We learned this from FacePlant Foods, a company that masterminds vegan recipes for street food. We caught up with Mandy from FacePlant where she explained how vegan food can be just as exciting and tantalising as good ole' traditional "comfort" street food. Here's what she had to say.
Q. Veganism is often misrepresented as a restrictive diet, when it is actually a diet that takes a variety of food creations to a new level of innovation and creativity. How long have you been vegan & what spurred you to switch to a vegan diet?
A. We have both been vegan for several years now, having been long-time vegetarians before that. Moving out of home and to university at 18 really forced us to take responsibility for our own diet and nutrition and so after a lot of research and soul searching, vegetarianism seemed like a no-brainer. It helped that we were both keen cooks in the first place, so experimenting in the kitchen and finding ways to create healthy, balanced meals without meat was a fun hobby.
The switch to veganism came as the logical next step - it is better for us, the animals, the environment and the planet. Another no-brainer! The dairy industry is just as bad as the meat industry and we could no longer participate in that with a clear conscience. We quickly discovered the abundance of plant-based alternatives to animal produce. If you could eat something that is delicious, nutritious and no animal suffering whatsoever has gone into it (not to mention the countless health benefits to yourself), then why wouldn't you? Win-win!
Q. You recreate famous street food with plant-based ingredients, and often with a Scottish twist. Which of your food creations exemplify this description best?
A. Regardless of the type of cuisine we're doing, we'll always use locally sourced and Scottish-grown produce as far as possible, so even our very popular west-African inspired sweet potato and peanut stew is loaded with Scottish-grown spinach, potatoes and other vegetables.
We're also partial to chucking a wee bit of Bucky into our BBQ pulled Jackfruit rolls... what's more Scottish than that?!
Q. When it comes to recreating recipes with plant-based ingredients, do you find it challenging to convert foods for vegetarianism and veganism?
A. Absolutely not! A common misconception about veganism is that it restricts your food choices and variety. We would argue the complete opposite: it opens up your variety and choices in ways you don't even expect. There are many more exciting flavours, combinations and replacements to be discovered once you ditch the animal produce altogether.
Q. What kinds of ingredients do you use to keep food exciting and innovative in the vegan market?
A. We make all of our own vegan meats and cheezes. We also like to change our menu regularly, depending on the weather, or where we're going to be trading that weekend, or what seasonal produce is available, or just if we get bored and fancy a change! At the moment we're having a lot of fun recreating some old junk food/comfort food favourites that even the most strong-willed vegan would admit to missing! Our mac 'n' cheeze is always a big hit and our deep-fried sweet 'n' sour chickn balls are so popular, they may just have to become a permanent menu item! We're also currently working on perfecting the no-zarella stick to end all no-zarella sticks...so watch this space!
Q. You say you create street food from around the world that is inclusive to most people. How is plant-based street food more inclusive than other types of street food?
A. Put simply, plant-based food can be eaten and enjoyed by carnivores, omnivores, herbivores, coeliacs, and pescetarians alike! Other than the rare customer with allergies and intolerances, there is nobody that cannot enjoy tasty vegan street food. Sounds pretty inclusive to us!
26-27 May @ The Big Feed in Glasgow
2 June @ Leith Vegan Quarter
To stay up to date with FacePlant Foods on social:
#strEATtalk is our narrative series that shines a spotlight on Scotland's culinary scene, focusing on the journeys and stories of up and coming food innovators. Follow #strEATtalk as we get to know the people who are making our nation taste better!