Veganuary. Completed it mate!

Veganuary. Completed it mate!

There are lots of reasons why people choose to try a plant based diet. Whether for sustainability reasons, animal rights or health requirments. Whatever the reason, going vegan has become a popular lifestyle change. I was eager to try a plant based diet, and what perfect why to dip my toe into vegan life by trying Veganuary. I thought I’d document my thoughts for anyone who wants to try a plant based diet as well as some of my favourite recipes that i’ve tried.

To be honest I found eating a plant based diet easier than I imagined. A vegan lifestyle is so popular this year lots of food companies and supermarkets have brought out vegan options that are so nice and equally as good as any meat or veggie options. The main two things I’ve found difficult was the lack of cheese and chocolate… yes there are vegan options but don’t let people lie to you. They are NOT as good as the normal versions (sigh). Vegan cheese is generally on a spectrum of bland to really boring so I would suggest avoiding really, or only have a little bit on meals for texture rather than taste. Vegan chocolate is also not great, and i’ve taken to satisfying my sweet tooth by eating tonnes of Bourbon and Oreo biscuits (both of which are accidentally vegan).

Another thing which i’ve discovered is that just because a meal is vegan doesn’t actually mean healthy. A lot of vegan meals are actually unhealthy due to all the carb replacement food you end up including in meals to fill you up. Below i’ve included recipes I’ve tried and tested that are actually fairly healthy and taste amazing even with my awful cooking!

Vegan chili

  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into medium chunks

  • 2 tsp smoked paprika

  • 2 tsp ground cumin

  • onion, chopped

  • carrots, peeled and chopped

  • 2 celery sticks, chopped

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed

  • 1-2 tsp chilli powder (depending on how hot you like it)

  • 1 tsp dried oregano

  • 1 tbsp tomato purée

  • 1 red pepper, cut into chunks

  • 2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes

  • 400g can black beans, drained

  • 400g can kidney beans, drained

  • lime wedges, guacamole, coriander and rice to serve

Heat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Put the sweet potato chunks in a roasting tin and drizzle over 1½ tbsp oil, 1 tsp smoked paprika and 1 tsp ground cumin. Give everything a good mix so that all the chunks are coated in spices, season with salt and pepper then roast for 25 mins until cooked.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery. Cook for 8-10 mins, stirring occasionally until soft then crush in the garlic and cook for 1 min more. Add the remaining dried spices and tomato puree. Give everything a good mix and cook for 1 min more.

Add the red pepper, chopped tomatoes and 200ml of water. Bring the chilli to a boil then simmer for 20 mins. Tip in the beans and cook for another 10 mins before adding the sweet potato. Season to taste then serve with lime wedges, guac, rice and coriander. Make ahead and freeze for up to 3 months.

- Spinach and chickpea curry

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp mild curry paste

  • onion, chopped

  • 400g can cherry tomato

  • 2 x 400g cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed

  • 250g bag baby leaf spinach

  • squeeze lemon juice

  • basmati rice, to serve

Heat the curry paste in a large non-stick frying pan. Once it starts to split, add the onion and cook for 2 mins to soften. Tip in the tomatoes and bubble for 5 mins or until the sauce has reduced.

Add the chickpeas and some seasoning, then cook for 1 min more. Take off the heat, then tip in the spinach and allow the heat of the pan to wilt the leaves. Season, add the lemon juice, and serve with basmati rice.

You can find these recipes and more on the BBC good food website https://www.bbcgoodfood.com