I’ve been vegan for about four months now and it is has been largely trouble free, though preparation can be key: always an emergency snack in my handbag, a quick email or phone call before dining in a restaurant. To date I’ve only had one catastrophic effort to get vegan food, when I went to Nottingham for Easter weekend. One Thai restaurant (which shall remain nameless) was mentioned on a vegan guide, so I sent them an email beforehand to check that they did indeed have plant-based options. They confirmed that this was the case, yet when I called to book a table I thought it worth double checking that they could feed me. “Yes, plenty of vegan things,” they replied.
So we arrived on Saturday night, famished after a ghost tour, looking forward to a feast. When the waiter arrived to take our order, I asked eagerly which options were vegan. This was met with a blank look. I had to explain first of all what veganism was, and was promptly told that they could not provide me with anything. I asked to speak to the manager, but was only brought another waiter who shared the confusion of the first. Finally, the manager himself arrived, an affable old Thai man. Another explanation of veganism ensued, another refusal to cater for me was the outcome. I replied that I’d checked once via email and once via phone. “We don’t have a computer,” he told me. I may have been too astonished to speak for a moment, then told him curtly that I was not lying. He asked to see the email, which I duly (and angrily) produced and he didn’t really explain his lie about the lack of computers.
It turned out that a reasonable number of the vegetarian options could easily be veganised, and I did get a good meal in the end, but it felt extremely hard-earned. Here is a delicious Thai meal that is not so difficult to obtain. The best of both words: Thai curry and a lovely chilli.
Red Thai Chilli
Serves 6, from Isa Does It
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 tsp salt
3 garlic cloves, crushed
4 sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into chunks
1 cup red lentils
3 cups vegetable stock
2 tbsp chilli powder
2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
1 can low fat coconut milk
1 can chopped tomatoes
handful coriander leaves, chopped
1. Heat the oil in a large pan. Saute the onion and pepper for about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and salt for another minute.
2. Add the sweet potatoes, lentils, stock and chilli powder. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 15 minutes until the lentils are soft and potatoes tender.
3. Pour in the tomatoes, coconut milk, kidney beans, curry paste and coriander. Heat through for a few more minutes.
4. Serve with rice.