Monday, May 10, 2010

London's Bag of Vegan Tricks

In my three months here, I’ve found that the UK has some fun and not so fun products in its vegan bag of tricks. Of course, I ran straight to the closest nice-looking supermarket in my neighborhood (Pimlico). This was a nice big Sainsbury’s on Wilton Road that is surprisingly well stocked with vegan goods. Overall, supermarkets here seem to be quite sensitive to the idea of people with allergies, and so even in a mainstream market like Sainsbury's there is a whole isle of "free-from" items. This means free from all dairy, eggs and gluten. Unlike in the U.S., they don't seem to try to sneak in any dairy additives like whey or butter fat, etc.

Hence, this package of completely vegan caramels that are pretty damn good, especially the caramel filling. They also make mint chocolate circles that are a nice little after dinner treat.

Pudding is a big deal here and vegans can participate in this with these lovely little alpro vanilla and chocolate pudding cups. They are creamy and smooth and yummy, perfect with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top!

Another product from this section that I have taken advantage of is this giant tub o’ curry paste! Why in god’s name do we only have the tiny little glass jars in the U.S. when we could have this huge tub! And, it’s really good too! It’s very similar to the Thai Kitchen red curry paste that I usually get, but you have a lot more leeway with proportions with such a large bucket! I’ve included a photo of it in action with a nice glass of wine.

Now, I have to explain that meat is kind of a big deal here in the UK. It’s a huge part of the culture and all the talk of sausage and meat pies can sometimes make a veggie kid feel a bit alienated. Luckily, Linda McCarthy was awesome and her company has done its best to make sure us veggie kids can have some of the traditional British treats sans the meat and dairy. Not all of her products are vegan, but the pies and sausages are, and they’re both pretty delicious. The pies are especially good with a big pile of peas mixed in. Peas are also a big deal here. Sadly, the butter substitutes are not quite up to par with these other products. Their best attempt at something like my beloved Earth Balance is Pure, and to me, it tasted kind of like what I imagine that paste they made you use instead of glue in kindergarten tastes. It’s very bland. I also found the non-cold soy milk to be kind of unappealing, though the cold alpro is fine. All in all, I’ve found a fair amount of products to be bland when I was least expecting it, but just like any city, as long as you have enough vegan tricks up your sleeve you’ll be just fine in London.