Browsed by
Tag: veganuary

Vegan friendly chocolate

Vegan friendly chocolate

Vegan friendly chocolate.

There seems to be a misconception that when you turn vegan you suddenly stop eating chocolate; this is not the case. There are many brands of chocolate offering dairy free options which don’t have to come from the “free from” section. If you like dark chocolate then you will find the transition easy. If you don’t enjoy dark chocolate it could take a while to make the transition however over time you will get used to the taste and start to love it.

It is possible to get milk and white vegan chocolate however it does have to come from the “free from” section because it isn’t naturally made dairy free. As a result the cost will be a bit higher than your regular chocolate bars.

Things to note:

  • not all dark chocolate is vegan so always double check the label.
  • dairy products are mostly always in bold however “butterfat” is sometimes not highlighted; so again double check the label.

Some facts about chocolate:

Chocolate is made from the cacao plant which in its most natural state is actually a health food. Not to be confused with cocoa, cacao is naturally high in antioxidants and has numerous health benefits. Alongside a healthy diet, cacao has the ability to balance blood pressure, lower cholesterol, reduce arterial plaque and ultimately reverse heart disease.

Other health benefits:

  • Its high in magnesium which increases energy levels and protects against osteoporosis.
  • Cacao boosts serotonin levels and endorphins which improve mood and balance mood swings.
  • It contains healthy fats which create chemical reactions for growth, immune function and metabolic function.

I have accumulated a section of photos on my trip around Tesco, finding all the vegan chocolate I could. Other supermarkets and health shops have more choice so you’re never short of options. These are mainstream brands, where as health shops have great raw chocolate varieties (and more!) but at a higher cost.

Other alternatives include raw cacao powder (to create your own great vegan desserts/ treats) and cacao nibs (to add to snacks, smoothies and oats).

Find some of your mainstream varieties below.

Green & Black’s

Tesco’s Own

Lindt

Green & Blacks Thins

Tesco Finest

Bournville

Ritter Sport (not their mint variety)

BENDICK’S

 

To find out more about how chocolate is made, go view my post on how I made chocolate in the Amazon!

Being the only vegan at a party

Being the only vegan at a party

Being the only vegan at a party

I don’t know if it has happened to you before but I sometimes feel like I am the only vegan in the village. Eating a vegan diet does make you the minority, although the number of us are on the increase, so there are things you need to accept.

  • people don’t always understand you
  • people think you only eat lettuce and carrots
  • you may be weird to some people
  • some people assume you are judging them OR that they’re making you feel uncomfortable eating meat near you
  • some genuinely don’t know how to cater for you
  • don’t expect to be catered for at parties and don’t take offence!!

As a result of this you have to be confident in what you’re doing, happy with what you’re doing and always be prepared.

Here are some quick tips to help you feel comfortable in party situations:

  • eat before you go: you wont offend anyone at the party because chances are there’s not much substantial you will be able to eat there. Eating before hand ensures you wont be hungry there so you wont get “hangry” and want to leave. You want to be happy and comfortable there so make sure you’re well fed before hand.
  • take something with you:  super easy tip. Take food with you! Share you’re food with others, it will make you blend in and people will appreciate the gift 🙂
  • don’t make comments about there being no vegan food available: in a room full of numerous “normal” eating people, you can’t expect that on top of catering for all them people that they’re going to go that extra mile for you. They have spent a lot of time and effort into preparing the party so don’t mention you’re vegan and there’s nothing to eat, simply say you’re not hungry or “no thank you” to non-vegan offerings.
  • find any vegan food you can and take it before it goes: there’s a chance that there will be a cheese board with fresh or dried fruits. Take some and pop them on your plate before they all go. Bread is normally available and if you’re lucky some salads or veggie sticks. More times than none there will be vegan options but get them on your plate at the beginning of the party, just incase they run out by the time you’re hungry.
  • don’t worry about it: at the end of the day you’re not there for the food, you’re there for the party. Enjoy the party and be social. Social environments don’t always have to revolve around food and if they do just make sure you’re prepared.

I hope these few, quick tips help you for when you feel like the only vegan in the village 🙂

 

 

Popular UK restaurants offering Vegan options.

Popular UK restaurants offering Vegan options.

Popular UK restaurants offering Vegan options.

There are so many restaurants here in the UK that offers vegan options now. When I lived in America the options were extremely limited unless I went to vegan specific restaurants. Lucky for us we do have many chain restaurants now which offer vegan options.

Most restaurants if you call beforehand will offer you a vegan option or you have to alter a dish on their menu to veganise it. For example: veggie pizza without cheese (check base is dairy free), tomato based pastas without meat or cheese. Be careful with veggie burgers as many have egg to combine the patty. You just have to play around with the menu and ask the staff questions.

See below to see which popular UK restaurants offer a vegan option without chopping and changing the ingredients.

Restaurants:

Nando’s.

Offering salads and veggie burgers, you just have to ask for no cheese and no mayo!

Wagamamas.

The only set vegan option on the main menu is the Yasai Itame. The vegetable dumplings to start are vegan as well as vegetables and edamame. If you ask the staff they will accommodate for you on the mains by leaving out fish sauce or swapping your choice of noodles, for example.

Las Iguana’s.

I was happy to see that Las Iguanas offer a separate vegetarian / vegan menu. I’ve had the fajitas before, although they were quite oily. Great to have an array of vegan options though.

Jamie’s Italian.

With vegan options plus the option to veganise a meal, Jamie’s Italian is great. The only thing I’d mention is that the Aubergine main dish is pretty small so just be warned.

Zizzi 

Zizzi has kicked it out of the bag with their new all vegan menu. Started, mains and desserts all deduced to healthy vegan choices. They even have vegan cheese! That is dedication from Zizzi’s; I salute you.

Toby Carvery  

A carvery which offers a vegan nut roast!! This had me really excited. Just be careful to avoid any vegetables cooked in butter.

JD Weatherspoon

With it’s own separate vegan menu you can’t go wrong.

Pizza Express

With their own specific vegan pizza that alone is great. However all their bases are dairy free so hop and change ingredients as you wish, and of course, hold the cheese.

Carluccios

Another fantastic Italian restaurant offering a desperate vegan menu.

Giraffe 

I know they offer a vegan breakfast which is fantastic as you don’t see this often. As for mains they have a couple of options but not a separate menu.

On the go

All supermarkets offer vegan food so when you’re on the go these are an easy option. Opt for the salad isle and get the tubs of quinoa salads, bean salads, couscous, nut salad etc. They have so many options you just need to know where to look. In the “on-the-move” section it has little variety but if you check the salads section you will be fine. For snacks you can always go in and grab some loose fruit too or possibly a raw foods bar.

Check below for some more on the go options so you’re not stuck when you’re on the move.

Cafés:

Pret-a-manger 

Offering an array of vegan options, Pret is a great go to. From salads to sandwiches to dessert!

Starbucks

Limited on choices but do offer a salad option and wrap if you’re lucky!

The West Cornish Pasty Co

A Cornish pasty that’s vegan? The West Cornish Pasty Co offer two pasties: vegetarian and wholemeal. If you like a pasty then it’s great to know this!

Eat. 

I only discovered this over the Summer time but was very pleased to see more than one vegan option. Sandwiches plus hot food! This alongside a nice hot latte is a great on the go stop.

 

Eat your carbs

Eat your carbs

image

Eat your carbs!!

Yes, you heard right. If you want to become vegan and stay on this lifestyle then you mustn’t be afraid of carbohydrates! It may take you a while to get used to but good carbohydrates will be your saviour and they will keep you happy and healthy. Carbohydrates “ignite the fat burning flame”, i.e. to burn fat you need carbohydrates in the body. This was a quote and one of the most valuable points I took from my nutrition classes.

People go from diet to diet and cutting carbs seem to be top of the list all of the time; ever wonder why the diet doesn’t work for very long? It’s because the body is under carbed, starving and under nourished so craves carbohydrates. If we keep our tummies full of good carbs then you won’t need to go reaching for the sugary doughnuts and chocolate bars (i.e. bad carbs)!

image

A few benefits of good carbs:

  • The body’s main source of energy!!
  • High in fibre to keep you full, energized, and stools regular.
  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Low glycaemic index: stabilizing blood sugars and insulin production
  • Provides body with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes.
  • Promotes long term weight loss and weight management
  • Stimulates metabolism and promotes fat loss (“ignites the fat burning flame”)

Dangers of cutting carbs:

  • Low energy
  • Body uses protein and fat for energy instead
  • Reduced fibre intake resulting in constipation and blocked digestive system
  • Replacing carbs with meat and dairy products increases saturated fat intake leading to high cholesterol and heart disease
  • Using stored fat for energy results in Ketosis, resulting in: weakness, headaches, dehydration and irritability

image

To keep you healthy ensure that you eat plenty of the following list of Good Carbs:

  • Rice
  • Potatoes
  • Oats
  • Lentils
  • Beans
  • Pastas
  • Bread (wholegrain, rye, brown sourdough)
  • Lots and lots of fruit! (perfect for on the run and fast food options)
  • Frozen fruits (think smoothies and porridge)
  • Green leafy vegetables (the best and queens of good carbs)
  • Whole vegetables in general
  • Dates (deliciously sweet and high calorie to keep you full and satisfied – essential!)

dates

Eat until you are full! Good carbohydrates will be the bulk of your meals and do not skip them because you will feel extremely hungry, under satisfied and unhappy. Yay to feeling good!

Where do vegans get their protein from?

Where do vegans get their protein from?

kale nuts

Where do you get your protein from?! The number one question you will most definitely be asked on a Vegan lifestyle and it will annoy you every time. People seem to have a fear about not getting enough protein in their diet and the truth is that most of the worlds’ population gets above and beyond the daily recommendations of protein intake in their diet. Now, there are complicated equations for working out your average daily intake of protein but to keep it simple just know that you will and can get more than enough protein in a vegan diet also and I am here to give you some recommendations to make sure you will stay strong and healthy in this lifestyle!

A bit of additional information on proteins for you:

1) Why is protein even important?

Well, proteins are found in every muscle in the human body and contain amino acids which are essentially the building blocks of all our cells and tissues in the body. Without this process we will feel lethargic and under energised which leaves us grumpy and unhappy (and we know that that is no fun for anyone!!). In addition to this protein helps keep us full and a full tummy is a happy tummy, right?!

2) Do I need animal protein though?

No. Our bodies cannot store protein like they can carbohydrates and this means that when we become malnourished our bodies essentially eat themselves, i.e. the muscles, to try and fuel the body. To stop this from happening it is important to keep protein intake regular and protein can be found in so many different plant-based foods which may even surprise you.

Here is a list of protein rich foods to keep you full, healthy and happy on a vegan diet. Adding one or more of these to each meal will ensure you need not worry about getting enough protein in your diet and you will be energised and full until next meal time:

Beans and Pulses:

  • Chickpeas (salads, hummus, spreads, curries, pasta)
  • Kidney Beans (stews, bolognaise, pasta)
  • Lentils (soups, stews, curries, pastas, bolognaise)
  • Black Beans (bolognaise, rice)
  • Butter beans (stews, soups, pasta dishes)

Nuts & Seeds:

  • Nut butters (peanut, almond and cashew are my favourite!)
  • Tahini (great for adding into a pasta sauce to make it creamy! Mix with lemon for a great sauce on chips or salads)
  • Sesame seeds, linseeds, pine nuts (great addition to stir fry’s or sprinkled on salads)
  • Chai seeds, flax seeds (great popped into a smoothie, mix with water to make an egg replacement in baking, addition to porridge)
  • All other nuts and seeds of course 🙂

Vegetables (yes, veg has protein too):

  • Peas (frozen, easy peasy)
  • Spinach (great addition to a smoothie, especially if you don’t like the taste as you won’t taste it at all)
  • Kale (again, great in a smoothie and a kale salad with tahini dressing is amazing)
  • Avocado (guacamole, on toast, chocolate pudding, smoothies, salads)
  • Broccoli

Grains (pretty self explanatory):

  • Brown Rice
  • Buckwheat (can be eaten raw, on top of smoothies or nicecream is delicious)
  • Quinoa
  • Oats (add into smoothies, porridge, cookies, breakfast bars)

Protein Powders (add into smoothies and you don’t taste them as they don’t taste great alone!):

  • Hemp Protein
  • Spirulina
  • Pea protein

chia

Now go and get some protein in your life, and if anyone asks how you get your protein (because they will…) then you can tell them this !! 🙂