Vegan Podcast talks: No vegan food waste here
The guests from episode 16 of the Vegan Life Magazine Podcast share their top tips for reducing food waste
Series two of the Vegan Life Magazine Podcast is now well and truly underway! Hosted by the hilarious Jake Yapp (check him out on page 114), it covers everything you need to know about vegan food, as well as how to cook and eat it.
Tonnes of food is wasted during the festive season, so this month, we thought we should recap episode 16, where Jake was joined by vegan food waste gurus Celine Steen and our very own Laura Gaga (find her on page 84). During the 40-minute episode, the team talked leftovers, expiry dates and the most ‘far-gone’ foods they’ve eaten… Post-podcast, we catch up with Celine (C) and Laura (L) to delve a little deeper.
Hi both! Why do we need to limit our food waste?
C: Simply put, landfills are beyond overfilled. Items that would normally be biodegradable, like vegetable scraps, don’t have a chance to break down because of the non biodegradable items amongst them. In these current times, it’s also vital for us to make the most out of the foods and any of the goods we purchase as supplies are more limited and costlier than they were even in the recent past.
L: One third of the food produced globally is wasted. This has a considerable environmental impact — food production requires energy, fuel and water, which let off greenhouse gases. Food waste rotting in landfill produces methane. Not only are there the environmental effects but it is shameful that we are binning food when one in nine people are hungry or undernourished globally (actionagainsthunger.org.uk).
What is your favourite thing to do with leftover/wasted food?
C: When it’s beyond use, composting is the way to go. As far as peelings go, I never peel fruits and vegetables that have edible skin. I’m a big fan of roasting any vegetable or even fruit that gets a little too tired to eat raw. Not to mention, the quintessential every thing but- the-kitchen-sink type of soup or stew!
L: Eat it! I love nothing more than being able to eat leftovers for lunches a day or two after cooking a dish. It removes the thinking and prepping and they can always be jazzed up by adding something different.
What are three easy ways that people can reduce household food waste?
C: Make a meal prep list. Plan meals ahead, shop accordingly, and stick to the ingredient list. Buy unprocessed foods. Instead of purchasing broccoli or cauliflower florets in a bag, buy the whole head and make use of every single piece by ‘ricing’ or shaving the thicker parts, and adding them to your stir-fry, soup, or fried rice recipes.
Put your freezer to good use: when you know it’s unlikely you will use the foods you purchased for the week, prep it as much as you can (in the case of veggies, wash them, spin them dry, wrap them up well in reusable containers, and pop in the freezer). And one extra tip for the road: don’t be afraid to purchase discounted items that are nearing the best-by date at the shop!
L: Eat the food that you already have. So many of us have food lurking in the back of cupboards and the freezer, and will continue to food shop whilst there is so much going uneaten. In 2020, I went four months without food shopping, and whilst I was collecting free surplus food using food sharing app Olio, I was also using up food that I already had, baking bread, biscuits, making pies.
The first step in reducing waste should be shopping from your cupboards. Seeing as I’ve mentioned Olio, download the app and list your surplus food on there. This can include cooked meals, leftovers, food past its best before date but not its use by. The freezer is great for extending the life of food; fruit, veg, bakery, herbs, cooked meals. There is very little that can’t be frozen, just remember to eat it.
Sliced bread is one of the most wasted foods in the UK. What creative things can you cook with waste/stale bread?
C: The concept of wasted bread is lost on me because my family are carb addicts. But in case you purchase more than you can chew, I would suggest placing whatever is unlikely to be used in the freezer. As long as you toast it, bread usually survives well, provided it is wrapped appropriately to prevent freezer burn.
If the thought of freezing doesn’t appeal, there’s nothing wrong with old standards such as using it in vegan French toast, on top of a good French onion soup, or as bread pudding. Making your own breadcrumbs is also great to use in vegan meatballs or to top casseroles or pasta bakes. Using stale bread as a thickening agent is also an option.
L: Make them into breadcrumbs, croutons, bread and vegan butter pudding, summer fruit pudding, even a savoury bread pudding or pie!