My veganuary 2020 guide ~ part 1 ~ how do I go vegan?

I am seriously delighted to have been approached by several people so far who have expressed an interest in using the new year as a motivator to transition to a plant-based diet! If you are reading this, chances are you are one of those and so I welcome you to what I hope will be an accessible and useful resource on your “vegan journey” 🙂

Be sure to check out part 2 here for info about nutritional aspects of a plant-based diet, to make sure you eat well and take care of your beautiful self.

Some disclaimers:

  • First of all, let us define “vegan” Veganism is not a diet. A plantbased diet is a diet. The Vegan Society’s definition of veganism is that it “is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose” (emphasis mine)
  • Do not attempt going vegan on your own if you have an eating disorder or would be vulnerable to developing one; I am happy to talk about it if you relate to that statement.
  • I have been vegan since June 2017, and most of my tips are based on my own lived experience in the UK, Sweden and mainland Europe.
  • I advocate for veganism in general, but as a future doctor I advocate for whole food plant-based diet irrespective of my ethical stance.
  • I am not qualified to give any medical advice, but I do have a special interest in nutrition and recently completed a 6-week university course in plant-based nutrition via the University of Winchester so I am by no means clueless when it comes to all of this.
  • If you have any further questions, as always feel free to contact me
  • All links will open in new tabs. Happy browsing!

This post contains

  • How to go plant-based and stay plant-based
  • Common concerns
  • Common mistakes
  • Meal tips for (almost) every occasion
  • My fave restaurants and supermarkets (mostly for the UK)
  • Best of… dairy alternatives, meat alternatives (mostly for the UK)
  • Other aspects of being vegan
  • Resources

How to go plant-based and stay plant-based

Remember your motivation. If you are curious enough to be reading this, I am sure you already are very much aware of how a plant-based diet is optimal for environmental, health and animal welfare reasons. Watch some documentaries, read a book, join a Facebook group with likeminded individuals. I recommend the following documentaries: Forks over Knives, Cowspiracy, Land of Hope and Glory or The Gamechangers.

Not only know why you are doing this, and be able to explain it to others. Trust me, it helps!

Learn your stuff. Know a bit of basic nutrition, take your supplements. Read my guide with what is in my opinion everything you need to know here.

Baby steps. If you cannot go vegan overnight (I did not…), try starting by having vegan breakfasts, then lunches, or just on the weekends or first at home only or when eating out only. You want to make a sustainable change, so there is absolutely no point in making drastic changes you will not be able to stick to.

Stick to your faves which you know and love. I am sure many of your cereals and breads are accidentally vegan, and you can still have them. Learn to veganise your favourites: spag bol, chilli (sin) carne, Pad Thai… Going vegan does not mean you have to give anything up.

Be open-minded and try new things! For example, do not just try cooking with tofu once. Tofu is notorious for being hard to make taste well, but when done properly it is amazing. Some dishes take time to master, and your taste buds may need adapting. Try out different recipes and new ingredients. I still try to do this to challenge myself when stuck in a rut.

Common concerns

Friends/family;

Some people are worried about what others will think about them deciding to go vegan. I personally have not had a hard time – I may have been made fun of a couple of times but I take it with a pinch of salt and just laugh through the pain (lol). Honestly, it really is not bad! I find that as long as you know why you are making these changes and can explain them to others, they will respect you in the same way that you respect them.

Being invited for dinner;

I still worry about inconveniencing others sometimes. If you are invited somewhere for dinner, you do not want to force the hosts to cook something separate just for you, or to change their menu altogether.

I love potlucks, because then I can bring along some nice foods I can eat as well as share with others. Some of my fave potluck items are loaded nachos, mac n’ cheese, a good chilli, brownies or cookies.

If you are not going to a potluck but an actual dinner, I would politely inform the host something along the lines of “I am vegan but don’t need anything fancy – as long as a side are suitable for me I’m more than happy”. I would also offer to bring some food along to ensure I truly have something nice to eat, and to show the others that there actually is nice vegan food.

Going out;

Do your research ahead by looking up menus online if possible. If not, just go to the place and inquire about what they could make for vegans. If you are super shy or embarrassed, you can also say that you have allergies to eggs and dairy… or ask to see the allergen menu in order to work out what is vegan yourself.

Most places will be able to make something vegan-friendly, whether it is just potatoes or a side salad. To be honest I have never really had to eat something super boring like that when out – most places are accommodating and end up providing nice food! See my list of tips below, with some restaurants and types of cuisines I usually find are safe bets when going out for food.

Common “mistakes”

Forgetting your motivation, or running out of steam. In my experience “going vegan” just for health tends to fizz out, whereas ethical motivations are more of a forever thing. Remind yourself of why you are making this change.

Having an all-or-nothing mindset is not advisable. Everyone benefits from people doing their best in terms of trying to live vegan and eat plant-based. If you are a flexitarian, or simply not wanting to give up your mother’s special meat dish – know that you do not have to. Being plant-based 50% of the time is better for your health and that of the planet than 0% of the time. Trust in the process, keep trying. I have accidentally consumed non-vegan things several times in the last couple of years, but it does not mean that I am not vegan.

Not eating enough! This is a big one. So many people go plant-based for health and are too focused on losing weight, or are just not used to the amount of food you need to eat in order to meet your calorie needs when plant-based. Plant foods are in general lower in calories per volume, which means you need to eat more. You cannot replace a piece of meat with one vegan steak or a couple of falafels – you will need to eat a larger quantity of food. For a foodie like me, this has never really been a problem, but if you are losing weight rapidly, be sure to include some higher calorie foods such as dried fruit, nuts and nut butters.

Doing too much too quickly kind of goes hand in hand with having an all-or-nothing mindset. Refer to baby steps point above.

Meal tips for (almost) every occasion

So – you are ready. But are you still confused as to what the hell you can eat? Here are some of my faves and go-tos for various meals and occasions.

Breakfast

  • Porridge with mylk and fun toppings such as nuts, seeds, vegan chocolate cream, nut butters, fresh or frozen fruit/berries.
  • Toast with beans, avocado, vegan spreads, vegan cheese or ham, tofu scramble, hummus and veg.
  • Pancakes (one recipe here) or waffles.
  • A smoothie or smoothie bowl (preferably with lots of hidden greens and maybe a scoop of vegan protein powder?).
  • Weetabix or another fortified cereal with soy milk.

Mains for lunch or dinner

  • Wraps with falafel, beans, rice, quinoa, last night’s leftovers, and always lots of veg or a side salad!
  • Pasta with lentil bolognese (or vegan mince) or another simple sauce.
  • Rice with a veggie curry.
  • Soup such as a bean soup or carrot/lentil with wholewheat toasted bread and a spread on the side.
  • Potatoes with beans or a curry, chilli or stew.
  • Stir-fries are brilliant: have them with noodles or rice, and use tofu or faux meats for good flavours.
  • Salads are boring and I forbid you to just eat iceberg lettuce and tofu!! If you want a lighter lunch opt for a salad with pasta or potatoes as a base pls and lots of beans and veg. And a nice dressing (Simnett nutrition does some great recipe vids).
  • There is always the option to make a vegan version of a dish traditionally based on animal products. Literally just google “vegan X” where X can be anything you fancy, from fried “chicken” to mac n’ “cheese” to a fry-up to a Christmas dinner to shepherd’s pie to calamari (yes – really!)

Snacks

  • Hummus with veggies and crackers/bread/pita bread
  • Toast or a sandwich
  • Rice cake with nut butter and sliced apples or bananas
  • Fresh fruit with a handful of nuts
  • A smoothie
  • Some cereal with mylk
  • A plant-based yogurt pot
  • Crisps (chips for Americans), trail mix or popcorn
  • Some biscuits, cake, chocolate or an ice cream – if you have got that sweet tooth and fruit just will not cut it!

Best on-the-go foods

Most supermarkets and cafes offer things you can buy of course, but the following are tips of things you can make ahead.

  • Most supermarkets and cafes offer things you can buy of course.
  • Bring leftovers with you.
  • Pasta salads, and some grain salads (but take care with rice) can be eaten cold if you do not have a thermos to bring leftovers in.
  • Wraps and sandwiches make great lunches on the go.
  • Always carry snacks: bananas, apples, peaches, veggie sticks with hummus, nuts and dried fruit are great for filling you up when you need some fuel. And always bring more than you think you will need (speaking from experience)…

Best cuisines

Some types of restaurants are just better at catering for a plant-based diet, due to vegetarian foods naturally occurring in their cuisine. My favourite, most trusted world foods are:

  • Indian – make sure they use vegetable ghee. Naan usually has yogurt in it, but roti or chapatti is fine.
  • Mexican – will usually have dishes based on beans, rice, and corn nachos etc.
  • Thai – tofu dishes, curries may be based on coconut milk.
  • Japanese – tofu, noodle and rice dishes are often available, as is some veggie friendly sushi such as different types of maki and inari.
  • Chinese – stir fries with vegetables and tofu, rice and noodle dishes.
  • Middle-eastern such as Lebanese, Persian etc. will usually have mezzes that are suitable for vegans such as hummus, rice stuffed vine leaves, falafel.
  • Italian – some pasta with veggie sauces, most proper pizza dough is vegan so you can have a pizza without cheese with lots of tomato sauce and veggie toppings instead (honestly prefer this to a pizza with vegan cheese when done well, don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it!)

Some trusty UK chains

  • Zizzi’s
  • Pizza Express
  • Pizza Hut
  • Bar Burrito
  • Frankie & Benny’s
  • Nando’s
  • Wagamama
  • Yo! Sushi
  • Prêt (my no 1 faaaave!!)
  • Caffè Nero
  • Costa coffee
  • Even KFC do a vegan burger now, and McDonald’s has options too…

Best of…

Here follow some product recommendations, which are mostly tailored to the UK. They are only a selection based on what I have tried. I have for example not perused the Iceland selection, and do not go to ASDA often but I hear they are brilliant. All of these are available in mainstream supermarkets (just Google).

Dairy alternatives

MILK: oat or soy are better for the planet and soy is an excellent protein source.

My favourite brands are Oatly, Tesco’s own unsweetened soy, Alpro’s soya light and Alpro’s oat.

YOGURT: Tesco’s own free from soy yogurt, alpro yogurt protein pots and Greek style (I find the regular too sweet), coconut collaborative is amazing as is koko.

CHEESE: controversial but there are good ones. The deal with cheese is that almost none of it will taste identical to dairy cheese, but there absolutely are brilliant alternatives among the absolute shite tasting cheeses I have tried. You just have to keep on trying your way through different cheeses and keep an eye out for other’s recommendations.

If you live in Edinburgh, you simply must check out Beetroot Sauvage. Otherwise violife and Sainsbury’s do amazing “feta”, Sheese/Bute island foods do delicious cream cheese and meltable cheese of different flavours, Tesco’s own free from brand is good too.

You can also make great “parmesan” by blitzing some walnuts, cashews, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and nutritional yeast.

NUTRITIONAL YEAST: Marigold foods/Engevita fortified is the best one! Pair with a drizzle of tahini on veggies to make them so so good and creamy. Nutritional yeast – affectionately called “nooch” – is a great source of many minerals and provides a whopping 5 grams of protein per tablespoon serving.

Meat alternatives

MEATY MEAT: Vivera and Linda McCartney burgers, Oumph! for kebab-style strips.

MINCE: Farmfoods “Veggie Kitchen” range, Sainsbury’s own brand.

MEATBALLS: Farmfoods “Veggie Kitchen”, Linda McCartney.

CHICKEN: This (insane!), vegan Quorn chicken pieces.

BACON: This.

FISH: Vivera fish goujons, Quorn fish fingers and fish fillets.

SAUSAGES: Linda McCartney forever.

SANDWICH: Quorn’s vegan ham and chicken slices are insane.

Other random things

Honey is not vegan. Check out this and this for info on why. I choose to not consume honey because it is not an essential food. Alternatives include golden syrup, maple syrup, agave syrup and even special vegan honey substitutes.

Eggs in baking can be replaced by making “flax eggs” or using mashed up banana or applesauce. Eggs act as a binder most of the time. You can also replace egg whites with aquafaba (a fancier word for chickpea water). Simply google “vegan egg replacements” for more info or click here.

Mayonnaise is a no-brainer in terms of vegan alternatives! There are so many good ones. Check out your local Holland & Barrett or brands such as Vegenaise, Hellman’s vegan and Tesco’s own free from brand.

Top money-saving tips

Always check out the reduced section of a super market for some bargains and to fight food waste!

Buy tofu, tempeh and seitan (in tins usually labelled “mock meat”) from your local Asian supermarket. It is so much cheaper than from mainstream supermarkets, and you can pick and choose from a bunch of different types of tofu: from silken to extra firm!

Buy tahini and dates from your local Middle-Eastern supermarket.

Buy dried legumes and grains in bulk from zero waste stores, supermarkets or “international” food markets. Consider investing in a pressure cooker to save time as well as money by preparing beans and rice in batches.

Use your freezer! For food cooked in bulk, frozen veggies, herbs and berries (and ice cream)

Other aspects of going vegan – part 3?

This is way lengthier than I intended for it to be already… perhaps these things ought to be dealt with in another part of my little series. I will briefly mention things to consider if you are serious about going vegan. However, I find that most people transition by first going largely plant-based, then by making more mindful changes to other lifestyle aspects.

Makeup – look into products which contain no animal ingredients, but also do not test on animals. Cruelty-free kitten and Logical harmony are good information sources. Superdrug and Boots contain loads of trustworthy brands such as B. by Superdrug, Barry M, MUA, e.l.f. and more. 

Toiletries – we talking soap, shampoos, toothpaste… again, most of these can be found in Superdrug, Boots, the Co-op or health-food shops such as Holland & Barrett.

Household – cleaning products, washing up liquid, laundry detergent. Refer to point above or use Google to find cheap cruelty-free brands.

Alcohol – many types of alcohol use or contain animal products in their creation process, especially beer and wine. Clear spirits tend to be okay. I trust Barnivore as a resource to help me find out. I essentially only ever purchase vegan alcohol, but if I am offered some at an event, I will take it; however, that is a personal decision.

Clothes – leather is not vegan, and the same goes for fur, wool and snakeskin. I would urge you to keep on using your old clothes instead of throwing them away. Some people believe that purchasing such clothing items second hand is okay, others do not think that is “vegan” – make up your own mind about it.

Exploiting animals – food often gets the limelight because after all, most of us eat food three times a day. However, veganism is a lifestyle and philosophy which strives to avoid all animal exploitation as far as possible. Veganism involves adopting pets over supporting breeding, not supporting zoos, circuses and horse and greyhound races, for example.

Resources

Instagram and the Instagram vegan community is mostly massively helpful and a lovely positive bubble. Beware of restrictive or pro-diet accounts! Some of my favourites are plant power prep uk, Hannah “veganbean16“, letseatsmart, charlottetheherbivore, curry pot, naturally Nina, mybasicveganlife, lindadoesvegan (teehee)

Science and nutrition. NutritionFacts, plant-based heath professionals, Physician’s committee of responsible medicine, NHS, British Dietetic Association. My summary here.

YouTube: Healthy Crazy Cool, Simnett Nutrition, Mic. the vegan, Naturally Stefanie, Pick up Limes, Avantgarde Vegan, the Happy Pear, Veggie Rose, Bosh, Liv B.

The internet in general. Have a question? Literally just google it. Or ask me – always happy to help!

My veganuary 2020 guide ~ part 2 ~ nutritional aspects

Hello and welcome back for part 2 of my little veganuary guide.

This post discusses

  • Supplements
  • Building a meal
  • Focus on some individual nutrients: iron and calcium
  • Further resources

Click here for part 1 which contains

  • How to go plant-based and stay plant-based
  • Common concerns
  • Common mistakes
  • Meal tips for (almost) every occasion
  • My fave restaurants and supermarkets
  • Best of… dairy alternatives, meat alternatives
  • Other aspects of being vegan

A little list of things to clear up before we plunge into it (oh, and all links will open in new tabs so click away as you read!):

  • Let us define “vegan” again. Veganism is not a diet. a plantbased diet is a diet. The Vegan Society’s definition of veganism is that it “is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose” (emphasis mine)
  • In this post, I am going to focus mainly on how to transition to a plant-based diet (and not so much veganism). Do keep in mind the distinction between vegan/plant-based I have just made, though!
  • I am not a certified dietician or a doctor. I am a medical student but not yet qualified, so you may want to double check any advice I give with an *actual* healthcare professional. Having said that, nutrition is a special area of interest of mine, and I have recently completed an online course in plant-based nutrition with the University of Winchester, which was brilliant. As such, I do have some knowledge on the topic, but please remember that I am not yet qualified.
  • I have been vegan since June 2017, and some of what I say may be more anecdotal, which I hope is of just as much value to you.

A little bit about your motivation

It is helpful to remember why you are embarking on this “journey”. I will not spend any time telling you about how veganism is beneficial to animal welfare, our suffering planet (click here for an infographic) or your health (British Dietetic Association statement). You already know those things – yay!

I would encourage you to check out one of the great documentaries about the impact of a plant-based diet, just to motivate you and keep you on track. My favourites are: Forks over Knives, Cowspiracy, Land of Hope and Glory or The Gamechangers.

fluffy banana pancakes

Nutritional considerations

If you are only doing 30 days of “Veganuary” (sign up here!) you need not worry about nutritional deficiencies to be honest. But I would start as I mean to go on, and that includes being conscious of your nutritional intake. I do not mean track everything you eat, just know what nutrients you need to plan a bit more carefully for and build up habits to ensure you get ’em.

People are often worried about nutrient deficiencies when starting a plant-based diet. Yes, it is true that you may be more at risk of lacking some nutrients on such a diet. However, you will be getting so many nutrients a traditional diet is lacking in (while still getting everything you need with some extra considerations)! As a bonus, you will no longer be consuming cholesterol, lower amounts of saturated fat, and fewer pro-inflammatory and pro-oxidative stress stimulating compounds.

You will most likely also be “healthier” than someone on an average diet who does not pay any mind to the nutrients they are obtaining through food.

Supplements

These are the supplements I absolutely recommend you take:

  • vitamin B12 – you can get this fairly cheaply online or in health food shops. Do not rely on fortified foods and take a supplement of 50 micrograms daily or 2000 micrograms once per week. Source/more info at nutritionfacts.org. This is made from bacteria in the soil; unfortunately, modern farming methods has all but obliterated such sources and even farm animals are now given B12 supplements. Avoid the middle-man and just take a supplement yourself.
  • vitamin D – unless you live in a super sunny place, in which case you can get it from wandering outside in the sunshine for a little while every day (I think ~15 minutes) as humans can make their own from UV radiation on the skin (cool huh?!). If you want to do the vegan thing fully, make sure you get a vitamin D supplement labelled vegan, as many are made from sheep’s wool.
  • iodine – many countries have iodised salt, but the UK does not. Seaweed is a source of iodine but not all that reliable, so I just supplement with a 150 microgram pill from Holland & Barrett every day (this is what I take currently). Iodine is important for maintaining thyroid health, which is involved in regulating your metabolism. Source/more info at nutritionfacts.org.
picture taken from here purely for aesthetics

I supplement with all three mentioned above. I also take some other supplements which are not as essential, but I do recommend them:

  • omega-3 – dietary sources of omega-3 which I try to consume every day (key word is try lol, and hence why I supplement) are 1 tablespoon chia seeds or ground flax seeds or hemp seeds, or 6 walnut halves. These contain omega-3 in the form of ALA, which the body converts to a more “superior” form of omega-3 fatty acid called EPA, as well as DHA. It is recommended to supplement with EPA/DHA directly as the body’s conversion rate from ALA is not certain (although it is believed some vegans may adapt and have a higher conversion rate). Appropriate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids is crucial for brain function and preserving cognitive function in aging, so do supplement! Vegan omega-3 supplements are based on algae (where fish gets their omega-3s from). I have previously used Nothing Fishy, and currently use MyProtein. You want to get 450 micrograms of EPA + DHA combined in your daily supplement. Also mind your omega-6 intake from oils, as a high omega-6 to omega-3 ratio clogs up the conversion pathway too.
  • iron – you can get iron from your diet! But as many people with uteruses of “childbearing age” have periods and lose blood, they more easily become iron deficient. I have been iron deficient in every single blood test I have taken for years (even pre-vegan when still eating meat), and I have been lazy with watching my iron intake. Since last summer, I have been taking high-strength supplements from my GP. Other than dietary intake, you can take supplements from health food shops, such as Floradix. More about iron below!
image showing ALA/EPA/DHA conversion. but it is possible to get plant-based sources of EPA/DHA. source

Building a meal with macronutrients

An excellent guide to check out is put together by Plant-based health professionals UK and can be found here. It’s not very long and gives you all the basics you need, really! It also includes the Eatwell guide which is really helpful for helping with constructing your meals.

Put together by and taken from Plant-based Healthcare Professionals UK.

This is how I think when I create a meal for myself:

  • Carbohydrates. You need carbohydrates, and they are not an evil. Repeat after me: CARBS ARE GOOD. Okay? PBHP recommends basing your meal around starchy carbohydrates, as does the NHS. Listen to the science! Some carbohydrates are better sources than others, so focus on consuming those regularly. //// EXAMPLE “CARBS”; brown rice, quinoa, wholewheat bread, wholewheat pasta, bulgur, sweet potato, potato, other starchy veg such as butternut squash.
  • Protein. There are primary and secondary sources. All plant foods contain some degree of protein, it’s just a question of how much. Mix and match throughout the day. As long as you eat a variety of foods through the day and eat enough to meet your caloric needs – you will be 100% fine and should easily meet your recommended daily 0.8g protein per kg of body weight. //// EXAMPLE “PROTEIN” FOODS; tofu, tempeh, seitan, supermarket “meat” alternatives e.g. Vivera, This, Quorn, beans, lentils, peas, quinoa.
  • Healthy fats. Opt for whole food sources such as nuts and seeds (also good sources of protein), avocado, olives. The best oils to use for cooking and salad dressings are rapeseed oil and extra virgin cold pressed olive oil. Coconut oil is not a health food.
  • Fill your plate with a variety of colourful veggies and leafy greens. Eat fruits and berries. Enjoy eating the rainbow 🌈

Individual nutrients

IRON

People with uteruses of childbearing age need more than post-menopausal persons and men. Plant sources of iron are less readily absorbed than heme from animal products, so aim for as much as you can get! The plant-based Eatwell guide has a sample meal plan within it which covers your daily iron (and calcium). Other things to keep in mind with regards to iron:

  • Vitamin C enhances absorption. Consume your iron-rich foods with foods high in vitamin C such as citrus fruits (a squeeze of lime 🍋)
  • Calcium and tannins in tea and coffee inhibit absorption. If possible, consume such foods and beverages 1-2h either side of an iron-rich meal.
  • I think the most important thing is to consistently include iron-rich foods in your diet. If you are really struggling, adding a supplement may be useful.

Foods rich in iron:

  • Leafy greens.
  • Legumes
  • Spirulina, some herbs.
  • my super iron power smoothie/juice I make with orange juice, 1 tablespoon spirulina, spinach, water (or unfortified mylk), and a banana or half of one 🌱

CALCIUM

Aim for ~700 milligrams daily, more for elderly. The most reliable sources are fortified dairy alternatives, tofu, low-oxalate greens (kale, broccoli, cavolo Nero, Brussels sprouts) and sesame products and almonds. You can google a more comprehensive list, but essentially consume 1-2 portions of fortified dairy alternatives (soy milk is great for reaching protein requirements too!) and lots of greens in general.

SOME OTHER NUTRIENTS

Those listed above are the main ones people tend to be concerned about. You may want to eat a daily Brazil nut or two for your selenium, and some plant sources of zinc. Your best bet is just to eat an abundance of different plant foods, while basing your meals around the Eatwell plate, and to supplement with the essentials I recommend above. Definitely check out this or this for more information. And do not forget to enjoy all the tasty vegan treats on offer, and to make your own!

Resources

The NHS.

NutritionFacts.org and Dr Michael Greger’s book How not to Die

Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine

Eat Lancet commission

Plant-based Health Professionals UK.

Lucky Pig ~ New Vegan Brunch Menu

I was one of the lucky piglets invited along to a preview of Lucky Pig’s new vegan brunch menu at Paradise Palms this weekend. Although the meal was gifted to me (and my +1, a friend who was visiting me from out of town), my (and her) opinion is completely my own. I am a big fan of Lucky Pig food in general though, but I promise this is a fully honest review. Now that that disclaimer is out of the way – let’s get started!

First, we were served beautiful drinks. They have alcohol and non-alcoholic options. Having had their Bloody Mary before, I opted for it again because that thing is insanely good. And tomato juice – #health right?

Stunning Bloody Mary and Campari Orange.

Then, the (in my opinion) main event: a brunch bowl which was supposedly a mini version (it was pretty big, so I’m thinking it’ll have been a fairly accurate representation of the full size thing…). The chef‘s description of it is as follows: black garlic sausage, apple & fennel sausage, vegan lorne, scrambled huevos rancheros, drunken beans, avocado and roast Dutch tomato (see below). All made in-house. As you can see from the pics, they forgot to add the avocado to our bowl though.

As a bowl experience, it was amazing. My favourite bit was the scrambled tofu. I don’t know how it was made, but it was so creamy and flavourful – the best one I’ve had since going vegan. The sausages and Lorne were all really good, too. I don’t tend to go crazy for faux meats, though. It was nice and a bit different to have the Lorne, and the sausages were nice because they were not just plain ol’ normal sausage. The apple & fennel was really light, and the black garlic was sweet and smokey. The baked beans were delicious: smokey black beans and kidney beans! All good stuff. We were also given some nice herby toasted bread. 10/10 brunch, 10/10 would brunch again.

My non-vegan friend also loved it all, especially the tofu scramble and Lorne. She was shooketh at how you can make vegan sausage that’s so nice, and said she preferred it to meat sausages.

We also got to try some samples of their French toast, pancakes and brioche sliders.

The French toast was wonderful (I didn’t take a pic as it was just a small piece), golden and eggy and something I would love to try in its full glory.

The pancakes were super cute! And tasty. However, they were more like little cakes rather than fluffy pancakes, as they were a bit hard. I didn’t mind it, they were delicious – just not majorly pancake-y.

Pancakes with blueberry jam.

The breakfast sliders (!!) Oh my goodness. They are what broke me, I couldn’t finish mine 😦 So good but at that point ya gal was FULL. We had the “ham and egg” brioche slider, but I saw some filthy-looking vegan Reubens going around too and I kind of need to get my hands on them ASAP!! The egg in the slider was really good, a bit different to the huevos rancheros in the brunch bowl and tasted a little bit more mustard-y, but were oh so fine too. The ham was nice in terms of texture, but really didn’t taste much. Would have again despite that, for the overall experience and “egg”.

Bad boi ham and egg breakfast brioche slider.

So, all in all: wow! Lucky Pig is introducing a new vegan brunch menu which will definitely satisfy those looking for something filling and tasty, but also a little bit different. I predict that I will spend many dollas in that place eating my way through the brunch menu once again. The menu is launching this week, but I don’t know how much items will be priced at. Their food is already very good value for money, so as a student I’m hoping that will be the case for the new brunch, too.

Any questions or comments, just let me know below in the comments section, or connect with me on Instagram. Also, if you are Paradise Palms/Lucky Pig staff/chefs, I love you and please marry me ❤

All the love in the world,

xo Linda

Smokey black beans

Hello!

My old toaster had broken down, and after a period of being a sad toaster-less person, I had built up quite the craving for some nice beans on toast. So, I whipped together these smokey black beans – loosely inspired by the BBQ beans recipe in the BOSH! cookbook 😀

Smokey black beans – perfectly sweet, salty and with a rich tomato flavour.

How lush doesn’t it look? Black beans are one of my favourite beans, due to taste and texture. The toast would’ve been lovely plain as above, but I went one step further and added hot sauce (Sriracha) on one, and a tahini drizzle on the other. Nooch – aka vegan magic gold dust – had to go on both, of course!

~ Here’s how to make your own ~

Ingredients…

  • 1 can black beans
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, or garlic spice
  • 2 fresh tomatoes
  • 1 generous teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1-2 handfuls of spinach
  • soy sauce or tamari, if you’re gluten free
  • maple syrup, golden syrup, other liquid sweetener or simply some plain ol’ sugar
  • smoked paprika, turmeric, mixed herbs, black pepper

Method…

  1. Halve your onion, as you only need half for this recipe 🙂 Then chop up that half, and mince or chop your garlic cloves!
  2. Pan fry the onion, then the garlic.
  3. Add in your tomato paste.
  4. Chop up two fresh tomatoes. I’d say fairly small chunks, but nothing crazy (halve tomatoes and then do 4 cuts either way or so).
  5. Add the tomatoes in, stir lots, because you want them to release their juices and go nice and soft!
  6. Drain your black beans, rinse them, and add to the pan.
  7. Add in your powdered spices and your spinach (and watch it wilt).
  8. I didn’t measure the amounts of tamari and maple syrup… I would say go with one tablespoon of each, and stir around, then add in one more if needed!
  9. The end result should be smoky (smoked paprika), sweet (sweetener/sugar) and salty (soy sauce) beans with lots of flavour, ready to go on your toast, or be enjoyed as part of a burrito!

I hope I’ve inspired you to give cool beanz a go, or just to incorporate black beans into your cooking a bit more.

All the love in the world,

xo Linda

10 minute lentil bolognese ~ vegan recipe

An easy and cheap vegan recipe to tickle your tastebuds ❤️

Happy Sunday!

Sometimes, when I’m stuck as to what to cook, it’s best to take it back to basics. Here’s a recipe for one variation of vegan bolognese. There are literally endless opportunities and I have made many different types of vegan bolognese style dishes – this is just one version I made the other day. It’s hella cheap and easy and accessible (I hope) 🍝

Enjoy ❤

| Ingredients |

  • 1 red onion
  • 2-3 cloves garlic (or sub for garlic powder)
  • 1 large carrot
  • 3-4 tbsp rice, oat or soy cooking cream/mylk
  • 1 can green lentils
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • Lots of spinach: it will all reduce!
  • Spices to taste: garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, chilli, turmeric, black pepper, salt, Herbes de Provence, basil

| Instructions |

    Start cooking your pasta, if you’re gonna be having some (would recommend)
    Chop the onion, garlic and carrot.
    Fry up onion + garlic in a pan on high heat, then turn down.
    Add in the carrot.
    Add in tomato purée and cooking cream/mylk. Stir frequently so nothing sticks.
    Add in your chopped tomatoes, rinse and drain the lentils, add these too.
    Add in your spices and spinach.
    All done at this point to be honest, but I would recommend letting it all simmer for a little while, stirring lots and making sure you’re happy with the seasonings.
    Serve with pasta and fresh herbs, hot sauce, tahini, nutritional yeast… whatever takes your fancy!

And that’s that! Hope you’ve been inspired to give this a go 🙂

All the love in the world,

xo Linda

Find me on Instagram @lindadoesvegan 🙂