A tale of veganism, healthy eating, and conviction

That’s two days in a row now I have enjoyed a healthy, simple, and delicious lunch at work and forgotten to take pictures of it. It has been commented on several times for looking and smelling appealing (by people who have spent £5 on food from the local stalls and would probably never dream of looking up a recipe).

To give you an idea of the recipe, for 5 days’ worth of lunches I used 3 medium sweet potatoes, 2 peppers (one red, one yellow), 5 little blocks of frozen spinach, a lot of dry soy mince (though I normally prefer to make this with tofu, and even soy chunks are normally preferable, which in the UK you can normally find super cheap in Asian foodstores), 1 can of coconut milk, a large chunk of fresh ginger, 5 cloves of garlic, a generous splash of soy sauce, an alarming amount of madras curry powder, and a little bit of coriander powder (though fresh would have been better).

Tonight I have also just finished a very tasty and satisfying meal of aubergine, soy mince, tomato and spinach, with some hot sauce, topped with tahini, nutritional yeast flakes and extra pepper.

The main thing these meals have in common, unfortunately, is that neither of them look particularly appealing. They result in a bowl of indiscernible mush, albeit highly colourful and fragrant mush. To be honest, that’s why I’m not so hot on the food photography thing.

And yet people still always comment on how good it looks, and how they wish they could be as organised as I am to cook their own food and be healthier. I just don’t get it.

However, I think that is the key, the root of it all, the thing that ties veganism in with health and fitness for the majority of the population who don’t have time to prepare pretty, inventive meals. Don’t get me wrong, I love nothing more than to peruse the beautiful photos of food as can be found on Angela‘s or VeganFlavorista‘s blogs and pretty much every vegan food blog on the internet, it would seem. But I think it scares a lot of people off cooking – the thought that you just don’t have time to collect all those ingredients and put them together nicely. But does it really matter? Throw something together that you enjoy, no matter how weird it is or how unappealing it looks, and you’re already one up on the rest of the world.

As a vegan, unless you are lucky enough to have an entourage of vegan friends who love food as much as you do (or, like me, a whole host of supportive friends and family, though I think this is even more of a rarity), you are going to be marginalised anyway. Sorry if that’s not sugar-coated enough for a casual blog, but it’s the truth. Even the most well-meaning of acquaintances will forget to cater for you, get it ever so slightly wrong (“Oh, you don’t even eat honey?!”) or even just ask too many questions (“Do you mind if we sit on leather chairs during this meeting?”) – which is fine, once you get used to it, but definitely makes you feel a little bit put-on-the-spot.

If you take your fitness seriously, you also run the risk of being given “that” look when you say you’re going to the gym again instead of to the pub. So you know what, you may as well embrace not only being vegan and spending more time at the gym than talking about how you’re going to start going to the gym, but also your weird healthy food that you cooked in a hurry because you wanted to take care of your body and save money.

Anyway, this is turning into a rant that I’m pretty sure I have already had on here, but that is also pretty much totally unnecessary. My point is, I cook more than your average person, and yet my food still looks too bad to take photos of it. Sorry.

More interestingly, a couple more veganism-cum-fitness points:

1. SparkPeople posted a “healthy, seasonal” recipe which is so nearly vegan and doesn’t even know it! Check out Samantha’s Cranberry-Pumpkin Bread, which uses no eggs or dairy. It used honey, but this is so easily replaced by other liquid sweeteners such as fruit syrups (loads readily available on the market these days, like Sweet Freedom in the UK), maple syrup, agave, or I guess you might even be able to use apple sauce or jam. I just get really excited when vegan recipes creep into the mainstream… it’s just another one of those things I can mention when people ask me how hard it is to be vegan, not realising the Hobnob they’re eating is unashamedly vegan.

and 2. Ben is going vegan tomorrow for a fortnight! He has taken note of my post/rant on being prepared and stocked up on ingredients such as Cauldron marinated tofu pieces, nutritional yeast, Pulsin soy protein and rice milk, as well as a colourful selection of fruit and veg. Interestingly, he posted on Twitter asking for tips and advice, and found himself getting irritated by all the frankly ignorant replies coming in about how unsustainable a diet it is. As someone who went vegan at the age of 16 and abandoned it a year later not due to cravings or a desire to eat animal products but just through the lack of character strength to fend off all the questioning and scrutinising, this issue is dear to my heart! I can’t wait to see what this experience reveals for him, and I will of course keep you posted.

I think that’s me done for today, time to update my training log with tonight’s session, have a cup of tea, and get to bed – and give you all a break from my monologues.

Having said all that, I do aim to make something delicious, healthy, easy, cheap and pretty to share with you in the near future!