Lending a hand at Dean Farm Trust

27 Jun

Gloucestershire Vegan Group members volunteering at Dean Farm Trust, pulling weeds from the duck enclosure

In early June our group had the pleasure of volunteering for the day at Dean Farm Trust, near Chepstow. Dean Farm Trust give sanctuary and a home for life to animals that would otherwise be farmed and used for clothing, food or sport.

The sanctuary is relatively new and took it’s first residents in 2013, with the arrival of their first ponies, and some rescue battery hens. We’ve visited to volunteer for a day each spring/summer for three years now, and every year it’s been heartening to see how the sanctuary is growing and gradually providing a home for a greater number of animals.

Recently Dean Farm trust expanded it’s site to neighbouring farmland and pasture. We were excited see their fantastic new set up, with a large barn and plenty of beautiful fresh grazing land for the rescued animals.

As a group we were keen to lend a hand on the new site, as we knew that the regular staff have plenty of day-to-day tasks that keep them busy, and with a bit of teamwork we can get stuck in to a few jobs they may not have time to get round to.

We spent the morning digging a pond for the ducks, weeding the duck’s enclosure and cleaning mud from the off-road farm vehicle which needed a good scrub after getting stuck in the muck heap. After a bring-and-share picnic lunch, we helped move the Golden Girls (a trio of fierce ex-broiler chickens) enclosure by rolling slowly it on posts to some fresh grazing – it was a real team effort.


We gave Dean Farm Trust’s off-road farm vehicle a much needed scrub


The Golden Girls look on as we move their pen

As we worked, the animals around us went about enjoying their day, Winnie the pig wallowed in a nearby mud patch and then wandered off to lie in a huge pile of fresh straw, the ducks enjoyed the dappled shade under the bushes in their enclosure, and a group of turkeys clucked away in the cool of a nearby barn. It was emotional for us to witness such contented and happy animals, not just living their lives but truly thriving. To see animals that will never have to suffer as farmed animals again, that exist and are cared for simply because they deserve to live, and to live their lives free from fear and pain, it is a truly beautiful thing.

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Winnie enjoys a sunday siesta in a large pile of fresh straw

The valuing of these animals, part of Dean Farm Trust’s belief that “all animals and humans deserving to live a life free from suffering” is clearly demonstrated in the way the animals are cared for. Each time we visit we’re impressed by the incredible level of attention each and every animal resident receives, and this has not diminished with the addition of the new residents. A team of dedicated staff work hard daily to make sure that the pastures and pens are fresh and cleaned, and all animals are well fed and cared for, with any medical conditions treated.

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Dotty re-fuels as her piglets scamper around the barn

Mary, sanctuary co-founder, was kind enough to give us a tour of the new site and introduce us to some of the animals. First we met Tiny Tina and her crew of Turkey’s rescued from being someone’s Christmas Dinner. It was fascinating to see how much they enjoyed Mary’s attention, hopping closer and chirruping until Mary stroked their inky black feathers, and then falling asleep as they were fussed.


We were then delighted to catch a peek at Dotty and her piglets, who are incredibly cute and cheeky. As we crossed a lush green paddock, Winnie, came galumphing across the grass to greet us at a speed I didn’t know pigs could travel at, with her huge ears flapping wildly in the wind. We also met many other animals including Alan and his orphan lamb friends, who are looking extremely healthy on the new spring grass.


Greeting one of our favourite residents Burrito

Thankyou to Mary and her team for allowing us to come and help for the day, and for giving us a tour of the new site.

If you’d like to support the incredible work Dean Farm Trust does, not only caring for animals, but educating about the cruelty of animal farming and promoting veganism, then you can sponsor one of their animals, or make a one-off donation. More details here.

You can also volunteer at Dean Farm Trust, contact details here.

If you’re interested in visiting Dean Farm Trust, they are having an open day on Sunday 3rd September. More details here.



Nailsworth helps to celebrate Animal Aid’s Vegan Festival of Britain

30 May

Nailsworth’s shops and cafes will be taking part in a national celebration of cruelty-free food and living by highlighting their vegan options and produce during Animal Aid’s Vegan Festival of Britain (20th May – 20th June 2017).VFOBlogo-992x561

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A list of participating venues

A list of participating stores and restaurants/cafes can be found above.

On Saturday 27th May 2017, several Gloucestershire Vegan Group members held a stall at Nailsworth Farmers Market, to publicise the Vegan Festival of Britain and promote cruelty-free living. Lots of people stopped by to sample vegan treats, chat to our friendly crew, and pick-up a leaflet promoting veganism. We’re grateful to Nailsworth’s very own vegan dining spot Asparagasm, who kindly donated some delicious treats for market-goers to try.


Gloucestershire Vegan Group’s stall at Nailsworth Farmer’s Market

Nailsworth is a fantastically vegan-friendly town to visit, with the world’s first vegan-society certified football club Forest Green Rovers and the vibrant Asparagasm, a vegan eatery, with a workshop/kitchen space running cookery lessons. There are two independant health food shops selling vegan ingredients (which can sometimes be hard to find in supermarkets); Shiny Goodness and Green Spirit. All of this packed into a small Gloucestershire market town. If you stop by during The Vegan Festival of Britain, be sure to try out some of the participating venues.



The vegan-inspired window display at The Yellow Lighted Bookshop

You may also spot the vegan window display on show at The Yellow Lighted Bookshop, a perfect place to stock-up on a new vegan cookbook to inspire some cruelty-free culinary adventures in the kitchen.


If you’re curious about veganism, and want to know more, here’s a copy of our leaflet, giving a brief intro to veganism, and some great reasons to give it a try.



Reasons to go vegan…

Cafe Poco Pop-Up

19 Feb

2016 saw the blossoming of two vegan owned and run businesses in Cheltenham; Poco Culina & Flamingo’s Vegan Bakery. This was much to the delight of the local vegan community and Cheltenham food-lovers. It was great to be able to support both of these businesses and enjoy their amazing food at our first meet-up of 2017. We packed-out the monthly pop-up cafe at Flonyx Creative, with a friendly crowd of vegans eager to try Poco-Culina’s Cajun curry, and Flamingo’s mouth-watering cupcakes, tarts and biscuits. Thanks to Flonyx Creative for hosting us all. Cafe Poco pop-up can be found at Flonyx Creative, Knapp Road, Cheltenham on the 2nd Saturday of each month.



Exquisitely flavoured food cooked to perfection (Photo: Poco Culina)

Poco Culina


Poco Culina create middle eastern and mediterranean flavoured dishes and rather fantastically deliver in Cheltenham by load-carrying bicycle. The meals are lovingly crafted by Chef Andy – who has real passion to explore the world of flavours through his vegan cooking. Menus change weekly and food can be ordered from their website and delivered to your door in the Cheltenham Town area. Poco Culina can cater for dinner parties or events, and have regular pop-up cafes in Cheltenham including Cafe Poco at Flonyx Creative (2nd Sat of each month). More details of these can be found on their website.



Flamingo’s Victoria Sandwich (Photo by Sally Philpott)

Flamingo’s Vegan Bakery


Flamingo’s vegan cakes and biscuits are made with love and the finest ingredients that they can get their sticky mitts on. They bake devine cupcakes, biscuits and slices, celebration cakes and macarons. All are available to order on their website and can be collected from their Warden Hill, Cheltenham premises. They also sell their cakes at Cheltenham Fine Food & Drink Market (1st Sat of each month), Cheltenham Farmer’s Market (2nd and last Friday of each month), The Suffolk Sunday Pop-up & Cafe Poco at Flonyx Creative (2nd Sat of each month).

Vegan about Nailsworth

31 Jan

Situated in the rolling Cotswold landscape, Nailsworth is a pretty market town and a contender for the most vegan-friendly place in Gloucestershire, with a large amount of vegan-friendly places to eat for such a small town. Let’s not forget it’s very own vegan football club – read on for more details…


E: tips@asparagasm.com

Days Mill, Old Market, Nailsworth, GL6 0DU

Details: Asparagasm Kitchen and Hub is a venue hosting vegan cookery workshops and is a base for Asparagasm pop-up dining events throughout the Cotswolds and beyond.
Asparagasm has a range of wheat-free beer and gorgeous wine. More details here.


Forest Green Rovers Football Club

Forest-Green-Rovers-Football-ClubThe New Lawn, Another Way, Nailsworth, GL6 0FG

T: 01453 834860

Details: Based just outside of Nailsworth, Forest Green Rovers, are the longest serving member of the Football Conference. All the food served on site is vegan. I’d recommend their vegan quorn “Q-Pie”. Forest Green Rovers is dedicated to becoming an environmentally friendly football club, with a rain-water irregated pitch and solar PV installed on site, you can read more about this on their website.

The Olive Tree Restaurant

28 George Street, Nailsworth, GL6 0AG

T: 01453 834802

The Olive Tree Mediterranean Restuarant has an entirely vegan menu with risotto, pizza, pasta, and even a vegan brownie sundae.

Green Spirit

Market Street Nailsworth GL6 0BZ

T: 01453 835735

A fantastic, independent wholefood shop, stocking lots of vegan speciality items, such as vegan yoghurts and plant milks, along with a good selection of organic fruit and veg.

Shiny Goodness

11 Fountain Street, Nailsworth, Glos GL6 0BL.

T: 01453 832986 E: info@shinygoodness.co.uk

Shiny Goodness sells natural remedies, locally sourced produce and “free-from” alternatives.


ruskin-mill-cafeRuskin Mill Cafe

Ruskin Mill College, Old Bristol Road, Nailsworth GL6 0LA

T: 01453 837527

Off the beaten track, Ruskin Mill Cafe is situated in Ruskin Mill college. There are often vegan options, and much of the food is freshly grown in the college grounds. You can sit and admire the lake in front of the college from the cafe balcony.




Summer dessert delights

30 Jun

Gloucestershire Vegan Group members have been having adventures with aquafaba! Yes ‘aquafaba’ literally the juice that comes off of a tin of chickpeas or beans – something we’ve been discarding without a thought until recently. This unappealing sounding by-product has been hailed as a magic ingredient. The secret seems to lie in the protein content of the water, which some vegan chefs have discovered behaves in a similar manner to egg-white when whisked. At our latest bring-and-share meal, on a balmy summer afternoon, we were treated to meringues with strawberries and cream, brought along by members of the group. It was the perfect summer dessert, here is the recipe for you all to enjoy:


Meringue-y goodness

Meringue-y goodness


The water out of one 400g can of chickpeas, drained and strained (apparently the water from other beans works too!)

140g icing sugar

1 teaspoon cream of tartar


1 large bowl (This must be very clean – any residue or oil could cause your meringues to deflate!)

1 medium or large bowl

Electric hand whisk or stand mixer

Piping bag with large nozzle of your choosing (mine was a star nozzle)

3 large baking trays

Greaseproof paper


1. First, preheat your oven to 100 degrees Celsius, and line your baking trays with greaseproof paper.

2. Add the chickpea water to a large, clean bowl and beat on high speed with either an electric whisk or stand whisk. Do this for about 5 minutes. 

3. After 5 minutes, while continuing to beat, gradually add in the icing sugar, a bit at a time. Once all the sugar is incorporated, sprinkle in the cream of tartar and the lemon extract.

4. Keep beating until the meringue is glossy, with very stiff peaks.

5. Scoop the meringue into your piping bag, pushing it down gently with a spoon or spatula. If the mixture doesn’t all fit in one go, you can do the piping in batches.

6. Pipe nests of meringue onto your lined baking sheets. To do this you basically want to first make a small circle (about 3 inches across), then add a two or three spirals on top, around the outer edge.

7. Bake in your preheated oven for 2 hours and 45 minutes. Then, switch off the oven and leave the meringues in there for an extra hour or two. They should be completely dry when you remove them.

The recipe is on veganlass.com


Strawberries and cream

Strawberries and cream


175g(6oz) tofu
50g(2oz) coconut melted oil, heated,
( used heat treated (Suma), as I don’t like coconut)
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon coconut flower nectar


Blend all ingredients together until completely smooth. Be careful when you add the liquid coconut oil as it can solidify on contact with the cold tofu
So it does need to be heated and not just liquid.

Its good on toast/scones with strawberry jam.

Vegan Kids Picnic – 5th July 2015

18 Jun

Gloucestershire Vegan Group vegan kids picnicI’m delighted to announce that on the 5th July 2015 Gloucestershire Vegan Group will be holding it’s first ever event designed specifically for families. We hope to enjoy an afternoon of picnicking, activities and games in the lovely Stratford Park in Stroud, Gloucestershire. Our event is open to anyone who is vegan and their families or anyone who is interested in veganism. We’d love you to bring along a dish of vegan food to share, a picnic blanket and plates. After lunch we will play some games, and get stuck into some family friendly activities, including a special game of Stratford Park I-spy. We will meet at the bandstand at 12.30pm, and will picnic nearby. Please r.s.v.p at gloucestershirevegans@yahoo.co.uk if you wish to join us.

Volunteering at Dean Farm Trust

11 May
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.


Sheila’s Wild Mushroom & Chestnut Cottage Pie


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


• 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)


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!


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


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:


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

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.


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.