As we navigate our way out of the festive period, we move into Veganuary which seem the natural conclusion after weeks of indulging in unhealthy treats. There are many benefits of switching to a vegan or flexitarian diet including health and environmental reasons. As the demand for vegan food grows, not just in January, we are finding that we get an increasing amount of enquiries for vegan and vegetarian meals from our private chefs. It’s no longer just enough to have an option on a menu, we work with our clients to create vegan only menus. Here is an example of a vegan menu created for a 2021 wedding.
Veganuary was created in 2014 to encourage more people to move to a vegan diet. Over half a million people took part last year and it continues to grow. One of the major impacts of Veganuary is creating the demand for vegan food that has translated through to many restaurants offering plant based foods. This month has also seen awards for supermarkets for their best vegan food products with all the major supermarkets performing well and offering a greater amount of choice than ever before.
As private chefs, we love creating new meals and have been really enjoying experimenting with new ingredients there are some great alternatives out there as well as some staples of any well stocked pantry. Here are some of the key ingredients if you were thinking about moving towards a vegan diet.
Fruit and Vegetables
It goes without saying that these are a staple part of any vegan pantry. Eating a great selection of fresh fruit and vegetables is a great move towards a healthy lifestyle, whatever your dietary choices. As the spirit of Veganuary is to reduce impact on the environment, always look where your food is coming from and aim to shop local. Our private chefs’ source all their greens from local greengrocers to reduce the food miles at your dinner party.
These are a one of the biggest challenges if you are looking to create a standard recipe such as cakes, but some great alternatives are aquafaba, silken tofu or flax eggs. Each item offers different benefits depending on what you are cooking.
A variety of grains in your diet offer protein and the bulk that meat would normally offer. Key grains include barley (great for soups and a rice substitute), oats (porridges and stews), rice (aim for long grain or brown rice), quinoa (gluten free makes it a great alternative) and millet (an affordable way to add variety to meals).
When removing meat and fish from your diet, you will need to find alternative protein sources. Great alternatives include; tofu, tempeh (from fermented soya beans), Textured Vegetable Protein (a great staple that can be kept as a dry ingredient) and seitan (high protein wheat gluten).
There are a dozen or more vegan-friendly milk options to choose from, depending on where you look. The standards include soy, almond, rice, coconut, hemp, cashew and pea milk, and each kind may come in a variety of flavours or types, including sweetened or unsweetened plain, organic, chocolate or vanilla flavoured, reduced-fat and so on. There are also vegan butter substitutes, vegan cheese, yoghurt, cream cheese, sour cream and ice cream.
Super tasty and full of vitamins and nutrients. Easy to store in tins, jars or dried. Aim for a wide range of beans to increase the variety of your diet.
Seeds and Nuts
Seeds and nuts of all kinds are wonderful additions to the vegan pantry. You can use most of these ingredients in both baking or cooking recipes, but many of them are good to eat plain as a quick snack that offers both protein and fibre in a 100% plant-based form. Though seeds and nuts are high in fat, these fats are the “good” kind, for the most part, offering essential fatty acids (EFAs) that contribute to health in myriad different ways.
Pasta, Bread, and Crackers
Pasta adds textural and culinary variety to vegan diets just as it does with omnivorous, vegetarian, and pescatarian diets. Because dried pasta is shelf-stable and is available in an assortment of shapes, sizes, types, and textures, it’s a great staple to keep on hand for those days when you can’t think of what to cook.
Vegans have a ton of great options to consider in the realm of cooking oils. Most shelf-stable oils are derived from plant sources, so you can feel free to use several different kinds of oils as part of your cooking and dining routine. Some oils are better than others for different purposes, so it’s important to understand your options and go from there. Vegan oils form a good foundation that you can fill out with other options such as avocado, peanut, or safflower oils.
Herbs and Spices
Herbs are a great way to add additional flavour to any meal. As vegan proteins tend to have milder flavours, spices can be an important part of vegan cooking. A great way to stay more environmentally friendly is to grow your own herbs at home, whatever space you have.
Whatever your diet, our private chefs have a menu for you. We source all our ingredients as locally as we can and are here to offer you an amazing a healthy meal cooked in the comfort of your own home that your friends and family will talk about for years to come.
Contact Mike today to see how we can help you with your professionally catered at home dinner party.