Oh the foods of the Australian childhood, what a wild ride they were.
Fish fingers, devon and tomato sauce sandwiches, meat pies from the servo, Golden Gaytimes, sausage rolls, chicken nuggets, McDonald’s Happy Meals – oh how the glorious list does go on. The best thing about being an adult? Knowing you can march yourself right out of the house and eat whatever you damn well want. Except that I’m vegan now.
In 2013, when I first made the decision to leave all animal products off my plate, out of my wardrobe, and well away from my cosmetics drawer, it wasn’t that easy.
Options were not aplenty as they are today, and the plant-based community was not pumping out cakes that look like unicorns, or producing alternatives that actually taste like meat. It was all side salads and fries (still would, tbh), and people who thought they were nutritionists asking me about protein, iron, and canine teeth.
Oh, how the times have changed! How far we have come. With some two million Australians currently identifying as vegetarian, we’re dealing with a different kettle of (vegan) fish now.
Nostalgia came knocking on the door this week, and the world called to me, asking me to reach back into my youth to rediscover the ‘foods’ I once begged my mum for. What do you do when you’ve got the humble Devon sandwich on the phone? You pick up.
If Captain Birds Eye wasn’t a father figure to you then I really don’t think you were paying enough attention during the Cheese TV ad breaks, but fair enough.
Fish fingers were an absolute staple food for 90s kids, and sadly, are 90% breadcrumbs, meaning they are very easy to veganise. Pick up a box at Coles or Woolies from Quorn, or fork out a little more cash for some fancy Fish-Free Fingers from VBites… they’ll make waves.
Ooooft. Name a more satisfying feeling then peeling the thin, oily, plastic wrapping off a sausage roll, and dipping its ill-fitting tip into a mini Masterfoods tomato sauce. Or, if you were lucky enough to score a mini squeezy packet, may god have mercy on your aim, and good luck getting out of the car sauce and crumb free.
A luxury no one should live without, the vegan sausage rolls from Linda McCartney are superb, the ones from Coles are okay, and the Quorn, and Fry’s ones are worth a try, too.
Whichever you go for, it’ll be better than my old method of buying puff pastry, wrapping it around a vegan sausage, chucking it in the oven, and hoping for the best. Oh wait, I live in sausage-roll-devoid Germany, so I still do this.
Frankly, Spag Bol was and always will be a permanent fixture on the weekly rotation. Getting your hands on soy based mince meat is easy these days, but I actually prefer it with lentils. Did you know that lentils have more protein per gram than beef?
Don’t worry about it anyway, we’re not here to talk about health, and protein deficiencies are basically unheard of in the Western world.
If Captain Birds Eye is the 90s-child patriarch, then you better believe that Mrs Mac is the matriarch. Containing very little actual meat in their original form, I was certainly guilty of a good 2am, possibly inebriated, party pie session – there’s certain comfort to be found in an oven light.
It’s actually quite relaxing now, to bite into a vegan pie knowing I’m not going to consume any eyeballs or ball sacks. Most pie shops have vegan options now, and there are plenty to choose from at the supermarket.
Cheeseburgers are crucial to the Maccas run, vital to the road trip, and significant to basically anyone who knows what it feels like to be “out of options” at 1am.
I used to order my cheeseburgers with no meat, and no cheese – opting to stuff them with fries instead, and cry a bit. Now, almost all burger chains offer excellent vegan alternatives, so now I’m crying for completely different reasons.
Unpopular opinion, but oriental is the flavour sachet of all flavour sachets. If you aren’t sprinkling whatever that is on your noodles, you have chosen wrong. The good news is these fall into the “accidentally vegan” category, which is bloody great for everyone involved.
Terrible white bread, already vegan. Tomato sauce, already vegan. Just wander over to the vegetarian/vegan section of your supermarket and grab the worst possible looking processed meat imitation you can find. Result will be the same, you’ll hate yourself.
Easy peasy to create a vegan version. Simply grab the cheapest white bread you can fine (you were going to anyway), opt for a vegan butter, and rejoice in the fact that sprinkles are just sugar.
A world without Coco Pops is one I don’t want to live in. Luckily, with a wealth of plant-based milks available, there’s no issue. Except in Europe, where using the word “milk” for non-dairy products is not lawful. “Almond Drink” it is…
Food that is also basically a toy is fun because you can throw the “don’t play with your food” rule out the window. String cheese is king (sorry Babybel) so get your hands on a Daiya vegan version and compare the pair.