Why are restaurants going vegan?

Published on the 22nd Jan, 2019 by Azmina

I have been visiting restaurants in London to check out their vegan offerings, in my quest to understand more about the Veganuary buzz. Here I share insights from my interview with Tom Dudley, manager at The Albany in Great Portland Street.

Tell me about your vegan dishes

Last year we had a few dishes on the menu, but we decided to create a Veganuary menu this year and it’s been a great success. We have eight dishes, starters, mains and desserts and I’m amazed at how popular they’ve been amongst all types of customers. (more…)

Restaurant Nutrition Review – The Albany

Published on the 20th Jan, 2019 by Azmina

I visited The Albany in Great Portland Street, London, during Veganuary, to check out why there was such a big board promoting their vegan dishes. Here I share some tasty snippets of their vegan menu and suggest ways to make it healthier. This blogpost isn’t about endorsing particular restaurants; it’s about helping you to make better choices if you’re visiting them.20190121_145225


The cheesy nachos really surprised me. I’ve tried an array of vegan cheeses, and they’ve all fallen short on taste and texture. This cheese is perfectly melted and has the stringy texture I expect from melted cheddar. I liked the idea of the tikka bites, which are a vegan take on chicken. However, I didn’t feel they were a good replacement to chicken tikka; they were deep fried, and didn’t have the tikka flavour or chicken texture. But they did taste good, especially with the mango chutney and raita.  Here’s my self-made platter from the vegan starters. If you’re with a group, you might like to order dishes and share them out so you’re getting variety and not over-doing the fried choices.


Mains (more…)

Your vegan breakfast

Published on the 11th Oct, 2018 by Azmina

The jury’s still out as to whether breakfast is the most important meal, but no-one can argue that it’s a way to help you get some essential nutrients. My patients often say they simply don’t feel hungry on a plant-based diet, and this is usually because I’ve suggested they have lots of fibre and plant proteins, which are very filling. This can mean you have fewer opportunities to take in all the foods you need to give you nutritional balance, so making time for breakfast is a chance to fill the nutrient gap.

This blog focusses on your breakfast carbs. They help to get your blood glucose up, which leads to a raised brain sugar, helping you to concentrate after you break a whole night’s fast (hence the name!). Low GI cereals will give you nice slow rises in blood glucose, helping you to stay alert for that mid-morning meeting – and you’re less likely to crave for sweet treats before lunch. If you can’t face a bowl of cereal and plant-based drink, try tea and wholegrain toast with peanut butter, a yogurt alternative smoothie, or even a banana as you swing out the door.


For a speedy smoothie, take half a cup of soya plant-based drink, a few berries, half a banana, half an apple, and a handful of almonds. Blitz them together and enjoy the protein and essential fats from almonds, antioxidants and fibre from the fruit, and calcium from the fortified soya drink. The carbs come mainly from the fruit, and most of the ingredients are low GI.

Choosing your breakfast carbs

Breakfast Cereals

Be careful as many processed breakfast cereals have a high GI, especially if they’re sugar-rich. When choosing cereals look for high fibre cereals such as All Bran or muesli. If you find these hard going on their own, add some of your favourite fruits, or a sprinkling of chopped walnuts and seeds.


Porridge is one of the best breakfast foods ever invented. The beta glucans in oats have been shown to lower blood cholesterol, and the carbs are slowly digested, helping to keep you fuller for longer. Instant hot oats are a convenient substitute.


Toast is always a favourite but choose your bread carefully. Go for grainy varieties such as multigrain, granary, soy and linseed. If you prefer white,  try sourdough, it’s low GI….

Top Tip: Tasty toast toppers include beans on oaty toast with a dash of Worcestershire sauce, grilled vegan cheese, chives and sliced tomato on 2 slices of granary toast , or sliced banana on 2 slices of currant bread.

Vegan all day breakfast

And for a cook-up, try my vegan all day breakfast made from grilled seasoned tofu chunks, grilled tomatoes, mushrooms, avocado, baked beans and baby potatoes.

vegan bf

Check out the recipe here


Is the vegan diet a trend or a movement?

Published on the 31st Jan, 2018 by Azmina

In my practice, I find that young people, especially girls, begin to explore vegan eating after watching a documentary that may be sensational, or even alarming, in parts. And although this is worrying in terms of making sure that people get a balance of nutrients, my view is that veganism isn’t just a passing trend. It’s here to stay, and so it needs to be considered within the context of a varied eating pattern.hummus tabouleh vegan

Why is it a movement?

You just need to look around you to see how this is becoming big business. Anyone who’s been to coffee shops like Pret in the last 6 months could be tempted to try a vegan or veggie diet – they have an entire section of each of their shops dedicated to it. Anyone who shops in Tesco could be influenced to try the vegan diet as they scour shelves with a massive new range of plant based ready meals and sandwiches. Anyone who reads Time Out could be influenced to try the vegan diet due to the myriad of new vegan cafes and restaurants popping up all over London, pretty much every week. Anyone who sat on London Underground this month could be influenced to try the vegan diet as they read the “Veganuary” tube adverts. More on Veganuary.

Source: www.peta.org

Source: www.peta.org

Dietary change needs to be carefully considered

There are limited studies specifically on vegan diets, so it’s difficult to draw firm conclusions about the long-term health benefits. Vegan eating tends to be lower in calories and saturated fats than non-vegetarian diets, and typically, vegans have been shown to be slimmer, and have lower cholesterol levels. Having a lower BMI may also help to protect against certain cancers. But as yet, there simply isn’t enough research to suggest that we should all turn to vegan eating, and indeed, certain groups who may be tempted to go vegan need to be mindful of meeting their nutritional needs.

What young people need to watch

  1. Calories. It may be tempting to opt for a vegan diet to lose weight. Chances are, you will lose weight, and that’s helpful if you’re overweight and need to address that. But many of the girls I see do not have a weight issue. Plant-based foods tend to be lower in calories, so they need to be advised on making sure they eat regular meals and snacks to allow them to take enough food over the day.
  2. Calcium. Dairy foods are the richest sources of calcium. Teenage life is a time of rapid growth and about half the strength of the adult skeleton is laid down in adolescence. Many dairy-free milk and yogurt alternatives aren’t fortified with calcium, and those that are may not have the same amount of calcium as dairy products. Check labels and compare the “calcium per 100g” figure with milk or yogurt. A teenage girl needs 800mg calcium per day.
  3. Iron. You need more iron during adolescence to help with growth and muscle development. Red meat is a rich source of iron, but you can also get iron from plant foods: choose dark-green vegetables, such as kale and broccoli, lentils and beans (especially dark coloured ones like green mung beans), nuts, and breakfast cereals that are fortified with iron. Teenage girls need 14.8 mg of iron each day.
  4. B12. You need this vitamin for healthy blood and a healthy nervous system, but you only find it in animal foods. Make sure you have foods that are fortified with vitamin B12, such as breakfast cereals, soya drinks, and yeast extract (such as Marmite). You may need a supplement of B12.
  5. Omega-3 fatty acids. Since these are found mainly in fish, you need to get yours elsewhere. Vegan sources include walnuts, linseed oil, rapeseed oil, soya oil and soya-based foods, such as tofu. Note they may not have the same cardio-protective effects as the type of omega 3 fats you find in oily fish.

Bottom Line

Switching to eating more plant based foods is a good thing. But a strict vegan diet is very hard to get right, and you need to make sure you’re thinking about where you’ll get your nutrients from. Ideally, seek professional advice from a registered dietitian.


Fraser GE. Vegetarian diets: What do we know of their effects on common chronic diseases? Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89(5):1607S-1612S.

Craig WJ. Health effects of vegan diets. Am J Clin Nutr. 2009;89(5):1627S-1633S.

Spencer EA, Appleby PN, Davey GK, Key TJ. Diet and body mass index in 38,000 EPIC-Oxford meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 2003;27(6):728-734.

Veganuary – how to stay in balance!

Published on the 15th Jan, 2018 by Azmina

With the rising awareness of “Veganuary”, and the movement in vegan eating, it’s timely for experts to share their knowledge on how to make a vegan diet balanced and nutritious. So here are my top tips.


Well-planned vegan diets can be good for your health. A diet that’s primarily based on plant foods has been shown to have numerous health advantages, such as helping to reduce rates of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and some cancers. But simply changing to plant-based milks and avoiding meat and animal-derived products won’t necessarily bring you the health benefits. To be sure you’re getting the right mix of quality proteins, and the full range of essential nutrients, your vegan diet does need to be well designed and thought-through.

Five top tips (more…)