Vegan dinner

7 Feb

I seem to be obsessed at the moment about doing research into finding vegan-friendly alternatives for when I start my #40Before40: Challenge #14, when I will attempt to eat vegan for three months. This challenge is enough to make even the most determined person weak at the knees – hopefully not literally though. However, the more research I do, the more confident I am that this is more achievable than I thought it was and the more inclined I am to think that I could actually remain eating a vegan diet long after my little experiment is done and dusted.

There are plenty of websites and information about there about eating a vegan diet. Obviously some of the claims that are made are probably coming from a biased angle, so it is not always easy to sort fact from fiction. But, if even half of the claims are true, the health benefits alone are a reason to cut dairy and meat  products from your diet. I was also surprised that lots of athletes are switching to vegan eating and are actually performing much better than previously, which goes against the stereotype that all vegans are puny things that lack nutrients.

As part of my planning and research before I jump head first into the world of veganism, I decided to cook a three course meal for three of my friends at the weekend. My definition of friendship is that if I am suffering then you should feel my pain too. After assuring them that the beer and wine I had was also vegan and, therefore, we would not be drinking tap water for the whole evening, they accepted my invitation.

Here is what I made for them.

First course was a roasted red pepper and sweet potato soup with a hint of chilli, which I was assured was the “right amount of spice”. I served this with bread and some homemade houmous.

The main course was a vegan moussaka. I love moussaka and, although I don’t eat it all that often, I was keen to try it out to see if it was any good or not. It took a while to make it and I managed to make enough for about 8 people. I was worried that we wouldn’t be full from a dish made from aubergine, tomatoes, mushrooms and walnuts. It was so tasty that I was more than happy to finish off the leftovers for dinner the following night.

The dessert was a bit of a disaster. I decided to make a macadamia nut cream from a vegan cookbook and an egg free meringue recipe that I found online. The macadamia nut cream went down well but I wasn’t so convinced about the texture as I thought it would have been better if it was smoother. But everyone ate it. The meringues just didn’t work and I’m not sure why. I make a lot of meringues and pavlovas and the mixture itself was identifical to the mixture that I have made with eggs. I think that the temperature for the oven in the recipe was wrong because the meringues came out flat and it came out a bit more like honeycombe than anything else. As I had vegan sorbet in the freezer, I served the sorbet with some of the meringues/honeycombe stuff sprinkled on the top. I will try the egg free meringue mixture once again though and see if the oven temperature was the problem.

All in all, I think we all enjoyed the meal. So a BIG thank you to Stefan, Mark and Araz, who suffered in the name of friendship and who, I am sure, will have to endure some more vegan meals in the near future!

One question that still remains about the diet is about the use of ingredients that technically are vegan (i.e. contain no direct animal products) but come with the warning may contain milk, because they were produced in a factory where milk products are made. On the one hand, you could argue that because the products will possibly only contain traces of animal products that I should be able to eat them. But, if you had a nut allergy, there is no way you would eat something which said it may contain nuts. I have also found a product which has an official vegan label on it but the small print for the ingredients says it may contain milk. So how can that be vegan?

Do you see my dilemma? I have asked several people what they think and I still haven’t found a general consensus. Do any of you have the answer? Please let me know your thoughts?

2 Responses to “Vegan dinner”

  1. Confuzzled Bev February 9, 2018 at 10:23 am #

    I probably technically *could* eat a vegan diet – we do eat delicious vegan meals fairly often – but honestly I just don’t want to. While you can be healthy as a vegan (with lots of going out of your way to make sure you’re getting the right nutrients) I *like* non-vegan food! That probably makes me cruel and heartless in many people’s eyes, but oh well. Also, the main vegan substitute for… well… everything seems to be soy and my thyroid medication specifically says to avoid eating a lot of soy (plus soy farming is reeaaallly bad for the rainforests).

    I suppose the “may contain milk” thing depends on why you’re going vegan. Obviously if you’re severely allergic you should avoid anything that even contains traces. But Jan is allergic to peanuts and is fine with “may contain” or “produced in a factory that also produces”. If it’s purely because you believe cutting out all meat, dairy, etc. is healthier then possible traces of milk probably won’t be an issue. But if your reason for being vegan is “anything that involves animals in any way is inherently cruel” then the products that *may* contain milk are surely also cruel because the factory is still doing nasty things to animals, even if it’s not for that specific product? It’s like people boycotting Body Shop products for years because, although they don’t test on animals, their parent company did (L’Oréal – they have since been sold to Natura and are back on the “safe” list).

    • ourgirlinzurich February 9, 2018 at 9:50 pm #

      Thanks for the feedback! I guess I’m not really sure why I am trying it. Obviously I know about animal cruelty and I would prefer that not to happen but I’m still not sure about how I feel about animals being killed for food. I’ve watched some interesting arguments from a purely intellectual perspective and not from an emotional point of view. I think I might be coming from this more from the point of view of the impact we have on the environment and (a far more shallow reason) to eat a more varied, in terms of natural products and vegetables, diet. I think I am thinking that it is ok to eat the “may contain” products because actually I’m not sure that anything is not 100% not contaminated in some way.

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