The girl with the most cake

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Tegan Christmas, singer from the punk band The Ethical Debating Society (TEDS), is on tour with a slightly different offering.

Tegan Christmas performing with The Ethical Debating Society. Photo credit: Keira Cullinane
Tegan Christmas performing with The Ethical Debating Society. Photo credit: Keira Cullinane

In keeping with the DIY philosophy of her band, she set up her own homemade food venture – Tegan the Vegan – which was born out of sheer frustration.

Switching to veganism just last year, Tegan realised the only way she was going to get to eat any cake was if she made it herself. She had been baking “forever”, supplying cakes to fans at gigs, so it was a natural progression to try vegan baking.

Birthday cake
Birthday cake

“There’s a lot to be said for just doing it,” says Tegan. Her refreshing ethos of getting things done touches many aspects of her life, from her band, to her approach to veganism and cooking.

Her can-do approach means she hasn’t had to work for someone else since she spectacularly quit a job working at a large institution in 2009.

“It was a sensible job in a big open-plan workplace. But the office politics were unreal and I didn’t understand it and I didn’t want to be part of it. They were forever trying to cut costs by getting rid of staff.

Another birthday cake
Another birthday cake

“They were all arguing over some minor thing I’d done wrong one day and I just wanted to get up and leave. I said, ‘I hate you, and I hate you. And everybody hates you. I’m leaving.’ And I just left. They’re still sending me letters.”

Tegan quit meat and dairy summer last year, while her band was on tour with riot grrrl act Fight Rosa Fight. The band encouraged Tegan to be a vegan for the duration of the tour, which she did without hesitation.

Valentine's Cake
Valentine’s Cake

“I thought, yeah, I’m going to do that. And I tried to carry it on when I got back home. But then I realised there wasn’t any cake to eat.”

She began baking for herself and her friends before launching the business towards the end of 2015.

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Using ingredients like aquafaba, the liquid that remains after cooking beans and chick peas, which is great substitute for egg white; silken tofu, and seitan, a high-protein meat substitute, Tegan is confident that she can make a vegan version of practically anything. She constantly challenges herself, taking requests from customers to make things like cheesecake and Lamingtons.

Gooey chocolate brownie
Gooey chocolate brownie

Tegan’s range of Not Chicken, Not Burgers and Not Sausages have proved a hit with consumers, and not just vegans.

“I want people to see it’s good food in its own right. It’s quite nice to feed people food, let them eat it and then tell them ‘it’s vegan, by the way’. They can’t argue with that.”

So why vegan? “The environmental impact of veganism is huge,” Tegan says.

“The waste from producing Greek yoghurt, for instance, is so toxic it can’t be safely discarded. It’s kept in warehouses in Greece because they have no idea what to do with it.”

Cupcakes
Cupcakes

It’s true. From every three or four ounces of milk, just one ounce of Greek yoghurt is produced. The rest is acid whey, which is illegal to dump and highly toxic to the natural environment and destroys aquatic life. A similar product, cheese whey, recently killed tens of thousands of fish following a spill, according to Modern Farmer.

Al Jazeera hammered the point home with some vital statistics: If the world went vegan, it would save 8 million lives by 2050 and around £700 billion per year on healthcare. And a widespread switch to veganism would reduce emissions by 70%.

“There’s also a strange link between meat eating and masculinity,” Tegan points out.

“When you start to dismantle it, it’s ludicrous. There’s always one man, when I mention veganism online, and it always is one man, who says ‘yeah, but bacon…’

“Yeah, but climate change. You can usually logic it away.”

Lemon and rosemary cake loaf
Lemon and rosemary cake loaf

Cheese was the biggest hurdle for Tegan when she eliminated dairy, as it is with many other people who switch to a vegan diet.

“It took a while to get cheese out of my system and I mean that in a genuine sense, because I was having withdrawals. The thought of eating pizza without cheese was horrific. I had to have a word with myself.”

Cheese contains casein, which is present in all dairy products. The substance triggers the brain’s opioid receptors, producing morphine-like effects. Cheese is known to trigger the same part of the brain as hard drugs.

Since going cold turkey, Tegan no longer craves cheese.

“Your palette changes so much, but for the better. The memory of certain things is always better than the food itself,” she explains.

“Cadbury’s Dairy Milk was a sticking point for me, but I had one about two months into being vegan and it was horrible. Tasted like rubbish.”

So there. Tegan the Vegan tours E10, E17 and E11 on Thursday evenings. You can order or request a vegan dish here.

Choc cupcakes
Choc cupcakes

 

 

 

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