Thursday 1st November is World Vegan Day, a chance for vegans globally to show just how positive veganism is. And not just for the animals we don’t kill, but also for our own wellbeing and for the health of the planet. In fact, this year the focus will be on the ecological catastrophe that is animal farming. ‘Eating The Earth? How Your Diet Could Change The World’ (PDF) pulls together the evidence and makes a forceful case for veganism for those who claim to be concerned with environmental issues.
I’ll be inviting a few friends round for some good vegan nosh, sociable amounts of alcohol and a bit of high- and low-brow debate to mark the day. I don’t expect my bonecrunching friends to give up eating dead stuff, but if they eat a bit less of it it’s no bad thing.
There are plenty of excellent vegan recipes online – I’d particularly recommend Post Punk Kitchen for some really top-class fancy examples of vegan cuisine. The rich chocolate cake is the best cake I’ve ever eaten, vegan or otherwise, a view shared by most of those who’ve also tried it. But to help you get started, here’s one of my own creations.
Tofu & Veg Thai Curry
It’s sometimes hard to find food that is both light and substantial, but Thai food is generally just that. Lots of fresh flavours, sharp spicing and a certain creamy fattiness all make for a lovely mouthful. It’s also bloody quick.
This recipe uses Thai curry paste, which isn’t cheating as the fresh ingredients can be a bit of a bugger to find sometimes (and even harder to prepare – lemon grass should definitely be renamed lemon wood to honestly reflect how tough it is). One thing to watch out for – many Thai pastes contain fish in one form or another, so check the label carefully – I use the ‘Maesri’ brand.
- 1-2 tbs sunflower oil
- 150g of smoked or marinated tofu cut into cubes (Taifun smoked tofu with almonds and sesame seeds is very good in this recipe)
- 1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks
- 1 stick celery, sliced diagonally
- 2-3 shallots, thinly sliced into rings
- 2 cloves garlic, crushed
- 8 medium florets broccoli, halved
- 75g sweetcorn
- 75g green beans, sliced, or fine green beans topped, tailed and cut in half
- 100g mushrooms, sliced
- Half a red pepper, halved lengthways again and sliced
- 2 tbs vegan red or green Thai curry paste (or according to your brand’s instructions)
- 3/4 -1 tin (approx 3-400g) coconut milk
- Juice of half a lime
- 1 tbs shoyu, tamari or vegetarian ‘fish / oyster’ sauce
- Fresh basil (Thai if available), shredded
Heat the oil in a wok or big frying pan over a medium high heat for a minute, then throw in the tofu and stir fry until starting to brown. Add the carrots, celery, shallots, garlic, broccoli, sweetcorn and beans, and continue to stir fry for about 4 mins. Add the mushrooms and pepper and stir fry for 2 mins, add the curry paste and fry for a further min. Pour in the coconut milk so there’s enough liquid for your own preferences, lime juice and shoyu / tamari / ‘fish’ sauce and heat until it starts to bubble, then remove from heat. If you like your veg a bit softer, then let it simmer for a few more mins in the coconut milk. Stir in the shredded basil to taste and dollop over rice (white works best with this recipe, both basmati and jasmine rice are excellent and will cook in the time it takes you to make the curry).
Best eaten with a spoon to get all the juices (call me simple, but I always prefer an easy shovel motion to the complex two-handed approach when eating saucy foods).