When someone says ‘come to a three course vegan meal’, what’s your immediate feeling? One of horror at such a a meatless, cheeseless experience that it may very well be called ‘punishment’ (after all, you may think, what’s the point of eating food if it doesn’t have anything delicious in it?!) or do you give a sigh of relief and start dribbling at the idea of a death-free, clean meal where conscience can take a backseat.
I turned up (rather sweaty) at The Grain Store* in Kings Cross to attend an evening hosted by Provamel (what do you think of their fresh new look?**) with a short talk by Bruno Loubet, an ambassador for vegetables. There would also be a three course plant-based meal which piqued my curiousity as well as my hungry stomach.
After a few disappointed reactions towards the mocktail that first whet our lips (as an Asian-flush sufferer, this was right up my street) and some creamy, slightly curried canapés, we sat down and…
I can honestly say I’ve not had an evening recently like it. And I mean that in an excellent way. Bruno, with his big hands and charming French accent, re-ignited all the little niggles and moral issues that I have with eating meat and animal products (is it time to go vegan again?). Bruno spoke about the health benefits of eating more plants (did you know approx. 60 – 80g of butter goes into each serving of risotto at most restaurants?!!), as well as sustainability and he is looking to alter people’s perceptions of the humble, yet powerful veg – after all, there’s a million and one ways to cook carrot but the standard it to boil or eat them raw.
The twist to our three-course meal was that every dish used one or more Provamel products. On a previous vegan stint (I got knocked off the wagon by a ham and cheese toastie), one of my main lamentations was that I found it hard to find a substitute for creamy, milky, yoghurty stuff. And my main problem was that I don’t like flavoured products.
Whilst waiting for the first course to turn up, the polite British way kicked in and everyone asked politely who each other was and what they did. Great crowd, Provamel, I have to say! Not only were there Provamellians (with whom we talked about the latest health and fitness trends and also whether there will be a ‘no added sugar’ version of their moreish Macadaemia Nut Milk [watch this space]) but a jolly mix of vegetarians and vegans. I admit, I felt ashamed to confess that I ate everything, including things that had once had heartbeats. But how inspiring is it to be surrounded by like-minded people such as Little Miss Meat Free and Mercedes Aspland who have their own personal journeys and aspirations towards a healthier way of living.
But wait, let’s get down to the meals. This was our Provamel-inspired dinner:
My culinary skills don’t and will never stretch so far as to be able to recreate any of these meals but now I’ve seen what plant-based dishes can be whipped up, my standards of expectation have risen. And indeed, had I not been told that this would be a vegan meal, my brain would never have twigged my plate was missing ‘animal’. Which gives me food for thought – if plants can taste as good as animals and are healthier and more sustainable, why don’t we eat more of them? I think the answer to this is that people are often ok eating meat as it is but seem to want more from vegetables (the standard boiling or grating doesn’t cut it) and whether from lack of time or creativity, we don’t give veg the place it deserves on our plates.
In addition, I do think there’s a need for people to carefully consider what they’re putting into their body and with so much debate about the quality of our meat and animal-product industry, I won’t be surprised if there’s an increase of plant-based meals in our weekly routine and with home deliveries of fruit and veg from high quality companies such as Abel & Cole, there is no excuse!