Back in September, I decided that, after twelve years of living a vegetarian lifestyle, that it was time to become vegan. I could no longer deny the cruelty that exists within the egg and dairy industry, nor the damage that the animal industry does to the environment. Plus, my diet needed a kick up the backside! I could not imagine how becoming vegan would make me feel or how easy it would be. Since making the change, we cook from scratch pretty much every night. As vegan chocolate isn’t available everywhere, I’ve had to stock up and ration my treats (hello incidental weight loss!) and my love for vegetables has increased like I never thought possible. While it has been quite a learning experience (learning to scan labels like my life depends on it!), discovering that supermarkets feel the need to put milk in nearly everything (WHY?!) and the different e numbers that hide animal products, it has been an incredibly valuable experience. I have never felt better!
But feeling better is only part of it. Animal cruelty and the environment are the driving force behind my veganism. You can read about them here if you’d like. If you’re interested in trying our veganism, why not take the Veganuary pledge? Being vegan isn’t always easy and it can be frustrating, but it’s certainly going to be one of the best things you do. If you try it for a month and think it’s not for you, then there you go, but it might just make you think about the different things you consume, maybe make you cut down on your animal products or think twice about your purchases. Who knows, you might even decide to stay vegan!
Still thinking about it? Take a look at this little clip from Cowspiracy. It stops me in my tracks every time I watch it. If you want to know more, you can find Cowspiracy on Netflix. It’s well worth a watch. It explains the environmental damage animal agriculture is doing to our planet. It’s probably the scariest film I’ve ever seen and made me realize I’d made the right choice in going vegan.
There’s nothing quite like a decent burger and chips, all washed down with a delicious glass of wine, amiright? That’s what Phil and I had at The Gardener’s Arms in Oxford a few weeks ago. We’d been to the Gardener’s Arms a few times before, but not since I became vegan. That is likely to change is it was freakin’ awesome!
All the food is vegetarian with a huge number of vegan options available, but to be honest, I’m always going to have the vegan burger with all the vegan toppings (everything except the mayo) and a nice large glass of wine. (All the wines are vegan! Almost did a little dance when they told me that!) The Gardener’s Arms is not a gastropub. It’s a pub that serves food. You might have to share your table, it can get cramped, it will get busy. But this doesn’t matter as the atmosphere is lovely and the food is delicious. Definitely worth a visit if you’re taking part in Veganuary, looking for a decent vegan meal or if you just like good food.
When I first became vegan, I honestly thought that I would be saying goodbye to some of my favourite foods. To me it was worth it, as there food should not be an excuse for cruelty. (Eggs, I’m looking at you!) However, I was very, very wrong. There’s pretty much a vegan alternative to every food I’d eaten before (which begs the question, why isn’t everyone vegan, but that’s another blog post for another time!) For example: pancakes. My favourite breakfast of all time. I can make a decent vegan pancake, using bananas as the egg replacement, but I wasn’t sure if there would be anywhere offering a vegan pancake. Thanks to Phil’s amazing Google searching, we discovered Anna Loka, a vegan cafe in the Cardiff suburb of Roath, run by quite possibly one of the nicest Welshmen I have ever met! With vegan toiletries in the loo and a discussion about protein while we were eating, it’s pretty much a vegan dream venue!
We found free parking, further up the road, but be aware, a lot of the streets nearby are permit holders only. It just takes a bit of looking around. The venue has a lovely feel, lovely handmade tables and a relaxed atmosphere. The menu is immense! Everything is vegan. Let me repeat that, everything is vegan. Being somewhere where you can eat everything is awesome! And the variety of food is amazing too. Having seen the menu online, I knew i was going for the pancakes, while Phil opted for the Middle Eastern brunch, which was delicious. I added fruit to my pancakes, as I often feel I should have something healthy with indulgent pancakes. Both the tea and coffee are ethically sourced and come with a choice of soya, almond or hemp milk. I’m still a soya girl when it comes to my tea, and ordered the breakfast tea. It arrived with a timer (I love when places do this. It shows they take their tea seriously!) and it wasn’t too long until breakfast arrived. The pancakes where hands down the BEST pancakes I have ever eaten, vegan or dairy based, and I have eaten A LOT of pancakes. They were well cooked, slightly crispy around the edges, soft in the middle, layered up with jam, and the fruit and yoghurt were a delicious addition, though probably not needed as I was stuffed when I’d eaten them all.
I wish I lived closer to Cardiff, simply so I could pop in to Anna Loka with greater regularity. I’d love to sample their other menus, as the brunch one was a huge hit with me. I know now where I’m going for brunch anytime I’m near Wales! If you are near Cardiff anytime this Christmas, head to Anna Loka – you will not be disappointed!
Boswell’s of Oxford is an institution. It’s always been there, for those little things that you just can’t get anywhere else or for those quality items that you need for your home. So when I was asked if I could attend the launch party for their new tea room, I jumped at the chance, especially as there was a promise of tea.
After over 275 years of serving the people of Oxford, Boswells are introducing a tea room for the first time in the history of the store. The 1738 Tea Room Café will officially be opened on Saturday 28th November with a visit from Santa himself. The cafe is set on the first floor of Boswell’s and looks set to be a calming port in the busy streets of Oxford.
There will be a delicious range of teas, cakes, pastries and sandwiches, ideal for satisfying any tea craving. Products in the tea room café will be supplied by local brands with Peros Coffee, Happy Cakes, Truly Scrumptious, Natural Bread Company, Oxford Cheese Company, Limes Farm, Viva Las Cakes, Stephanie Almeida Bespoke Cakes and Brightwell Vineyard.
During the launch, we were treated to cake decorating courtesy of Happy Cakes and tea tasting from Twinnings. I had no idea how different loose tea is from tea bags or that you can get tea that tastes exactly like Ferrero Rocher. The lovely ladies at Happy Cakes also said I was a bit of pro when it came to decorating my cupcake and Phil said it tasted delicious!
Thank you to Boswell’s for inviting me and for my fab goody bag!