Faking it.

Ah yes! The great fake debate. Whether we should or shouldn’t consume vegan products that imitate non-vegan products of animal exploitation. As always there are two sides to every debate and I’ll try and cover each side and then give my opinion at the end.

I think first of all we need to look at why a market for vegan foods that mimic animal products exist.

  1. Taste: Most people like to stick with flavours and textures that they know.
  2. Comfort: Certain foods may bring comfort to people for different reasons. For example, when I’m upset a strong but milky tea comforts me.
  3. Childhood: A lot of our likes and dislikes are formed in childhood. If you grew up in a household that didn’t eat many vegetables, you’ll inevitably find it harder to eat a high vegetable diet when you’re older.

 

Vegan-guide-2015

There are some quite intrinsic reasons and they make a profitable plant based mock meat, dairy and egg market in the UK and around the world. Even the supermarkets have jumped on the band wagon, with most having their own branded vegan cheese, milk and meat products. If people weren’t buying these products, they would stop making them and or we certainly wouldn’t have the variety we have now.

The question now is, does having imitation products make going vegan easier?

On one hand you could say that veganism is about ethics. If you understand the ethics, it doesn’t matter what culinary options there are for you, because the alternative is unthinkable. To a certain extent, those who have been vegan for over ten years will have lived in that world. (Myself included.)

veganegg

On the other hand when you initially talk to people about veganism, they often ask whether there are vegan alternatives. These days the answer is normally yes. That gives them the comfort they require and then you can move on to talk to them about the ethics. As a new vegan, it might help them from giving into cravings through familiar tastes, comforts and childhood memories.

PETA-Vegan-Food-Awards-TigerTiger

Can we even call these vegan products burgers, cheese, yoghurt, mayonnaise and sausages etc? How does vegan chicken or beef style pieces sound to you? Do we need to reclaim some words or should we celebrate plant based foods for what they are and move away from from comparing them to animal based foods?

download

I think words like sausage and burger absolutely have a place in our movement. After all, they refer to shapes more than content. Hence you can have bean burgers without anyone batting an eyelid. Sometimes though non-vegans pipe up and it causes conflict online and possibly at the dinner table. Something we all want to avoid, obviously.

20120126-vegan-chili-31

It might be a good idea to celebrate plant based foods differently for the above reason. At the moment we call things, “chicken style” or “mock duck” for example. Great for new vegans looking for a familiar taste of course. Even people who have been vegan a long time find this helpful when searching for things that remind them of certain flavours and textures. What other names can we use to distinguish these products? Shall me move away from using words like mock and fake? (Genuine questions. Feel free to answer them because I don’t know the answer.)

53f193f528eb49bc1c2e32ffa7cb5799

As a whole consumers are disconnected from the animals they are eating. Even when they have bloody burgers, meat on the bone, fried eggs or grated cheese. They rarely give a thought to that which they spare themselves the sight. Therefore as long as a product is vegan, does it matter if it replicates something which isn’t? I think a very small percentage of vegans really want an imitation bleeding burger, but if they do, does it matter?

sourcefed--3297--would-you-eat-this-bleeding-veggie-burger--large.thumb

Some might say that eating that burger perpetuates animal use because others will see you eating it and assume you’re eating a burger made from a cow, giving them comfort in their continued animal use. Where do we draw the line? A lot of vegan cheeses look like their animal based counterparts, as does the mayo, yoghurt and the cakes etc. Is it a personal choice or is there more at stake than that?

5cc1ae55-222a-4db9-8bf6-8ee6ad7d3fc9

All in all, I think this blog probably throws open more questions than it answers. I’m not sure it needs to be as complicated as I have made it.

If you like a certain food that is vegan, eat it. Does it make your life easier? Does it give you comfort, satisfy your taste buds, remind you of your childhood? Then eat it. As long as you aren’t exploiting animals, carry on in my opinion. No lines to be drawn. No picking and choosing. Just doing what feels right for you and what IS right for the animals.

Let’s have a proper discussion about this.

Frankie

13754137_10157154098885322_8379281710799297704_n

(NB – I’m one of those vegans that after 11 years still eats vegan “meats” etc because they give me comfort and remind me of what I used to eat.)

 

 

 

Chorizo & Rosemary Pearl Barley Risotto

I love risotto and I love chorizo, but I’d honestly not thought of combining them until recently. I’m so glad I did because the flavour and texture of this dish is unrivalled.

Ingredients

  • 1 pack of VBites chorizo style pieces
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 large cloves of garlic
  • Approx 300g of dry pearl barley
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock
  • 1 stalk of fresh rosemary
  • 1 can of higher end chopped tomatoes

First up get a nice big pan on the hob, warming up. Soy based chorizo isn’t as fatty as it’s pig’s flesh alternative, but it still produces a small amount of oil when heated up. Pour the entire contents of your chorizo pack into the pan and allow to frazzle for about 3 minutes. Remove from the pan and place to one side in a bowl.

dsc_0001.jpg

Now the pan should have a thin coating of oily, spicy, paprika goodness. Chuck in your chopped onion and minced garlic. Allow them to brown a little before adding in the pearl barley. Stir well ensuring that the barley is well coated. Add in your chopped tomatoes. ( Look I don’t normally go in for high end products, but I would recommend a higher end tinned chopped tomatoes in this recipe, because they tend to use vine tomatoes and they give a more intense flavour.) Mix and then add all of the vegetable stock. Unlike arborio rice risotto you can chuck it all in at once, but you need to sir it often.

dsc_0003.jpg

You may have to add extra water as the sauce thickens because the pearl barley takes about 30 minutes to cook.

dsc_0004.jpg

When you’re happy that the barley is cooked and the sauce has thickened to your liking, add the chopped rosemary and chorizo. Turn off the heat and serve.

dsc_0013.jpgdsc_0010.jpgdsc_0012.jpgimg_20160328_151129.jpg

Full of punchy flavours for you to enjoy. X

The Vegan Police

This subject has been simmering in my head for quite some time. It is a subject for contention within the vegan community and it needs addressing.

Let’s start with the Vegan Society and their definition of veganism:

Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

The Vegan Society are these days a bunch of welfarists, so I came up with an abolitionist definition too:

Veganism is a way of living that supports the social justice movement of the abolition of animal use by humans. Vegans seek to exclude all forms of exploitation as far as possible in a non-vegan world.

That’s pretty simple, right? If you’re vegan you do not support or promote any type of animal exploitation. That includes vegetarianism, honey, horse riding etc too. Veganism isn’t a diet. That’s pretty clear in both those definitions too, right? So why is the internet full of people confusing what veganism means? What do they have to gain by doing that?

When I went vegan a decade ago, the term Vegan Police was little heard of. I had only heard of it because I was part of The Vegan Forum. (We didn’t have Facebook then.) The term was used for vegans who took things too far. For example people who wouldn’t buy a vegan product from a company because the director played golf with someone who wore fur once. That’s really ridiculous and it does nothing for animals.

In 2010, Scott Pilgrim Vs The World changed all of that. In the movie there is “vegan” guy who has his super powers taken away by the vegan police because he was caught eating chicken. With the availability of social media such as Facebook, the meaning was soon lost, even though clearly in the film, the vegan police are calling out actual non-veganism.

Now, if you call out any non-veganism you get called elitist or my favourite, the vegan police. Why? I’m defending what veganism is. You’re either vegan or you’re supporting the exploitation of animals.

Facebook is full of this, especially the Vegan Humour group where people seem to endlessly worship celebrities, who 9/10 are not vegan at all. Let’s take Leonardo DiCaprio. Yes he’s a good looking man. Yes he was a producer for Cowspiracy. Yes he spouts a lot of environmental stuff. No he isn’t vegan and when I last checked, he didn’t even follow a plant based diet, synonymous with his environmentalism. He’s just full of shit.

the-great-gatsby.jpg.jpgimg_20160229_090306.jpg

img_20160229_090359.jpg

Credit where credit is due? Do I need to explain this again? This is a vegan, promoting non-veganism. This person is saying we should support Leo because he speaks out for the environment. That’s great, but it still doesn’t make him vegan or even moving towards veganism.

Adopting a plant based diet and being vegan are two very different things. People don’t stop wearing leather for their health or stop going to the zoo for the environment. They adopt a plant based diet and continue to exploit animals in other ways. People who are on a plant based diet still exploit animals and promoting that isn’t vegan because it hurts animals. Does that make sense?

img_20160229_090225.jpg

Here’s another one and this time it’s Miley Cyrus. She is on plant based diet the last time I checked, but she isn’t vegan because she exploits animals in other ways.

img_20160229_090804.jpg

img_20160229_090730.jpg

Grow up? What for standing up for animals? For not accepting less than veganism because less than veganism hurts animals?

Here’s another one where someone posted a recipe with honey in a vegan food group. For pointing out that honey isn’t vegan, I was told I was rude. No, I’m not being rude. I’m standing up for what veganism is.

img_20160229_090622.jpg

Due to the internet, it seems to meaning of veganism is being diluted again and again. You have vegans promoting people who aren’t vegan. You have vegans saying it’s ok to eat oysters, backyard eggs and honey. You have people interested in veganism, going WHAT THE FUCK!?

Let’s be consistent. Let’s call out non-veganism and those who promote it.

woody-and-buzz.jpg.jpg

That’s not to say we shouldn’t help those trying to go vegan. Of course we should. That’s what we want right? When someone takes a step towards veganism, I find that this sentence is my best weapon and often results in full on vegan transition in a short period of time.

“That’s great! Just remember that only veganism ends the exploitation of animals.”

Imagine how many “vegetarians” would wake up with just that sentence. After all most people are vegetarian because they care about animals. That’s not being preachy, elitist or rude. That’s being honest, but supportive.

In conclusion, we are a fractured movement split even more by the internet and it’s ability to be faceless. I will always stand up for what veganism is and I will never suffer anyone who wishes to water it down. It doesn’t make veganism more accessible, it just hurts the animals.

Lot’s of love, Queer Vegan .

img_20160126_162049.jpg

Vegan Cheese & Chutney Parcels

I don’t very often cook with pastry. It’s far too much like baking for me. However with the availability of fresh vegan pastry now widespread, I thought I’d give it a go.Blog 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet of JusRol fresh filo pastry
  • Poppy seeds
  • 5 small new potatoes
  • 1 carrot, peeleds
  • A small handful of curly kale
  • Caramelised red onion chutney
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • Black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 block of Violife vegan cheese, grated

DSC_0183

Method:

  • Get the oven on a medium heat.
  • Dice the potatoes and carrots and place in a pan of water, allowing to boil before turning the heat off.
  • Heat a pan, drain the potatoes and carrots and place in the pan with the kale and chutney.
  • Stir in the herbs and spices. Stir occasionally until the potatoes and carrots are soft.
  • Roll out the pastry and cut into squares. Place a large spoonful of the pan mixture into the centre of the square and top with cheese.
  • Fold the edges up over the mixture and sprinkle with poppy seeds. (You should have enough for four large parcels.)
  • Place in the oven for 30 minutes.
  • Serve warm with ketchup.

DSC_0185DSC_0180Blog 2

If you want to make your pastry, feel free. This isn’t Masterchef so I’ll take that short cut.🙂

Blogs on Mushroom Laksa and The Vegan Police coming soon.

 

 

A Day in the Life of Me

People often think that vegans live this strange kind of life, where we sit around in tie dye clothes and pray to a tree Goddess all day. Maybe there are some vegans like that. I guarantee though that most of us are just so normal it hurts. Here’s my Sunday for you. My day of rest and fun.🙂

We let the dogs in early in the morning when it is our rest days, so often I wake up like this.

Day in the life 2

Epic breakfasts are also reserved for weekends. I made us siracha avocado, baked beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, potatoes and bagels. Super yummy!

Day in the life 4

Whilst we have breakfast, the girls enjoy causing mischief.

Day in the life 5

And one of our five rescue cats, Saski Mouche enjoys the winter sun on the windowsill.

Day in the life 3

After breakfast I enjoy some Gears of War whilst The Beard enjoys some Fallout 4.

My mum called around lunch time and I went to Sainsbury’s for a cheeky mince pie and a cup of coffee with her.

Day in the life 1

Later on we took the girls out for a long walk up the mountain. We live in a really beautiful area and on our days off, we try and make the most of it.

For dinner I whipped up a lentil roast with a red wine reduction and some spring greens.

Day in the life 11

So that’s it. Nothing fancy and not a hippy in sight.

 

 

 

Anna Loka: A Review

Anna Loka is a brand new vegan restaurant in the Roath area of Cardiff.  I had  been hearing some great things about the day time cafe menu, but they didn’t have an evening opening so I held back on visiting.

Recently they started to open in the evenings from 6pm. We booked for a table of ten to celebrate my imminent marriage to the bearded one.

wpid-wp-1445193506082.jpeg

 

They offered 3 courses for £19.95, so of course we had the full lot. Here’s what was on offer:

wpid-wp-1445193739911.jpeg

I had the pumpkin arancini. It was crunchy on the outside and  gooey on the inside. The sweet tomato and herb sauce really complimented the the richness of the arancini. wpid-wp-1445193405256.jpeg wpid-wp-1445193583241.jpeg

My friends and family all had different dishes and were very happy with their choices. I had a few bites of everyone else’s, including eating the pansies from my mum’s salad, which the whole table found amusing.

Falafel.

wpid-wp-1445193513786.jpeg

Beetroot Cappaccio.

wpid-wp-1445193482416.jpeg

Southern fried vegetables.

wpid-wp-1445193447971.jpeg

The main course was something altogether. Mine was absolutely mind blowing! I had the seitan steak. It was like roast beef, smothered in a beautiful gravy with perfect mustard mash and crunchy green vegetables. They even made the seitan themselves.

wpid-wp-1445193387541.jpeg

My brother had the baked aubergine. He said it was good. I didn’t like it. I thought the aubergine was under cooked and the flavours didn’t seem quite right. Mismatched almost. It looked great though.

wpid-wp-1445193591689.jpeg

The rest of the family had the raviollo. I tasted some and it was herby, fresh and full of flavour. It was a great dish, but I preferred my steak.

wpid-wp-1445193375248.jpeg

We tried each other’s puddings and agreed that they were all amazing. I’d order any of them again. Personally, even though I ordered the creme brulee (and it had the crack when I broke the crunchy topping) , I thought the parfait was the star of the desserts.

wpid-wp-1445193551602.jpeg wpid-wp-1445193381341.jpeg

wpid-wp-1445193397567.jpeg

I give Anna Loka a 9.5 out of 10. The 0.5 will be remedied when I can have a nice glass of red wine with my steak. (They intend to bring in alcohol in the future.) The service was excellent and the food outstanding overall.

I’ll be popping in to try the breakfast and lunch menu at some point in the future too.

 

Spiced Butterbean & Sweetcorn Soup

It’s certainly Autumn here in the Welsh valleys. I’m wrapped up nice and warm with a cup of tea whilst I write this.

wpid-screenshot_2015-10-04-10-31-472.jpg.jpeg

With the cold in mind, I came up with a delicious and hearty soup to warm your cockles.

wpid-wp-1443696760464.jpeg

Ingredients:

1 tbsp of oil

1 onion, peeled and chopped

2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped

1 can of chopped tomatoes (and then fill the can back up for a can of water to add too.)

1 can of sweetcorn, drained

A large handful of dry red lentils

1 tbsp of chilli flakes

1 tbsp of cumin

Salt and pepper to flavour

1 can of butterbeans, drained

A handful of fresh baby leaf spinach

A dollop of vegan mayo to cool if needed

 

wpid-wp-1443696773124.jpeg

Method:

  1. In a large pan, fry the onion and garlic in the oil for approximately 3 minutes.
  2. Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan, with all the herbs and spices, mixing well and keeping the heat medium.
  3. Add the lentils and water and allow to simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Now add the sweetcorn and butterbeans, mixing throughout.
  5. Does it smell great yet? If not, add more herbs and spices to get it to your liking.
  6. Turn up the heat for the last five minutes of cooking and add the baby leaf spinach.
  7. Enjoy with a good dollop of creamy mayo, sour cream or your own homemade aquafaba goodness.

This dish is full of protein and will fill you up for sure.

wpid-wp-1443696751167.jpeg wpid-wp-1443696738843.jpeg wpid-wp-1443696733430.jpeg wpid-wp-1443696676325.jpeg wpid-wp-1443696768271.jpeg