Take the Summer Vegan Pledge

Animal Aid’s Summer Vegan Pledge begins today.  To take up the challenge to go vegan for the month of June go to: http://www.govegan.org.uk/

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Say ‘vegan cheese’

Vegan alternatives to cheese made from animal milks have been around for more than 20 years, although supermarkets have only recently begun to sell them. Sheese, made by Bute Island Foods, has long been a favourite of mine, especially the more strongly flavoured varieties such as the Mature Cheddar style. Nevertheless, vegan ‘cheeses’ are regularly rubbished by cookery writers, perhaps because the presence of soya protein and modified starch lends them an ersatz reputation. Other companies such as Violife have developed soya-free ‘cheeses’ based on coconut oil (I understand that Bute Island Foods are making a similar switch), and their blocks, wedges, spreads and sliced products in a variety of flavours can be found in several major supermarket chains as well as branches of Holland & Barrett and independent health food stores.

Though undeniably convenient and increasingly popular, vegan ‘cheeses’ are processed foods with a high saturated fat content (typically around 20% by weight), comparable to and in some cases higher than the quantities found in dairy cheeses, so they should not be regarded as ‘health foods’. However, the cruelty inherent in dairy farming is a high price to pay for the ‘real thing’ (http://animalaid.wpengine.com/the-issues/our-campaigns/animal-farming/suffering-farmed-cattle/).

If you dislike shop bought vegan ‘cheeses’ why not try making your own? Brenda Davis, registered dietitian and co-author of several books including Becoming Vegan, recommends the following sites: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-recipe/10-vegan-cheeses-that-will-knock-your-socks-off/ (which she describes as a great site for vegans) and http://www.veganfoodandliving.com/23-best-ever-vegan-cheese-recipes/. Brenda’s recipe for Nutty Cream Cheese can be found on her website at: http://www.brendadavisrd.com/nutty-cream-cheese/.

In her Spring 2018 newsletter, Lizzy Hughes of Our Lizzy cookery school (www.ourlizzy.com) extols the virtues of nutritional yeast, which she describes as “a really versatile store cupboard ingredient”. Nutritional yeast is deactivated yeast, the yeast flakes having “a cheesy nutty taste (making it) an ideal condiment for anything savoury or sweet, from soups to stews, cereals to smoothies.” The main supplier in the UK is Marigold Health Foods, whose Engevita is a high protein, low fat food that is a significant source of several B-complex vitamins including vitamin B-12 (one 5 gram serving supplies 2.2 micrograms B-12, equivalent to 88% of the Nutrient Reference Value, the recommended minimum daily intake). Lizzy uses nutritional yeast to make a dairy-free cheesy sauce, using the following recipe, for which you will need:
· Approximately 50g vegan margarine
· 50g plain white flour
· 600ml soya or other plant milk
· 4 tbsp nutritional yeast
· Salt and pepper to season
Melt the margarine in a saucepan, stir in the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and add about a third of the plant milk. Beat well to avoid lumps, a hand whisk may be used. Place the pan back on the heat. Gradually add the rest of the milk, stir well. Add the nutritional yeast. Season to taste. (For a gluten-free version put 2 tbsp corn flour into a small jug or bowl and mix to a paste with about 5 tbsp of the milk. Heat the remaining milk in a saucepan until nearly boiling. Add the corn flour mixture. Bring to the boil, stirring continuously. Cook for two minutes, until the sauce thickens. Add the nutritional yeast and season well.)

Paul Appleby (with thanks to Lizzy Hughes and Brenda Davis)

Book review: BOSH!

BOSH! Simple Recipes; Amazing Food; All Plants by Henry Firth & Ian Theasby. HQ, hbk, 288pp, £20.

There are now so many excellent vegan cookbooks available that it can feel difficult to distinguish between them, but this one really does stand out and is highly recommended. The recipes are all based on the videos available via the BOSH! website (https://www.bosh.tv/recipes/main-dishes) and You Tube. The videos are short but (using a speeded-up technique) show a specific dish being created from start to finish in a matter of minutes (the Portobello Mushroom Wellington is completed in just one minute and 20 seconds). BOSH! represents the modern ‘make it quick and make it easy’ mindset of an impatient generation addicted to their phones and iPads. However, the BOSH! videos are entertaining, very slick and informative, and it’s pleasing to see that the online success of BOSH! has culminated in an old fashioned printed book. The book available in e-book or printed format, heavily discounted, from that Behemoth online store whose name that I just can’t remember.

Paul Freestone

The Eden Café is expanding

The Eden Café, the “antipodean style café in the market town of Witney serving all vegetarian, mostly vegan and gluten free food and beverages”, is expanding. Since the café opened in December 2014 the proprietors have been hampered by a lack of space, with seldom room for more than about a dozen customers at a time. However, they are now able to take over the adjoining unit in Wesley Walk, formerly a vintage and retro clothing business. The extension, which will allow for “more seating, a bigger kitchen and a much-needed storage room”, hopefully leading to an expanded menu and some evening opening, is being funded by a crowdfunding campaign, offering supporters the opportunity to have their name added to a ‘Tree of Thanks’ to be painted on the wall of the café. A list of crowdfunding options and rewards can be found at: https://www.edencafe.kiwi/crowdfunding-rewards.html.

Paul Appleby

Soul Shine Wellbeing Space

Soul Shine Wellbeing Space (www.soulshine.org.uk) in Radley Road, Abingdon, opens today, 16 April 2018. Founder Vicky Rainbow describes Soul Shine as “A beautiful sanctuary offering carefully crafted classes & workshops in The Nia Technique, Yoga, Dance Meditation, Arts/Crafts & More, empowering people to feel good about themselves. There will also be therapies offered soon and the space is aiming to be purely vegan.” We wish Vicky success with her venture.

Paul Appleby

Reading Vegan Market

During a recent visit to Ribizli, the vegetarian (and mostly vegan and gluten-free café in Wallingford; https://www.ribizli.co.uk/), I picked up a flyer for Reading Vegan Market, which is held on the last Saturday of the month, 10am to 4pm, at Station Hill, Reading, RG1 1NF. The market offers “vegan street food, cakes, cheeses, confectionery stalls and more, brought to you by amazing, ethical local companies and start-ups.” Details at: http://www.ethiccollective.life/.

Paul Appleby

Eco footprint of the food we buy

I came across this thought-provoking ‘card’ at the end of a friend’s email and thought it would be worth sharing with readers. Presumably, the message is that if you only eat the plant foods pictured, the eco footprint of your diet would be considerably less than 60% of your total contribution, although this would obviously depend on other aspects of your lifestyle such as what forms of transportation you use and how you heat your home.

Paul Appleby

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