This week PETA reported that IKEA will be rolling out not just vegetarian but VEGAN ‘meatballs’ in their stores from April. This is really great news and shows that big brands are starting to recognize that veganism is on the rise and vegans want to be able to buy food as easily (and cheaply) as anyone else. This got us thinking about the rise of veganism in the UK and the increased availability of vegan-friendly products in supermarkets and on the high street. Last week we wrote about Superdrug’s great vegan skincare range, but there are so many other reasonably priced products on the market right now and more are becoming available every day. We’ve gathered a few of our favourites below.
Tesco – Coconut Milk
Vegans have had to stick to soy milk for what feels like eons, and while it’s great for loads of things, it’s really nice to find a readily available alternative. Alpro launched their hugely successful almond milk a couple of years ago and, fuelled by this success, big supermarkets have started rolling out their own versions and playing around with other types of nut and rice milk. Tesco might not have the greatest track record on sustainability issues but if you’re in a hurry and need to grab something cheap then their ‘Free From’ coconut milk is great. There’s even a chocolate version for when you’re feeling decadent.
We love it in our morning porridge as the subtly creamy coconut taste works about a gazillion times better than soy milk. It’s also great if you’re whipping up a chia seed pudding for breakfast:
¼ cup of chia seeds
1 ½ cups of coconut milk (preferably unsweetened, if you can find it)
½ tbsp raw cacao powder
A handful of mixed red berries (strawberries and raspberries are great)
A handful of dried cherries
A sprinkling of flaked almonds
A sprinkling of flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds
Mix everything together in the evening and refrigerate overnight. Give it a stir in the morning and add more liquid if necessary. It’s even easier if you make up a week’s worth of seeds and liquid in a large kilner jar on Sunday night and then scoop out a serving in the morning and add your extras. We sometimes use half coconut milk and half coconut water for something a little more refreshing.
Orgran No Egg
Orgran is an egg-replacement powder that you can pick up really easily in Holland and Barratt or on Ocado.com. It is made from potato starch, tapioca flour and vegetable gum. We use it in cakes all the time and if you’ve been avoiding baking since you became a vegan then the perfect way to start is by finding a good non-vegan recipe and experimenting.
While we’re on the subject of egg-free powders, did you know that Bird’s custard powder is 100% vegan? It is made from cornflour, salt, colour (Anatto – plant-based) and flavourings. Just make sure you buy the original version not the ‘instant’ as this contains all kinds of dairy-derived nonsense. It’s is a proper old-school treat when it’s made up with almond milk and served with rhubarb compote.
For vegans seeking out that unmistakable umami hit that normally comes from a lump of meat, your local Asian supermarket is your lifesaver – they’ve been cooking without dairy and with very little meat for centuries. When hosting a mixture of meat-eaters and vegans for Christmas we needed to hunt down a stuffing recipe that would please everyone, and we struck gold with this one (pictured above) from SeriousEats.com: http://www.seriouseats.com/2014/11/the-food-lab-how-to-make-vegan-stuffing-thanksgiving.html
This stuffing is a genius concoction of mushrooms (for a meaty texture), dried bread (for crunch) and an amazing vegan stock which uses kombu – a Japanese dried seaweed – for its umami flavour. The stuffing itself was a serious Christmas hit but the magical stock can be used over and over again in any number of dishes. Here in Brighton we’re super-lucky to have Asian supermarkets popping up all over the place but if you’re finding it hard to get to one you can always order online via Clearspring.co.uk.
January is so very close to being over that it’s probably about time to start at least thinking about wine again. Sadly for most vegans this won’t have quite the unmitigated thrill that it will for omnivores because of the not-entirely-animal-friendly processes involved in clarifying and stabilizing wine. Many wine producers use animal products in this process (called ‘fining’, apparently) and EU law still doesn’t enshrine the need to list ingredients on the labels of wine. This can turn buying wine into a bit of a nightmare, especially if you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to do a load of research before heading to the shops. Some retailers, however, are catching on and trying to help as much as they can.
The Co-op has been listing ingredients on the back of their own-brand wines for years, and in the past they have (unsurprisingly) won the Best Drink award from the Vegan Society. Sadly other supermarkets aren’t as quick on the uptake, and their websites are even worse to navigate, but good wine merchants and off licenses should be able to help you out without too much trouble.
If beer is more your thing, PETA have a great list of vegan beers on their website .
The Coconut Collaborative
We started with coconuts so we may as well end with them. You might remember a range of unfeasibly creamy coconut yogurts by a company called Bessant & Drury (we came across them in our local Itsu and couldn’t get enough), well it looks like they’re now known as The Coconut Collaborative and they’re still churning out dreamy, creamy coconut concoctions. They aren’t the cheapest dairy-free yogurt alternative on the market but they really are great for a treat. Last year they added vegan ice cream to their repertoire and as soon as the weather gets a bit warmer we can’t wait to try it. You can order online via Ocado or pop to your local Waitrose.