Before I get to telling you about a very good night I had recently at The Old Bicycle Shop, Cambridge, here’s a confession of a wannabe Vegan: I really, really like eggs.
Unlike a lot of veggies turning vegan, I can completely imagine a life without dairy. I don’t really love cheese, it makes me feel crummy. I prefer soya yoghurt to dairy. Coconut ice cream is yum. But eggs? They make my world complete.
But even if I buy the nicest, freest-range eggs out there – what about all the male chicks that get killed in the process? And how do we really know what the farming conditions are when we buy eggs from the supermarket? I came to the conclusion last week that I need to find some local eggs so that I can be safe in the knowledge that the hens are treated humanely and are happy.
Then last Monday morning as I was getting in my car, a neighbour I barely know literally ran across the street to ask where my shoes were from. And then a lightbulb went off in my head – she has hens in her backyard! DING DING DING. So I asked if I could buy some eggs off her and she said she’d charge me a whole pound…
Universe, you’re a wild and wonderful thing.
So I’m not going vegan (yet). I’m compromising. I’m going to eat happy hen eggs and I’ll likely still eat cheese from time to time. But I’m certainly becoming more conscious about my consumption and use of animal products, and thus I was DELIGHTED to win tickets to the Old Bicycle Shop’s Vegan Supper on Sunday night.
And flip, was it fun!
First off, I’ll share some pics of the food. I’m kicking myself slightly for not taking any photos, but the intimacy of the meal meant that it didn’t feel polite to take my phone out. Luckily someone in the kitchen snapped each exquisitely assembled course so there is some photographic evidence of the yummy nosh. (Images courtesy of @OldBicycleShop on Instagram)
Whilst all the courses were delicious, I have to tell you about THAT kebab in the bottom picture. It looks underwhelming; it tasted out of this world. It’s a paprika and cumin seasoned “pulled” Jackfruit that tasted like chicken! The texture was just fantastic.
Next up: the company! A wonderful, intelligent cast of characters from diverse backgrounds sat round a table discussing a contentious issue over alcohol. You get the picture. Not everyone was vegan and there were actually a few meat eaters present. Although the night was focused on the health benefits of veganism, there was much debate about the ethics and environmental factors and at many points I felt as if I was in an episode of Come Dine With Me. I adored it and hope to attend more supper clubs with beautiful strangers in the future.
Finally, the educational takeaways: Mike Hill, founder of the vegan pizza company ‘One Planet Pizza‘ was a fantastic and engaging host who talked us through the health benefits of plant-based diet and tips for being a healthy vegan. There is quite a lot to consider – how to balance your Omega 3s, 6s and 9s, how to get enough protein (answer: easy), how to include B12 in your diet etc. Actually all of this is pretty straightforward once you educate yourself, and I suspect that purely by reading labels and paying attention, most vegans are much better at including the right nutritional elements in their diets than most of the general population.
Some other “food for thought”:
- Is being an occasional meat eater who doesn’t eat dairy actually more ethical than being a vegetarian who eats a lot of dairy? (This argument opened my eyes to cruelty in dairy industry and was an excellent point.)
- You can be very fit and strong on a vegan diet. Mike is testament to that – he runs marathons and partakes in Iron Man competitions. Another beautiful vegan at the table – who was positively glowing! – attributes surviving chemotherapy and staying 7 years cancer-free with her improved diet.
- Some good TV shows and documentaries to watch about veganism: Carnage, Cowspiracy, What the Health?
- There are not enough (actually, 1) vegan restaurants in Cambridge and people are often traveling to Norwich or beyond to get their fix. Sort it out, Cambridge!
- Vegan food can be DELICIOUS!
Thanks to both Mike and The Old Bicycle Shop for a wonderful evening. OBS – I can’t wait to see some of these vegan dishes on your regular menu (hint… that Jackfruit!!!) and I will be visiting Mike’s veggie restaurant in Norwich, soon.