Veganuary, a charity that encourages people to give up meat and dairy for January, grew by 183% last year, with 168,542 people signing up to go vegan. Launched in 2014, the campaign has influenced more young people than ever to ditch meat and dairy products, with students now impressively six times more likely than parents to avoid animal products.
So why has this interest in veganism suddenly spiked? From becoming more environmentally conscious and increasingly empathic towards animal welfare, to wanting to improve personal health and nutrition, a poll conducted by The Grocer revealed four in ten young adults are either concerned about meat or have removed it from their diet altogether – with 38% of 18-24-year old’s worried about the environmental impact of eating meat. And these results contrast with the older generation, with only 20% of over 55s stating they have environmental concerns.
Niamh Morgan, a student who runs a blog and picturesque Instagram account dedicated to her vegan journey, admits that whilst vegan products are becoming more accessible in local supermarkets, she does find it challenging at times to be creative with her meals. From exam pressures to time-consuming assignment deadlines, she often turns to the easy and quick option of Linda McCartney sausages and potato waffles – hindering her creativity.
Does she ever feel the temptation to ‘cheat’ after a night out? “When you’ve had a few drinks, all you want is something greasy and over 1,000 calories, which is why I plan ahead,” she says. Morgan has learned to stockpile her freezer before pre-drinks with all the best oven food possible; vegan nuggets, chips and pizza. “Just make a b-line past the siren call of the kebab shops or join your mates at the takeaway shop and order a chip wrap – fill it up with sweet chilli sauce or ketchup and you’re good to go”.
There are so many reasons people decide to try vegan. Whether you want to set yourself a challenge and combine Veganuary with your New Year’s Resolutions or you’re a vegan student desperate to find new, affordable and non-time-consuming meal ideas, whatever your reason, here are three easy and cheap recipes to try...
Crispy tortillas with tangy guacamole
High in fibre, vitamin C, good fats, and iron – what’s not to like?
For the tortillas...
- 3 big tortillas
- 2 pinches salt
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
For the guacamole...
- 2 small tomatoes
- 1 big ripe avocado
- ½ lemon
- ½ red onion
- 85g coriander leaves/cilantro, chopped
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 chilli
- Cut the avocado and remove stone – mash it in a bowl.
- Peel, wash and finely dice the onion, and chop the tomatoes, then add to the avocado.
- Grate the garlic into the mix.
- Add the salt, cayenne pepper (and coriander if you have it) and squeeze in the lemon – mix well.
- Using scissors, layer the tortillas on top of each other and cut them into triangles.
- Use a knife to spread olive oil over the tortillas if you like them extra crispy.
- Sprinkle the salt and cayenne pepper over the tortillas.
- Place on tray and bake in the oven for 5 minutes.
Sugar snap pea and mushroom sauté
Throw this snap pea and mushroom sauté over some rice and you’ve made one scrumptious meal!
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 tsp vegetable oil
- 280g sugar snap peas, trimmed
- 280g mushrooms, sliced and trimmed
- 3 large scallions, sliced into 2-inch pieces
- Warm vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add snap peas, mushrooms and scallions and allow to cook – stirring constantly – until snap peas are bright green (3-4 minutes).
- Add garlic and cook until golden (around 30 seconds).
- And finally, add soy sauce and cook for 3-4 minutes more, until snap peas are crisp-tender.
- Serve with rice.
Lentil shepherdless pie
This comfort-meal is arguably a lot tastier without the actual lamb, and much cheaper, too (as 400g of red lentils cost a mere 60p).
- 4 medium sweet potatoes
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon basil & more for garnish
- 100g diced onion
- 100g diced celery
- 100g chopped spinach
- Sea salt
- 2 15 oz cans diced tomatoes
- 2+ tablespoons non-dairy milk
- 4 ½ cups prepared lentils
- Begin by chopping and peeling the sweet potatoes into small chunks. Put them into a pot of boiling water for at least 15-20 minutes.
- Meanwhile, chop the onions, celery and carrots into small chunks. Add this to a large skillet over medium heat with a tablespoon of water and allow them to soften.
- Once the vegetables are softened, add the prepared lentils to the pan. You can use any kind of lentils you’d like; canned (drained), pre-made lentils in a package (if they don’t have any unnatural ingredients) or dried (cook them yourself). Allow these to cook for several minutes.
- Open (but do not drain) the can of diced tomatoes and add these along with a tablespoon of dried (or chopped) basil leaves, a splash of soy sauce and a handful of chopped spinach.
- Once the sweet potatoes are fully soft, remove them from the heat and drain the water – mash this with a little salt and a dash of non-dairy milk until the consistency is how you like it.
- Finally, add the lentil filling to an oven-safe bowl and bake in the oven for around 20 minutes until the topping becomes slightly brown. Don’t forget to allow to cool before serving.
Top tips for vegan cooking from Jamie Higgs, executive head chef at Talkington Bates
Don’t be afraid to add some spice
Swap butter for vegetable or olive oil
Always season as you go along, even a little lemon/lime juice will enhance a dish
Combine raw and cooked ingredients to incorporate texture
Add toasted nuts and seeds to add bite to every dish
Add beans and pulses, that can often add a tenderness that meat cannot even obtain when cooked for a long period of time
Keep it simple, fresh and seasonal!