With Veganism officially being the fastest growing lifestyle ever, it was impossible not to notice an increase in supply at Trade shows, even when the show in question wasn’t targeted at vegan consumers or traders.
The Specialty & Fine Food Fair at Olympia, last week, was one big example! In the past couple of years I have personally noticed a huge increase in plant based products at every show i have been to, aside from the likes of Vegfest and other veg shows.
Some products have made their way into health stores, still being only a choice for selective buyers; others have made their way into more commercial supermarkets becoming mainstream. (eventually i hope all products will go this way)
But before we dive into the wonderful brands i met this weekend, the first and most important point I need to make is the acknowledgment that not all plant-based products are essentially healthy.
The connection between vegan and healthy food is still not quite standard, but the availability of what I call “bridges” is very important too because it can allow people to choose kinder food with the transition into a plant based lifestyle being easy and painless.
The Specialty & Fine Food Fair was a huge show, I don’t think I have seen half of it in the time I had, but even so, I managed to meet and connect with awesome brands that I happily tried and can share my opinion on. I certainly hope we can see those products in supermarkets soon enough. Some of them I was very impressed with as they targeted health as well! (my speciality)
My first stop was at the Vegetarian Society’s stand. The Vegan society was not around (and being member i was a little disappointed) , but they were displaying both vegan and vegetarian food (the difference is in dairy and at times eggs). However, I feel that at this show, this was a great move. People oftentimes see veganism as extreme (if they are not aware of what it is exactly) and a vegetarian approach is certainly softer. They seemed to be having good traffic and I hope it translated in potential converts.
As I walked along, I came across a brand I immediately fell in love with: Babease – Baby Plan! This brand is a company producing food for babies! Their motto is: “Food for babies, not baby food” I love that!
The truth is that healthy eating habits start when we are children. Most children’s products and baby foods are packed with fruit to make them sweet, making it harder for the little ones to be opened to vegetables alone, which are not as sweet.
Babease is committed to creating products that are nutritionally balanced (working with their in-house nutritionist) and that clearly state everything included in the package! Transparency is part of their ethos. The front of the packet shares the main ingredients in the “title” and the back breaks down exactly what is in the packet and how much!
The products are also organic! At the moment they are available on Ocado, at Boots, As Nature Intended, Amazon and their own website, but I do hope they will show up in most supermarkets and health stores. This is a product that deserves being known by the masses.
The company doesn’t want to replace home cooking, but it wants to be a trusted support when needed, still inspiring mothers to make food at home as they can. They also shared gorgeous recipes at the back of their fun cards, which I will be trying soon too!
At the moment the brand is free from eggs, dairy, meat or fish products, but the company did not want to commit in saying they will stay that way. I hope they do, however, as I feel kids don’t get enough vegetables or pulses in their diets and this could be a way to supplement!
Before continuing my journey into exploring other brands, I was pulled away by a talk about raw desserts! Being an author and having just published Innocently Sweet, I wanted to check out what others are creating. The founders of Hardi Hood, Daisy and Leah, were presenting their brand and the use of amazing superfoods in their cakes! Also, their commitment not to use refined sugars but only stick to real ingredients, also when it came to sweeteners, like coconut blossom for example!
It was a fun talk and you should definitively check out their site and shop because they make really good-looking treats! I did not have the chance to try any but I will and I will write about that specifically.
NOM focuses on offering simple yet delicious gluten free and vegan snack options. They offer their gluten free oat bars in four flavors to keep it interesting: original (oats), Banana, Cacao and Raspberry, and their protein bar with added pea protein!
Then my favourite: Popcorn! Naturally gluten free and vegan, NOM has now added some gorgeous flavors, no other brand offers so also the classic popcorn can have a twist with: Tomato Pesto, Salted Maple and Cinnamon Maple (for a healthier spin on sweet popcorn) and Simply salted – classic.
Their motto “Quench your hunger” is spot on! This company aims at giving people nutritionally charged smoothies made of vegetables. Because they use whole vegetables and herbs, and no fruit, the company at the moment is adding honey to balance off the taste of the greens. This makes the product vegetarian, and I hope they can remove the honey to make this accessible to vegans as well because the idea of having a full on vegetable supercharged meal is great to indeed quench hunger!
The two brand new companies were right next to one another as they started pretty much at the same time and the founders knew each other thanks to the African connection!
The spices on both sides are all plant based and although in Africa they are mostly mixed with meat, these products are perfectly suitable for vegans as they can be mixed with vegetables too to keep their plant based status! The flavours of both brands were very grounding and truly delicious! These spices are perfect for mixing it up in the kitchen and making your favourite vegetables (or tofu) taste different all the time. If you like me are obsessed with chickpeas and kale, maybe you can try eating the same thing but with different spins!
Yes I know, you may ask why, being vegan I am talking about bee products? This has actually nothing to do with bees! It is all about coconut!
I literally love coconut and I am familiar with this brand from my numerous trips to Planet Organic! So if you don’t know them let me tell you: best coconut meat ever – perfect for smoothies and raw cakes!
Amazing coconut water (they freeze it as soon as out of the coconut so you have to defrost it before drinking it but the taste is amazing) and flavoured coconut meat! Forget about beef jerky, coconut jerky is a thing now, and it is a delicious thing too! I had their teriyaki one as a snack and it was WOW
You have to give it to the founder of this brand, Athena Simpson, the name is killing it! This product must have been my favourite “bridge” food at the show! The brownie and cookie I tried were so delicious and they tasted as if they had butter in them but these products are fully vegan!
Yes they use cane sugar so need to be consumed with consciousness but the ingredients are not bad at all and they do offer a great alternative as they are gluten free, soya free, egg free, nut free and dairy free, making it a possible option for people with allergies to those common ingredients. At the moment they are selling the baking kit online and soon the snack pots will be available too, with my favourite (the brownie) nom nom…
Do you remember your grandmother making jam every time there was abundance in seasonal fruit? I do and it seems like a very long time ago! (it was) With our lifestyle having gone completely out of control, nobody really seems to be passionate about making jams anymore! But this lady, Gigi, still is, and not only she makes amazing jams, she makes chutneys too!
Why so impressive? She makes them from superfoods!
Wolfberry Jam: A great medicinal fruit, full of antioxidants, fibre and vitamins. Wolfberries were renowned for boosting vital energy and aiding longevity. They are loaded with beta-carotene, which can enhance skin glow, brighten the eyes, and improve sex lives.
Mulberry Jam: In Chinese medicine they have been used for centuries to enrich our blood, while soothing and calming the nerves. Mulberries have gained huge popularity for their immune boosting and longevity effects!
Jujube & Plum Jam: I love dates (this is a red date) , and aside from natural sweeteners and amazing energy boosters, they improve digestion, increase energy, and nourish blood, calming the spirit and improve sleep. Add in the plums and you have a mix of superpowers, including anti-inflammatory properties! Plums are also amazing at stimulating the colon, promoting digestion!
The Chutneys are made from the same fruit just mixed differently to guarantee a little tangy flavour! Check out the full collection on their website!
Jujube & Apricot Chutney
Wolfberry & Jujube Chutney
This brand has quickly become one of my favorites! At the show they had a wonderful display of amazing Macaroons, different tastes and textures! They looked amazing but they are truly even better when you taste them! The thing I loved the most is that each macaroon has its ingredients displayed so you cold literally see what you were eating! No funky business! A couple of them are vegetarian, with added honey, but the rest was vegan! They even made one with beetroot and it was delicious!
I didn’t know much about the brand but after the snow, looking them online I was pleasantly surprised by how cute and well presented the website is and by the story behind the products! “Nourish is a business creating food that while being enjoyed, it will nourish you from the inside out.” This is right up my alley! The founder’s background is as a practice nurse I she has seen the effects of processed food and refined sugar diets in patients. This is key, when someone from the medical field recognizes that food is medicine and thrives to make a change! So I fully support this brand as we share the same ethos!
Another sweet spot at the show! I tried their vegan options only but this is what I can tell you. Both the cookie and the oat bar were fabulous and took me back to my grandmother’s kitchen! What was really amazing to learn is that none of these products contains sugar! Also, what Claudia, the founder, focuses on are protein rich treats so they can be used as snacks between workouts for example!
Maybe I am biased, but Italians have a way in the kitchen!
Most people are familiar with this awesome brand and I was for some of their produce, but the show allowed me to learn more about them! First of all they are fully organic and secondly, they are fully vegan!
The business has been around for over a decade and it is impressive how this husband and wife keep on creating amazing food suitable for a healthy plant based lifestyle!
If you, like me, love Green Thai but struggle to get it without fish sauce anywhere then do not fear! Geo has a great range of sauces, including green Thai that are perfect and I checked the ingredients: NO NASTIES! Nothing bad in there at all! The best place to purchase their products is Goodness Direct though some of their products are available at Waitrose or health food stores! You want to know something cool? They have white chocolate! How many times can we find vegan white chocolate?
For more details on ranges: visit their website
Bing in health foods you’s think I heard it all! But I met a new nut at the show! The Hickory Nut! This nut is a superfood and like walnuts, a great brain booster due to its levels of Thiamine. Also a great source of unsaturated fats and amazing source of Manganese! Manganese is one of the key minerals supporting bone health! See, it is not all about calcium and this again shows that the dairy industry lied to us and we can have healthy bones without milk!
Another product I tried here was the Jujube fruit. I had come across it at Gigi’s stand as she makes jams and chutneys with this fruit, but here I tried the whole thing! Wow! I learned that this fruit is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat anxiety and insomnia! (I have a few friends to recommend this to!) and it helps that it is packed with anti-oxidants!
Before trying the products I did have a good giggle about their branding! Because sense of humor goes a long way with me:
“Introducing Colombia’s second most famous export
- Nearly as profitable
- Just as addictive
- Completely natural (and legal!)
- New and unique in the marketplace”
Then I tried the fruit and it is delicious. Those freeze dried fruit (pineapple, mango and strawberries) are very sweet (naturally) and quite filling! I didn’t have many but felt absolutely full and happy!
Those are truly great on smoothie bowls, oats or even mixed with granola! You can truly go crazy! Or eat them as they are if you fancy! Can’t go wrong!
It is hard to judge teas with so many choices out there! I surely have my favorites already, all herbal, and love anything with lemon! But even my favorite brands can become a little boring and at times you just need a change!
I was lucky enough to try this brand at the show and loves their small but really delicious range!
All made with Green Tea, high in antioxidants, source of 9 daily vitamins and natural fruit flavoring. Check out their website for bundles, specials and more details about the ingredients!
Last but not least on my little vegan tour, I met the founder of this awesome brand! Chris is English but he was so cool I thought he was Australian – I think he took is as a compliment and I meant it as such! Not to say English cannot be cool, but he had surfer’s ease about him and hey, he makes Kombucha!
I love Kombucha and had it for the first time in California in 2008, back when it was not a thing in the UK! After seven years I started seeing it everywhere here in London too and I am so happy! I like most brands but there is something about this Kombucha I love! Mostly their elderflower blend! It makes me happy! Kombucha has a strong taste and smell and at times it can smell like… err… feet! But this brand managed to tune the smell down nicely and still maintaining that fresh taste!
If you ever wonder why anyone would want to drink something that smells that strong let me just say: this drink will help you heal your gut with its amazing amount of probiotics and you know how important those are! No? then you need to check my blog and learn about it!
Unfortunately I truly did not have enough time to explore all other brands I am sure would have made a great addition to this list, I even skipped the chocolate (and you guys know how much I love my chocolate) but the impressive thing is truly that we can certainly see the need for more vegan and health conscious products and how the industry is responding to the demand by creating the right supply!
I also want to give a big shout out to those brands because they are privately owned, small companies, whose founders truly believe in their products! I hope they will always stay that way and never give in to big multinationals, buying everything they see as competition and as profitable!
We need to make sure we allow small companies to have the right platforms for honest competition and I am sure that I as well as my readers will be supporting small companies and really helping individuals make a living in exchange for good products that can help us all be healthy!
I look forward to seeing these products in stores!