I am vegan. People always seem surprised, but being meat-free is something that has played a big part in my life as I have always been vegetarian. Rumour has it I was sworn off meat at the tender age of two when I refused to eat a famously-branded chicken nugget – however, I like to think it was because I was an animal in my past life…
Turning vegan was a natural transition. I don’t like cheese, eggs or milk, which admittedly did cause a stir when I would be invited for tea at a friend’s house. But, I could always rely on my pal ‘the humble chip’ in times of need. A friendship that is documented loud and proud on my business card.
We’re lucky to live in a time when content is so easily accessible. We no longer need to wait for reruns of Ainsley on Ready, Steady, Cook and instead can be awakened to whole new, vibrant world of food via our laptops and smartphones.
This leads me onto my next point – the vlogging (video blogging) phenomenon.
For anybody who doesn’t know, I am a little bit obsessed with Youtube. My generation is the first to grow up consuming online media, and it’s an exciting time to be young. We no longer watch television, it’s all about ‘What I Eat Wednesdays’ and ‘What I Ate in a Day’. Sounds boring, but you must admit we’re all a tad voyeuristic.
As it’s January, and we’re all promising to shape up, tone up and mix things up, I have decided to compile a guide for Veganuary. It’s a trend that is about giving up animal products to get you through this sluggish time of year. Of course, I don’t expect everyone to go completely cold turkey… you can simply make the most of our city’s plant-based independent eateries.
Here are just a few of my favourite places to eat and vegan food vloggers
Maray is an all-round Agent team favourite (We LOVE it) It does vegan and vegetarian food well, and even has something for my meat-loving friends. Plus, anything independent is a winner in my book. I highly recommend their ‘half a cauliflower’ that I think about daily, falafel, hummus, chips (obviously), sweet potato wedges…
Maray also does Meat-free Mondays, something I’ll talk a bit more about later.
I love Mowgli. Although it’s not completely vegan, I think it deserves an honourable mention for its stellar vegan, gluten-free and vegetarian options.
If you try anything this Veganuary opt for their Picnic Potato Curry, Temple Dahl and Treacle Tamarind Fries. Plus, their new Water Street branch is a must visit.
Italfresh is another favourite of mine. They’re a locally-owned, Caribbean, plant-based restaurant in the heart of the Baltic Triangle. If I could have their salads and coconut quinoa for every lunch, I would.
They’re closed for January, but I recommend heading to their pop-up canteen at District for a feast with your friends as soon as it opens again. Rum is optional.
An oldie, but a goodie. The Egg will always have a place in my heart as being the first place I ordered a meal without chips. Seriously. But, I do think it will always hold its own as a go-to place for all things zero-meat.
It’s perfect for Veganuary as its warm, cozy and most meals are under £5-6. I’m a big fan of their veggie burger with salad, pasta and plenty of chit-chat.
This is my favourite food vlog channel and blog. The team focuses on creating vegan meals that mimic not just their meat counterparts, but slay them. If you’re looking to change up your diet, want a different packed lunch or even fancy applying for the next series of Dinner Date then you need to check them out.
Fact: My Dad’s favourite food is well-done steak and he has become a big fan of Hot for Food’s siriacha-coated cauliflower wings. Which he is convinced tastes like chicken.
Let’s face it, we’re all feeling the pinch this time of year. That’s where Cheap Lazy Vegan steps in. I turn to her (very successful) Youtube channel for when I need fast, healthy food on a budget.
She’s the Queen of meal prep, and if you’re not inspired by her turning two cans of chickpeas and a whole load of vegetables into a week of lunches then there’s no hope.
Did you know that Meat-free Mondays were started by Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney? Well, you do now – and all you need to do to take part is limit your Monday meat intake. Simple.
It’s a great way to get in some hearty greens, have fun with your diet and do something good for the planet. After all, we do have to live here.
Fact: According to Office for National Statistics figures for 2014, the average UK family spends £15.80 a week on meat and fish. The cost of meat has risen 10 per cent since 2007, yet most of the staples of a meat-free diet are cheaper. Eat less meat + more veg = save money!
I hope I’ve inspired you to go forward and conquer Veganuary*. Even if you decide that plant life isn’t for you, please do pay a visit to some of Liverpool’s amazing independent restaurants. You won’t regret it.
*Vegan hack: Oreos are vegan, if they’re bought in the U.K. Do with that information what you will.