Cleaning up vegan style

Bathroom

Gone are the days when people used to say “you eat shoes?” when I mentioned the search for vegan-friendly footwear.

Now, it’s generally realised that being vegan goes beyond diet and means doing as little harm as possible.

I personally have been looking for more environmentally-friendly bathroom products. Plastic is killing our ocean life, so this is certainly a vegan issue. I have done away with bottled shower gel and replaced it with vegetable-based bars of soap.

I was horrified by the difficulty of finding a shaving brush not made with badger hair. In the end, I plumped for a kit from www.twaburds.co.uk I found safety razors to be very expensive, so have bought a Preserve razor for Animal Aid – it’s made from recycled materials and it helps a worthwhile cause – http://www.animalaidshop.org.uk/household/preserve-razor-triple?cPath=20 They also have a toothbrush available. http://www.animalaidshop.org.uk/household

I’ve also noticed an increase in non-packaged bath bombs and soaps at vegan markets and festivals – so it’s all good – and, of course, Lush has a great range of vegan products. Or you could make your own bath bomb – I found this recipe with a simple Ecosia (ethical alternative to Google) search – https://www.bathbombfizzle.com/blogs/news/all-natural-bath-bomb-recipe-that-is-vegan-with-essential-oil

Superdrug is great for products with the leaping bunny logo too.

Why in the 21st century are companies still testing on animals when there are so many alternatives available?

To get around EU regulations, companies test household products abroad. So, when it comes to household cleaning, it can be a dirty minefield out there.

Recently, Method and Ecover lost their Naturewatch accreditation due to a takeover by SC Johnson – who test on animals. Basically, if you buy a product, it helps to make a profit for that company’s parent company – profit which helps funds animal tests elsewhere in the business.

The good news is that it’s so easy to pick up alternatives on the High Street – Astonish is a well-known and well-loved brand of vegan cleaners – they are available in many pound shops and Asda – a full list of stockists is available here – https://www.astonishcleaners.co.uk/stockists/

There is also Marks & Spencer, Co-OP, Waitrose and Ecozone. Look for the leaping bunny symbol – but, be careful, that symbol means the company will not use any newly-derived ingredients tested on animals after a fixed date. This means testing on animals now and in the future is frowned upon.

The Compassionate Shopping Guide from Naturewatch has lists of companies which are and aren’t endorsed as being cruelty-free. Get one here – https://naturewatch.org/compassionate-shopping/compassionate-shopping-guide

Peta also have some useful PDFs available online – http://features.peta.org/cruelty-free-company-search/index.aspx

Of course, there’s still the issue of plastic packaging and chemicals – so why not make your own products? Baking soda and white vinegar are the staple ingredients of most DIY cleaners and they work very well. Simply Vegan magazine recently published a “one mix to clean them all” recipe. This included 1 cup of Castile Soap, 2 cups of purified water (filtered or boiled then cooled), 1 cup of apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp of baking soda, juice of a lemon, 5 drops of tea tree oil, 5 drops of orange oil, 5 drops of eucalyptus oil and 5 drops of lemongrass or lemon oil all mixed together in a spray bottle.

Naturewatch also sells a household cleaners recipe book – https://naturewatch.org/compassionate-shopping/homemade-household-cleaners

There are also some good tips and recipes here – https://wellnessmama.com/6244/natural-cleaning/

I’m sure many of you have tips and recipes too – I’d love to read those.

 

Simple vegan mac cheese recipes that will stop you missing dairy

“But cheese” is something I hear more than “but bacon” if I’m honest.

And I have to admit, I am a huge pasta fan, and vegan macaroni ‘cheese’ is one of my favourite dishes.

There are numerous recipes for making this stodgy delight, and, I have found a recipe I like, so I stick with that. I am going to share that, and a previous recipe, one I revert back to every now and again – because it has a chilli hit, and I like chilli hits.

You can even buy some vegan “cheese” sauces now (this one is pretty good – https://www.realfoods.co.uk/product/7866/cheese-sauce ), and they work well – just pour over the pasta – you can do cauliflower “cheese” in the same way – by just replacing the pasta with the cauliflower.

I do like to sprinkle paprika on top of the mac ‘cheese’ or cauliflower ‘cheese’ when I’m done – and you can crisp it up under the grill if you so wish. Either way, I think it is the perfect winter comfort food.

Anyway, this recipe was passed onto me on Facebook a long time ago, so I’ve no idea where it originated:

 

DSC_1204

Ingredients

  • A pan load of pasta  – around 250g
  • 3 potatoes
  • 1 teacup of diced carrot
  • Approx 25 cashew nuts
  • ¼ cup olive oil (vegetable will do – but don’t use too much either way)
  • Salt
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • ¼ small onion
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • Paprika (optional)
  • Tomato – sliced (optional)

 

Method

Cook the pasta

Cut up the potatoes and cook with the carrots

Dice the onion and garlic

Blend the cashew nuts

Add the cooked potatoes and carrots and gradually blend into the nuts

Add oil, onion, garlic, salt and lemon juice

Blend again.

Add a little water, if necessary.

Blend again.

Mix the “cheese” with the pasta and either serve or pop in the oven or under the grill to brown for 10 to 20 minutes. You can sprinkle with paprika and pop sliced tomatoes on top before putting in the oven if you wish.

Serve. This is really nice with ketchup too.

 

The second one comes from a Peta booklet I received. It’s based on nutritional yeast – which people either love or hate – but which does have a cheesy taste and is loaded with vitamins.

 

Ingredients

  • 1kg macaroni (any pasta will do)
  • 125g soya marg
  • 100g flour
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 ½ tsp garlic powder
  • Pinch of turmeric
  • 50ml oil
  • 75g nutritional yeast flakes
  • 125g broccoli florets – steamed
  • 40g diced green chilis

Serves 4

 

Method

Cook the pasta (maybe use the water as the boiling water part).

Melt the marg in a saucepan on a low heat and whisk in the flour – whisk until smooth and bubbling.

Stir in the boiling water.

Add salt, soy sauce, garlic and turmeric.

Cook until sauce thickens.

Whip in the oil and nutritional yeast flakes.

Mix sauce with pasta and put in an oven-proof dish.

Mix in broccoli and chilis.

Bake for about 25 minutes at 350F/180C

 

The latter one is a bit fat-heavy but more savoury – the sauce isn’t at all creamy like the first one either – it all depends on what you’re in the mood for that day.

If you have any alternative recipes, please post them in the comments – I love trying out new vegan tastes.

No beetle juice, beetle juice, beetle juice

lemon_184087

The Sainsbury’s hummus horror

The news that Sainsbury’s hummus is longer vegan shook the world of social media – well vegan social media anyway. Then the news that is was – well most of it anyway, made everybody calm down – except those who still don’t know….

Sainsbury’s response on Facebook now suggests it actually vegan is – except for the Lemon and Corriander variety and the “vegan” stamp is being restored.

Apparently, the hummus only contains lemon JUICE – not bits – the response doesn’t say whether waxed lemons are used for the juice – I’m guessing, and hoping, not.

Sainsburys

The rest of the world asked “how can hummus not be vegan?” And what caused the anger in the first place? Well the world of shellac is still worth exploring…

Anything is possibly in these days of perfect fruit…

So what is shellac? And What’s it got to do with lemons?

One word – bug juice.

Shellac is secreted by lac bugs on trees in India and Thailand. People scrape it off trees and use it to polish wood – or citrus fruit– I kid you not.

It is used on fruits to prolong its shelf life and has also been used to coat sweets and pills. It has an additive number of E904.

And Sainsbury’s were said to have removed the vegan stamp from their hummus because the lemon juice it contains itself contained shellac.

So, how come shellac isn’t vegan?

Many will argue that any product taken from living beings of other species is not ours, and therefore, it shouldn’t be used by vegans.

Thought Co’s website ( https://www.thoughtco.com/how-is-shellac-not-vegan-127609 ) expands on this: “The beetles secrete the resin on tree branches in Southeast Asia as a protective shell for their larvae. The males fly away, but the females stay behind. When the flakes of resin are scraped off the branches, many of the females who remain are killed or injured. Some branches are kept intact so that enough females will live to reproduce.”

According to an article by Ramesh Singh, Department of Zoology at Udai Pratap Autonomous College in India ( http://www.vrg.org/blog/2010/11/30/q-a-on-shellac/ ), 300,000 lac insects are killed for every kilogram (2.2 lbs.) of lac resin produced.

In other words, it not only puts the bugs’ larvae at risk, it also kills many of the bugs – so, definitely not vegan then.

But what has this got to do with supermarket hummus? Basically, they’re using lemons coated with shellac to provide the lemon juice for the hummus, as the lemons now contain an animal product, this means the hummus is no longer vegan. In fact, some may argue, it is not even vegetarian.

The mainfact to consider is that most citrus fruit sold in UK supermarkets is coated with shellac – it’s used in nail polishes too, incidentally.

In other words, it’s a hidden ingredient that is found in the most unlikely of places – even in hummus – sometimes. It does bring into question the morals of supermarkets – the number of vegans is growing, and so are the number of vegan products available – so does it really pay them to “unveganise” some of their products? Why coat apples and lemons in bug juice? Is a few days of extra shelf life or a glowing Cox really worth it?

But, those who use nail varnish seem to be most at risk of having shellac in their cabinet at home.

Of course, there are other places to find hummus, soit gives meand excuse to tell you how you can make your own. Here’s the recipe I’ve used:

For the recipe I use, you need:

200gm cooked chickpeas (about one drained can)

2 Tablespoons of light tahini

2 Tablespoons of lemon juice

1 Table spoon of olive oil

2 Tablespoon of water

Some garlic (powder or a clove or 2 crushed – depending on taste)

Black pepper.

Paprika

If you’re using a blender, simply blend the lot together (excluding the paprika) – adding more oil of water if you want it thinner or creamier. If you don’t have a blender, mash the chickpeas until they are completely creamed and mix in the other ingredients (again, excluding the paprika). You can then sprinkle the paprika on top to make it look even more appetising – maybe mix it with a little olive oil first to give it an extra twist. You can even put aside a couple of whole chickpeas to use as decoration if you’re serving it to others.

As I mentioned above, you can experiment by using different oils and flavour combinations – why not caramelize some onions and mix that in? To do this, simple slow cook the onions in a little olive oil. It adds a great flavour to your hummus, I promise.

Alternatively, you could try mashing up some broad beans or peas to add some greenery. For some of these combinations you may need to add a little more water or oil to prevent the hummus from becoming too thick – but some people like it thick, it must be said. The recipe is just a rough guideline, experiments with quantities so you get the right taste and consistency for you. And, of course, why you dip in it is down to you – celery, carrot, crisps… I also use it instead of marg in sandwiches sometimes.

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Egg-citing times for vegans

The One problem I have with modern Easter Eggs  – vegan or not – is probably age-related, but when I was a kid, the sweets or chocolates that came with the egg were actually inside it – not in a little bag at the bottom of the package.

I feel this new modern way of selling Easter Eggs steals the magic from the Easter Bunny’s basket – for me anyway.

However, one thing that has changed for the better is the number of vegan-friendly Easter Eggs crammed on to shelves up and down the land.

I have decided I should review some, and I’m going to start with a Sainsbury’s one today (http://www.mysupermarket.co.uk/sainsburys-price-comparison/Boxed_Chocolates/Sainsburys_freefrom_White_Chocolate_Egg_65g.html).

The Free From White Choc Egg and Buttons instantaneously made me regress to my childhood and dance with unicorns in my head. The 65g one is quite small, but only costs £2.50.

It contains Sugar, Cocoa Butter, Inulin, Maltodextrin, Maize Flour, Coconut Oil, Emulsifier (Soya Lecithins) and Flavourings and has 12 or so buttons – so a pretty good buy really.

It smells nice too – but I love the smell of vegan white chocolate in the morning anyway.

I also love the taste. It delivers a powerful sugar-kick which dances nicely with the inviting sweet smell that lures unsuspecting non-vegans in for the ride.

The delightful buttons are more of the same really – neither the egg nor buttons lasted very long with me – always a good sign.

I am, naturally, a big fan of the creamy white chocolate from Tesco, so this egg seems a natural place for me to start my Vegan Easter Egg review journey.

I have asked people in vegan groups on Facebook to offer up their own views on various eggs – I suggest you do the same, and I’ll use them in forthcoming blogs.

But, for a start, on Facebook, Leanne Bisson stated: “I’ve had the Tesco finest caramel one and the uh can’t remember plain one from Holland and Barrett so far.. Tesco wins for taste.”

Aldi bunny

While Sam Robinson commented: “I had a chocolate bunny from Aldi it was soo good didn’t even taste like dark choc.”

Eleanore Duggan, said she makes her own and shared her recipe with me….

  • 50g cocoa/cacao butter
  • 3tbsp Cocoa/cacao powder (the taste will vary slightly depending on if you use cacao or cocoa)
  • 1 and a half tbsp liquid sweetener e.g agave, maple etc.

Melt the butter, add the other two ingredients, pour into mould (silicone ones are easiest to use) and chill in freezer or fridge straight away. I’ve never tempered my chocolate during making as chocolatiers do and the texture is still fab. Double or triple up the amounts as necessary and add essences like hazelnut, mint, orange or vanilla or nuts, dried fruit etc for variations.

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