This is a guest post by Rory from @vegan.preston. If you’d like to write a guest post for Blog Preston, email firstname.lastname@example.org.Advertisement
Vegans, eh? With their bloody organic roasted coquina squash, artisanal couscous salads and activated, foraged hemp seeds – why don’t they ditch the rabbit food and just eat some proper grub?!
To that, I say: “The 1980s called, and they want their stereotypes back”. (And this joke format, too.)
Veganism was everywhere in 2020, with pretty much every major supermarket and restaurant chain you can think of scrambling to expand their plant-based offerings.
Read more: Vegan aisle coming to Asda in Fulwood
Perhaps most emblematic of the shift was Greggs’ vegan sausage roll, which performed so well it was almost single-handedly credited for the £7m bonus pot that was shared amongst the company’s 25,000 staff.
But more than that, it opened the public’s eyes to something us vegans have known for ages now: vegan food isn’t just lettuce and tofu. It’s burgers, hot dogs, wings, and cheesecakes. It’s pizzas and pastas, Pad Thais and döner kebabs. It’s everything you eat now, just… vegan.
Indeed, it’s never been easier to ditch the dairy and give meat a miss in the UK, and Preston’s no different, with loads of superb cruelty-free options now available right across the city.
So, if like 440,000 other Brits you’re taking your first steps towards a more compassionate lifestyle this January, here’s our guide to Prestonian plant-based eating in 2021.
Disclaimer: Restaurants, pubs and cafes can continue with delivery or takeaway during lockdown, but we all know there may be more disruption afoot over the coming months, so be sure to check ahead.
PLAU – Friargate’s beautifully-renovated gin and beer house confidently boasts the most inventive and honest vegan menu in PR1. Rather than replicating meat dishes, there’s a real focus on pure vegetarian cuisine and bold, innovative flavours, and it pays off magnificently.
Coco’s Soul Food – a world away from PLAU’s suave sophistication, this Preston institution offers up outrageously tasty home cooking in the most laid-back setting imaginable. Vegan cheese is available to grate, pour and melt over falafel-filled burritos, enchiladas and more, and there’s always a vegan option on the specials board.
RK Dining – worth the short detour to Plungington Road, this 100 per cent vegetarian and vegan deli offers some of the very best and most authentic Indian street food you’ll find anywhere in Lancashire. The flavours here are genuinely mind-boggling at times.
1260 Craft and Crust – Penwortham’s premier pizzeria is easily the best around, serving up absurdly good wood-fired pizza with vegan cheese at very reasonable prices. Jalapeños and pineapple on mine, please!
A Taste of Thailand – this cool and cosy hideout features one of the most extensive vegan menus in the city, and they repeatedly manage to do the unthinkable: make tofu tasty. I heartily recommend the sweetcorn cakes and Kratiem Prik Thai with sticky Jasmine rice. chef’s kiss
Wings and Beer Co. – for dirty scran, there’s nowhere better than this Cannon Street icon. Extra marks for making their vegan wings out of meaty seitan, rather than the limp cauliflower offerings you’ll find elsewhere. The burgers and hot-dogs are also bob-on.
Olive Tree Brasserie – a fully vegan three course meal is easily achieved at this gorgeous Greek brasserie. A substantial breakfast option, plenty of lunch and mid-week offers, and even a Sunday roast means you can pop in anytime, too.
FORUM – well-known for its stylish surroundings, chic interior and superb cocktails, FORUM’s food offering is criminally overlooked. Take your pick from the excellent Vietnamese noodles, Thai green curry, fajitas and more.
– Turtle Bay – probably the best chain restaurant in town
– We Don’t Give a Fork – a very decent burger and curly fries to die for
– The Destination – for having vegan butter pie(!) and tofish and chips
– Brew + Bake – a full English breakfast under the Victorian market canopy
– Fino Tapas – not the biggest choice in the world, but what’s there is quality
– Lola – because vegan moussaka is hard to come by
– Cafuné – a bit of South American flair on the Flag Market
– rise. – the most Instagrammable smoothie bowls this side of the Ribble
– Origin Juice and Brew Bar – seriously tempting cakes and bakes on Fishergate Hill
– Town House Coffee and Brew Bar – award-winning brekkies and vegan pancakes
– The Adelphi and Roper Hall – no nonsense vegan junk food in a student pub setting
– Lapar Malaysian Cuisine – the Rendang curry is out of this world
– Jaffa – possibly the best hummus you’ll ever taste
– New York Pizza Co. – for when Penwortham’s just a bit too far
– Falafel Express – yep, that little van on the flag market is seriously good
– The Fresh Chef Meal Prep – nutritious plant-based meals delivered weekly
Plant-based eating is so common now that many other independent and chain eateries in Preston also offer decent vegan options.
Buy a quality cookbook
It’s becoming more and more convenient to be vegan with each passing day, but it’s still good to cook from scratch every now and then. Buying a good quality cookbook is a great way to expose yourself to new ingredients and cooking techniques, and to give yourself a better understanding of vegan cuisine as a whole. Choose a book you like the look of and aim to cook one new dish from it per week.
My favourites include the BOSH! books, Vegan Comfort Classics by Lauren Toyota and Plants Only Kitchen by Gaz Oakley. There’s also the handy How To Live Vegan from the BOSH! boys which gives great advice on nutrition, filling your pantry, and even handling awkward social situations.
Give it a good go
For me, making the switch to veganism was easy and exciting, but changing lifelong habits might not come so naturally to others. Your body may experience some… adverse reactions… in the first few weeks (oh god, the gas!) but it’s just a case of your body adjusting. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be feeling superhuman levels of energy after the first month, and the farts will have stopped. Mostly.
Meat and dairy alternatives are your friends
Dropping meat and dairy overnight and not expecting cravings is unrealistic. Fortunately, there are some superb meat and dairy alternatives out there. Alpro, Violife, Flora, Beyond Meat, Squeakybean, Plant Pioneers, Oumph! and THIS! all offer convincing and delicious substitutes, and most budget supermarkets now offer their own vegan range.
You should aim for a mostly wholefoods diet, with plenty of fresh vegetables, beans, legumes, grains and fruits, but there’s nothing wrong with indulging in a tub of dairy-free Ben and Jerry’s every now and then.
Remember why you’re doing it
Whether it’s for animal rights, personal health, or the environment, there’s probably a reason why you decided to give this a shot in the first place. Don’t lose sight of that! Your choices have real consequences, and you can make a positive difference every time you sit down to eat.
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Are you doing Veganuary this year? Do you agree with Rory’s plant-based recommendations? Let us know in the comments.