• Many high profile celebrities are followers of veganism
  • There are approximately 150,000 vegans in the UK
  • Try a great recipe for vegan meatballs

Most people struggle with what it is that vegans actually eat. This guide debunks the myths and offers a recipe for vegan meatballs.

Veganism is the 'new cool'. You might have caught some of the activities that took place on 1st November – World Vegan day – and want to learn a bit more about this lifestyle.

Jennifer Lopez is new to it, while Beyonce and Jay-Z dip in and out of it. Brad Pitt and Russell Crowe are long-time advocates of it, as are Natalie Portman and Bill Clinton. Hip stars like Lea Michele, Jared Leto and Olivia Wilde also swear by it.

Presently, in the UK, there are around 1.2 million vegetarians (making up two per cent of the population). Within that, approximately 150,000 are vegans and, last year alone, 40 per cent more gave it a go.

Interestingly, against the backdrop, there is still a lot of uncertainty about what vegans actually eat and whether it is actually a healthy lifestyle. This ambiguity and confusion creates falsehoods, which, in turn, can put people off.

Let’s look at what the exclusively plant-based diet allows for. It's not easy mind you, as modifying your eating habits has pros and cons.

For example, speaking to the daily mail recently, Henrietta Norton, co-founder Wild Nutrition, said that while you may benefit from a higher intake of vegetables and pulses, you can run the risk of "limiting your intake of key macro and micro nutrients".

Key to being a healthy and happy vegan is therefore balance and a proactive, on-the-ball attitude about what you consume. If you're looking for more detailed information, please check out the Vegan Society's website.

So, the diet includes:

  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Starchy foods
  • Non-dairy sources of protein
  • Dairy alternatives like soya milk

In reality, they share a lot of similarities with vegetarians, the most notable distinction being things like cheese, milk and yoghurts.

In short, no meat, fish or produce that has come from animals (dairy and eggs), which leaves, contrary to popular opinion, a whole range of delicious and nutritional foods that, if varied and balanced, will provide you with all the nutrients you need.

If you're unsure about any aspects of this lifestyle, we recommend you consult with your GP before committing to veganism.

If you fancy trying out a top vegan dishes that pack as 'meaty punch', this dish will give you the substance, the aesthetic and the texture needed to give your senses all the necessary stimuli.

Vegan spaghetti meatballs - The key ingredients for the meatballs are sunflower seeds.

Ingredients

(Spaghetti and sauce not included – we reckon you've got this nailed.)

  • Half a cup of sunflower seeds
  • One cup of black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • One cup of frozen cooked brown rice (thawed)
  • Half a chopped onion
  • Handful of spinach
  • Handful of mushrooms
  • Two cloves of garlic (chopped finely)
  • Tablespoon of olive oil
  • Basil and oregano herbs (fresh or dry)

Method:

  1. Set the oven on to 350F/Gas mark 4
  2. Heat oil in a medium-sized pan and add chopped onion and garlic. Cook until tender and then add in chopped mushrooms and spinach. Cover and allow cooking for five minutes until the mushrooms are tender and the spinach has wilted. Add a pinch of salt.
  3. Place sunflower seeds in a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. Take the mixture off the heat and add, along with half a cup of black beans and the herbs. Pulse further until the mixture comes together and then in a bowl mix in the remaining beans and rice.
  4. Roll into little balls and place on an oiled baking tray. Place in the centre of the oven for 30 minutes or until they look cooked. Mix with spaghetti and sauce and serve.