Getting Started

Eat eat and eat some more

22 May 2013

Right now I am on a health kick.  I am alkalising my body.  What does that mean?  It means that I am eating a lot of green food.  I am trying to eat 75% green, water based veg with each meal.   (more…)

Ecozone – ecoball wash Review

16 February 2013

Eugh.  We all have to do it, some more than others.  Its unavoidable, well it shouldn’t be, its a job that can be shared, and it should be….  the job is washing clothes.

What detergent do you use?

I recently had the opportunity to “try before you buy” of Ecozone wash balls from the Big Green Smile website.

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Hot white chocolate

30 November 2012

The best thing about the UK vegan food swap is the delectable surprises you receive through the post.  Not only does Mitsy moo put a great deal of effort in behind the scenes (you would be surprised at the admin work!!) but also those who take part really go out of their way to find vegan treasures to eat.

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Competition – Beyond Skin

Beyond Skin are giving away a Bella mini clutch, zip purse with adorable zebra charm chain.  Designed to be either a evening clutch bag or an everyday zip purse.  Will fit a multitude of cards & coins.

♥   Dimensions are 19cm x 9.5cm x 2.5cm
♥   Gold zip detail
♥   Beautifully handmade in Spain

To win simply visit their website and answer the question below:

  1. (required)
  2. (valid email required)
  3. (required)
 

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Please UK residents only (sorry!), no personal data will be held, only one entry per person (you cheeky things) and the judges decision is final (just call us Simon Cowell). Competition will close on the 21st July 2013. Good luck!

Competition: Orzo Coffee

Win the Orzo Coffee goodies below simple by visiting the Orzo website and answering the question below:

  1. (required)
  2. (valid email required)
  3. (required)
 

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Please UK residents only (sorry!), no personal data will be held, only one entry per person (you cheeky things) and the judges decision is final (just call us Simon Cowell). Competition will close on the 21st June 2013. Good luck!

Opti3 Omega competition

Win 3 months supply of Opti3 Omega omega supplement by answering this question:

  1. (required)
  2. (valid email required)
  3. (required)
 

cforms contact form by delicious:days


UK residents only, no personal data will be held, only one entry per person (you cheeky things) and the judges decision is final (just call us Simon Cowell). Competition will close on the 8th July 2011. Good luck!

Wayfare Competition

To one set of 2 Wayfare vouchers to get yourself some vegan cheeses please answer the following question:

  1. (required)
  2. (valid email required)
  3. (required)
 

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Please US residents only (sorry!), no personal data will be held, only one entry per person (you cheeky things) and the judges decision is final (just call us Simon Cowell). Competition will close on the 17th March 2011. Good luck!

Ever wondered what vegans actually eat? Are we as deprived as people may think? Below is one week during Mitsu’s pregnancy (who had above average iron levels at the start and did not suffer from anemia throughout the pregnancy or after the delivery, so there!).

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A 6 month pregnant Mitsu

Some recipes for dishes below can be found [intlink id=”54″ type=”category”]here[/intlink], whilst others have the book they came from listed next to them.

Day 1

  • Organic Whole Earth museli with sharon fruit, rasberries, blueberries, strawberries and Oatly organic oat milk
  • Houmous with celery and carrot crudites, olives, a wholemeal pitta and 2 slices of white bread
  • Nezhi’s homemade soup (lentils and rice)
  • Green & Black’s hot chocolate (in the good old days when it was suitable for vegans and before they started to list milk as an ingredient!) with Oatly organic oat milk
  • German apple cupcake (adapted from The Joy of Vegan Baking)
  • Hotpot (Sainsbury’s veggie mince, spinach, cabbage, green beans, carrot, onion, celery and new potatoes) with baked beans
  • Sainsbury’s almond and cranberry dark chocolate
German apple cupcake

German apple cupcake

Day 2

  • Left over hotpot and a slice of bread
  • Sharon fruit, rasberries, blueberries, strawberries and Alpro soya yoghurt
  • Starbucks soya decaf dark cherry mocha
  • 4 small slices fruit loaf with olive spread
  • Chilli heat wave Doritos
  • Rita’s Fudji (puy lentils, onion, carrot and pasta) with salad, cauliflower and brocolli
  • German apple cupcake
  • 2 slices toast with Pure soya spread
  • Organic Whole Earth  museli with Oatly organic oat milk

Day 3

  • Cornflakes with Oatly organic oat milk
  • McDonald’s Spicy Veggie Deli Sandwich and fries
  • 3 wholemeal pitta’s with houmous, olives and carrot & celery crudites
  • 4 Fourre biscuits

Day 4

  • Fresh sharon fruit, rasberries, blueberries, strawberries and kiwi
  • 2 scones with organic strawberry jam (from The Joy of Vegan Baking)
  • Left over Fudji with cauliflower
  • Salted rice tortilla chips
  • Vegetable spaghetti with mushroom and tomato sauce  (spinach, green beans, carrot and green pepper)
  • Garlic bread

Day 5

  • Organic Whole Earth museli with sharon fruit and Alpro soya yoghurt
  • 2 scones
  • 2 Redwood Cheezly, mushroom and Plamil egg free mayonnaise toasties
  • 4 Fourre biscuits
  • Lettuce, spinach, green pepper and avocado salad with sesame dressing, chips and onion rings
  • Left over spaghetti and garlic bread

Fourre strawberry cream filled biscuits

Day 6

  • Organic Whole Earth museli with Oatly organic oat milk
  • 1 Fourre biscuit
  • Vegetable lasagne (spinach, corgette, cabbage, carrot, onion, yellow pepper, mushroom, asparagus)
  • Maple syrup cupcake (from Vegan Cupcakes Takeover The World)
  • Poppadoms with mango chutney, lime pickle and onion salad
  • Vegetable balti, chana masala, bombay potato, pilau rice and 1/2 a chapatti
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Maple syrup cupcake

Day 7

  • 2 slices toast with Tofutti cheese slices
  • Blueberries and Alpro soya yoghurt
  • Starbucks soya decaf latte with caramel syrup
  • Blue dragon instant noodles with mixed vegetables
  • Linda McCartney vegetable pie with beans and chips

See more of what’s being eaten on Flickr!

Labelling on foods and goods can be unclear and inaccurate which can prevent you making an informed purchased.  This is especially frustrating if you are trying to purchase ethically sound products.

It is important to look for certified labelling on products to be sure that you are not being mislead by marketers and the product you wish to buy is truly vegan.  Also if you find a product that is accidentaly vegan, then why not let the manufacturer know that they can get it labelled accordingly.

Watch out for the following on labels:

  • Natural ingredients – this doesn’t then mean the products are cruelty free
  • Products not tested on animals – this then may not include the products ingredients

If in any doubt about the products ask the retailer or contact the manuafacturer and ask whether there was animal testing of the product or on the ingredients,  if the campany has banned animal testing or works to a fixed cut off date and lastly if they are researching ways of testing products in alternative ways to animal testing. Although ignorance maybe bliss it will not stop cruelty to animals.  By asking these question we can use our consumer power and create change.

Useful sites:

Labels to look out for:

Please note the Vegan Society Trademark, does allow the use of ‘May contain dairy/eggs/fish’ on Vegan Trademarked products. A term such as ‘may contain’ is used by manufacturers where the inclusion, in tiny or significant amounts cannot be ruled out.

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The Vegan logo is a registered trademark and is the symbol of the UK Vegan ‘Animal-free’ Standards. It appears on thousands of animal free products, and is displayed by catering businesses, that have been registered with The Vegan Society.

Leaping Bunny represents the toughest standards on non animal testing and is the only international symbol.

Leaping Bunny represents the toughest standards on non animal testing and is the only international symbol.

    This label can apply to food, clothing, cosmetic and other items that do not contain animal products (US based).  E

This label can apply to food, clothing, cosmetic and other items that do not contain animal products (US based).

A vegan (pronounced VEE-gun) is someone who avoids using or consuming animal products. While vegetarians avoid flesh foods, vegans also avoid dairy and eggs, as well as fur, leather, wool, and cosmetics or chemical products tested on animals.

Food & Shopping

Vegan dairy alternatives

Vegan dairy alternatives

Becoming vegan in one step needn’t be difficult, for example you can switch straight to soya milk (or milk made from almonds, oats or rice) from cow’s milk and the same with yoghurts, cream and custard, all of which are now readily available from all health shops and big supermarkets.

The majority of your food supplies will still be obtainable from your local supermarket or market. Read the ingredients of your usual purchases – some of these may already be vegan and if you are in any doubt contact the manufacturer and ask them (Sainsbury’s labels all its own brand vegetarian and vegan products). In cases where items are suitable for vegetarians only, this may be due to them being produced or handled in the same factory where eggs or milk are also used. It is then up to you to decide if possible cross contamination is an issue for you.

If you are just starting out and still require the comfort of familiar foods like cheese and meat, substitutes can be bought from any health food shops such as larger Holland & Barretts or Fresh & Wild (although you may find over time as we have that you no longer appreciate the meaty texture of meat substitutes). It’s a good idea to experiment with different brands and try everything!  If you live in a more remote area there are online stores that will deliver; Goodness Direct stock a wide range of vegan produce including chilled, frozen and fresh organic goods (see below for more on this).

Another option you may want to consider are the organic delivery services that have become very popular. The basic premise behind such websites being  to supply local seasonal fruit and vegetables, so better for the environment and also supporting local farmers. You could also go to the local farmers direct, check Local Food Advisor or Farmers’ Markets to see if there are any farmers’ markets in your area.

Even better still grow your own! Check out the [intlink id=”127″ type=”category”]Growing Veg[/intlink] page for more information.

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A vegan diet is no where as limiting as people may think initially. It encourages you to be more adventurous with your cooking, exploring the flavours of the world – many Indian and Oriental dishes are already vegan friendly or very easily converted. Take a trip down the ethnic aisles of your supermarket, you may come across some items that just happen to be vegan. A recent trip to Budgens uncovered some Dutch strawberry  and chocolate ‘cream’ filled biscuits that were not only delicious but animal free too!

For recipe ideas check out the [intlink id=”54″ type=”category”]Recipe[/intlink]  section.

Things to be aware of when shopping for food:

  • Quorn is not vegan!! It does contain egg and some of the ready meals contain milk too. Look out for own supermarket brand veggie mince that may be suitable.

  • Pasta and noodles do sometimes contain egg but this will more often then not have ‘egg’ written within plain sight on the face of the packet – check the ingredients if in doubt.

  • Certain e-numbers are animal derived this website tells you which ones are.

  • Lactose is a sugar derived from milk and is a common ingredient in crisps. Whey and casein (some soy cheese actually contain this so check ingredients!) are also  milk derivatives. With most products containing these there will normally be allergy labelling which is sometimes a quicker way to check whether something is vegan or not, although egg is not normally listed as a potential allergen so watch out! Lactic acid can generally be assumed to be from a non dairy source.

  • Egg whites are also called albumin.

  • Gelatin is made from animal bones and used in sweets.

  • Some white sugars may have been refined using animal bones.

  • Also watch out for alcohol some beer, wine and spirits may have animal derivatives used either in the processing or filtration. There is more information on this in the [intlink id=”86″ type=”category”]Food & Drink[/intlink] section.

Everything else

By changing to a vegan way of life there is no need to give up on beauty products, fashion, going out for dinner and all other lifestyle choices.  You simply need to be aware of what you are buying and where ingredients are from.

We have put together information on beauty products, alternatives to leather for shoes and bags and all other areas to help make the switch over as easy as possible for you.  Explore the pages of this site for more detail.

Surviving in a non vegan environment

Being vegan is great, for you, animals and the environment.  Be proud and loud of it!  When going out with friends for dinner phone ahead and ask restaurants what they can provide for you.  You will be surprised how accommodating establishments will be.

Most supermarkets or sandwich shops will stock the token vegan houmus/falafel sandwich although beware as sometimes these are not even vegan. Independent sandwich shops are good, where they make sandwiches fresh as you can make sure they don’t use spread etc. Should you be really stuck even McDonalds has some vegan options.

Some things to be aware of with particular cuisines when eating out:

  • Indian – although these restaurants can have a great choice of vegetable and lentil dishes it is traditional for ghee to be used in the preparation, however many places use vegetable oil so be sure to ask. Naan bread also contains dairy, try chapatis instead but make sure you ask for without butter which is sometimes added before serving.
  • Thai – fish sauce may be added to vegetable dishes (and still listed under vegetarian on the menu!)
  • Italian – in some cases the pizza bases will be vegan in which case you can order without the cheese, check the pasta is egg free.
  • Chinese – noodle dishes may be made with egg noodles so ask for rice noodles (vermicelli) instead. Also you may see vegetables with oyster sauce listed under vegetarian dishes (!), although a veggie alternative made from mushrooms is available it’s unlikely this will be used in a restaurant so check.

Please refer to the [intlink id=”17″ type=”category”]Eating Out[/intlink] section for a more comprehensive list of restaurants that can cater or serve only vegan food.

Eco travel mug http://www.imorganic.com/

Eco travel mug

All the major coffee houses (as well as some independent ones) will offer soya milk. And why not do the planet a favour and use a travel mug? We became obsessed with getting a biodegradable plastic one but sadly there currently does not appear to be a UK supplier. I’m Organic a company in the US makes them from corn, meaning they will break down on your compost heap when you are done with them. It was a case of weighing up carbon foot print of shipment versus hundreds of unrecyclable disposable coffee cups sitting in a land fill. As a financial incentive a certain coffee chain will also give you money off if you bring in your own cup, so the cup will eventually pay for itself, but I guess that’s if you drink as much coffee as us!

Everywhere that you contact and ask about their vegan produce will help promote veganism and encourage companies to provide for us.  When writing or phoning it is best to actually define what being vegan is to ensure that the person really understands your requirements and there are no misunderstandings!

The Vegan Society, founded in 1944,  provides more definitions, information and FAQ about being vegan.

The various sources available regarding veganism will centre on the following issues for becoming vegan – health, environment and ethics. For us the health benefits are a welcome bonus, but this was never going to persuade a change of eating habits alone.

Vegan reasoning behind not eating and wearing animal products may be obvious in some instances, like fur for example. In other cases such as by-products or where the animal does not have to be slaughtered to obtain the commodity, there is a perception that perhaps the animal is unharmed, or that as a by-product it does not contribute any further to the animals suffering.

Not being prepared to follow blindly the rules that a vegan should not eat say eggs or wear wool and since we  had no idea where what we were eating came from or how it was farmed or reared, we decided to educate ourselves. With the internet this information became readily available and helped to make our own decisions as to why we will not consume or wear anything that has caused suffering. What follows is some clarification about the processes from which certain animal derived products are obtained.

Leather

Justifying the wearing of leather because it is a by-product of the meat industry is not viable since today, it’s not sustainable on its own – it actually relies on the sale of hides to remain in business.

Leather that comes from young animals is even more valuable because of its softness, in some cases this will come from the unborn calf or lamb of a slaughtered pregnant cow or ewe.

Leather is perceived as a ‘natural’ product, however the treatment process of the hide to stop it from biodegrading involves the use or harsh and poisonous chemicals.

Inevitably there are risks to health and the environment wherever these tanneries (factories where the hides are treated) are situated. Not only are the workers exposed to carcinogens, but also the people that live near the factories. The tannery waste also enters the water supply contaminating the surrounding soil and potentially endangering any wildlife.

You may hear the argument that the synthetic alternatives available are not any better environmentally. Yet synthetics will come in standard size and thickness making it more efficient to use, whilst animal hide does not, so some parts can not be used. Hide also requires cooled transportation and to enlarge the carbon footprint even further most leather comes from India which is then shipped to the main importers – the UK, Germany and the US.

Read more:

As well as all the possible man-made substitutes, depending on whether you are vegan for purely environmental reasons there is also the option of recycled leather. This is being used by many designers now to make handbags and purses and is arguably more environmentally friendly then having the original product end up in a landfill and wasting the life of the animal that died.

There are sections on this site for vegan [intlink id=”23″ type=”category”]handbags[/intlink] and [intlink id=”24″ type=”category”]shoes[/intlink] we have not however researched recycled leather item stockists.

Suede (also called nubuck)

Made from the reverse side of leather (primarily lambs but may also be goat, pig calf or deer), which is brushed or sanded to give it the textured finish.

Alternatives (all man-made) are microfibre/microsuede and alcantara.

Exotic leather and fur

Animals hunted or farmed and killed specifically for their skins include seals, foxes, birds, alligators, zebras, rabbit, snakes (which Peta suggests is also contributing to the extinction of certain species), lizards, kangaroos (primary material for football shoes), mink and chinchillas, sadly this list is by no means definitive.

Domestic animals such as cats and dogs are also farmed for their fur in China. Although fur farms have been banned in the UK since 2000, there is no legislation to prevent the importing of fur from other countries and no requirement to label what type of fur it is (granted for some, one kind of fur is just as bad as another, but some consumers may not buy something with fur if they know it is from a cat or dog. Horrifyingly in some cases garments with trims that were labelled as faux, have later been identified as originating from animals). For these cats and dogs at least there is some hope as from 31 December 2008 the Government implemented the EU-wide ban on the import, export and sale of domestic cat and dog fur.

Check if a product contains fur.  And beware of fir trim; even the smallest piece can come from an animal.  Just because something is not expensive doesn’t mean that it is fake fur.  To be sure separate the hairs and look at the base.  If there is leather at the base the fur is probably real where as if there is fabric then it is probably fake.  With reptile skins looked to see if there are individual scales (real) or embossed scale shapes (fake).

Read more:

Wool

Merino are bred specifically because their wrinkly skin means there is more wool per sheep, far more than would occur naturally in an animal where it’s wool acts as insulation in winter and keeps it cool in summer.

Fifty percent of this type of wool comes from Australia where a practice known as mulesling is common – cutting large chunks of skin and flesh from the sheep’s backside to reduce incidence of fly strike, without pain killers. The fly strike which is essentially being eaten alive by maggots, is due to the hot conditions of the country, unsurprisingly these sheep are not native to Australia. They were in fact introduced by John Macarthur (the wool pioneer) in 1796.

Once wool production declines the sheep are then shipped to the Middle East (where animal welfare standards are non-existent) in cramped conditions enduring journeys that can take months, to be slaughtered for their meat.

British wool is no better, primarily raised for meat, again it may be presumed that wool is merely a by-product and is not actually the cause of any suffering to the animal. However the shearing of sheep can lead to death from exposure, baldness (believed to be caused by the actual stress of being sheared) and injuries such as nicks and cuts caused by the careless way in which they are handled.

Sheep at St Werburghs City Farm, Bristol

Sheep at St Werburghs City Farm, Bristol

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Silk

Eggs from the silk moth are hatched into larvae, and placed in a controlled environment and fed mulberry leaves. The larvae then mature into caterpillars called silk worms. Once fully grown they will begin to spin a cocoon for protection whilst transforming into a month.

Silk is the natural protein fibre or filament from which the cocoon is made. To keep the filament in one continuous piece the moth is left inside the finished cocoon during the remainder of the silk extracting process. To ensure the larvae do not eat through the silk to emerge as moths, they are killed either by immersion in boiling water (which is required to soften the gum which holds the cocoon together), steaming or drying in the oven.

A ‘non-violent’ alternative has been developed whereby the silk yarn can be procured without killing the silk worm – the manufacture of silk begins only after it has emerged from the cocoon. However it should be noted that if cultivated silk worms are used they are still farmed and this method also requires culling to control the number of eggs, since moths lay more then would actually be used in one silk harvest.

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A completely animal free substitute is offered by bamboo fabrics which can drape in the same way as silk. Bamboo also has the benefit of being sustainable, biodegradable and able to thrive naturally without the need for pesticides or fertilisers.

Bee Produce – Honey, bees wax, propolis & royal jelly

The gathering of bee products from cultivated bees involves the clipping and culling of the queen bee (to prevent swarming – when bees leave the colony), and use of smoke to maintain control. It also entails taking what they use to build and maintain their colony – honey which is a food source for use during cold weather or when other food sources are scarce, bees wax which is used to build honey comb cells, propolis which is a sealant for unwanted spaces in the hive and royal jelly which is a secretion for feeding larvae (not as commonly believed reserved for the queen). As the honey is removed, the bees are given glucose or corn syrup as a replacement.

Extracting ‘wild’ honey would be virtually impossible, not only would a hive first have to be located, but removing the honey would almost cetrainly provoke an angry swarm of bees and it would end up in the destruction of the hive itself.

Instead of using honey other natural sweetners available are argave nectar (used extensively in raw food preparation) and molasses which are both of plant origin.

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Incidentally, the UK seems to be following in the footsteps of the US which has been suffering from Colony Collapse Disorder where there have been a devesating reduction in the number of bees. To find out what you can do in your own garden to encourage our stripey friends read more at Bumble Bee Conservation Trust.

Meat

The treatment of animals bred for meat is well publisized now what with even chefs like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver highlighting the plight of broiler chickens. Find out more about the conditions of factory farmed animals using the links below, but be warned it can be harrowing particularly the sites with footage.

The environmental impact of the meat industry is also hitting the spotlight with many promoting a vegan diet as the best thing you can do to help reduce your carbon footprint. Issues include:

  • Deforestation and habitat desctruction for grazing land.
  • Water and energy consumption – it takes far more of these to produce meat then vegetable alternatives.
  • Oil consumption – to transport feed, animals and meat, operate machinery and make fertilizer for crops.
  • Antibiotic (required because of poor living conditions) resistance on intensive farms
  • Disease – caused by above resistance and food contamination (BSE, Foot and Mouth and last years Irish pork recall).
  • GM crops (it is not necessary to label meat, eggs or milk from animals fed on GM feed).
  • Pollution – water contamination from animal waste, hormones and antibiotics.
  • Green house gases – methane produced by farm animals is contributing substantially to the green house effect.

    St Werburghs City Farm, Bristol

    Piglets at St Werburghs City Farm, Bristol

The number of people turning towards a meat free diet has also been influenced by health factors. It is widely acknowledged that a well balanced veggie diet is extremly beneficial because foods eaten are naturally lower in fat and cholesteral and have more fibre. The section on [intlink id=”26″ type=”category”]Nutrition[/intlink] details some of the main requirements from any diet and where a vegan can obtain them.

Fish

Gone are the days when fish used to be line caught by a man in a little wooden boat. Today’s commercial fishing boats have huge trawlers which are dragged across the sea bed causing serious damage by dragging up everything including bycatch (non targeted fish and other marine life).

The relationship between tuna and dolphins, and the over fishing of cod are relatively common knowledge however turtles, sea birds, seals, whales and sharks are also affected.

Seals on Blakeney Point, Norfolk
Seals on Blakeney Point, Norfolk

Farmed fish are no better – to feed carnivourous fish (salmon, cod and haddock) and prawns huge quantities of smaller fish are needed. Again the inefficiency of animal products for food becomes apparent, we get far less food out of the animal then what is put in. These farmed fish also produce mineral faeces which damage surrounding waters, there is also waste from antibiotics, uneaten food and with salmon – dyes.

Go to The End of The Line to see more about the very real threat that we are driving our fish to extinction.

The main concern with regards to health are the mecury content of fatty fish and with wild fish you are unable to control where it has been or what it has consumed, which is something to think about as our seas and rivers become ever more polluted.

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Eggs

It does not matter if you buy free range or even organic eggs, all egg laying chickens will initially come from a hatchery. Here male chicks are literally thrown away because they cannot lay eggs and are therefore useless. That’s 50% of chicks being destroyed.

Should they survive this first phase, they then face the prospect of becoming a battery hen where they will never see day light or have enough room to stretch their wings. Whilst battery cages are to be banned from 2012, the proposed ‘enriched’ cages which are to replace them will still restrict the hen and prevent their natural behaviour. The conditions they must live in can lead to cannabalism (debeaking is a common practise to prevent this), feather pecking, brittle and broken bones and tumours. Once egg production declines, typically 12 months, they are then slaughtered and in such poor condition that they are only suitable for use in soups, pies and pet food.

Hens at St Werburghs City Farm, Bristol

Hens at St Werburghs City Farm, Bristol

As with the rest of the meat industry the amount of feed and water used to produce one egg is hugely inefficient and the environmental impact is exaberated by the amonia gases produced.

Health issues regarding eggs include salmonella and cholesterol. For alternatives when baking take a look at the [intlink id=”57″ type=”category”]recipe section[/intlink].

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Milk

Holsteins are the predominant breed of cow used in the dairy industry because of their ability to yield high volumes of milk. To produce the milk the cow (as with all animals) must have a baby. This entails the cow being in a continuous cycle of pregnancy and lactation for her artificically short life (cow’s in milk production will live less than a quarter of their natural life span which could be up to 25 years).

Once born the calf will be taken from it’s mother after only a couple of days causing great distress to both and fed a milk replacement so that humans can have all the milk for themselves. Male calves will be reared for beef, veal, used for breeding or slaughtered because they cannot produce milk, whilst female calves will be reared for milking.

If the cow does not calve every year her milk production will drop. When this happens or she succumbs to other typical ailments (caused by the stress of carrying udders equivalent to the weight of a full grown man) – leg and foot problems and mastitis they are culled for cheap meat.

The dairy cow is the hardest working of all farm animals and can barely sustain the way in which she is forced to live. Many vegetarians do not realise that by consuming dairy products they are also unwittingly supporting the meat industry.

The environmental impact of the dairy industry is covered by the issues mentioned in the meat section above.

Healthwise there is the issue of lactose intolerance, and milk is now being linked to a whole host of diseases and ailments including cancer and diabetes.

For vegetable sources of calcium please refer to the [intlink id=”26″ type=”category”]Nutrition page[/intlink].

Read more:

A varied vegan diet that is rich in whole-foods is a highly nutritious way of eating. Even though more and more people are now adopting a vegan diet, misconceptions about nutrient deficiencies are still common. However, provided a vegan diet is well balanced, it is certainly possible to obtain good levels of all the essential nutrients and eating this way can have many health benefits. The average vegan diet has been shown to provide more than the national average of vitamin C, magnesium, copper, folate and beta-carotene. Total fat intake is about 25% lower than average (and 50% less saturated fat) and fibre intake is much higher than the national average. Diets that are rich in plant foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables, grains, pulses, seeds and nuts, as in a vegan diet, are also associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, cancer and obesity.

The key to experiencing the health benefits of a vegan diet is to make sure that it contains a good balance of macro (carbohydrate, protein and fats) and micro (vitamins and mineral) nutrients. Therefore, as with any healthy diet, it is important to focus on whole unprocessed foods, rather than refined convenience foods, as well as taking care to obtain good levels of nutrients that may otherwise be restricted. Particular attention needs to be given to vitamin B12, vitamin D, iron, calcium, iodine, selenium, protein and omega 3 fats, which can sometime be lacking in a vegan diet. The suggestions below outlines how best to obtain some key nutrients in a vegan diet.

 

Protein

Protein consists of basic ‘building blocks’ called amino acids, and is essential for many body function including muscle growth, healthy skin, hair and nails, and for the production of energy, hormones and enzymes. There are 20 amino acids, of which 8 are essential and must be obtained through the diet.

Protein requirements differ widely depending on our biochemical individuality but the average requirement, based on Government recommendations, is 36-44g a day for women and 44-55g a day for men. To give an indication of how much this is, 200g of beans, lentils of chickpeas contains an average of 15g of protein and a large handful of nuts contain around 5g of protein.

To make sure you get all the essential amino acids needed, it is important to eat a wide variety of protein foods, trying to include some with every meal. Good sources of plant protein include: beans, lentils, pulses, soya beans, tofu, tempeh, nuts and seeds (sunflower, hemp, pumpkin, sesame).

 

Black Soya Beans

Black Soya Beans

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is needed for the formation of red blood cells, proper digestion and maintainance of a healthy nervous system. Low B12 can cause problems, such as anaemia, depression, chronic fatigue and digestive problems. B12 is therefore an essential vitamin and it is the only one that can cause problems for vegans, as it is not naturally found in plant foods.

Foods such as mushrooms, miso, and algae’s are often reported to provide some vitamin B12 due to contamination by bacteria. However, many believe that any B12 they contain is in a form that the body cannot use and it may prevent the absorption of utilisable B12. The only truly reliable source of B12 for vegans is therefore fortified foods, such as brewers yeast, fortified cereals and soy products, but for adequate levels supplementation of B12 through a multi or B complex supplement is recommended.

Calcium

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in our body and is essential for our bones and teeth and is involved in muscle contraction and relaxation, blood clotting, nerve function and regulation of blood pressure. If we don’t get enough calcium in our diet, our bodies draw if out of our bones. Most people with an average western diet obtain their calcium requirement through diary products. Therefore, it’s important to include alternative calcium rich foods (some of which actually contain more available calcium than milk) in a vegan diet to meet requirements.

Foods rich in calcium, which should be included in the diet include: dark green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, cabbage, watercress), nuts and seeds (especially almonds and sesame seeds), tofu, tempeh, parsley, pulses and prunes.

 

Black & White Sesame Seeds

Black & White Sesame Seeds

Iron

Iron is essential for forming haemoglobin, which transports oxygen around the body, for producing energy and is an essential component of many enzymes. There are two types of iron – haem iron, which is found in animal foods, and non-haem iron which is found in plant foods. Haem iron is absorbed more readily than non-haem iron and therefore it’s important to increase intake and to help maximise absorption of non-haem iron.

Good plant sources of iron to include in the diet are: legumes, lentils, beans, whole-grains and enriched cereals, tofu, green leafy vegetables (spinach and broccoli), dried figs, raisins, prunes, nuts and sunflower seeds. To help maximise absorption, eat foods that are rich in vitamin C (most fruit and vegetables, especially oranges, peppers and berries) at the same time as iron rich foods. Some compounds, such as tannins in tea and coffee can also inhibit iron absorption, so if drinking tea or coffee have them away from meals.

 

Sunflowers

Sunflowers

Iodine

Iodine is a trace mineral that is vital for normal development and is required by the thyroid gland for healthy metabolism. A lack of iodine in the diet can therefore lead to an underactive thyroid. In the west, most of our iodine intake is from milk, eggs and iodised salt. It is therefore important to make sure a vegan diet is rich in alternative iodine sources. The best plant source of iodine is from sea vegetables, such as kelp and nori.

Sheet of dried nori
Sheet of dried nori

Selenium

Selenium is vital for the immune system and for thyroid health. Selenium levels in foods are dependant on soil levels and eating organically grown foods can help increase levels. Good food sources of selenium include: Brazil nuts, mushrooms, lentils, brown rice, wheat germ and molasses.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential for many processes including bone and teeth health, blood clotting, immunity and muscle function. It plays an important role in assisting calcium absorption, and hence it’s role keeping bones healthy. Vitamin D can be lacking in a vegan diet, but can be obtained from some fortified cereals and soy milks, and by spending time outside in the sunlight (at least 20 minutes per day). It is because much of our vitamin D is actually produced in response to sunlight on the skin.

Omega 3 fats


Omega 3 fats are vital for the nervous system and good brain health, as well as for numerous other functions including for good skin and heart health. Omega 3 fats, and the derivates EPA and DHA are found predominantly in oily fish, and can be lacking in a vegan diet. Good sources of omega 3 to include in the diet are hemp oil, flaxseed oil, walnuts and spirulina. Omega 3 fats are very heat sensitive and therefore should not be used in cooking, but can be added to salads and cooked food.

Some meal options

Breakfast
[intlink id=”495″ type=”post”]Porridge with berries and mixed seeds[/intlink]
[intlink id=”491″ type=”post”]Muesli[/intlink] with soya yoghurt and half banana
[intlink id=”1861″ type=”post”]Fresh fruit with oats and soya yoghurt[/intlink]

Lunch
Jacket pot with hummus and mixed green salad
Salad hummus, falafel wrap
Salad including beans, nuts/seeds and advacado

Dinner
Veggie curry, dhal and brown rice
Lentil burger, salad and new potatoes
Veggie chilli with brown rice
Tofu stirfry with cashew nuts

Snacks
Fresh fruit with seed/nuts
veg crudites with bean dip
raw bar

Our nutrition page has been prepared by Julia Alderman (julia@thenutritioncoach.co.uk a qualifed nutritionist at The Nutrition Coach, we would suggest you always get expert advice before making any changes to your diet.

 


 

Flavours & Prices

We do a selection of standard flavours below but are always playing around and experimenting with new recipes in the kitchen. Please feel free to ask us if there is something not listed you are interested in or if you require gluten or wheat free, we will endeavour to accomodate you!

Cupcakes

Batch of 12 £17.50 (plus p&p)

Chocolate with chocolate, vanilla or matcha (green tea) frosting, Banana and chocolate chip with vanilla frosting, Carrot with vanilla frosting, Coffee and walnut with coffee flavoured frosting, Earl grey with vanilla frosting.

Muffins

Batch of 6 maxi/12 mini £13.20/£6.60 (plus p&p)

Banana and date, Sunny blueberry, Apple crumble maxi, Ginger zing, Double chocolate, Very berry, Orange & apricot, Cherry & almond.

Special Events

We bake for birthdays, baby showers, tea parties, brunch and dinner parties.

Delivery

  • Muffins – UK only next day delivery
  • Cupcakes – London only courier delivery
  • Cut out the delivery charge if you can collect from central London (EC2V Monday to Friday only)

Ordering

Please email us directly at info@tohappyvegans.com with your order requirements.

Retail and wholesale enquiries are also welcome.

Sarawen Perfumes Competition

Win 3 x 1.5ml sample sized Sarawen Perfumes (Tea With Watson, Elf Princess, and Cake or Death) by telling us :

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  2. (valid email required)
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cforms contact form by delicious:days

The answer we like most will win!

Please UK residents only (sorry!), no personal data will be held, only one entry per person (you cheeky things) and the judges decision is final (just call us Simon Cowell). Competition will close on the 8th January 2013. Good luck!

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