Food & Drink

Live & let VEGAN

by Andrew Hirst


I will be brutally honest… going vegan scared me a little.

I hadn’t really given a lot of thought to my food consumption until recently. I was one of those annoying friends who would eat two doughnuts and not put on a pound. I was a staunch meat eater who would eat ethically sourced local produce, but never ever considered going meat free. Live without meat, how would this be possible? How would I live without eating a rare steak dripping in garlic butter?

I have now passed a certain age and had a few mild health frights – health scares sounds far too dramatic. However it is a reality check. How much exercise am I doing and what am I putting in my body. A little advice from my doctor went a long way… “try to do a little better.”

My wife is a vegetarian and am I starting to discover that a lot of people I know are vegans; some shockingly so. For example, Eden… the big butch bearded gent in the sales office next door… vegan? Who knew? It seems to have gained momentum, with the amount of people who have embraced the vegan-side growing at rate of knots. They are not press ganging all and sundry, but letting people make their own way to this dietary choice.

After a little research and a few conversations with my contacts in the vegan underground I started to uncover the benefits of the plant based diet. A vegan diet was linked with losing weight where meat replacements take the form of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, peas, nuts and seeds. Over the past few years I have piled on a few lock-down pounds so this wouldn’t go amiss.

Other health benefits can include the lowering of blood sugar levels and improving kidney function. In one 2009 study, 43% of participants following a vegan diet were able to reduce their dosage of blood sugar-lowering medication, compared with only 26% of participants who followed an ADA-recommended diet. It is also linked to a lower risk of heart disease and vegan diets based on probiotic-rich whole foods may significantly decrease symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Maybe this is because a vegan diet has removed certain trigger foods?

Vegan diets may provide an array of health benefits but for the most part, researchers do not yet understand exactly what causes these benefits. That said, until further research emerges, it can only benefit you to increase the amount of nutrient-rich, whole plant foods in your diet.

Am I sticking to it? Well… mostly. I do eat the occasional roast chicken, and would probably be heading to the vegetarian tick box most of the time, but I aim to be better. Ultimately it doesn’t matter what the rest of the world thinks, there isn’t a vegan police (yet), if you cheat it is only you that gets cheated. I have noticed that my health has improved. I have more energy and have lost weight. Is this because I have embraced (mostly) a vegan diet… who knows? But it seems to be working, and the food actually tastes really good… who’d have though it?

Curried tofu tortilla wraps

There are a couple of dishes I have tried that have really changed my mind on vegan food and in particular tofu. A true testament to a meal is that you do not even notice the fact that you are missing the meat… for me,this is one of those recipes.

Ingredients (serves 4)

3 x 200g packs of tofu, each pack cut into 16 chunks

½ red cabbage, shredded

8 tortilla wraps

• 4 heaped tbsp dairy-free yogurt

3 tbsp mint sauce

2 tbsp curry paste

2 onions, thinly sliced

2 large garlic cloves, diced

2 limes


In a bowl add the mint sauce, yogurt and shredded red cabbage; season, mix well and set aside. In a fresh bowl add the tofu and coat with the curry paste and a 2 tbsp of oil. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat and fry the tofu on each side in batches until golden. Remove from the pan when done and set to one side until needed.

Add a little more oil to the same pan and fry the onions and garlic until softened. Return the tofu to the pan, season well and cook for a few minutes, stirring well. Warm the tortilla wraps and then top each one with some red cabbage and 6 slices of the curried tofu. Top-off with some onions and a squeeze of lime.

You can always add in a selection of greens of your choice, baby leaf spinach and cucumber works really well.

Surprising vegan foods:

Here are a selection foods which are vegan. Some of them might be accidentally vegan, but all of them are bursting with flavour.


Mr Kipling Apple & Blackcurrant Pies

Doritos Chill Heatwave


McVitie’s Hobnobs Choc Chip


Oat Biscuits

Reggae Reggae Sauce

Cadbury Bournville Dark Chocolate

Fox’s Party Rings

Bourbon Biscuits



Pringles (most flavours)

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