Thursday 30 April 2015

Optimum Black Moisturiser

Last month I was fortunate enough to win the Easter hamper competition that was being run by Cruelty Free International. One of my prizes was this extremely intriguing Vegan & cruelty free black moisturiser by Superdrug's Optimum range.

I can honestly say that never before have I heard of a black moisturiser! Maybe I am late to this new trend but I couldn't quite believe what I was seeing when I lifted off the lid to this product!

As you can imagine I was really keen to try out this 'Triple Action Illuminating Black Moisturiser' as not only is it completely different to anything I've used before, but it also claims to reduce age spots & discolouration whilst boosting radiance. 

Wednesday 29 April 2015

The Oak Tree

Last month I was lucky enough to win a dinner for two at the Essex based Vegetarian & Vegan restaurant The Oak Tree. I had already been recommended this place by some fellow Essex Vegan's so I couldn't wait to get myself down to Leigh on Sea to see what they had to offer. 

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Dates For Your Diary

Looking ahead at my diary there are a number of fab vegan, veggie & animal rights events coming up in 2015 so I have decided to share these with you in the hope to raise some more awareness about them and increase numbers for all of these great causes.


Monday 27 April 2015

Faith in Nature

I have been dying to try out some Faith in Nature products for some time now so I was beyond happy when their coconut hand wash was featured in this months Vegan Kind box. It also prompted me to purchase some of the other products from their range including their shampoo, conditioner and shower gel / foam bath. 

Saturday 25 April 2015

Vegan Chocolate & Biscoff Cupcakes

If you're Vegan and wasn't already aware that Lotus Biscoff biscuits and spread are Vegan friendly then you must have been living on another planet the last few months! 

Friday 24 April 2015

Pizza Express

Since journeying into Veganism I have found myself really avoiding some of my old favourite restaurants like Pizza Express, Prezzo's and Zizzi's mainly because I just associate them with copious amounts of cheese and dairy. My husband however still enjoys his pizzas, despite being 80% Vegan now he still dabbles a great deal with being Vegetarian and hasn't completely given up dairy. 

I recently heard on the social media grapevine that Vegan pizzas were available at Pizza Express so when the opportunity presented itself to lunch there this week I decided to go along to see how I got on. 

On the way there I carried out some very quick preliminary research online and checked out their Customer Service FAQ web page. As you can see from this link they provide some really clear and useful information for Vegans. The most important factors for me are that:

  • Pizza Express's pizza bases are Vegan friendly containing no animal or dairy products. 
  • Any unsuitable Vegan toppings, such as cheese, can be easily removed as their pizzas are freshly handmade. 
  • Vegan cheese is not available but they are happy to use your own if you wish to take some with you - it just needs to be sealed, in its original and in date packaging.   

When it came to ordering our food I was so impressed by the service that I received. Our waitress was so helpful and when I enquired about making their Vegetarian Giardiniera pizza Vegan she double checked everything with the chefs and offered to include more vegetables in place of the mozzarella. So far so good! 

It's also worth noting here that there is a Vegan pizza option already on the menu - the Pianta - which also sounded fab.

For our starters we decided to go with an old favourite of ours, the dough balls. The waitress, knowing now that I was Vegan, suggested that I had these with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar, instead of garlic butter, which was really considerate of her. By this point I felt pretty cared about which was lovely!

When my Vegan pizza arrived it looked really good and smelt amazing. As I tucked into it I did laugh to myself as I realised just how much pizza cheese is the glue that holds all the toppings in place! 

On top I had a mix of olives, peas, cherry tomatoes, artichokes, red peppers and mushrooms. Along with removing the cheese the chef had also removed the pesto in order to make it Vegan friendly. 

I also ended up going for one of their gluten free classic bases just because I saw it was an added option on the menu and I thought that I would give it a try. It was quite nice and I didn't really notice a huge difference other than it was a little chewy. I do not follow a gluten free diet in my every day life but if the option is available I like to try it as I know that it helps me to feel less bloated and uncomfortable after eating. I really noticed with this pizza that after I had eaten it I felt full up and content but, unlike my husband, I didn't have the feeling of a lead weight in my stomach which was great! 

For dessert we opted for the only Vegan friendly choice on the menu - the Leggera Raspberry Sorbet. I was really pleasantly surprised by this refreshing, light and tasty sorbet and it made a really nice change. It was also the perfect pudding for a sunny warm day! 

Overall I was so impressed by my first Vegan Pizza Express experience. The service and attentiveness of our waitress was superb and made all the difference. 

It's really good to know that if I am ever invited to a meal at Pizza Express again I won't have to recoil in horror and panic! Although the choices for Vegans are by no means limitless, and they are still quite restricted, the fact that I can enjoy a 3 course meal here is pretty amazing. 

I take my hat off to Pizza Express for recognising that there is a big demand for both Vegan and gluten free food within the mainstream. By doing this they are making themselves accessible to an ever increasing and widespread customer base.

Sarah x

* Note: My experience was based upon a visit to the Freeport Braintree branch in Essex.  


Thursday 23 April 2015

The Gallery Cafe

As I was already in London on Saturday I took the opportunity to stop by at the Vegan & Vegetarian Gallery Cafe in Bethnal Green. Having followed their Twitter account for some time now I was looking forward to having lunch there and experiencing some of their local homemade food. 

Despite it being a sunny day it was pretty chilly so I opted to sit inside but it's worth noting, especially for any dog owners, that the Gallery Cafe has sufficient outside seating areas in both the front and back gardens. 

Tuesday 21 April 2015

London Animal Charities Fair

Last Saturday was the London Animal Charities Fair held at Amnesty International's Human Rights Action Centre in Shoreditch.

This has long been an important and well established event within London's animal welfare calendar and I was pleased to be able to attend and show my support.

Hosted by the London Animals Asia Support Group, it featured around 30 animal charity stalls all hoping to raise funds and awareness around their important causes.

This was a pretty small event in comparison to the likes of VegFest which is a big platform for animal charities. However, unlike VegFest, this event is solely focused on the charities and the important work that they do within animal rights and welfare.

It was awesome to see some big names there like Sea Shepherd, Animals Asia and Wood Green Animal Shelter who all had stand out stalls featuring lots of fab merchandise. 

It was lovely to chat to the Sea Shepherd ladies and find out a little more about what they do as volunteers. It's always a pleasure to talk to other likeminded people who really care about the same things that you do. It can be quite lonely in the Vegan and animal rights world at times so events like this are great for networking and forming new friendships.

It was great to discover some new companies like Love Sniffy's who make 'bum sniffingly good' healthy alternative dog treats! I have been contemplating trying my dogs on some Vegetarian and Vegan treats for a while now. Not because I want to turn them Vegan or anything, but just because I care about their health as much as my own. All of Love Sniffy's treats are Vegetarian, gluten free, low fat, natural and handmade! It's also great to hear that they personally test all of their products and they do not want to create a product at the expense of any animals welfare. 

We were told that the 'Carrot Crunch' variety were a favourite among other dogs so we purchased a box to take home with us and I am pleased to report that our dogs really enjoyed munching on them! 

Here's some photo evidence of my little Zen tucking in!

I enjoyed walking around this event chatting to people and finding out more about other charities that are less well known. At every table I tried to put some loose change into the collection boxes in the hope that any little contribution would be a help to them. 

Along with all of the stalls there were also some informative talks on throughout the day. 

I was lucky enough to be able to catch 'Vet of the Year' Marc Abraham's talk on Pup Aid and the ever growing problem of puppy farms. Pup Aid are positively campaigning and petitioning to end the cruelty of puppy farms and they are importantly encouraging prospective dog owners to either adopt from a reputable animal shelter, or buy from Kennel Club assured responsible breeders. It is so important not to purchase a dog from a pet shop, garden centre, internet or free ads as you will be more than likely contributing towards puppy farming.

It was great to hear Marc encouraging us all to keep up the pressure with our social media campaigning too as it all goes towards raising awareness and putting pressure on the government to make changes in the laws. 

Marc did speak briefly around politics and the upcoming election. He kindly took the time to speak to me after and he told me that he strongly feels that the greatest, most immediate changes and benefits to animals will be from the Tories being voted out and Labour taking power. Having personally spent some time with Labour candidates he is assured that they are committed to implementing new laws and policies which will widely benefit animals welfare.

Overall it was a great afternoon at the Animal Charities Fair and I am pleased to have been able to contribute to some extremely worthy causes. I picked up a wealth of information and goodies and I shall definitely be returning next year. 

Sarah x


Monday 20 April 2015

Broadway Market

This weekend I ventured into London for the day and I decided to visit the East End's Broadway Market. Having recently heard so many good things about it, it was time for me to experience it for myself!


Friday 17 April 2015

Why Go Vegan?

So some of you may be wondering why I bother trying to be Vegan or what motivates me to stick to, what some would view as, an extremely restricted diet and lifestyle. But for me it's quite simple and straight forward! I have attempted to concisely and coherently construct my reasons and motivations altogether in one blog post. 


Thursday 16 April 2015

The Vegan Kind - #TVK18

This week my The Vegan Kind subscription box no.18 arrived! 

Monday 13 April 2015

King William IV

My good friend recently recommended that I had to try out the King William IV pub & restaurant in the small rural Cambridgeshire village of Heydon. She told me that they had a fabulous vegetarian menu and the food was to die for so I didn't need any further encouragement!


Friday 10 April 2015

An Alpaca Day Out

I can't believe it's taken me nearly a week to blog about my time with these beautiful animals but it's been a particularly crazy busy week. Anyway, I am finally getting around to it now but I just hope it doesn't feel like old news having hopefully already seen some of my snaps on Instagram!


Tuesday 7 April 2015

Vegan Afternoon Tea at Sketch

Afternoon Tea has always been one of my favourite activities, whether it be within my own home using some of my pretty vintage china, or out and about at a fancy restaurant. It always feels like such a treat and perfect for girly get togethers. 

I had recently heard, via the power that is social media, that Sketch in London were now offering up a Vegan Afternoon Tea. Since being Vegan I haven't thought that afternoon tea was really an option anymore, and if I was going to take part in one then I had resided myself to the idea that it would have to be a day off being Vegan! So I was really excited to learn this news and immediately booked us up a table for Easter Bank Holiday Monday. 

So yesterday we set off on the 1.5 hour sunny journey in to London in our car. I always prefer driving into London if I can as I hate public transport and much prefer to be able to take in all of the sights on the journey than be confined to a stuffy underground train. Also, being a Bank Holiday, it meant that there was no congestion charge and no street parking fees so it really worked out well in terms of budget too! 

If you have never been to Sketch before then it really is a very unique and quirky venue like no other. As soon as we walked in my husband said that he felt like we were in an Alice in Wonderland setting which was a pretty accurate description! This venue is home to not only fine dining, but also art and music. Each of the five different restaurant/bar rooms is distinctively decorated and to my delight the Afternoon Tea takes place within the opulent and very pink Gallery room.

The walls of the Gallery room are home to no less than 239 original drawings by British artist David Shrigley. I have to say that, being more into modern art than any other genre, I really enjoyed viewing all of these comical images over tea. I think its fair to say these freehand drawings are quite simplistic in their form but I think thats what excites me about this kind of art - the feeling that I  could possibly create something similar myself!

Before we sat down for tea I had to visit the ladies and you must know that the toilets at Sketch are an altogether entertaining experience on their own! I'm someone that usually hates using public loo's of any description and I tend to send my husband off first to check them out to make sure that they are clean and not frightening in anyway before I venture in myself. Never before in my life have I decided to take photos of public toilets until this weekend! 

Each individual toilet is situated within an egg shaped cubicle that just so happens to have a duck sitting on top of it! This is the first time I have ever peed inside an egg and to be honest, I hope its not the last! What an experience. As if that wasn't enough once inside the egg you are serenaded by the relaxing sounds of nature and ducks quaking! I hate to think how much time I spent in here and it even warranted a second visit after lunch. It was so good people were even taking selfies in there!

Anyway, moving on from the venue and the toilets (have I really just blogged 7 paragraphs and I haven't even made it onto the food yet!?).....

Once sat down at our cosy little table I was presented with the Vegan afternoon tea menu... 

Yes thats right people - I, as a Vegan, had my very own menu! And as you can see it was all rather inviting and impressive. 

Everything was there that I would expect to see with any other afternoon tea - a selection of finger sandwiches, sultana scones, sweets and a choice of teas. Best of all, I didn't feel at all like I was missing out on what the 'normal' omnivores were offered up. 

My husband decided to go in for the Vegetarian option just so that we could see the differences between the two and here is a glimpse of the menu he was provided with...

I am pretty sure that this menu wasn't especially formulated for Vegetarians as it contains fish. So many places assume that if you're Vegetarian you eat fish and I don't really know why or where this has come from but just to clear things up - Vegetarians do not eat fish! A Pescetarian is someone that eats fish but no other meat. A Vegetarian will happily eat dairy, unlike a Vegan, but certainly not fish. 

This kind of had me feeling that this was in fact the standard afternoon tea menu, especially when I overheard a waitress informing another table that all of the sweets listed on this menu actually contained beef gelatine so if she was in fact Vegetarian she would be better off just ordering from the Vegan menu. 

So on the whole a little confusing for Vegetarians, but fabulous for Vegan's! Which is a first.

When our fabulous afternoon tea tiered stands arrived I had to just sit for a few minutes and gaze in awe at everything I was presented with and remind myself that all of this was Vegan friendly.

The finger sandwiches were amazing and I loved every one of them. My favourite was the cucumber and lemon margarine one which I happily ordered more of! Oh yes, and that's another thing, you can have unlimited sandwiches delivered to your table included in the set price of £39pp. 

Wrapping the sandwiches in paper and tying them up in a dainty ribbon was a particularly cute touch! After all, who doesn't enjoy opening up little presents!? 

Never before have I sampled a Vegan scone of any description so this was a first for me and an enjoyable one! To be honest, and in my opinion, it didn't taste dissimilar to a regular scone despite it looking a bit different. The main difference being that it didn't have any accompanying clotted cream but if anything this made it feel healthier and less fattening, whilst not really impacting on the overall enjoyment of eating it! The fig and strawberry jam was enough to make it equally as delicious. 

The sweets were all really delicious and unlike with other afternoon teas, I didn't feel so disgustingly sickly and full afterwards which was great! 

Looking over the table at my husbands selection I didn't feel like I was missing out on anything.... Apart from maybe that big chocolate cake slice! But even knowing that it contained beef gelatine put me off straight away. Who wants beef in their cakes anyway!? 

I have to say though that the sweet selection on his plates looked good and I particularly liked the little 'Food' bowl of mini marshmallows and meringues on top which he really enjoyed tucking into. 

The tea selection was vast and seriously one of the best pots of tea I have ever had! 

I went in for the Darjeeling tea as I think it's a really pleasant black tea for Vegans which offers me the same uplifting comfort that an English breakfast tea with milk used to give me. The tea was also available for unlimited refills. 

Also, and FYI, I just loved the thought provoking eccentric crockery used which again features artist Shrigley's drawings and texts. If you can afford it then this ceramic tableware is also available to purchase within Sketch or from their online store.

Overall we both loved our afternoon tea selections and I really do think that it's wonderful that Sketch are allowing the afternoon tea experience to be just as delightful and inclusive for Vegans. 

My only complaint would be that perhaps they need to put a little bit more thought into a menu for Vegetarians that doesn't contain fish or animal gelatine. It would be nice for Vegetarians to feel just as important and cared about as others instead of being a slight after thought and being directed to just order from the Vegan menu. After all, Vegetarians still do enjoy dairy remember! 

Sunday 5 April 2015

Easter Vegan Tuck Box

Having never been a customer of the Vegan Tuck Box I was so excited to see that my husband had bought me their special edition Easter box this weekend!

I couldn't believe how many yummy vegan chocolate treats were inside this box!

I was particularly happy to see that the box included Peanot NoNo's as i've been dying to try these and they were so delicious!

I haven't even had a chance to sample anything else yet and I think I am going to save most of this for small weekly treats whilst I am attempting to diet at the moment. However it's so great to see just how much choice there is for vegans at Easter and the Vegan Tuck Box is a great place to go to for all your dairy and cruelty free treats! 

I hope you've all had a lovely Easter and are enjoying the long weekend.

Sarah x

© Sarahs Life And Style | All rights reserved.
Blog Design Handcrafted by pipdig