Sneaky ingredients to look out for as a vegan

Monday, 30 January 2017

I found out recently that the M&S veggie Percy Pigs aren't vegan and, I'm not gonna lie, it broke my heart a little. I'd always thought they were vegan and they taste so bloody good. Turns out they contain a sneaky E number, (E901, aka beeswax), disguising their non-veganness in the ingredients. I'm totally not up to speed on all the E's so definitely wouldn't have noticed this on my own (thank you Twitter), so I wanted to write a post with all the ingredients that can sneak into things under names that you wouldn't immediately recognise as being animal products.

We all have slip ups as vegans and that's okay. Don't beat yourself up about it. The thing is, once you make a mistake you know you won't make it again. I might never be able to have those delicious Percy's again but I'm okay with that because I'm not contributing to animal suffering by doing so. I feel like I've said this a million times on here but being vegan is about causing the least amount of harm possible, it's not about being perfect.

Gelatin - derived from animal products and never vegan. Commonly used in gummy sweeties. 

Lactose - a type of sugar found in milk. 

Rennet - this one caught me out back when I was vegetarian as Parmesan and Grana Padano cheeses are produced using rennet, which comes from the stomachs of animals. 

Honey/Beeswax - made by bees, for bees. 

Propolis - also known as bee glue. Contains beeswax and is made by bees. 

Whey - is kind of the leftovers of milk once it's been curdled and strained (gross). 

Casein - a protein that comes from milk. 

Vitamin D3 - often derived from animal products. The only vegan source of D3 is vitashine so unless this is specified then avoid the product. 

Lanolin - also known as wool wax or wool fat, a wax that is found on wool-bearing animals that is used to protect their wool. 

Isinglass - comes from the dried swim bladders of fish, often used for filtering beer and wine.  

Shellac - a resin produced by female lac bugs.  

Cod Liver Oil - it's in the name, comes from the liver of a cod fish. 

Cochineal - a scale insect that is crushed to used to create red dye. 

Bone Char - a material that is produced by charring animal bones. Can be used in sugar production, although this is less common now, and also as a black pigment in paint and ink. 

Pepsin - an enzyme produced in the stomachs of humans and animals. 

Tallow - a form of animal fat. 

Lard - pig fat. 

Down - goose or duck feathers used for insulating purposes, commonly found in jackets, duvets, and pillows. 

And a shit tonne of E's - the main ones to look out for that are never vegan are E120, E542, E901 and E904 but there are lots more that can be derived from animal products. Check out The Vegan Society for more info on these. 

I hope you guys found this post useful! I will try to keep it updated as and when I discover other sneaky ingredients that are not okay for vegans. Let me know in the comments if you've come across any others that I have missed. 

Vegan Lunch at All Bar One

Thursday, 26 January 2017

So because it's Veganuary things are pretty good for us vegans right now. There are lots of two for one deals floating about, new vegan options are popping up and there's a lot of chat going on around veganism. I love it.

Teaming up with Veganuary, All Bar One have created a whole vegan menu for January and they invited me to come and try it. We really need to talk about how good it was because it was seriously good. As I wanted to try pretty much everything, my boyfriend and I got different dishes each course and split them so we got to try two things from each course off the menu. 

For the starter, we had the patatas bravas (mini crisp roasted potatoes with a spicy tomato and red pepper dip) and the crushed avocado and tomato bruschetta topped with kalamata olives. Both were divine, especially the bruschetta, those olives on top were just perfect. We were pretty damn impressed with the starters but actually, by the end of the meal, they turned out to be our least favourite (but still amazing) course. That says a lot for what's to come though...

For mains, we opted for the superfood salad and the kale and hummus flatbread with kale pakora and jackfruit chutney. The pineapple and ginger dressing on the salad was delicious, and although we are pretty sure we got rocket instead of baby kale, it was so good. I really want to recreate this salad at home now because I just loved it. The kale pakora on the other dish was incredible and went perfectly with the jackfruit chutney and hummus. It tasted just like I remember veggie pakora tasting. Also, the flatbread wrap it came in was one of those big thick ones, which are totally the best kind (side note: if anyone knows where I can buy them please let me know!).  

And finally, dessert, forever the best course. We had the coconut and vanilla rice pudding with a blueberry compote and the chilli, chocolate and cardamom cake. The cake was good, especially dipped into the chocolate sauce (although looking back I think you're probably meant to pour the sauce over the cake), but the rice pudding. Oh my god. We need to talk about the rice pudding because it was maybe the best thing ever. It was so creamy, sweet and probably a million times better than any rice pudding I've ever had before. I really liked how they had rice pudding on the menu as well as it's something a little different to what you normally get. Honestly, incredible.

Guys, All Bar One have nailed the vegan food. 10/10, you need to go before it disappears at the end of January, so like this weekend! Some of the dishes are on the main menu, like the superfood salad and bruschetta but the kale pakora and rice pudding, which were the best, won't be around for long (cry). I really wish they would keep the vegan menu all year round, it's incredible and I think everyone would love the food on it, not just vegans.

The only thing I will say is that the main meals are pretty light so probably more a lunch deal, unless you have all three courses (for only £13, by the way). By the end of the meal I felt comfortably full, not like how I usually feel after three courses when I can barely move. Maybe the light mains is a good shout, it just gives you an excuse to definitely have dessert.

All Bar One invited me and a guest along to try their vegan menu but all thoughts, opinions and rants of delicious food here are entirely my own. 

My Everyday Porridge Recipe

Monday, 9 January 2017

This is the porridge I make almost every morning. It's the one that never fails me and the one that is a really good base for pretty much any toppings. I do love a fancy flavoured porridge every now and again, but this is the simple and pleasing one that I always come back to because it is so good. Turns out, cooking the banana into the oats is a total game changer, trust me.

You will need (serves 1):
1/2 cup oats 
1/2 cup plant milk of your choice (oat milk is my favourite!)
1 ripe banana 
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds

- Add the oats to a pot along with the plant milk, cinnamon, pumpkin seeds and 1/2 a cup of water. Chop the banana into coins and add this to the pot too. 
- Simmer over a low-medium heat for 6-7 minutes until thickened. I usually need to add a little more water as it cooks but this depends on how you like your porridge.
- Serve with all the toppings of your choice. My faves are peanut butter (obvs), frozen berries, banana, maple syrup, almond butter, jam and granola (but not all at once!).

Looking to fancy up your porridge a bit? You might also like these:
Mango, Banana and Coconut Porridge
Apple, Blueberry and Cinnamon Porridge 

Why you should try going vegan this year

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Hey guys and Happy New Year! I'll spare you the 'omg, did 2016 even happen?!' chat because although it was a ridiculously fast year, it was also the year I decided to go vegan, which I'm still saying is one of the best decisions I have ever made. I admit that I used to be a skeptic, one of those types who said I could never go vegan because how on earth would I ever live without cheese. However, I was wrong. It was around this time last year that I started to become interested in veganism. I'd followed a few super cool people on Instagram who were shaking up everything I believed in and I became hooked, drawn in by their knowledge, passion and cruelty free way of living. I watched all the documentaries, read lots of articles and followed inspirational vegan people until one day I thought, I just gonna go for it. I couldn't ignore it any longer and pretend that what I was eating wasn't, in fact, the product of so much suffering.

January tends to be cluttered by diet culture, detox vibes and a whole lot of crap about restriction and how to lose weight. Don't get sucked in by it. It's a load of bull and won't leave you feeling very satisfied or happy. Instead, this year, try going vegan. You don't need to do it straight away, you are allowed to make mistakes and it quite possibly will be the best thing you ever do. Veganism is getting huge making it easier than ever before to dive right in and embrace it. Being vegan isn't a fad diet or a quick fix to lose a few pounds, it's a hugely fulfilling life choice that has so many massive benefits so if you want a goal for this year that really counts then give it a go.

Why you should try going vegan this year:

For the animals.

Because it's not fair for one species to suffer at the hands of another when we know better. Eating meat is no longer necessary. Yes, humans have eaten animals for thousands of years but it is no longer a necessity, we don't need it for survival. We have so much wonderful plant food at our finger tips, food that doesn't cause suffering or harm to animals. We now have a choice. You have a choice. 

To help the planet. 

The impact of animal agriculture on our planet is immense, shocking and completely unacceptable. One of the best things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint is to go vegan. I'm totally overwhelmed by the damage that livestock farming is doing to the earth, it's heartbreaking. If you want to learn more about why you should most definitely be vegan for the planet then I'd recommend watching Cowspiracy because I can't even begin to get into it here.

For your own health and wellbeing. 

Eliminating animal products from your diet can and does make you feel wonderful. I've definitely found that I have more energy, feel less tired and am just generally happier eating a vegan diet. Plus, there are a shit tonne of actual scientific medical reasons why eating vegan is the best thing you can possibly do for your own health. I'd recommend reading Dr. Michael Greger's Hot Not To Die if you want to swot up on why plant-based diets are pretty much the best medicine going. 

To feel better about yourself. 

There is a certain peacefulness that comes with veganism. A contentment that you are not causing pain or suffering. You are doing such a wonderful thing by going vegan, you deserve to feel bloody fabulous about it, and you will.

To save money. 

Myth buster: being vegan is not expensive. Whole plant foods are some of the cheapest you can buy, especially when we're talking about things like beans, lentils, and rice, as well as fruit and veggies. Yes, I love a bit of fancy vegan cheese or some delicious Fry's chicken style nuggets every now and again but they are not everyday things. Day to day, you'll be eating the cheapest foods going. 

Because you've got nothing to lose. 

What's the worst that could happen? You miss meat? You can't shake those cheese craves? At least you are trying. If at first, you need to stock up on the meat replacements and vegan cheese that's fine because you have stopped causing harm. It can be hard and you will slip up but that's okay. It's a journey and a learning curve. Hell, even if you're eating one vegan meal a week instead of your usual meat and dairy based one then that's a step in the right direction. Being vegan is about causing the least amount of harm possible, it's not about being perfect.

['Animals are not products. Life doesn't have a price.'] 

More on veganism:
Why I went vegan
Things people ask when you go vegan
Is veganism a trend?
Being vegan - six months on