Upon hearing of my recently published cookbook, HUNGRY SOUL – How to Cook, 100% Vegan, Female First asked if I could explain why there was a misconception around vegan cooking being ‘boring’. I had to laugh at the suggestion – boring? I think boring and vegan cooking is an oxymoron.

Jacques Brennan writes an exclusive piece for Female First

Jacques Brennan writes an exclusive piece for Female First

I have been cooking all my life. Vegetarian at first and then vegan, and I consider the act of cooking to be a creative one – creative cooking is not boring. On further reflection I had to put myself in the position of omnivores who may be used to the standard “meat and two veg meals”. The vegetables are vegan, so if you remove the meat, what you have left can seem a bit boring. In fact, when people are transitioning from an omnivore or vegetarian diet to a plant-based one, without looking for new ways of cooking, new recipes, they can get bored with their food. And they may also run the risk of becoming malnourished, run down and often gain weight.

A friend, who has recently adopted a vegan lifestyle, was happily eating at my table and of course, for us vegans, food is always at the centre of our conversations. Between a bite of pizza and a sip of wine, he exclaimed, “ It hasn’t been much of a problem going vegan and I like it, but somehow I cannot get rid of the weight”. He had put on few pounds, which one normally does not associate with vegans, rather the contrary. When I asked what he ate, he said mostly pasta and lots of bread. I love bread as well, we all love bread, but as a staple even good whole wheat, spelt, or sourdough bread is not enough.

In order to eat correctly we need a balanced diet, this is as important to omnivores and vegetarians as it is to vegans. We need vitamins, fats, starches and proteins – variety is the key to obtaining all these. When I became vegan, after a lifetime on a vegetarian diet, I was worried about the things I would be missing; the cheese, the cream sauces, the omelettes, the cakes … there was a period when I craved some of them, but I adapted. I began to explore cooking with different beans, lentils, tofu and before long my repertoire expanded so much that I couldn’t believe I hadn’t become vegan many years earlier, I was eating so much better.

If you still think vegan food is boring, you only need look at all the recipes and suggestions in the lifestyle section in Female First, the colours alone say it all – so vibrant, healthy and I am sure tasty!

Perhaps some equate boring for lack of taste and this can be the case. Food with lack of taste, be it vegan or otherwise is worse than boring, it is a disappointment. Tasty food to me is what it is all about. I cook for taste first. Yes, it must be vegan, it should be healthy but if it does not taste good, I don’t want it. Tasty food is fresh, never overcooked and simple, allowing the flavours of the vegetables, grains and pulses to come through … perhaps with a drop of good oil, a pinch of salt and fresh herbs. Bon appétit!

Jacques Brennan's brilliant new book HUNGRY SOUL: How To Cook 100% Vegan is available now.

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