When I was a child I was a ‘fussy eater’. I wouldn’t eat anything that had sauce on it, my baked beans couldn’t touch the rest of my food and I mostly ate frozen meals. My mother wasn’t a cook, so my sister and I lived on potato smiley faces, dinosaur shaped chicken nuggets, fish fingers and tasteless frozen vegetables. When I was younger, my mother would tell me “no, Laura don’t eat that, you won’t like it” and this fed into my unhealthy eating habits. The lack of vegetables and the high quantity of red meat that was on offer meant that I had been completely put off food at a young age. I became a vegetarian after volunteering on a farm, I didn’t want to eat meat any more. You would assume that I would transition to a more plant-based diet, but that was not the case, instead my mother replaced processed meat with processed vegetarian sausages, burgers and sausage rolls. Whilst this wasn’t worse, I still wasn’t getting the fruit and vegetables that I needed.
When I got older, the only things that I would eat were plain pasta and plain potatoes. I went to a friend’s house when I was 16 and she was having something exotic called tomato pesto, I asked her if it would be OK with her if I just ate plain pasta with olive oil (the olive oil being very adventurous for me as I usually ate pasta completely plain). At school, in food classes I wasn’t sure what was going on, I didn’t really understand how to do the basics, I couldn’t follow a recipe, and there was no chance that I could actually improvise when making a meal. In one of my classes we were allowed to make a recipe of our own choice, and I decided on making the exotic pesto, I didn’t realise that simply pesto (just ordinary basil pesto) and pasta without any vegetables did not constitute a full meal. I thought that it was something new and exciting to make and didn’t even realise that this was a fairy ordinary and incomplete meal.
I was a vegetarian when I went to India, I was 18 years old and I had never even tried a pepper before. I tried it in India, along with many other things such as hummus, and it was such as relief to eat more like a ‘normal’ person. But I was still known as the ‘fussy’ one.
Even today I am reluctant to try new food, I just have to be in the right frame of mind to try something new. People tease me a bit about being a ‘fussy eater’, but I’m nowhere near as bad as I used to be. There are so many amazing types of food that I never tried as a child, so many vegetables that I’m sure I would have loved had I been given the chance. I read an article about giving new food to children it said that they are unlikely to like it unless you repeatedly give it to them, perhaps about 15 times, I wish my mother would have done that for me with vegetables.
Before I became a vegan I never really baked, I made my first cake when I was 19 and at university. It was a lemon drizzle cake and it was made in a microwave oven, my friend taught me how to do it, and I was pleasantly surprised by the results. I made a couple more cakes, but I tended to avoid baking. On the cooking side I was getting less fussy, I tried new and exciting things like bean burgers, I got over my hatred for tomato sauce and I even learnt how to make pancakes, something I had once thought was incredibly complicated and so got used to having them ready-made in packets from Tesco.
Just over three months ago I became a vegan. My family reacted with their traditional response of “oh Laura, you’re such a fussy eater, what can we possibly feed you?” I want to respond to this by telling them that there are many different types of food that you can eat that are vegan, and it’s not just me who is fussy, it’s also you for not being willing to try vegan food.
When I became a vegan I realised that I had a lot to learn about food. By now I could cook fairly good vegan meals like curries, pasta, stews and all the basics really, so that was no longer a problem. The problem was baking, I realised that I would no longer be able to buy different types of snack food, I couldn’t really just grab a cookie from a supermarket or bakery as they simply didn’t make them vegan. So I learnt to bake, and I set up this blog as a way to document this for myself, to show myself how far I’ve come, what I’ve learnt, and to measure my progress. So these recipe on this blog are for everyone who is new to baking, is scared and confused by it, who wants to become a vegan, but also doesn’t want to miss out on the occasional treats. This blog is a beginner’s guide to vegan baking. I hope it helps.