The Trials of Tryjanuary
How’s the New Year resolution going? Perhaps you’re following a fad diet that’s difficult to maintain. Maybe you’ve resolved generally to eat less, eat well and buy fresh and local (stick with it). Or perhaps you’re using Tryjanuary to go vegan or gluten free? If you’re finding it a struggle, Hampshire Fare can help as members include gluten-free bakers and sausage-makers, plant-based veg boxes, and courses specialising in vegan or gluten-free cuisine at cookery schools across the county.
But what if you’re trying to be both vegan and gluten free? Welcome to Nicks Cooper Brown’s world. Nicks’ food company, VGF’s (Vegan Gluten Free Foods) was born in April last year when Nicks realised there was a niche in the market.
Nicks explains: “For me the vegan journey started over two years ago. It was watching the Forks over Knives documentary. My wife, who is coeliac, and was then pescatarian, came out of the bedroom to hear me say, ‘We’re going vegan’. Her first response was, ‘What am I going to eat?’ I failed to mention that she doesn’t like vegetables that much!
"We lost 10 kilos each. Not because we were suddenly super healthy. No, it was because food was bland and boring. I had to learn to cook!
“We’d go out for a meal and ask for a gluten-free menu and a vegan menu to find options that were both gluten-free and vegan, but the two were not usually compatible. If we were lucky we could get side salad with fries. Most of the time it was just a side salad! This is why VGF’s was born. In April last year I’d learnt to cook yummy food and realised there was a niche in the market which I wanted to help fill. You don’t need to be vegan or coeliac to enjoy VGF’s meals. You just need to want tasty food, from fresh, locally sourced Hampshire ingredients, to give your taste buds a treat.”
VGF’s imaginative prepared meals (such as massaman bean curry or Korean BBQ tofu) are now available online and from stockists such as Sunnyfields Farm Shop and Woodgreen Community Shop
Nicks continues: “Just by replacing one meal a week with a vegan option, you will be helping your body and the environment, too. Talking about the environment, all VGF’s packaging is 100% recyclable and reusable. We also offer collection points to cut down on vehicle use.
Nicks also suggests: “For those cooking at home, you could try a couple of simple swaps. For spaghetti bolognaise, swap mince for lentils and spaghetti for raw courgette noodles, it will be delicious and healthy.”