What did vegans drink in their tea before soya milk was available? Did people whip up delicious creamy non-dairy puddings way back in the 1970s?

Dairy-free diets are in vogue. But rewind a few decades and opting to live a dairy, meat and fish-lifestyle free was a far more counter culture choice. Without the shopping aisles full of almond milks and coconut yoghurts, vegans of the seventies were inventive, resourceful and creative cooks. And the focus was on simple, affordable, sustainable plant-based meals – a way of eating that’s just as relevant today.

My book: The Homemade Vegan (published by Prospect Books) is a collection of vegan recipes from the 1970s and 80s – many of which I remember eating as a child. And it was put together with help from lots of brilliant, long-time vegans from around the world, who sent me their retro recipes, many of which were otherwise ‘lost’ in attics, in scrapbooks, and on slips of paper, fallen down the back of kitchen drawers. I’ve set the recipes in their historical context, with the memories, ideas and stories that go alongside them.

And the recipes aren’t all heavy wholemeal pies. The emphasis was on simple, healthy, homemade meals. Recipes include: creamy herb cheese and walnut rissoles, onion goulash, vegetable tempura, spring salads with tahini dressing, and a whole chapter on puddings and celebrations, with black forest gateaux, sticky ginger cake, Christmas cakes, apple rings, elderberry muesli, lemon sorbet, chocolate surprise pudding and peppermint creams…

Veganism has come a long way since the 1970s. Gone are the days of having to trek miles for a tin (yes, really) of soya milk but, as I hope my book shows, it was the energetic, compassionate, forward-thinking approach taken by vegans of the past, which helped to bring veganism to where it is today.


homemade vegan joanne oconnell
the Guardian. January 2019.
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