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Quick and easy vegan recipes

veganuary recipes

Whether you're concerned about the environment, animal welfare or just want to try and lose a few pounds, going vegan could be the answer. With more and more people choosing to make the change - even for just a few nights a week - it's easier than ever to stick to tasty whole food without the animal input. This year, 100,000 people have taken the Veganuary pledge and gone vegan for January, with someone signing up every 6 seconds. And, with a huge variety of vegan foods and restaurants flooding the market in 2017, there's never been a better time to give it a go! 

Why go vegan?

  • It's good for you - did you know that the sausages in your morning fry up (as well as all other processed meats) have been labelled as a carcinogenic in the same group as smoking? According to the World Health Organisation, eating red and processed meats can increase your chances of developing colorectal cancer in particular, and as many as 34,000 deaths per year, worldwide, are attributed to a diet high in red meat. What's more, studies have shown that those who follow vegan diets lost comparatively more weight than omnivores and even vegetarians.
  • It's good for the animals - if that wasn't enough to encourage a mass eschewing of meat and dairy, there's the fact that every vegan saves about 100 animals a year simply by abstaining from animal products.
  • It's good for the environment - the meat industry is one of the biggest causes of greenhouse emissions. Mass deforestation, the sheer volume of water and energy that goes into rearing livestock...it all amounts to dangerous levels of CO2 emissions. But if the world adopted a vegan diet, food-related emissions could be slashed by 70%. Compelling stuff, no?

Eating vegan doesn't have to mean a neverending diet of lentils and quinoa (though both can be extremely tasty!) As the demand for vegan food skyrockets, there are increasing numbers of vegan alternatives to the products you would normally buy, like cheese, milk, burgers - even ice cream. Not only that, but there are plenty of super healthy recipes out there that don't compromise on taste either. Scroll down for a few of our favourites...

Vegan myths

"Eating a vegan diet will make you nutrient deficient"

Well, eating an omnivore diet can also make you nutrient deficient. It's all about eating a healthy, balanced diet and educating yourself on how to fuel your body properly. This is true whether you eat animal products or not, but vegan food can provide a person with all the vitamins and nutrients needed for a healthy diet.

In fact, a vegan diet (provided it is low fat and whole food-based) is the only diet that has been shown to reverse life-threatening conditions like heart disease.

A common concern when adopting a vegan diet is vitamin B12 (or lack thereof!), and while many vegan foods, such as plant milks and cereals, will be fortified with the vitamin, often people find that a supplement is the most reliable way to ensure they get their daily dose.

 

"But where do vegans get their protein?"

All over the place! Here are just a few of the most protein-rich sources:

  • Wholewheat spaghetti
  • Peanut butter
  • Soy
  • Buckwheat
  • Lentils
  • Black beans
  • Quinoa
  • Peas
  • Oatmeal
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli
  • Almonds
  • Tahini
  • Chickpeas

 

"Vegans are calcium-deficient because they don't drink milk"

Calcium is a huge concern for older people thinking about a vegan diet, understandably. Calcium is found in our bones, and if we don't get enough calcium in our diets, guess where our bodies take it from instead? You guessed it - our bones. 

However, the idea that we get the most (and best quality calcium) from milk is dubious. In fact, studies have shown that leafy green vegetables have excellent calcium absorbability compared to milk.

Plant milks and yoghurts are often fortified with calcium, or you can go direct to the source and get it from green, leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, and parsley; fruits such as oranges or dried figs; many types of beans; sweet potatoes, and butternut squash. 

Restaurants with great vegan options

2017 heralded a new age of choice for vegans, with restaurants and supermarkets alike bringing out new and exciting vegan products. Fancy pizza? No problem. Need to grab a sandwich on the go? Easily done. Here are some chain restaurants catering to vegans across the country (and what's on offer there):

  • Zizzi Italian restaurants - you can ask for the vegan menu at this popular chain, which includes vegan cheese for your pizza!
  • Pret-a-Manger - Pret have really worked hard to create decent vegan options, and now offer vegan soups every single day, as well as two vegan sandwiches. They also offer a dark chocolate and coconut bar that is completely egg- and dairy-free.
  • McDonalds - ask for the Vegetable Deluxe with no mayo and you have a vegan burger! They are also currently trialling a McVegan burger in Finland but have yet to announce whether it will roll out in the UK (here's hoping)...
  • Marks and Spencer - M&S really outdo themselves when it comes to quick vegan lunch options, including little salad pots and sandwiches. But the most exciting addition has to be the vegan Chocolate and Coconut Cream, or 'vegan Baileys', which some say is even better than the real thing. It sold out in most stores before Christmas, but is due to come back in stock this year.
  • Wagamama - just ask for the vegan/vegetarian menu when you arrive. We particularly like the vegan gyozas, and the katsu curry (available at the Deane Street beanch in London) <drools>
  • Carluccio's - there's a great selection of vegan pasta dishes on offer here, from a regular tomato and bail sauce, to cauliflower and kale cream. Yum.

To stay up-to-date with new and exciting places to eat, check out the Fat Gay Vegan's website - he always has the lowdown on new products and dishes coming out.

 

Easy vegan recipes

Beetroot burgers

beetroot burgers

Ingredients

  • 2 grated beetroots 
  • 3 grated carrots 
  • 2 tbsp olive oil 
  • 1 onion 
  • Chickpeas (one tin will do) 
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter 
  • 2 tbsp tahini 
  • A handful of oats 
  • Seasoning

Method

1. Fry off the onions until soft and then add the carrot and beetroot. When they've all softened, take them off the heat and put to one side. 

2. Whiz the rest of the ingredients up together in a food processor. 

3. Mix in the vegetables and stir well, then form the mixture into patties (not too thick). 

4. Chill them for a couple of hours and then fry for a few minutes on each side. 

5. Serve in a bun with lettuce and pickle.

 

Chickpea stew

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic (depending on how much you like it!)
  • An onion
  • 3 courgettes
  • 3 peppers (red, orange or yellow work best)
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • 2 parsnips
  • Can of chopped tomatoes
  • Can of chickpeas

Method

1. Preheat oven to 220°C/gas mark 7.
2. Dice, then roast all of the vegetables with the garlic, drizzling them with olive oil, sea salt, black pepper and any other flavourings you'd like to use.
3. When they're nice and brown, transfer the vegetables from the roasting tin to a deeper dish.
4. Add the tomatoes and chickpeas and simmer for a further 10 - 15 minutes (add more seasoning here, to taste).

 

Tabbouleh salad

tabbouleh salad

Ingredients

  • 225g (8oz) bulgur wheat
  • Vegetable stock powder
  • Large amounts of parsley and mint (chopped)
  • Spring onions (chopped)
  • Reconstituted sun-dried tomatoes (chopped)
  • Dried apricots (chopped) - optional
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
  • Cherry tomatoes (halved) to garnish
  • Peppers, any colour (finely chopped)
  • Cucumber, all drained in a colander till just before serving
  • Some olive oil

Method

1. Dissolve two teaspoons veg stock powder in about ½ pint hot water and cover the wheat in a large bowl.
2. Leave 20 minutes till all the stock is absorbed - if any liquid left, squeeze it out.
3. Add the herbs, onions, lemon juice and lemon zest, apricots if using, sundried tomatoes, drained and season well.
4. Mix gently but well and drizzle some olive oil.
5. Cover and chill until just before required then add the cucumber and peppers, drained. It should taste distinctly lemony and look quite 'green' so add more juice and mint if needed.
6. Garnish with cherry tomatoes.

 

Avocado, spinach and pine nut pasta

avocado pasta

Ingredients

  • 500g pasta shells
  • 1 red pepper
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • Salt/pepper to taste
  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 large avocado
  • 50g spinach leaves
  • 2 tbsp toasted pine nuts

Method

1. Cook pasta then drain and rinse under cold water, toast pine nuts while waiting for pasta to cook.
2. Add little olive oil and lemon juice to the pasta and toss thoroughly to coat it. Add salt and pepper.
3. Add all other ingredients and serve.

 

Vegan chilli

Vegan chilli

Ingredients

  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • ½ a packet of vegan mince or a combination of vegan mince and pieces for texture (check the mince does not contain egg or milk products, as Quorn and some other brands are not vegan).
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tin kidney beans drained
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce or to taste
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • Medium or hot chilli powder to taste

Method
1. Heat oil in frying pan and add the onion.
2. When softened, add quorn and stir. Add chopped tomatoes, kidney beans and water (about 1 tin or slightly more - do not allow to dry out) tomato puree, chilli powder and soy sauce.
3. Gently simmer until cooked, then serve with rice.

 

Stuffed peppers

Vegan stuffed peppers

Ingredients

  • A large red, green or yellow pepper each
  • 1 large courgette
  • 1 red onion
  • 6 or 7 button mushrooms
  • 5 or 6 cherry tomatoes
  • ½ cup arborio rice
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Thyme, basil and rosemary

Method

1. Wash the peppers and cut in half lengthways, remove all the seeds and place in an oven proof dish. Sprinkle over a little olive oil and place in a hot oven for 20-25 minutes.
2. Meanwhile in a small pan cook the rice in boling water (15-20 minutes).
3. Chop the onions and dice the courgette and mushrooms.
4. In a frying pan brown the onions and add the courgettes, mushroom and finely chopped herbs (about a teaspoon of each) and after about 10 minutes when all the veg are sofened add the diced tomatoes. Cook for a few minutes, then drain the rice and stir into the mixture and season to taste.
5. Remove the peppers from the oven and stuff with the mixture - return to the oven for 5-10 minutes, then serve.

 

Courgette and carrot brownies

Vegan brownies

Ingredients

  • 125ml vegetable oil
  • 300g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g plain flour
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 125g grated courgette
  • 125g grated carrot
  • 60g chopped walnuts

Method

1. Preheat oven to 180°C/Gas 4. Grease and flour a 22x33cm baking tin. 
2. In a large bowl, mix together, oil, sugar and vanilla until well blended.
3. Combine flour, cocoa powder, bicarb and salt; stir into sugar mixture. Fold in courgette, carrot and walnuts.
4. Spread evenly in prepared tin. Bake for 25 - 30 minutes, until brownies spring back when gently touched. Allow to cool before cutting into squares.

 

Date and banana slice 

Date and banana slice

Ingredients

  • 8oz stoned dates
  • 1 banana
  • 5oz oats
  • 5oz plain flour
  • 5oz brown sugar
  • 6oz margarine

Method

1. Put dates in saucepan with 150ml of water and cook till soft. Add squeeze of lemon juice.
2. Combine oats and flour, rub in margarine, add sugar.
3. Grease a 6 inch square tin and place half of crumble mix in the bottom, firm.
4. Add date mix and slice banana very small on top.
5. Add the rest of the crumble and firm down. Bake in oven 160°C. for 45 minutes. Cut into squares and serve warm or cold.

 

 

 

 


 

 


 

 

 

Images: Shutterstock