5 MINUTES WITH AN EVERYDAY VEGAN: WENDY WERNETH

Wendy Werneth is a nomadic traveller and vegan foodie who seeks out vegan treasures in the most unlikely places. She’s on a mission to show you how you can be vegan anywhere and spread compassion everywhere. You can follow her adventures at The Nomadic Vegan and download her free ebook, “9 Steps for Easy Vegan Travel”. You can also follow here on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

How did you become vegan?

My journey began in May 2014 when I listened to the Food Revolution Summit by John and Ocean Robbins. The interview that stuck with me the most was the one with Alicia Silverstone. I had been a big fan of her movies as a teenager, so when she spoke about compassion for animals it really made an impression on me.

A few days later I came across her book, The Kind Diet, at a used book sale. And then I just began devouring all the information I could, watching documentaries, listening to podcasts, etc. It took me a few months to fully transition, and that was because I had some big fears to overcome first.

One was the fear that being vegan would ruin travel. Travel was a huge passion for me and a big part of my life, so I saw that as a major hurdle. But in September 2014 I travelled to Greece for three weeks and decided to try staying vegan for the whole trip. I quickly discovered that being vegan didn’t ruin travel. In fact, it made travel even better! I’ve been vegan ever since.

What is the most common question you have to answer about veganism and how do you answer it?

Well, since my work is focused on vegan travel, most people who contact me want to know how they can find vegan food while travelling. I have lots of advice about that, which you can find in my free ebook, 9 Steps for Easy Vegan Travel.

I really believe that the most important thing is to develop an abundance mentality. Vegan food is everywhere; we just don’t see it until we start looking for it! If you walk into a restaurant expecting not to find anything to eat, then you won’t. But if you look for abundance, you will find abundance.

What is your favourite quick to fix vegan snack?

I love nut butters of all kinds, so my go-to snack is just nut butter (peanut butter, almond butter, hazelnut butter, etc.) on crackers. Or sometimes I’ll have it with a banana or an apple instead of crackers. It’s delicious and filling.

What is the perfect breakfast or first meal of the day?

That’s an easy one. Oatmeal! I’m an oatmeal fanatic and eat it everyday if at all possible. That might sound boring, but it’s not because every bowl is different. It’s amazing what you can do with oatmeal! There’s a great vegan blog called The Oatmeal Artist where I get most of my recipes.

What is your favourite vegan place?

I’ve eaten at a number of vegan restaurants in different countries, and many of them have been truly amazing. One of my favourites is VivaBurger in Madrid, Spain. They have a huge selection of burgers, all of which are vegan. And their chocolate cake is probably the best I’ve ever had.

What is your favourite vegan product?

I like the chorizo Spacebars by Wheaty. To be honest, I don’t eat that many vegan meats or cheeses when I’m at home, as I prefer to follow a more whole foods diet. But these chorizo sausages are great for travel because they are individually wrapped and don’t have to be refrigerated. I always throw a few of them into my emergency food stash when I’m packing for a trip.

Please share your favourite tips on vegan cooking?

I like to keep it simple. For breakfast and lunch I make more or less the same thing everyday (oatmeal and a green smoothie), but I make different variations of those meals so they don’t get boring. If I have some extra time then I’ll try out a new recipe, but for everyday food prep I prefer to stick to something I know really well and can make without having to think too much about it.

My husband loves to cook, so he makes most of our dinners. He was sceptical at first when I told him I wanted to become vegan, but he’s discovered that he can make delicious vegan versions of all the meals he used to cook, plus lots of new foods as well!

Do you track your blood results, if yes please specify.

I haven’t yet, but it’s been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, just to see where I stand. The problem is, I’m terrified of needles!

Do you take supplements if yes please explain?

I do take the VEG1 multivitamin made by The Vegan Society. It’s designed specifically for vegans, so it has plenty of B12 along with a few other vitamins and minerals that vegans tend to fall short on. I know I would probably be OK taking just a B12 supplement and getting everything else from food, but I like to have the multivitamin just as a form of insurance. It’s especially helpful when I’m travelling and don’t have as much control over what I eat.


Pasta con crema di fave e cipolla.

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This is a traditional dish from the south of Italy. The name basically translates to “pasta with puréed fava beans and onions”.

Like most Italian dishes, the recipe is really simple. It only has five ingredients! And yet it’s rich, satisfying and healthy all at the same time.

Ingredients (serves 5):

500 g pasta (whatever shape you prefer)

250 g dried fava beans (also called broad beans or pigeon beans)

50 g onions (I prefer red onions)

extra virgin olive oil (to taste)

salt (to taste)

Instructions:

  1. The night before, soak the fava beans in plenty of water and a bit of salt.
  1. If your beans are not already peeled, peel them the next morning. You should be able to slip the skins off pretty easily by squeezing the beans between your fingers.
  2. Place the beans in a large pot and fill the pot with water until the beans are completely covered. Bring to a boil.
  3. When the water reaches a boil, a foamy film will form on the top. Skim it off and discard it.
  4. Leave the beans to simmer on low heat for 2 to 2.5 hours without stirring. If too much of the water has evaporated, add a little more, but don’t stir.
  5. Keep them cooking until they dissolve into a purée. You can help them along a bit by using an immersion blender if you like.
  6. In another pot, bring water to a boil, add salt, and cook the pasta until it’s al dente .
  7. While the pasta is cooking, thinly slice the onions and sauté them in the olive oil.
  8. Drain the pasta, pour the purée over it, and top with the sautéed onions. If you like, you can drizzle a bit more olive oil over the dish before serving.

Notes: In the picture, this dish is served with a large pasta shape, popular in the regions of Campania and Calabria, called paccheri. You can use any shape of pasta you like, though.

 

If you don’t have time to cook the whole beans from scratch, you can cheat by using split dried fava beans. These don’t need soaking or peeling and will cook in as little as 30 minutes.

 

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of naturally vegan recipes like this one in Italian cuisine. More than even I had imagined, as I’ve been discovering over the past few weeks while researching my upcoming vegan guidebook to Italy.

If you’d like to know more about the book, you can sign up here for behind-the-scenes updates and be the first to find out when it’s published!

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