Happy New Year! After a period away from my beloved blog and the changing of the calendar, I guess I've been thinking about all things vegan recently.
This year, I'll be celebrating my eighth veganniversary. When I first went vegan, I knew precisely no vegans - not a one! - in real life. Last night, I celebrated the new year with, among others, four vegans besides me. How cool is that? If ever there was a sign of the growing popularity of veganism, for me, it's that. While the plant-based diet has been co-opted by a few clean-eating types who have confused a compassionate lifestyle with a food trend, I'm feeling positive that veganism has gone properly mainstream.
The other thing that convinced me veganism's moment has well and truly come is lasagne. Yep, lasagne.
Exhibit one: this microwave lasagne.
It's from Sainsbury's (for my non-UK readers, Sainsbury's is a big supermarket chain), it was launched last year, and it's completely vegan. Sainsbury's has always been one of the more vegan-friendly grocers, but it stepped up its game in 2016 by adding things like a big vegan selection to its shelves (and even joining in with the Gary renaming fun!)
This wasn't the first Sainsbury's vegan ready-meal, but it was definitely the first that felt like it was made with vegans in mind. Go Sainsbury's!
But what does it taste like? Well, it's fine - a bit wet, a bit bland, but if you're pushed for time, it's a not-very-exciting alternative to a proper dinner. So, in short, it's exactly like a non-vegan microwave lasagne - we've properly achieved parity with the omnis now!
The other lasagne that showed me how far veganism has come was a beautiful example of the form from Purezza in Brighton. If I just tell you it was just layers of pasta in tomato sauce with vegan cheese, you might shrug. So is Sainsbury's version, after all. Only this lasagne was as far away from the Sainsbury's one as two lasagnes are able to be. I'd pretty much say it was the best lasagne I've ever put in my face, whether omni, veggie, or vegan.
I knew it was good, because I started to slow down eating, wanting to prolong the eating enjoyment by a few mouthfuls. That's a bit of a compliment from someone who can clear a plate faster than it takes Mo Farah to run the 5,000m. It was one of those wonderful meals that can only be explained by alchemy: there's no way anyone can turn tomatoes and dough into something quite so good.
Similarly, I'm not sure why veganism has ramped up so much in popularity over the last couple of years, other than being a moment whose time has come. It's perfectly illustrated by those two lasagnes: veganism has now come so far, it can offer everything from cheap-and-cheerful microwave friendly vegan food, or high-end swoonsome restaurant scran. And what could be more delicious than that?