Thursday, 30 April 2015

Optimum Black Moisturiser


Last month I was fortunate enough to win the Easter hamper competition that was being run by Cruelty Free International. One of my prizes was this extremely intriguing Vegan & cruelty free black moisturiser by Superdrug's Optimum range.

I can honestly say that never before have I heard of a black moisturiser! Maybe I am late to this new trend but I couldn't quite believe what I was seeing when I lifted off the lid to this product!


As you can imagine I was really keen to try out this 'Triple Action Illuminating Black Moisturiser' as not only is it completely different to anything I've used before, but it also claims to reduce age spots & discolouration whilst boosting radiance. 
Share:

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

The Oak Tree


Last month I was lucky enough to win a dinner for two at the Essex based Vegetarian & Vegan restaurant The Oak Tree. I had already been recommended this place by some fellow Essex Vegan's so I couldn't wait to get myself down to Leigh on Sea to see what they had to offer. 

Once we arrived I was instantly impressed by the Oak Tree's charming exterior. It'a a shame it was so chilly otherwise it would have been lovely to sit outside. We also had a our 2 chihuahuas with us but we were kindly informed that they would be allowed inside too so it was great that we had the option of where we wanted to sit, and to learn that they are a dog friendly restaurant!  


The Oak Tree recently had a little refurbishment and it was clear to see that a lot of love has been put into this place. Inside it has a pleasantly welcoming, relaxed and comfortable feel to it, but also a sense of being quite upmarket and suitable for special occasions. 


The Oak Tree's menu is so appealing and extensive! I really wasn't expecting so much choice from a small bistro like this and it was impressive to see such a wide range of culinary delights inspired by different countries cuisines.  


It was a tough choice deciding what to order but for our starters my husband chose the vegetarian 'Grilled Halloumi' and I went with the vegan vegetable 'Spring Rolls'. Both of these small plates were heavenly and I could have happily eaten it all again! 


The main meals selection was just as enticing and it was great to see that every dish featured, all apart from one, was vegan friendly! There was also a good selection available for customers who follow a gluten free diet. 

Again the main meals menu is a real all-embracing fusion of dishes which incorporates English, Italian, Mexican, Asian and Indian cuisine. 




For our mains we both opted for vegan dishes. 

My husband chose the 'Lebanese Lasagne' which featured aubergines, lentils and chickpeas in a spicy tomato sauce with a side of salad and garlic bread. This was a really hearty and wholesome dinner which he really enjoyed and he was impressed how it still really tasted like a lasagne despite the fact that it contained no cheese. 

I decided on the 'Sri Lankan Spinach Dhal Curry' which really blew me away with it's fragrant spices and simplicity. I love it when you eat something that you feel you could have a go at making yourself at home too. With ingredients such as spinach, lentils and chickpeas it was incredibly filling and I just felt as though I was eating pure healthy goodness! 


After all of this we didn't really have much room left for dessert but as soon as we were told that all of the puddings on the menu were vegan friendly we couldn't resist trying one to share! 

Our lovely waitress and co-owner Sam bought us over a chalkboard menu of desserts which all sounded amazingly good. I believe the desserts change on a regular basis which is why they are not featured on the main menu if you happen to look at their website. 

In the end we opted for the vegan chocolate brownie with vegan vanilla ice cream!


From looking at this photo I don't think any of you will be surprised to hear that we liked our dessert! It was to die for! And never before have I tasted such gorgeous dairy free ice cream. 

I think I may have just found heaven in Essex!

I would like to thank the Oak Tree for picking me to win this meal as it was one of the best dinners I have had out in a long time. My husband and I really enjoyed it and we will definitely be back again very soon! It was also lovely to chat to co-owner Sam and get to know more about her and her husbands business and her journey into veganism. Our whole experience from start to finish was first class and possibly the most friendliest and accommodating service we have ever experienced.   

The Oak Tree regularly run competitions to win a meal at their restaurant so I really recommend that you all like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter. And if you happen to be in Leigh on Sea, or fancy at day out to the Essex coast, then be sure to pay them a visit! 

I have also decided that the Oak Tree will be the perfect venue for my first 'Vegan Essex Social' event in October! So if you are local to Essex and would like to enjoy an evening trying some of their dishes and meeting other likeminded vegans then please email me at: thevnicelife@hotmail.com to register your interest.


Sarah x
Share:

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Dates For Your Diary


Looking ahead at my diary there are a number of fab vegan, veggie & animal rights events coming up in 2015 so I have decided to share these with you in the hope to raise some more awareness about them and increase numbers for all of these great causes.

Share:

Monday, 27 April 2015

Faith in Nature


I have been dying to try out some Faith in Nature products for some time now so I was beyond happy when their coconut hand wash was featured in this months Vegan Kind box. It also prompted me to purchase some of the other products from their range including their shampoo, conditioner and shower gel / foam bath. 

My mission in life lately has been to find the best Vegan & cruelty free beauty products. I think its relatively easy these days to find decent cruelty free products as I have found that most shops own brands tend to be cruelty free. However, to find one that is both Vegan and cruelty free isn't always as easy as Vegan products aren't always the best at being labelled so. 

If you're new to all this then you may be wondering what the difference is between Vegan and cruelty free products. Well, if its only cruelty free and leaping bunny approved it means that the product has not been tested on animals which is great! However, and depending on your stance on things, if the cruelty free product still contains some animal ingredients then I wouldn't personally consider it to be completely cruelty free. 


First and foremost I love how clearly labelled Faith in Nature products are as they feature both the Vegan and cruelty free stamps of approval on the front of their bottles. I am not sure if I have come across another company yet who has these symbols on the front of their products but I think its a great move by this company especially for all of us Vegan's who get a bit tired of always having to squint and search around on the back of products for what we're looking for. 

Secondly, and quite importantly, I think Faith in Nature's products are so reasonably priced. Ranging between £4.00 - £6.50 for their bottled products, they also really appeal on price. By following Faith in Nature on social media I am also aware that they frequently run great offers like 3 for 2 on all products which makes it even better! 

And last but not least, Faith in Nature believe in doing good for people, animals and the planet. They use all natural healing plant based ingredients, manufacture locally in the UK and they try to be as green and eco friendly as they can in everything they do. 

Personally I know that I would much rather be spending my money with Faith in Nature than contribute towards  any big unethical brands who harm animals and go against everything that I believe in.  It's not really a difficult choice to make! 

When it came to trying the products for myself and the blog I decided to spend a whole week immersing myself into Faith in Nature! So this meant washing my hair, cleaning my hands and taking a bath in their products every day. And what a joy this was! After having read so many positive reviews of their products online I was pleased to be having the same delightful experience as others. 

After using the shampoo and conditioner my hair felt clean, light and bouncy with volume which I loved. I even received comments on how good my hair smelt! The Faith in Nature foam bath was amazing at making my bath very bubbly and felt so soft on my skin. The hand wash felt really silky on my hands and left them feeling both cleansed and smooth. I absolutely love the coconut smell of all of these products!

So far I have only tried items from their coconut range and every time I use a product I feel like I am momentarily transported to a tropical holiday destination and it's really working at getting me in the mood for my upcoming holiday and Summer!     

I look forward to completing my Faith in Nature range of products and making more purchases soon.  It's also a lovely touch that they sell products for our furry friends too and I am keen to try out their dog shampoo on my boys.

I think I may have just found my favourite Vegan and cruelty free brand!

Sarah x

Share:

Saturday, 25 April 2015

Vegan Chocolate & Biscoff Cupcakes


If you're Vegan and wasn't already aware that Lotus Biscoff biscuits and spread are Vegan friendly then you must have been living on another planet the last few months! 
Share:

Friday, 24 April 2015

Pizza Express

Since journeying into Veganism I have found myself really avoiding some of my old favourite restaurants like Pizza Express, Prezzo's and Zizzi's mainly because I just associate them with copious amounts of cheese and dairy. My husband however still enjoys his pizzas, despite being 80% Vegan now he still dabbles a great deal with being Vegetarian and hasn't completely given up dairy. 

I recently heard on the social media grapevine that Vegan pizzas were available at Pizza Express so when the opportunity presented itself to lunch there this week I decided to go along to see how I got on. 

On the way there I carried out some very quick preliminary research online and checked out their Customer Service FAQ web page. As you can see from this link they provide some really clear and useful information for Vegans. The most important factors for me are that:

  • Pizza Express's pizza bases are Vegan friendly containing no animal or dairy products. 
  • Any unsuitable Vegan toppings, such as cheese, can be easily removed as their pizzas are freshly handmade. 
  • Vegan cheese is not available but they are happy to use your own if you wish to take some with you - it just needs to be sealed, in its original and in date packaging.   

When it came to ordering our food I was so impressed by the service that I received. Our waitress was so helpful and when I enquired about making their Vegetarian Giardiniera pizza Vegan she double checked everything with the chefs and offered to include more vegetables in place of the mozzarella. So far so good! 

It's also worth noting here that there is a Vegan pizza option already on the menu - the Pianta - which also sounded fab.

For our starters we decided to go with an old favourite of ours, the dough balls. The waitress, knowing now that I was Vegan, suggested that I had these with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar, instead of garlic butter, which was really considerate of her. By this point I felt pretty cared about which was lovely!


When my Vegan pizza arrived it looked really good and smelt amazing. As I tucked into it I did laugh to myself as I realised just how much pizza cheese is the glue that holds all the toppings in place! 

On top I had a mix of olives, peas, cherry tomatoes, artichokes, red peppers and mushrooms. Along with removing the cheese the chef had also removed the pesto in order to make it Vegan friendly. 



I also ended up going for one of their gluten free classic bases just because I saw it was an added option on the menu and I thought that I would give it a try. It was quite nice and I didn't really notice a huge difference other than it was a little chewy. I do not follow a gluten free diet in my every day life but if the option is available I like to try it as I know that it helps me to feel less bloated and uncomfortable after eating. I really noticed with this pizza that after I had eaten it I felt full up and content but, unlike my husband, I didn't have the feeling of a lead weight in my stomach which was great! 


For dessert we opted for the only Vegan friendly choice on the menu - the Leggera Raspberry Sorbet. I was really pleasantly surprised by this refreshing, light and tasty sorbet and it made a really nice change. It was also the perfect pudding for a sunny warm day! 

Overall I was so impressed by my first Vegan Pizza Express experience. The service and attentiveness of our waitress was superb and made all the difference. 

It's really good to know that if I am ever invited to a meal at Pizza Express again I won't have to recoil in horror and panic! Although the choices for Vegans are by no means limitless, and they are still quite restricted, the fact that I can enjoy a 3 course meal here is pretty amazing. 

I take my hat off to Pizza Express for recognising that there is a big demand for both Vegan and gluten free food within the mainstream. By doing this they are making themselves accessible to an ever increasing and widespread customer base.

Sarah x

* Note: My experience was based upon a visit to the Freeport Braintree branch in Essex.  

Share:

Thursday, 23 April 2015

The Gallery Cafe


As I was already in London on Saturday I took the opportunity to stop by at the Vegan & Vegetarian Gallery Cafe in Bethnal Green. Having followed their Twitter account for some time now I was looking forward to having lunch there and experiencing some of their local homemade food. 


Despite it being a sunny day it was pretty chilly so I opted to sit inside but it's worth noting, especially for any dog owners, that the Gallery Cafe has sufficient outside seating areas in both the front and back gardens. 
Share:

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

The Hungry Elephant


I recently became aware of The Hungry Elephant compassionate jewellery line through browsing Instagram and instantly fell in love with their products!

Anyone who follows my blog or my social media accounts will know that, along with leading a mostly Vegan and cruelty free lifestyle, I absolutely love all things animal related, particularly when it comes to fashion. I am constantly on the look out for new and exciting small businesses who promote compassion and kindness towards animals. 

After exploring The Hungry Elephant's website and online shop I decided to order one of their cute bracelets but I then had the challenging decision of what animal to go with! Theo the elephant, Bella the cow, Benedict the whale, Flint the chicken & Reiko the rabbit were all very appealing. Each have their own little tales of suffering which makes the choice even harder!

In the end I decided to purchase Bella the cow as for me she really represents my decision to stop eating meat and ultimately progress towards Veganism. I like looking at her on my wrist as she is a constant reminder of why I do what I do. 


The Hungry Elephant company also have a number of other attractive products including wire 'V' bracelets and Vegan necklaces, both of which have been added to my ongoing wish list! 

I absolutely love their philosophy and it really resonates with everything that I so strongly believe in....

"Our charms of compassion embody a plant-based lifestyle aiming to harm none and to spread kindness throughout the world. Compassion, more intense than empathy, means to co-suffer and have the desire to alleviate another’s suffering. We believe that having compassion for all life forms will bring peace and understanding to the planet we inhabit. We are all made of the same matter, come from the same energy source, and have the same emotions and we hope to reconnect that within your hearts."

Every month The Hungry Elephant donate 2% of their proceeds to a different animal welfare organisation so it's great to know that by shopping with them you are also helping and contributing towards very worthy causes. 

In their own words, kindness and compassion really can be your greatest accessory! 

Sarah x
Share:

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

London Animal Charities Fair


Last Saturday was the London Animal Charities Fair held at Amnesty International's Human Rights Action Centre in Shoreditch.


This has long been an important and well established event within London's animal welfare calendar and I was pleased to be able to attend and show my support.


Hosted by the London Animals Asia Support Group, it featured around 30 animal charity stalls all hoping to raise funds and awareness around their important causes.


This was a pretty small event in comparison to the likes of VegFest which is a big platform for animal charities. However, unlike VegFest, this event is solely focused on the charities and the important work that they do within animal rights and welfare.



It was awesome to see some big names there like Sea Shepherd, Animals Asia and Wood Green Animal Shelter who all had stand out stalls featuring lots of fab merchandise. 

It was lovely to chat to the Sea Shepherd ladies and find out a little more about what they do as volunteers. It's always a pleasure to talk to other likeminded people who really care about the same things that you do. It can be quite lonely in the Vegan and animal rights world at times so events like this are great for networking and forming new friendships.


It was great to discover some new companies like Love Sniffy's who make 'bum sniffingly good' healthy alternative dog treats! I have been contemplating trying my dogs on some Vegetarian and Vegan treats for a while now. Not because I want to turn them Vegan or anything, but just because I care about their health as much as my own. All of Love Sniffy's treats are Vegetarian, gluten free, low fat, natural and handmade! It's also great to hear that they personally test all of their products and they do not want to create a product at the expense of any animals welfare. 

We were told that the 'Carrot Crunch' variety were a favourite among other dogs so we purchased a box to take home with us and I am pleased to report that our dogs really enjoyed munching on them! 

Here's some photo evidence of my little Zen tucking in!


I enjoyed walking around this event chatting to people and finding out more about other charities that are less well known. At every table I tried to put some loose change into the collection boxes in the hope that any little contribution would be a help to them. 



Along with all of the stalls there were also some informative talks on throughout the day. 

I was lucky enough to be able to catch 'Vet of the Year' Marc Abraham's talk on Pup Aid and the ever growing problem of puppy farms. Pup Aid are positively campaigning and petitioning to end the cruelty of puppy farms and they are importantly encouraging prospective dog owners to either adopt from a reputable animal shelter, or buy from Kennel Club assured responsible breeders. It is so important not to purchase a dog from a pet shop, garden centre, internet or free ads as you will be more than likely contributing towards puppy farming.


It was great to hear Marc encouraging us all to keep up the pressure with our social media campaigning too as it all goes towards raising awareness and putting pressure on the government to make changes in the laws. 

Marc did speak briefly around politics and the upcoming election. He kindly took the time to speak to me after and he told me that he strongly feels that the greatest, most immediate changes and benefits to animals will be from the Tories being voted out and Labour taking power. Having personally spent some time with Labour candidates he is assured that they are committed to implementing new laws and policies which will widely benefit animals welfare.


Overall it was a great afternoon at the Animal Charities Fair and I am pleased to have been able to contribute to some extremely worthy causes. I picked up a wealth of information and goodies and I shall definitely be returning next year. 

Sarah x

Share:

Monday, 20 April 2015

Broadway Market


This weekend I ventured into London for the day and I decided to visit the East End's Broadway Market. Having recently heard so many good things about it, it was time for me to experience it for myself!


I didn't really know what to expect from this market but I certainly had no idea that it would be a Vegan street food heaven! As I walked about it was clear to see that this is a great little market for anyone who enjoys their food and I was really impressed by the vast selection for both Vegetarians and Vegans. Yet, also with its cheese and meat stalls, it really does seem to cater extremely well for everyones tastes.
Share:

Friday, 17 April 2015

Why Go Vegan?


So some of you may be wondering why I bother trying to be Vegan or what motivates me to stick to, what some would view as, an extremely restricted diet and lifestyle. But for me it's quite simple and straight forward! I have attempted to concisely and coherently construct my reasons and motivations altogether in one blog post. 

I love animals.
I am an animal lover. There's no getting away from it. With 2 dogs and 2 cats at home my own animals bring me so much happiness and pleasure and I could never imagine harming them or for that matter eating them. A lot of you may be thinking what's that got to do with it because who eats their pets anyway right? Well, in my opinion, all animals are sentient and sensitive beings. To me there is absolutely no difference between a cow and my chihuahuas, other than their size of course! They all think, feel and express emotions just as we do. I see a lot of anger in the world and on social media at things like the past horse meat scandal or the annual Yulin dog meat festival in China, and rightly so. But what really is the difference between this and the meat that people regularly eat? Why are some animals deemed as appropriate to slaughter and others not? It's all very hypocritical and I no longer wanted to be an animal loving hypocrite. I am, and always will be, Vegan for the animals.

It's been a natural progression.
Becoming Vegan has been a gradual process for me and the natural next step. Having been Vegetarian for over a year I was becoming more and more aware of the cruelty involved in the dairy industry and it made me feel that being vegetarian wasn't enough anymore. I couldn't continue to eat any product that has been the result of any animal suffering.  I guess initially it didn't even enter my head that the production of milk or eggs caused any harm, but boy how wrong was I. As soon as I opened my eyes up a little bit and did a bit of research my stomach turned and I was shocked by what a sorry little life the animals within the dairy industry live. It sickened me and I can't look at milk, cheese or eggs in the same way anymore. I never in a million years used to think I could ever give up cheese but it's funny as once you cut it out I think you almost make yourself intolerant to it and your body naturally starts to reject even the idea of it. The only thing I really struggle with is chocolate, but there is so much choice now for Vegans that it is becoming easier.

No ones perfect.
I do everything that I can to promote a Vegan and cruelty free lifestyle and it may get on peoples nerves, and lose me friends along the way, but I don't in any way protest to be perfect. Anyone who follows my Twitter or Instagram will know that I don't always manage to be 100% Vegan. Eating out or at family / friends can be very challenging and on occasion I do have to be Vegetarian instead of Vegan. But I think whatever stage you're at, or however much you're achieving,  it's a step in the right direction and it's helping. Not every product in my house is cruelty free and Vegan, but I do what I can to search out more ethical products and as my old products run out I seek to buy a new one that fits in more with my beliefs. It is a transition and as overwhelming as it may initially seem I don't think that anyone can make all of these changes over night. I still have what I refer to as 'items from my past' dotted around my house. The odd MAC make up product which I haven't used up yet, or my leather Mulberry bag and purse that was my 30th birthday present. Am I going to just throw them away now? Hell no! That simply wouldn't be economical. But I know 100% that I am now in a totally different place in my life and I would never look to buy these products again. You do what you can and every little helps so no one should feel threatened by the idea of not being able to achieve the perfect Vegan lifestyle all at once.

My health is important to me.
I always maintain that I am Vegan for the animals. However, there's no denying that turning Vegetarian and then Vegan has had a positive impact on my health. I used to really struggle with IBS and my bowels as a meat eater. I had no idea at the time just how long it takes for our body to digest meat and how long that food stays rotting in your colon for. In fact its a major contributing factor to bowel cancer, particularly when you eat a lot of red and processed meat. Since taking meat out of my diet I now rarely struggle with any stomach complaints and I have much healthier and regular bowel movements. Too much information!? I can honestly say that the change in me has been dramatic and I feel like I am a much happier person for it. I constantly have people say to me 'Oh but what about protein' and my answer is - do some research! I get plenty of protein in my daily diet from a number of different sources. It's also a fact that vegetables, particularly the green ones, are the power foods of life. They're healing, energising and rich in vitamins and minerals. Once you do some research of your own you will be amazed about the health benefits of a plant based diet.

I care about the environment.
I have to say that the environment hadn't even entered my head as a reason to go Vegan and I had no idea just how destructive the animal agriculture industry is on the planet. When I watched the documentary 'Cowspiracy' it literally just blew my mind and I didn't even know that people were choosing to lead a plant based diet purely for environmental reasons. Maybe i've been naive but I think because animal welfare has always been at the forefront of my thoughts this whole other major reason to become Vegan hadn't even entered my consciousness! The production of meat and animal products is such a massive burden to the planet it's unreal. It's great to know that by choosing to lead a vegan lifestyle I am helping the environment that I live in so much. It wasn't my initial intention but it's an amazing side effect of what I and millions of others are doing.

So there you have it.

A Vegan lifestyle may seem a bit 'out there' or un-relateble for so many of you, but when you take the time to consider the beliefs and real benefits behind it perhaps it doesn't seem so crazy after all!?

And remember, it's not about being perfect and changing everything in your life over night. It's about taking small positive steps towards ultimately making a big difference to the world that you live in.

So many things have really helped me along the way on my journey into Veganism and I am constantly learning and evolving every day. If you are considering taking some steps towards a Vegan and cruelty free lifestyle then I can really recommend the following resources which I have found to be extremely helpful.

Peta's Free Vegan Starter Kit

The Vegan Society
Vegetarian Society
Veganuary
Vegan Lifestyle Association
Viva!
Cruelty Free International
Happy Cow Guide

VegFest (Events)

Vegucated (Movie)
Cowspiracy (Movie)
Earthlings (Movie)
Blackfish (Movie)
The Ghosts In Our Machine (Movie)

The Ultimate Vegan Guide (Book)
The Kind Diet (Book)
The China Study (Book)
Keep It Vegan (Recipe Book)
Ms Cupcake (Recipe Book)

Vegan Life Magazine
Vegetarian Living Magazine

The Vegan Kind (Monthly subscription boxes)
Vegan Tuck Box (Monthly / individual boxes)

This really is just scratching the surface of everything that has helped me over the past year. It's also worth mentioning that social media has played a HUGE part in my research, learning & discovery of new products and campaigns. I can only recommend that you like / join some Vegan and animal rights related Facebook pages / groups and start to follow Vegan and cruelty free people / bloggers on Twitter and Instagram. By conducting a simple #Vegan or #CrueltyFree search on both platforms you will be able to connect with so many other Vegans and gain a wealth of inspiration.

If you decide to start your own journey into a Vegan lifestyle then good luck! I am pretty sure like me you won't look back and you will gain so much inner peace and happiness from your new compassionate and kind life.

Sarah x

Share:

Thursday, 16 April 2015

The Vegan Kind - #TVK18


This week my The Vegan Kind subscription box no.18 arrived! 
Share:

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

RSPCA Danaher Animal Home Appeal


RSPCA Danaher Animal Home in Essex are currently running an urgent appeal for tinned dog food. 
Share:

Monday, 13 April 2015

King William IV


My good friend recently recommended that I had to try out the King William IV pub & restaurant in the small rural Cambridgeshire village of Heydon. She told me that they had a fabulous vegetarian menu and the food was to die for so I didn't need any further encouragement!

Share:

Friday, 10 April 2015

An Alpaca Day Out


I can't believe it's taken me nearly a week to blog about my time with these beautiful animals but it's been a particularly crazy busy week. Anyway, I am finally getting around to it now but I just hope it doesn't feel like old news having hopefully already seen some of my snaps on Instagram!

Share:

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Sketch


Afternoon Tea has always been one of my favourite activities, whether it be within my own home using some of my pretty vintage china, or out and about at a fancy restaurant. It always feels like such a treat and perfect for girly get togethers. 

I had recently heard, via the power that is social media, that Sketch in London were now offering up a Vegan Afternoon Tea. Since being Vegan I haven't thought that afternoon tea was really an option anymore, and if I was going to take part in one then I had resided myself to the idea that it would have to be a day off being Vegan! So I was really excited to learn this news and immediately booked us up a table for Easter Bank Holiday Monday. 


So yesterday we set off on the 1.5 hour sunny journey in to London in our car. I always prefer driving into London if I can as I hate public transport and much prefer to be able to take in all of the sights on the journey than be confined to a stuffy underground train. Also, being a Bank Holiday, it meant that there was no congestion charge and no street parking fees so it really worked out well in terms of budget too! 



If you have never been to Sketch before then it really is a very unique and quirky venue like no other. As soon as we walked in my husband said that he felt like we were in an Alice in Wonderland setting which was a pretty accurate description! This venue is home to not only fine dining, but also art and music. Each of the five different restaurant/bar rooms is distinctively decorated and to my delight the Afternoon Tea takes place within the opulent and very pink Gallery room.


The walls of the Gallery room are home to no less than 239 original drawings by British artist David Shrigley. I have to say that, being more into modern art than any other genre, I really enjoyed viewing all of these comical images over tea. I think its fair to say these freehand drawings are quite simplistic in their form but I think thats what excites me about this kind of art - the feeling that I  could possibly create something similar myself!


Before we sat down for tea I had to visit the ladies and you must know that the toilets at Sketch are an altogether entertaining experience on their own! I'm someone that usually hates using public loo's of any description and I tend to send my husband off first to check them out to make sure that they are clean and not frightening in anyway before I venture in myself. Never before in my life have I decided to take photos of public toilets until this weekend! 


Each individual toilet is situated within an egg shaped cubicle that just so happens to have a duck sitting on top of it! This is the first time I have ever peed inside an egg and to be honest, I hope its not the last! What an experience. As if that wasn't enough once inside the egg you are serenaded by the relaxing sounds of nature and ducks quaking! I hate to think how much time I spent in here and it even warranted a second visit after lunch. It was so good people were even taking selfies in there!


Anyway, moving on from the venue and the toilets (have I really just blogged 7 paragraphs and I haven't even made it onto the food yet!?).....

Once sat down at our cosy little table I was presented with the Vegan afternoon tea menu... 

Yes thats right people - I, as a Vegan, had my very own menu! And as you can see it was all rather inviting and impressive. 

Everything was there that I would expect to see with any other afternoon tea - a selection of finger sandwiches, sultana scones, sweets and a choice of teas. Best of all, I didn't feel at all like I was missing out on what the 'normal' omnivores were offered up. 


My husband decided to go in for the Vegetarian option just so that we could see the differences between the two and here is a glimpse of the menu he was provided with...


I am pretty sure that this menu wasn't especially formulated for Vegetarians as it contains fish. So many places assume that if you're Vegetarian you eat fish and I don't really know why or where this has come from but just to clear things up - Vegetarians do not eat fish! A Pescetarian is someone that eats fish but no other meat. A Vegetarian will happily eat dairy, unlike a Vegan, but certainly not fish. 

This kind of had me feeling that this was in fact the standard afternoon tea menu, especially when I overheard a waitress informing another table that all of the sweets listed on this menu actually contained beef gelatine so if she was in fact Vegetarian she would be better off just ordering from the Vegan menu. 

So on the whole a little confusing for Vegetarians, but fabulous for Vegan's! Which is a first.


When our fabulous afternoon tea tiered stands arrived I had to just sit for a few minutes and gaze in awe at everything I was presented with and remind myself that all of this was Vegan friendly.


The finger sandwiches were amazing and I loved every one of them. My favourite was the cucumber and lemon margarine one which I happily ordered more of! Oh yes, and that's another thing, you can have unlimited sandwiches delivered to your table included in the set price of £39pp. 


Wrapping the sandwiches in paper and tying them up in a dainty ribbon was a particularly cute touch! After all, who doesn't enjoy opening up little presents!? 


Never before have I sampled a Vegan scone of any description so this was a first for me and an enjoyable one! To be honest, and in my opinion, it didn't taste dissimilar to a regular scone despite it looking a bit different. The main difference being that it didn't have any accompanying clotted cream but if anything this made it feel healthier and less fattening, whilst not really impacting on the overall enjoyment of eating it! The fig and strawberry jam was enough to make it equally as delicious. 


The sweets were all really delicious and unlike with other afternoon teas, I didn't feel so disgustingly sickly and full afterwards which was great! 


Looking over the table at my husbands selection I didn't feel like I was missing out on anything.... Apart from maybe that big chocolate cake slice! But even knowing that it contained beef gelatine put me off straight away. Who wants beef in their cakes anyway!? 



I have to say though that the sweet selection on his plates looked good and I particularly liked the little 'Food' bowl of mini marshmallows and meringues on top which he really enjoyed tucking into. 


The tea selection was vast and seriously one of the best pots of tea I have ever had! 


I went in for the Darjeeling tea as I think it's a really pleasant black tea for Vegans which offers me the same uplifting comfort that an English breakfast tea with milk used to give me. The tea was also available for unlimited refills. 


Also, and FYI, I just loved the thought provoking eccentric crockery used which again features artist Shrigley's drawings and texts. If you can afford it then this ceramic tableware is also available to purchase within Sketch or from their online store.

Overall we both loved our afternoon tea selections and I really do think that it's wonderful that Sketch are allowing the afternoon tea experience to be just as delightful and inclusive for Vegans. 

My only complaint would be that perhaps they need to put a little bit more thought into a menu for Vegetarians that doesn't contain fish or animal gelatine. It would be nice for Vegetarians to feel just as important and cared about as others instead of being a slight after thought and being directed to just order from the Vegan menu. After all, Vegetarians still do enjoy dairy remember! 
Share:
© Sarah Kirby | All rights reserved.
Blog Design Handcrafted by pipdig