Monday 29 June 2015

Austin : Fun, Food and Friends

I'm on the road again and reflecting on the truly amazing whirlwind that was my Austin adventure. It's taken a little longer than I'd like to blog about it because it turns out that finding working wifi whilst you're living in a van and staying at campsites is not as easy as you might think. My new tactic is to ask to try the wifi before committing to stay which is working out much better as you can tell by the fact that this post is live on the internet! I'm currently somewhere in-between Bremen and Berlin and my next post will get you up to date with my European adventures but first, Austin.

Y'all know I love Austin, I've got to have mentioned it a million times here, on Twitter and when we've hung out in person. I'm pretty much obsessed. But why? Well, super cool in-the-city things aside (I'm looking at you Barton Springs and Alamo Drafthouse) you're also a short-ish drive from some super cool scenery that just makes you feel like you're really in Texas!

There are also a multitude of swimming holes out in the hill country including the Blue Hole in Wimberley where we took a detour en route to Fredericksburg. Being outside makes me happy!

Why were were en route to Fredericksburg you ask?! Peaches of course! Fredericksburg is famous for totally delicious peaches and we weren't disappointed with our visit to one of the many pick your own farms there. As well as getting to wander amongst the peach trees we also checked out this beautiful meadow full of wildflowers. Wildflowers seem to be everywhere in the Austin area and I love them.

Back in Austin and no trip is complete without a trip to Panther Field House. FNL Forever.

Obviously food is one of Austin's major draws, there's vegan food all over the damn place, and not just any vegan food, really freaking great vegan food. One of my favourite spots is BBQ Revolution who, despite irritating me occasionally by being closed when their site said they should be open, make food that is just so damned great that I could go back there again and again and not get bored.

I order the Smokey Soy Curls, Bacon Ranch Pasta Salad and Coleslaw and on this occasion Nick dug into a plate of No-Bull Brisket, Mac-N-Cheese and the same pasta salad I went for. These BBQ Plates come with a slice of white bread and sides of pickles and onions.

The soy curls had an intense depth of flavour that I wasn't expecting, they were wonderfully smokey and peppery without being too hot to handle or overpowering the flavours of the sides, and the bacon ranch pasta salad, a new addition to the menu since my last trip, was the perfect accompaniment to the smokey curls. BBQ Rev's coleslaw is crunchy, creamy perfection and I love their commitment to doing BBQ right with that slice of white bread - no pandering to the average vegan's penchant for wholewheat. I miss this place a lot!

Right next door to BBQ Rev is Bistro Vonish who do things a little differently, Chef Craig is focussed on local and organic produce and this truck has a fine dining slant that can't be found anywhere else in Austin. With that in mind we obviously ordered the mac & cheese. 

To be fair to the rest of Chef Craig's delicious looking menu this is the only chilli / paprika free mac and cheese in town so I quite literally HAD to order it. I was so glad I did because wowza, this was some top notch mac, it was not only creamy and perfectly cheesy it had that wonderful crispy layer that I remember from my dairy based mac days and that I hadn't found since.

With daily changing menus and delicious specials (Mac & Cheese Kolache anyone?!) I can't wait to see this truck move into a brick and mortar later this year.

One brick and mortar that I'm head over heels for is Sweet Ritual, this super fun all vegan spot has a frankly ridiculous amount of choice including fun sundaes like this one, the RedHotVegans.Com Sundae, which has toasted marshmallows, chocolate sauce and crumbled graham crackers (kinda like a digestive Euro friends). It's So. Damn. Good.

My personal favourite Sweet Ritual memory from this trip had to be the day they decided to celebrate their half birthday by offering Conenuts... a soft serve cone with a Red Rabbit Bakery doughnut sandwiched in-between the two. OKAY! Of course Stephanie, Nick and I met up there as soon as she got off work and we proceeded to smear ice cream all over our faces whilst talking about the awesomeness of this dessert for a good while. I went with a vanilla lavender glazed doughnut and topped my soft serve with colourful sprinkles. It was joyous.

More joyous Austin memories were made at Arlo's, home of one of the best vegan burgers I've ever eaten. I've lost count of the number of times I've eaten this burger and despite now having to switch their regular Bacun Cheeseburger patty for the Chick'n patty it's still excellent. Strangely I might even like it more now.

Arlo's is situated downtown outside a queer friendly bar, is open late and now has sides to go with this beauty of a burger. What more d'you want?!

Pizza was a huge feature of my time in Austin and one of my fave' pizza experiences was the night I celebrated my birthday with a whole host of Austin buddies and outa towners at Via 313. They use Follow Your Heart cheese which is amazing on pizza and just incase you missed me raving about this pizza last time I visited it's really freaking great. It's Detroit style which means it has a well oiled deep crust (but not like Chicago style deep dish) that they bake the cheese right into. It's then topped with wonderfully flavourful marinara sauce and then, if you so wish, you can add veggies. I would like you to keep your veggies away from my pizza so I always order the Classic.

Post-pizza and far too many drinks later we payed one of Austin's late night karaoke establishments a visit and I tormented my friends with horribly out of tune versions of Aerosmith's Don't Want to Miss a Thing and Aqua's Barbie Girl, y'know, just to see if they really wanted to be friends with me! They seemed to find my awful outa tune singing amusing so I guess they're keepers.

I rounded out my Austin trip with a brilliant day spent with friends making epic pizza's, driving golf carts and hanging in the jacuzzi. Jessica and Wes from Maximum Salad had the genius idea to veganise Pizza Hut's Hot Dog Bites pizza which, as you can see, was a tremendous success.

You can watch the video of the whole pizza process here! I came up with mac and cheese pizza which was obviously brilliant and Stephanie surprised my taste buds with a cauliflower and popcorn tofu pizza which I was sceptical about but she was totally right. It was delish'.

Until next time Austin, until next time!

Tuesday 23 June 2015

Vegan Tuck Box - Snack Box Review

Vegan Tuck Box was the UK's first Vegan Snack Box and after spotting them at vegan fairs all over the country I was beyond excited when they contacted me to see if I'd like to review their subscription box. They sent the classic box all the way to Austin, TX so that I could try it which was super nice of them and it arrived quickly and mostly in one piece!

There was one chocolatey treat that didn't make it thanks to the Texas heat (it had been on my doorstep in 35 degree heat for a few hours before I found it) which made it quite literally explode! No biggie though there were still 12 things packed inside ready for me to enjoy. 

Nick and I shared the box as it seemed a little mean to exclude him from the snacking fun and we started with the Quibbles sour cream and chive cashews, I was a fan - I like snacking on nuts and this unusual flavour was fun to nibble on. The Polar Dream White bar from Premium Chocolatiers was a new one to me, I'd heard of the brand but I hadn't tried anything from them before and from the name I was expecting white chocolate but this was a milk chocolate bar. Nick was super into it, it reminded me of sweet easter egg style chocolate which isn't my fave but I know a lot of people love that type of chocolate.

The Coco Caravan raw chocolate and caramel bar was more up my street, I really enjoyed nibbling on it and when I say nibbling I mean devouring like some kinda chocolate starved savage! The box also included Angelic gluten free sunflower seed biscuits, an Olly breakfast bar, some Nudie Snacks toasted coconut chips and a Pearls of Samarkand Himalayan mix which I'm saving for our European adventures, it'll be a great hiking snack. Sadly I had to give the righteous raspberry and sweet basil dressing, the Provamel rice and almond drink the Roots vegetable chips away to my Austin buddies as I was heading outa town because I just had waaay too many snacks and things to fit into my bags but they looked great and are just the kind of things I like to see in a snack box. As I'm allergic to peppers Nick munched on the sweet chilli salsa pea snacks which he thought were pretty mild and satisfyingly crunchy. From looking at the Vegan Tuck Box website the thing that exploded was a Torino Noir chocolate stem which OMG I would have looooved.

The box also included a bar by health foodie leaning company Go Macro. I'd previously enjoyed their chocolate peanut butter chocolate chip bar and I loved this peanut butter protein bar just as much. My only issue with them is that they call their bars "the tastiest and cleanest bar on the market", calling food "clean" goes beyond a pet peeve for me and strays way over the line into the it makes my blood boil zone. Food is not dirty unless it is literally covered in earth or blood or faeces or something else that's actually dirty. Saying that your food is "clean" implies that the Tofurky sandwich or vegan doughnut I'm munching on is somehow dirty and not good enough which is total and utter BS. Lacy J Davis wrote a post about this same thing just the other day and she articulates her feelings about the #eatclean phenomenon really well.

Go Macro's food shaming issues aside I enjoyed all of the snacks in the box. I thought it was really well rounded and would be good for old vegans, new vegans, people making the transition or even your non-vegan friend who just loves snack boxes. It's curated by long term vegans Kelly and Chrissy who scour the globe each month to fill the box with fun and delicious snacks. If this month is anything to go by they include a tonne of really great vegan treats and on top of that they donate 20p from each box to Hillside Animal Sanctuary which is super cool.

If you're interested in giving this subscription box a whirl just enter "blog20" at checkout to get 20% off of your first box. Oh and if peeking into one box isn't enough to sell you on Vegan Tuck Box greatness you can see contents of the last three boxes right here on their site.

Thursday 18 June 2015

Hello England! Time for a giveaway...

I landed back in the UK yesterday evening after a fun journey home - BA gave Nick and I a free upgrade to business class! Hell yeah! That made flying pretty fun as I got to cosy on down in a flat bed, watch a movie and catch some zzz's. Bliss. Last night we stayed with Nick's sister in Thames Ditton and bright and early this morning I clocked a communal jigsaw at the station. They were also playing some nice classical music and it all felt very English all of a sudden. Our onward journey via train through fields and farmland was almost too easy - I'm not used to being somewhere where I understand everything and know how it all works anymore and it kinda feels a little too familiar. After the ridiculous excesses of Texas with it's gigantic gas stations, conenuts (yep... that's an ice cream / doughnut hybrid... more about that soon) and enormous burgers it definitely feels a little weird to be back.

We're at Nick's dad's place now and we all spent the afternoon cleaning out the van and getting it all ready to be loaded up with our stuff on Saturday morning and then early next week we'll be heading for Eastern Europe via Berlin and either The Netherlands or Belgium depending on which route we choose. We definitely have some serious planning and organising to do but this is the van that we'll be calling home for the next three and a half months.

Isn't it cute?! I am SO freaking excited! I'll be blogging about the van, what we're taking with us and what we'll be cooking in there all summer and I'll make a video tour for YouTube as soon as we get some of our stuff in there. If you wanna make sure you don't miss that visit my channel here and click subscribe.

If you read my previous post you saw that I was at Vida Vegan Con a couple of weeks ago and if you've been paying attention you probably spotted that I recently made a YouTube channel. One of my first videos was of my little shopping spree at Rabbit Food Grocery and I didn't just pick stuff up for myself I also grabbed some things for y'all as they say in Texas. There were also a couple of great things in the VVC swag bag of wonder that I thought were too good for my European friends to miss out on so I figured it was giveaway time!

The winner will win everything pictured above which includes:

Entrants must live in Europe and they cannot have attended Vida Vegan Con. To enter you just need to leave a comment below letting me know which US product you most wish you could get easily where you live. The competition closes midnight Sunday because I need to post this out to you on Monday so you need to be checking your e-mail / social media / whatever contact info you leave me on Monday morning. Posting about the giveaway on social media isn't a requirement (that's actually illegal y'know) but if you're feeling nice and want to spread the word that'd be lovely of you & I'd totally appreciate it. Good luck! This giveaway is now closed.

Tuesday 9 June 2015

Huge Ass Vida Vegan Con 2015 Recap

Oh Vida Vegan Con, what a whirlwind of wonderful you were. I literally could not have been more excited when the VVC crew announced that the con was moving from Portland to one of my favourite cities in the world, Austin, TX. Hell yeah! Any excuse to come back right?! The SE Asia - USA - Europe route around the world has to be one of the more ridiculous ones ever but it has been beyond worth it to be able to take part not only in VVC but also in the warm hug that is Austin's vegan community. I love it here and right now it feels more like home than, well, home. (Note: Jeeze, I knew that I wouldn't be able to write this post without crying!)

Unoficially Vida Vegan Con began on Thursday night with a meet and greet at Buzzmill Coffee. Sweet Ritual were in attendance, Golden Spike Railcart were cranking out tacos and egg rolls and the sun was shining - it was fun and kinda overwhelming and I enjoyed hanging out by the name tag station meeting (and greeting!) everyone as they arrived.

The official conference fun kicked off with the Vida Vegan Con Bazaar at the Marchesa Hall and Theatre which was the most perfect venue ever. Everything fitted in so perfectly; there was ample parking, space for not just one but four food trucks including Arlo's, The Vegan Nom and Cool Beans, a huge theatre for talks and demos and plenty of room for all of the fantastic vendors and all of that with space to breathe!

After diving into the exclusive attendee only Miyoko's Kitchen Cheese Hour (I think all events should start with an exclusive vegan cheese hour btw) I hopped behind the speaker table with crackers in one hand and cheese in the other to sell some copies of my zine, European Vegan. That didn't last for long though because there was just so much to do (and eat!) and staying rooted to one spot was impossible!

I attended the parenting panel with Sayward Rebhal of Bonzai Aphrodite, The Sexy Vegan aka Brian Patton, Monique Koch of Brown Vegan and moderator Joanna Vaught because despite having no intentions of becoming a parent I am endlessly fascinated by people and what great people these are. It was really interesting and I think I definitely learnt some useful stuff even as a non-parent, hearing about people's life experiences is always interesting! Also, Joanna is endlessly hilarious and awesome so of course she was brilliant. The next panel that even the lure of tacos couldn't keep me away from was the How We Made Austin Awesome panel starring the man behind some of my favourite tacos, Chris Rios, Kristen Davenport of Capital City Bakery, Rabbit Food Grocery's Jessica Morris, Molly Frisinger of Lone Star Plate / Texas Veg Fest Fame and moderator Stefanie Bogdanich aka Lazy Smurf.

They started out wonderfully with this ridiculously catchy song (that apparently now makes me quite emotional!) and it just continued to be awesome from there on in.

The next morning it was time for registration and swag bag collection and I was immediately drawn to this section of the coffee stand where some genius decided that mini-marshmallows are now an appropriate breakfast item. They were meant for topping off your coffee but as a non coffee drinker I just threw a handful of Dandies mallows into a mug and went on my way!

The swag bag is an important part of VVC and despite being part of team swag bag (we spent hours stuffing these things!) I was still excited to have one of my very own. So excited in fact that I only managed to snap this Instagram ready snapshot that I was then too excited to post! Ridiculous!

My excitement levels weren't set to drop anytime soon because what came next was breakfast and woah what a breakfast it was! There were two buffets to choose from, a breakfast taco buffet, it is Austin y'all, and an artisan toast buffet. I'd been eating my way through Austin's tacos for a couple of weeks by this point and the toast options looked too good to pass up so I dived right in. I had toast with cheese spread, toast with avocado and coconut bacon, toast topped with tofu scramble, toast with Chao on the side. Toast toast toast toast toast. I love toast!

After breakfast, and a quick break to pop the Swag Bag of Wonder in the car, it was time for some learnin' and I headed straight for Jackie Sobon from Vegan Yack Attack's class on Blogging Etiquette and Social Media Essentials where I learnt about how to expand the reach of my blog and the tools I can use to make that easier. It was a really helpful class and now I just need to find the time to read my notes and action all of the the things I learnt!

Vida Vegan Con's speaker line up this year was stellar and making decisions about where to go and what to see was hard. I felt like I had tough decisions to make for every class which is why I was overjoyed at the amount of people that chose to come to the Feminism and Veganism panel I was speaking on with Anika Lehde, Nicole J. Georges and our wonderful moderator Julia DeNoto.

As you can see feminists are humourless fun ruiners. NOT! We talked about the patriarchy, why Peta are awful and why calling your new food product skinny anything is a horrible idea. We discussed how food and food advertising are gendered and why that's uncool and of course we addressed the fact that we were an all cis white able-bodied panel and how we felt that a lot needs to change in the AR movement to welcome people of colour. We discussed intersectionality and Sistah Vegan and the Food Empowerment Project and why appropriating the #blacklivesmatter tag for your animal rights message is both appropriative and totally inappropriate. It was pretty damned wonderful to be up there with these amazing & inspirational lady people getting this anger making shit off of my chest! 

After the break I went to see Sayward Rebhal talking about Facing Failing Health as a Vegan and as someone who's had recent experience of this I was very interested in hearing what she had to say. It was great to hear someone else's story. After lunch I headed to Room 301 to hear The Vegan RD, Ginny Messina, talking about how to prevent ex-vegans by discussing strategies to help people maximise their success as vegans. I love her no-nonsense, science based attitude to veganism and health and I think that a lot of the blogging world could benefit from concentrating on the realistic benefits and ethics of veganism rather than throwing overblown health claims out there in the hope that they'll lure people towards veganism. 

I rounded out the day with Touring Your Book or Project with fellow veganism and feminism panelist Nicole J Georges and I found her advice both timely and invaluable. As well as inspiring everyone with her stories of taking her show on the road she also spoke about how it doesn't really matter whether you're feeling nervous about public speaking! She said that people don't really want to hear that, they've come to see you perform, in a way, and so telling everyone how nervous you feel doesn't fill your audience with confidence. They've chosen to spend their time seeing you speak so give it your all, whatever that takes. 

Given that my talk (that I was in fact feeling super nervous about) was the very next day this advice couldn't have been more timely. I took her advice and ran with it, every time I had a negative thought about whether I could do it I shut it down with a positive thought (this is something I've been doing when working on body positivity for years) and then I took her advice to get into the zone with your favourite tunes and went right out there as a more confident version of myself. Thanks Nicole! 

Sunday soon rolled around and after another epic breakfast the first talk of the day starred my friend and fellow blogger Randi with her hilarious and informative talk Stop Breaking the Law A$&h#* where we learnt about copyright law, libel and how to run competitions online legally and fairly. Top tip : most of you are doing it wrong and you should definitely read Erika's write up of the class here for a more in depth look at why.

My second stop of the day was the talk From Vegan Blogger to Internet Entrepreneur with Jill Pyle of Vegan Cuts / Vegan Backpacker fame. Now I don't see myself building a business anytime soon but I enjoyed hearing about her journey anyway, it's always fun to hear about other people who are following their dreams even when those dreams differ from yours. Before lunch I popped into Brian Patton's talk Tweet Like You Give a Damn which was funny because Brian's a pretty funny guy! I learnt that I'm mainly doing social media right (in Brian's opinion!) which was nice.

Lunch was soon upon us and it was taco buffet time! They had mac & cheese! Genius!

It turns out that Chef Brad whips up a mac & cheese that is tastier than the sum of it's parts and he was happy to share the recipe with the VVC crew. You can access it right here. Food aside another amazing thing about the shared meals and breaks at VVC is that you're surrounded by amazing people the whole time! People like Amey and Joanna. Love!

I managed to squeeze in my friend Josh's talk about apps and a little of Whitney Lauritsen's YouTube workshop before high tailing it outa there to prepare for my own talk, Adventures in Vegan Travel Blogging. 

Photo Credit Lazy Smurf

Erika from Sews Before Bros wrote a fantastic round up of the talk here so check that out if you're interested in my adventures and tips on travel blogging. Personally I thought the talk went fantastically and I've had some incredibly lovely feedback from some of the attendees. It was the first time I've ever felt comfortable speaking to a room full of people which proves that the fake it 'til ya make it approach will get you there in the end! 

The closing party at queer friendly downtown patio bar Cheer Up Charlie's was a whole lotta fun and it was great to relax and wind down with a cocktail and a whole lotta food after such a hectic weekend. Arlo's, the food truck with the best burgers in town, is parked outside Cheer Up Charlie's so of course I needed to eat one, Thai Fresh were also there with a delicious spread of desserts including ice creams and croissants. A basket of vegan croissants has to be one of the most beautiful things in the world right?

I was also super pleased to see Bistro Vonish making an appearance especially because they had mac & cheese kolaches! Kolaches! Filled with mac & cheese. It was like all of my dreams became a delicious reality! 

As if this evening couldn't get better the winners of the Red Hot Vegans Scavenger Hunt were announced and I won!! And my pal Amey came second! Hell yeah! We were both incredibly overexcited that our commitment to taking ridiculous photos all weekend and collaborating with each other and even going off together to take some of the more challenging pictures (two stepping to a live band anyone?!) had paid off. The excellent prizes (and maybe just a little smidgen of competitiveness) were what drove me to complete every single task thrown our way and I was ecstatic when Amey suggested the very thing that I was already thinking - splitting the prizes - so that we both took away $100 to spend at Rabbit Food Grocery and $50 to spend at Lugusta's Luscious. Yum!

I made a fun video of our Rabbit Food Grocery shopping spree which you can check out right here on my new You Tube channel.

Food and classes aside one of the most amazing things about Vida Vegan Con is the people, we make so many great connections online these days but it's often challenging to turn those online friendships into real life ones especially when those people, like Susan, live on the other side of the world!

I loved being surrounded by so many fun, inspiring and compassionate people and I can't wait to see you all again - I'll have you regretting inviting me to stay "whenever" pretty soon I'm sure! 

I'm not ashamed to admit that I've cried my eyes out on more than one occasion when I've been reminded that this was that last EVER Vida Vegan Con. It seems to me like VVC was flourishing and growing and becoming even more amazing and whilst I totally understand why Jess, Janessa and Michelle need a break from the sheer amount of work needed to put the conference together I can't help but feel that I (somewhat selfishly) wish it could go on. You really can't beat spending a weekend immersed in a supportive and enlivening vegan bubble surrounded by your friends from all over the world and I can't wait to see what pops up to replace it. Heck, maybe I'll come up with something, but for now I'm going to continue to immerse myself in my notes and let my brain process all of it's new knowledge!

Sunday 7 June 2015

Vegan Cuts - Snack Box Review

Until last week I was a snack box virgin, I'd always admired them from afar but I'd never jumped in and made an order. Perhaps because until January I lived right next to Infinity Foods, a vegetarian co-op that always has the most new and exciting vegan products right there on it's shelves! When Vegan Cuts got in touch to see if I'd like to review one of their snack boxes I was pretty excited to see what all the fuss was about and said an enthusiastic yes please!

As my Airbnb in Austin was the first time I'd had a proper address this year I waited patiently until May to give the box a whirl and I was stoked when I came home to find their pretty box waiting on my doorstep. 

I tore open the box and there were 11 products inside, some smaller sample sizes and some full sized products. This month's box was co-curated by Heather and Jenny from Los Angeles based gourmet vegan food company Spork Foods, who picked the first four items on the list, and it contained:

  • Miracle Tree teas
  • Smoky chipotle powder from The Spice Hunter
  • Dairy free parmesan from Go Veggie!
  • I Heart Keenwah sweet & salty quinoa cluster snacks
  • Vanilla pea protein powder from Growing Naturals
  • Oogie's Snacks chipotle lime popcrn
  • Beanitos chipotle lime black bean chips
  • ToYou raw bar
  • NUGO orange & cranberry Fibre d'Lish nutrition bar
  • Barley grass juice powder from Daily Green Boost
  • Dark Dog Organic energy drink

As you may be aware I'm allergic to peppers so a lot of the box was made up of snacks I couldn't eat which was just bad luck really, I knew about this before hand and agreed to review the box with Nick because he's into the spicier stuff.

My very favourite thing from the box was definitely the little pouch of I Heart Keenwah snacks, crunchy quinoa mixed with seeds and dark chocolate made an excellent post-gym snack. I know that I'll love the Go Veggie parmesan because it's not often that I meet a vegan cheese product that I don't enjoy but I'm saving it for our summer van adventures because I can see it being perfect over spaghetti with fresh marinara sauce made from tomatoes and fresh basil from whichever local market we happen to stumble upon. Popcorn is always a winning snack in my opinion and I jealously looked on as Nick munched away on the bag of chipotle lime flavoured puffed corn.

A couple of things that didn't hit the mark for us were the drinks, neither Nick or I drink caffeine so the energy drink wasn't for us and whilst I'll probably use the green boost powder it's not something I'd choose if I was filling a snack box because I just don't see drinks as snacks! Nick's going to give the pea protein a whirl though and I'll pop the teas in the van just in case anyone who visits us (we have a guest tent, come say hey!) wants a cuppa.

Bars are always a winner in my book so I was pleased to see that there were two nestled within the box, when you travel a lot bars can be a total saviour and the ToYou bar is definitely something I'd pick up again. I'm excited to try the NUGO Orange & Cranberry Fiber d'Lish bar sometime soon.

It costs $19.95 a month to get the Vegan Cuts Snack Box delivered right to your door in the US and a little more if you'd like to ship anywhere else in the world. Vegan Cuts is a 100% vegan owned and operated company which I love and they also make a Beauty Box if you're into that kinda thing. Whilst I don't know if I'd personally sign up to get this box delivered monthly - I'm discovering new snacks constantly as I make my way around the world, I do think snack boxes are a fun way to discover new products and to see if you like them without committing to buying a full sized version at the store. This box is definitely aimed at the more healthy vegan consumer (so, er, not me) but if you're more health conscious when it comes to snacking or are a gluten free vegan then maybe this is the box for you?

If you'd like a more in depth look into the snack box I filmed an unboxing video which is up on my brand new You Tube channel right now. People have been telling me to start vlogging for ages so I'm finally jumping in with both feet and I'm excited to see if people are into it so do check it out and lemme know what you think!

Wednesday 3 June 2015

Vegan Guide to London's Heathrow Airport

Heathrow Terminal 5 is without a shadow of a doubt the airport terminal I’m the most familiar with. Whenever I fly internationally with BA, which is pretty often these days, I fly out of there and becuase I like to be early for everything there’s always time to relax and grab some food before the flight. 

Everywhere listed is after security so if you’re flying from another terminal check out the guide to Heathrow's restaurants, cafes and bars on their website.

Wagamama - I've been a bit of a Wagamama critic in the past, in Brighton there are a tonne of vegan options so this chain has always seemed a bit lacking but the airport location somehow elevates their options from a meh to a yay in my mind. Am I still irritated that there’s milk in the pickles and that the soba noodles aren’t vegan? Sure, but I can appreciate a bowl of Saien Soba with udon, their Yasai Cha Han, hold the egg, and their breakfast options which include Breakfast Yasai Yaki Soba, switch the soba noodles for rice noodles, and baked beans on sourdough toast.

The breakfast menu also includes the Asa Gohan - sticky white rice, miso soup and pickles which may or may not contain milk. Wagamama have said on their Facebook page that their pickles may contain milk but it's unclear whether this is a traces of thing and they haven't responded to my e-mail so I can't confirm either way. 

Pret - Pret have a surprising ammount of vegan options these days and they all hover on the healthy side of the spectrum. Their menu / vegan options change pretty regularly but there's usually at least one vegan sandwich or wrap available as well as breakfast options like porridge and . I spotted the Super Greens & Reds Sandwich as well as some juices, fruit pots and snacks including Crisped Kale and Sweet & Salty Popcorn.

Eat - Eat don’t make very much vegan food but it is the place to go for a matcha soy latte. 

Giraffe - Giraffe, like Wagamama, is somewhere you can stop for a sit down meal before your flight. Their menu changes pretty regularly but there website has a super helpful tool to help you suss out what's vegan as their options aren't marked on the menu. They don't serve their full menu at the airport but right now you can choose from a mix of sides and small plates including sweet potato fries, a hummus sharing platter or some edamame.

I also spotted this Montezuma's chocolate pop up in the duty free store inbetween Eat and Wagamama on the ground floor when I was on my way to Austin last week and whilst they didn’t have any of the delicious vegan truffles they did have the vegan chocolate buttons which are my faves.

If you’re flying in Club World or are a BA Silver or Gold Card holder you can chill out in the BA Galleries Lounge. There are two of these and they're located at the North and South ends of the terminal. Not only do they have free fruit and water (best!) they also have both lightly salted and sweet chilli kettle chips and soy milk is avaiable on request. 

Not content with toast, fruit, and crisps I went on a scouting missions and found vegan shortbread tucked away near the tea and coffee making facilities on the far right of the lounge. 

Clearly labelled vegan the jar of biscuits is located in a slightly gloomy corner but one worth venturing over to. These were definitely a welcome addidion to my usual fruit, crisps, water game.

If you don't have lounge access don't fret, you can still access wifi at Heathrow. If you join the network all you need to do to access four hours free wifi is to sign in with your name, e-mail address and flight number.

Happy travels!