Thursday, 12 October 2017

Vegan Eats Sydney

This is probably going to be my final Sydney post and I've been putting off writing it because it means that my time in Australia is really over. No more wallabies, considerably less delicious vegan pies, and no more hanging out with my friend Amanda. Making friends online can be the absolute best because it's a really cool and easy way to connect with people who you have a bunch of stuff in common with (you also get close fast because people like to overshare online!) but the flip side is that sometimes your favourite people live in Sydney, or Austin, or Vienna, or somewhere else far away and you hardly ever get to see them in real life.

I try not to get too sad about it because it's so fun to be able to meet up with people whilst I'm travelling but my dream is to live somewhere and have a bunch of awesome vegan friends living nearby so that we can have potlucks, and brunches, and sleepovers, and pizza parties, and go for hikes, and get involved in activism, and eat my carefully crafted pick 'n mix together at the movies. One day! I'm also getting to the point in my travels where I can't wait to be settled somewhere so that my friends can actually come and visit me for a change. I miss that!

Amanda and I have one final dinner date planned during my layover before I fly to Hong Kong and I definitely will not cry when we part ways like I did in Portland that time! I spent about seven days in Sydney and as well as visiting MAKER, one of the best vegan businesses on the planet, a couple of times and exploring everything that Newtown, Glebe, and the CBD have to offer (blog post here) we managed to squeeze in visits to a bunch of other cool places including Pineana in Avalon Beach, The Hold in Manly, and Funky Pies in Bondi.

Pineana specialise in Asian inspired bowls and they have six options for you to choose from meaning that there's something for everyone. Even I was able to order without making any modifications which is a little unusual! 

Sunday, 8 October 2017

Wagamama Launches Vegan Menu

Since I left the UK in January 2015 the vegan options at chain restaurants have blossomed, with chains like Zizzi's adding vegan menu items and Tofurky launching their range of vegan sandwiches I'm going to be coming back to a country that's a whole lot more vegan friendly. One of the few downsides of travelling is that I don't get to go and eat all of these delicious new things the very second they're launched but when Wagamama contacted me about trying their new vegan menu I decided to do the only sensible thing and pay it forward. After scouring Instagram for Brighton peep's who take excellent photos I found Stevie, @thebrightonvegan, who was more than happy to attend the event on my behalf. Hopefully I'll be bringing you more guest posts as I try to keep on top of the UK's growing vegan scene from a continent far, far away. Over to Stevie...

For some time, the word on the vegan grapevine has been that Wagamama was launching an all new vegan menu. Vague news articles and the occasional insta-story indicated that it was tantalisingly close.

Well friends, it's here. And, oh, it's good.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Vegan in Sydney

There's something about visiting cities with iconic buildings that really floats my boat. NYC, Paris, Barcelona, and now Sydney are all up there with my favourite cities in the world and that's what links them in my mind. The other thing they all have in common is amazing vegan food!

Sydney can be a challenging place for a traveller on a budget but the good news is that the centre of the city is very walkable. We walked from our hostel, YHA's Railway Square hostel, up George Street towards the Art Gallery of New South Wales, harbour bridge, Museum of Contemporary Art, botanical gardens, and the opera house almost every day during our stay. Their super central location means that you're literally inside the station surrounded by pricier accommodation options but paying a fraction of the price. It really is considerably cheaper than anywhere else in the area. As well as being by the train and bus depots which will whizz you to vegan destinations all over the city it's basically on top of a Lord Of The Fries (the chicken and chips is a total bargain by Aussie standards and I love their $5 mini chicken burger), in amongst multiple bubble tea spots (Coco forever!), and close to Brew Street for your breakfast muffin and coffee. 

Friday, 29 September 2017

MAKER Sydney

Sydney based coffee bar / bakery MAKER is one of the coolest vegan businesses in the world and I'm here to tell you why! Firstly, look a this sign. Self love and vegan treats are basically what I'm all about. I visited another popular vegan business in the city and they had a sign letting me know that their products are guilt free. Nope! Not cool. Eating isn't something that we should be made to feel guilty about and businesses buying into damaging rhetoric about guilt free foods and clean eating makes me super angry. Bring on the self love and vegan treats!


Secondly Maker are a social enterprise. Annabelle who makes beautiful bespoke cakes at My Little Panda Kitchen, and Kate of The Vegan Teahouse who specialise in vegan cafe classics, got together to run a 100% vegan commercial kitchen where anyone can join in and make and sell epic baked goods. I mean really?! How perfect are these people? I want to move to Sydney and be a part of this.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Planning a Self Guided Trip to Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park

Visiting Uluru was an absolute must for me and Nick during our time in Australia but working out how to make it happen took a while. Flights were expensive, we didn't think that we had the necessary skills to drive there, and finding a tour that didn't include eating kangaroo seemed impossible. I also knew that being on a tour with people who planned to climb Uluru against the wishes of the Anangu people would irritate me so much that I probably wouldn't enjoy the trip. In the end we planned our own self guided tour of Ulura-Kata Tjuta National Park and Kings Canyon.

Here's what our five day trip looked like.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Vegan in Hobart

After spending a little time in Melbourne after driving the Great Ocean Road Nick and I flew to Hobart to start our Tasmanian adventure. We saw the rest of the state first, check out that post here, before ending in the capital for a city break that involved a little walking, a spot of culture, some grade A eating, and a whole lot of relaxing. Our very first stop was the Salamanca Markets which we'd only heard good things about. Bury Me Standing Bagels was the place we were most stoked about trying, they have great Happy Cow reviews and they sell boiled bagels, otherwise known as proper bagels.

As well as decent bagels that you can buy to go they also sell baked goods like cookie sandwiches and brownies, some of which are gluten free. We opted to get our bagels sliced and filled to eat right away and I went for a potato bagel with a schmear of vegan cream cheese and pickles whilst Nick opted for a plain bagel with Nuttelex (Australia's Vitalite / Earth Balance), sugar, and cinnamon. They also had vegan lemon curd which I was sorely tempted by but a vegan cheese option will sway me every time.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Vegans Explore Tasmania

When I was a little kid Tasmania was one of those mysterious far away places that I never imagined that I'd travel to! Hilariously as I grew older I realised that Tasmania is just part of Australia, a cool part but still, somewhere that you could feasibly travel to. When I saw photos of the stunning scenery whilst planning my Australia trip I knew that I had to go asap. Nick and I flew to Hobart from Melbourne, picked up a rental car at the airport, and headed out into the wilderness. Our first night there was challenging, it was 4 degrees outside, the hostel had no heating in the rooms, and the building wasn't well insulated, we were very, very cold. We didn't let that dampen our spirits though and hopped out of bed bright and early the next morning assuming, correctly, that it would actually be warmer outside. Our first destination was Freycinet National Park where we had set our sights on hiking up to the wineglass bay lookout.

This hike was, of course, mostly uphill but it was manageable and we were glad that it was a little chilly in parts. There's usually a slightly longer hike that takes you down to the beach but it was closed for maintenance and we were more than happy with this shorter hike. The bay is gorgeous and the hike was challenging enough to feel like a proper work out. After descending from the lookout we had a look at the park map and headed on to our next location.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Road Trip! The Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road has been on my must visit list since I was a teenager so when Nick and I were planning our trip around Australia this was on my must do list. As I may have mentioned upwards of a hundred times we love a road trip but car hire can be pricy so we kept our eyes peeled for relocations. If you haven't heard of a relocation before it's exactly as it sounds, a rental company needs to get a vehicle from one location to another and so they let you hire it for a nominal fee (in our case $5 a day) in return for you moving it for them in a timely manner.

We had three days to get from Adelaide to Melbourne which was just right. If the weather was nicer I guess it would have been fun to have an extra day to fit in some beach time but as you can see from my photos it was rainy and windy for the majority of the trip so the slightly tighter schedule was no problem. On day one we drove, drove, drove (well Nick did!) from Adelaide to Port Fairy, about six hours, so that we could kick off our first proper day on the road with a walk at Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve near Warnambool. We'd read that this was a great place to spot wildlife especially early in the morning and our getting out of bed at dawn was rewarded with some fantastic kangaroo, wallaby, and emu sightings.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Vegan in Adelaide and Broken Hill

After exploring Perth and Fremantle Nick and I flew east to Adelaide. It's a smaller and less touristy city than Melbourne, Sydney, or Brisbane and I really enjoyed it. On our first night there we went for a walk and saw protesters showing the earthlings experience, drank bubble teas, and went to Zen House for vegan yum cha. It was the perfect first glimpse into the city and we were excited to return. We stayed at the Adelaide Central YHA hostel which worked out great for us, it really is very central which is a theme with YHA hostels, when they say they're central they really are. It's within an easy walking distance of vegan eats, there was good wifi which is a must as a travel blogger, a huge lounge area, a book swap (so great!), and a decent sized kitchen which was always very clean. It was the perfect jumping off point for a trip into the outback as they even have a car park out back where we were able to park our rental car whilst we loaded it up with food, water, and our backpacks.

Our road trip was taking us six hours north of Adelaide to Broken Hill where we planned to stay in a cabin for a couple of nights.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Aussie Adventures with Quokkas and Ice Cream

My travel itinerary has been jam packed and almost totally wifi free for the last week or so so I'm just posting a short(ish) but pic heavy post today. When Nick and I were looking into flights from Bali to Australia we realised that we would be able to fly into Perth and then from Perth to Melbourne for far less than it would have cost to fly straight to Melbourne. It made sense to have a little Western Australia adventure! We stayed in Fremantle and the way that our cheap flights worked out meant that we were there during the week, unfortunately all of the vegan spots there are closed during the week! If you want a foodie adventure then try to visit from Friday to Monday when most of the cafes and the markets are open. We went into Perth to visit museums (I loved the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts), drink bubble tea, explore the Asian food stores, eat at Lord of the Fries, and to watch The Big Sick at the cinema on Cheap Tuesday. Have you seen The Big Sick yet? I loved it! I'm a huge rom com fan but as a feminist they definitely push my rage buttons. I don't think there were any moments that made me angry in The Big Sick though! There was even a decent joke about mansplaining and the whole movie was laugh out loud funny as well as cute.

Another of my very favourite thing about the Perth / Fremantle area was 100% vegan gelato spot Gelato 101.

This epic ice cream spot is located in Cottesloe which is right between Fremantle and Perth on the main train line and we were blown away by their ice creams.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Vegan in The Gili Islands

When Nick and I were planning our trip to Bali I knew that we had to visit the Gili Islands. These tiny islands seemed like the most amazing place to live out our dessert island fantasies so we blocked out ten days and got researching. We decided that Gili Trawangan wasn't for us, it's too loud and too much of a party hotspot and it definitely doesn't have the chilled out vibe we were looking for. We decided to split our time between Gili Air and Gili Meno spending a few nights on mellow backpacker hotspot Gili Air and then the majority of our time on the even smaller and quieter Gili Meno.

Our trip to the Gili Islands didn't start wonderfully as I started to feel unwell on our last morning at the resort we were staying at on Lombok. I wasn't sure if it was food poisoning, a stomach bug, or a colitis flare up at this point but it wasn't great. We managed to get to our Airbnb on Gili Air without too many dramas but because I wasn't feeling good we took a speedboat which cost far more than we were hoping to spend on the journey. It got us from A to B as quickly as possible though which was all I cared about.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Reducing My Plastic Consumption

I've been into the whole reduce, reuse, recycle thing for as long as I can remember. I'm always the person encouraging everyone to bring their own plates and cutlery to the vegan potluck and removing your juice bottle from my kitchen bin as soon as you turn away. Yep. That's me! When I lived in Brighton I supplemented our kerbside recycling with monthly trips to recycling points dotted around town to recycle things like tetra paks of soy milk (did you know that you need to remove the plastic spout and lid before recycling these?) and textiles. I also paid a little bit of cash each month to Magpie Recycling Co-op's opt in scheme so that I could recycle things like yoghurt pots and tofu tubs. So I was kind of a champion recycler and I always washed out my zip seal bags so that I could reuse them until they fell apart, but the whole reduce thing? Not so great!

Since taking a tour of the Sea Shepherd ship the Bob Barker in Melbourne and reading a few articles and blog posts about the impact of plastics on our oceans I've been trying to do more. By putting more of a focus on reducing my plastic consumption I feel like I'm stepping up my game! It definitely isn't an easy thing to do when you're travelling; you can't buy in bulk, often have to avoid drinking the tap water, and are given plastic bags and straws all the time but here are the steps that I've taken so far.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Vegan Eats Ubud

If you read my last blog post you're probably already dreaming of a trip to Ubud and this post might just push you over the edge. The food in Ubud is excellent and even I managed to find enough to eat - no mean feat in a country where everyone loves chilli. One of the spots that Nick and I ended up visiting the most was Alchemy. It was located around 10 minutes from our gorgeous Penestenan Airbnb (seriously if you haven't already check out my previous post!) and we headed there for breakfast most days. They have a smoothie bowl bar which I was deeply suspicious of because I don't even enjoy smoothies let alone pretending that they're a meal. It turns out that smoothie bowls are actually amazing though! Who knew?!

The options were different every single day and you could mix and match your smoothie, fruit, and topping options to mix things up and keep breakfast exciting. My favourite days were the ones when they had strawberries in the fruit section and blueberry or turmeric whipped coconut cream in the topping area. I always went for chocolate granola because it's the best and I was wild about the bright purple dragonfruit soursop smoothie.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Blissed Out in Bali

After volunteering at the farm animal rescue for two months followed by a fun filled and action packed road trip up the Australian coast from Brisbane to Cairns Nick and I decided that Ubud in Bali would be our next stop. We chose Ubud because it has a reputation for being a laid back kind of place with plentiful vegan options and it's not too far from Australia. It sounded like a great place to rest and recharge our batteries and I'd say that it exceeded our expectations quickly becoming one of our favourite places in the world. 

We chose to stay in Penestenan at an amazing Air BnB located a little way into the rice terraces. We were about a 40 minute walk from Earth Cafe in the centre of Ubud but if that's not your vibe taxis were around 70,000 and we took them once or twice. The area is beyond gorgeous and I think that we'd have had a very different experience if we'd chosen to stay in the bustling, traffic filled, touristy centre of Ubud.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Vegan in Cairns and The Great Barrier Reef

After spending two weeks road tripping north up the Bruce Highway from Brisbane Nick and I arrived in Cairns and camped there, at the Cairns Coconut site, for two nights. We had a trip booked out to The Great Barrier Reef for the day after we arrived in town and the tour company we booked with were picking us up at 6:20am. Sadly unlike our amazing experience with Whitsunday Bullet the vegan options on Reef Experience were terrible. We started badly at breakfast time with a spinach, carrot, and cucumber roll with some balsamic drizzle (what the what?!) whilst everyone else ate bacon and egg rolls. Lunch was just more salad with some roasted pumpkin in place of all of the meaty things everyone else was eating. I was getting pretty irritated by this point especially as the woman in charge kept calling us her "little vegans" which felt super patronising. Ugh!

There were also snacks for after snorkelling, cheese and crackers I think, and they didn't even try to find us a vegan option for that. It was definitely one of the worst vegan catering experiences I've had in recent memory and I was pretty annoyed that they'd told me that they can cater for vegan guests. I brought emergency snacks with me, ate all of them, and was still starving when we got off of the boat at the end of the day. When you have hours of physical activity ahead of you you can't just eat salad! It's ridiculous that in 2017, in a country with plentiful vegan options, people still think vegans basically just eat vegetables.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Vegan Road Trip - Brisbane to Cairns Part 2

This is part two of my Brisbane to Cairns vegan road trip series, we already picked up our Hippie camper, visited Noosa, ate a whole bunch of delicious vegan food, and spotted a koala in the wild so if you haven't read that post already you can catch up right here

The Whitsunday's were somewhere that both Nick and I had crossed off of our list of places we'd be visiting on this trip because they aren't exactly a budget friendly place to get to and we just didn't think that we could afford it. The closer we got though the more we realised that we were both thinking that we wanted to go but thought that the other wanted to stick to the original plan. A frantic afternoon of planning and organising ensued and the next day we were off in a boat heading to the Whitsunday Islands with Whitsunday Bullet one of the more budget friendly options whose day trip included visiting a snorkelling site (great practice for me before our planned trip to the Great Barrier Reef) as well as a lookout point and the famous beach itself.

The peep's from Whitsunday Bullet even pick you up at your hotel / hostel / campsite and take you to the port so you don't have to do any pre planning you can just book and go.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Vegan Road Trip - Brisbane to Cairns Part I

If you've followed my blog for a while you'll know that I love a road trip, from spending a week driving from NYC to Chicago, to taking an epic journey around Europe for a whole summer, any time spent on the road is good with me. When I was researching how to travel around Australia, the answer to how to get around was obvious: ROAD TRIIIIP! Australia is freaking massive and wildly expensive so we haven't been able to road trip the whole country but Nick and I were able to take a road trip from Brisbane to Cairns in a rented camper van. We covered 2600 km's so I'm going to split this epic journey into two parts.

We chose Hippie Camper as our rental place as they had small vans, great rates, and their location made picking up the van in Brisbane pretty easy. 

Our van's name was Lily which cutely was also the name of one of the sheep we were caring for at Farm Animal Rescue! Rather than heading north towards Cairns straight away we decided to head south for two reasons, firstly I'm a ridiculous person and hadn't stopped thinking about the dim sum at Easy House since I visited for my birthday, and secondly we both thought that never seeing Byron Bay seemed a little silly as it's a popular destination and we didn't know when we'd be back in this corner of the globe.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Vegan Eats Brisbane

Brisbane has been on my radar for a while thanks to fellow MoFo participant and general all round wonderful human Susan and her blog Kittens Gone Lentil. I was lucky enough to get to spend a few days there before heading to Dayboro to volunteer at Farm Animal Rescue and then a few more nights there afterwards.

Brisbane doesn't have the same completely ridiculous vegan food scene as Melbourne but there are a lot of decent options and overall I really enjoyed the vibe of Brisbane. The area just south of the river has a super cool man made beach as well as a swimming pool that's free to use. They even have free wifi! The area around it is often used for markets, pop ups, and celebrations and on our first evening in the city they were holding a Buddah's Birthday festival which was 100% vegetarian and awash with vegan eats.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Vegan Travels in Guangxi, China

I found myself repeatedly putting off writing this post, the final post about my travels around China, and it's taken me a while to work out why. Despite it being one of the more challenging countries I've travelled in (Why are your national parks full of concrete?! Why is Mandarin so hard to learn?!) I did enjoy it, especially this part of the trip. The time I spent travelling around Guangxi province was probably the highlight of my time in China but I'm not sure if I'll ever end up back there again which makes writing about it a little more bittersweet. Guangxi is so different to the China I think most people imagine when they think of the bustling built up country with a population of over 1.37 billion, maybe this post will open your eyes to a different side of China or even inspire you to add another stop or two on to the classic trip to Beijing and Shanghai.

To get to Guilin, the first town on our mini tour of Guangxi, Nick and I took a sleeper train from Zhangjiajie to Liujiang arriving at 5am, we shared a compartment with a Canadian couple and the next morning we all took a walk to a bus stop and caught a local bus across town to a different train station, Liuzhou, to catch our trains to Guilin. The last train only took an hour which was nice after such long travels. We could have made our lives easier and grabbed a taxi from one station to the other but this worked out cheaper and it was more fun, I love watching cities wake up. It would have gone without a hitch if the roads around Liuzhou station weren't totally closed to traffic because of roadworks meaning that our bus took an unexpected detour. Apple Maps had a hard time finding us a route around them but thanks to some friendly locals we all made it there with over an hour to spare. Upon arrival in Guilin we hot footed it across town to Tian Fu Lou, a buffet style veg place that we spotted on Happy Cow, before my hanger kicked in.

This place is a bit of a wander from the centre of town but it's well worth it. After spending two days somewhere that we didn't love eating just steamed rice, fried greens, and Pringles for every meal we were beyond excited at the sight of the buffet and ecstatic when we were told that everything was vegan. We went around a few times trying new things as we went, I was most excited for the noodle soup bar and made myself something delicious after watching how it was done.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Vegan Fave's in Melbourne

This is the fourth and final part of my Vegan in Melbourne series. Check out parts one, two, and three by clicking the links and for more more tips on travelling, volunteering, and road tripping in Australia visit my dedicated Australia page here.

I followed the lead up to Red Sparrow Pizza's opening on Instagram and I was delighted to get to visit twice whilst I was in Melbourne. It's no secret that I'm a huge pizza fan (the fact that I don't have a pizza tattoo yet is ridiculous. Get it together Jojo!) and this place looked more than a little promising. Proper Italian style bases and multiple vegan cheese options along with a killer specials menu, what more could you want right? Well this place exceeded my expectations, the pizzas were seriously the best I've ever eaten - they had that combo of the perfect thin crust with plentiful tomato sauce and super fun toppings. We ordered from the specials board and I chose a pear and walnut pizza with aubergines and a balsamic glaze while Nick went for the Halal Snack Pack pizza.

For those of you who aren't Australian you may have never heard of a Halal Snack Pack (or HSP), I certainly hadn't. It's basically kebab style meat on chips with barbecue, chilli, and garlic sauces to top it all off. I'd have had to mess with it too much to make it a-ok for my allergies so I didn't try it but Nick gave it two thumbs up. I mean it's a pizza topped with chips, thinly sliced seitan, and a whole bunch of delicious sauces so of course he did!

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Cruising from Chongquing to Yichang Vegan Style

I was about a quarter of the way through Peter Hessler's excellent book River Town when I decided that I needed to see the Yangtze River for myself. It took me about eight years to make it happen but during our travels in China Nick and I finally made it. We decided to book a three night cruise with Victoria Cruises because it seemed like the best way to see not only the Three Gorges but to really get a feel for the river. We arrived in Chongqing by sleeper train from Xi'an at around 5am and immediately made our way across the city by bus from the train station to the port. The cruise was scheduled to start boarding at 5pm so we left our luggage at the port so that we could explore the humid bustling port side city in comfort. Finding the left luggage office was a total mission filled with people insisting that they were in fact the official left luggage spot for the cruise (yeah, no.) and many detours around the construction happening literally everywhere. After about an hour of wandering in circles we found it and were more than happy to leave our bags with two official looking ladies and a cat.

After 11 years of vegan travel I've learnt not to trust people 100% when they say that providing vegan food will be no problem so our plan for the day was to eat, explore, and then find and purchase snacks for the journey. I always pack snacks for flights, day trips, and tours but I was especially focussed on my snack game this time. When the place you're going is a floating hotel with no access to shops you need to be extra prepared.

Monday, 19 June 2017

An Aussie Birthday Extravaganza

It was my 34th birthday last week and my first ever birthday in the Southern Hemisphere. I was working on my actual birthday but as I'm always up for having a birthday week I started celebrating early by planning an epic day out with Susan from Kittens Gone Lentil. Me and Nick started the day at Petrie station and travelled into Brisbane to meet Susan near her place. We even got to pop to her house to meet Dim Sim, her gorgeous black cat who I've known online for many years!

We had our sights set on eating copious amounts of dim sum / yum cha so we drove south to Gold Coast to eat at Easy House, somewhere I'd been reading about and dreaming of eating at for a while. Easy House certainly didn't disappoint, the food was freaking amazing and I've eaten dim sum in both NYC and Hong Kong so you can trust me. You can order from the menu but the lovely people working there also bring around trays of dim sum so that you can choose what you want to eat that way. So fun!

Monday, 12 June 2017

Adventures in and around Melbourne

I've written a couple of posts about eating vegan in Melbourne, check them out here and here, but what should you be doing in-between meals? There are a whole bunch of great non-food related things to do in and around Australia's second city and here are a few of my favourites.

• Go on the Official Neighbours Tour

You might not really be from the UK if you've never seen an episode of Neighbours. Many hours of my childhood, teenage years, and early twenties were spent watching the goings on at Lassiter's and Harold's, and for a while I seriously wanted Susan Kennedy to be my mum. With this deep love for the show a Neighbours tour was a must!

Unsurprisingly all but one person who'd been dragged along by a friend was British and everyone was enthusiastic about the tour. You get to visit Ramsay Street and check out the studio lot where a bunch of the other location sets are which was so fun. Many photos were taken! Our guide was both knowledgeable and hilarious and we learnt a whole lot of stuff about how the show is filmed including how they always make it look sunny in Erinsborough when the reality of Melbourne is a little different.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Vegan Adventures in Xi'an

After spending seven nights in Beijing Nick and I took the train to Pingyao, spent a couple of days exploring the ancient walled town, and then travelled onwards by train to Xi'an. I'd say that one night in Pingyao would have been enough, it's got enough to keep you occupied for a full day's worth of sightseeing but after that there's very little else to keep you amused. The area is very touristy during the day - the roads are crammed full of Chinese tour groups, but at night the roads are quieter and, in my opinion, more of a real reflection of what the town is like. Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi province, was on my mist visit list because it's the home of the famous Terracotta Warriors but after reading Alys from The Wild Life's posts about the amazing food in Xi'an I was almost more excited about getting some serious eating done. The city is pretty stunning, surrounded by an enormous city wall (apparently the biggest in the world) and with bell and drum towers that are beautifully lit at night it's a joy to explore. 

On our first day in the city we decided to head out to see the Terracotta Warriors which was surprisingly easy but the site is large and 20km from the city so be prepared for a long day.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Cheap Eats in Melbourne

There's no doubt about it, Australia is an expensive place to visit. It's not the most expensive country I've ever explored (I think Finland might take that crown) but it's far away from almost everywhere so getting here is going to cost you a fair chunk of change and neither accommodation nor food are cheap. Whilst Nick and I were in Melbourne we rented an Air B&B in Collingwood. Collingwood is situated right next to Fitzroy, the alternative area in Melbourne, where the majority of the cities vegan food spots are located. There are a lot of benefits to Air B&Bing but my favourite is that you have access to a kitchen. Being able to grab some crumpets, cereal, and soy milk from the local supermarket cuts down your breakfast expenditure to a few dollars a day and the Air B&B we chose was within walking distance of a Cole's and a Woolworths. Brunswick Street is like a vegan playground with multiple options on almost every menu; fully vegan spots are located just a few store fronts apart, there are many different cuisines to choose from, and the dessert options are ridiculous. You can even get a vegan friendly tattoo from a vegan artist!

Vietnamese food abounds in both Fitzroy and Collingwood but Trang Bakery and their signature Bahn Mi's stand out from the crowd.

Trang Bakery aren't 100% vegan but they have four exceptional vegan options; vegan chicken, vegan duck, vegan pork, and lemongrass marinated tofu.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Smith & Deli Melbourne

Vegans everywhere will have heard of Smith & Daughters, their cookbook is available at all good independent book retailers (Foyles and Herbivore are two of my faves), and their super instagrammable merch can be seen decorating vegan denim jackets across the globe. I'm more into quick, delicious, filling eats than fancy sit down dining so their sister spot Smith & Deli was my favoured stop during my visit to Melbourne. I'm not kidding when I say that I ate here almost every single day they were open during my 10 day visit so I was able to try a fair amount of their seriously epic menu.

Taking up two whole blackboards epic is really the only appropriate word to describe the sandwich menu here and they range from simple grilled cheeses all the way through to ridiculous seitan and cheese stuffed masterpieces. They have an impressive range of sides and snacks to choose from including pies and sausage rolls and their specials seem to change almost daily. The other rad thing about Smith & Deli is that it's also a store, whilst you're in line waiting to order you can browse fridges, freezers, and shelves full of vegan deliciousness from local vegan cheeses to imported faux fish.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Vegan in Beijing: Part III

Two of my very favourite things about Beijing were walking along The Great Wall on one of the most beautiful days of our whole trip and eating delicious vegan food at SUHU Vegetarian Tiger. Visiting The Great Wall had been on my travel wish list for quite some time and I was super excited to plan our day trip out there. We really did choose an amazing day, the sky was blue, there was no smog hanging around, and it wasn't too hot. It was basically perfect and I'll tell you more about it right after I show you the delicious eats from Suhu Vegetarian Tiger! 

Nick and I ate at Suhu quite a few times during our stay in the city and I would highly recommend it. The menu is large and varied, the front section of the menu is where the larger more expensive dishes are to be found but if you're travellers on a budget like us you'll want to flip towards the back of the menu where the staple dishes are located.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Vegan in Australia - Volunteering at Farm Animal Rescue

I still have a bunch of posts about China to finish and I'm right in the middle of putting together some great round ups of Melbourne's epic vegan scene but I was having a think yesterday morning and I really felt like writing about where I am and what I'm doing right now. I always feel weird when my blog stops being in chronological order so I did a little Twitter poll & it turns out that nobody else really cares about that - y'all just wanted to see where I'm at so here we are!

Just in case you haven't been following me on social media I'm in Australia, Queensland to be precise. Nick and I have wanted to visit Australia for ages, since the very beginning of our travels in fact, but making it affordable was a real sticking point. We also desperately wanted to get more experience volunteering with farmed animals (#lifegoals) and felt a little unsure about whether we should be travelling more right now or focussing on the future - thankfully I came up with a cunning plan to combine the two when I discovered Farm Animal Rescue in Dayboro, and here we are, exploring Australia and spending time with these beautiful animals, learning how to care for them, and getting an in depth look at how the sanctuary works. 

We arrived from Brisbane on Wednesday so I've only worked three full days so far but I'm loving it. My work day starts at dawn and ends at dusk and I really thought that I might struggle with the early starts (I set my alarm for 5:40am and am outside working by 6:15am) but it's a tiring job so I hit the hay pretty early and I'm waking up before my alarm most days. I love being more in touch with nature and dawn has always been one of my favourite times of day. I'm not usually awake for it but I have some wonderful dawn related travel memories - exploring NYC hunting for bagels, watching the sun rise over Angkor Wat, waking up with the birds and the call to prayer on my first morning in Thailand... the list goes on!

Monday, 1 May 2017

Vegan in Beijing: Part II

When Nick and I were trying to choose where to stay in Beijing we decided to pick somewhere within the second ring road close to a Line 2 Subway station. Beijing is huge and Line 2 runs in a loop around the central section of the city. There are also loads of connections to the other subway lines from line 2 so it's super convenient. It stops at Quianmen (an easy walk to Tiananmen Square), Beijing Railway Station, and Yonghegong where the Lama Temple is located. This was one of my favourite spots in the city, it was touristy of course but it was being used as a temple by local people as well and it had a lovely atmosphere.

We also visited the nearby Confucius Temple which we enjoyed but if you only have time for one then the Lama Temple would be my choice. After exploring the temples we'd planned to go to a restaurant called Fairy Su which was / is located just around the corner but when we arrived it appeared to have sustained some serious fire damage.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Vegan in Beijing: Part I

My fascination with China started way back in 2009 when I read Peter Hessler's book River Town; from there I delved into all sorts of China related non-fiction from Factory Girls by Leslie T. Chang to Liao Yiwu's The Corpse Walker and getting myself (and, more challengingly, Nick) to China became kind of an obsession. I couldn't wait to see everywhere I'd read about with my own eyes so as soon as we needed to choose somewhere to spend a month before heading to Australia I started to campaign pretty hard for China. As you can see I won! A month seemed about right for what I knew would be a challenging country and whilst we could have hit up a few more spots our itinerary was pretty perfect for us. Over time I've learnt that I like to travel slowly - I like to have the mental energy to digest my experiences as well as making sure that I have time for the odd chilled day.

Beijing was our first stop and I'm so glad that we decided to start there. Familiarising yourself with a new country in a city with good train and bus links is a smart plan and we were also able to give our China Mobile Hong Kong sim card a whirl to test that it worked before we ended up staying in places without wifi. I can't recommend that sim card enough, we got the data only package which works out at about £2 a day but being able to use Happy Cow on the go, whip out Google translate whenever we needed it, and to use Apple Maps and their surprisingly excellent transit info made everything so much easier than it would have been otherwise. If you're travelling to China via Hong Kong you can pick up one of these sim cards at the airport but if not you'll have to order it online. You wont be able to buy it in China!

Beijing has some iconic landmarks and Tiananmen Square was one of our very first stops.
We headed there on our first evening to watch the flag lowering ceremony and then we were there again the next day to check out the area in daylight. One thing that I hadn't realised about the square (and about China in general) is the high level of security you have to go through to get in there. Whenever you go onto the subway or into a train station anywhere in China you need to scan your bags through an airport style scanner and entering Tiananmen Square is no different. Local people need to show ID cards and everyone needs to get their bags scanned. I also received a bit of a pat down by security. Obviously this level of security means that there are lines and it would seem that certain entrances to the square will be closed, when we went there were only two open entrances so lines were long and you just kinda need to go with the flow but expect there to be a queue.

Monday, 17 April 2017

Green Kitchen

I was so stoked when I first heard about Green Kitchen, totally vegan cafes aren't the easiest to come by - most of Brighton's best brekkie spots are veggie with vegan leanings - but what makes this spot stand out even more is it's location. You'll find Green Kitchen just beyond Preston Circus on Preston Road which is a first for a veggie eatery let alone a completely vegan one. 

I visited on a Saturday morning and the place was busy with an eclectic clientele and a frankily mind boggling amount of Deliveroo orders which was only annoying due to the fact that the drivers kept leaving the front door wide open ruining the cosy atmosphere and letting in the chilly March air.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Mae Deli, London

I'd been contemplating a visit to Mae Deli for a while but when a reader from Taiwan got in touch to let me know that she'd love to see a review before her trip to London I headed there as soon as me and Randi could make our schedules line up. The Mae Deli is definitely a healthy spot and I was surprised to discover that it isn't entirely vegan or even vegetarian. I was under the impression that the whole Deliciously Ella brand was plant based but they serve chicken and fish at both Mae Deli locations. That being said they are sides and everything else was vegan when I visited. I was also under the impression that Ella was all about clean eating (insert rage emoji here) but the staff said that they try to avoid that term preferring to call the food honest and healthy which are two things that I can get behind; as someone with allergies it was so nice that the staff were able to tell me exactly what was in each dish as soon as I asked - that definitely doesn't happen everywhere!

Lunch and dinner are set up canteen style and you make your plate by choosing four of the options on display. The choices are all healthy fare ranging from veg dishes like Asian Broccoli and Bok Choy to leafy green salads, and from grain filled options like the Olive and Sundried Tomato Quinoa to the Courgette and Sweet Potato Stew that comes with brown rice.

Monday, 3 April 2017


Larder is the most recent addition to Gardner Street's impressive roster of vegan and vegan friendly eateries. They went vegan for vegnuary and due to the popularity of the dishes decided to stay that way for good. SO COOL! 

I visited on a Saturday afternoon and they were steadily busy with all sorts of people, vegans and non vegans, looking to try out their plant based fare. I was waiting for a friend so I had a little time to peruse the menu before she arrived and I enjoyed a can of Cawston Press whilst I was waiting. The rhubarb is my favourite but cloudy apple comes a close second.

I'd basically decided on a toasted sandwich with avocado, beets, coriander, and red onion chutney when I realised that they had mac and cheese balls on the menu! I think I'd ignored the Mac and Peas balls assuming that I'd be allergic to the BBQ sauce (correct!) but as it comes on the side I was able to switch it for mayo.

Monday, 27 March 2017

The Coffee Counter

Having lived just one street away from The Coffee Counter's location for almost ten years I've seen a huge number of businesses open and close in this spot. The difference I can see here is that The Coffee Counter is warm, inviting, and moving with the times with their vegetarian and vegan menus so hopefully they'll be a permanent addition to the area.

The vegan menu is pretty substantial and offeres vegan versions of most of the things I'd be interested in eating on the meaty menu.

You get to choose your bread and I went with sourdough because it's the best bread. I also obviously ordered a reuben because it's the best sandwich.

Monday, 20 March 2017

Vegan in Brick Lane

I was meant to spend yesterday eating my way around Brick Lane with my buddy Jenny but an unfortunately timed sinusitis flare up combined with some suspiciously flu like symptoms meant that I decided to spend the day at home with a nasal spray and some sub par painkillers rather than risk flying to China whilst sick! Brick Lane is definitely one of my favourite places to hang out at the weekend, the vibe's pretty great, it's fun to scope out the market stalls, the vegan food options are plentiful, and there are lots of places to sit and chat.

One of my very favourite spots is new kid on the block Vida Bakery who recently opened a pop up on Cheshire Street. It seems to be going well for them so far if the amount of love I see directed their way on social media is anything to go by. The space itself is the perfect size with plenty of seating and it's seriously so cute inside.

As well as cupcakes Vida Bakery offer layer cakes, including (if you're there at the right time like I was!) freaking rainbow cake. RAINBOW CAKE! That's basically my dream cake.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Up and away!

So as you may have noticed 2017 has been a little light on the blogging front. Sure, I've been working  a lot which has meant less time for adventures, and I've been living somewhere that isn't really conducive to cooking projects or food photography, but I've also been trying to work out where on earth this life of mine is going. Back in January I told y'all I was taking a job at Lush in central London but I knew that that wasn't where I wanted to be long term. Nick and I came back from our travels with an idea in our heads, we learnt a lot of about ourselves whilst we were away and we decided that what we want to do with our lives is hang out together, spend more time in nature, work with animals, and promote a compassionate vegan lifestyle. Simple. Kinda. We had our hearts set on moving to Scotland with dreams of a farm sanctuary at the forefront of our minds but for a whole host of complicated reasons, most of which are totally beyond our control, now is just not the right time so we had a little rethink and have decided to re-pack our backpacks and head out into the world again.

With our #lifegoals in mind we've decided to spend the next year or so embracing our freedom (I have a sneaking suspicion that running our own farm sanctuary will put an end to travel for quite some time) and getting experience working with farmed animals. This seems like the perfect combo and I am pretty freaking excited to tell you all that we're heading to Australia!!

Friday, 24 February 2017

Happy Maki Vegan Sushi

I'm always happy to return to Brighton but never more so than when a new vegan place opens its doors to the public. 100% vegan sushi spot Happy Maki has been on my radar for a while now and I finally made it to their new brick & mortar spot last week. Based in Pool Valley within a stones throw of the pier and practically next door to Boho Gelato they've picked a great spot to open a vegan business. Concept wise the peeps behind Happy Maki want to show people what sustainable sushi can look like - totally fish free, zero cruelty, leave the oceans alone please and thank you.

The menu is small but varied, there's something for everyone here, from the mock meat fan to your vegetable loving pal. Nick and I ordered the Fully Loaded roll and the Thai Sweet Potato roll to share and grabbed a side of inari tofu too because nobody should see inari pockets on a menu and take a pass.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Oh Hey 2017!

Hi friends! I thought it was about time for a little life update. I'm still working at Lush - they offered me a permanent position after my temporary contract ended and I had to say yes. I have no idea how long we're going to be in this part of the world for but earning some money and seeing one of my favourite ethical brands from the other side seems like a good thing to do with my time. Unfortunately the major downsides are the commute into London - I spend around 3 hours a day getting to and from work - and, it turns out that I'm super allergic to Lush! This doesn't surprise me, I'm allergic to everything from dust to chilli and from cats to pineapple but finding the right meds that work and don't make me drowsy has taken a while and a lot of my days off have been spent in bed dealing with hideous sinus pain. Stupid body! The major bonus, and I mean major, is that my work is only a ten minute walk from Yorica!

This Soho vegan ice cream spot just gets better and better, I can confirm that the crepes are blooming excellent and I will be going back for more soon.