If you are thinking of taking the Veganuary pledge, how do you stick with it and continue the vegan pledge into the rest of the year and beyond? Some of the main reasons vegans cite for lapsing are dissatisfaction with food, health, social issues, inconvenience, as well as cost. Louise Palmer-Masterton from Stem & Glory is here to tackle each of these to make this Veganuary and beyond easy, with the art of the vegan sandwich, how to deal with cravings for meat and dairy and why protein is not what you’re craving; keep quiet about being vegan; seek out vegan restaurants; and stop buying processed vegan products (and what to use instead). Also included is an easy recipe for the VLT.
How To Go Vegan This January And Stay Vegan For Life
During the 2021 Veganuary campaign, more than half a million people took the pledge to try a plant-based diet. Participants provide an impressive range of statistics:
· 98% of participants say they would ‘recommend Veganuary to others’
· 40% of participants remain vegan after the month of January
· 75% of those who won’t be staying vegan say they will reduce their meat consumption by 50% or more.
That has a significant impact on both the actual reduction in consumption of animal products and the conversion of people to a flexitarian mindset, intentionally eating fewer animal products.
So, if you are thinking of taking the Veganuary pledge, how do you stick with it and perhaps continue the vegan pledge for the rest of the year and beyond?
Here are my top five tips:
1. Stop buying processed vegan products and fall in love with lentils!
There is a huge plethora of vegan processed products in the supermarkets now, almost all are highly processed, packed in plastic and quite expensive compared to animal products. Think about it, the meat and dairy industry is so massive, and demand for plant-based is still in its infancy, of course small independent plant-based producers cannot compete on price.
Whilst I do think vegan junk and plant-based meat and cheese does play a role in converting people to veganism, if you want to save money, stop buying it! British grown lentils and peas (yellow or Carlin peas not garden peas) grow well in the UK, cost around £4 a kilo. They are extremely versatile and nutritious and yellow peas in particular come as whole peas, split peas and pea flour and can be used in so many different ways from falafels to ‘meat’ balls, daal, and pancakes.
One cup of dried lentils or peas costs less than £1 and will feed four people. Buy these and your veggies from a local small or farm shop and you will save further, not only money, but also packaging. British farming needs and deserves our support. It’s not an exaggeration to say that farming more and more of these superfoods in the UK holds a lot of the answers to fixing UK agriculture.
Moving to wholefoods from processed products requires us all to just slow down. It’s convenience that drives processed and packaged foods, and in such a time-pressed society, it’s easy to default to grab and go. Building some time into your schedule for making your own lunch and cooking from scratch does require a change in your schedule, but it really doesn't need to be onerous.
2. Make yourself a decent vegan sandwich
I’ll be honest with you, it’s great that so many non-vegan establishments now offer more and more plant-based dishes, but for me the bar seems to have been set quite low in terms of taste, texture, and ingredients. Particularly in the grab and go sector. We don’t seem to have nailed the vegan sandwich. All too often the default is hummus and roasted veg, or the good old falafel (don’t get me started on what gets called a falafel and shouldn't be!).
My repertoire includes:
· Wholemeal bread with tofu ‘egg’ mayo, sun dried tomatoes, tamari toasted seeds.
· Bahn Mi - a crusty baguette with tamari tofu, mushroom pate, sriracha and crunchy pickle.
· Big Breakfast Bap - Large soft bap or burger bun with tofu scramble, tempeh bacon, mushrooms, tomatoes and a bit of cheeky mustard mayo.
· The legendary VLT - simple and delicious - soft bread, tempeh bacon, fresh tomato, lettuce and mayo.
· Crunch wrap - any leftover chilli or curry - in a wrap, with some fresh chopped spinach/avocado/tomato/ with the secret ingredient of some slightly crushed tortilla chips. Works hot or cold - wrap tightly and enjoy toasted or not.
3. If you start craving cheese/meat/dairy - do not assume your body is telling you to stop being vegan. Think about this: if you have been eating these products all your life and you suddenly cut them out, your body will react. You need to give it time. Craving meat or eggs for example is likely to be a craving for protein, so the solution is to eat a high protein vegan food such as tofu. Your average pork chop contains approximately 20g of protein. This is exactly the same amount of protein as 1/2 cup tofu, or 1 cup cooked beans.
Ask any vegan the most common question they get asked, and they will most probably say top of the list is: ‘where do you get your protein from?’. It is an absolute myth that we need to eat animal products to get protein!
4. Keep quiet about being vegan
It’s likely that you’ve heard this joke:
‘How do you know if someone is vegan?’
‘They tell you.’
Nothing seems to trigger people more one way or the other than being in the presence of a vegan. Firstly, it triggers a whole load of stereotypical comments ranging from the protein question above to comments about what will happen to all the animals if we stop eating them. If you are not sick of these already, then you soon will be.
It is my view that being in the presence of a vegan triggers some level of guilt, and people trip into all kinds of justifying behaviours and questions to deflect and mitigate this. So, my advice is, if you want a quiet life and to ease the social pressure around this, keep quiet about it.
5. Seek out vegan restaurants!
There is an ever-growing number of vegan only establishments now, and almost all are independently run (like Stem & Glory). Whilst a great many non-vegan places will now have a vegan menu, you will experience a far greater level of taste and creativity in a fully vegan establishment. Chefs in vegan restaurants cook and experiment with vegan food all day long, and it’s what drives the movement forward. We have had research visits from many non-vegan chefs who are genuinely interested in the space now. I think it’s likely that we will see more and more high-profile chefs and independent non-vegan restaurants taking the plunge and turning their places fully vegan in the near future. For many chefs, it’s too hard to ignore animal cruelty now - if they handle meat, it is very in their face.
Recipe For The VLT
The ‘VLT’ (Vegan BLT)
Makes 2-4 rounds of sandwiches depending on the bread size
This has been on our menu at Stem & Glory Cambridge for years and it’s an absolute winner.
The trick is making the tempeh bacon super thin and super crispy and having just the right amount of mayo to make it sing!
200g tempeh (you can buy this fresh or frozen - if frozen defrost completely before using).
A large fresh tomato
Baby gem lettuce
For the marinade:
100 ml tamari
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (optional)
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp maple syrup
Mix the marinade ingredients. Thinly slice the tempeh. Marinade for 5-30 mins (tempeh usually soaks up marinade really well)
Shake the excess marinade off the tempeh and shallow fry in a little olive oil until crispy and very slightly charred around the edges.
To build the sandwich. Spread vegan mayo on both slices of bread. On one side add a layer of sliced tomato, a layer of lettuce, then a layer of the crispy tempeh. Top with the second slice. Cut into triangle quarters and enjoy. Tip - with this sandwich make sure you add enough mayo so it dribbles out slightly for the full experience!
You could also make this with thinly sliced tofu - marinade for longer.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Louise Palmer-Masterton is founder of multiple award-winning, plant-based restaurants Stem & Glory. With established sites in London and Cambridge, and a third site planned for London’s Broadgate in 2022, Stem & Glory offers eat-in, click-and-collect and local delivery, as well as a well-stocked vegan bar. Stem & Glory is also the first UK restaurant to pledge to be carbon negative by end of 2021 and was recently celebrated as one of the UK Government‘ Heroes of Net Zero’ at a COP26 awards ceremony. www.stemandglory.uk
Twitter: @stemandglory Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/stemandglory/ Instagram: @stemandglory
Here are the top 7 travel destinations for Vegans.
Byway incredible Vegan and carbon-conscious holidays including a Vegan journey to Berlin starting in France’s capital Paris, then heading to Frankfurt, exploring the city’s vibrant food, arts and culture scene. Travel across the country to Berlin and explore the city on foot or hire a bike to discover the myriad vegan options the city has to offer. The next stop is Hamburg with its punk-rock personality and maritime history. The final city on this vegan is Amsterdam.
Vegan Tuscany by train is a leisurely journey through France to Tuscany, making your way south to Turin, a bastion of the slow food movement. Head south into the rolling hills of Tuscany, and stay in a sustainable, vegan agritourism, and return via stay en-route in the romantic city of Florence, and two nights in Paris.
Vegan Highlands & Islands Discover the beauty of Scotland, delighting in the variety of plant-based highlights along the way. The trip starts in Glasgow, then heads west to the Isle of Mull and onto the Isle of Skye returning via Fort William.
Don't all of these sound amazing! Which one jumps out for you? You can create your own idyllic trip using the Byline online travel planning tool.