TAILS OF A TRAVELLING CAT
Olympia, The Just V Show
Greetings, humans! This Tail will report on my experiences at my first vegan event. Well, it is not strictly a vegan event, the Just V Show is dedicated to vegetarian and vegan stalls and there are also two other events running simultaneously, the Allergy and Free From Show and the Love Natural, Love You Show. Anyway, all the events were held at Olympia, which is in Kensington and that is in London. I thought Olympia was where they did the horse show event, but looks like there’s at least one giant hall as well.
All three shows allowed plenty of opportunity for the humans to snack on free samples, buy vegan food and take away more food. Once we were in, our first top was to the Schär stand. Although they are producers of gluten free food and so were in the Free From section, they were giving away free goody bags, we didn’t want to miss out on this one! Quite a haul we came away with there as well: gluten free breadsticks and sourdough, a bag of potato crisps, seaweed crisps, a fruit and nut bar, some flax seed, chocolate spread, a no-sugar sugar replacer, a sachet of Barely Cup (vegan Bovril basically), as well as the all-important money off vouchers for various brands.
Already loaded up for the day, we set off around the stalls, grazing on free samples as we went. Our first purchase was from Baking Bad. The stall was full to bursting with assorted iced cupcakes, brownies and cakes. The humans shared a salted caramel brownie, but there were also fudge and strawberry hazelnut flavours. There was a plethora of cupcake flavours, but just a few included chocolate fudge, Oreo and carrot walnut. The cake flavours on offer were double chocolate orange blueberry.
Whilst it was tempting to buy a bit of every cake, the humans controlled themselves and only bought one. The brownie was soft and gooey, but not so gooey that it made a mess everywhere. Other people must have liked Baking Bad as much as Charlie and Jack did as when we walked back passed the stall at the end of the event, the stock was much diminished.
The next major stop was at Nutcrafter Creamery, makers of artisan raw cashew nut cheese. The humans had a good time testing out the various flavours on offer, including the volcanic (aged to perfection one would hope), the ancient (extra aged) and the decadent (air aged). All the cheeses we tried were very creamy and strong, what more can one ask for from a cheese?
We then moved next door to Essential Vegan, where we tried out a smoked cheese this time. It was a harder cheese but still as good. This was also cashew based. All this cheese, the humans’ breath is going to stink by the end of today…
Not to worry, we then found a chewing gum stand, Chewsy. Unlike your average gum which comes in sticks, these were in cubes which was different, I suppose. The three flavours on offer were your traditional spearmint and peppermint and the less usual lemon. We were informed by the stall vendor that the lemon flavour was the most popular of the samples, this was undoubtedly true as many of the people passing stopped to taste this one. After careful testing of all the flavours, the humans decided to buy a packet of the lemon each, this was particularly good for Charlie who doesn’t like mint, it’s not easy finding mint-free gum.
Although the flavour doesn’t last as long as regular gum, it also doesn’t turn tacky so won’t stick to your teeth, which is a benefit. It is soft and pliable on the tongue if that is important to you (Charlie is chewing a piece as we write, so can give a fully accurate review of the gum).
After freshening up their breath with the gum, the humans then visited a gluten-free pastry stall then a flavoured seeds company, the spicier flavours including curry and Mexicana, so much for the er… lemony fresh benefits of chewing gum.
From here we passed the Yu and Mi Company, selling Japanese vegetable noodles and rice. We took the opportunity to try the noodles with salad and sweet noodles with coconut milk sauce. Charlie liked both, Jack was not such a fan. The rice was not vegan, although I couldn’t work out why. We had now wandered into the waters of Allergy and Free From so decided to head back to Just V.
Here we wandered through a sea (fortunately metaphorical) of vegan chocolates, cheeses and ‘meats’. We also came across Cats Protection and Charlie signed up to sponsor a cat pen, the current resident of which was a tortoiseshell called Lexi Girl. I was very happy with the pictures of cats around this stall and settled down for a photo here.
There were so many exciting food stuffs on offer, but for the sake of becoming repetitive, I’ll only include a few really good ones now.
We visited Cape On Backwards, who make individual artisan cakes. They had red velvet, chocolate mud and lemon drizzle cakes on offer, all of which were divine. The lemon drizzle in particular was light and fruity, but perfectly moist. Deliciously Raw heaped free recipes upon us, which was exciting, as well as free samples. The teriyaki coconut was a particular favourite, the flavour was strong, but not over powering.
Linda McCartney was there, their new pulled pork burgers were on offer. Although they had previously contained honey, they now used black treacle, making them vegan but still giving them a perfect sweet taste.
There was also Oumph! a Swedish company producing soya based meat alternatives, these were served up on nachos and eaten almost quicker than they could be put out by the vendors.
Holy Moly dips produced some fantastic guacamole, plain avocado and spicy flavours were available. These were creamy and avocado-y which I’m sure is a real word, anyway what I’m trying to say is that if you like avocado, you’ll be a fan.
There was also a large number of stalls dedicated to vegan supplements. Charlie and Jack decided they were healthy enough to not need to try these, but their popularity does rather suggest there’s a lot of vegans worried they aren’t getting the right nutrients from their food. I’d suggest just eating a balanced diet, not that I’m a nutritionist or anything, I just like the excuse to eat lots of different foods!
We took a break for lunch, purchasing a steak and cheese burger from a burger company whose name has unfortunately slipped my mind. All I can say is they were from Glasgow, made everything themselves, the vegan mayo, the nutty cheese and the steak which I think was soya based. The whole burger was delicious although it made quite a mess (what are napkins for?). The humans shared the burger and then headed to the Greek Vegan Deli where they bought a sausage roll, which happily came with sundried tomato hummus. The pastry was soft on the inside and crisp on the outside, the sausage was delightfully flavoursome, although again I’m not quite sure what it was made of.
The Greek Vegan Deli offered a huge selection including hummus and falafel filled pittas, baklava, moussaka and several pizza like things which I was uncertain as to their Greek-ness. Everything was piled high on the stall and all looked as good as our sausage roll tasted.
After lunch, we ventured back to explore the other shows on offer. The Allergy and Free From show seemed to contain a large number of gluten-free granola stands. All had tasty selections on offer, the particular favourite being Nature’s Path who gave us a whole tub of fruity granola to take away. The humans enjoyed a granola that was packed with flavour but without the addition of the totally unnecessary honey which seems to appear in most commercial granolas.
This show was also home to a large number of alternative milks and yoghurts. A particular favourite was Soya Dream (also Rice Dream, Almond Dream, Coconut Dream etc), so good Charlie kept sneaking back for more samples. It was creamy but without the overwhelming soya taste or the cloyingness of other brands.
Nush offered a large selection of cashew and almond based yoghurts, including salted caramel, strawberry and blueberry. All the flavoured ones were well received, although the plain almond base less so.
CoYo provided coconut yoghurts (get it?) which were excellent, particularly the cherry flavour, and the Coconut Collaborative had a fantastic lemon yoghurt up for grabs.
A particular favourite among the humans was Real Good Ketchup, this was amazing – it actually tasted of tomatoes! There was also a BBQ ketchup on offer. This was so good Jack bought a bottle, Charlie preferred the tomato-y taste of the ketchup.
Jack embraced the idea of doing your shopping at a vegan event, he also bought spicy Veganaise, seaweed crisps and a good selection of other stuff of which I’ve rather lost track of.
One of our last stops, just as the event was closing for the day was Freaks of Nature who produced wonderful chocolate puddings. These were all free from dairy, gluten, soya and artificial stuff, the pudding we tried was just the right amount of chocolatey-ness, not too bitter, but still strong. It had a dark chocolate base layer and a more mousse like top, truly decadent.
Well, I’ve rambled on about food for quite a while now. You’ll either be starving hungry or sick of the stuff, but hopefully I will have inspired you to try out some new vegan brands, most of which you can find in your local supermarket or health food shop. Go on, grab your favourite vegan granola, followed by a bit of soya meat and the gooiest cake you’ve got on offer. Enjoy it!
Until my next entry,