I believe food habits are changing and a quick Google search revealed that the number of vegans in Britain has risen by 524,000 between 2006-2016 and that doesn’t include the number of people who have meat free days or class themselves as flexitarian (plant based with the occasional inclusion of meat) vegetarian, ovo-lacto vegetarians or pescatarian.
The idea of meat and two veg for every meal is fast becoming an archaic concept as people are finding the food aisle bulging with more unusual ingredients from afar and also are looking for quicker, healthier and tastier meals to enjoy.
As more and more people begin to introduce meals without meat, I hear many tell me they enjoyed a great chilli con carne and substituted the minced lamb for a mock meat alternative, which is fantastic to hear, the meal would have tasted incredible with the added benefit of being healthier. What I don’t hear so much of is meals prepared that are 100% plant based. The general consensus from many people I speak to is vegetables are boring, and yes, boiled in a pan and served up, they are indeed incredibly boring. But there is such an incredible array of flavoursome meals that can be made using just a handful of cheap, locally sourced and seasonal vegetables.
We are encouraged constantly to eat more fruit and veg, but in the culinary culture I grew up in, vegetables were the plain, over boiled side dish, only made palatable by covering with copious amounts of gravy. Its little wonder vegetables get such a poor deal.
The thought of making a meal made up predominately of just vegetables must be a daunting thought and may also drum up thoughts of being not very filling. But it shouldn’t be viewed like this, the numerous ways the flavours of veg can be enhanced from roasting, frying, sautéing, marinating and mashing. Then of course you can add flavours, rub in some spice, marinate in garlic and chilli, lightly pickle in vinegars or ferment to bring out sweet notes and sourness, the options are endless and all totally tasty.
Another misconception is the amount of time it must take to prepare a meal from scratch, and in some cases that is entirely true and some dishes are enhanced by the length of time it takes to slowly roast the ingredients or marinate them etc. In other cases, a quick flash fry in a wok and some ready cooked rice noodles and you can have a crazy quick stir fry ready in minutes.
Cooking is a joy to me, I love growing my own food, foraging for berries and wild garlic, wandering the aisle of food markets looking for new herbs and spices to experiment with and reading recipes, but I also realise that for someone completely new to reducing their meat consumption or looking for ways to prepare a plant based meal might find a trip round their local grocers or supermarket very daunting.
At a recent Climate Change meeting which was held at the café, participants pledged to give something back to the Horsforth community to help improve our environment both locally and globally. I’ll admit, at the time I wasn’t sure what I could offer, but I have given it much thought and have decided that I would like to run some vegan workshops at the café for anyone interested in reducing their meat intake or thinking of becoming vegan, or just after some new recipes. Workshops would include sharing recipes, meal planning and incorporate some simple meal prep. I intend to run the first workshop in October and run through to February to help and assist anyone interested in doing Veganuary in January. I would love to hear from you if you would be interested in attending. The workshop would be free and I’ll release some more interest soon once I begin to get a feel for how popular it would be.
So get in touch, let me know your thoughts and even throw some ideas my way about what you would love to see discussed at the workshops, maybe you’d like to hear more about cooking for a young family, cooking on a budget or baking sweet treats.