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Feature: Veganise It!

By Megan Wilman

Surrounded by views of the rolling hills of Surrey, the kitchen was filled with 12 strangers. But they were not here for the sights, rather they were eagerly looking inward and waiting to get started. “The Art of Veg” was ready to get their second vegan cooking demo underway.

Our hosts plied us with refreshments (with a choice of plant milks, naturally) and introduced themselves. Jodie Arwen and Martin Gordon are a couple determined to prove that absolutely anything can be made vegan, and whilst they are not trained chefs they have a mutual passion for cooking which they decided to share, hence the title of “Veganise It” for the workshop.

“Crazy about cooking” Martin Gordon and Jodie Arwen

Having been vegetarian since they met eight years ago, the pair decided to transition to veganism six years later after discovering some uncomfortable facts about the dairy industry, as well as each struggling with intolerances and allergies to animal products.

“We’re both crazy about cooking,” explains Martin, “we started inviting meat eating friends round and they started going vegan. We’ve helped around six or seven friends go vegan just by cooking dinners. It’s inspiring for us.”

And so, class is in session! The first thing on the menu is a vegan favourite: mac and cheese. Jodie informs us this is her “luxury cheese sauce” recipe as she whizzes up all the ingredients in the blender.

Macaroni cheese vegan style

I am particularly intrigued to sample this dish, having never liked mac and cheese pre-vegan, I’ve avoided the dairy-free version. Thankfully my eyes have been opened as we were served a generous helping bursting with flavour. Better yet, instead of studiously taking notes to ensure it can be recreated at home, Jodie and Martin explain each of us will receive a recipe pack at the end of the session, so all there was left to do was enjoy!

Off course, the food was amazing…

Next up was pizza with a twist. Using jackfruit, an Asian food, we were shown how to make pulled “pork” with a homemade barbecue sauce. Instead of conventional dough, puff pastry sheets were used. The mix of textures was offset with a side of crunchy salad with a Caesar dressing.

Pizza with a twist.

Of course, the food was amazing, but what was even more enjoyable was the ambience. Questions were encouraged, and Jodie and Martin demonstrated their deep understanding about food, cooking and nutrition. Audience members shared their own tips and tricks and everyone felt comfortable contributing. Our hosts ensured everyone was at ease and constantly laughing, allowing their sense of humour to shine through.

Next up, breakfast wrap!

Our next dish was one I could not be more excited for: a breakfast wrap. One of my all-time favourite meals, veganised! First, Jodie showed us how to make Burmese tofu using a few simple ingredients.

With a preparation time of less than half an hour and at a total cost of 10p for a giant portion, “miffed” is how I’m politely reflecting on the hours spent pressing expensive blocks of tofu from the supermarket.

…10p for a giant portion…

This recipe makes the perfect egg replacer, seasoned with a little black salt for that “eggy” flavour (which we are kindly given a sample of to take home too!). We are also told how to make “bacon” using different vegetables and a barbecue seasoning. Served with salad and homemade mayonnaise and ketchup, the end result more than satisfied my craving.

“Fish” and chips

The final course was nothing short of genius. “Fish” and chips. So simple to make but honestly had I not seen it made before my very own eyes, I would have been suspicious about its vegan status. Jackfruit made another appearance, marinated in a few herbs and spices then deep fried in batter.

…had I not seen it made before my very own eyes, I would have been suspicious about its vegan status…

Served with minted mushy peas, chips and mango chutney, (FYI, mint will now be a permanent addition to my herb collection for the sole purpose of adding to mushy peas, it’s inspired!). I’ve volunteered to make this at my next vegan pot-luck in the hope of reaping the same “oos” and “ahhs.”

Everyone left feeling full, satisfied and armed with the knowledge to re-create these truly creative dishes. Vegans and foodies can delight in the fact that The Art of Veg has plenty more sessions planned for the future, and hope to expand in order cater for larger audiences.

Find out more about Jodie and Martin at theartofveg.com.

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One Response to Feature: Veganise It!

  1. Gina Redpath Reply

    July 11, 2017 at 9:18 am

    I struggle to go Vegan, it seems so unhealthy and look what it does to your nails.

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