November has been one crazy whirlwind and vastly different to my quiet October spent feeling unwell. I'm feeling much better now thankfully and as a consequence I seem to have been running around like a mad woman for most of this month. I also seem to have been bitten by the Christmas spirit a little bit earlier than I anticipated but instead of fighting it i've just embraced it.
Wednesday, 25 November 2015
The lovely people from Dee's recently sent me over a packet of their leek & onion vegan sausages to try out and review on the blog. Although i've seen Dee's sausages advertised before I have never actually bought any myself as i've never really liked products that try to replicate meat. I was however willing to give these a try to see if I could be persuaded!
I think the thing that has appealed to me the most about these sausages is that they are primarily made from pea protein and beans which means that they are high in protein. As a vegan I can't help but be conscious about whether I am getting enough protein from what I eat and in my opinion these sausages are such a convenient way of doing so.
On tasting the sausages I was pleasantly surprised. Although they looked fairly meat like in their appearance they didn't remind me too much of meat in taste or texture. I really enjoyed the overall taste, particularly the herby and lightly spiced flavouring. I found that they worked great in little hotdog buns or alongside some mash potato and with tomato or brown sauce.
At only 55 calories per sausage and low in saturated fat, these sausages are great if you are conscious about your weight and calorie intake too. They are also GMO & gluten free whilst being free from any artificial additives. Clearly these are a much healthier alternative compared to meat sausages and the great thing is they taste just as good.
There's no denying that these are really up there for me as far as vegan sausages go and would even be a contender to knock my previous favourite sausage off the top spot. I'm glad that I was open minded enough to give them a go and it just goes to prove that you don't really know what you like until you try something.
Ocado currently sell Dee's sausages at £3.90 a box which is slightly more expensive than regular meat sausages. Personally I am more than happy to pay more for a good quality product especially if it means an animal hasn't lost it's life to produce it.
I'm really pleased that I got to try out these sausages and I am definitely going to buy them again. I am also looking forward to trying other sausages from the award winning Dee's range including the roast garlic and mushroom variety.
Monday, 23 November 2015
There's no denying that these vegan friendly mince pies are probably the most easiest and quickest way of making your own at home. If you didn't already know, Jus Rol shortcrust pastry just so happens to be vegan which makes life incredibly easier. I've never attempted making my own pastry and why would I bother when this ticks all the boxes!? Sainsbury's own brand jars of mincemeat also have the vegan stamp of approval. These two ingredients are the main things you need to create your own mince pies but you may like to sprinkle some sugar on top of them too.
Thursday, 19 November 2015
The Vegan Kind Beauty Box arrives every quarter which means it's always a lovely surprise when it turns up as I do tend to forget when it's due! That is until I see lots of tweets flying around online about it.
Here's a run down of what was included in this months box and my review of each item:
A totally new brand to me, Human+Kind believe that 'being kind to others starts with being kind to yourself'. A motto that I truly love and believe in! They have created a skincare range that is both natural and kind to your skin without any of the harmful petrochemicals. Personally I can never have enough hand cream so I was pleased to see this item included in this months beauty box. It's the perfect size to be able to carry it around with you in your handbag and the packaging is beautiful. When I tried the cream I was really impressed by how intensively moisturising it is without leaving your hands sticky afterwards. I also love the scent of this cream, it makes you want to keep smelling your hands. I'm already browsing their website deciding what to buy next as their range of products looks really great!
When I first started out on my cruelty free journey it initially didn't even occur to me to think about my make up brushes being made from animal hair but as time has gone on it has surprised me just how many brands do use animal hair within their brushes. I've been thinking for some time now that I would like a whole new set of vegan friendly make up brushes so I was pleasantly surprised to see this brush from Spectrum included in the box. I've seen the Spectrum brushes online before and i've been really drawn to the vibrancy of their brushes. It has to be said that i'm a bit of a sucker for anything pink and pretty so these brushes are perfect for me! The brush itself does feel like it's a good quality make too and at only £4.99 to buy I think it's really great value for money.
Ok, so I have a confession to make.... The whole coconut oil as a 'miracle' beauty product thing has totally passed me by! I've literally heard so many people tell me that it's a wonderful product to use not only on your skin but also on your hair, in your cooking and even as a toothpaste. I think it's versatility may have initially made me cautious because I haven't really known where to start with it. So instead i've avoided it! Until now that is. I have to say I was happy to see this pot of coconut oil included in the box because it's going to be the kick up the bum I need to start using it in my life. I haven't dived into it yet but I am looking forward to experimenting with it over the coming weeks. I think this handy sized pot is also a great starting point for me as the super huge tubs have always put me off. But who knows I could get hooked and be ordering myself one of those soon!
Another new brand to me, I had never heard of Emani before but it's great to know that they are a fully vegan cosmetics company. This is a big reason why I have loved subscribing to these beauty boxes because they have introduced me to new brands that I otherwise may have never come across. I've been using this lipshine all week and i'm pleased to report that it's a really nice long lasting gloss. The soulmate colour is also perfect for me as I quite like light neutral colours that go well over my lipstick without being too bold or bright. It also has a slight shimmer to it which I love as it adds another dimension to your lips. I've been really happy with this product but I think the only thing that would put me off purchasing it again is the price. At £11.00 + delivery it's well over double what I pay for my usual lip gloss from Elf Cosmetics.
I think this handy compact mirror is my favourite item from this beauty box! Not only is it a lovely hot pink colour but the cute bunny design with the 'vegan' message is just so cute. I'm not sure what the compact itself is made from but it just feels so soft and smooth in your hand. I shall definitely be adding this to my handbag and it will no doubt get a lot of use whilst I am out and about. The mirror is a product from The Vegan Kind and will soon be available in their online shop.
I've used a few products from Green People in the past and I have always been impressed by their range. I hadn't however tried any of their hair care products and this shampoo arrived just at the right time as i've recently been running low. I'm always on the look out for new vegan friendly shampoo's and conditioners as I don't think i've yet found my holy grail cruelty free product for my hair. It was also great to see that the shampoo included in the box was specifically for coloured / damaged hair as my own hair has recently been coloured whilst I am trying to cover up some ombre bleaching from the summer. My hair has felt a bit dry and lacklustre lately so I was interested to see what this shampoo could do for me. I used it this morning to wash my hair and I have to say that i'm pretty impressed. My hair feels different today and in a good way. It feels like it has a bit more life in it whilst appearing more bouncy and thick. It also smells pretty good too! I think the only disappointing factor for me is that this is a trial sized bottle as I would have liked to use it for a longer time before coming to any real conclusions about it. I'd also like to try it alongside the conditioner to see how well they work together. But overall this seems like a great product and one i'd like to use again.
I subscribe to this box myself and all views expressed within this review are my own. This will however be my final beauty box review for a while as I have postponed my subscription whilst I catch up on using things from my massive drawer full of products. No doubt I will get a serious case of FOMO when the next box gets delivered to everyone else, but for now it's the right decision for me.
If you're considering signing up to this box then I really can't recommend it enough. It's a great way of being introduced to new brands and products and always proves to be excellent value for money. Plus what could be better than receiving a box full of goodies like this through your door every 3 months!? Go on, treat yourself : )
Wednesday, 18 November 2015
I had planned this blog post to be full of lots of inviting photos of the wonderful restaurant Tibits in London, however, and as you can see, I only managed to take this one photo of my epic dinner plate. And why you may ask!? Well to be honest I was having so much of a good time that blogging took a back seat! Sometimes that happens and I think it's a good thing that it does. It was only once I returned home that I sighed that I wish I had taken more photographs but in all honesty it was pretty dark inside the restaurant and I don't think any photos could really do this place the justice it deserves. So for now you will have to rely on my words...
My lovely vegan friend Hayley decided to hold her 30th birthday celebrations at Tibits last Saturday and when she first mentioned where she planned to go I was really excited as this is a restaurant that has been on my hit list for some time now. I really don't get to go to London as much as I would like anymore so it's become a challenge to fit in all the amazing places to eat. But what better excuse to hit the big smoke than for a birthday night out!
I had already heard on the grapevine that Tibits is an amazing place to eat if you like your veggie and vegan food. I also knew that it's a buffet whereby the weight of your plate determines the cost of your food which got me even more curious. I do love a buffet, particularly when it's purely dedicated to satisfying the needs of people like me (You know, weird people who don't eat meat!). And as you can see from my photo, I didn't hold back when it came to loading up my plate with a bit of everything on offer. Well not quite everything as some of the options are vegetarian and I wanted to enjoy a plate of vegan only dishes. But this is a pretty good testament as to how many vegan options were on offer!
So I guess you're all wondering how much a plate of this size cost me? I have to admit it was more than I expected when it weighed in at a whopping £17.90! But, and it is a big BUT, I enjoyed every mouthful along with the experience so I really didn't mind.
You need to take into account that Tibits is situated in the heart of the West End of London just off of Regent Street so it's naturally going to be more expensive. It' also worth remembering that places like this aren't everywhere, unless of course you happen to live in Switzerland which is home to three Tibits already with a whopping further five planned to open in 2016. I know where i'll be holidaying next year! But seriously, the only place which I know to have more than one veggie/vegan buffet is Brighton and that's hardly around the corner for me. Tibits does offer something pretty unique and I guess if you want to enjoy the luxury of a vegan buffet then you're going to pay the price.
Going back to the food itself, it was really delicious and there was a great selection of dishes with everything from salad, rice, potato wedges, pasta, vegetables, quinoa, curried chickpeas and even spring rolls! It was great to see that the number of vegan options were equal to, if not more so, than the veggie options. Everything was labelled really clearly too so we knew exactly what we were eating which is always a bonus. I understand the buffet changes on a daily basis so if you are fortunate enough to live close by you can expect to see something different on your visits. All I could think whilst we were there was that it would be dangerous if I did live closer as I am pretty sure I would be in there most lunch times.
I really wish I had taken a photo of the dessert selection because this was equally as good. My husband and I enjoyed a beautiful vegan treacle pudding and sponge cake between us which came to reasonable £7. After the main meal I didn't really have room for anything else but there was no way I was leaving without sampling the puddings!
It's also worth me mentioning that I think this restaurant does work particularly well for large groups. My friend had no issue in booking a table for 15 people and with everyone paying separately for their plates of food it does save all the hassle of splitting the bill at the end. It was all just easy and informal but with a great atmosphere for a special occasion.
If you've never been before then I can't really recommend Tibits enough for a meal out. I do however recommend maybe not eating beforehand so you have plenty of room left to enjoy what's on offer. This is definitely a meal you want to be hungry for!
Tuesday, 17 November 2015
The lovely people from Dee's recently got in touch with me and asked me to review their new range of quinoa and veg pots. Of course I was more than happy to oblige, particularly when I found out that these pots are purely vegetable based with no fake meat style ingredients included. I know Dee's have in the past been most renowned for their award winning vegan meat style sausages so I was curious to see what else their brand has to offer.
When the pots arrived I was really pleasantly surprised. The packaging looked bright and contemporary making them quite eye catching. I would definitely be able to spot these in the supermarket! I was also impressed to see the handy sized microwaveable pots which in my opinion make them an ideal choice for your lunch break as they're so easy to heat up and eat from with minimal fuss.
With any vegan friendly product it's always great to see nice clear labelling on products and that's something Dee's have visibly achieved with these pots. Just from looking at the front of the packaging you can clearly see that these pots are not only vegan but also GMO and gluten free, free from any artificial additives, the calories in each pot and how long it takes to warm up. I love this because everything I need to know is right there for me to see without having to search the back for all the information.
Tex Mex Veg Pot
The Tex Mex Veg Pot is a delicious combination of a sweet potato and beans chilli. I love a veggie chilli especially during the winter months and this pot really reminded me of some wholesome home cooking opposed to food from a packet. The vegetables and beans tasted really fresh! You could even make more of a bigger meal from this pot by enjoying it with some rice or in a burrito.
Thai Veg Pot
This veg pots's main ingredients are butternut squash, potato and lentils and it really is bursting full of flavours from Thailand. I really enjoyed the chunky potatoes in this pot which helped to make it a really substantial lunch which is exactly what you need during the colder months. I think this was my favourite pot from the bunch and next time I eat this I'd think about making it a dinner for two with some rice and Thai crackers.
Moroccan Veg Pot
The main ingredients within the Moroccan Veg Pot are chickpeas and potatoes which is a combination that I really like. Don't be deceived though, this pot is also loaded with other fresh veg including tomatoes, courgettes and carrots. It also has some raisins in it which adds such a nice sweet contrast to the Moroccan spices. I enjoyed this pot on a really cold evening and it certainly done the job of warming me up! It reminded me of a really chunky vegetable soup but a much more substantial version. Unlike with soups though, this veg pot contains really hearty chunks of crunchy vegetables which makes it feel like more of a meal than a snack. This pot would also work great alongside some couscous.
This creamy Thai spiced vegetables and quinoa pot was a little different to the veg pots as it was of a thicker consistency making it that little bit more heartier and filling. Full of squash, carrots, onions, tomatoes, lentils and Thai spices this pot is really flavoursome.
I'm so glad I got an opportunity to try these pots as they really are one of the best vegan friendly convenience foods I have come across. As well as being quick and easy they are also super healthy and you definitely feel as though you're getting some real nutritional goodness from eating them. Dee's message is that 'goodness is tasty' and I would have to agree.
If you like what you've seen here then you can pick yourself up one of these Dee's pots for £3.90 at Booths Supermarkets (North East), Holland & Barrett, Planet Organic or online at Ocado.
Thursday, 12 November 2015
This month The Vegan Kind celebrated their 2nd Birthday and to mark the ocassion they sent out the most amazing anniversary box full of goodies to all of their subscribers.
I'd seen a lot of hype on social media about this box before I got my hands on my own and I am pleased to say that when I opened it the contents more than lived up to my expectations.
I always love to see vegan chocolate included in these boxes and this chunky bar of creamy chocolate with honeycomb on top did not disappoint. Made from pure rice milk, this would have to be one of the best dairy free milk chocolate bars I have tasted in quite a while. I loved the honeycomb topping which made it taste just like a Cadbury's Crunchie. I was also pleased to see that it was a decent full sized bar which made sharing it with my husband that little bit more bearable!
I've been a big fan of Hurraw lip balms ever since using their sun protection balm on holiday which I absolutely loved. I did a little jump for joy when I saw they'd been included in this month's box as I had just been thinking about ordering another one of their balms for regular day time use. I probably wouldn't have picked the Chai Spice flavour myself but it's actually refreshingly different. With a blend of black pepper, cinnamon, clove and vanilla it is certainly spicy but also very fitting for this time of year. My lips have been really chapped since the change of seasons and this balm is so moisturising and soft, it's really helped to make a difference to the condition of my lips.
I couldn't quite believe my eyes when I saw the size of the 135g bag of crisps included in this box. I wouldn't have even thought a sharing bag of this size could fit inside a TVK box but i'm so happy it did! I've always loved Ten Acre's hand cooked crisps but cheese & onion is actually one flavour that I hadn't tried before now. These crisps were the first item to get demolished and they were so incredibly tasty. It's hard to believe such great flavoured cheese & onion crisps could be vegan friendly! It's also great to see Ten Acre releasing larger sized sharing bags because the small ones are never enough. One word for Ten Acre - AWESOME.
So there wasn't just one full sized chocolate bar included in TVK25, there were two! Oh TVK - how you spoil us! And our waistlines! I wasn't sure anything could beat the Cocoa Libre honeycomb sensation that I tried before this one, but this choco cookie bar certainly gives it a run for its money. I love the combination of the smooth rice milk chocolate with the crunch of the dark cocoa biscuity centre. It's really different to any other chocolate that i've tried before and it definitely had me coming back for more. Finally i've found a vegan chocolate that is actually more-ish! Hoorah!
Included in TVK25 were not one, not two, but three of these tasty quinoa meals from Quinola Mothergrain. Although the packets say 'kids' on the front they're really great for children and adults alike and can be enjoyed either as a lunch or a meal. It's always great to see healthy vegan convenience food like this which can be ready in just 30 seconds. The handy little packets mean that you could carry them around easily in your bag to enjoy on your lunch break too. As well as being vegan friendly they are also gluten free and full of slow release carbs. Quinoa is also perfect for vegans because it's a complete protein containing lots of iron and fibre. With Thai, Tex Mex and Mediterranean flavoured Quinoa to try I can't wait to get stuck in!
It was a nice touch the TVK team adding a personalised wrist band into their anniversary box. It's also a great way of spreading their message - Be Kind, Go Vegan. Personally I have to say that I have never really liked these rubber wrist bands but I can appreciate that they are generally for a very good cause. It's just not something I would choose to wear.
It was lovely to see that the chosen charity to receive 10p from every box this month is the British Hedgehog Preservation Society, particularly with it being November and bonfire night where so many small creatures are sadly harmed or killed.
I would like to wish the TVK team a very Happy 2nd Birthday! And thank them for celebrating with us all by sending out a great anniversary box full of treats. I can't wait to see what our festive December boxes contain! Stay tuned....
Thursday, 5 November 2015
This year I wanted to put together my very own 'Christmas Gift Guide' to help you along your way with that all important impending task of Christmas gift buying. I've selected some of my favourite vegan and cruelty free products available right now which i'm sure you will love!
Maybe you have a vegan or vegetarian in your life who you're worried about buying for? If so then this guide will hopefully point you in the right direction and ensure some big smiles on Christmas morning.
This post might also give you some ideas about what to put on your own Christmas lists too. I don't know about you but I always struggle when people ask me what I want for Christmas so I am looking forward to reading other bloggers guides for ideas too.
Whether you have been good or bad this year the most important thing to remember is to shop more ethically for those around you and encourage others to do the same. Gift buying and Christmas shopping is a great way of introducing new products and brands into other peoples lives and I for one plan to shop completely cruelty free this year.
This is quite possibly the most perfect Christmas card for any vegan in your life this year! My eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw this in Paperchase last week and it really made me smile.
I absolutely adore these vegan soya wax candles which were first introduced to me by my Vegan Kind subscription box last year. Their recently released Christmas range is so exciting and I can personally vouch for 'Oh Christmas Tree' and 'Jingle Bells' both smelling amazing! Not only do these scented candles really work (and by that I mean they don't just smell nice when you sniff them - they actually produce a wonderful aroma in your home too!), they also come in adorable illustrated silver tins making them the most perfect gift. With their current offer of 3 candles for £20 you can treat the whole family!
Another personal favourite brand for me, Faith in Nature offer natural, vegan and cruelty free cosmetics perfect for anyone who cares about doing good for animals and the planet! The smaller gift packs make a great little gift or stocking filler whilst the larger hampers are perfect for that someone special. Forget all those giant generic brands available in the high street and make a difference by supporting a wonderful small British business like this.
I don't think any Christmas stocking would be complete without that oh so familiar Lush fragrance bursting through the wrapping paper! Sadly the sublime smells often give away the surprise but really who cares when there's something from Lush inside!? As you probably already know Lush are a huge cosmetics brand who really make a stand against animal testing which is a great reason to buy from them on its own. Many of their products also carry the vegan stamp approval which makes them a firm favourite for me. My favourite vegan and cruelty free items from the Christmas range include the Star Dust bath bomb, Father Christmas bath bomb, Snow Melt bath melt, Snow Fairy shower gel and Reindeer Rock soap. There really are so many festive products at Lush this year it makes it difficult to choose! I sure hope Santa is reading this blog post ;)
In my opinion Matt & Nat offer the BEST quality vegan alternative leather on the market whilst also being eco friendly and stylish. They use a wide variety of recycled products such as nylon, rubber and plastic bottles to create their materials and absolutely no animal products - yay! The range of products is extensive with various styles to suit all. They offer all different kinds of bags, purses, wallets and accessories in various colours and finishes so their online shop is really worth a browse to find your ideal match. Personally, I am in love with the Rubicon cross body handbag and Central purse which go together perfectly. They also have a great range for men (who I think can be really difficult to buy for!) including these smart wallets.
Ideal for both men and women, Superdrug's B. skin care range is not only vegan and cruelty free but also affordable. Although I haven't been a fan of their make up in the past, I have to say that the skin care range is rather good. I particularly like how with the woman's range you can pick age range specific products suited to your skin type. I think this phase 4 day and night cream would be an ideal gift for any over 50 woman in your life. You can also ensure your man's skin is feeling super soft and hydrated with this moisture gel. Excellent little stocking fillers!
Hoobynoo World offer up something different with their charming and unique handmade products for pets and pet lovers. I recently discovered this small business on Instagram and instantly fell in love with their personalised pet tags! More recently they have unveiled their Christmas range which includes these cute personalised tree ornaments. What could be better than having your pets feature on your Christmas tree!?
Booja Booja are the elite brand within the vegan chocolate world and if you're really looking to impress someone special in your life this Christmas then don't attempt to scrimp and save on your chocolate purchases. In fact, why not push the boat out with their Gourmet Selection box of dairy free dark chocolate truffles!
If you're looking to buy someone something a little bit different this year then how about a subscription service to the Vegan Tuck Box!? Your lucky receiver will be sent a box full to the brim of vegan treats every month making Christmas stretch that little bit longer than just one day. Subscriptions range between 3 - 12 months and can be paid in full upfront making it an ideal present!
I have been lusting over this jewellery for some time now and I really love how Christy's work reflects on human, animal and environmental issues. Christy's jewellery is made from earth friendly recycled metals and she donates a percentage of everything she makes to charities meaning that when you buy from her you are also supporting some great causes. What's not to love!? One of my personal favourites is this cruelty free bunny necklace which has been added to my own Christmas list! Other favourites include this vegan necklace and this friend not food bracelet. With such a huge amount of choice within her Etsy Store you're bound to find something perfect for any animal lover.
(Be sure to purchase early to allow enough time for delivery from the USA)
Ella Woodward is really making name for herself within the world of 'plant based' cooking and this book is ideal for anyone who is looking to get more creative in the kitchen with their veggies. Although she doesn't call herself 'vegan' (because she purely eats a plant based diet for health reasons) her recipes certainly appeal to those of us who don't like to consume animal ingredients.
Another great stocking filler idea with these pretty eye shadow palette's from the vegan and cruelty free make up brand e.l.f. The smokey palette contains some really lovely shades perfect for day or evening wear.
I really hope you've enjoyed this festive post and I hope that it's helped you with some gift ideas for Christmas. Remember - write a list, plan your budget and stick to it!
Whats on your Christmas list this year!?
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