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7 genius tips for cooking up a vegan feast

9th December 2018

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By Louise Palmer-Masterton, founder of Stem + Glory

Veganism is trending. The number of UK vegans has risen dramatically over the last two years, from 1% of the population to 7%, according to a survey published earlier this year. It also reported that the biggest rise in veganism is among younger people.


So, if you are thinking of giving it a go or have a vegan friend round for a meal, here are some top tips for cooking up a delicious vegan meal:

1. Veganise your dream menu


Say you’re planning Indian, Italian, Asian or Middle Eastern - pretty much any style of cuisine works, actually. Compile your signature dishes and then Google a vegan version. There are stacks of vegan recipes online and you can literally put in your ingredients, then add ‘vegan’ and ‘recipe’ and you’ll find something.

2. Search for vegan wine/beer


Co-op is best for vegan wine labelling, and there is a really good website called Barnivore that lists all vegan wine, beer and spirits you can buy in the supermarkets. A dinner guest will really appreciate that you have done this research.

3. Start reading packets

As a non-vegan you probably don’t know which non-vegan products are sneaked into your everyday cupboard staples. Even now, with veganism on the rise, packets are usually labelled ‘vegetarian’ but not necessarily ‘vegan’. It has been helped by recent changes to the law that allergens have to be written in bold, so it’s quite easy to scan ingredients lists for eggs and dairy - the main culprits.

4. Go Italian, Japanese or for a burger


Success with vegan cooking depends on being able to cook up deliciousness. Nature has given us a fifth taste - umami - which in a nutshell is ‘deliciousness’, and often it is the umami in food that makes it ‘mouth watering’.

Italian food is generally rich in umami and a great choice to veganise if you are new to vegan cooking. Tomato paste is very high in umami as are olives (also umami), olive oil and sun-dried tomatoes.

If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, Japanese food is also rich in umami and easy to veganise.

If you feel like going for a classic meal, there are a huge number of vegan burger recipes out there. Add mayo, pickles (high umami), ketchup (high umami) to a meat free burger. Toasted seeds and many spices are also high umami and can be used liberally.

5. Fake it


If you’re not such a keen cook, get down to the health food shop and stock up. You can get vegan alternatives to almost anything now. For example, vegan mayonnaise is easy to make, but there are a number of off-the-shelf versions that are really tasty. There is even vegan cheese, and plenty of plant-based milks and creams too (e.g. soya, coconut-based, oat, rice, almond, cashew…) so dessert is easy to veganise too.

6. Make a raw cheesecake

Eat out in a non vegan restaurant, and finding a vegan dessert is almost impossible. The best you’ll find usually is a fruit salad! So here’s your chance to shine with your vegan dinner guest. Raw ‘cheesecake’ is super delicious and really easy to make. It’s usually made with cashew nuts, and my favourite is raspberry or chocolate. You literally just blend all the ingredients and pour over a crust made from nuts and dried fruits. That’s for a completely raw version, but you can also buy vegan digestive biscuits (Doves Farm brand – get them on your trip to the health food shop). Mix crushed digestives with melted coconut oil for a more traditional cheesecake crust.

7. Yes vegan Baileys is a thing

And finally, you can now buy vegan Baileys! Called Baileys Almande, it is made with Almond milk and is delicious. Serve with a couple of vegan chocolates – my favourite is the Booja Booja brand.

Vegan cooking is much easier than you think. It’s also cleaner, healthier and a more sustainable way to live. Our dependence on animal products comes more from habit than it does from actual need - so rise to the challenge of vegansing your menu. Remember to liberally add high umami vegan flavours and you’ll be on track to produce a delicious and satisfying meal.

Want to find out about the environmental impact of veganism, or get more tips on how to cook vegan if you're not that confident in the kitchen? Click here and here.

Louise Palmer-Masterton is founder of award-winning plant-based restaurant Stem + Glory, which serving delicious gourmet vegan food from locally sourced ingredient 100% made on site.

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