Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Figlets Abound


I might be edging towards 50 years old but that doesn't in the least bit minimise my childlike excitement at the wonder of growing plants from saved seeds or cuttings.  I find it actually hard to understand why anyone doesn't find it exciting too (you weirdos).  Sure I admit I do buy seeds now and then.  That's because we've got carried away eating too many of the growing plants and not allowed some to go to seed or I've been seduced by plant catalogues or unknown varieties on our travels.  However nothing is quite as satisfying as seeing the green shoots of that seed you saved last year poking up above the earth.

I've also grown plants from seeds from shop bought fruit and veg; apples, apricots, avocados and squashes being some examples.  Agave seeds have been collected from plants in Portugal and I have even successfully grown my own Moreton Bay Fig from seed collected from fallen fruits from the historically famous one in Santa Barbara, California.

Not quite as exotic but equally lovely is seeing signs of new growth from a cutting that you took from an existing plant from the garden. About twice a year I have to trim our ever growing fig (the Mediterranean one not the aforementioned Moreton Bay Fig).  I actually hate having to hack it back but saving our phone line from being 'figotaged' or ensuring the postman can deliver Phil's Surfers Journal are factors that contribute to this necessity.  The saving grace is that I will save as many of the cuttings as possible to try and encourage them into little fig trees; or figlets as I like to call them.  I kind of feel like a plant midwife!  I won't  go into the history of this fig as I have covered that in a previous post.  However, such has been the request from various people for a cutting of my fig that I've never managed to reach my target every year of 'growing to sell'.  I end up giving the cuttings I've grown away! Not this year though as I've ensured an ample supply for free gifts for friends and neighbours and also spares for potential sales (for charity I might add).

I have no regrets at all about where my final spare from last year's cuttings went though. We recently planted it in the middle of my dad's potato patch in his garden in Kent.  My dad, Robin, passed away in April and with mum unable herself to continue to grow the bare patch, we felt it was symbolic to plant something to green the area more long term.  For me a cutting from my much loved fig from home seemed perfect.  As we planted it a robin landed nearby to inspect our work.  I took that as approval of not only the positioning of the fig but also general approval from my plant loving dad of my plant producing ways.

If you are ever in doubt of the wonder of the cycle of life, save that apple seed from the apple you just ate, save those shiny wonders inside that overgrown bean pod from this summer's harvest, save those cuttings destined for the compost bin.  Stick them all in the good brown soil that Mother Earth provides.  It won't cost you or the Earth a penny and might just put a big smile on your face (and perhaps many others if you pass on the plant love).

Friday, 2 June 2017

Compassion At The Castle in Exeter


For various reasons, the Driftwood Vegans household has not been very busy on the blog front. However, the vegan world has been busy 'doing its thing' around us, particularly so recently with the Vegan Festival of Britain

We only reported last week about the wonderful Vegan Spring Fete in Plymouth; one such event that was organised in conjunction with the Animal Aid led three week long vegan festival.  Well, in a week's time the grand finale to the festival takes place, again in neighbouring Devon.

Compassion at the Castle is jointly organised with Exeter Friends for Animals and takes place on Saturday 10th June at Exeter Castle, in the heart of the city.  

Touted as being 'a vegan twist on a traditional English summer fete', with proceedings starting at 11am but then continuing into the evening with a barbecue, great music, and a bar featuring a special Vegan Festival of Britain real ale, it sounds more like a mini festival than a simple fete!

Day time offerings include a vegan market featuring over 40 stalls (there is even a vegan barber for anyone requiring a trim!).  Retail and personal care needs aside, for those seeking a more educational perspective, there are various talks and demonstrations available, including one about how to make your own soft cheese. 

A vegan event would not be complete (in fact it would be a complete failure!) if food wasn't involved and at this event, that seems to have been more than covered.  There is a vegan cafe (with a plentiful supply of cakes no doubt), catering from Indian food specialists from London, Shambhu's, and local favourites Fairfoods, alongside unusual Ethiopian offerings and the more usual burgers and hot dogs for the less adventurous.  For the damn right greedy among you (yep, I admit that would be me too), there are even vegan cream teas available.  Well, it is the West Country after all, (the cream better be on top though or it might upset the Cornish contingent!).  Do leave space for that evening barbecue though!

And if anyone is worried about the predictable British Summer weather playing a hand, never fear, as the whole event can be under cover if necessary, so no need to bring your festival wellies!

For up to the date details on this event please do visit the Facebook Event Page and you can check general details on the Vegan Festival of Britain website.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Vegan Spring Fete in Plymouth

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Animal Aid is 40 years old this year and to celebrate this wonderful fact, they have initiated the three week Vegan Festival of Britain.  This isn't just about one event, this is about getting the vegan community to celebrate everything vegan by organizing a series of events during the three week festival, which runs from 20th May to the 10th June.

One such event is taking place this Saturday 27th May just over the Devon border in Plymouth. The Naturally Vegan Plot have organised an Animal Aid sponsored Spring Fete with stalls from a wide range of vegan businesses, animal rights groups and causes, information stalls, and of course lots of vegan food, pasties, and cakes.  Arts and crafts also feature, and please do check out the most beautiful wood turning creations by our mate Andy too. There are even massage tasters on offer and vegan photography to peruse, whilst there is also delicious vegan organic produce on sale from the hosts The Naturally Vegan Plot, so take your shopping baskets with you.

The Fete kicks off at 11am on Saturday at Abbey Hall which is at the rear of St Andrew's Church, Catherine's Street in Plymouth (just off of Royal Parade).  It runs until 5pm but to get in on the vegan cake act, I'd plan to arrive early (we know what you vegans are like with your cake!).

For more information check out The Celebration of Animal Aid - Vegan Spring Fete Facebook Event Page.   There is also more information available on The Naturally Vegan Plot too.

If you really can't get down to these parts (we are after all quite 'out there'!), do check out The Vegan Festival of Britain website for further details of all events taking place all over the country during the next three weeks.  Let's celebrate the very essence of veganism and the hard work that Animal Aid have done over the last 40 years to get us to this vegan turning point.

Friday, 19 May 2017

It's a Wrap


Whoever I.R. in Bollington, UK is, I salute you.  I'm also fairly disgraced by the fact that I didn't think about starting a petition about this very subject; the unnecessary plastic packaging that supermarkets feel the need to wrap around their fruit and vegetables. However, I.R. did, so most importantly, before I go in to my own personal rant about the subject, please do SIGN THIS PETITION if this gets under your skin too. 

So on to the rant.  Yes, we should all grow our own.  Yes, we should be buying from farmers markets, local produce stalls, the bloke (or lady bloke) down the road that grows their own, or order veg boxes. However, realistically we all pop in to the odd Sinsburys, Assda or Tosscos every now and then.  I purposefully try and avoid anything packaged in plastic but infuriatingly most of the organic produce, which I also prefer to choose, is more packaged it seems than the rest of the stuff.  Why should I have to choose between the environmental impact of plastic and the more healthful impact of organic produce?  It winds me up; which can't be good for my health.  Quite often I take so much offence at the amount of packaging on the organic produce that I end up choosing the non-organic.  

Reusable Produce Bags
Regardless of the organic/non-organic packaging dilemma, why the hell does any of it need packaging up so much anyway? It's actually obscene.  As I.R. pointed out, what is wrong with cardboard packaging if it really cannot bear to be sold without some form of excess packaging support?  Or what is wrong with a simple paper bag? Personally we use Onya Produce Bags for produce that really needs keeping together, but quite often we just bung it in the basket as if we were foraging in the forest (we can kid ourselves right?).  

There have also been various campaigns to encourage customers to leave excess packaging at the supermarkets. Doing a search will reveal a few examples, including the Women's Institute.  However, we quite like this one from The Book of Rubbish Ideas.  Much like the idea back in the 80's of emptying bags of McDonald's rubbish back on their own premises (preferably on the food serving counters), this might have quite an impact (obviously our issue wasn't just about packaging). It was pretty good fun too as really it was just returning their own property in a mischievous manner; but I digress.  Of course, none of this would be necessary if the packaging wasn't there in the first place.

Anyway, rant over.  Sign, sign, sign is what we say and let's get behind this petition big time. Campaigning worked for getting rid of the single use carrier bag right?  Meanwhile, if you are in the area and fancy some rocket or fresh herbs (bit early for everything else), we have a profusion in our garden but be warned, there will be trouble if you turn up with a plastic bag!  If your hands aren't good enough, get some Onya bags!

Saturday, 6 May 2017

The Cornish Vegan Pasty Company


The Cornish Vegan Pasty CompanyWe finally treated ourselves to a couple of proper vegan pasties from The Cornish Vegan Pasty Company today whilst on a visit to our local health food store, Sprout in Newquay.  

Now a vegan pasty is actually reasonably easy to find in Cornwall these days, but the pasties made by The Cornish Vegan Pasty Company are, being palm oil free, that vegan step further.  They are also a step further in taste.  

The two pasties on offer today at Sprout were the Vegan Cheese and Onion Pasty and The Mountain Chilli Pasty, which is also gluten free.  The more traditional Cornish Vegan Pasty, which contains seitan, had unsurprisingly sold out when we arrived on the scene.  We were however not disappointed by our options by any means.  The Cheese and Onion Pasty delivered a creamy cheesy punch with a delicate, non overpowering onion undertone.  The Mountain Chilli Pasty had a delicate and savoury pastry which was more than satisfying for us non gluten intolerant folk.  Some gluten free products can under perform for those that don't need to partake in curbing the gluten, but this was one pastry that certainly didn't. If you have ever had the mountain chilli from Good2Go in Perranporth, the lovely people behind these vegan pasties, you will know what to expect with the filling of this pasty.  It is wholesome, not overbearing in spice heat and satisfyingly filling.  

Now these are not cheap pasties and we admit, the cost had slightly put us off when we first saw them for sale; £4.50 for one pasty is a fair whack.  However, there are two things that counter the price; they are quality flavoursome products, and they are massive!  Indeed if you compare them to pasties made by non vegan companies, it is easy to see the price is more than fair when it comes to quality and size.

In Cornwall, The Cornish Vegan Pasties are available to buy from Good2Go in Perranporth, Sprout in Newquay,  and at both the Truro and Penzance branches of Archie Browns. If you are outside of Cornwall however, never fear, as there are places where you can get yourself a Cornish Vegan Pasty in Devon, Dorset, Wales, Birmingham, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire and Northamptonshire.  There is a full list of stockists on the website (which is bound to increase over the coming months) and you can even get your pasties by post; prepared, packaged, and posted by the Pasty Pixies themselves.

The Cornish Vegan Pasty Company

44 St Pirans Road
Perranporth
Cornwall
TR6 0BJ

Email: pastypixies@thecornishveganpastycompany.com
Phone: 07392 921983

Sunday, 30 April 2017

Great Vegan Hummus (Shortage) 2017


A strange set of events converged last week, that led to one of the most serious plant based news items of the year so far. Stunned shoppers stood aghast in the chiller aisles of various supermarkets and wondered where all the hummus had gone.  Some were even moved to mutter "oh bother".  Yes it really was that serious; or so various news media would have us believe!

In fact it was all due to a product recall, as some customers had complained of a metallic taste in their hummus.  But why was it withdrawn from so many different supermarkets? Surely it doesn't all come from the same place does it?  Well, it turns out it does.  So, your Moroccan hummus hasn't been mailed from anywhere near Morocco, and your Piri Piri hummus hasn't been posted from Portugal either.

If you haven't already had a go yourself, this could be the ideal time to start making your own.  It really is very easy, and you won't be using a whole load of packaging either.  Start with a basic recipe (any recipe) and experiment to tweak it to your own taste.  You can keep it relatively simple and healthy like the recipe below (leaving out the seaweed), or make it a bit more luxurious and worldly with the addition of various ingredients.  Toasted pumpkin oil and fresh oregano perhaps?  What about Thai green curry hummus?  How about ginger, tamari, and toasted sesame oil hummus?  

Get creative, and see what fantastic flavours you can come up with.  Feel free to let us know the good ones!

Nori Seaweed Hummus

1 x 380g pack organic chickpeas, drained (save the liquid/aquafaba)
3 tablespoons tahini
1 clove garlic
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 teaspoon Clearspring Green Nori Flakes
Pinch of Himalayan salt

Add drained chickpeas to your blender of choice (we used our Nutribullet).  Add enough liquid/aquafaba to just cover.  Add in all the other ingredients and blend to your desired consistency; chunky style, or smooth and creamy.

Enjoy!

Monday, 24 April 2017

Solkiki Chocolate

Solkiki Chocolate, vegan chocolate, bean to bar chocolate, artisan chocolate, dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, award winning chocolate,  single estate chocolate, best chocolate,

This post has been a long time coming, and is well overdue.  Maybe some things in life are worth a little more time and effort to get right?  We first met Iris and Bob from Solkiki Chocolate at the South West Christmas Without Cruelty Festival in Exeter back in 2015. We were immediately impressed by their passion for and knowledge about chocolate, and the choice of flavours they had on offer.  As we slowly worked our way through their extensive range of samples (this chocolate is not to be rushed), we went from impressed to awed.

As Bob gave us the rundown on the complex tastes and flavour profiles of the varieties of beans used, and the myriad combinations of flavours that can be detected from such few ingredients, I wondered if he was using some kind of NLP/Derren Brown-like mind control suggestions to convince me that all of the incredibly complex tastes I was experiencing were really there... in some cases from chocolate with only two ingredients!  I can now assure you that they really are.

As regular readers of our Blog may have gathered, I (Phil) do like the odd bit of chocolate 'now and then', and actively seek out new and interesting chocolate to try at every opportunity.  Solkiki Chocolate took me on a wonderful journey that day, and they have since been on quite a journey themselves, winning multiple awards for their outstanding 'next level' chocolate.  When I saw that they were going to be at this years Cornwall Vegan Festival, it was just one more good reason to attend this inspiring gathering of plant based movers and shakers.

Considering that I had only met Bob once before at Exeter, it was a nice touch that he recognised me as I approached their stall and we struck up a conversation.  Was this due to the brain-boosting memory enhancing effects of the cacao bean perhaps, or was he just thinking, "Oh no, this guy's going to eat all my samples again"?!  Bob once again took me on another chocolate journey, a smooth subtle transportation to more tropical climes, drifting through flavours like 'Tahitian Nougat', 'Salted Caramel Dark Mylk', 'Aji Limon Chilli Egyptian Mint', and my personal favourite of those on offer, the 'Maranon 68'.  There were many more varieties on offer, but these were the standouts for me and my taste buds.

Aji Limon Chilli and Egyptian Mint White Chocolate

Some people are happy with a boring bland Kit Kat or a Mars bar (not vegans obviously), but others like to experiment and explore new flavours, tastes, and experiences from around the world. Now world travel isn't cheap these days, and neither is Solkiki Chocolate, but I can assure you that you absolutely get what you pay for.  As Bob says, "Champagne is more expensive than Cider", a curious statement from a 10 year teetotaler, and lost on me also as when I did drink I'd much rather have Cider!  It does however get the point across that quality, rarity, and provenance all add to the cost; as does the fact that these chocolate magicians conjure all these varieties from bean to bar themselves, with minimal processing (working off grid with renewable energy), and using only the essential ingredients necessary to create each flavourful bar. They also buy the cacao beans directly from the growers, thereby supporting the growers (paying them much more than 'Fairtrade' rates), and in some cases keeping rare heirloom varieties from extinction.  All this supports biodiversity; a win/win situation for us all.

If you get the chance to meet Iris and Bob at one of the chocolate or food events they attend, you will be assured of a taste experience like no other, and inevitably some of their enthusiasm and passion for their products will inspire you to maybe pick up a bar or two... or five!  If not, then check out their website, explore their world of flavour, and prepare to be amazed.  This is, without a doubt, the best chocolate that I have ever tasted.

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Cornwall Vegan Festival 2017



This Saturday sees the premier event of the Cornish vegan calendar.  This year the Cornwall Vegan Festival, which also coincides with Earth Day Celebration, takes place for the first time outside of Truro at the wonderful Mount Pleasant Eco Park at Porthtowan. With wonderful wide open spaces, the venue also has the advantage of being dog and family friendly and even offers the opportunity of camping (contact the venue direct for details).  Fingers are therefore crossed for a spot of lovely Spring sunshine, but with plenty of covered areas too, there will be assured vegan sunshine regardless.

The festival is sponsored by Animal Aid, The Cornish Vegan Pasty Company and supported by Cornwall Animal Action. Admission and parking are completely free which is great as you will no doubt be parting with plenty of your ethical pounds when you see the variety of vegan goodies on offer inside.  Obviously a bountiful supply of food will be available so the issue will be choosing what you can fit in your belly before the end of the festival.  Clothing, arts and crafts also feature alongside ethical businesses and charities, animal rescue and animal rights stalls.  There is a full range of demonstrations, workshops and talks.  The talks range in subject from vegan nutrition, environmentalism and veganism, evolutionary biology and animal rights, vegan feminism and mindfulness.  For vegans and non vegans alike the Veganers Question Time may however be the main attraction when it comes to the educational side of things.  A take on Gardeners Question Time, this will give members of the public the chance to ask the panel of experts about all aspects of veganism.

For full details on the festival, check out the Cornwall Vegans website.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Vegan Masala Dosas in Cornwall

There are several things that can cheer a Cornish spring up no end.  One is a spot of lovely sunshine, which we have recently enjoyed.  Another are the fields upon fields of daffodils swaying in the wind like rippling waves under a golden sunset. One thing that particularly put a smile on our faces this spring was the discovery and sampling of a masala dosa in Cornwall.  Not the usual Cornish fare admittedly, being a traditional Southern Indian dish, but one that sits among our favorite foods ever!  

A dosa is basically a pancake or crepe that is made from a fermented batter of rice and black gram (urad dal).  This can be stuffed with various fillings, but a masala dosa, the most popular, is one that is stuffed with a spicy potato filling.  It is often served with a coconut chutney and a little side dish of sambar (vegetable stew) and is more often a traditional breakfast dish.  We've had plenty of these in India but sadly they are not that easy to find in the UK. Veggie Perrins, just across the border in Plymouth, have served them on special nights, and even further afield they are a main feature on Krishnas Inn menu in Bristol. Imagine our delight therefore to have them available not only in Cornwall but at my very place of work!  It also happens to be on a day when Phil works half day so he too can partake of these delights (and makes the trip over from Truro after work to do so).

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Achar, formerly known as The Salvador Thali Cafe, is an Indian street food stall, and the brainchild of chef extraordinaire Terry McClintock.  It brings the full flavour of vegetarian Indian food to the heart of Cornwall, with vegan choices always on offer, including the aforementioned masala dosa.   Achar makes regular stops on Fridays at the Falmouth University Penryn Campus (by the way, the first hour of parking at Penryn Campus is free so plenty of time to nip in for a treat if you are passing).  You will find Terry's colourful stall just outside The Stannary (main refectory area) in the heart of the campus. 

Achar also pops up regularly at various venues in the Falmouth area.  You can check for updates of where and when to find them on the Achar Facebook page or alternatively give Terry a call or text on 07946 555632 (I did the other day and he got right back to me super quick!).

By the way, despite their generous size, we still can't seem to resist going back for masala dosa seconds!  Basically we thoroughly recommend them. Terry and his side kick are also a blast to chat to as you watch, with salivating wonder, the skillful preparation of your dosas. Go check them out.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Comedy of Carnage

Comedians are masters of searching out and observing the hypocrisy and irony in life; turning it back on society in a more digestible and entertaining manner.  Given the surge in veganism in recent years, it is therefore no surprise that there is currently a ripple of veganism surging through the comedy industry. 

Vegetarianism and veganism has had its fair share of being negatively mocked in the comedic sense, but it seems the tide may be turning.  Not only have vegans (Sarah Pascoe, Romesh Ranganathan and Simon Amstell included) joined the ranks of the mainstay of British comedy performers, bringing with them their own more positive and thought provoking comedic observations of being a vegan, but the industry as a whole seems to be sitting up and paying attention.  I did think however that we were still a way off of hearing anything beyond the odd comment or discussion on a comedy game show, or a story in a stand up show.  Then came along Simon Amstell's film, Carnage.

A short film on mainstream TV, looking at veganism, would have been amazing enough.  An hour long mockumentary, with well known actors and celebrities produced by the BBC is nothing short of astonishing.  Okay so they haven't been brave enough to put it on anything but the BBC iPlayer yet, but they have at least advertised it on the main BBC channels. 

Carnage looks at a world 50 years into the future; a world turned vegan and horrified at its carnist past.  This is however, no run of the mill, usually brutal exploration into the reasons why the masses should turn to veganism.  Simon Amstell has still honoured the very essence of veganism but wrapped it up extremely well in layer upon layer of humour, entertainment, and fascinating facts for both vegans and non vegans alike.  He is like a child who has very skillfully hidden his vegetables under the meat on the dinner plate; or in this case, should it be the other way round?

We had laugh out loud moments (yes us vegans do have a sense of humour!) mixed in with moments of being pulled along in wild imaginings that such a world could eventually exist.  I was also delighted, as cringe worthy as some of it was, to see the inclusion of the historical aspect to veganism.  I also felt a sense of pride and hope; pride in that veganism has come so very far in the 30 years Phil and I have been vegan, and hope that Carnage represents and accelerates the more recent surge in vegan interest into even more of an awakening.

It is easy for us vegans to wax (soya not beeswax!) lyrical about something that hits the vegan nail on the head, especially if it does it in a ground breaking, entertaining, and accessible way; but will it work?  After all, it must have been the intention of Simon Amstell, as a vegan himself, to go way beyond the entertainment level and send out those far reaching vegan ripples.  I find it extremely hard to believe that it won't reach out to the non vegan viewer and at least plant a seed.  In fact I would be astonished if it doesn't but then I am already astonished how people will very easily deny the facts that are already in front of many (take for instance the man in the film who said that cows would explode if they weren't milked; whether that was staged for the film or not I have personally heard someone say this!).  I will read the reviews and listen to the feedback with much interest and hope.

Carnage is available now on BBC iPlayer and remains so for over a year apparently.  If you would like a non vegan's review then check out Mark Kermode's take on Carnage. 


Tuesday, 14 March 2017

A Shock to the Health System

I've been very quiet on the blogging front as I've had other priorities; pretty massive ones. You see both of my parents are really sick.  Mum has been dealing with pancreatic and liver cancer for the past four years and dad was recently diagnosed with leukemia and was rushed to hospital in an extremely serious and life threatening state.  I've just returned from Kent, where they live, and despite a few days of rest at home I am still feeling relatively shell shocked.  The worry, multiple hospital and medical visits, helping them work out every day practicalities and putting support services in place have played their part in the mental exhaustion and stress, but there is more to it than that.  I'm in shock about how all this could have happened.

When you are young you don't really think much about your parents not being around, and in fact it hadn't really hit me until relatively recently.  Mum will be 75 this year and despite her long struggle with cancer, it wasn't that long ago that she was still out walking along the cliff tops of Cornwall or in their local woodlands at a fair pace.  The fact that she is still with us four years on from diagnosis and major surgery is a credit to her.  Most people last about 18 months with her diagnosis.  As for dad, who will be 81 this year, he's not long stopped getting on the house roof to adjust tiles and climbing trees with chain saws.  To see and try to come to terms with both of them in their current state is the most upsetting and exhausting thing of all.  None of us expected this.

Whilst I was in Kent, the newest film from the creators of the award-winning documentary Cowspiracy was pre-released. What The Health exposes the collusion and corruption in government and big business that is costing us trillions, and keeping us sick.  As contributors to the crowd funding of this film, we got access to see the pre-release for free. Having witnessed my parents being pumped full of prescription drugs and being at the mercy of the medical profession, the timing of What The Health couldn't have been any more apt, shocking, moving, and personally influential at the same time.

Now I am by no means knocking the 'on the ground' NHS or medical profession in this country (we are very very fortunate to have such a system).  In terms of the care my parents have received, it has been extremely good. Neither am I holding my parents responsible for how things have turned out, or for continuing along the pathway of medical care they are currently on.  It is what it is and, despite offering various suggestions for potential improvements, their generation is unquestioningly dedicated to and trusting in the medical industry.  Most of us ultimately are to a certain extent, as much as some of us try and resist it

But I'm confused and I'm angry.  I'm angry that the world over we have a medical industry that seems to put profit before health, that teaches and promotes treatment over prevention, that prescribes drugs to combat the ill effects of other drugs and that is sponsored by profit seeking companies.  I'm confused by the way that many health care professionals go along with what the medical industry dictates.  I'm confused by the way that many medical charities concentrate their efforts on treatments and seemingly ignore prevention.  I'm scared by the amount of people, young and old, I've seen in the oncology departments I have had the displeasure of passing through recently. And I'm scared that these people have so much trust in what is being done to them without question.  Blind fear and denial has many of us sleep walking to our deaths.  Sure a lot of health advances have been made, but that doesn't mean that there is not something uncomfortably wrong with the 'following the money' course the mainstream medical industry seems to be increasingly deluded on.  

Part of the reason for being vegan is to do the best I can to try and prevent harm to myself as much as to other beings and the environment.  Prevention; surely we all want that right?  Well no actually, an awful lot of people don't seem to, or rather are taught not to.  Instead we are taught that your only chance is to take this expensive drug or give money to that charity who will then use that money to try and research a drug which will 'wave a magic wand' and cure the evil of disease.  Well, I feel a lot of dis-ease about the two 'elephants' called 'Prevention' and 'Nutrition' that sit in the room of the medical industry and charities but still continue to be ignored.  What The Health puts a spot light on those 'elephants' and more importantly the industry that chooses to ignore them.

Seeing my parents as they now are, and seeing What the Health has not only enforced my reasons for being vegan, but it has also made me think even more about whether I am doing enough to keep myself as healthy as possible.  Ask yourself why we have a health system that is neither teaching or encouraging people to take responsibility for themselves? How can that be happening on any level let alone on such a massive scale?  Nobody is completely immune from health issues but I'm determined to do my level best to stay out of a system whose end game is profit.  Even if I do end up in the system, I want to make damn sure I keep my eyes wide open to make sure my end game is not their profit. There may well be alternatives out there that are ignored purely because there is no profit to be made.

Please, if you get the chance, vegan or not, take a look at What The Health.  Ask yourself, who has the biggest stake in your continued good health and who gets to profit the most out of a sick population?  At the very least think about the issues being tackled here.  It is surely food for thought right?


Saturday, 11 February 2017

Foxy Cake and Bake Sale

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Original artwork by Agusta L Downs
If like me, the dark, dank and cold days of winter are driving you to become more than obsessed with cakes, there is just the right event for you taking place tomorrow. It not only supports your need for cake but most importantly, supports a great cause.

Cornwall Vegans are hosting a cake and bake sale to raise funds for the Kernow Sabs, Monitors and Animal Rights Team who have been made particularly busy just recently. This takes place at The Cornish Vegan in Truro from 1pm with drinks being sold by The Cornish Vegan and all proceeds of the sale of cakes and bakes going to the fund.

If you are a vegan cake baker then your delicious creations would be very much welcome to aid this event and you are invited to arrive with them from 12 noon.  Likewise if you are the 'crafty type' then any creations you can spare to sell for this fund raising event would be most appreciated.

For more details on this event or if you have any questions, please do visit the Facebook Event page - Foxy Cake and Bake Sale.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Cakey Delights from Sprout Health Foods


As our last post detailed, we are continuing our period of alcohol abstinence and part of our success has been in treating ourselves in other ways.  This time from Sprout Health Foods in Newquay we sampled the cakey sweet delights on offer.

Occasionally Claire and Bast from Sprout do make their own gluten free and vegan cakes to sell.  They also source sweet treats from a couple of other producers, including local chef and baker Vivienne Levick and also Cornish based mother and daughter fronted clean food company Je Tam.  However the majority of their delights are supplied by husband and wife team, Charlotte and Graeme at Pura Pressed. Pura Pressed are known for their cold pressed juices but have also gained an increasingly appreciative market for their raw, vegan and gluten free cakes which are also free from palm oil, refined sugar and preservatives.  As well as being available at Sprout you can delve into these delightful desserts at Archie Browns or The Cornish Vegan, both in Truro.  Alternatively you could catch up with Pura Pressed at their regular stall at Truro Farmers Market or order direct online from the Pura Pressed website.

The first of the two Pura Pressed delights from Sprout we scoffed was a carrot cake. Chewy and creamy in equal measure this carrot packed slice has a wonderful lemon zing coupled with a sweet cinnamon kick.  It's filling though, and sharing the slice enabled us to move onto the second treat we'd bought, which was a chocolate peppermint slice.  As good as the carrot cake was, the 'biscuity' base colliding with the fresh burst of minty filling and chocolate topping just pipped the post for me.  It was like a big hug from a vegan After Eight mint (but so much better).  

It seems that when it comes to a vegan healthy treat, Sprout has it covered and, with so many local producers of vegan goodies around, there are plenty more to enjoy on future shopping trips! 

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Pro Fusion Kombucha


We've given up drinking alcohol.  Yes, you read that right.  Given our numerous posts of a vegan alcoholic nature, we've even surprised ourselves with this decision.  However, like many people facing the pressure of the whole 'New Year, New You' thing, we had been questioning the amount of alcohol we had got used to drinking.  It was time to make a change.  Whether this is just a temporary well needed break, or a permanent situation remains to be seen but for now we are fairly resolute in our indeterminate personal prohibition.

It has been hard though, I admit.  Treats and distractions have definitely played their part in our success so far.  A recent visit to our local health food store, Sprout in Newquay, provided one such delicious healthy treat.  

Pro Fusion Organic Kombucha is a lightly sparkling fermented green tea drink, complete with beneficial live cultures.  It's raw, live and unpasteurized!  Kombucha is an ancient drink said to have originated in China at least 2000 years ago.  It contains, among other things, probiotics, antioxidants and B vitamins. In other words, it's good stuff in our view.  We have previously made our own kombucha, but not for a few years now, and we no longer have the starter culture known as a scoby (you read that right we do mean scoby and not scooby!).

There are quite a few kombucha brands on the market these days but this one, made by Pro Fusion Organic Living, is the first we have come across which is enhanced with superfoods.  There are three delicious slightly tart fruity flavours on offer; Baobab Mint and Pomegranate, Maca Coconut and Pineapple, and Turmeric Ginger and Lemon. The last two were the ones we sampled on this occasion and both were equally delicious and beautifully angelic; even served in our devilish wine glasses!

Before any smart vegan out there draws our attention to it, yes okay kombucha does still contain alcohol, naturally produced during the fermentation process.  At a maximum of 1% alcohol content though I don't think we could be accused of cheating too much!

We will be following up this post with more wine distracting treats we have recently bought from Sprout Health Foods.

Thursday, 12 January 2017

First Crack of The Vegg


Whilst I found the introduction of The Vegg and Follow Your Heart VeganEgg in the last year or so interesting, I wasn't intrigued enough to splash out on either of these egg substitute powders, particularly so as I thought the latter was over packaged.  After all, I found it difficult to see how a good old fashioned tofu scrambles could be improved upon. 

Then just before Christmas, and whilst shopping on Veganstore for seasonal goodies, I noticed they sold small sample bags of The Vegg and one of them ended up in my basket.  I thought I'd give it a go after all.

At the weekend, with the wind and rain lashing the window with force, an afternoon indoors experimenting in the kitchen seemed like the more desirable option.  I reached for The Vegg sample with a quiche in mind to go with a colourful palette of winter salads to counter the less than colourful weather outside.  The wonders of the quiche are that you can add whatever vegetables you fancy or have available into the filling.  I wanted however to keep it simple so that I could get a real feel for the results of The Vegg mixture.  Just onions, mushrooms and tomatoes, with a hint of garlic went in the mix, with a good sprinkle of vegan cheese on top.

For the pastry I had to freestyle a bit!  I discovered I didn't have much plain flour left. However, with buckwheat and spelt flour stocks high, a healthier style pastry was the obvious choice anyway to compliment the salad accompaniment. Luckily, despite my random free styling and guesswork, it turned out tasty.  With hindsight I would have rolled it out a little thinner but there wasn't a soggy patch in sight regardless!

And my impression of The Vegg?  I was really pleased with the resulting quiche and it got the definite thumbs up from Phil.  Would it be enough to make me buy a big packet? Hmmm, not totally sure at the moment.  The leftover quiche we had for lunch the next day nearly swayed me, but really the results weren't significantly different to some results I'd had without it.  I do however have quite a lot of the small sample packet left, so there may be many more experiments ahead and perhaps by the end of the packet (or even when I next use it), I would have been totally convinced.

First Crack Vegg Quiche
This recipe made two small quiches and the large one pictured above.

The Free Styling Pastry
40g plain flour
40g buckwheat flour
220g spelt flour
1 teaspoon vegan bouillon powder
80ml oil (I used part rapeseed and part olive)
80ml plant milk (I used soya milk on this occasion)

Put the flours in a bowl with the bouillon and mix together.  Add the oil and rub in so it resembles bread crumbs. Then add the milk bit by bit until you have a dough that holds together and can be rolled out (you may not need all the milk - don't make it too sticky). 

Roll out to about a half cm thickness (as mentioned above I rolled mine a bit too thick so would go for this thickness next time).  Line your chosen greased pie cases with the pastry.  Part bake for about 10 minutes at 200 degrees C.

The Filling
Touch of oil for frying
1 medium onion diced
1 clove garlic crushed
6 medium mushrooms sliced
4 teaspoons of The Vegg powder
1 cup water
180g silken tofu
Salt and pepper
8 cherry tomatoes halved
Grated cheese for the top to your cheesy taste!

Fry the onion and garlic in the oil for 5 minutes or until translucent.  Add the mushrooms and cook until softened and slightly browned.  Add the mixture to the bottom of the part baked pastry cases.

Blend The Vegg and water until completely incorporated.  Add the tofu and blend again until smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Pour the mixture over the onion and mushroom mixture and smooth over. Top with cherry tomato halves (cut side up) and grated cheese.  Bake for 45 minutes at 200 degrees C until firm and slightly browned on top (do keep a check though as our oven is really old!).

Enjoy!

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Mobile Phone Service from Ecotricity



We are big fans of Ecotricity, as you will gather from previous posts.  So whenever we hear anything new and exciting from this ever growing ethical company, we like to shout about it on their behalf.  

We received an exciting email today from Ecotricity announcing the launch of their brand new mobile phone service called Ecotalk.  Their network use is powered by green energy from the wind and sun.  In addition, the money Ecotricity make from Ecotalk will be used to buy land to create vital new habitats for pollinators and other wildlife in Britain. According to Ecotricity there is not that much information out there at the moment about the environmental impact of the mobile phone industry, but it is something that they want to follow up on and explore.  Ecotalk is the first step in this.

Superfast 4G is on offer along with competitive ethical pricing, short contracts and no exit fees.  In other words equaling, if not surpassing, some services on offer from other mobile service providers. Oh, but hang on.....what other providers also offer that special Ecotricity customer service and responsible environmental practice, all cooked together like a comforting, vegan, winter greens warming soup?  Sounds very tasty indeed.

So if you would like to be one of the first in Britain to benefit from this new green mobile service from Ecotricity, check out the Ecotalk website where there is also more information about mobile phone use and the environment.  You could also give them a shout on 0333 800 4400.

And no, we don't get commission!  We just like to 'big up' those companies out there who are trying to make a difference in the world.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Lettices Deli Delights


A while back we bumped in to the lovely people from a new artisan vegan company called Lettices. They have been doing the vegan festival rounds to market their small batch meat and cheese alternatives, which they produce from their base on the Isle of Wight. We met them at Animal Aid's South West Christmas Without Cruelty Festival in Exeter in November.

Poppy-Lettice-about-usThe founder of Lettices, Poppy Lettice, has been a vegetarian all her life and has more recently turned to veganism.  It was this transition, along with travels to countries that embrace plant based diets, that led Poppy to turn her existing culinary interests and talents into experimenting with producing her own range of exciting vegan alternatives.

The Lettices stand and display of products at the festival was colourful and plentiful and, coupled with a 'buy any three products for £12' festival deal, it was hard to resist taking some home with us.  We bought the Blue Beauty, Sticky Ribs, and Popperoni pictured above.  

We tried the Popperoni first, in bagels with hummus and roasted red peppers, and it was an instant hit with Phil.  It wasn't quite such a hit with Scooby, being less inclined to like the chilli hit of pepperoni style products.  To be fair Phil had chosen our selection of products and so something with chilli was bound to have crept in there somewhere!

Next up was the Blue Beauty cheese.  One evening Scooby had a sudden urge for cheese and crackers and so grabbed it from the fridge.  Being brought up in a house where the only real experience of cheese was cheddar, and having left home already a vegan, she had never experienced any other 'exotic' cheeses before.  This Blue Beauty was therefore a little bit of a shock.  Phil was less shocked by its intense and unusual flavour.  His dad was a regular stilton eating cheese monkey, so he had grown up eating regular stilton before he was vegan.  This unusual cheese might not have been such a hit with Scooby just on crackers, but melted on top of baked potatoes; well that is a completely different story.  The mild 'creaminess' of the baked potatoes mellowed but enhanced the bold flavour of the cheese. Needless to say, once we had discovered the wonders of this cheese served like this, it disappeared pretty quickly and we were left wanting more!

Last but by no means least, we devoured the Sticky Ribs.  These were our top pick of the three, being generous in flavour, texture, and 'tardis' like quantity that emerged from the packet.  They were a pleasure to get your teeth into, bursting with umami spicy goodness!  Despite the fact that they were tasty enough to want to consume in one hit, we managed to make them last over two meals.  Given their ability to fill you up, if we had eaten them all in one go that would have been just plain greedy.  So all in all, great value too.

Watch out for Lettices over the coming months at a festival near you.  If you can't wait to catch up with them doing the rounds, you can check out their full range and buy online from the Lettices website.  Alternatively, you can catch up with their latest news on their Facebook page, and they even have their own YouTube channel which includes Poppy's best recipes and vegan lifestyle tips.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Snacks, Seals, and Sunsets


We love where we live, especially as we can walk out of our door and be on wild coastline within a few minutes.  These past two days or so we have enjoyed such walks, even covering some of the same route without a hint of boredom.  All we need is the ever changing landscape of the sea on one side, a bit of decent weather and a bag full of snacks and we would happily wander around 'the hood' all day until sunset.

Our snack bag recently has been filled by treats that my sister sent over from Alaska. Every year we send each other these packages, with food being a particular theme.  I always send her favourite Cornish Tregothnan Tea along with, among other things this year, Tartex Green Olive Pate and Sainsburys (Vegan) Bacon Crispies, which she is mad for. Meanwhile from my sister we got a big old parcel of vegan cookies, lovely Kashmir chai tea, Mayan drinking chocolate and coconut water hydration for my running exploits.  So with a flask of lovely tea and some vegan cookies we headed off towards the sound of the waves.

We were hoping to catch a glimpse of the Cornish choughs that we are fortunate enough to have residing on our section of coastline.  

Earlier in the week we had seen two flying over the west end of the beach, the furthest east we had ever seen them, so we were hopeful. 

However, whilst jackdaws whirled and chuckled all around us, teasing us with their similar black shapes, there was not a distinctive red beak or leg in sight during our most recent wanderings.  

We were however treated to the sight of the local seal colony frolicking in the surf and lazing in a cove with equal measure. 

There were plenty of people around to enjoy this spectacle too, and it is always a delight to hear such excitement from those that are experiencing seeing seals for the first time in their natural environment.  

With the sun setting and with about 3 miles between us and home, we reluctantly headed back; our snack bags depleted, hair windswept, but minds refreshed by a simple walk on the wild side.