With over 600,000 vegans in the UK today, there’s no arguing that veganism is on the rise. With so many jokes about the quality of hospital food, you may worry about the quality of vegan food, given that even some restaurants struggle with creating tasty and wholesome vegan meals.
Hospital stays are often where people are at their most vulnerable, and a healthy diet can definitely help to improve people's moods and possibly even their recovery time.
Veganism now comes under the international human rights provisions and vegans in the UK are protected under human rights and equality law, so in theory they cannot be discriminated against due to their lifestyle or dietary choices, so surely this must mean that well balanced nutritious vegan meals are provided, right?
We spoke to a few vegans who have had hospital stays, and we asked them about the food they were offered and provided during their stay, and you’ll see that not all hospital food is created equal.
One vegan was offered just a carton of orange juice and a dairy yoghurt as a meal, while many others report simply being given toast and jam for the entirety of their stay. One patient at Leeds General Infirmary was given a ‘meal’ consisting of a banana and a plate of lettuce and tomatoes.
A report from one woman was that 'My partner is seriously ill in hospital and this is today's dinner! Note the butter! Yesterday he was given nothing whatsoever and the day before it was a broccoli and Stilton soup!
Not all reports were bad however, with some hospitals (such as Southampton and Derby) having gone above and beyond to provide appropriate food for their patients. With separate vegan menus seen at Croydon University Hospital and St Georges consisting of several choices such as vegetable curries, butternut squash and bean stew, vegetable bake and much more.
One patient was even visited by the catering manager who took note of what they would like and then went out to buy vegan sausages for the patient.
One recurring piece of information is that if you know in advance that you will be staying in hospital, be sure to let them know that you require vegan meals. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible, but be sure to let them know when you can.
Have you had a hospital stay recently? Let us know how the food was (good and bad) in the comments below, and you can always share your stories with us on Facebook and Instagram.
Beaches were full and ice cream freezers emptied across the UK today as the warm weather continues, but with many of us enjoying a break from the bitter winter cold, could this weather phenomenon have a more sinister underlying effect?
With temperatures reaching up to 20 degrees Celsius in London today, breaking the record for the hottest February day in Britain on record, and a town in Wales breaking the hottest day record two days in a row by reaching a staggering 20.3, it’s time to consider the potential impacts this may have for the remainder of the year and future years to come.
Impact On Wildlife
With hedgehogs mistaking the warmer weather for spring time (which doesn’t officially begin until March 20th) many wildlife experts are expressing a concern for whether they, and many other mammals, will be able to find adequate food to sustain themselves, especially as temperatures are due to drop again which may induce hibernation with inadequate energy storage.
Frogspawn have also been seen across the country, and with evening frost still being prominent, it is likely many of these will be lost to the cold night time weather.
Migrating birds have also been seen returning with the hot weather, birds such as swallows and house martins are returning to the UK early, and with food sources not yet available there is a significant concern for these birds’ chances of survival. These behavioural changes of mammals could be detrimental to species and individual numbers. The MET office is classing these February temperatures as an ‘extreme weather event’ and 27 councils across the country have declared a ‘climate emergency’.
Is Climate Change to Blame?
While climate change cannot be confirmed as the cause for these previously unseen temperatures until sufficient research can be carried out, previous data has shown that extreme weather events such as this are becoming ever more likely due to the increased CO2 and greenhouse gasses, with warnings that this may become the norm in decades to come as global temperatures continue to rise. December was also, on average, 2 degrees higher than in 2017.
How You Can Help
Caring for green pastures, removing litter from wildlife areas and providing hedgehog boxes, bird boxes and other wildlife protection could help ease the impact of the coming frost on the local wildlife, as well as donating to local wildlife charities to help with the increasing number of patients they are likely to see over the coming weeks.
Reducing your impact on the environment is a great long term way to help prevent events like this in the future, we’ve all heard about washing our clothes at cooler temperatures, reducing the amount of waste we create and using public transport or walking from place to place, but did you know that animal agriculture is one of the leading causes of climate change?
The animal agriculture industry creates more greenhouse gasses than the entire transport sector combined, that includes all trains, planes and cars. Cows produce huge amounts of methane, which has a global warming potential 86 times higher than that of CO2.
This is why veganism is coming to the forefront in recent years. It is the most impactful way that you can start to reduce your carbon footprint from day one. Not only are you saving over 300 animals each year, but consider how many less animals then need to be bred, fed and watered. You are helping to relieve the strain of animal agriculture across the globe.
If you’re interested in finding out more about how the animal agriculture industry effects the environment, check out our blog where we explore the impacts. You can also watch the Cowspiracy documentary on Netflix, which confronts the industry itself, providing shocking and eye opening statistics.
If you want more information about veganism, as well as help making the transition, have a look at Challenge 22+, you can signup and receive support, meal plans, vouchers and help and advice for free.
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Nobody likes spending more than they need to, which is why one of the main arguments for avoiding a vegan diet is how expensive it can be - This is completely understandable...
You walk into the supermarket and you load up your trolly with substitutes for all of your favourite foods and before you know it, you’re paying almost twice the amount than what everyone else seems to be spending.
It’s no secret that supermarket substitutes are not cheap. Veganism has only started to see a dramatic rise in popularity in the past couple of years. This lack of demand up until recently has meant that substitutes need to be priced higher for the companies that make them to have a suitable profit margin.
However, it is extremely possible to shop affordably as a vegan. There are a number of different strategies that you can start using today that will dramatically reduce your weekly spend and could perhaps even taste better than your original basket would have done.
Meal planning is one of those tasks that many people swear by despite how long-winding it may be. While it can seem tedious at first, developing this habit can keep the expensive items out of your basket while also preparing you for a week’s worth of delicious meals.
Planning your meals gives you the opportunity to think through how you can make your own substitutes without paying the premium for ready-made items. By preparing them yourself, you can enjoy fresh food in a proportion that works for you, that also tastes exceptional.
Not only this, but this kind of forward thinking will allow you to make budgeting decisions in advance. By having everything laid out in front of you, you can determine what the costly items in your basket are and how you can work around them.
It’s something that you eventually get the hang of and actually becomes pretty exciting when you start to discover different meals and flavours that work together. If you’re looking to get started with meal planning - why not try plantbasedonabudget.com’s 1-week meal plan? All for under $25.
Buying In Bulk
Buying fresh is great where you can, but buying your veggies in bulk isn’t a very cost-effective method of budgeting. There are a number of staples that you can purchase, however, that have a much longer shelf life and can save you time and money in the long run.
Rice is one of those great staples. 1kg of rice can see you through a number of meals in a number of different ways. As a big fan of curry, I always make sure my cupboards are stocked with rice but it works great for a quick go-to snack as well.
Pasta is another great staple and a firm favourite among many. Vegan mince can be very affordable depending on where you shop and can make a great addition to a pasta dish. You could also compliment it with mushrooms, sweetcorn, beans and other ingredients based on your preference. If you are prepared to make your own sauce, you may be able to save some pennies here too.
Not only that, but there are a huge number of tinned goods that have an almost indefinite shelf-life. Chickpeas, beans, lentils, vegetables, the list goes on. Having these in the cupboard means you always have a meal to go to. You should try our Chingri Malai curry. Bursting with zesty flavours and comprising but a few staples, it’s the perfect example of how to eat well on a budget.
Keep Your Spice Rack Topped Up
An interesting vegan diet is predisposed by what you keep in your spice rack. Each jar has the potential to give anything in your cupboards a whole new dimension of flavour.
It takes practice to know which flavours work with which foods but by keeping a well-stocked spice rack, you will find that you depend less and less on shop bought substitutes and find more confidence in your own abilities to cook vegan food that tastes great.
Here are some great flavours to get your spice rack started:
Kaffir Lime Leaves
Coriander / Cilantro
Some you will find go with anything! (I’m talking about paprika obviously). However, Harrissa can give your curries a subtle kick of heat, basil can give your pasta dish an authentic, fresh taste. Cumin can give your curries a delicious earthy flavour. It’s all down to you to experiment. You’ll soon find a knack for flavours.
Make Your Own Substitutes
There is absolutely no point paying a premium on a granola bar. For a small investment of your time, you could make your own granola bars in bulk tailored perfectly to your preference.
The same is true for a whole host of other premium products. Seitan is a popular meat replacement that many vegans and vegetarians can prepare at home using vital wheat gluten, garbanzo flour and water (and a few preferencial spices).
The most difficult one, which explains why it costs so much in the supermarkets, is vegan cheese. In most cases, it doesn’t live up to expectations. However, cheesemaking is an artform and if you are willing to invest the time and energy into making a great, dairy-free cheese, it will not disappoint.
I fully intend to have a walkthrough of the cheesemaking process on the website in the coming months. Make sure to sign up to our newsletter to be notified when this becomes available!
Avoid the Word ‘Vegan’ (accidentally vegan foods)
As soon as something is labelled as ‘vegan’ the price seems to double. These brands are working in a niche market, and as i've said above, they need to work at higher prices to make money.
Luckily for all us vegans -especially the junk food vegans out there- you can find a multitude of vegan products at your local supermarket for the same prices you’ve always paid. ‘Accidentally Vegan’ foods are a great way to save money.
There are hundreds of accidentally vegan foods varying from instant noodles to party rings, you just need to know what you’re looking for! Make sure you’re clued up about the additives and flavours containing animal products and you’ll soon be saving money while enjoying the same products you always have.
There are four easy ways that you can reduce the cost of your vegan shopping basket:
Meal Planning Knowing in advance what you intend to eat for the week can help you to come up with delicious meals without the need to depend on pricey substitutes.
Buying In Bulk Paying more in the short term can save you money in the long-term. Bulk buying discounts let you stock up on your much needed staples so you only need to focus on spending money on your fresh ingredients.
Keep Your Spice Rack Topped Up A range of flavours will help you to move away from the expensive produce as you become more dependent on your culinary expertise. You don’t need to pay a lot of money to have great tasting food!
Make Your Own Substitutes There’s no need to pay a premium when you can make your own substitutes for less. There are a number of recipes available for substitute meats, vegan cheeses and other goodies.
All in all, I regularly find that my shopping basket for the week comes to between £20-£30. If you break that down into what it costs per meal, going by the top end of the spectrum, it’s costing me about £1.43 a meal on average. Not bad at all…
The truth of the matter is, is that depending on where you shop and how you shop, there is little to no difference in the financial cost of vegan diet to a omnivorous diet. A vegan diet has been made to look expensive simply because of the lack of demand and supply of plant-based alternatives.
What’s your opinion on the matter? Do you have any shopping habits that have helped you save on your weekly rounds? We’d love to hear what you think in the comments section below.
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Takeaway pizza chain Papa John's released a vegan menu today (28th January 2019) after persistent public demand and a petition with nearly 30,000 signatures urging the brand to offer vegan alternatives.
The company released not only one vegan option, but three vegan pizza options:
Vegan Sheese and Tomato
Garden Party with Sheese
Hot Pepper Passion with Vegan Sheese
Papa John's have also released their immensely popular marmite and cheese scrolls as now being available as a vegan option. The company has now joined other major fast food outlets such as Pizza Hut, Zizzi and Pizza Express by keeping up with consumer demand for more plant-based foods. Papa John's have made a large step by immediately releasing the vegan options at all of its stores nationwide.
Managing Director at Papa John's, Liz Williams, has said “we worked closely with PETA who helped us develop the recipes and find the best vegan products, so we expect the new additions will be a huge hit”
It seems Ms William’s and others at Papa John's still managed to underestimate the vegan demand, with the new options selling out at many stores! One vegan from Eastbourne called their local store to order the new pizza for him and his wife, but the chain had sold out by lunchtime. They were told ‘they had run out... they had ordered two boxes and had run out already as the demand was so high, but it should be back in on Wednesday.’
There’s a bittersweet feeling among vegans this evening, with everyone enthusiastic about the latest vegan additions selling so well, but many customers still eager to get their hands on one of the new pizzas!
Have you tried any of the new vegan options yet? Let us know in the comments below!
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Ah the question so widely asked of vegans on a daily basis. “Where do you get your protein from?”
Despite such widespread concern for our dietary choices. I’m willing to bet you’ve never heard of a vegan that has died from protein deficiency?
In addition to the previous point, I would be surprised if you have ever heard of rhinos, gorillas, elephants etc. supplementing their diets with meat for fear of withering away.
It is possible to obtain all the protein you need to live healthily and happily on a plant-based diet. Here are just a few ways you can hit your protein intake for the day.
Natural Sources of Protein
Any type of lentil; red, split, green, puy or otherwise is loaded with protein. Per 100g of lentils you can expect to consume around 8-9g of protein. They make for a seriously good curry too!
The staple of the student diet and yet incredibly nutritious. When you crack open your next tin of baked beans, you can expect around 5g of protein. Other types of beans such as pinto, or black-eyed etc are also great and contain around 7-10g of protein per 100g.
Chickpeas are one of my favourites. Mainly because it helps me to justify the amount of hummus I eat. There is 7g of protein per 100g of chickpeas so don’t ever let anyone put you down for your love of hummus.
Okay, a bit fancy perhaps but it’s only fancy because of how incredibly healthy it is. While you only get around 4g of protein for every 100g of cooked quinoa. It is a complete protein meaning you get all 22 of the essential amino acids you need in your diet.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds are fantastic. Some make a great standalone snack, others make for a great supplement that you wouldn’t even notice. In a lot of cases, you can expect between 3-5g of protein per tablespoon. One of our particular favourites is Chia Seeds for their range of health benefits. You can even use them as an egg replacement!
Oats are respected as a wonderful carbohydrate to include in your diet, but did you know that per 100g of oats, 10% (10g) of that is protein? What better way to start your day! I usually have a bowl of porridge with almond milk and dried fruits in the morning but there are so many options to try.
Yep, vegetables have protein too. Broccoli, Cauliflower, Kale, Spinach as well as many others have between 1.5-2g of protein per 80g but we don’t tend to hear about that! (More on that later).
Brown and Wild Rice
per 100g of rice you can expect 4g of protein. If you’re on a budget, rice is perfect for slow release energy, fibre and protein. Making it a favourite among gym goers and meal preppers everywhere.
Other Sources of Protein
Seitan is made from gluten, so if you are on a gluten-free diet this certainly doesn’t count. If you’re not, this delicious ingredient is packing 25g of protein per 100g. That’s huge! Not only that, but it’s also a great source of selenium, iron, calcium and phosphorous. (It makes for a great vegan kebab!)
Made from soybeans and as previously mentioned in this post… beans are great for protein. Again, you can find all the essential amino acids you need in tofu. Typically containing around 10-19g of protein per 100g, you won’t be dying of protein deficiency any time soon. Most complain it’s quite bland - Try drying it out, coating it in cornstarch and adding any mix of flavours to it before frying it off and tell me if you change your mind.
We LOVE nutritional yeast and as the name suggests - it certainly is nutritional. If you get fortified nutritional yeast, there is 14g of protein per ounce, as well as fibre, magnesium, copper, zinc and a whole array of B-Vitamins including vitamin B12 which we covered in an earlier blog post. Did I mention it tastes like cheese?
While plenty of other plant-based milks contain protein too, soy milk really goes the extra mile with 7g of protein per cup. I tend to mix mine with a plant-based protein powder to significantly up my protein intake so there are plenty of options here to hit your goals.
Why Do We Need Protein?
Protein is essential in muscle repair and growth. Your skin, hair, muscles and organs all require protein to maintain themselves. Especially if you are exercising.
The main difference between meat protein and plant-based protein is the type you are consuming. They are divided into two different categories. Complete and incomplete. This is in relation to the amino acids contained in the protein. On a plant-based diet, it is harder to find complete proteins, but as previously mentioned; seitan, tofu, nutritional yeast and other sources do contain all the amino acids you need to sustain yourself.
So Why Is It Assumed Vegans Don’t Get Enough Protein?
You may remember, back in the day when you were learning about nutrition, a certain pie chart that depicted what was accepted as a ‘healthy’ diet:
As you can see, the main sources of protein we were educated to believe were healthy consisted of meat, fish and dairy primarily (and nuts in this case).
The meat and dairy industries hold a lot of sway over how dietary benefits are marketed to us and while they do contain protein, this pie chart also fails to mention the cholesterol and unhealthy fats that come as part of this ‘healthy diet’.
The fact that we believe that meat and dairy are the only sources of protein available to us is a matter of how they have been marketed. We have grown up believing that they are the only reliable source that will sustain us when this is simply not the case.
I hope this post has highlighted to you that there are more sustainable and healthy ways of reaching your protein intake. As a vegan, I am currently training at the gym and consuming around 140g of protein each day to hit my goals. While I am far from where I aim to be, I have made tenfold the amount of progress than when I was training on a meat diet, mindlessly consuming meat and dairy because that’s where I was told to find my protein.
Now, I am far more conscious of my eating decisions and am finally starting to reap the benefits of a more healthy and sustainable diet choice.
there are a number of vegan bodybuilders who have hit their goals and are showcasing that you don’t need meat to get those ‘gains’. You can find inspiration on the Instagram hashtag #veganfitness
Are you benefitting from a vegan diet? We’d love to hear your stories! Share your journey with us on the hashtag #HBivore
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