Words: Callam Fox

I decided to go vegan not because of some horrible documentary about factory farmed animals, not because I dislike the taste of meat and dairy or because I felt guilty about eating it.I would be lying if I were to say these reasons played no part at all in changing my eating habits because of course they had some presence and still continue to grow in importance the longer I go on being vegan. But, the main reason for me was the new exciting cooking opportunities. Cooking and baking is something I have been interested in since I was a teenager and once I had moved out of my parents house and had free reign of my own kitchen, i started to love it even more.

I would start slow cooking a pork joint at 8pm knowing it wouldn’t be ready for pulling until 1am,I’d make homemade mint and lamb burgers to take to BBQs instead of buying some and constantly be on theInternet looking for the next thing I could wrap in bacon or drown in cheddar cheese. I remember oneChristmas cooking the standard traditional dinner with all the trimmings but then going on to place the whole dinner into a giant Yorkshire pudding. The bird, the roasties, the veg, the pigs in blankets and the gravy all rammed inside the pud then wrapping this in a bacon lattice and cooking till crispy so each person at the table had the own Yorkshire pudding bacon wrapped Christmas dinner.

It was epic, but as more of my friends gradually started to go vegan I would have to re-think whatI could cook if they came round, and I would love being cooked for, to find that what I was being served tasted really good despite having no meat or dairy in it. So, the more I started to cook vegan whilst being a meat eater the more I started to realise going vegan might not be as hard as I originally thought it was going to be. So I walked up to the diving board and belly flopped straight into the world of vegan food. The first thing I noticed was how you become more personally involved in your weekly supermarket shop. Having to read everything you pick up and being shocked when things that you love and assume will be fine to eat, actually has semi-skimmed milk powder in it or dry egg and instantly thinking… why!? Seriously, why has this packet of Tesco’s finest chilli and lime kettle chips got semi skimmed milk in? Is that really needed? And then as time goes on and you start to read the ingredients more and take time to really see what you’re eating, it’s overwhelming and really frustrating how many products have animal ingredients in! Especially when they could easily be replaced or dropped. So 8 months down the line I am still vegan and i am still finding and enjoying new recipes to cook. Here is a recipe for one thing I do miss, and one of the hardest things I have found to replicate:

YORKSHIRE PUD

100g-self-raising flour

½ x tsp-Himalayan black salt (for the traditional eggy flavour)

2 x tsp-No-Egg (made with 4 x tbsp. water)

200ml-warm water (for crispier less dense pud use sparkling water)

150 ml-soya milk

½ x tsp-baking powder

1 x tsp-apple cider vinegar

12 x tsp-vegetable oil (1 x tsp per hole in your Yorkshire pudding tin)

Put 1 tsp of vegetable oil into each hole of a 12-hole Yorkshire pudding tin

Place the tin in the oven and pre-heat to 200oC for around 10-15mins.

In a jug or bowl, whisk the No-Egg with the water until frothy. Add the warm water, milk and apple cider vinegar and whisk until thoroughly mixed.

Into a new bowl, sieve the flour, salt and baking powder. Slowly add the liquid ingredients whilst whisking. Keep whisking until a lump-free, foamy batter is formed. Transfer into a clean jug for easy pouring.

Take out the pudding tin and pour the batter into each of the holes. The oil should be nice and hot and beginning to smoke and so the batter should start to cook and bubble immediately. Put the tin back into the oven and shut the door. Bake for 15-20 minutes before dropping the heat to 180 oC for a further 10 minutes.

Half way through open the oven up and make sure nothing is burning and give the tin a turn for even baking. When the time is up remove the puds from the oven and leave to chill for 5 mins, then gently slide a blunt knife around the edges of the puddings, popping each one out, enjoy with your roast or even cold with some mustard like me.