ArchiveNovember 19, 2023

World Vegan Month

November is World Vegan Month. Originally there was World Vegan Day on November 1st – created in 1994 by Louise Wallis, chair of the Vegan Society in the UK to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Vegan Society.  Later this morphed into World Vegan week and was eventually extended to World Vegan Month to shine a light on the vegan movement worldwide.  And then there’s Veganuary in January every year which continues to gather momentum and has a definite appeal after the excess of the festive season.

Is the vegan movement growing? Well, it depends on who you ask and how up to date the figures are. 

Even here in Ireland where we have a particular grá for meat and lots of it, it’s estimated that approximately 4% of the population identifies as vegan however it’s difficult to get up to date statistics. 

Many young people particularly have decided to embrace a vegan lifestyle, adding cheap fashion to their concerns about animal welfare and environmental issues.

Multinational food companies and plant based food manufacturers were quick to respond to the trend and already there’s a multi-million $ industry to supply the growing demand. I’m not about to get into the robust arguments on both sides, but most agree that we would benefit from eating a little (or a lot) less meat. Invest in better quality meat, humanely reared from pasture fed animals and try to eliminate intensively produced poultry and meat entirely from your diet for all the well documented reasons not least health – an occasional meat-free day is a good place to start…

Meat-Free Monday is a terrific success and has been enthusiastically embraced by many including a growing number of cafés and restaurants.

Several studies confirm that on average our food has 50% of the nutrients it had in the 1950’s so it’s vital to source as much regenerative, organic food as possible and to ensure you have maximum vitamins et al to boost your immune system and to put pep in your step!
The human body does not produce vitamin B-12 and it is not present in plant-based foods in significant amounts so vegans are encouraged to take this supplement. 

Beans are a brilliant source of protein, inexpensive, super delicious and uniquely versatile. Here are many of the accidentally vegan recipes that I particularly enjoy. I personally choose not to buy vegan substitutes, mock meats or eggs but enjoy jackfruit and find aquafaba, (the liquid from tinned beans) works brilliantly for meringues. 

Black-eyed Bean, Chickpea and Vegetable Stew with lots of Fresh Coriander

Definitely one of our favourites… We use this deliciously spiced stew as a base to add lots of different vegetables in season.  Here we add leftover boiled potatoes and cauliflower or broccoli florets, but I also love cubes of pumpkin, parsnip, celeriac, carrot or Jerusalem artichokes – a brilliantly versatile recipe for your repertoire – also delicious with lamb or chicken.

Serves 6

110g dried black-eyed beans

110g chickpeas

110g fresh mushrooms (use chestnut mushrooms if available)

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

½ tsp whole cumin seeds

1cm piece of cinnamon stick

75g onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped

200g fresh or tinned tomatoes, peeled and chopped

1 ½ tsp ground coriander seeds

1 tsp ground cumin seeds

½ tsp ground turmeric

pinch of sugar

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

1 good tsp salt (it needs it, so don’t cut down)

freshly ground black pepper

250g cooked potatoes, diced into 2cm pieces

225g cauliflower, calabrese or Romanesco florets (half of a medium cauliflower)

1 ½ tbsp freshly chopped coriander (fresh parsley may be substituted though the flavour is not at all the same)

½ tbsp fresh mint leaves


plain boiled rice

Soak the beans and chickpeas separately, in plenty of cold water overnight.  Next day cover each separately with fresh water, bring to the boil and simmer for 30-45 minutes approx., or until just cooked.

Cut the mushrooms into 3mm thick slices.  Heat the oil in a sauté pan over a medium-high flame.  When hot, put in the whole cumin seeds and the cinnamon stick.  Let them sizzle for 5-6 seconds.  Now put in the onions and garlic.  Stir and fry until the onion is just beginning to colour at the edge.  Put in the mushrooms.  Stir and fry until the mushrooms wilt.  Now put in the tomatoes, ground coriander, ground cumin, ground turmeric, pinch of sugar and cayenne.  Stir and cook for a minute.  Cover, and let this mixture cook on a gentle heat in its own juices for 10 minutes.  Turn off the heat under the sauté pan.  Drain the beans and chickpeas, reserving the cooking liquid.  Add to the mushroom base mixture, add salt and freshly ground pepper, 1 tablespoon of the fresh coriander and 125 – 150ml of bean cooking liquid and 125 – 150ml chickpea liquid.

Bring the beans and chickpeas to boil again.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 10-20 minutes or until the beans and chickpeas are just tender. Add the potato and cauliflower florets and continue to cook for a further 5-8 minutes or until heated through.  Stir occasionally.  Remove the cinnamon stick before serving.  Sprinkle with the remaining tablespoon of fresh coriander and mint. 

Serve with plain boiled rice and a good green salad.

Spicy Roast Chickpeas

These chickpeas are seriously addictive – I’ve used freshly ground cumin and coriander here but garam masala, smoked paprika, chilli powder, chopped rosemary or thyme leaves are also delicious.   The chickpeas will get crispier as they cool.  Enjoy as a nibble or sprinkle over salads or roast vegetables. 

Serves 4-6 as a nibble or add to salads.

Makes 100g roasted weight

400g can chickpeas

1-2 tsp each of cumin and coriander seeds, toasted and ground

Preheat the oven to 220°C/Gas Mark 7.

Drain the chickpeas, rinse under cold water and drain again. Lay on kitchen paper, shake and pat gently until dry. Spread the chickpeas out in a single layer on a small baking tray, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle generously with sea salt and the cumin and coriander seeds (if using). Shake to coat. Roast for 25-30 minutes or until crisp and golden. Cool, taste, add more salt and spices if necessary. Store in an airtight jar.

Carrot and Spring Onion Fritters

We vary the vegetables with the season.

Makes 16

80g gram flour, also known as Besan or Chickpea flour

4 tbsp self-raising flour

2 tsp roasted and ground coriander

2 tsp roasted and ground cumin

½ tsp paprika plus ½ tsp smoked paprika

generous pinch of salt

150g carrots, grated

30g spring onion, white and green part, thinly sliced

extra virgin olive oil for frying

Mix together the flours, spices and salt in a bowl.

Whisk in about 150ml water. The batter should be the texture of coconut milk. If it’s too thick, add a little more water. Allow to stand for 30 minutes.

Add the grated carrot and spring onion, stir until the vegetables are well coated.

Heat a little extra virgin olive oil in a non-stick frying pan.

Drop a heaped dessert or tablespoons of the mixture onto the surface.  Fry for about 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown and crispy on the outside and cooked in the centre. Fry three or four at a time, depending on the pan size.

Immediately serve 3-4 per person with your favourite chutney or relish.

Burmese Palm Sugar and Coconut Pancakes

Makes 3-4 large pancakes

These sticky golden pancakes are one of the many irresistible street foods I tasted in Yangon a few years ago and are still a favourite… 

80g sticky/glutinous rice flour

30g rice flour

100g desiccated coconut

125ml water

100g palm sugar (or brown sugar)

8 tbsp water

peanut or sunflower oil for shallow frying

Mix both flours and the desiccated coconut together in a bowl, add the water to make a thick batter.   Allow to rest for 20 minutes while preparing the sugar water.

If you are using palm sugar, grate it before placing into a small saucepan. Add 8 tablespoons of water and stir over a moderate heat until the sugar has completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Gradually, pour into the batter to form a pouring consistency and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

To Serve

Heat a little oil in a small non-stick frying pan (about a tablespoon). Spoon a small ladle of batter (approximately 75ml) into the oil and swirl the batter in the pan to form a circular shape.

Cook the pancake over a moderate heat until the edges are golden brown (4-5 mins approx.), carefully flip over and cook the other side. When it is golden brown on both sides, serve immediately with a little grated palm sugar on top.  This is also good served with berries.

Fudgy Chocolate Mousse Cake

Another delicious confection from super cake maker Pamela Black and accidentally vegan. 

Serves 8 – 10

225g Doves Farm gluten-free white flour

1 ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

½ tsp salt

1 ½ tsp instant espresso coffee

75g cocoa (we use Valrhona)

375ml hot water

90g coconut oil

300g soft dark brown sugar

2 tsp cider vinegar

Dark Chocolate Icing

175g icing sugar

50g cocoa powder

75g coconut oil

4 tbsp water

110g caster sugar

1x 20cm spring-form tin (tight fitting), line the base and sides with parchment paper.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas Mark 4.

Put the flour, sieved soda, salt, instant coffee and cocoa into a bowl. Whisk to mix evenly.

In a small saucepan, add the hot water over the coconut oil, stir to melt. Add the sugar and vinegar and stir until dissolved.  Pour the wet mixture onto the dry ingredients gradually whisking to avoid lumps.

It’ll be a wet mixture, pour into the lined tin. Bake in the preheated oven for 30-40 minutes. It will shrink in from the sides of the tin and a skewer will come out clean.

Allow to cool in the tin while you make the icing.

Sieve the icing sugar and cocoa powder into a mixing bowl. Measure the coconut oil, water and sugar into a saucepan. Set over a low heat and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Bring just to the boil, then draw off the heat and pour at once into the sifted ingredients. Beat with a wooden spoon until the mixture is smooth and glossy. It will thicken as it cools.

Pour the icing over the top and allow to dribble down the sides. Decorate as you fancy – toasted hazelnuts, pistachio nuts, rose petals….


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