Plant-Based Pause No 2: No, It’s Not Natural for Humans to Eat Animal Products

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘People eat meat and think they will become as strong as an ox, forgetting that the ox eats grass.’ – Pino Caruso

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I don’t tend to broadcast the fact that I’m a plant-based vegetarian because, to be honest, it’s not really anyone else’s business and everyone has the right to choose their own lifestyle. However, whenever a situation involves food, and let’s face it that’s very often, it’s an unavoidable subject. People notice that I’m not eating the same as them, and that I have to ask lots of questions about what the meal contains. One of the most common reactions, always said with confidence, is ‘but it’s natural for humans to eat meat’. When I ask them ‘why is it natural for humans to eat meat?’, however, I have never yet met an omnivore who has been able to give me an answer other than ‘because it is’. They know that it is natural for them to eat meat, which is when I point out that everyone knew the Earth was flat before Christopher Columbus came along.

Not only do I know that it is not natural for humans to eat meat, I also know why. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t believe that every species could be vegan. Cats, for example, are designed to eat meat, although you will get the odd cat that it the exception to the rule and chooses to be vegetarian (my aunty’s cat Squeakers for example). There are some animals like apes, humans and dogs, however, that are more suited to eating plants.

DSC_0500For a start, we are a downright lazy species. We know this because we have designed a modern world for ourselves where technology does everything for us. We no longer have to move off the sofa if we do not choose to. So, when our early ancestors were roaming the planet looking for food, if they’d had the choice between a plant that grows out of the ground or a meal they had to chase down for four hours and kill, I think I know which one they’d go for. Lots of people today argue that it is the hunter-gatherer instinct in us that makes us want to eat meat. I have no problem with that if you actually go out and hunt the animals yourself, however I tend to find that most of the people making the argument ‘hunt’ their food pre-prepared in plastic containers from the supermarket.

Anatomically, we are better suited to eating a herbivore diet. Firstly, we have the right teeth for it. Most of our teeth are flat and our jaw can move side-to-side, perfect for grinding down and crushing plants. Carnivores, on the other hand, have sharp, pointy teeth that are designed to seize, kill and dismember prey. The four canine teeth we do have are blunt and small, and are thought to be used for display and/or defence (think of when an ape warns off a potential threat). Can you imagine actually trying to pull meat off an animal just using your canines? Try it next time you’re eating a chicken leg.

There are lots of other reasons why we are biologically better suited to eating plant-based, for example our colon which, like in other herbivores, has a pouch structure. Our body also needs lots of fibre, which is exclusively found in plant-based foods. Although it is not digested, fibre is essential to the human body as it pulls water into the intestines to keep everything moving.

And what about that age-old saying ‘Real men eat meat’? Google Rip Esselstyn – does he look manly enough to you? Rip is a committed plant-based vegetarian. After a successful career as a world-class athlete, he changed careers and trained as a firefighter in Austin, Texas. After learning that one of his colleagues had a dangerously high cholesterol level of 344, Rip encouraged all the firefighters at his station to switch to a plant-based diet. They all lost weight, lowered their cholesterol and improved their overall health. Still not convinced? Then head over to veganbodybuilding.com and check out lots of ‘real men’ who don’t eat meat, including some of the 3000 vegan body builders here in the UK.

 

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Plant-Based Pause No 1: It’s Not as Scary as it Seems

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘Nothing will benefit human health and increase the chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet.’ – Albert Einstein 

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Just over two years ago, I made a change in my life that has had repercussions I never would have expected. I decided to go plant-based. Having been vegetarian for over 18 years (not eating or wearing anything an animal dies to produce), I thought I knew a lot about the food I ate and where it came from. How wrong I was.

Whilst looking through the listings for a local independent cinema, I came across an advert for a showing of Planeat. Watching that one movie would change my life forever. Since then, I have almost completely cut animal protein out of my diet. Apart from the occasional pizza base or soup that contain milk (I’m also allergic to gluten, so sometimes I have to take what I can get, even if it means eating a tiny bit of dairy), I no longer eat animal milk, cheese, yoghurt or eggs. The only animal product I do buy on a regular basis is honey, and I make a point to buy local honey that is ethically sourced. In fact, all the fresh produce I buy now is as local as possible, preferably organic and from the farmers market in my neighbourhood. If I do have to buy from the supermarket, I always buy British.

DSC_0445As a vegetarian, when I first decided to go plant-based, I suppose it was easier for me because I was already halfway there. I’d always said that I couldn’t give up dairy and be vegan, but now that I almost am I can honestly says it’s not as scary and difficult as it sounds.

So, what do you do if you’re thinking about trying this plant-based malarkey? You’ve heard about these strange people who only eat plant-based, whole food as close to the source as possible, and how their back-to-basics diet is curing cancer, heart disease and diabetes. You’ve maybe even seen a few testimonials of people who have tried it and lost weight, got healthier and found a new lease of life. However, completely changing the way you eat and how you think about food is daunting. Don’t fear, though, there is lots of help out there, and from people a lot more qualified than me. The best place to start is to watch Planeat or Forks Over Knives, then have a browse through their websites to learn more. Twenty years ago, when I first stopped eating meat, we didn’t have the benefit of the internet. Announcing that I was a vegetarian made me feel very alone and socially awkward, and I had little support against the critics who told me it was just a ‘phase’ I would grow out of. Nowadays, we have a whole network of friends and supporters online around the clock.

There are lots more people out there who are intrigued by the plant-based lifestyle. I know this because of the amount of questions I get asked, and you wouldn’t have read this far if you weren’t the least bit interested. Most people are just scared to give it a try because it is so far removed from what the majority of us have been taught is healthy. A common question I get is ‘What do you eat?’ After years of eating meals with meat as the base, people are genuinely perplexed at how to form a meal around vegetables and whole grains. I promise you, though, it is not as difficult as it sounds. Give plant-based living a try and after a couple of months you’ll wonder why everybody doesn’t live the same way, and you’ll be the one confidently answering those questions.

My last piece of advice is to go in with an open mind, you’re going to hear and see things that will throw what you know as ‘the truth’ out of the water.

 

Hi, my name’s Sas and I drink decaff coffee

When people find out that I’m a plant-based vegetarian, one of the most common questions I get is ‘Isn’t is difficult?’. My answer generally is ‘no’. I know what I can and can’t eat (I also have allergies to things like caffeine and gluten), and I’m educated about food and how to find/prepare it.

Travelling, however, can throw a few obstacles in my path. At home, it’s easy to prepare food and plan ahead. When you’re on the road, you have to think a bit more about where your next meal is coming from. It’s far from impossible, though. OK, you don’t always have much choice in what you eat and you may sometimes end up with something you wouldn’t normally choose (fries, for example), but I can always find something plant-based. Due to flight problems, I found myself eating brunch/lunch (I’d lost track of time by this point) at Vienna airport. As Heathrow airport had decided to open their food outlets only 30 minutes before the first flights took off (helpful, thanks Heathrow), I hadn’t had time to grab anything at London so I was really hungry. I also had a 6 euro voucher that the airline had given me to apologise for my delay at Vienna.

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As I have a gluten allergy, most breakfast foods are out of the question. What I love about Austrian and German breakfasts is that they always have a random vegetable dish on offer. I’ve never worked out what they eat it with or how it goes with the regular eggs, toast, porridge, fruit etc, but it certainly comes in handy when you’re plant-based. Some potatoes would have been nice to go with it, but you can’t be picky. I opted for a pot of fruit instead, and washed it all down with a decaff soya latte. I find that most coffee shops, wherever you are in the world, will serve decaff coffee and a lot also stock soya milk now, so it’s worth asking. Unlike in the UK, they don’t always advertise the fact. It’s like drinking decaff coffee is some secret, socially unacceptable habit that can only be traded under-the-counter.

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The plant-based traveller finds some new favourite eateries

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Whenever I travel, I always search for my destination on Happy Cow to make sure I find the best vegetarian restaurants and health food shops whilst I’m there. There are so many great eating places to choose from in London, I always wish I could stay for longer just so I could eat more!

During my most recent trip, I stopped for a quick lunch at Chop’d in Old Spitalfields Market. I’d actually been looking for another food stand at the market, which unfortunately has closed down, and came across Chop’d by accident. This is a take-out that proves salad is way more than just rabbit food. As this was my first visit, my helpful server talked me through choosing my lunch. First of all, you choose your base from house leaves, deli leaves, pasta, brown rice or couscous. Then, choose from a great selection of house items including beetroot, chickpeas, edamame beans, olives and tomato to name just a few. The team at Chop’d recommend three house items, but you can add extra for 35p per portion. Next comes your deli item. They are options such as avocado and tofu, but Chop’d isn’t just for vegetarians, there are plenty of meat options as well. Now all you have to do is choose a garnish and dressing (mixed seeds with balsamic for me), and watch your server whip your salad up into a delicious lunch. You get plenty of food as well, although my photo doesn’t really do the portions justice (I was enjoying it so much that I forgot to take a photo until I was already halfway through!). As a bonus (for you and the planet), if you don’t take a bag or re-use an old one you get to pick another house item. I only realised this when I picked up a leaflet on my way out, and I got more than a bit confused when all the staff kept asking me if I needed a bag 🙂

After a few more hours wandering around the city, I was ready for dinner, and very excited to go and find Tibits. An entirely vegetarian restaurant, Tibits is even more customer friendly than Chop’d. All the food is laid out buffet style, and they weigh your plate to determine how much you pay. A massive plate of great tasting plant-based food, a glass of chilled white wine and a sunny summers afternoon in London. What more could I ask for?

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Being plant-based, this winter has been a long one for me. I’ve stuck to my pledge to only buy British produce when I do my grocery shopping, but it has been hard. Most years, November to April is tough because few crops grow here at that time of year. This year, the long cold winter combined with bad weather last summer means that we’ve had even less. As nice as our home-grown, organic fruit and veg is, I’m a bit fed up with potatoes, carrots, apples and pears.

Imagine my excitement yesterday when I went to the market and saw salad crops on sale for the first time in six months. It may have only been a few tiny radishes and some even smaller spring onions, but it was still salad.

Today, I got an even better surprise when I went to the supermarket to pick up some fruit. At first I was a little disappointed, as they didn’t even have any British apples. I was about to pick up a second bag of pears when I noticed some little Union Jack stickers in the salad section.

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Now, I have some delicious orange and green peppers and cucumber to go along with my pears for snacks this week at work.

Is it crazy that I get so excited about fresh produce?

My Friday Night Treat

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Since committing to living a plant-based lifestyle, I’ve faced varied challenges and had to make lots of changes. Controlling what I eat at home is fairly easy, but when I’m out and about I have to plan ahead wherever possible. I also have to be prepared for lots of questions. One of the most common questions I get is ‘Isn’t your diet really limited?’ My answer is no. I’m finding that I’m eating a much more varied diet than when I was an omnivore, and more varied than a lot of omnivores I know. And, believe it or not, I can still eat out and enjoy social gatheirngs that involve food. My gluten allergy throws up a few more problems for me, but I don’t let it stop me.

One of my favourite places to eat out, or order take away, in Cardiff is Noodlebox. They do an awesome Veggie Soba Box with Rice Noodles that is both vegan and gluten free. Most Friday nights, I treat myself to Noodlebox and a glass of wine.

Whilst I’m on the subject of my glass of wine, my wine glasses are one of the coolest discoveries I have made. They are made from reused beer bottles (if you take the base off the wine glass, put it on the top and flip the whole thing upside down you get the original beer bottle). So not only are they stylish, they’re also made from reused waste. Everybody who sees them always asks about my awesome wine glasses. You can also get tumblers made from the same bottles.

I did slip up today though. At the start of this year, I made a pledge to create less unnecessary waste. I’ve been try to cut down on the amount of disposable paper and plastic I use. Since January I’ve made an effort to use my washable handkerchiefs over tissues, to resuse scrap paper at work and, so far, I’ve only thrown away one disposable take-out coffee cup (I was with a new group of people and, in a ditzy moment, I completely forgot my pledge when someone asked me if I’d like a coffee). Anyway, back to today. At 4.20pm, I raced off on my bike to one of our local leisure centres to take part in a spin class. It was only as I arrived at the leisure centre that I realised I’d forgotten my water bottle. I always carry my water bottle with me, to save using plastic cups and bottles, and I would have kicked myself if I hadn’t been wearing so much restrictive cycling gear. There was no way I could face a 45 minute spin class followed by twenty laps in the swimming pool without water, so I gave in and bought a bottle from the vending machine. I don’t just want to throw the empty bottle away, though. I want to find a new, practical use for it. Not only will this ensure that it is reused, it will also serve as a reminder to me to take my water bottle with me next time. I think I’m going to take inspiration from my beer bottle wine glasses, and turn the plastic bottle into a flower pot using a similar design. I’ll let you know how I get on.

Snacking – Plant-Based Style

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Looking over my recent posts, I’m aware that I haven’t blogged about living as a plant-based vegetarian much recently. I’ve got so used to living a plant-based lifestyle that it has just become normal to me. Most of my friends, family and work colleagues are aware of my lifestyle choice and, I have to say, have been incredibly supportive. Quite often, though, when meeting new people or bumping into someone I haven’t seen in a while, I have to explain what being plant-based means, why I’m doing it and what I can and can’t eat. Add in my gluten allergy, and I can totally understand why a lot of people find it confusing. Most people I talk to about it have a lot of questions and opinions that they need to voice. One of the most common comments is ‘your diet must be very restrictive’. So I thought I’d take a moment to give my answer.

The short answer is no, my diet isn’t really restricted at all. As a plant-based vegetarian I eat a much more varied diet than I did as an omnivore or normal vegetarian, and certainly more varied than a lot of omnivores in the western world. The biggest change for me is that, as a plant-based vegetarian, I have to be organised. But I don’t see that as any bad thing.

Eating at home is really easy. I cook most of my meals from scratch, and I’ve made cooking and preparing food part of my daily and weekly routine. It’s when I’m out and about that the challenge arises. I can’t just grab something to eat at a service station or fast food restaurant, I have to know where I’m going and what I’m going to eat.

To illustrate how I don’t let my ‘restrictive’ diet stop me living my life, I thought I’d use the YMCA Sleep Easy Challenge as an example. Although the YMCA organised hot drinks and snacks for us throughout the event, I knew that my allergies and plant-based diet would prevent me from eating most of it. Here’s what I packed instead:

Water bottle and flask containing decaf coffee with soya milk – these are standard for me on any day of the week. Not only has carrying my water bottle and flask ensured I always have a drink to hand, but it’s saved me money that I would usually spend on take-out coffee and soft drinks, and I’ve cut down massively on my plastic and paper waste. At the start of this year I made a commitment to use fewer take-out cups, and my flask is the best tool I have to accomplish this mission.

Fresh fruit – British of course! Apart from a few pears, apples have been our main fruit this winter. Cameo, Kanzi and Braeburn are really tasty at the moment, or Cox’s if you fancy something sweet.

Gluten-free bread – The first time I tried gluten-free bread (about 6 years before I found out I was allergic to gluten), I swore that I’d rather give up bread completely than eat it again. Thankfully, gluten-free products have progressed a lot since then. While I don’t think they’ll ever match ‘real bread’, there are some brands out there that are really tasty. My favourite is the DS range as it contains no dairy or egg either. Their brown ciabatta rolls not only taste great, they come in a handy four pack that make them really easy to throw in your bag on the way out the door. Gluten-free pretzels and also a good option.

Seed/nut/fruit bars – Although I try to avoid eating processed foods, I do make exceptions. Ideally, I’d like to snack on fresh, local, organic fruit and vegetables, but between Decemeber and April local produce in the UK is very limited. I quickly get fed up with apples, pears and carrots. Especially after a long winter like we’ve had this year. If I do resort to processed snacks, I try to make healthy choices that are still produced loacally. My current favourites are 9 Bar. Apologies to any vegans reading (they contain honey), but they are free from gluten, dairy, lactose, wheat, egg, yeast, preservatives and artificial colours. Plus, they taste amazing and they’re made in North Wales!

Dark chocolate – Everyone has their vice, and this is mine. I thought I’d miss milk chocolate when I gave up dairy, but dark chocolate is exactly the fix I need when I have a craving.

So, no, I don’t find my diet restrictive because there are so many great, healthy foods out there that I can still eat. And I really had to think hard to make this list, because living plant-based is just living to me now.

What I’ve Learnt This Week

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Aaaarrgh! The weather in Wales has gone crazy! This week we have had snow, ice, heavy (and I mean really heavy) rain and high winds. After getting soaked in town last night whilst trying to find a taxi home (it’s easier to find an England supporter than it is a taxi in Cardiff these days), I awoke this morning to bright sunshine outside my bedroom window. At last, I thought, some nice weather. About twenty minutes later, the hailstones started. I’ve also seen a rainbow today, and whilst I was drawing the above sketch we had thunder and lightning. I don’t think there’s a weather condition we haven’t had.

I did venture out of the house to go to an open day at a local leisure centre today. My main reason for going was the promise of vegan food stalls. There wasn’t a huge amount of food there, and the producers that were there were for the main part ones that I was already aware of. I did get to try the most amazing vegan, gluten-free chocolate cake, though. I’ll never pass up the opportunity to try cake that I can safely eat!

As well as the food stalls, there were also vegan and anti-hunting/animal cruelty campaigners there. They were very generous, and let me collect lots of literature about being vegan and the meat industry. I’m constantly trying to educate myself about plant-based, environmentally aware living. Here are five new things that I learnt today:

When you buy leather, you can’t tell where it came from or what animal it was made from. I always assumed all leather sold in the UK was from cows, but apparently it is also made from horses, sheep, lambs, goats, pigs and possibly dogs and cats killed in Asia. After the drama we had here last week over horse meat being found in supermarket burgers, I wonder how outraged people would be to discover they’re probably also wearing horse skin on their feet.

Our ancestors got their B12 from the soil on unwashed vegetables and in dirty water. This is the answer to a question that I have been seaching for for a while. I knew that meat is the only place you can get B12 in a modern diet, and it’s the only vitamin you lack on a plant-based diet, but I couldn’t understand how our plant-based ancestors coped before B12 supplements. It’s not advised that you eat unwashed vegetables and drink dirty water by the way, just take the B12 supplement instead.

After dinner mints are vegan. I was so happy when I found this out – I love after dinner mints! I’ve just got to check that they’re gluten-free, and then guess what I’m going to the shop to buy 🙂

In their natural state, when cows reproduce, they provide enough milk just for their calves. The dairy industry keeps cows constantly pregnant in order to ensure a flow of milk.

Unlaid eggs are removed from slaughtered hens and used in the commercial manufacture of cakes, biscuits and fresh pasta. As I always say, if you can’t say what’s in it then you probably shouldn’t eat it.

Christmas has landed

It’s official. The Coca-cola commercial has aired, and the run-up to Christmas has well and truly begun here in the UK. I have experienced Christmas in a few different countries, and I have to say that here in the UK I just find it very stressful. So much so that I try to keep away from it as much as possible. Before anyone says ‘bah humbug’, because I hear that a lot, it’s not that I don’t like Christmas itself. I just don’t choose to celebrate it the same way as most other people in the UK, and it’s actually quite insulting when people tell me how I should be celebrating the holidays and what I must do. I’m a grown adult, and in exactly the same way that I have the right to spend my birthday how I choose to (lot’s of people told me that I couldn’t fly to America on my own for my 30th), I also have the right to do whatever I want on the 25th and 26th December every year.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, I want to talk to you about Christmas shopping. As you know, one of my things is to try and ‘buy local’ wherever possible. Not only is it a lot more environmentally friendly and kinder to our fellow humans, it supports your local economy and makes for more interesting presents. My family love it when I take gifts home for them that they can’t get in England.

So why not check out your local Christmas markets or craft fairs for gift ideas this year? If you’re struggling to find them, community notice boards in places like coffee shops and launderettes are usually good places to find local adverts and information. Where I live in Cardiff we have loads of local, eco-friendly, fairtrade shops and markets. My local food market in Roath is teamed up with a craft market every Saturday, and we have a great Christmas market in the city centre every year, which makes my Christmas shopping very easy. Perfect for someone like me (I always enjoy the start of Christmas shopping, but I soon get bored and can’t wait for it to be over).

To give you a few ideas, I thought I’d share with you some of my favourite gift ideas from here in South Wales.

Handmade in the Hills Childrens toys, homewares, jewellery and food goods hand-made by artists and makers in Ceredigion. Not only are their crafts incredibly cute, the hobby horses are my favourite, but I felt very well looked after by Handmade in the Hills. When I encountered a problem with Pay Pal during my order (for some reason it didn’t believe that I live at my address), their team not only sorted it out straight away from me, they kept in contact via email to make sure evrything was to my satisfaction. Rarely do you encounter a company in today’s modern world that is so keen to look after it’s customers.

Nature’s Little Helpers Sorry vegans, this one’s not for you. This Cardiff based company make all their products from bee-keeping. As well as the most obvious product we get from bees, honey, these clever bee keepers also create cosmetics and soap from bees wax. Their ylang ylang hand balm helps to stop my hands drying out in the winter. It comes in a handy little tin that’s easy to pop in your bag or pocket and carry around with you, and because it’s made from bees wax it stays solid until you’re ready to use it. If you’re interested in keeping bees yourself, their farm shop has everything you need, and you can even join them on an experience day and learn how to become a beekeeper.

Some of my favourites from Natures Little Helpers

Land of Make Believe I first discovered this fantastic local company at our annual Christmas market here in Cardiff. They make adorable name boards, coat rails, book ends, hanging mobiles and other personalised gifts for children. Seven years ago, I bought a name board for my godson for his first Christmas, and since then it has become a tradition for all my godchildren, nieces and nephew. When my youngest niece was born in September this year, I wanted to get her a name board that I could take out to Austria with me in October. This was a good month before the Christmas market starts, and I clearly have problems ordering through Pay Pal. I messaged Land of Make Believe, and they made one up for me and arranged for me to collect it from their workshop. I couldn’t have asked for better customer service.

Funky Feet Whenever one of my friends has a new baby, I use it as an excuse to visit the Funky Feet website. Their baby clothes and gifts are gorgeous. They are all really good quality as well, items that I’ve bought in the past are already being passed down to younger siblings.

Sebon Want to know what to buy for the vegans in your life? Sebon is the place to go. They produce natural, plant-based soaps and body products that are made with no palm oil (better for the rainforests) and no animal products. My personal favourite is the spearmint lip balm, I’m addicted to it! Although Sebon products look tiny, they pack lots in and they last for ages.

My (well used) spearmint lip balm

Hipo hyfryd I’d heard of this company in a Welsh magazine that I read last year, but I only got around to trying their chocolates last week at a local Christmas market. Boy am I gutted that I’ve missed out on a whole year of eating these treats. Started by a vegan chef, hipo hyfryd make vergan, gluten free chocolates. Whether you prefer savoury or sweet, they will have something for you. Even if you’re not vegan or gluten-free, these chocolates will rival any of their omnivore competitors. If you have any other allergies or dietary needs, it’s worth contacting Gareth from Hipo hyfryd. He’s incredibly knowledgeable about food and is happy to develop new recipes so that everyone can enjoy chocolate.

Hipo hyfryd chocolates also come in these cute little boxes – perfect for gifts

Untapped Brewing Co If your family are anything like mine, the men are always the hardest to buy for. The Untapped Brewing Co were the answer to my prayers when, once again, I was stuck with what to get my dad last year. Their selection of hand made, home grown beers are perfect.

Have you got any great local finds to share? Get out and get discovering!

You have to try these

I had to share this photo with you. As a keen baker, over the past year I’ve been trying to experiement with plant-based versions of some favourite treats. I’ve had some successes, and some disasters.

When Somer over at Vedgedout posted a recipe for Double Dark Chocolate Coconut Pecan Cookies, they looked so good that I had to give them a try. I was not disappointed. My photo is nowhere near as good as the ones that Annie took for Somer, but I promise you that my cookies looked a lot more appetising in real life. Somer told me that this recipe is very forgiving, and she wasn’t wrong. No joke, anybody could make these. I made of couple of changes to the original recipe, like missing out the coconut because I’m allergic and swapping out a couple of ingredients for their British equivalents. Due to my poor maths, I also completely messed up the quantities when converting them to millilitres. All that, combined with the fact that I used gluten-free flour (yes, I’m allergic to gluten too!), had me convinced that the cookies would come out of the oven looking like something my neighbour’s cat usually leaves in our garden. But they didn’t! They taste great!

Double Dark Chocolate Cookies