moderate amounts of) Quorn sausages and halloumi cheese. Somewhat randomly I am still consuming a variety of non-diary milks and yogurts, mainly because they are quite nice.

So to round up these posts, here are couple of things I made in the last week or so. I was inspired by the Waitrose lentil and cauliflower salad to make my own version. It wasn't an exact flavour match, but it was damn tasty nevertheless. I ate this over several days with an assortment of courgette bhajis, aubergine stew and pesto. The bhajis were also excellent, if I do say so myself- slices of courgette, dipped in a gram flour, self-raising flour, and black onion seed batter, and then fried in hot oil- resulting in a crispy but vaguely nutritious side dish. I've included my cauliflower recipe below, but do adjust to suit your own tastes.

Cauliflower and lentil salad (enough for 2 as a generous main meal, or 4 as a side dish)

1 small cauliflower, cut into florets
1 medium red onion, finely chopped
2 spring onions, sliced
1 red pepper, chopped into small pieces
3 medium cloves garlic, crushed
1-2 tsp ground cumin
0.5 tsp chilli flakes
0.5 tbslp sun-dried tomato puree
1 tsp fennel seeds
390g tin of cooked green lentils, drained
Generous squeeze of lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 tblsp olive oil
Small handful coriander leaves, roughly chopped

Cook the cauliflower florets in the olive oil, with the onion, garlic, red pepper and spices. When the vegetables are almost cooked through, mix in the tomato puree. Once fully cooked and with some colour, take the vegetables off the heat, and allow to cool a little. While it's still warm, stir in the lentils, spring onion, lemon juice, coriander, and season to taste. Eat while warm or at room temperature.

I also tried my first bit of proper vegan baking. This was probably the area of food I was most sceptical about not working well. However, I was very pleasantly surprised by the cinnamon doughnut muffins I tried making from this excellent blog (which also turned out to be my favourite vegan/veggie cooking blog). They were light and delicious, and I'm not sure if would have been able to identify them as vegan if I hadn't known.

I tried adapting a Scott Jurek recipe for a chocolate bean bar too, which was ok if not amazing. To be fair, they are not sold as a pudding (more of an energy bar type thing) and I did a lot of subbing for the flours, etc,which may have made the final product a bit different from its intended state. They were quite chocolatey and very dense, but with a slightly strange texture from the beans; imagine a slightly not right mochi. Definitely edible (I did finish them) but not one I'd be running off to make again (unlike the muffins). Quite nice with a iced almond milk mocha coffee though.

I also found a new vegan snack from Burt's, so that was a bonus.

So the conclusion to all of this is that being temporarily vegan made me much more aware of what I was eating; and I'm still eating a lot more whole grains, legumes, and vegetables, and probably more dairy alternatives (though I'm not sure why). I've found myself eating more accidentally vegan meals, and not just chomping on cheese unthinkingly. I have discovered lots of new products (not all great) and some fab new food blogs (which mainly were fab). So I'm really pleased I gave this a go, and though the intention was not to make it a permanent change, it's somehow reassuring to know that I could if I wanted to.