The Coronavirus Diaries, 13th March 2021

We’re Zooming again tonight but this time everyone is self-catering. I am having scrambled tofu with mushrooms, leeks, spinach, garlic and brown rice. Pudding will be blueberries and plain, unsweetened soya yoghurt. I’d like to have eaten before we meet up, but I was reading the last John le Carré lent to me by Michèle and I didn’t realise it was so late.

The new veganism is still bothering me. I am the only vegan among my friends. I cook them vegan food that doesn’t pretend to be anything else and they like it. I remain unconvinced their reaction would be positive if I were to present them with fake meat, even if I liked it. I do have some fake cheese at the moment. I quite like the fake smoked cheese, and I definitely like the soft cheeses. Except I don’t really think of them as cheese. The current cheese is different. Fake Red Leicester. It is, I have discovered, just perfect in a toasted sandwich.

Still, I doubt if I shall be buying it every week. Maybe my meat eating friends who have expanded their repertoire of non-meat meals with scrambled tofu, red bean stew, curried lentil soup, red cabbage soup or whatever would like to jump in here. I doubt if any will embrace veganism, but they already make and eat a variety of vegetarian and vegan meals without my influence. Like me, they just like good food. However, if I were out to proselytise, the meals we share now are still the ones I’d be making.

I get the fake idea, but surely it’s just for a transitional phase? A bit like puréed baby food before the child is ready to explore new textures, tastes, to discover the crunch when you bite into an apple, the combination of soft and chewy food on the same plate, the marriage of olives with just about anything.

New veganism seems to be all about looking back, a reluctance to move on. It’s unimaginative: a denial that vegan food that doesn’t ape meat is exciting, tasty and appetising. To be so very wedded to the concept that meat is best, even if it’s fake meat, is misguided and blinkered. Compare it to travel. You might love the Peak District, but that doesn’t mean you can’t also love Suffolk. You don’t have to choose one above the other.

Stay safe. Keep well. Bon appétit.

4 thoughts on “The Coronavirus Diaries, 13th March 2021

  1. I agree with you. I have, in all my years as a vegetarian, never felt the need to eat pretend meat. There is such a wealth of tasty meals out there that it never crossed my mind. I have to admit that I have not taken the next step to become a vegan despite my youngest daughter being one.

    • The philosophy behind new veganism with its fake this and its fake that both puzzles and bothers me. I wonder how much of it is business/product lead, marketing over food.

  2. I agree.

    What really worries me is that the fake meat/dairy products are technological marvels, which means that they are highly refined. Arguably the greatest problem of the current western world diet is that so much of the food we eat is highly refined. It can be very damaging to our health.

    There is a lot of evidence that a predominantly plant-based diet is the healthiest of all. But that is when the plants are real. They do not confer the same health benefits when they have been deconstructed, lost their structure, had their fibre removed, been mixed with lots of additional chemicals and then reconstructed.

    • It would be fascinating to look fifty, or even twenty years into the future to see how this plays out. I just had a lunch of pasta with butter beans, mushrooms, olives, wilted spinach and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Nothing fake in sight. It was delicious. However, I do love a vegan Magnum!

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