• Noemi

Beanlife takes on the #Veganuary challenge: what could we live more with, not less, as vegans?

In 2019, me and Winnie began a transition to what we like to call a greener lifestyle, with more mindful consumption patterns: less plastic, less waste, less meat and so on. In 2020 we founded Beanlife to enjoy living with MORE of something: more exciting and more natural plant protein, which is what our tempeh products mean for us. Having great alternatives diminishes the cost of change so that no one has to sacrifice. Ultimately, living more sustainably should also mean living a more satisfying life!

In 2021, we want to discover if going vegan all the way is possible for us.

It has been two weeks since we started the test by joining Veganuary, a global campaign that mobilized over 500 000 people this year to try a vegan diet.

Why Veganuary? Change is a one way street: once you know that food production makes for almost 30% of worldwide CO2 emissions, and that animal farming is the biggest part of it, you can't unknow. Maybe you know how animals are treated to get that tasty food on your plate. Maybe you discovered that the food you like is not even healthy anymore, because of its industrial production. No matter if for you the main pain point is the environment, or animal cruelty, or health: something subtle starts to change. Every time you pick up cheese from the shop you have at least a tiny sentiment of guilt, or wonder: could I have it rather rarely than often? Should we have cheese only for special occasions? This awareness grows until you have to do something about it. We wanted to do something about it.

As with all things Beanlife, we try, we play, we create food that feels fun. What could we have more, not less, as vegans?

1. We learned about new ingredients to replace dairy. This is probably veganism 101, but it took some research to learn that nutritional yeast can be a basis for cheese-like flavouring, that you can use it as a salad topping or add in bechamels. Vegan mayonese is not so bad either, and actually we could even home make it by mixing unsweetened plant yoghurt with mustard.

2. We created tasty meals from transforming basic ingredients! Simple experiments have led to food that is now part of our daily diet and will continue to be so, vegan or not vegan. This is key, because once the play-and-test vegan month is over, the more things can make for a hassle free diet, the easier it will be to complete the transition.

Since fermentation is close to our hearts (tempeh is, after all, a fermented product), we pickled vegetables - kimchi (Korean spicy cabbage) and jalapenos. This is simple and fun to do, but it can be scary if you only read about it and don’t try. From Romanian grannies’ recipes to comprehensive sites like, the Internet is full of tips and tricks for fermenting anything. Fermentation takes your usual meals to a whole different taste level and it is never boring, each batch tastes differently.

The other type of creations were easy desserts. Learning that in a vegan diet chocolate, cookies, and many “normal” desserts are off limits created a bit of panic, especially if one cannot afford the delicious sweets in vegan cafés. So we bought a large jar of vegan chocolate cream and frozen strawberries, and voilà! We also made tofu pudding (image above right), or ‘tofu soyeux’ or ‘mangeblanc’ as it is sometimes called. It is a natural, not too sweet dessert, and you can make it from only two ingredients - non GMO soy milk and agar agar, the vegan gelatine. Served with a sugar&ginger syrup or as an ingredient in other dishes, it is delicious!

3. We created more variety in our staple plant protein dishes. We didn’t have to go looking for a regular vegan protein. Tempeh is right here! But we are becoming more creative than ever with recipes and we reinterpreted a traditional Flemish carbonnade recipe. The black tempeh vegan carbonnade is truly a win, as many of our community members confirmed. As a suprise and #veganuary gift for you reading, we just published the full recipe on our website here!

4. We watch out for processed foods. Unfortunately, many plant products out there are processed foods - especially plant proteins like the fake meats or ready made croquettes, burgers or other things you find in stores. A vegan lifestyle does not automatically make for a healthy lifestyle, so we really want to stay away from filling our fridges with artificial food that contains things like pea protein isolate, expeller-pressed canola oil, refined coconut oil, maltodextrin, “natural” flavourings, gum arabic, succinic acid, acetic acid, modified food starch, cellulose from bamboo, methylcellulose, annatto extract, citrus fruit extract and glycerine. This article from The Guardian says more about this than we could.

Tempeh is the best we can do in our private and professional lives. How about you, what is the best that you can do and have fun while at it?

If you are also considering to try something new in your lifestyle or diet, here are some resources to support you.

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