Friday, 15 June 2012

Finding My Vegan Feet

By Laura, Vegan Pledge Participant 2012

I’ve been interested in the vegan lifestyle for around 10 years, but I haven’t had the courage to properly test the vegan waters. For me, choosing a vegan diet has been mostly motivated by ethics. The way our society treats animals is just unbearable to me. I cannot keep willingly contributing to an industry that keeps animals as lifeless commodities that can be skinned, killed or milked at will, without any consideration for their well being. 

This year I decided that it would be time to walk the walk, and took the Vegan Pledge on the 19th of May. As with many people switching to veganism, my biggest hurdle has been giving up milk products. I have been a vegetarian for a very long time and used milk products as my primary source of protein. I suspect that I’ve developed a bit of an addiction to cheese. Three weeks into the pledge, I am doing just fine without any cheese. Yes, sometimes I have thought that some cheese on my pizza would be nice, but I don’t crave it the way I thought I would. As far as other milk products go, I couldn’t care less. In fact, I really enjoy making my own milk alternatives at home and using them in my cooking. 

The most amazing part of switching to a vegan diet has been noticing the changes in my body. I find I have a lot more energy, I feel much better after eating (never bloated or stuffed), my skin complexion has improved and my clothes are looser. I have also been positively surprised by how easy it is to find vegan food, and how understanding people are. Even when I go out with my non-vegan friends, I manage to find something to nibble on. I can’t say that the average restaurant has more than a very limited menu for vegans, but it’s good to have at least a couple of options for people who choose not to eat animal products. 

Another thing that I have learned to appreciate about my vegan diet is an increased awareness of what’s really in my food. Since there aren’t a lot of ready-made vegan meals out there, I have been cooking at home much more often. Most vegan food is incredibly easy to make and takes minutes to prepare. My favourite recipe finds so far have been Rhubarb and Peach Crumble with Banana Ice Cream and Vegetable Tagine

Now that the vegan pledge month is almost done, I am certain that I will stick to the vegan mindset. I might not be as firm about milk traces or an accidental vegetarian dish at a party where no other options are available, but I will keep cooking vegan at home and sharing the joy of good food with my friends. And to people who are doubting whether to try the vegan diet or not, I would definitely recommend it, even if you only have have one vegan day per week. It will make a huge difference to the world around us and to your own well being.  ..............................................................................
You can read more from Laura on her website: laurasbites.com 

Dealing with Friends and Family

By Caitlin, Vegan Pledge Buddy 2011 & 2012

One of the trickiest things about going vegan, once you’ve more or less got eating down, can be dealing with family and friends. It can be very difficult, especially at first; however, things do tend to get better over time, as people come to accept your decision to be vegan. Partners, friends, and family can sometimes take going vegan as a personal attack (food is closely interwoven with culture and identity), so it’s important to make it clear that you’re rejecting animal products, NOT your friends and family. 

I've found it's generally best to tell people you’ve gone vegan at a ‘neutral’ time (if you can avoid it, don’t do it over a meal, or during a party or holiday like Christmas), and to just casually mention it rather than making a big deal of it. It’s also usually better to avoid discussing the whys of being vegan over meal; if someone does bring it up I usually tell them I’d prefer to discuss it after the meal (people can get defensive if you tell them why you feel eating meat is ethically wrong whilst they chomp down on a burger).

It’s definitely best to tell someone well in advance of going to stay with them or going to their place for a meal. If going to a dinner party, I’ve usually found it’s best to mention it well in advance, and then to offer to bring something vegan that everyone can share (if you think they won’t be offended by you offering to bring food), or to offer to give them a few recipes or point them to a good cookbook (if you know they want to make all the food themselves). 

I also think it helps to have some vegan friends, so you don’t feel like you’re the only one! I’ve found it helpful to get involved in some vegan groups (like London Vegan Meetup). Generally I’ve also found the best way to convince people that veganism is cool and fun is to feed them lots of good vegan food, so if you can cook or buy some really nice vegan food to feed to friends and family, they will eventually realize it’s not so weird after all.

Be prepared for lots of questions, especially at first. It may be helpful to think through your answers to some common questions about veganism before you broach the subject with friends and family who you know will ask a lot of questions. 
Sometimes when people get defensive (because they may see veganism as a criticism of their own habits), their questions may come across as an attack, but usually people are just genuinely curious. Try to remain calm when being questioned, and don't be afraid to say you'd rather discuss it at another time. Also prepare to be asked the same questions many times by many different people. And if, after telling most of your family and friends, you get bored of being asked the same questions, you can always play defensive omnivore bingo!

You can find more from Caitlin on her blog at theveganword.com.


Thursday, 14 June 2012

Vegan holiday in Rome

By Kari, Vegan Pledge Buddy 2012

When acquaintances hear I’m going abroad they will often take a sharp intake of breath – “What will you eat? You’ll find it really hard!” Well, I’ve holidayed in many countries, and not had a problem. A bit of pre-holiday research, a well chosen B&B, or proximity to a metropolis, and in European countries that’s sufficient to have a great, well-catered for holiday (France has loads of places, Spain quite a few - Fuego Blanco near Malaga is a particular favourite).

However I must admit that when Sally suggested Rome, I had my reservations. I had holidayed in Italy as a child and gorged on pizza and ice-cream, but didn’t imagine a vegan would fare so well. Nonetheless, Sally had found an organic vegetarian B&B in the city, Bed and Breakfast Bio, and after a bit of googling found that Rome boasted several vegetarian eateries, many more that were veggie-friendly, and most exciting of all, multiple flavours of soya ice-cream sold in gelateries across the city. 

Well that was it; I was sold. Vegan ice-cream was taking me to Rome!

The B&B was in the suburbs to the north of the city, in a well-proportioned apartment complex surrounded by trees. The rooms were spacious, full of character as well as having mod cons (kettle, TV, fridge) and en-suite toilet and shower facilities. Our hosts provided us with delicious and thoughtful vegan breakfasts – several types of fruit, muesli, bread, various spreads (including almond butter), biscuits, pastries, and fresh homemade vegan crepes filled with a jam of our choice, fruit juice, and a huge choice of teas. The products we encountered at breakfast were sourced from the health food store (or Erboristeria) that the owners run. They took us there on our first day, and we were excited to discover it packed with all vegan products – some familiar brands (e.g. Taifun tofu) and many Italian brands too. 


With the famous saying "when in Rome …" in mind, we were determined to enjoy the culinary delights that Italy is most famous for: pizza, pasta and ice-cream. Our first meal out was at a local pizzeria close to our B&B. We ate at many pizza places, perfecting our ordering as we went, and the waiters were never fazed by us ordering pizza with no cheese. We only ever had one waiter look at us strangely and ask if we were on diets!

It was on the very last day of our perfect pizza odyssey that we struck gold! We had just got off the bus at Piazza del Popolo which is behind the northern gate to the city, and saw a little pizzeria called Pizza e Natura. The pizza was cheap at 7 Euros, was on the Rosso side of the menu (these are the pizzas that have tomato/herb sauce topping; ‘Blanco’ ones don’t) and was called Verdure Miste. When the pizza arrived it looked amazing – it was huge and piled high with generous amounts of mushrooms, spinach, broccoli, courgette and aubergine and was utterly delicious. Too much to eat in one sitting!

Our next indulgence was to find the vegan gelati that we had read about online. There are several gelateries around the centre of Rome that stock at least a couple of vegan ice-cream options and some that have a multitude of flavours to choose from. We found at least four that stocked a wide variety of flavours such as vanilla, chocolate, pistachio, walnut, hazelnut, strawberry, coconut, cappuccino and many more!

There are also a number of purely vegetarian restaurants in Rome which of course we had to try. Armed with information from the Happy Cow website, Sally highlighted all the recommended eateries on the city map. We ate at a longstanding upmarket restaurant called La Margutta where vegan options were highlighted on the menu and dishes were marked where they could be made vegan on request. The food was tasty, made with fresh ingredients and was beautifully presented.

We visited another vegetarian restaurant at lunchtime called Bibliothe. There were many vegan options and it was possible to ask for the vegetarian dishes to be made vegan as well. We ordered the set menu for the day which was an aubergine stew with pulses, a beautifully spiced rice and mixed vegetables dish, and a delicious salad with strawberries in it.

Another option for lunch or dinner was a chain of restaurants called L’Insalata Ricca which were dotted all over Rome which although not vegetarian had a lots of vegan salad and pizza options.

All in all, as well as being an amazing city rich in history and culture, Rome had a lot to offer to vegan tourists and we would certainly recommend it as a destination that is surprisingly vegan friendly. I even came home with a lovely new pair of vegan sandals :)

For full Rome listings see www.happycow.net/europe/italy/rome.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

French toast recipe

By Caitlin, Vegan Pledge Buddy 2011 & 2012

Vegan French toast is really easy to make (perhaps easier than traditional French toast!).  Rather than messing around with eggs, all you need for vegan French toast is bread, soya milk, sugar, flour and any spices you like (cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.). Mix the ingredients together (apart from the bread) and then soak your bread in the mixture and you’re good to go. But if you're up for something a little different, this twist on traditional French toast is delicious and easy to make! 


Chai concentrate makes 3 cups

Ingredients:
  • 7 chai tea bags*
  • 3 cups water
  • 3/4 cups sugar

Put the water and tea bags in a saucepan on medium high heat, and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Remove from the heat, remove the tea bags, add sugar and mix.  Now you have chai tea concentrate. You can mix this with equal parts soya milk to make chai.

*Natco brand chai tea bags can be purchased fairly cheaply in bulk from Asian supermarkets.

Chai French toast

Ingredients:
  • Bread, preferably stale (your favourite kind of bread – white or wholemeal – will work)
  • 1/2 cup chai concentrate
  • 1/2 cup soya milk
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • Vegetable oil or vegan margarine

Heat your oil or margarine in a frying pan on medium heat. Mix the chai concentrate, soya milk, and flour together in a large bowl. Dip the bread in the mixture and then put one or two pieces of dipped bread in the frying pan (depending on how big your frying pan is). Cook until browned slightly on the bottom and then flip over and cook until the other side is browned. Serve with maple syrup, powdered sugar and/or fruit.  

Is veganism extreme reasoning?

By Mike, Vegan Pledge Volunteer & longterm vegan

Tell a friend or colleague you are vegetarian, and the response may well consist of a knowing or admiring nod of the head. Inform them of your vegan lifestyle, and quizzical puzzled looks may be the response. In mainstream culture in Britain 2012, the word veganism is still often linked to the word extremism.

When people hear of my vegan lifestyle, their immediate puzzlement is habitually framed by questions wanting to know why I don’t drink cow’s milk or why I don’t eat cheese. Of course the reason I don’t drink cows milk is because my mother isn’t a cow. Similarly, the reason I don’t eat cheese is also because my mother isn’t a cow... or a goat, or a sheep. In fact even calves or kids or lambs don’t eat cheese. 

Image from One Green Planet


Veganism is a lifestyle choice whose essence is compassionThose who wish to see the destruction and cruelty continue still hold the megaphone of public discourse. However, the tide is visibly turning as more and more people embrace veganism as a way to manifest their deep commitment to a more kind and just world.

Loving Hut, Camden

Restaurant review by Emily, Vegan Pledge Buddy 2012

The Camden branch of LovingHut is tiny and only seats around 12 people but don’t let that put you off! As with all Loving Hut restaurants, the menu is purely vegan so you can relax and order whatever you wish with a completely cruelty-free menu. There is a range of burgers, salads and desserts to choose from as well as an all-you-can-eat lunchtime buffet which is very reasonably priced at £5.50 per person. 

My favourite item on the set menu is the Ocean Burger, which is served with crispy chips, carrot fingers and a dipping sauce of egg-free mayo and ketchup. As well as soups and a selection of side dishes, the cheesecakes are to die for. As an added bonus, they have a loyalty card scheme where you can collect stamps for each visit. These can later be redeemed for free drinks or cake. Lastly, as a stockist of Vegusto cheese you can pick up some shopping to take home with you after a quick bite! 

For details, see: camden.lovinghut.co.uk.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Vegan Holidaying in the UK

By Asa, Vegan Pledge Buddy 2012

I have stayed in many veggie B&Bs in the UK, often to go walking. It is always a treat to stay in veggie B&Bs and get a full breakfast so you hardly have to eat until dinner time! The Vegetarian Guides cover all or most veggie, and even veggie friendly B&Bs so I use that as a starting point. Further ones can be found googling, there are local guides in some areas (e.g. www.vegetariancornwall.co.uk,  www.vegetariandevon.com.)

Unfortunately there are not veggie places everywhere. In a way it is good to stay in non-veggie ones too, to spread the word that there is such a thing as a vegan, and to make people aware that it is actually not that difficult to cater for vegans.

It can be difficult to find places that know what vegan food means. Generally I've found small B&Bs better at catering for vegans than hotel - maybe they're more interested in getting the business!

I try to read their web sites to see if they list "happy to cater for vegans", "caters for vegetarians" or at least "we cater for special diets". But if staying in small places, there may not even be that option. It is good to give them a ring to ask, in most cases I find that they are friendly and open to help, with some guidance of what to arrange for the cooked part of the meal – soya/rice/oat milk for cereal is normally easy for them to find and toast and jam are vegan items anyway (I've never encountered non-vegan bread in a B&B but I guess it is a possibility). 

For the cooked breakfast, Linda McCartney sausages are often a good thing to suggest for breakfast since it is a known brand; Frys and Redwood are quite widely available too, although less common. If they find even that difficult, I suggest alternative things for breakfast, such as porridge, avocado and hummus or a fruit salad. They should be able to manage one of them! 

It can be worth pointing out that most margarines are not vegan, but Pure seems to available even in obscure places. Sometimes I do not worry about that though – I can eat toast without margarine and I can understand if they’d be reluctant to buy a big packet for a one night stay only.

I have a few vegetarian B&B favourites, the Barn in the New Forest being one of them:
www.veggiebarn.net. It’s a two hour train journey from London and is great for a weekend away.
I just came back from Cornwall where I spent a couple of nights at Michael House near Tintagel – also a treat!
The pictures are from another great veggie B&B in Dorset:
So why not treat yourself to a veggie B&B weekend this summer to celebrate your new vegan status...?

Monday, 11 June 2012

Vegan Pledge Trip to Hugletts Wood Farm Animal Sanctuary

By Kelly, Vegan Pledge organiser

On Saturday 9th June, I drove a 17 seater minibus full of Vegan Pledgers to vegan run Hugletts Wood Farm Animal Sanctuary in East Sussex. The sanctuary is home to more than 30 cows and other animals who were destined for slaughter in the meat, dairy and egg industries. We wanted to provide the opportunity for new vegans to meet animals whom the closest most people get to is their body parts on a plate. These animals are just like the dog or cat you may share your home with - they are all individuals with their own characters and emotions and most importantly, they all have the ability to suffer and feel pain, anger, happiness and sadness.

This is Reggie who is a 16 year old Jersey cow. If Wenda (the sanctuary owner) had not given her a lifelong home, she would have been killed by the dairy industry at just four or five years old. Reggie is currently grieving for the loss of her lifelong partner Gromit who sadly died earlier in the year after developing a brain tumour following the death of his mother whom he had never been parted from. Reggie and Gromit were inseparable and since Gromit's death, Reggie has refused to stand up. She is gradually showing signs of improving, but as anyone who has lost someone close to them will know, it takes time. We all gave Reggie lots of love whilst we were there.

Hugletts and another one of the sanctuary's old ex dairy cows - Luksa - features in Animal Aid's informative 4 minute film on the dairy industry, which you can view here: www.govegan.org.uk.

For the rest of this article, I'm just going to let the pictures speak for themselves!


Herbert and Alex
Burfi the bull who found sanctuary at Hugletts after he was no longer wanted as a breeding machine
 Basil gets all the attention
Emile (the head of the herd) and Golda
Golda hugging Herbert
Edmund blissing out


Jamie and Emily with Herbert


Chester and Edmund
Alex and Herbert
Mollie being brushed by Alex
Zachariah saying hello to one of the pledgers
Fawne and Alex getting to know Little Lester
Chester and Edmund enjoying their brushing session with two pledgers
Dominika and Alex with Mollie Munchkin
Shan giving Mollie a groom
"I like your non leather shoes!"
Basil with Wenda, who lovingly cares for every soul at Hugletts


A huge thank you to Wenda and Matt for allowing us to visit and introducing us to all of the lucky individuals who live at the sanctuary and to Vicky Alhadeff for taking the pictures.

Answering questions from non-vegans

By Cathy, Vegan Pledge Buddy 2010, 2011 & 2012, and Vegan Campaigns volunteer since 2009

For many people, one of the most challenging aspects of going vegan is how to deal with reactions from other people. Although these may be genuinely interested and supportive, there are times when you might encounter defensiveness. There are however constructive ways to deal with the whole spectrum of reactions and questions that arise – especially if we remember that every encounter of this kind as an opportunity to convey our reasons in a positive way. This short post explains some of the things that help me whenever I'm asked about why I'm vegan. 

~ I look for common ground, which is surprisingly easy to do: after all, hardly anyone thinks cruelty, inequity or trashing the planet are a good thing. In fact, most people share the exact same values that underlie the vegan philosophy. It’s then just a matter of being able to help people make those connections, and start to question the belief system that underlies their complicity in the industries that exploit animals for food. 

~ Even if somebody seems completely closed-minded, I hope to leave an impression on them as an example of a healthy and vibrant vegan who has chosen to tread gently in the world through making this fulfilling choice. Through that, I may just plant a seed which will get watered over time by other exposure to the reasons to be vegan.

~ I take heart from many vegan and vegetarian advocates who offer ongoing inspiration. Some I know in person; others are public advocates whose message I wish to see filtering far and wide through the human consciousness. Just a few examples are Melanie Joy, Marc Beckoff, Kathy Freston and Philip Wollen. There are many quotations from thinkers throughout history who have looked ahead to the day when we treat the interests of other animals with equal consideration. A wonderful website for this is herbweb, which is the source for the pictures and quotations in this post. These never fail to inspire me. 

~ There are lots of resources that I find helpful, in keeping me up-to-date on the facts, discussing the issues and maintaining hope that change is coming. As a podcast aficcionado, two of my favourites are Vegan Radio (US) and The Vegan Option (this UK podcast is London-based, and includes an episode on the Vegan Pledge 2011). There are many great websites out there too; the one I visit most often for regular and reliably good content is One Green Planet.

I also remember 
that I’m in good company. As Philip Wollen points out in the video linked above, there are over 600 million vegetarians in the world: more than the population of the entire EU. We are part of a growing movement, whose time has come. Here in London, we're lucky to be at the epicentre of this movement, with like-minded people to be found all over the place!   
~ In my case, I’ve also come to feel that it’s ok for me to state unequivocally that I'm vegan for ethical reasons, rather than quietly writing it off as a personal choice. Although that might be the path of least resistance, I suppose I have come to feel that peaceful and constructive resistance against this scale of oppression is both acceptable and appropriate. But that doesn't mean I have to make the whole conversation really gruelling. In fact, I always explain veganism as a positive choice that helps animals, people and planet, while offering a wonderfully full, healthy and abundant lifestyle. My motto is 'the best things in life are cruelty-free'. 

~ And finally, here's a nice little quip, courtesy of Snargleplexon, that makes me smile:
How many vegans does it take to change a light bulb?
Ten. One to do it and nine to convince people it really is that easy.
:)


Sunday, 10 June 2012

Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating by Erik Marcus

Book Review by Emily, Vegan Pledge Buddy 2012 

I read this book last year when I pledged to try vegan for one month. As someone exploring veganism for the first time, I wanted more information about the main arguments for veganism and its benefits. Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating didn't disappoint.

The book essentially examines the importance of vegan eating from three main perspectives: for the sake of your own health, compassion toward animals and for the Earth.

Part one discusses plant-based eating as a remedy for ever-increasing health concerns such as heart attack, heart disease, stroke, high cholesterol and various cancers. With contributions from doctors and patients alike, the author leaves nothing to speculation and instead provides evidence using published medical research (with references at the back).

Part two details the truth about food animals, their commercial rearing, treatment and genetic engineering. The use of animals in the dairy, egg and meat industries is examined and touching stories of rescued animals are highlighted throughout.

The final portion of the book looks beyond the dinner table and explains the devastating impact that factory farming is having on our environment at large. Issues such as population growth, world hunger and the loss of wildlife are explained. Plant based eating is discussed as a sustainable solution to overcoming environmental problems.  

In sum, Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating is an informative, interesting read. The book logically sets out the main reasons why people are attracted to veganism in a straightforward, mater-of-fact style that is free from emotive language. This book was a very important stepping stone in helping me to become vegan. One year after having first read this book, I am still vegan and am very happy. Highly recommended to all. 5 stars.

Being Vegan by Joanne Stepanik

Book Review by Emily, Vegan Pledge Buddy 2012 

Being Vegan reads like a definitive guide to vegan living. Incredibly easy to read, the author appears to speak in a soothing tone as she answers many of the common questions that people often have about this lifestyle. The book itself is a compilation of some of the thousands of questions that she has received about compassionate vegan living from individuals all over the world.

The questions and responses reflect a number of varied topics. These include definitions of veganism, veganism and evolution/religion/spirituality, alternatives to animal fibres, vegan students on campus, employment, reproduction, activism and so forth. A large chunk of the book examines questions concerning social relationships with others who are not vegan. These questions are addressed extensively and focus on mixed relationships (when one person is vegan but the other is not) as well as dealing with parents, friends and relatives. The author further offers insights into raising vegan children, talking to teachers, being vegan at social celebrations (a wedding or party) and vegan etiquette (constructive ways of dealing with non-vegan gifts).

The book is very thorough and even manages to shed light on fine-tuned issues. For example, one person writes with questions concerning vegan art supplies, whilst others ask questions pertaining to ethical ways of controlling uninvited intruders (e.g., ants, mice). Another vegan ponders what to do with non-vegan heirlooms.

Being Vegan examines ethical veganism in its entirety (i.e., veganism that extends beyond plant based eating alone), so it is an excellent resource for those who wish to extend veganism to other areas of their life aside from food. An excellent read and very worthwhile exploring.

My Vegan Story ~ by Mike

By Mike, Vegan Pledge Volunteer & longterm vegan

Growing up in the middle of England in the 1960s, veganism was not a word that was common currency in the environment that kids of my age inhabited. Those of a sensitive nature, who were moved by the mournful faces squinting through the cold, corrugated prisons of the steel cattle trucks that formed grim lines at the cattle market, might well abstain from eating flesh.

But veganism? Milk, cheese and eggs were dietary options that were systematically drilled and subsequently absorbed into our collective dietary consciousness. To not partake of these so-called “food stuffs” was considered akin to announcing one’s intention of giving up inhaling oxygen.

After adopting a vegetarian diet, and adamantly refusing to continue feasting on the massacre of animals transported from livestock markets to the nearby slaughter house, my vegan lifestyle quickly followed. I stopped pouring the milk of cows, intended for calves, into my tea. After weaning myself from that particular addiction, cheese and eggs were soon replaced with tofu and plant protein. Finding alternatives to leather to wrap around one’s feet and body used to be challenging at times, but today the range of animal-free clothing is ubiquitous and impressive.

I genuinely did not find the path from vegetarianism to veganism a difficult one to take, because I see veganism as encompassing all the core ethical, health and environmental concerns of vegetarianism. It is a path that, in the modern world, is clearly signposted by the advice of a number of nutritionists, doctors, ecologists and anthropologists, who understand and promote this route of reasonableness. I wish you well on your vegan journey and trust you will walk it proudly and resolutely, even when confronted with the extremists who might try to suggest that your compassionate lifestyle is the extreme choice.

Friday, 8 June 2012

Vegan Cookbooks


By Cameron, London Vegan Pledge Buddy 2009, 2010, 2011; now mentor for the Vegan Easy Challenge back home in Australia. 

There are so many great vegan cookbooks coming out these days it is hard to keep up. I wanted to talk about two of the best vegan cookbook authors who have so far published 17 wonderful cookbooks between them.

Robin Robertson has written 9 cookbooks and counting. Amongst these is my favourite cookbook, Vegan Planet. Inside are 400 recipes grouped into various categories like desserts, sweets, salads, baked goods, pastas, etc. 

I have much prettier cookbooks and others with both really complicated recipes for gourmands and really simple intro to cooking ones. The reason Vegan Planet is my favourite is because the recipes are in that great middle ground; they are interesting without requiring a whole day dedicated to preparing them. And the best testament to a cookbook is that many of the recipes are ones I cook again and again in my daily life. Here is a quick list of some that have a place in my regular repertoire:

~ Indonesian Inspired Tempeh Stew
~ Roasted Root Vegetable Chilli
~ African Sweet Potato and Peanut Stew 
~ Spiced Banana Pancakes. 

Vegan Planet is also the cookbook that I first used to make a pizza base, and sushi, so it has a special place in my taste buds.

The second is Isa Chandra Moskowitz, perhaps the most famous vegan cookbook author in the world. I first became exposed to her through the great show Post Punk Kitchen. Isa, along with her sometime co-author Terry Hope Romero, has authored 8 iconic cookbooks. I was lucky enough to have her first Vegan with a Vengeance given to me, which she followed up with Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, which may very well have started the whole vegan cupcake revolution. 

Isa's latest cookbook, Veganimicon, is one of the must-have books for vegan cooks, offering a compendium of interesting and healthy recipes, with helpful 'icons' to help quickly identify whether the recipes are soy-free / gluten-free / ready in under 45 mins, etc. It also includes friendly tips about 'stocking the Veganomicon pantry', kitchen equipment and other handy things like 'how to cook a grain'. 
This book is the source of another of my favourite dishes: Braised Seitan with Brussels, Kale and sun-dried tomatoes, as well as a fabulous tofu ricotta recipe, which goes beautifully in the Lasagne Marinara with Spinach.

So there you go, grab Veganomicon and Vegan Planet (or Robin Robertson's latest cookbook with 1000 recipes in it) and you'll have a world of delicious food at your fingertips that should keep you and your lucky dinner guests well catered-for for years to come.

You can read more by Cameron on his website at camerongreen.org.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

The Karma Free Pizza Company, Rayner’s Lane


Restaurant review by Emily, Vegan Pledge Buddy 2012

Possibly the best vegan pizzas in London! The Karma Free Pizza Company is a relatively new restaurant that serves a 100% vegetarian menu. All pizzas can be made vegan by specifying that you would like ‘vegan cheese’. Gluten/wheat-free pizza bases are also available but you will need to telephone in advance if wanting one of these as they can take up to 30 minutes to prepare. 
"Possibly the best vegan pizzas in London!Photo by Emily
The pizzas themselves are excellent value and very filling. There are a number of pizzas to choose from including those with (and without) fake meats or you can simply create your own pizza from an extensive list of toppings. Sides are also available (e.g., garlic bread, dough balls, wedges, samosas, a “super food” salad). My favourite pizza is the Higher Karma (asparagus, artichokes, roasted peppers, olives, tomatoes, spinach and pine kernels) but I haven’t been disappointed by any of the pizzas that I have tried here. 

Seating for 16 people only, but take-away is also an option. Follow this link for more info:  https://sites.google.com/site/karmafreepizza/ Great family-owned restaurant, worth going to. Be sure to specify that you are vegan at the time of ordering. 

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Tibits - Restaurant Review

By Asa, Vegan Pledge Buddy 2012

One of my favourite restaurants in London is Tibits, off Regent Street. It is a great place to go for so many reasons:

  • Good location – city centre (nearest tubes Oxford Circus / Piccadilly Circus)
  • Very nice atmosphere – although I do like low key places, it is nice to see that it is possible for a veggie/vegan restaurant to look posh!
  • Photo © Copyright Ethical Eats - licensed for reuse
    under this Creative Commons licence
  • They have a buffet, so it’s quick and easy to get exactly what you want and you can have as little as you want too.
  • It is a great place for lingering (well, apart from perhaps busy lunch times on weekends – less great then!); so if I’m waiting to see someone I’ll often pop into Tibits.
  • The food is always reliably good.
  • Meat eaters are often impressed with it – many have preconceptions that veggie places are in health food centres with rickety wooden chairs, so Tibits dispels this myth!
  • They serve alcohol AND nice and innovative non-alcoholic drinks.
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Since they’re not completely vegan, their vegan offer changes a bit, but I think they have improved their vegan dessert offer lately – sometimes there was only a fruit salad, but the last few times I’ve been there there’s also been at least one type of cake, a crumble and a chocolate/coconut mousse.