Top Veggie & Vegan Online Communities

Top Veggie & Vegan Online Communities

To support you on your post Veganuary journey, we’ve put together our favourite online communities.

Hang out with this lot for recipes, recommendations, restaurant reviews, taste tests, moral support, (even your future life partner!).
Basically, get answers all the questions you wanted to ask but haven’t had the balls to yet.

London Vegans

For vegans or aspiring vegans living or working London.
This community tackles the challenge of being in a London, a global city, where sometimes there can be too much choice. 
Get the lowdown on the best places to eat, meet, stay and shop from locals in the know.

Vegetarian & Vegan London

Meat reducers and flexitarians are warmly welcome in this community.
They have created a safe space, full of positive plant-based vibes. Get the latest food news, where to buy & what to eat. Sign up to local events and learn about vegan fitness. 

London Vegan Meetup

Where all things vegan online and offline  collide.
Sign up to join the latest vegan flavoured events. There’s everything from supper clubs, vegan book launches, cooking classes, Vegan drinks night, Food market trips. Best place to make some great new connections and be a member of of the world’s largest vegan social group. 

Vegetarian London

This is the accompanying community to Vegetarian London the ‘pocket bible’ relied on by thousands of London vegetarians and vegans and tourists (30,000+ copies in print). Hear about vegan events, new restaurants, shops, questions, about being vegan in London

London Drooling Vegans  

Want to recruit a crew to visit a vegan event, festival or restaurant? Or want to join up to one of their scheduled social gatherings. This is the one for you. A welcoming, all inclusive bunch for vegan and vegan-curious people. 

London Vegan Singles

Want to take your accountability to the next level? Lock in a romantic partner via London Vegan Singles. You just need to fulfil the criteria of being single (although we’re sure a vegan polyamory group will spring up by the end of the week), vegan (or transitioning), and living in London. 

This is another a warm supportive group. At best you'll find a great romantic match and the very least, vegan sympathising new friends. 

Veganuary

THE group to share tips, recipes and support for those transitioning to vegan. If you’re on your veganuary journey, this is a great source of peer support and compassionate accountability long past January 31st. 

Intersectional Vegans of the World  

For vegans who take a pro intersectional approach (intersectionality refers to varying social identities and their related systems of oppression, domination, or discrimination). This community is an invaluable insight into how the principles vegan lifestyle apply to all areas of our lives, our beliefs, behaviours and consumption habits. 

Vegan on a budget

Being vegan isn’t only for rah-yah-yoga darlings or green juice drinking Gwynth’s. This community is for transitioners and seasoned vegans to share recipes, tips ways to save on the weekly shop. 

Which communities did we miss? Let us know in the comments. 

Spring Green Risotto Served With Agave Roasted Parsnips and Lemon Zest

Spring Green Risotto Served With Agave Roasted Parsnips and Lemon Zest

Another tasty recipe from our Chef Harriet...

I’m obsessed with food,  all I watch are cooking shows, it’s where I find inspiration and also where I find ways to "veganize" my favourite dishes.

Anything, you name it – I will find a way to make it Vegan.

It was about two months ago and I’m watching my favourite American Chef cooking some deliciously buttery and rich pasta dish using orzo. (Orzo are small pieces of pasta shaped like rice or barley) I’m watching this show thinking – WOW that’s a lot of butter but I bet it makes the dish rich and flavourful, I bet I could make it Vegan, and so the challenge began.

This is my vegan take on a zesty spring dish, Say Hello to my Vegan Risotto.

 Spring Green Risotto served with Agave Roasted Parsnips & Lemon Zest

Spring Green Risotto served with Agave Roasted Parsnips & Lemon Zest

Ingredients:

Serves 4

  • 1 Cup Peas or broad beans
  • 180g Risotto
  • 500ml Hot stock water
  • 5 mini courgettes
  • 4 large parsnip
  • 1 spanish onion
  • 40ml Agave Syrup
  • 30ml Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Parsley – For garnish
  • Garlic –  When it comes to garlic, the more the merrier – therefore ill never state one clove or two, put in as much or as little as you like.

Method:

  • Prepare the parsnips, peel and dice into small cubes, tossing them in oil and agave syrup – place on baking tray and roast for 20-25 mins at 190*C.
  • Then lightly fry the onions, garlic adding salt and pepper to taste
  • Once sautéed until golden add in the risotto rice, make sure to mix in throughly and evenly, at this point to get that buttery flavour you can add diary free butter, around two tablespoons.
  • Cut the courgettes into thin slices and dry fry using a griddle pan to get that chargrilled look, cook for 10 mins until chargrilled.
  • Prepare your stock with the recommended amount of water, you can use stock cubes or homemade stock.
  • Add the stock in gradually , bit by bit until the rice has absorbed all of the liquid and the rice becomes soft.
  • Add in 1 cup of peas / broad beans.
  • Mix evenly and let simmer for a few minuets to cook off the vegetables.
  • Turn off the heat of the pan, and add in the lemon zest, optional – add in the juice of half a lemon to get that extra taste.
  • Garnish with chopped parsley and ENJOY!

This recipe was originally published on Chef's Harriet blog, If You Got Thyme. 

Vegan Abroad...Tales From Sumatra

Vegan Abroad...Tales From Sumatra

Anxious about doing the vegan thing abroad?
Steve Clarke, Cafe Van Gogh founder, gives the lowdown on his vegan Sumatran adventure...

On Christmas Eve, we flew into Singapore, on a budget Norwegian airline flight, with the intention of hoot-footing it into Sumatra for some adventure, rest and relaxation and vegan food.

Singapore is an excellent place for vegan food. We ate Monkey head mushrooms which was a first for me. Loads more places that we didn’t get to can be found on HappyCow.net.

After two days in the expensive and slightly too commercial for my taste city, we flew into Medan, the largest city in Sumatra, and one that isn’t going to win any awards for contributions to architecture, or care of the environment.

Easy wins so far, each day was started with a young green coconut, at a cost of approx 40pence, the juice was drank first and then the nut was machete’d in half on request, and the young flesh was scooped out with a spoon. Top tip, do marine life a favour and avoid using the ubiquitous plastic straw, take a glass and pour the juice out instead.

Tempeh, a fantastic source of soya bean protein, with origins in Indonesia, tempeh is found pretty much everywhere, from high end restaurants to street side hawker stalls. It’s expensive and not as frequently used as it could be in the UK, so it’s a delight to have it on tap, as it were.

Language. Certainly most places you’ll go to on the tourist trail in Sumatra will have plenty of people who speak English, but be prepared that vegan isn’t necessarily a frequently banded about term here. As an example, shrimp (Udang) seems to be used pretty much like we’d use bayleaves in Indonesian cuisine, so you might want to copy down this terminology which worked well for me on my travels.

SAYA  VEGAN : I am VEGAN

Saya tidak makan : I cannot eat

Daging : meat

Ayam : chicken

Ikan : fish

Udang : shrimp

Telur  : egg

Susu : milk

Keju : cheese

Hanya buah dan sayur : only fruits and vegetables

This made a difference when I would otherwise have been served egg noodles etc.

If you head to Sumatra, theres a pretty good chance you’ll visit Bukit Lewang, which is on the edge of a rainforest national park, and perhaps the best place to see Orang utans in their natural environment. Please note, many of these orang utans are ‘semi-wild’ which means they have been rescued from the illegal pet trade, or as orphans from the massive areas of forest that have been brutally cleared for palm oil plantations. This does mean that the chances of a sighting is good, but it also means that some of the apes are a bit over-familiar with humans, and threateningly demand fruit from tourists and guides etc. Be careful to explain to your guide that you don’t wish to participate in the feeding of them. It’s risky in terms of their ongoing health, and personally I find it disrespectful.

If you do head to Bukit lewang, consider staying at Kupu Kupu gardens guest house

It’s just outside of the village along a riverside pathway, and has glorious views of the rainforest, and is uninterrupted by modern day hassles such as a wifi connection etc. The owners are lovely, and will cook vegan meals on request. We ate really very well there, including things such as fern frond curries, and a pineapple rendang (watch out for that one appearing in the café soon) through the lenses of retrospection, I’d recommend having their driver pick you up from the airport at Medan, it could save you the best part of a day.

Tip. Bring a reusable water bottle with you. Many guest houses and shops in Sumatra offer cheap water refills. Plastic waste is a very depressing reality all throughout Sumatra, please do your best to not be a part of it.

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From Bukit Lewang we flew up to Banda Aceh, which was massively hit by the 2004 Tsunami. From here we took a ferry to Pulau Weh, a beautiful tropical island in the Andaman Sea, famous for it’s corals and scuba diving and snorkelling opportunities. I think it’s fair to say this Island is somewhat avoided by a lot of tourists because of the incorrect belief that the sharia law system that is in place makes it an unwelcoming destination. I saw nothing to back this up, the people we met all over Indonesia were incredibly friendly and hospitable, with a huge sense of fun.. Here’s me doing some sober karaoke on the ferry

(Note- I wasn’t able to stand up, I’d taken my money belt off and knew that my trousers would have fallen down around my ankles, which would be a sight for sore eyes for anyone of any faith, or none).


Sample the juiciest international vegan flavours in the heart of Brixton Tuesday to Sunday with our ever changing daily specials.  
Get involved with #cafevanveganuary! Groups of 4 diners get their 4th main dish free all until January 31st in honour of veganuary 2018. 
Get full details here, or make a reservation today. 

Favourite London Vegan Instagrammers

Favourite London Vegan Instagrammers

We’re over the halfway hump of Veganuary 2018!

Thankfully there is wealth of the highest quality food porn across the interwebs to keep you on the straight and narrow.

We asked the London veganuary community about the best instagrammers to follow for recipes, motivation and inspiration. Here's what they said...

@vegansoflondon

VegansofLDN is your visual guide for all vegan food & lifestyle options available to Londoners. Founded by Serena Lee in 2015, this is a one stop shop for everything from fine dining (vegan first dates anyone) to vegan haircare and new fangled kitchen gadgets.
You can join the community and shout about your favourite vegan options using the #vegansofldn hashtag. 

@yesitsallvegan

All the latest vegan goodness from one of our favs, Tsouni Cooper. Tsouni is committed to  traveling high and low to scope out the latest, bestest, tastiest vegan eats.  From high street chains to hidden eateries, you’ll undoubtedly discover your new guilty pleasure on this feed! 

@veganeatsplease

Prepare to feast your eyes on the height of vegan food porn loaded with recipes and reviews.
We especially love the very special coverage of illegally good looking cakes and cookies amongst the green goodness.  

@vegan.london

Another pretty stunning collection of the best vegan places to eat in London.  Vegan.London is unwilling to compromise on the consumption of real food.
The colour combinations on this feed lay rest to the myth that eating vegan is boring

@planetstylisourstar

We love Leah of Stylisourstar, because she connects the dots between vegan food & vegan lifestyle.  
On a one woman mission to surround herself with nothing but positive vibes, good food and love. Her energy comes through strong on this authentic feed laden with home recipes as well as reviews. She also make some pretty stunning vegan cakes  

Feast your eyes on delectable images + recipes and reviews. We especially love the very special coverage of outstanding cakes and cookies amongst the green goodness.  

@beetsandbobs

Two sisters finding ways to nourish the soul, enrich the mind & love the body, through a sustainable & mindful lifestyle. Lots of heartwarming homey main dishes and desserts featured here. 


Juices flowing yet? Get involved with #cafevanveganuary! Groups of 4 diners get their 4th main dish free all until January 31st in honour of veganuary 2018. 
Get full details here, or make a reservation today. 

Top 5 Most Influential Vegan Books As Voted For By The People

Top 5 Most Influential Vegan Books As Voted For By The People

We asked the vegan online community to name the top books that have kept them inspired on their transitioning journey.

Here’s what we got... #CafeVanVeganuary

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1) Keep It Vegan, Aine Carlin

Aine Carlin, creator of popular vegan lifestyle blog Pea Soup Eats, shares delicious recipes and straightforward tips. She keep's it simple with easy-to-follow recipes, using easy to reach ingredients that can be found in your local supermarket.

 

 

 

 

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2) Feed Me Vegan, Lucy Watson

Made in Chelsea’s finest Lucy Watson’s recipe book is enough to turn the head of even the most dedicated carnivore, Feed Me Vegan is full of tasty, satisfying vegan fare which will have everyone asking for seconds. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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3) How Not to Die, Dr Michael Greger

Endorsed by the none other by the Dalai Lama himself, this international best seller reveals the what to eat to help treat the top 15 causes of death. It’s full of nutritional science to swot up on. 

 

 

 

 

 

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4) Thug Kitchen Cookbook

This book is an invitation to everyone who wants to do better to elevate their kitchen game.
Thug Kitchen arms you with all the info and techniques you need to shop on a budget and eat like you give a f**k.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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5) Fat Gay Vegan: Eat, Drink and Live Like You Give A Shit, Sean O’Callaghan
Profanity is apparently rife in the vegan community with this new release from one of our favourite's, Fat Gay Vegan.
Packed with personal stories and non-preachy advice, this is a compassionate, no-nonsense guide to veganism.

 

 

 

 

 

Stay tuned for the top vegan inspired films, as voted by the people, coming tomorrow...


Wanna put your feet up and leave the cooking to someone else? 
Get involved with #cafevanveganuary! Groups of 4 diners get their 4th main dish free all until January 31st in honour of veganuary 2018. 
Get full details here, or make a reservation today. 

A Devilish Twist, Spicy Squash Soup

A Devilish Twist, Spicy Squash Soup

Another deliciously simple recipe from Chef Harriet's winter warmer collection. Enjoy....

Serves 4

  • 2 carrots, finely diced.

  • 1 onion , finely diced

  • 1  medium butternut squash, peeled and chopped into cubes

  • 1 red chilli / scotch bonnet

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon vegan butter

  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

  • 1.5L vegetable stock 

Method :

  • Roast the squash on a baking tray at 180^C for 20-30 mins . Season with olive oil, salt and pepper.

  • Sauté the onion, carrots and chilli’s with the garlic in oil. 

  • Add in vegetable stock and simmer for 5-10 mins,

  • Add in the roasted butternut squash, then blend using a food processor until desired thickness. 

  • To make it richer add in a dairy free milk alternative and a bit of vegan butter

  • Garnish with oat cream and black pepper with parsley. 

 

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This post was originally featured on Chef Harriet's blog: If you've got thyme.

Chef Harriet's Apple & Parsnip Soup

Chef Harriet's Apple & Parsnip Soup

The festive period always leaves me feeling lethargic and pretty stuffed. 


When it comes to planning meals I use leftovers to make simple, easy and affordable dishes. 
My favourite soups consist of healthy vegetables, lots of protein and all the nutrients you need to get you through the cold months.

 Winter warmer... Apple & Parsnip

Winter warmer... Apple & Parsnip

Serves 4

  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil or dairy free butter for a richer taste.

  • 2 medium onions, chopped

  • 600g parsnips, cut into cubes

  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed

  • 600g Bramley apples, peeled, quartered and cut into chunks

  • 1 litre  vegetable stock

  • 150ml of oat cream or dairy free alternative milk

  • flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Garnish with oat cream and Black Pepper.

Method :

  • Firstly roast the parsnips, place them on a baking tray adding salt and pepper and a dash of olive oil. Roast for 30-40 mins at 170^C

  • Fry the onions with garlic in oil or dairy free butter until translucent then add the chopped apples

  • Cook apples and onions together until they soften, adding stock into the mixture then the roasted parsnips.

  • Let simmer for a few mins allowing the flavours to bond, then blend  until desired thickness.

  • Taste the soup adding more salt and pepper if needed, at this point I usually add oat cream or a dairy free milk alternative to make it richer.

Let us know how yours turned out in the comments. 

 

____________________
This post is courtesy of Cafe Van Gogh Chef, Harriet and was originally published on her blog: 
If You Got Thyme.

Happy Cafe Van Veganuary

Happy Cafe Van Veganuary

Want to know how to look, feel, hell... even smell better this January?
WE'VE GOT YOU. READ ON.

vegan wedges

It’s official. Down there...that little Christmas pudding shaped pooch currently residing where your abs of steel previously glistened, is in fact not just visiting for the holidays.

Let's be clear, we've got nothing but love for a little Botticelli belly.

It's the interminable lethargy. The foggy head. The shakes and irritability when you haven’t had your caffeine and packet-of-biscuits break (yep, you and I both know it's never just the one).

We feel you. It doesn't have to go on like this. 

INTRODUCING THE CAFE VAN VEGANUARY CHALLENGE


Join us this January as we delight you with recipes, tips, bust some myths and reveal the benefits of what it means to eat vegan. 

To celebrate Cafe Van veganuary, parties of 4 get their 4th main dish on the house.
No more awkward meals out with vegan 'friends' banished to a corner, huddled over a plate of tofu.
Cafe Van Gogh is a safe space.


A home where vegans, flexitarians and meat lovers alike can break delicious bread in peace and harmony. 

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Hmmm, I'm still suspicious. How do I know this is for me? 

We are not a cult. We’re not interested in shaming your eating habits or dietary requirements. Our sole purpose is to serve THE most delicious food that does a number on your tastebuds. You’ll be banging down our doors begging for more.

(Fostering co-dependency? Yes. Fully blown cult? Definitely not....yet...)

This isn't about portion control, a strict exercise regimen, or downing 24 pints of water with fresh lemon, a dash of apple cider vinegar and cayenne pepper concoctions. 

Let’s keep it simple. 

Sumptuous home-cooked grub, bursting with flavour and goodness. 

 Check out chef Harriet's  Apply & Parsnip soup recipe

Check out chef Harriet's Apply & Parsnip soup recipe

What do I get out of overthinking what I put in my mouth? 

1) Feel fuller for longer 

Important scientists say this. It must be true. We reckon it’s got something to do with all the sunshine and goodness in the veggies. Eating vegan for breakfast, lunch and dinner keeps you way from that 3pm Snickers 4-pack 'snack'.

Studies have revealed the vegetarian and vegan diets are great for removing toxins from the kidneys. These toxins usually come from meat proteins.

All the fibre from eating whole, plant-based dishes encourages slow energy release. Glucose and protein are used as they are absorbed. 

2) See your skin glow

Ditching the dairy can have an amazing effect on your skin. Dermatologists have distinguished the link between diet, inflammation and hormone imbalances.
Want to lose the red blotches and skin blemishes? Switching out the diary helps. A vitamin packed, plant-based lifestyle will turn you into one of those smug my-skin’s-so-lush-it-glows-in-the-dark types. Ugh. Gross.     

3) No more sugar highs and lows

Research shows that the highly processed modern diet (refined sugar plus carbs) combined with stress slows metabolism.
Soooooo, we can't do anything about the stress. (Although, watch out for more Yoga Van Gogh sessions coming this year...stay tuned!)

But, plant-based diets are naturally low in fat and rich in natural sugars. This goes back to the 'keeps you feeling fuller for longer' thing.
Because your body is absorbing and using energy slowly, your snack cravings will likely disappear.

On the flip side, vegans desserts are one of our specialities.
Categorically unwilling to compromise on taste. Our sticky toffee pudding, oreo sundae and freshly baked cake specials are testament to this.
It’s just one long, pure grade, sugar high at CVG.

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Ahhhh, I'm sold! How do i get involved? 

Want to join the Cafe Van Veganuary challenge? 
Here’s how we’re rolling?

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1) Follow & join the daily chat on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter for unmissable recipes and inspiration. 

2) Sample the goods and invite your friends for delectable brunches, lunches and dinners Tuesday through to Sunday.  Each 4th diner get’s a free main for until Jan 31st*   

3) To win a limited number of random treats & gifts share your vegan challenge feedback each day across socials using #CafeVanVeganuary.

Who's with us??

Follow on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram from 6th January
#cafevanveganuary

*4 dishes for 3 offer applied to large plates and main meals only. Small plates and starters excluded.  

Brixton primary school pupils lead the charge on food poverty

Brixton primary school pupils lead the charge on food poverty

It’s all over the news. reliance on food banks in the UK is set to rise in coming years.

Food insecurity is caused by a myriad of triggers: loss of disability entitlements, benefit caps, reduction in tax credits, the rise in the unstable gig economy etc...
Away from the excruciating statistics, we’re inspired to be working the next generation of change makers from Brixton’s Christ Church Primary School, learning to take matters into their own hands.

At a grassroots level, individuals and families frequenting food banks rarely suffer with food shortages alone. It’s usually a noxious cocktail of poverty rendering them unable to pay rent, heat their homes, buy basic clothes and toiletries. The hangover effects, hamper nutrition, mental health and well being in turn fuelling pervasive conditions like depression, anxiety, social dysfunction and isolation. All of these, much harder to recover from in the long term.

Projects like Enterprise Growing Gardens, funded by City Bridge Trust, aim to empower our younger generation to address these systemic issues at the root. The vegan diet is often seen as something exclusive to affluent pockets of society. As a social enterprise vegan cafe, Cafe Van Gogh's aim is to disrupt that myth and drive accessibility to a healthy plant-based diet for all. 

 Christ Church Primary School field trip to Cafe Van Gogh

Christ Church Primary School field trip to Cafe Van Gogh

On a superficial level, the programme works in schools to enhance outdoor learning and play for children. With the support of project leaders and teachers, the young people grow, produce and sell vegetables to local food businesses and community markets.

On a deeper level, these pupils simultaneously benefit from food nutrition education, take ownership of the green spaces within their school grounds, exercise enterprising skills like leadership, relationship building and presentations skills. 

When the team here at Cafe Van Gogh heard about the project, of course we jumped at the chance to support as a core part of a social enterprise mission. In addition to haggling over mini courgette prices with the rowdy 9 year olds, we’ve welcomed them into the cafe for tasting workshops so they can see how creative we can get with a plant based diet rich in vegetables, herbs and spices. 

We’re delighted to announce our supplier partnership with the young entrepreneurs of Christ Church School. We hope programmes like this sow the seeds for radical new perspectives and connected relationship with food for upcoming generations. 

Where special needs education meets employment

Where special needs education meets employment

Cafe Van Gogh’s social mission centres around connecting all members of the diverse local community together.

Nurturing marginalised individuals into the workplace with training and employability skills is one of the ways in which we achieve this...

Our partnership with Highshore School, the special needs education state school down the road from from us, gives us the chance to support young people avoid becoming another statistic.

Approximately 1.5 million people in the UK have a learning disability. In 2015 only 6% of people with learning disabilities were in work.

It is estimated that 65% of people with learning disabilities would like a paid job. Unfortunately, those with learning disabilities face a raft of challenges including sustained employer prejudice and lack of awareness and education about how to support employees in the workplace.

Well aware of the realities their students will have to overcome, the team at Highshore school actively seek out opportunities to give their students a taste of working life and support progressive employers integrate work experience students into their workforce.

They lay the groundwork initially within the school environment, with a select number of students helping out within school to prep and deliver lunch service. As these individuals build confidence, they get to test out their new skills in a real world environment.
Where better to get their feet wet but at south London’s finest vegan social enterprise cafe! 

Work experience students, Highshore School
Before starting at the café I felt shy about asking questions, I felt more confident afterwards and I’d like to work there again
— Jamil, year 10

Over the summer term, Jamil, Isaac, Abdee and Mohammed have been polishing up their hospitality skills with our team here at Cafe Van Gogh. You might have seen them front of house on a Friday afternoon, taking your order or clearing tables. 

I felt a bit scared of working with the public. When I started work I felt happy and began to enjoy it
— Isaac, year 10

Much more than the basics of waiting tables, having them as part of our team for a few hours each week provides routine, opportunity for further skills development and contributes to their overall independence as young adults. For example, Abdee progressed in leaps and bounds with personal confidence and resilience after having to take public transport to and from his placement. 

It’s been our pleasure to welcome these students into the cafe over the last few months. We’re very much looking forward to continuing our partnership with Highshore School as the Autumn terms resumes this September!

Happy Summer from #CafeVanGoghLDN

Happy Summer from #CafeVanGoghLDN

CELEBRATE & WIN WITH OUR NEW 100% VEGAN SUMMER MENU

It's official, we’re celebrating going 100% vegan with a new summer menu.

We’ve been cooking up a storm over the last few weeks and want to share the fruits of our labour! Whether you’re one of our regulars or are yet to grace our doors, it’s time to tell us what you think. 

Just use the hashtag: #CafeVanGoghLDN and you might be surprised by a little gift.

How can I get involved? 

You’ve got 3 options to join the conversation across Facebook, Twitter or Instagram:

  • Peruse our new menu & tell us what dishes on you’re most looking forward to sampling. 
  • When you visit us - snap a picture of your order and tell us how you liked it.
  • Tell us your inspirational ideas about what you’d like to see on our menu in future. 

What’s in it for me?

Like some kinda weird vegan santa come 7 months too late, we have a lucky bag of gifts to give away each week over July. Any of the following take your fancy?

  • Eat free for 30 days at Cafe Van Gogh (subject to fair usage t's & c's - if you’re showing up after hours with nothing but a fork and a smile, we’re going to have to cut you off). 
  • Consultancy position at the chef’s table (your chance to work with our cordon bleu trained Head Chef to magic up some new vegan delights).
  • Free lunch for 2 (imagine the scene, you and your beau, basking in the sunshine of our hidden courtyard, sharing a courgette spaghetti kiss…)
  • Complimentary sides / desserts / drinks (our desserts are so damn good, it’s like a XXX version of one of those M&S adverts).
  • Complimentary coffee (a steaming cup of aromatic freshly ground coffee for the price of a hashtag?? It’s social media gone mad!).

How can I be sure I won’t miss out?

To participate, just make sure you use the #CafeVanGoghLDN hashtag on your post. 
This is running across Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter from 1st — 31st July so no excuse not to get involved. 

Check out the menu & get posting from the 1st July!
Follow on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram to join the conversation. 

Cauliflower & Kidney Bean Curry

Cauliflower & Kidney Bean Curry

Another delectable vegan recipe from steve clarke

Cauliflowers are really cheap at the moment, and on my way to the boat, I picked up a football sized one that would barely fit into a  carrier bag. 

The weather has turned wintery, and I’ve decided to start to run down and replenish the stock of tins in my cupboards. The following recipe works especially well with chickpeas, but I hadn’t got any in tins, and hadn’t got the time to soak them. I used kidney beans instead. Worryingly, I’ve got 16 tins of them on my boat.. it must be some unconscious siege mentality. I’ll use them all up, and create space for more..

Masala

A masala is a spice mix, made and ground from fresh spices, toasted in a wok, and added as a base to curries.

This is my basic masala mix. You can keep it for a couple of weeks in an air tight jar – i always make plenty at a time, so I’ve always got some on the go. The beauty of getting to grips with a basic masala is that you can personalise it to your own taste.There are plenty of other spices that you can add, or subtract depending on your palette. To make a masala more suited to Sri Lankan dishes, I add cinnamon, and fresh chilli, to make a slightly wet paste. It’s up to you, and it’s fun to experiment.

  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ginger powder
  • 1 teaspoon of turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 4 dried chillies (seeds in, or out dependent on your tolerance)
  • 1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
  • Good pinch of salt
  • 4 cardamom pods.

Toast all of the above in a dry wok, and once it starts to smoke, remove from the heat, and grind up to a fine powder in a pestle and mortar.

Recipe:

  • 1 large cauliflower
  • 2 large brown onions
  • 5 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tins of kidney beans
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Organic coconut oil
  • 1 lemon

Blanch the cauliflower in boiling water for about 7 minutes. Make sure it’s all cooked and then drain in a colander.

Take your largest pan, and heat up a desert spoon of coconut oil, until it begins to bubble. Don’t allow it to go to the smoke point. Add the onions and garlic, and fry until they become translucent. Once this occurs, add approx half the masala mix, and stir well, to coat all the cauliflower in the spice mix. (the other half of the masala mix will keep for another meal) Place the lid on the pan, and reduce the heat.

Rinse the two tins of kidney beans in a colander, and throw these into the pan, along with the chopped tomatoes. Give everything a good stir, and leave covered on a low heat for approx 30 mins. I’m always tempted to taste my food, all the way through the process of cooking. It might be that you want to add salt (try melting a teaspoon of marmite into the sauce) or if it’s not hot enough split a couple of fresh chillies and add them to the pan.

Squeeze the lemon juice all over, and leave to cool. I always find anything using a spice blend tastes better on reheating.. I think it must activate the spices anew.. If you are really organised, cook your curry dishes the day before you intend to eat them

- Archive post from Steve Clarke's blog

North African Stew with Harrissa

North African Stew with Harrissa

A warm-hearted vegan recipe from steve clarke

This dish was introduced to me by my close friend Fliss. She learnt it when she lived in Paris, making a living as a busker with her violin, and living in a series of squats with a varied bunch of performers and artists from around the world.. Very La Boheme, and at the same time, very rich in life.

We were both at university, I was 18 at the time, and Fliss was 32. I’d never travelled at that point, and lived vicariously through the stories of her adventures. We’d spread out a newspaper on her living room floor as a tablecloth, and feast and drink, talk, laugh and philosophise.During these evenings, she introduced me to classical music, Bowie and perhaps most importantly an appreciation of spicy foods. I learned more about life in her living room than you ever could on any degree course.

Fliss and I used to make a large bowl of harrissa, and spread it on pizza bases, sandwiches, crackers – pretty much anything really, and sit and scoff them gleefully in the lecture hall. I think we developed a reputation for it. I never met any vampires when I was at University anyway, mind you, having said that…

The stew

I love how this recipe has been passed on, probably influenced from the Moroccan diaspora in Paris, to me, via a kitchen in West Yorkshire. Be liberal with everything in life, including your spices, and if you need to add some later on in the cooking, be sure to dry roast them first to activate their essential oils. One of the beauties of this dish is how quick and cheap it is to make. This recipe is going to make you a lot of food, so half the quantities if you want less, or make some space in your freezer.

I took the slow approach to this meal, and soaked and cooked my own dried chickpeas.

  • 2 cans, or equivalent of chickpeas 
  • Half a large swede chopped
  • 4 carrots chopped 
  • 2 onions chopped a good scoop of cumin an equally good scoop of coriander.
  • Veggie stock cubes x 2
  • 2 tins of tomatoes
  • 2 courgettes chopped

Dry roast the spices in the bottom of a large pan, and pre their smoke point, add a splash of oil, and the chopped onions. Fry until they soften, and are coated in the spices. Throw in all the root vegetables and chick peas, but omit the courgettes for now. Add the tomatoes, and give it all a stir. Add the stock cubes. Give it all a good stir around, and top up with boiled water until the food is covered by approx an inch of liquid. Allow it to boil, add the courgettes and then turn down to a simmer, for approx 30 mins (until the swede is fully cooked) Keep an eye on the liquidity.. I like to keep it reduced, and stew like, as opposed to a soup.

Serve this up on a bowl of steaming couscous.

Harrissa

If you want it to, the harrissa can blow your socks off. I’ll leave it up to you to perfect your own heat by playing around with the amounts. The caraway and mint provide an analgesic effect on your tongue into which you can smuggle more (and more) chilli and garlic. Challenge yourself to up the ante with the ingredients.

I’m particularly enjoying this batch I’ve recently made, because the chillies were grown by Fliss herself, on her small-hold in rural Ireland. A chief component is raw garlic, which has antibacterial properties and is good for your whole cardiovascular system. I’ve never trusted anyone who doesn’t like the smell of garlic, certainly not enough to want to kiss them, or be hired by them, so eat it with gay abandon, and live a little (bit longer?).

  • Heaped tablespoon of carraway seeds
  • Heaped tablespoon of dried mint 
  • A whole bulb of garlic diced
  • Pinch of salt
  • Tiny splash of oil

This dish is really simple. Mix all of the above ingredients together in a bowl, or mug. Leave it in the fridge overnight to steep. The harrissa is blobbed liberally onto the stew, and mixed in to provide heat.

- Archive post from Steve Clarke's blog

Summer Flower Salad

Summer Flower Salad

A "grow your own" vegan recipe from Steve Clarke

This one is a visual delight. I’ve had mates over for lunch before who thought it was an inedible table decoration. It involves a little bit of planning, i.e. I try and plant mostly edible flowers and vegetables on the roof of my boat, so I can both enjoy the taste and look of my garden.

All of these ingredients are grown on board, there’s nothing to stop a trip to the shops though..

  • Nasturtiums, flowers and torn leaves. Calendular petals
  • Pansy flowers
  • Mixed salad leaves.
  • Torn mint leaves
  • Courgette, sliced into ribbons using a potato peeler.

Give everything a rinse, and check that there are no insect hitch-hikers in the flower petals.

I always have this with a cider vinegar, honey and olive oil dressing, but i prefer people to dress the salad on their plate, it means any left overs last until the next meal time.

Throw it all together in a wooden salad bowl, that you’ve grazed a fresh clove of garlic around the inside.

- Archive post from Steve Clarke's blog