Vegan chocolate truffles in mini packs. Perfect little stocking fillers for the special vegan in your life. These chocolates are the same great truffles that Booja Booja have won awards for again and again. The ingredients are really simple but somehow they combine to make amazing melt-in-the-mouth truffles that really don't taste dairy-free. These cute little boxes contain two little truffle gems in each:
This Sunday, Dec 2nd, Christmas Without Cruelty. The event takes place at Kensington Town Hall from 10am until 5pm. The annual Christmas Fayre is a big vegan festival with stalls, talks, workshops, competitions and more. The fayre is an excellent place to stock up on cruelty-free Christmas food and gifts. More than 95 stalls have been confirmed, hosting everyone from Ms Cupcake to the Vegan Runners. Admission to the fayre costs £2:
Kopernik brand 'pierniki' as the Polish say, but better known as lebkuchen. We couldn't find vegan lebkuchen from Germany this year, but we found these Polish ones at an independent deli. Lebkuchen are made from a sort of gingerbread and are often coated in chocolate, sometimes filled with fruit puree, and commonly heart shaped... these ones are all of that.
Anyone for wafer jenga? Part of our haul from the local Polish deli is a large bag of Austrian hazelnut-cream wafers. We've reviewed Manner wafers before in their snack sized offering, but this large bag is party-sized for the Christmas season. You have to be careful only to choose the Neapolitaner flavour as the others contain milk, but luckily this is the best flavour anyway:
Vegan stollen all the way from Germany. Kuchenmeister supply their christmas wares throughout Europe and as far away as the States and Australia. At least one of their offerings for the UK this year is animal-free: the Cranberry Stollen with Marzipan. Beware of similar ones in Sainsburys by the same company - those contain egg. We bought ours from an independent deli, but you may find these in branches of Aldi too.
Vegan Christmas, German style. We promised to find vegan stollen and lebkuchen and the local Polish deli came to our rescue. We thought we'd put together a selection of traditional German style christmas treats, but we couldn't find vegan domino cubes this year... not yet anyway. Lidl and Aldi have let us down as hardly anything is vegan in this year's Christmas selection, so we needed to look further afield. We've also got three sorts of chocolate marzipan and we'll be reviewing them all shortly.
British tradition... meet American chocolate... it's the vegan version of the chocolate selection box! The festive favourite has gone dairy-free in time for Christmas. Of course, there's not actually a box in the above photo... you have to imagine that bit... but wrap these Go Max Go beauties up together for Christmas and the recipient will be one very happy vegan! Trust us.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Eleven. Yes 11 mini packs of Love Hearts in a big tube. How better to show your vegan love at Christmas? Love Hearts weren't always vegan, but since the gelatin and cochineal were removed they are now. To celebrate why not pop down to Lidl and grab some as a great stocking filler:
A special pate for a special occasion. We've no idea what duck tastes like, and there isn't anyone to hand that does, so we won't be reviewing this pate for authenticity! We know oranges though, so expect some reference to that. Vegan Pates are usually based on yeast...like Tartex and those others in tubes and tubs. This one is based on wheat gluten and has a far better texture and flavour for that:
Party Bites - nibbles for Christmas parties. Warm stuffing bites are perfect with a cold glass of wine. Redwood are doing their best to make Christmas easy for vegans who want it that way. Just 8 minutes in the oven is all you need for to create an appetiser, if dinner is a while away. These stuffing bites could form part of a wider spread - a hot or cold vegan buffet:
Your dairy-free Christmas cheese board is sorted thanks to Redwood. If you're looking to offer a selection of vegan cheeses but don't want to buy whole blocks, then this pack of three cuts is ideal. The pack offers red cheddar, cranberry and blue cheese styles in a handy size for your cheeseboard. We grabbed a selection of biscuits and crackers and put the cheeses to the test:
Cheatin' Christmas is here early thanks to vegan favourite Redwood. We're reviewing their festive range of vegan meats, cheeses and pates, starting with their Gammon Style Roast and Sausage and Bacon Style Wraps. The gammon roast is a Christmas special that isn't available for the rest of the year, and the same goes for the wrapped sausages. We put the two together for a Sunday Roast to see if they're a contender for Christmas.
This Saturday in the East Midlands it's the return of the Leicester Vegan Fair. Consider this one an Autumn Fair, or an early Christmas Fair. After the success of the summer event this year, the team are holding an even bigger and better fair. The event takes place this Saturday, November 17th, at Avenue Primary School, just behind the University, running from 10:30am until 3:30pm.
Moo Free, Plamil or Celtic? Dairy-free faux-milk chocolate advent calendars from the leading vegan chocolate makers. You've got just two more weekends to buy your calendars before the start of advent. The choice this year is better than ever and you can pick your favourite brand of milky chocolate to enjoy over the advent period. We do like to pick a winner though, so on with the Advent Calendar Taste Test!
Dark chocolate brand-name liqueurs bought from... Wilkinsons. Yes, following our recent trip to Poundland we extended our budget browsing to include Wilkos. To be fair to Wilkinsons they've gone upmarket recently, but this is no good thing for their vegan selection, which is now limited to one or two items like these chocolate liqueurs filled with Cointreau, St Remy and Teachers:
Free-From specialist Celtic's christmas chocolates are now on sale at Holland & Barrett. Celtic have a great range of faux-milk chocolates but this is strictly a dark chocolate selection. Mint crisps for the after-dinner table and a box of mixed dark chocolates that would make a nice gift:
More vegan chocolate from Oxfam. Divine's Christmas range includes a few vegan options although they do decline to label them as such. Mint Thins and Ginger Thins are joined by Chocolate Christmas Trees as the dairy-free options. The mint and ginger thins clearly have an after-dinner role but we couldn't quite figure out where the chocolate trees fit in:
Dutch Windmill Cookies as they're sometimes called, or Speculoos as we prefer. Lidl have avoided the German name Spekulatius and gone straight for the rather dull Spiced Biscuits. These are traditional caramelised cinammon biscuits enjoyed at Christmas in the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Germany. Lidl have plain and almond ones on offer and both are vegan this year (not every year). We picked up the almond speculoos:
Organic, Vegan, Fairtrade and Handmade - pralines from the Christmas range at Oxfam. These could hardly be more removed from the Poundland confectionery we covered yesterday, but then the price is a little different too. Six quid for six. That's the same cost as our entire haul from Poundland. The vegan market is polarised like that...really cheap stuff (with no butter or other 'luxuries'), or really expensive stuff aimed at the discerning shopper. Are they worth the outlay?
Chocolates, Jellies and Wafers, all vegan, all one pound. Welcome to Christmas at the nation's favourite pound shop. Poundland isn't the first place you'd think to look for vegan confectionery at Christmas, but there are bargains to be had there. Our haul comprises three types of jellies, two sorts of choccies and a huge bag of wafers:
Rice Dream has been produced since 1971 and is still unbeaten as the best rice milk available. It now has some younger siblings in the form of Oat Dream and Almond Dream. The Dream brand (Hain Celestial) doesn't have quite the same penetration in the UK as Alpro does, and we had to order these milks online. Tesco list Oat Dream on their website, but it isn't available at the moment. Having got our hands on them, are the oat and almond milks just as good as the rice milk?
Nut milks from dairy-free market leader Alpro. Plant-milks made from nuts have been around for years, but only recently has the market for them taken off. Alpro arrived late to the party, but with their huge brand name and supermarket presence they are sure to make an impact. Their almond and hazelnut milks even launched with a major poster campaign.
The last of our WMVF reviews is South-West independent vegan ice cream makers Razzle Dazzle. Their vegan ice cream is not available in our part of the country so we took the opportunity to sample three flavours at their stall in Wolverhampton last week. The flavours we sampled were Coconilla, Cookie Dough and Hintamint:
Award-winning one-woman vegan bakery. When Hannah Banana Bakery was announced as the winner of Best Vegan Cakes at this year's UK Vegan Awards last Saturday, there was a huge cheer. This wasn't just because host presenter Dominic Berry was whipping up the crowd, but was a genuine celebration of the achievements of a single-handed champion vegan baker:
|Dominic Berry announces the results of the Vegan Awards at WMVF|
The UK Vegan Awards are an opportunity to recognise and celebrate the products, places, companies, organisations and campaign groups that make a real difference to veganism, animals and the planet.
WINNERS OF THE UK VEGAN AWARDS 2012
Best vegan chocolate
Booja Booja - www.boojabooja.com
Best vegan footwear
Vegetarian Shoes - www.vegetarian-shoes.co.uk
Best vegan catering service
Fairfoods - www.fairfoods.org.uk
Best online vegan recipe guide
Mouthwatering Vegan Recipes - www.mouthwateringvegan.com
Best vegan cheese
Vegusto - www.vegusto.co.uk
Best animal rights campaign group
Animal Equality - www.animalequality.net
Best supermarket for vegan products
Sainsbury's - www.sainsburys.co.uk
Best vegan cakes
Best vegan meat
Fry's - www.frysvegetarian.co.uk
Most animal/vegan friendly environmental organisation
Greenpeace - www.greenpeace.org.uk
Best vegan bodycare products
Lush - www.lush.co.uk
Best vegan cafe/restaurant
inSpiral, Camden - www.inspiralled.net
Best national vegan awareness raising organisation
The Vegan Society - www.vegansociety.com
Best vegan milk
Alpro - www.alpro.com
Best vegan product/company/service not nominated elsewhere
Sweet Vegan - www.sweetvegan.co.uk