Volunteering at Dean Farm Trust

11 May The weeding gang starting work
The weeding gang starting work

The weeding gang starting work

Earlier in the year Dean Farm Trust – a charity which provides a ‘forever home’ for a family of rescued farm animals – reached out to us to come and help with their spring-time tasks and we were only too happy to oblige. As a result we spend yesterday enthusiastically helping out at their beautiful farm animal sanctuary, situated in a secluded valley near to Chepstow.

We split into working groups, one gang helping hand-weeding and clearing a new paddock, to free the grazing from being overrun with dock and burdock. The other group of us helped weatherproof the stables, giving the wood a spring-time coat of paint. It was hugely enjoyable to work together to help out a great cause.

A beautiful spread at our bring-and-share picnic lunch

A beautiful spread at our bring-and-share picnic lunch

At lunch-time we took a break, for a bring-and-share vegan picnic. As usual we collectively created an epic spread, and an incredible range of yummy stuff, demonstrating the variety and deliciousness of vegan food.

Whilst we ate Janette and Mary from the sanctuary gave us a overview of their work and their motivations to start the sanctuary, along with brief history of Dean Farm Trust. I was impressed with how carefully they had researched, funded and planned their sanctuary. This forethought is clearly a large part of their success. You can read more about how they started here.

We learned that Dean Farm Trust doesn’t simply seek to give a home to the animals they take in at their sanctuary, they want every animal they rescue to have the best possible care and health. This is why they will not take in more animals than they have the resources and grazing to support at the sanctuary. Dean Farm Trust cannot rescue all farmed animals, but for every animal they provide a home for, the difference to that individual animal’s life is immeasurable.

Dean Farm Trust have the ethos “protecting, informing, educating” and so they also work as animal advocates. Their website and excellent monthly newsletter not only provide details about their heartening work at the sanctuary, but raise awareness about animal exploitation; providing facts about animal farming and campaigns to stop animal cruelty such as the ‘Ban Foie Gras‘ Campaign. They also promote veganism and other positive actions you can take to live more compassionately.

I felt that the rescued animals who are living out the rest of their natural lives in happiness at Dean Farm Trust are a totem of the millions of farmed animals worldwide who are less fortunate than them. They are a few happy endings in an otherwise grim industry, and a constant reminder that animals should not be treated as mere commodities in the brutal and inhumane world of animal farming. (continued below >>)

a most contented pig

a most contented pig

Gloucestershire Vegan Group and Burrito the donkey listen to Mary from Dean Farm Trust talk about their work.

Gloucestershire Vegan Group and Burrito the donkey listen to Mary from Dean Farm Trust on a tour of the sanctuary.

Compassion for animals is an important lesson for everyone

Compassion for animals is an important lesson for everyone

After lunch we were taken to meet the animals. Our tour led us through a paddock of cheeky donkeys, who jostled for attention, and a few leftover carrots from lunch. We met the two boisterous pigs who came roaring across the field to greet us, and saw the ex-battery hens contentedly dust bathing in little pits they’d dug out in the soft spring soil. Dean Farm Trust is also home to several sheep, rescue ponies, and a small and affectionate team of ex-puppy farm Cavalier Spaniels. It was a real highlight of our visit to meet the animals we were volunteering to bring benefit to.

Ex- battery hens re-discovering the joy of natural behaviours such as dust-bathing.

Ex-battery hens re-discovering the joy of natural behaviours such as dust-bathing.

We carried on working in the afternoon, and went home tired but happy from a great day volunteering.

Thanks to Dean Farm Trust for being so welcoming to us all, and thanks to all of the Gloucestershire Vegans who gave up their sunday to come and help. We’d love to come back and volunteer again in the future.

You can subscribe to Dean Farm Trust’s newsletter on their website (subscribe box at the bottom of their homepage).

Unstoppable vegans dig deep for the animals!

Unstoppable vegans dig deep for the animals!

Bring-and-share Vegan Supper

22 Mar

Join us for vegan get-togethers.

It’s always a real pleasure to meet up with fellow vegans, and our recent bring-and-share supper was no exception.

We had a lively evening, full of chat about all things vegan and beyond, and our plates were laden with the scrumptious dishes we had brought along to share. In a distinctly non-vegan world it’s really such a boost to occasionally have a vegan-centered social event.

Some people were regulars at Gloucestershire Vegan Group get-togethers, but others had never even met with fellow vegans before. We hope their first experience of meeting like-minded people was a friendly and welcoming one.

There was as ever an amazing selection of food; samosas, sushi and sos-rolls, mousakka and cottage pie, jewish pastries and carrot cake. We’re united by, amongst other things, our passion for amazing vegan food and the spread we created demonstrated the diversity and deliciousness of vegan cooking. Our food may be free from the products of animal cruelty, but it’s certainly not free from flavour or imagination. For those of you who missed it, or who want to recreate the fantastic food we made, below are just a few of the recipes.

RECIPES


Sheila’s Wild Mushroom & Chestnut Cottage Pie

Ingredients:

5 large sweet potatoes
5 leeks
2 x 250g of mushrooms
2 x 200g of chestnuts
2 x tins of tomatoes
Vegetable stock to taste
Coconut oil

Method:

• Dry fry leeks, mushrooms separately adding water to the leeks when necessary.
• Mix with tinned tomatoes
• Add vegetable stock to taste

For the topping:
• Bake the sweet potatoes
• When cool enough to handle, skin the potatoes and blend with coconut oil and season to taste and spread over the tomato chestnut filling and bake to heat though.


Mireia’s Moussaka

Ingredients for the tomato sauce:

1 chopped up onion

1 chopped up glove of garlic

Some tomato puree

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

1 cup of vegan mince

Couple of sliced carrots

1 sliced aubergine (medium to thin)

Bit of oil (for frying the onion), salt, mixed herbs, basil, some vegetable stock (bouillon)

Ingredients for the “cheese” sauce topping (from the Artisan Vegan Cheese book):

2 1/2 cups of water

1 cup raw cashews

¼ cup nutritional flakes

Bit of salt

Freshly squeezed lemon juice (1- 3 teaspoons)

Method:

Fry the chopped onion in a deep saucepan, add the salt and mixed herbs, add the garlic after about 5 minutes; fry some more until it starts browning (not long). Add a good dollop of pureed tomato, stir and fry for another minute, then add the tin of chopped tomatoes, ¾ fill the empty tin with some cold water to rinse it out and add to the pan (the pureed tomato and the protein mince would thicken the sauce too much otherwise), and add the protein mince straightaway, give it all a good stir and bring to the boil, stirring often, add the carrots, cook for a couple of minutes on low heat. Add the basil too, and the bouillon.

Oil/ grease a deep oven going dish, fill it with layers of the tomato sauce and the sliced aubergines till you’ve used everything. Put in the oven (180⁰) and bake for about 45 minutes or more until the aubergine feels soft (insert a skewer).

Meanwhile prepare the “cheese” sauce topping: Put the water and cashews in a blender and process till smooth and creamy. (You do not have to soak the cashews first and you do not need a super-fast blender either). It should take about a couple of minutes. Transfer into a saucepan and whisk in the nutritional flakes, salt and 1 teaspoon of the lemon juice. Cook over medium yeast, stirring almost constantly with the whisk, until very thick, about 3- 4 minutes (do not boil). Taste and add more lemon juice if desired. It’s really magic: it does thicken and it tastes really nice!

Tips:

You can prepare this topping before you will need it: it will keep in a covered container in the fridge for about 4 days.

I found this topping doesn’t like going in the oven: so I make sure it’s quite hot at the time when my moussaka is ready and pour it over the top of it before bringing to the table.

Mireia says: If you substitute lasagne sheets for the aubergine then you get lasagne instead! You can also fry some chopped peppers with the onion at the beginning, or add anything else you fancy to the mix, I never followed a recipe, I just made it up from the memory of what it looked like!


Sheila’s Carrot Cake with dreamy cream cheese frosting

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A creamy frosting you’ll dream of!

Sheila followed this carrot cake recipe from the comprehensive online vegan baking resource veganbaking.net

Sheila made a huge cake, but said if she made it again, she’d try cupcakes as it was very fragile as a large cake.

Here is her amazing cream cheese frosting which compliments the fruity cake:

Ingredients:

2 cups soaked cashews
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons liquid coconut oil
1/3 cup agave/liquid sweetener
Water

Method:
Blend all ingredients apart from water in high speed blender with as little water as possible. Spread on top of the cooled cakes with a spatula.


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A vegan Jewish Pastry: Hamantaschen

We also had a delicious poppyseed-paste filled Jewish pastry called Hamantaschen made following this excellent recipe from the inspiring Vegan Chef Isa Chandra

Join us in 2015!

3 Feb

Some of our 2014 events

A very happy new year to you all!

We have a great selection of events planned in 2015, you can view a list here.

Gloucestershire Vegan Group events are open to vegans and those interested in veganism. Our friendly, informal group is welcoming to new members. We aim to build a sense of community for vegans in Gloucestershire, by meeting-up and sharing vegan food, providing support, friendship and having fun. We also like to support local animal-friendly causes.

We look forward to meeting you.

To subscribe yourself to our email list, and find out more details about our events, click here.

Gig and Vegan Tapas at Star Anise Arts Cafe

1 Jan

Come and celebrate a shiny new year at this vegan tapas and music night at the Star Anise, Gloucester Street, Stroud on the 3rd January 2015, Doors 7pm.

Balloon

Festive Banquet at the Royal Oak

1 Dec

EIMG_20141129_194952~2arlier in the year I wrote about our cycle to The Royal Oak in Tetbury, we had such a good time, that I’ve been longing for a trip back there with my fellow Glos Vegans.

The Royal Oak has a vegan proprietor, Kate Lewis, who is also involved in organising dynamic vegan fine-dining events. She’s brought her enthusiasm for decent vegan cuisine to the Royal Oak, and as a result the vegan Christmas Menu was more than enough to tempt plenty of Glos Vegans to book in for our annual festive meal.

Twenty of us came together to celebrate the beginning of the festive season in style, with a mini-bus load rocking-up from Cheltenham, and the rest of us descending from around the county on a foggy winter evening. It was lovely that a few that were new to the group were also able to come along.

We were given the dining-room which is a above the bustling bar, and the Royal Oak team had transformed it into a enchanting space, with glimmering candle lanterns, divine table-centrepieces, and luxurious winter foliage adorning the old wooden beams. It was a lovely atmosphere and we admired the surrounds as we chatted pre-dinner.

The meal itself was an absolute feast. We ate some fantastic food, starting with a spiced cauliflower and almond soup, with polenta and spinich croquettes. The soup was warming and well-seasoned, with a lovely crunch from the toasted almonds. We adored the polenta, which was so crispy and golden. Others had a warm tofu salad which looked great. The main was a classic roast dinner with some toothsome tempeh and plenty of veg on the side. The tempeh had a great texture and taste, and the sprouts were just perfect, but we all went mad over the garlic mashed potato which had a sweet tang of roast garlic.

a festive feast

a festive feast

Just when we thought the meal couldn’t get any better out came the puddings: mulled pear in puff pastry with booja chocolate ice cream and chase marmalade bread pudding with hot chocolate sauce. Unsurprisingly we devoured every last drop of that hot chocolate sauce, there was certainly some most-unsociable plate-licking and some of us even drank the last of it from shot-glasses!

artisan vegan cheese

artisan vegan cheese

Then one last lovely surprise from Kate, an artisan vegan cheeseboard, with smoked-cheddar, cranberry brie, feta and a black pepper & herb cheese, all served on gorgeous heart-shaped crackers. It was tasty, crafted nut-cheese, with punchy flavours. It provided a perfect end to our evening.

I must also mention the great selection of vegan alcohol available at the Royal Oak. Their own collaboration with Stroud Brewery, Asparagasm, is available on tap and is unfined. It’s a tasty, refreshing ale and is wheat-free. They also have Moor Ales, and a selection of vegan wines from Vintage Roots.

Thanks to the wonderful Royal Oak staff for making our evening such a special occasion.

Gloucestershire Vegan Group will be taking a small break from events until early 2015. Events for 2015 will be planned during December/January and as usual will be publicised via our email list. If you’d like to suggest an event then please get in touch. Our events aim to support and help build vegan community in Gloucestershire. We promote veganism principally because animals have a right to life and freedom. If you’d like to sign-up and get updates about events such as this one visit this page.

Vegan football match – a world exclusive!

2 Nov
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The players warm up pre-match

Kicking-off The Vegan Society’s 70th Anniversary year, and in celebration of World Vegan Day (November 1st), our local Gloucestershire-based football club Forest Green Rovers hosted a very special event: the world’s first vegan football match.

While football and veganism may sound like an unlikely combination, Forest Green FC made the headlines in 2012 when – inspired by vegan Chairperson Dale Vince – it chose to take all meat products off of the menu. Dale, who heads Stroud-based green energy company Ecotricity explains how his decision to make Forest Green Rovers into a vegetarian club is based on environmental sustainability and health; “We took some flak for it but red meat is bad for us. It’s also unsustainable. And it takes 10 grammes of vegetable protein to produce a gramme of beef. You have diminishing returns. The rough analysis is that you can feed 10 vegetarians or one meat-eater.”

Forest Green Rovers vegan buffet - a beautiful spread

Forest Green Rovers vegan buffet – a beautiful spread

As all of the food served in the club’s hospitality areas was vegan on November 1st, (it’s usually veggie with vegan options) we arrived before the game to tuck into a fantastic vegan buffet. The spread was delicious, and a great example of how appealing a vegan buffet can be. There were sweet potato & mushroom burgers, gorgeous crispy polenta chips with tomato relish, grilled courgette and fennel wraps, and much more lovely fresh (and animal-free) food.

There was a buzzing pre-match atmosphere in the club’s Carol Embrey suite, with fellow Vegan Society members, staff, and Forest Green fans mingling and chatting excitedly about the game. The match was against Lincoln City, who are ranked lower in the league than Forest Green, but were fresh from a 5-1 win against Alfreton. In one corner was a huge vegan cake, baked by Leicestershire company The Vegan Cakery, to celebrate The Vegan Society’s 70th Anniversary. It was in the shape of a football, adorned with icing sunflowers and football boots. This epic cake was flanked on either side by a sea of cupcakes bearing either The Vegan Society’s logo or the Forest Green Rovers emblem. In the other corner was the FA Cup, which was on tour, and a steady stream of people having their photo taken with this iconic football trophy.

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The Vegan Society’s 70th Anniversary Cake

It was great to see fellow Glos Vegans there, and also to meet the Vegan Society Staff. I especially loved chatting the the Forest Green fans about the game to come, what to chant; “Green Army!”, and what they made of the vegetarian menu; “…it doesn’t matter whether it’s vegetarian, so long as it’s tasty”.

Forest Green Rovers Chairman Dale Vince and The Vegan Society's CEO Jasmijn de Boo watch the cake cutting

Vegan Footballer Neil Robinson, Forest Green Rovers Chairman Dale Vince and The Vegan Society’s CEO Jasmijn de Boo watch the cake cutting

The game itself was a thriller, with goals being scored down to the final whistle. Lincoln were lucky to begin with several good chances and raced to a 3-0 lead. The final of these three goals was scored after Forest Green’s heroic goalkeeper Sam Russell, clad in fluorescent pink kit, managed to save a penalty, and a rebounding shot, but was eventually overwhelmed by the sheer number of Lincoln players in the Forest Green box.

Retired Vegan Pro Footballer Neil Robinson gives a half-time talk

Retired Vegan Pro Footballer Neil Robinson gives a half-time talk

The half-time talk was given by The Vegan Society’s guest of honour Neil Robinson, the first ever vegan professional footballer. Now retired, Neil signed to Everton in 1973, and later played for Swansea City, Grimsby Town and Darlington. He spoke about how he scored the first ever “vegan goal” and about the importance of veganism for animals, and the environment. He also talked about the benefits of vegan nutrition to health for professional athletes. It was moving to see someone speak so proudly and clearly about veganism to a large crowd of assembled football fans, attributing his vegan diet to strong fitness and health.

After half time, Forest had a radical change of outlook, and the attacking tempo went up several notches. With Rovers being awarded a penalty after Elliot Frear was taken down in the Lincoln box, James Norwood took a spot-kick sending Lincoln’s the wrong way, and the ball to the back of the net. This goal marked the beginning of Rover’s remarkable revival, with Norwood scoring another amazing goal only a few minutes later. The show-stopping equaliser came from Forest Green in the final minutes of added time, a great pass from the ‘man of the match’ James Norwood to Dean Bennett who scored. We leapt to our feet to applaud this amazing come-back. It was a hugely entertaining game, and we will definately be back to support our favourite local vegan-friendly club in action.

Watch the highlights of the match:

A great short film made of the day by HubStroud

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Thanks to Forest Green Rovers and The Vegan Society for a great day out, and a momentous day for veganism.

Beautiful bring-and-share!

20 Sep

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Gloucestershire Vegan Group had a fabulous bring-and-share in Gloucester on the 13th September 2014. Hosted by a couple from our group in their home near Gloucester, we especially enjoyed a trip around their beautiful wildlife-friendly garden – a meadow bursting with bee-friendly flowers and colours.

FLOWERS

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As usual there was a great selection of animal-free dishes brought along for sharing. We had some sumptuous summer salads, a tasty asparagus quiche, a spicy south-western style corn pudding and some moreish crispy tofu cubes coated in yeast flakes to make them extra-savoury.

RASPBERRY CHOCO

For puddings the summer-theme continued, with harvest fruits such as garden-grown raspberries and apples included wherever possible. There was some fantastic raspberry-chocolate combinations – chocolate and raspberry cake with a rich chocolate icing, raspberry jam-filled chocolate cupcakes with a rich chocolate ganache drizzled on top, a chocolate mousse cheesecake with a raspberry topping. There was also an extra-tasty apple crumble and a spiced dorset apple-cake to give us a refreshing break from the choco-raspberry overload.

Our get-togethers are a good chance to chat vegan stuff – from the usual sharing of tasty cooking ideas, to vegan perspectives on the Gloucestershire Badger Cull, which some of us are taking action against again this year by joining the Wounded Badger Patrol.

Thanks to our hosts for the evening for being so welcoming, and if you fancy coming along to our get-togethers we’d love you to join us – please join our email list for more details.


Recipes

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Savoury Tofu Cubes

Ingredients:

1 block firm tofu

4 Tablespoons yeast flakes

2 tablespoons soya sauce

Vegetable oil for frying

Little gem or similar lettuce leaves for serving

Method:

1.Cut the tofu into cubes

2.Pat the tofu dry with some kitchen paper or a clean tea towel

3. Roll the cubes in the yeast flakes on a shallow dish

4. Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat (cast iron pans work well) and fry the cubes until crispy and golden

5. Remove from the cubes from the pan and set aside on a paper towel to absorb excess oil

6. Serve on a bed of lettuce leaves, sprinkle with the tamari/soya sauce

 

Isobel’s Rice Salad

Ingredients:

1 mug cooked rice

Mung Bean Sprouts

Carrots

Peppers – red & yellow

Peas

Mushrooms

Marinade:

3/4 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup tamari or soya sauce

1 tablespoon of french mustard

Method:

1. Cook the rice and allow to cool

2. Dice the Vegetables

3. Mix with the marinade and serve

 

Sheila’s Dorset Apple Cake

Ingredients:

2 cooking apples – peeled and diced

4oz raisins

4oz coconut oil

4oz coconut nectar sugar

4oz spelt flour

4oz porridge oats

1 heaped tsp mixed spice

1/2 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tablespoon boiling water

Method:

1.Mix the coconut oil, coconut sugar, spelt flour, oats and spices, including the ginger.

2. Add the bicarb to the tablespoon of boiling water, mix this in to the dry ingredients

3. Stir in the chopped apple and raisins

4. Add to a pre-greased baking tray or cake tin and bake for 45mins at 180 degrees celcius.

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