THE BEYOND MEAT BEYOND BURGER – BEYOND FAST FOOD. BEYOND TAKEAWAY. IN YOUR KITCHEN

Hi, Pathetically

I remember when Beyond Meat first launched the Beyond Burger in the U.K. Before mega-chains like Honest Burgers, Byron and BrewDog were serving them on tap the patties were meant to be available at Tesco stores across London. I looked for them. A lot. Months apart. At several jumbo stores. But I never found any*.

So Beyond Burgers became a novelty. A mysterious treat I enjoyed at dreamy joints like Halo Burger, Vurger and Co., and most recently, Neat Burger. Until I found a pack of two in Whole Foods, Piccadilly Circus’ frozen vegetarian section and kicked down that vegan fourth wall, with added Follow Your Heart Pepper Jack cheese slices and SGAIA’S Streaky Mheat Rashers. Burger night would never be the same again.

I couldn’t believe it. In my own kitchen. The packaging looked so unassuming. Like I’d bought any old Vivera, Linda McCartney, supermarket brand “soy protein” burgers. Not Beyond Burgers. Not the real, “bleeding-vegan” deal.

“Made from plants. Soy free. Gluten free.” So what is it? Pea protein, expeller-pressed canola oil and refined coconut oil. Mostly. Plus “two percent” or less experimental vegan science like bamboo cellulose, vegetable glycerine and methylcellulose (and a bunch of extracts, acids and other things you’d probably rather not know too much about).

Still, in moderation, Beyond Burgers are meant to be healthier than processed beef. And of course, ethically and environmentally there’s no comparison. If meat is murder (and it is), Beyond Meat is a life saver. Interestingly, although they’re processed, some nutritionists don’t even classify the patties as junk food. Either way, one thing I’ve never had is the vegan meat sweats.

Just like any regular beef burger, you have to know what you’re doing when it comes to cooking Beyond Burgers. You can’t just throw them on the pan, poke them around a bit and hope for the best. Just ask Honest Burgers. There’s an art to a good Beyond Burger.

Hi, Pathetically

As someone who liked his burgers medium to well-done, I like to cook my vegan burgers more or less the same. And even then, there’s an art. Between overcooking and drying it out and cooking it just right, so it’s not bloody but it’s still juicy and full of flavour. And let me tell you, I nailed it.

Just before serving I fried up my vegan rashers, laid my cheese slices on my patties under the grill and dressed my bun with lettuce, vegan mayo, sriracha mayo, ketchup, mustard and pickles. Then I popped the melted cheese-topped patties on the lettuce side of the buns, crossed two bacon strips over them and neatly positioned the sauce side of the bun on top. I was in vegan burger heaven. Not quite Halo Burger good. But way better than Honest Burgers. So a winning start, really…

* looks like the burgers are available from Tesco online. But who buys groceries online, right?

JEALOUS SWEETS GRIZZLY BEARS & TANGY WORMS – ALL FLAVOUR. NO MELTED PIGS. SHARING BAGS FOR ONE

Hi, Pathetically

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.

Jealous Sweets

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.

VEGO WHOLE HAZELNUT CHOCOLATE BAR – THE BEST VEGAN CHOCOLATE IN THE WORLD (SO FAR)

Address Chic

As a vegan, it’s definitely harder to grab a bag-and-block combo of chocolate whenever I feel the craving. Or rather, it’s easier not to give in when said craving hits. Because really, the only easy supermarket option is Cadbury’s Bournville. And even though they’ve recently repackaged it in button form, it’s still just Cadbury’s Bournville.

Luckily, there’s a whole underworld of specialised vegan chocolate possibilities out there. You just have to know where to find them. Which in turn makes chocolate more of a rewarding special event than a meaningless everyday inevitability.

One veritable goldmine, though, for vegans with a sweet tooth, is Holland & Barrett. Where you can find the best vegan chocolate I’ve tried so far. The dreamy Vego Whole Hazelnut Chocolate Bar.

It’s incredible. Just like the classic wholenut chocolates I remember. Only silkier. More luxuriant. Creamier, almost. So it literally melts in your mouth. And way sooner than you’d like as well. According to Vego, the secret to their delicious organic treat is in the ingredients, which include only the “finest Italian hazelnut paste, cocoa cream and whole hazelnuts…”

Currently, as well as Holland & Barratt, the bars are available from Ocado, Amazon and various online vegan, health and ethical food supermarkets. The German company has also just launched a new Dark Chocolate Nuts & Berries version, and there’s a Fine Hazelnut Crunchy Chocolate Spread out there as well. So happy hunting.

TESCO VEGAN JALAPENO & CHILLI CHEDDAR – TANGY COCONUT OIL ALTERNATIVE TO SPICE UP YOUR LIFE

Hi, Pathetically

Look, we all know a lot of supermarket vegan cheese is garbage. Especially when it comes to supermarket own brands. It’s a learning curve. And while Tesco’s litigation-dodging “Free From Coconut Oil Alternative to Jalapeno and Chilli Cheddar” is no I AM NUT OKAY, or Black Arts Vegan, it’s 100% tasty melted on a slice of toast or in a grilled cheese sandwich.

I always used to like spicy cheddar more than the real thing. It’s the lingering kick, I guess, that adds to the otherwise simplistic flavour. But the coconut oil cheese, itself, is firmer and tastier than other similar supermarket alternatives I’ve tried as well. It’s more like actual cheddar. Especially melted – the improved state of being for most supermarket vegan cheese.

You might not bring it out on a board with a bunch of figs and some perfectly paired wine. But it is tasty. And super convenient, if you want some easy, supermarket cheddar to melt into the gaping cheese-shaped hole in your vegan life.

KIRSTY’S CLASSIC MARGHERITA – THE NO-FRILLS FROZEN VEGAN PIZZA YOU’VE BEEN LOOKING FOR

kirtsys vegan pizza
Hi, Pathetically

Fuck falafel. Fuck artichoke. Fuck onion. Sometimes you just want a frozen pizza with some cheese on it. Something easy, that you can stick in the oven at the end of a long day. That doesn’t taste like feet. And so far, Kirsty’s Classic Margherita is the best frozen vegan-friendly supermarket pizza I’ve stumbled across.

Kirsty’s was started by “Lancashire mum” – and 2010 Dragon’s Den contestant – Kirsty Henshaw. Inspired by her son’s allergies and intolerances, Kirsty decided to start her own “healthy” free-from chilled and frozen food empire. But so far, I’ve only found her pizza in a few big Tescos. In the frozen vegetarian / vegan sections.

To be honest, it’s a good frozen pizza. Period. Tasty. Simple. To the point. And for a vegan pizza, it really doesn’t feel like anything’s missing on the classic, gooey margherita front. The base is thin and crispy. The tomato sauce is rich and tasty. And the cheese alternative is sticky and way more cowabunga than your average supermarket “free from” bullshit.

Looking at the list of ingredients, you’re not quite sure what to make of it. But then again. It’s a frozen pizza. It’s not organic kombucha. And ultimately, if you’re looking for Netflix and chilled, Kirsty’s delivers. Well, Tesco does. But seriously, go pick one up yourself.