As much as I love bread, I’m slightly apprehensive about my ability to construct a meaningful and/or useful post about it.
I mean, what can one really say?
Actually, I have quite a lot to say.
Because it’s so good for you.
And it’s been unfairly demonised for many years.
I have a feeling that this post is going to make me hungry.
So, as the Youtubers say, without further adieu, let’s get into this
Is all bread vegan?
No, it is not, as I discovered to my horror the other day.
I appreciate that bread with cheese on/in it is in high demand.
People fucking LOVE cheese (note to self: invent a vegan cheesy bread) and will put it on anything to hand.
However, it’s not just the obvious non-vegan bread we need to keep an eye out for. I’m sure someone somewhere’s added bacon to bread too, the dirty bastards. Bacon, the cheese of the meat world.
Anyway, I was innocently in Sainsbury’s the other day seeking out sandwich materials. I had an idea for a sandwich which I was desperate to try (the Quorn ham-free smokey ham with cheese savoury, made by mixing together grated Violife cheddar, onion, and gherkins with some vegan Hellmann’s.
As it turns out, they only had sliced Violife so the whole thing went down the tubes BUT I spotted some soda bread.
Which I hadn’t seen in an age and which I adore.
It fucking had fucking milk in it!
I won’t lie, it was a somewhat disappointing outing.
I ended up having the ham with some avocado on toast, which was delicious, but I try to be mindful of the number of avocados I eat because they’re not swell for the environment and I felt like I’d wasted my fortnightly avocado (is that a lot, carbon footprint-wise? Plz let me know in the comments).
The nutritional profile of bread
Bread has gluten in it, that much I’m sure you know. But did you know that gluten is protein?
Well, yes you probably did, because one of the facts I like to chuck around willy nilly is how high bread is in protein.
A bog standard slice of Hovis wholemeal (of which you must only entertain thick cut) contains over four grams of protein. If you for a fancy artisan loaf from a local bakery that uses high-quality flour you’ll also be getting a healthy dose of calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, magnesium and random B vitamins.
Bread is also high in carbohydrates, but relatively low in calories, making it great for giving you energy. I’m assuming that’s why wheat products are so popular for breakfast. Toast is defo better than cereal though, purely due to its versatility.
Bread is low in both fat and sugar, with exceptions such as cheesy bread (high in fat) and really heavily processed white bread, which lack of fibre means it’s broken down quickly by the body and turned into sugar.
The versatility of bread
Bread is truly the hardest worker of all the foods (it draws with potatoes though) – it can be eaten at breakfast, lunch, and tea, or even eaten as a snack. It can be savoury (sandwiches; dipped in gravy) or sweet (bread & butter pudding; summer pudding – both of which make me gip).
It can be as common as muck (white sliced) or super fancy (foccaccia).
Why do we demonise bread?
When the Atkins diet was the height of fashion, bread suffered quite the backlash. It doesn’t help that it came at a time when instances of gluten intolerance and coeliac disease were increasing rapidly.
In short, it became fashionable to abstain from bread.
I did a low carb diet for two weeks once and the pounds dropped off. It was actually really easy to do – I ate a lot of creamy mushrooms with salads, which are technically carby, but I was just cutting out potatoes and grains.
What I wasn’t expecting was to be taken over by a carb monster when the fortnight was up. Seriously. I was like a women possessed, throwing slice after slice of Hovis wholemeal (thick cut) down my sorry gullet.
Needless the say, the pounds snuck back on.
Gluten intolerance & coeliac disease
The rapid increase in these conditions (gluten intolerance is an, er, intolerance and coeliac disease being an actual allergy) has done nothing for bread’s street cred.
There are legitimate reasons for these increases, I believe, though many people are scornful of food sensitivities.
One of the reasons that could explain increased gluten intolerance in humans is that our stomach aren’t adapting to the changing form of wheat quickly enough. Whether this changing form is to do with GMO crops, or that famrers are choosing high yield strains over high quality ones, I don’t know.
Another reason is that our environment is so clean and our diet so, er, Western that we don’t have the sufficient gut flora to deal with gluten.
Some doctors think that overeating certain allergens can increase our chances of developing a sensitivity towards it. I’ll keep you posted on this one – I eat a LOT of bread, and no signs of any intolerance yet.
If anyone reading this is coeliac or similar, the Warburton’s gluten free wholemeal cob ain’t half bad (my boyfriend’s gluten intolerant, and likes this one the bet). The one weird, though not necessarily bad, thing about it is that you can cut a slice off and leave the rest of the loaf out on the kitchen worktop overnight and in the morning the cut side won’t have gotten any staler. Is weird.
My favourite bread
I think I’ve been pretty clear about my favourite sliced bread (as long as it’s thick cut), but my favourite bread ever is a round white cob from Sainsbury’s that is scored really deeply on the top so it looks really lumpy.
It’s the absolute best just with some Naturli’ butter, and perhaps some Quorn ham. With a glass of prosecco after a hard week’s work – bliss.
And there you have it. I’ve (easily) managed to ramble on for over a thousand words on the subject of vegan bread. The writing masters of old were right all along: write what you know.