8 Reasons to Visit a Vegan Fair This Year

Are you in two minds about visiting a vegan fair? Maybe it involves travelling out of your way, or rearranging other plans? We’re here to tell you exactly why you should visit at least one vegan fair this year – although there’s a good chance you’ll want more once you realize just how great vegan events are.

1. Discover new products/companies

Vegan fairs are an excellent way to get introduced to companies you might never have come across otherwise. Some of our best vegan fair finds have come from companies we’d never even heard of – like this delicious vegan feta by Lettices. Some brands don’t have their products stocked in mainstream stores, or trade mainly locally/online, so going to a vegan event is a great way to give them a try.

2. Sample food before you buy

Vegan food can be expensive, and there’s nothing worse than splashing out on a new type of vegan cheese/chocolate/fake meat, only to find that it’s disgusting. Most traders at vegan events will have plenty of free samples on offer, so you can check that you like food before you purchase. It’s a good idea to try as many samples as possible before you decide what to buy – you don’t want to miss out on any gems at the end.

3. Support vegan businesses

Attending vegan fairs is a great way for small businesses to get the word out about their products, and get feedback from customers. By purchasing from them, you’re helping the business to grow and improve. Even if you don’t buy from every stall, even picking up a flyer and giving the company a follow/like on social media can be a big help.

4. Get vegan clothing, toiletries and make-up

Vegan food is becoming more and more common in mainstream shops, but non-food items like clothing, toiletries and make-up can sometimes be harder to find. Vegan fairs are a great place to get hold of items like this, and you’ll often find some really unique products. There’s usually plenty of printed clothing available too, perfect if you like statement T-shirts and hoodies.

5. Meet like-minded people

Vegan events can be an excellent place to meet like-minded people, particularly if you live in an area where veganism isn’t very common. Most stallholders will be happy to chat, and many events designate areas specifically for connecting with others. VegFest London features a ‘Teen Zone’ and a ‘Mature Zone’, making it easy to meet similar people while taking part in fun activities.  You could make a new best friend!

6. Attend talks and cookery demos

You’ll find a really diverse range of talks and demos at most vegan events – there’s usually something for almost everyone. We’ve seen talks on everything from vegan bodybuilding and healthy vegan diets to alternative healing and vegan activism. Cookery demos offer a great chance to pick up some new kitchen skills, and lessons on making your own vegan cheese are common.

7. Try tasty lunch options

Most vegan fairs are full of so many tasty lunch options that it can be hard to pick just one! Offerings will vary from event to event, but we’ve seen vegan pizza, vegan fish and chips, vegan hot dogs, vegan curries and more. Be sure to check outside the venue as well as inside, as food trucks often have some great offerings. Dessert options are usually plentiful as well, with cake, waffles, ice cream and froyo being some of the most popular.

8. Get freebies

Many vegan fairs are free to enter, particularly if they’re small, local events. Many fairs offer a free goodie bag to the first X number of visitors through the door, so it can pay to arrive early. You’ll often find freebies available on a number of stalls too, especially when a new company or product is being promoted.

Have we convinced you to visit a vegan fair this year?

If so, check out this list of 2017 UK vegan fairs for details of upcoming events.

It’s also helpful to join vegan Facebook groups for your local area and follow your favourite vegan brands on social media to keep up with new event announcements.

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Where to Get Vegan Fish and Chips in the UK

Did you think going vegan meant giving up fish and chips? Think again. A growing number of establishments are offering vegan alternatives to the old classic, and we’ve listed some of them below.

Loving Hut (London, Brighton, Norwich)

Loving Hut have branches in London, Brighton and Norwich, and offer this tasty looking vegan battered fillet and chips. Visit the Loving Hut website to see their full menu and list of locations.

The Peacock (Nottingham)

This pub offers a 100% vegan menu, featuring vegan variations on classic pub foods like pie, lasagne and fish and chips. Their ‘fish’ is made from battered tofu and seaweed and is served with homemade chips. You can follow The Peacock on Facebook to keep up to date.

Veggie Corner (Coventry)

All sorts of vegan takeaway options are available at Veggie Corner in Coventry, including fish and chips, battered sausage, pies and kebabs. Check out Veggie Corner on Facebook.

Matter Fastfoods (Bristol)

Matter Fastfoods serve vegan versions of chippy classics, including fried chicken, kebabs and wraps. Check out Matter Fastfoods on Facebook for more info.

Mono (Glasgow)

Mono is a vegan cafe bar in Glasgow. They serve a variety of tasty-looking dishes, including pizza, burgers, hot dogs and To-fish n’ chips. Check out the full menu on the Mono website.

Dove Pubs (London)

Dove pubs have two London branches, and offer a variety of vegetarian and vegan options, including Belgian Beer battered ‘fish’ and chips. You can check out the Dove pubs website for full details.

Battered (various locations)

Battered is a vegan fish and chip trailer, travelling to various events around the country. You can see where they’ll be heading next on their Facebook page, Twitter page or the Battered website.

Potato Tomato (Whitstable)

This 100% vegan eatery serves tofish and chips, southern fried popcorn tofu, and lots more. Check out their full menu on the Potato Tomato website.

Do you know of a place to get vegan fish and chips that we missed off this list? Let us know below or on social media.

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11 Vegan Cooking Hacks You Need to Try

Being vegan can force you to get pretty inventive while cooking, and things don’t always go as planned. To save you from kitchen disasters, we’ve listed eleven of the best vegan cooking hacks. Get ready to learn clever tricks for making everything from vegan omelette and egg-free quiche, to dairy-free whipped cream and tofu chocolate mousse.

1. Use chickpea water to make meringues.

vegan galaxy meringues

It might sound crazy, but the liquid that’s leftover from a can of chickpeas, also known as ‘aquafaba’, makes delicious, fluffy meringues – and they don’t taste like chickpeas. All you need to do is whisk the liquid along with sugar and cream of tartare, then bake.

Check out our recipe for the cute galaxy meringues shown above.

2. Make vegan cheese from almonds.

basic almond cheese

Source: http://www.landsandflavors.com/basic-almond-cheese/

Shop-bought vegan cheese can be a little hit and miss, but you can’t go wrong with this homemade almond cheese. It’s simple to make (especially if you use ground almonds rather than soaking and blending your own) and you can alter the seasoning according to your taste – check out our favourite Basic Almond Cheese recipe for full details.

3. Blend courgettes to make a creamy sauce.

vegan creamy carbonara

Source: http://www.blissfulbasil.com/creamy-carbonara-pasta-with-shiitake-bacon-vegan-gf/

There’s a growing range of non-dairy creams available, but sometimes they aren’t as filling/nutritious/flavourful as you’d like. We got the idea of using courgette to make a creamy sauce from this Vegan Carbonara Recipe. All you need to do is roast or fry courgettes until soft, then blend with garlic, salt, pepper and a splash of non-dairy milk. Adding nutritional yeast, paprika or mustard can create a nice cheese flavour – don’t be afraid to experiment.

4. Make whipped cream using tinned coconut milk.

coconut whipped cream

Source: http://minimalistbaker.com/how-to-make-coconut-whipped-cream/

Leave a can of coconut milk in the fridge overnight, scrape the thickened coconut cream from the top of the can, then use an electric beater to mix with icing sugar until peaks form. This whipped cream is ideal for desserts, or just to top a fancy hot chocolate. Get full details from Minimalist Baker.

5. Replace eggs in baking with flax/chia seeds.

vegan egg replacers

Source: http://www.chooseveg.com/bakingwithouteggs

Mix 1 tablespoon of flax/chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water and allow to thicken, and you’ve got the perfect egg replacer for most recipes. You can buy flax/chia seeds in Holland and Barrett, some supermarkets and most health food shops. If you’re struggling to track them down, try one of the other substitutions above.

6. Bake using ‘accidentally vegan’ cake mixes.

Most cake mixes are suitable for vegans, and it’s easy to make a few changes to the ingredients you add. In the video above, we used a powdered egg replacer, but it’s also possible use a can of fizzy drink. Check out our list of vegan cake mixes sold in UK supermarkets for inspiration. As an added bonus, loads of icing and decorations are also vegan.

7. Use liquid smoke for a ‘meaty’ flavour.

Available on Amazon or in the World Foods aisle at Tesco, liquid smoke is a great way to add extra flavour to vegan dishes. Brush onto tofu before baking, mix into homemade bean burgers, or add while frying sliced mushrooms to make vegan bacon. A little goes a long way with this product, so don’t go too wild.

8. Blend silken tofu to make desserts.

silken tofu chocolate mousse

Source: http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/chocolate-recipes/vegan-chocolate-pots/

Tofu doesn’t have much flavour, making it great for both sweet and savoury recipes. Blending silken tofu (which is much softer than regular tofu) with melted dark chocolate makes a delicious vegan chocolate mousse, and you can add other flavours as you wish. If you don’t believe us, check out this recipe from Jamie Oliver.

9. Make omelettes using chickpea flour.

chickpea flour vegan omelette

Source: http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2014/12/chickpea-omelet-mix.html

If you don’t fancy splashing out on the Follow Your Heart Vegan Egg, you can make vegan omelettes cheaply and easily using chickpea flour. Mix chickpea flour with seasoning of your choice (turmeric creates a nice yellow colour), then add water and chopped vegetables. Fry in a hot pan until medium brown on both sides. We like this chickpea omelette recipe from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen.

10. Blend frozen banana to make ice cream.

chocolate banana vegan ice cream

Source: http://www.bowlofdelicious.com/2015/09/15/two-ingredient-vegan-chocolate-banana-ice-cream/

If you haven’t tried this trick, you’re missing out. Simply freeze a banana, then blend with whatever you’d like your ice cream to taste like. We recommend trying:

  • Cocoa powder
  • Frozen berries
  • Mango
  • Vanilla essence
  • Peanut butter

If your blender isn’t very strong, add a splash of dairy-free milk or allow your bananas to defrost a little before blending. Your ice cream won’t be quite as thick, but it will still be delicious.

11. Use silken tofu to make realistic vegan quiche.

vegan quiche

Source: http://deerlybelovedbakery.blogspot.co.uk/2013/09/tomato-and-broccoli-quiche.html

This vegan quiche from Deerly Beloved Bakery tastes so realistic that we reckon it could easily fool non-vegans. Instead of egg, you’ll used mashed silken tofu to create the filling. The recipe can be used for large or individual quiches, and you can change the vegetables and seasoning according to your taste.

Send us your vegan cooking hacks

What are your favourite vegan cooking hacks? Let us know below or on social media!

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Top Places to Look for Vegan Recipe Inspiration

Whether you’re a new vegan or have been cooking without animal products for a long time, sometimes it can be hard to get inspired. You might find yourself rotating the same few recipes, or feeling stuck when it comes to dinnertime. There are loads of great places to get inspiration for new vegan recipes, and we’ve listed a few below.

1. Instagram

Instagram is perfect for everyday recipe inspiration – look out for accounts with daily pictures of each meal. Following accounts like this is a great way to get an idea of what you can eat on a day to day basis, and you won’t feel overwhelmed by lots of fancy recipes. Getting simple ideas on things like what to spread on your toast, take out as a snack, or cook as a quick dinner can make being vegan feel a lot easier.

For shopping tips and ideas based on products available near you, search using location-specific tags, like #veganUK, or #scottishvegan. When on holiday, tags like #veganfrance could help.

2. Pinterest

Pinterest is really handy for compiling recipes into different sections. You could create boards like, “Vegan Christmas” to save ideas for special occasions, or boards like, “Vegan Breakfast Ideas” for everyday inspiration. You can pin recipes from anywhere on the internet by pasting in the URL, so you’re not limited to what you find using the Pinterest search bar.

If there’s a favourite recipe that you’re missing since going vegan, then searching here will usually yield results. Try ‘vegan carbonara’ or ‘vegan tuna salad.’

3. Reddit

There are quite a few vegan-related subreddits, so you can choose whichever suits you. The main /r/vegan subreddit isn’t only for recipes, but you can filter using the food tag on the right hand side of the page. For dedicated recipe posts, visit /r/veganrecipes, and for pictures of vegan food, try /r/veganfoodporn. Reddit can also be a great place to get tips on cooking with certain foods or veganizing old favourite recipes.

4. Food company websites

If there’s an ingredient you use a lot and want to experiment with a little more, then checking out the manufacturer’s website is often helpful. Most websites will contain a recipes section, and you might get some ideas that you’d never even considered before. We’ve found some great vegan recipes on the Quorn website, and the Cauldron website has loads of great tofu ideas (filter using the vegan option at the top.)

5. YouTube

YouTube is a great source of inspiration. Search for ‘What I eat in a day’ videos for everyday ideas, or look for recipe channels to follow. Two of our favourites are The Vegan Corner and Peaceful Cuisine – they both show a wide range of creative recipes with clear instructions. If you’re interested in cooking with new ingredients, then watching videos on how to prepare them can be a big help. We love this tofu cooking video by The Vegan Zombie. More vegan YouTube channels are popping up all the time, so it’s definitely worth checking regularly.

6. Magazines

There are quite a few vegan magazines available in the UK now, and most include plenty of recipes. You could try Cook Vegan, Vegan Life, or Vegan Food and Living. Members of The Vegan Society receive a copy of The Vegan magazine four times a year, which usually contains some good ideas. You might also get inspiration from non-vegan magazines, like the free ones in supermarkets. Lots of recipes are easy to veganize using substitute meats, milks and cheeses.

7. Recipe books

Sometimes a new recipe book can be the best way to get inspired again. Try picking one that’s different to what you’d usually choose. If there’s a type of cuisine you’ve never tried cooking, then now could be the time to give it a go. There are plenty of vegan recipe books available on Amazon, including: Teff Love: Adventures in Vegan Ethiopan CookingVegan Richa’s Indian Kitchen, Chinese Vegan Kitchen, and many more. It’s also worth checking local bookshops – we’ve seen plenty of vegan cookery books at good prices in The Works.

How do you get inspiration for new vegan recipes? Let us know in the comments or on social media.

If you’re interested in cooking the spicy tofu wrap pictured at the top of this page, check out our recipe here.

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Top Ten UK Vegan Christmas Finds 2016

With Christmas fast approaching, we thought we’d give you a list of our top ten festive vegan finds. If you fancy browsing our entire list, check out the Christmas section here (you can filter by supermarket on the right hand side, or at the bottom of the page on mobile).

1. Favorina Mince Pies (Lidl)

These are delicious warmed in the microwave, and come in a bigger box than most. There’s lots of good stuff in the Favorina range, including jelly fruits and turkish delight – see our Lidl section for more.

2. Penguin Bites (Tesco)

Fun Christmas crisps, perfect if you don’t want to eat too many sugary snacks.

3. Dark Chocolate and Orange Thins (Morrison’s)

These make a fun change from mint thins, and could be used in place of a chocolate orange.

4. Iced Mince Pies (Sainsbury’s)

Most mince pies don’t come with icing, so these are a fun novelty! Also free from gluten.

5. Chocolate and Hazelnut Churros (Tesco)

Warm vegan churros filled with chocolate and topped with glittery cinnamon sugar. What more could you want?

6. Gold Shimmer Hot Chocolate (Waitrose)

Shimmery hot chocolate – just mix with your favourite plant milk.

7. Chocolate Fondant Truffles (Tesco)

These truffles are really tasty with soft, melty centres. Good substitute for Lindt chocolates and nice to display in a bowl.

8. Merry Moos Selection Box (Sainsbury’s)

Lots of different fun flavours of vegan chocolate, all in a cute festive box. Perfect for kids.

9. Meat Free Festive Nut Roast (Tesco)

This festive nut roast comes with a fancy cranberry and port sauce and is clearly marked vegan on the box.

10. Rich Fruit Christmas Pudding (Morrison’s)

Morrison’s have a few vegan-friendly Xmas puds, including this one, an alcohol-free version, and a gluten-free option.

We hope this list has given you a few festive shopping ideas! Let us know your best finds below or on social media.

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10 Vegan Jacket Potato Filling Ideas

Wondering what to put in your jacket potato as a vegan? Look no further. We’ve made a list of ten vegan baked potato fillings, including some really simple suggestions that are quick and easy to make, as well as some more involved options. Enjoy!

1. Mashed avocado and cherry tomatoes

This is really easy to make, and delicious with lots of salad on the side. Just mash avocados with chilli, lime, coriander, salt and pepper, then mix in halved cherry tomatoes, and pop inside your potato.

2. Houmous and vegetables

Another simple option, houmous melts nicely on top of a warm jacket potato and has a slightly ‘tangy’ flavour that’s reminiscent of cheese. In summer this is tasty topped with plenty of raw salad vegetables, and in winter it’s perfect with your favourite roasted veg – peppers and courgette slices are especially nice.

3. Chickpea ‘tuna’ salad

This is perfect if you’re used to having egg or tuna salad in your jacket potato. Here’s one of our favourite recipes, from Oh She Glows. The basic idea is to mash chickpeas along with vegan mayo, lemon juice, and any other seasoning you like – it’s fun to experiment. We like to microwave the chickpeas beforehand to make them a little softer.

4. Baked beans and vegan cheese

You can’t go wrong with cheese and beans, even if you’re vegan! We generally go for Branston Baked Beans topped with grated Violife and red onion. For some variation, you could choose a tin of spicy mixed beans and experiment with different flavours of cheese, or top with multiple varieties.

5. Spicy potato cake style

These spicy potatoes aren’t too filling, so make a perfect side dish. Scoop the middle out of your potatoes, and mash with chilli, lemon, fresh coriander, sliced spring onion, salt and pepper. The pop the middle back inside the skins and serve. For extra flavour, drizzle the potatoes in garlic oil before baking.

6. Lentil stew

A nice hearty option, perfect for cold days. Lentil stew is really simple to make – you basically just need to cook lentils, vegetable stock and a tin of tomatoes, adding any seasoning or vegetables you fancy. Here’s a recipe for ‘Ridiculously Easy Lentil and Vegetable Stew’. Stew sometimes doesn’t feel like enough on it’s own, and serving along with a jacket potato makes a nice change from bread.

7. Three bean chilli

You can make chilli as mild or as spicy as you like, and eating in a potato makes a change from rice. Here’s a simple chilli recipe that you can alter as much as you like – we like to add mushrooms. For a lazy option, buy a tin of ready made bean chilli.

8. Salt and olive oil

This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Use fancy flavoured olive oil and sea salt for the best flavour. This is a great way to serve mini jacket potatoes as part of a buffet.

9. Gravy and roast vegetables

Roast dinner inside a jacket potato! This is a fun way to make Sunday dinner for one. Roast all of your favourite vegetables in a large tray, then tip onto your jacket potato and top with gravy. Add stuffing to make this even more delicious.

10. Samosa inspired

This potato is basically a giant samosa, and another fun option as part of a buffet at parties. The potato filling is mixed with Indian spices, peas and onion. You can follow this recipe, leaving out the yoghurt and using vegan butter. Serve with mango chutney, or mint sauce made from a vegan yoghurt.

We hope this post has given you some good ideas for your next jacket potato! Let us know your favourite fillings below.

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P.S Have you seen our newly updated festive section yet? (All products sold in UK supermarkets)

Top UK Vegan Halloween Treats 2016

It’s not long until Halloween, so we’ve put together a list of spooky vegan treats available in the UK. Most of these items are available for a limited time, so stock up if there’s anything you really like!

Halloween Tube of Rich Dark Treacle Crunch Biscuits from Wilkinson’s

halloween-treacle-tube

These biscuits are pretty unusual – they aren’t too sweet and have a rich treacle flavour. Nice change from sweets and come in a fun tube.

Toffee Apple from Morrison’s

morrisons-toffee-apple

Toffee apple for 57p! Make sure you check the label – this one contains E22 which is vegan-friendly, but there’s one on their website that uses carmine.

Dark Chocolate Bat Lolly from Lidl

lidl-bat

This cute dark chocolate bat is one of three chocolate lollies sold at Lidl, but he’s the only one that’s vegan!

Zombie Fingers Wotsits from Asda

zombie-wotsits

These limited edition Wotsits are ‘Flamin’ Hot’ flavour rather than cheese, and suitable for vegans. They’re limited edition, so we’d recommend stocking up if you’re a fan.

Strawberry & Butternut Bear Claws from Asda

bear-claws-strawberry-butternut

For a healthier option, try these ‘bear claws’. Made from only apples, pears, strawberries, butternut and black carrot extract. There’s also a green variety with apple, pear and pumpkin.

Trick or Treat Starburst from Asda

starburst-fruit-chews-trick-or-treat

A mix of sweet and sour sweets – good for party games.

Various items from M&S

There are loads of vegan sweets available at M&S if you’re looking for a good mix – check out their latest vegan list here. Highlights include spooky crisps, fizzy spiders, and jelly brains.

Have you made any vegan Halloween discoveries this year? Let us know below or on social media!

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