Well what I week, Gregg’s released a vegan sausage roll and Piers Morgan had a whole tribe of angry vegans baying for his blood ironically, mind you there is nothing new there really with people baying for Morgan’s blood.

To be honest when I became vegetarian at 18 and vegan I think 16+ years ago I’ve actually lost track, I really never thought I would see the vegan ‘take over’ happen and in some respects I didn’t really see it coming. I could see that we were getting more choices, that raw vegan cake or energy balls were turning up in cafe’s, that soya, then almond and coconut milks were then available in a huge amount of cafes. But I never saw the Greggs sausage roll out!

Gregg’s, back then, did I really use that term! Anyway it was back then, used to have a seconds shop in Rusholme in Manchester and we would send Ged or Scott off early in the morning to get baked goods which were cheaper because they were the unsold items from all the shops the day before. It was a student area, and the queue was long, we would get doughnuts with no jam in them, a bit crusty or stale in reality, misshapen pastries, loaves and well anything they had left over for 1p a go. It was a proper bakers back then, not a fast food outlet as it is now, so the choice was quite large. We would fill up on what ever they had in, get the car running eventually with a hammer, and go to college.

At art college I was not on my own being vegetarian, I think most of us were, now I believe it was because it was expensive not to be! I learnt to make vegetarian food from the Rose Elliot cook books I found in the city centre Oxfam shop, thank god for Rose Elliot, after a meat and 2 veg up bringing it was necessary to teach myself. My mother at home had none of it, she gave me short shrift, I ate what she gave me under her roof, you really didn’t argue with my mother.

When I went to poly, I rented a flat close to Liverpool town centre this meant we always had a tribe of people coming and going. For years I used Rose’s veggie recipes to feed my friends cheaply, chilli non carne with brown rice of course, stews and soups I still use to this day, I fed everyone inexpensively and healthily on mass. In fact for years, and still now when I make pots of food I make enough to feed the 5000 just in case they all call. I’m not sure I’m capable of making a meal for one any more but it does mean there is always a spare meal or 2 available.

For years meeting vegetarians would only be at the one yoga class taught not in gyms but in church halls by the local authority with the teacher who had actually spent years learning it abroad who almost seemed mystical but in reality was called Richard. You knew the other vegetarians immediately, they were the ones farting on their towel (no mat’s back then) as they bent into child pose, beans and lentils, so much to answer for. Or I would meet them of course in the only vegetarian cafe in town reading a well thumbed book, well except when we were in Glastonbury where at one point I remember the vegetarian cafe’s out numbered everything else including crystal and esoteric bookshops. No mean feat in all honesty with Glastonbury.

When I turned vegetarian there was little processed vegetarian food available except for Linda McCartney sausages, her fake steak pies and what we laughingly called ‘facon’, but which I think was called Streaky Strips of bacon flavoured flattened brown and white coloured oblong tofu. Yes it was probably as unappetising as the description. Clearly I was still at that point fulfilling that much needed bacon buttie taste although I think the memory is probably better than the real thing. This meant though that I ate more than my 5 portions of vegetables a day, with other plant based foods such as beans and lentils. The variety of foods and colours I ate outstripped most of my friends, and their plates would look decidedly brown against my rainbow of colour. It’s still the same it’s a rare day that I’ve not eaten and juiced 10 portions of vegetables and smoothied my way through others.

So now there are vegan processed foods more easily available including pizza, and cake and ironically it’s not the type of food I would suggest anyone eats if they want to keep themselves in good health! Let me point out being vegan doesn’t correlate automatically to being healthy, and the more of these processed alternatives we eat the more we will join the rest of our society collectively getting iller as each year passes. I read today how 50% of the USA are on medications, and although I’m pleased people are eating a more plant based diet, they aren’t actually increasing the good foods such as fruit or vegetables, beans, lentils, junk food is junk food.

As the gluten free, and Paleo processed snack market increases, please remember that these are still processed foods, they are often full of synthetic additives, being sold as healthier foods. Once the manufacturers got on the bandwagon, they’ve managed to make these foods as bad as the alternatives you are trying to leave behind.

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