“Make veganism radical again.” That’s what a friend of mine posted on Instagram. Followed by a photo of him sitting, smugly, in a hip vegan restaurant, eating a gourmet, plant-based hotdog with some hip vegan buddies. All good. What is making veganism radical again, however, is Ben & Jerry’s new range of non-dairy ice creams.
Netflix and chill – with a frozen tub of Ben & Jerry’s, of course – had become a thing of the past. An old indulgence I’d all but forgotten. A dream I’d just about relinquished. That was, until I spotted a tub of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie Non-Dairy Ice Cream in my local ASDA. Radical.
I know I say this a lot but I really could not believe my luck. To me, the non-dairy version of the classic Ben & Jerry’s flavour tastes even better than the real thing. There’s just something about it. The flavours are richer. The chocolate’s more decadent. And the ice cream’s even more luxurious. Somehow, it tastes more small batch. More-carefully put together. Like Ben and Jerry actually have something to prove again. It’s irresistible.
I’ve tried the vegan Peanut Butter & Cookies vanilla ice cream option as well. And it’s just as good as its non-dairy counterparts. But if you’re anything like me, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia is way more enjoyable with a tub of chocolate, fudge and brownie-based ice cream and a big spoon. Now I’m on the lookout for the latest addition to the vegan range, the gorgeous-sounding caramel number, Cookies On Cookie Dough. Remember vegan kids; don’t give up on your plant-based dreams.
The shelves of my local ASDA seem to be going through a lowkey vegan renaissance at the moment. And it’s pretty exciting. First there was Kings Veggie Jerky. Then Jealous Sweets. And now I’ve spotted NOMO vegan chocolate. Truth is, it’s getting easier and easier to be vegan every day.
Generally, vegan supermarket chocolate options include Cadbury’s Bournville and whatever’s in the Free From aisle. And if you’re looking for something creamy, forget about it. It’s dark. It’s soy-based. And it’s average. If you want something dreamy you need to go to Holland & Barrett and pick up a bar (or two) of Vego Whole Hazelnut. Well, vegan friends. No more.
NOMO, or No Missing Out, vegan chocolate is made by U.K. confectioner Kinnerton. And it’s the real thing. Creamy. High-quality. And soy-free. Except the dark chocolate option. But that’s not what we’re after, right? We want soft, velvety and luxurious. And that’s exactly what NOMO brings to the table. Or bus. Or park bench. Or pavement.
So far I’ve tried the Creamy Choc bar, which reminds me of a Beacon Inside Story Delectable Truffle – it’s that creamy. And I’ve had the Caramel and Sea Salt option, which is my favourite, and reminds me of a more artisanal-tasting, less-saccharine Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Caramel.
You hear (and see) the words “game changer” thrown around so often they’ve lost all meaning. But if you’re vegan, and you’ve got a sweet tooth, and you’re tired of the boring, bland, dark chocolate options in your local Free From aisle, look out for NOMO vegan chocolate. It’s a game changer.
One thing you definitely miss as a vegan is sweets! You’re constantly amazed how humans have squeezed animal products into almost everything, but you always kind of knew jelly babies were bad. Turns out gelatine is derived from collagen, which in turn is derived from “animal body parts.” So soft chewy sweets were out. Until now.
I have had them vegan. Once I picked up some Biona Jelly Dinos and Tutti Frutti Gums from vegan paradise, Whole Foods, Piccadilly Circus. But the texture wasn’t right. Without gelatine they didn’t chew right. The flavours were limp as well. And for a while I assumed that’s how vegan gummy sweets had to be.
Then, in what’s quickly becoming the norm, Jealous Sweets just appeared one day on the shelves of my local ASDA. Into our vegan lives. Showing us that anything’s possible. You don’t need “melted pigs” to enjoy a chewy gummy bear.
The Grizzly Bears are straight-up the best gummy bears I’ve ever had. Usually, the bags swear each colour’s a different fruity flavour. But really, they all taste exactly the same. This time. Get this. The lemon tastes like lemon, the apple tastes like apple, the orange tastes like orange and the strawberry tastes like – you guessed it – strawberry.
What a novelty. Unbelievable. I was lining them up in rows of four and taking in each fruity sensation one at a time. The Tangy Worms are great too. Exactly like the sour worms I used to buy in bulk every time I went to the movies. Like the Grizzly Bears, the texture’s perfect. The chew’s familiar. And I’m definitely on the lookout for the rest of the Jealous Sweets range.
No one I ask has ever heard of Oumph! It’s like some kind of hush-hush full-time vegan secret that just seemed to appear one day. First there was BBQ Pulled Oumph! Then came Oumph! Kebab Spiced. And now there’s a new Oumph! Burger, which I haven’t tried yet. So people are obviously buying the stuff.
The “meat” itself is pretty damn convincing – especially for frozen, pulled supermarket soya pieces. The taste and texture reminds me of What the Pitta’s amazing vegan kebab “meat.” Or at least a frozen, DIY version. But still… believe me, that’s high praise indeed.
I’ve tried both versions of the Swedish company’s pulled soya meat. In wraps with homemade hummus. On loaded rosemary fries with Garlic Aioli Vegenaise and sriracha. With roast potatoes. Rice. And roasted vegetables. And Oumph! never disappoints. It’s simple. It’s delicious. And it’s easy to dress up and enjoy.
A couple months back, I was trawling the salad dressing and mayo aisle in my local ASDA, desperately searching for something jazzier than your basic vinaigrette. Something creamy. Some kind of decadent, vegan blue cheese alternative, perhaps. Was I dreaming? Had I gotten ahead of myself? Yes.
So… imagine my surprise when I tried again recently – albeit more dubiously – and found exactly what I was looking for. Pizza Express’ brand new Vegan House Light Dressing. It’s creamy. It zings. And you can put it on anything.
If you’re anything like me you’ll drizzle it on curries, pour it on loaded fries and mop it up with your fingers. If not, it’s great on salads too. Simply chop some lettuce. Add some tomato. Dice some cucumber. And drench it all with Vegan House Light Dressing for instant added luxury.
So far the dressing’s available at ASDA and Tesco. And as far as I can tell, the only difference between vegan and regular House Light Dressing, is Pizza Express has swapped free range egg yolk for “modified starch.”
When you step back and think about it, the (very recent) increase in convenient, supermarket vegan options is actually pretty staggering. When I went vegan, not that long ago, frozen pizzas were cheeseless, and came with toppings like falafel, onion and artichoke. Chilled? Forget about it.
But times have changed. Again and again. And interestingly, Asda seems to be going through a kind of low-key vegan awakening, in terms of expanding its range. There’s a new line of meat-free frozen nuggets. Frozen popcorn “chicken.” Meat-free burger patties. And this exciting new chilled vegan flatbread pizza.
First of all. The shape. It’s ridiculous. Did anyone at Asda even try slicing one of these things with a pizza cutter before they okayed its production? Reinventing pizza is fine. Go right ahead. But why fuck with the shape? Come on. Charge 20p more and make the damn thing round, right?
Redeemingly, the pizza tastes great. It’s a good-quality, cheap, ready made snack. The tomato sauce is rich. The vegan mozzarella’s perfectly cheesy. The stonebaked base is thin and crispy. And the mixed grilled peppers and garlic mushrooms are subtle and complimentary. I’ll definitely buy it again. And no doubt complain about the shape. Again.