Let's Eat

Taking the meat out of the equation

Lara Smallman, Director of the Jewish Vegetarian Society shares her tips for a meat-free life


Lara Smallman was brought up pescatarian — eating fish but no meat. “I’ve never eaten a burger, a sausage, steak or shwarma in my life. I stopped eating fish about 11 years ago and the day after I started at the JVS in October 2013, I went vegan.” 
Her overnight decision was the result of reading around the subject before starting her new role, and coincided with meeting her now fiancé. “It was the next step as I had a strong ideological belief. The JVS advise people to look into veganism and change gradually, so they can incorporate all the food groups. But it was the right time for me.” 
She says eating vegan is easier than ever. “Years ago it was tricky, but it’s increasingly simple to bake a vegan cake for example — there are several egg substitutes and dairy alternatives. Most supermarkets sell vegan cheese and in the US they are even growing meat substitutes. It won’t be long before it comes here.” 
If you want to mark next week’s National Vegetarian Week by giving a vegetarian or vegan diet a try, here are Lara’s tips:
  • Give yourself time to cook, especially at the beginning. Making vegetables centre stage will require planning at first.
  • Start with cuisines that naturally lend themselves to vegan cooking —Indian, Japanese, Mexican, Israeli.
  • Stock up on whole grains, beans, spice, fresh herbs, seasonal fruit and vegetables.
  • Give meat substitutes a go, Fry’s do a fantastic range of burgers, sausages, shnitzels. There are also great options from Linda McCartney and Quorn.
  • Invest in a great all-round vegan cookbook or download a selection of recipes — the JVS has a range here including a Shabbat-friendly braised cauliflower and puy lentil tabbouleh and aubergine and mango salad with spicy roasted chickpeas. 

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