HAPPY 2020! The first month of the year has been re-branded as part of a movement to try to introduce the nation to veganism; Veganuary.
A vegan is defined as someone who does not eat or use animal products. This concept emerged in 1944 when the term was coined by a British man, Donald Watson. He then went on to found the Vegan Society and is widely lauded as the “father” of veganism.
There may be many reasons why someone would subscribe to a vegan diet whether on a full time or a part-time basis. The most commonly cited centre around animal welfare and scientists’ findings on the environmental impact of mass farming practices on the planet.
Mainstream discourse on the topic of veganism or cruelty-free eating, in general, seems to overlook (some would say even exclude) those of colour. Which is quite odd as there examples of these ideologies eschewed by religions in other regions centuries ago e.g. Hinduism and Buddhism. Both of these religions promote the avoidance of animal products in some format because it aligns with the non-violence component of their faith.
Rastafarians engage in a way of eating that encourages plant-based, non genetically modified food – Ital. The etymology of the word comes from the word “vital” and was developed in Jamaica in the 1930s. Another example of cruelty-free eating can be found in the Hebrew Israelites, who adhere to a vegan diet in the belief that it leads to eternal life.
As a wedding chef, I get booked for events where people’s different dietary needs have to be adhered to. This could be as a result of allergies – or increasingly – lifestyle reasons. With all of that being said, I find it strange at the lack of representation on this topic for people who look like me and can only imagine that this may lead some black people to (understandably) think that trying veganism may not be suited to them.
The Veganuary campaign aims to make this a viable choice for many by casting the spotlight on relevant topics. One I find most recurrent, is what can I eat that would be vegan?
Read on to see three simple recipe examples, where I take you through the stages and ingredients needed to make your very first vegan dishes.
Main: Cajun Red Pepper Quinoa
- Medium chopped onion x1
- Olive Oil – 2 tablespoons
- Large roasted red peppers- sliced x2
- Vegetable stock- cup x2
- Garlic clove x2
- Salt – 1 teaspoon
- Quinoa (rinsed) cup x1.5
- Cajun spice – 2 teaspoons
What to do?
- Heat the olive oil in a pan.
- Add the chopped onion and sauté until tender. This usually takes between 5 to 7 minutes.
- Chop the garlic into small pieces and add to the pan.
- After letting the garlic sauté for at least one minute add the rest of the ingredients (sliced red pepper, quinoa and the vegetable stock.
- Season with salt, Cajun Spice and bring pans contents to a boil (uncovered).
- Then you can reduce the heat, cover the pan with a lid and leave it to simmer for around 15 minutes or until the quinoa is tender. The liquid should absorb.
- Voila- decorate and serve as desired for 4 diners.
P.S. I have used white quinoa in the example given. If you are using red or black quinoa it may take longer (red is typically 3 to 4 minutes longer, black is typically 5 to 6 minutes longer).
Approximate preparation time: 30 minutes
Breakfast: Red White & Blue Lassi
- Unsweetened coconut yoghurt 100g
- Small lemon x1
- Plant-based milk 50ml
- Raspberries 75g
- Blueberries 50g
What to do?
- Pour coconut yoghurt into a blender.
- Add plant-based milk (we used coconut but you can use whatever you wish)
- Squeeze half of the lemon into the mixture (taking care not to include the seeds) and blend.
- Place into tall latte glass: fruit, lassi mixture and more fruit to top.
P.S. I have used coconut yoghurt in the example given but you can us an alternative to suit you e.g. soy. Ready to serve immediately or you can keep it in the fridge for up to two days as long as it’s in a sealed container.
Approximate preparation time: 5 minutes
Dessert: Vegan Rich Custard Slice
- Jus-Rol gluten-free puff pastry x2 packets
- Icing sugar 300g
- Water (add until desired consistency approx. 2 tablespoons)
- Just Wholefoods Custard Mix 200ml
What to do?
- Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius fan or 200 degrees Celsius for a standard oven.
- Cut both pastry pieces to fit the size of the tin.
- Place the square pieces of pastry onto a baking sheet and poke holes.
- Allow to bake until golden. Top with another baking sheet. Should take approximately 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack without the top baking sheet.
- Prepare the custard mix by whisking in plant milk of your choice until thickened. I use a balloon whisk for this and add the milk gradually.
- Place the pastry sheet into the bottom of your baking tin.
- Cover evenly with custard and top with another pastry sheet.
- When the custard reaches room temperature, put in the fridge.
- To make your icing: Place icing sugar in a bowl, adding water until you reach your desired consistency.
- Remove your custard slices from the fridge and spread your icing on top.
- Place back in the fridge overnight.
- Remove the giant custard slice from the fridge and leave to sit at room temperature for around 15 minutes before cutting into squares.
- Carefully remove from baking tin and baking paper to serve. Voila!
P.S. I have left the custard slice overnight in the example but around 6 hours should be sufficient. Using extra baking paper in the tin can make it significantly easier to lift your custard slices out of the tin.
Approximate preparation time: 45 minutes (not including refrigeration)
Read more mouthwatering recipes and food articles in The Voice African and Caribbean Food and Restaurant Guide!
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