This April I joined some friends and family at a local foodie event in the village that I live in. The event was run by a company called Planted who make ‘vegan street food.’ The duo behind Planted are Alice Kabala (my sisters childhood best friend) and her partner Rich George.
So… what is a vegan?
Vegetarians do not eat meat, fish, or poultry. Vegans, in addition to being vegetarian, do not use other animal products and by-products such as eggs, dairy products, honey, leather, fur, silk, wool, cosmetics, and soaps derived from animal products.
I thought the event was adorable from the decor to the ambience and the set menu vegan food was delicious! I have never seriously considered going vegan, despite doing a lot of research around the health benefits of a vegan diet, however I was intrigued to see what all the fuss was about. I admire vegans for two reasons, one for their ability to stick to a restrictive diet which in my case would require a huge amount of willpower and secondly because their diet is super healthy. I believe that everything in life should be done in balance and moderation and as long as I am putting good food into my body, I don’t need to restrict myself from eating foods outside of the vegan diet. That is not to say I wont give it a go – and this delicious supper was certainly inspiring and has made me think about making my diet more vegan. I caught up with Alice and Rich after the event to find out some more information about the supper, Planted and veganism.
Supper club recipes, ingredients
Our recipes are always based on comfort food dishes, but we update them to make them healthier, a little more interesting and of course, vegan! At our street food stand, you can find a broad range of cuisines, as we offer a creative twist on international favourites such as quesadillas, arancini balls, ranch salad, banh mi, ramen noodles, meatball subs, hot dogs and more. Our supper club menus are tailored to a more sit-down affair, but we try and retain the same non-pretentious spirit of the dishes.
We like to demonstrate how vegan food needn’t be an inferior option when compared to non-vegan alternatives, especially not with a little innovation. For example, creaminess doesn’t need to come from dairy, it can come from blended aubergine and tahini (as in the starter, pictured below)
or cashews and olive oil (as in the main course’s aioli) and it’ll be a lot better for your health too! Equally, pearl barley (from the main course, pictured below) is a nutritionally superior substitute for rice in risotto, and can also be grown in the UK, unlike Arborio rice, which is shipped from Italy or the US.
Seasonality is a primary consideration for us when sourcing produce, although we find it difficult to be 100% local (it would be very hard to say goodbye to avocados!). It feels essential to us to both lower our ecological footprint, and to also support independent growers and producers working in our region. The main course especially aimed to showcase the UK spring harvest- mushrooms, carrots, parsley, kale and spinach all made a proud appearance on the plate.
Likewise for the dessert (pictured above); it felt criminal to use any other thing other than rhubarb! Sustainability runs through the core of our ethos, and as well as sourcing our fruits and vegetables from ‘4 Seasons Organic’, we buy our dried grains, pulses and nuts from worker’s co-operative ‘Essential Trading’ which specialises in organic, GMO free, Fair-Trade, vegetarian and vegan wholefoods.
Reasoning behind going vegan
I (Alice) made the decision to go vegan six years ago in order to fight against animal exploitation in all forms. I felt compelled to join a movement which re-examines the way in which we view the world; one which moves away from looking through a human-centered lense, to one which considers the rights of all living beings. To me it was clear to start with the foods that we are eating: animal products are completely unnecessary in terms of our nutritional requirements, so why be party to such violence? Becoming vegan was about questioning a lot of what we’ve been conditioned to think regarding the role of non-human animals, and advocating for their right to be free from pain and suffering at the hands of humans. To include all the inhabitants of the world- not just the human population- felt like a logical extension of the fight for social justice.
Preparations prior to the Vegan Supper Club
From an environmental perspective, vegan food is so important to us because we believe that we need to avoid foods which are poisoning the planet so severely, not to mention the damage it does to our own health. As we wake up to the devastating impacts that the meat and dairy industry has on our natural environment, we need to take responsibility for this and make changes, not become apathetic. The cooking and promoting of vegan food is our activism, because climate change is happening due to greed and selfishness, and we need to protect nature now more than ever. If we choose to look the other way and continue to consume in the way that we currently do, the industry bodies that profit from the destruction of our planet win, and that would be an undeniable tragedy.
Vegan description taken from http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/vegan.htm