In the UK, Vegan Food Gets a Caribbean Twist in “Kirly-Sue’s Kitchen”


Television presenter and cook Susanne Kirlew aims to entice black food lovers in the UK with her Jamaican inspired meat-free recipes. Her debut cookbook Kirly-Sue’s Kitchen takes inspiration from her Jamaican heritage.

After more than two decades as a vegetarian, the choice to become a vegan was a no brainer for food writer and TV presenter Susanne Kirlew. Taking her newfound knowledge, the north Londoner is making waves with her venture Kirly-Sue’s Kitchen and is on a mission to get more black Britons into vegan food with her remix of Jamaican vegan recipes.

“I was watching some different films, one is called Vegucated and the other one was called Forks over Knives and I was reading a book called The China Study,” Kirlew told The Voice. “I learned how meat eaters and vegetarians still consumed relatively the same amount of saturated fats. But when you’re a vegan, the number is significantly lower.” In addition to her vegan cooking show, which has been broadcast in the USA for the past four years, Kirlew shares her advice on living a meat-free life as a columnist for Pride magazine and hosting a series of seminars.

[. . .] “One of my biggest challenges was finding a decent recipe books. Some of them are really yuck. It’s getting better but it’s part of the reason why I wrote my own book and I’m in the process of writing my second one,” she said. Her debut cookbook Kirly-Sue’s Kitchen takes inspiration from her Jamaican heritage and British upbringing, culminating into 50 mouth-watering recipes that don’t compromise on flavour and spice.

The secret to preserving taste Kirlew insists is in the seasoning. Sharing one of her interpretations of a Caribbean classic, Stew peas and rice, the food expert explains that she follows the same method and simply leaves out the meat. “Traditionally it’s made with meat but if you follow the recipe exactly and put the same seasonings in because that’s where people usually make the mistake, they think because it hasn’t got any meat or fish that you don’t need seasoning, oh yes you do,” she laughed.

Commenting on the Caribbean diet, Kirlew recognised that the popular meals and the way they were prepared could be perceived as generally unhealthy, but insisted that there are some valuable properties in Caribbean cooking.

She said: “Most traditional meals around the world are not healthy, but within the Jamaican diet there are a lot of things that are healthy but because we’re so used to it and it’s never been drawn to our attention we don’t really think of it as something healthy to have, we kind of take it for granted.” [. . .]

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