Go vegan (1) with avocado toast

It started with a comment from a reader. Now, the Epicurean goes vegan with avocado toast.


  • avocado
  • robust bread


  • red chilli pepper
  • fresh coriander leaves
  • basil leaves
  • sliced radish

Prompted by a reader’s comment on my most recent column (thank you, John Hoeks) and an interview of his in the latest BCN Newsletter, veganism has been at the forefront of my food thoughts in the past couple of weeks. There are many reasons to adopt a vegan diet (to be clear, mine is presently an omnivore’s diet), but the most compelling ones, in my opinion, are the welfare of animals, sustainability, and the conservation of our ecosystem – all of which are urgent issues.

Little good can be said of the present model of intensive farming on a massive scale. We have sacrificed almost everything of value on the altar of low prices. The mistreatment of animals in commercial farms is shameful, the weight of its burden falling just as much on the producers for their shady practices as it does on us, the consumers, for our indifference to them.

Heat the olive oil

The wastefulness of the process is also of concern. The natural resources, such as energy, water, and land needed for the production of meat, are orders of magnitude higher than those needed for farming vegetables of similar nutritional value. The writing is on the wall for those who choose to read it: eating meat at the rate we presently do is an unsustainable practice, and something will soon have to give.

Going vegan is one way to change this system, though certainly not the only way. It is popular these days to talk about insects as the new breakthrough in feeding the world – high protein, low impact on resources, plentiful – as is lab-grown meat. The latter, I think, misses the point entirely, but I also suspect that it will not be something to soon disappear.

For myself, my current attitude is to consume more vegetables than I do meat, and when meat finds its way onto my table, it should meet certain standards of sustainability. Admittedly, this is a grey area too and I can’t say that I always manage to follow my own rules.

4 vegan recipes

When you consider all of this, veganism is a real option whose main obstacle is, more frequently than not, lack of cooking knowledge (‘How do I cook a tasty meal without animal products?’), than anything else. Having inadvertently started this with my beans recipe, I will devote the next four articles to showcasing vegan recipes that pack a punch and are free of animal products. I’ll start this week with an exceptionally simple, adaptable, and flavourful recipe for lunch or a light dinner: avocado toast.

To make the most of it, the quality of your (few) ingredients is paramount, so let’s talk about choosing avocados for those of you who don’t make it a habit to walk around with avocados in your purses. The vast majority of avocados in Groningen are Hass avocados which have purplish-black skin when ripe with soft and buttery flesh at their best. You can sometimes find the green-skinned Fuerte variety which also have rich, creamy flesh, but these are too often sold under-ripe.

With either variety, choose avocados that give when gently squeezed with your whole palm, but are not mushy. The Hass variety tends to become overly soft and blackened inside, but there’s a good way to check before you buy: flick off the woody stem and if you see green underneath, you’re good to go. If it’s brown, put it back and look for another one.

Slices of avocado

At its simplest, avocado toast is just as its name suggests: slices of avocado spread over hearty toasted bread. Choose a robust bread, either a crusty white or a seeded multigrain loaf and cut it into large, thick slices. Toast these until very crisp under the grill.

Scoop out the flesh from one ripe avocado and either slice it on top of the bread or, better yet, mash it with a fork and spread it on the bread. Squeeze a little lime juice and sprinkle a generous pinch sea salt and eat while still warm.

The variations to this theme are endless. My current favourite includes diced red chili pepper and fresh coriander leaves, but I also like a version with basil leaves and slivers of radish layered on top of the avocado, their spiciness serving as the perfect foil to the avocado’s creaminess. In fact, any slightly bitter or spicy greens, such as rucola or young beet leaves, would complement it perfectly.


Anastasios Sarampalis is a lecturer at the Psychology Department.