Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Paula Hammond and I’m a writer, based in London but forever dreaming of a castle with its own writing turret in the wilds of Wales.
How long have you been eating plant based foods and what made you get into plant foods?
I’ve been vegan for about 30 years. I was a veggie before then but, while I was never comfortable with the abuse of animals involved in dairy farming, I wasn’t confident about adopting a vegan diet. Before everyone was obsessed with protein, the scare stories for anyone who wanted to go vegan were all about iron. We were told we’d all be anaemic and, back then, I didn’t want to risk it. I finally made the leap when I moved house and had the chance to clear out all the non-plant based foods.
Do you like making food and what are your favourite foods?
I love cooking and love finding new foods to try. I don’t know if becoming vegan makes you a foodie, or if foodies become vegans!
Describe your day with plant foods.
Oooh, that’s tough. I buy seasonal but I’m always on a budget, so I batch cook. I eat lots of bread—any food you can put on a sandwich is my idea of heaven. Other than that pies, curries, stir fries, chips, pot noodles. All the usual stuff. One thing that most people probably haven’t tried is laver bread—a Welsh delicacy. Basically it’s slimy black seaweed that you usually mix with oatmeal and fry with your full English. Sounds awful, but if you like punchy flavours and seaweed it’s fab.
What's your favourite kitchen tool/gadget?
Espresso maker. Definitely.
What one food could you not live without and which food do you miss the most since switching to plant-based foods?
I’ve been vegan for so long that I’ve found good replacements for most of the flavours and textures I once enjoyed. But maybe cottage cheese. Still haven’t found a decent substitute for that.
What do you consider the most important foods in your diet and why?
I’ve never really thought in terms of ‘important’ foods. I tend to eat what I fancy. A vegan diet is so varied, I don’t really worry about missing anything but, now that I’m older, I do take vitamin supplements just in case.
Would you say your look and feel more healthy?
When I was younger I was always very pale and thin. I probably look less like death-warmed-up these days. Is that healthier? My mum would say so. ;-)
How has eating plant foods changed you?
I don’t think it has really.
What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about getting into plant-based foods?
It’s not a religion. We all have to draw our own line in the sand: what we’re comfortable with and what we’re not. It would be great for the planet and the animals if everyone gave up meat and dairy but every little step helps. Start small and don’t be afraid of change. It’s so easy now. Theres so much vegan food available in chain stores and restaurants and some fabulous online support groups. Dive in!