2016 has really been the year for Veganism.
With the rise of ancillary social media sites like Instagram and Snapchat, we now live in a society where it’s culturally accepted, if not encouraged, to actively share your lifestyle choices with your network.
A few years ago, the notion of regularly sharing a picture of your dinner online would have been met with ridicule.
Food, for most people, is such a mundane matter that it’s barely worth mentioning. However, the trend has snowballed from a few amateur cooks, with their digital cameras, to an army of eager healthy (and not so healthy) eaters brandishing iPhones, with fully fledged photo editing software.
Leading the masses of culinary enthusiasts are a select group of super bloggers, who have managed to be heard over the noise, by successfully showcasing their talents for free-from, vegan and raw cooking. Seamlessly blending vibrant photography and easy to cook recipes with an aspirational tone – these women have become a powerful voice in the food world, advocating alternative eating practices as a way to defeat debilitating health issues and also lose weight.
I’ve got countless friends who’ve grown attached to the consistent, joyful output from a number of these successful women writers.
Many of them have their own rags-to-riches stories that appeal in their own ways. Angela Liddon (of OhSheGlows fame) struggled with an eating disorder throughout her teenage years, eventually finding catharsis in blogging. Ella Mills (Britain’s own blogging success story who has recently launched her ‘Deliciously Ella’ own food line) suffered with Postural Tachycardia Syndrome for years before miraculously recovering, after changing to a plant-based diet.
Amongst many others, these women have inspired thousands to convert to Veganism. Not only have they removed the social stigma from making such a dramatic lifestyle change, they’ve made it positively fashionable.
One of my best friends, Charlie, is one of these loyal converts.
She has struggled with her weight for years after having her three children, practically back-to-back. Thanks to her super-blogger inspirations, she has managed to shed a tonne of weight and it’s made her much happier for it. Our children made friends in Nursery and that naturally led to us becoming close for the last 7 years or so. It’s been wonderful being able to have a fellow Mother to call in times of crisis – Char’s also helped me out with baby sitting on more than a few occasions.
It’s her 38th birthday this week and the girls are organising a big day out this weekend. We’re dumping our kids on the men (who are going to struggle paying attention to the football when there are 9 toddlers causing havoc around them) and sitting down to a glorious Vegan feast at my place. I’ve been charged with baking her a surprise (Vegan!) cake and have been experimenting all week with a variety of ingredients.
Although I fiddled around with using vegetable/fruit purees for a while, I thought I’d take it back to basics for the biggest flavour hit. In her pre-vegan days Charlie used to love Starbucks’ classic Lemon Drizzle Loaf Cake, I’m going to pay homage to that with a vegan version that should be just as tasty:
Very Vegan Lemon Drizzle Cake
[Will feed between 8-10 hungry Mums…]
For the cake:
260g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
good pinch of salt
165 fine caster sugar
2tbsp maple syrup
70ml rapeseed oil
250ml of dairy-alternative milk [soya or almond is fine]
2tsp apple cider vinegar
2tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 lemons [for zesting]
For the drizzle:
1 lemon [for juice]
2tbsp granulated sugar
Pre-heat your oven to 180C/Gas 4, then oil your baking tin and line it with grease-proof paper.
Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large mixing bowl and mix.
Separately, whisk up the sugar, syrup, oil, milk, vinegar and juice. Stir in the zest.
Combine the dry and wet ingredients, but don’t over stir them.
Tip the mixture into your tin and bake for 40 mins, or until an inserted metal skewer comes out clean.
Whilst you’re waiting, prep the drizzle by stirring together the juice and sugar.
Once the cake is baked, pierce it all over with a tooth pick and evenly cover it in the drizzle.
Leave to cool for a good hour or so, before moving on to a rack to cool properly.