Written by Isabel Butler (MSc, ANutr), Nutritionist at Spoon Guru, www.spoon.guru

Don't panic!

Don't panic!

Valentine’s Day is meant to be a wonderful time of the year, one where you have the chance to celebrate your love for another. But there’s no doubt that executing a perfect Valentine’s Day meal can be a lot of work. Imagine this effort magnified if your partner has different dietary requirements to yourself. We’ve put together a few tips for people with vegan partners, to make cooking a vegan Valentine’s meal a breeze.

Vegans do not eat any animal products including meat, dairy, eggs, and honey, which may seem to limit the ingredients available, but don’t panic. There are so many great plant based alternatives that can become part of a delicious romantic feast.

To start, why not put together a sumptuous platter? Sharing food together is the only way to begin a Valentine’s evening. You could opt for Mediterranean fare and have olives, hummus, sun dried tomatoes, carrot sticks, bread, and vegan cheese (there are plenty of independent and supermarket own versions out there!).

If you’re really trying to impress, how about bruschetta, made from homemade bread? You’ll know exactly which ingredients you’ve used and won’t have to check for egg, milk, or honey at all. Some shop bought breads can include these non-vegan ingredients. Either top your bruschetta traditionally, using fresh tomatoes, onion, and olive oil, or add avocado and lemon juice to give it an edge. For a totally different topping, try roasted vegetables like peppers and courgettes, drizzled with balsamic vinegar.

Now for the main course. Italian cuisine is often synonymous with romance. Why not cook mushroom and spinach tagliatelle, and simply replace the milk in the creamy sauce with a plant based alternative like soya or almond milk? Mushrooms are also really good for you. They’re full of B vitamins which help the immune system. Perfect for this time of year.

If you’re looking for a heartier dish to eat in front of a roaring fire, try a beetroot and squash wellington with dauphinoise potatoes. Replacing the beef and parma ham with squash and beetroot will make for a wholesome, tasty meal. Beetroot is full of iron which is good for us ladies, and squashes are a source of beta-carotene which is needed for vitamin A. For your dauphinoise potatoes, make sure you swap the dairy for plant based alternatives such as soya cream and milk. Your vegan partner will love you forever.

Final stop, dessert! Luckily, there are plenty of recipes available for vegan puddings. Strawberries dipped in chocolate are one of the simplest and most traditional Valentine’s Day sweet treats. You’ll find that most dark chocolate doesn’t contain milk, and so is perfect for vegans. If you’re more adventurous, try making your own chocolate mousse using whisked chickpea water instead of egg and serve with fresh raspberries and raspberry sorbet.

Let’s not forget the details. Why not hand make some vegan truffles? Use coconut oil and coconut milk to replace the normal butter and cream. To finish, check that your prosecco is suitable for vegans, and when setting the scene, don’t forget to light the vegan candles!