We store cookies on your device to make sure we give you the best experience on this website. I'm fine with this - Turn cookies off
Switch to an accessible version of this website which is easier to read. (requires cookies)

Veganuary and a Recipe for Lentil, Haricot Bean and Mushroom Roast

March 5, 2021 7:16 PM
By Diana Catton
Mother Swan (Joanne Barton, GLD)

For several years now I have taken part in Veganuary, a month of trying out the vegan diet during January, hence the play on words.

Veganuary itself was started in the UK 14 years ago as a non-profit organisation by Jane Land_and_Matthew Glover, who have been passionate vegans for many years. In 2014 3,300 people signed up, and the growth in participation has been remarkable, suggesting veganism fits in with the general Zeitgeist. Each year more and more people join in, and veganism as a dietary choice has been gaining hugely in popularity, particularly amongst people who align themselves with green issues. It is well known, for example, that it takes eight times as much land to produce a kilo of meat protein as it does to produce a kilo of vegetarian protein, added to which of course, are the methane and other nasty things produced by the animals, and the fact that they eat food which could be given to humans. If everybody was vegan we could easily feed the world, assuming the politics allowed us to. All of these considerations make veganism very attractive to people who are trying to save the planet. Almost 600,000 signed up for the Veganuary 2021 challenge, and that is just the people who sign up for things. Many, many others will have tried it out without signing up. In fact, it is thought that ten times more people actually participate than register. Before this year more than one million had registered, although I suspect that many of them, like myself, have gone vegan every January for several years now. When you see the plant-based options which have become available in the supermarkets it is easy to appreciate the impact Veganuary and other initiatives have had.

The Veganuary press pack gives an idea of the impact one million people eating vegan for a month has on the planet, courtesy of Harvard University's Dr Helen Harwatt from the Animal Law and Policy Program. Enough carbon dioxide to drive around the world almost 15,000 times, 1,645 tonnes of sewage spared from waterways, 6.2 million litres of water saved (that equates to flushing the loo almost half a million times), not forgetting the lives of 3.4 million animals spared.

Unsurprisingly perhaps, the people who tried veganism in January 2019 represented 4.7% of the total UK population, with an average age of 41, and two thirds of them were female. Most of them wanted to be healthier, half were concerned about animal welfare and about one third joined for environmental reasons (source Kantar, FMCG panel, Veganuary LinkQ - July 2019). Of those who actually signed up in 2020, the gender bias was even more pronounced, with 83% of the participants being female. They ranged in age from 13 to over 75, with the mode age being 25-34. Reasons for participating were split between animal welfare and the environment, with personal health coming third. Before January 2020 half of the registrants had a traditional omnivorous diet, 30% were vegetarian and 19% were already vegan.
So, I went out shopping and bought the food for the first week's recipes, really looking forward to it as I loved the new ways with food I discovered in previous Veganuaries.
Then I looked at the labels. Almost everything had been shipped in from halfway round the world and I saw things a little differently. In fact I was horrified. I don't need to eat avocadoes and asparagus in January. What I really need to do if I believe in saving the planet is to eat locally sourced produce, but that is easier said than done as so many vegan products are grown elsewhere.

So I set about trying to find a few recipes which would only use UK sourced ingredients and it was not as easy as you might think. However, whilst accepting that some things will still have to be bought in until you get your greenhouse, windowsill and raised beds sorted, and some spices will only grow in far-flung places, let's do our best to be both animal- and planet-friendly! Here is a selection of locally-sourced ingredients which are around in the early part of the year and which make some delicious meals too.
Apples, Beetroot, Brussels Sprouts, Carrots, Celeriac, Celery, Chicory, Jerusalem Artichokes, Kale, Leeks, Mushrooms, Onions, Parsnips, Pears, Red Cabbage, Salsify, Savoy Cabbage, Spring Greens, Spring Onions, Squash, Swedes, Turnips, White Cabbage, Purple Sprouting Broccoli (source: The Vegetarian Society https://vegsoc.org). UK grown tomatoes are also available in my local supermarket.
A great thing to cook this time of year is a hearty chunky soup. Start by sautéing a base of onion, celery and carrot; then add other vegetables with vegetable stock and cook until the vegetables are soft. Then add herbs, spices, ready-cooked pulses and any leafy vegetables. Cook for another five minutes or so then serve.

Pulses were an issue for me until I did some research, as most of the ones we eat are imported. I found a wonderful website set up by the Sustainable Food Trust sustainablefoodtrust.org called Hodmedods (hodmedods.co.uk), which sells and provides recipes for all kinds of UK grown pulses.

Here is one of their recipes, Lentil, Haricot Bean and Mushroom Roast, which they took from The Cook and Him ( http://thecookandhim.com), and I have made a couple of changes to make ingredients more UK sourced and methods more sustainable:

Of course, the shops are currently full of wonderful British apples and pears, and if you froze, pickled or canned last year's garden produce you will have plenty of choice, including frozen herbs. If you do not have a garden you can still buy seasonal UK-sourced produce when it is cheap and preserve it for future use. It is always worthwhile freezing berries picked whilst out walking, and many streets have plum trees growing at the side of the road with fruit available for all. I picked the sweet chestnuts from public trees where I used to live and other people had no idea that they were edible (as opposed to horse chestnuts, which are used as conkers by children).

I shall now write a regular article with seasonal recipes to make it easier to save the planet as well as the animals!

Diana Catton

Serves 6-8
• 115g_Red Haricot Beans
• 115g_Whole Lentils
• Drizzle of cold pressed UK sourced rapeseed Oil
• 1 Red Onion, peeled and finely diced
• 3 cloves Garlic, peeled and crushed
• 2 Portobello Mushrooms, diced small
• 1 Carrot, grated
• ½ Pepper, diced small (the colour of pepper is up to you - yellow and red are sweeter!). If your store of home grown frozen or dried peppers is used up, try a fresh UK sourced tomato
• 1 tsp Dried Thyme
• 1 tsp Dried Rosemary
• 4 tbsp Nutritional Yeast
• 1½ cups_Quinoa Flakes
• 1 Vegetable Stock cube dissolved in ½ cup water
• Salt and Pepper to season

1. Put the haricot beans in a small saucepan, cover completely with cold water, bring to the boil then reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 40 minutes.
2. Give the lentils a rinse under cold water then add to the saucepan with the beans, adding more water to cover, bring back to the boil and simmer both for 20 minutes.
3. Keep an eye on the water level and as it evaporates just top up with more water, stirring occasionally.
4. Drain thoroughly.
5. While the beans and lentils are cooking prepare all the veg - peeling, crushing and dicing as listed in the ingredients.
6. Heat the oven to 160 Fan / 180 C / 350 F / Gas 4 and lay a piece of greaseproof across the middle of a 2lb loaf tin so it overhangs the long sides - this just helps you lift out the loaf once cooked. Rub a little oil on the two uncovered ends of the tin.
7. In a large frying pan drizzle the oil and gently sauté the onion and garlic for just a couple of minutes.
8. Add the grated carrot, diced mushrooms and pepper/tomato and cook gently, stirring, for another couple of minutes.
9. Tip in the cooked beans and lentils and stir well.
10. Add the dried herbs, nutritional yeast, quinoa flakes and plenty of salt and pepper and give everything a good stir.
11. Add the vegetable stock and give a last stir.
12. Tip it all into your prepared tin, pressing down firmly, place onto a baking tray (this just makes it easier to get the tin in and out of the oven!) and bake for 1 hour 30 minutes when it should feel firm to the touch.
13. If you're serving immediately, you'll need to give it around 15 minutes before trying to slice.
14. Run a knife along the ends without the greaseproof then gently lift the loaf out onto a board and use a sharp, serrated knife to cut thick slices.
NB If you're making this ahead you can do this to two different stages:
• Make up to the point of cooking it then chill, covered, in the fridge for 4-5 days. If you remember, before cooking, bring out of the fridge and leave at room temp for an hour before cooking. If not you might need to cook it a little longer to make sure it's firm enough to slice.
• By far the easiest way to ensure lovely slices is to cook in advance then leave to cool completely, chill and then slice. Keep chilled in the fridge for 4-5 days. To reheat just lay the slices on a prepared tray, cover with another tray then reheat at 180 Fan / 200 C / 400 F / Gas 6 for around 25 minutes.
This is also absolutely fantastic the next day in a sandwich with some pickle!

Mother Swan (Joanne Barton, GLD)