Damascena's vegan mixed mezze with damascene fuul and falafel

It’s easy being vegan

The thing that has surprised me most about being vegan is how easy it is.

Honestly, I was expecting it to be a pain in the arse, at the very least for a while until I got used to it. The worst part was always eating out, but that’s got so much better just recently, I definitely made the decision at the best time I could! Seriously, if you’ve been thinking about trying it, I would give it a week now and see how you feel.

I have always loved food. What is there not love? People who just eat to survive are like mythical creatures to me, I kind of admire them, but feel sorry for them at the same time.

I guess it helps that I love vegetables. They have always been so interesting. There’s such a variety I guess – and so many of them taste amazing when they’re fresh, when they’re sautéed, fried, mashed, roasted, stir fried, curried…all the cooking methods, basically. Even boiled and steamed are pretty good. Steamed asparagus with salt and pepper? Even better with olive oil or vegan butter. And vegan butter is really easy to get.

Pure spread is my favourite, I like the sunflower oil variety and it comes in soy and olive oil versions as well. There’s also Vitalite, which is vegan and I think has a more buttery taste but also more chemical sounding words in the ingredients, so I avoid it. If you’re feeling flash, Waitrose do a coconut and rapeseed oil spread, which is my favourite in flavour (not so much price though). It is a smaller size though so if you’re trying it out for a week or two it’s probably the ideal amount.

We truly do live in a magical time for vegans. Not a week goes by that I don’t see an advert for vegan pizza. I mean ok I would on my Twitter feed, but they’re all out there and easy to get. Actually I have less of a craving for pizza now I know I can have one pretty much any night the week than I did when I thought it meant a cheese-free Margherita at Pizza Express or a trek over to Mr Singh’s (although still my favourite so far – please someone open a franchise in the city centre! Imagine. Actually I think that’s such a good idea I’m kind of considering it myself).

As well as loving food and vegetables, I do kind of like cooking. I mean I like what the stuff I cook tastes like and really the easiest stuff usually tastes the best anyway. You can make pretty healthy food that is actually so tasty and it’s not even that difficult. Even baking. And seriously, I am so bad at baking. Way too fiddly and technical for me. You can’t improvise and hope for the best in baking. I tried to make scones once and didn’t have baking soda but reckoned after a google I could make my own with bicarbonate of soda and baking powder (yes ridiculously these are apparently all different things). I couldn’t. The scones tasted so bad and also went a kind of dark grey colour when they came into contact with Jam. Which, for a scone, is a pretty serious defect.

Ok, when I’ve done some vegan baking I did actually have the correct ingredients, which I imagine was quite helpful. However, it’s great not having to deal with the random sizes eggs come in, or the weird stuff dairy products do when they come in contact with heat. Or cold. Or air, or liquids, or solids, or anything that isn’t also dairy and even then it has to approach very carefully. The cake I’ve made, the alternative to egg and dairy is soya milk (or literally any dairy free milk like oat or almond, etc) and a bit of apple cider vinegar. Both fairly easy to get held of.

The recipe I used – this one by Isa Chandra by the way – involves is pretty much mixing the ingredients together then putting it in the oven. As long as you get your oven hot enough you can’t go wrong. I really want to make a cake now. Anyway, that’s it. Making the icing is not much of a chore either; vegan butter (or a vegan cheese spread for a cream-cheese style icing), icing sugar and a little bit of soya milk and that’s it. Equally as unhealthy as a normal cake. One day I might be really adventurous and try and find an easy cake recipe made from stuff like dates and avocadoes so it’s vaguely healthier.

Lower cholesterol should be a benefit of a vegan diet but obviously not if you eat pizza and cake all the time. Not everything can be fixed by going vegan. Just most things.

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