Vegan MOFO is almost here!

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It’s come along fast hasn’t it? Vegan bloggers all over the world are currently raiding their fridges and hammering their keyboards in preparation! This will be my second year taking part and I’m excited to reveal my theme to you guys!

When I became vegan I kept all of my old cookbooks even though I didn’t think I’d ever be able to use them again. I have a huge collection of books though and I hate to see an unloved one! I have been working my way through popular cookbooks like Jamie Oliver and Delia and veganising some of my favourite recipes to share. I’ve also made some gluten free versions of recipes from books like Veganomicon and Linda McCartney.

So dig out those old books and use my tips to make your old recipes good again!

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New Vegan Children’s Book – The Girl Who Could See Stories

I’ve got something a bit different for you today. Gill Torres is the author of a new children’s book which aims to teach children exactly where their food comes from. She is currently working on raising the funds to get this imaginative piece of work published. I’m sure you’ll agree this is an exciting step towards teaching children about plant based living! I have invited Gill to do a guest post today on her new project. Let’s give her a big Vegan Beckles welcome!

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Massive thanks to Becky for inviting me to share my new project with her readers. My name’s Gill and I am the author of The Girl Who Could See Stories, a picture book aiming to inspire young children to eat a healthy plant-based diet, free from animal products.

It’s a picture book about Sofiel – a little girl with a special gift. Sofiel can see the story of every person, animal and object she looks at. If she looks at an old suitcase, she can see every item it ever carried. If someone cycles past her on a bike she can see every journey they ever took and if she met you, your life story would open up to her like the pages of a book. One day she looked down at the food she was eating and she saw its past. From that moment on, she chose to only feed her tummy with happy stories.

The story came to me about a year ago. It is quite short – suitable from age 4 upwards – and is a really simple way to explain compassionate, healthy lifestyle choices to young children. When I started researching I realised that there didn’t seem to be another story like it out there, so I teamed up with illustrator Ilan Sheady and set about creating a big, beautiful picture book!3727056_orig

The book can now be pre-ordered online via Kickstarter and all pre-orders will help us to pay for the printing of the first edition. Crowd-funding campaigns on Kickstarter are time limited, so we only have until 16th September to raise enough money, by selling books and some other related ‘rewards’ that we have dreamed up (if we don’t reach the target then nobody who has backed the campaign will be charged). If you like the sound of the book, please take a minute to visit our kickstarter campaign and place your order!

Enjoy Life – Soft Baked Gingerbread Spice Cookies

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I always thought that our local Tesco had quite a good Free From section until I saw the Lifestyle Event aisles full of gorgeous vegan and gluten free foods! I visited a larger Tesco store this week but was disappointed to find that they weren’t running the Lifestyle Event either. Upon closer inspection though I managed to find some amazing cookies.

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Enjoy Life are an American company which produce products free from “The 8 Common Allergens”. On the back of the packet they list these as wheat, dairy, peanuts, tree nuts, egg, soy, fish and shellfish. Luckily for me this means they are completely vegan as well as gluten and soy free! I always find it extremely frustrating when products in the free from sections of most major supermarkets are free from one allergen but packed full of another. As a vegan my main problem has to be the extra eggs and dairy that gluten free manufacturers add to everything. The approach that Enjoy Life have towards free from foods is both refreshing and exciting. I hope that the British companies can follow suit as it makes sense for a “free from” product to be free from multiple allergens rather than just certain ones!

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As a huge gingerbread fan I was drawn to the Gingerbread Spice cookies first and they did not disappoint. The ingredients list is packed full of things I would use in my own kitchen (a welcome change from that of most ready made biscuits) so I was hoping for a slightly home-made feel to these.

These are definitely on the more cakey side of the cookie spectrum! Their texture is very soft and not the sort of thing we’re used to in the UK with our crunchy choc chip cookies. I like this about them though as they somehow taste slightly more decadent than their crunchy counterparts. They also have a sprinkling of sugar on the bottom which gives a nice crunch.

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The flavour is amazing and is so hard to describe in words! The combination of ground and crystallised ginger gives a very strong and spicy flavour. They have a homey feel to them and remind me of winter months and Christmas. I’ve never tasted such a strong gingerbread biscuit before.

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It’s a shame that these cookies are not more readily available over here in the UK. They are currently on sale in selected Tesco stores for £3 a box. Pricey but worth it!

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Don’t forget about my giveaway for a years subscription to Vegan Life Magazine! Click here to enter!

Win A Year’s Subscription to Vegan Life Magazine!

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The whole of the vegan community is currently buzzing in anticipation for the new Vegan magazine which will be hitting UK shelves in just a few days! Vegan Life magazine will be packed full of vegan recipes, nutritional information, in depth articles, interviews with vegan celebrities and much more. It aims to “bring vegan into vogue” and will be available in WHSmiths, Sainsbury’s or Tesco store as well as wholefoods shops. It will also be available in a digital format.

I’m giving you the chance today to enter to win a year’s subscription to the magazine starting from the first issue which is released in September. To enter this competition please click on the link below and don’t forget to leave a comment on this post and tell me which part of the magazine you’re most looking forward to!

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Related Posts:

Vegan Life Magazine – A New Vegan Magazine in the UK!

Vegan Life – A New Vegan Magazine in the UK!

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I don’t know about you but I spend around £10 a month buying vegetarian magazines. I buy them for their recipes, their articles and the adverts of upcoming new veggie products. Much of what is included in these magazines is not transferable to my diet or lifestyle as a gluten free vegan though and I’ve been dreaming of a vegan magazine hitting our newsagents.

Well I’m here to let you know about a new magazine that’s launching in September which will cater to current vegans as well as helping along those who are trying to change the way they live. Vegan Life magazine aims to “bring vegan into vogue”.

The new magazine will contain some beautiful vegan recipes which will include gluten free and raw foods, making it even more accessible to those with specific dietary requirements. Vegan Life also recognises that being vegan is about more than just the food and so will be packed full of nutritional information, in depth articles, interviews with vegan celebrities and much more. I’m particularly excited for the animal free fashion and beauty pages as well as the tips on veganising your favourite foods.

The idea is to invite everybody to try the vegan lifestyle and enjoy all of the amazing parts! Whether that’s delicious food, increased health or just being a part of the change that we are helping to bring to the world, this magazine will help you along the way.

Vegan Life will be available in print from your local WHSmiths, Sainsbury’s or Tesco store as well as wholefoods shops. It will also be available in a digital format.

As a Vegan Life blogger I will be updating you on all of the news on this fabulous new magazine so keep your eyes peeled. Are you as excited as I am?

Plastic bag usage is still going up – time to turn to canvas?

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Imagine the scenario – you’re in your local supermarket but you forgot to bring your reusable bags with you again. Instead you come home with 5 or 6 single use carrier bags that the cashier handed to you for free. Do you feel guilty and remember to take your bags with you next time? Most people are now aware of the environmental implications of using plastic bags but we don’t always practice what we preach. An article that came out last week stated that the number of carrier bags given out by UK supermarkets is still rising, as it has year on year. Although we know we shouldn’t be using them, we’re still happily taking them home packed full of food.

Shoppers in the UK can use up to 60 carrier bags a month and only 1 in every 200 of these are recycled. The bags themselves are often made of oil based plastic and can take up to 1000 years to decompose. Many of these unwanted bags end up in our oceans where marine animals mistake them for food resulting in the deaths of many sea turtles as well as others. A simple change in our shopping habits could put a stop to this.compact-cart-carts-4649492-l

It was recently announced that a 5p charge for each singleuse carrier bag will be introduced in England next year. A similar proposal in Wales caused a 96% decrease in the number of bags handed out in 2011. I am fully behind this being put into place in this country to reduce the number of bags we’re sending to landfill.

Reusable canvas bags are everywhere now and it’s so easy to just pop a few in your bag or in the boot of your car. Besides, who wants to be seen with a boring old Tesco bag when you can be carrying your shopping in one of these beautiful creations? Have a look at some of my other beautiful canvas bag finds on pinterest.

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Don’t wait until next year to get behind this initiative. Stop using plastic carrier bags now and do your bit for the planet.

Find out more:

Plastic bag use rises for fourth year – The Guardian

Facts about the plastic bag pandemic – Reuseit

Carrier bag charge – wales.gov.uk

Why Organic Food is Better For You and the Environment

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This week there has been a lot of talk about the benefits of organic eating. If you have been watching the news you will have seen many debates about whether eating organically is actually better for your health or not. This has been a long argued debate over the years and there are extreme opinions on both sides of the fence. When I heard of the scientific study “proving” that organic food was healthier than regular food it was music to my ears. However, after a bit of research I am a bit sceptical of the results.

The study in question can be found here. The results showed that organic produce had higher levels of the antioxidants which can contribute to good health than those that had been grown conventionally. They also contained lower levels of dangerous pesticides and other chemicals. The team who carried out the study have claimed that the significant health benefits are equivalent to eating another 1 or 2 portions of fruit or vegetables a day. There has been controversy however, with sceptics arguing that the methodology is questionable and that the results are being exaggerated.

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The study involved compiling the results of 343 previous experiments which found a significant difference in the composition of organic and non organic foods. This kind of analysis does come with many problems, the worst of which being the difference in methodology in the studies that are being compared. In the introduction of this paper the authors admit that there were “major research synthesis challenges” and that there could have been variations in soil quality and the crop varieties used in the studies. The sceptics have also acknowledged this claiming that the differences could be based on any number of factors and may not be due to whether the crops were grown organically or not.

So the debate rages on and many families are still left confused about whether they should be spending the extra money on organic food for their children’s health. For me the debate about the health benefits of organic food is not the end of the story. According to the Soil Association 44% of the people buying organic foods in this country are doing it , at least in part, for environmental reasons. Conventional farming was developed to fight food shortages and made food much cheaper to grow and buy. It is true that buying organically will probably cost you more money but the thing to consider is whether it’s really worth it at the sacrifice of the environment we depend on. Pesticides and herbicides cause soil degradation and pollute rivers and other water systems. As a country we spend billions of pounds cleaning these chemicals out of our drinking water which makes you worry about the quality of the water our wildlife is drinking. As well as this, the chemicals used in our food systems have been thought to be causing huge damages to the populations of our native bees. I don’t need to tell you how much danger we will be in if our bees become extinct.

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For me organic food is healthier as the vitamins I’m gaining do not come with a side serving of chemicals. The reactions to this article have me asking a question I find myself asking again and again at the moment. Why do we consider ourselves as more important than the environment we live in? How much more do we think the environment can take?

I’ll happily hand over the extra pound for my organic bananas. Will you?

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Related Article:

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Bees and Honey – A Vegan Perspective

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Find out more:

Clear differences between organic and non-organic food, study finds – The Guardian

What is organic food? – The Soil Association

The original study