Vegans dine out in Nailsworth

13 Aug

Great news for anyone looking to dine out in the vibrant Gloucestershire market town of Nailsworth – The Olive Tree Mediterranean Restaurant has added a selection of vegan choices to their menu. Their separate vegan menu is available to view online. The options for hungry vegans include Campagne Pizza (roasted garlic tomatoes, courgettes, peppers, olives and chillis, topped with rocket), Spaghetti Amatriciano with roasted veg and olives, or Antipasti of Sundried Tomatoes. Most excitingly, there’s even three vegan choices for dessert including a Chocolate Brownie Sundae.


Gloucestershire Vegans dining out at The Olive Tree

We love to see local places making an effort to include us in their menu choices, so to show our support for The Olive Tree we decided to combine a Gloucestershire Vegan Group meet-up and walk, with lunch there.

Below is a report from Gina on how it went:


Admiring the view

“The long-planned Walk to Box Village finally arrived on a very warm and sunny day when 9 of the Group met in the Waterside Garden Centre carpark on the Avening Road. Three other friends joined us and we all set off on the gently uphill journey towards Box. We headed up through the woods to Pensile Road and after a little incline, on to a viewpoint from which could be seen the trees and hills surrounding Nailsworth. We then continued up the hill towards the lovely winding Scarr Hill, arriving on the picturesque Box Village Green. After a short pause to regain our breath, we wandered through the village, noting their unusual library facilities  …. a disused old red telephone box, where people borrow and lend each other an assortment of reading matter!


The Box phone-booth library

We continued along Box Lane with its typical Cotswold stone houses and wonderful views and finally down through the fields to Balls Green. By this time, tummies were beginning to rumble and we hastened back down Pensile Road to The Olive Tree spot on 1pm where Paddy – the proprietor – was waiting to welcome us. Upstairs, a long table was laid to accommodate us all together enabling a very sociable meal. The exciting menu was extensive, with 6 starters, 6 main courses and 3 desserts – vegan beer was also on offer.”
Chocolate brownie sundae

Chocolate Brownie Sundae

Thanks to very much to Mike who made a great success of organising this walk & lunch, for Gina for the write up & photos, and also to Anotonio for some fab photos.
Check out The Olive Tree:
28 George Street, Nailsworth Gloucestershire GL6 0AG
Tel: 01453 834802

Return of the Stroud Brewery

29 Jun


On a sunny Saturday in June Gloucestershire Vegan Group were lured back to the Brewery Bar at Stroud Brewery for round-two of their delicious vegan beer and pizza. We arrived early to beat the pizza-rush, armed with our own fave cheese substitute for Velo Bakery to sprinkle liberally over our selection of pizzas before cooking in their on-site wood-fired pizza oven. All of Stroud Brewery bottled beer is vegan (and organic), which provided a great range of choice for us to try. Since our last visit Stroud Brewery have added the Organic Lager and the Stroud Organic Ale to their range, both of which were great to drink on a warm evening on their wooden decked beer garden.

We’re also excited to learn about the special beer they’ve been brewing up in collaboration with Asparagasm – vegan and wheat free pale ale – we can’t wait to try it!

A big hit on the evening was Sheila’s home-made cheese – here’s the recipe:


Sheila’s vegan cheese


2 handfuls of cashew nuts
1 handful of yeast flakes
Olive oil to mix
1 generous teaspoon yeast extract
1 mean teaspoon of turmeric
2-3 teaspoons tomato puree



Grind the cashew nuts in a blender
Add yeast flakes, add olive oil to give desired consistency.
Add Marmite, turmeric and tomato purree.
Adjust ingredients to taste.

Best used raw, shame to cook

Very simple cheap Vegan cheese
Soya flour, oil & yeast extract
Mix ingredients to taste

Can be made runny and spreadable
Or use a solid vegan margarine to make a sliceable cheese.
Fine for cooking.


Making your own vegan cheese is fun, not to mention cost-effective compared to buying shop-bought cheese substitutes. There are loads of different methods, and non-dariy cheese can be made from a variety of ingredients. If you’re interested in making your own, you can try recipes from the excellent ‘Artisan Vegan Cheese‘ by the inspiring vegan chef Miyoko Schinner.

Tour de Tetbury

20 May

Vegan cyclists take on the Royal Oak

Go vegan cyclists!

Go vegan cyclists!

Last year it became apparent that we had quite a few keen cyclists in our group who were longing for a cycle-adventure, so when this year’s events were being planned, a bike-ride was one of the first in the list. By wonderful coincidence, at about the same time I had an email from Kate Lewis, who had recently become proprietor of the Royal Oak in Tetbury, she was enthusiatic about having our group to visit, as she’s vegan herself, and runs vibrant pop-up vegan fine dining events  …and so the vegan Tour de Tetbury was born.

We couldn’t have picked a better day, cloudless and stunningly sunny. A group of nine of us set off from Stroud at 10.30am and wound our way up the intimidatingly steep Butterrow Hill. We stopped for a bit at the top to take in the incredible view of the Stroud Valleys from Rodborough Common, and to catch a breath. With the biggest hill soundly behind us, we crossed the common – past shade-bathing herds of cows – and on through the quiet streets of Minchinhampton. At Gatcombe Park we took a left and meandered our way down through the woods to Cherington Lake, which was thick with lilypads, just allowing small glimpses of water to catch the sun. From Cherington it was one glorious flat road to the Royal Oak – part of cycle-friendly Sustrans Route 45. The hedgerows were alive and billowing with vivid green spring growth and clouds of cow-parsley. The road was quiet and the sky seemed so big and blue, we cycled side-by-side chatting.

Checking out the view at Cherington Lake

Checking out the view at Cherington Lake

As soon as we arrived at the Royal Oak I knew it was the place to be! The pub has been lovingly restored, and just looked great.We left our bikes in the beautiful wooden bike shed, and one of our group came out the pub door grinning from ear to ear and clutching a pint vegan (unfined) Moor Ale. We met up with eight more of our group who joined us for lunch.

Soaking up the sun - and atmosphere in the Royal Oak beer garden

Soaking up the sun – and atmosphere in the Royal Oak beer garden

Kate and her team were so welcoming and friendly. They’d prepared a special 3-course vegan menu for us (although there are always several vegan dining options on normally – including a vegan burger). This consisted of fresh zingy warm salad of asparagus, sun-blushed tomatoes and ratte potatoes, with smoky seeds for starters, as well as a wild mushroom soup option. For mains, there was Herb nut roast, with rosemary gravy, roasted potatoes, parsnips and vegetables. The puddings were the show-stoppers – a Lazy Booja Berry Glory , as well as options for Booja Booja Ice cream and fruit, and Dolcetti Sorbets.

Vegan Roast Dinner - Royal Oak Style: Oak Leaf Sharing Platter, Asparagus and Sun-blushed Tomato Salad, Herby Nut Roast, Lazy Booja Berry Glory.

Vegan Roast Dinner – Royal Oak Style: Oak Leaf Sharing Platter, Asparagus and Sun-blushed Tomato Salad, Herby Nut Roast, Lazy Booja Berry Glory.

It was the first time I’ve eaten a vegan roast dinner out locally, as most veggie roasts aren’t vegan friendly, and it felt special to be so accomodated. The starter salad was really fresh and full of texture from the smoked seeds, and sun-blushed tomatoes. It had a good tangy dressing which worked well with the potatoes. The roast was really flavourful, moist with a good quantity of crunchy nuts and fresh herbs. The roast potatoes were beautifully crispy, and the parsnips sweet and well-roasted, the side veg was cooked well, and everything was smothered in a good dose of rosemary gravy. The Booja Berry Glory was incredible. Anyone who has tried Booja Booja ice-cream will let you know how amazing it is. But imagine this luscious chocolate cashew-based ice-cream combined with strawberries, cherries and chunks of chocolate tiffin.

Kate brings us some vegan wines to try

Kate brings us some vegan wines to try

It was an incredibly relaxing setting, with views onto Tetbury Allotments and beyond onto hawthorn trees seemingly iced with blossom. Loads of the group enjoyed the Moor Ale, which has a really good hoppy flavour. We also sampled a few of the vegan wines stocked by the Royal Oak, of which there are several.  The Vinos de la Tierra de Castilla Dragora Blanco, was a big hit, it had a zingy citrusy flavour. Other vegan drinks they have are Orchard Pig Cider and Freedom Organic lager as well as a good range of soft drinks.

As a parting gift Kate gave us some gorgeous snacks to sample from her friend who runs Moral Fibre – a nutritious vegan snack company. I look forward to seeing what the rest of the group made of them. I sampled the Choco-banananut Bites which were really stuffed with bananaryness, and had a good chewy more-ish texture.




Snacks by Moral Fibre

We rode back to Stroud, full and happy after such a special afternoon. The Royal Oak, Tetbury is too good to miss, and wonderfully welcoming to all – but especially vegans. Looking forward to visiting again!


Viva’s Incredible Vegan Roadshow

28 Apr
Viva's Incredible Vegan Roadshow was buzzing

Viva’s Incredible Vegan Roadshow was buzzing

Us Gloucestershire folk were fortunate enough to have Viva’s Incredible Vegan Roadshow spring-up in Gloucester Guildhall last Saturday 26th April 2014. This all-vegan event had a fayre-like atmosphere, with a huge array of stalls, informative talks and cookery demonstrations.

The event was buzzing. With doors opening at 10.30am, it was immediately busy and was constantly so until late in the afternoon.

It was a good platform for local campaigns. Many were there including Gloucestershire Against Badger Shooting who were raising funds to help them continue their work against the badger cull in Gloucestershire, and Dean Farm Trust; a charity founded in 2008 who provide sanctuary for and raise awareness about farmed and ill-treated animals.

Viva had some great information on vegan and animal-rights issues, as well as free food samples and a heaving merchandise stall selling all sorts of stuff, from cookbooks to lip-balm.

There were some fantastic food stalls. A beautiful stall from Simply V, a pop-up vegan catering company from Cardiff, caught my eye with their iced dougnuts. Also from Cardiff, was Vegetarian Food Studio with mountains of incredible indian snacks; stuffed chillies; bhajis and samosas. Another independent vegan food business Tall Poppy Foods had some decadant looking cupcakes and other tempting goodies. Stalls such as these, and many more, demonstrating the versatilty and deliciousness of a plant-based diet couldn’t fail to give a positive impression about vegan cuisine to anyone who visited.

Simply V's enticingly beautiful stall - check out the doughnuts!

Simply V’s enticingly beautiful stall – check out the doughnuts!

For Gloucestershire Vegan Group, having a stall at Viva’s Incredible Vegan Roadshow was a great opportunity to publicise our group and the vegan social events we put on in Gloucestershire.

We also always like to combine our stalls with a spot of fundraising. To make the most of this event, we filled our stall with a selection of yummy lovingly-baked goodies, created by Glos Vegan Group members, which we offered in exchange for a small donation to Evesham Farm Animal Sanctuary. Amazingly we managed to raise £234, what a result!

Baked goodies - raising funds for Evesham Farm Animal Sanctuary

Baked goodies – raising funds for Evesham Farm Animal Sanctuary

Events such as Viva’s Roadshows and the VegFest, seem to have multiple benefits, here are just a few that spring to my mind:

• Strengthening the vegan community by providing pop-up all-vegan inclusive spaces and a chance to meet like-minded people.

•Educating by providing information on animal rights, vegan nutrition & cookery, not only to vegans, but to anyone who happens to visit them.

•Promoting positive alternatives to animal cruelty through veganism.

• Raising the profile of Veganism in the local area.

We’d like to thank Viva for putting on this event.

[2014.04.24] 001.1a[] (GVG at Viva! Roadshow in Gloucester)


Viva’s Vegan Roadshow is coming to Gloucester

23 Apr

download Exciting news for Vegans, veggies and anyone curious about a cruelty-free way of living; Viva are hosting one of their Incredible Vegan Roadshow events at Gloucester Guildhall this Saturday 26th April 2014 (free entry!).

Come along for a chance to taste vegan foods, get one-to-one nutritional advice, pick up recipes and factsheets, have a cuppa and a vegan snack, find out more about local farm animal sanctuaries, and shop for vegan goodies (from chocolate to cosmetics).

Gloucestershire Vegan Group will have a stall at the roadshow, so do pop by and say hello. We’d love to meet you and have a chat. We can do our best to answer any of your local vegan-related queries, or tell you about the programme of events we put on – for vegans and those interested in veganism – in Gloucestershire. We will have a tempting array of lovingly home-baked vegan goodies on offer, in exchange for donations. The money raised from our stall will go to Evesham Farm Animal Sanctuary.

There are full details about the event on Viva’s website, including a map of how to get to Gloucester Guildhall.

We hope to see you there!


Cooking with Tempeh, Tofu & Seitan

25 Mar

Our most recent Gloucestershire Vegan Group event was a vegan cooking skill-share, on the topic of cooking with tofu, tempeh & seitan.

We prepared a dish for each of the featured ingredients, following favourite recipes and chatted about the best ways to prepare these foods.

The recipes we followed were from two cookbooks; Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero, and Viva Vegan by Terry Hope Romero. These are excellent cookbooks, Veganomicon has hundreds of tasty vegan recipes encompassing worldwide cuisines. Viva Vegan focuses on Mexican vegan recipes, and is great for those who love chilli and garlic in equal measure.


Tasty Tofu

Tofu comes in many forms, to name a few: silken tofu (used mainly in desserts or Japanese dishes), firm tofu (used in stir-frys, baked or scrambled) and yuba tofu (the rich skin of soya milk, bought as dried sheets and used in stews or Japanese dishes). A our skill share we were cooking with a plain firm tofu, which you can buy in blocks in health food shops and supermarkets. My favourite shop-bought kind made by Taifun, which is extra firm and chewy. But other makes such as Dragonfly and Cauldren work well in this recipe. Firm tofu cooks best after being sliced and patted dry with a sheet of kitchen towel or clean tea-towel. This absorbs some of the moisture and allows the outside to crisp up well.

The tofu recipe we followed was Chimichurri Baked Tofu from the excellent Latin-inspired cookbook Viva Vegan by Terry Hope Romero, this oven-baked tofu is coated in a rich, smoky, herby sauce and is intensely flavourful, with a wonderful chewy texture.

Chimichurri Baked tofu

Chimichurri Baked tofu

Serves 4, two slices each of tofu
Time: About 55 minutes

* 1 pound extra-firm tofu
* 2 Tb olive oil
* 1 Tb soy sauce
* Chimichurri Sauce with Smoked Paprika (See Below)

1. Preheat the oven to 400 F. Slice the tofu into eight 1/2 inch thick slices and dab the slices dry with a paper towel or clean kitchen towel. In a shallow glass 9×12 inch baking dish, combine the olive oil and soy sauce. Lay a tofu slice in the baking dish, pressing it into the sauce mixture. Repeat with the remaining slices and bake for 30 minutes, flipping once, until the slices are beginning to brown on the edges. Remove from the oven but don’t turn the oven off.

2. With a rubber spatula or large spoon, spread about a third of the chimichurri sauce evenly and completely over the tops of the tofu. Flip the slices and spread another third or slightly more on top of the tofu. If desired, use a fork to poke holes through the tofu, pressing a little bit of sauce into the center of the pieces. Bake for another 25 minutes, until the tofu is firm and the edges are golden brown. Bake longer if an even chewier texture is desired. Serve the tofu hot with remaining chimichurri sauce.

Chimichurri Sauce with Smoked Paprika
Makes about 1 1/2 cups sauce
Time : Less than 10 minutes

* 4 cloves garlic, chopped
* 2 large shallots, chopped
* 1 large bunch flat leaf ( Italian ) parsley, thick stems removed
* 1/3 cup olive oil
* 3 Tb red wine vinegar
* 1 tsp smoked sweet paprika
* 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
* 1 tsp dried basil
* 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or more to taste
* 1/2 tsp sea salt

1. Place the garlic, shallots and parsley into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Stream in the olive oil, red wine vinegar, paprika, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes, and sea salt, and pulse until creamy. Taste the sauce and adjust with more salt or red wine vinegar, if desired. Store in a tightly covered container and keep chilled until ready to use.



Tempting Tempeh

Tempeh is traditionally from Indonesia. It is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds cooked soya beans into patty, much like a veggie burger. Tempeh is looks ugly but taste great if prepared well. It often has black patches from naturally occuring harmless moulds that are part of the culturing process. You can buy it frozen or refrigerated in health food shops, such as Sunshine Foods in Stroud or The Natural Grocery Store in Cheltenham. It’s also sold in jars. The brand most commonly available in the UK seems to be Impulse Foods Tempeh.

Most recipes advise steaming tempeh or boiling for ten minutes in salted water, to help release the bitterness. This process seems to be the key to cooking with Tempeh and keeping it tasty. Tempeh has a fantastic succulent texture, and readily absorbs marinades and sauces, which make it great to cook with.

The tempeh recipe we used was Hot-Sauce Glazed Tempeh from that vegan-bible of a cookbook Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.

Hot-sauce glazed tempeh

Hot-sauce glazed tempeh


8 ounce package of tempeh
1/2 cup wine (whatever kind you’ve got on hand, just nothing sweet)
1/4 cup hot sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (juice from 1 lemon)
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Bring a pot of water to boil.
Whisk all marinade ingredients together in a bowl large enough to fit the tempeh slices.
Cut the tempeh to form 8 triangles. When the water is boiling, add the tempeh, lower the heat and steam for 10 minutes.
Use tongs to remove the tempeh and then immediately place them in the marinade bowl for 1 hour, flipping them every now again to cover with the marinade.
Preheat a greased grill pan over medium high heat. Brush lightly with olive oil
Grill each side for 5 minutes. When the second side is almost done, spoon some of the marinade over the tempeh and let cook for 30 more seconds.

Splendid Seitan

A ball of steamed seitan waiting to be marinaded.

A ball of steamed seitan waiting to be marinaded.

Seitan or wheat-meat is the insoluble protien in wheat, used historically in the cuisines of China, Japan and other East and Southeast Asian countries. The Natural Grocery Store in Cheltenham sells ready-made seitan. You can buy Gluten Powder online here amongst other places. It’s easy to make and flavour with whatever spices and herbs take your fancy. You can shape it into sausages, or make balls for slicing into sandwiches.

Seitan has a satisfying chewy texture, and works well in pasties, sandwiches, stews, stir-frys and mexican cooking.

We followed the Steamed White Seitan Recipe from Terry Hope Romero’s ‘Viva Vegan’ Cookbook, then marinaded and roasted it.


Steamed white seitan

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth (or chicken flavoured broth)
4 garlic cloves (grated)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups vital wheat gluten
1/4 cup chickpea flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt (to taste)

1. In a jug whisk together broth, garlic, olive oil. In a large bowl combine wheat gluten, chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, thyme, paprika, cumin, and salt. Form a well in centre of dry ingredients and stir well with rubber spatula until dough leaves side of the bowl.
2. Knead for 2-3 mins to develop gluten.
3. Leave dough to rest for 10 min, knead again for 30 seconds.
4. Place dough on cutting board and cut into 4 equal pieces.
5. Tear off 4 X12 inch pieces of foil and place piece of dough in centre of foil, fold the short sides of the foil over the loaf, the fold over the ends the foil should be secure but loose allowing for it to expand. Place in steamer basket and steam for 30 minutes Allow the dough to cool to the touch before chilling in fridge or overnight.
6. Store seitan in the fridge tightly sealed in a plastic bag for up to 2 weeks or freeze, defrost before use.

For the marinade:
1 cup light-colored beer, preferably Mexican
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 chipotle peppers in adobo, seeded and finely chopped
2 teaspoons chipotle adobo sauce
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

2.    In a large bowl, whisk together beer, garlic, chipotles, adobo sauce, oregano, cumin, lime juice, olive oil, and salt. Add seitan strips, and marinate for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3.   Roast in the oven until golden and crispy on the edges, adding the marinade when the seitan is browned and roasting for a further 10 mins.


Happy cooking!

Fun, festivities & falafel

4 Feb
Buffet of vegan dreams

The best vegan buffet

Gloucestershire vegan group celebrated the festive break with a beautiful buffet. Various dishes were created by some fantastic home cooks in our group, who drew inspiriation in food from all around the world. We had towers of sushi, stew-pots of sambar, steamed chinese dumplings, gourmet raw cuisine, satay dips, spiralling jalebis, peach tarts and decadent peppermint cheesecakes.

We had some fun with festive decorations too – specially made vegan crackers, with vegan chocolate coins, lollypops and vegan jokes. My favourite was: Q- How many vegans does it take to change a lightbulb? A- Two, one to change it, the other to check for animal ingredients.

A mouth-watering array of food, and great company made for a fabulous social afternoon on a grey wintery day. We all contributed a small amount of money for our meal, and managed to raise £182 which we chose to donate to Evesham Farm Animal Sanctuary, a charity which gives forever homes to over 550 rescued farm animals.

New year brought a whole new array of Gloucestershire Vegan Group meet-ups/events scheduled for the year ahead – you can have a look at our 2014 program here.

The first of these was a trip to Portivo Lounge in Gloucester, which we’ve been intending to visit ever since word got around that they had a separate vegan menu. Located in an historic warehouse in Gloucester Docks, Portivo Lounge has a unique, quirky interior, with lots of interesting pictures and retro/recycled furnishings, including beautiful clusters of lampshades blooming from the ceiling. Having a separate vegan menu makes life so much easier, no tiresome asking of whether this or that is suitable, and lots of choice on the mains. Between us we tried several of the tapas dishes, and the falafel burger was popular. There was only one vegan dessert, but this was sublime – a ginger chocolate torte, the base loaded with chunks of ginger, the top a dark, rich chocolate ganache. The food was tasty, (although I found the falafel burger in need of a very large squirt of hot-sauce) and fairly reasonably priced, and the atmosphere was relaxing. We ate early, as you’re unable to book tables in advance in Portivo Lounge, and by 8.00pm it was bustling with folks looking for a table. So we headed off to a vegan-friendly pub; Robert Raikes House – a Samuel Smith’s Pub where almost all of the draught beers are vegan. By contrast to Portivo Lounge, Robert Raike’s was quiet. We took over one of the cosy side rooms with a large fireplace to keep the room warm, and enjoyed some vegan stout.

As part of our 2014 schedule we are trying to have a regular meet-up at the same place and time every month. After some persuasion from the falafel-addicts in our group, we’ve decided our venue would be the Funky Falafel shop on London Road in Stroud, on the 1st Saturday of every month at 12.30pm. This recently-opened cafe has the most devine falafel wraps, complete with hummus, tahini sauce, harrisa, mango sauce, pickles and chillis. They are really superb, and jam-packed with flavour and texture from the crumbly falafels and crunchy salad. Best of all almost everything in Funky Falafel is vegan. It’s a great new venture to open up in Stroud, and we are pleased to support it. Please do join us if you’re vegan or interested in veganism, we’d love to meet you.