COP26 is underway and while world leaders fly out to discuss emergency options, ordinary people are making small changes to their daily lives in an attempt to save the planet.
Some have chosen traditional methods such as recycling plastic and gardening, while others have taken more drastic action such as gluing their hands to roads across the country.
But once upon a time, eating less meat or cutting our animal products entirely was considered quite revolutionary, so if history is anything to go by, we’ll all be on the M25 in time.
But, before placing my order for a high-visibility jacket off Amazon, I decided to visit a vegan restaurant for the first time called Unity Diner with the aim of trying a more planet-friendly meal.
And I have to say that one of the dishes is going to change the world.
This visit was in fact my second to Unity Diner as I previously tried the Piers Morgan’s Tears cocktail at the same establishment.
But while I was there, I decided to kill two birds with one stone by trying out their vegan food menu as well.
My first glance at the fast food menu left me confused by what to expect on my plate.
All the imitation dishes were named after their meaty predecessors which played games with my head and appetite.
The only subtle hint that this was indeed a vegan restaurant, was the sprinkling of the letters “k” and “z” all over the spellings of familiar ingredients on the list.
Instead of “bacon”, it read “bakon” and “prawns” was spelt “prawnz”, but nothing indicated whether it was made of hay or tofu.
Furthermore, the lack of consistency in the haphazard spelling meant that some dishes still read “chicken”.
Overall, the names seemed uninspired and put together without imagination.
Either that, or they were perhaps very confident about the taste of their ingredients. I would soon find out.
I went ahead and ordered the VFC chicken burger.
It was made with crispy southern fried UD chicken, bakon, stringy gouda cheese, caramelised onions, crispy hash brown, bbq sauce and aioli, stuffed in a toasted brioche bun.
I decided to take a risk and order the “unity tempura prawnz” which I prayed wouldn’t cause disharmony for my digestion.
It took a while for the order to arrive as the waiter kept saying ‘coming love’ whenever she caught me bobbing my head in anticipation.
The over-familiarity felt as though I was in the Queen Vic on a Friday night, but then again this is east London hipster heaven, so what did I expect.
The “prawnz” coated in crispy tempura batter arrived followed by my “chicken burger” which seemed good on the surface.
With only my recollection of flavours to guide me, I was keen to find out what the food would taste like.
I tucked into the prawns first as they sat there in a glowing yellow batter, and at that moment the ice caps ceased to melt.
It was unbelievable how much the taste resembled real life crustaceans.
The waiter later informed me, after I finally plucked up the courage to ask, that the “prawnz” were soy based deliciousness.
The fleshy texture, the juiciness, I could have eaten them blindfolded and not known I was being deceived.
Next up was the burger which commanded high expectations as it sat there in all it’s plant based glory.
I took a bite of it assuming I was tucking into seitan based makings in a bun, but a devilish surprise was lurking.
There was something in the layers of plants that left me feeling genuinely perturbed.
I decided to deconstruct the burger to find out what tasted like burnt meat in a dirty pan.
It was the “bakon”.
The vegan bacon resembled the look of kebab meat and was an absolute injustice to it too. I tried it again on its own which further confirmed how unappealing it tasted.
But then I noticed there was another controversial ingredient on the plate.
A slice of vegan cheese was up for judgement and I could finally confirm if strides had been made and if veganism was the future.
And it was indeed.
The cheese could have been from any supermarket’s own brand of slap on slices.
And in the vegan game, that’s saying a lot.
On the scale of cheese strength it would have been one after mild, so if this was Nando’s we’d call it lemon and herb.
The only gripe I had was that the texture was so delicate it almost disintegrated as soon as it touched the tip of my tongue.
But I guess great things don’t last long.
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Overall, I decided that although the burger was made foul by the “fakon”, it redeemed itself with the outstanding vegan cheese.
And if the “prawnz” are a sign of future vegan dishes, this sounds like a much more enjoyable way to fight climate change.
Would you go vegan to help stop the climate crisis? Let us know in the comments below.
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