This week has been National Vegetarian Week and I have to say that this is something that would normally pass me completely by. This year, however, my eldest daughter has become a vegan so I have been on a bit of a mission to learn about vegan foods and products. I didn’t really think about vegan beauty products or household items prior to reviewing some vegan candles last year. The fact that candles, for instance, contain beeswax and therefore are not suitable as presents for vegans is something that had completely escaped me beforehand.
Or that important vitamins such as B12 are derived mostly from animal products so it is important that vegans consider alternative sources such as supplements or by eating fortified foods.
As I said, it has been a steep learning curve!
This is a round up of products that I have been sent to include in a round up post you might not have come across before. All are suitable for vegans unless specifically mentioned:
As I mentioned, vegans can find that four important nutrients can be under represented in their diets. This product delivers in one spray: iron / vitamin B 12 / Iodine and Vitamin D3 in small droplet form directly into the mouth where it can be easily absorbed. Retails for around £12 a bottle (48 doses)
These are a range of snack bars that we already knew about because they are delicious, even if you aren’t vegan. My mum doesn’t eat dairy so whilst she is not vegan these are the sorts of snacks that she reaches for too (especially as they are widely available too). The range though does extend beyond these bars (available in 7 varieties, including carrot cake and salted caramel) and also includes a fabulous banana cake mix that you can make with just a couple of bananas and some dairy free spread. The brand is the brain child of Julianne who sources the best ingredients for all her products too. The bars retail for around £1.50 or you can buy a box of 20 for £16 on the website.
Did you know that many wines and beers are not vegetarian or vegan? Some of them contain animal products so if you are off to a restaurant with a vegan do make sure that you ask for the vegan wine list. And if you are entertaining at home make sure you stock up on some of these. Especially the rose for the summer. These are not only alcohol free but less sweet than straight forward versions which means they have less calories too. Typically a bottle of wine has 345 calories per bottle, these only have 105. It is made entirely in the UK in much the same way as wine is made but with a gorgeous mix of herbs, botanicals and a blend of amino acids, vitamins and minerals that give it a really unique flavour. One that I love. I have drunk so much alcohol free wine over the years that was revolting that I stopped (I like to be the designated driver) drinking it. Receiving this though has been a revelation and I am looking forward to drinking this over the summer, guilt free, and not feeling that I am missing out in any way. £15 a bottle, and there is free delivery if you spend over £60 on the website in May.
Dr Will’s is a range of ketchups and mayonnaise that simply state they have “nothing to hide”. No refined sugar, no artificial ingredients, all natural. Did you know that there are 19 cubes of sugar in the leading brand of ketchup?! 19! That is a ridiculous amount. Dr Will’s ketchup is sweetened with dates so it has the same sweetness but without the refined sugar. Beetroot ketchup, I have to admit, is not something I would have ever considered picking up off a supermarket shelf but having now tried it I am a fan. Especially with fried halloumi. In fact I could have got through the whole bottle and a whole packet of halloumi if there hadn’t been an intervention! The chilli mayonnaise is also a winner and fabulous if you use it for coleslaw or potato salad instead of the ordinary alternative. Ranging from £2.50 each.
Heck Sausages are rapidly becoming our favourite sausage brand (and that isn’t a phrase I ever thought I would type). Not just for their vegetarian range, but because all of their sausages and sausages are made in small batches with the best of ingredients. I must admit though I hadn’t tried their vegetarian and vegan range (though my daughter did at Vegan Live a few months ago and raved about them). You do need to get past the fact that your sausage is green if you try the one above! But it really does have that perfect balance of zing from the chilli and just enough mint to make you think “ooh that’s fab”. We did as the pack suggested and had them with sweet potato mash for a quick and easy weekend lunch. Others in the veggie range are Sweet Fusion which contains Thai pesto, sweet potato and sticky rice, and the Bollywood Banger: cauliflower, green lentils, pulses and seeds with a hint of cumin, turmeric and ginger. There is even a vegan breakfast sausage made from mushroom, carrot and tomato. All available from major supermarkets from around £3.
As my mum has been dairy free for a number years finding dairy alternatives for butter so I can still bake cakes and treats for her has been something I have been doing for years, but I had never come across these before. The one on the right has just two ingredients in it: olive oil and cocoa butter so it is perfect for using to fry vegetables or dolloping on a jacket potato as it doesn’t have an over powering flavour which many dairy free butters often do. The hazelnut butter on the left is another two ingredient miracle: hazelnuts and cocoa butter. To be honest I could have just eaten this out of the tub with a spoon or spread it on toast and eaten the whole lot, it smelled so good. I used this in a banana cake a couple of weeks ago and it was great, it gives just that hint of a nutty flavour without being over powering. We will certainly be using these again. From just under £7
Dear family, you know that spaghetti bolognese we had the other night that you said was amazing and the best I have done in a long time? I have a confession. See above. Love, Mum.
Seriously I was not expecting this to be anywhere near as good as it was. When I was a veggie aged 14 this kind of thing was known as TVP: textured vegetable protein, and it was pretty much all that was available for veggies back then. You had to shape it into sausages or burgers or if you were feeling really adventurous some kind of meatless meatloaf. You just knew it was far from natural and probably made in a lab rather than a kitchen. Granted it was 1985 but it was so revolting I remember it now. This however, this couldn’t have been further from that. This really was like cooking with mince and I loved the texture. Plus, it is cooked in less than five minutes so when I do my usual trick of getting to 6pm and realising I haven’t thought about dinner this is a lifesaver. And I am not just talking about the cows.
Made from top quality, all natural ingredients (fully listed on their website) here in the UK.
You can buy this in mince form, or as burgers which we also loved (though you have to be very delicate with them if you are cooking them on the barbecue) and sausages will be coming soon. Available in Sainsburys for around £4.
Who doesn’t love chocolates? To be honest not being able to eat chocolate is one of the things I would struggle with most if I became vegan, but having discovered these I might now be tempted. Enjoy Raw Chocolate luxury salted caramels would be the perfect present for any vegan or dairy intolerant friends. There’s a salted caramel centre and the outside is 75% organic Peruvian cacao. It is making me salivate just talking about them!
Available through Yumbles there are lots of other yummy vegan goodies too with prices ranging from under £10 up to £60
There are two ranges of Yes Snack Bars, one range is nut based and the other is fruit and vegetable. All of them delicious (believe me I take this reviewing lark very seriously and made sure I tried every variety in the interests of honest research). The dark chocolate, almond and sea salt bar might just be one my favourite snack bars now and something I reach before a Curly Wurly next time I fancy something chocolately. All of them are also a great source of protein. The nut range is suitable for vegetarians and the fruit and vegetable range is all certified vegan. Available from all supermarkets for around £2.40 for a box of four.
Thankfully the world seems to have woken up to the fact that many breakfast cereals are ridiculously high in sugar and even those that claim to be a healthy muesli can still have high sugar or fat levels. Not so Lizi’s Granola. They have always been a much healthier alternative, are higher in fibre (something we all need to be more aware about) and come in a variety of flavours, including the granola crispie that would appeal to younger members of the family (though this is the pack I demolished first and would have happily eaten as a snack straight from the bag without any milk). There is even a gluten free option available too. Priced around £3.50 bag.
This has turned out to be quite a monster post but I hope you find something on it that you are temped to try, all the headings are links so if you want to find out more or order online you can. And if you have any questions then do let me know in the comments below!