It seems like everybody is going vegan these days as the Vegan Movement is spreading far and wide, whether for the animals, for the planet or for people’s health. It makes sense. Who wants to eat a diet that hurts animals, our planet, and also harms your health?
If you’re interested in going vegan, vegetarian or just want to take a break from eating meat all the time, you’ll probably find yourself hitting a wall at some stage when it comes to finding new non-meat recipes to eat, especially if you’re on a budget.
I know. I receive so many messages asking how I transitioned to a vegan diet.
I was a flexitarian for eight years (mainly vegetarian but I had my moments I could say) so my transition to a vegan diet was pretty painless. Apart from cheese. I can say that life will never be the same without cheese again.
What’s more, I’m a vegan who eats a plant-based diet (no vegan junk food) so I have to think outside of the box when it comes to my meals.
Do you want to know why following a plant-based diet is easy for me?
I love Indian food. Absolutely love it. The spice. The flavours. The different styles of food from different regions of India. Everything about it. Curry is my favourite dish.
I’m English so it should come as no surprise. A shared history with India during those nasty colonial times left its mark. Indian fare is at the top of our nation’s favourite food list.
The love I have for curry runs a little deeper for me. I spent six months travelling around India in 2004, travelling the width and breadth of the land of the holy cow by train, covering thousands of kilometres, and visiting every state apart from Kashmir (a bomb incident the day before I planned to travel to the area stopped me in my tracks).
The food from every region of India is different. Thalis in Gujarat are to die for, masala dosas in South India are sublime, and the food of Northern India in terms of spice and depth of flavour takes a curry to a whole other level. That’s before we get to the different types of bread.
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Here’s an interesting fact. India is naturally one of the best places for a vegan to visit for this reason. Your average cafe/shack where locals eat would be pure veg (vegan), veg (vegetarian) or non-veg (meat and fish), all offering thalis served on banana leaves if you were lucky, instead of a metal plate.
You can ask for a fork if you feel the need but it’s best to eat with your fingers – the feel of the different textures of veg, rice, sambar and pickle mulching through your fingertips adds another layer to the sensory pleasure of each meal.
My Grandma passed on a love for cooking so, during my extended visit, I took Indian cookery classes in most places.
I mastered the spices and the seasoning; roasting, grinding and frying different blends for different dishes.
I was taught how to make idlys and dosas, roti, chapati and fragrant filled naans.
Indeed, I spent a week on Palolem beach in Goa (Jason Bourne film) staying in a little hut while learning the basics of Ayurvedic cooking.
I came back with all the skills I needed to become a pretty decent provider of Indian fare to my friends.
In the years that followed, I’ve travelled back to India many times for short periods, always returning with my suitcase packed full of spices, and new recipes as souvenirs to try out when I got home. Healthy Indian food was on my menu at least a couple of times a week. My friends would beg for a curry if they came for a visit.
Which is why I don’t struggle as a vegan. Indian food is varied and tasty, filled with spice and heat, if you wish. There are so many types of Indian dishes all with their own unique flavour, and most dishes can be adapted to vegan or vegetarian dishes, replacing meat with lentils, chickpeas or vegetables.
You’ll also notice the difference in your pocket. If you buy lentils, peas, rice and flour in bulk, you’ll be surprised just how low-cost Indian food can be.
So, if you are vegan/want to become vegan or just want to reduce the amount of meat you eat, pick up a veg Indian cookbook and buy the basics. You don’t need any special equipment, as such, just a desire to experiment.
You’ll soon be cooking up an Indian treat.
Enjoy my musings? Check out my first book, The Adventures Of A Wild Woman On The Camino De Santiago, my story of an adventure of a lifetime. Available to order now. Click the link below for details.
(c) Samantha Wilson 2020. All Rights Reserved.