I became vegetarian at the age of eight after the rather traumatising death of my guinea pig, Nancy. My mum and dad were supportive of my decision (something I didn’t realise was rare until years later when I worked as the Youth Campaigner for a vegan campaigning charity). My mum used to cook meals piled high with fresh veg and lentils and I never felt like I was missing out on food because of being vegetarian.
When Quorn products became readily available in supermarkets, I started eating those too. Sausages, burgers and sandwich slices were amongst my favourite Quorn products. When I became vegan aged 21, I was a little bit devastated to find out that Quorn products contained egg (the thought of no more Quorn burgers topped with cheese slices was almost too much to handle) and so I wouldn’t be able to eat them anymore.
I heard rumours that Quorn was trying to veganise products but I never really believed them. But then, last year, Quorn introduced a vegan range. They brought out some vegan ‘chicken’ pieces which are great in a stir-fry and spicy ‘chicken’ style burgers. Laurie is a big fan of the burgers and Ebony loves the little ‘chicken’ pieces.
So, when Quorn invited us down to London to find out more about Quorn products, I said yes. It was half-term so Ebony and I headed down to London just the two of us and we had an amazing time stuffing our faces with vegan food and seeing the city sights. The Quorn event was held at the Kids Cookery School, an amazing place with child-sized everything. The children were taken into the kitchen to prepare some food (Ebony marched in loaded up with vegan cheese and butter) and the rest of us stayed put to learn more about Quorn.
Alison Crusher, one of the products developers at Quorn, was on hand to answer any questions. I’m not embarrassed to say that I found it really interesting to find out more about exactly how Quorn is made. I knew it was made from a fungi but hadn’t realised how environmentally friendly the production process is (perfected over many years). Obviously, I am pretty clued up about the environmental and health benefits of eating foods like Quorn instead of meat. Quorn products seemed to go mainstream around the time of the BSE crisis, and I remember many of my friend’s parents switching beef mince for Quorn mince around that time.
As the only vegan in attendance, Alison spent quite a while chatting to me about the veganising process. Would you believe it has taken years of research for Quorn to create a method to successful mimic the molecular makeup of egg using only vegan-friendly ingredients? The company have been funding PhD researchers for a number of years to try and find a way of veganising the products. They have now had some success but are still working on more ways of expanding the vegan range. There are more vegan products due to launch later this year which is exciting and definitely a nod to the fact that veganism is going mainstream.
I’m really pleased that the vegan line is expanding because a lot of catering companies seem to opt for Quorn products now. I know that the vegetarian option at Ebony’s future school is Quorn so it would be great to easily switch this for one of the company’s vegan products when it’s time for Ebony to start having hot dinners. It also means there will be even more vegan products available in supermarkets which can only be a good thing. I’ve been vegan for eight and a half years now and I can’t believe how much things have changed in just that short amount of time. It is now easier than ever to find vegan food when you’re out and about.
Obviously, I used this as an opportunity to emphasise my love for the Quorn fajita chicken strips in the hope that Alison will one day veganise these especially for me. I’m sure she will. It was really interesting to be able to speak to a product developer and find out more about how the products are made, and she seemed genuinely interested in asking about vegan options and the types of vegan products people might like to see on offer so that was really good.
Whilst I was busy learning all about vegan Quorn, the kids were busy cooking up a storm in the kitchen. They made pizza from scratch (Ebony’s pizza was heavily loaded up with pretty much a whole packet of vegan cheese) and then made burger buns to serve their burgers in. She was really proud of her pizza and, to the disgust of those around us, ate it cold on the tube on the way back to Euston.
You can read more about the event over on Quorn’s blog here.
The beautiful photos were taken by Preston perfect Photography.