Here is just a sample of some of the best ways to replace meat and cheese into your new, plant-based diet.
For a lot of us who make New Year’s resolutions, waiting for January 31st can feel like a race to the finish line. It represents the end to a period of the year where we have to try and become a ‘better’ version of ourselves. But is that how we should really treat inner growth? As an allotted period of time that, once expired, can be ticked off a list and forgotten about?
For many of us, Veganuary was the challenge that we committed to carrying out for an entire month. For the self-confessed meat and dairy lovers out there, that’s no easy feat. But if you have managed to reach the end of January without letting a bacon sandwich get the better of you, why put all that effort to waste? Veganism isn’t a fad diet, it’s an environmentally-conscious choice that prioritises the planet and improves our health in a dramatic way.
So why not try to keep it up?
Now, while veganism is a very admirable lifestyle to follow, you’re wrong to believe that they spend their lives nibbling carrot sticks without any proper indulgence. Here is just a sample of some of the best ways to replace meat and cheese into your new, plant-based diet.
Now, you need to be open minded with this one. When I showed it to my friend as I made us a vegan cauliflower cheese, she recoiled and accused me of trying to feed her fish food. After (a lot) of protesting, she was swayed by the amazing smell that emerged when I took the dish out of the oven. When she tasted it, she admitted that she would never have known that this was a cheese-free meal. Nutritional Yeast may look a little funky, but sprinkle it on top of pastas and sauces, or mix it into your soups and casseroles, and you’ll be amazed by the cheesy flavour it contributes to the whole meal.
If you’re a total newbie to the vegan game, then making a mushroom burger needs to be a top priority. These vegetables are so naturally meaty and fibrous that you’ll get exactly the same sensation as when you’re eating meat, without any of the guilt (or the grease!). You can whip portobello mushrooms into burgers in two fabulous different ways; Either season them and stuff them with a vegan cream cheese, or dice them and combine them with pine nuts and lentils to make a fabulous minced patty.
This ingredient is a must-have for those of you who are craving a tasty takeaway curry. The beauty of Indian food is that the flavour of every dish is so often in the sauce and the spices, rather than the meat. It’s actually very natural to switch out the chicken or beef from the most popular curried dishes. You’re able to substitute seeds and pulses such as chickpeas, lentils or beans which complements the coconut milk often used in Indian curries. Not only is this substitute better for the planet, but what was once your greasy, guilty pleasure has just become a healthy, plant-based recipe filled with the same delicious flavour that you’re used to.
When I took Food Studies classes at school, in an effort to promote healthy eating, they provided us with Quorn ‘Meat Free Vegan Pieces’ rather than meat in all of our recipes. At the time, when veganism was an oddity and meat was my primary food group, I found this substitute strange and unnatural. But within minutes of cooking with it, I totally transitioned. The beautiful thing about Quorn is that it absorbs the flavour of everything that you cook it with, while retaining moisture that is so easily lost in meat and fish. My favourite dishes to cook with Quorn ‘Meat Free Vegan Pieces’ are spicy Mexican fajitas and Vegan ‘Chicken’ Pie. If you’re craving something really decadent, Quorn even makes ‘Southern Fried Bites’ for a taste of American goodness.