Vegetarian & vegan
The concept of mindful eating and really thinking about what you’re putting into your body is more prevalent than ever these days. Nevertheless, it can be hard to know where to start. One thing is clear: cutting down on meat consumption is good for your body, and for the environment, too. And there are plenty of other benefits besides. So where to get started? In this article, we give an overview of foods to build into your diet, plus easy tweaks to transform vegetarian dishes into vegan creations.
Vegetarian & vegan – Go to this category at www.monsieur-cuisine.com for recipe inspiration for meat-free dishes. We also save all of our vegetarian and vegan recipes in our ‘Veggie’ highlight section on our Instagram profile @monsieurcuisineoriginal. Take a look for instant inspiration!
Ingredients that are naturally vegan – an overview
- Vegetable oils, spices
- Ketchup, mustard, tomato purée
- Vegetable stock, soy sauce
- Flour, sugar, starch, baking powder
- Durum wheat pasta
- Dark chocolate
- Coconut milk
- Fruit and vegetables
Ingredients that may contain hidden animal products:
- Wines and other alcoholic drinks
- Spice mixes and pastes
- These products may contain ingredients of animal origin, as animal products have been used in the production process. For instance, lots of wines are clarified with gelatine, so they can no longer be considered vegan.
When looking for vegan recipes, you may find things a bit restricted, with the same sorts of dishes popping up over and over again, whereas vegetarian recipes are a dime a dozen. So why not simply veganise a vegetarian recipe? This can usually be done with just a few simple steps and a little inventiveness. ;-)
Vegetarian to vegan: a basic how-to
Milk and cream: Shops now stock a wide range of plant-based alternatives. Whether you need them for a delicious coffee, a flavoursome curry or a creamy soup, you’ll find milk substitutes everywhere. Plant-based products include oat, almond, soy and cashew milk or cream. Coconut milk is an easy shortcut for creaminess and a richer taste.
You can even make your own plant-based milk with your Monsieur Cuisine. Just give it a try: Almond milk recipe
Quark & cream cheese: Soy is used in vegan versions of both quark and cream cheese and can be bought in all large supermarkets. In fact, you could have a go at making your own quark using soy yoghurt. This requires draining or sieving soy yoghurt over a certain period of time. Try soy cream or yoghurt in place of cream cheese in casseroles, soups or sauces. If you mix in a little oil and seasoning, the yoghurt loses its tartness.
Cheese for melting: Vegan grating cheese melts beautifully for pizzas, pasta dishes and oven bakes. Alternatively, you could also use yeast flakes or grated cashew nuts instead of vegan cheese. Yeast flakes have a particularly rich flavour that is similar to cheese. Grated cashews work well on pasta in place of Parmesan.
Butter or lard: If you want something to spread on your toast in the morning, simply opt for plant-based margarine. Vegetable oil is perfect for frying – readily available and completely vegan.
Egg: Making a vegan version of creamy scrambled eggs for weekend brunch will require a bit more effort. You need two special ingredients: silken tofu for the right consistency, and kala namak spice for that distinctive egg taste.
Pasta, spätzle & gnocchi: There’s no need to make these yourself, as vegan versions are readily available in supermarkets. Most varieties of pasta made with durum wheat are egg-free in any case, so they're naturally vegan. However, you’ll need to check the list of ingredients if you're buying gnocchi, spätzle, Swabian noodles or potato dumplings. Versions of these that do not contain egg, milk or butter are now available in some shops.
Sweeteners: Even if you’re not eating honey, there are plenty of other vegan-friendly sweeteners out there. Agave syrup, apple syrup, sugar beet molasses, maple syrup and coconut syrup are purely plant-based sweeteners that make a great addition to salad dressings or as a touch of sweetness to all sorts of dishes.
Of course, ingredients that contain meat can be replaced with alternative vegan products.
Meat stock: Simply use vegetable stock when this is called for, or make your own. See here for vegetable stock
Oyster or fish sauce: You can achieve a similar burst of flavour with soy sauce. If you need that fishy taste, you could make a broth from algae. Otherwise, stick to soy sauce.
Meat: These days, you can find plant-based versions of burgers, breaded meat, chicken nuggets and even sausages in any self-respecting supermarket. But don’t forget about tofu, tempeh and seitan: with the right seasoning, these all make good burger patties or alternatives to minced meat in bolognese sauce, oven-baked dishes and soups. Of course, it’s easy to make vegetables patties or sausages, too – try grated carrots and peas, plus oatmeal and a little flour to bind it all together. Mix, add seasoning, and you're done! Lentil bolognese is a classic vegan dish. See here for an utterly delicious recipe: Lentil bolognese
Of course, different foods behave in different ways, so cooking is often a matter of experimentation. Just get your cook on and see what you end up with! Whatever happens, don’t be crestfallen if your bolognese doesn’t turn out quite as you’d expected. Sometimes you just need to extend or shorten the cooking time or add a particular seasoning to give the dish exactly what it’s missing. The more you try things out, the better a sense you’ll get of each individual ingredient.
We’ll be covering vegan baking and all the ingredients you need in the next article. ;-)