Virtually Vegan

Virtually Vegan by Heather Whinney

Virtually Vegan

To ‘ve-gan’ or not to ‘ve-gan’? That is the question!

After all, so many people today are embracing ‘Meat Free Monday’ and with supermarkets constantly launching new vegetarian and vegan products and recipes most of us now know quite a few people who embrace veganism. Even well-known French Michelin-starred chef Alexis Gauthier announced at an industry conference I attended last week that 75 percent of his customers are choosing to eat his vegan dishes at his Soho restaurant and he has just launched a £50 a head, eight-course tasting menu which is completely vegan.

Well, in my constant quest to hunt out great new cookbooks, I stumbled across a great book by Heather Whinney, contributing food editor at Prima magazine. Virtually Vegan is published this week by Nourish, and it is fab. It is a cookbook for ‘the vegan inclined by not vegan committed’. It is perfect for those occasions when you have to cook for a guest or family member who is vegan but the rest of you might fancy some meat or cheese perhaps included. Most of the recipes, while vegan, have a panel at the bottom of the page with an alternative serving suggestion for those non-vegans at the table.

Heather dispels any myths that vegan food is bland, and the recipes are designed to take in time constraints as well as fussy eaters. They use mainly every day (or easy to find) uncomplicated ingredients.

Here is a lovely recipe from the book:


I call this a quick fix because it restores you! It makes you feel virtuous, as it’s so full of the good stuff. It’s like a detox in a bowl. There is no cooking required – all it needs is a vibrant dressing to pull it all together. It also makes a great lunch on the go, in which case pack the dressing separately and add it when you are ready to eat.

Serves 2-4 Prep: 20 mins

4 carrots, grated
4 raw beetroot/beet, peeled and grated (discard the first outer bits)
1 raw orange beetroot/beet, peeled and finely sliced
1 fennel bulb, trimmed and very finely sliced

2 eating/dessert apples, cored and very finely sliced
1 large handful of baby spinach leaves
1 large handful of sprouting beans (optional) 1 handful of ready-to-eat pitted dates, finely chopped

1 handful of coriander/cilantro leaves, chopped
1 handful of sunflower seeds, toasted, for topping

For the dressing

6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 2 tbsp cider vinegar

1–2 tsp red miso paste
5cm/13⁄4in piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated

juice of 1⁄2 orange
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 First, make the dressing. Mix together the oil and vinegar and season well with salt and pepper. Whisk in the miso, adding a little to start with as it can be quite an overpowering taste, then add the ginger and orange juice and mix well. Adjust the seasoning to taste, adding more miso, orange juice, salt or pepper. Leave to one side.

2 Put all the salad ingredients, except the coriander/cilantro and sunflower seeds, in a large bowl and toss to combine. Drizzle over the dressing, then tumble it all together so everything is coated. Stir in the coriander/cilantro, transfer to serving bowls and sprinkle over the seeds to serve.

For non-vegans...
To add a little more protein, toss some shredded poached chicken in with the rest of the salad ingredients.

Mrs Foodie

Twickenham Tribune