The words we use to describe eating less meat and more veg – vegetarian, vegan, flexitarian, pescatarian, seagan, plant-based, clean-eating (shudder) – may have changed over the past 18 months but the trend itself is stronger than ever. These days, more and more of us are choosing a veggie-forward diet, whether for ethical or sustainable reasons, budget requirements or just because we prefer the taste and variety.
Nowhere is the vegan food trend more evident than in New York City (Read our guide to the best vegan restaurants in NYC), which we visited late in 2017 with the M&S trend team. Each year they visit the Big Apple for inspiration for the supermarket’s latest ranges – and for 2018 they reckon the big trend is normalising vegan food. Across the city we saw vegan options everywhere, from fast-food joints and takeaway lunch counters to high-end, fine-dining restaurants, often with little labelling. One of our favourite vegan places that we visited was By CHLOE. Its flagship restaurant opened in Manhattan two years ago, and there are now 10 across the US, with an 11th due to open in London’s Covent Garden in January. We tried an incredible pesto meatball sub there, made with portobello mushrooms and veggies, marinara sauce, cashew mozzarella and almond parmesan, and a kale caesar salad with maple-wheat croutons, a creamy dressing and a revolutionary shiitake bacon (pictured below). Crisp wafers of ’shroom, packed with umami, with that same chewy, sweet and smoky crunch you get from the porky kind.
Try our version of this vegan sandwich – surprisingly easy and so rewarding – in a crazy-good MBLT (Mushroom ‘bacon’, lettuce and tomato sandwich with vegan mayo). And, yes, we’ve a you’ll-never-believe-it’s-vegan mayo, too. So get involved, whether you’re a vegan or not. And, if you’re taking part in Veganuary and need even more inspiration, tick the vegan box in our recipe finder here.
baguette 1 small,
cherry tomatoes 6,
lettuce a few small leaves,
VEGAN MUSHROOM 'BACON'
flat mushrooms 4,
cut into ½ cm slices
vegetable oil 1 tbsp
maple syrup 2 tbsp
smoked paprika 2 tsp
garlic granules 1 tsp
silken tofu 200g
Dijon mustard 2 tsp
white wine vinegar 1 tbsp
Heat the oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5 and line two baking trays with baking paper. Lay out all the mushroom slices, brush with oil and season. Mix the maple syrup, paprika and garlic granules.
Bake the mushrooms for 15-20 minutes or until golden on the bottom, then carefully turn all of the slices over, brush with the maple syrup mix and cook for 5-10 minutes more or until dark brown and crisp, but still with a little bend.
To make the vegan mayo, put the ingredients in the bowl of a small food processor with some seasoning and whizz until really smooth.
Assemble the MBLTs by spreading the mayo inside the baguette and layer up with the tomatoes, lettuce and mushroom ‘bacon’. Cut into 2 and serve.