Iceland’s Veganuary Gamechangers

The amount of vegan product launches just in the first week of January 2020 has been utterly overwhelming.

As higher numbers than ever take up Veganuary, one must congratulate the marketing staff at the UK’s major food outlets – the vegan pound now has substantial power.

But it was the release of Iceland’s No Cheese pasties which excited this seasoned vegan most of all.

As someone who is currently financially challenged, the bargain-basement products and the old fashion notion of cooking from scratch have never appealed more, but, for a treat, this “must-have” item appeared in my social media feed last week.

I remember my time as a vegetarian (many of us were one once) catching the train home to Leicester and stopping at the chippy on the way home for a cheese and onion pasty and chips.

Ironically, around four years ago, it was in that very city that I was able to finally taste a vegan version of said delight. I can’t remember the name of the independent shop which sold me this cooked delicacy, but I was very impressed indeed – I wanted more.

Fast forward to 2020, and Iceland promises to end my search for the perfect partner to accompany the lonely chips on my plate.

My first attempt failed, there was none left in my local branch. However, gut-crushing disappointment was lifted with a beckon of light in the shape of No Bull Steaks – they had mushroom steaks. My excitement levels went through the roof – I just had to try those too!

img_20200103_143454-1-e1578587762779.jpg

And I wasn’t disappointed. As far as meat-replacement products go, they are the best I’ve tried so far. The fact that I’m an absolute mushroom fiend may help. Although the length of the ingredient list may put some off, the darkness of the “meat”, the rich flavour and the distinctive hit of mushroom will please others like myself. Dab on some English mustard and drown it in gravy and you have the perfect star of a roast dinner.

Again, as a vegetarian, I remember some rather tasty Linda McCartney fake meat steaks – but I haven’t seen those in years and I have found nothing similar to them over the years, until now.

My only criticism is that they are not very big, so my advice would be to have a whole packet to yourself.

Anyway, back to the cheese and onion pasty. As an aside, I will mention that I’m not putting exclamation marks around cheese or steak, because it annoys those who continually comment “it can’t be steak if it isn’t meat” or “vegan cheese isn’t really cheese”. I doubt many of these self-appointed guardians of the English language actually take their “expertise” any further down the supermarket aisle than the vegan section.

The pasty is nice. I have no idea why Iceland has stripped the onion part of the product from the title, but I can assure you that they are very much present – in fact, they are the only lumpy bits inside. Yes, there could be more, but crumbs, the powerful cheese flavour is utterly divine.

Iceland No Cheese Pasty cooked

You must be careful though, the sauce which fills the inside of the pastie can scold your tongue in a volcanic burst of molten vegan cheese. You do not want your taste buds burnt to a cinder, believe me, they need to experience the immense power of the flavour which makes this product a must-buy. For me at least.

Now, the ultimate test of a good pasty is how it tastes cold.

No-one can resist a cold pasty in their lunchbox, and I’m pleased to say that these more than do the job.

The cheese may remain runny, which is a little disappointing, but the taste remains solid, just be careful if you’re eating it while wearing a new tie!

I must add, that it’s nice to see the addition of the No Yolk mayos on Iceland’s shelves too, they really have upped their vegan game once again.

Vegans take over the world

As we race into 2020 and another promising start to Veganuary, it seems that retailers are falling over themselves in a bid to get some of the vegan pounds – especially since 300,000 people have signed up to take part this year. That’s in addition to the vegan army already marching through the world’s supermarket aisles.

With Greggs receiving most of the publicity in the new year for their Vegan Steak Bake the predictable response on every Facebook thread was “It’s not a steak bake if it’s vegan”. One would think that non-vegans are becoming seriously obsessed with all things vegan – their displeasure is seriously good publicity though, I think Piers Morgan alone drove Greggs Vegan Sausage Roll Success Van.

Iceland Vegan Products

For me personally, it was the Iceland Vegan Cheese and Onion Pastie I was most excited about. As a vegan of 20 years, that is the thing I still miss and I was heartbroken that my local branch had sold out this afternoon. I had one from an independent vegan shop in Leicester a few years ago and that one was divine, so I’m hoping for more of the same from Iceland. I did notice, however, they now have No Yolk Vegan Mayo and Piri Piri Mayo, which I can’t wait to try and they’ve added mushroom steaks to the range too. Mushrooms are my favourite food in the world – so I’m excited about these too.

In the battle for publicity pixels, KFC has been biting hard at Gregg’s heels with their Vegan Chicken Burger. And, while this means that young vegans can eat fast food with their meat-eating friends without feeling left out, it also provokes fierce debate on vegan forums. Personally, I’d never eat in KFC or McDonalds, their direct link to the meat industry makes it hard for me to stomach, but not all vegans agree with me.

M&S Tofish & chips.jpg

Something else which excited me was the Tofish and Chips addition to MArks & Spencer’s Plant Kitchen range, Sadly the vegan fish is tasteless and you get about seven chips with it. I had half a packet of their Dirty Fries with the meal too and I was still left wanting more. Some vegan meals are better than others.

It does seem much easier to eat a vegan diet these days, but it’s also much easier to live on processed food alone. This article is about the mass of new lines on supermarket shelves this Veganuary.

When I became vegan, you could only really get processed vegan food from the local health food shop and I’m sure many vegans cooked from scratch out of necessity. So it was the launch of Jack Monroe’s Veganish which excited me most. I’ve long been an advocate of cheap and easy vegan cooking and Jack’s recipes are absolutely spot on in that respect. Very tasty too.

I am optimistic about the growth in veganism but would like to see more people using smaller independent fully vegan traders.

Veganuary ad

 

Farmers vs Vegans

Cow in a field

Farmers seem to have a beef with vegans these days.

While this is nothing new, it seems the rise in plant-based products on supermarket shelves and the rising number of vegans is starting to get on their nerves.

The farming community has become more vocal in its opposition to any mention of the word “vegan” in the last few months, so as reports suggest more and more people are set to enjoy a meat-free Christmas I can only guess that pro-farming pressure groups such as the NFU and Countryside Alliance (a pro-blood sports group in the main) will increase their pressure on the now powerful vegan pound.

A recent article for the i newspaper not only highlighted the growing number of people intending to eat plant-based this Christmas but also pointed out that according to the Vegan Society, the number of vegans has quadrupled in the UK since 2014.

https://inews.co.uk/inews-lifestyle/food-and-drink/christmas-dinner-vegan-food-waitrose-1343981?fbclid=IwAR1b1bybyhIgNfi_ak0UiXrk56JVoSjf8HOMlIki4SsnoDBJ-iqevf1Ecbk

Of course, the seeds of discord were sown in response to both the 2019 and 2018 Vegan Campout events. Already controversial among vegans for the choice of venue, the Countryside Alliance spat out its dummy over a vegan event taking place on land usually reserved for agricultural shows. Maybe somebody should tell them that agriculture includes the growing of plants needed for a vegan diet?

In October, it was Tesco who faced the wrath of angry animal farmers when they dared to make an advert featuring a vegan sausage. This time, Piers Morgan wannabe Janet Street-Porter lambasted the humble plant-based cylinders in a Daily Mail tirade. Most vegans just laughed.

The NFU seems to be in competition with the Countryside Alliance as to who is the most vocal critic of veganism – and it was this Tesco campaign which saw the union throw its hat well and truly in the ring. Plant Based News also reported on the whole soap opera.

https://www.plantbasednews.org/culture/tesco-vegan-sausage-advert-branded-propaganda?fbclid=IwAR0Y7jVkbsHhZYhbNPDvrkWtSrZn580zpMBpaRvn0BY_JofuZY6io3t0WnY

The BBC provoked the red-faced fury of farmers not once, but twice in recent months. Firstly, a Christmas advert featured a turkey wearing an “I love vegans” sweater. They didn’t care that turkeys generally don’t wear sweaters, but how dare anyone promote vegans? Are we becoming too accepted for comfort?

“The NFU, which is concerned about the impact the ad will have on livestock producers, have now accused the BBC of being in breach of its impartiality rules by promoting veganism,” according to a piece in this article: https://www.farminguk.com/news/farmers-criticise-bbc-for-i-love-vegans-christmas-ad_54563.html?fbclid=IwAR3C0q9FU6b33wBf-okcwe4XuL2F7d3pCduEY7a_TMV3tiKeNNwYT4UWUwE

The numerous promotional items on livestock farming on the BBC’s Countryfile isn’t mentioned by the NFU.

Finally, the BBC actually produced a whole programme about the meat industry’s effect on the environment. Meat: A Threat To Our Planet? Was presented by Liz Bonnin and was also made available on the i-Player. It mainly centres around intensive American meat production. It is less concerned with animal welfare and focuses more on the environmental cost of eating meat.

The fact that going vegan is the best way an individual can reduce their carbon footprint seems lost on many of those who have complained. The most common attack seems to be that British livestock production is nowhere near as intensive as the American model. The individual lives of the animals involved seem irrelevant to all involved. This article in Farmers Weekly sums up the farming community’s anger: https://www.fwi.co.uk/news/farming-backlash-to-bbc-anti-meat-programme-continues

The Countryside Alliance has been responding to any anti-hunting story which appears over the last few years. The NFU seems to be taking a leaf out of their book and attacking anything that’s seen as “pro-vegan” recently. The notion of free speech doesn’t seem to register with either organisation.

Of course, this shows that veganism is now seen as a very real threat to the meat and dairy industries. The rise of the environmental movement has seen the industries come in for further criticism as prominent “green” figures ditch meat and dairy.

To be fair, such a backlash was to be expected. But the power of the vegan pound also cannot be underestimated. Supermarkets are filled with vegan products and even traditional meat and dairy companies (Greggs for example) are producing plant-based options.

The ethics of such moves is widely debated in vegan communities, but it does show that the demand is there. Instead of joining the diversification movement, many livestock and dairy producers instead choose to lash out at the competition.

This can be seen as a testament to the growing influence of veganism.

2020’s Veganuary is expected to be the biggest yet, so the growth in veganism shows no sign of abating. I’ll raise a vegan cider to that!

Peterborough’s Christmas Vegan Success

Crowd an stall shot of Thrive 3 - Peterborough Vegan Christmas Festival

Thrive Peterborough Christmas Vegan Festival was another success for the Thrive Tribe.

Held on Saturday, November 23, in Peterborough, it was the third Thrive event following a ticketed summer gathering.

I am, of course, a member of said Thrive Tribe and one of the four organisers of Peterborough’s number one vegan Christmas festival – along with Kim, Nicola and Kelly.

I wanted to give you an insight into the organisation and motivations behind such an event.

Work actually began back in June when the Thrive summer event was still being planned. Even starting so far ahead, we were unable to find a venue in Peterborough available on the Sunday we wanted, hence we had to hold it on a Saturday this year.

We did, however, find a bigger venue next to an out of town shopping area with free all-day parking.

Parking and the venue being too packed were the common complaints from the first vegan festival we put on (I blogged about it – https://veganonadesertisland.com/2018/11/27/a-citys-first-vegan-festival-an-insiders-view/ ), so we listened to people’s views and booked a similar number of stalls in a larger hall.

This worked very well – accessibility is an important issue to me – I want everyone to be able to come and enjoy the day – parents with pushchairs, those in wheelchairs and people who aren’t good in crowds included – I think we succeeded in this aim.

One of the pleasant surprises for me was the number of local independent vegan businesses who applied for stalls – and it was great to see how well they did on the day.

We don’t have an estimate of the number of visitors at the time of writing, but I’d say it was slightly fewer than the 2,000 who visited last year – I put this down to it being held on a Saturday. More people work Saturdays than Sundays and more events are also held on a Saturday.

Booking stalls was surprisingly easy. We posted the event on Facebook and Instagram and the applications began to roll in.

I designed an application form and a list of terms and conditions and we set about organising meetings to discuss applications.

We then started to confirm vendors, promote them through social media and collect public liability and food hygiene certificates.

Things like not blocking fire escapes, electrical requirements (we had to hire two generators after discussions with an electrician) and what the venue would and wouldn’t allow all had to be taken into consideration.

For a small group of people working voluntarily, a lot of work goes into putting on such events – and we were working on the day too – marking out the floor for stalls, making sure everyone was OK, dealing with any issues and overseeing the volunteers, workshop rooms, photo booth and kids’ craft areas.

In the weeks before the event, we went on a PR drive, sending out press releases and printing flyers to hand out to businesses which were likely to attract interested customers. There’s no point in putting on an event if people don’t know about it – and we wanted everybody who might be interested to know about it.

A huge plus for us on the day was the presence of Hench Herbivore – a well known social media star who proves how fit and strong vegans can be.

Stalls at the event included doughnuts, cakes, cheeses, dog treats, candles, toiletries, pressure groups, skincare, food, drink and so much more – people forget how big veganism is now – it really has become an economic force to be reckoned with in the modern age.

However, my main reason for getting involved is simply to spread the vegan message in Peterborough. At the time of our first vegan festival, nobody had done it here before and I wanted to see that change. I travelled to vegan fairs and I wanted one on my doorstep – therefore, if nobody else was doing it then why shouldn’t I? And when Kim came to us with the idea, I jumped at the chance of getting involved (I already co-ran the Peterborough Vegetarian and Vegan group with Kim).

In conclusion, the hard work is worth it – but if you want to bring a similar event to your town on a DIY ethos, talk to people who have put of similar events – there’s a lot to think about before going ahead. But vegans are friendly people and vegan business owners are among the friendliest of all.

Crowd an stall shot of Thrive 3 - Peterborough Vegan Christmas Festival

A vegan guide to Peterborough (UK)

Blogger Paul with food from Resist Vegan Kitchen

When I first moved to Peterborough it was a virtual vegan wasteland – the only plus being a nice little independent health food shop in Westgate Arcade.

That shop has long since gone – and is much missed actually. Over the last couple of years, there has been a huge increase in the number of places for vegans to eat and shop, but there is no independent health food shop in the city centre. There is a Holland and Barrett in Bridge Street, however.

Products from Backyard Food
Products from Backyard Food

However, all is not lost by a long way – Backyard Food (https://www.facebook.com/backyardfoodpeterborough/), based at the Green Backyard community garden is open every Saturday and Sunday. This zero-waste shop also stocks a range of vegan goods and cruelty-free cleaning products and toiletries – plus they have Suma’s Vegan Sausages and Beans in a tin.

Be Kind Kitchen zero waste
Be kind Kitchen

Also zero-waste is Be Kind Kitchen (https://bekindkitchen.com/) in the city market’s food hall. Be Kind also has a range of delicious hot takeaway or sit-down vegan meals (the lasagne is to die for) – Angel, who runs Be Kind also has a delicious range of sweet treats in the fridge. You can guarantee that everything is vegan – down to the plant milk in your tea.

Vegan burger and vegan Mc Cheese
When Polly Met Fergie

When Polly Met Fergie (http://www.whenpollymetfergie.co.uk )is the main name people think of when it comes to veganism in Peterborough. Situated in Westgate Arcade, the fully vegan restaurant also has a jazz club upstairs. With a regularly updated menu, they use local products and have a range of both healthy and naughty dishes.

Vegan tacos
Tacos and Flipflops

The city also boasts a couple of fully vegan pop-ups, Tacos and Flipflops sell nachos and tacos at local events and in pubs too. With big portions, friendly smiles and delicious cake to follow, you can’t really go wrong. Visit https://www.facebook.com/tacosandflipflops/

Resist Vegan Kitchen are also known for their pop-ups but are branching out into home delivery. Famed for their seitan-based street food and, in particular, their vegan kebabs, I blogged about them a long time ago – https://veganonadesertisland.com/2017/10/29/vegan-pop-up-kitchen-with-punk-ethics/

You can find Resist at https://www.resistvegankitchen.co.uk/

Of course, there are restaurants and takeaways which aren’t strictly vegan but which sell vegan food – for example, Argo Lounge, near the Cathedral has such vegan delights as the Beyond Burger on the menu and there is a Wagamamas nearby too. I’ve blogged on them too – https://veganonadesertisland.com/2018/05/29/wagamamas-new-vegan-dishes-reviewed/

Wagamamas food
Wagamamas

The Good Stuff in Cowgate also offers many vegan options (http://www.thegoodstuff.io) and there is also a Prezos near the Bridge Street entrance to Queensgate.

Dessert lounge Creams Café, found in North Street, also has several vegan desserts on offer – including dairy-free milkshakes. Check out https://www.creamscafe.com/

Mock meats at Janson Hong
Mock meats at Janson Hong

Shop-wise, a special mention must be made of Janson Hong (https://www.facebook.com/Janson-Hong-107512039275800/ ), the Chinese supermarket on Bridge Street. It isn’t a vegan establishment but does sell many ingredients that are of interest to vegans – for example, the gluten-based mock meats in a tin, jackfruit, banana blossom and a wide range of tofus, noodles and sauces.

There is a Peterborough Vegetarian and Vegan Group which hold monthly food shares and socials. It gives local vegans the chance to try new foods and chat with likeminded people. Check them out at https://www.facebook.com/PeterboroughVeg/

There is also a Peterborough Animal Rights Group for the more activist-minded people – they meet at the same venue once a month too – the above link also carries details of their get-togethers.

Thrive Vegan Festival 2018 crowd
Thrive Vegan Festival 2018

Peterborough is also hosting a Vegan Christmas Festival for the second time this year. Hosted by the wonderful Thrive Tribe, it is the best vegan event in the country by a long way – and I’m not just saying that because I co-run it. It’ll be on Saturday, November 23 and you can find out more details here – https://www.facebook.com/ThriveVeganFestival/

Last year’s event was a huge success – https://veganonadesertisland.com/2018/09/23/peterboroughs-vegan-christmas-fair/

There are several businesses who pop up at vegan events such as Thrive and also offer online shops. For The Love Of Cake’s name speaks for itself – Sarah’s cakes are utterly divine – check out https://www.fortheloveofvegancake.com/

If tea is your thing, Very Craftea has a range of zero-waste, vegan-friendly teas from https://www.verycraftea.co.uk/

They offer free delivery in the city and you can find them at Thrive and other events in the region.

 

 

 

 

Do people really hate vegans?

Vegan protest

A recent article in The Guardian attempted to explain why people hate vegans.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2019/oct/25/why-do-people-hate-vegans?fbclid=IwAR1Y_ZIehJTDu-REZWpqTCnnpOz_MgS2wRim2D2gA7eZOKjU3rUwY2q-cHw

With a provocative headline, the article is rather long, in-depth and, despite being full of history and good points, low on answers.

People dislike trends, there’s always a backlash against them and veganism is definitely a growing trend. People like to fight online and love the number of “likes” when they criticise veganism – Piers Morgan helped Greggs sell millions of vegan sausage rolls through giving them free publicity and sparking a debate. In a world where news sites like to post as many stories as possible during a day, veganism has become a buzz word which is seen as gaining an instant reaction.

News pages know veganism – like fox hunting – is a contentious issue and they like to fuel the fire with negative and provocative headlines – because the more comments, the higher their page “hit” rates – and this, in turn, makes them appealing to advertisers.

People don’t like their conservative world shaken up and veganism challenges the safety of what they have been taught and grown up with. “I like the taste of meat” really has become a convenient reason for not giving up meat.

It also must be said that there are a fair few climate change deniers in the world, and veganism is inextricably linked to battling man-made climate change.

People don’t like being told what to do – with climate and veganism whey ignore the message like a little petulant child with their hands over their ears shouting “I can’t hear you, la-la-la” despite the fact that what they are being told is totally based on facts.

Veganism really does threaten two whole industries – the meat and dairy industries, so, naturally, those involved in those industries are going to react badly to vegans – especially when we openly savagely attack the way they make their livings. Even our very existence through our purchase power is a threat – and our marketing strategies are heavily attacked and countered by their advertising campaigns and PR departments – look at the NFU’s reaction to the latest Tesco advert https://www.livekindly.co/watch-tescos-controversial-new-vegan-sausage-commercial/

I found the reaction both chilling and a beacon of hope – chilling because it shows that those who use aggressive marketing themselves are prepared to try and suppress their competitors – the history of animal product marketing was highlighted in The Game Changers too (my review – https://veganonadesertisland.com/2019/09/22/the-game-changers-vegan-movie-review/ )

I see hope because it shows that the rise and rise of veganism continues and it does pose a threat to those very industry which it is designed to threaten. Let’s be blunt, if we oppose the consumption of animal products then we want to see an end to the industries which profit from said products. Of course, the likes of Tesco who are cashing in on veganism also sell a vast array of animal products – maybe that’s exactly why farmers are fearful – think about it.

Finally, it has to be asked do people really hate vegans?

Behind the safety of a keyboard, I think may commenting on social media threads come across as anti-vegan, in real life, however, my experience is one of gently Mickey taking rather than full-on hostility. Certainly, there’s the backlash from the expected sectors of society, but on the whole, people I’ve worked with are considerate when it comes to going out for meals etc – after all, it has to be said, most people are still not vegan. We still have the freedom to protest in this country too, so vegans highlighting abuse and cruelty where they see it is carrying on this right and tradition – such protest just receive more publicity in the era of social media and as protests are more in people’s faces they have a greater impact – and more of a backlash. I don’t believe it’s anything personal.

A Lincolnshire sausage for a vegan Lincolnshire lad

Linda McCartney Lincolnshire Vegetarian Sausages

The widely-available Linda McCartney Vegetarian Sausages are considered the benchmark in veggie sausages. This has pleased many who, up until the last couple of years, have found they’ve been the only vegan-friendly product in the supermarket freezer.

Since 1991, Linda McCartney foods has been the major player in vegetarian processed foods. They are the go-to vegan staple for barbecues, unimaginative relatives and, to be fair, vegans who want cheap bangers and mash or vegan breakfast.

The Red Onion and Rosemary variety is even nicer – and I adored the Red Onion and Rosemary plait and I was absolutely gutted when it disappeared from the shelves.

The Chorizo sausages were the last new vegan sausage product I tried from Linda McCartney, and they’re divine.

I had heard about the legend that is the Vegan Lincolnshire Sausage from the kitchens of Linda McCartney but had yet to find said bangers.

But a trip to my local Morrisons has changed all that.

They were just staring at me from the freezer – and the only cost £2 for a packet of six – I was sold.

The reason for being obsessed about finding the sausage grail is simple – I’m a Lincolnshire lad.

Linda McCartney Lincolnshire Vegetarian Sausages

The first thing to notice is that they’re made of pea protein and soya-free is you have an allergy.

The pea protein gives them a softer interior to the other sausages – this offers a very pleasant sensation when eating them – as does the nice, but not overpowering hit of spice once you bite into them.

The skin is very much a Linda McCartney sausage, but the inside is very different – in a good way, a fantastically brilliant way in fact – it’s soft and delicious but gets very hot – temperature-wise. It’s the delicate hit of black pepper that does it for me – they are my new favourite sausages.

The Linda McCartney brand has pledged to go plastic-free by 2021 and its products are 96.4% plastic-free according to its website with a commitment to make the plastic they do use compostable – they also have a commitment to sustainable palm oil.

Linda McCartney is, of course, one of the big players when it comes to vegan and vegetarian food, so the fact they have serious eco statements on their website is great news.

https://lindamccartneyfoods.co.uk/our-food/vegan-range/

Linda McCartney Lincolnshire Vegetarian Sausages ingredients

The Game Changers – vegan movie review

The Game Changers film poster

The Game Changers is the latest in a list of “must-see” vegan films, but it is the first to receive such widespread cinema showings.

The Peterborough (UK) screening sold out and a number of my friends missed out – it is, however available to pre-order on i-Tunes at the time of writing, and I’m sure it will be available elsewhere in the near future – keep an eye on the website https://gamechangersmovie.com/

But is it any good?

In a word, “yes”. Unlike Earthlings and Land of Hope and Glory, it focuses on the impact of a vegan diet on a human body, while briefly touching on climate change – animal abuse is hardly mentioned and there are no disturbing images – although the discussion on the positive effects of a vegan diet on errections did make a few people blush – but it’s interesting viewing for penis owners and people who enjoy penises in a sexual way.

When it comes to star names, The Game Changers has them in abundance – Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lewis Hamilton and James Cameron – who executive produced the film too.

It features interviews with vegan athletes, scientists and spends a lot of time with James Wilks – an elite Special Forces trainer and winner of The Game Changers The Ultimate Fighter. He is on a quest to discover the advantages of a plant-based diet in repairing the body after injury – obviously, the advantages of the diet are huge – but the fact that someone so closely connected to elite forces is endorsing veganism is huge news in itself and should banish a few ideas that vegans are weak and protein deficient.

World record-holding strongman Patrik Baboumian is also heavily featured – again this dispels any notion that a vegan diet leaves vegans weak and lacking in any nutrients. I like the fact that these athletes also points out the huge range of vegan foods which are now available.

There is a lot of scientific data in the film explaining why a vegan diet is healthier for both athletes and the general population. The information about vitamin B12 is particularly interesting – many state that it is only available from meat, however, it is added to animal feed and used to be available in the soil attached to vegetables – that is now killed by pesticides, therefore fortification or supplements are the best ways for humans to get B12 – vegan or not.

I was also particularly interested by the archaeological evidence challenging the notion that ancient man hunted to live. The argument that it was the marketing of meat that has formed many people’s beliefs in the need for it as part of a healthy diet, that it makes you stronger and more manly was fascinating to me. This section was well argued and it’s something I hadn’t thought of before. It has definitely given my another string to my bow when arguing veganism’s corner in debates.

The scenes of UFC fighter Conor McGregor mocking vegan Nate Diaz’s diet and then getting beaten by him made the already vegan members of the audience smile and nod that justice was done. McGregor was also seen relishing in his steak-based diet – however, Diaz was beaten in the rematch a couple of months later – this wasn’t mentioned or discussed in the film – a shame which could lead to some criticism.

Overall, it’s a very watchable film – the science is explained clearly and the narrative never gets bogged down in the complex scientific facts, but it doesn’t over-simplify them either – a balancing act which is hard to pull off successfully. The famous names and frank interviews are also a big draw for those interested in nutrition for athletes.

It’s well worth a watch and I definitely advise checking out the website for more details – here’s the trailer

 

The reason people hate vegans revealed!

I found the recent Press stories about vegans lacking choline a bit odd. At first, I thought it because we weren’t visiting enough public swimming pools, but apparently, it’s a vital brain nutrient.

I’d never heard of it before the Media used it as a “bash the vegans” stick, the Mail’s story even totally neglected to mention the plant sources of the nutrient.

Apparently, Emma Derbyshire wrote the piece for an opinion body, so it’s an opinion piece, not scientific fact and vegans had great fun debunking the story on Facebook. The anti-vegans were also less than quietly condemning vegans for their “nutritionally deficient” diet, an opinion backed up by no evidence at all.

The Vegan Society have summed the whole thing up rather well: https://www.vegansociety.com/whats-new/news/statement-media-reports-about-choline-and-vegan-diets

But that’s the point in this social media opinion dominated world, facts go to the wall and convenient truths rule the roost. I read someone said “I don’t trust scientists” on one thread. Personally, I don’t trust anyone who’d believe politicians and businessmen above scientists – maybe he thinks the world is flat, cigarettes don’t cause cancer, water isn’t necessary for survival and cars do run on baked beans – basically anything that isn’t a scientific fact! This is what we’re up against when debating climate change – one of the reasons it’s important to be more vegan. Yes, I said “vegan!” Most people say “plant-based” these days as if veganism is a dirty word.

Similarly, stories that vegans carry a higher risk of strokes – https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-49579820 – neglected to mention the fact the same study found vegans had a lower risk of heart disease in their headlines.

So, the real question is, why are people so worried about vegans’ health?

They’re not.

When people ask you “where do you get your protein/B12/iodine/choline” (delete as applicable) what they actually mean is “don’t be vegan, it doesn’t give you a balanced diet and that’s a good excuse for me not going vegan”. It’s another stick to beat vegans with. This one has “don’t you dare question my safe little reality with your vegan facts” etched on it.

They say “ignorance is bliss” and this rings so true when it comes to attacking veganism. Vegans are questioning the status quo, in effect questioning capitalism itself as the system is built on animal testing, animal agriculture and viewing our fellow creatures as commodities and not living beings – no wonder the Press, politicians and business leaders wish to lead the attack against veganism.

They do like to profit from the vegan pounds, of course, paying lip service to us by introducing plant-based products in supermarkets and fast-food outlets, raking in the vegan cash while failing to cut back on the number of animal products available.

People who question vegan nutrition online probably wouldn’t rush to your aid if you did collapse from protein deficiency. They laugh in a morbid “I told you so” manner when vegans happen to fall ill – totally ignoring all other factors. It is a sick way of reinforcing their prejudices if you think about it deeply – or not deeply at all come to that.

It comes down to asking why people hate vegans – and it’s not because we always talk about veganism, push our opinions down their throats or any other weak excuses, it’s for all the reasons above. Veganism remains radical, veganism remains rebellious and, fundamentally, it is the only way to save the planet’s wildlife and the planet itself. That this is seen as a threat shows that something is deeply wrong about people’s thinking and attitudes in the world today.

 

Asda’s Vegan in a tin range reviewed

Asda vegan tins

Nothing beats cooking vegan food from scratch, but Asda’s new range of vegan meals in a tin are great for those in a hurry or out camping.

Supermarkets have really upped their vegan game in the last couple of years – so much so, that some independent vegan shops are feeling the strain. But, with many vegans also feeling the strain financially and, it has to be said, time-wise, these little gems will come as an enticing alternative to slaving away in the kitchen. There is a certain stigma attached to eating meals from a tin – but it’s no different to any other processed food – in fact, tins are recyclable and much of the plastic containers housing other vegan processed meals are not.

Priced at either £1.25 or £1.50 a tin, they are pocket-friendly too. You can stretch them by throwing in your own ingredients too – for example, I add mushrooms to anything resembling a pasta meal.

So what do they taste like?

Jackfruit Thai Red Curry
Jackfruit Thai Red Curry

Jackfruit Thai Red Curry.

There has been a lot of hype of jackfruit, so to see it getting a look in with this new range shouldn’t be a surprise – although one of my Facebook friends described this meal as “ming”!

I thought it was a bit better than that. I liked the crunchy veg and the pleasant spicy hit – I ate it with a biryani which gave it even more heat but, even so, it wasn’t overpowering. The refreshing crunch of the water chestnuts was the best bit for me and the heat actually masked any flavour from the veg – although, jackfruit is pretty tasteless in itself anyway. But overall it did the job.

Asda Vegetarian bolognese
Asda Vegetarian bolognese

Vegetarian Bolognese

Despite most of them being vegan-friendly, all of the range are labelled “vegetarian” – which is odd.

This one is basically soya mince in a Bolognese sauce.

It’s OK. Tesco does one with the spaghetti already mixed in if you’re ultra-lazy but, personally, I like the bite of freshly boiled pasta. This one still tastes like it came out of a tin – but it has, so that shouldn’t be a huge surprise. It has a meaty feel, smell, but unfortunately, the tomatoes are relegated to a background status – in fact, there is hardly any evidence of their presence at all when it comes to taste.

Lentil Ragu
Lentil Ragu

Vegetarian Lentil Ragu

This is my favourite. It reminds me of Jack Monroe’s Tin Bolognese recipe in terms of taste and texture – https://cookingonabootstrap.com/2018/10/05/tin-bolognese-recipe/?fbclid=IwAR0YXJBZCAAVWpAS53hbyYAJMplcYp5mJw_HLOlvR_FVP6nh6xOmaqu07zs

I prefer it to the above Bolognese as the lentils give it more substance and a nicer taste. The tomato sauce is more prominent too.

I thoroughly recommend both this one and trying Jack’s recipe.

Smoky Three Bean Chilli

This is two chilli hot – which is about the right heat for me. It has the spice but maintains the taste of the other ingredients.

This one certainly smells like chilli and it has a nice thickness to it too. The smokiness is married to a distinctive spicy hit and it’s certainly full of beans – in fact, all of these meals are packed with veg, which makes a nice change.

A nice surprise.

Vegetarian chilli
Vegetarian chilli

Vegetable Chilli

There have been vegan-friendly versions of this tinned favourite around for years – even the Stagg veggie Chilli is accidentally vegan, and they’re all pretty adequate when it comes to making a jacket potato filling. I’m a bit odd, so I had this one with pasta – try it, I believe it works pretty well.

There’s a mild to medium heat here and a pleasant enough after-taste. The vegetable chunks impress once again and the overall feeling is one of a thumbs-up rating.

Sweet Potato Coconut Curry
Sweet Potato Coconut Curry

Sweet Potato Coconut Curry

Welcome to my second favourite in this range. Although the sauce in this one is thinner, the taste isn’t. I love the flavour of the coconut combined with a medium-hot curry. There’s a lovely smoothness here and the colour is more appealing than some of the others. I’d definitely recommend this one with rice.

Overall, the range offers what you’d expect from tinned meals at a reasonable price – certainly a good option when you’re in a rush.