Make Your Morning's Vegan!
After Christmas break one year I came back to school with musings of becoming a vegetarian. After a week of discussing vegetarianism at break time in the common room, me and my friend Emma decided the time had come - we were going to turn veggie. 16 year old me promptly marched herself down to the office to inform my housemistress that I would be needing a vegetarian lunch option because of "the turkeys and all that'. Really, it was because I didn't like the taste of meat and veggie options looked a lot tastier than the mass produced meals everyone else got. However, about 6 months living in Paris and vegetarianism was long forgotten. I spent 6 months avoiding the meat on a charcuterie board, cooking two separate meals for dinner each day: vegetarian for me and meat for the boys and getting used to the disbelief when I said I didn't like meat. It was one of those charcuterie boards that turned out to be the gateway drug to all other types of meat. One evening I was making one for the boys and the salami just looked so good, I couldn't resist having a little nibble and from there I spiralled into a drunken haze of bacon sarnies and beef roast dinners.
Given that before this the idea of eating meat had begun to gross me out quite a lot it was weird starting to eat meat again. Maybe I was lacking in iron or maybe French meat is just that good, who knows? Anyway, having done a lot more reading since I was 16 I'd like to actually move towards a more plant based and vegan diet, for a wider range of reasons than having a nicer lunch option at school. Both for the environment and for my health, this doesn't mean I'm never going to eat meat again, but far more infrequently and making sure, in so far as I can, that it is farmed responsibly. And so I'm going to start making my mornings vegan!
My usual go-to on a morning is cereal, milk, fruit and black coffee. Sometimes if I've been motivated I'll make a big bowl of overnight oats on Sunday to eat the rest of the week. Both of these are super easy to make vegan! My first step was finding an alternative to dairy milk. I'm not a fan of soy, I think it has far too strong a taste unless you're putting it into coffee or something, and even then I'm not fully onboard! Coconut milk goes the same for me, it's not my favourite flavour and unless I'm cooking a curry or baking it's not one that I'd choose. I have to admit I've never tried almond milk, but I hate almonds, marzipan and anything like that so I've avoided it so far. Back in my veggie days when I tried to cut back on dairy I'd use soy milk, and just put up with not really liking it that much, until I found oat milk! It's the best alternative I've come across so far. The taste is subtle, and it works well with cereals like weetabix that taste "oatey" already. I don't like milk, or drink so much of it anyway and so it not tasting similar to cows milk wasn't an issue for me!
With that problem solved I looked at what goes into my overnight oats recipe (you can find it here if you'd like a more detailed breakdown!). I use porridge oats, milk, honey, chia seeds, greek yoghurt, banana and chocolate chips. I swapped the cows milk for oat milk like I do for my cereal, so that was simple, and it was also quite easy to swap the greek yoghurt to alpro's greek style yoghurt which is vegan. Chocolate chips were more difficult because I couldn't find any vegan options in the baking aisle with the rest of the chocolate chips but I did find some vegan chocolate buttons in the sweetie aisle so that worked! My hardest swap was finding something to replace honey. I was stressing thinking of how expensive vegan honey would be, or if it was even a thing but I realised I could actually easily swap it for agave or maple syrup.
So it seems my everyday breakfast choices are pretty easy to swap to vegan alternatives! Although one thing I do have to point out is that it's more expensive. For example I can get greek yoghurt (500g) for 90p but alpro vegan greek style yoghurt (400g) costs £1.50 (this was the only began greek yoghurt I could find at Tesco). I can imagine for a family on low income the difference between 80p for a litre of milk vs £1.50 for a litre of oat milk, especially if you have to buy two or three cartons a week alongside other vegan substitutes, can quickly become prohibitive. I can only hope as veganism becomes more popular and demand increases, prices will begin to decrease! In the back of my mind I have also heard/read/seen somewhere that agave syrup isn't the best for the planet, so I definitely need to read up on that more. It's also just not quite the same as honey and I love honey, so maybe I'll keep that in my diet and just pay much more attention to where it comes from!
On other occasions where a Full English is in order (like the morning after) I rate Linda Mccartney's sausages so so much! I genuinely prefer the taste to meat sausages and they're around about the same price as you'd pay for meat sausages! You can also make vegan scrambled egg from tofu although it's not something that I really like, give me a sausage sandwich with beans, mushrooms, tomatoes and plenty of ketchup and I'm grand!
Hopefully this provides a little insight into how easy it can be to reduce your consumption of animal products! There are setbacks, like price, when looking at vegan food but the products have become more affordable in recent years and hopefully will continue to do so! I'd love to hear any go-to vegan breakfast recipes you guys have up your sleeves!