Veganism is one food trend and lifestyle that has not lost momentum over the past decade or so. Veganuary is an annual month celebrating vegan living and a chance to test the waters to see whether this lifestyle suits you.
In what is suspected to be its biggest year, Veganuary has moved from the delis, specialist food shops and restaurants into our own kitchens due to the lockdown. Since Spring last year, time has been on our side and many people have discovered the love of food. Whether baking sourdough, preparing batch-cooked meals or distilling gin, the nation has discovered its dormant love affair with food.
As a result of this, veganism now seems more possible for people who have more time at home to devote to a new lifestyle and making food-conscious swaps to make sure their meals are balanced.
Northumberland and Scottish Borders vegan-friendly producers
Around Northumberland and the Scottish Borders, there are several vegan-friendly producers to make sure you’re getting the right nutrients as well the right treats! Here are 10 to get you started and love throughout the year, not just for Veganuary.
Left Field Kombucha
Kombucha is a special tea drink full of antioxidants and is full of healthy gut bacteria which previously, in our culture, was only apparent in specialist yoghurt drinks. The best time to enjoy kombucha is before big meals so the live cultures and enzymes have time to infiltrate the gut. Fermented food & drinks, such as kombucha, can support the digestive system especially if you are taking on a new lifestyle.
As it contains caffeine, kombucha is best enjoyed as a during the day beverage. Based in Eyemouth, the Left Field owls have created 4 flavours of kombucha which includes Sencha Green and Darjeeling.
Karmic Cakery is situated in the Meantime Workshops in Spittal, not too far from the promenade. Karmic Cakery makes a delightful selection of vegan-friendly treats ranging from meringues, celebration cakes, scones and more. They have also served vegan-friendly hot lunches including pulled bbq jackfruit burgers. At the moment, the cakery is shut to the public, however, you can still get in contact with the cakery via social media and place an order for a cake fix.
Bear Claw Brewery is located at the Meantime Workshops, alongside Karmic Cakery, in Spittal. Bear Claw’s mighty beers with a punch are vegan friendly. A lot of alcohols are not vegan-friendly due to certain brewing processes.
The brewery is open on Saturday afternoons and delivery is available to those in the Berwick area. Popular ales include The Fool, Imperial Stout and Cloud of Mirrors, a Belgian-style IPA.
Breakfast is perhaps the easiest meal to “veganise”. And one, in particular, gets ticks all around. Porridge. Porridge negates the need for any processed vegan foods to be present and the toppings can be adventurous as you’d like. Sweeten with berries, make it savoury with roasted nut butter or spice it up with ground cinnamon, sultanas and grated carrot.
Locally grown oats are milled at Heatherslaw Mill, which still uses traditional milling techniques. There are a few varieties to choose from including pinhead oatmeal or Scottish rolled oats depending on how you like your porridge.
Alternatively, use oats to create your own homemade oat milk!
One food always sticks out for vegans and that is nuts! Nuts are little nutritional powerhouses but to get the best of them, less is more. A handful of nuts or 1 – 2 tsp of nut butter per serving is plenty.
The Nut Roaster has 4 types of nut butter including almond and cashew. Using all-natural ingredients, and importantly no palm oil, these little pots are a must for vegans.
Almond butter is fantastic made into energy balls, cashew butter is delicious with green apple slices. Hazelnut butter is yummy made into cookies with chocolate chips and peanut butter used in salad dressing or topping for toast.
Wheat always gets a bad rep as an integral part of our diets. However, it could potentially be modern strains of wheat which are part of the problem. Gilchesters Organics focus on growing heritage grains, ones which are ancestors ate many moons ago. These include Emmer and Einkorn. Not only are you getting the benefit of an organically grown grain, but also the goodness that comes with a grain which has not been tampered with by science. These grains sustained older cultures so it seems logical to agree that it would do the same for us.
With ancient grains, the whole grain is used so we are getting an abundance of healthy vitamins and minerals including fibre, omega healthy fats and protein which can be a worry if you’re new to veganism.
Wild & Scottish Sea Buckthorn Juice
Sea Buckthorn Juice is a seasonal product available from Wild & Scottish based in the Scottish Borders. Sea buckthorn is an interesting plant which is found along coastlines. It is high in antioxidants and is the only plant source known to contain all omega fatty acids.
The juice from Wild and Scottish is hand-harvested and pressed so it retains all the goodness. Wild and Scottish harvest from October and February.
As it naturally tangy, or bitter to some, it can be enjoyed mixed into smoothies or salad dressings. It also complements seafood too. However, a small shot of the juice is palatable to some. It will certainly wake you up in the morning!
Fresh Fruit & Vegetables
There are many places to find fresh fruit and vegetables which are a huge part of meat-free eating. Vegetables, in particular, are flavoursome and also work well with herbs and spices, perhaps even more than meat! Think roasted harissa aubergine steaks or cumin cauliflower bites.
Order fresh fruit and vegetable boxes or visit local markets or greengrocers. Local producers include Hexhamshire Organics, Christmas Farm, North East Organic Growers, Drysdales and Julian’s Veg. Keeping it as local as possible means the nutrition content is higher.
Alice’s Pantry‘s products are suitable for those suffering from allergies such as milk and gluten. Alice’s business is inspired by personal experience and she has successfully created tasty free-from products suitable for vegans and more.
Although pies may be more synonymous with meat, veggie and vegan-friendly pies have made huge strides over the past few years. Jarvis Pickle, based in Eyemouth, has a variety of vegan-friendly pies including cauliflower curry pie and vegan tagine pie. With over 30 British Pie awards won, they are definitely worth trying.
Giving it a Go?
Whether you’ve got stuck halfway through veganuary or looking to make some plant-based changes to your diet, there are some amazing local options to keep you sustained through your challenge.