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.

Sunday dinners, Veganuary and plastic

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Review – V-Bites Meat-free Meatloaf

A vegan meatless meatloaf had to be worth a try post-Christmas.

Being vegan doesn’t mean you have to automatically skip traditional Sunday meals, and I’m always on the lookout for new and exciting dishes to throw into the mix.

V-Bites came up with the goods on this occasion.

As part of their VegiDeli range, I was excited to find this in my local Holland and Barrett – and even more excited to give it a try.

I have liked the Cheatin’ roasts and love Macsween Veggie Haggis – my favourite roast substitute as it’s totally natural and very filling – but like a boy in a vegan sweet shop, I get excited by new vegan foods.

As Veganuary rumbles on, the hunt for “meaty” replacements to tempt new vegans grows, and this is certainly “meaty” – maybe too much so for some vegans.

The main problem I had with my Meatless Meatloaf was actually getting into the thing. You need to remove the tight plastic casing to cook the thing – it’s harder to get into than the Free Masons – mainly due to the metal clips at each end!

Also, plastic is bad – its affect on the environment is directly deadly for many animals – so, V-Bites, how about dropping that bit? To be fair, a lot of processed vegan food comes in a plastic prison and it’s something we really should be pulling companies up on – it simply isn’t cool!

Once you’ve got into it, it takes a fair while to cook – definitely closer to 50 minutes than 45 (the packaging says 45-5o minutes) – but, on the plus side, it is a chunky beast – I reckon you could get three good servings from it.

So, how does it taste?

It’s OK, in short. Personally, I thought it could do with a little more seasoning – or some seasoning really. A few herbs would have certainly livened it up – or maybe I’m too used to plenty of herbs and spices in vegan dishes – but many meat dishes are powered by these plants to make them taste better too!

It has a nice meaty texture, look and is certainly tender. The taste reminds me a little bit of some vegan minces on the market – so a good gravy, tomato sauce or mustard certainly adds a welcome flavour punch to this substantial and filling dish.

You can buy online here: https://www.vbitesfoods.com/product/meat-free-meatloaf/

But what’s your favourite vegan Sunday dinner? Please comment below – or in the social media thread which brought you here. I also welcome your recipes for vegan dinner dishes.

Also, I’m after your Veganuary stories for future blogs, so please get in touch.