'I cut my weekly food shop by €70 when I turned vegan' - Holly
Interest in vegan food may be booming across the world's richest countries - but author and model Holly White is proving that going meat-free is far from a rich man's game.
Since cutting meat from her diet five years ago Holly has revealed that it isn't just her health that's seen a positive impact, but her finances, too.
"I have cut the cost of my food bill by two-thirds, easily," she says, "Meat is one of the most expensive things on your shopping list and because when you are cooking vegan main courses you are dealing with things like lentils and pulses and tofu, it works out so much better [on your pocket]."
Replenishing her cupboards every three months with her dietary staples, she says: "I stock up on all my chickpeas, pulses and lentils together as they are not perishable. I also go for what's seasonal in fruit and vegetables, too, so, while my grocery shop used to work out at in and around €100 a week, now I can happily live this way for as little as €30 or €40."
Launching a new vegan menu in conjunction with the five-star Merrion Hotel last week, she pointed to her carte du jour to highlight the savings: "I mean, to eat three courses for €39.90 in somewhere like the Merrion is phenomenal."
Created alongside executive chef Ed Cooney and his team, Holly has brought recipes from her new cookbook Vegan-ish to life for The Garden Room restaurant.
Designed seasonally, it will sit alongside the all-day dining menu and features Holly's favourite main course of Shepherdless Pie with lentils and sides of chargrilled green beans with caramelised onions and crisp-roasted cauliflower with coriander. Desserts include salted caramel tart with dark chocolate sauce and mixed berry and apple crumble with vanilla coconut cream.
Holly says: "Vegan food is best when it's unpretentious. The menu contains both lighter options and comfort food. I think people will be blown away and surprised at how delicious it is. There is no taste compromise."
When she first took on her new lifestyle, Holly said: "I was really worried that it would isolate me from the world." But, she says: "I have enough self-awareness to know 'don't be that annoying person'. Because otherwise you find yourself not included. If you are going to a friend's house for dinner, bring a dish, offer to cook. Don't be that person who is saying 'oh and I am vegan and I know you are cooking for a big group of people but can I have a special meal?' And the key thing that I try to tell people is cater to your own needs. No one in my family is vegan but what's nice is they all enjoy the food I make."
Veganism is growing in popularity thanks to the benefits advocates say it has on finances, health - and the planet.
According to researchers at the University of Oxford, eating a vegan diet could be the "single biggest way" to reduce your environmental impact on earth. The study found that cutting meat and dairy products from your diet could reduce an individual's carbon footprint from food by up to 73pc.
Many studies have pointed to the health benefits of reducing your meat intake, too. Dr Walter Willett, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard Medical School, said the benefits of a plant-based diet have been vastly underestimated. He claimed hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved each year if people cut meat from their diets.