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Your favourite vegan recipes – by Ben Martin

During this year’s Great Vegan Challenge we ran a competition amongst participants to win one of three copies of the brand new vegan recipe book Bit Of The Good Stuff, kindly donated by author Sharon Collins. To be in with a chance, they had to send us a link to their favourite vegan recipe and tell us why they liked it in no more than 50 words.

Thank you to everyone who submitted an entry, we received many, but we could only pick three to win a copy of the book, which you can find below.

If you would like to a buy a copy of Bit Of The Good Stuff for yourself, you can do so here, and by using the discount code ‘ANIMAL AID’ you can get 15% off both the book and delivery! How good is that?

Cous Cous with Spicy Baked Aubergine and Chickpea Stew

Submitted by Pearline from Greater Manchester

‘The combination of spicy chunky aubergines, flavoursome chickpea stew and cooling fruit sweetened cous cous, created a nasal waking, colourful, mouth watering, tongue enlivening, tasty, culinary experience.’

‘Memories of my carnivorous family, devouring the enhanced flavoursome left overs, whilst reminiscing about past sunny holidays, warms my heart.’

The Ultimate Vegan Chocolate Cake

Submitted by Sam from Berkshire

‘This tastes better than many non-vegan cakes I have made. My colleagues thought it was delicious and were amazed to learn it was vegan.’

‘As a new vegan I love recipes like this when we are lead to believe that you can’t bake tasty food without dairy and eggs.’

Macaroni ‘Cheese’ with Roasted Tomatoes

Submitted by Becca from Cambridgeshire

‘This is my favorite vegan recipe because it uses butternut squash that I had home grown in the garden.’

‘The taste of homegrown produce and the creamy cheesy texture from the cashews (high in protein) and the national yeast makes this one of my go to comfort foods.’

Vegan alternatives to Guinness for St Patrick’s Day

Despite the news a few months ago that Guinness was to go vegan, sadly it still hasn’t. So, what can vegans have on St Patrick’s Day if they fancy a drop of the black stuff? Well, here are a few options…

Meantime London Stout

Brewed at the Meantime Brewing Company in Greenwich (hence the name), Meantime London Stout is made with dark malts, rather than the roasted barley used in Guinness and other traditional Irish stouts. This gives it a complex, malty flavour with notes of vanilla, caramel and even nut roast. Widely available in bottles.

Pitfield Shoreditch Stout

Pitfield Brewery, based in Essex, is one of only a very small handful of breweries in the UK that produce beer that is both vegan and organic and is a regular feature at vegan events across the UK. At 4% ABV, their Shoreditch Stout is not as strong as many other dark beers, but this makes it perfect for session drinking. The flavour is smooth and mild with notes of coffee and chocolate and it is surprisingly refreshing. Pitfield also produce a 1792 Imperial Chocolate Stout, but at 7.3% ABV, it’s not for the faint hearted.

Samuel Smith’s Extra Stout

Samuel Smith’s have been brewing beer in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, for more than 250 years. Whilst they produce a wide selection of beers, including several stouts, their Extra Stout is the only one that is available on draught. Smooth, creamy and malty, this is a fine stout and is available in pubs across Yorkshire and further afield. Also look out for their Organic Chocolate Stout, Oatmeal Stout and Imperial Stout, available in bottles

Binghams Doodle Stout (bottle only)

For a small brewery, Berkshire-based Binghams produce a surprising number of stouts. Their Doodle Stout is, rather appropriately, named after the brewer’s dog and features paw prints on the label. Made with a delicious blend of dark malts, this makes for a complex beer. Sadly, only the bottled version is suitable for vegans, which also goes for their Coffee Stout, Vanilla Stout, Ginger Doodle Stout and Hot Dog Stout.

Blackjack Stout

Founded in 2012, Blackjack Beers in Manchester is a fairly new microbrewery, but everything they produce is vegan-friendly, so you can enjoy their Blackjack Stout safe in the knowledge that it is cruelty-free. This beer comes with rich toffee and smoky flavours, but with a nice dose of hoppy spice. Available from Marble pubs and other drinking establishments around Manchester.

For more vegan stout options, visit Barnivore.

Daily Vegan 30: And now the end is near… – by Mark Gold

So how has it been for you? Interesting – even fun – we hope? Everyone at Animal Aid would like to thank you all for taking part, which we know you wouldn’t have done if you didn’t care about animals and the work we do. And I guess that if you’re reading this, the chances are that you’ve made it through to the end. Congratulations and we hope it didn’t prove too difficult.

Soon you’ll be receiving a final questionnaire from us. The feedback we receive is really important, helping us to improve and better promote any future Vegan Challenges. So please fill it in as soon as you can, whilst your memory is fresh, and you’ll be entered into a draw for some great prizes from VBites and Fry’s Family Foods.

More than 1,500 people signed up for The Great Vegan Challenge 2015 and it’s going to be fascinating to see how many of you intend to stick with the diet once we’re not pestering you every day.

For those who decide that they can’t commit themselves totally to veganism, we hope that you’ve at least got something out of the experience and will, perhaps, depend far less on meat and dairy in the future. For those who do want to stay vegan, please remember that we’ll still be available at all times to answer all your queries.

So for now it’s au revoir from the Daily Vegan!

Daily Vegan 29: If slaughterhouses had glass walls… – by Mark Gold

There are many good reasons for becoming vegan, but the one that inspires most of us is, of course, a desire not to have any part in the horrific exploitation of animals. This core belief was particularly reinforced for me by our undercover investigation inside UK slaughterhouses. Those who follow Animal Aid’s progress will know that we exposed routine cruelty, with laws broken and regulations ignored. Those images still haunt me – cigarettes stubbed out on the face of pigs, animals kicked, stamped on, cursed, hit in the face with metal shackles and tortured by electric shocks through ears, snouts and even open mouths. Few who have witnessed the footage could contest that slaughterhouses are probably the most barbaric institutions that are still legalised in our culture. These are killing factories where the worst forms of macho behavior thrive. Our latest film – at Bowood’s Yorkshire Lamb in North Yorkshire – led to the closure of the slaughterhouse.

One of our aims with The Great Vegan Challenge has been to show that an exclusively plant-based diet does not demand any kind of self-sacrifice. The food can be delicious and fun, as well as healthy and good for the environment and animals. But we have also been keen not to underestimate the difficulties that some people experience in adapting to change and overcoming social pressures from family and friends.

So, while we would like everybody who has taken part in the Challenge to remain 100% vegan, we don’t expect it. It’s your choice and we’re not planning to send the Vegan Police round to check the contents of your fridge and food cupboards!

What we would ask of all those who are unsure, however, is please to keep in mind (or better still look at) these slaughterhouse images one more time before you come to a final decision. Thanks.

Daily Vegan 28: It’s Christmas time… – by Mark Gold

Love it or hate it, it’s almost here again and, although it can be a bit of a tough time if you’re the only vegan in an unsympathetic family, it doesn’t mean going without. Nor, if you’re worried about it, does it mean causing too much disruption.

If you have space in the kitchen, and the inclination, there are an infinite number of possibilities for your main course on Christmas Day. Nut roast has become the ‘traditional’ vegetarian option, and there are hundreds of different recipes of varying complexity. Some can be very quick and easy, as long as you have a food processor to chop up the nuts. But nut roast isn’t compulsory and you’ll find countless other recipe ideas online.

If you can’t be bothered with cooking and enjoy convenience foods that imitate meat, you could always purchase a VBites Celebration Roast (RRP £5.89). It’s a ‘turkey-style’ roast that comes with a gravy mix and four vegan sausages wrapped in meat-free bacon. You just bung it in the oven for approximately 40 minutes and would probably serve two. Other easy options include a Vegusto roast, a selection of which are available from their website, or Fry’s Soy and Quinoa Country Roast, which can be found in the freezer at many health food shops.

All the vegetables and accompaniments can easily be made vegan with a little thought – gravy, stuffing, etc – and the vegetables shouldn’t be a problem, provided the spuds are roasted in vegetable oil.

Several supermarkets are selling vegan-friendly Christmas puddings this year. At Sainsbury’s, the 6 month matured and Be good to yourself puds are both fine. Meanwhile Aldi’s 12 month matured and standard Christmas puddings are both vegan, and Tesco’s Everyday Value one is also animal-free.

Unfortunately, vegan mince pies are a little thin on the ground this year. The only ones I’ve identified so far are Sainsbury’s Free From mince pies and Waitrose Essential ones. However, it’s also worth popping into your local health food shop to see if they have any available. If you want to bake your own, most mincemeat is now 100% animal-free, as is Jus-rol pastry.

Christmas cakes are more of a problem. You’ll either have to make your own (you can find loads of recipes on the internet, like this one) or buy one from a specialist mail order company such as the Heavenly Cake Company.

Happy Christmas everybody!

Daily Vegan 27: The vegan ethic – by Mark Gold

The vegan ethic is not only about food, of course. It means questioning the clothes we wear, the hair and skin care products we use, and so much more. It’s about developing a thoughtful approach to the world around us and our place in it. And it invites everyone to share and to encourage the rejection of cruelty and exploitation wherever it is possible to do so.

One of the most obvious non-food items for which cruelty-free alternatives are easy to obtain is skin care products. In addition to specialist companies such as Faith in Nature and Honesty Cosmetics, several of the leading supermarkets’ own-brand labels now carry the Cruelty Free International leaping bunny logo, indicating that their products are not tested on animals. These include Co-op, Marks & Spencer, Sainsbury’s and Superdrug, although only the Co-op and Superdrug also state which items contain no animal products. And we must give a special mention to Lush, who have been great supporters of Animal Aid and other animal campaigns, and who label all of their vegan products.

Most household cleaning products are tested on animals, but once again, the Co-op and Marks & Spencer lead the big retailers in marketing items that are not. Specialist cruelty-free companies include Faith in Nature, Bio D, Suma and Astonish.

For make-up, Superdrug’s own ‘B’ range is vegan and non-animal tested. Beauty Without Cruelty is also completely vegan and many of their products are available from the Animal Aid online shop.

 

Daily Vegan 26: Chocolate galore! – by Mark Gold

It’s amazing how many people think that vegans can’t have chocolate, so here is a quick run-down of what you can and cannot eat.

Obviously Dairy Milk is out. Some plain chocolate bars do contain butterfat, whey or lecithin, but plenty do not. Soya lecithin as an ingredient is fine.

It’s also important to remember that if the ingredients appear to be vegan, but it says ‘may contain traces of milk’ elsewhere on the wrapper, this simply means that the item was made on a production line where dairy products are also processed. So there is a risk of cross-contamination from the equipment, but otherwise there is no problem.

As well as ‘traditional’ plain chocolate, specialist companies are now marketing a lighter, ‘milk’ variety that is suitable for vegans. Look out for Plamil, Organica, Vego, and Moo-Free, and many supermarkets stock their own ‘free from’ range. You can even get vegan white chocolate now.

Unfortunately, you’ll be hard pressed to find vegan-friendly boxes of chocolates in high street shops, though the delicious Booja Booja range is beginning to get a wider distribution.

You can, of course, buy a huge range of vegan chocolate from the Animal Aid Online Shop – including some of the above mentioned. We also sell a wide range of delicious chocolate boxes. There’s something for all tastes, from ‘Mars‘ and ‘Snickers‘-style bars to decadent, luxurious truffles. And don’t miss our gorgeous new Italian Pernigotti range!

Drinking chocolate can sometimes be a problem. Quite a few of the most common versions do include dairy products, often whey or milk powder. Fortunately, there are plenty that don’t. When made with dairy-free milk, Cadbury’s Original drinking chocolate is vegan (though they have other chocolate drinks that are not), as is the Co-op’s own-brand version, and Sainsbury’s own-brand drinking chocolate. All three are also fairtrade.

Daily Vegan 25: Good companies – by Mark Gold

At the end of The Great Vegan Challenge (now less than a week to go!), we’ll be asking participants to fill in a questionnaire about their experiences, and giving them the chance to win prizes generously donated by VBites and Fry’s Family Foods (more on that to follow).

Like the vegan cheese companies we mentioned earlier (Bute Island and Vegusto), these two companies have always been unstinting in their support of Animal Aid. VBites (formerly Redwoods) rose from small beginnings and is now, of course, owned by Heather Mills. Fry’s is a South African company and is now one of the leading vegan food manufacturers in the world. It reamins in the hands of the Fry family who founded it.  Both companies market a wide range of vegan convenience foods, but Fry’s sausage rolls and the VBites Lincolnshire style sausages are my particular favourites.

There are several other food companies who have helped Animal Aid greatly over the years. You may have seen that some of the popular Nak’d bars (a delicious raw food snack, now available in many supermarkets) even include Animal Aid’s logo on their packaging.

Amongst non-food vegan companies, a special mention must be given to Honesty Cosmetics (who manufacture the Animal Aid skincare range), while the Lush chain has also always been very keen to support Animal Aid and many other animal and environmental charities.

(There are bound to be companies I have overlooked. Sorry, and thanks to them as well).

Daily Vegan 21: Water crisis – by Mark Gold

Veganism has many environmental advantages over animal-based diets. It has a lower impact on global warming, deforestation, and water and land pollution for a start. But possibly the most important advantage nowadays is that it uses far less fresh water. The influential Washington DC based Worldwatch Institute puts it like this:

‘… we humans are now taking half the available fresh water on the planet — leaving the other half to be divided among a million or more species. Since we depend on many of those species for our own survival (they provide all the food we eat and oxygen we breathe, among other services), that hogging of water poses a dilemma. If we break it down, species by species, we find that the heaviest water use is by the animals we raise for meat. One of the easiest ways to reduce demand for water is to reduce the amount of meat we eat.’

In Europe, the Netherlands-based Water Footprint Network has made similar recommendations based on the research of respected scientists. It states:

‘Per ton of product, animal products generally have a larger water footprint than crop products. The same is true when we look at the water footprint per calorie. The average water footprint per calorie for beef is twenty times larger than for cereals and starchy roots. When we look at the water requirements for protein, it has been found that the water footprint per gram of protein for milk, eggs and chicken meat is about 1.5 times larger than for pulses. For beef, the water footprint per gram of protein is 6 times larger than for pulses… From a freshwater resource perspective, it is more efficient to obtain calories, protein and fat through crop products than animal products.’

A report from the International Water Management Institute recommends finding ways to produce more food using less water, noting that ‘840 million of the world’s people remain undernourished’. The report points out that it takes 550 litres of water to produce enough flour for one loaf of bread in developing countries, but up to 7,000 litres of water to produce just 100 grams of beef.

Put simply, going vegan saves water and ensures there is more food for starving people around the world.

For more on the environmental impacts of animal farming, have a look at this recent article from The Guardian.

Daily Vegan 20: A fishy tale – by Mark Gold

I think it’s true to say that most vegetarians and vegans find it easier to give up meat than fish. It’s not hard to see why. Given a terrible choice, even the most sensitive could probably more easily kill a fish than a mammal. They are more alien to us than cows, sheep, pigs and chickens. And, perhaps more significantly, they are silent creatures, who cannot articulate pain and suffering. But they do feel pain – that’s now well established. Official recognition of this fact comes from the government’s own advisory group, the Farm Animal Welfare Committee (FAWC), which has recommended that, due to the overwhelming evidence that they do feel pain, farmed fish should be granted similar legal protection to other farmed animals at the time of slaughter. There are currently few regulations governing the killing of farmed fish, only the loosely worded generalisation that they should be ‘spared any avoidable pain, distress or suffering’.

There is also mounting certainty that crustaceans experience a much richer emotional life than was previously recognised. A researcher in France announced last year that crayfish (small, lobster-like animals) can experience anxiety following a stressful situation, whilst other scientists around the world have reported that crabs and shrimp show signs of distress after painful stimuli. This research adds further weight to the call from Animal Aid and other organisations for crustaceans to be added to the Animal Welfare Act, which currently only covers vertebrates.

Another reason why fish might be more of a temptation is that they have a reputation for being a health food. This is particularly true of oily fish, who are seen as a source of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish has also been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease.

But it’s worth pointing out that a vegan diet is even more emphatically linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. And neither is there any problem with a lack of omega-3 in a plant-based diet – though a bit more care is necessary. The main sources of plant-based omega-3 are not obvious foods for everybody to include in their diet. As noted before, they are walnuts, linseed (flax), rapeseed, hempseed and dark green leafy vegetables. Soya milk and tofu are further sources. And there are always supplements if you are worried. One obvious move is to use rapeseed oil rather than sunflower for cooking.

There are also, of course, health risks associated with fish. They may contain mercury, which can affect the developing nervous systems of infants. Freshwater and farmed fish may have high levels of chemicals due to polluted waters, particularly dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The former occur as a result of polluted waters and the latter because farmed fish are fed chemicals to prevent the diseases caused by overcrowding.

Approximately one billion people worldwide rely upon fish as a main source of protein, and it is a valuable food for many of the world’s poorer communities. But in all, fish provide roughly only 1% of global food supply and 5% of protein. And there is little prospect of increasing this because there are simply not enough available fish to do so. In fact, overfishing has become a real problem, with fish availability threatened in many of the world’s oceans.

If you enjoy the taste of fish, you’ll be pleased to know that there is a growing array of convincing vegan substitutes available. This includes the VBites ‘Making Waves’ range, which features fish-free fingers, fishless cakes and vegan ‘tuna’ pate, and is available from many health food shops.

To find out more about the impacts of fishing on animals, the environment and your health, you can read Animal Aid’s report Dark Waters.