Michelin star chefs top vegan swaps for cooking family dinners this Veganuary

When trying to make lifestyle changes it can be daunting when you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing or how to cook certain meals.

For those wanting to limit their meat intake for the month, or for the whole of 2022, you can feel somewhat lost.

Especially, as over half a million Brits have signed up to go vegan for the month as part of the Veganuary campaign, but many would prefer not to eat processed or pre-made vegan dishes.

So, here at the Daily Star we spoke to Michelin starred chef Vineet Bhatia, who runs the BBC Maestro course, to find out his top vegan cooking tips.

And, it seems far easier to accomplish cooking feats with the right advice and with the right ingredients.

Vineet said: “To start, always equip yourself with a few quality cooking pieces, like a non-stick sauté pan, which don’t clutter the kitchen and allow you to avoid unnecessary stress! Next, create a personal bank of simple go-to vegan recipes.

“There is a misconception that plant-based cooking requires fancy equipment, many ingredients and preparation but this isn’t the case.

"You can also learn how to ‘veganise’ non-vegan recipes.

“Replace regular milk for plant milk – almond, oat, coconut, soya. Swap eggs for chia eggs, flax eggs and my top tip Aquafaba (Italian for 'bean water' – liquid strained from cooked legumes).

"Do not underestimate the value of this – I assure you that no bean flavour will be imparted! When baking, replace fat with olive or coconut oil and honey for maple or agave syrup.”

He added: “When it comes to flavour, vegan cooking doesn’t have to always be ‘mock meat’ or boiled or steamed veg, you can impart flavour using spice combinations.

“You can also use soy sauce, tamari (gluten free), coconut aminos (soya free) or nutritional yeast for a great umami taste and cheesy flavour – perfect for cheesy potatoes.

"For sauces, corn starch and arrow root powder make a thick, creamy texture which is difficult to achieve in vegan dishes.

“Simply mix one part powder to two parts water to form a paste and add to sauces. Nut butters and tahini are also secret weapons for subtle flavour kicks.”

Vineet added: “The fantastic thing is that nut butters are available in supermarkets and easy to make at home. Very cost effective!

"Each butter has a unique flavour and works in sweet and savoury dishes.

"My go-to is roasted aubergine in peanut butter and tahini sauce with a squeeze of lime – delicious!”

The chef noted: "My last tip is to always keep a positive attitude and keep learning! Actively encourage yourself to learn new recipes and implement new ingredients and you’ll never get bored.

"And always learn from mistakes – this is how I discovered my passion for recipe development and discovered the boundaries of vegan cuisine."

Learn more great cookery tips from Michelin starred Vineet Bhatia and his BBC Maestro course on Modern Indian Cookery here. Price: £80 for lifetime access for 30 lessons and comprehensive downloadable notes.

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