There was one time back in my omni days at uni when I was so unwell I became a pathetic lump and could not get out of bed, even to feed myself. Yes, you heard that right – not even food could motivate me. Ryan (being the best pal that he is) did my delusional bidding and went down the chippy and got me a fish cake and chips.
It made me feel SO MUCH WORSE. THANKS FOR NOTHING, RYAN.
The point there was supposed to be that I used to love fishcakes so much that I would risk heaving them back up just in case that happened to be my last meal (it was only sinusitis… I was totally not being dramatic…).
I found this brand new box of wonder in the free-from freezer section of Tesco (where I do most of my weekly shop) and I was so excited to try them, expecting great things seeing as Tesco has been well ahead of the game in terms of stocking some top-notch vegan nosh.
They definitely look that part, and they only take 20 minutes in the oven from frozen which is pretty much the upper limit when it comes to waiting time when you’re a lazy and impatient bitch like me.
Here’s the thing… while Tesco is often the front runner of supplying us with convenient vegan food, it can also sometimes fall a little flat when it comes to their own-brand stuff.
These fishless fishcakes were perfect… if you were never really a fan of fish.
Instead of fishy, they taste quite starchy. Not in a necessarily unpleasant way… just in a sort of underwhelming “carbs with herbs” kinda way. Texture-wise they’ve hit the bulls-eye because the breadcrumb is really flavourful and doesn’t form a hard shell that conceals a mushy interior. It cooked evenly all the way through and (with enough ketchup) was a fairly inoffensive meal.
Yeah. The best I can come up with for this is “inoffensive”. God, I should really work in marketing…
Look, it was fine. Not “fine” like how your partner says “fine” when you say you’re going down the pub with your mates and don’t know when you’ll be back. More like “fine” as in “the weather here in England managed to break into the low teens temperature-wise and it isn’t pissing down with rain”. That kind of fine. You aren’t going to put on a garish Hawaiin shirt and party about it, but you’ll take it if it’s there and won’t complain.
In short, there are better fake fish products out there. My omni sister swears that Quorn fishless fingers taste like the real deal, so I’m sure at some point in the future there will be some vegan fishcakes that actually taste like they were at one point somewhat vaguely near the damn ocean…
We just had a heatwave here in the UK which obviously meant every fucker and his mother had their tops off, beers cooling, and BBQs out.
We’ve already covered a lot of burgers and sausages since we started JFP, but it seems like 2018 is the Year of the Vegan because you can’t go up the shops without another goddamn veggie burger staring at you from the Free From fridge.
Ryan is a man who likes his burgers busting with veggies and beans. I myself prefer a dirty, greasy, fake-meaty burger that makes my arteries get a little worried. So we really didn’t know which one of us should review this burger from Gosh considering it looks like a meat patty… but it definitely does not claim to be trying to emulate any form of mashed up animal (yum yum).
I stepped up and took the beetroot burger bullet, hoping and praying that it wouldn’t be as shit as most other “healthy” burgers that I’ve subjected myself to.
Stage one: remove from packaging. So far so good… it looks kinda like a meaty burger because of the pink from the beetroot and the squishy-but-nubbly texture (why don’t I work in marketing? It’s honestly a mystery).
Let’s be fucking clear: that’s where the likeness to a good honest burger ends.
Even before cooking these little pink lumps the smell of mint is over-fucking-powering. It kinda took me back to when my dad would buy “gourmet” burgers from Waitrose (because we are painfully middle-class) that were made with lamb and rammed with spices to make them distinct from your bog-standard poor-people quarter-pounders.
Totally echoing Ryan’s rant in his last post here – but they took TWENTY MINUTES to cook in the oven. TWENTY. And there’s no quick option to fry them or stick them on a BBQ (because you’d be stood there like a goddamn fool watching your burger disintegrate between the grill and into the fucking flames thank to their crap structural integrity). So you have to sit and suffer waiting by the oven, only to be cripplingly disappointed when they aren’t even fucking cooked through after the full time.
If these burgers were made of meat, they’d be a fucking health hazard. Or, in the eternal words of Gordon Ramsay:
This was so gross to eat. It had a bizarre dry shell which barely held together the completely soggy inside. Irritatingly, they actually tasted quite nice. Mint is the dominant flavour so it would be better with some kind of yoghurt dip rather than ketchup, which is just way to bougie for a basic BBQ in my opinion.
It wouldn’t matter if this was the best bizarro mint burger I had ever put in my mouth, because the texture was so disgusting I would struggle to bring myself to get over that for the flavour alone. Honestly, think raw minced meat. Yeah. Not exactly going to appeal to the vegan demographic, is it…
Don’t feed this to your vegan friends. Don’t feed this to your omni friends. If you feed this to anyone, you will not have any friends left.
Let’s rate this fucking catastrophe, shall we?
My Rating – 1/5
Omnivore Score – 1/5
Overall – 1/5
Find this product at: most supermarkets (but please do yourself a favour and leave it there)
This product has been out in the world for a while now and I will admit I have had these a couple times, but long before Ryan and I became the JFP. I thought it’s about damn time I shared my thoughts on these bite-size, sugar-high-inducing treats.
Now I know my fudge. I’m not from Cornwall so I can’t claim to be an expert on the stuff but when I was an omni I was mad for it. I craved it. The best part of Christmas markets? The fudge stall. Long day at school? Tuck into a pack of Morrison’s own brand vanilla fudge (thanks mum xxx). Point being, I loved dairy fudge enough to be a pretty reliable source of whether or not vegan fudge stands up to the real deal.*
*for all the vegans who will scream at me “IF IT CONTAINS ANIMAL PRODUCTS THEN IT ISN’T FOOD SO IT ISN’T ‘THE REAL DEAL'” can I request you back the fuck off, have a chamomile tea, and ask yourself why you strive to cause no harm to animals and yet are such an asshole to other human beings. Thanks.
AAAAAAANYWAY. Back to the fudge.
Look at it. What a beauty.
They’re described on the packaging as “Crumbly, creamy, dreamy, velvety, bites”.
Let’s pick this apart, shall we?
Crumbly? Hell yeah.
Creamy? Fuck no.
Dreamy? Dream bigger, amigo.
Velvety? Oh hell yes.
Bites? Come on now, that’s obvious.
Look, let me be frank. They’re not gonna be creamy because they haven’t been made with cream. Not even non-dairy cream. That said, they do have a really fucking lovely crumbly, velvety texture so they melt in your mouth and are really bloody satisfying – especially with a cuppa.
They are very sugary. Like, a little bit sickly sweet. This is definitely a bit of an exercise in self control. One reviewer on the Sainsbury’s website may have described them as “like eating a cube of sugar” but that is some serious hyperbole; they may be sugary, but unless you have actually shoved a 1.5cm x 1.5cm brown sugar cube into your gob and let it sit and dissolve and slowly rot everything inside of you, then frankly you don’t have a leg to stand on with such grandiose statements. I should know, as I have done that.
If you’re like me (i.e. renowned for consuming an entire packet of any and all snacks at any given time) then definitely don’t shove three in your mouth at once on repeat until you want to be sick from the sugar hangover.
I subject myself to these things so you don’t have to.
Despite the more sugary taste compared to dairy fudge, they are still absolutely delicious and have that classic, subtly vanilla-ry “fudgy” taste about them. They also aren’t that expensive compared to (decent) dairy fudge, and you can find them at supermarkets as well as online so really I’d call this one a win. You could even give these to an omni no problem… unless they’re from the South-West of England and then you better give it a miss lest you insult their entire heritage.
My Rating – 4/5
Omnivore Score – 4/5
Overall – 4/5
Find this product at: Sainsbury’s, Morrisons, and online.
It’s no secret that I love mac and cheese more than life itself. I’ve already tried Tesco’s Free From Mac and Cheese and I was less than impressed. In fact, it fucking offended me. The bar was pretty damn low when I picked up Wicked Kitchen’s mac from my local Tesco, but literally anything could’ve surpassed the absolute shit show of the free-from monstrosity.
Maybe I’m just a purist when it comes to mac and cheese, but my first impression was that it was just TOO DAMN DRY. WHERE IS THE CHEESY SAUCE? This shit should be dripping, gooey, mouth watering. Instead it was kind of… clumpy? At least the pasta was cooked properly… Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t BAD, it just wasn’t GREAT. It still kicks the absolute ass of Tesco’s Free From mac and cheese, but that’s like trying to brag about beating a toddler in a fist fight.
The BBQ mushrooms were a bit of a saviour here. They really packed a punch flavour- wise which means the sauce was a bit overpowered. Not a bad thing, just something to consider if you’re expecting an oo-ey gooey cheesy party in your mouth. The BBQ mushrooms are the big flavour here, and even if (like me) you hate the texture of mushrooms, they are tasty enough to make you forget that cooked mushrooms feel like tiny chunky slugs in your mouth.
The red cabbage… I have so many questions. Most of them “why?”. They are peppery and actually quite tasty but why the sweet fuck are they slapped on top of my mac? Save this shit for a quinoa salad or some other healthy crap. I came here to eat pasta and carb the fuck up. Get that veg away from me.
Overall, this was filling, non-greasy, and better than your average ready meal. A non-vegan could eat it no problem, but I totally expect them to have the same cabbage qualms as I did.
It also cost FOUR FUCKING POUNDS. FOUR!!!! FOUR!!!!!!
Excuse me while I actually get off my ass and make my own mac and cheese from scratch because £4 is fucking extortionate.
Wicked Kitchen is making big waves in the vegansphere and for good reason – It’s a fucking blessing to have so much choice suddenly dropped into our laps. To find a vegan spagbol boxed up and ready to go makes me almost *almost* drop the resting bitch face and crack a smile right there in the ready meal aisle. For context, the last time I did that in Tesco a 55 year old man tried to chat me up, so this is no small thing.
It doesn’t look as impressive as their Muay Thai Curry but it smells incredible fresh out the microwave (just like Nana intended). It’s got a great texture, which I thought was impressive considering mushroom mince has always sounded like something that was destined to be a disappointment.
Work with me here and ignore the pathetic foliage smushed on top… The sauce is actually fucking awesome. It’s rich and flavoursome, and everything fits together perfectly to be a proper good hearty meal, which is way more than I thought I’d ever say in favour of a ready meal. Sad leaves aside, it ticks all the boxes for a classic bolognese that would only slightly insult everything an Italian grandmother stands for.
As I was tucking in (read: shovelling pasta into my mouth like a crazed woman) I had the shock of my fucking life when suddenly there were CARROT NOODLES IN MY MOUTH. CARROT. NOODLES. COODLES (?).
What. The. Fuck.
Okay I totally did not read the packaging properly… when it said “carrot” I thought it meant ittybitty chunks in the sauce not STEALTH COODLES LURKING AT THE BOTTOM OF THE BOX.
I feel personally attacked. Mostly because the coodles (I’m officially making this a thing) were basically raw. Raw veg is not my jam. We are the junkfood punks for a reason. Coodles are not that reason. On the other hand, the spinach was actually a nice addition. Possibly because it was fully cooked and completely expected. Fuck you, stealth veg.
Let’s wrap this up before the coodle rant gets out of hand (yes, this is me being restrained). Overall, this was filling and tasty and totally passable as an actual meal. Feed it to an omni and there will be minimal bitching, but the mushroom mince is by no means identical to meat mince so they will just have to accept the fact that an actual vegetable has entered their body. (The SHOCK, the HORROR!)
I found Raw Food Rosie’s stall at VegFest London 2017 and it was hands down the best find of the whole festival.
I tried EVERY. SINGLE. CHEESE. (because I am a shameless and broke student) and not a single one disappointed. Seriously, the Vampire Slayer spreadable cheese blew my fucking brains out it packed such a punch.
I bought the original cashew brie because I’m a sucker for the good ol’ classics and it is one of my favourite vegan cheeses ever (if not one of my favourite cheeses ever in general).
JUST LOOK AT IT. LOOK AT THIS SHIT RIGHT HERE. THIS SHIT IS FANTASTIC.
It’s solid, but creamy. Apply a little pressure or let it sit at room temperature and it will spread like butter. It’s thick and rich and filling and literally everything you could want in a cheese. It makes it so diverse – you could eat this on crackers, in sandwiches, in a pasta dish… or you could sink to my level and just hack at it like a mad woman and eat it straight from the wrapping.
Price-wise it’s one of the more reasonably priced ‘artisanal’ vegan cheese at £5.50 a wheel, and it can be frozen which means you have no excuse to not dedicate an entire freezer drawer to fulfilling your cheese needs (just me? alrighty then…).
If you wanna crack this out for your omni friends and family (if you have the willpower to part with it) then it would go down pretty well compared with supermarket takes on vegan cheese. It’s much more flavoursome but in the right way, and the texture is fucking perfect.
My only issue is that I wouldn’t necessarily call this a “brie” because that makes me think of a thick white rind and soft gooey centre, which this cheese definitely does not have. As a generic mild, semi-creamy cheese though you will struggle to find anything better than this and definitely not at a better price.
Overall, it’s fucking ace.
My Rating – 5/5
Omnivore Score – 4/5
Overall – 4.5/5
Find this product at: http://www.rawfoodrosies.com/shop/
Contains: a shitload of free samples and a fuckload of people
Free From: You’d think it’d be free from meat eaters but some dude selling soup chatted to me about how he went back to being omni so there’s that
VegFest London 2017 had the biggest turnout to date, and it was fucking awesome.
There were international vendors set up throughout the exhibition centre, selling everything from pizza slices to lamps made from Himalayan salt.
Being a poor student I obviously went with the intention of scoring as many free samples as I could, and good GOD I was not disappointed. I managed to eat so much free shit I didn’t need to buy food to eat while I wandered around – which I was actually disappointed about because the food hall was INCREDIBLE … though this did save me from the ridiculous waiting times that hit around midday (the queue for Jake’s Vegan Steaks was easily half an hour long the whole time I was there).
Fortunately there was also booze. Booze with no queues. A no-queues booze cruise. (Don’t be deceived, there was no cruising. I only had half a mango-flavoured cider because someone – cough, RYAN, cough – passed his plague on to me.)
So here’s a little roundup of the vendors that stood out based on the free samples I snagged and those that coerced me into buying their wares. Fair warning, there may have been a bias towards cheese-related goods…
A fucking incredible online store (with an actual shop based in Newcastle) that sells damn near anything and everything you could dream of. Whipped cream to tofu presses, Quinoa Puffs to shoes – you name it they’ve got it (and the people that run it are the SWEETEST HUMAN BEINGS ALIVE).
Marshmallows and biscuits and everything smothered in chocolate… holy fucking shit I swear to god this stall was heaven. I picked up four of their Round Up biscuits and I wish I’d bought the whole damn table because they are fucking ace.
Yas (my long-time friend, fellow vegan, and the person who stopped me spending my entire life savings at VegFest) and I tried some of Conscious Chocolate’s free samples and they were hands down the most flavour-intense, gorgeously rich chocolates we had ever tasted. You’d be a fucking fool to not try these (and an even bigger fool to not remember to go back to their stall and buy an actual bar GOD DAMMIT).
I fucking love how their tagline is “probably the best seitan in the world”. It’s like, “we don’t wanna brag, also there’s a fuckload of seitan out there so I mean statistically maybe not but like we’re pretty damn good so at least top ten. Definitely top ten. Stretching for top five.” Taglines aside, their seitan is pretty fucking awesome, especially the chilli and italian flavours. If, like me, you’re a lazy motherfucker and every time you get off your ass and attempt to make seitan it turns out like a chewy leathery catastrophe then you should definitely check these guys out.
Anyone who knows vegan sweet treats knows Ms Cupcake. They are some of the damn finest cakes, cookies, and bakes the vegan world has to offer. I picked up one of their red velvet cookie sandwiches (on the right in the photo) for my omni sister and holy shit it was good. You could feel the cavities forming, it was that full of sugary goodness.
New Roots is a Swiss company that do bloody INCREDIBLE cashew cheeses. They’ve got a camembert, cream cheese, and a ricotta as well as loads of other flavours of classic cashew cheese to choose from. I tried their brand new Free the Goat Cheeze which is their take on ricotta and holy shit they are killing it. Definitely a company to keep an eye out for.
I don’t want to alarm anyone, but I think I’ve found my favourite vegan cheese. Raw Food Rosie’s cheeses are jam-packed full of flavour that kicks you in the teeth, punches you in the throat, and keeps you coming back for more. Their Vampire Slayer cream cheese? Holy fuck. I went away with one of their original classic bries which I will definitely be reviewing soon. For an artisanal cheese their prices are RIDICULOUSLY GOOD and if Yas wasn’t with me to drag me away I would have gladly spent all my money on every flavour of cheese they had to offer.
Now I think I only ever tried real caviar once in my life and knowing what it was made the whole experience pretty fucking unpleasant. But THIS I can get on board with. It’s made with sea weed and looks like the real deal. I tried the “salmon” and Yas tried the “wasabi” and both of us were pleasantly surprised by this stuff. When I get good enough at making sushi that it doesn’t end up looking like a bastardisation of those ridiculous instagram “buddha bowls” splayed across my kitchen counter then I will definitely grab a jar of veggie caviar to finesse my sushi rolls.
Yas had the joy of going to university t’up North so she had already tried Tyne Chease before VegFest and told me about how bloody good it is. She was not wrong. I basically stood at their stall for a good 10 minutes tasting EVERY. SINGLE. SAMPLE. Tyne Chease has literally mastered integrating flavours into their cheeses. They are iconic. My only qualm was that a wheel of their cheese was almost £3 more expensive than some of the other cheeses around (eg. Raw Food Rosie) and as a student that pinches just a little too much to justify it…. especially as someone who could easily eat one whole wheel in one sitting. Would it be weird to put cheese on my Christmas list?
Last but DEFINITELY not least is Verys. Those charismatic Italians drew us in and left us with the some mozarella cheese and the goddamn best ravioli I have had in years. I could have cried (granted I was very hungover when I ate mine, but the sentiment still stands). The only problem is I HAVE NO FUCKING CLUE WHERE TO BUY THEM. Their leaflet says they are available on The Vegan Kind Supermarket website but I have scoured and found absolutely fuck all. My heart is broken. Send help. I need this pasta in my life. If you ever come across Verys products BUY THEM. BUY THEM NOW. And send me some while you’re at it…
I fucking LOVE mac and cheese. Do you know how long I waited for this shit to hit the shelves?! I grew up on Kraft mac, that real fine shit from a cardboard box, so to be able to have nutritionally lacking quick-cook cheesy goodness back in my life got me all kinds of excited.
As with any ready meal, you feel like a goddamn failure at life with every stab of the plastic film before you pop your culinary delight in the microwave. But it’s okay, because Tesco has gotten real fuckin fancy and thrown some parsley on that shit. So, clearly, not everything in your life has gone to crap because your dinner has some foliage tossed upon it.
My first question is: what the FUCK? Why is it so watery?!
Kraft mac and cheese was so thick and gooey it was basically a heart attack in a bowl. THIS SHIT RIGHT HERE COULDN’T EVEN BRING ON A BIT OF LIGHT CHEST PAIN.
If I’m gonna spend £3 on a mac and cheese ready meal I at least want it to be so cheesy I regret it.
Once I stopped being dramatic, I gave it a good stir and a long, hard stare and then tucked in (the stare was necessary, I didn’t know if I could trust this weak-ass attempt at comfort food).
Like, that’s it.
It’s definitely not thick or cheesy enough, the pasta is noticeably gluten free (sorry celiacs, that’s not a good thing), and it’s weirdly peppery. It’s totally edible, but one of those ready meals that makes your soul a little sad.
It was like going on a date with someone who is really attractive on paper, but then when you meet them they’re the kind of person to argue that – while they totally wouldn’t vote for him themselves – there are some merits of wotsit Hitler being President of the United States.