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The New Veganism

Introduction & method

A new wave of veganism is sweeping the land - fuelled by high street bakers and burger chains offering meat-free versions of their world-destroying Meat v1.0 products.

The New Veganism Recipe

Vegans and vegetarians have been banging on for decades about how our current model of food production is not only unsustainable, it is also making a serious contribution to climate change. Doctors are telling us to eat less meat, especially the red stuff, and consume more fruit and vegetables. That's all good, and very hard to argue against. The problem is that all the really tasty, chin-dribblingly, GooeyLusciousFabuLicious stuff that we love to eat is also incredibly bad for us. The seriously healthy stuff - kale, anybody? - also tends to be soul-crushingly dull and unappetising. It doesn't need to be, of course, but it's always easier to put together a triple-decker cheese-and-goo burger than to try to get a carrot and quinoa salad to ignite the merest flame of desire.

I'm writing this post because it's January. Some people might want you to think it's 'Veganuary', but then some people need to be jailed for crimes against the English language. Just over a week ago, UK High Street bakery mega-chain Greggs introduced their Vegan Steak Bake. This is the chain's second foray into making vegan versions of popular meaty things - the first was their sausage roll. The sausage roll was wildly successful, leading to a significant increase in profits - to the extent that they are sharing a £7 million one-off bonus pot amongst all of their employees.

There will always be a hard core of people who will argue that you cannot have such a thing as a vegetarian sausage or steak. I think they are wrong - sticking 'vegetarian' or 'vegan' in front of a noun helps us identify what it is rather better than any of the made-up things going around - 'chik'n' etc. As long as there is no intention to deceive or confuse, I don't have a problem with it. Also, I don't have a problem with the idea of simulating popular meat-based dishes with non-meat versions. It helps increase acceptance of a non-meat diet, even if it's not the wholesome and healthy paradise that early-adopter veggies might wish for.

What did baffle me slightly is why a baker would want to embrace veganism in particular. It means denying yourself access to a huge range of vital food products - eggs in particular, but also butter, milk, cream, cheese. But then you realise - eggs are expensive, and supply can be erratic. Consumers are very aware of the conditions of battery chickens and are increasingly unwilling to accept non free-range eggs. But egg subs in baking are very difficult. Eggs are magical things that do a range of different jobs, and you need to find alternatives for each of them. 

There are now more meat alternatives than 30-40 years ago. As a veggie student, all we had was TVP (textured vegetable protein, made from soya). It was unconvincing then and still is. But now we have a range of other products. Quorn has been on the market for over 30 years - it's based on a fungus/mold that they call mycoProtein, and it's grown in chemical plants so doesn't need vast areas of land. Quorn engineered the fillings for both of Greggs vegan products. Also on the horizon we have Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat, and a host of other contenders.

Having tried a Greggs Vegan Steak Bake, I just had to try to make my own. I didn't expect it to be easy, but it turned out to be a bit of a nightmare. The story is in this video, but I'm going to have to try this again and again until I get it right.


The video above is from the Keef Cooks YouTube channel. Click here to see the video recipe of The New Veganism on YouTube.

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Ingredients & Info


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