Why I’m doing the Ration Challenge as a vegan

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I am taking part in the vegan version of the Ration Challenge 2019

The money will help raise cash to support Syrian refugees living in camps in Jordan.

The money you raise will provide food, medicine and education for refugees and support the wider work of Concern Worldwide (UK) to tackle hunger and extreme poverty with the most vulnerable people in the world’s poorest places.

I believe, as vegans, it’s our duty to respect all living beings – and that includes our own species. The meagre rations I’ll be living on for a week – flour, rice, lentils, chickpeas, kidney beans, 120g of tofu to replace the sardines non-veggies get, vegetable oil and my rewards – so far, I’ve earned a spice, salt and a few tea bags. I can add a vegetable to this if I raise enough – and a protein (more tofu for example) if I raise £400 – then a luxury item up to £3 if I raise £850. Basically, the ration pack I have to live on during Refugee Week (June 16 -23) is the equivalent of what a Syrian refuge has to live on in a camp in Jordan.

There are recipes provided in the guidance pack – this includes basic rice dishes, falafels and hummus.

It will also require planning and organising a meal planner – something the charity advises strongly. This is another good habit to get into – especially for those who live busy lives during the week and/or live on limited means – why not cook in bulk at the weekend and adapt what you cook throughout the week?

I will have to make my ingredients stretch, so planning will be key – and many families – even in Britain do have to live like this. Remember we live in the era of foodbanks!

Refugees have to be resourceful with their family packs, the rewards system emulates that. I have to resource the rewards myself.

Not much is it? And some people go without.

I have long believed that veganism doesn’t need to be expensive – this shows how vegans can survive on a diet of very little, it also shows me how lucky I am as a vegan in the Western world – there is so much choice, so many luxury items and we sometimes take for granted our extensive and varied diets.

This challenge will help me appreciate what I have and reaffirm my relationship with food – something I believe vegans have an advantage of over meat-eaters anyway – but it takes me back to the basics. Many vegans don’t realise how difficult it is for poorer communities to survive and veganism is seen by many as expensive – this is something I have a particular interest in challenging – staple foods are not expensive – and I love the fact that Jack Monroe has published a book called the Tin Can Cook filled with recipes based around canned goods. I am all for pushing the belief that cooking from scratch doesn’t have to mean using a huge list of expensive ingredients. Check out https://cookingonabootstrap.com/category/vegan-recipes/

It is also helping me on my journey to use less more – I buy so much expensive processed food and it isn’t necessary. Vegans really are spoilt now, and I want to get back to basics, I want to expand my cooking repertoire – but not through recipes with a long list of hard to find or expensive ingredients, but through mixing cheap store cupboard staples and seasonal vegetables.

An example of a recipe from the Ration Challenge online recipe book is Simple Falafels using 85g of chickpeas, a spoonful of flour, 60ml of oil and any earned spice and a little of any earned vegetable.

“Pour the chickpeas into a large bowl and cover them with 3 inches of cold water. Let them soak overnight.

Drain and rinse well with water. Pour them into your food processor or pestle and mortar along with any earned spice, and a small amount of earned vegetable.

Mix all ingredients together until you have made a coarse meal. Scrape the sides of the processor periodically and push the mixture down the sides. Process till the mixture is somewhere between the texture of couscous and a paste. You want the mixture to hold together, and a more paste-like consistency will help with that… but don’t over-process, you don’t want it turning into hummus.

Pour it out into a bowl and use a fork to stir; this will make the texture more even throughout. Remove any large chickpea chunks that the processor missed.

Heat the oil in a frying pan. Test one falafel in the centre of the pan. If the oil is at the right temperature, it will take 2-3 minutes per side to brown. If it browns faster than that, your oil is too hot and your falafels will not be fully cooked in the centre. Cool the oil down slightly and try again.

Let them drain on paper towels. Serve the falafels fresh and hot.”

Obvious hummus is another option I can add. I am lucky that I have a food processor, otherwise, I could mash with a fork. But you can see that while I won’t starve, the resources available to me are very different from those I would purchase during a normal weekly shop.

I can also make basic rice milk as I’ll have lots of rice – Soak 155g of rice in hot water for about 3 hours, drain, add a litre of warm water and blend – you can make rice milk bread with this too.

Finally, I wish to challenge the notion that vegans don’t care about humans. I am as much pro-human rights as I am animal rights, I’m doing this challenge to show my empathy for the poorest of the poor – those who flee warzones only to find a life of hardship and persecution. I am a member of Amnesty and believe in a philosophy I call Total Equality – a belief that all living beings with a central nervous system are equal.

To sponsor me, please visit https://my.rationchallenge.org.uk/paulbenton

 

 

Budget vegan pies – in a tin!

Fray Bento Vegetable Balti Pie in a tin

Fray Bentos Vegetable Balti Pies reviewed

Now you can even get vegan pies in a tin!

With the announcement that Pie kings Fray Bentos had dipped a toe into the vegan market, those of us who love cheap pies were dancing in the kitchen and hunting down our tin openers in anticipation.

Not only is this another option for vegan pie lovers, it’s also cheap and requires no freezer – or even a fridge – for storage. Plus, and it’s a big plus, they only cost £1 (when I got mine) at B&M or Morrisons – it’s wonderful that veganism on a budget just gets easier and easier! It must be said however, this isn’t specifically marketed as a vegan product, it’s sold more as a veggie option and they’ve left it to us to publicise the fact it’s also vegan-friendly.

Before you start, you do need a strong tin open to prise off the lid – but once you’ve got that far you just throw it in the oven for 25 minutes – no baking tray needed! Plus, the tin design means the packaging is 100% recyclable and the best before date is an impressive 18 months away – so you can really stock up while they’re on offer! Obviously, unless you wish to blow up the kitchen with a pretty fireworks display, you can’t microwave it – but whoever heard of microwaving a pie anyway? Soggy, radiated pastry? No thanks.

Cooked Fray Bentos pie

The first thing to note after the pie is cooked is that it isn’t particularly pretty. If food aesthetics is your thing, then this is not the product for you. The top of the pie on mine looked like it had been blown up with a foot pump with the filling making a desperate attempt at freedom from the pastry prison – but it didn’t affect the taste in the slightest. It is also a little difficult to get the thing out of the tin and on to the plate – but even Linda McCartney pies have that issue in removing them from their foil home. And, crucially, it doesn’t really stick, so you can get all of the pie out rather than throwing vital bits of pastry away when you’ve finished serving up.

But what about the taste?

It’s good. As a curry-based delight, it isn’t too spicy, there is a slight kick, but nothing overpowering.

Although, I have some sympathy with those vegans that complain about how all vegan options seem to come with some degree of spicy kick or heat these days – and not all vegans are spice lovers like myself.

The pie’s sauce is pretty thick and meaty for a vegan offering – and I really appreciated the abundance of vegetables available – especially the peas! I’ve felt for a long time that peas have been the most under-appreciated of all the vegetables in a vegan’s cupboard. I put peas in everything and I’m glad they’re well represented here.

The pie is a nice big unit too – many vegan offerings just aren’t big enough and throw in a couple of portions of chips and you can even feed two with Fray Bentos’ foray into veganism.

The pastry itself is also rather tasty. It’s crispy on top and melts in the mouth through its reaction with the sauce, which it complements perfectly.

The list of ingredients is rather long, which isn’t always a great sign, but most of what is on the list is natural and there’s a nice long list of spices. In short, there’s very little to fault here.

Another win for vegans on a budget.

Fray Bento Vegetable Balti Pie ingredients list

Vegans vs plastic packaging

Bekind Kitchen's herb refills

We all know veganism is better for the environment than a vegetarian or omnivorous diet, but why are so many vegan processed foods packed in plastic?

For instance, the Iceland No Bull range comes in a cardboard box with a pointless plastic window to help you see the frozen product inside – it actually looks similar to the picture on the box – so why do it? Iceland has actually committed to eliminating plastic from their own brand products, making this most curious – https://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/iceland-plastic-free-packaging-own-brand-products-recycling-pollution-environment-a8161081.html

Iceland's No Bull Burgers

The main issue I have with Iceland is that there is no recycling information on the packaging – so, do they like us so much they want us all to email them and ask them? Do we guess and recycle anyway (this can contaminate a whole load of recycling), or tear off the plastic bit and recycle the box?

More concerning, the tough plastic bags the likes of the No Chick & No Porkies Paella come in doesn’t have recycling information either.

Farmfoods’ burgers and sausages just come in a cardboard box like Linda McCartney sausages – surely this is the best way to go? But the bags the Meatless Balls come in at Farmfoods say “recycle with bags at larger stores” – in other words, if you have nowhere to recycle plastic bags in your area you have a problem – unless you become a plastic bag hoarder – something I don’t recommend.

Iceland vegan Meatballs packaging

Vegan cheese packaging has long been a bone of contention for me. Some vegan cheeses come encased in a plastic coffin and you literally have to stab your way in using knife strikes which put your fingers in mortal danger. It also renders storage impossible, so you have to down the cheese in one vegan cheese munching session – that isn’t really healthy for you or the environment.

 

Tesco’s own brand of plant-based cheeses come with a peel-back top, so the stabbing drama is avoided – but they do state they are “not yet recycled”.

Yet?

They don’t give an estimation as to when the packaging will be recycled -that might be helpful. Maybe if it said “not recycled until October 2020” be could hoard our empty packets for a while – or just not buy the product until then? Or, maybe that’s what they’re scared of happening? Either way, it isn’t good news.

Every little really does help when it comes to the environment. The climate emergency is killing off animals and as vegans, this is something we really want to do everything we can to halt. Going vegan is a huge start, but looking at the packaging of our food makes a huge difference.

For example, I buy my mock meat in a tin from my local Chinese supermarket (also available at https://www.orientalmart.co.uk/ ) as tins are easily recyclable and better than a mass of plastic packaging.

Vegan chicken in a tin

It is also worth checking out your local zero waste independent traders – take your own refillable containers to replenish your hers, spices, rice, flour, soya chunks, muesli, Sos mix and more – local to me, for example, Spice of Life health food shop in Bourne (https://www.facebook.com/spiceoflifebourne/), Backyard Food (https://www.thegreenbackyard.com/backyardfood/) in Peterborough and Be Kind Kitchen (https://bekindkitchen.com/), also in Peterborough all offer this service.

Some packaging that appears to be non-recycling friendly actually is – for example, VBites products look heavily encased in plastic, but one look at their website (https://www.vbites.com/frequently-asked-questions/) tells you it can be recycled, so my advise is either check or ask.

Much has been written about zero waste products in the bathroom and getting rid of plastic straws etc, I now believe it’s time to get our house in order when it comes to vegan food packaging. Most of the plastic wrapping is unnecessary – and alternative products are available to consumers. Maybe we should start informing manufacturers exactly why we’re choosing not to purchase their products when the plastic wrapping is not as cruelty-free as the product it houses.

Punk rock turned me vegan

Punk rock turned me vegan

The anarcho-punk scene of the 1980s was fuelled by animal rights – not just veganism before veganism was cool, but actual animal rights.

Many of us who have been vegan for a while – we’re talking 10 years or more – lament how the animal rights movement of the ‘80s and ‘90s was bigger and more effective than it is now – despite the massive rise in veganism. And that movement had a soundtrack.

Bands such as Crass, Conflict, The Poison Girls, Flux of Pink Indians, Dirt and Icons of Filth wore their hearts on their sleeves in advocating direct action, singing about slaughterhouses, animal experiments and fox hunting. Remember, there was no Hunting Act at all then, so sabotaging a hunt came with a real risk of both arrest and physical confrontation.

This brand of punk was raw, angry, passionate and very diverse. In Meat Still Means Murder, Conflict sang: “From newborn throats, red rivers flood.” The lyrics were direct, powerful and these bands really did mean it.

Some of these bands still exist and the likes of Goldfinger and Propagandhi from the States still have strong vegan and animal rights messages.

The rawness of the anarcho bands really struck a chord with me. As someone who came to punk through thrash metal and grindcore bands such as Napalm Death and Carcass, I found the aggression and anger appealing. And reading comments on punk threads and hearing comments from crowd members during gigs, I know for a fact they are not preaching to the converted.

With the rise of veganism has come the rise of vegan celebrities. Singers such as Thom Yorke from Radiohead and Miley Cyrus mean there’s a vegan for all tastes in music – although I’ve yet to hear a song from either advocating direct action, protest or describing how baby cows are slaughtered. But I guess I could be wrong – I’m not an avid Miley Cyrus follower, her target audience isn’t really middle-aged men though!

Punk rock has always been about rebellion and I love the fact that bands such as Active Slaughter are still flying the flag for animal rights today, but it does worry me that more people are concerned about new flavours of ice cream than are getting involved in protests – protest which attracted tens of thousands in the ‘90s, before the internet, before Facebook and before the advent of keyboard warriors. Why is this?

There is an argument, of course, that the single biggest thing you can do to save lives is to go vegan. And that’s true, but, globally, meat consumption is rising, so, if a farmer can’t sell his animals here for meat, won’t he just ship them abroad?

People have differing comfort zones, but maybe it’s time to ask, not what won’t I do for animal rights, but what can I do?

Is the new Vego vegan chocolate bar a bit of all white?

Vego White vegan chocolate bar

The introduction of the Vego White bar caused quite a stir among vegan chocolate fans.

Vego bars have long been a favourite of many vegans and vegetarians with a sweet tooth, the fact that they’ve branched out – first into a chocolate spread and now into white chocolate – has been a cause for celebration.

But is the new bar any good?

I, like many others, love the traditional Vego bars – they are so chocolatey – they’re big hunks of delight with a nut in the middle. I think it’s the size and mass of vegan chocolate which makes them so good – and addictive. But they are rather expensive at around four quid for a normal bar. They also tend to leave one’s hands with a chocolate coating as it’s impossible to eat a bar before it starts melting. Vego White doesn’t suffer from this problem.

One issue I do Have with it is the foil shroud which houses it inside the main wrapper – that’s double the packaging folks, which isn’t good. It is also on the pricey side at £2.09 for a 50g bar from the independent health food shop where I bought mine.

Vego White vegan chocolate bar

Vego’s white chocolate sister is thinner than its more established sibling and lacks the deep flavour punch of the vegan chocolate’s elder statesman. However, it has almonds! We all like almonds, right? It even states “Almond Bliss” on the wrapper! They certainly add a welcome crunch to this new plant-based confectionary creation.

The Vego White is, like other vegan white chocolate bars, incredibly sweet. If it’s a sugar hit you’re after, then this is definitely the one you want. Personally, I love it, as I get older I do seem to be developing more of a sweet tooth.

However, it has to be said that other, much cheaper vegan white chocolate bars smash you with a similar sweet sensation. I’m thinking of both Sainsbury’s and Tesco own brand bars in particular – although both of that lack the almonds and the relate crunch which accompanies this vital ingredient.

I was also concerned about the “main contain traces of milk” disclaimer on the wrapper – which also proudly displays the word “vegan”. This basically means milk products are made in the same factory as I understand it. Does this put you off? I must admit, I’ve lived with it so far.

So, is Vego White the new king of vegan chocolate.

No. But neither is the other Vego. I like both, I like them a lot, but that accolade still goes to Choices. I don’t see them around as much these days, but a Choices Easter Egg has always been a must and the chocolates are simply divine. I think in their case, it’s the caramel flavouring which makes them stand head and shoulders above the opposition.

 

Choices and Vego vegan chocolate

Why are vegans portrayed so negatively in the Press?

Newspaper slamming veganism

Vegans are in the news a lot.

Veganism seems to generate debate on comment boards, so news sites like stories about us.

The growth in veganism has become a huge talking point and with it comes the inevitable backlash.

The phrase “militant vegans” seems to be applied to any vegan activist. Papers such as the Mail and Metro who use detrimental phrases such as this do seem to spend an extraordinary amount of time publicising vegan-related articles.

https://metro.co.uk/2018/12/17/militant-vegans-target-the-turkey-aisle-in-waitrose-8257667/

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6539063/Counter-terror-police-brought-help-tackle-militant-VEGANS.html

Constant attacks from the likes of Piers Morgan only help to publicise veganism and provide vegans with their own media villains

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6564267/Piers-Morgan-tries-new-Greggs-vegan-sausage-roll-spits-bin.html

The Greggs vegan sausage rolls received a lot of free publicity from bad old Piers – all publicity is good publicity, after all. Piers himself received a lot of free airtime through his anti-vegan tirades. Maybe he was hoping for some free bacon for his trouble?

Both the Telegraph and Mail have a solid middle England readership – that readership includes farmers and we must not forget that the meat and dairy industries are worth billions.

The worth of the vegan pound may be on the increase, but, sadly, it still pales into insignificance next to the animal agriculture pound.

This article from January 2018 gives you some idea of the rise in veganism internationally.

https://foodrevolution.org/blog/vegan-statistics-global/

In 2019, the figures  must be even better with Veganuary reporting its most successful year so far – https://veganuary.com/blog/a-quarter-of-a-million-people-try-vegan/

There have been reports of the dairy industry and other farmers starting to feel the impact of veganism – https://www.veganfoodandliving.com/dairy-industry-crisis-teenagers-ditch-milk/

Therefore, demonising the lifestyle through the use of terms such as “militant vegan” can sell an agenda to lessen this impact. Positive posting about their industry can also help to counter the rise in veganism – https://www.nationalchickencouncil.org/about-the-industry/statistics/per-capita-consumption-of-poultry-and-livestock-1965-to-estimated-2012-in-pounds/

That rise, albeit posted by the industry itself, is pretty alarming – as is the rise in intensive farming.

That is one thing that worries me about the rise in veganism in the short term – the cutting of corners until the square becomes a circle by the meat industry in the hunt for more profit against any falling sales. We have seen with the likes of the persecution of badgers in the UK the lengths the industry will go to protect its interests.

Although, other articles suggest the rise in meat consumption isn’t such a good thing – https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jul/19/rising-global-meat-consumption-will-devastate-environment

The fact this is published by the Guardian is also notable – it’s the audience is mainly middle class, liberal and left-leaning – the stereotypical vegan in other words.

Linked to this we have the Februdairy campaign:  https://www.lep.co.uk/news/business/are-you-ready-for-februdairy-1-9566906

Obviously, supermarkets can’t ignore the rise in veganism – but there does seem to be a hint of guilt around the constant vegan bashing – not only in headlines, but in the comment sections of online stories about vegans and, disturbingly, it seems to be creeping into real life too.

https://metro.co.uk/2019/01/25/vegan-schoolboy-14-punched-bully-tried-force-feed-bacon-8393291/

Yes, there is a dark side to the anti-vegan propaganda and, of course, there is more than a hint of the “do not challenge the status quo” mentality rocking all over the discourse of the argument. “eating meat is tradition”, “we’ve always eaten it” and “this farm has been in my family for generations” is the kind of thing we hear.

Maybe there’s a little bit of guilt in there too – people want to hide away from the cruel reality of slaughterhouses – an “out of sight out of mind mentality”, which manifests itself in online attacks on those who choose not to hide away from reality.

There is a certain amount of hypocrisy there as stories about extreme cruelty to dogs and cats receive prominent coverage. Interestingly, there have also been stories about cruelty to pigs on farms – but, in a way, it is suggested that this is the exception and not the rule.

https://inews.co.uk/news/uk/pig-farm-workers-guilty-animal-cruelty/

Vegans are constantly being told not to “force their opinions down everybody’s throat”, the problem lies in the fact that it’s the very same people saying this that are forcing their views down vegans’ throats.

 

Plant Kitchen makes its mark

Much has been written of the new (ish) Marks and Spencer (M&S has always sounded too much like S&M to me – sex and shopping really don’t mix) vegan range. Apparently, there are more than 60 new plant-based products in the imaginatively titled Plant Kitchen. (https://www.livekindly.co/marks-spencer-launches-plant-kitchen-60-vegan-meals/ ). I couldn’t buy them all – well, I probably could as most are reasonably priced, but it’d take me a month to eat them all, so I bought an armful and decided to review that arm’s contents for my lovely readers.

The first ever supermarket vegan coleslaw has been a hit on social media, as has their potato salad – but, to me, you just shred some cabbage and bung it with vegan mayo for the former and do the same with potatoes for the latter – so I didn’t purchase those.

However, it has to be said, that at two or three quid a pop, most of these products are pocket-friendly as well as vegan-friendly – something I like very much, as I’d always viewed Marks and Spencer food as something middle-class officer workers buy during their lunch after grabbing some new pants from the clothing department – I think some of their pants are vegan-friendly too, incidentally!

The first product I tried was the No Chic’N Nuggets. So, Marks and Sparks have become the latest vegan product producer to try and pun their take on a meat-based meal. But, for some reason, I always feel attracted to fake chicken products above all other fake meat products. And these didn’t disappoint – not too much anyway….

Nuggets

They have a nice strong texture; thick and, dare I say, meaty? But there is no hint of a taste explosion here, I guess nuggets are made for dipping in your barbecue sauce, ketchup, mayo or whatever takes your fancy (I don’t recommend these for dunking in your cup of tea though). They have the ability to absorb flavours, they appeal to kids and work as a good nugget should. They are soy-based, so if you’re soyaist, I don’t recommend them.

No Chic’N Chunks are similar to the nuggets, except not nugget shaped and not coated like nuggets – in other words, they’re meant for curries, stir-fries, salads etc. They perform that job very well and can be promoted above some of their more expensive rivals in my view.

Again, they’re mainly soya, but if you’re OK with that, give them a go.

The No Pork Sausoyges are a pun too far, but they don’t taste as bad as they sound. You’ve guessed it, they’re another soya-based delicacy. Soya is, of course, a plant, but it isn’t the one I immediately think of when I read the phrase “plant-based”, but to be fair, Marks and Spencer do use other plants in their range – plants which are much more interesting than the humble, over-used soya bean.

 

Sausages

Back to the sausages. They’re good. They look like how we’re taught sausages should look, with their meat sausage-style skin and they taste pretty damn good. To me, they’re to sausages what No Bull Burgers are to burgers – in other words, head and shoulders above most of the competition. The seasoning is just right, boast a nice texture and taste lush with gravy.

The Beet Burgers are the only soya-free product I tried and they’re also the prettiest. Aesthetically, I love the red look of beet products – just as I love the satanic black look of charcoal products – but like those, the red doesn’t actually bolster the taste at all – they don’t taste red, although I have no idea what red tastes like. Black, I guess, should taste either burnt or evil – I’m told charcoal buns taste of neither – and beet burgers don’t taste of, well, much at all really.

They actually contain more chickpeas than beet and they are pretty substantial offerings, so good value really, they just taste a little bland to me. To be fair, I’ve found the same issue with other brands of beet burgers, so it isn’t something that’s solely down to Marks and Spencer – it’s just that beetroot lakes a bit in flavour when it comes to using it as a burger ingredient.

Burger

But, all in all, it’s great to see another High Street giant giving busy vegans an ample choice of processed food to fill their weekly shopping baskets.

https://www.marksandspencer.com/c/food-to-order/adventures-in-food/plant-kitchen

 

 

The things people say to vegans…

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before….

As vegans we are all subjected to many wonderful comments and questions from those who look at us and scratch their heads – yes, my friends, we really are that wonderful!

Here’s my handy guide to the barrage of comments that will make you grind your teeth down to the gum….

Where do you get your protein?

We hail seitan (unless we’re wheat intolerant), we are tantalised by tofu and embrace Edamame. But, hey, where have you bean?

Beans are so heavy in protein they give spinach a run for its money in the protein department. Peas are good too – and they’re colourful, easy to cook and go with any food on the planet – except, maybe, ice cream!

Vitamin B12?

Well, most plant milks are fortified with the stuff and nutritional yeast spreads are a great source. It is also available in the outer skin of button mushrooms – and I don’t know about you, but I’m a total mushroom addict.

Seriously, why do people suddenly become concerned about the nutrients in your diet when you become vegan. Have these people randomly asked you over dinner if you get enough B12 before veganism embraced your heart?

No, of course not. People aren’t concerned about the nutritional value of your diet at all, they are just using fake concerns to attack your choices. Not really very clever, is it?

Do you know how many animals die in the production of vegan food?

Well, I’m guessing it isn’t an exact science. This is a new one that’s been tossed in vegans’ direction over the last few months and it makes me bury my head in my hands and shout “arrrrggghhh” at the Facebook page on my screen that has suddenly turned into an anti-vegan cliche.

So, people are worried that insects die in the production of plants that either go directly onto vegan plates or are fed to animals which are then killed?

Well, since you put it like that…. I do, we do, you should do, it’s not rocket science, is it?

It is the most illogical argument against veganism since I found myself alone on a desert island with no plant life to sustain me. Those rowing boats on the park lake can be lethal you know? I was lucky I managed to swim ashore – the island was only 25 metres further away from me than the lake’s shore too!

But veganism is so expensive.

No according to the vegan section of Jack Monroe’s website – https://cookingonabootstrap.com/category/vegan-recipes/

This article from the, normally middle class, Guardian is also useful: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/sep/18/no-fresh-meat-how-to-eat-vegan-on-a-student-budget?fbclid=IwAR33ZONH0jyvSpDa-LcnmwOMla9vPe3j4aRBDHDfIA0ovvU03vt0Yx5nrBY

Yes, meat substitutes can be expensive, but vegetables aren’t, beans aren’t, pulses aren’t and you can get cheap spices from any supermarket – come on, get creative on a Sunday and bung it in the freezer for the rest of the busy week.

How do you spot a vegan? Don’t worry they’ll tell you.

Yes, in a restaurant it is pretty essential to inform the staff that you don’t want any animal products on your plate. As the free leaflets advertising meat pop through your letterbox, scream from the billboards in the town centre and scream at you from the newspapers, magazines and TV adverts, one could be forgiven for thinking that it’s the meat producers trying to force their views down our throats…

Have you read any articles on veganism on mainstream news outlet pages on social media? They are all filled with meat-eaters giving their opinions on vegans and veganism – bit ironic really!

You just eat grass/rabbit food

Sorry, but I’ve never seen a bunny tuck into vegan mac ‘n’ cheese, beetroot burgers and chips or the latest vegan pizza to hit the stores.

Why do you make food that looks/tastes like meat

Why do you throw 16 different types of plant (herbs and spices) on your meat to make it taste like plants? Last time looked sausages and burgers were the names of food shapes, not the food themselves. But, let’s be clear here, most vegans object to meat production because of the cruelty involved, therefore, it’s not the taste of meat they are objecting to, is it? Many vegans grew up eating meat – they had no choice, it’s what their families served them for meals – in other words, they forced a meat-based diet down their throats. So how is this different from raising a child as a vegan?

Vegans are extremists

Because not wanting things to die is so very extreme….

 

Vegans just have to (sausage) roll with it

What’s the new Greggs’ Vegan Sausage Roll like?

That isn’t a rhetorical question, I really want to know – well, sort of, I can’t afford one right now.

I used to love the Holland and Barrett ones – cold and dipped in soup or warm and covered in ketchup – we all have different ways of eating sausage rolls – right?

The Linda McCartney ones are divine hot and the little Tesco own ones are cheap and my choice to stick in my pocket while I’m at work. The best ones, of course, are those made at home – with an array of vegan sausages available, it really isn’t that hard. Here’s an example: https://www.thevegspace.co.uk/recipe-easy-vegan-sausage-rolls/

While in Blackpool last summer, my friends were raving about the vegan-friendly sausage rolls at the Poundbakery – two for a quid apparently. I found a pie shop which had vegan pies instead, but I love the idea of cheap vegan food – I’m a working-class lad on a part-time wage, the falafel and avocado generation might as well inhabit a different planet to me.

But why all the fuss? Seriously. A new vegan product is rolled out as Veganuary launches its most successful campaign ever – so, why all the fuss?

Well, most of us who have been vegan for more than a couple of years have had issues with finding vegan-friendly food either locally, while we’re out, or at an affordable price – and since the advent of social media, vegans have become experts at doing marketing departments’ jobs for them. Although, the Twitter responses of Greggs have helped to propel the pastry product into the national spotlight: https://www.livekindly.co/greggs-shuts-down-piers-morgan-hating-on-vegan-sausage-roll/

greggs tweet

Of course, all publicity is good publicity, so enter stage right, the pantomime villain in the shape of Piers Morgan.  As you will have heard unless you live under a rock on the Planet Omnivore in the outer reaches of the Carnivorous Way system, you will have realised that the elation of Piers to vegan hate figure cause célèbre has not only helped Greggs boost their profits but has also helped to raise the profile of the man we all like to hiss at. Rumours that they share a PR company do seem more and more likely.

So, my friends, this is veganism in the 21st century – social media veganism if you will…. And, while I realise that social media is great for spreading the V-word, it can also dilute the message. For me it isn’t about sausage rolls, pantomime villains and PR stunts, it’s about getting more people to stop eating animals, to get more farmers to stop breeding animals for slaughter and for more people to make the connection between animal rights and what’s on their plate.

The veganic threat to society

As Veganuary begins the UK’s national media is in turmoil over veganism!

Are vegans weak “snowflakes” or dangerous militants? Maybe we’re both – maybe we’re militant snowflakes causing an avalanche of devastation om the heads of those involved in the meat industry – or maybe we’re just people who don’t eat animal products.

The truth is we’re all of these things – and more.

Today’s blog is brought to you by a Daily Mail headline – I’m not proud of it, but it comes in response to a programme about us on British television this week!

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6539063/Counter-terror-police-brought-help-tackle-militant-VEGANS.html?fbclid=IwAR0ITqlKis70HKKPI8zXM9rphAC1hAv_hp9bV9B-6iZ12Ygq5j_czD8b0TI

Yes, we’re such a threat with our “grass-eating” ways, that they’re dedicating whole television shows to how we could bring down meat-eating society as we know it.

Of course, the truth is we’re upsetting the status quo. Yep, we’re veganing all over the world – our products are filling supermarket shelves, our adverts are screaming loud and proud from billboards and celebrities are lining up to love us or hate us – we even have our own vegan band staring Moby, Miley Cyrus, a couple of Def Leppard, Brian Adams  and Rob Zombie – it sounds very odd indeed – but so does the concept of militant snowflakes bringing down consumerism as we know it, so it kind of fits.

The irony is that as one industry receives a captive bolt gun to the head, another rises from the organic soil of compassion – yes, consumerism is getting behind veganism as companies cling to the rolling meat-free bandwagon for fear of missing the ethical train in their bid to make their company as green as possible – or to make it look as green as possible.

Of course, vegans are passionate people – some of us even demonstrate – shock horror – and we express our opinions on social media too – some vegans are even militant enough to write a blog – imagine that!

Coincidentally, it’s the start of Veganuary this week – or is that a coincidence at all? I doubt it. As somebody signs up to go vegan for a month every eight seconds, the vegan success story is seriously worrying the meat and dairy lobbies it seems – how dare people lead a revolution based on compassion? How dare they change the way we think?

It’s easier for elements of the Media to concentrate on what they perceive as negative elements of veganism – while forgetting the scenes of animal abuse which come from the UK every day – scenes from inside slaughterhouses and dairy farms – you know, the status quo they are trying to protect….

This is just my way of saying happy Veganuary, and if you haven’t already, give an animal-free diet a go, it’s easier than you think….

https://veganuary.com/