Scroll to Top
Win a luxury 2-night sparkling Sussex break with Pride of Britain Hotels

Beyond Veganuary: James Tanner talks about why plant-based is here to stay


James Tanner, Chef and Co-Owner of Devon brasserie Barbican Kitchen, shares his opinion on why plant-based eating is here to stay.

In January 2014, ‘Veganuary’ was launched to great applause amongst the vegan community, with over 3,300 people worldwide signing up to officially take part in the challenge to go meat, dairy and animal product free for the month.  This year, a record 120,000 people pledged to go vegan for the whole of January – representing a staggering 3,600% increase.

In 2017 – the year that celebrities such as Lewis Hamilton and Robbie Williams declared themselves vegan – The Vegan Society reported that at the time there was more than half a million full-time vegans in the UK, with the majority aged between 15-35 and motivated by ethical and compassionate reasons.

Veganism is more than just a fad or diet choice – it’s a lifestyle, too. According to the Vegan Society, it’s “the biggest social justice movement of our time” – and with the number of vegans only set to increase in 2018, it is well and truly here to stay.

James Tanner says plant-based cooking doesn’t have to be boring

James Tanner, Chef and Co-owner at Plymouth-based brasserie, Barbican Kitchen, says that the number of customers requesting vegan alternatives has increased dramatically over the past few years.

He told us: “It’s been evident for a while now that people are really starting to pay attention to the food that they are eating – not just from a health perspective, but an ethical one, too. We’re now receiving more requests than ever for vegan and plant-based dishes, and it will only continue to accelerate. Unlike previous food fads, this one has some solid reasoning behind it – and we’re more than happy to do all we can to support it as a lifestyle choice.”

Not everyone experimenting with plant-based cooking is a full-time vegan, and the plethora of exciting and innovative recipes out there is inspiring more and more people to dip their toes in the water – going ‘flexitarian’ or embracing casual veganism for several days each week. Gone are the days where foregoing meat and dairy products meant giving up your favourite foods – and cheesecakes, creamy curries and even pizzas are still very much on the menu.

“The plant-based way of eating doesn’t have to be boring, and more and more people are starting to realise that vegan dishes can be just as tasty, if not more so, as all their old favourites,” says James.

Getting creative with food swaps can produce some exciting results

“Finding ways to recreate the dishes you love can be fun, and the results are often surprisingly good, and using plant-based substitutes for things like cream and cheese can be part of a healthier way of cooking, too – so it’s little wonder that it has become such a huge trend for non-vegans as well as a lifestyle choice for those doing it full time.”

So how can you go about getting some more plant-based goodness into your diet? James shares some ideas.

  • Swap: cream or yoghurt for cashews: Soaking cashew nuts in water overnight and then throwing them into your blender makes a creamy paste that can be stirred into curries and soups in place of yoghurt or cream.
  • Swap: meat and fish for tofu, beans and pulses: Not being able to get enough protein from a plant-based diet is a common myth, and tofu, chickpeas, black beans and lentils are all great sources. Chuck them into stir-fries, curries and casseroles to make sure you’re always getting your fill.
  • Swap: eggs for flaxseed: Place 1tbsp ground flaxseeds in a bowl, then whisk in 3tbsp water until it becomes gelatinous. You can use this in any cake or biscuit recipe in place of an egg, and you won’t even be able to taste the difference.
  • Swap: butter for avocado: Switch one cup of pureed avocado for every one cup of butter in baking for a really moist cake. Avocados are so versatile, and blended up with cacao powder and maple syrup, make a really decadent chocolate mousse – so make sure you always have a good stock of them in your fridge!
  • Swap: cow’s milk for plant milks: Can’t give up your tea, coffee, or morning bowl of cereal? There are numerous delicious alternatives on the market that you can use in place of cow’s milk. Oat milk is creamy and tastes great in hot drinks, while almond milk gives a subtly nutty flavour to a bowl of porridge. Other options are cashew, hazelnut and soy milks – just mix it up and see which work for you.

James’ Vegetable Chilli Recipe

James Tanner’s Vegetable Chilli

Ingredients (serves 4):

2 tbsp olive oil                                                   1 minced garlic clove

1 tbsp grated ginger                                        1 chopped onion

1 chopped red pepper                                   1 diced courgette

½ tsp paprika                                                     ½ tsp cumin

½ tsp crushed chilli flakes                             Salt and pepper

1 can chopped tomatoes                              1 tbsp tomato paste

1 can kidney beans                                          1 tbsp chopped parsley


  • Take a large frying pan, add the olive oil, garlic and ginger and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Next, throw in the red pepper and courgette and cook for another 2 minutes. Add tomato paste and spices and cook out for a little longer, then add the chopped tomatoes and juice.
  • Simmer for around 8 minutes, then add the kidney beans and warm through. Finish with parsley and serve with long grain or basmati rice.

Barbican Kitchen, Black Friars Distillery, 60 Southside St, Plymouth PL1 2LQ

Telephone: 01752 604448