What would you say are the key benefits to a plant-based lifestyle?
There are so many benefits, I don’t know where to begin! The feeling you have after transitioning to a plant-based lifestyle is amazing – you feel lighter, brighter and with more energy. So many people say their skin clears up and their weight settles… It is the very feeling of health. While I still feel light, bright and clear-headed, I think the novelty has worn off.
That said, I feel mentally great, too, knowing that I am causing the least amount of harm in the world. Promoting kindness and compassion through my food and lifestyle choices helps me to live happily and healthily.
There are also so many options and eating plant-based has allowed me to become much more inventive in the kitchen and opened my eyes to new ingredients and flavours.
Why would you encourage people to go vegan this January?
I would encourage friends and family to try veganism for the month of January as it takes the pressure off the decision to “go vegan”. Lots of people say they could never go vegan because they’d miss bacon sandwiches, eggs, cheese etc too much so here’s a window of 31 days to see how you cope without the pressure. I would ask them to note down how the feel mentally and physically throughout the month and predict that they’ll feel amazing afterwards.
Which egg/dairy alternatives would you recommend for baking?
It is really much easier to cook without eggs than you may think. Aquafaba is a very trendy ingredient – the liquid from a tin of chickpeas. It behaves in the same way as egg white and you can whip it into stiff peaks to make meringues and chocolate mousses as well as stirring into cake batters. I also love using chia or flax seeds to make chia or flax eggs – simply stir the seeds with 3 tbsp water to form the equivalent of one egg (it will be a gloopy gel consistency!).
As far as dairy is concerned, there is such an array of products. With milk you can swap dairy milk like-for-like with almond, oat, soya, coconut, cashew, tigernut, hemp, or pea milk for example. For things like buttermilk, add in 1 tbsp lemon juice or white vinegar to roughly 1 cup of plant-based milk and leave to curdle for 10 minutes to form “buttermilk”.
For cheese, switch up dairy cheese and look for non-dairy varieties in the shops and the same can be said with ice cream, pouring cream, cream cheese and desserts!
What is your favourite vegan friendly Divine Chocolate product and why?
I am a huge fan of the dark chocolate range from Divine Chocolate that happens to be vegan-friendly. It depends what mood I am in, but two firm favourites are the Pink Himalayan Salt and the Hazelnut – which tastes like dark Nutella. They are both great for baking and enjoyed in the evening as a snack. I also love the 2019 Christmas special Smooth Dark with Clementine for a refreshing chocolate bar. I have to add, too, my addiction to the Organic Dark Chocolate with Cacao Nibs as I love the crunch.