Meet the Author
Jane Easton discovered a meat-free diet as teenager and she's now spreading the word
She grew up 'eating lard' but decided at a young age that she didn’t want to live on a diet of takeaways and processed food. So she learned how to make and eat veggie food and has never looked back.
Jane, 60, became interested in food when she started cooking meals aged 13 and grew up eating meat. She got her first introduction to vegetarian food in her home city of Glasgow among her student friends and later gave up eating animal products altogether.
She’s now turned her diet into a meat-free cook book and wants to open up the way of eating to a new audience and prove it is a cheap and easy way to eat. The Viva! Cookbook includes 145 simple vegan recipes that are meat-free with no dairy or eggs.
She said: "I always joke that I grew up on lard to make people realise that most vegans and veggies aren't born but made. But I was always interested in food and taught myself to cook at a very early age – either that or live on fish suppers and Vesta packet curries. A bit later, I discovered vegetarianism among the books my student pals had. I met some interesting hippies in Dalmuir and rummaged through their book collection on macrobiotics, early environmental writings and the like and then moved to the West End. I used to walk up to Woodlands Road to find cheap aubergines at the Asian shops, down to Partick for cheap ordinary veg and scraped together enough to eat veggie curries down at the Shish Mahal in Gibson Street. It all seemed very exotic back in the day.
“Glasgow has had an interesting veggie and vegan culture for longer than many people realise but it's got better and better. I was delighted to find out that my home town now has lots of vegan eateries like The 13th Note, Mono and 78 Cafe – and that it’s recently been voted best city in the UK for vegans. Even Glasgow Uni cafeterias have been offering a dedicated vegan menu for years now, very successful they are too apparently.”
Initially Jane became a vegetarian because she was concerned about food poverty in the world and her views were strengthened by various animal welfare issues as well as environmental concerns. Even when she was struggling for money in the 1970s, she managed to survive on vegetarian food – cooking different types of vegetables, pulses and wholegrains from scratch for little money.
Later when she had been to Australia snorkelling it convinced her not to eat fish.
“I thought, ‘I can’t eat this – I’ve been swimming with his friends’. The more I read about it I realised it was the direction I wanted to go. It was actually a huge relief. I never felt like I was giving up something. I try to show people there are other ways around eating meat. I believe in telling people the truth – it’s not about judging them.”
Jane has worked in catering and also as an English teacher but after becoming a vegan in 2001 she started working for Viva!, the vegetarian and vegan campaigning charity, around 10 years ago. Now she’s food and cookery co-ordinator at Viva! and has compiled easy vegan recipes for everyone to enjoy in the new Viva! Cookbook. The book includes kid-friendly recipes, how to entertain non-vegetarian friends, cooking for one and how to freeze your food to save time and money.
Jane explained: “I wanted to normalise vegan food. It’s not the stuff you watch on TV that you never make. These are things that ordinary people can make and hopefully it will get people back in the kitchen if they’re not there already. People do ask how you make cakes without eggs but it’s easy. Most of the food is very healthy but there are a couple of treats in there too. It’s vegan but it’s for everyone. I wanted to shift people’s ideas about what’s vegan and what’s food that everyone can eat - it's very inclusive."
Adapted from original feature by Maria Croce for The Scottish Daily Record with thanks.