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Why is a plant-based diet good for you?

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Dr Hamed Kamali

I graduated from Peninsula Medical School, Devon in 2010. Like every doctor, I graduated wanting to make a difference. I wanted to save lives and prevent suffering. My path led me to work in areas such as anaesthetics, A&E and Intensive Care. I realised that the events that lead to a patient becoming unwell can start very early and is often linked to the lifestyle that we lead, the foods that we eat. That led me to a career in general practice. Before any signs of disease have even begun I want to halt its progression. The evidence of the power of plant-based diet in preventing, treating and even reversing some of our biggest killers is overwhelming. My goal is still the same as it was when I graduated. But now I am very clear that the key to saving lives, to prevent suffering begins on our plates. I’ve been vegan myself since 2015.

A guest blog from plant-based medic, Dr Hamed Kamali

It seems there is loads of confusing information everywhere about vegan diets, and whether they are good or bad. My own philosophy is to eat as much fresh, whole food as possible, with a bit of a cheat now and then with processed meat alternatives if you fancy it! But it’s good to base your choices on sound info, so I’m asking a few experts to share facts to help everyone get their head around the options in plant-based food. Our first guest is Dr Hamed Kamali – a vegan doctor who is also a fitness fanatic like me, so he knows the plant-based score! Over to you Hamed.
Matt

“I became a doctor for the same reasons that I became an advocate for a plant-based diet. I believe that the route to living a long and healthy life is not through medical intervention; there is no pill or surgical procedure which can impact your well being like a healthy diet and exercise.

The principles of a plant-based diet hark back to all the fundamentals of a healthy diet that we already knew. Eating whole foods which are high in nutrients will support a healthy lifestyle, help us lose weight and prevent us from developing some of our biggest killers; heart disease, stroke and type II diabetes.

Weight loss

The most common reason my patients change their diet is to lose weight. The lengths that people will go to, to achieve weight loss could include medical interventions such as anti-obesity pills, surgery or crash diets. All of these do work for weight loss but they are not sustainable and not without risk. Importantly, they often lead to people feeling worse!

A whole foods plant-based diet is naturally low in fat and contains no cholesterol. The foods themselves tend to be less calorie dense so you can eat a lot of food for fewer calories. There’s no need for a gastric band or a crash diet when you can fill up with nutrient-rich whole foods and still lose weight!

Get all the good stuff and none of the bad

Do you suffer from fatigue, low mood or poor concentration? Are you worried about deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals? Well, you should be…but not because of a plant-based diet. 6% of people in the UK under 60 are deficient in B12 and in the over 60 population this rises to 20%1. Iron deficiency affects 5% of the UK population and in non-pregnant women, anaemia (low blood count) due to low iron is present in 14% of cases. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are present in all dietary groups and are a result of changes in farming practice and our modern diet. Irrespective of what diet you eat there is a risk of developing a deficiency.

However, a meat-free diet is associated with a higher intake of fibre, vitamins A, C and E, thiamin, folate, riboflavin, calcium, magnesium and potassium but with lower intake of total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol2.

A well planned plant-based diet shouldn’t leave you with any deficiencies especially as only 2 glasses of fortified soya milk a day will provide 80% of recommended daily intake of B12!

But what about protein? People on a plant-based diet get plenty of protein, in fact, on average twice the minimum daily recommended amount of protein3 Not only that, but plant-based foods are good quality sources of protein with complete amino acid profiles4.

Increase your life span and, your health span.

“We cannot change the cards we are dealt, just how we play the hand”.

Inherited conditions, gender and age are just some of the things we cannot control. However, we have complete control over the foods we eat which, over time play such a pivotal role in the development of disease. A few plant-based diet facts for you, along with the scientific references:

  • A plant-based diet can help prevent, treat or even reverse some of our biggest killers such as heart disease, stroke and type II diabetes5.
  • People who eat a plant-based diet have a fraction of the rate of diabetes as those who regularly eat meat. We also know that each step towards a plant-based diet and every reduction in animal product intake reduces risk further6.
  • The American heart association acknowledges that eating less meat decreases the risk of: heart disease, stroke, obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, type II diabetes and many cancers, however, a plant-based diet can do one better. A whole foods plant-based diet has been shown to even reverse the clogging up of our arteries which leads to heart attack and stroke7.

“Research has shown that every step towards a plant-based diet is beneficial for your health.”

You don’t need to go vegan overnight. Don’t let the pursuit of perfection get in the way of your progress. Research has shown that every step towards a plant-based diet is beneficial for your health. This is not only because of the foods you will be eating but also because of the foods that you will be cutting out.

The latin phrase ‘Pimum non nocere’ is a guiding principle for all doctors. It means – First, do no harm. The first step towards improving your health should be changing your diet, not taking potentially harmful medication.

A well structured plant-based diet can prevent, treat and even reverse some of the diseases which are most likely to shorten our lives or prevent us from living them to the fullest.”

Dr Hamed Kamali

    1. https://cks.nice.org.uk/anaemia-b12-and-folate-deficiency#!backgroundSub:2
    2. B. Farmer, B. T. Larson, V. L. Fulgoni III, A. J. Rainville, G. U. Liepa. A vegetarian dietary pattern as a nutrient-dense approach to weight management: An analysis of the national health and nutrition examination survey 1999-2004. J Am Diet Assoc. 2011 111(6):819 – 827.
    3. N Rizzo, K Jaceldo-Siegl, J Sabate, G E Fraser. Nutrient Profiles of Vegetarian and Nonvegetarian Dietary Patterns. Journal of Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. 2013 Dec;113(12):1610–1619.
    4. McDougall J. Plant Foods Have a Complete Amino Acid Composition. Circulation. 2002 Jun 25;105(25):e197; author reply e197.
    5. P J Tuso, M H Ismail, B P Ha, C Bartolotto. Nutritional update for physicians: Plant-based diets. Perm J 2013 17(2):61 – 66.
    6. S Tonstad, K Stewart, K Oda, M Batech, R P Herring, G E Fraser. Vegetarian diets and incidence of diabetes in the Adventist Health Study-2. Nutr Metab Cardiovasc Dis. 2013 Apr;23(4):292-9.
    7. Esselstyn CB Jr, Gendy G, Doyle J, Golubic M, Roizen MF. A way to reverse CAD? J Fam Pract. 2014 Jul;63(7):356-364b.

The Scarlet Salad

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This went down a treat with the Scarlets Rugby Team as it’s packed with flavour and colour, and the vinegary, garlicky dressing brings the leaves to life. I get my salad leaves from Cae Tan, a Community Supported Agricultural Project in South Wales. Using fresh, biodynamic produce makes an unbelievable difference to how much I enjoy a salad bowl.

 

Taken from Dirty Vegan by Matt Pritchard. Published by Mitchell Beazley.
Photography by Jamie Orlando Smith and Chris Terry.

Prep: 15 Minutes, plus standing overnight
Cook: 5 minutes

Serves 4

For the marinade

2 oranges, segmented and juice collected
2 fennel bulbs, cut into wafer-thin slices
1 teaspoon paprika

For the dressing

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
1 small garlic clove, crushed
1 teaspoon maple syrup
salt and pepper

For the salad

3 tablespoons sunflower seeds
3 tablespoons pine nuts
150g Russian or regular kale
100g mixed salad leaves
1/2 a cucumber
300g rocket
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
handful of edible flowers

Start with the marinade. Put the orange segments and juice into a bowl with the fennel slices as soon as you slice them (to stop them browning), then add the paprika and stir. Leave to stand, overnight ideally, or for as long as possible.

Put the sunflower seeds and pine nuts into a heavy-based pan and toast them over low heat for 5 minutes, until they take on a rich brown colour – be careful not to char them.

To make the dressing, put the ingredients into a bowl, season to taste and mix thoroughly. The mustard should emulsify the mixture to make a smooth dressing.

Next, prepare the Russian kale. This leaf is good raw, but the stems can be tough. Remove the stems and slice the leaves into bite-sized sections.

Put the salad leaves, the cucumber, kale, rocket and tomatoes into a serving bowl. Pour a half the dressing into the bowl and toss the salad by hand. Drain the fennel from the marinade, reserving a few orange slices for decoration, and add it to the bowl. Sprinkle over the sunflower seeds and pine nuts, arrange the orange slices on top, then drizzle the remaining dressing over the salad. Garnish with the edible flowers and serve immediately.

Dirty Vegan Bloopers

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It takes a huge amount of effort from a collection of very talented people to make an epic, groundbreaking TV series like Dirty Vegan – but we know that everyone needs to have fun while they work too! We managed to fit a giggle in here and there, so here are the best/cleanest out-takes we could find – enjoy!

And here’s to the next series….

Matt and the One Tribe/Dirty Vegan TV team

The Full Hangover Pile Up

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Taken from Dirty Vegan by Matt Pritchard. Published by Mitchell Beazley.
Photography by Jamie Orlando Smith and Chris Terry.

I’ve made an art form of the vegan full breakfast. This will help you heal from last night’s antics and fuel you for today’s mischief. Serve any of the individual elements alone for a light breakfast, but put them all together for the full-on curative effect. Integral to the pile up are sliced Seitan English Breakfast Sausage (recipe below) and Tofu Scrambled Eggs (recipe below), so don’t forget to add those to the table alongside the three recipes below. Serve the whole lot with hot toast and strong tea. Thankfully ketchup and HP sauce are vegan. Unless you are god-like in your multitasking-while-hungover skills, I suggest you make the seitan and beans ahead of time, and it’s even worth boiling the spuds in advance, too – you’ll still have a bit of work to do for someone who’s worse for wear. Cross your fingers that someone else offers to wash up.

Serves 4

GARLIC MUSHROOMS
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes

Bake these in the oven on the shelf below the smashed potato cakes. Use olive oil if you can’t find a good vegan spread.

olive oil, for greasing
2 garlic cloves, crushed
75g soft vegan spread
lemon juice, to taste
4 Portobello mushrooms
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200˚C (Gas Mark 6). Grease a roasting tray with oil.

Mix the garlic with the vegan spread and a good squeeze of lemon juice in a bowl.

Arrange the mushrooms with their stalk sides facing up in the prepared roasting tray. Divide the flavoured spread between the mushrooms and smear the mixture into the gills. Season with salt and pepper.

Pop the mushrooms into the oven and roast for 20 minutes, until cooked through.

SMOKY BAKED BEANS

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes

These are easily made in advance. Blending some of the beans and sauce gives the whole thing a more Heinzy texture.

1 red onion, sliced
olive oil
1 tablespoon tomato purée
500g passata
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons sweet smoked paprika
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons brown sugar
400g can haricot beans
salt and pepper

Heat a little oil in a saucepan. Add the onion and fry over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until starting to soften.

Add the tomato purée, passata, vinegar, paprika, bay leaf and sugar to the pan. Season with salt and pepper. Bring up to a simmer and cook gently for 10 minutes.

Stir the haricot beans into the saucepan and cook for a further 10 minutes, until the sauce has thickened.

When ready, you have the option to transfer a quarter of the beans to a blender and whizz them up until smooth, then return the blended beans to the pan and stir through before serving.

TOFU SCRAMBLED EGGS

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes

 Serves 2

This is usually a weekend morning treat. It’s basically the same idea as scrambled eggs though – and I know it sounds odd – add turmeric for flavour and colour. Depending on what tofu you use, it can be very silky and moist. It doesn’t taste like egg, but is just as satisfying.

2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil
1/2 red onion, finely sliced
4 broccoli florets, finely chopped
225g extra-firm tofu
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon chilli flakes, or to taste
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

To serve
toast
Smoky Baked Beans

Heat the oil in a frying pan. Put the onion and broccoli into the warmed oil in the frying pan and gently fry over medium-low heat for 2–3 minutes, until they are cooked but still have a little crunch in them.

Grab the tofu and either scramble it with a fork or cut it into bite-sized pieces. Add it to the pan and stir well. Now add the salt, spices and a splash of water if it looks too thick or dry. Cook for 2 minutes, until the tofu is heated through. Serve on toast with some baked beans.

SMASHED POTATO CAKES

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 50 minutes

Quicker than bubble and squeak, less faff than a hash brown, these are just squashed and roasted potatoes but, somehow, they seem like so much more. They are best made with new or salad potatoes.

12 small new potatoes
olive oil
about 4 sprigs of thyme, leaves picked, to taste
salt and pepper

Boil the potatoes, whole and with their skins on, in plenty of salted water for about 10–12 minutes until just tender. Drain well. (This can be done well in advance as they can be cooked from cold later on. Keep them in the fridge until you’re ready to use them.)

Preheat the oven to 200˚C (Gas Mark 6). Line a roasting tray with baking paper, brush it liberally with olive oil and scatter over some salt.

Evenly space the potatoes in the prepared tray, then press each potato down so that it flattens but stays in 1 piece. I use the flat side of my cleaver, but you could use the bottom of a mug, a potato masher or the flat of your hand (if cooking the potatoes from cold). Brush the flattened spuds with plenty of oil and season with salt. Roast for 25 minutes, then remove the tray from the oven and scatter over some fresh thyme leaves and grind over some black pepper. Return the tray to the oven for a final 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden and crisp.
Serve immediately.

ENGLISH BREAKFAST SAUSAGES

Prep: 15 min but overnight chilling
Cook: 1 Hour

When fried, seitan has a similar texture to meat that can be put to good use in the vegan kitchen. Think kebabs, paella and sausages in your full breakfast. With this recipe, you can make two large 350g sausages that can be sliced and fried. They will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for four or five days.

230g vital wheat gluten
30g nutritional yeast flakes
2 tablespoons plain flour
1/2 tablespoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried thyme
good pinch of white pepper
good pinch of nutmeg
good pinch of allspice
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
320ml mushroom stock (steep a handful of dried porcini mushrooms in 350ml boiling water, leave to cool, then strain and use the liquid as stock)
2 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon tomato purée
2 tablespoons olive oil

When fried, seitan has a similar texture to meat that can be put to good use in the vegan kitchen. Think kebabs, paella and sausages in your full breakfast. With this recipe, you can make two large 350g sausages that can be sliced and fried. They will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for four or five days.

And they freeze well (for up to 3 months), so it makes sense to make two, use one fresh and pop one in the freezer for a later date. When ready to cook, simply slice up the sausage and fry the slices in a little oil over medium-high heat for 3 minutes on each side, until coloured and crispy at the edges.

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add the wet ingredients and knead together, as if making bread, for 5 minutes, until you have a firm dough.

Divide the mixture into 2 equal portions. Form each half into a rough log shape. Lay out a sheet of clingfilm and place 1 log in the centre. Roll the clingfilm around the log, push out any trapped air and twist the ends of the clingfilm together around the log to tighten it into a large sausage shape. This is best done by holding the clingfilm ends and rolling the log along the work surface a few times until the clingfilm is drum-skin tight. Now wrap it neatly in kitchenfoil. Repeat the rolling process with the other half.

Place the wrapped sausages in a large saucepan of water and bring it up to a low simmer. Poach the sausages gently over low heat for 1 hour, topping up the water if necessary, until they feel very firm when squeezed.

Remove the logs from the water and leave to cool, then pop them in the fridge to chill overnight. Don’t remove the wrapping until they are completely chilled, or they will expand and lose their shape.

Vietnamese Rice Paper Rolls

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Prep: 20 minutes

Serves 2

This is a really refreshing but filling lunch or part of a bigger dinner if you are hungry – just right as the weather warms up! It’s packed with veg and proper tasty. You might find the first few wraps a bit of a fiddle, as the rice paper is delicate. Be brave but gentle and you’ll soon get into a rhythm. The filling is fresh, crisp and fragrant. All the seasoning and kick comes from the dipping sauce. There are plenty of protein-rich bean and seed sprouts available beyond your basic bean and alfalfa. Try radish, lentil, chickpea or broccoli sprouts, which can be bought in colourful mixed packs, too.

For the rolls

50g vermicelli rice noodles
8 good-sized leaves from a little gem lettuce (double up the leaves if some are too small)
1 carrot, sliced into thin strips with a vegetable peeler
½ cucumber, sliced into thin strips with a vegetable peeler
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
small bunch of mint
small bunch of coriander
small bunch of basil
60g mixed bean sprouts and seed sprouts
30g salted peanuts, chopped
8 rice paper wrappers

For the dipping sauce

1 teaspoon grated ginger
2 red bird’s eye chillies, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
3 tablespoons soy sauce or tamari
lime juice, to taste

Place the noodles in a heatproof bowl and cover them with boiling water. Steep according to packet instructions, until just cooked through. Drain and cool immediately under running cold water. Keep to one side.

Fill the lettuce leaves with a mix of noodles, veg, herbs and sprouts. Finish with a sprinkle of peanuts. Set aside.

Fill a bowl with boiling water. Soak 1 rice paper wrapper in the water for about 10 seconds, until it becomes pliant. Lay it on a clean tea towel (they tend to stick to work surfaces) and sit a packed leaf horizontally on top. Fold in the bottom and sides of the wrapper, then roll it up like a cigar. Repeat with the remaining wrappers and packed leaves.

In a separate bowl, mix all the dipping sauce ingredients together, adding lime juice to your taste.

Serve the rolls whole or cut in half at an angle to reveal your meticulous and artistic packing, with the dipping sauce on the side. Dip and get it down ya.

Peas and Broccoli,

Matt

This recipe is from Dirty Vegan, Matt Pritchard’s first cook book. Order now at Amazon or Waterstones! Published by Mitchell Beazley. Photography by Jamie Orlando Smith and Chris Terry. Dirty Vegan aired on BBC One during January 2019 – find out more on our TV Series page.

PUTTANESCA AUBERGINE PARMIGIANA

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Serves 4-6
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 1 and ¼ hours

olive oil, for frying
2 red onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
175ml white wine
1 tablespoon tomato purée
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons capers, chopped
100g green olives, sliced
200ml water
4 aubergines, cut lengthways into 1-cm thick slices
20g basil leaves,
50g sourdough breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
zest of ½ a lemon
pinch of salt
80g vegan mozzarella, torn (optional)
Pepper

This pepped-up parmigiana is an approximation of another Italian classic, puttanesca. Mind you don’t over-season the sauce – the capers and olives bring plenty of salt to the show. Nutritional yeast adds a deep savoury flavour to the crumb. This is a brilliant dish that will feed a crowd – one for sharing with your mates of a bottle of wine or two and a decent loaf of crusty bread.

  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a frying pan and cook the onion over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, until starting to soften.
  2. Stir in the garlic, wine and tomato purée, then let the mixture bubble away until reduced by half.
  3. Stir in the chopped tomatoes, capers, olives and measured water.
  4. Simmer for 20 minutes, until the sauce is thick and rich. Preheat the oven to 190°C (Gas Mark 5).
  5. While the sauce cooks, heat some olive oil in a large frying pan and fry the aubergine, turning, over medium heat until golden and cooked through. (You’ll use more oil than you think as the slices soak it up as they cook.) Set aside.
  6. When the sauce is ready, mix in the basil leaves. Taste and tweak the seasoning as desired.
  7. In a food processor, pulse together the breadcrumbs, yeastflakes, lemon zest, a pinch of salt and 1 tablespoon oil.
  8. Lay half the aubergines into a large (about 30 x20cm) baking dish and top with half the sauce. Repeat the layering process to fill the dish. Tear the mozzarella over the top, if using.
  9. Top evenly with the breadcrumb mix. Bake for 20–40 minutes, until the top is golden and the aubergine is tender.

Get it down you!
Matt

This recipe is from Dirty Vegan, Matt Pritchard’s first cook book. Order now at Amazon or Waterstones! Published by Mitchell Beazley. Photography by Jamie Orlando Smith and Chris Terry. Dirty Vegan aired on BBC One during January 2019 – find out more on our TV Series page.

Depression, Plant-Based Heaven & Some Life Changes

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As any of you who have been following me on Instagram will know, I’m currently on holiday in Bali. It’s a trip which I feel very fortunate to be able to make as modern life seems somehow tougher for everyone these days. I want to start this post by saying how fortunate I feel I am to have done an amazing BBC cookery series and have a first cook book to my name – just to get that in before I talk about the tougher stuff!

Leading up to this break, my mind was working overtime and I needed to get away from everything. I don’t deal with stress very well (I don’t think many do) and my anxiety was going into overdrive. I had a lot going on and if I’m honest I though my mind was going to POP. It got so bad I had to pull over in my van as I was losing the plot; tears, the works, with Lemmy (my dog) looking at me daft, sat in the seat next to me. The littlest of things were getting to me and I was snapping at people who are close to me. My fiancé and my parents could see it in me too.

The Heavy Stuff

My problem is that I find it very hard to switch off and I always have to do something. I constantly have ants in my pants and I very rarely rest. This is because if I have too much time on my hands I start overthinking things, and believe me that’s dangerous in my mind so I find if I keep myself busy, I haven’t got time to think. I am my own worst enemy if I’m honest.

Not everyone will know my story, but I have suffered from depression, and I came off my Sertraline antidepressant medication just over six months ago. I went cold turkey (something that you shouldn’t do apparently, but you know I never follow the rules!) and all of a sudden I had a lot of energy again. That medication helped me over a year ago when I went to a dark place, but I found the tablets were no longer helping me but they were actually doing the opposite. I was always tired and finding it hard to get out of bed, and more importantly it was putting me off training, which is the one thing that puts me into that happy zone.

When I get home I start seeing my new CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) therapist in the hope she can change my attitude to how I look at and approach things. I’m really looking forward to working with her.

Drop the Pressure

Anyway all that built-up pressure eased straight away as I left Heathrow airport, and I could feel the weight come off my shoulders. I landed in Bali, felt the heat and the sun on my face and I was in my happy place.

I’ve been eating the best food, chilling with my fiancé and hanging around with the most humble of people who forever greet you with a smile. Some of them have fuck-all yet are still smiling, and that says a lot to me. I sat with a local called Adi on the beach one evening, and I spoke to him about island life and what happened during the earthquake and how they survived the aftermath. It got heavy, and he literally drove me to tears.

Waking up every morning and getting back into my training regime has done heaps for my mental health. Running as the sun rises on beaches with my endorphins kicking off whilst watching the locals waking up and starting their days and getting back to a healthy brekkie puts a huge smile on my face. Doing yoga (something I started doing at home) followed by an hour’s massage is another plus point and a great way of switching off. Then there’s watching the sunset in the evening with a beer, swimming in the sea while looking at the colourful fish life going on beneath me – just magic. I actually swam from Gili Meno island and on to Gili Terawgan with the help of my new local friend who has a boat Alqui Boy. I’m very glad he was with me as I would have ended up in the Indian Ocean due to the current (laughter).

Plant-Based Heaven

This place has an endless choice of plant-based restaurants and cafes and I want to visit them all, but I have a funny feeling that I may have to live here for a year to fit them all in. Not a bad idea! I really hope we eventually get to this point back home in the UK, being able to walk down the street and choose from multiple independent plant-based restaurants. I can’t wait for breakfast, lunch and dinner on a daily basis and to pick up the menu and get a great choice of food. If the human body could eat 24/7 all I’d do is eat over here. If anyone’s planning a holiday I highly recommend this place, especially if you’re vegan. Trust me, you won’t regret it.

So what have I learnt whilst being here?? A lot, put it that way. They are big on organic fruit and veg, and believe me you can taste the difference. They use bamboo for straws and they’re big on recycling plastics – I’ve seen many a wall built with disused bottles. The country really supports their people and businesses too, though the money has too many zeros! The place is steeped in culture and tradition and the people work so hard and have a built in self-sufficiency that I think we could really learn from. Though they need to start wearing helmets on their mopeds! The coconut tree is the rock’n’roll of the plant world here for its many uses. From the fibre to the bark to the husk and of course the coconut flesh and milk, not one bit is wasted!

The Brutal Deca & a Few Life Changes

I came here to rest my mind and that’s what I’ve done. It seems life is so hectic for everyone, it’s only when those daily pressures are removed if and when you get a holiday that you can get a bit of perspective on what is right and wrong in your life. I came here to start my training and I’ve done that too. I have my biggest challenge to date coming up at the end of July called the Brutal Continuous Deca which consists of a 24 mile swim, 1120 mile bike ride and ending with a 262 mile run, all to be finished within 350 hours. I’ve not done nearly enough training for it, but it feels good to know I’ve started and I look forward to continuing when I get home.

On that note, when I get home I have a few things I’m going to change. Since the book and TV show have come out I’ve had a lot of anti-vegan trolls so I’ve cut back a fair bit apart from on Instagram. I’ve stopped posting on my personal page just to give myself a break from it, so if anyone is wondering why I haven’t posted then that’s the reason, but you can see what I’m up to via the @dirtyvegantv page. Reading endless hate because I’ve chosen a plant-based lifestyle (without preaching but educating) isn’t good for my mental health. No one should have to read such stuff. On the plus side, I’ve had some very positive messages too for which I thank those of you for writing – I try my best to reply to most but apologies if not. On the whole it’s been wonderful to see how many people are looking at shifting their diet more towards being plant-based; it really does feel like we are at the beginning of an incredible change.

Anyway, enough of the negative. For me finding happiness is simple; it’s exercise morning and night, doing yoga, surrounding yourself with people you love and trust, oh and eating a healthy plant-based diet.

I have a lot of work to do when I get back, and my year’s looking very busy. I can’t wait to see some of you at the events I’m attending (check out our events page for details) and I look forward to announcing what we have coming up. I’m now surrounded by a great team of people looking after all things Dirty Vegan and there is a huge amount in the pipeline. Let me end by saying 2019 is the year of the DIRTY VEGAN………lets ‘ave it.

I can’t wait to see Lemmy!

Peas and Broccoli
Matt

Vegan Sausage Casserole

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Serves 4
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 40 minutes

8 vegan sausages
½ tablespoon coconut oil
1 large onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
4 carrots, sliced or diced
4 tomatoes, quartered
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato purée
200ml vegetable stock
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 sprig of thyme, plus extra,
fresh growing thyme,
to garnish
400g can borlotti beans
boiled new potatoes, to serve

I believe in cooking from scratch as much as possible, but now and then, a processed veggie sausage is your friend. Use your favourite brand – the sausages soak up the scrummy casserole juices nicely. (I’ve never used that word scrummy in my life, but it sums this up perfectly!) Hearty fare, vegan style.

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (Gas Mark 4). Cook your vegan sausages according to the packet instructions. (While they are cooking you can prep your ingredients.)
  2. Heat the oil in a casserole. Add your diced onion and fry over medium-low heat for 5–10 minutes, until soft and golden.
  3. Add the garlic, carrot, fresh and canned tomatoes and tomato purée, the veg stock, paprika and thyme and stir all the ingredients together well.
  4. Bring the cooked sausages out of the oven and cut them into bite-sized pieces. Add these to the casserole, too.
  5. Place a lid on the casserole and transfer to the oven. Cook for 15 minutes, then stir in the borlotti beans, replace the lid and return to the oven.
  6. Cook for another 15 minutes, until everything is cooked through and your house smells amazing! Serve with some boiled new potatoes.

There you have it – a totally banging, belly-warming dinner that will feed your body and mind!

Get it down you.
Matt

This recipe is from Dirty Vegan, Matt Pritchard’s first cook book. Order now at Amazon or Waterstones! Published by Mitchell Beazley. Photography by Jamie Orlando Smith and Chris Terry. Dirty Vegan aired on BBC One during January 2019 – find out more on our TV Series page.

Doner Kebabs with Pink Pickle

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Prep: 30 minutes, plus pickling time and overnight chilling for seitan sausage
Cook: 10 minutes

Makes 4

Best eaten on a kerbside at three in the morning, perhaps after having a bit too much to drink. Failing that, you’ll still love this healthy, vegan version of a well-loved junk food classic! The pickle needs to be made in advance but can be used on the day of pickling. It mellows over time and can be stored in the fridge for up to 4 weeks, as long as the liquid covers the veg. You can tweak this recipe endlessly – try Babaganoush or Tahini Dressing instead of hummus, or some Crimson Kraut or Scandi Slaw.

For the pink pickle

150ml cider vinegar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1 teaspoon salt
1 beetroot, peeled and cut into fine matchsticks
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1/2 fennel bulb, very thinly sliced
3 radishes, thinly sliced

For the kebab

sunflower or vegetable oil, for frying
350g Kebab Kofta Seitan Sausage (see recipe below), cut into thin slices
small bunch of mint, chopped
200ml vegan yogurt
4 pitta breads
200g Hummus
80g interesting mixed salad leaves
hot chilli sauce, to taste
2 tablespoons Dukkah

To make the pickle, heat the vinegar, sugar, bay leaf, spices and salt in a pan until dissolved. Pack the sliced veg into a sterilized 500ml clip-top jar. Pour in the warm liquid to the top. Close and leave for at least a few hours until cold, but preferably for a couple of days, if not weeks.

To make the kebabs, heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large frying pan, add the seitan and cook over a medium-high heat for 3–4 minutes, until nicely coloured and heated through.

While the seitan fries, mix the mint into the yogurt. Lightly toast the pittas and split them open along 1 side.

Slather some hummus inside each pitta and add a spoonful of drained pink pickles. Tuck in a small handful of salad leaves, followed by a generous serving of the fried seitan. Add a drizzle of yogurt and as much chilli sauce as you fancy. Finish with a scattering of dukkah. Eat with gusto.

KEBAB KOFTA SAUSAGE
Prep: 15 minutes, plus overnight chilling
Cook: 1 Hour

Makes 700g

230g vital wheat gluten
30g nutritional yeast flakes
2 tablespoons plain flour
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
few turns of black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
320ml vegetable stock
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 tablespoons harissa paste
2 tablespoons olive oil

When fried, seitan has a similar texture to meat that can be put to good use in the vegan kitchen. Think kebabs, paella and sausages in your full breakfast. With this recipe, you can make two large 350g sausages that can be sliced and fried. They will keep well in an airtight container in the fridge for four or five days. As they freeze well (for up to 3 months), so it makes sense to make two, use one fresh and pop one in the freezer for a later date.

Here’s how to make them:

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Add the wet ingredients and knead together, as if making bread, for 5 minutes, until you have a firm dough.
  2. Divide the mixture into 2 equal portions. Form each half into a rough log shape. Lay out a sheet of clingfilm and place 1 log in the centre. Roll the clingfilm around the log, push out any trapped air and twist the ends of the clingfilm together around the log to tighten it into a large sausage shape. This is best done by holding the clingfilm ends and rolling the log along the work surface a few times until the clingfilm is drum-skin tight. Now wrap it neatly in kitchenfoil. Repeat the rolling process with the other half.
  3. Place the wrapped sausages in a large saucepan of water and bring it up to a low simmer. Poach the sausages gently over low heat for 1 hour, topping up the water if necessary, until they feel very firm when squeezed.
  4. Remove the logs from the water and leave to cool, then pop them in the fridge to chill overnight. Don’t remove the wrapping until they are completely chilled, or they will expand and lose their shape.
  5. When ready to cook, simply slice up the sausage and fry the slices in a little oil over medium-high heat for 3 minutes on each side, until coloured and crispy at the edges.

This recipe is from Dirty Vegan, Matt Pritchard’s first cook book. Order now at Amazon or Waterstones!

Published by Mitchell Beazley. Photography by Jamie Orlando Smith and Chris Terry. Dirty Vegan aired on BBC One during January 2019 – find out more on our TV Series page.

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