Last week I had the pleasure of being invited by the Vegetarian Society to their Headquarters and cookery school in Greater Manchester. All I knew was that it was going to be a day of cooking up some Vegan dishes with a handful of fellow bloggers, so I didn't really know what to expect from the food that we were going to be preparing & eating. I do like meat free dishes and cook many of them for the family, often without them knowing (bread bolognaise for example!), but I do love a steak every now and then, and couldn't see myself living without cheese.
We weren't invited along to be converted to veganism though, and there was a good balance of both vegetarians and meat eaters. One of the reasons for our visit was to be introduced to the new Vegetarian Society Approved vegan trademark, which will be appearing on products from late summer, and will help the consumer when selecting vegan approved foods, without having to scan all the ingredients, safe in the knowledge that products are 100% vegan.
These products are guaranteed to be free from:
• animal-derived ingredients
• cross-contamination during production
• animal testing, either directly or via commissioned processes.
The Vegetarian Society is a charity passionate about veggie food, and rather than pushing meat eaters, such as myself, into becoming vegetarians or vegans they aim to help people better understand the impact of their food choices, and support those who choose to follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, whether it be every day of the week, or just on a Meat Free Monday.
The day started with an introduction to the friendly and welcoming staff, including our tutor for the day, Alex, before being shown to our workplace for the day. It was hands on right from the start, with Alex getting us involved in making our own dishes. Before long the kitchen was a hive of activity, with plenty of chopping, kneading, rolling and blending going on, in between the chatting, laughing & taking photos.
During the day we used many ingredients that most of us hadn't come across before, including braised tofu, ackee and breadfruit. I was seriously impressed with the vegan mayonnaise made from soya milk, and I'll definitely be making that one again
One of the other dishes that stood out for me was the Solomon Gundy, which is traditionally a fish based pate, but in this instance had been made with braised tofu. If you're a vegetarian or vegan that hasn't tried braised tofu then I insist you go and buy some. I can't really explain what it's like, and whilst it has an odd initial taste, the aftertaste is really quite nice, and in the pate it worked so well.
I also really really loved the Spicy Chickpea Tagine with pan fried Harissa Aubergine, and the cashew crème in the Fruits of the Forest Sundaes was so creamy and you would never guess that it was a dairy free nut based alternative to cream once it was paired with the berries and crunchy oat topping. Tofu scramble was a bit of a revelation for me too, as tofu can be a bit of a 'meh' ingredient, but it worked really well in this protein packed breakfast dish. I'm not convinced about Vegan cheese though, so although I'm happy to continue with my semi vegetarian diet I'm not ready to go full on vegan and ditch the cheese just yet.
BUSY BUSY BUSY (photo credit : Vegetarian Society)
CHICKPEA TAGINE WITH HARISSA AUBERGINE
VEGAN CHOCOLATE CAKE & FRUITS OF THE FOREST SUNDAES
If you want to see more of the fab dishes that we cooked up, you can find them on this post on Facebook.
If you're a fully fledged Vegan, or maybe considering adopting a more plant based diet, then you can register here for FREE TICKETS to the Just V show in London from 7th - 9th July.