Yakitori is probably the ultimate challenge for a newly-minted vegan. It’s basically meat of all kinds, grilled over charcoal until deliciously, smokily tender and delicious. What’s more you sit and watch (and smell) the grill while your food is being cooked, so the anticipation is mouth-watering.
It’s a regular Monday thing for my friend and I, and rather than change the venue I decided to embrace all the veges on the menu. So, while he chooses miso-glazed chicken thighs and pork belly with onions, I sample mushrooms, kumara and corn. They’re all very tasty – smoky and charred from the grill. I suppose a true vegan may not love that the grill is not segregated into animal and non-animal, so there’s a good chance there’s meaty traces on my food. But, as a transitional vegan, I find it pretty good and, along with my teriyaki tofu, it’s a relatively satisfying meal.
One thing I notice from cooking and eating no animal products, especially cheese, is that I notice the flavour of vegetables more. My eggplant dish last night would have ordinarily had feta or parmesan on it – very strong flavours, and quite good at masking the more subtle flavours of veges. Without cheese, I detect the musky, woody flavour of mushrooms and the sweetness of carrots. It’s really nice.
Another occupational hazard strikes me today: the PR gift. I receive a couple of gorgeous cupcakes from a PR company, but I am fairly sure there would be some butter and eggs involved in making them. They look so sweet and delicious, but I can’t fold. I give them away and make myself quite popular.
Which highlights another thing. While you could easily eat a lot of processed food as a vegan if you had the inclination and the budget, it’s a way of eating that really makes the impulsive eating of processed foods a lot less likely. Which is a good thing however you choose to eat.
*Follow Niki’s journey on her Instagram account @nikibezzant