Recipe: Vegan Bacon

I love vegan bacon and have tried lots of recipes. They all had one flaw or another so in the end I made my own. Please let me know what you think or if you have any questions / suggestions.

To obtain the flavours of blood-mouth bacon in beautiful vegan form, you will making two lots of seitan; one reddish in colour and one white. There are then two liquid and two dry recipes; one for the red and one for the white. Once made, the red seitan dough is divided into three and the white into two.

Before you start, pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees celsius (about 350 Fahrenheit)  and have a roll of tin foil approximately 30cm long set to one side.

 

Bacon 1

 

Seitan Dough One:

One cup: vital wheat gluten

Two tablespoons: nutritional yeast flakes

Two teaspoons: onion powder

Two teaspoons:  smoked paprika

Seitan Liquid One:

½ cup: water

Two tablespoons: maple syrup

Two tablespoons:  liquid aminos

Two tablespoons: liquid smoke

One tablespoon: tomato puree

One teaspoon:  brown sauce combined with a tablespoon of water. You can use just one tablespoon of vegan Worcestershire Sauce. However, it can be hard to find.

One tablespoon: olive oil

Seitan Dough Two:

1/4 cup: vital wheat gluten

Two tablespoon: chickpea flour

One teaspoon: garlic powder

Seitan Liquid Two:

⅓ cup: water

½ teaspoon: fine salt

One tablespoon: olive oil

Method:

Seitan dough & liquid One. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl then slowly add the liquid. Divide into three equal parts and set aside. Repeat with second set of seitan dough & liquid – divide into two.

You will now need to layer the five lots of seitan. This will create the look of ‘bacon’ and give it a great flavour. Lightly roll out each piece of seitan to increase its length by one third.  Starting with a red piece of seitan layer the pieces together; red, white, red, white and red. You do not want this to be neat and uniform. Press the mound of layered seitan together and wrap in tin foil. Do not wrap too tightly as it will expand in the oven and place directly onto the oven rack seam side down.

It will take about 25-30 minutes to cook. Check every ten minutes and turn over – so the seam side is now not in direct contact with the oven. Repeat until firm (but with a bit of ‘give’ still) and very lightly browned. Do not worry if it is slightly soft – as you’ll fry each slice you can crisp it up to your taste in the pan. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for 10 minutes. As seitan is, in effect, dough it will be soft once out of the oven. Use a bread knife to thinly slice.

Finally, shallow fry in a pan using coconut oil (not olive oil). Brush one side of the bacon with maple syrup and have this side out of the oil initially. Fry for 30 seconds each side and serve.

Bacon 2.jpg
Vegan bacon and waffles drenched in maple syrup.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Christmas Gift Guide 2016

2016 has been *quite* the year, hasn’t it? But the end is in sight, and we can start to comfort ourselves with the familiar warm glow of Christmas. Mulled things, cinnamon-spiced things, cosy nights, fairy lights and presents.

Presents are one of those things – for some people (me included) they are the best bit of Christmas, finding the ideal gift for the people you care about the most. For lots of us, they are one of the most stressful bits, and so we wanted to put together a guide to helping you find pretty and good presents whether you’re giving Santa a run for his money, or just hoping not to add to the re-gift pile come Boxing Day.

If you’re after a cosy hat for the winter, you can’t go far wrong with Hoodlamb. A totally vegan company making products from hemp and recycled plastics, you’ll be amazed at the quality of their craftsmanship. At 69 Euros for this Men’s Ruderalis Hat it isn’t cheap, but the quality is so good it’ll last you a lifetime. You can see a more detailed look at Hoodlamb’s handiwork in our recent video review of their Men’s Nordic Parka

One of our favourite finds of the year, Solkiki Chocolate is a vegan-run company making some of the very best chocolate we’ve ever tasted. They have a huge range of well-deserved culinary awards, winning out over some of the most well-established and highly-regarded brands out there. The Marañón 68%  (£4.95) is particularly stand-out for the chocolate lover in your life (or as a reward to yourself for getting through all that gift wrapping…).

There’s nothing quite like a super rich boy cream with a delicious scent to make you feel just a tiny bit luxurious. Lulu & Boo have a wide range of organic, vegan friendly products, including our new favourite Elderflower & Orange Blossom Body Cream (£29)

There’s nothing quite like a cosy night in with your favourite Christmas movie, some tasty treats and a delicious scented candle. Our current favourite is the Camp Fire utility candle (£25) from Essence + Alchemy. They do a range of scents in jar candles, a bunch of botanical candles, and little sets of tealights too (perfect for bath time!).

So it turns out that a majority of those designer sunglasses we all covet are made by a single company, who also own several retail brands. That means they control the whole value chain, including setting prices. This doesn’t sit quite right with us, but there’s a stylish solution: Finlay & Co.  (from £140). Their sunglasses are gorgeous, and they have a big range of styles and materials, including some bamboo frames which float – perfect for the pool!

If you follow us on Instagram or Twitter, you might have noticed that we love a pootle round London at the weekends, and coffee is a key part of our pootling! Our favourite London stop for coffee is probably Workshop – the staff are friendly and total experts, and the coffee is always delicious (and served in beautiful cups!). This year, they’re offering a fantastic gift for the coffee lover in your life – a selection pack of their current filter coffees (£20). We’d definitely be chuffed to find this in our stocking!

So, we know organic cotton is kind of a must, but it can be pretty expensive and hard to find, and often favoured by the more designer-y end of the market. Help is at hand from the smart people at Rapanui, where you can get a 5 pack of organic cotton t-shirts for £35. They offer full traceability from cotton field to delivery, and the products are made in a ethnically accredited eco-powered factory. Ticking *all* our boxes, and they offer a bunch of other products too.

You want to get something sparkly for someone special, but you’re reluctant to choose diamonds because it’s difficult to be sure that they’ve been ethically mined and sold. Brilliant Inc. have the answer, producing beautiful simulated diamond jewellery (from £50). The sparkle is indistinguishable from natural diamonds to all but professional gemologists – we got engaged this year with a beautiful solitaire from Brilliant Inc. and can confirm that this is true, the compliments (and the sparkle) prove it 🙂

We’re loving watching a new vegan business go from strength to strength in All Glamour No Guts. Right now, we’re particularly excited about their new character, Autumn, featuring on a range of their merch. A cute sticker (£1) or two would make a perfect stocking filler!

We are *obsessed* with the incredible cakes coming out of Heart of Cake – a one-person vegan business turning out amazingly beautiful custom cakes. Think it’s time to give traditional Christmas cake the heave-ho and get one of these beauties instead!

The times they are a’changing, and one of the places that is most evident is the supermarket shelves! There are a whole host of deliberately and incidentally vegan treats out there this Christmas, new and old. Some of the things that have caught our eye for this year include: Tesco free-from selection box (we can be kids again!), M&S gold creme brulee liqueur (move over Baileys!), Oatly cream (bring on the hot mince pies), Tesco finest chocolate fondant truffles (we’re making our own tin of choccies this year), Divine 70% dark chocolate coins (our favourite stocking filler last year and now a firm fixture).

It’s been an amazing year for new and growing ethical independent businesses, so there’s no reason not to have a fun-filled festive season, and be the change we want to see in the world. We’re so excited about what 2017 has to offer – it’s got to be better than 2016…

Merry Christmas!

Product Review: Soap Nuts

I have read varying views on the effectiveness of soap nuts ability to clean. Given the uncertainty surrounding them I thought best to try them once and for all. Sapindus, commonly referred to as soap nuts, are a native shrub to India. It is a natural surfactant which can be used to clean ones hair, skin, laundry and as a household cleaner generally. They’re vegan and suitable for those with allergies. If this wasn’t enough it was claimed a 1kg bag – costing £11 could wash 330 loads of laundry. That’s 3.3p a load. Given the mixed reviews I thought best to sit down with a cup of tea and learn how to use them properly. The first test was laundry. 

Within the bag are two small mesh bags where you place the soap nuts for washing clothes. Having read up I noted you need more soap nuts in hard water areas. As London has horrific water I placed 10 soap nuts into the mesh bag and put them into a small jar with tap hot water and shook them up. They formed suds straight away. After watching an episode of South Park I return and placed the mesh bag with soapy water in with the clothes.

soap nuts
1kg bag of soap nuts

I didn’t use fabric conditioner but the clothes felt far softer than normal. There was not scent and the clothes were really clean. At least as clean if not more than usual. I’ve used them quite a few times now and they’re done the job. The only thing I may do is add some essential oils to add some fragrance. The soap nuts can be used four or fives times. To test them put them in a jar of warm water and shake. If they foam up you’re good to go. I’ve also used them to wash my hair and beard.

The cost of laundry cleaner and conditioner wasn’t too pricy. However, buying organic, vegan and ‘nasty’ free shampoo and conditioner is rather costly. Given I have 1kg of soap nuts I made my own shampoo. I filled an old empty bottle of shampoo with five soap nuts, some organic cold pressed argan and jojoba oil along with tea tree essential oil. Given the softness of the laundry, the addition of the oils negates the need for conditioner. I tend to leave the homemade shampoo on a little longer. My hair is left clean and soft. For my kind of hair this works better than shop bought shampoo.

For household cleaning I’ve used 10 soap nuts and placed them into an old bottle with some lemon essential oil and filtered water. I left the mixture overnight and found it turned brown. This has been used to clean worktops / dishes. It cleans effortlessly on all the household tasks I set it to. I was most surprised by its ability to clean around the house. Having read negative reviews it seems, at least anecdotally, people didn’t first soak the soap nuts.Given its cleaning ability and relative cost I’d like to continue using them. Supports highlight their environmental benefits. I’m unsure on this point. Of course there are environmental / welfare concerns with commonly used laundry products.

The nuts must been transported to the UK. There are also farming impacts to consider too. Given they are not commonly used in the UK – finding information on them have proven challenging it. I will update this post in due course and have posted it in the hope people may have answers to the following; working conditions of those involved in the supply chain, farming techniques  – organic.  environmental impact of growing and in relation to ‘mainstream’ products. Given they are able to carry out general cleaning duties it negates the need to consume multiple products, each produced and shipped in turn. On the face it would suggest the environmental impact would be less. Below is a video documenting the harvesting process in Nepal:

All information on prettygood  is meant for educational and informational purposes only. The statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Medicines and Healthcare Regulator / EU body. Products and or information are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat, or prevent any disease. Readers are advised to do their own research and make decisions in partnership with their health care provider. If you are pregnant, nursing, have a medical condition or are taking any medication, please consult your doctor.

 

Product Review: Washed Out Body Butter

Yes, we’ve featured Washed Out before. However, this isn’t favouritism so much as another really great product from these lovely folks!*

The new Body Butter from Washed Out is a real star product. Great on Lewis’ beard as much as his face, and fantastic for Ellie’s combination skin.

E: With my combination skin, I really struggle to find a single product that can handle the dry patches I get during winter, and the oily bits I have on my face pretty much year-round. I was expecting the Washed Out butter to be primarily used for dry elbows and hands, but when it came I was suffering a really painful dry skin day on my face, so just slathered it on to my freshly cleaned face.

Washed_Out_Barista_Butter
£12 for 100g, £7 for 50g

The butter has a really light texture for a product like this, and absorbs into the skin really well. After a minute or two, it makes the perfect base for make-up too, and the Barista coffee-scented butter is great for a wake-up in the morning! If coffee isn’t your thing, there’s an unscented version, and a lovely sounding ‘Six More Weeks of Winter’, which is scented with rosemary, bergamot and pine essential oils.

100g is £12, and our 50g (£7) pot is about halfway through after 6 weeks, with two of us using it. I’d say that’s pretty decent value for such an effective product which feels like a real treat to use.

*for the absolute avoidance of doubt, we bought this product ourselves as we wanted it – Washed Out have never sent us freebies to review or paid us for reviews.

Wool: What is it Good For? Not The Environment

Individuals interested in an ethical and sustainable lifestyle come from different perspectives. We all realise that our actions have an impact  on the environment, and based on this, abstain from consuming products that perpetuate climate change. Surprisingly, I have seen a number of progressive shops selling ‘sustainable’ wool. It has been pitched as a renewable product, which fails to understand the reality of global factory farming and the environmental devastation it leaves in its wake.


Environmental Impact

There are over one billion sheep in the world. Australia, China, UK and New Zealand dominate the market. A government reports puts the number of sheep in the UK at around 23 million. Each one produces 20 litres of methane a day simply by burping. The issue with methane is that it is 19 times more harmful to the environment than carbon dioxide, over a five year period. Alarmingly, methane has a Global Warming Potential  (GWP) rating of 86 over a 20 year period.

Each year 90 million tonnes of methane are produced by all ruminant livestock globally. Shockingly, sheep account for 90% of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions. This is due to the large amount of  burping that ruminants do. The impact of wool needs to be considered within the wider context of the farmed animal industry. There is serious dollar to be made out of exploiting non-human animals. Livestock occupy 26% of the Earth’s ice-free land and account for 15% of greenhouse gas emissions globally. Meat, wool and other animal fibres are apart of an interdependent system of environmental devastation. The lamb in your kebab as you make your way home in the wee hours could have once literally been connected to your Uggs.

Polluting rivers near farmland is a concern to local wildlife and people alike. Sheep may be treated for parasites by being dipped in a chemical bath. After dipping these substances may find their way into local waterways. Contamination of rivers by livestock faeces / carcasses pose a health risk to people too. Experts stated that the parasite detected at a water treatment facility Lancashire  over the summer was likely caused by this.

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Ebony and Ivory say  ‘leave our wool alone’. Image from Flickr user Maurice Koop

Merino Wool

The global wool industry is barbaric.There has been sustained coverage regarding the mistreatment of merino sheep in Australia. This is due to 80% of global merino wool being produced there. It is often seen as a high end luxury product. Sheep are not indigenous to the continent, much like the European invaders who brought them to Australia in 1796. Sheep initially used for wool are sent to slaughter, once there is no further economic value in maintaining them.  The industry  employs  a number of efficient practices as illustrated with the merino breed.

The merino has been bred to yield the maximum amount of wool and not to shed their wool. They have been bred to have wrinkly skin. More skin equals more wool.  Sheep may become overloaded with wool and die due to high temperatures. The wrinkles encourage excrement and urine to be trapped in the folds. This attracts blowflies which leads to flystrike whereby flies lay eggs. The maggots hatch and, if untreated will literally eat the sheep alive. To prevent this farmers employ a practice called mulesing. It involves cutting out chunks of skin from the groin area. No anaesthetic is used.

At the point of shearing the sheep are typically handled roughly. They may be deprived of food and water up to a day before shearing, to make them easier to control. The shearer is paid by volume and not hour. Sheep can be left with bloody wounds which are routinely stitched up without anaesthetic. When sheep are no longer economically viable to maintain, they are transported to slaughter. The Merinos from Australia are shipped to the Middle East without food or water. But this cruelty is not confined to far off distant lands. In the UK it has been reported that 15% of lambs die in infancy. Should they not die, they face tail docking and castration, which often takes place without pain relief if done before sheep reach three months of age – which is routine. This is due to the time needed to administer the injections and the cost of medication. The practices of farming in the UK and elsewhere are necessarily cruel.


There have been suggestions that organic wool is the solution to issues of sustainability. The core issues raised above are still present in all forms of non-human farming. Organic methods are to be championed, but no method is justified when a Being who wants to live, is killed. If small scale farms are able to clothe the world then the issue of methane is back on the table. It has been said it may be possible to reduce the levels of methane produced. This reminds me of the story of NASA producing a pen that could be used in space, whereas their Russian counterparts used a pencil. Though the story is an urban legend it does make one think. The answer is simple. Wool / animals’ bodies generally are unsustainable, so we ought to stop using them –  for the benefit of our children, and their children.

The organic wool green-washing machine allows those who don’t want to know, not to know. Sheep are abused in conventional / ‘humane’ slaughter houses as documented by Animal Aid. Abuse has been reported at facilities linked to progressive  bcorps. Workers on Ovsi 21 farms, who supplied wool for Patagonia, skinned sheep alive. The wool from these farms was sold as sustainable and responsibly sourced. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Patagonia has cut ties with this supplier.


Instead of being complicit in the cruelty of wool, you may wish to make a donation to the Fleece Haven sanctuary in Devon. They rescue sheep from the farming industry and allow them to live out their lives in peace.