The Best Vegan Burgers – BBQ Season

With demand comes supply and the shop aisles have never been better than right now for vegan burgers!

Vegans fall in to two categories, the ones who don’t eat meat and won’t eat anything that even mildly resembles it, whether it’s taste, texture or shape and the ones who don’t eat meat because they love animals but won’t deny they like the taste.

I fall in to the second category, before being vegan, I quite liked the taste of some meats but my love of animals was stronger than my desire to eat them and I found it easy to give up eating meat for that reason but as well as my diet now mainly consisting of lentils and vegetables, I welcome plant based substitutes to things like sausages and burgers, especially now with it coming up to BBQ season, well, you can take the girl out of Oz . . . 

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Of course there has been plenty of variety when it comes to vegan burgers for a while with bean burgers, jackfruit burgers and veggie burgers and generally I’m a fan of most of them but when it comes to throwing a burger on a BBQ, I personally want something that tastes real.

With the launch of the incredible Beyond Meat burger, the bandwagon was well and truly jumped on by all of the leading supermarkets and brands and as a result, the choice of vegan burgers that taste just like the real thing is mega!

Here are a few of my favourites!

1 Beyond Meat Burger

£5.50 for 2

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Tesco

These are just to die for, and the best thing? Nothing died to make them!

2 No Bull Burger

£2.00 for 2

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Iceland

The Iceland No Bull range also features Asian Burgers and Jalapeno Burgers and they do No Porkies Pulled Pork burgers, all of which are out of this world.

 

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3 Move Over Meat Revolution Burger

£4.00 for 2

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Waitrose

Waitrose rarely get it wrong and these are mouth wateringly good.

Linda McCartney Quarter Pounder

£2.00 for 2

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Most UK Supermarkets

As one of the first big meat free brands, it’s no surprise that these are tasty!

5 Quorn Ultimate Burger

A new product added by Quorn to their vegan range

£3.00 for 2

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Most UK Supermarkets

These are good but to live up to the ‘ultimate’ in the title, I was expecting more. They’re not all that different to the normal Quorn vegan burgers other than in size and don’t have the juicy realness that some other the other vegan burgers have.

For me, BBQ burgers are best served with salad, a slice of vegan cheese and ketchup in a seeded bun, yum!

The Spread Eagle

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London’s first ever fully vegan pub opened it’s doors last year, The Spread Eagle in Homerton, East London.

There was a time when even though I’ve lived in East London since I upped sticks and moved from Norfolk to London 12 years ago, I would have considered myself more of a West end girl in regards to where I went out, the restaurants, bars and clubs I frequented and the circles I mixed in but I’m so happy that I remained living east as now it really is London’s vegan hub. From Shoreditch to Hackney, vegan restaurants are opening up almost weekly and the vegan boom is, well, booming!

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The Spread Eagle is only a few minutes in an Uber for me, I could drive but the cocktail menu is just too good, they even do a black cocktail called Lavender is The New Black, perfect for a vegan vamp! I’d also recommend the Smoked Pineapple Cosmopolitan.

 

I’ve pretty much sampled EVERYTHING on the menu and the restaurant is run by Club Mexicana and the food, glorious, I have to say, the tofish taco’s feature probably the best tofish I’ve ever tasted, the tempeh bacon taco’s are just divine and it really is hard to decide what I like best out of the MFC (Mexican Fried Chicken) burger, the Club Mex Cheeseburger or the Sticky Ribs Burger, they’re all just too tasty and the wings and nachos are amazing too.

 

 

The best Mexican food outside of Mexico? Yes, in fact, even better because it’s all vegan!!!

Dessert wise, I love the cheesecake but it’s the chilli chocolate tart with vegan whipped cream that really tantalizes my taste buds.

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If you live in london and haven’t been, you must go, it’s also dog friendly so take your pooch!

 

Location

224 Homerton High Street, London, E9 6AS

Hours

Mon – Thur 4pm – 11pm, Fri –  4pm – 1am, Sat – 12pm – 2am, Sun – 12pm – 10.30pm 

Phone

020 8985 0400

Amsterdam

Last month, I ended up going on a last minute quick break in Amsterdam and who knew it was such a vegan haven?

The purpose of the trip was to test hot tubs (for a friend, not for me) so after getting up at the crack of dawn to make it to the airport for the early flight from Stansted and a rather scary chauffeur ride on the flip side with a driver who had maybe smoked a little too much herb, hot tubs were tested, champagne was drank and it was time to explore.

Everywhere we walked there were vegan fast food vendors and menu’s everywhere had vegan friendly options.

I love going anywhere where you can squeeze in some culture as well as sightseeing and Amsterdam is full of museums that you have to walk through cobbled streets and past canals to get to and of course there’s the ‘red light district’ and the ‘cafe’s’ if they’re your thing. They’re certainly not mine but I did visit the ‘Red Light Secrets Museum’ which was fascinating, I even got to sit in a mock window, as well as ‘The Diamond Museum’ – obviously and the ‘Moco Museum’ that had a Banksy exhibit on and also featured works by some of my favourites, Warhol, Hirst, Koons and Lichenstein.

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By the time I’d done all this, my Fitbit was buzzing telling me I’d smashed my 10,000 steps and I was starving and couldn’t wait to try out The Vegan Junk Food Bar.

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OMG heaven, the menu was divine, now I try and eat healthily most of the time but who doesn’t love a really good vegan burger?

I only wish I’d been there for a week, not only so that I could have visited more museums but also so that I could have eaten there every day and made my way through the whole menu, from vegan sashimi to blue unicorn bread to doggy style not dogs to vegan burgers of all kinds of deliciousness, not to mention the huge variety of loaded fries, smoothies, salads and heavenly desserts!

I went for an original VJFB burger which was divine and the truffle fires, yum! 

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Amsterdam, I will be back and when I am, Anne Frank House and The Van Gogh Museum are next on my list and of course I’ll be going back to The Vegan Junk Food Bar! 

Lion Aid – I Am Not Your Trophy

On April 30th I went on my first ever animal rights march.

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Since Cecil the lion I think a lot more attention has been brought to the barbaric so called ‘sport’ that is trophy hunting.

I can’t believe there are people that take pleasure in taking the life of a wild animal just to display a trophy on their wall? Surely such people are actually psychopaths?

Such majestic creatures and their numbers in the wild declining rapidly due to human existence. People really are the most destructive species on the planet. Every year wealthy trophy hunters pay thousands of pounds to cash strapped governments in Africa for permits to kill wild animals, not just lions but a whole list of species including giraffes, elephants, zebra, leopards and rhinos, in fact for this reason the black rhino was recently officially declared extinct.

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The march went from Cavendish Square to Downing Street and was supported not only by the 1000 on the March but also by a whole host of well known names, the letter handed to David Cameron was signed by Brian May, Joanna Lumley, Brigitte Bardot and Professor  Stephen Hawking, if the greatest mind on Earth says that trophy hunting is wrong then surely nobody can disagree with him!

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Cancun

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I’ve never understood people who go on holiday during the Summer, I mean, I get it if they have kids and can only holiday when the schools are out but otherwise it just makes no sense to me that people leave England when it’s actually warm, it baffles me, it surely makes much more sense to stay put and enjoy the British Summer and then when it gets cold again in the Autumn and Winter, escape for some Winter Sun doesn’t it?

Well, I have to admit, Mexico had never been top of my list of places I wanted to visit, I’m a big fan of Margaritas and Chihuahuas and I like the odd fajita but when it was decided that we’d be going to Cancun for Xmas, I went along with the flow.

We flew with United Airlines and I have to say it wasn’t great for vegans as they didn’t offer any vegan options, the main in flight vegetarian meals were luckily vegan in both directions so I didn’t starve but it’s a long flight and the rolls offered later were a choice of cheese or turkey so had I not stocked up on supplies at the airport, I’d have arrived in Mexico very hangry having only had one small meal in 10 hours. 

We finally did arrive though, no thanks to the ridiculously long and inefficient passport control and security at Houston as we had to change, note to self, always pay the extra and take a direct flight where possible and NEVER EVER go to Houston airport again, we could also have avoided having to get last minute ESTA’s if we hadn’t transited through the US.

Cancun’s ‘hotel zone’ is perfect if you want an all inclusive, resort style holiday but if you’re just heading out to Coco Bongo Island then it’s pretty much a tourist trap, drinks prices are inflated to the equivalent of that if you were drinking cocktails in London’s West end and you don’t get the feel of Mexico, you could just as well be in Vegas and trying to browse peacefully in the markets there isn’t going to happen, you have vendors constantly harassing you making it a painful experience.

We stayed in Downtown Cancun, only about a 10 minute bus ride to the Hotel Zone and the beaches, buses run every few minutes and you can get from one end of the strip to the other for 12 pesos.

I was impressed with the majority of Cancun bars having gotten rid of single use plastic straws and replaced them with either paper or biodegradable cactus based material straws in a bid to keep the oceans plastic free and protect the wildlife but disappointed and saddened by the amount of ‘captive dolphin experience’ parks advertised.

To visit Mayan ruins and Cenotes, you can either book guided tours or to save money brave the public transport and go it alone. One of the best ways to travel from Cancun to the surrounding areas is by Collectivo, or shuttle bus, they run 24/7 and are much cheaper than the ADO.

We decided to go it alone on our first trip to the Mayan ruins at Tulum, a Collectivo from Cancun to Playa Del Carmen and then another from Playa Del Carmen to Tulum worked out around 85 pesos per person each way, there are boards to read as you walk around to learn about how the Mayans built their villages so it was quite nice for this one walking around alone, we spotted lots of iguanas basking in the sun and a family of coati’s.

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We then used google maps to walk about 2km to Cenote Calavera for our first Cenote experience which is the closest one to the ruins.

Only a small sink hole but an amazing experience, you can jump from the edge in to the water or like me, use the wooden ladder to get down to the water, the water is crystal clear and at first it’s a little weird and tickles when the little fist start to nibble at you but once you get use to them, it’s fine and once you swim in to the cave, you have bats roosting and flying about above you, if like me you’re a big fan of bats, it really is a magical experience.

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Our second trip to Coba was an extra bus ride away, we were told there wasn’t a Collectivo from Tulum to Coba so we got an ADO for that part of the journey, at the ADO stn, we were also told by the ADO ticket seller at Coba that there was only one pick up time coming back so we didn’t get time to visit a Cenote along with Coba and then he sent us to the wrong place to get the bus so missed it and wouldn’t refund our tickets, I think he knew what he was doing and wanted us to pay again but as it turns out there is a Collectivo so my advice would be to steer well clear of the ADO rip off merchants and stick with the shuttle bus and reasonably priced cabs if you want to visit a Cenote after your Coba trip, just negotiate your fair before you get in your cab.

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Coba itself was incredible, being more difficult to get to and therefore less popular with tourists, it was one of the last Mayan ruins that you cold actually walk up and we were lucky enough to be amongst the last people to able to climb to the very top as from the beginning of 2019, climbing the ruin has been stopped. The views from the top were absolutely breathtaking though, jungle as far as you could see with vultures soaring high above.

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Being vegan in Mexico is tough, it’s like being vegetarian was in the UK 10 years ago, very little, if any options on what you can eat on the menus, if we’d have gone with one of the all inclusive resorts then I dare say that eating would have been easier but we wanted to experience the real culture and cuisine of Mexico so I pretty much survived solely on mushroom tacos, mushroom quesadilla and mushroom tortillas for the first week and a half by which time, Montezuma was taking his revenge on my stomach and I was all tacoed out.

We did however find a hidden gem in La Dolce Vita in Downtown cancun, an authentic Italian restaurant, with a few vegan options for me and then a nice surprise when you get the bill and it’s nowhere near as expensive as you’d expect, amazing service, great food and definitely one to seek out if you need a break from Mexican cuisine.

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We took a day trip to Isla Mujares on a catamaran with drinks, snorkeling and parasailing included and a buffet lunch at a beach club but we weren’t left with much time to explore the island or sunbathe at the beach club and the buffet wasn’t up to scratch, neither of us fancied the snorkeling and unfortunately we couldn’t parasail from the catamaran on the day we went as apparently it was too nippy – although it certainly didn’t feel nippy so I don’t think you really get your dinero’s worth with the tour and my recommendation would be to take a speed boat over to the island from the marina first thing and another back in the evening so that you can explore at your own leisure rather than booking a tour for this one.

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I did manage to get some amazing footage at the beach though of a group of brown pelicans diving for fish.

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We decided to save the best for last and visit Chichen Itza, one of the new seven wonders of the world on our last day and for this one we decided to book as a tour as  with travel along with a stop at a Mayan shopping village, entrance to Cenote X’Cajum and lunch thrown in it worked out more cost effective and we’re glad we did.

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We went with Amigo tours and our guide Rodrigo Cat was just brilliant, a very knowledgeable archaeologist of Mayan decent, he was so informative, we definitely came out feeling like we’d learnt a lot  – including how to say hello in Mayan (ma’lob kiin) and have a new found fascination with Mayan history.

Centoe X-Cajum was much, much bigger than Cenote Calavera, open to the sky and 35 metres deep, you can hire life jackets if you want to but the water is still and we were comfortable swimming without despite the depth, no bats but some slightly bigger fish swimming about and I’m sure even bigger ones to be seen by those wanting to scuba dive.

There are an estimated over 6000 Cenotes in the Yucatan but only 2400 of those actually studied and registered, swimming in the Cenotes was one of the highlights of the trip and if I were to go back, I’d definitely seek out some more, places so tranquil yet were once along with the temples, places of sacrifice – eek.

I loved Mexico, learning about the history and culture, the colour, the wildlife, (I have a particular soft spot from the great tailed grackle, as common as a blackbird is here and only a little bigger but with a longer tail, feathers a deep shade of blue and a peculiar melody to their call) and up until a certain point, the food.

It helps to know a little basic Spanish as in a lot of the street food vendors and waiters in the more authentic restaurants don’t always speak much English. I learned the word for ‘mushrooms’ on my first day so that was pretty helpful for me and I started learning Spanish on Duolingo (I don’t know why I didn’t think of that before I went) from then on and by the end of the trip I was happily booking tables and ordering my food and drink in Spanish.

It surprised me how quickly I was picking up the language and as a result, one of my new years resolutions is to stick with Duolingo and be fluent in Spanish by the end of 2019. 

I can definitely see myself visiting again one day, maybe staying further towards the Riviera Maya rather than Cancun.

A perfect Christmas in the sun.

Vegan Card

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Attention all vegans.

As if the knowledge that you’re not contributing to animal cruelty in any way wasn’t enough, the people over at Vegan Card have decided it’s about time you were rewarded for your compassion and kindness.

Free to join if you sign up right now at www.vegancard.co.uk and you can enjoy discounts, perks and deals on everything vegan, that’s food, drinks, beauty, fashion, free samples, first tastes, competitions and more.

Members will be able to show their digital card or exclusive discount codes on their phone so there’s no need for a physical card meaning no plastic waste and a reduced carbon footprint.

What are you waiting for?

Sign up now, you’ll be able to unsubscribe at any time.

Follow @vegan_card on instagram

 

 

 

 

Fly Vegan

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It’s certainly much easier to be vegan now than it ever has been before but travelling can still sometimes be tricky.

Not only the cuisines in the different countries you travel to but also when you’re in flight.

I recently went to Mexico and flew with United and although the in flight main meal vegetarian option was luckily vegan, they didn’t actually offer specifically vegan meals and the snack options later in the flight were not vegan so had I not been prepared and stocked up on expensive airport snacks after going through security, I’d have been one hangry traveller! 

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Well now The Vegan Society and The Humane Society have joined forces and launched a brilliant website called Fly Ve where you can go and rate your in flight vegan meals and read other peoples reviews.

Basically like trip advisor but for plant based meals. 

With such a recent rise in people switching to vegan diets, it’s really important that they’re catered for and it’s not only vegans who enjoy vegan food, I know that through my experience, since becoming vegan, many of my non vegan friends have gone for vegan options when we’ve been out together and when you’re on a long flight and you’re not actively burning calories, vegan or not, it makes sense to go for a healthy vegan option.

At the time of writing this post, the stats show that Turkish Airlines and Air New Zealand provide the best food for vegan travellers and the more people that contribute to the site, the more accurate the stats will be although in flight meals might not be the only factor to consider when booking flights, it’s definitely one to consider when deciding which airlines to fly with.

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www.flyvegan.org