When you encounter a new type of cheese (provolone?), or a new meat (kangaroo steaks?) you see it as a new exciting food to try. You approach it with an open mind.
Do the same with vegan food. Don’t think of vegan chicken strips- Gardein make staggeringly good ones- as ‘fake meat’, ‘messed about with food’, or ‘health food’. The implication being that they fall short on flavour, nutrients and somehow…integrity. Think of them as a new exciting food for you to try.
Vegan food is an ethical choice. It is also delicious. And I don’t want you to miss out.
The Italian company Frescolat make an amazingly good vegan mozzarella called Mozzarisella. It’s made from germinated brown rice (anyone have a similar recipe?) and has the flavour and texture of dairy mozzarella. It even melts into stringy heaps on your pizza. Viana do vegan escalopes with melted (cashew) cheese in the middle, Violife have a convincing parmesan, Uptons a delicious sriracha shredded jackfruit, and Tofurky a smoky maple bacon that completely satisfied my cravings for American bacon.
Unless you’re in vegan church (Wholefoods), most vegan food in supermarkets is slim pickings. It’s often tucked away in a dark corner of the cold cabinets next to the lard. Or maybe wedged between meat sausages and the pale shrunken pre-packaged sandwiches.
There will soon be more and more vegan food in supermarkets and in restaurants, not just because of the probable health benefits of cutting out meat and dairy, but also because plant based foods are becoming more sustainable to produce and more affordable to buy. The cost of farming meat is rising. Climate change has been linked to droughts that push up the price of livestock feed, which leads to more expensive meat in the supermarkets. Soon the meat industry will not only be unethical, it will also be completely unsustainable and prohibitively expensive. Vegan food will be a great alternative. It already is a great alternative and that includes flavour, versatility and variety.
Far sighted innovative companies likeBeyond Meat– hands down the best burger I’ve ever had…meat versions included– are changing the way we think about meat. You can see my photos below of our first Beyond Burger experience in Austin this summer. We ate those burgers five more times before we left; I still get cravings daily. And that’s from a company that has only been in business since 2009.
Beyond Meat are separating the idea of ‘meat’ from ‘animals’ and normalising ‘meat’ that can be made from plant sources. Furthermore, they are future proofing their products by researching crops that are cheap and sustainable to grow. That means their products don’t contribute to and aren’t affected by climate change to the same extent as livestock. These aspects of vegan food are only going to become more appealing as we continue to battle with the consequences of overpopulation, climate change and unequal food distribution.
You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
Unfortunately, for now, depending on the size and geographical location of your town the local supermarket may not have ANY specifically vegan food.
There’s accidental vegan food- falafels, sunflower spread with no milk powder, biscuits made with margarine, hummus. (Although… I recently grabbed a pot of hummus from a French supermarket without looking and, as I began spreading it onto baguette, realised that it had cream cheese in it. Obviously there would be cheese in hummus in France.) What I want you to experience however is the HUGE range of incredible vegan food. Vegan food that is delicious food, not ‘specialty’ food, not ‘accidentally’ vegan.
If you do live near a Wholefoods, Trader Joe’s, Holland and Barrett or Biocoop then go and buy some vegan products to try. Go today. To quote one of our greatest thinkers, Dr Seuss: ‘You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.’ Pick up a couple of different ones- some meat products, some cheese. You might not like all of them but then you don’t like all cheese. I bet you five bucks you’ll like some of them.
If you don’t live near any of those stores, if you live in rural Italy or mountainous Alaska, then you should use online grocery stores.
In fact, even if you do live near those stores, you should use online grocery stores too. I’ve recommended some great ones below.
Many of the really innovative companies making excellent vegan products are only available online to most people living in smaller towns. By only shopping in bricks and mortar stores, you are cutting yourself off from all kinds of new foods and ideas. Ordering vegan food to be delivered to your home allows you to really experience the best of what veganism already has to offer. And what it has to offer is pretty incredible…far beyond rice salad and soya mince (though I like both of those things too).
You’re worried about the shipping costs. Yeah, they are a pain the ass. That extra delivery cost stopped me ordering food online for a long time. However, a lot of the sites I’ve recommended below offer free shipping when you spend over a certain amount- Veggie Shop 24 over €79, Un Monde Vegan over €150, Real Foods over £29, Rabbit Food Grocery over $100.
So now you and I just have to be organised and put in a larger order every few months to save ourselves the shipping costs. Another excellent thing about vegan food: it doesn’t go off quickly. Most vegan meats and cheeses will last for weeks in the fridge. It might even force us to plan ahead and check the back of our kitchen cupboards more often too…maybe.
Start with the smoky maple bacon. On a burger. With cheese. Sounds just like… delicious food.