Galaxy hot chocolate

I am someone who hates the cold weather, so winter is very much the worst time of the year for me. Especially in England, where it is minus degrees, raining constantly and we don’t even have the joy of snow for the most part so can’t even get excited about that! I am also of the age though where any caffeine after about 2pm means I will be awake for the next 12 hours, so a warming cup of tea before bed is out of the question.

Enter the Hot Chocolate. I do not believe that there is anything more comforting on cold winter nights than a frothy and rich hot chocolate. When I first went vegan the hot chocolate options were non-existent, but 2022 seems to be the year that many hot chocolate brands have actually bought out vegan friendly versions. One of my non-vegan favourites was always the Galaxy version, because it genuinely tasted like a melted down galaxy bar. It was rich and creamy and just touched that part of your soul that you thought had been frozen over winter.

I spotted this being advertised for sale at my local Tesco in Veganuary, however they did actually get stock of the product until beginning of February. So I am probably quite late to this party. I have been having a cup a night for past few weeks and unfortunately, it’s a little bit of a let down.

Taste wise it is quite mild. It is definitely chocolate but it doesn’t have that velvet soft creamy texture that I remember from the non-vegan version. However it does mix very well – probably the best of all the brands I’ve tried – and so you aren’t let with that slight gritty texture where some of the granules don’t properly dissolve. So in that sense it is smooth, it just doesn’t have that thickness to it that the non-vegan version did. The chocolate taste is as I say quite mild, however the formula is that you are just meant to add water to it (so no need for warm milk) so perhaps it is the water that dilutes it slightly.

It also doesn’t froth up too well, however again that may be because it is only made with water. Perhaps if you really frothed up milk for this it may be a bit more satisfying. I however do not have such a tool, so this was th best I could manage.

Price wise it is a bit hard to justify – £3 for 250ml worth of powder. The same volume in the non-vegan version is £1.50-£2. So unfortunately you do have to pay that heightened ‘vegan tax’ for this product. I would hope that if it proves quite popular that this would in turn bring the price down, but only time will tell with this. The packet lasted me around 3 weeks, however I have had other packets that were larger volumes and cheaper price that lasted me a good month and a bit.

Overall: 6/10. It is good to see new options available on the market, but I don’t feel much thought was really put into this.

T xxx

Wagamama’s vegan fish and chips

So I am super late to this party. The vegan fish and chips was a special Veganuary exclusive meal released by Wagamama’s and is due to come off of their menu in the beginning of February. I have been trying to go for the entire month of January, but the nearest Wagamama’s to me seems to be heaving with people every single day regardless of when I go. There is always a queue down the street and no doubt at least an hour or two wait. Luckily though, we walked past it on the way home from work and decided to jump in while it still looked somewhat empty.

Oh boy was this worth the wait. To me, Wagamama’s is the level that all other restaurants need to work towards and aim for. They have committed to making 50% of their menu plant based and they do all of the favourites as a vegan version too. It baffles me that in today’s age there are restaurants still saying that the only vegan food they have on offer i a Beyond Meat burger and some sort of salad or spicy pasta dish as if that is supposed to impress us. Then you look at the like’s of Wagamama’s who not only have 50% of the menu vegan friendly, they also have some exciting and delicious meals: The Vegatsu is still my all-time favourite dish of any restaurant and in one of their ramens you can actually get a vegan egg made out of aquafaba and sriracha. Take note every other restaurant!

The fish and chips were lovely. I believe the ‘fish’ part is tofu, with a soft and crispy batter. It was served with sweet potato chunks (rather than chips) which were covered in a bang-bang red onion sauce. They also did a mushy peas type side which was tofu, rice and peas and you got the two sides of ‘tartar’ sauce and some vegatsu sauce too. The fish itself was very light and did flake the same way actual fish does. It didn’t overly taste of anything except, well, batter…but when mixed with the mushy peas or the sauces it was just the right balance of flavours. Which is really all fish and chips ever tasted of anyway.

The sweet potato chunks and the bang-bang sauce really did pack a punch – I was VERY grateful for the tartar sauce as it did manage to calm the sauce down a lot and helped stop my mouth from setting on fire two bites in. I also believe that sweet potato is the best of all potatoes so that was an easy win in my books.

The full vegan menu!

I would say that Wagamam’s is pretty mid-level in terms of pricing: Two mains, a side and two drinks for the two of us cost around £35. You could obviously find somewhere far cheaper but you could also find somewhere far more expensive for no where near as much food. The meals itself was a really good size – I could easily finish the meal and not still feel hungry afterwards, but not so full that I felt like I couldn’t move or that there was too much food on my plate to handle. Also every meal in Wagamama’s is delicious – their standards are high and their food is consistently amazing no matter what you are getting. Pick anything off of their very large menu and you will be in for a very enjoyable meal. It is a shame that the fish and chips isn’t a permanent addition, but they do have such a wide menu perhaps they don’t need any new additions. Maybe they may bring it back later in the year, but for now we shall have to wait and see.

Overall: 9/10. Vegatsu still wins overall, but this was a really fun and exciting addition that I hope we see again!

T xxx

Lush Snow Fairy

This one is bitter sweet…because I did not think it would last me as long as it did and as such it is no longer available at Lush. This soap was part of their Christmas range and is therefore only available during the Christmas period. So this one is on me…

I LOVE this soap. It smells like candy – so much so that I have genuinely wondered if it tastes how it smells. Obviously I have never actually tried to bite into it (because it is soap, so please do not go around trying to eat soap of any kind!) but this soap just screams Christmas and holidays to me. It has scents of pear drops, bubblegum and fruity notes that end up leaving you smelling like Love Heart candies. And what more could you want from a product?!

It also lasted me ages I bought it around the beginning of December as a nice little Christmas treat, and it only ran out about a week ago. And that is with every day use too. It lathered up into lovely fluffy bubbles and left my skin feeling very soft.

As with all things Lush, they are expensive when it comes to soap. Yes you could easily get a decent soap for far less money, but there is just something so decadent and extravagant about Lush soaps that – for me anyway – the price is quite justified. I believe this bar was £5, and seeing as how it lasted nearly 2 months, that to me is really good value for money. The bars are usually 100g (give or take a few grams) so you do get quite a lot of product when you think about other bars of soap. Personally, I support Lush because not only do their products smell good enough to eat, but their ethos as a company is very refreshing: A vast majority of their products are vegan friendly (with all other products being vegetarian friendly) and cruelty free, as well as Lush being one of the big players in campaigning against animal testing.

You can find out more about the Lush ethos here where they discuss the cruelty free, non-animal tested, vegan friendly manufacturing processes of their products and how they are working towards new campaigns against animal testing across the globe. For me, I would rather pay a slightly higher price of the products when I know the company are campaigning for a cause very close to my heart and for an important cause.

Overall: 9/10. This soap is absolutely delightful and is easily my favourite. The one downside it has is that it is seasonal, so unless you stock up massively over Christmas to last you the rest of the year, it is a long wait until it (hopefully!) returns again.

T xxx

Subway TLS

A new addition to Veganaury that actually seemed somewhat disappointing was the Subway Taste Like Steak (TLS). Now I love Subway – their business model is simple but they do what they do well. They make tasty sandwiches (even if their bread cannot legally be called bread in some places!) that feel like a fast food meal without being greasy or heavy. So far as being vegan friendly, they are probably one of the best fast-food chains out there, because their sandwiches by default are vegan and they offer a variety of vegan products like the veggie patty, the Taste Like Chicken and the Meatless Meatballs.

I was sort of hoping that they would therefore come out with something quite new for Veganuary, but we just got steak pieces. Now as someone who has eaten maybe three bites of a steak in their lifetime – I don’t see the hype around steak. It has never looked appealing, it doesn’t taste nice and it just seems like the most basic and boring meal you could ever cook. But for reasons I will never understand, people go nuts for steak. Even going so far as putting steak into a sandwich. Hence the TLS addition.

To give it credit, I feel like I didn’t really prepare the right sandwich in order to really appreciate the steak. I am a big fan of the TLC pieces so thought that these may be very much the same? The TLS pieces were actually quite nice, as they did add an almost smokey flavour to the sandwich and were a bit tougher in texture than the TLC pieces. But as to their overall taste, I feel I had too many vegetables and sauces on top of it to really get the full affect. So perhaps next time I will try it with just the steak, some cheese and maybe some lettuce – keep it simple and plain and see how the steak really performs.

The other downside is that it appears that the TLS has now replaced the TLC – at least in any shop that I have been to near me. So does it really count as a new addition if it is technically replacing an already existing option? Strictly speaking the number of vegan options has not actually changed. I am also unclear whether the TLS will stay past Veganuary as I cannot find a clear answer online. If anyone knows, please let me know!

Overall: 3/10. Although this may need to be amended the next time I try it…

T xxx

Burger King vegan whopper

Confession time…I have never had a Burger King burger before. This January is actually the first time I think I have ever had a Burger King ever in my life. So I am really branching out now and having what is most likely the first fast-food burger I have had in at least 12 years. I have had McDonald’s burgers before…but again I think the last time I had one was when I was about 12/13? Because I then went vegetarian shortly afterwards.

I have always heard that out of the fast-food places, Burger King was the elite: The fries were the best, the burgers were the size of a baby’s head and the price was a really good value for money. They also tasted ‘not like fast-food’. So we finally decided to test whether that was still true and to see if the burgers lived up to the same level as they had done before going vegetarian.

I decided to go with the vegan whopper, as I think that is the most staple of the Burger King meal. I decided to go for the Whooper over the Royale as the Royale genuinely looked HUGE in comparison and I didn’t trust that I would actually be able to finish it all. I was a little bit nervous of the Whopper as it was indeed….whopper.

The vegan burger patty is a soya based patty, and there had been some controversy around it when first released in 2020 as it was still cooked on the same grill as the meat products were. From reading Burger King’s FAQs and the information available on their website though, they say that they now have separate grill for each type of product, so there is very little risk of cross-contamination. Make of that what you will. I decided to chance it and trust that they were doing all that can to keep vegan products separate from meat products, because let’s be fair – it’s not really that hard. Especially for a multi-billion dollar company that could easily afford the equipment/space/resources.

But I digress…

So right off the bat, this is the perfect meal to justify ‘vegan for the animals’. The burger alone was around 320 calories. Which I suppose on it’s own isn’t the worst meal you would choose but if you include the chips – which are around 385 calories!! – it’s a pretty big meal. Which isn’t bad because 700 calories for a meal is probably considered quite small. BUT – and this was the big issue I had – even after 700 calories of food, I was still STARVING. I could have eaten at least three of these burgers and even then I don’t think I would have felt satisfied.If you were to eat 700 calories of any other food, you’d notice it. But these felt like eating air because I was hungry maybe 5 minutes after finishing.

It also didn’t taste that great. I mean it tasted like a fast food burger. It was exactly how I remembered it tasting: slightly fake while still being quite sweet. Aside from the fact that it looked quite sad and squashed when I took it out of he wrapper, it tasted the exact same. I would like to say that you could really notice the vegan patty, but honestly I didn’t. If you have ever had a fast-food burger, then you have tasted what this whopper tasted like. Pretty basic and nothing special, but exactly what you were expecting.

Price wise it is on the more expensive end for a fast-food meal. Especially when you factor in how it tastes (i.e exactly like every other fast food product). That aside though it is still pretty cheap, at £7.50 for a whole whopper meal, with fries and drink. That is also the price if you pick the large size of everything, otherwise it is slightly less the smaller the meal. But even with the price, you could make a way better burger yourself at home for maybe £5: Meatless farm burgers (for example) are around £3, a 4 pack of vegan brioche rolls from Aldi is £1 and the toppings and sauces maybe work out to be about another £1. This also gives you more than one meal so most likely works out even cheaper in the whole. SO while the whopper scratched a curiosity itch to see what fast-food was like, but I really don’t see what the benefit is to having this over a home made burger? Aside from the time it takes to cook it.

Overall: 4/10. Fine if you’re really stuck but definitely not worth it when you can make far better options at home for a fraction of the price.

T xxx

Burger King vegan nuggets

A Veganuary Newbie! BurgerKing have actually had a vegan burger for the last year or so, however there was a lot of controversy around it as it when it came to light that the vegan burger was cooked on the same grill as the meat burgers. I – along with a vast majority of other vegans – were therefore not keen on that offer, and so to this day I have still not tried the vegan burger from BurgerKing. But when they announced their new nuggets, I had to try these.

*While writing this I actually had the panic of whether or not the vegan nuggets were cooked in the same oil/fryer/grill as the meat ones. After some internet sleuthing, it appears that Burgerking have now changed their system so that they have allocated fryers/grills etc for each product. This appears to be more for allergy reasons (still very good though!) but it appears as though all of the vegan products have their own separate fryer. If anyone can find information that is different though, please let me know!

So these nuggets were really good. I would say they were very similar (if not identical to) the Birds Eye chicken nuggets that you can buy in the shops. So if you like the Birds Eye version then you will enjoy these Burgerking versions. They were crispy and fluffy and just exactly what you want a nugget to be.

Price wise, you can get packs of 3, 6 and 20 – quite the jump. They start from £3.99, £4.99 to £6.99. £7 for 20 nuggets!! That to me is Bargain of the Year. Although not sure if I could really eat 20 of these by myself…

Overall: 7/10. A really good addition to fast food, but no different to what you could already buy in a supermarket.

T xxx

Veganuary additions at Starbucks

I am not a coffee drinker, so I don’t tend to frequent coffee shops unless they a) have really big cups of tea or b) they have new vegan options on sale that I have to try. Starbucks would be one of those places. They tend to have quite a good vegan range, and also recently announced that they would no longer charge extra for vegan milk alternatives (about time!!). They also tend to do quite a lot of seasonal treats so I do find myself stopping in every season or so if something takes me fancy.

Until now, I had only ever had soya milk in my coffees because that was usually the only milk alternative that places do not charge extra for (and I include Starbucks, Costa and Cafe Nero in this, although there may be others) so when I saw that Starbucks were doing a whole new oat latte line for their festive new year drinks, I was quite excited! I have heard that oat milk is best in coffees, as it thickens up and froths up the nicest out of all of the non-milk milks.

On offer they have chocolate and orange oat latte and strawberry and vanilla oat lattes. They are also offering a honey and hazelnut oat latte but since I do not consider honey to be vegan friendly (more on this topic to come later!) I don’t include this in their vegan menu. I therefore went with the chocolate and orange latte, as it sounded the nicest option. Plus who doesn’t love chocolate orange??

It was actually quite disappointing. It had the tiniest hint of chocolate, but tasted more like a standard mocha than it did chocolate orange. I will admit the oat milk did seem a lot frothier and fluffy than my usual soya latte, but it didn’t add any flavour to it. Maybe coconut milk would add a little bit of sweetness? I tend to find coffee a bit too bitter to have in large amounts, so anything to sweeten it up is all good in my books. I got zero orange flavouring from this latte, so overall it was just a nice mocha. It wasn’t awful, but it also wasn’t anything to get too excited about.

I also tried the vegan carrot cake that looked way better than it tasted. Carrot cake is probably my favourite type of cake (true vegan choice right there!) and I have still not yet mastered the perfect home baked carrot cake. So I therefore have to make do with what is on offer when out shopping. Surprisingly (to me anyway) carrot cake is not a very popular flavour (???) so I think I have only had carrot cake maybe twice in the 6 years I have been vegan. They also had on offer for Veganuary a chocolate and caramel muffin (groundbreaking), a cherry crown pasty (this did look pretty nice to be fair to them), a pecan and caramel brownie and a caramel and date cookie. So out of those offering, only the cherry crown pastry is even remotely exciting. Unless again you like caramel everything.

This carrot cake was so dry and it was THICK. It was almost like a bread it was so thick. It is actually quite small by snack standards but I was more or less full by about half way through it. You definitely needed a drink with this though as the cake itself managed to find every bit of moisture in my mouth and suck it away, meaning I had to really work to chew and swallow each bite. Combined with the coffee, it wasn’t the worst, but it definitely was not the soft and light spongy cake that I had been expecting.

Now I know that Starbucks are not the best business – they have routinely been outed for paying little to no taxes in the UK and they are also one of the big companies that took a covid bail out payment, despite being a multi-million dollar company. In my high street alone there are 3 Starbucks stores – and all 3 are pretty big with quite a number of staff – so it is not like they are struggling for money as much as they claim to be. That side of the ethics aside, they are one of the more expensive coffee shops out there: I had only a tall latte (the smallest size) and the cake and that alone was around £6. Which personally I could get a way better snack and a way better drink at literally any other store for less money than that. I do feel glad that I am not a fan of coffee because the idea of drinking Starbucks every day would genuinely bankrupt me – £4 every day for a tiny coffee?? What do people have to earn to be able to afford such spending!?

Now I am quite a forgiving person though so I may still go back and try some of their other options. I am also a big believer in supply and demand, so if it takes me trying multiple vegan options in their stores to convince them to create more exciting and readily available vegan coffee and cake options, then so be it. Again though, I will not expect anything special….but hopefully something at least passable.

Overall: 4/10. It’s fine. Definitely not the best option out there but good in a pinch.

T xxx

Krispee Kreme caramel doughnut

I feel it is my duty to try all of the Krispee Doughnuts so here we are! This time I went for the Salted Caramel doughnut. I still believe that salted caramel is a really lazy option for vegan treats, as there are so many other combinations that would be far tastier and far more exciting. I think every single brand out there has salted caramel as their vegan option and honestly it gets old quick. Especially if you’re like me and don’t like caramel all that much anyway. But I had been very impressed by the other new vegan options that were release so I thought it only right to give this one a go too.

Now this was not good. I missed the part of description that told me it had a salted caramel filling, so I went into this just expecting a simple caramel topped doughnut. I like caramel in small doses, so was quite looking forward to this. It was the lovely soft and fluffy dough that you’d expect and the chocolate and caramel on top was a nice combinations of flavours without feeling too sickly.

But then I bit into the middle and got at least 90% of the caramel filling in one bite. I nearly gagged. I have never had my mouth welded shut before but this was very similar – there was so much caramel that I truly struggled to even open my mouth. It was so sickly too that my immediate reaction was to just spit it out, but it was so gummy and sticky that I couldn’t open my mouth to do so. After about ten seconds of my inwardly panicking that this was how my life ended, I finally managed to spit it out and now I think I have a fear of these doughnuts.

I’ve said before that I am not the biggest fan of caramel as I find it so overpoweringly sweet, and I always find that salted caramel tastes burnt to me. But I thought that if this had just been a standard doughnut, with the caramel top and nothing in the middle, that it may actually be alright – there would be no overpowering flavours and I wouldn’t feel like I was going into sugar shock afterwards. This is therefore your warning to read food descriptions FULLY and CAREFULLY, so you don’t have the experience I had.

Again, this is a speciality doughnut so it was £2.65. So for a near death experience, pretty cheap. But I would say that unless you absolutely LOVE caramel (as in, would happily bathe in the syrup if it was allowed) then do not try this. You have read above how I found it, but then my partner tried it and (being a big caramel lover) gave it a full 10/10. ‘Best doughnut ever’ he said as I hid away from him for fear the doughnut may try to finish me off for good.

Overall: 0/10. Only good for those who live for the caramel. Which if you do, then this will probably be your Holy Grail of vegan food.

T xxx

Krispee Kreme chocolate fudge brownie

So these were actually available before the New Year actually began, so thankfully I was able to try the vegan options before my healthy kickstart started! I decided to start with the one I thought I would most enjoy, and it was the chocolate fudge brownie.

This was no where near as sickly as I thought it would be. It also wasn’t as…gross as I thought it might be? As in I thought I would eat it and need to lie down from the amount of sugar coursing through my veins. But it was actually quite mild. The dough was soft and spongey and the icing wasn’t overpowering at all like icing can tend to be. There was some chocolate in the middle of it but I think this must be mostly dark chocolate as it was almost bitter. Which when combined with the sponge and icing was actually a really nice combination, as the sweet and tart mellowed each other out a bit.

I actually felt quite satisfied after it too. I didn’t feel sick, but I also didn’t still feel hungry. I also didn’t feel bloated and gross like some sweet treats sometimes can make you feel and I honestly expected that when I saw just how sweet the doughnuts looked on display.

Now the main question – did it beat Doughnut Time? Now those who have read through my posts will know that Doughnut Time is one hell of a guilty pleasure. The doughnuts on sale there are extravagant and extra and are a once in a while treat (and not just because of the fact that they are exclusive to London) that I do not have on any regular basis. This Krispee Kreme doughnut however, I probably would have more often. It isn’t as sweet and sickly, and are quite a reasonable size too. They aren’t anything spectacular (the Doughnut Time options are works of art on their own right) but are definitely an easily available and affordable option.

Price wise this doughnut was £2.35. Which isn’t that expensive, especially when you can get a pack of 6 for £10. They are however slightly more expensive than the non-vegan options, possibly due to the fact that they are considered ‘limited’ or ‘special’. There are one or two ‘special’ non-vegan doughnuts which are the same price so I guess there isn’t too much of a vegan tax on them. Unfortunately though, it seems as though you still cannot get just a plain glazed doughnut from Krispee Kreme unless you order it directly from their website, and even then you have to order a 12 pack of them (at least near me anyway, it may be different world-wide) which just seems odd to me. As it stands, the only places you can buy just a plain and simple glazed doughnut is Gregg’s, and a plain sugar ring is available at Wenzel’s. But it’s nice that we vegans can now have an option that is a little bit special.

Overall: 8/10. Surprised I enjoyed this as much as I did. Definitely a good contender, especially for something a bit more special than just a glaze or a sugar ring.

T xxx

Veganuary 2022

It is the best time of the year…Veganuary!

Honestly the period between Christmas and New Years is normally so exciting because it is the time when brands and restaurants announce what new items they will be releasing for Veganuary. Obviously some are more exciting than others but the main thing is just how many brands announce new things – too many to really keep up with! But I thought it might help to list a few of the announcements that I am most excited for, and naturally as more are announced throughout the month I shall keep things coming!

For starters though, if you want to learn more about Veganuary, the month challenge, or for inspiration and starting points on how to begin your own vegan journey, please do check out the official Veganuary website for all the information you need. You can then go through my blog and see which vegan items currently on sale are worth a try, and which you need to avoid.

Krispee Kreme

First off, I think Krispee Kreme are super late to this party – as one of the LEADING doughnut companies in the world it is laughable that they have only JUST come out with more than one vegan option. Shameful really. That being said, I am so excited to try these new flavours that I don’t even care how long it took them to get them out! They have released Fudge Brownie Bliss, Caramel Choc Delight, and Apple Crumble doughnuts. Judging by the other non-vegan options they have, I am fully expecting to go into diabetic shock after one bite of each…but some things need to be done. Once I find a store near me that actually stocks them I will definitely let you know my thoughts!

Lidl

The supermarket has gone ALL OUT with their vast vegan range. They have released about 10 (although this could be way more, I haven’t counted since their first announcement) new items, including gnocchi, burgers, pizza and broccoli nuggets. No doubt there will be more as the year goes on, as Lidl are probably the best supermarket for the affordable vegan options. I intend to slowly make my way through the entire Vermondo range and let you all know the winners.

Meatless Farm chicken breasts

I am a BIG Meatless Farm fan. Their burgers are my go-to favourites and their entire range is consistently high quality, tasty and affordable. It wasn’t until the announcement though that I realised that they don’t appear to have done a chicken style meat yet – I have only ever seen red meat alternatives – so it will be very interesting to see how a chicken style meat replacement option compares to the red meat options. If they are as good as the rest of the range has been, then these could potentially be a meal staple for my household and a true game changer for our meals.

Babybel

Yep. You read that right. Babybel – a true staple of Britain and cheese – is releasing a vegan version. Now I have not had a Babybel for….well…years. At least 6 years at this point anyway. But even now I hear people talk about how Babybel cheese is on a different level to other dairy cheeses, so my expectations are high for a plant-based vegan version. I also believe this is one of the few cheese brands that has made a vegan option available – most vegan cheeses are either from specialist vegan brands, or are a supermarkets own version for their own plant-based range. My hope is that if Babybel can come up with a vegan option, then maybe other big brands like Philadelphia and Cathedral will also bring out their own vegan options. We shall see….

Watch this space everyone, and if you have seen any other announcements that you are super excited about please let me know in the comments and I shall make sure to check them out!

T xxx