Tag Archives: Gloucestershire Vegan Group

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.

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!

Staying vegan, staying healthy!

29 May
Because we eat more than just carrots!

Because we eat more than just carrots!

Looking after your nutritional needs on a vegan diet, will enable you to stay healthy, happy and vegan.

Gloucestershire Vegan Group thought it would be good to swot-up on a few nutritional facts, and learn some more about how to eat healthfully. We were lucky enough to have a local and vegan-friendly nutritional therapist come to speak to our group. She guided us carefully through the essentials of vegan nutrition, answering any questions about vitamins, minerals, eating habits and health generally.

Below are some key points from the Gloucestershire Vegan Group nutrition talk with a few bits added in from the Vegan Society’s webpage – where you can find plenty more details on nutrition if you wish to read up:

Growing your own is a great way to eat seasonally and locally

Growing your own is a great way to eat seasonally and locally

Vegan Nutrition Top Tips:

• Eat locally grown, seasonal, organic, freshly cooked food, where possible – it’s good for you and for the environment, organic food has a higher mineral content because the soil is nurtured and replenished. Organic farming methods are wildlife friendly, vegan organic farming methods even more so.
• Eat a variety of whole grains, pulses, nuts, seeds and vegetables everyday – try not to become overly dependent on one kind of foodstuff (e.g wheat or soya)
• Try to avoid too many foods that have been heavily processed
• Eat foods you like!

• Tune into your body – listen out for signs and symptoms



B12 is perhaps the most important vitamin for vegans to be aware of because it is not reliably supplied in a plant-based diet. Vitamin B12 is crucial to the functioning of our central nervous system, so clinical deficiency can damage this, as well as causing anaemia.

The only reliable source of B12 for vegans comes from foods fortified with B12 (Some plant milks, soy products, breakfast cereals, yeast flakes, yeast extract) and B12 supplements. Sublingual supplements such as this one: http://www.devanutrition.com/vitamin_b12.html work best (these diffuse into the blood through tissues under the tongue).

The vegan society recommends:
•    eat fortified foods two or three times a day to get at least three micrograms (μg or mcg) of B12 a day or
•    take one B12 supplement daily providing at least 10 micrograms or
•    take a weekly B12 supplement providing at least 2000 micrograms.

Symptoms of B12 deficiency include loss of energy, tingling, numbness, reduced sensitivity to pain, blurred vision, abnormal gait, sore tongue, poor memory, confusion, hallucinations and personality changes.

If in doubt you can ask your GP for a blood test to check B12 levels.



Iron is needed in the body for the formation of blood. Good vegan sources of iron include:
pulses, nuts, seeds green leafy vegetables. Iron absobtion is improved by combining iron-rich foods with vitamin C rich foods such as a fresh salad, cauliflower or orange juice.


Sunlight is the best source of Vitamin D

Sunlight is the best source of Vitamin D

Vitamin D

Is produced naturally by our bodies, by sunlight on our skin. To ensure adequate amounts, try to regularly expose at least your arms and face directly to the sun (without sunscreen on) between the hours of 11am-3pm – when the sun is hottest, being careful not to overdo your sunbathing and burn.

A dietary intake of vitamin D, from fortified foods or supplements may be necessary for some in the winter. If you chose to supplement Vitamin D, there are two types of vitamin D: D2 and D3. D3 is more potent – most forms of D3 are not suitable for vegans, as it is typically produced from sheep wool. There is however, one kind of commercially available D3 suitable for vegans called Vitashine.



Bone Health

Calcium is needed for bone health. Plant-based sources of calcium include: green leafy vegetables
(especially kale!) tahini, figs, kombu, fortified foods such as soya milk.

Calcium does not work alone in improving our bones, other nutrients such as Vitamin D, Vitamin K, protein and potassium also have a role to play.

Weight bearing exercise is also important to increase bone density –  weight bearing exercises are any where your feet and legs support your weight such as walking, running, skipping, dancing or aerobics.


Omega 3 (Alpha-Linolenic Acid)

Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA) is converted by the body into Eiocosapentaenoic acid (EPA) which is used by the body to regulate many processes including inflammation and blood-clotting .

Dietary sources of ALA include flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds and rapeseed, and also oils made from these seeds. Flax seeds need to be ground because otherwise their hard casing makes the nutrients less available.

Vegan Nutrition Websites:

The Vegan RD
Jack Norris RD

Vegan Society Nutrition Section

Organic food can be expensive! Here are some places to buy good value organic food locally:

Newark Farm stall at Stroud Farmer’s Markert, Cornhill Stroud – every Saturday – probably the best value organic vegetables you’ll find locally.

StroudCo Food Hub   a not for profit organisation, with no retail shop to keep costs lower. StroudCo Food Hub sells organic grains and pulses amongst other things and delivers to drop-off points locally. Order online from their website.

Wild Food

18 Mar

We’re so lucky in Gloucestershire to have many wildlife-rich and green areas close by. Spring is almost here, and bringing with it the first shoots of spring leaves. Wild Garlic and Nettles are two great ingredients which are easy to find growing in the woods and fields around this time of year, and can be made into yummy vegan dishes.

Wild Garlic

The distinctive green leaves and star shaped flowers of wild garlic

The distinctive green leaves and star shaped flowers of wild garlic

Also known as Ramsons –  Is a wild relative of chives with pungent bright green garlic-flavoured leaves. It grows vigorously in woodlands and other shaded areas and when walking in woods carpeted with Wild Garlic leaves in Spring, the garlicky aroma will fill the air. It has beautiful white star-shaped flowers which are also edible, as are the bulbs. Wild Garlic can be eaten raw, added to soups or stir-frys, and be made into pesto. Be aware that Wild garlic leaves can be easily mistaken for Lily of the Valley, which is poisonous, so always be careful and crush the leaves to check for the garlic smell.

Wild Garlic Pesto

hey pesto!

hey pesto!

3 large handfuls of Wild Garlic Leaves (washed and dried)

1/2 cup walnuts

1 shallot or small onion

juice of half a lemon

1 clove garlic

3 tbsp rapeseed or olive oil

1 tsp salt


Blend it all up until it’s a smooth-ish bright green paste. Taste and add a little more salt or lemon juice if required.

Serve with pasta or vegan gnocci, spread on bread with hummus or use as a dip. Keeps in a jar in the fridge for about a week. Good for keeping vampires at bay! 


Just wear gloves when picking these prickly plants

Just wear gloves when picking these prickly plants

Stinging nettles seem to grow everywhere. They have a long history of culinary and medicinal uses, including being used as a remedy for arthritis. Nettles are rich in vitamin A, C, iron, potassium, manganese, and calcium.

They are also very tasty, having a flavour somewhat similar to spinach, with a little perfumed floral hint to them.

Don’t be put of by their spikes, pick them using rubber gloves. Luckily for us they do not sting after they’ve been cooked or soaked in water.

Velvety Nettle Soup

( a Rose Elliot Recipe)

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 onion peeled and chopped

1 baking potato

4oz nettle tops

1L Vegetable Stock

Salt, pepper and nutmeg

Squeeze of lemon juice

vegan cream – optional


• Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and potatoes, stir, then cover and cook for 5 minutes.
• Add the nettles, cover and cook for a further 5 minutes, then add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for about 15 minutes until the vegetables are tender.
• Blend in a food processor or with a stick blender until completely smooth.
• Season with salt, pepper, grated nutmeg and a little squeeze of lemon juice to brighten the flavour – it needs strong seasoning.
• Delicious served either hot or chilled, with a swirl of vegan cream.

Gloucestershire vegans dine Caribbean

18 Mar


Gloucestershire Vegan Group descended en-mass on Marinades Caribbean Restaurant in Cheltenham for their latest get-together. It’s not often we dine out as a group, but it’s great to occasionally visit places that provide vegan options on the menu. We hope that our patronage encourages places to continue to offer vegan options, and perhaps even expand what is on offer for us. Marinades seemed like the perfect place our group to dine out, as they already offer several clearly marked vegan options on their menu, and when we enquired they were really helpful and happy to create a delicious sounding set menu for our group.

spicy jerk tofu and veg

spicy jerk tofu and veg

Marinades brought a little bit of Caribbean sunshine to a brisk spring day in Cheltenham. They treated to a wide-range of dishes including; plaintain-stuffed dumplings with a tangy dipping sauce, classic caribbean “rice & peas”, chana dal & callaloo, spicy “jerk” tofu with vegetables followed by a sweet potato pudding and vegan cream. The dishes were tasty with plenty of hot spices. The jerk tofu was a real highlight, with delicious chewy cubes of spiced tofu nestled in stir-fried crunchy veg. It was clearly all freshly prepared, from our tables we could see the chefs making up our food in the kitchen. The staff were friendly, there was some gentle reggae music playing, and there was an extensive drinks menu, including a few funky-looking fruit juice cocktails.

Marinades is at 56 High St. Cheltenham if you fancy a visit.

Our Christmas Meal 2013

16 Dec
Gloucestershire Vegans sporting their cracker crowns!

Gloucestershire Vegans sporting their cracker crowns!

What a fantastic meal Gloucestershire Vegan Group enjoyed yesterday!

Lovingly prepared by our very own super-chef Ceri, she treated us to three-courses of delightful grub. We had some great starters – broad beans, tomato and basil salad, cashew ricotta and watercress salad, a lovely fresh tomato and roasted red pepper soup with basil and garlic. Followed by hearty mains; creamy asparagus flans, chestnut and cider cassoulet and peppery risotto cakes. Finished off with some seriously decadent desserts – a deep, rich chocolate torte, wobbly port jellies with beautiful gold-dusted orange star biscuits and raspberry syllabubs.

There was a challenging Christmas-themed quiz with the prize of vegan chocolate footballs going to our youngest attendee – 6 year old Lios.

Thanks to Ceri (and sous-chef Ken) who made this meal so special, and to all the Christmas elves who magically did the washing-up!

We raised £58.50 from the meal, which we’ve donated to Animal Aid – the UK’s longest running animal rights group. Check out their website for more information on their work, and their latest campaign to raise awareness about the misery of ‘free-range’ turkeys being produced for many Christmas tables.


Vegan About Cheltenham

17 Oct

A list of shops and places to eat/drink in the Cheltenham area of interest to vegans


Natural Grocery Store


150-156 Bath Rd, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL53 7NG


T: 01242 572 323

Open 8am to 10pm 7 Days a week (except bank holidays)

A well stocked grocery shop, with a large range of wholefoods, vegetables, some vegan alcohol, snacks and vegan products including plant milks,  braised tofu, the ‘Wheaty’ range of mock-meats, tempeh and seitan in jars. They also sell natural cleaning products and toiletries and vegetarian dog food


Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 23.14.26Poco Culina

Details: Vegan Food Delivery Service for central Cheltenham

T: 07500 312391 / E: pococulina@gmail.com

Poco Culina take their inspiration from the flavours and spices of the Middle East and Mediterranean. They are a mobile business and deliver lunch and evening meals in central Cheltenham. Or you can collect from them

Order by 9am on the morning of delivery (or collection). Poco Culina deliver to homes and workplaces by bike.

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 15.45.57Flamingos Vegan Bakery

Details: Stunning vegan cupcakes, biscuits & bars and big cakes all available to order for parties weddings and events. Collection from Flamingos in Cheltenham. 3 days notice required for small orders, 1 week for larger orders. Look out for Flamingos at local events and markets in Cheltenham too.

E: flamingosveganbakery@outlook.com

T: 07511507706

screen-shot-2017-02-19-at-16-54-49Kindness & Co

38 Clarence Street, Cheltenham GL50 3JS

Details: Kindness & Co have a fresh, vibrant, seasonal menu with vegan options. For those in a rush there is also healthy food to take away.


T: 01242 697 211


Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 09.44.16Not Just Juice

290 High Street, Cheltenham (Above Up & Running Gym)
T: 07709 169997

Details: 100% vegan cafe, with a good range of items suitable for gluten-free and diabetic diners. Serving salads, healthy snacks, soups, sandwiches, smoothies and juices. They also have a kids menu.

Apple Bar

Details: 42 Winchcombe Street, Cheltenham, GL52 2ND

8.30-6.00 Monday to Friday

9.00-6.00 Saturday and 10.30-5.00 Sunday

Apple Bar serve a range of fruit and vegetable juices, from a zingy carrot orange apple lemon and ginger to a green detox apple cucumber celery and spinach. Their vegan smoothie options combine whole fruits/vegetables and juices with ingredients such as natural peanut butter, oats, and soy milk. They can also mix in superfood powder boosters and soy protein powder.

Stable Pizza

Details: 40 Clarence Street, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL50 3NX

T: 01242 51416

e: cheltenham@stablepizza.com

Monday – Sunday Midday – 10pm

Stable have launched a vegan menu, with vegan pizzas


The Circus Bar Cheltenham


5, Queens Circus, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, GL50 1RX

T: 01242 578393

A Samuel Smiths bar/pub. Samuel Smith’s brewery produces a wide range of beers and all of these, with the exception of Old Brewery Bitter, are vegan. However, I don’t think any of the food served is vegan-friendly – just the beer!

Mirage Sandwich & Salad Bar


38 Clarence Street, Cheltenham, GL50 3NX

This sandwich bar has some good vegan options available. They make their own vegan burger, sausage and falafel mix on the premises. Unfortunately they don’t offer soya milk for tea/coffee yet.



56 High Street, Cheltenham, GL50 1EE

Open for Dinner 6.30-9.30pm Tuesday-Friday, 6.30-10.30 Friday-Saturday

Open for Lunch Friday-Sunday 12noon-2.30pm

T:  01242 578811


Gloucestershire’s only Carribbean restaurant is independant and family-run with vegan options available daily. Their website states that they are delighted to accommodate any dietary needs.

Menu items include: Home-made pan-fried vegan patter of white and yellow yam, squash, sweet potato, callaloo, peppers, onions and garlic. Served on a bed of wilted spinach and drizzled with a sweet mango syrup. Also Stir-fried Vegetables with Spicy Jerk Tofu and home-made sweet potato pudding.

The Curry Corner


133 Fair View Road, Cheltenham, GL52 2EX

T: 01242 528449

E: info@thecurrycorner.com

Curry corner have an inventive interesting menu and specialise in vegetarian food they also cook vegan dishes.

Pitta Place



82 High Street, Cheltenham, GL50 1EE

T: 01242 234016 or 07909 331 900

The pitta place serve pitta breads and wraps with a variety of fillings. Vegan options include falafel and salads fillings. They also sell vegan flapjacks. A pitta with fillings is £3.90.

Paparritos Mexican Cantina


214-216 High Street Cheltenham, Gloucestershire GL50 3HF

T: 01242 511942

E: info@paparritos.com

Mexican food in the centre of Cheltenham Town. The vegetarian Burrito is a tasty tofu dish, and can be made vegan, although it’s marked as “vegetarian” on the menu.

Vegan Organic Growing – a trip to a local allotment

27 Aug

Enjoying a well-earned picnic after our walk from Stroud

On a rare sunny summer morning, Gloucestershire Vegans ventured on a hilly and occasionally swampy off-road route from Stroud to visit Amanda Godber’s vegan-organic allotment and to share a picnic.

As vegans our diet is entirely plant-based, which for some more curious vegans, makes it difficult to ignore where the plants we eat are grown and what processes go into their production.

Unfortunately we find that almost all of the vegetables we eat, even those organically produced are grown using the by-products of animal farming. Conventionally farmers use animal manure, slurry and also left-overs from the slaughterhouse or other animal industries such as blood, fish and bone. Not only does this sound unappealing (fancy a lettuce grown in abattoir floor-scrapings anyone?  – no I thought not.), but the sale of animal by-products to growers supports animal farming industries – something which vegans try to avoid. Using animal by-products to grow vegetables also increases the risk that animal-borne diseases spread to humans through the food supply. Fortunately we do not need animal by-products to grow fantastic veg and keep soil healthy and fertile.

Amanda giving us the tour

Amanda Godber is just one such person who is proving this to be the case. She is a experienced professional gardener who runs the inspiring local growing co-operative Down-to-Earth. They help people to grow their own veg in their own gardens, giving them confidence in growing, sharing knowledge and practical help. Her allotment is in Thrupp, a short walk out from the centre of Stroud on the brow of a steep and wooded hillside, looking out over Rodborough Common. She maintains the soil fertility by using home-made compost, created from plant matter such as grass-clippings and vegetable peelings.

shed of a compost guru!

Amanda is a composting guru, and gave a talk at the recent Edible Open Gardens explaining how she has several compost bays made from old pallets, which she fills with plant material and turns several times a year. She keeps the compost covered, to prevent it becoming too wet, and waters it during long dry spells. She never composts persistent weeds such as dandelions or bindweed, preferring to leave them in a bucket of water to rot. She allows self-seeded potatoes and nasturtiums to grow in her compost bins, which splay out from between the slats producing foliage and vivid orange flowers.

It is no wonder that Amanda takes her composting so seriously, as she relies on it to provide the fertility for her allotment veg. She uses it as a mulch layer on top of the soil, preferring not to dig it in and disturb the natural soil structure. Other vegan-organic growers use green-manures or mulches made from composted wood-chip, or straw, but Amanda prefers to make compost as she has a ready supply of garden ‘waste’ from her job.

pretty and practical: edible calendula flowers growing amongst vegetables

Amanda’s allotment is alive and bustling with vegetables – despite it being one of the worst years for gardening  anyone can ever remember. On the tour of her plot she showed us her greenhouse which has huge bunches of Pinot Noir grapes and a plump and wrinkled variety of tomato. She also showed us her wonderful runner beans, huge parsnip plants, multi-coloured sweetcorn and long blue squashes. All of these vegetables were nestled amongst vast colourful clumps of calendula, nasturtiums and feverfew. She grows flowers edible and otherwise amongst her vegetables to attract pollinating insects. She also has a wildlife area complete with small pond, hedgehog and toad houses, and a magpie bath. All of this she hopes will make her allotment more wildlife-friendly and attract natural predators to garden pests, which enables her to avoid using nasty products such as slug pellets.
There are a few other vegan-organic growers in the UK, some just growing for themselves on small allotment plots such as Amanda, others feeding the masses with farm-scale plots, producing veg-boxes and selling at farmer’s markets or shops. To find out more about vegan-organic growing techniques, visit the Vegan-Organic Network’s website. Or visit a vegan-organic farm: Tolhurst Organics is one of the nearest, and it often has open days organised by the Vegan-Organic Network.

Devine ‘Cheese’ & Fine Wine

5 Aug

One of our ‘cheese’boards – clockwise from left: Sheese Cheese & Chives, Cheshire Sheese, Gouda Sheese, Blue Style Cheezly, Pepperjack Cheezly

On a stormy summer evening we gathered in a couple of vegan group members’ small but cosy living-room to sample a range of vegan cheeses and quaff vegan wines.

For those of you not au fait with the world of vegan cheeses, like most vegan ‘fake’ foods they come in an entertaining array of names resembling the items they are based on. There’s Cheezly, Sheese and Parmazano not to mention No-moo and Creamy-smooth. They are mostly made from a mixture of vegetable fats, potato starch, rice flour and natural flavourings such as yeast, nut butters and spices. Some barely resemble the cheese they are attempting to imitate, whilst others nicely fill the fatty-salty-savoury-creamy role a cheese alternative should.

You can buy many locally from shops such as Sunshine Health Food Shop in Stroud, Green Spirit in Market St, Nailsworth and the Natural Grocery Shop in Cheltenham.

We’d brought a selection of cheeses to try, with the idea that we would get to try each one and discover which we liked the taste of. Everyone brought something along to nibble with the cheeses and some vegan drinks. There was a great selection of home-made chutneys, pickles, freshly baked bread, crackers, scones, salads, and even a yummy chocolate cheesecake for pudding.

pickletastic! fabulous home-made chutneys and a selection of pickled vegetables

After comparing the many cheeses on offer, most of us decided the No-Moo cheeses, made by Swiss-based company Vegusto were some of the best. We were especially keen on the “mild aromatic” flavour, which some of us felt most resembled what we can remember cheese tasted like (some of us have been vegan too long to remember such things!)

A selection of Vegusto’s “No-Moo” cheeses, clockwise from top: Walnut, Mild Aromatic, Classic, Piquant

Some of us also like the Blue-style Cheezly made by vegan food company Redwood, as it had a delicious tangy flavour reminiscent of stilton.

As for drinks we had a range of vegan-friendly wines and other drinks. We also enjoyed local bottled beers, made by Stroud Brewery. (Only the botted beers are vegan, the draught beers available in local pubs contain fish swim-bladder clearing agents. Lets hope Stroud Brewery decide it’s worth the extra custom to also make their draught beer suitable for veggies and vegans soon!) As many of you will know finding vegan-friendly booze can be frustratingly difficult due to poor labelling of drinks and secretive brewing industry processes. A comprehensive list of vegan-friendly alcholic drinks is available on the website Barnivore.

Aside from the good taste, perhaps the best thing about both the drinks and the ‘cheeses’  we’ve recommend above is that they are free from the products of animal exploitation.

Recipes from the evening:

You don’t have to buy vegan cheese, it’s easy to make your own such as this Cashew Ricotta

Cashew Ricotta

(based on recipe from the excellent cook-book Veganoimcon by Isa Chandra & Terry Hope Romero)


Half a cup raw Cashew nuts

Juice of 1 and a half lemon

3 tbsp Olive Oil

A block of firm tofu

1 clove garlic

1 and a half tsp of salt

6 leaves fresh basil or 1 tbsp dried basil


Blend the cashews, lemon juice and olive oil until a grainy paste forms. Add the remaining ingredients and blend until creamy.
Chill until use. Great in baked dishes, with pasta, or used as a dip.

Caramelised Onion Bread


1 tsp dried yeast

2 cups warm water

1 tsp salt

4 cups strong white bread flour

For the topping:

2 onions sliced into fine rings, or 8 shallots

3 tbsp Olive oil


Put 1tsp yeast in a large bowl, and add 2 cups of warm water.

Whisk until the yeast has dissolved.

Add 1 tsp salt and whisk.

Add half of the flour and mix well, then add the following 2 cups of flour.

Cover with a tea-towel and leave in a warm spot for at least 2 hours, until risen and doubled in size.

Then caramelise the onions: Soften in olive oil with a lid on the pan until the onions turn transparent, then remove the lid and up the heat, stirring regularly until the onions are a golden brown.

Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C.

Drizzle a little olive oil in a 9inch by 12 inch pan.

Turn the dough out into the pan, and spread it evenly

Drizzle the remaining oil on top of the dough of the and poke lots of holes in the dough with your fingers, then spread the caramelised onions on top

Bake for 25 mins or until risen and golden

(This dough is also great for pizza bases)

Chocolate Cheesecake


8oz rich tea/digestive biscuits

4oz marg

I pack of silken tofu

8oz dark chocolate


Melt the marg and crush the biscuits. Mix them together and press down in a round cake tin to make the biscuit base, leave to cool.

Melt the chocolate. Whisk/blend the silken tofu and stir in the melted chocolate, leaving a little to put on the top. Smooth over the biscuit base, put rest of the melted chocolate on top and put in the fridge till you are ready to eat! Enjoy!

Olive Scones


225g self raising flour

1/4 tsp  baking powder

50g ‘Pure’ or other vegan marg

pinch of salt

1 tsp dried oregano

about 8 olives, chopped

enough plain soya yoghurt to make a soft dough


Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl

Add the marg and rub in until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs

Using a knife, stir in the olives and oregano

Gradually add the soya yoghurt, until you have a softish dough

Bring the dough together with your hands and knead lightly on the work surface.

Roll out on a floured surface to no less than 2cm deep.

Cut out your scones, re-rolling the mixture until you use it up

Bake on a baking tray in a preheated oven (200C/400F/Gas Mark6) for 12 – 15 mins until risen and sounding hollow when you tap one on the bottom!

Either serve straight away or cool on a wire cooling rack.

(If you want to make these in advance and freeze them, then you get a better result if you freeze before cooking, rather than after.)

Favourite Vegan Cookbooks

31 Jul

There are many vegan cookbooks available out there, on all types of cooking and a varied range of cuisines. Here are some recommendations for books with tasty recipes and lovely layout:

Veganomicon – The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook

by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero

Da Capo Press (2007)

This really is the ultimate vegan cookbook. Not only is it humourous – there are witty anecdotes and stories next to each recipe, it’s got a huge breadth of different recipes. It starts small with how to cook vegetables and pulses to perfection. This section could sound unnecessary if you’re not a learner chef, but it is actually really helpful in inspiring new methods to cook your favourite veg, or tasty ways to prepare foods you’ve previously dismissed as not yummy enough! After this initial “how to cook a…” section, Veganomicon then moves onto more complex recipes such as the incredible vegan moussaka topped with a cream cheese made from pine-nuts, yam-ram roll sushi, rosewater & pistachio cookies, and amazing layered sandwiches.

There is a blend of cuisines, and exciting new methods to try. This book really has changed the way I cook, and when I’m not following one of the many excellent recipes from here I often find that I thinking about combinations of ingredients and methods I’ve learnt through following these recipes.

I’ve found these recipes to be very reliable, almost all turning out to be completely delicious. Some of the recipes are quite long-winded, and others are really quick, but the time it takes to make is listed next to each recipe which is really helpful.

Its a US cookbook, so a few of the ingredients are hard to find here, but the recipes are measured in cups rather which I find infinitely easier and quicker than using scales to weigh quantities.

Another Dinner Is Possible – More than Just a Vegan Cookbook

by Isy & Mike

AK Press  (2009)

This cookbook is written by a couple of folks from Anarchist Teapot Mobile Kitchen who make amazing food at demos and protest camps in field kitchens with limited resources. It’s got a great selection of easy to make recipes. Not only that but there are sections on nutrition, vegan cooking for families, animal rights and food politics.

Some of my favourite recipes are: the Potato Provencale – a delicious tomato, potato and olive herby stew, perfect for winter months, the raita is amazing, and the potato stuffed chapattis are great with curry.

There’s a good selection of sweet stuff too, including a raisin scone recipe that would impress anyone’s grandma. There is also a section on Korean cooking, on how to make home-brew, and on home preserving. An eclectic mix of recipes, advice and information.

Hot Damn & Hell Yeah

by Ryan Splint

Microcosm Publishing

A fun southern-style inspired cookbook, featuring illustrations of skeletons in cowboy outfits enjoying vegan food!

The recipes in this small and affordable cookbook are easy to follow and simple to make. Great for spicy & southern vegan cuisine.

I particularly like the cornbread recipe, which goes nicely with a hot chilli.
Also there are some excellent recipes for burritos, gravy with biscuits, tacos and many other tex-mex inspired foods.

Vegan Pie in the Sky

by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero

Da Capo Lifelong ( 2011)

Another super cookbook by some of my favourite vegan cookbook authors. This is one in a series of cookbooks on vegan sweets, following on from the also excellent Vegan Cupcakes Take over the World and Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar. It has a wide-range of pies, cheesecakes, pastries and flans. I’ve yet to bake them all, but have made the maple and pecan pie, which is a gorgeous, sticky, chewy nutty pie, with featherlight pastry.
The citrusy little lemon pies went down well with guests, who said it was the best pudding they’d ever eaten! The blueberry cheesecake is also divine.

There is masses of information on how to make pastry and different imaginative pie crusts such as olive oil crusts.

Dakshin – Vegetarian Cuisine from South India

 This is the choice of Gloucestershire Vegan Group member, Nam – she writes: “A South Indian Cuisine book – this is not strictly a vegan cookbook as it is lacto-vegetarian, but you can easily substitute any dairy ingredients. South Indian food is less oily than North Indian. One drawback is that is can be hard to find some of the ingredients specialist cooking pots (like an idli steamer) which may have to be bought in Asian stores (such as Motala 95-99  Victoria Street, Gloucester, or the World Food Shop (opposite Sub Room) in Stroud. Idlis can be made in ordinary steamers. Just line the base with muslin cloth.”

Do you have a favourite vegan cookbook? Write a review and it can be added to this post.