Vegan Travels – Manchester Edition

I love Manchester. It is the place to BEE. Haha, get it? Like the Manchester bee? Just me laughing? Okay, moving on.

I recently travelled to Manchester overnight for a gig. I was meeting friends there but decided to be a strong independent woman and eat dinner alone.

Luckily for me, V Rev (completely unrelated to Revolution) was highly recommended by a colleague and it happened to be located five minutes away from my hotel at Piccadilly.

The service could have been better. It was completely full the entire time I was there so the staff were unable to give anyone a decent amount of attention. However, the food was amazing. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I am a sucker for a good burger and a dessert. They definitely exceeded expectations…

The food was so good that the lack of customer service was immediately forgotten, to the point that I tried to go back for breakfast. Unfortunately, I was awake at 10 and the restaurant doesn’t open until 11. I had to make do with a Boots meal deal, which was great but a salad will never live up to a burger.

For anyone visiting Manchester, please go and support this restaurant. Make sure that you book in advance as there were no free tables when I went (on a Monday night!)

Have you found any hidden gems in Manchester who serve excellent vegan food? Give them a shout-out in the comments!

The Confused Vegans

Reactions to a vegan

Well it is February and I am still a vegan – well done me! What started as a 30 day trial has now become a lifestyle change – no more animal products for me.

I haven’t really noticed a huge difference to be honest, other than not being able to buy a bottle of wine without checking it’s vegan, or being able to cook an egg sandwich. However, I have noticed the various reactions from people around me once they know I’m now a vegan.

Some people have taken part in Veganuary, so have delighted in sharing recipes, cook books, ideas etc. The experience of sharing something so worthwhile has been great, especially hearing about decent restaurants which cater for us.

A number of people around me have been defensive in their response , reacting to the news that I’m vegan by immediately telling me that they wouldn’t be able to give up meat and animal products – good, cos I’m not asking you to! Do some people act this way to cover their own guilty feelings at eating meat? I can honestly say that I don’t preach my beliefs to others, or try and ‘convert’ anyone else, so please relax!

Rather disturbingly, I have also overheard people belittle anyone who is vegan, talking about not eating animal products with disdain. I heard one person saying that it was ‘ridiculous’ to not eat specific foods, and that it could encourage eating disorders

Lucky Fox – a chicken restaurant I can get behind

The Lucky Fox is sold as an American diner but everyone in Sheffield knows that this restaurant is famous for its chicken. I can’t comment on the chicken personally as I was a vegetarian long before the restaurant opened in 2014. However, I have been absolutely stuffed by their glorious french toast during Sunday brunch.

Recently on social media, it became apparent that the owners had been locked out of their Eccy Road restaurant. I’m not going to pretend to know why but we can all agree that is a nightmare for any business owner. A couple of days later, The Lucky Fox announced two things:

  1. The owners had decided to open their Division Street restaurant for longer hours so that all of their staff could continue to work and be paid.
  2. They were doing a two day trial of a vegan/vegetarian menu

There is nothing I respect more than an employer who cares about their staff. On top of that, they were willing to feed me as an awkward vegan?! I was sold. I immediately booked with a few friends to see what delights awaited.

We all tried the vegan chicken and chips (the dish had a creative title but I can’t remember what it was!) We all tucked in and were not disappointed.

I have to admit, it wasn’t the most chicken-like vegan chicken I have ever had. However, it was delicious in its own right and the amazing customer service tipped the scales massively.

I’m not sure if/when the Lucky Fox will have another vegan/vegetarian dinner service. However, I would highly recommend to anyone seeking a chilled out dining experience in Sheffield to follow their social media and attend their next event. You will not regret it.

The Confused Vegans

Will I lose weight following a vegan diet?

One of the most common questions I am asked when people realise I am vegan, is ‘Will you lose weight on a vegan diet’?

I am always surprised at this question, as surely everyone knows that if you eat a diet full of processed food, sweets, chocolates and all the other temptations, you will put on weight. Although I haven’t been weighed since the start of January, so don’t know what I currently weigh, I don’t think I have lost anything. This is probably due to the baking we have done, like cookies and brownies.

I have also found that if we discover a ‘treat’ food that is vegan, like sweets, ice cream or pastry, it is almost as though I have to eat it there and then, almost as though it’s something new. I have just been shopping, and bought some vegan ice cream and chocolate cone desserts from Asda (reasonably priced too), and I almost went and got one out of the freezer just because they are there – I’m certainly not hungry and don’t even fancy any ice cream! Well, at least now I know why I put on weight!

The majority of our meals are cooked from scratch, using fresh ingredients, so this will definitely contribute to losing weight. However, if I want to lose anything, I have to stop myself with all the treats, including baking goodies. It is always possible to have a poor diet, full of junk food, whatever type of diet you follow, including a vegan diet.

When the vegan food tastes like real meat!

I’ve just been to lunch with friends who, meat eaters, veggies and vegans alike, were all willing to try a vegan restaurant at Kelham Island.

The building was called Churches – Temple of Fun. As blasphemous as the building felt (there’s something about serving alcohol in a church that feels truly sinful), I would be in heaven if Make No Bones made all of my meals from now on. We all had a burger and I chose the Tinsley Tower Burger.

OH MY GOD.

The best burger I have ever had. The ‘chicken’ not only tastes like chicken but looked like chicken on the inside. At this point I was relieved that the kitchen was 100% plant based as I would have been convinced that my meal had been mixed up with a real chicken burger.

Needless to say, we have all vowed to go back. Not only was there great food but the entire space was kitted out with games, a clothing range and a tattoo studio. Overall, just a really chill place with a couple of really cute doggo visitors.

I recommend to everyone in Sheffield!

The Confused Vegans

Are you a healthy vegan?

Recently, I’ve witnessed two main reactions to vegans.

  1. Ew! Why would you do that? Now you will only eat salads. Get back in your hutch you rabbit!
  2. BUT WHERE WILL YOU GET YOUR PROTEIN?!

I’ve mentioned the second one a few times but it reminds me of Helen Lovejoy on The Simpsons. “Think of the children. Won’t anyone THINK OF THE CHILDREN”. Anyway, moving on.

Obviously, it’s important for anyone, whether you eat meat or not, to be attempting to eat a balanced diet and hit all of our important food groups. However, is that all it takes to be healthy?

For years I’ve struggled with issues relating to stress, anxiety and depression and this is hardly uncommon within our society. Upon reflection, I realised that the vegan communities and discussions I’ve been involved in rarely mention mental health, if at all. Are we so busy trying to look after the planet that we’re forgetting to look after ourselves?

This post is entirely based on my experiences but I’ve taken some time to think about what being healthy means to me.

Don’t be scared

Contemplating the volume of changes you could potentially have to make to be a vegan (cruelty free, plant based, plastic free, recycled, recyclable, zero emissions) can be overwhelming. If you try to digest all information at once, it is likely that we will find you hiding in a corner eating Oreos and crying about the palm oil. However, it’s really not necessary. Changing the odd lifestyle choice here and there is all contributing towards your overall goal. Keep taking small steps, whether it be changing to cruelty free foundation or recycling a little more often. It is all progress that you can be proud of.

Accept mistakes

Old habits die hard. You may come home from work and dive for the custard creams before your tea. A visit to an old friend may lead to cow’s milk in your cup of tea and you are too British to say anything. Maybe you still have that vegetarian Quorn in your freezer that contains milk. It would be a shame to throw it out. Quite frankly, if it’s the Quorn Nuggets, it would be downright criminal to waste them. Learn to forgive yourself for blunders. Life is all about the learning curve (for a vegan I am getting super cheesy).

Take some time for yourself

This is important for everyone in life. Life gets busy and stressful. I definitely enjoy putting the ingredients list occasionally and picking up a book. As fun as it is scanning through the allergens in bold, the storyline isn’t great. Self-reflection may also be a helpful tool for new vegans. By thinking through the activities of the day, you can think of what you’ve enjoyed, what went well and, if anything, what would you have changed? I often do this with our meals. It really helps thinking about which lunches/dinners have worked the best and I would make again.

Exercise

The worst part of a healthy lifestyle. I’m no hypocrite. I’ve had a gym membership for months which I never go to. I’m basically subsidising cheaper memberships for others. Aren’t I kind! However, it doesn’t have to be so bad. For me, I own a demon in the form of a Springer Spaniel. Giving Ozzie regular walks is necessary for him and a great form of exercise for me.

It doesn’t have to be a gym. It can be classes, dance (even if you need a couple of vodkas first), sport, or park run if you fancy freezing your butt off on a Sunday morning. Any of these are a great way to reduce stress and you’ll feel much better once you’ve done it, I swear!

Treat yourself!

I get that B12 is important. However, the odd burger or pizza never hurt anyone. Search round your local community and find vegan-friendly restaurants and let someone else do the cooking for a change. This will also give you some inspiration for your meals at home. Meeting your friends and trying new plant-based meals is a great way to boost your mood.

These are just a few ways in which I believe it is important to stay healthy. Would you add anything? Let me know in the comments.

The Confused Vegans

Vegan Yorkshire puddings

Today was a very big day for me – my first attempt at vegan Yorkshire puds! I have always been fairly good at Yorkshires, despite them not always being a uniform shape. However, this was something else entirely.

I used self raising flour, baking powder and almond milk. I made sure the fat was smoking and gave the batter a really good beating, only to find that my Yorkshires looked slightly deflated – a feeling I could identify with at that moment in time!

We still had them with dinner, and I’m happy to say they tasted rather good. I had made a stew of butternut squash, butter beans, red lentils, garlic, onions and stock – really tasty and plenty left for tomorrow.

I’m quite enjoying trying new foods, like lentils that I wouldn’t normally cook with. I will keep on experimenting with the Yorkshires, with Dan and Bex as my guinea pigs!

A Fair-ly Good Day in Rowley

Being a few weeks in to Veganuary, we are beginning to venture further into the world for inspiration. If we attempt to cook without guidance, we look back and realise we’ve had pasta four days in a row. We’re not Italian, that’s not acceptable.

Luckily for us, the Vegan Fair popped up on my Facebook as a suggested event. We decided to trawl through the snow and check it out and we were so glad we did! It was a fairly small event but included amazing stalls with cakes, clothing, skincare products and more.

In terms of the savoury food, we were slightly disappointed. When going out to a restaurant, it’s always amazing to find meals that are a new treat. We definitely believed that everything being offered on the stalls would be doable at home. However, this was reassuring in a way-at least we’re on the right track!

Naturally, I led the way to the desserts. That is all I was really there for. The photos below really speak for themselves. If anyone is in the Derby/Chesterfield area, please support these local businesses. They deserve it

Cupcakes by V Bakes. You can find Molly on Facebook and Instagram. These were amazing. Even my grandparents, who are genuinely terrified of vegan food, scoffed these. In the picture are double chocolate, chocolate mint and cookie dough. I wanted them all.

Amazing Oreo cheesecake by cococheesecakes, who can also be found on Instagram and Facebook. I just have one thing to say about this cheesecake. If I feel the same way about a human as I did about this cheesecake, I’ve met the one. Enough said.

To finish the day off nicely, we walked round the rest of the shopping centre with a nice vegan hot chocolate. Mine was made with almond milk and after an excruciatingly prolonged deliberation, mum chose oat milk. Here’s a picture of her pretending she wasn’t being grumpy because of the cold:

Overall, it was a great experience. It’s great to feel like we’re making the right things and it’s lovely to know I can still feed my greedy face with vegan desserts. Win win, really.

The Confused Vegans

The haters gonna hate and the fakers gonna fake: chicken edition

As a vegetarian, I loved the Quorn meat substitutes. It was a great stepping stone from eating meat as it meant that my meals didn’t really have to change. Also, Quorn chicken nuggets are just amazing. You can disagree but I will fight you every step of the way.

Other than the vegan Quorn fillets, I haven’t tried a lot of the dairy free meat substitutes. They seem to be a lot more expensive and by creating meals from scratch, we have reduced the need. However, I was excited to try the Mockin’ Bird at the Common Room. I was expecting a really meaty substitute that would be a perfect Friday night dinner.

I was really disappointed. The gravy was lovely (I had the South sauce) but the “chicken” was just a battered block. I couldn’t identify what the inside was and there was no description on the menu. The Mockin’ Bird was not the one for me.

I am looking forward to trying the “chicken” at the Lucky Fox. Hopefully it will have a better texture. Until then, I might pop to Tesco and finally try the vegan chicken nuggets!

The Confused Vegans

Pizza: the food to convert meat-eaters

Once again, I am making the most of the restaurants who have been inspired by Veganuary. I don’t know what I’m going to do in February but that’s an issue for future Becky.

The latest vegan outing was pizza hut. I decided to try their jackfruit pizza special. Let me tell you, vegan pizza no longer tastes like cardboard my friends.

Due to being a vegetarian since I was 14, I’ve never tried pulled pork so I can’t say that it definitely replicates meat. However, the texture was so convincing that when the waitress approached nervously and said “I’m sorry but we got your pizza wrong”, my heart dropped.

As it turns out, they had simply forgotten to add sweetcorn as a topping. Nevertheless, they offered me a free pizza (massive shoutout to Pizza Hut for being on point with their customer service).

I had several meetings after lunch so I didn’t fancy the food coma that would follow eating two pizzas and therefore took the free pizza back to the office. I left it as an open invitation for all meat-eaters to come and try. I’m very fortunate in that prior to setting off for lunch, no one had mocked my vegan pizza choice. They actually seemed nervous for me. What if I never had a good pizza ever again?

When I returned to the office 3 out of 4 meat-eaters had loved the pizza. One even confirmed that it did taste like pork. So there you go. Having some trouble with colleagues? Feed them pizza.

The Confused Vegans