Freelance writer from the northeast coast of England with a fondness for vegan food and punk rock.
What Do Vegans Eat?
Those who choose to live on a diet that omits animal products will inevitably be grilled at some point on their dietary decision. Vegans routinely bat away queries as to where they get their protein, why humans have canine teeth, whether or not plants feel pain, and, of course the old chestnut, what do vegans actually eat?
The answer to that last question is, quite a lot.
I enjoy a full and varied diet that provides me with all the nutrients I need to stay healthy, but for the purpose of this article I shall focus on one day’s intake, from breakfast to evening meal.
Breakfast is almost always oatmeal in some form. During the summer, I like to dive straight into chilled overnight oats, but when the weather turns cold. I prefer a piping hot bowl of good old-fashioned porridge. Oats are a wonderfully healthy food on their own, but I give the nutrition a further boost with the addition of chia seeds and milled linseed.
I always use unsweetened soya milk with a banana mashed in when I make oatmeal, hot or cold. I have an array of fruits, nuts and seeds that I add for constant variation, so I never get bored. I usually work at my desk until 10.30 am, when I stop for breakfast, and I’m always ready for it, even though I’ve had similar fare almost every morning for the past five years or so. I suppose there is some truth in the old saying that hunger is the best sauce.
The extras I add to my breakfast oats include blueberries, grapes, strawberries, raisins, pomegranate, apple, pear, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, chocolate chips, peanut butter and cinnamon; enough variety to keep me going.
I have lunch at about 2.30 pm. This will usually consist of a bowl of homemade soup accompanied by some kind of sandwich, often a wrap or pitta. I regularly make batches of soup in my pressure cooker, so there’s always a bowlful available in the fridge. I sometimes make a regular sandwich or grab store-bought if I’m pressed for time, but my go-to soup accompaniment is hummus pittas, stuffed with salad and topped with a drizzle of sweet chilli sauce.
In the evening I have my main meal of the day. This might be be a curry or chilli with rice, a pasta dish, a stew, burger and fries, a Buddha bowl, or perhaps some form of roast dinner.
So, taking this one day as an example, my meals were, overnight oats with soya milk, banana, blueberries, chia seeds and milled linseed. Lunch was vegetable soup with wholewheat pittas, stuffed with hummus and salad, and topped with sweet chilli sauce. My evening meal was lentil curry with brown rice, onion sambal and sweet potato roti. Each was delicious.
Sweet Potato Roti
There are many breads that go well with curried dishes, but my favourite is sweet potato roti. I came across this video a few years ago, and I have been making them regularly ever since. They are soft and pliable, but with a slightly chewy texture and a deliciously sweet taste. These are quite easy to make, and well worth the effort.
Is It Healthy?
Here in the UK, government guidelines advise that we each consume at least five portions of fruit or vegetables per day. Like most Western nations, we just weren't eating enough.
The British comedian Eddie Izzard once observed that many people are in the habit of buying fruit, arranging it in decorative bowls, and then watching it rot. When I saw Eddie deliver this joke on TV, I gave a smile of recognition as I side-eyed the putrefying pile that occupied my own bowl. But my habits have changed since then.
My fruit supply is in a constant state of stock rotation these days, thanks mainly to my aforementioned breakfast ritual. I take a banana every morning to mash into soya milk for my oatmeal I might also remove an apple or a pear, perhaps to have with raisins and cinnamon. I keep other breakfast ingredients, like grapes and blueberries in the fridge, where I’ll pop a handful into my mouth on most visits.
So while I may not bite into an apple like someone on a denture fixative ad, I do consume fruit daily in other ways. For example, If I have oatmeal with banana-sweetened soya milk, adding apple raisin and cinnamon, well there's three of my recommended five a day in one meal. I easily make up the other two with, for example, the salad in the pittas and the vegetables in the soup.
Add to this the goodness I get from my daily intake of seeds, grains, nuts and fortified foods, I'd say I'm doing quite well, and my doctor agrees. When I went for my annual health review recently, she called my results remarkable. But that story is another article in itself.
What I Eat Playlist
Those heady early days of punk rock caused a sensation like no other. The outrage in Squaresville was such that punk bands had their gigs cancelled, and songs were banned from the airwaves. We now live more sedate times, in which a Ramones track is used as backing for white goods ads, and Johnny Rotten, no less, took to advertising butter on TV. But yeah, those early days. And this.