Vegan Potluck

Thought I’d just do a short post to share some photos from the potluck I attended last night.

My friend Maxine hosted the event at her house to celebrate the first anniversary of our local activism group Havering Vegan Action.

It was so nice to go to an event where I could eat absolutely everything knowing no animals had been hurt in the process.

The food was so good, I need to get the recipes from everyone! We had a good mix of savoury and sweet and no two people brought the same dish.

On this plate we have a savoury quinoa dish, a creamy mushroom pasta, nut roast, lasagna and a chickpea and tofu salad. Not pictured is the sausage rolls I made as I was more excited about trying everybody else’s dishes.

Firstly for dessert we had this gorgeous raw “cheesecake” made with cashews, pineapple and tumeric.

Next up we have these nutty vegan brownies topped with raspberries.

And lastly these peanutty flapjacky protein bars.

Of course I had to try all three accompanied by some vegan ice cream!

If you’re lucky enough to know a gang of vegans in real life a potluck is a great way of learning new dishes to make. And getting involved in local activism is a great way of meeting those fellow vegans!

Plumes x

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Vegan Potluck

Veganuary 2018 initial results

Some of you may know I’m an analyst at work and love a bit of number crunching so I always look forward to seeing the stats come out after Veganuary and this year is no different, so let’s take a look!

Its great to see the overall participation increase year on year and a massive 183% increase on 2017! This only accounts for the people who sign up on https://veganuary.com so I am sure there are many others who take part every year without signing up.

It’s also nice to see people’s motivation for trying Veganuary, but whatever the reason the animals and the planet benefit from it! 79,000 were omnivores so that’s a huge number going cold tofurkey for the month!

Younger people lead the way as expected, but my age range of 25 – 34 are slightly leading the pack ahead of the 18 – 24 whippersnappers and the 35 – 44 crew don’t seem far behind them.

Women seem to be leading the way again with 84% of participants but men have increased to 14% from 10% in 2017. I think this is in part due to women more likely to sign up to the website so there may be quite a few more men taking part, they just aren’t in the official figure.

The dairy industry tried to hit back with their #februdairy campaign but as these search stats (courtesy of @vegandon on Twitter) show it paled in comparison.

So there you have it. I’m looking forward to seeing the six month results and how many people decided to stick with it. With all the options now available it just gets easier and easier to transition to veganism.

Did you take part in Veganuary this year? How did it go? Or are you a veteran of Veganuary and still going strong? Let me know in the comments below.

Plumes x

Veganuary 2018 initial results

Café Thrive – Southampton

As I was visiting my friend in Bournemouth this weekend and we were planning a shopping trip to Southampton I asked my Twitter friend Becky, who lives there, if she fancied meeting up for a coffee. She is a long term vegetarian so suggested we had lunch at Café Thrive where she regularly hangs out when doing her free lance work.

When I arrived it was quite busy and there were only spaces along on the window, but I quickly saw there was also an upstairs seating area so I nabbed a table and ordered an almond matcha latte while I waited for Becky to arrive.

The matcha latte was really creamy and I almost thought they had put dairy milk in it, but Becky reassured me the café was 100% vegan.

I had a look through the extensive menu (which Becky is slowly working her way through on a weekly basis!) I decided the wholefood burger with chips was in order and Becky went for the meaty burger.

We both chose chips and I grabbed some barbecue sauce from the condiments trolley. The burger was really tasty and felt like a proper burger rather than a healthy version of a burger the name eluded to. The salad it came with was really nice too and had pumpkin seeds and garlic oil (which I tend to pour over everything!)

Photo credit – Becky John

After the food we still had lots of chatting to do so I ordered a Kyoto cherry blossom green and Becky had a coffee and a vanilla slice. The tea was gorgeous and really reminded me of all the “sakura” flavoured things my Husband and I had when we were on our honeymoon in Japan. Becky really enjoyed her cake and also recommended the peanut blondies.

I was too stuffed for cake straight away but I picked up a split cream doughnut to enjoy later back at my friend’s house. These were always my favourite in my pre-vegan days and it’s not too often you see vegan versions so I always pick one up when I do. I was impressed at how well it travelled in my handbag and didn’t look too squashed when I retrieved it later. The cream was thick, the jam sweet and the doughnut lovely and soft. Heaven!

I also picked up a bar of Solkiki chocolate. I previously reviewed and interviewed their owner Bob here. So I will look forward to eating this is the coming days.

A few doors down from Thrive there is Rice Wholefoods which has a wide variety of products including bulk bins, chilled and frozen items, beauty, hot food and cakes. It’s definitely worth a visit if your passing by. As I was carrying a backpack back up to London I couldn’t take full advantage of everything on sale but I’ll definitely be back.

Have you been to Cafe Thrive? What did you think? What would you recommend? Let me know in the comments below.

Plumes x

Café Thrive – Southampton

Interview with long time vegan Olive!

Hi All!

Sorry for the hiatus. I was feeling a little uninspired and had lost my blogging mojo but after a weekend away at the Vegan Campout I am back and ready to roll!

I celebrated my 5th Vegananniversary in May. I was really happy to have met this milestone and have really seen the vegan landscape change in he UK over the last 5 years. It really is easier than ever to become vegan with all the information available on Youtube and the documentaries on Netflix (I’m sure someone high up there has a vegan agenda!) and chain restaurants falling over themselves it seems to provide vegan options and menus.

I wanted to get a perspective from a long term vegan who didn’t have the tools we have today when they decided to go vegan so I asked if I could interview my “twitter friend” Olive. Olive lives in the North of England and provides recipes and restaurant reviews on her blog http://veganolive1.blogspot.co.uk/. Olive also loves a good cruise, so if you ever wondered how to go about planning your cruise when you are vegan she is the lady to answer your questions! She also contacts lots of companies to find out their vegan products and to challenge them to provide more vegan options. I know coffee shops are one of her bugbears and she will be on at the big players to provide lunch and snack options suitable for vegans. She also loves a good glass of wine so any restaurant or bar with a dedicated vegan wine list will get the thumbs up from her! She is on twitter and instagram as veganolive1.

What made you decide to first go vegan?

 I did not go vegan initially but vegetarian in 1986 after watching a TV documentary about BSE (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) also known as Mad Cow Disease which originated due to dead animals being used to make cow feed, which horrified me as cows are vegetarian.   I stopped eating red meat initially which gradually led to omitting all flesh including fish from my diet.   I then read about the milk and egg industry, which made me feel guilty and sitting one day eating a boiled egg, dipping in my toast soldier, nearly gagged and had to throw it away.   I have been vegan ever since. I was the biggest meat eater you could imagine.   I cringe thinking about what I used to eat.  My family was into meat and fish, so big Sunday roasts, lots of chicken, steaks, salmon, offal, tripe, black pudding, cow heel, my mum cooked her own tongues and made brawn, which I find quite revolting now.

What sort of information did you have access to at the time?

There was not much information about to be honest, especially where I lived at the time in a rural area, apart from The Vegan Society, who I signed up for as a life long vegan at the time such was my commitment.   There was no internet or social media, like there is today and I did not know any other vegans.   I would look forward to every new edition of The Vegan Society magazine coming through my letterbox.   Anyone interested can find backdated editions of the magazine here https://issuu.com/vegan_society/docs/  .   I remember when the Vegan Society published The Animal Free Shopper, it became my bible, it was a mine of information, like ingredients to avoid when shopping, places to dine out or buy vegan products in the UK and it listed hundreds of products suitable for vegans, such as cosmetics, food and household products etc.    I purchased every edition and it went everywhere with me and I would refer to it all the time and take it with me travelling on holiday.   I remember going somewhere (can’t remember where) and finding a vegetarian place catering for vegans and I was ecstatic.

What did your family think?

I’m afraid my veganism did not go down well with my family, in fact they thought I had gone completely mad, it was a phase, I was attention seeking, and that it would not last and my mum in particular found it very difficult to accept my decision or to invite me round for something to eat.

I know this is a question we vegans get all the time, but what did you actually eat back then?

There weren’t the products like now obviously. This question has made me really think, trying to think back so far and makes me realise how far things have come. I used to make sandwiches with vegetable pates, either Granose or Tartex if I recall, which came in a tube and were great for travelling or peanut butter and Marmite, or just Marmite.  I liked Realeat burgers and sausages, and Goodlife nut cutlets and Cauldron tofu.  I also loved tinned ratatouille, which I would eat on baked potatoes or rice. I did however make a lot of things from scratch, like curries, chillies and pasta dishes using Vecon vegetable stock. I found a small co-operative near where I lived who purchased from Suma Wholefoods so I would stock up on things I could not buy locally. The margarine I used was Vitaquell or Suma and there was a frozen dessert called Vive, though it cannot be a particularly memorable product, as that is as much as I can remember.   I would refer back to The Animal Free Shopper to find out which bread, cakes and biscuits etc were vegan, that little book really was a life saver. I used to eat a lot of baked beans and other beans and a lot of soya which I think has led to my allergies in later life.

 Also until The Animal Free Shopper became available (can’t remember when the first edition was published) I would ring companies to ask about ingredients but also wrote loads of letters, as there was no email.   I remember writing to Andrew Whitley who started the Village Bakery in Melmerby to ask which of their breads were vegan, I used to eat a lot of their bread or make my own.

 I did of course eat masses of vegetables and fruits, nuts and seeds, as I still do today.

What were the first specially vegan produced products you tried and what did you think of them?

To be honest I actually did not like soya milk at first, or soya desserts, I had to persevere especially with the soya milk.

I also found vegan cheese (made by Plamil called Veeze) not to my taste, however I had never been a big cheese lover, so that is maybe why. 

In the early days of the Internet was there much of a vegan community online or has that only been since the onset of social media?

I was not aware of any online vegan community in the early days and my first interaction with other vegans was when I joined Twitter in 2014.   Even now I have no vegan family members, friends or acquaintances, only those online.

What is your reaction to the recent increase in vegan exposure and promotion? I think it’s changed massively in the five years I have been vegan so I can’t imagine what it would be like for you!

Overjoyed as the increase in both has been HUGE…veganism was slowly creeping along for years, we were still considered radical, but small things started happening, which are growing into what I believe will be a wrecking ball in the future. The birth of the internet opened the gates for people to access information and social media has been a real driving force, its where I find out so much information. Veganism is now accepted as a way of life, to be respected as one’s religious beliefs are and is accelerating fast. Who knows what will happen in the future.

and lastly, what advice would you give to anyone thinking of going vegan?

Today it is has never been easier, lots of resources to find out information, The Vegan Society, documentaries like Cowspiracy and Earthlings. Social media which has been a mine of information, even for myself, I have learned so much since joining Twitter.   Don’t think of the negatives, like how can I manage without cheese, there are lots of alternatives or worry about dining out, restaurants are changing at a fast pace as to vegan offerings. You may have issues within your family unit and in your social group, who may not understand your decision, I found this particularly difficult, but you have to do what you believe in. The world is changing regarding animal welfare, food production, environmental issues, climate change, a vegan lifestyle is the only way to alleviate and stop the cruelty of animals and destruction of our planet. You may be one person on your own, but you are part of a bigger movement, that will change the future.   As the recent documentary Carnage depicted, future generations will look back in horror at the meat eating generations before them.

 

A huge thanks to Olive to taking part in this interview!

Plumes x

 

Interview with long time vegan Olive!

Review – The Gate Hammersmith 23rd March 2017

On Thursday my Husband and I had tickets to see Postmodern Jukebox at Hammersmith Apollo so we booked in for dinner at The Gate.

I haven’t been to the Gate in Hammersmith for a while, I usually go to their branch in Islington when seeing shows at Sadlers Wells.

For starters I went for the miso glazed aubergine. The sticky glaze was gorgeous and so flavourful. I’ve made this dish at home before and it’s one of my favourites.

There were a couple of vegan mains on the menu but I didn’t fancy either of them. I think they could easily make some of their vegetarian dishes vegan by tweaking a few ingredients. I went for the dragon salad. The marinated smoked tofu on top was amazing and I could have done with a bit more of it!

I suggested to my Husband that we have the coffee cheesecake to share but he was adamant of having his own so we got one each! This was tasty but I felt it could have had a thicker base and not so much mousse on top.

All the food was fantastic but I feel they could have had a couple of extra staff on for the number of covers there were. You have to book to get a table so they were aware of how busy they were going to be. We had to wait quite a while to place our orders for both starter/main and dessert and it’s not nice feeling edgy when you have somewhere to be afterwards.

There is currently an offer in Timeout to have a three course meal with a glass of Prosecco at their Marylebone branch for £24 if you want to check it out.

Have you been to The Gate? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Plumes x

Review – The Gate Hammersmith 23rd March 2017

What’s in a name?

I’ve since a couple of articles about vegetarian/vegan alternatives that have confused me in the last couple of weeks and wondered what your take on them is.

Firstly I saw this posted on Twitter by an American dairy lobbyist group.

img_20170103_181352

I also saw an article saying a number of Congress members wanting to ban the term “milk” for anything other than animal milks. (Sorry can’t seem to find the link).

Then there was this article from The Independent noting a German politician calling for banning terms such as vegetarian sausages, curry wurst or schnitzel.

I find this possessiveness over words and terms absurd. By calling “real” milk nice and plant based alternatives naughty do they really think people consuming these products will really think “oh gosh I wasn’t aware, I’ll go back to drinking animal milks now”. The plant based milk alternatives market is booming and don’t think aggressive marketing like this from dairy boards will change that. The dairy industry is heavily subsidised in the UK and if supply is larger than demand something will have to change.

I am equally baffled by the comments from the German politician which seem to insinuate that people are being tricked into eating meat free alternatives. I’ve never heard of anyone being tricked into eating a vegetarian product as most shout about being vegetarian! I also think him claiming certain terms as referring to meat odd. To me a sausage is a shape it is not a cow or a pig, a nugget can be of gold as well as chicken so why not soy?

These are terms we are familiar with and anyone I speak to uses terms such as milk when referring to plant based alternatives and I can’t see any ban on these terms on products changing that.

Are the meat and milk industries just scared of the rise of plant based alternatives?

Do you think these attempts will make any difference to what people consume?

Let me know in the comments

Plumes x

 

 

What’s in a name?