November 1st is World Vegan Day, so if you’ve been thinking about giving up eating animal products then now is a good time to start and vegan food is very trendy these days. If you visit any of the well known markets in London e.g. Camden, Spitalfields, Shoreditch, Petticoat Lane you will now see an interesting row of vegan food stalls and restaurants. It would seem that as long as it looks good, tastes good and the price is right, becoming vegan should be fairly straightforward.
And yet, when ordering a meal in a restaurant how many of us even glance at the vegan menu? How many restaurants have a vegan dish as the chef’s special? How many vegan dishes are included in the lunchtime special? More often than not what’s on the menu is probably a slight variation of a meat dish and that’s the problem.
In our minds if you make a vegan/vegetarian dish look like its meat counterpart then for the ordinary person they might as well just eat meat, what’s the point?
Once things become a habit they are difficult to change and that also is the same with mindset. If we’ve got to buy specific ingredients to prepare the vegan meal, will we be able to do it? Remember, beef, chicken, pork can all be bought and frozen for use when ready, which fresh vegetables can you freeze, what are they like to defrost, is there a special technique, can we buy them easily at our local supermarket or farmers market? Does vegan cooking mean we can reduce meal preparation time; save money; and still make us feel full then great?
The point is that being vegan is a lifestyle and mindset change; the black community has had the vegan lifestyle a long time as Rastafarians follow a vegan or vegetarian diet. People have gotten so use to the popular curry goat or chicken with rice and peas as a black person’s staple diet. However, historically meat was a rarity for most in the Caribbean and only killed on special occasions and for most families vegetable soups, porridge and one pots were the order of the day. In fact many Caribbean dishes traditionally were meatless and consisted of coconut fillings, ground provisions (plantain, breadfruit etc) chickpeas, vegetables and fruits depending on the island. I am still amazed with the fact that Trinidadians are able to cook such as wide variety of scrumptious dishes with mangoes (Curry Mango).
We can eat less meat but it needs to be made simple and meatless dishes need to have their own identity rather than a replica of a meat dish; food regardless of whether it’s made with or without meat just needs to look good, taste good, easy to purchase, simple to cook, be healthy and filling.
That’s all we need to help start us on a more healthy and positive food journey.