The Vegan Cook and Gardener: Growing, Storing and Cooking Delicious Healthy Food all Year Round
By Piers Warren and Ella Bee Glendining
Read on to obtain a special discount code for friends of Vegan Life.
When my daughter really got into vegan cooking, she started posting photos of her improvised meals on Facebook. They looked amazing and received many encouraging comments, so we started talking about developing this into a cookbook. I had become vegan myself, after decades of vegetarianism, and was also a keen cook and already an author, so we decided to produce the book between us. But we wondered how to make it stand out from the many vegan cookbooks available these days?
I’ve been growing vegetables ever since I was a child, when I was given a small area of garden where I could sow easy crops like lettuces and radishes. The joy of producing my own food has never left me and, as I learnt more, I developed organic and permaculture techniques for the health of our family, the wildlife and the wider planet. As these ideals tie in closely with those of many vegans: improving animal welfare, following a healthy personal diet, helping with the fight against climate change and so on, I assumed that many vegans would be growing their own food like I did. Some do, of course, but when we started attending our local city’s vegan society we realised that many of the members relied on health food shops, supermarkets and veg box schemes for their ingredients.
After talking to some of our new vegan friends about this, we discovered that some had no gardens, some had gardens they felt were too small to grow anything in, and some felt that it would be too difficult or time-consuming. As a result we decided to introduce a gardening element to the new book, so that we could share our enjoyment of growing the healthiest food possible, fresh and with zero food-miles, and show how easy it is. This can be done whatever size plot you have and, even if you have no garden, you can grow herbs, salads and sprout seeds and pulses, on your kitchen windowsill.
Everything about growing your own vegan food is positive: enjoyment, exercise fresh air and fun doing the actual growing; healthy organic seasonal crops that taste great; the knowledge that you are helping the environment; and saving money (as buying organic food and/or eating out is increasingly expensive). Even if you only have the space for a couple of pots of herbs and a sprouting jar, being able to add a home-grown ingredient to a meal you’re making gives a huge sense of satisfaction.
So, the first part of the book covers the gardening side. We start with an exploration of the benefits of being vegan, then a look at the techniques of growing organically and the use of permaculture techniques. Then a discussion of the concept of self-sufficiency and how you can apply that to your plot (however small), followed by more detailed information about vegan ingredients for recipes, how to grow your own herbs and salad leaves and a guide to sprouting methods. We then go through growing techniques throughout the year and a more detailed guide to all the fruits and vegetables commonly grown in temperate regions such as the UK.
The second part of the book is taken up with the recipes that we have developed to make use of the crops you have grown. Month by month we present a number of main and side dishes and a dessert, each dish featuring at least one crop (often more) that will be in season. Even if you don’t grow any of your own food, the recipes will enable you to use seasonal products that you can buy to reduce unnecessary food transportation and industrial preservation techniques. We do also discuss home-storage techniques so that any food you do grow can last throughout the year.
We are both keen photographers are the book contains hundreds of our own photos of our garden, crops we’ve grown and, of course, the recipes. We hope you enjoy it!
Vegan Life Editor Note: This lovely new book is retailing at £19.95 but Vegan Life friends can obtain a discount of 15% by using discount code VEGAN-LIFE at the checkout when purchased through Permaculture Magazine’s Green Shopping website.