In an ideal world obviously I would love for everyone to be vegan, so I don't want this post to be seen as telling people with eating disorders to run off and bite the nearest sheep immediately. What I am saying is that if you are vegan or have a friend who has recently turned vegan, be sure to question it (especially if they have a history of eating disorders), and be fully aware of why that choice has been made.
2016 is the biggest ever year for vegans, with brands such as Quorn releasing egg-free products, Guinness planning to create a vegan beer, and Ben & Jerry's announcing dairy-free ice creams. Universities are generally known as places that advocate this sort of forward thinking and embrace positive change. Why then do so many British universities seem so behind on providing vegetarian and vegan options in their student unions?
Historically cow's milk has enjoyed outstanding public relations, cleverly associating itself with fit athletes, strong bones and white-moustached seductively posturing celebrities. But if we weren't socialised into thinking that drinking dairy milk was desirable and acceptable, chances are we'd find it a pretty absurd notion.
'Don't you miss meat?' This is the first question posed by the friends and family of the newborn vegetarian. The question, for me at least, isn't offensive. And the answer isn't complicated. I rarely miss the taste of meat - although I occasionally dream, like a vegetarian android, of mint-coated sheep - but I do miss the loss of ritual that accompanies meat consumption.
It's easy to realise that an animal had to be harmed to get a piece of meat onto your plate. But other products, such as dairy and eggs, are one step removed from the animal who produced them and are wrongly thought of as innocuous, friendly byproducts. This couldn't be much further from the truth - prepare yourself for some pretty grim facts.
Since beginning my new Food Optimising way of eating via Slimming World, I am always looking for ways to reduce my use of processed ingredients and for foods with lower syn values. This way of eating limits all kinds of flours, even wholegrain flours, although the whole grain itself, say quinoa, can be eaten freely in unlimited quantities.
For the last decade, The Vegan Society has been asked on a weekly basis how many vegans there are, and all we've been able to say in recent years was that we thought numbers would probably have doubled since 2006. On occasion, I've also replied that everyone eats vegan food on a daily basis, but that vegans just eat a little more plant-based than others.
There's no exact measurement for the amount of ingredients here; mix and match whatever veggies you like, add some sprouts, rice noodles, shrimp, different herbs, etc. The beauty of these is using what you have on hand or changing it up with what's in season for different colours, flavours, and textures.