My obsession with food has recently made me interested in diet related challenges. I don’t mean dieting per se but restricting certain foods as a way of practising discipline, being a bit healthier or broadening my foodie horizons. Aside from all the religious benefits, Lent provides a perfect opportunity to alter one’s diet for a significant time but knowing the end is always in sight. This year’s Lenten semi-fast was Vegan.
Chris and I have tried a month of going vegan in the past (Vegebruary rather than Veganuary partly because we missed the boat and partly because 28 days is more appealing than 31). It’s a good way of dipping your toes into veganism without feeling like you’ll never eat cheese again. I like the challenge but I especially like the fact it forces me to cook and eat things that I wouldn’t normally and it gets me out of the rut of making the same things every week.
One of the biggest challenges of having a vegan diet is eating out but the trendiness of veganism is making this easier all the time. On the 2nd weekend of Lent we found ourselves with 20 hours in Leeds as part of a wedding planning trip up North. I was excited by the prospect of being in a city I’ve never been to before as I knew there’d be the chance to try some cool places for food. To be honest, Leeds is so big that restricting our search to just vegan/vegan-friendly places probably made things easier.
We had lunch en route which ended up being crisps and a greggs vegan sausage roll (absolutely delicious – no apologies here.) Once in Leeds, we did some research into where to eat and found three places that we wanted to try on the Saturday:
Coffee and cake at Roots and Fruits
Drinks and bar snacks at The Old Red Bus Station (we also had vegan mac’n’cheese balls but were so hungry that we ate them before I could take a picture).
Dinner at Knave’s Kitchen
My favourite food of our short trip to Leeds came the next morning when we opted out of the hotel’s offering and went to a cool vegan-friendly café for breakfast. The grub and grog shop offers meat, veggie and vegan dishes and quirkily makes vegan the default on their menu, adding (m) and (v) if things aren’t vegan. The venue itself was a lovely space and had a collection of board and card games so we played Dobble while we waited for our breakfast.
This place really understands doing vegan food right. The vegan breakfast that we both had wasn’t just a full English without the meat or with dodgy vegan sausages sub-ed in. It was made up of red cabbage fritters, homemade hash browns, mushrooms, funky beans and sourdough toast – nothing like what you might expect in a cooked breakfast but actually really great. The beans were so good I asked the waiter about them – they were a healthier version of baked beans made by an independent company and tins of them were available to buy in the café. I really wish I did or got the name of them because they were truly the best beans I’ve ever had! They were tangy and fruity and more than made up for the lack of meat flavour in the meal.
I tried to replicate bits of this breakfast at home last week and was pretty successful. For the beans, I added a tablespoon of chutney, a sprinkle of garlic powder and paprika and drizzle of sriracha and cooked it through. It worked so well and I can really see myself doing this now whenever I have beans!
If you happen to be in Leeds for breakfast, The Grub and Grogg shop is definetly worth checking out – whether you’re vegan or not. Otherwise, put some chutney in your beans and just thank me later.