Photo credit: ohsolovelyblog.com
Whether it’s Stoptober, Movember or Man Crush Monday (definitely Bridgerton’s Duke of Hastings, am I right?), we all love a calendar themed challenge. My favourite however has to be Veganuary. I’m definitely biased, as a plant-based veteran, but this time of year can be so bleak with the grey weather and post-Christmas slump. Then businesses begin bringing out these innovative vegan products and all seems okay in my world again. Maybe I’m obsessed with food, maybe I’m just a sucker for good advertising, but whatever it is, it works for me. If you did attempt Veganuary this year, congratulations! I hope you enjoyed it and have maybe considered transitioning to a more plant-based lifestyle, or even incorporating these elements into your day to day. This is the great thing about these challenges. Doing something for a fixed amount of time, or even a regular weekly occurrence can form wonderful habits. One theory is that if you can commit to something for 21 days, you’ll form a habit. Then, by continuing to do that thing for 90 more days, this habit solidifies into just another part of your life. Isn’t that crazy?
So, Free From Feb. What I’m proposing is that in the last half of this fine month of February, in some way, vegetarian or plant-based living is incorporated into your routine. Now this could be a Meat Free Monday, where your meals don’t have any meats or fish involved. What about Treat Yourself Tuesday, where you use vegan products to have a pamper? Soy-based Saturday? You get the idea. Taking one day out of the week is an excellent way to ease yourself into the wonderful way of life that is animal-product free.
If you’re feeling a bit more daring, why not take one element of plant-based living and bring it into the every day. That could be using only oat or soy milk in your coffee for the month, or not eating meat at your evening meals. Maybe you don’t eat eggs for the month or perhaps when your sweet tooth needs satisfaction, you try out a range of vegan sweets and chocolates. It’s the shortest month too, so it’s the perfect time to try something new.
To help with this proposition of a Free From Feb, I’ve compiled a list of some wonderful (and mostly very local) businesses and products that will help you on your way to a delicious month!
I found out about this company this Christmas when I was gifted some cuticle oil, lipstick and lip scrub in their gorgeous pink pots. Not only do they smell beautiful, but they work so well. Next on my order list is their Pink Clay Mask that has such rave reviews on their Instagram. It’s a literal one stop shop for cruelty free and vegan pamper sessions, with everything from fake tan and lashes to skin care oils and reusable make-up remover pads. They are based in South Wales but are massively popular all around the UK.
Treat yourself today: https://www.b-cosmeticsonline.co.uk
The Pie Box
Need something warm and delicious after a long day? Look no further than the deliveries of The Pie Box, serving you pie, mash and gravy. All of their pies are plant-based with the guarantee that you won’t miss dairy or meat one bit. On the menu you’ll see familiar favourites like Steak n Ale, alongside purely vegetable based delights like Maple Mustard Roasted Veg. Everything is 100% vegan, available to order online and to be collected from their kitchen in Riverside.
Order now: https://www.thepiebox.co.uk/online-ordering
New York Deli
Don’t be fooled by the name; we’re still talking Welsh businesses here! The Deli is in the High Street Arcade, Cardiff, and serves meat based, vegetarian, pescatarian and vegan options, so whatever your needs, they’ll be satisfied. Over Christmas, I ordered one of their incredible festive bagels, that featured everything from vegan turkey and facon, cranberry, stuffing, red cabbage slaw, plus more. It was sublime! They have options available for breakfast and lunch, including bagels, hoagies and meal deals. Although they’re closed for lockdown right now, they’re definitely one to keep an eye on when things open back up again.
Choose your order for when they re-open here: https://www.newyorkdelicardiff.co.uk
Vegetarian Food Studio
I first encountered this restaurant at family wedding in the woods where they catered. It was an incredible day, made all the better by mind blowing food and flavours. You can imagine my joy then when I found that they are not only based in Penarth Road, but also are available for takeaway and delivery. If you’re ordering, you have to try the Atom Bombs: ‘Baby potatoes filled with a fiery garlic chutney, served with tamarind chutney’. Believe me, you won’t regret it! Equally, their South Indian Dosa are delightful. Everything is clearly marked with allergens and also what is suitable for vegans as well as vegetarians.
Get your order in on their website here: https://www.vegetarianfoodstudio.co.uk
The Naked Vegan
If you’re in the mood for something sweet after those savoury options, the Naked Vegan in Cardiff Market is a must. They have the most gorgeous options, with dupes of omnivore favourites like iced slices, as well as their own creations, like the Double Doozie Chocolate Chip Cookie, a sandwiched cookie filled with a buttercream. They’re really very popular, so could be called the worst kept secret vegan sweet spot, because they sell out fast! I had one of their Biscoff doughnuts in the summer and was blown away by how delicious it was. They have so many products, so I’ll work my way through them and let you know how I get on!
Find them in Cardiff Market or at their website: https://thenakedvegan.co.uk
Cornwall’s Chocolate Cove
This one isn’t a Welsh business, but I am sure we can extend the hand of friendship to our brothers and sisters in Cornwall. This business produces the most gorgeous raw vegan chocolates and fudge made with ingredients including coconut sugar, peanuts, hazelnuts and sea salt. My favourite item has to be the Peanut Butter and Salted Caramel fudge, which comes wrapped in foil and a lovely box. I did do a bit of a ‘treat yourself’ and order a few different items, but the package arrived in the most beautiful leopard print tissue paper with so free samples, so it’s completely worth it. If that wasn’t enough, Joanna Lumley is a big fan!
Find their website here: https://cornwallschocolatecove.com
The Welsh Food Box Company
I’ve drawn your attention to a few takeaways and treats, but if you’re looking for supplies to cook your own food, fresh fruit and vegetables are delivered to Newport, Cardiff and the Vale (full postcode availability on their webpage). You can order specific vegetables to be added to a delivery (along with bakery and store cupboard options) or take a spin with one of their organic food boxes, which come in several sizes, to provide you with a mystery selection of organic fruits and vegetables. I’ve ordered from here a few times now and the quality and selection are wonderful.
Visit them here: https://www.welshfoodboxcompany.com
If you need some extras to go with your fresh produce, Simply V stocks a wonderful selection of plant-based goodies. Although a small site in Castle Arcade, you’ll find cheese alternatives, meat substitutes, sweets and chocolates, homeware, cleaning products, shampoo/conditioner sets and more! There’s always a friendly face to answer any questions too.
Visit their website for more information here: https://www.simply-v.co.uk
This isn’t a physical space, but rather a destination to take your newfound passion for plant-based foods to. Written by Wales’ own Matt Pritchard, Dirty Vegan puts forth delicious recipes that could make any carnivore smile. One of my favourite ones is the recipe for pizza dough. It’s game changing, especially when topped liberally with pineapple (very controversial, I know). If you like Pritch’s recipes, you can head into Cardiff centre, to the Grazing Shed and try his Dirty Vegan burger. Not surprisingly, I have made this pilgrimage, and I can tell you, it’s absolutely wonderful (and also available for delivery).
I hope these suggestions will help you on your way to trialling some new habits – whether you’re a No Meat Newbie or a Plant Based Pro – trying something new is always fun, especially when it can be so good for you, your local community and your planet!