Just a few days left until I begin my Veganuary challenge, and almost time to step away from the cheese and crackers. Full disclosure: I ate fondue on Boxing Day, and baked Camembert the day after that. Going cold Cheddar is going to be tough.
Retail therapy is the only way to stave off those fears, so I hit the shops today to stock up on some vegan supplies. My local supermarket proved very fruitful, and I piled my trolley high with fresh veg, tinned pulses and a few specialist vegan products. Some, like the plant milks and the vegan mayonnaise, I haven’t tried before and I am looking forward to experimenting with. Tofu, falafel (I had to take care not to buy a brand with honey in) and aubergine pesto I much more familiar with. Many of the vegan products were eye-wateringly expensive, but the almond butter was on special offer, which I was very grateful for. There was only one kind of “Gary” for sale that I could see – which means it must be the most delicious, right? Hmmm …
If you have any recommendations – please let me know. Is the margarine really going to be as disgusting as I have been told? And the mayonnaise as tasty as I have been promised? I have high hopes for almond and oat milk, though there was a formidable choice of alternatives …
I am planning another trip to a healthfood shop to stock up on nuts and more rarefied products, including nutritional yeast, which I am already quite a fan of. And my local vegan cafe has begun to sell local, home-made vegan goodies such as vegan butter and seitan, which makes me a very lucky novice.
When it comes to fitting out a vegan kitchen, this post from the lovely Hannah and her joyous vegan blog is very useful, and comprehensive. You should probably read that instead of this, and then check out the rest of her site, which is infectiously enthusiastic and full of information. Also, pictures of kittens.
There is a lot of animated talk on vegan websites about products being “accidentally vegan”. This is not always as exciting than it sounds – yes it’s nice that Jus-rol pastry and croissants, for example, are vegan, but it mostly just means that factories are mass-producing products cheaply using vegetable oil. And if it’s palm oil, that is quite concerning. (The picture at the top of this post, for example, is a pie I made last Christmas, that was accidentally, or otherwise, vegan, thanks to that fact.) Still, I slung some cheap, “accidentally vegan” garlic baguettes in my freezer, next to the Linda McCartney sausages and pies that are not-so-accidentally vegan. Baby steps.
It has to be said that most “accidentally vegan” lists seem to major on crisps, sweets and booze – things you might not expect to contain animal products in the first place, but certainly nothing I will turn my nose up at, especially if I am missing some of my favourite foods. You can check out lots of these products on the Accidentally Vegan UK Instagram feed.
Sainsbury’s, the supermarket I visited today, is one of the best at labelling its vegan products as such, apparently, but I still spent an awful lot of time reading the backs of packets and tins. It begins to be quite maddening that some are still labelled vegetarian when they are full-fat vegan … Tinned soup is a minefield, although if the name begins “cream of”, that’s a very big hint. Baxter’s, why do you put honey in all my favourites, though? Very disappointing. It won’t always be so laborious, hopefully, as I get to know what’s what. I have a relative with a severe dairy allergy so I know that milk powder, for example, lurks in some unexpected places. Though I am lucky enough to also know that it doesn’t really matter if I accidentally eat some, which is not the case for him.
Now I am all stocked up, I feel as if I may as well start straight away, but perhaps a last-hurrah supper on NYE will be a suitably solemn farewell. It is time to start planning my final meal of this year, and also the first of 2017. This afternoon, I am going to try some vegan baking, too.