Wednesday 6 December 2017

2017 Vegan and Cruelty Free Holiday Gift Guide

I love reading holiday gift guides so I always make sure to spend the beginning of November scoping out and bookmarking cool things to share with you. Since I've been travelling and living without an address it makes the list of things I can't wait to treat myself to when I'm settled get a little out of hand but it's absolutely worth it. I believe in trying to support businesses and organisations that are trying to do good and to make a difference to the world all year round but it's especially important during the winter holidays, a lot of retailers get by on the the sales made at this time of year so it's a great time to reach out and support small businesses by making intentional purchases rather than doing all of your shopping in one fell swoop at a department store or huge online retailer.

  1. VREV Tote Bag designed by Harriet Heath. I've been tattooed by Harriet a couple of times now and I adore her work. She made this tote to help Manchester based vegan business V Revolution stay open after water damaged their premises so much that they had to close for a chunk of time. Grab one of these for a friend and buy one for yourself whilst you're at it. £9 + P&P from vrevmcr on Big Cartel.
  2. Vegan Queen Jumper from Bright Zine. This cute Fairtrade, organic and carbon neutral crewneck sweatshirt is just the thing for keeping cosy this winter. Grab this gift for £31.90 + P&P online.
  3. Truffle Selection No2 from Booja Booja. I pick up a box of these fancy truffles every winter and they never get old. They've been certified as a-ok by the Food Empowerment Project meaning that you know there was no slavery involved in the cocoa supply chain which makes them all the more delicious. Available at both indie health food stores and Waitrose / Ocado these are an easy treat to get your mitts on. From £3.99.
  4. Lush Merry Christmas Gift This gift is full of all of the christmassy bath bombs that your cosy winter dreams are made of. It includes my two 2016 faves; the honey scented but totally vegan Shoot for the Stars and the magical Golden Wonder as well as two new-to-me bombs, peppermint and cocoa scented Thundersnow and the super festive Christmas Sweater that I can't wait to try. Pick up this gift for £22.50 at a Lush store near you.
  5. Set of 4 Stainless Steel Straws I bought myself some steel straws this year and they're helping me have less of an impact on the planet. Pick up this gift from £10 online at boobalou. 
  6. Christmas Pud Soy Candle from Vegan Bunny. This candle is glittery af, has a 25 hour burn time, and will make your loved ones house smell like Christmas pudding. What more could you want? Available in red or white. Pick one up for just £7.
  7. Animal Rights, Social Justice, Vegan Pizza Iron On Patch from Herbivore Clothing. This cute patch advertises all of the cool things that your friend cares about right on one patch. I love this and so should all of the vegans in your life. $5 from Herbivore CC online.
  8. Delilah Bra and Hipster Brief from Lara Intimates. If you're giving the gift of underwear this winter then you can't do better than something from Lara Intimates, they use reclaimed luxury fabrics so you're getting a fancy product that's kind to the environment and everything is stitched together in London. From £20 online.
  9. Help Refugees Charity Donation. I spent time volunteering with Help Refugees last year and they're a charity that I will continually support in whatever way I can. They're a grassroots response to the refugee crisis with bases in Calais and Thessaloniki. Make a donation in the name of the most right wing member of your family and help to keep someone warm on the streets of Calais this winter. Donate online or go one step further and organise a clothing / food collection to take to Calais yourself over the festive period.
  10. Christmas Iced Jewels from Hannah Banana Bakery I've had my eye on Hannah's treats by post for a long time and her Christmas range is stunning. These make the perfect stocking stuffers and will only set you back £2.50 + P&P

Thursday 23 November 2017

South Island Vegan Road Trip - Part 2

This is part two of my South Island vegan road trip. if you haven't read part one yet you can catch up here.

After eating out quite a bit in Wanaka Nick and I cooked for ourselves most of the time in Queenstown. Accommodation was expensive and the hostel had a huge kitchen so it was a good way to even out our day to day costs. We made and ate veggie burgers, spaghetti with marinara sauce, tofu scrambles, and a lot of peanut butter toast. Simple easy meals that are perfect for busy hostel kitchens. We contemplated taking a trip to Doubtful Sound, most people use Queenstown as a jumping off point for that trip, but we'd heard so many stories about the mist making it impossible to see and it's not a cheap day trip so we decided to skip it. We'll head to Iceland one day to check out fjords when we're not travelling on a backpacking budget!

The one time we did eat out in Queenstown was when I spotted some pictures of Bespoke Kitchen's vegan breakfasts on Instagram. They looked amazing and I knew that we couldn't skip it so we went out for brunch on our last morning. We both ordered the pancakes and got a matcha latte and a green juice to share. We also couldn't resist grabbing a chocolate muffin topped with chia jam.

We'd read rave reviews of the pancakes online and they certainly didn't disappoint. These were some high end pancakes, thick and fluffy and topped with all sorts of deliciousness including poached spiced apples, coconut whipped cream, raspberry chia jam, seeds, and freeze dried berries with a mini jug of maple syrup on the side. I could have done without the seeds (I hate seeds!) but once I moved them to one side these tasted just as good as they looked. 

Monday 20 November 2017

South Island Vegan Road Trip - Part 1

When Nick and I arrived on the South Island we were both feeling a little lost, we hadn't had time to sit down and plan our South Island road trip at all and we had no idea where we were headed - just that we had a car and the freedom to go anywhere. The very first thing that we spotted as we were checking into our hostel was a flyer for tours of a peanut butter factory! That was clearly a sign and we were sold. I was on the phone booking our spots in seconds. Coincidentally someone I knew from Brighton was in the area housesitting so we hooked up with her and her husband and headed to the Pic's factory in Nelson the very next day.

Pic's are actually a super cool peanut butter company, the founder started making PB in a concrete mixer in his garage and selling it at farmer's markets and it's grown into a bit of a peanut butter empire with stockists all over New Zealand and a chunk of the rest of the world. Pic seems like a cool dude, he's all about employing local people and keeping the business local as it grows. Pic is blind and him and his lovely seeing eye dog made a great video about the cool PB journey he's been on.

Thursday 16 November 2017

Phuket Vegetarian Festival 2017

A couple of weeks ago I touched down in Phuket ready to eat my way around the Vegetarian Festival for the second time. I was last there two years ago and I wrote a couple of pretty substantial posts about the festival food in Phuket and about the vegan eats you can find at convenience stores dotted all over the country. This years fest' was quieter and a lot more chilled (there were very minimal fireworks this time around and no large processions) because the country was still in mourning for the king so my blog post is going to be more laid back too. This year Nick and I met up with our friend Cici (read her post about the festival here) and did a whole lot of eating, drinking, and hanging out. Like her I'm going to focus on my very favourite eats of 2017's festival rather than posting every single thing I ate because that might be a little overwhelming! Without further ado, here are my 2017 Phuket Vegetarian Festival Faves.

Favourite Stall - The faux meat place on the corner

About halfway up Ranong Road on the left (if you're coming from the roundabout) is a stall in front of a building on a corner which sells mock meats. If you've reached the turnoff towards Jui Tui Shrine you've gone too far. They have so many meats to choose from including three kinds of faux fish, my favourite. Inside the building they have even more faux meats as well as curries and veggies and you can eat there or takeaway. We decided to eat there one lunchtime and we were all very impressed. 

I just noticed that mine and Nick's plates are almost exactly the same!

The range of mock meats you can choose from is almost overwhelming and I got three kinds. A black pepper steak, a saucy mock duck, and some red pork. They were all really flavourful and very different texturally. These are up there with the best mock meats I've ever eaten. The faux fishes were all excellent too; one had a great texture but it was really salty so you had to eat it with something else, rice or bread, to stop it being too much, another had a drier texture but the flavour was excellent and lastly, my very favourite of the three, was this yuba faux fish which had both the texture and flavour nailed.

Tuesday 14 November 2017

Vegan in Wellington

Wellington was our final stop on our North Island road trip and we made it there just in time for the Wellington Friday Night Market on Lower Cuba Street. It was a super busy and bustling market with a great atmosphere and I was more than a little surprised at just how many vegan options there were. Aside from In Bloom the 100% vegan stall selling burgers and raw cakes there were stalls slinging vegan dumplings, takoyaki, tacos, churros, and more. We started with dumplings from House of Dumplings and we chose two each because we knew we were going to do a lot of eating that evening.

We went for one Spinach, Tofu, and Bok Choy dumpling each and then I grabbed a Japanese Six Mushroom dumpling whilst Nick opted for the special which was an Indian Dhal Coconut Cashew dumpling. Vicky who started House of Dumplings is from Hong Kong so these were legit and they made an excellent starter. If you have cooking facilities you can find House of Dumplings dumplings in supermarkets all over NZ but I don't know which ones sell the vegan versions.

Next up was the Takoyaki stall, Gogo Takoyaki, and I don't mind admitting that we loved these so much that we got in line for them twice!

I tried Takoyaki for the first time when I was living and volunteering in Japan. I found a Takoyaki pan at the volunteer house and set about finding a recipe and the ingredients to make them ASAP. I can safely say that these ones were about a hundred times better than the ones I made! They had the same konnyaku filling but these were actually round and had just the right level of crispiness on the outside without being at all raw in the middle. Making Takoyaki is definitely something that takes a little practice.

Gogo seemed to be doing a roaring trade in their vegan option and the konnyaku filled balls were right up our street. I loved that they had vegan mayo and that they were keeping the vegan and non vegan things separate. This market should definitely be on your must visit list for NZ, if you're lucky and time your trip right you could even be there for the monthly vegan night market Vegan Vault which takes place on the first Saturday of every month. I won't lie, I was a bit gutted that we missed out on that, but you should go for me and tell me all about it!

Our next eating adventure took place at Sweet Release Cakes and Treats because I'd heard that they make epic baked goods have pies on the menu. Sold! I ordered a Chicken Pot Pie because faux chicken is 100% my jam and Nick ordered some kinda potato topped pie. I wasn't really paying attention to his pie because I was too focussed on my amazing pie and his was gone before I could request a taste.

The chicken pot pie was seriously so good, I'd been eating a lot of pies by this point in our Aus & NZ adventure and this was definitely one of the best. Far better than any vegan pie I've ever eaten in the UK. We couldn't skip dessert once we knew how good their food was so I stuck to the pie theme with a veganised version of a Hershey's pie whilst Nick opted for a PB Brownie.

These were also completely delicious. I hadn't heard of the pie that this one was meant to be imitating but apparently it's kind of a big deal in NZ right now and I can see why. This chocolatey cookie crusted mousse filled and cream topped delight was, well, delightful. I wish I'd had space for a second slice. It seems that Sweet Release also make something called a Doof Doof which looks like a huge doughnut muffin hybrid. I didn't see any of those when we were there but please swing by and eat one for me if you're in the area. They look uh-mazing!

The YHA hostel we were staying at was around the corner from Commonsense Organics which is packed full of vegan goodies including faux meats, cheeses, and my very favourite treat, Dandies marshmallows. I usually order these from iHerb (Use my code JOJ321 for a discount on your first order) for a very reasonable price but that's not an option when you're on the move all the time and don't have an address. I'm happy to pay import prices for something this delicious though!

Located a little way away from where we were staying Mara Restaurant in Newtown was another spot on my must-eat list. Thanks to Hitch Car Rentals we had a car to zoom around in so we headed there for dinner on our second night despite the fact that it was pouring with rain. The place was cute and I think that they're pretty new but unfortunately the menu wasn't great for me. The only thing that they could make me was the polenta dish topped with veggies but with no sauce, granted the eat in menu was small, around eight or nine dishes, but I didn't feel like they were really trying very hard to accommodate me and it wasn't exactly busy when we were there. The dish itself was okay, decent even, but it wasn't exactly exciting and I don't feel that I got to experience what their food is really like. Mara have some good reviews but I wasn't sold after this course.

Dessert was where I was able to sample their food as it's meant to be eaten and I tried the Black Doris Plum and Beetroot Custard Tart with house made rose ice cream whilst Nick went for the Reincarnated Chocolate Three Ways which consisted of a chocolate brownie, chocolate mousse, and cookie ice cream. We were none the wiser about the whole reincarnated thing as the waitress told us that it was an inside joke that even she wasn't in on.

This dessert was pretty good, I enjoyed the flavours of my dish when they were all together, the beetroot, rose, and plum compliment each other nicely but I would have liked more plums and the pastry definitely could have been better. Nick wasn't super impressed with his dessert but I enjoyed the mouthful I tried, the brownie was fudgey and the ice cream had a good flavour but I agreed with him that the texture of the ice cream was a little strange and that the mousse could have been airier. I can't decide whether I'd recommend this place or not, they're new and just getting on their feet so maybe they'll iron out some of the creases in time and for upscale food in NZ it was surprisingly affordable. It's definitely a date night kinda place and if you do try it out let me know what you think.

V1 Vegan Store is a Wellington must visit, the people running this place are so lovely so even if you don't need anything drop by and give them some love. You're sure to be impressed by their range of faux meats and cheeses, the line up of vegan pick 'n' mix, and their bulk nooch bin.

They also have a little bakery counter selling cakes and cookies including the amazing cookies from Moustache in Auckland that I wrote about here. I loved them so much that I couldn't resist picking up a couple more. I also picked up some of Savour's organic cultured nut cheese in Cheddar. I was tempted by the beer infused cheese but I was pretty sure that Nick would hate it so I played it safe and I definitely wasn't disappointed. We managed to make this last two meals but I desperately wanted to eat it all in one go.

Speaking of cheese Nick and I also grabbed pizza from a couple of spots around town, firstly from Cin Cin, a non vegan pizza place with vegan cheese and a vegan chocolatey dessert on the menu, and secondly a slice of veg covered pizza from Tommy Millions, a take out hut on Courtenay Place which we could see from the window of our Wakefield Street hostel. They're open until 4am and whilst they don't have vegan cheese yet their veggie toppings were very generous and the slices were huge.

I was definitely impressed with the wide range of vegan options on offer in Wellington, we just kept stumbling upon things, and I would definitely suggest that you spend a few nights here if you're road tripping through NZ. We were pretty food focussed during our time there and we spent one day hiding from some truly terrible weather but there are good museums and walks so there should be plenty to keep you occupied. If you missed parts one and two of our New Zealand adventure so far you can catch up here and here.

This post was sponsored in part by Hitch Car Rentals. As always all words and opinions are my own. Posts like these help me to keep bringing you travel content from around the globe.

Friday 10 November 2017

Vegan Adventures in Shenzhen

When we were planning our travels from New Zealand to Thailand Nick and I certainly didn't intend to visit five countries in seven days but it happened. It was tiring and brilliant and I'd totally do it all over again. We flew from Christchurch to Sydney and spent 24 hours there. Next we flew from Sydney to Hong Kong where we spent one night before taking the metro over the border into China to check out Shenzhen. We were there for three nights before taking the metro back to Hong Kong, spending a night there, and then flying on to Phuket for Thailand's vegetarian festival. Phew. 

Shenzhen was on my original must-visit list for China but it didn't fit in with our plans as it's just too far south to be a sensible stop on a loop from Beijing to Shanghai. I couldn't stop thinking about how much I wanted to go though and when I realised that getting there from Hong Kong is really easy, you just take the metro, I was sold. Okay, I made that sound a little too simple, you take the Hong Kong MTR to Lo Wu, walk across the border, go through HK and Chinese immigration, before hopping onto the Shenzhen metro at Luohu on the other side. Still, pretty simple as far as border crossings go but I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't tired of carrying my backpack when we arrived. We decided to stay by Laojie station in one of Shenzhen's major shopping destinations which is only two stops on the metro from Luohu so that final section was short and fast.

As soon as we arrived we decided to get metro cards and I was very pleased to see that Shenzhen has the best metro cards anywhere in the world! Hello Kitty surrounded by desserts?! Yes please. Me and Nick both chose this one despite the lady selling them trying to push some kinda Transformers card on Nick.

Our first stop in any new place usually involves food and this trip was no exception. We arrived hungry and went straight to the nearest veggie spot on the Happy Cow app. Windlucky is located on the 4th floor of a food mall and the easiest way to find it is to go in the door between McDonald's and Watson's and to go straight up those escalators.

Tuesday 7 November 2017

North Island Vegan Road Trip

Nick and I started our New Zealand road trip in the North Island and the first thing on our agenda was picking up our rental car from Hitch Car Rentals. This was a super straightforward process and we were whizzing all over the place in our Budget Hitch in no time. New Zealand is definitely a destination where you'll want your own wheels, even major cities like Auckland are challenging to navigate on public transport and they're sprawling so not everywhere you want to visit will be walkable. A prime example of this is Tart Bakery which was our very first road trip destination. I wrote a whole blog post about them here because they're really that good so check it out. Our second stop was Moustache a super hipster cookie shop located on K Road. I was a little dubious about their vegan options as two of the three are gluten free but I bravely forged ahead and ordered one of each flavour.

These cookies seriously exceeded my admittedly low expectations and reminded me that I need to step up my XGFX baking game. I've eaten some epic gluten free baked goods in the past but I've also eaten a whole bunch of awful gf "treats" that would put people off of veganism altogether. 

Tuesday 31 October 2017

Tart Bakery Auckland

Nick and I started our North Island adventure in Auckland and one place that was on my radar before the plane even touched down was Tart Bakery. I'd seen pic's of their delicious looking baked goods online and peeked at their five star Happy Cow reviews but there were a couple of things that I didn't know about them. I didn't know that they'd won the NZ Bakery of the year competition in 2016 - pretty epic for a vegan business! And I didn't know that they run on a business model that focusses on charitable giving. 

Tart's owners are very focussed on caring for animals and spreading the vegan message and one way that they do that is by working with someone who helps farmers convert grazing land into arable land for growing crops. With the majority of New Zealand's countryside being covered in farms this is so necessary for the future of the planet and unless we can find ways to convince farmers that they can make money in other ways animal agriculture is going to take a long time to grind to a halt.

Friday 27 October 2017

Tepla Sustainable Jewellery Giveaway

Tepla are a Sussex based jewellery company who work with vegan, sustainable, and ethically made materials. Their beautiful pieces are made using components, processes, and tools that are non toxic, and 100% animal cruelty and animal product free.

Tepla's founder Sandra started the business because she wanted to bring together her mixed media art jewellery background and her personal ethics which is something that really resonated with me. I'm always looking to work in fields where my passions and skills mesh well with my ethics. Tepla source their materials with the impact on both the environment and human health and wellbeing at the forefront of their minds and I love their commitment to using recycled silver.

Monday 23 October 2017

Vegan in New Zealand

New Zealand was an interesting travel experience for me. Mine and Nick's preferred travel style is to move slowly, to plan a little in advance but not too much, and to have the option to stick around somewhere if the mood takes us. We did a little of that, an extra night here, another night there, but with our travel budget New Zealand was not the place for that style of travel. If you're under 30 I would seriously recommend looking into working holiday visa's for NZ, Australia, and Canada. Anywhere that will allow you to work. If you don't have ties take these opportunities now because they won't be there forever. If, like me, you're a little older and unable to get the magical visa that lets you earn money whilst experiencing a new culture then you're going to want to plan, book ahead, and scope out deals online because New Zealand is expensive. Australia definitely takes the top spot in terms of pricy places to travel but NZ is a close second. One way that we cut back on costs was by renting a car and working with the great peep's at Hitch Car Rentals for the entirety of our North and South Island road trip.

A whole lot of research led me to Hitch Rentals and they came out on top of my car rental list by miles. They have the cheapest rates, they let you take the car anywhere (no qualms about unsealed roads), and if you have the cash available you can hire an Eco Hitch, aka a gorgeous Prius. There is a one way fee but it isn't too high in comparison to other companies. We rented a Budget Hitch and were surprised at how roomy and comfortable it was, in Europe if you hire a budget car you're usually lucky if you can squeeze your luggage into the boot!

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.