In just five short years registered charity ‘Veganuary’ has grown from 1,000 members, to over 500,000 sign ups worldwide, who have pledged to follow a plant based diet for ‘vegan January’. With a record number of people signing up for Veganuary 2019 in 193 countries, it is clear that the rise of Veganism is no ‘fad diet’ but a movement towards compassion, empathy and healthier lifestyles. While some might choose to become Vegan temporarily, for others Veganuary becomes the stepping stone for a new Vegan diet, sometimes making the transition from vegetarianism to Veganism or even taking the plunge from eating meat on a daily basis to focusing on a plant based diet. While people’s motives for choosing a vegan diet vary, the most popular reasons include ‘cutting out meat to benefit their physical and mental health’, to ‘reduce their cholesterol’, to be kinder to the environment and to reject animal cruelty.
For me, while I am a Vegetarian and not a Vegan (although my lifestyle is Vegan), becoming a vegetarian and cutting out meat, as well as boycotting brands that would test on animals was due to me wanting to make more compassionate lifestyle choices, that would reduce my impact on animal cruelty. And it’s the same for a number of Vegans; in 2018 the headlines were dominated by the launch of new vegan products i.e. Plant Kitchen in Marks & Spencers, a rise in people becoming ‘vegans, vegetarians and flextatarians’ and scientific research lauding the health benefits of Veganism, stating that a vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth – not just greenhouse gases but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use. And let’s not forget the scandal of the Waitrose magazine editor vs Vegans as William Sitwell joked about ‘a series on killing vegans, one by one’ in response to Selene Nelson’s pitch for ‘plant based meal series’. 2019 is no exception; seen as the ‘year of the Vegan’ it is not just individuals who are buying into veganism but brands too. With more restaurants creating separate vegan and vegetarian menu’s for easier meal accessibility, supermarket brands ditching animal testing ( see the Co-op’s range of cruelty free bath products) and even clothing brands like M&S labeling clothing and shoes as Vegan, it has become easier than ever to explore the vegan movement.
Which is where my Veganuary guide comes in: from restaurants that are ‘completely vegan’ who serve up delicious grub to snacks that will leave you reaching for more, here are 25 brands that you should try this Veganuary. And yes before you ask, they are all food and drink brands, if you want a more comprehensive insight into ‘all vegan brands’ check out ’40 Vegan and Vegetarian Friendly Brands You Need To Try In 2018 ‘ for skincare, food and drink and so much more.
- Halo Burger, Pop Brixton
Vegans and non-vegans a-like can now rejoice at the arrival of the brilliant ‘Halo Burger’, the ‘World’s First’ Dedicated ‘Bleeding’ Vegan Burger Restaurant which was opened in December at the fabulous Pop Brixton. After the success of veganism in 2018 with the introduction of ready meals, dedicated vegan menu’s and ‘festivals’, what could be more appropriate than a ‘fast food joint’ whose menu is entirely vegan? I was once of the opinion that veggie burgers-often made from vegetable patties- were tasteless and lacked flavour, so a trip to a ‘chippy shop’ was never one that I relished with the same adoration as my peers who gratefully sunk their teeth into moist cheesefests. But no more; Halo Burger describes itself as “a new spin on fast food, pairing a nostalgic experience with good vibes and great tunes” and it just happens to be 100% Vegan. But you might be in for a shock at first, as Halo Burger ‘bleeds’ just like a real burger, which depending on your stomach might leave you feeling a little flummoxed so here is the T. Halo Burger uses ‘Beyond Meat’ a plant based meat substitute to create a burger made entirely from plants that “looks, cooks, tastes — and ‘bleeds’ — like a fresh beef burger.” Having spent 18 months developing a secret seasoning to complement the ‘Beyond Burger’ , punters have gone wild for Brixton’s new Vegan offering and it’s easy to see why.
Incredibly plump and juicy, the Halo Burger emblazoned in oozing cheese and thick slices of tomato is a real treat for the senses, as it glides smoothly down your throat, washed down with pink salt fries that are a marvelous treat in themselves. While it might be a little pricey (especially when its greasy meat counterparts are far cheaper) it’s worth every penny, both for the sheer volume of size and its taste profile. Don’t believe me? Then head over to Pop Brixton to find out more. One thing is for certain, you will leave wishing that you could smuggle all the Halo Burgers out of the kitchen and into your bellowing stomach. Now how’s that for a promise? In fact I am so in love with Halo Burger, that I can safely tell you without a shadow of a doubt that it is the best vegan or vegetarian burger that I have ever tried in my whole life. While it has been several years since I last ate meat, from what I remember of the taste, Halo Burger tastes almost just like a real beef burger. And don’t even get me started on the delicious American style vegan cheese. Perfection.
*Alongside the ‘Halo Burger’, the entirely plant based menu also includes a quarter pounder with cheese, cheeseburger, hamburger and pink salt fries.
2. Indigo Herbs: Nut Butters
A superfood ‘brand’ that aims to please, Indigo Herbs offers ethically sourced teas, nut butters, herbal powders and Aromatherapy Oils for their customers pleasure, trading since 2004. Creating natural health products to empower optimum health and nutrition, Indigo Herb’s range of delicious nut butters is no exception to the rule, with Pure Organic Raw Nut and Seed butters such as Organic Raw Walnut Butter and Organic Raw Hemp Seed Butter. With six wholesome flavours to choose from, my personal favourite is the delicious organic raw hazelnut butter that makes a surprisingly wonderful alternative to peanut butter, packed full of intense, raw flavour. High in vitamins and minerals with a naturally sweet and creamy taste, the hazelnut butter (or Corylus avellana as it is known by its Latin name) is divine in smoothies, on toast and even in savory dishes to create a stark flavour contrast. Pure and unprocessed with nothing added, the natural flavour means that it is not only suitable for vegans and vegetarians but it is also certified Organic by The Organic Food Federation and produced to GMP standards.
But how are the nut butters created? Well, the Organic Raw Hazelnut Butter has been made with great care with a very slow milling process to avoid losing the nutritional value of the raw Hazelnuts. The mills are not allowed to reach a temperature above 42°C to ensure absolute freshness to this amazing raw butter. After the Hazelnuts have been milled into a lovely gooey consistency, the butter is simply collected up and jarred for your taste satisfaction. And what a treat it is: high in dietary fibre, folate and potassium, the hazelnut nut butter is also a source of Vitamin K and Zinc, making it a spread that is equal parts delicious as it is nutritious. Plus if you want to try something new the Organic Raw Pumpkin Seed Butter is divine when dolloped on a hunk of cucumber.
3. Boundless Nuts
In tune with nature, Boundless Nuts are no ‘ordinary nuts’. Drenched in water to kickstart nature’s natural germination process, the ‘soak’ removes the bitter phytic acid and protective enzymes, enabling better digestion. Not only does this mean that Boundless nuts and seeds are lighter on your stomach because the harsh acid has been removed but the nuts and seeds are then baked using natural ingredients for a fuller flavour and lighter crunch, as part of their F.A.B method. See what I did there? But why does boundless soak their nuts and seeds? Well as I said before germination is in tune with nature; essentially when you ‘flood’ or ‘soak’ the nuts and seeds you will automatically activate germination (known as the sprouting of a seed to a plant) which releases all the natural enzymes and amazing nutrients that will leave your stomach feeling very happy indeed. Available in four mouthwatering flavours – cayenne and rosemary, tamari and aleppo, orange, ginger and maple, and tumeric and smoked paprika, my personal favourite is the latter which contains pumpkin seeds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and a tasty smoked paprika topping. Vegan friendly and high in protein, Boundless Nuts are not just easy on the stomach but easy on the eye too, with beautifully colourful and intricately designed packaging that will have you reaching for more.
So why should you try Boundless? Well, through the use of ancient Aztec and Aborigine techniques of soaking and baking nuts and seeds to unlock their nutrients for better digestion, Boundless have found a way of cracking the dense shells and fusing fun and flavour together in a nutrient-dense, high-fibre, and perfectly portioned treat that tastes great on the tongue and gentle on the stomach. What more could you want?
4. Plant Kitchen
If there is one ‘vegan brand launch’ that has surprised me, it is M&S and their well thought out ‘Plant Kitchen’ range that spans over 50 midweek snacks, meals, meals on the go and milk substitutes. So imagine my delight, after running errands at Stratford Westfield when I discovered M&S’s new infamous vegan range that put veggies at the ‘top again’. With cult classics like Jackfruit pizza and dirty fries ticking the ‘naughty but delicious fast food box’ versus the warming Thai Green curry laced with fermented chilli paste and toban jhan, Plant Kitchen’s vegan range is far from boring. While the cashew mac ‘n’ cheese is a favourite among vegan friends of mine, for me-and as I can’t have mushrooms/aubergine/courgette/caffeine- there is nothing more satisfying than these three favourites of mine: the nutty superfood salad that is packed full of nutritious flavour, the no-turkey feast with a creamy savoury secret sauce and the Plant Kitchen Tikka Masala, whose ‘soy meat’ is not only incredibly similar to real chicken- or what I remember of its taste all those years ago- but the sauce is fragrantly spiced and tastes delicious to boot. Spanning a wealth of cuisines from ‘British’ – see the fishless fish- to Indian- Tikka Masala to Italian-Jackfruit Pizza-, if there is one thing that Plant Kitchen isn’t, it’s disappointing.
Far from disappointing, Plant Kitchen is one of the best, if not the best, and well varied ‘supermarket vegan collection’ that I have come across to date, and I cannot wait to see what other delicious culinary treats they have up their sleeve. My only criticism is their reliance on ‘mushroom’ and aubergine as a staple ingredient in many of their dishes, as it means I can’t try those dishes but other than that, a job bloody well done.
5. Pure Leaf Tea
It’s easy to see why Pure Leaf is so successful at what they do; passionate about the ‘pure leaf way’, they have searched high and low to give you the tea of your dreams. Serving premium hot and iced vegan teas, everything that Pure Leaf does starts and ends with the perfect cup of tea in mind, with enticing ingredients, mouthwatering concoctions and the finest leaves from the finest estates. Working with the best tea people from farmers, to blenders, to masters, Pure Leaf use the best quality ingredients and nothing less, preferring to dish up a brew that is quality laden, rather than a hum-drum affair that has cut corners. Not one to not use their time wisely, each tea can be guaranteed to take your breath away, as Pure Leaf sources their tea leaves from the finest tea estates in countries like China, India and Kenya, with every plant being cared for by farmers who are committed to the Pure Leaf philosophy. What’s more Pure Leaf is not just a pretty face with a desire to promote ‘ethical farming and sustainability’ because they believe in ‘growing towards a better tomorrow’. Working tirelessly to reduce their impact on the environment, Pure Leaf not only plants native trees and utilizes hydro-electric power to become more eco-friendly and sustainable, but they also work closely alongside their ‘growers’ who strive to achieve harmony between nature and growing some of the best tea on the planet.
As if their passion to reduce climate change wasn’t endearing enough, Pure Leaf is also proud to be Rainforest Alliance Certified, using tea from from Rainforest Alliance Certified™ tea estates to create better socio-economic opportunities for the people who live in those areas. What I mean by this is that Pure Leaf think it is important to work with people who share some of their values: that a business can be successful and work to reduce their environmental impact as well as creating a brighter future and more fairer opportunities of those around them. For example in Kenya where Pure Leaf source Chai Tea, the estate that they source their black tea from borders the Mau Forest Reserve and uses strict anti-pesticide practices, committed to replanting indigenous plants through the estate and surrounding forests. Partly run on hydro-electricity and only using sustainable timber from the ground, the whole operation is made possible by employing 11,000 people and providing them and their families with housing, school and medical services.
Speaking of tea, here’s one with a difference: meet Noveltea a brand who marries alcohol and tea in one effortless ‘tea cocktail blend’. From Oolong tea that has been infused with whisky to green mint tea with rum, each sip is a sensation that borders excitement, culture and twisted tradition. Fascinated by different places – their cultures, traditions, and tastes – Noveltea were drawn to the Brits’ passion for tea and alcohol, but were perplexed to find a gap in the market for ‘tea cocktails’ as nowhere were the two fused together, a wrong they were compelled to right. With their spirit for adventure, it seemed only natural that Noveltea’s range of delicious tea cocktails would take us on a voyage around the world: from the distinctive and exciting taste of true Moroccan generosity in the green mint tea and rum infusion to the mystical tea that inspired the Chinese culture for millennia, if travel is the aim of the game then Noveltea is your humble companion. But Noveltea is more than just a mere tea and alcohol blend, it’s also an award winning and highly commended tea too, winning bronze at Sial Shanghai 2018 for the ‘most innovative drinks product in Europe’ as well as being featured in the StartUps 100 2018 Index, for fresh businesses with high chances of becoming fast growing companies, a welcome accolade. With three exciting tea cocktails, the choice of which cocktail to choose might be tricky, especially if you are new to Noveltea and all it’s cultural offerings, so let’s take a look at all three offerings under the microscope.
The first is quintessentially British; an Earl Grey Tea effortlessly blended with Gin, why not marry the two most ‘British’ pastimes you could think of and call it a day? Drawing upon the British tea culture that we know and love, say goodbye to tradition with a gin-tastic kick, that is guaranteed to put the pep back into your step. Begone boring Sundays and hello Ginmania we come, because whoever said that Brits are reserved, clearly haven’t met Noveltea. Far from boring, through a unique infusion of hand-selected botanicals, The Tale of Earl Grey is smooth, distinctive, and rich in its flavours. The second is The Tale Of Tangier, a Middle Eastern Fancy that delivers a unique blend of Moroccan green mint tea with rum, revealing the magnificent spirit of the Orient. With scents of sun-dried herbs and ceremonial pouring from silver teapots that make the city of Tangier a place of living tea culture, it’s little wonder that this beaut won at the Great Taste Awards in 2018. With hints of exotic fruit and floral citrus notes, The Tale of Tangier unleashes a soft yet satisfying sweetness. The third – The Tale Of Oolong– is perhaps the most surprising blend of all, Oolong Tea enriched with scotch whisky. Blending together Oolong Tea, Jasmine flowers, red rose petals, papaya and mango flakes into a floral mix enriched with Scotch Whisky, the narrative of Oolong is one defined by seductive adventure, fairytales and folklore and of course glorious, glorious tea.
But how does the tale go? Well… when searching for the finest tea, Chinese farmers stumbled upon a mysterious mountain. Whilst filing their tea baskets, they were petrified by a Black Dragon called Oolong. Under his fiery breath, what was once green tea, darkened and released a strong aroma. Thus Oolong Tea was born.
If there is one thing us vegans and vegetarians like it’s well thought out menu’s where everything is clearly labelled as being vegan and/or vegetarian, alongside allergens, price and availability. And while Just Eat happens to be my takeaway outlet of choice, there’s always room for a new takeaway diva in town and one that has separate menus for gluten, vegan and vegetarian dining choices is my kind of platform. Designed by the talented chef Benn Hodges, EatFirst was started in 2014 , delivering to hungry, time-poor foodies in London who wanted a delicious ‘home cooked meal but didn’t have the time to prepare it. While ‘‘For Business’ was born in 2016 delivering delicious healthy food to meeting rooms and events in reusable boxes, nationwide deliveries began in 2017, serving all over the UK, as well as Central London, where the good food movement began. Now, Eatfirst has just launched a ‘Taste of Asia’ range in Ocado and there is something for everyone; from Teriyaki Tofu, to vegetable udon noodles, who says that vegan ready meals have to be boring? Great as a midweek treat, a romantic meal in with bae or simply as a nutritious, fulfilling meal, whether you are vegan, vegetarian or flexatarian, takeaways have never been so full of character. In the ‘Valentines Special’ I will speak about it’s delicious vegetarian ready meal options like lemon cake and paneer masala ( I love Indian cuisine) but as this is Veganuary, let us examine it’s vegan menu for this week.
For mains you have the option of Teriyaki Tofu and Vegetable Udon noodles either for 1 or 2 people, while sides and snacks include edamame with maldon salt, spare fruit apple crisps, pitta crisps rosemary and thyme, sweet chilli crisps from Ten Acre, salted crisps and sweet and salty popcorn while drinks include soft drinks like fresh orange and alcoholic drinks include MADREGALE ROSE WINE which is vegan and nut free. Unfortunately there does not seem to be a vegan dessert option, but hopefully this is something that they will be looking at expanding upon. Lets revert back to the vegan mains: the Vegan Teriyaki Tofu, is made with fresh tofu from GM-free soy beans, while it’s silky texture is effortlessly complimented by seasoned sushi rice with kamameshi sauce, edamame, bunching leeks and pickled radish. An excellent source of protein containing all the essential amino acids, the tofu steaks are glazed with an umami rich teriyaki sauce to infuse flavour in the thick steaks of tofu which are charcoal grilled. Each steak is hand-sliced and served on a bed of seasoned sushi rice. In contrast the vegetable udon noodles are low-fat, one of your five a day and the natural silky texture of the udon noodles and thick kamameshi sauce is complemented by the spicy shichimi and fresh crunchy mooli, edamame, and pickles. Mooli is an incredibly versatile root vegetable and it is full of antioxidants, which are good for the soul.
8. Pip And Nut
One of the most glorious nut butters that I have had the good fortune to try, Pip and Nut is a rare breed: delicious, healthy and unequivocally seductive all in one mouthwatering hit. Founded by Pip, as a runner she was always looking for delicious things to eat to keep her going before her runs. Thus she (Pip) started making her own nut butters, growing ‘Pip and Nut’ from small scale production at London’s Maltby ST Market, to launching her first nut butter onto the shelves of Selfridges, right through to 2019, where Pip And Nut is now sold in over 5,000 stores around the UK and Europe. But do you know what Pip and Nut is really good at doing? Turning snacktimes into foodporn sesh’s one bite at a time. From the divine chocolate orange almond butter lovingly ladled onto juicy apple slices to honey almond butter on crunchy toast, when it comes to Pip and Nut it’s a feast for the senses.
While known for their delicious range of nut butters and its ability to transform boring meal times, Pip and Nut have also started deliciously dairy-free nut milks made with all natural ingredients such as almond milk unsweetened, with honey and vanilla and last but not least with delicious sounding coconut. And if you think that sounds incredible enough, all their products are free from palm oil and made with nutritiously beneficial ingredients. Granted the entire Pip and Nut range is not vegan, but for those giving Veganuary goo, give the crunchy maple peanut butter, smooth peanut butter, crunchy peanut butter, smooth almond butter, crunchy almond butter, coconut almond butter, chocolate coconut hazelnut and chocolate orange almond butters a go, meaning that only the honey almond butter is not vegan. From the dairy free milks and squeeze packs you can have the unsweetened almond milk, the almond milk and coconut (meaning you can’t have the honey and vanilla) and the peanut butter, almond butter and coconut almond butter squeeze packs are all vegan. So vegans can rejoice as only two products -which both contain honey- or non vegan.
Founded by Eve who grew up eating delicious ‘cow peas’ (beans) as a child, Bepps was created after Eve’s daughter Giselle would refuse to eat her delicious ‘black eyed pea stew’ and would show a preference for crisps and savoury snacks instead. As Eve wondered why black eyed peas were not being used in the new wave of ‘pea & grain based’ healthy savoury snacks such as Chickpeas, Lentils and Quinoa, Eve had her lightbulb moment. After all Black eyed peas are naturally high in protein and fibre and have a naturally low calorie count, so why shouldn’t Eve capitalize on that? With the help of Google, Eve went on a mission to find the best manufacturer to produce her delicious range of Black Eyed Pea Puffed Snacks [BEPPS] and nine months later Eve’s first BEPPS sample was born. As if that didn’t make Eve’s year exciting enough, she also had her second child Ozzy, in December 2017. With three delicious flavours – sweet chili, cheese and sea salt and black pepper- since Bepps was first launched, it has been featured in numerous publications such as London Evening Standard, been stocked in major wholesale retailers like Tesco’s and Whole Foods and has made Giselle’s mealtimes a lot more exciting!
My personal favorite? The sweet chilli flavour which are not just big on flavour, but also naturally packed full of protein and fibre, made with no added nasties and best of all for every pack sold, they will donate 10% of their profits this year to the wonderful children and families at Great Ormond Street Hospital. So this Veganuary why not snack on a brand that is equal parts delicious, equal parts good for you and equal parts do-good, for a feel good, finger lickin’ snack?
10. Real Handful
With it’s in your face, almost confrontational name, you would be forgiven for thinking that Real Handful is not for you. But here’s where you are wrong; Real Handful is a rebel true with its ‘unruly’ flavour, but it’s also punky, loud, fun and does not compromise on flavour. Offering the same sense of humour as it’s name suggests, Real Handful is tongue in cheek, promising to make ‘grammar mistakes’, learning to keep Joe’s ego in check and being entirely bot free. In other words they are humble, honest, ambitious, real, are brave and always strive to do better, or at least that is what it says on their values page. And if you have a real burning urge to get to know the team behind your favourite midweek snack, then say hello to Joe, Carly, Julie and Lizzie, all with riveting confessions on what makes them ‘so unruly’. I think my personal favourite was founder Joe’s admission that he ‘may have been known to scoop Nutella direct from the jar using a digestive biscuit’ but ‘Just to be clear, a normal digestive, not a chocolate one, as he’s ‘not a monster’. Mainly because I have been known to demolish a Nutella jar, but unlike Joe and his normal digestive, I am a monster, so it will always be scooped up with a chocolate digestive.
With snacks ranging from ‘mint choc chippers’ to choc orange chase protein bars, while not all of ‘Real Handful’ is vegan the majority of their products are, so if you are trying out Veganuary, you can have the following delicious products: Mint Choc Chipper, Go Go Goji Berry, Express So & So, blackcurrant blast, blood orange burst, Strawberry Stomp, Sea Salt Caramellow and the choc orange chase protein bar. While I am yet to try the other delicious flavours, I can attest to the deliciousness of the Choc Orange Chase Protein Bar, and how surprisingly filling it is for a snack, meaning less mindless snacking and more nutritious eating. Infused with orange oil and topped with dark chocolate, the hand baked vegan friendly fruit, nut and seed protein bar is packed full of ‘unruly flavour’. Gluten free and high in fibre, Real Handful shows that plant protein is the way to go with cashews, peanuts, sunflower seeds and chia seeds in a rich cocoa finish. And if you think that is irresistible, then wait until you hear about their charitable endeavors with their ‘Kidz Foundation’ that aims to end child poverty, with proceeds from each pack that they sell going towards their ‘Kidz Foundation’. At Real Handful they believe that ‘every child deserves to feel like a Real Handful’ which is why they are committed to not only producing tens of thousands of healthier snacks every year for UK families impacted by food poverty, but also from 2019, they have pledged to produce special fruit & seed mixes that go directly to food banks and children’s charity partners of theirs, meaning that proceeds from every pack you buy helps them to give a snack to someone who needs it more than we do.
11. Livia’s Kitchen
Gluten free vegan sweet treats with a difference, Livia’s Kitchen is a brand which specializes in creating sweet treats with nutritional twists, and can be enjoyed by anyone who loves to indulge in delicious and comforting food, but who wants to do so in a nourishing way. Although all of Livia’s products are ‘free from’ gluten, wheat, eggs and dairy, Livia’s Kitchen believes that it is more important to think about what a product is made-with, rather than what it is free-from, hence products and recipes that are made with natural and nutritional ingredients. Defying her ‘business tutors advice’ that her range of ‘free-from treats’ would ‘never take off’, Livia has since built a £1 million company and has not only been featured in publications like the Evening Standard but is also being stocked at leading retailers like Tesco, Boots and Sainsbury’s to name a few. With delicious recipes, a cookbook and divine products, it is clear that Livia’s Kitchen is on its way up and she couldn’t be happier. With indulgent treats like raw cookie dough, chocolate orange raw millionaire bites and so much more, it’s hard to believe that Livia’s Kitchen is free from so many ingredients but it’s a masterful skill that Livia’s Kitchen has learned to encapsulate.
A midweek sweet treat couldn’t be complete without Livia Kitchen’s delicious ‘Biccy Boms with a crumbly biscuit bite with a soft date centre and a velvety cacao coating, while raw millionaire bites are ideal for when you are sharing the tube with sweaty Londoners and just want to sink your teeth into something good. My personal favourite? The salted peanut butter raw millionaire bite, which believe me is as good as it sounds. A nutritional twist on a traditional millionaire shortbread, who says that free-from means you have to compromise on flavour? Consisting of three delicious layers, these bites are made from a crumbly oat base, soft peanut date ‘caramel’ and a raw chocolate topping. What’s more they are completely gluten free, dairy free and free from all additives and preservatives and with 3 bites per pack, they are the the perfect vegan friendly treat on the go. Now how’s that for a treat?
12. Rhythm 108
There are not enough descriptive words in the dictionary to describe just how amazing Rhythm 108 is and the ‘Oh-la-la Coconut Cookie is the very definition of mind-blowing perfection.Made with the finest Swiss chocolate and packed full of wholesome superfood fillings such as almond, quinoa and coconut, Rhythm 108 are delicious sweet treats reinvented with wholesome organic ingredients, so you never have to miss out on the fun. With 45% less sugar than comparable bars, Rhythm 108 cap the natural sugar levels in each bar to 8G, but still maintain the same out of this world taste and flavour. Don’t believe me? Well you only have to look at their recent accolades to see just how award winning Rhythm 108 really is, winning a Great Taste Star award for both their ‘Oh-la-la Coconut Cookie and Sweet ‘n’ Salty Almond Deeelicious Swiss Chocolate Bar. And let me tell you something, whoever said that food isn’t orgasmic has clearly never tried the Oh-la-la Coconut Cookie. In fact, the judges commented that the ‘Deeelicious bar was an innovation that was ‘incredibly creamy for a dairy free chocolate product’ and I couldn’t agree more. It was almost hard to tell that the coconut flavour was vegan, that’s how creamy the bar was. Great as a light snack at any time of the day, each bar is gluten free, organic, vegan and high in fibre, being suitable for vegans, vegetarians and coeliacs. Available at specialist stores like The Vegan Kind Supermarket and Thomas Ridley, Rhythm 108 might not be mainstream just yet, but everyone knows that the best vegan secrets are the secrets that are shared.
And it’s not just three incredible chocolate bars that you should try from Rhythm 108 but their organic ooh-la-la tea biscuit sharing bag coconut cookie is a real hoot too with handcrafted cookies that are delectable when dunked in tea, full of crunchy and moreish coconut flakes.
A drink that I would quite literally describe as being a ‘hangover cure’, Overhang is a revitalizing, uplifting drink that is packed full of nutrients and deliciously refreshing natural ingredients. A family recipe that has been perfected over a century, Overhang’s delicious combination of Orange, Lime, Ginger and Milk Thistle with added vitamins and botanicals will refresh and revitalise, when you really need it. For starters it’s inclusion of orange juice not only uses the finest fruits from the Sao Paolo orange groves but is also bursting with 50% o your daily vitamin C, while the lime juice adds a sweet undertone, as well as being packed full of vitamins. With a hearty, warming splash of ginger – one of my favourite superfoods- and the surprising addition of milk thistle-native to the Mediterranean region- Overhang is a beautiful drink no matter what the occasion. With burdock root, low sugar and multi vitamins like Vitamins B3, B5 and B6, Overhang is no ordinary energy drink but one that is full of nutritional surprise. Take the raspberry leaf as an example: first described in 1597 in ‘A General History of Plants’this tiny leaf is rich in naturally occurring vitamins and tannin’s , proving that bigger isn’t always better. Available at Tesco, Asda and Morrisons, Overhang wasn’t always so mainstream. It’s story begins in 1880 when the Vacarra family emigrated from Genoa, Italy to start a new life in Cheltenham, England.
Antonio Vacarra (Tony) was a man who liked to work hard and play harder. Having grown up in the sunny port city of Genoa, Tony found himself living a very different lifestyle in Cheltenham, UK, where industry and trading were replaced with horse racing and spas. Despite the cultural differences Tony soon established himself as a respected businessman with three fish & chip shops, a sweet shop and an ice cream parlour which brought an Italian personality into a very English town. With the success of his five shops and magnetic personality, Tony’s success charmed a whole host of celebrity friends including the Prince Of Wales, Lily Langtree and Charlie Chaplain just to name a few.And yet Tony was exhausted with the craziness of his schedule so he would concoct a special ‘cure’ to combat his busy lifestyle, that bore similarities to the ‘Overhang recipe’ that we now and love today. When he became too tired to make the drink for himself, he passed the recipe over his granddaughter Pauline. In 1965 Pauline had a son called Steve, who like any other teenager would have heavy nights out at concerts, go out with his girlfriend and have a grand ol’ time. Yet like Tony, he too would resort to the age old family recipe time and time again when he needed a boost. We now fast forward to 2013, where Steve’s son and Tony’s Great Grandson William is part of a band called ‘Modern Strangers’ who decide that their final night on tour should end with a bang.
And end with a bang it did ; Having checked out of his hotel, nearly 200 miles from home, Will couldn’t quite hone in on a suitable drink to quench his thirst, refresh or revitalize him. He called his dad to discuss the family secret and how to mix it. Subsequently Overhang was born and while it’s history was 100 years in the making, it’s story has only just began.
14. Lizi’s Granola
Is there anything more satisfying than a bowl of crunchy granola in the morning, delicious crunchy clusters infused with fruits, nuts and seeds? Me thinks not. That’s why no Veganuary could be complete without Lizi’s high fibre, low sugar granola for a breakfast that will have you jumping out of bed in the morning. With flavours such as passionfruit and pistachio and pink apple and cinnamon, there is no compromise on flavour, specializing in producing granola that is tailored to your individual dietary needs. That’s why in each of their granola collections you’ll find specialist dietary options including gluten free, high protein, and low sugar as well as their organic and original granola. After all everyone deserves an energizing breakfast no matter what their dietary requirements are! Suitable for vegetarians and vegans, all Lizi’s Granolas are GL tested to give you confidence not only on the nutritional benefits but also the effect on your body. What this means is that Lizi’s granola is good for low blood sugar control because it is Low glycaemic. In fact it’s founders are so passionate about the health credentials of their granola that in 2003 Dr Mick Shaw and his wife Lizi created The GoodCarb Food Company. Equipped with all the ingredients for healthy living, these true foodies also have a sound background in organic farming and science. Combining their lifelong love of food with their experience in farming, food, and science, the pair began their mission to promote the sense of wellbeing induced by eating good food, without creating the artificial blood sugar fluctuations produced by so many convenience foods.
That’s why you can be confident knowing that that Lizi’s granola is good food, because their research papers showed that Glycemic Load is the direct measure of how food affects blood sugar and was subsequently the most important thing to measure in their new granola products. As a result Lizi’s became the first company in the world to measure the GL load of their products and they haven’t stopped making good food since.
One of my favourite vegetarian brands and a mainstay in many of my dishes, Quorn is now firmly aboard the Vegan bandwagon, with 14 delicious vegan products including Quorn Vegan Burgers, Quorn Vegan Hot and Spicy Burgers, Quorn Vegan Cracking Cranberry Balls, Quorn Vegan Fishless Fingers, Quorn Vegan Nuggets, Quorn Vegan BBQ Strips, Quorn Vegan Cumberland Sausages, Quorn Vegan Fajita Strips, Quorn Vegan Fillets, Quorn Vegan Chicken Free Slices, , Quorn Vegan Five Grain Fillets, Quorn Vegan Breaded Fillets, Quorn Vegan Smoky Ham Free Slices and Quorn Vegan Pieces. With a large variety of vegan products to get your mouth watering , Quorn’s tasty vegan meals solve any gastronomical dilemma. So whether you are looking for a vegan lunchtime solution to create the ultimate sandwich, or dinner time meal, there is a vegan product that is guaranteed to tickle your fancy this Veganuary. The question is what will you choose? My personal favourite? The Vegan Nuggets are to die for, and will quite literally melt in your mouth. Delicious as a quick snack or as part of a guilt free main meal, this protein rich pack of ‘chicken treats’ , will leave you wanting seconds and that is a fact!
Also surprisingly moreish are the Quorn Vegan Fishless Fingers which are low in saturated fat and perfect for an easy family dinner. Delicious in a ‘fishless fish finger sandwich’ or with some sea salt encrusted fish and chips, who says that vegans have to miss out on delicious fish and chips?
16. Energy Ball Recipes
Just when you think you have ‘heard it all’ Energy Ball Recipes swoops in and leaves you lost for words, with it’s brilliant one of a kind vegan friendly energy ball recipe kit, that happens to be a first for the UK. Revolutionizing the way that we ‘snack’ Energy Ball Recipes are ‘boxes’ that contain all the delicious natural ingredients that you need to make 30 divine no-bake treats, that are great for snacks on the go or in lunch boxes. Developed by a delightful lady from Nottingham, she wanted to create vegan treats that would tickle the public’s taste buds and as a vegan herself, she knew that there was a gap in the market for vegan subscription boxes in the UK. And yet when it came to creating no-bake treats, she knew that many of us would lose money buying specialist ingredients each time we baked, because like her, we would only use a small amount of niche ingredients each time. Which is why her subscription box not only aims to promote a healthy and nutritious vegan lifestyle but it also encourages a no-waste baking initiative.
Each month Victoria supplies a new pack with just the right amount of ingredients for 30 delicious healthy snacks that are quick, simple, affordable and promotes no waste. Working from her development kitchen in Derbyshire Victoria comes up with new recipes which combine 100% natural and healthy ingredients making them completely vegan friendly and packed full of goodness. Not only does Victoria firmly believe that it will ‘revolutionize the energy ball snacking industry’ but she also states that “People want healthy, sustainable food but we need to be looking at ways of making it more affordable. Energy Ball Recipes provide just the right amount of ingredients so there is no waste and they are easy to make and easy to store.” And if you think that is good enough of a reason to sign up to energy ball recipes, you might also be delighted to know that the packaging is completely plastic free and biodegradable making them good for the planet as well as your body. Bursting with natural vitamins and nutrients needed to sustain a healthy lifestyle, these energy balls create 100% fresh snacks at home without needing to buy lots of ingredients and has the potential to change the way that we view healthy eating forever.
17. Daily Dose
If there has been one brand that has changed my attitudes towards ‘Juicing’ it is Daily Dose, who have proven that not all ‘juice cleanses’ are designed with fad diets in mind. In fact the principle behind Daily Dose is creating delicious, fresh cold pressed juices that are to be enjoyed as ‘part of a healthy lifestyle’ as opposed to having a preliminary aim of making you lose weight, which in my opinion makes many ‘juices’ harmful to impressionable young adults, who think it’s normal to survive on juices alone. No, Daily Dose is delicious as a healthy accompaniment to a well balanced meal, as a refresher on the tube and of course in-between workouts when you need a Daily dose of energy. Ah see what I did there? Founded by George Hughes Davies, George founded Daily Dose after graduating from university. Growing up George developed a passion for health and fitness and began juicing while at university to try and stay healthy. Very quickly his focus was improved, energy levels were up and they soon realized he’d discovered the ultimate hangover cure. While his friends went off to find a job in the City, he traveled from New York to Los Angeles to embark on a juice pilgrimage.
And what a pilgrimage it was, unearthing the most refreshing cold pressed juices, ranging from the tangy turmeric number O’Fresco, with apple, carrot, lemon, ginger and turmeric to the mouthwatering OJ Orange Juice infused with 100% oranges and rich in Vitamin A, C, K, Iron and Copper. My personal favourite? The zingy Hot Shot laced with lemon, ginger, agave and cayenne for an extra-ordinary kick that will jump-start your day into action.
18. BOL Foods
I first had the pleasure of trying BOL Foods a year ago, when the protein boosting smoky tomato and lentil super soup turned up on my doorstep bursting with sundried tomatoes, sweetcorn and turmeric, and boy was I hooked. My Bol Food’s obsession grew from that moment there-forth, as I devoured their Japanese slaw salad, slurped on the immune boosting sweet potato and cauliflower super soup and munched my way through their Sri Lankan Sambar Veg Pot, swept away on a magical vegan journey that was equal parts gastronomical and equal parts experimental. But asides from delicious plant based super foods like veg and salad pots, soups and meals, what is BOL Food’s story I hear you ask?Well, founded by sports enthusiast Paul Brown, Paul moved to California aged 21, to try and make it as a snowboarder. While he did not become a a professional sportsman, what California did open Paul’s eyes to was their love for healthy eating fast food joints, which prompted Paul to create a healthy vegan brand, fourteen years later. In 2015 with the help of expert nutritionists, top chefs and some friends who felt the same way that Paul did about food, BOL Foods was created.
But Bol Food’s is more than just a mere vegan brand but one that also champions social and environmental responsibility, inspired by his mum’s mantra that ‘eating more veg’ is not only better for our wellbeing and kinder to the planet but also promote’s Paul’s mission of creating delicious 100% plant-based meals that are nutritious, completely natural and always tasty.
19. Pizza Express
If you had asked me five years ago as to my opinion on Pizza Express, I would have shrugged my shoulders absentmindedly and mumbled ‘it’s ok’. But my my how times have changed; not only has Pizza Expressed upped their taste game, but they have also launched an extensive vegan and vegetarian menu that isn’t just cheese and tomato pizza, offering a delicious treat for every taste. From moreish Vegan Puttanesca to vegan doughballs, right through to Vegan carrot cake , Pizza Express has worked tirelessly over the last twelve months to create 18 incredible vegan dishes that embodies plant power at its finest. My personal favourite? The Vegan Puttanesca is an absolute delight laden with Jackfruit marinated in a traditional Puttanesca sauce of tomatoes, olives, capers, red onion, chilli, garlic & herbs. Topped with vegan mozzarella and finished with fresh parsley on a Classic base, the jackfruit practically melts in your mouth and is a welcome alternative to soy, tofu and other plant based ‘staple foods’. Another highlight of the plant based menu has to be the vegan answer to Pizza Express’s iconic dough balls, which instead of being paired with garlic butter, is served with pestorissa, a harissa spiced tomato dip which is honestly better than the traditional dough balls I have to say.
And it’s not just for Veganuary either, Pizza Express is continuing to expand their vegan and vegetarian menu, recognizing the demand and increase in those who choose to follow a flextatairan diet, cut down their consumption of meat or those like myself who forgo it entirely.
What Are Your Thoughts On Veganuary ?
*Contains PR Samples