We can all enjoy a vegan bite
Festivals – there’s a festival for everything these days isn’t there? Just in case you’re pining for all those summer festivals, I’ve got some good news for you – Vegan Oktoberfest is coming to the Cotswolds! Ok, it might not sound the most stimulating thing after Cornbury, but it’s certainly big news in the food world. November is World Vegan Month and this is the first year that the world-famous Vegan Oktoberfest is coming to the UK: if you’re keen to see what all the fuss is about, head over to the Malthouse Bar & Kitchen in Stroud on October 20 to taste a few vegan delights.
You’ll certainly not be alone. According to reports, the number of vegans in Britain has increased by 360% in the last 10 years and there’s been a 62% growth in the sale of plant-based foods between 2013-2017. And when a brand like Domino’s Pizza announces they are to trial a new vegan cheese topping in the UK this autumn, you can see where this is heading!
Whether this is a fad or a new reality, it’s certainly helped to open up a whole new market.
Wander around Stroud Farmers’ Market at the weekend and you’ll see a host of vegan treats on offer – onion bhaji wraps from Girish’s Vegan Indian Food, Moroccan falafel salad boxes from Funky Falafels, cashew, almond or peanut butters from Nifty Nut Butters, chickpea frittatas and puy lentil polenta from The Veggie Deli. Even mainstream brands are producing vegan alternatives – Stroud Brewery’s bottled beers are all vegan, and brownie maestro Sarah Jaskowska from Fair & Square Brownies has developed vegan alternatives which are flying off her stall. Many curries are naturally vegan, and certainly the vegetable and lentil or the spinach and rhubarb curry found on Saira’s South Asian Savouries prove how delicious vegan food can be.
Perhaps the most exciting local development in the vegan world is the rising popularity of Coco Caravan chocolate, produced here in the Cotswolds and available at Stroud Farmers’ Market, as well as other outlets and online (cococaravan.co.uk). Created by Jacques Cop, a former ecologist, this unique chocolate bar ticks all the right food trend boxes: vegan, organic, raw, gluten free, unrefined, Fairtrade. But it’s certainly no gimmick. Jacques is a first-rate chocolatier who puts first-class ingredients at the top of his agenda. As he says, chocolate can be very simple – ground cacao beans and a sweetener. Nothing more, nothing less, and it certainly doesn’t need anything from an animal-based product.
To make his chocolate, Jacques uses the ancient criollo cacao bean, sweetened with unrefined, creamy coconut blossom nectar which combine to produce a chocolate that’s as good – if not better – than any Dairy Milk or Galaxy. As well as a single estate bean to bar range, Coco Caravan offers flavoured chocolate including sweet chocolate orange, full minty chocolate and hazelnut and currant, as well as the more inventive dark cinnamon and chilli, chai dark, and tamari almond chocolates, plus a range of soft-centred caramels and blonde chocolates. Add to that the striking packaging with its suggestion of a superior, classy product, and you’ve got one cool vegan brand. N Locally-owned company Warner’s Budgens have six stores in the area - Bidford-on-avon, Broadway, Moreton-in-marsh, Quedgeley, Tewkesbury and Winchcombe. More information at warnersbudgens.co.uk
ABOVE: Vegan, organic, raw, glutenfree, unrefined, Fairtrade... chocolate that ticks all the boxes