Veganuary is the most wonderful time of the year, where meat eaters, flexitarians, vegetarians, and vegans unite. They chomp down on vegan burgers from McPlant, devouring the Beyond Meat patties, slathered in secret sauce, and vegan American style cheese. Greggs vegan sausage rolls sales soar, much to the chargrin of Piers Morgan, and Wagamama’s vows to make 50% of its menu plant-based. As for Pho, it was A’s takeaway pleasure, vegan Vietnamese chicken salad, and vegan chicken ramen soup with greens, topped lovingly with This Chicken. From This Bacon, bathed in salty deliciousness, to Quorn turkey dinosaurs, there was a plethora of vegan friendly brands, waiting to be explored. While 2021 was an exciting year for veganism, Veganuary 2022 was just as thrilling.
From fast food, healthy options, desserts, mains, starters, restaurants, meal kits, and supermarkets getting in on the action, 2022 was undoubtably the year of the vegan. For A, who had been vegetarian since she was 17, she had taken part in Veganuary for the last three years. Although she ate mostly vegan food and brought from vegan brands, she had a lot of allergies that made it difficult to be a full-time vegan. It was something she strived towards, but for now she would do her very best. She hadn’t eaten meat in over 10 years, and would eat vegan 3-4 days of the week, when she was at home. Still, she loved the vegan movement, and what it stood for. After all, the reason that she had become a vegetarian in the first place, was because of her love for animals. She hated the idea of animals suffering to put food on her plate, and went cold turkey just before she went to university.
A was proud to be a vegetarian, and even prouder that Veganuary existed. After all, Veganuary helped save millions of animals lives, as well as making us conscientious eaters, who were mindful about what we put into our bodies. Granted, many vegan food and drink launches weren’t the healthiest, but that didn’t take away from how delicious they were. Whether it was vegan chicken wings, vegan tuna, or even vegan lamb, it was crazy how much meat substitutes there were today. When it came to vegan chicken, This had stolen A’s heart, but Future Farm was a close second. From curries, to burittos, right through to delicious salads, both This and Future Farm, were winners in A’s eyes. The queen of the burgers undoubtably was Beyond Meat, which she enjoyed at Halo Burger, and Vurger ample times.
As for mince, and sausages, (both staples in A’s household) Meatless Farm’s mince tasted incredible in a vegan bolgnese, while Richmond’s vegan sausages, was one of the most realistic substitutes that she had ever tried. Despite her love for these old favourites, A loved trying new vegan brands, especially when it came to cheese. She liked very few vegan cheeses admittedly, but the new vegan Philidelphia made with almonds and oats, was incredibly moerish. Slathered on toast, in a vegan carbonara, or even in a dairy-free cheesecake, it was one of the most realistic soft-cheeses that she had tried to date. She hadn’t tried the vegan Babybel yet, but that was 100% on her smash list. With a mixture of small, and large brands releasing veganuary launches, A felt compelled to do a round up of veganuary 2022 brands, that had smashed it out of the park.
There were healthy food launches like Soupologie, superfood soups that showed a rainbow of veggies at their very best. Paired with crusty bread, vegan butter and Nurishh provolone style sliced cheese, their soup collection went beautifully with vegan cheese, that melted pretty darn good. The spinach and kale was A’s favourite, but she loved the pea and leek Soupologie as well, smattered with black pepper, and Himalayan sea salt, from A’s spice cupboard. And who could forget Doughlicious, a naughty sweet treat in Dough-Chi ice cream form? The chocolate truffle was exceptional, a luxury frozen desert that combined two of her favourite things. On one hand, it was a cookie dough flavoured with love, and on the other a frozen dessert, that was just as home in January as it was in summer.
Vegan alcohol-free drinks were a welcome surprise too, perfect for those who were attempting Dry January. Infinite Session, was the most realistic alcohol-free beer she had tried to date, and loved its taste. Infinite Lager would go down well on a Saturday night ‘beer and takeaway session’, crisp and refreshing, yet full of flavour. It wasn’t just alcohol free- vegan launches that A’s readers should look out for either. Minor Figures Oat Milk gave Oatly a run for its money, barista style oat milk that was creamy, frothy, and heavenly in a vegan hot chocolate. A even used it to make her own caffeine-free Chai tea, liberally spiced with cardamon, cinammon, and ginger!
From vegan food launches from supermarkets like Aldi, Tesco, and M&S, to collaborations with resturants (Oggs X Bella Italia), Veganuary 2022 would go out with a big bang. Up and coming businesses like Sassy Cider, Jackfruit and Chill, and Oddpods were taking centre stage, while well known brands like Red Letter Days, Oggs, and Minor Figures were hitting us up with vegan launches that we couldn’t resist. After all, who could say no to vegan afternoon tea at the Langham Hotel with Red Letter Days, or turn down a delicious meal at Bella Italia, who was using Oggs in its mouthwatering CarbOGGnara? Of course big brands like Subway, had new vegan launches of their own, a delicious vegan chicken tikka sub, filled with all the glorious trimmings. Even Krispy Kreme had something to say, with a new vegan doughnut collection, featuring Fudge Brownie Bliss, Caramel Choc Delight, and Apple Crumble.
But what would A’s readers think of the vegan options that she highlighted? Would it convince them to try veganism, spoilt for choice, in supermarkets, restaurants and at home? Only time would tell, but in A’s personal experience, these vegan friendly brands were all worth the investment.
Vegan Food Launches
From Jackfruit burgers, to incredibly realistic tuna, Veganuary had nailed meat and fish substitutes. There were even cheese alternatives, so that vegans did not miss out, and delicious snacks, treats, and healthy meals to boot. Movie nights, BBQ nights, and cozy nights in were all nailed, thanks to vegan food launches from brands like Future Farm, Nurrish, and Doughlicious, and A could hardly wait to give her verdict…
Founded in 2019, Future Farm appealed to A greatly, because of her Portuguese background. In her culture, it was quite uncommon to be vegan or vegetarian, due to Brazillian and Portuguese food’s emphasis on meats and fish. A knew all too well how people would react, when she spoke to people from her parent’s home country of Madeira. Vegetarian?! But how you do get enough nutrients in your diet? Don’t you miss meat? It had been 11 years since A had become a vegetarian, and people would still question her decision. Yet, she couldn’t help but tell them about brands like Future Farm, who made her feel like she wasn’t missing out.
Future Farm created plant-based chicken, tuna, meatballs, mince, burgers and sausages, that were available to buy at over 400 Sainsburys Stores. They were also available via TheVeganKind, VegEx, CO-OP, Planet Organic & Re-vital. From an ethical point of view, A appreciated supporting the brand, due to its impact on environmental conservation. Aiming to buy back the Amazon from the meat industry, it sought to foster the movement towards GMO-free and deforestation free produce in place of those that were unethical and illegal. Fighting for biodiversity and against destruction of the rainforest, all of the brands suppliers were required to be members of the Responsible Soy Association.
A loved that Future Farm was not only vegan, and environmentally friendly, but also had hyper-realistic substitutes. Using innovative True Texture Technology™ that replicates real fish and meat fibres, the taste and texture was unbelievably close to real meat, and fish. Although A hadn’t had meat in a very long time, she remembered what meat tasted, and felt like in her mouth, and this pretty darn close. In particular she was incredibly impressed by Future Farm’s Tuna, and Sausages, although the whole product range was lush. It was very rare that she liked a meat substitute’s brand’s entire range, but Future Farm had absolutely nailed it. It made plant-based cooking easy with simple swaps, and A was able to create mouthwatering recipes like Spaghetti and Meatballs, a Tuna and Sweetcorn wrap, and a Sausage Jambalaya, that went down a treat.
Even D, A’s self-confessed fussy eater of a partner, was so surprised by how moerish the plant substitutes were. He loved Future Chick’n’s realistic taste, and texture, and found it comparable to brands like Vegetarian Butcher’s ‘What The Cluck’, but with less gristle, and more realistic flavour. A delicious vegan chicken curry, with pilau rice, and garlic naan was made, infused with spice, love, and a whole lot of Future Farm deliciousness. If A could choose one product she would love Future Farm to make, it would 100% be a vegan steak, her all-time favourite post vegetarian meal. She had enjoyed some delicious vegan steaks recently, but hadn’t found a hyper-realistic version just yet. One could only hope!
Prices are as follows:
- Future Tvna 2030 – 150g, £2.90
- Future Chick’n 2030 – 160g, £3.90
- Future Burger 2030 – 230g, £3.90
- Future Meatball 2030 – 250g, £3.90
- Future Mince 2030 – 250g, £3.80
- Future Sausage 2030 – 250g, £3.90
Jack And Chill
A loved meat substitutes, but also needed ‘whole food’ weeks were she was eating less processed foods, and eating more helpfully. These weeks she would use to have more of a focus on natural protein sources like lentils, chickpeas, beans, tofu, and even Jackfruit. Although Jackfruit could be an aquired taste, A personally loved it, and enjoyed it in meals such as curries, tacos, chilli’s, and even heartwarming soups. But why was jackfruit good for you? High in nutrients, and antioxidants, it also had a number of health benefits including improved blood sugar control. High in fibre, it was ideal for digestion, and maintaining a healthy diet.
So when A came across Jack and Chill, her interest was piqued. From pulled jackfruit, to jackfruit burgers, and a tasty jackfruit birayani, it had naturally delicious vegan meals. A great protein to try in Veganuary 2022, Jack and Chill, helped make jackfruit more accessible, and even had amazing recipes available via its E-cookbook. In particular A enjoyed creating a cauliflower, tumeric, and jackfruit soup using its pulled jackfruit pieces. With a combination of ginger, scotch bonnet, and carrots, it was a feel-good, fragrant soup, that was incredibly flavoursome. Speaking of flavour, the Jackfruit curry was divine too, swimming with notes of chilli, mango, garlic, and tomatoes, garnished with coriander.
She made her own recipes too, inspired by a trip to Las Iguanas, and tasting their ‘no goat curry’. A spicy Dominican-style jerk jackfruit & Scotch bonnet chilli curry with pink pickled onions, it was tempered with coconut rice, sweet potatoes, and spring onions for added flavour. The result was nothing short of delicious. As for the Jackfruit biriyani ready meal, it was the perfect dish to come back to after a long day of work, when she didn’t feel like cooking. Paired with vegan raita, and a side of Bombay Aloo potatoes, it was clear that A loved curries. A’s partner even got in on the fun, a converted jackfruit enthusiast, who happened to love the burgers. He was not a jackfruit fan by any means, but even he was enthralled by the Jackfruit burgers, serving them with sweet potato wedges, and slaw for a fun night in.
Soupologie was a colourful superfood, vegan and free-from soup, that was packed with oodles of flavour. A remember the first time she saw one of their soups in Tesco’s, a carrot and butternut squash soup, with a hint of chilli, for a powerful kick. It almost radiated positivity from its creamy orange colour, standing out against the sea of beige in the vegan food section. With one swift purchase it was in her shopping basket, and she chowed down on it, with a hunk of freshly baked bread. Having had a cold that day, it was like Mecca in her mouth, a taste of paradise on her lips.
You could only imagine A’s excitement when she saw that they had two new vitamin D enriched soups; a Tumeric Broth, and Pea & Leek flavour that was begging to be tasted. Although Veganuary 2022 meant a lot of delicious fast food launches, and sweet treats, she still craved food that was wholesome, healthy, and light to offset the richness of the other tasty creations that she was tasting. The Tumeric Noodle Broth, was Soupologie’s reindition of what A’s Aunty would cook up, as a detox dinner, designed to purify your mind, body and soul. Curly kale was wrapped around carrots, while chickpeas swam in a sea of ginger, tumeric, and garlic, having a grand ol’ time.
It was A’s personal favourite of the whole range, but she had a soft spot for the Pea & Leek too, a spring-time classic, enriched with vegan vitamin D3. Laced with black pepper, nutmeg, and onions, the pea soup was comforting, a hug in a bowl. A paired the pea soup with croutons for some added texture, red pepper flakes, and a delicious Italian style vegetable side, with sunblushed tomatoes, peppers and artichokes, drizzled in lemon, for an uplifting take on a classic. A loved how the Soupologie range could be frozen, and had a rainbow of natural flavours, without a compromise on taste. Enjoyed all year round, their soups, were far from basic. In fact they were supercharged with antioxidants, nutrients, and flavour to give you the boost you need to power through your week with energy!
There was nothing more comforting than carbs, especially in Veganuary 2022. After all between Blue Monday, Valentine’s Day, New Year, and general January feels, eating carbs felt like a requirement. But as always, too much of a good thing can leave you feeling bloated, meh and low in energy. A had witnessed this first hand, currently in one of her infamous food coma slumps, as she was tip tapping away at her laptop. Which is where Mash Direct came in, with a focus on delicious, satisfying vegetable ‘carb’ sides that were convenient and healthy.
From farm to Fork, Mash Direct would farm the fields that are surrounded by Strangford Lough, an inlet in Northern Island. Naturally beautiful, the warm air that came in from the Lough would help create the perfect growing conditions for all their vegetables, including a tasty potato or two. But which two potato fantasies would catch A’s eye. The Chilli Baby Bakes, and Carrot and Parsnip Fries would make an ideal vegetable ready meal, that still felt fresh, and full of flavour.
In particular the Chilli Baby Bakes were A’s favourite, made with baby potatoes fresh from their fields. Sprinkled with a crunchy, gluten-free crumb, and coated in chilli marinade for a hint of spice, it was an assured winter-warmer. Quick and easy to cook, she paired the baby bakes with a vegan Plant Chef steak, and sauteed cabbage, broccoli, green beans, peppers, carrots and sweetcorn, doused with lemon. It was a vegetable medley that felt satisfying, and was so simple to make. It was the perfect dish for a weekday meal, and the carrot and parsnip fries were just as moerish. Served with a comforting roast, a medley of vegetables, and all the trimmings like Yorkshire puddings, it was another January special that made A feel all warm, and fuzzy inside.
No Veganuary 2022 launch was complete without a chocolate feature or two. One of A’s favourite vegan chocolate brands was LoveRaw, alongside Rhythm 108, and Booja, Booja, but she hadn’t tried much else.She had a sweet tooth at times, but she didn’t like chocolate that was sickly, too rich, or overpowering. She wanted chocolate that felt good, tasted good, and didn’t have any nasty side effects. Well, lo and behold, Prodigy had waved their magic wand, reinventing classic chocolate bars.
With a high percentage of premium cacao, yet less than half the sugar, it was also high in fibre to support gut health. Given that A had gastrointestinal issues, she appreciated a choclate range that was kind to her tummy, and her body. Oh and a plus? They were the UK’s first plastic negative chocolate, a climate neutral brand, that was commited to environmental conservation. It was the first time that A had come across a plastic negative brand, let alone a plastic negative chocolate brand, so she commended them for their advocacy. But what about the chocolate I hear you ask…The roasted hazelnut chocolate was incredible, and undoubtably her favourite. After all, what else would you expect when A’s favourite non-vegan chocolates were Kinder Buenos, Ferrero Rochers, and Lindt (the red one!)?
Crafted from organic whole roasted hazelnuts, rich and vibrant cacao and just a dash of sea salt, it delivered a luscious, velvety chocolate that was brimming with natural goodness. Surprisingly the dark chocolate with sea salt, was another stand out. A wasn’t normally a fan of dark chocolate, but Prodigy’s version had the rich and heady flavour of Peruvian cacao. Sprinkled generously with fine sea salt, it created a tantalizing contrast between smooth and vibrant flavours. The chocolate bars was delicious, and made a handy snack on the go, when A was feeling peckish in between deadlines.
Twas the night before cookie time, were not even a creature was stirring, not even the blasted cars outside. The stillness was tranquil, relaxing A into a dreamy world of cookies, who just happened to talk. It all felt so real, after all the cookies even had names. But lo and behold, the cookies became balls of ice cream, walking around comically with spindly arms and legs. She realized at this point that she was dreaming, and gave herself up to the fantasy, swept into dreamland. Eventually, they very kindly offered themselves to be eaten, and it tasted like heaven. Awake Ana would probably have been weirded out by eating talking cookies, but in her dreams it had seemed oh, so normal.
The next morning, her Doughlicious delivery had arrived, full of sweet, and savoury cookie dough that was begging to be eaten, just like in her dreams. But who was Doughlicious? Created by entrepreneur Kathryn Bricken, it stemmed from her love of baking. She believed it was a way of bringing people together, and making magical memories. So in 2014, she set up Doughlicious, using 100% gluten-free flour. With dairy-free, organic, and vegan flavours too, it made Doughlicious the perfect Veganuary 2022 treat, made with the finest ingredients. From the sweet selection, the Chocolate Truffle Dough-Chi, was impeccable.
A delightful dark chocolate frozen dessert, wrapped in the finest chocolate vegan cookie dough, it felt like a mini gift from heaven. A deliciously decadent all-natural tasty treat for when you need that sweet fix, A couldn’t reccomend it enough. It reminded A of eating Mochi, but with a delicious vegan, cookie themed twist. A dessert, or a snack, the chocolate truffle flavour was light, yet satisfying. The savoury flavours were just as nourishing, the Sundried Tomato and Oregano standing out from the crowd.A cross between an American Biscuit and a British Scone, the soft, salty finish of this biscuit made it ideal for a Veganuary cheeseboard that A had planned, complete with Nurishh, Violife, and a whole lotta chutneys.
*Please note the savoury flavours need baking, the sweet Dough-Chi flavours do not.
A had been on a journey with food over the last few years, and during lockdown became more commited to eating well, investing in nourishing self-care, and being fitter. Partly to help with her mental health issues, and partly to be kinder to her mind and body, A carved out days during the week where she would excersise, eat healthy, and indulge in me time. Whether that was a spa day, having a delicious home cooked meal, or reading a steamy historical fiction novel, A knew the importance of self-care, and self-love.
She was often hungry, a ravenous creature, who always complained that she was starving. Sometimes she would reach for the naughty snacks, to help her get through the day. This was a bad idea as it would make her more prone to anxiety, and make her hyperactive. So when she discovered Soul Fruit, she was delighted that she had found healthy snacks to nourish her meal routine. Soul Fruit’s carbon neutral snacks used Dragonfruit for ‘fruit chips’ and ‘soft dried fruit’, that were ever so moerish. Naturally Gluten-Free, and Vegan, the ‘chips’ were incredible. Tart yet sweet, they were delicious in a breakfast smoothie power bowl, but equally as divine by themselves.
1 of your 5 a day, they were rich in naturally occuring vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. After all Dragonfruit was renowned for being low in calories, but high in fibre, phytonutrients and healthy fatty acids. Because Dragonfruit was high in antioxidants, it meant that it helped protect cells from free radical damage, which cause chronic disease, and ageing. So not only did Soul Fruit’s chips taste delicious, but they were incredibly good for you. A found that it helped satisfy her cravings during the day, and was a unique exotic fruit to add to her reportoire. The dried fruit was also sustainably sourced, and was even Global GAP certified. This meant that the products were safe, showed good agricultural practice, and enabled them to be a part of a leading farm assurance program.
Free From Fellows
One of A’s favourite past pastimes in winter was roasting marshmallows over an open fire, watching the flames crackle with warmth. Clutching a hot chocolate, she would dunk the marshamallows, greedily suckling the foam off them in rapture. Though the air was iced with frost, she would relieve her childhood fancies, enjoying a campout under the winter moon, slowly making its way into the sky. And yet since she had become a vegetarian, it had been a while since she had eaten marshmallows. The last time she had marshmallows was at Farmyard Cinema in Waterloo, who luckily had vegan marshmallows.
When an email from Free From Fellows landed in her inbox, she almost squealed with joy. Finally vegan marshmallows that were readily available, and delicious to boot. From strawberry vegan mallows, vanilla mallows to mini pink and white vanilla vegan mallows, A was spoilt for the choice. The vegan strawberry mallows were super fluffy, and paired beautifully with a vegan chocolate fondue, while the mini mallows were ideal for a toasty hot chocolate. You could even use them in cakes, sweets, and ice cream sundaes, the choice was entirely down to you. Vegan, Halal, Kosher, and free from GMO, it had no soy, tree nuts, nuts, gelatine or dairy, making it a free-from treat that everyone could enjoy.
For A it helped bring back cozy memories from childhood. She sat there reminiscing, remembering how different life was back then. Though there was trauma, hardship, and tears shed, there were happy memories too. Sipping hot chocolate with mallows, camping out under the stars, walking for miles, losing track of time. Having her first camera, and taking pictures, like she was snap-happy. Yes, those were the memories that the mallows conjured, laced with happiness. Now she would make new ones, feeding her love mallows on the sofa, while they played Mario Kart. There would be whoops of excitment, and shouts of joy, until A squirrelled away the remaining mallows in the cupboard, ready to enjoy for another day.
Nurishh Cheese Alternatives
Admittedly vegan cheeses was one A found it hard to get her head around. It was very rare that she found a vegan cheese that she liked, and found it difficult to find cheeses that replicated the true taste of cheese. Cheese was something that she loved wholly, and passionately, and often hosted cheese and wine nights. While the wine was often vegan, the cheese usually was not, especially when she was with her partner, who often despised vegan cheeses. He had grown to love some meat substitutes, but cheese was one that was difficult to make him love.
Nurishh was one of the only mainstream vegan cheese brands that D, and A actually enjoyed together. With strong family values, Nurishh was created, when the Jouault family discovered their father was intolerant to milk. Not wanting him to miss out on tasty cheese, they developed and pioneered the field of plant-based alternatives to cheese. Bel later acquired the brand and named it Nurishh. Striving to champion a healthier, happier collective living, the cheeses ranged from cheddar style slices, Mozzarella style block, and plant based grated cheddar and mozzarella style blend, to name a few.
But what would A, and D think? Would it be a thumbs up or a frowny frown? Well, much to A’s surprise the cheddar style slices were actually delicious. With the distinct familar taste of cheddar it was dairy and lactose free, and a good source of calcium and B12. Soy free, and palm oil free, the cheddar slices were just at home in a yummy vegan burger from Future Farm, as they were in a ‘vegan cheese toastie’. In the latter A was surprised how the cheese melted. While many vegan cheeses had a habit of not melting, the slices melted just enough. The grated blend was delicious too in vegan nachos, and the Mozzarella style block paired well with a tasty, and healthy vegan salad. Mild and refreshing, she drizzled the salad with a touch of olive oil, and balsamic vinegarette.
As a vegetarian, one of A’s favourite cheeses was the Garlic & Herb Philadelphia which she used in just about everything. From slathering it on brown granary toast with pumpkin seeds, to veggie carbonara, and sweet potato hasslebacks, its purpose was endless. It was so creamy, and soft, and was on the same level as Boursion which was another of her favourite soft cheeses. So imagine how intrigued A was when she saw that Vegan Philadelphia was available in Tescos, for just £2.50? A plant-based cream cheese made from a delectable blend of oats and almonds, it was delicious.
While it didn’t taste exactly the same as the original Philadelphia, it was still heavenly. The spread felt lighter, than the original, but still had the creaminess that A knew and loved. She appreciated that it was made with oats and almonds as opposed to coconut, as she knew a lot of vegans who were allergic to it, or did not like the taste. A personally loved coconut, but she agreed that the oats helped replicate a similar taste like the original had. But what would she use it for? Well, a delectable strawberry cheesecake was calling her name, and was so easy to make. It would make a welcome treat on ‘cheat days’ where she would eat whatever she wanted. I mean, she ate what she wanted, whenever she wanted anyway. But cheat days were more of an excuse to eat something a little naughty.
It went beautifully in a rainbow veggie sandwich as well, for a healthier option. With rocket, cucumber slices, cress, avocado, yellow and red bell peppers, shredded carrots, tomatoes, radishes, and purple cabbage, it was a satisfying, yet filling meal. With all the veggies that A could possibly want, it was fresh, healthy, and 100% tasty. A adapted the same to create a ‘rainbow bagel’ and even created a side salad using the same ingredients, with the tastiness of the vegan Philadelphia spread. It was like magic, and paired beautifully with the Nurishh mozarella, for a vegan cheese bonzana!
Sacla beetroot pizza base
It was once in a blue moon that A would have pizza, preferring a plethora of pasta dishes, engulfed hungrily by hungry mouths. She often found pizza would bloat her, and leave her feeling ‘potatoed’, and for the most part avoided it. After all, as she had a stomach condition, and knew that there was certain foods that would trigger it. So when Sacla introduced her to their vegan beetroot pizza pizza, she wondered if it would feel lighter on her stomach than a tradition pizza.
And boy did it. The vegan pizza bases, were rolled, stretched and baked in the heart of Piemonte in Italy, and made with 25% of vegetables for extra flavour and all-round goodness. With a burst of beetroot goodness to turn homemade pizza into a healthier option, it was surprisingly moerish. From beetroots delicate purple colour, to their naturally sweet, pleasantly earthy flavour, it made homemade pizza nights even more fun. As well as incorporating more vegetables into her diet, Sacla’s pizza was bursting with creativity. Topped with Mozarella, Goats Cheese, Sunblush tomatoes, and a generous dash of tomato sauce, A made it crispy ASF, and paired it with a sassy side salad.
Available in the Vegan aisle at Asda, and online via Asda, Ocado, and Sacla, it retailed at £3.29. Though it was pricier than your average pizza base, it was worth every bite. It felt like a healthier pizza, that A could enjoy without getting stomach cramps, fatigue, and nausea. Instead, it was a light, crispy pizza that had no creative limits. Whether you wanted a vegan four cheese medley, a beetroot and goats cheese combo or a delicious beetroot and sweet potato power couple, the choices were endless. It was all about the power of your imagination, this Veganuary 2022.
As a Vegetarian, and part-time Vegan, one of A’s favourite sources of protein was pulses. From red kidney beans, to butter beans, lentils, and chickpeas, A loved pulses a’plenty. However, she was aware that eating canned beans, wasn’t always the healthiest. After all canned pulses could contain up to 25% of the reccomended daily intake of salt, and have less fibre than dried pulses. Yet what always put A off was how time consuming it was to cook with dried pulses, even if it was fresher. Where could she combine the convenience of canned ready-to-eat pulses, with the goodness of dried ones? Oddpods would lead the way.
With delicious pulses that had no preservatives or additives, their chickpeas even had 85% more fibre than canned chickpeas! With Chickpeas, Lentils, Chana Dal, Gungo Split Peas, Red Kidney Beans and brown lentils, Oddpods sustainably sourced pulses range was so, so versatile. They sourced their pulses ethically, working all over the earth, to work directly with talented, hardworking farmers, and local buying centres. They wanted to ensure that there is fair pricing for all, so that their workers felt supported, and the customer felt good about the food that they ate. A was trying to be more proactive about supporting sustainable businesses, and was pleasantly surprised by Oddpod’s range.
The Chana Dal was A’s favourite, which she used for a Kala Chana soup. Paired with garlic, cauliflower, green beans, carrots, fire roasted tomatoes, ginger, and ample amount of spice, the Chana Dal bulked the soup up, and gave it a wonderful nutty taste, that was perfectly seasoned. To finish off the meal, she paired it with homemade bread, with a slather of vegan butter, that made the soup pop. The Gungo Split peas ws another gorgeous pulse that A didn’t often work with, that was oh so buttery and wholesome. Taking inspiration from Oddpod’s recipe page, she made Haleem, a gorgeous Middle Eastern stew with warming spices, topped with pomnegranate, and vegan yoghurt. On another occasion she made a Dal, using the brown lentils, a butternut squash and chickpea salad, and a vegan chilli using the kidney beans.
Oggs was one of A’s favourite vegan brands, because they always came out with revolutionairy launches that would change the game. From scrummy delicious cakes, that definitely did not taste vegan, to chocolate puddings, and itsy cutesy cupcakes, Oggs was killing it in the sweet treat department. A loved their mini vanilla cupcakes, cheeky little creatures that tasted oh so like buttercream. Less than 100 kcal per cake, it was a sweet treat that A could afford to indulge in, paired with a vegan oat milk hot chocolate, that was creamy but not too rich. For something a little more decadent, Oggs Brownie bites were a taste of perfection. In planet-friendly packaging, and only 58 kcal per bite, the fudgey brownies, were absolutely stunning.
Yet, what A was most excited about, was their collaboration with Bella Italia. A househould chain name, Oggs had teamed up with Bella Italia this Veganuary 2022, to introduce their new ‘Scrambled Oggs’ to the world! 100% plant based, and a source of great protein, it tasted delicious and was good for the planet too. In fact it had less CO2e than eggs from Chickens, which was worth knowing for those who were conscious about their impact on the planet. Available online, and also in Bills, and Bella Italia, it was an equisite choice.
It had been a while since A had been to Bella Italia, in fact four years, because she had found the menu stale and uninspiring. Yet what a difference time made. TheSpaghetti CarbOGGnara was exceptional, not that she expected anything less from Oggs. Made with vegan bacon in a smoky white sauce enriched with Oggs® and served with a sundried tomato crouton, it was beautiful. There was also a Hot ChOGGolate Pudding, a warm chocolate pudding served with chocolate orange sauce and vegan vanilla ice cream. Though A did not try this, it certainly looked like a tasty post-dinner treat.
Vegan Drink Launches
No Veganuary 2022 guide would be complete without amazing vegan drinks, and A had it nailed, down to a T. From exceptional oat based vegan milks that were Barista ready, to 0% ciders, A wanted to round up the most exciting vegan drink launches, and show how accessible drinking ‘vegan drinks’, could be! But what would be the tipple to take your fancy?
A’s partner D was a cider affecinado. Although he grew up not liking cider, when he was in his third year of university, he fell head over heels. He did a 180, and realized that he actually loved cider, and from that day forth hasn’t looked back since. With Aspall premium cru apple cyder, being his drink of choice, though he drank other drinks like cocktails, and rose wine, his number one love was cider. He loved the dry, fresh crispness of cider, and how it was an easy-going drink, that felt sociable, without being ‘too glamourous’.
A too liked cider, although she was more often seen with a mojito in her hand, than a cider. Being that it was Dry January, and D had cut down on his alcohol consumption, A thought that he might like to try Maison Sassy 0% organic cider. She was curious as to how a 0% cider would taste as well, and whether it would be a tipple that her cider loving partner would enjoy. After all, he was very particular about the ciders that he drank, so it would be challenge to get him out of his comfort zone. A tried a sip first, and was taken aback. It tasted exactly like cider, and had a smokey aftertaste, and smell that was intriging in a cider.
The cider was made using a wide variety of apples, grown in their family’s orchards. Exclusively using cider apples, rather than eating or cooking apples, it brought a complexity that was completely charming. Making the cider to 4% abv, and then spinning off the alcohol, made no difference to the taste and feel of the cider. Even D was impressed by the gluten-free and vegan cider, that was organic and exceptionally made. Made in Normandy, the delicious cider was £2.10 per 27.5 cl, and was available via websites like Amazon, Direct Wines, and Laithwaites.
When it came to vegan substitutes, one of A’s favourites was ‘vegan milks’. Even as a vegetarian A rarely drank ‘cows milk’, and found that vegan milks were kinder, and gentler to A’s stomach than cow milk. She wasn’t lactose intolerant, but A always found that too much dairy, made her feel ‘strange’. She wasn’t sure what it was, but didn’t have the same problem with vegan milks. From caffeine free lattes, using oat milk, to almond milk in cereal, A enjoyed a variety of vegan milk in her daily routine. A wasn’t the hugest fan of soy milk, but her favourite was definitely oat milk. She loved coconut milk as well for cooking delicious meals like curries.
A’s favourite oat milk at the moment was Minor Figures, who she discovered at Balance Festival last year. Not only was the packaging ‘super cool, and trendy’ but it was the best oat milk she had ever tried, period. It was so unbelievably creamy, but wasn’t too rich, so it paired beautifully with hot chocolates, caffeine free chai-tea, and decaf lattes. A great source of calcium, better for the planet, and of course vegan, the original Barista Oat Milk was A’s first love, adding natural sweetness, density, balance, and silky micro-foam when steamed. However, the organic, and light versions were just as magical!
The organic oat milk contained only certified organic ingredients, designed to complement the true and unique flavours of the highest quality coffee. With simple and clean vegan ingredients, it was just as delicious as the OG. The light oat milk was delicious too, and made a great alternative for days when A was feeling a bit blegh. With less sugar and low fat (without compromising on that barista standard quality), A couldn’t taste the difference between its other ‘m*lk’s. A liked to think she had an impressive taste palette, but found that it tasted the same, which was amazing. What’s more, A was pleased to find out that Minor Figures was a Carbon Neutral brand, and that using oats required a fraction of the water and land needed to produce cow’s milk.
Infinite Session was one of those brands who made alcohol-free drinks taste amazing. A had no idea how they did it, but their vegan beer, was bold, authentic. and brave. Award winning alcohol-free beer, the range included Ale, Lager, and an IPA. With 75% less than a regular strength beer, six different grains were used to make it taste like a complex, full-bodied beer. Using the freshest hops available for bold flavour, the beers had less than 20ppm of gluten, making it lighter than a normal beer. For A this was fantastic, as she sometimes found beers heavy on her stomach.
Completely vegan, Infinite Session’s core beers were award winning, and in some cases up against regular strength beer. Infinite Lager, A’s personal favourite was inspired by trips to Munich, drinking cold, crisp lagers in sunny beer gardens. A, a lager fan who enjoyed brands like Amstel and Peroni, found that it had a crisp, and refreshing taste, with impactful flavour. At only 33 calories it felt light considering it was a lager, and had a complex malt blend, and German noble hops, including Perle, and Hallertau.
The Pale Ale, the winner of the ‘Best Low Alcohol Pale Ale’, was another stunner. Combining a smooth, six-grain body with tropical new-world hops, it had a bitter, yet refreshing flavour. Only 36 calories, it was rich, smooth, and rounded, with sweet notes of Apricot and Mango, that made it delectable. Unrestrained, yet elegant, the vegan beer range was ever so versatile. The IPA was pleasant one too, considering IPA’s were not usually A’s thing. She often found that alcohol-free versions had a malty smell, and overly sweet taste, but this was not the case. Winning bronze in the Session IPA category, it was dry hopped with Amarillo and Citra, for an intense citrus flavour.
A remembered a time where vegan experiences were far, and few in between. Vegan launches were often uninspired, a last-minute addition, and in many cases, seemed to be a way for the brand to profit off veganism, without truly supporting its cause. Yet if Veganuary 2022 proved anything, it was that vegan experiences were now thoughtful, creative, fun, and above all had choices that were suitable were anyone, regardless of taste. Whether it was vegan afternoon tea, vegan street food or a vegan spa experience, Vegans didn’t have to miss out!
Red Letter Days
There was something so whimsical, and quintessentially British about an afternoon tea. After all, where else in the world was it customary to nibble on finger sandwiches, cutesy cakes, while sipping tea or champagne, as a pianist tinkled merrily on the piano? Afternoon teas felt naughty, luxurious, and was a chance to savour an assortment of sweet and savoury nibbles. Yet until recently, vegan afternoon teas weren’t readily available, something that Veganuary 2022 made its mission to change. After all, who wouldn’t want to tuck into a vegan afternoon tea?
So who else but Red Letter Days, would make this vegan dream come true? An incredible gift marketplace, it had a range of vegan experiences available including a Vegan Afternoon Tea at The Langham Hotel. A 5 star hotel, it was set in the heart of Regent Street, London, and oh, so gorgeous. Peppermint tea tisanes, danced with vegan champagne, while avocado red tapenade sandwich slivers, were engulfed hungrily by cucumber, and vegan cream cheese sarnies. Sweet and savoury delights danced in unison, luxury pastries inspired by famous British biscuits, and baked tarts. Vegan cheese scones and vegan cheese cubes shimmied down the table, while vegan sultana, and raisin scones were embraced by jams, preserves and marmalades.
A’s personal favourite? The avocado wonder, which went oh so perfectly with the Tattinger champagne. Vegan friendly, it had a light, fresh, citrussy taste, and showed remarkable elegance and finesse. As A sipped away, her and S reminiced about old times, as the Pianist, went through a catalogue of new, and old musical greats. Adele and Ed Sheeran seemed to be popular artists, their lilting melodies, a welcome pairing for the pianists delicate talent. The desserts were exceptional too, a raspberry mound of perfection, tapped into, to reveal a creamy ganache, layered with a crunchy biscuit base. With a gold leaf perched atop its intricate swirl design, it tasted like sweet sucess on the tip of their tongue. Nothing short of extraordinairy, it was a vegan afternoon tea that oozed luxury and sophistication.
What Veganuary 2022 Launches Are You Most Excited About?
Please note I was gifted products or experiences, in exchange for this blog post, but all thoughts are my own, and are not affected by gifted products. I would love to know what your favourite Veganuary 2022 launches are, and whether there are any I should add to my list! Let me know in the comments below.