WWhether you’re trying the vegan, going completely vegan, or just want to cut back on meat and be a bit healthier in 2022, learning a few new plant-based recipes is a great place to start.
But when it comes to animal-free foods, the cashew milk cheeses, fake meats and egg substitutes that now grace supermarket shelves aren’t exactly synonymous with wallet-friendly food purchases.
In many ways, the doors to the animal-free world have really opened – it sure is. Easier being vegan like never before – but easy doesn’t always mean accessible. And many of us are watching the pennies right now, especially given the financial impact of the pandemic.
Henry Firth, who is half of the vegan duo Bosh !, along with his friend Ian Theasby, agrees: “Vegan food has exploded and now it’s all over the supermarkets which is awesome. You have burgers, sausage, fish substitutes, milk substitutes – the problem is, these can be a pretty expensive way to eat, if you buy them all in your weekly store.
So for their sixth cookbook – Displays! On a budget – the couple wanted to “show people the basics of vegan cuisine” instead. “It’s grains, fruits, nuts and seeds, it’s inherently cheap and it’s inherently healthy,” says Firth. “People don’t understand that.”
Their new collection of inexpensive vegan recipes doesn’t completely eschew meat and dairy alternatives, they just went super light on them. “We’re not absolutists,” says Firth – there’s a “little vegan cheese dusting, the weird plant-based milk splash”. But the dishes cost £ 1 or £ 2 a serving – and many cost a lot less. And it was easy, says Theasby, “because vegan food is actually very, very cheap.”
Well, it can be. There are two recipes using just canned tomatoes, for example: “The cheapest thing you can buy!” Said Firth. “If you treat them with a little respect, like sifting the sauce and then roasting the tomatoes, you get fantastic, deep and rich flavors. “
The pair are big fans of the humble chickpea – even cheaper when bought in bulk – and their chana masala and samosa recipes use that heavy weight of nutrition.
But saving money in the kitchen is often as much a question of How? ‘Or’ What you are cooking, because these are the ingredients you use. For example, you can cook a 10-portion vegan stew and then use it in multiple dishes – lasagna Bolognese. Many of their recipes are also specially designed to be suitable for the freezer.
“Get into the buy-less mindset,” suggests Firth, “then try to use what you’ve bought as much as possible. Use the whole vegetable as much as possible. Less waste also means less money wasted, and it’s good for the environment – a major reason the duo have gone plant-based.
From the start, they’ve always created dishes they didn’t want to miss: think vindaloo curry – “the flavors are absolutely amazing” – and the Italian cheese classic, cacio e pepe.
Plus, if nutrition is your top priority in January, Firth says, “A diet of very colorful fruits and vegetables is both affordable and just about the best thing for your body. He thinks the idea that it’s hard to get all the nutrients you need from a vegan diet is only true if “you only eat crisps, pasta, crisps and things that are beige in color.” – so absolutely, you will fight! “
It’s been seven years since childhood friends themselves became vegans (Firth cold Turkey – a method he describes as “difficult and stimulating but rewarding and liberating”, and Theasby with a step-by-step approach) and via their YouTube channel , BOSH.tv and a huge social media presence, they’ve dispelled a lot of misconceptions about veganism since then – yet for men, they feel like there’s still a problem with social acceptance.
“There’s definitely still some stigma attached to men being vegans,” says Theasby. “It might be a bit more difficult for men to decide to switch to veganism. The idea that eating a lot of meat and drinking lager is ‘manly’ is ingrained in our culture, he says, “but these negative aspects of British culture are unraveling and improving. So I hope that in five years it won’t be so much of a problem. “
In fact, some of the biggest influencers in the vegan food scene are men, including sports stars Lewis Hamilton and Fabian Delph. Theasby adds, “The more men you see on social media, or in magazines and on TV, cook [vegan food] going to do a lot to help other men who are about to change their diet, to make them think it’s actually OK.
As we become more aware of the environmental footprint of what is on our plates, new ways to use plants, beans and other natural vegan ingredients are constantly being discovered and developed. So what else does the future hold for the world of plant-based nutrition?
Well, you might be seeing more TVP (or hearing about it for the first time maybe). “It’s pretty esoteric, little-known, and a little weird: DVT is a textured vegetable protein – basically dried soybeans, soybean pods,” says Firth. “They’re high in protein, high in nutrients, and you can buy them dried cheaply, then you can turn them into your own meat substitute, hitting them with flavor.” (A recipe in the new book, Hummus with Mexican “Beef” includes it).
There are also plant “fish” made from algae. “What’s cool is that it contains omega oils and it tastes inherently fishy. You can make a wonderful tuna or salmon substitute with this, ”says Firth.
Then there’s the banana blossom, which Firth describes as “a heavily cooked banana tip blossom in Thai cuisine; we have started using it in this country. It has a flaky appearance and takes on flavor.
But the place to start with animal-free cooking is simple, healthy, inexpensive ingredients – and if you’re new to it and want to give it a try, Firth says prep is key.
“Whether it’s buying a cookbook, finding a good source of recipes online, planning a few recipes, opening a store, so you’ve got what you need to get through three, four , five days.
‘Stalls! On a Budget ‘by Henry Firth and Ian Theasby (published by HQ, £ 16.99; photograph by Lizzie Mayson) is available now