NOVEMBER is World Vegan Month. Now there’s a sentence I never thought I would hear myself saying five years ago.
Long gone is the worn out perception of the mung bean and tofu loving vegan. These days the young and beautiful, the wise and worldly, the athletic and nimble are all enthusiastic flag-bearers for the biggest shift in our food perception in decades — and it is exciting to see this unfold!
There are a plethora of reasons why people choose to adopt a vegan diet — religious grounds, health reasons, environmental and animal welfare concerns... each motivating factor has as much merit as the next.
And thanks to social media it is possible to see that, done correctly, moving to a plant-based diet doesn’t adversely affect your long-term health or prevent you competing in triathlons, for example, if that’s your thing.
A recent poll conducted by iReach showed that 2% of the Irish population are Vegan; 26% quote it as being a lifestyle choice and men are more likely to adopt a vegan lifestyle than women (77% vs 47% respectively). It also indicated that, although veganism in Ireland is still relatively small, changing attitudes and increased awareness of the issues raised by the movement will see a significant spike in adoption over the coming years: younger people are more likely to become vegan than adults and will do so because of environmental concerns (44% vs 10% respectively).
In Cork, it seems, veganism has found its spiritual Irish home! Our tribe of Cork-based vegan food producers, food trucks, bloggers and coaches are here to guide and support those in search of a healthy vegan lifestyle.
In May, Cork hosted the city’s first ever Vegan Food Festival, VegFest, in City Hall which was such a huge success, it announced its return in May 2018 just days after the inaugural offering.
To understand how and why this is one food movement that is only going to continue gathering momentum, I spoke to a few of Cork’s vegan movers and shakers.
Here’s what they had to say about their own vegan journeys.
“I was vegetarian since I was a child and then became vegan as an adult for ethical reasons.
“There is an abundance of information and helpful websites out there. Try and find a vegan blog or page that you can relate to and enjoy following and then contact them directly and ask for some guidance.
“I love receiving messages from people looking to go vegan. It’s why I set up ‘I’m A Little Vegan’ all those years ago.
“I have a shelf of large screw top jars that I keep topped up with all my basic grains, nuts and seeds.
“It’s usually the Quay Co-Op or Natures Choice, then for my meat-free alternatives and dairy-free butter, milk and vegan cheeses and then fresh fruit and veg weekly from the endless farmers markets around Cork.”
“It would be no exaggeration to say I was a bona fide cheese fiend before I became vegan. Feta, brie, camembert, goat’s cheese, blue cheese, mozzarella: I loved them all, so it came as quite a surprise that I was able to give it up easily and not miss it!
“It all comes down to why you’re vegan: nowadays I find the idea of drinking the milk of another species udderly absurd.
“If you’re trying to reduce the amount of animal-based foods in your diet, start with the amount of processed foods you eat. I think people are amazed at how many animal ingredients find their way into their shopping trolley when they really start to look.
“Veganism becoming more mainstream is definitely helping to make it easier for people to adopt a vegan lifestyle.”
Visit Le Legumerie, which is back at the English Market right through to Christmas.
“There’s such great produce in Ireland — it motivates people to gravitate towards eating more plant foods. I initially went vegan to cure my acne.
Slowly add a cup of wholemeal flour stirring constantly followed by two cup of grated Art of Zen Foods Violife mozzarella cheese.
Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and keep mixing until smooth and creamy
Drain macaroni and divide into two oven proof dishes. Divide and pour cheese sauce between the two
Grate another layer of cheese over each dish
Top with a mix of nutritional yeast flakes, panko crumb and dried thyme
Into the oven at 180c for 20 min. Finish off under the grill for 2 minutes.