Category Archives: Blog

Welcome to the Great Vegan Challenge blog! Throughout November people taking part in the Great Vegan Challenge will be posting their thoughts, experiences and advice here, so check back regularly for updates. If you would like to contribute to this blog, please email

Welcome to the Great Vegan Challenge blog! Throughout November people taking part in the Great Vegan Challenge will be posting their thoughts, experiences and advice here, so check back regularly for updates. If you would like to contribute to this blog, please email

So, this is the end… By Tod Bradbury

Thank you all so much for taking part in this year’s Great Vegan Challenge. I hope that you have all enjoyed trying something new and that it has helped you realise that going vegan, doesn’t mean going without.

By removing animal products from your diet for the month, you have undoubtedly helped reduce animal suffering, so thank you on behalf of those who cannot speak! You can help continue to save more animals by staying vegan after the Challenge. I sincerely hope that you do stay vegan – but of course, that is your choice.

Please remember that Animal Aid is always on hand to help you with any questions and queries that you have. Also, all of the blog posts from this year’s Challenge are available on this website, which are very useful and answer some of the most common questions and problems that you may run into.

In the next few weeks, we will be sending out a questionnaire about your experience of the Great Vegan Challenge. Please take the time to fill it in, as the feedback is absolutely vital in helping us improve the Challenge in future. If you complete it before Monday 15th January 2018, you will be entered into a free prize draw for a £20 Animal Aid gift voucher to use in the Animal Aid online shop.

Thank you once again for taking part in the Great Vegan Challenge 2017! 

P.S. Don’t forget! The Koko Dairy Free competition closes on 1st December! 

Koko Dairy Free competition By Tod Bradbury

Following the success of previous competitions, we are so happy to announce that the amazing Koko Dairy Free have provided us with some amazing prizes!

Koko Dairy Free specialise in creating dairy-free alternatives made from coconuts. Their range has expanded rapidly as of late with many types of yoghurt and flavoured coconut milks available, along with vegan butters and desserts being widely available in supermarkets and other stores.

What do you need to do?

Make a vegan dish using at least one Koko Dairy Free product - whether you are using their vegan butter, coconut milk, or coconut yoghurt, or any other product.

How do you enter?

To enter all you have to do is take a photo of your dish, and send it along with a list of ingredients to! It’s that simple.


Fancy pants vegan breakfast and brunch ideas! By Tor Bailey

Tor is Animal Aid’s Farming and Slaughter Campaign Manager.

Just because your breakfast or brunch is vegan, it doesn’t have to be dull, in fact it can be a voyage of taste discovery!

To drink:

Vegan ‘power’ very berry smoothie

A banana

A small handful of (frozen) berries

A couple of tablespoons of oats

For a slightly sweeter tooth add a couple of dates, a dash of agave or maple syrup.

(Optionally you can boost the protein levels by using a powder such as hemp, flax, chia or pea protein powder).

Keep adding your choice of plant milk and a little water to create your desired consistency.


Cold brewed caramel almond coffee

Requires: almond milk, cafetiere ground coffee and optional dates and a little salt.

Pour some unsweetened almond milk into an ice cube tray and leave to set overnight in the freezer.

Load your favourite brand of ground coffee into a cafetiere with cold water and leave it to stand overnight in the fridge. Alternatively, in place of a cafetiere, it is possible to leave the grounds in a covered bowl of water but note that it will eventually need to be filtered through a fine cloth or muslin.

Optionally, you can add some salted caramel…

To make the salted caramel

Leave a handful of dates to soak in cup of warm water for around an hour. Then pulse the date mixture in a blender/ or alternatively apply a stick blender on a slow setting to create a date paste. Optionally add a pinch of salt. If you want to make a larger mount it will keep for around a week in the fridge.

Now it’s time to plunge your coffee, add a few almond cubes and a spoon in the salted caramel to taste.

Amazing and a fraction of the price of what you’d pay in a coffee shop!

To eat:

Quick scrambled eggless

Requires: A packet of firm tofu works best (but silken tofu is fine), turmeric, paprika, cumin, garlic powder, fresh or dried parsley, ½ an onion /or a couple of spring onions, a little salt or pepper to taste, olive oil and optional nutritional yeast or black salt – if you’ve time to track these ingredients down.

It is also possible to use tinned ackee in place of tofu if you’re able to track some down.

In a small bowl, mix together nutritonal yeast flakes, turmeric, cumin, garlic powder, paprika, water, salt, and pepper. Set aside.

Lightly coat a pan with some olive oil and place it over medium heat. Once hot, add onion and garlic, and saute until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Crumble the tofu into the pan, breaking it up with a wooden spoon. Pour the seasoning over tofu and mix well, trying to color as much tofu as possible. Cook for 2 minutes or until tofu is hot throughout. Finally add the parsley and cook for a further couple of minutes.


If you crave a buttery taste on your toast check out this recipe from Fork and Beans:

  • 1½ c. melted refined coconut oil (not extra virgin coconut oil)
  • ½ c. nondairy milk (unsweetened)
  • ¼ c. canola, grapeseed, or light olive oil
  • ½ tsp. sea salt
  • 2 teaspoons liquid lecithin (if using granules, you will need 2-4xs the amount)


1   Place all the ingredients in a blender and process at medium speed for about 1 minute.

2   Pour into container of choice–something made of silicone is great, as it will pop out easily, but any storage container will do (line it with wax paper first for easy removal).

3   Set it in the refrigerator for a few hours until hard or in the freezer to expedite hardening.


This glorious butter substitute will keep in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks or many months in the freezer.

Now to the beans…!

Gallo Pinto

Add a little spicey Costa Rican flavour with this national favourite dish which literally translates as ‘Painted Rooster’.

Requires: ½ cup rice, ½ onion diced, 1 red bell pepper diced, 2 cloves of pressed garlic, ¼ teaspoon of salt, coriander,  and hot sauce. This pairs very well with avocado, a splash of lime juice. It is traditionally served with a splash of ‘Salsa Linzano’ – a peppery sauce (available online or at some world food shops).

Sauté the onions and bell peppers in frying pan over medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 8 minutes or until the onions start to turn light brown and translucent. Routinely add a little water to prevent the mix from sticking to the pan. Then add the garlic. Add the rice and a cup of water. Cover the pan and gently simmer for around 20 minutes to allow the flavour to infuse.

Top with avocado and a sprinkle of freshly chopped coriander.


Spice up your baked beans!

Add a dash of chilli sauce, bbq sauce, smoked paprika and some lightly fried onion to bring a bit of originality to a classic favourite.

Easy pancakes

Check out this recipe from Genius Kitchen:

Requires: dry ingredients: plain flour, sugar, baking powder, salt.

Wet ingredients: 1 cup of plant milk (almond, oat of soya work well), cider vinegar.

Choose your topping! Fresh berries, soya yoghurt, sliced bananas, syrup (maple, agave, date), melted chocolate, pecan nuts, shredded coconut and/or peanut butter all work well. Or for the summer months why not add a scoop of dairy-free ice-cream.


  1. Set out all your ingredients.
  2. Set a stove element with a pan to medium heat.
  3. Combine the 4 dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder — two Tablespoons, not two Teaspoons as some have suggested, salt) in a bowl.
  4. Add the soy milk and vegetable oil to your mixture.
  5. Mix until smooth.
  6. Now the pan should be ready for your batter, so spoon one pancakes’ worth of the mixture into the pan.
  7. Flip [carefully] when you see bubbles in the middle of the pancake, or if the edges are looking stiffened.
  8. Repeat until the batter is gone, and try not to eat them all while you’re cooking them.

Tempeh Facon

Requires: a packet of tempeh (available in most health food shops), 2 tablespoons of maple syrup, ½ cup soya sauce/ tamari, a tablespoon of liquid smoke, a tablespoon of nutritional yeast flakes, a mixture of ½ teaspoon of garlic powder, ½ teaspoon of black pepper, ½ a teaspoon of smoked/ hot paprika and oil.

Delicious served with vine tomatoes (cooked under the grill with a splash of sweet balsamic vinegar glaze.

Preheat the oven to 240 degrees and whilst it’s doing so combine the pepper, garlic powder, and paprika, tamari (soya) sauce, liquid smoke, nutritional yeast, maple syrup and oil in a bowl and mix into a large flat dish.

Cut the tempeh into 5mm thick slices and place them for a couple of hours to marinade in the mixture. Then place them onto a lined baking sheet, pouring any remaining mixture on top.

Bake them for around 7 minutes on each side.

Activism based on personality type By Jordan Collins

Jordan is Animal Aid’s Supporter Engagement Officer

If you’re enjoying the Great Vegan Challenge and want to encourage others to try out veganism, there are lots of different ways to get involved. Figure out which activities would work best for you depending upon your personality type! 

Hold a vegan dinner party and invite people in your social circle. Make sure you cook a lot of delicious dishes and even encourage people to make and bring their own. Put a jar on the table andask people to donate the ‘cost’ of their dinner to your favourite animal rights organisation.

If you’re less keen to participate in face-to-face activism, there are many other ways to make your voice heard: create, sign and share petitions, write articles for online magazines or start your own blog and share information on social media. You can even write a piece for a mainstream online newspaper to reach even more people!

There are always ways to advocate veganism if you enjoy conversations! Aside from distributing leaflets, you can organise or join peaceful demonstrations, get involved with the local animal rights or vegan group in your area and even train to become a school speaker! 

Have excess energy to burn? Try volunteering at a nearby animal sanctuary, mucking out stables and making sure the rescued farm
animals are fed and happy. Some friendly sanctuaries that welcome volunteers include
FRIEND Animal Rescue, The Retreat Animal Rescue and Foal Farm Animal Rescue Centre.

Regardless of your personality type, you can lead by example by simply being your happy vegan self!


A vegan guide to Essential Fatty Acids By Tod Bradbury

Vegans tend to consume less fat than diets containing animal products, which is why vegans on average have lower cholesterol levels than meat-eaters and vegetarians. But our bodies do need some fats in order to maintain and function properly – these are known as essential fats because our bodies cannot produce them. These fats can easily be obtained on a vegan diet.

Omega 3, or alpha-linoleic acid (ALA), and omega 6, or linoleic acid (LA), are needed to maintain a healthy immune system, brain function and vision. Omega 6 is easily obtainable in things such as hemp seeds, walnuts and vegan butters, but getting adequate omega-3 (ALA) may require more planning.

Vegan sources of omega 3
- Chia seeds
- Walnuts
- Rapeseed oil
- Linseeds/Flaxseeds

In order to ensure your ALA levels are high enough, it is important to ensure there is a balance between your omega 3 and 6 intakes – this is easy to do.

The Vegan Society recommends using rapeseed oil as your main cooking oil instead of sunflower oil or other oils that contain high LA levels, and to take care with servings of pumpkin and sunflower seeds.

In order to reach the recommended ALA intake in your diet, vegans can consume a tablespoon of seeds (hemp, chia, flax) or six walnut halves per day.

Ways to boost your omega 3 intake
- Add chia seeds to your breakfast (they are great on porridge!)
- Add a few walnuts to dishes like stir-fry and curry, and top salads off with flaxseeds or chia seeds; this will also add a bit more protein to the dish.
- Use rapeseed oil for cooking.
- If you prefer, you can also take a supplement.

Eating at restaurants as a vegan By Tod Bradbury

The days of chips and salad are over! Nowadays, most restaurants either have vegan options – including entire vegan menus – or have a much better knowledge of veganism to fix you up something tasty.

Wagamamma is a Japanese restaurant chain that has outlets in most towns and cities. Having previously had limited vegan options, it has now introduced a full vegan menu – complete with starters, mains and a vegan dessert! I highly recommend the kare burosu – a spicy tofu ramen – and the yasai gyoza (vegetable dumplings).

Check out the Wagamamma vegan menu.  

Okay, so some of you may be tutting at the premise of a Wetherspoons being classed as a restaurant. However, with one on pretty much every high street, it is by far one of the most accessible places to grab something to eat. Wetherspoons has gradually increased its vegan offerings as of late – with a vegan menu, boasting items such as avocado toast for breakfast, and a sweet potato and spinach curry. You can also ensure the booze you consume there is vegan by checking out our guide.

Italian chain Zizzi’s was the first pizza chain to add vegan cheese to its menu, but it didn’t stop there, with garlic bread (which can be made into cheesy garlic bread if you ask nicely!), various pasta dishes, and amazing desserts such as the chocolate praline torte, Zizzi’s certainly goes out of its way to ensure vegans are well catered for. It also have gluten-free vegan options.

Check out the Zizzi vegan menu.

Ask has a dedicated vegan menu that has a wide-range of Italian inspired options. Not only does it offer vegan cheese on its pizzas, it also has an extensive selection of pasta dishes – including a vegan spaghetti bolognese -, salads, starters and desserts – the blood orange and chocolate tart is highly recommended!

Check out the Ask vegan menu.

Pizza Express

Pizza Express was possibly the first pizza chain to offer a vegan-specific pizza. The classic Pianta – although this was a cheesless pizza, it was great to go into a chain restaurant and order a dish without having to make adjustments. Thankfully now, Pizza Express has expanded their vegan offerings and now offer vegan cheese and specific vegan pizza with cheese, the Vegan Giardinier! Dessert wise, you can have the sorbet – so you now have a three course meal at Pizza Express.

Check out the Pizza Express vegan menu.

Carluccio’s has recently introduced a few vegan options to its classic Italian menu – including bruschetta, pasta dishes and a vegan sorbet. Perfect if you are stuck for choice or have to join non-vegan friends and family for a meal out.

Check out the Carluccio’s vegan menu. 

Veganism is so mainstream now that even the Harvester has vegan options! I remember going to a Harvester with my family a few years ago, and even the pasta had egg in, but now it has a number of vegan choices – including an aubergine and red lentil tagine, stuffed peppers and pasta dishes; it even has a vegan breakfast (the Hipster Breakfast) which features vegan sausages and avocado.

Check out the Harvester’s vegan menu.

Nando’s is probably the nations’ most popular restaurant and, despite being very ‘chicken orientated’, Nando’s puts a great emphasis on its vegan-friendly dishes. It has recently added two new burgers to its menu – both of which are vegan, the sweet potato & butternut squash burger (can be in a wrap or pitta too), and the supergreen burger (can also be in a wrap or pitta). All you have to do is ask for no mayonnaise and yoghurt! Other vegan options include olives, houmous, chips, garlic bread and mixed leaf salad.

Vegan fairs By Tod Bradbury

When you first go vegan, you will be wanting to try as many new foods as possible – and meet more vegans.

Vegan fairs and festivals are the perfect place for this. In recent times, the number of vegan events has soared, with hundreds happening every year across the country (and world!)

They are packed full of interesting stands and displays – from amazing new vegan products, to
animal charities and organisations doing brilliant, life-saving work. You will also find cookery demonstrations, and talks about different aspects of veganism – such as activism and effective vegan advocacy.

This year will be the 25th anniversary of Animal Aid’s Christmas Fayre in London – and this year will the biggest yet! Cruelty-free cosmetics company, LUSH, will be on hand to help you create your own festive bath bomb in our LUSH Zone. There will also be comedy, inspiring talks, a brilliant cookery demo, four cafés and more!

The huge range of cruelty-free items on offer at the Fayre, means that you can do all your shopping in one place – from vegan beers, dairy-free cheeses, chocolate and cake heaven, to animal-friendly footwear, clothing, cruelty-free toiletries, jewellery, artwork and so much more. Alongside the ethical companies, you can discover and support the vital work of many campaign groups and sanctuaries helping animals in the UK and abroad – apes, badgers, chickens, dogs, elephants, foxes… and more!

If you are able to, please come along! Full details can be found here.

“What? No cheese?!” By Dina Aherne

Dina is an animal rights activist based in Leicester who regular talks at vegan festivals and events about the cruelty involved in the dairy industry. You can follow her page, Imperfectly Vegan, on Facebook.

So you’ve taken the Great Vegan Challenge! Perhaps you’re only a few days into the challenge or perhaps a few weeks –  you deserve a personal thank you for opting for compassion over suffering!


It’s natural to get cravings, especially when you’re new to veganism. You’ve most likely been consuming animal products for all of your life! Craving cheese is definitely a common one! Have you tried Violife cheese though? What about Sheese? Oh and then there’s The Vegan Kind Mozzarisella classic & Tyne Chease Cashew Truffle!

Sainsbury’s free-from cheddar-style with chives is delicious! The Naturally Vegan Food Company smoked vegan cheese ball is just something else! Then there’s Tesco’s free from soft cheese too! Go on, give those a try! Don’t forget – plant based milks are in abundance! There’s Oat milk – great in coffee! Almond milk is nice in cereals & then there’s good old soya! In terms of cakes & biscuits – most supermarkets have a huge range nowadays! The Co-op apple crumble is amazing!

Why | How | What’s next?

It’s sometimes easy to forget why we choose to go vegan, especially when temptations kick in & others around us are perhaps not there yet! Oftentimes we carry on with our eating habits because that’s all we know & it’s part of habit & culture! Let’s not forget why you chose to try the vegan challenge: perhaps it was because you found out that a dairy cow has to be artificially inseminated to produce milk; perhaps it was because you found out that a mother cow often will be separated from her calf so that her milk can be sold onto supermarkets; perhaps you realised that a dairy cow’s lifespan is significantly reduced in the dairy industry. There are so many reasons to go vegan. It is really the least we can do for the animals, the planet & our health! Every consumer has a choice. A vote that they make if you like. You’ve chosen to vote for kindness & compassion. Thank you!

Did you know…?
Cows bellow for their calves| Calves are fed artificial milk replacement | Male calves are often killed for veal

The dairy industry is one of the cruelest industries around. The cow is legally classed as property & the farmer’s only real interest in the cow & calf is financial. Once a cow is ‘spent’, she is sent to be slaughtered.



See the Great Vegan Challenge as a journey. See it as a way of exploring new ways of cooking & living your life. There is so much support available on the Internet & social media. You’re definitely not alone!

The vegan boozer By Fiona Pereira

Fiona is Animal Aid’s Horse Racing & Shooting Campaign Manager. 

One of the greatest sources of disappointment for me when I went vegan was not that I had to give up cheese, but that a lot of alcoholic drinks were not vegan. 

This is because a long time ago, someone found that if you add the swim bladders of fish (isinglass) to beer, it helped to make it much clearer and less hazy. The same thing happened with gelatine in wine and cider, and a whole bunch of other ingredients, including egg whites, blood and crushed crab shell.

Ever since then, brewers have been adding these things to their drinks to improve the appearance of their products. However it doesn’t improve the taste and some argue that it actually mutes some of the flavours. But that doesn’t change the fact that it is a common practice and you will need to watch out for such drinks. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that there are still plenty of drinks that are free of these horrible things and suitable for vegans. Below, I’ve listed some beers and other drinks that are vegan.

In addition, there are two main things that will help to guide you. Firstly, some supermarkets mark which of their wines and beers are vegan (notably, Co-op, M&S and Sainsbury’s). Secondly, Barnivore is a website and app, of particular use to those who love real ale, but which also lists loads of other drinks that are vegan. Barnivore updates its list via users sending in confirmation they have received from companies – which means the website is constantly updated. Simple yet brilliant!

Oh, and there’s now a fully-vegan Baileys-type drink called Besos de Oro. Merry Christmas!



Here are some commonly-found drinks to get you started:


Thanks to historical German beer purity laws, most lagers are made without the use of clarifying agents, so are usually safe for vegans. Ales on the other hand, usually do contain isinglass, especially those dispensed from pumps at pubs (cask ales).

  • Budweiser 
  • Carlsberg
  • Heineken
  • San Miguel
  • Stella Artois (but not their ‘cidre’)

Vegan-friendly Ale and Craft Beer

  • Badger Ale (bottles only)
  • Beavertown (with a few exceptions)
  • Black Sheep (bottles only)
  • Brass Castle
  • Brewdog (with a few exceptions)
  • Brixton Brewery 
  • Meantime
  • Pitfield
  • Samuel Smith’s (except the Old Brewery Bitter and Yorkshire Stingo)
  • Shepherd Neame (bottles only)
  • Sierra Nevada
  • St Austell (bottles and cans only)


Much as with beer, animal ingredients are often used to clarify wine, but unless it states the ingredients on the bottle, it is often impossible to tell which ones are vegan-friendly. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Co-op, Sainsbury’s and M&S label their own-brand vegan wines
  • Oxford Landing   
  • Yellow Tail (red wines only)



Most small-scale cider producers don’t use animal products in their drinks, but some of the larger ones do. Here are some of the ones that are vegan-friendly:

  • Brothers 
  • Merrydown
  • Savanna
  • Old Mout
  • Orchard Pig
  • Thatcher’s
  • Sheppy’s
  • Stowford Press
  • Westons


Go vegan for the planet! By Tod Bradbury

Whilst most people – including myself – decide to go vegan to reduce animal suffering, the environmental argument is another reason to ditch animal products.

Animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of climate change.

According to the United Nations, rearing animals for food is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions than all of the cars, planes, trains, trucks and ships on Earth combined.

Animal farming is also a huge waste of water. It takes 1,000 litres of water to produce one beef burger, but just 167 litres to produce a tofu-based equivalent . You can also produce twice as much soya milk for the amount of water it takes to produce a litre of cows’ milk.

Intensive animal farming causes soil erosion and land degradation, and waste from intensive factory farms is one of the main causes of water pollution both in the UK and in other nations.  In fact it is the biggest cause of water pollution in the UK.

In South America, the rainforest is being razed to the ground, primarily to make way for cattle ranching and growing crops to feed farmed animals. I am often told that vegans are destroying the rainforest because of soya production. And whilst it is true that vast amount of rainforest, most notably the Amazon, are now being used to grow soya, more that 95% of it is used to produce feed for farmed animals.

Fishing trawlers, with nets the size of football pitches, rake the seabed, destroying entire ecosystems. Even world governments admit that our oceans are on the brink of environmental collapse, with commercial fishing fleets stripping them bare.

Some argue that fish farming is a sustainable alternative, but one in four wild-caught fish is used to make fishmeal to feed to fish on farms. Furthermore, pollution caused by fish farming produces a barren landscape on the surrounding seabed, as nothing can survive.

So by ditching animal products, you are not only helping to reduce animal suffering, you are also helping to protect the planet.