AFTER MONTHS AND MONTHS OF SEEING PISS POOR EFFORT, THIS HAPPENED

This has been a long time coming. This is a guide aimed at head chefs and restaurant owners as to how to make your menu vegan friendly.

A Guide to Upping Your Game

As mentioned in our previous article, we wanted to see chefs step their game up, but then decided to make an article specifically guiding them on how to do so. This article is aimed at anyone who is either catering for vegans on a single event, looking to change their menu to add vegan friendly foods, if you want to create a vegan menu, or if you’re planning on opening a place that provides vegan foods.

I’m going to reiterate this later on, because it’s important.

While you can buy the plant based meats, plant based dairy and other alternatives that are fine and delicious. A huge part of why I love cooking now is the challenge of making something new using simple ingredients. Turning chickpeas and coconut cream into cheesecake, or whipping aquafaba into meringues. You can do so much with basic plant ingredients that I would never have even considered pre-vegan. I never touched hummus or falafel pre-vegan, but now they are two of my favourite foods. I encourage you to try your own creations and not just go for the easy route of the fake meats.

Many people think that vegans eat weird foods with ingredients that are expensive and hard to find, and while we do have a few uncommon ingredients like nutritional yeast, often we’ll just be making regular food that uses different ingredients to the usual. Rather than making a curry with chicken, it might be made with potatoes and beans or something else. Sometimes you want to go out for a meal everyone be able to have a pie, or a curry, or a stir fry, which is all possible on a plant based diet. You don’t always want to be the odd one out ordering something completely different to everyone else.

On the other hand, creating new and exciting dishes is also something you can do. The kind of meal where non vegans might look over to it and think “Hey, I wish I ordered that instead” and be surprised that something like that isn’t on their menu but is on the vegan menu. I know that most non vegans who read that will think that there’s no way they could look at a vegan meal and wish they had ordered it instead of their steak or chicken pie, but it’s easily doable.

Good plant food isn’t the impossible feat that some people claim it to be. The problem is that on every menu that has a few vegan items, it’s always salad, which is why vegans have the reputation of only eating rabbit food. You’ll find what vegans eat at restaurants and at home are two completely different beasts.

I’ll first start by looking at the kinds of ingredients you would use and their plant based alternative.

I do want to point out that if you’re a chef who prides themselves on catering for everyone no matter their dietary requirement and you can say with total honesty that no matter the requirement you always manage to put something on a plate that you’re proud of, that you’d be happy to eat, this whole article isn’t really relevant for you. This is relevant for the chefs who think it’s good enough to serve some lettuce and tomatoes to vegans, or don’t know what they would cook for a vegan beyond lettuce and tomatoes.

BY NO MEANS IS THIS AN EXHAUSTIVE LIST

Substitute Ingredients

Meat

I don’t personally use fake meats in my cooking, but you have so many options. Some are much better than others and some don’t belong on a menu anywhere. This is highly personal though, because some fake meats I’ve tried and thought were disgusting and I see other vegans on facebook recommend it. I guess if it was no good at all, it wouldn’t be sold.

Minced Cow: By far the most versatile meat in my opinion due to it being in so many things from tacos to lasagna, spaghetti bolognese, meatballs, shepherds pie, and more. It’s also the easiest to make vegan in my opinion. You can buy all sorts of different vegan versions of this and it will usually be made using either textured vegetable protein or textured soy protein. I like to chop up mushrooms and fry them with onions and garlic, smoked paprika and add in lentils.

Chicken: Again, there are plenty of options you can buy that are pre-made. You can buy chicken fillets, chicken nuggets, breaded chicken snitzels, chicken strips, shredded chicken and various other forms of chicken that’s made using either soy or seitan. Many of them are fairly convincing, especially Fry’s chicken nuggets, which are raved about for good reason. The only chicken I’ve ever tried to make was seitan based and it turned out well, see here for how it looked. It’s my Kentucky Fried Seitan. The only problem I had was the texture, because when I cooked the seitan, I didn’t squeeze out all the moisture before I battered it, so it was a little spongier than chicken, but the taste was on point. It’s easy to make and doesn’t take long at all, plus you’ll never have to worry about salmonella.

Pig: Probably the most popular pork that’s vegan is jackfruit pulled pork. It’s such an infamous dish that specifically bbq pulled pork is showing up in the ready meal sections for vegans. You can also buy various vegan bacon, which depending on where you’re from you can get better or worse kinds. While I was in Australia I came across some bacon which looked and tasted pretty close to how I remember bacon, although you could still tell it wasn’t bacon. It had white streaks like fat on bacon though, it was so damn realistic. For shredded pork, I do the same as for beef, but use different seasonings (lentils, mushrooms, onions and garlic). Oh, sausages too, of course, you can buy vegan sausages all over the place easily enough.

 

Dairy

When it comes to dairy, you’ve got so many options it’s incredible, and the number is only growing. In my opinion, supermarket vegan cheeses aren’t really anything to be proud of, but I’m in the minority I think. So many people rave about the supermarket cheeses, but I’ve not found any I like. Homemade cheese is a different story however, with my herby avocado cream cheese being mindbendingly good, especially spread on portobello mushrooms and baked.

Milks: When people say that vegans are limited yet they have only one or two kinds of milks available, and we have plenty of options. Wake me from a drunken stupor and I could easily give you 5, but there are many more. Each has a unique flavour, some better than others, my favourite being oat or soymilk. We have soy, oat, hazelnut, macadamia, hemp, tiger nut, flax, coconut, cashew, almond, rice. Soy, oat and almond are best for drinking or smoothies as the taste is fairly muted. Hemp, flax, hazelnut, macadamia are best for sauces or making cheeses as the nuttiness and flavour adds to the end product, but you’ll find new and interesting ways of using each kind of milk.

There’s this strange rumour I’ve seen floating around that plant milks curdle fairly easily, which absolutely blows my mind. I see it all the time on facebook group posts that their milk is curdling and needing advice to stop that happening. I’ve been vegan 3 years now and I’ve used just about every plant milk on the market, across multiple brands and in all sorts of recipes, with different levels of heat, cooked for different amounts of time. Not once have I ever curdled the milk, so either I’ve been touched by the milk gods, or these are people sent by the animal agricultural industries to pose as vegans and slander the good name of plant milk.

Cheese: As mentioned above, homemade cheese is where you’ll get the best results. There are some really nice artisan cheeses I’ve seen, but they aren’t sold in supermarkets likely due to the high supply that would be needed to make it worth a major supermarket signing a deal, or perhaps it’s just down to shelf life. Many of the high quality cheeses are made with simple ingredients and not a preservative, flavour enhancer, e number or additive in sight. For making cheeses, the most common ingredient is cashews, but cheese can be made from most nuts, the other common nut cheese being pistachio. In terms of setting the cheese you might use agar or arrowroot, but really, you’re only limited by your patience, imagination and how creative you are. When it comes to creating aged and fermented cheeses, you should look into rejuvelac, which is fairly simple to make.

Yoghurt, Ice Cream, Single Cream etc: At the risk of constantly repeating myself, I’ll just mention that we’ve got pretty much every dairy product alternative being sold in the supermarkets, but you can easily make your own with very little expense and effort. One of my favourite ways to make ice cream for example is to freeze bananas that are very ripe overnight, then blend with some soy milk and you get a lovely creamy and thick ice cream. I usually throw some cacao powder in to make it chocolatey and top it with nuts.

Eggs and Other

Eggs: I thought that as a vegan, I wouldn’t be able to have any baked goods due to the lack of eggs in baking, pancakes especially (which are one of my favourites). My idea of vegan baking couldn’t be further from the truth and now I’m sat wondering why I ever used eggs in baking. When it comes to substituting eggs, a lot of recipes don’t even need a substitute for eggs at all, like brownie mixes, pancake mixes, puff pastry, pizza dough. However for the recipes that do require a substitute, you have so many options. Check out this link for just some of the substitutes (there are more). Of course you can just buy substitutes in the shop, but why would you when if you’re running a kitchen, you’ll likely already have most of the substitutes. Still on baking – MeringesYou can make meringues using aquafaba, which is just chickpea juice.

That covers the substitutes in baking, but what about recipes which require egg to be as it is, like scrambled/poached eggs? Vegan chefs around the world have been making eggs using spherification along with usually black salt and nutritional yeast. Having an egg look and taste like an egg with the white and yolk, that doesn’t come from an animal, is the biggest challenge and something I’ve not mastered yet, but in terms of scrambled eggs that’s easy enough with block tofu. There are also re-placers like follow your heart vegan egg, which is made from algae.

Eggs are probably the food that as vegans, we’ve made the least progress on, but much of the progress we have made have just been culinary leaps made by chefs who are willing to experiment.

Other: There are so many animal foods to cover, but the main ones are meat, dairy and eggs. Hopefully, with the amount of information provided in this article, it should give you a good base for how to cater for vegans or create a vegan menu, even if it doesn’t include everything.

The only other thing to mention is honey, which we don’t have a direct substitute for if you were making a honey glaze or something alike. You can however achieve similar tastes using things like agave nectar, maple syrup and date syrup.

Now I’ll be going over starters, mains and desserts that I often see in restaurants and how you would make them safe for vegans, trying to keep it as simple as possible, with common ingredients. However, if you’re planning on cooking vegan food a lot, or you get a lot of vegans inquiring if you could cater, you might want to invest in some of the less common ingredients.

Starters

Mains

Desserts

(OS) – This key will be used in the instance of providing something which I’ve rarely seen on menus or not at all that would fit in well

Starters/Breakfast

Soups: Most soups are vegan friendly except if you cook the veggies in butter instead of oil and/or add cream/milk and chicken/beef stock. Simple change would be to either split into two batches and use vegan vegetable stock (some vegetable stocks have animal products in), not use cream or use vegan cream, and fry in oil or use vegan butter. Either that, or just use the vegan versions of the above ingredients and don’t split the batches, nobody will know the difference.

Garlic Bread: Some breads are made using flour that uses bone char and other non vegan processing methods, wholemeal is fine. Garlic butter is made the same way, just using plant based butter

(OS) Hummus Platter: In case you weren’t aware, vegans are obsessed with hummus. A mixed platter involving hummus would be great. You could do it with different breads like pittas, flatbread and ciabata. Or you could do it with dipping veggies like carrot sticks, celery, peppers. You could do it similar to how restaurants have soup of the day, where you mix the hummus up each day, made with different flavours. One day could be zingy and lemony, and another more spicy made with paprika and chillis.

Salad: I’m hesitant to suggest this because so many see salad as cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce. Salad can be so much more and I always think of my salads in a similar way to tabouleh, which will have a at the very least cous cous, quinoa, barley, or rice – Some kind of substance to it. Then adding tomatoes, red onion, or other veggies to it so it has veggies that would be found in a salad and a dressing on top of that. This can be used as a starter or a main, depending on your portions and if you want to make it a main, you can add little extras, for example chickpeas roasted and tossed in spices.

(OS) Duck Pancakes: While you’d only see this typically in Asian style restaurants, I’d order it as a starter no matter where I go if I saw it on menus. Duck pancakes is just shredded duck with cucumbers, spring onions and hoi sin sauce. You can (at least in the UK) buy a vegan version of the duck used, and I’ve had the same meal in Australia and Canada made vegan, but I couldn’t find the duck in supermarket, I assume there are suppliers for it that I don’t know about.

(OS) Yuk Sung: I’ve only seen this in a few places and often when I tell people about it they know it as a different name. It’s (I think) minced pork cooked in gravy and spices and eaten inside a lettuce leaf. I’ve made it several times using finely chopped mushrooms and carrots, garlic, onions, lentils, smoked paprika and five spice. It makes a nearly identical result.

Fries/Wedges: Sweet potato, curly, thick cut, crinkle cut, lattices, wedges. However you want to have potatoes and fries on your menu, for some vegans it won’t bother them which oil their food is cooked in, but others (myself included) will ask and won’t order them if they are cooked in or covered in any animal related products. If you cook them in vegetable/canola oil but also cook fish and meat products in the same oil, I also won’t order it. Having separate oil to cook fries in is possibly the simplest change on the list which will allow all vegans to at least get something.

Chia Pudding/Rice Pudding: Chia is less of a common ingredient but it’s not exactly expensive (under £10 for a kilo on amazon). A few TBSP will get you multiple servings of chia pudding. It’s debatable whether this is a starter or dessert, but sizing wise it could be either. Combine chia seeds and plant milk (coconut or almond) in a container and put in the fridge overnight and you’ll have chia pudding. Throw on berries, nuts, syrups, cocoa powder, or whatever you want and you have a healthy and delicious treat. Rice pudding is easily made vegan using plant milk rather than dairy.

(OS) Cauliflower Popcorn: This is absolutely one of my favourite things to eat. Parboil some cauliflower and then roast it in some spices (I use cumin, paprika, turmeric, cayenne pepper and cinnamon) until it becomes crispy. Here’s a recipe to show just how complicated you can make it if you like.

(OS) Cream Cheese Mushrooms: This is a starter I would have on my menu if I owned a restaurant and anyone who’s tried them says the same. This is what it looks like. It’s a large flat mushroom with a cream cheese spread on top and baked in the oven for 10 minutes or so. The cream cheese is made from blending some cashews for 5-10 minutes with avocado (to add creaminess), miso and nutritional yeast (to make it cheesy, both are necessary), and topped with chives. It’s very simple to make and delicious.

Wraps: Most tortillas are vegan friendly and then all you need to consider is what you should put inside it. Like with the salad, depending on what you put in and the portion size can affect whether it’s a starter or a main. You could do hummus and veggies as a starter, and beans plus rice as a main (obviously not just beans and rice, but you see the point.

Tapas Platter: Many options when it comes to tapas can be made vegan, or are already vegan. My favourite is patatas bravas, which when I spot it on a menu, I’ll always order that.

Granola Bowl/Porridge: I’ve seen granola and porridge as a starter in many restaurants, yet it’s never vegan. Or the times it can be made vegan, it’s by taking things out and be given nothing put in as a substitute. For porridge, just use plant milk and the same for granola (if adding milk). Add on berries/nuts/sultanas/seeds/plant based yohgurt, and you have a happy vegan.

All Day Breakfast: I’m not sure how common this is out side of the UK, or at least if it is common, if you’ll find it made up of the same types of foods. Usually it’s something along the lines of sausages, beans, mushrooms, tomatoes, fried toast, scrambled egg, bacon, hash browns, black pudding. Except for the black pudding, you can get vegan sausages and bacon and you can make a tofu scramble that’s tasty, but other than that the rest of the ingredients are vegan. Personally I don’t put vegan bacon on mine (See here for my breakfast).

Baked: Pancakes, waffles, muffins and other baked goods are easily made vegan, as mentioned above where I talk about substitutes for egg.

Toast/Butties: Possibly one of the simplest things to do is toast, with jams and spreads. A lot of jams are vegan and butter is readily available plant based. In terms of butties (sandwiches) you can put all sorts of things in it, even making it into a toastie. My favourite toastie is hummus, tomatoes, spinach and falaffel. If you have a really good bacon substitute (Australia has some really good vegan bacon in Melbourne, but possibly the rest of the country), you could make club sandwiches, which are always delicious.

Loaded Potato Shells: Other than the cheese that is usually mixed in/grated on top of potato shells, these are easily made vegan, either through a vegan cheese, or by skipping it. You can sprinkle a homemade parmesan on top which is usually made with a ground nut (my favourite is pistachios) along with salt, and nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast is a common ingredient in vegan cooking and has a cheesy taste to it.

Mains

Sauces: When it comes to sauces, you have the common four sauces (tomato, creamy, alcohol based and stock based). For tomato, it’s naturally vegan unless you put animal products into it, and for alcohol (ale, red wine, white wine) and stock you just need to make sure that you’re using a vegan friendly version. Some stocks have dairy or animal products in and some alcohol is processed using animal ingredients (gelatin and isinglass).

For creamy sauces, it’s a little more challenging, but you have a lot of variety of base. To my knowledge, the bases for a creamy sauce include cashews, cauliflower, artichoke, avocado, plant milk and coconut milk. In terms of flavouring, see my previous article for information on that to make it cheesy (See Here).

Dressings: The only dressings that aren’t vegan friendly are those with dairy included, but those can all be made vegan. Ranch dressing, Caesar dressing, and other similar dressings typically aren’t vegan, but there are some vegan versions being released in supermarkets. Until that happens, it’s easy enough to make your own.

Gravy: You can buy gravy granules that will make vegan gravy, or you can easily make your own. This recipe is the most delicious gravy I’ve ever tried, but there are plenty of other recipes you can try that are vegan friendly. If you’re using a roux to thicken, just make sure it’s with vegan butter and your stock is vegan friendly.

Curry: Possibly the most versatile dish which is most commonly vegan friendly, especially where it originates from. The main component of a curry is the spices which make it up, which is good because spices are vegan. You have the veggies, the beans, the lentils, the rice, the tomato sauce, the coconut milk sauce, all still vegan. The only times curry isn’t vegan is if you use non veggie stock, dairy milk or creams, or a meat. The most common non vegan curries tend to be the milder ones, like tikka masala and korma, due to including dairy, and also store bought naan breads aren’t often vegan due to using yoghurt powder. These can so easily be made vegan by just subbing an ingredient or leaving it out.

Lasagne: Perhaps one of the more complex things to make for vegans due to having both a meat and a sauce which isn’t normally vegan. Luckily, both are easy enough to make. I’ve used lentils and mushrooms with garlic and onions, paprika and liquid smoke (along with other flavours) to make the ‘meat’ part, but you can buy textured soy/vegetable protein to act as the meat, or think of other creative solutions. In terms of the bechamel sauce, there are plenty of ways you can make one that’s vegan, usually using plant milk as a base, though you can blend up silken tofu. I’ve tried both and much prefer to start off with a roux and adding plant milk. Using the tofu version creates a texture I don’t personally like when baked in the oven.

Chilli: One of my favourite meals and actually one of the most commonly veganised meal you can find in restaurants. You can make a chilli using beans (usually 5 bean chilli), or you can do similar to what I mentioned for the lasagne, with lentils and mushrooms, or textured soy/veggie protein.

Pizza: If you make the dough yourself, you can easily make it vegan friendly, which then typically leaves the toppings and the cheese. For the toppings, personally I never even use the meat alternatives and instead stick to toppings like mushroom, sweetcorn, spinach and balsamic sun dried tomatoes, and most vegans will be happy with that. You can if you want have meat alternatives on the pizza, but it might not make sense if you only get a vegan inquiring every few months. The cheese is a different story and not one I have a good answer for. Zizzi’s in England have started offering vegan cheese on their pizza, which is some form of coconut cheese ordered in from Italy and Pizza Hut are also now offering vegan pizza full time after trialling it and it being successful. Personally, I don’t even put cheese on my pizza and I enjoy it all the same.

Salad: I’m hesitant to suggest this because so many see salad as cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce. Salad can be so much more and I always think of my salads in a similar way to tabouleh, which will have a at the very least cous cous, quinoa, barley, or rice – Some kind of substance to it. Then adding tomatoes, red onion, or other veggies to it so it has veggies that would be found in a salad and a dressing on top of that. This can be used as a starter or a main, depending on your portions and if you want to make it a main, you can add little extras, for example chickpeas roasted and tossed in spices. This is the last salad I made, which I would happily eat as a main in a restaurant.

Wraps: Most tortillas are vegan friendly and then all you need to consider is what you should put inside it. Like with the salad, depending on what you put in and the portion size can affect whether it’s a starter or a main. You could do hummus and veggies as a starter, and beans plus rice as a main (obviously not just beans and rice, but you see the point.

Pasta Dishes: If you use pasta made from durum wheat or semolina, it’s almost always vegan. If you make the pasta yourself, you can certainly make it vegan also. With that out of the way, that leaves the sauces, the toppings and the fillings. As mentioned above where I talk about sauces, all sauces can be made vegan, whether that’s a mushroom and wine tagliatelle, macaroni cheese, tomato and basil penne, or pesto pasta. When it comes to fillings for pasta dishes like ravioli, tortellini or agnolotti, you can easily veganise these too using blended mushroms/squash/aubergine, combined with nuts and spices, or whatever you like. The toppings obviously can be veggies instead of meat.

Burgers: Other than chilli, the other meal I’ve seen more than once is a vegan burger, which usually takes the form of a black bean burger. I’m fine with that, black bean burgers can be delicious, though you should really make your own. Black bean burgers ordered in typically are dry and not particularly full of flavour on their own. You can make burgers from all sorts of plant foods like chickpeas, beetroot, lentils, mushrooms etc. I’ve personally settled on a BBQ beetroot and lentil burger which is cooked in the oven so it has a nice crisp outside and juicy inside, but you can make it in whichever way you like. You can even use seitan covered in breadcrumbs and spices to make a ‘chicken’ style burger.

Risotto: Honestly, I’m surprised most restaurants don’t have a risotto on their menu, possibly because it’s easy to mess up. Forget about it cooking and it’s easy to get a risotto that has the texture of wallpaper paste that I’m sure Gordon Ramsay would have something to say about. In terms of making it vegan it’s so easy, seeing as you can make a risotto with very few ingredients. My favourite is a mushroom risotto made with a healthy (a bottle) dose of white wine. That was a joke, I don’t use that much wine, at least in the cooking. The only thing with risotto you might need to change is the stock used, the wine (make sure it’s vegan), and if you use butter you should make sure it’s plant butter. Skip the creme fraiche if it’s not Oatly’s plant version, or your own plant based version.

Sushi: I’m not going to claim I know how to make a variety of sushi enough to open a sushi restaurant, but I do know that you can easily have vegan friendly sushi. My favourite is avocado, apple, carrot, radish and paprika, which is a blend of creamy sweet smokey peppery goodness. Whole foods are now doing a vegan sashimi made from tomatoes, which I would have never even considered, but apparently it sells well.

Jacket Potatoes: Always a winner in my book, which you can top with all sorts of things from curry and chilli to baked beans. Just make sure your butter is plant based and as mentioned above, your chilli and curry are vegan friendly, or whatever it is you like to top it with is vegan, you’ll do fine. I’ve never seen this served anywhere in the world, but I always have my jacket potatoes are home with pickle, sweetcorn, nutritional yeast, butter and black pepper.

Pies: I can understand why you might not have a pie on your menu that’s vegan friendly, seeing as a lot of restaurants order them in and even if the filling is vegetables, the pastry is almost certainly not vegan. If you’re making your own pastry and pies in house however, you can easily make vegan pastry like this recipe. I’ve tried the pastry myself and it’s perfect, though I used stork butter specifically for vegan baking rather than making my own in the recipe, it still turned out great. Shortcrust and filo can be bought in store and made vegan easily also, so that just leaves the filling, which after the tips I’ve already mentioned with stock and butter being vegan and using veggies, you’ll be sure to think up something delicious.

(OS) Jackfruit: Jack fruit is a fairly common substitute for pulled pork, but using it in other recipes is just a matter of waiting for someone to do it. Due to it’s texture it would be perfect to use in place of beef in recipes like steak and ale pies or casseroles. I’d also imagine with the right kind of ingredient mixes you could use it as a burger. Currently jack fruit burgers are just pulled pork burgers, but I’ve not yet seen anyone make it into a patty.

(OS) Seitan: Besides using soy, this is one of the most common meat substitutes and can be used to make things like ‘chicken’ nuggets, burgers and barbecue ribs. You can buy it, or you can make your own, seeing as it’s made from vital wheat gluten. You have the freedom to change the texture by changing how long you knead the dough for. I’ve not made it myself by you can make seitan steaks, which I imagine taste similar as regular steaks, but the texture would be the most noticeably different quality about the steak.

Desserts

Fruit Salad: If I didn’t include this, it wouldn’t really be a list for vegan desserts, would it? Seeing as it’s by far the most common vegan dessert on most menus. I’d love to make some suggestions for stepping up your fruit salad game, but all my suggestions make it no longer a fruit salad.

Fruit Crumble: So simple, so delicious, the only thing you need to change with a crumble is the butter you use, make it plant based. Also, in certain countries sugar is bleached like flour using bone char and animal based derivatives making it not safe for vegans. I use Billingtons sugar as it specifies that it’s safe for vegans on the pack. When it comes to what you serve the crumble, you can have custard, ice cream or cream, but just a vegan version. Cream is the most difficult to make at home, but luckily you can buy plant based cream. Custard can also be bought ready made or in powdered form that is safe for vegans, or you can just make your own and ice cream is easily bought or made using frozen bananas.

Ice Cream: Easily the simplest desert to make after a fruit salad. Take frozen bananas and a little plant milk and blend, which will produce a creamy ice cream that’s not only ridiculously easy, but healthy. You can then further blend in things like syrups, chocolate powder, protein powders and flavourings. Throw nuts, oats, or other toppings on, like you might do with regular ice cream.

Cheesecake: One of my favourite desserts in my non vegan days, yet I’ve not quite perfected the recipe as of yet personally. I make a chocolate peanut butter cheesecake using chickpeas and coconut cream blended up as the cream cheese. Added to that comes peanut butter, cocoa and vanilla and you pour it onto your cheesecake base and freeze it. Doing the same but with berries doesn’t have the same result because when you thaw it, berries have a higher water content than peanut butter (which helps keep the cheesecake together) and it just doesn’t hold. To solve this you can use cashews as your base instead, or you could bake it. Cashews are the most common ingredient to sub for cream cheese by a landslide, but you need to make sure you blend them enough or your cheesecake will be grainy. My attempt.

Brownies: I’m going to have to recommend this recipe for chocolate brownies, they are unbelievably good. Though over time I’ve made my own modifications to the recipe, the first big change was not bothering with the flax egg, which you’d think would spell failure for the recipe seeing as brownies without eggs or an egg substitute doesn’t sound like it would work. They are super fudgey and delicious and when I brought them into work for my colleagues to try after weeks of them talking about all the things I miss out on, several of them said that they could go vegan if all the food was this good.

Cake: I wouldn’t say that I love to bake, because that implies that I’d be good at it and know many recipes by heart (at least that’s what it implies to me). I try to eat healthily so I don’t bake as much as I’d like to, so I don’t have a wealth of experience. What I do know however, is that even with my limited experience in baking, in the 3 years of being vegan, I’ve made around 10 vegan cakes with no issue in the ingredients. When I make mistakes, they aren’t down to the ingredients being vegan, but me making mistakes as a baker, like putting a cake in an oven that isn’t pre-heated fully, or constantly opening the oven door before the time is up. You can refer to the above egg section for substitutes for recipes which require eggs, but I’ve found that I don’t need it usually. This recipe I would recommend to anyone and you can see my attempt here. For milk in recipes, just use plant milks, and if you’re using buttercream, make it plant based butter.

(OS) Smoothie Bowl: This has actually been around for a while, but not really seen so much popularity till it met vegans who used instagram. A smoothie bowl is simply an extra thick smoothie with toppings, presented in a beautiful way. If you want to see exactly what you can achieve with smoothie bowls, look no further than naturally jo, his work has kind of progressed to literally be too beautiful to eat. The best way of thickening smoothies is with frozen fruits or oats. Toppings can be whatever you like, from oats and nuts to more fruit, berries, chia seeds, protein and cocoa powder etc.

(OS) Sundae Supreme: I remember as a child going out to a restaurant and challenging my brother to a food eating contest, feeling so full after my main and then shocking everyone at the table that I had room for a dessert meant for a couple to share. My family joked that I had two stomachs, and who am I to argue that? The sundae had ice cream, brownie chunks, chocolate powder and syrup, malteasers and all sorts of other diabetes inducing treats. Why not have a vegan version? We’ve already determined ice cream and brownies can easily be made vegan, so why not the rest of things that come in these sundaes?

(OS) Fudge + Truffles: Recently on good housekeeping, a vegan Easter egg won the first place and it wasn’t exactly an egg. It was a cardboard egg shell filled with champagne truffles. If you were to make your own truffles, you could serve them on their own like a profiterole tower, or you could combine them with other desserts like sundae supreme, or on a chocolate torte, having around the edge decorated with truffles would be amazing. Here’s a truffle recipe I particularly like, and here’s a beautiful fudge recipe.

(OS) Pumpkin Pie, Pecan Pie: This part was really aimed at those pies which use a shortcrust pastry, including tortes and tarts, along with different pies. As you can expect, my suggestion is to make it using vegan shortcrust pastry rather than non vegan shortcrust. Just use plant based ingredients, and then the same for the filling. Pumpkin pie is just coconut milk, pumpkin puree, spices and flavourings, along with the pastry. Other pies follow the same idea – Easy!

(OS) Sorbet: Really simple to make and actually fairly common, but not that common in restaurants, at least those I’ve been to. The most common places I find sorbet are smoothie and juice bars, which when there is a smoothie that’s made with vanilla ice cream or yoghurt I always ask for it with sorbet instead so I know it’s vegan.

I guess the short version of this article would have been to say to use the vegan version, but it’s not always that simple. Hopefully the above gave you inspiration as to what you could put on a menu for vegans, or how to modify your recipes to cater for a vegan, even if the change was only to use plant milk instead of dairy.

LASTLY, HERE ARE SOME INGREDIENTS WHICH AREN’T VEGAN

When catering for a vegan it’s imperative that you be sure that your food is actually safe for vegans. Though everyone is vegan by choice, some animal products they may not be able to consume because of allergies and that’s important to know. It’s absolutely not okay to sub in an animal product because you don’t have a vegan version, can’t be bothered, or for some reason you have a grudge against vegans and feel feeding them animal products is some form of twisted justice. It’s only a matter of time before someone dies because of this, it’s already put people in hospitals.

So with that in mind, here’s your list of things to avoid:

  • Meat: Of any description, meat is not acceptable. This includes cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys. Anything that is born is not acceptable, which also includes fish.

  • Dairy: Milk, butter, creme fraiche, cream, yoghurt, cheese or any dairy product. This includes dairy byproducts like casein whey.

  • Eggs: Whether chickens eggs, quail eggs, or even caviar, none are acceptable.

  • There may be vegan substitutes for the following

    Other: Honey, Worcester sauce, Alcohol that is processed with animal derived ingredients, Food cooked in animal fats

By |2018-12-07T21:49:42+00:00March 15th, 2018|Categories: Food and Recipes Article, Restaurants Article|0 Comments

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