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Happy vegan new year: A tale of two lasagnes

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?

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  1. Happy New Year Joey - I know which lasagne I would be choosing! And great to hear you feeling so many positive vegan vibes around you - I agree it has come a long way since my student days when I remember meeting a pale vegan who was unhappy and hungry and seemed to embody veganism back then!

  2. Happy New Year Joey.
    Interesting read. I agree vegan food and veganism has come a long way, but I am still sadly surrounded by pretend vegans spouting the latest vegan trend to vegetarians (hey I know already) and omni, but as soon as someone brings in cake made with milk and butter, she is stuffing her face with it and forgets her so called vegan commitment - i can't stand these pretend vegan lifestylers.

    I honestly admire you and your dedication to veganism for 8 years. Happy Veganniversary. I was thinking of doing Veganuary this year as i have done so in the past, but I didn't jump on the bandwagon this year. I know I can do a month no problem, long term is a challenge... who knows...one day I may do and when i do, I will be an honest vegan..now I guess i am a vegetarian with veganish tendencies, but i would never call myself a vegan ever, that would be a lie.

  3. I loved this post! Your description of the Sainsbury's lasagna was so spot on of a person or company that means well, and deserves kudos for offering an animal-free food choice, but is serving what I call a 'minus'. That is, they made something vegan by leaving out the animal parts but forgot to consider what they might add instead to create a flavorful dish. (Although to be fair, as you noted, this may be the vegan equivalent of their bland omni lasagna) When people do this for me I am sincerely grateful — thrilled, really — and don't complain. But when someone goes the next step, like Purezaa, and makes the vegan food taste great, well, that is all one can ask.

    Congrats on your 8th veganversary. For me it will be 36, I think. Where I used to live, although most friends and neighbors weren't vegan, they were vegan-friendly, and always made sure I had vegan food at parties, and such. Here, when we have a block party, the only vegan items are things like fruit, and maybe nuts if I'm lucky. At a party the other night, I ate a lot of grapes, but everything else was meat or dairy-based. A plate of Sainsbury's lasagna would have been nice!

  4. It's not easy to go vegan alone, so cheers to you!
    I have about ten years and only 1 or 2 lasagnas under my vegan belt.
    happy new year to you, Joey!

  5. Happy new year!

    I tried that Sainsbury's lasagna too, even though I don't really like traditional lasagna or cheese. I liked it, but given I don't like the traditional ones, that may not say much :P Glad you liked the second one more!

  6. Wishing you a very happy new year! Congratulations on your 8th veganniversary! All around it's a great time to be vegan, so much better than even a few years ago. And lasagne is an awesome way to celebrate. :-)

  7. Yay for lasagne in all of it's different forms. You summed up the Sainsbury's lasagne perfectly, it is just like a non vegan lasagne ready meal! I'm also a big Purezza fan but I haven't tried the lasagne or the mac and cheese yet because their pizza's are so damn good that I can't help but order one every time.

  8. Happy New Year! The Purezza version does look pretty enticing - I'm a fan of homemade, but only get around to making it once or twice a year.

  9. That second lasagne looks sensational! I didn't even know that a microwaveable option existed, so that's good to know - even if it is just an emergency backup option.


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