Vegan Staples & Resources in the UK

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My vegan friends, when I first Went Vegan approximately 5 years ago, I found the internet to be an invaluable source of inspiration. There is a wealth of wonderful blogs, helpful communities, excellent recipes, and more. I am also lucky to live in Manchester where there are a number of places to buy staple vegan items (Unicorn Grocery, 8th Day Vegetarian Shop & Café, various Holland & Barrett stores, and more have popped up since). Sites like Happy Cow will help you see what’s available in your own area.

Since I wasn’t much of a baker or cook before I became vegan, I often found myself feeling slightly befuddled by some of the tools/ingredients often mentioned in the predominantly American/Canadian blogs and cookbooks I started to use. As a British vegan, have you ever found yourself asking the following, or do you remember when you did…..?

  • Why can’t I use self raising flour?
  • Can I just use any cup?
  • Vital wheat gluten what?
  • Liquid aminos what?
  • Where do I buy liquid smoke?
  • What the heck is nutritional yeast?
  • and so on…….

My aim with this post is to put together some useful points that may help new vegans, or those who are put off slightly by the American style recipes, ingredients, etc. And remember my British chums, we have marmite, let’s be proud!

  • Invest in some measuring cups; you can’t just use any old mug! They are available very cheaply from larger supermarkets, or from homeware stores like Lakeland. Measuring by volume seems curious to us weighing-fond Brits, but once you try you’ll never go back. It’s so much handier (and cheaper) than using scales.
  • Vital wheat gluten is often a pain in the backside to locate locally. Unless you’re lucky enough to live near a shop that sells it, just go ahead and order it online. You won’t regret it. Sites like Low Carb Megastore and Vx sell it online. Next payday, get a big bag in!
  • Isn’t tofu expensive in the supermarket? Hell yes. My advice: find your local Chinese supermarket and buy it there. If you don’t have one, try your local Quality Save (or similar) where they often have the ‘softer’ tofu available cheaply.
  • Liquid aminos is commonly used across the pond, but it’s difficult to find here in the UK. I’m lucky as my local organic supermarket stocks the Marigold brand, but it is worth seeking out if you can. If you really can’t get a hold of it, try using some good quality soy sauce instead (again, get to the Chinese supermarket for this!)
  • I’ve never used liquid smoke, but it sounds ruddy amazing. It can be found online, certainly, but if you’re in a rush, try using a little smoked paprika instead. It imparts that wonderful smoky flavour in a very effective way.
  • Ahh, the mystery of nutritional yeast! Thankfully it is becoming less mysterious these days, and Holland and Barrett do stock it. If your only option is mail order, take heart in its incredible lightweightedness; the postage should not be TOO high. It is definitely worth having some in your cupboard as a lot of the best recipes feature it.

There are still items I struggle to find – currently I’m on a mission to procure some agar powder (as opposed to flakes) and keep meaning to order some online.

Do you have any stories about being vegan in the UK? Any hints or tips for new vegans who may be feeling a little disoriented? Drop me a line and let me know! I may add to this post to make it more useful in the future 🙂

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