I’ve been home for the long weekend, as I had some time off work because the Students’ Union was closed. It’s been a well-earned break from work, revision, and my dissertation as well as a chance to catch up on some much-needed rest. My parents decided to eat some vegan meals with me whilst I was at home, so I thought I’d write about their experience.
Vegan Meals and Products
We had a buffet style lunch on Saturday with some convenience products like Asda popcorn ‘chicken’ and Linda McCartney Miniature ‘Pork’ and Apple Sausage Rolls as well as Quorn Fishless Fingers and Spicy burgers. Both my mum and dad said that the products were good, and with the ‘chicken’ and ‘sausage’ rolls you could fool a meat-eater with those products if they didn’t know what they were eating. The Spicy burgers are probably most different to other meats, but mum and dad both enjoyed them.
However, the roast cauliflower and ‘meatballs’ were not such big hits. My parents both thought the meatballs looked very close to the beefy equivalent so were disappointed with the unusual taste of the textured soy protein. Although the roasted cauliflower was tasty, both mum and dad missed meat from their plate and were left unfulfilled after our Easter Sunday Roast. The best thing about the roast cauliflower was how easy and quick it was to cook, according to my mum, and overall Sunday lunch was much simpler.
I had a variety of specifically vegan products for my parents to try, including oat milk and Vego chocolate bars. Reaction to both was underwhelming, and my parents didn’t seem fused with many of these products (perhaps because they both had Crème Egg Easter Eggs to look forward to!). Although my dad said that oat milk didn’t make his tea taste disgusting, he wouldn’t switch permanently. Neither of my parents liked my vegan ‘cheese’ either, saying that it was ‘too cheesy’ for them – I’d opted for Vegusto Piquant as a substitute for a very strong cheddar, which they don’t like anyway.
One of the things that people are shocked about when transitioning to a vegan lifestyle or a more plant-based diet is the amount of ‘accidentally’ vegan products available in supermarkets. An accidentally vegan product is something that is not labelled vegan, or designed to be vegan, but because of ingredients is totally vegan! (like Oreos, many brands of Bourbon biscuits, or chocolate chip hobnobs) This weekend, I made sure to include lots of these products in my meals with my parents. So we had Bisto Original Gravy and Tesco Sage and Onion Stuffing with our Roast Cauliflower on Easter Sunday, and Tesco Every Day Value Garlic Bread (actually labelled vegan!) with our ‘Meatballs’ and Spaghetti. Mum and dad also chowed down on an Asda build your own vegetable pizza without the cheese, which they both enjoyed and my mum even preferred to a ‘regular’ pizza. Our buffet lunch included Lightly Salted Doritos and a sliced Tiger Baguette from Asda, and we snacked on bourbon biscuits and Asda apple and cinnamon hot cross buns. My mum said these made food shopping with me easier.
I went food shopping with my mum on Good Friday and she picked up ingredients for some meals she’d planned for me. She reckons that overall it was a lot easier than she expected to do vegan grocery shopping, and that she only spent slightly more on food than she does most weeks because she had an extra person in the house. Living in the countryside, one thing my mum did say is that she thinks it would take a lot of planning to have enough food in for the week (especially more specialist items, like plant based milks).
It’s getting easier to find vegan versions of things, and Asda have recently released frozen popcorn ‘chicken’ and ‘meatballs’ which makes shopping in a hurry easier and makes it quicker to make lazy plant based meals. These meat substitutes make it easier for vegans, like me, that didn’t go vegan because they weren’t a fan of the taste or texture of meat and to me they can only be a good thing if they help people switch one or two meals a week vegan or vegetarian.
The Overall Experience
I’m super proud of my parents for trying vegan meals with me this weekend, and it was nice to be able to share meals with them. Not to mention, having the same meals made it easier for whoever was cooking and produced a lot less washing up! My mum said it was a lot easier than she thought, and if she could get over her fear of replacement milk in tea (which is very important to her) and move past her love for bacon she’d be 60-70% likely to go vegan. However, she has a medical condition that means she’d never be able to go fully vegan.
I knew my dad, who works as a butcher, would be harder to convince. He said it was “alright for the weekend” but wouldn’t want to do it all the while, but he was pleasantly surprised by the range of food we ate while I was at home. Neither of my parents are going to become vegan or vegetarian, but I’m thrilled to hear they’re going to try and do a few meat free dinners each week.