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Thursday 23 January 2020

Veganuary Mid Month (kinda) Update

Simon wrote an update post a couple of weeks ago almost - and I'm a bad blogger, so it's only going up now. Sorry babe. Everyone else, hope you enjoy :)

Veganuary Update 2

So it’s been a few days since I last guest blogged for Sarah and I thought I would come back with some updates, after 11 days of being Vegan. It’s quite a long post as we’ve done quite a bit over the last week. I’ll start with standard food and at the end, put a piece about the Basingstoke Vegan fair.

If we look back after the first week I was back at work last week which means back to a routine, but also a change to the way I eat at work. Gone are the morning croissants with a latte and in is the porridge (apple or Blueberry) in a thermos (made by the wonderful AOT) and coffee made from grounds in an aero press or cafetière. I’ve also been adding some vegan pretzel bites to my porridge, with peanut butter (which were taken as a snack but they work with the porridge too).

Lunch time comes and again instead of the Chicken Salad baguette with bottled water I had been having, it’s now Tofurky salad sandwiches / wraps - so we’re saving on buying food and I’m not seeing any problems with the Vegan alternatives. There was one lunch time when it was a left over Pasta Salad from the evening before (which tasted better the next day), but on the whole it will be the Tofurky Salad Sandwiches.

On to the evening meals and as we now meal plan here are a highlight of the meals from this week:

Monday: Pasta Salad (I ended up not eating it as I was feeling unwell)
Tuesday: Frankie and Benny’s (not something we’d planned but we got back late so ordered some Vegan options, more on that later)
Wednesday: Mushroom and Gardein Beef Stew with Mash
Thursday: Plant Pioneers Vegan Steaks with veg and potatoes
Friday: Local takeaway of vegan burger (accidentally vegan but hey)
Saturday: Vegetable Dhansak and Mushroom Rice

So the pasta salad I had for lunch on Tuesday and it was lovely, confirmed by AOT that it tasted so much better the day after it had been made. The Frankie and Benny’s was solely to see what their new vegan menu was like, I shared sides with AOT of Mushroom Ravioli, Loaded Skins and Cheezy Garlic Bread, Sal had a Pasta Rigatoni Ragu. The sides were OK but a bit uninspired but AOT highly rated the Rigatoni. (Sal's note: the ravioli was REALLY good too!)

Why so much leafage, F&Bs?? Below is after I shoved all that fricken rocket aside. Better!! 

This chocolate raspberry cake was BOMB, even though we got delivery and it was cold. I reckon this would have been even better hot!

The Mushroom and Gardein Beef Stew was delicious only let down by the Gardein*.

*Note: for readers of this blog in the US, Gardein is not common in the UK and AOT had only had them before, when eating at the Wynn in Las Vegas. The UK grocery chain Sainsbury’s had some imported last year (which they stopped selling suddenly when Gardein decided to stop distributing to the UK). Sal's note: they only brought in a few items and none were as good as the stuff I tried in the US. I did like the fishy fillets though! I think there's just too many competitive products in the UK that are cheaper!

AOT has mentioned on Instagram before how disappointed she was with the Gardein chicken style tenders and sadly the beef pieces were the same, breaded and the biggest let down of the stew, as they were bland and slightly mushy.

Sainsbury’s own brand Plant Pioneers Vegan Steaks: we had these with some veg and they cooked really well and had the texture of a steak and the taste of a Birdseye Steak House Grill (1980’s mass processed beef product). Not tasting like a steak but getting closer texture wise. I would advise people in the UK to buy (Plant Pioneers is Sainsbury's veg*n brand) we’re trying the breakfast patties next week. 

Friday was the accidental vegan burger a local takeaway do. I had finished a long day and AOT had been to the gym so we got that and had an early night. It was good I didn’t get the same problems I do with meat and felt a lot better afterwards - as opposed to the bleurgggghhhhhh factor you usually get from junk food after eating it.

Saturday Fresh baked accidentally vegan croissants for breakfast. Lunch we shared a Goodfellas stone baked spicy salsa pizza (nice for a store bought frozen pizza and better than the falafel one. We had AOT’s parents visiting in the evening, so we all had a Vegetable Dhansak (spicy but nice) with some Chapattis and Mushroom Rice.

Overall, I have been finding since starting the vegan lifestyle, that I have more energy and clarity, so I am hoping this will continue. I’ve also had less back pain, which is helping me and making me more mobile!

So that’s pretty much a round up of this weeks events there will be a second post (and a video) soon on the Basingstoke Vegan fair which will be from AOT and myself.

Phew! That was a long one. But if you read it all, I hope you enjoyed hearing about how Simon is doing so far. How are you doing if you are a fellow Veganuary-er?


Friday 3 January 2020

Veganuary Day 3

Hey all, Sal here. Before today's post, I posted a Youtube video! For the first time in almost 2 years and I'm a bit nervous about it. But it's a taste test of some of the things Simon is about to mention. I'd love if you'd go check it out and give it a like / comment.


Veganuary Update

Hi all, Simon here again! So it’s day three of Veganuary and I thought I would check in with you all as to how it is going. So before I get into the main overview, here are the main points:

1. As my food choices are now more limited, I have been snacking less which can only be a good thing.
2. As it is Veganuary I tried the KFC Vegan burger (more on that later).
3. Shopping takes more time, as there’s more planning involved, which in turn means I am more invested in my food choices.
4. Also Greggs and Subway have been introducing vegan options for Veganuary which I’ve tried (more on that below).

The first day went well and the meal out wasn’t bad; I ate from the vegan menu and went for the vegan burger. Although the meat substitute was a little dry, I was able to use tomato sauce (or ketchup) to make it more moist.

Day two: so I got distracted with other stuff and had no breakfast or morning tea, which meant that by two o’clock, I was absolutely starving; at this point I tried a vegan pizza from Pizza Express. Tasted nice but the cheese substitute was almost a sauce, which meant that the integrity (or lack of) was unexpected. To sum up it was tasty but messy to eat.

For the evening meal @sal_on_toast and I tried the KFC Vegan burger. At the time I was willing to give it 8/10 as opposed to SOT’s 6/10, but after trying the Subway and Greggs alternatives, it’s dropped to a 5/10. The main problem is that it was too dry! I dread to think what it would have been like without the vegan mayonnaise. 

pic clearly pilfered from KFC!

Day three: I woke up and had tea and hot Sainsbury’s cornflakes with Oatly Barista (no sign of non vegan stuff in the cornflakes) and some tea with Oatly again. Now while Oatly Barista works well in coffee and cereal, it doesn’t do so well in the Tea department, as such some Soya Milk has been drafted in for Tea usage. Moving on, Lunch was an interesting affair as SOT wanted to try the new Gregg’s Vegan Steak Bake and the New Subway Vegan Meatball sub. Now there is footage of this that will be uploaded to Sal’s youtube channel later with me doing a fake voice (think of John Shuttleworth’s Clive or Morecambe and Wise’s song “Boom Ooh Ya ta ta ta ta”) here, but I’ll give you the brief overview now.

Greggs Vegan Steak Bake - Tastes exactly the same as the normal Steak Bake. I actually asked SOT during the video if she was sure it was vegan (spoiler it was). Very nice! Would buy again if I needed food on the go.

 pic clearly pilfered from Gregg's!

Greggs Doughnut - A Doughnut with icing on, a bit dry and uninspiring so one I would only get if I was outside a Greggs and had an urgent need for sugar.

Subway Vegan Meatball Sub: Excellent, similar meatballs in taste and texture to the Sainsbury’s vegan meatballs and are a bit dry but there is so much marinara sauce it isn’t an issue.

 pic clearly pilfered from Subway!

Roger Whiteside (CEO of Greggs) has recently given an interview in which he mentioned he was vegan and convinced of the health benefits of Veganism. If the Steak Bake is a sign of how seriously they take Veganism, then it should be interesting to see what the future holds. Note to anyone from Greggs who may see this: you need to get on the desserts / cakes / doughnuts and Sandwiches. The Vegan Sausage Roll and Bake are excellent - the doughnut was a disappointment. As for Sandwiches, surely a Quorn or Tofurky roll with Salad wouldn’t be so tricky?

So if I were to rate them it would be:

- Last Place: KFC Vegan Burger. Five years ago this would have been amazing, now it’s an “also ran”.
- Third Place: Gregg’s Doughnut. Sadly a disappointment, after the vegan sausage roll and steak bake.
- Second Place: Subway Vegan Meatball Sub. Excellent sauce, tasty meatballs - which are a bit dry but saved by the sauce and customisations are available with the salad.
- First Place: Greggs Vegan Steak Bake. I honestly couldn’t tell it was vegan. It tasted exactly as I remember them and with a perfect texture. Perfect to grab on the go if you are hungry and in a rush.

How are you getting on Veganuary’ers? Let us know in the comments or come chat on the socials (links at the top of the page).

Also, if you want a live taste test / review of these items, check out my video, HERE.

Sal xXx

Wednesday 1 January 2020

Happy New Year and Veganuary


Today I am celebrating 12 years of veganism and as I celebrate my veganniversary, Mr Alien is starting Veganuary. YAY! I suspect a few of us share a veganniversary and as someone about embark on Veganuary, I asked my Mr Alien, AKA Simon, to say a few words about why he’s doing this. 

Hi all, a bit of a different blog post today from Sal’s other half. As I’m sure some of you know Sal married an omnivore and for the last five years I’ve been quite happy with that…..well I say quite happy but I stopped eating Pork, Lamb, Duck and fish as it didn’t seem right. Then last year I ended up in hospital for a week, came out of hospital and had a recovery period of a few months. I had found that dairy used to make me feel claggy in the throat, so I experimented with different types and found that filtered milk didn’t make me feel so claggy, so I moved to that. However, I still felt flat, lethargic and had started to feel bad when I thought about the animals that were being used in my food. So before Christmas, I had the following conversation with Sal:

ME: “you know, I think I am going to give Veganuary a try”.
Sal: “Really, or are you just saying that”
ME: “No I think I’m going to go for it”
Sal: “OK well think about it then”

So I did think about it and the more I looked into it and the benefits it could have, the more it seemed the sensible decision to make. I even asked comedian and Vegan, Michael Legge (@michaellegge on Twitter - if you’re not following the Do The Right Thing Podcast you should; it’s brilliant) what he would suggest, (not really expecting any answer at all let alone a serious answer) but to his credit he suggested the following:

“Buy a decent flask, so when travelling you’ll have a readymade food source from home, as the first few months will be finding out what will be convenient for where you are and buy wet wipes.” *

(*I’m condensing and paraphrasing the tweets into one sentence!)

So here I am day 1 of Veganuary; I’ve had toast with peanut butter and tea and coffee with no dairy in them (Oatly as the replacement). We have a meal with in-laws later so I have found a pub with a vegan menu and we’re going there and I’ll be spending the next couple of days using the book  “Appetite for reduction” as a guide for vegan meals to eat that are healthy as well.

I can’t guarantee I will stay vegan after January, but I am determined to take it one day at a time and complete Veganuary. I strongly suspect that at the end of it I may well be off meat completely, as I have been feeling that way for a while now so let’s see where I am at the end of the month.


I guess this means I now have to share my booja booja chocolate with him? Shit.

Is anyone else doing Veganuary? if you are or if you are already vegan and have some advice for Simon, let me know in the comments or come talk to me on Instagram or Simon or I on Twitter (@SimonJamesEllis / @sal_on_toast)