One of the most frequent qualms people have when curious and considering veganism is that their cultural identity will be lost if they forgo traditional dishes and favoured customs which involve animal cruelty. I have come across this worry many times when discussing veganism with people and my first response to this would be: Why would you want to partake in an aspect of your culture that involves the exploitation of innocent creatures? However I understand that many people, PoC in particular, consider culture and tradition a very important aspect of their lives.
PoC who are reluctant or worried about the transition to a vegan diet do not despair! You can live an ethical lifestyle and immerse yourself in your culture. Even though veganism is much more than the food you eat, it doesn’t mean you have to live without classic cultural dishes. Lucky for us, there are absolutely loads of vegan alternatives, both natural and manufactured, which means there’s a large range of choices in the foods you eat. In becoming vegan, amongst the least you’ll find yourself discovering new culinary skills and ingredients and incorporating them into all those classic cultural dishes you love!
As someone who is British and Afro-Caribbean I have learned how to incorporate both of these cultures into my vegan lifestyle with ease. I have adapted both traditional Jamaican dishes as well as British dishes so that they are completely vegan and ridiculously tasty! Also, I have come to appreciate the foods from both cultures that were already deliciously cruelty free – like the traditional Jamaican dish of ‘Rice and Peas’ on a Sunday!
Here’s a recipe for Rice and Peas (with my families own twist) which includes veggies from around the Caribbean Islands!
You will need…
Rice and Peas:
1/3 pkg Creamed Coconut
1 can Kidney beans OR Cow Peas OR Gungo Peas
2-4 cups White rice
1 Onion, chopped
2-3 cloves Garlic, chopped
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Thyme
1 tsb Salt (add to taste)
2-3 White Yam
2-3 Sweet potato
2 tsp Salt
(Tip: If you’re using packaged beans/peas I advise you to soak them over night as this will make them much softer and easier to cook!)
Vegetables (cooking time: 35-40 min)
1. Peel and cut the yams then rinse them in cold water. Now place them in boiling water and add salt, boil for approximately 32 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 280°C (This is a fan oven estimate so preheat according to your own oven)
3. Peel and cut the sweet potato then boil until slightly soft.
4. Pour oil into an oven dish and add sweet potatoes, cook for 15-20 minutes or until slightly crispy on the outside.
5. Peel and vertically slice plantain into thin strips, fry in oil until crispy (remember to keep turning!)
Rice & Peas (cooking time: 22 min)
1. Put the beans/peas to a boiling pot and add 4 cups of water.
2. Add chopped onion, garlic, thyme and pepper.
3. Add creamed coconut and bring to the boil.
4. Add rice and boil on high for 2 minutes.
5. Turn heat to low and cover the pot, let simmer for 20 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.
(Tip: Fluff with fork 1 / 2 times as simmering but be careful not to remove the lid off the pot for long periods of time)