The increased popularity of vegan products is encouraging companies throughout the food industry (from producers to restaurants) to either expand their plant-based items or offer them for the first time. This means more choice, and a greater chance of being able to find a meat or dairy alternative that you enjoy. Meat alternatives tend to fall into two categories: those that, like tofu, tempeh or jackfruit, have their own unique taste, and those that mimic the appearance, texture and flavour of real meat. The latter are usually based on soya bean or pea protein and may even be coloured with beetroot juice for bloody authenticity.
Meanwhile, dairy alternatives are derived from an almost endless array of sources, from almond and soy “milks” to those made from oats, rice, cashews, coconut or hemp. Passionate about the great European cheeses? Forget the generic vegan "cheeze" of old that was infamous for its rubbery texture and bland flavour. As the effort and expense put into plant-based products increases with demand, so does the appearance of worthy replacements for brie, camembert and gorgonzola. These days, making the best choice for the animals, the planet and your own health doesn’t have to mean sacrificing the gastronomic pleasures of dining out in Southern Europe.