How to veganize a traditional English side dish

Breakfast

Muesli, soya milk

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This is a great option if you’re in a hurry as it doesn’t even require any toasting. This time I added a sprinkle of Maple Sunrise cereal for added sugariness.

Lunch

Bagel with avocado, tomato and vegan mayo, nuts, blueberries, sesame snaps

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This is another variation on the avocado-based sandwich filling. Chopped cherry tomatoes are a good addition, as the juiciness goes nicely with the creamy avocado. Cucumber is another good choice for creating a similarly juicy result. Sesame snaps are definitely addictive and their lightness makes them a tempting way to satisfy your sugar cravings!

Dinner

Falafel, sweet potato mash, salad

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The plan was to bake the sweet potatoes, but decreased time and increased hungriness resulted in a definite shortcut. Any kind of mashed potato makes a great side dish, but sweet potatoes have an especially lovely flavour. Whether sweet or standard, mashed potato doesn’t need dairy to make it creamy as you can stir in vegan margarine and/or soya cream for delicious results. I cooked my sweet potatoes in veggie stock for added flavour but this isn’t crucial. I didn’t have any vegan sausages to make the traditional English classic, so opted for some falafel instead. Falafel is generally a pretty reliable vegan staple, although the Cauldron Moroccan Spiced Falafel Bites do have honey in. I used Tesco’s own brand of frozen falafel which is an ideal ingredient to stow away for emergency meals. The dips (essential for falafel) were hummus and Vegan mayonnaise (the Plamil brand).

Dessert

Chocolate soya dessert, blueberries

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I just put one of the Alpro soya desserts into a vaguely attractive pot and topped it with some fresh blueberries. The Alpro soya desserts are one of my favourite products and you can find them even in small supermarkets, next to the gluten-free products. Unfortunately the photo is rather dominated by the blueberries, but the chocolate dessert was very noticeable at the time of eating!

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Why vegans don’t have to bring packed lunches

Breakfast

Maple sunrise cereal, soya milk, strawberries

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This is a vegan cereal that I’ve recently discovered and is also gluten-free. It’s satisfyingly sweet (maple syrup based), so perfect with unsweetened soya milk. The brand is Nature’s Path and you can find it in the gluten-free section of supermarkets.

Lunch

Couscous salad, nuts, pineapple

I picked up a couscous salad (the one with butternut squash and wheatberries) from the M&S at Paddington Station. It was nice and felt like a very healthy option, especially combined with a decidedly overpackaged ‘nut selection’ pot.

From going into shops and seeing row upon row of meat/fish/dairy/egg sandwiches, you might think that vegans had to go around with Tupperware boxes of animal-free options. Fortunately though, this isn’t the case and it is possible to buy vegan food in ready to eat form. On this occasion, I had to buy lunch and dinner, which was a good (if pricey) way of illustrating the point.

Dinner 

Hummus and salad wrap, vegetable chips, banana

I was travelling home at dinner time, so bought a wrap from the Camden Food Co. shop at Charing Cross Station. It was helpfully labelled as dairy-free as well as vegetarian, which is definitely a step towards vegan-friendliness. Hummus and/or falafel is often available, although some shops seem determined to add a yogurt dressing. If your cafe of choice is completely devoid of animal-free sandwiches, there’s usually something like a couscous salad to fall back on, and suggestion boxes might lend themselves to a polite request for increased vegan-friendliness.

Dessert

Strawberries, chocolate

More of a snack than a proper dessert, but ideal for a sugar boost when I finally arrived home.

Why afternoon tea can be animal-free

Breakfast

Maple & pecan crisp cereal, soya milk, strawberries

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This is an irresistibly sugary breakfast option which is useful if you have a cycle to work or something that requires a bit of early morning energy.

Skipping lunch is something I rarely do (I find it leaves me grinding miserably to a sugarless halt half way through the afternoon), but it was one of those times when a midday meal just wasn’t possible. When I finally arrived home at about 4pm, I decided to opt for some afternoon tea (almost as rare as skipping lunch). There were some Tesco ‘light choices’ hot cross buns in the bread bin which seemed to be animal-free and came close enough to a tea cake. Unfortunately the toasting phase wasn’t particularly successful and resulted in a charred top that had to be partially removed (you can understand why the photograph is absent!). Even so, the quasi-teacake tasted great with some vegan margarine and raspberry jam, plus some strawberries and kiwi for an urgently required sugar boost.

Actually though, there’s no need for vegans to make do with substandard afternoon teas and even a cream tea is completely possible. Believe it or not, you can actually buy vegan clotted cream: http://www.klottedkream.co.uk/. It looks delicious and the company supports a different animal charity every month. Most supermarket scones seem to contain milk and/or egg, but you can buy an animal-free version at: http://bluelotuscakes.co.uk/vegan-egg-free-dairy-free-scones-p-665.html and they look really good. The strawberry jam should be easy to source in animal-free form (I’m yet to find one that isn’t vegan).

Dinner

Vegan sausages, roasted carrots, salad

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I don’t know whether anyone has noticed, but there’s been a definite absence of oven-cooked food over the past few weeks. This wasn’t due to a sudden burst of healthiness, but rather a lack of working oven at the flat I’ve moved into. It was apparently working the day before I moved in (and it’s new), but it cut out within a few minutes of me switching it on and hasn’t been in action since. It’s been good to show that you don’t even need an oven to make vegan meals, but I’m quite glad to have oven access during my week of animal-sitting at my parents’ house. I thought I’d celebrate by having a zero effort dinner that cooked itself, in the oven. I roasted pack of small carrots until they were soft (about 40 mins on gas 7/220 with bit of olive oil drizzled over and mixed in), and this left me plenty for future usage. The veggie sausages were the Vegetarians Choice brand, which you can buy in the frozen section of Holland and Barrett and are really light and lovely. Some veggie sausages include dairy and egg ingredients, but these are marked as vegan.

Dessert

Strawberry and chocolate pot

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This is a seriously easy dessert that looks great too (so ideal for guests). Please click here for the recipe.

An animal-friendly ready meal

Breakfast

Muesli, grapes, soya milk

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The Co-op’s fruit and nut muesli is vegan and gives you a really nice filling start to the day.

Lunch

Hummus and falafel wrap, mini chilli crackers, fruit

I ran out of time to prepare any kind of packed lunch this morning, but fortunately you can buy a nice vegan wrap in Tesco. I always find that the mini chilli crackers are a nice accompaniment, but they are a bit on the hot side so be warned!

Dinner

Innocent veg pot, salad, tortilla chips

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This is where the ready meal came in. I generally prefer to make things myself, but this Innocent veg pot was half price in the Co-op so I thought I should give it a go. I went for the  Thai curry version, although I think that many of the Innocent veg pots are vegan. It was very tasty, and definitely nutritious, although I must admit that it was a bit on the spicy side for me (but then I find almost anything hot)! I especially appreciated the water chestnuts, a lovely vegetable used in Thai cooking that I really must explore more.

Dessert

Mango and chocolate pot

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This is a great instant dessert and actually looks reasonably classy in a wine glass (although the plastic one used here does slightly spoil the effect)! You literally just build up layers of Alpro soya dessert and mango. It’s a fail safe-dessert that definitely tastes as good as it looks.

Snacks

Almonds, grapes

I managed to get quite a reasonably sized pack of almonds for just £1 in Londis. Quite an inexpensive and very delicious snack.