We talk to Vegan Geeza on his love of a Vegan Lifestyle and Experimenting with Animal-Free Food!
Steve High a.k.a. Vegan Geeza, embraces his new love of vegan cuisine by taking it on the road to festivals and events in his converted sixties caravan. Here's the info on his favourite dishes and how's best to start on a vegan diet...
Hey Steve, tell us about yourself, Vegan Geeza and your fantastic food van!
Sure! I’m 34, grew up in Essex/Herts and have been a tradesmen for the most part of my working life, but have always had a passion for food.
Around two years ago I went plant based and a year into it thought I’d like to try something in the food industry, so I decided to combine the two and convert a sixtiess caravan into a food truck and Vegan Geeza was created!
What is/are the meals on Vegan Geeza menu you are most proud of?
This is a hard one as I like so many different types of food but I have always loved Mexican food, I make a jackfruit burrito that always hits the spot and has been popular, but in general I just like creating dishes for people to enjoy, especially when they’re shocked what’s in it, like black bean brownies!
What turned you to going vegan yourself?
My girlfriend who has always been vegetarian went vegan 3 years ago. As I was cooking most of the food, I found I was making two different meals everyday, but was enjoying experimenting and cooking the vegan food, trying to see how I could make something taste just as good without meat and dairy. I realised how easy and tasty the alternatives were and how it benefited me health wise. After seeing a couple of documentaries and joining in with Veganuary, I haven’t looked back.
What personal benefits have you found since going vegan?
It really got me creative in the kitchen and thinking outside the box with recipes. I said from the start that if I thought I wasn’t getting what I needed from the diet, I wouldn’t carry on with it. But now it’s two years on and I feel fitter and healthier than ever. Although, you can’t just eat anything labelled vegan and assume it’s healthy. You have to make a conscious effort to make sure you have a balanced healthy diet.
Some people have tried going vegan/vegetarian and haven’t found it easy to stick to. Have you got any tips on the best way to adapting to a vegetarian/ vegan diet and lifestyle?
It can be hard at first but once you start to learn how to make some of your favourite dishes by using some different methods it gets easier. Begin with small changes such as the milk in your coffee or take away coffee, or switch out the meat in your spaghetti bolognese for minced mushrooms or lentils.
Once you get used to different methods, then experiment with newer ingredients like jackfruit and seitan. There’s some really good products in the supermarkets at the moment and some chefs bringing out really simple but tasty recipes.
Pinterest is also a good tool for easy meal ideas, It’s a good time to try it out! The main thing is try have some fun with it and don’t put too much pressure on yourself.
What are your favourite vegan restaurants?
We were in London a few weeks back and went to a nonprofit called Unity, the food was insane, I had the tofish burger with ‘prawns’ and ‘calamari’! And another one called Farmacy where they grow all the vegetables they use in Kent and have it delivered by an electric truck that day/week. Camden Market is always full of incredible stalls too!
If you’re looking for a chain, Wagamamas vegan menu is really good! More locally, there’s The Burger Shop does a wicked onion bhaji burger.
Have you got any other tips on how the readers can live a more sustainable lifestyle?
The main thing is to start small, stick to that and then do more as you can! An easy place to start is to save and reuse glass jars to have refilled which helps save on plastic, and of course, always take your own bags shopping!
I’m also in the process of building planters to grow my own veg in the garden which has been really successful in previous years, and it’s so satisfying to grow your own food for dinner! It also tastes 100 times better, and if you don’t have a garden there’s allotments out there for as little as £12 a year! Also be sure to get creative with leftover ingredients in the cupboards and fridge to save on food waste. It’s amazing what meals you can produce, especially when you’re stocked up on herbs and spices!
Where can our readers find you online, and what’s next for you and Vegan Geeza?
I mostly use Instagram and Facebook - @vegangeeza
Later in the year I’ll be taking the food truck to some local food festivals - bring on the summer!