Switching to a vegan diet is a move that more and more people are making – whether it be for health reasons, ethical ones or simply caring about the planet. Once only associated with especially health-conscious or even religious lifestyles, there has been a sharp rise over the past few years in those who adopt a vegan diet part-time – forgoing meat, fish and dairy on certain days of the week only. This has led to a rise in the availability of more vegan alternatives being widely available in supermarkets and restaurants, and even ‘Veganuary’ being touted as an annual challenge to introduce people to the lifestyle.
Most new converts find there are a couple of challenges awaiting them as they convert over. One can be hunger levels – if a person is used to eating lots of meat and cheese, they may find adjusting their food means they either run out of inspiration as to what to eat, or turn to overloading on bread. The key to avoiding this lies in careful meal planning, including filling vegan staples such as lentils, pulses, beans and even porridge.
The second challenge is learning a new way of cooking. As the need to avoid animal by-products often excludes a lot of processed foods, you are re-training the tastebuds and suddenly, there is more of a need to add extra flavour into your food to keep it interesting. With a little inspiration, it is easy to eat a varied vegan diet full of flavour.
Stock Up The Spice Cupboard
Spice cupboard looking a little pathetic? If you only have a dusty pot of dried thyme lurking at the back of your store, it’s time to hit the spice aisle. They can do so much to enhance a dish and add depth and dimension – and quite a few also have additional health benefits, such as turmeric and garlic. If you’re missing a specific non-vegan dish, often it’s the spices that can give you that flavour hit without the meat – for example, if you find you’re missing beef tacos, add taco seasoning to minced black beans for a filling that captures the same taste and texture. Using fresh spices takes everything up a level and makes dishes deeply flavoursome and satisfying. Find new favourites such as smoked paprika, which is amazing to add to vegan chilli or giant mushrooms cooked on a stove top grill to bring the flavour out further.
Love Your Liquids
Adding certain liquids into foods can also enhance their appeal and flavour in a dramatic way. As vegan proteins can be slower to absorb a depth of flavour, marinating them overnight in a sealed container is a great way to infuse lentils and pulses with an amazing taste. For a glimpse of Morocco, take a container of quinoa, rosecoco beans and mixed lentils, and soak overnight in a mix of grated garlic, orange juice, preserved lemons and olives. Pop into a tagine to cook the result is a sensuous feast that missing nothing! Soy sauce is another staple for getting that savoury hit and can be added to a huge range of dishes – coconut aminos or tamari are healthier alternatives. And have you ever tried liquid smoke? If you’re missing a summer barbecue, infuse vegan options with that signature smoky taste easily.