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BBQ Cauliflower Mac & Cheese Pizza
Mac & cheese.  I don’t know about you, but while in adulthood I may have experimented with sophisticated, grown-up versions like cashew and roasted red pepper mac & cheese with caramelised onions, or beer-infused vegan cheddar mac, the blue box, comfort food mac & cheese from my childhood will always hold a special place in my heart.  Even if, I found the cheese packet goop kinda gross even as a child.  It’s still classic childhood food.  So I was over the moon when I heard about Earth Balance’s new mac & cheese – and also incredibly jealous of all the lucky people in America who have easy access!  And I was incredibly thrilled when the lovely Cadry sent me a care package that included a box of the stuff.
Earth Balance Mac & Cheese

If you still haven’t tried Earth Balance’s mac & cheese, there are two things you should know:

1. It is eerily reminiscent of boxed mac & cheese. You might find yourself double checking the package. Yes, it’s really vegan!

2. One box is not enough to feed 2 people, unless you have really tiny appetites.  But don’t worry, I’ve solved this problem for you by creating the extreme carbo-load BBQ cauliflower mac & cheese pizza below.  You’re welcome! Proceed with caution, and serve with a side of spinach salad so you don’t get scurvy or something from only eating carbs.

BBQ Cauliflower Mac & Cheese Pizza

BBQ Cauliflower Mac & Cheese Pizza

Ingredients

  • Head of cauliflower, chopped into florets
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil, divided
  • One box Earth Balance mac & cheese, prepared according to instructions on package
  • Pizza dough (instructions to make pizza dough below, or buy a premade pizza dough base if you want to make this meal even faster and easier)
  • BBQ sauce, approximately 125g or around half a bottle

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat oven to 200 C/400 F/gas mark 6.  Put chopped cauliflower florets in a pan. Coat lightly with 1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil and place in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until lightly browned.
  2. Prepare the mac & cheese according to package instructions and stir the roasted cauliflower and 1/2 the BBQ sauce in.
  3. Roll out the pizza dough and place on a greased baking tray.  Preheat oven to 230 C/450 F/gas mark 8.
  4. Top the dough with the mac & cheese mixture and bake for 10-15 minutes at 230 C/450 F, until the edges of the crust are browned.  Top with more BBQ sauce.

Pizza Dough

Ingredients

  • 1 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp lukewarm water
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1.5 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water.   Let rest for 5 minutes, until yeast begins to foam.
  2. Add the oil, salt and flour and mix using a wooden spoon, incorporating the flour as much as possible.  Knead the dough for 10 minutes, until it becomes soft and elasticky.  Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a kitchen towl.  Leave to rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.  It should double in size.
  3. When the dough has doubled in size, punch it down, then roll out the amount desired and put on a greased baking tray.

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Chocolate coconut kahlua brownie chunk ice cream

Autumn might be upon most of us in the Northern hemisphere, but that doesn’t mean we can’t cling to the very last few summery days until every single leaf has dropped off the trees in our city.

Because I spent the last couple of weeks in warmer climates (Santorini, Greece, followed by Barcelona), I’m finding myself even more reticent than usual to accept the fall.  There’s a chill in the air, and I’ve had to dig a coat and scarf out of my closet, it’s getting dark soon after I leave work and I’m finding myself craving roasted butternut squash soup, but there’s still a part of me that refuses to put my sundresses away and insists on eating ice cream.

thirassia

If you don’t want to let go of summer yet either, then you should definitely make this ice cream.  And eat it while imagining sitting on a warm beach somewhere on the Mediterranean.  Or eat it in the rain – you need to eat this ice cream even if it’s not ice cream weather.  Because simply put, this is my favourite ice cream (vegan or not) I’ve ever had.  It combines so many of the best ingredients into one decadent, incredibly creamy and slightly alcoholic ice cream (which reminds me a lot of gelato!)…

Coconut milk to make it creamy and rich and give it a slightly tropical, summery feel.

Chocolate because chocolate should be in everything and double chocolate? Even better.

Kahlua – since alcohol and coffee make everything better, and a coffee-flavoured liquer is the best of both worlds.  Plus alcohol makes your ice cream stay a little softer!

Corn syrup makes your ice cream creamier – but use another liquid sugar (like agave or maple syrup) in its place, or plain old sugar, just be warned a solid sugar will make your ice cream a touch less creamy.

Brownie chunks because as hard as it is to save these for your ice cream and not eat them all, it makes ice cream oh so decadent.

chocolate kahlua brownie chunk ice cream

Chocolate Kahlua Brownie Chunk Ice Cream

Ingredients

  • 1 can (15 oz/400 ml) coconut milk
  • 1 small can (5.4 oz/160 ml) coconut cream
  • 1/4 cup (approx 50 g) sugar
  • 1/4 cup (62.5 ml) corn syrup
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup (62.5 ml) kahlua
  • Handful of crumbled brownie chunks

Instructions

  1. Freeze your ice cream maker overnight according to the ice cream maker’s instructions.
  2. The next day, blend coconut milk, coconut cream, sugar, corn syrup, cocoa powder, vanilla extract and corn starch.  Pour into a saucepan.
  3. Heat over medium heat in a saucepan until it begins to bubble.  Remove from heat and cool in the fridge for at least 4 hours.  After it’s cooled down, add the kahlua and mix.
  4. Make ice cream according to your ice cream maker’s instructions.  About 5 minutes before the ice cream is done, add the brownie chunks.  You stir more swirls of brownies into the ice cream after it’s done, if you wish.
  5. When done, the ice cream straight out of the ice cream maker will be a texture similar to soft serve.  You can eat it as soft serve now if you prefer, or freeze it in a container for a few hours before serving for a harder ice cream.

 

Want to escape back to summer, or at least a warmer climate, and sit on the beach eating ice cream?  Get $100 off your next flight plus a personalised vegan guide written by me, just for you! (Sorry, ice cream not included!)

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passports

I love traveling as a vegan – as any vegan who’s ever traveled can probably tell you, it’s not without its trials and tribulations, but it’s so rewarding.  In many ways, I prefer it to travel before I was vegan.

I try restaurants I never would have tried before (or even have heard about).

I make new vegan friends all over the world.

I end up wandering around neighbourhoods where there’s a vegan restaurant that most tourists never would have ended up in.

And best of all?

I get to eat the most amazing food all over the world!

I want to share the joy of vegan travel with everyone, which is part of why I put my Hungerlust series together.  I want everyone to experience vegan travel, which is why I’m offering you the chance to win $100 off your next flight (with the airline of your choice) + a personalised guidebook written just for you.

What will the winner get?
-$100 gift card to the airline of your choice!!
-Tell me where you’re planning to fly, and I’ll put together a completely personalised guidebook for you of the very best vegetarian and vegan restaurants where you’re going, which dishes to try, and any accidentally vegan foods plus translations of local phrases!

When you sign up below you’ll also get all my free guide to vegan airlines & airports, including how to order a vegan meal and what not to eat (what’s almost definitely not vegan), vegan meal options on the top 10 airlines and vegan foods in the top 10 airports, plus a few recipes and tips on what to pack.

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theveganword-mofo-keepinitkind

I have long been a huge, huge fan of Keepin’ it Kind – Kristy’s recipes are amazing and she writes some of the best recipe intros I know of.  And I’m using her Barcelona guide series right now to plan my upcoming trip to Barcelona this weekend!  So, I was extremely excited to interview Kristy for my vegan traveler interview series!  Check out the interview below.

How long have you been vegan?  How many places and where have you traveled since you’ve been vegan?
I’ve been vegan 3 years this month. Since being vegan, we’ve travelled within the U.S. to New York City, Hawaii, Portland, and San Francisco. Outside of the country, we’ve been to Italy and Spain.

theveganword-mofo-keepinitkind-italy

What’s your favorite place or places you’ve traveled as a vegan?
I think my favorite would have to be New York City. It’s amazing to actually stumble upon vegan restaurants or bakeries without even looking for them. They’re everywhere in that city!

theveganword-mofo-keepinitkind-gopal

What was the best vegan meal you’ve had while traveling?  How did you find the restaurant?
That’s so hard to say. Candle 79 in NYC (everything on the menu is phenomenal) is probably near the top of the list, as well as Millennium in San Francisco (You must try the Crusted King Trumpet Mushrooms!). Both of those restaurants are pretty famous so they were both part of our agenda while in those cities. The best restaurant we discovered while traveling would probably be Gopal in Barcelona. Chocolate-covered donuts, cinnamon rolls, tortilla espanol, and potatas bravas- all vegan and all incredible! We found it while looking for another restaurant that I’d been to on a prior visit to the city.

theveganword-mofo-keepinitkind-sanfran

What was the hardest place to be a vegan?  How did you find food?  What did you eat?
I’ve never been anywhere where it was hard to be vegan. I’ve always found something to eat- some places you just have to look a little harder than others. Oddly, the most difficult searches have arose while visiting our families in northern California (Tracy & Merced). It’s kind of the “Midwest” of California and people haven’t really caught on to the wonders of vegan food yet. We usually look on Happycow.com (or use their app) or we search for vegan or vegan-friendly restaurants on Yelp but in those cities, the search results are very sparse. In Tracy, we found that Freebirds World Burrito has great vegan options and in Merced, well, we usually end up going to another nearby city.

Where are you planning on going next and what vegan places will you be checking out?
We’re really hoping to make it to Omaha, Nebraska sometime in the near future so we can go to Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s new restaurant Modern Love. Her restaurant is one of the main reasons we want to go there. We’re hoping to do a trip to France sometime in the next year or so. I haven’t begun doing a lot of research but it looks like there a lot of options in Paris. Other cities might require a little more homework.

If you had to give some advice to a new vegan planning their first holiday as a vegan, where would you tell them to go (and what would you tell them to eat?)?  Any advice you’d give them?
I would choose to go somewhere where the cuisine is very vegan-friendly, like Italy. It is very easy to get a vegetable pasta or pizza or salad without having to alter the order that much (you may have to ask them to hold the cheese). Wherever you choose to go, larger cities will have better options so I would plan accordingly. Also, you can’t be too prepared. Do as much research beforehand as possible. Make lists that you can carry with you (if they’re in your phone, it may be hard to access due to internet limitations) and if needed, print maps. At the very least, learn what sorts of vegan options are available in that city/country so you know what to ask for when you stumble into a random restaurant.

Check out Kristy’s travel section here for her super handy guides to various cities!  And stay up to date by following Keepin’ it Kind.


This post is part of my Hungerlust series. Hungerlust. That insatiable craving for both food, and travel. Preferably combined. And vegan, naturally. My Vegan Month of Food (MoFo) theme this year is all about feeding it. We’ll be doing a journey around the world (airfare not included – sorry!) from the comfort of our sofas – or desks, wherever you happen to be sitting. 

Win $100 off your next flight + a free personalised guidebook!

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IMG_2961

Dry, bland and tasteless.  Typical complaints about airline food, although it may not be entirely justified (flying changes tastebuds and sense of smell and makes everything taste flavourless).  But what if you get no meal at all?

My worst experience with air travel (and sadly, it seems not all that uncommon) was when they forgot to pack my vegan meal on the plane.  I was strapped into a tin bucket for the next 8 hours or so with no dinner in sight.  After rummaging around in my bag for awhile, I pulled out a can of Pringles and a dark chocolate bar and ate that for dinner, while the flight attendants made fun of my ‘poor meal choice’.  Thanks a lot!

Another time they accidentally served my vegan meal to someone a few rows in front of me – by the time I figured it out, it was too late.  Again, this unfortunately seems like a not uncommon experience amongst vegan travellers.  So how to make sure that you don’t starve on your next plane ride?

1. Order your vegan meal well in advance, by contacting the airline at least 72 hours before your flight – and confirm at check-in!  (Most airlines use the code VGML; some also offer Indian Vegetarian and Chinese Vegetarian options but definitions vary wildly and some airlines make these vegan while others don’t.)

2. Carefully inspect (or just avoid) the ‘extras’ that come with your meal on the plane.  While the main components of the meal are usually prepared by a commercial catering company, often the extras like bread, spread and salad dressing are added on the plane.  While some airlines are more clued up than others, often they add butter or dairy-containing margarine, or salad dressing with milk in it.

3. Never come unprepared – bring some snacks, like dried fruit and nuts, energy bars or an apple in your carry-on.  Remember that pastes like peanut butter and hummus will count against your liquid limit.

4. If possible, bring your own meal like a wrap, sandwich or pasta, to have on the plane or in the airport.  (Although be warned that apparently pasta doesn’t fare well on the plane and is one of the worst options for plane food)

5. Find out what vegan options are in the airport in advance, so you know where to go to grab a bite to eat!  I’ve put together a guide (see below) with options in the top 10 airports worldwide.

6. If worst comes to worst and your meal doesn’t arrive, ask nicely and you might find the flight attendants can rustle something up (usually a jacket potato and salad, or fruit plate – not the most exciting dinner, but hey, it’s better than nothing!).  And if that doesn’t work, those nuts will come in handy!

Want more information on vegan air travel?  I’ve put together a free guide which includes vegan options by airline and vegan options (terminal by terminal) at the top 10 airports worldwide.  Sign up below to get it!

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dandelion communitea cafe cadry

In today’s vegan traveler interview, I interviewed Cadry of Cadry’s Kitchen.  I absolutely love Cadry’s Kitchen – anyone who creates a Mister Rogers MoFo theme is a star in my book!  So it was a pleasure to interview Cadry and hear about her experiences traveling as a vegan!  Read on for the interview…

How many places and where have you traveled since you’ve been vegan?
I have been vegan for a little over 7 years and was vegetarian for a couple of years before that. Since I’ve been vegan I’ve traveled to England, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, and Wisconsin.

What’s your favorite place or places you’ve traveled as a vegan?
I went to New York City at the beginning of this month, and that is a pretty amazing place to be vegan. So many places that I travel, there are just a handful of vegan or vegan friendly restaurants. It’s easy to hit them all on a trip. In New York City, that was impossible. You could be there for weeks and still not see them all! As someone coming from a state with only two vegan restaurants, it was really overwhelming to open up my Happy Cow app and have pages and pages of options. It made it so hard to choose! Obviously, that’s a wonderful problem to have, and almost everything I ate there was outstanding.

blossom on columbia

I particularly enjoyed the meals I had at Candle Café West, Blossom on Columbus, V-Note, and Bunna Café in Brooklyn. But even just your average bagel place there has tofu cream cheese in a variety of flavors. There’s not much better than sitting in Central Park eating a fresh New York City bagel.

cadry rahels ethiopian

Along with New York City, I have a huge soft spot for Los Angeles since I lived there for 13 years. Somehow on a lot of “best of” lists it gets ignored, but there are few places in the world that have the kind of quality, variety, and number of options that they do. Whenever I visit, I have to hit Rahel Ethiopian (my favorite restaurant anywhere) and Sun Café, an amazing raw restaurant. And oh, my gosh, the vegan donuts from Donut Friend are the stuff of legends.

What was the best vegan meal you’ve had while traveling?  How did you find the restaurant?
modern love
I’m going to have to pick a meal I had this summer in Omaha, Nebraska of all places. I was lucky enough to enjoy one of the early tastings at Modern Love, Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s new restaurant. The seitan marsala was one of those dishes that stops you in your tracks. I had to take a moment to just savor it and watch my husband’s face, so that I could see his reaction. It was so tender and delicious and served with a vegetable mash. The Nebraska Tourism Board should be sending Isa regular shipments of flowers. There were people there that night who had flown in from California just to visit! I know my husband and I will be visiting Nebraska a lot more often now.

What was the hardest place to be a vegan?  How did you find food?  What did you eat?
My husband and I drove across country a couple of times when we were moving, and that had some challenging moments. We packed a cooler full of food, but the trip with a trailer took longer than anticipated. (That happens when you’re only able to go about 50 miles an hour.)

middle of nowhere dinner

For one particularly memorable dinner, we drove through a town that was seriously no longer than a mile or so. In the “main” part of the town, there was a convenience store, a gas station, and a Subway. Obviously, we could have gone to Subway for a veggie delight, but instead we went into the convenience store to check out our options there. They actually had a few different kinds of non-dairy milk, which was surprising. So we picked up a box of cereal, rice milk, an avocado, chips, and salsa. It was a very weird meal, admittedly, but all in all, not too shabby!

Where are you planning on going next and what vegan places will you be checking out?
I don’t have any definite trips on the horizon, but I’m hoping we’ll be able to return to the Orlando area again next year. I’d love to revisit Ethos Vegan Kitchen and Dandelion Communitea Café.

If you had to give some advice to a new vegan planning their first holiday as a vegan, where would you tell them to go (and what would you tell them to eat?)?  Any advice you’d give them?
The planning is the best part! I seriously plan trips that I may never take. I’ve heard that one way to know if someone is vegan is if they can tell you about vegan restaurants in cities where they’ve never visited and even list one or two of their top dishes. That is so true!

Obviously, Happy Cow is a great place to start for searching vegan options in a city. I also like googling “vegan” and whatever the city is in question. It usually brings up reviews from bloggers with lots of pictures and inside information. Yelp can be handy too for finding less-publicized vegan options.

Outside of that, my advice would be to look for vegan-friendly cuisines like Indian, Ethiopian, Thai, and Mediterranean. I’ve also had good luck getting vegan sandwiches and meals at natural grocery stores.

Finally, a lot can happen with a friendly attitude. On our honeymoon I was vegetarian and not yet vegan. We were in Switzerland, and I was trying to explain to the server what I did and didn’t eat. Neither of us spoke each other’s language, and so I pulled out a scratch paper and a pencil. I made a drawing of a pig, a cow, a fish, and a chicken, and put X’s through all of them. A flash of understanding went across her face, and I was brought a delicious meal. A positive attitude and a smile goes a long way!


Check out Cadry’s travel posts here to read more about her vegan trips and keep up to date on her latest travels on Cadry’s Kitchen!  Just prepare to be extremely jealous reading posts such as this one on her unforgettable meal at Modern Love.

Do you also plan trips that you might not take?  (I know I definitely do!!)

This post is part of my Hungerlust series. Hungerlust. That insatiable craving for both food, and travel. Preferably combined. And vegan, naturally. My Vegan Month of Food (MoFo) theme this year is all about feeding it. We’ll be doing a journey around the world (airfare not included – sorry!) from the comfort of our sofas – or desks, wherever you happen to be sitting. 

Win $100 off your next flight + a free personalised guidebook!

No spam, ever. Spam isn't vegan.

 

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jojo vegan in brighton

Today’s vegan traveler interview features Jojo from Vegan in Brighton!  If you don’t follow her yet, you should – I couldn’t stop reading her posts earlier this year about Japan, where she had some amazing food and visited the most incredible island full of bunnies (I got a huge case of wanderlust after reading that!).  And if you’re going to VegFest London, don’t miss her talk tomorrow (Saturday, the 27th) on vegan travel!  Read on for the interview…

How long have you been vegan? How many places and where have you traveled since you’ve been vegan?

I’ve been vegan for about 8 1/2 years and I was vegetarian for a while before that. I’ve travelled quite a bit since then! I took a road trip around Europe in 2010 and visited France, Belgium, Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland and Luxembourg. I’ve travelled around Spain quite a bit too and I especially love Barcelona and Mallorca. I’ve also been to Ireland, Scotland, Denmark, Sweden, Croatia, Slovakia, Hungary and the Canary Islands. I also keep re-visiting Vienna and Berlin because I love them so much. I’ve travelled in the US quite a bit, mainly to major cities – NYC, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco and the Bay Area, Austin, Portland, Seattle and Las Vegas but I also visited quite a few smaller cities and towns on my NYC – Chicago road trip. I was lucky enough to get to visit Farm Sanctuary on my first ever trip to America as a vegan which was amazing. Earlier this year I travelled the furthest I’ve ever been when I went to Japan with Nick, my husband. We got rail passes and travelled around a bit visiting Tokyo, Kyoto, Hiroshima, Nagoya and Osaka and, one of my personal travel highlights Ökunoshima otherwise known as Bunny Island. And yup, that was as ridiculous and awesome as it sounds!

What’s your favorite place or places you’ve traveled as a vegan?
tacos austin
Wow, that’s such a tough question! I love Austin, the weather’s amazing, the food’s amazing, everyone I meet there is friendly and super welcoming and just the nicest. It’s also the location for the next Vida Vegan Conference so I’m going back again next May. Closer to home I love Berlin and Vienna for their ridiculous vegan friendliness. But travelling in Japan was probably one of the best overall experiences I’ve had, it was so different to anywhere I’ve ever travelled before and the food was amazing.

What was the best vegan meal you’ve had while traveling? How did you find the restaurant?
nagoya japan meal
One of the meals I look back on most fondly was at LOVE Pacific Cafe in Nagoya, Japan. I really wasn’t expecting to find anything much to eat on our stopover there, let alone a bowl of beautifully presented and incredibly delicious rice, soy meat and veggies. It was fantastic and I hope to get to go back one day.

What was the hardest place to be a vegan? How did you find food? What did you eat?

Japan could have been tough if I hadn’t thrown myself headfirst into researching it for hours upon hours before the trip. I devoured any and every blog post written by veggie or vegan travellers, scoped out Happy Cow and contacted local vegans. In the end I made a pretty good guide to planning a trip to Japan which includes a pictorial guide to Japanese convenience store foods. You can check that out here.  It would have been a much more expensive and challenging trip if it hadn’t been for 7/11 onigiri!

Where are you planning on going next and what vegan places will you be checking out?

Unsurprisingly my next plane tickets are booked and I’m flying to Thailand with my husband in mid January. We’ll be starting the trip on the Ko Yao islands which don’t have a single Happy Cow listing between them, I’m hoping to be able to add some! We’re also going to be spending a week volunteering at the amazing Elephant Nature Park near Chiang Mai, somewhere I’ve been wanting to visit since I first heard about it five years ago. They provide vegan food and there’ll be elephants so of course it’s going to be amazing.

If you had to give some advice to a new vegan planning their first holiday as a vegan, where would you tell them to go (and what would you tell them to eat?)? Any advice you’d give them?

Funny you should ask that, I’m actually doing a talk called A Vegan Abroad at VegFest London on Saturday 27th September at 4pm, which addresses this question and many more. You can read more about that here.  Firstly though, I would tell them to go wherever they want – you can be vegan anywhere! Just make sure you do your research first and always pack plenty of emergency snacks. I also have two blog posts on the subject that might be helpful, you can find them here  and here.

 

Thanks so much for the interview, Jojo!

This post is part of my Hungerlust series. Hungerlust. That insatiable craving for both food, and travel. Preferably combined. And vegan, naturally. My Vegan Month of Food (MoFo) theme this year is all about feeding it. We’ll be doing a journey around the world (airfare not included – sorry!) from the comfort of our sofas – or desks, wherever you happen to be sitting. 

Win $100 off your next flight + a free personalised guidebook!

No spam, ever. Spam isn't vegan.

 

 

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oia

santorini sunset 3

oia 2

Santorini: land of jaw-dropping sunsets, picturesque whitewashed villages perched so high on clifftops you’re surprised they don’t fall off and tumble down into the sea, and food doused seemingly in litres of golden-green olive oil. Oh yes, and surprisingly vegan-friendly cuisine. I chose Santorini after a trip to the hairdresser earlier this year where she reignited a long-lost desire to go there (fuelled by countless photos of white houses, blue-domed church roofs and mile upon mile of endless sea, stretching out towards the horizon and meeting the sky in a fuzzy blue line). She also regaled me with tales of vegan food and friendly Santorinians who were always willing to make something vegan for you (yes, my hairdresser is vegan too!). It only took a few photos on Google image search to convince my boyfriend that he wanted to go, too.

 

In fact, Santorini was even more beautiful than the pictures, and much more vegan friendly than I’d anticipated even based on many people telling me I wouldn’t have a problem finding vegan stuff there. I wasn’t quite prepared to be able to go into just about any restaurant and order a vegan meal. This is helped by the fact that food is usually cooked in olive oil (not butter), so you can order a lot of vegetable side dishes, and pretty much all restaurants have fava (a hummus-like puree of split peas) and Greek salad (tomato, cucumbers and olives, sometimes with the addition of pepper and capers – just ask them to hold the cheese, which is not a problem since they usually add it at the end). One word of warning though: a lot of restaurants have very similar menus so it’s quite common (for vegans and non-vegans) to get a bit sick of having the same dishes over and over! I heard there are a few Chinese, Indian and Italian restaurants in Fira, the biggest city on the island, but we weren’t staying there (we stayed in Oia, famed for its sunsets and the town’s nearly unreal beauty). Might be worth checking some of those out.

Fira

Tsipouradiko meal

Fira is the largest city on Santorini (bearing in mind Santorini has a population of only around 15,000 on the whole island). Therefore, it has the most choice in terms of restaurants but it’s also pretty busy. I preferred Oia, where we stayed – we actually stayed just outside Oia, near the coast, at a place called Ecoxenia, and it was so peaceful and quiet. However, you can’t really avoid going to Fira – seriously, all roads on the island seem to lead to this place. If you are staying elsewhere and want to take the bus, you’ll need to first get a bus in to Fira and then transfer to another. It also seems to be the only place on the island with mobile phone shops selling SIM cards.

 

We ate at a restaurant in Fira called Tsipouradiko, which is just a block away from the bus station. It certainly wasn’t the best meal I had in Santorini (the Greek salad and the fava with both okay, but fairly plain), but I really liked the restaurant’s front of house guy, who was unexpectedly thrilled that I don’t eat meat. Now, Santorini might be vegan-friendly in terms of there being plenty of vegan options in restaurants, but most people don’t know the word vegan or understand the concept of vegetarianism, let alone veganism. So I was pretty surprised when he exclaimed “you don’t eat meat? Me neither! Go vegetarians!” and gave me a massive high five. He went on to explain that he eats fish, and seemed surprised that I don’t eat dairy – but in a good way, like he was surprised I’m still alive (seemed like it planted a seed :)). It’s always nice to meet a fellow non meat eater!

 

If you’re staying in an apartment in Santorini and need to go grocery shopping, there’s a large Carrefour in Fira, which sells most things. Right next to the Carrefour is a shop called Green Market, a whole foods market. Here you can find tofu, including Taifun basil-infused tofu (great for sandwiches or on top of pasta), a wide variety of plant-based milks, some chocolates and vegan margarine. Unfortunately the shop does smell quite fishy because they also sell fish and frozen meats there.

Perissa

tranquilo perissa

tranquilo burger

tranquilo tabbouli

Apart from Oia, Perissa was my favourite place on the island. Famous for its black sand beach, Perissa has a really laid-back vibe. Or maybe it was Tranquilo, the restaurant we went to twice, that was so relaxed. Perissa has a long beach that stretches on for miles (actually, it’s several beaches all connected). A bunch of restaurants and cafes have staked their claims along the beach, so the beach is lined with chairs/loungers and umbrellas, each section owned by a different restaurant or bar. You can bring your own towel and sit in front of the loungers, but not many people do, and with good reason – black sand gets incredibly hot, so you’ll want an umbrella! You will want to spend minimal time with your feet touching the sand. In fact, you’ll probably want to sprint from your umbrella to the water! The setup works quite well though – if you eat lunch at a restaurant, you can usually use their loungers and umbrellas free. Some of them also offer free wifi, and you can order drinks to be delivered to your umbrella and lounger from the restaurant.

 

We drove along the beach for awhile, trying to find Perissa restaurant, which I’d read had good vegan options.  We couldn’t find it but on the way down the beach I spotted a restaurant called Tranquilo, a hippie-ish place that had a big sign out front that said “vegetarian platters!!” I was sold. They have an international-inspired menu, with Greek dishes alongside tabbouli and veggie burgers. One day, I had the chickpea burger (hold the yoghurt dressing) with chips and a cole slaw-esque salad topped with olive oil dressing rather than mayo. Another time I had the tabbouli minus cheese (why on earth you’d put cheese on tabbouli anyway is beyond me!). I loved the vibe here – it was so laid-back, and their loungers were more spaced out on the beach than other restaurants, meaning it felt calmer and quieter. It was a really great treat getting soya frappes (a traditional Greek iced coffee – instant coffee, water, ice and milk blended up into a froth) and fresh juices delivered to our umbrellas.

Akrotiri

akrotiri ruins

Akrotiri, a city on the southern tip of Santorini, is well worth a visit for the ruins. Aktrotiri is Santorini’s Pompeii; after a volcanic eruption in the second millennium BC, it was preserved and you can visit the ruins, which are still under excavation, for 5 Euros per person. You can even walk through streets in part of the ruins, which was a really special experience. My only criticism is that I didn’t feel like there was enough information at the exhibition. There were plenty of signs explaining what you were seeing but I found some of the wording and naming of structures confusing and I think I could have really benefitted from more visuals, like drawings, 3D models showing what the city looked like (there was one but it wasn’t very detailed in labels), a movie showing a computer generated version of what it looked like, or something similar.  Maybe if you’re feeling flush enough to spring for the guided tour (we didn’t) what you were looking at would make more sense.  It’s definitely worth a visit either way.

 

taverna glaros akrotiri

taverna glaros akrotiri fava

Just outside the Aktrotiri ruins on the way to the red beach (which by the way, isn’t that red but does look like a nice beach, if somewhat difficult to reach via a rocky, mountainous path), there’s a restaurant called Taverna Glaros, which I’d heard good things about. Despite its high ranking on Tripadvisor, I was pretty disappointed. Maybe I just didn’t order well (I got the typical fava and Greek salad minus feta), or perhaps it was because at this point I was starting to get Greek salad-ed out. Greek salads usually have a dressing of olive oil and sometimes oregano. While I love olive oil (so much so that I’ve actually found myself reading the Olive Oil Times before), I can’t eat that much olive oil (the salads in Greece are swimming in the stuff and they sell it by the 5 litre bottle in the supermarket) without an acidic counterpoint in the dressing like vinegar or lemon juice. It wasn’t a bad meal, it was just a little disappointing compared to the raving reviews on Tripadvisor.

Thirassia

thirassia

sandwich thirassia

A small island off the coast of Santorini, Thirassia has a population of only 270 people. After reading about it on wikitravel, I really wanted to visit just to see what life on the island would be like. There are two ports on Thirassia. One, the Old Port, is frequented by tourist boats and cruises, and has a lot of (apparently overpriced) restaurants. If you visit any sort of travel agency or boat company in Santorini, they will try to convince you that you have to buy their 50 or 100 Euro excursion cruise to get to Thirassia, which makes stops at a hot springs island, a volcanic island and Thirassia. Don’t fall for this! Apparently the hot springs aren’t that hot, the volcanic island doesn’t look as good close up as it does from Santorini, and the Old Port is overly touristy. You can easily get a local ferry for 1 Euro each way to Riva, or New Port, on Thirassia. Unfortunately there isn’t much information on the timetable online. The cashier at the supermarket where I asked happened to be from Thirassia and told me there’s a ferry at 8am, 12 noon, and 5pm every day from Ammoudi Bay just below Oia to Riva. It only takes 10 minutes. If you can’t find a local who knows the current ferry times (which are seasonal, I believe), there was a timetable in the bus station in Oia – be warned that it’s partly in Greek, and like all things in Oia the ferry might not run exactly on time. You can also go down to Ammoudi Bay and ask around for the ferry, which on the day we went pulled into the pier on the righthand side (the boat was called Thirassia JJ). Be sure to say hi to the boat captain’s little white dog, who’s very friendly and loves sitting next to you for a head scratch during the journey to the island.

 

Wikitravel makes it sound like there aren’t any restaurants on Thirassia. This isn’t strictly true, but I’d still recommend bringing a packed lunch (I brought sandwiches with tomatoes, vegan margarine and basil tofu I bought in Fira, plus some crisps and peaches). There are actually a lot of restaurants in Riva, if you can call them that. The day we were there, there were 3 other tourists in Riva that got off the ferry with us (everyone else was local on the ferry) – a middle-aged American couple and a guy from Santorini visiting for a day on the beach at Riva. We were far outnumbered by about 7 empty “restaurants” (actually just people’s houses, but they’d put some tables and chairs out front and hand-painted signs on their houses that said “restaurant”). There were old men sitting in front of some of the houses, throwing bread to their dogs, staring at the sea and occasionally calling out “hello” in Greek to us. Only two of these restaurants looked like they actually had a kitchen, but even they didn’t have a menu and they seemed to only sell fish. We ended up having coffees at one of them, which had a few beach chairs and umbrellas set on the beach in front of their house/restaurant. Thirassia’s definitely worth a visit (just don’t forget the sandwiches), it will make you feel like you discovered a secret beach and a hidden, sleepy town.

Oia

oia main street

ammoudi bay

Oia is not to be missed. It’s the most beautiful town on the island, in my opinion, and one of the most stunning places I’ve ever been. When you think Santorini (or maybe even when you think Greek island), this is the image that comes to mind. Whitewashed houses, blue-domed churches, all perched precariously on top of a cliff, tumbling down towards the sea. The houses are actually built into the cliff-face (many of them in caves, so part of the house is built on the outside and then when you walk in you’re in a room built into a cave on the cliff). The main streets are all pedestrianised, narrow cobblestoned things jutting along the cliff so when you look over the walls you just see white buildings and endless sea dotted with islands. I don’t know why, but the sunlight in Santorini seems incredibly white and bright, and the sea always seems to be shimmering and glittery. The streets leading off the main street of Oia lead down the cliff and the whole city is accessed by stairs (be prepared to do a lot of walking and climbing stairs!).

 

Oia has reputedly the best sunsets in the world, because you can watch the sun set right into the sea. The sunsets really are absolutely stunning. The food here is more expensive than on other parts of the island, because it’s such a big attraction, and it can get very crowded during the day, but we found two of my favourite restaurants on the whole island here in Oia: Candouni and Karma. We ate at a few other decent restaurants, but the others were ‘standard’ Greek vegan fare of fava, Greek salads, etc. while at these two places we found some more unusual dishes. Both are situated on the same alleyway leading from the bus station to the main street (if you’re on the main street, turn right just at the W.C. sign and you’ll see some signs on the wall pointing the way down the alleyway to the restaurants). While they may not have the ocean/sunset views that keep restaurants on the main street in business (and charging a premium for often sub-standard fare), they both have cozy, romantic courtyards lit by candles and full of flowers.

Candouni (Oia)
candouni alley

candouni courtyard

candouni table

horta 2

fried aubergines courgettes

This was the only restaurant in Santorini where the word ‘vegan’ was known (although the owner was still very meticulous and asking what I do and don’t eat, including fish – hope they haven’t met others claiming to be vegan and eating fish!). The mezze, or small tapa-esque plates, section is often your best bet for vegan options, and here is no exception – but they have some dishes that I didn’t find elsewhere! My two favourite dishes at Candouni were horta (which I’ll discuss in a minute) and fried aubergines/eggplants and courgettes/zucchini, for which they used the unusual white aubergine that Santorini is famous for. They were thinly sliced and fried in olive oil with herbs and spices. The other standout dish is horta, or xorta, which the owner explained is very typical of the Santorini diet – but I didn’t see it in any other restaurant (perhaps it’s more of a home-style dish, which would make sense as we overheard the owner telling some other customers that his mum and dad are the chefs of the restaurant!). Horta is wild, bitter greens, foraged from the hills of Santorini, which are then boiled with olive oil and garlic and served with fresh lemon juice squeezed on top. This is one dish you definitely shouldn’t miss!

 

As I mentioned, the restaurant has most of the tables arranged in its flower-filled courtyard (call ahead to book a table there!) and lit entirely by candles at night. It’s really romantic and beautiful. They have built all these little alcoves into the walls of the courtyard for candles, which display years’ worth of wax dripping down the walls.

Karma (Oia)

karma courtyard 2

chickpea stew

karma carrot salad

On our way to Candouni (which I’d seen recommended on Little Green Kettle’s guide to Santorini), I spotted Karma – after looking at the menu, we decided to make our next meal after Candouni a Karma one. Mainly because they had a chickpea stew on the menu that intrigued me. The menu described it as ‘Revithatha – a simple and rustic vegetarian stew made from chickpeas and onions cooked slowly for 5 hours in a lidded clay pot, a specialty from the island of Sifnos’. A stew cooked in a clay pot for 5 hours? That sounds pretty special. And it was. I’ve since read that it’s typically the centrepiece of a Sunday meal in Sifnos (I can see why!) and usually people fill their clay pots with chickpeas, onion and rainwater (yes, rainwater!) and deliver it to the village baker, who puts it in the wood-fired oven alongside the bread, to slowly cook all day. This soup is so amazing that I knew I had to make it when I got home, so I bought giant chickpeas at the supermarket in Santorini before leaving (they seem to use a really massive variety of chickpea, rather than the smaller ones we get here in England or the US).

 

Along with the soup, I got a carrot salad. Which sounds slightly boring until you hear the menu’s description of what it came with: ‘traditional fine grated salad with fresh carrots, Corinthian raisins, chopped apple and cardamom-lemon vinaigrette’. Like I said, Greek salads are typically garnished with a dressing consisting of only olive oil, or olive oil and oregano. I much prefer a vinaigrette, and the cardamom-lemon vinaigrette was a really interesting flavour combination. I loved this salad, although it was on the sweet side so felt a bit more like a dessert after my chickpea stew than a main!

Proton supermarket & bus station snacks

proton

corn on the cob

One last note about Oia – if you stay here in an apartment and need to by groceries, try Proton supermarket just near the bus station. We spent our entire 10 days in Santorini subsisting on soya milk we’d transported back from Fira, and it wasn’t until the last night that I discovered this supermarket that sells soya milk, rice milk and oat milk, along with a good variety of spices and dried beans (including giant chickpeas).

 

Also near the bus station is a small stand selling freshly grilled sweetcorn, which they’ll prepare on the spot (just ask them to hold the butter!). There are a few of these dotted around Santorini and they make a great snack!

 

sunset 2

Santorini is definitely worth visiting.  Don’t miss the black sand beaches (they’re black with volcanic ash!), the amazing sunsets or the picturesque cliffside towns.  And don’t worry about food, you’ll be well fed as a vegan!

This post is part of my Hungerlust series. Hungerlust. That insatiable craving for both food, and travel. Preferably combined. And vegan, naturally. My Vegan Month of Food (MoFo) theme this year is all about feeding it. We’ll be doing a journey around the world (airfare not included – sorry!) from the comfort of our sofas – or desks, wherever you happen to be sitting.

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Off to Greece!

passports

The time has come and I’m about an hour away from leaving for the airport and heading off to Santorini!  While I’m there for the next 10 days or so I’ll be moving everything over to Instagram and Vegan MoFo-ing over there, so please follow me on Instagram (handle is @theveganword) for live updates from Santorini/food porn/travel porn.  You can expect shots of the most beautiful sunset in the world (that’s what the island’s famed for), Greek vegan food (hopefully eaten in the sun and with a view of the sea) and more.

See you over on Instagram!  (Follow me here)

This post is part of my Hungerlust series. Hungerlust. That insatiable craving for both food, and travel. Preferably combined. And vegan, naturally. My Vegan Month of Food (MoFo) theme this year is all about feeding it. We’ll be doing a journey around the world (airfare not included – sorry!) from the comfort of our sofas – or desks, wherever you happen to be sitting.

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No spam, ever. Spam isn't vegan.

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Packing Your Vegan Suitcase

croatia

It’s time to hit the road!  At least for me…  I’m off to Santorini, Greece tomorrow and naturally I haven’t finished packing!  I have, however, started packing my ‘vegan essentials’.  A good vegan traveller always brings nutritional yeast with them, right?  Or maybe that’s just me…  Here’s what’s in my vegan suitcase!  What are your must-haves?

Nooch

Yep, this is totally going in my bag.  We’re renting a small studio apartment with a little kitchen, so we have the option of cooking if a) everything shuts on Sunday (I suspect it might) b) we’re hungry between 2 and 6pm (apparently this is siesta time and literally everything is shut) c) we don’t feel like eating out and want something cheaper and/or healthier.  Naturally, a staple of my vegan kitchen is nutritional yeast.  For toast, pasta, in soups, on popcorn…the list could never end.  Well, except for cereal. I don’t put it on my cereal, even if the back of the carton suggests it (seriously, it does!).  My boyfriend, despite not being vegan and therefore being outside the usual nooch target market, has developed such a love for the stuff that I often catch him eating it by the teaspoonful straight out of the jar.  So it’s a big must have for our holiday kitchen, too!  I’ve ordered a jar for our trip.  Just hope he doesn’t eat it all in the first day!

 

Soy milk

I have a feeling this is going to be hard to come by in Santorini (although I could be wrong).  At any rate I always find it helpful to have a ‘starter carton’ for that first day when you arrive jetlagged to the apartment and really want a coffee but are feeling too exhausted to go to the supermarket.  I’ve packed two, just in case there aren’t any shops selling it in Santorini.  Although I have a feeling the two cartons (they’re just one liter) might not last long, which brings me to the next thing…

 

Powdered soy creamer

I picked this up in Prague at Bioobchod, a health food shop, for under a Euro per packet, and it’s come with me on all my travels since.  It seems like it will last forever until 2016 so I’ll just have to go back to Prague when I run out (or in 2016).  Perfect for taking to cafes with you, or when you run out of soy milk (see above).

 

Spice mix
IMG_4456

Okay, so this one’s a little weird but I like to bring spice mix with me when I go on holiday.  If I’m only staying in an apartment for a couple of weeks, I don’t want to go all out stocking the kitchen, so usually I bring a spice mix with me (and just buy a bottle of olive oil when I get there and I’m ready to start cooking!).  Last year in Sicily I brought an Italian spice mix, and I’m doing the same even though I’m going to Greece because I’m hoping the Mediterranean flavours will still work, plus I always have Italian spice mix in the kitchen… Of course, if I find good, cheap spices there I might pick some more up!

 

Vegan sunscreen

I read that a bottle of sunscreen/sun cream costs 20 Euros on Santorini!  But I’m not worried because I was planning to bring some vegan sunscreen anyway.  I usually use Superdrug brand!

 

Chocolates
chocolates

I may have done a big chocolate order as soon as I found this new vegan chocolate shop the other day…  But it was also timely because I don’t expect I’ll encounter a lot of vegan desserts in Santorini and now I’ll have some vegan sweets to have after dinner if I fancy it. :)

What’s in your vegan suitcase?

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