Learning to cook vegan food in Mallorca

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Eat / Vegetarian/Vegan

Did you know that Mallorca was named the ‘number one vegan holiday destination’ by The Vegan Society UK (back in 2015)?

When we first moved here in 2004, even finding good vegetarian cuisine in restaurants (other than in a few places) was a head-scratching challenge. Today most good restaurants offer some vegetarian dishes – a far cry from the time some visiting UK friends of ours were presented with a plate of grey overcooked cauliflower as ‘the vegetarian option’! On ordering a vegetarian burger elsewhere here, the same friends received a burger bun full of lettuce, tomato, and pickle. Nada más.

In Mallorca, anyone avoiding all animal products will find vegan places to stay, stores selling vegan food and ingredients, the fab Bagel café in Palma (where the two owners are vegans), and a growing number of restaurants and other eateries offering alternatives for vegans. The Kitchen in Palma, for example, offers a separate vegan menu.

Cooking at home

Although I’m not a vegan and often enjoy meat or fish dishes when eating out, I am reducing the amount of animal products I use in my own cooking because scientific evidence points to the health benefits of doing so. I’ve seen and tasted dishes in restaurants in Palma and elsewhere in Mallorca proving that ‘tempting’, ‘creative’, and ‘delicious’ aren’t adjectives reserved only for dishes containing meat, fish, or dairy products. I wanted to learn more about vegan cooking at home and what better place for that than Mallorca? It’s the location of the impressive Vegan Culinary Academy in Palma – which attracts people from around the world.

The Academy offers a range of different courses at their premises but I attended their recent ‘Introduction to Vegan Cuisine’ at EHIB (the Balearic Islands’ hotel school) with my friend Sandra who, with her partner, owns and operates the yacht charter business Captain Cook. Sandra cooks the delicious cuisine their guests enjoy and had told me of a number of requests for vegan food; she wanted to be able to offer something more creative for any vegan guests. Hey, we’re a couple of gals who love anything to do with food and cooking, so why wouldn’t we sign up? The affordable event cost just 15€ a head (5€ for students), including the dishes we ate and the recipe details which were sent to us afterwards.

Nutritional yeast?

Stephanie Prather and assistants Natasha and Lupe from the Academy led the event, which began with some interesting information about veganism, before three different dishes were created in front of us. Some of the students volunteered for a hands-on role in the preparation and we all had the chance to try the three dishes at the end of the evening. I was pleasantly surprised at the delicious flavours that could be achieved with the aid of those mysterious vegan ingredients – such as BAYXN and nutritional yeast (I had no idea what either was before this event).

Stephanie Prather and Manuel Lynch moved from the States to Mallorca, founding their Vegan Culinary Academy here; my impression is that they have been the driving force in spreading awareness of veganism on the island. As Stephanie mentioned in her introductory talk, one of their goals is to see vegan dishes available in every restaurant on the island and many of the students who attended this event will eventually play a part in achieving that.

The verdict

I’ll admit that I had expected Stephanie to be a bit earnest in her delivery but, although on a serious mission, she’s a fun instructor who knows how to hold the attention of her audience. No wonder she has been so influential on the island. I really liked her and can only admire what she and the Academy have achieved on this beautiful island in the Mediterranean.

The good news – if you don’t happen to be in Mallorca or planning a visit – is that some of their various courses are now offered online. Check out the Vegan Culinary Academy website or their Facebook page for details. It could just be the start of something life-changing…

FOOTNOTE: I drafted this post yesterday and, last night, we met the above-mentioned veggie friends from the UK in Puerto Pollensa, where they’re staying in a rented villa for a holiday. We had dinner in a restaurant called Centric, on the recommendation of one of their friends. And this modest little eatery – which serves pretty decent Mediterranean food – has a vegan section on its menu! Stephanie would be proud of you, Centric.

©Jan Edwards 2017

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