Vegan challenge: eating vegan with a twist!

haricot bean salad

It’s been interesting this week, as I wanted to carry on with my local eating as much as possible as well as participating in the vegan challenge and I didn’t know how manageable that would be. In fact it hasn’t been too bad: the main imported things I’ve eaten have been dried pulses (haricot beans (delicious as a salad with vinaigrette!), butter beans, red lentils, mung beans – sprouted), tinned tomatoes, raisins and rice cakes. Otherwise I’ve had lots of local organic vegetables: leek and potato soup, carrots, celeriac, black kale, spinach, red cabbage, onions, brussels sprouts. Butter bean and root vegetable casserole was so much nicer than I would have imagined – I discovered this packet of butter beans at the back of my cupboard with a “use by” date of 2008 and I knew that dried beans often get too hard when they are old, but these were fine! (I didn’t add salt until the end, as usual with pulses.) The dish wasn’t very exciting when I tried it with the butter beans whole, but then I took out some beans and blended the rest and the texture was absolutely fantastic – I could really see why they are called “butter beans”, as they are incredibly creamy!

In one way eating vegan food can be much lower in greenhouse gas emissions as it is meat-and diary-free, and these are foods with extremely high emissions. But it isn’t quite that straightforward, as it’s quite possible to eat heavily processed vegan food from all over the world and if we buy our fresh, easily-perishable fruit and vegetables from abroad when they are out of season here, they are likely to have been flown in, which is pretty carbon-intensive. So eating locally and seasonally as much as possible, combined with eating vegan for the protein through pulses and cooking as much as possible from scratch is likely to be a very sustainable, low-emissions way of eating.

Honey

By the way, I do sympathize with Fiona about the honey – I would have made the same mistake, but Helen reminded me that honey isn’t vegan just in time! Apparently there is a bit of a debate about honey among vegans, though, as bee-keeping is very good for the environment, so once the challenge is over, I’ll go back to local honey in porridge with a clear conscience! (In the meantime I’ve been having my porridge oats (cooked with water) with raisins and that’s been sweet enough.)

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