Festival food

I remember when I used to go to festivals as a teenager and festival food was more or less synonymous with warm beer, greasy chips and overpriced burgers. But fortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore.

I went to Green Man Festival at Glanusk Park in the Black Mountains last weekend and was overwhelmed by choice. There were dozens of food and drink stalls, offering freshly cooked dishes, as well as local ciders and ales.

Thali Cafe

Thali Cafe is based in Bristol, but has been catering at events for more than 11 years. As I walked past the stall, it was impossible to resist the fragrant herbs and spices, although it was difficult to decide what to order!

I finally went for a butternut squash and red pepper curry with seasoned basmati rice, which was delicious. The portions were hearty and at £5.50, it was good value for money. What’s more, all the packaging was recyclable and biodegradable.

Green Man Festival

Green Man Festival

Pieminister

I first came across Pieminister at the Bath Food Festival and have been looking out for them ever since. They serve some delicious vegetarian pies, including a wild mushroom and asparagus variety and my personal favourite, the heidi pie.

The heidi pie is filled with goats cheese, sweet potato, spinach and red onion. You can opt to have the pie on its own (£5) or with mash, peas and vegetarian gravy (£7). The veggie gravy is tasty, but slightly tricky to eat from a takeaway box.

Shepherds

Shepherds is based at Cwm Farm in Herefordshire and specialises in ice cream made from sheep’s milk. During the summer, they run stalls at agricultural shows, music festivals and other outdoor events.

The stall offered 16 different flavours of ice cream, including chocolate, ginger and banana toffee crunch. Sheep’s milk contains more minerals and less fat than cow’s milk, so you don’t even have to feel guilty about indulging..!

Video: Sue Gibson

Mango lassi

Mango lassi

Mango lassi

I’ve tried mango lassi at several Indian restaurants, but never realised how incredibly easy it is to make. Traditionally found in India and Pakistan, but gaining in popularity worldwide, this sweet yoghurt-based drink is perfect for summer.

Preparation time: 5 mins

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 100ml single cream
  • 200ml milk
  • 400ml natural yoghurt
  • 400ml mango pulp
  • 4 tsps caster sugar

Method:

Blend the ingredients together and serve with ice. It’s that easy! Here’s an alternative vegan version, which is made with coconut milk and vanilla.

Photo: Jeannie

Vegetarian restaurants in Cardiff

I’ve been living in Cardiff for nearly a year now and after reviewing plenty of vegetarian restaurants, bars and cafés, I thought it would be helpful to compile a map of the best places for veggies and vegans to eat out in the Welsh capital.

Chapter Arts Centre

Lovely light and airy café-bar, with a sunny courtyard for summer evenings. Wide range of veggie and vegan dishes available, all made with fresh and local produce. They do a particularly tasty vegetarian breakfast.

Madhav

Cosy Indian café and takeaway located five minutes away from Millennium Stadium. All dishes are vegetarian and can be adapted for vegans. They do a good selection of freshly-made Indian sweets.

Milgi

Quirky kitchen, lounge and gallery in Cathays, complete with its own yurt in the garden. All dishes are vegetarian, by popular demand. Most dishes can also be adapted for vegans. Don’t miss out on the vegetarian Sunday lunch.

Riverside Market

An integral part of Cardiff life, the Riverside Market takes place on the banks of the Taff every Sunday morning, from 10am until 2pm. There are plenty of vegetarian stalls, including Frantastic Crepes and the Parsnipship.

Vegetarian Food Studio

Vegetarian heaven! Small and cosy vegetarian café, which offers an almost overwhelming selection of Indian and Oriental dishes. Vegetarian Food Studio has won many awards, including Vegetarian Society Best Restaurant and the Guardian Food Award.

For comprehensive listings, visit the Eat Out Vegan Wales site.

Environmental benefits of vegetarianism

Cattle

Cattle

In a new series of posts, readers of thegreenveggie from around the world discuss their reasons for choosing a meat-free lifestyle. In this post Molly Mizusawa, a 17-year-old student from the USA, talks about the environmental benefits of a vegetarian diet.

Molly stopped eating meat at the age of 12. “I had always been a lover of animals and thought the idea of slaughter to be barbaric,” she said, “but I had not seriously contemplated the benefits of vegetarianism.

“I was very young and only thought that if I chose not to eat meat, I would be sparing at least one chicken, cow or pig. But then I realised the advantages of vegetarianism stretch much further than the suffering of a single chick,” she added.

Rainforest

Molly discovered land used for rearing livestock currently takes up 30 per cent of the planet’s surface. This land, which is cleared at a rate of 2,100 feet per minute, often comes from the rainforest and is a primary threat of extinction for many species.

Molly also found that the meat industry contributes significantly towards the problem of  global warming, as breeding livestock produces three major greenhouse gases: methane, nitrous oxide and carbon dioxide.

Global warming

She said: “If each American family could substitute one meal of chicken a week for a vegetarian option, the amount of carbon dioxide saved would be the same as taking 500,000 cars off the roads. A small effort can have a large impact.”

Molly also considered the efficiency of a meat-free diet. “The practice of raising animals for slaughter is not only inhumane, but is also wasteful,” she said. “To produce a single pound of beef, a cow needs 16 pounds of grain, which could feed 10 people for a day.”

Animal welfare

Molly said it was environmental factors which finally persuaded her to give up meat. “The animal welfare arguments were enough to sway me towards vegetarianism, but the environmental factors enhance my dedication,” she added.

“When I told my parents I didn’t want to eat meat anymore, I had no idea how much of an impact I would have on the world. Vegetarianism requires dedication, but if each person plays their part, then we can help save the world and the people in it.”

Photo: Brendan Murphy

Photo of the week

Strawberry

Strawberry

With Wimbledon over and the sun finally emerging, it’s definitely the time of year to enjoy some strawberries and a nice glass of Pimm’s. This stunning macro picture was taken by Nick Dimmock and shows a close-up of a ripe strawberry.

If you have a photo you would like to see featured on the site, please email lizannday@gmail.com or tweet @thegreenveggie.

Kale chips

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I’ve tried all kinds of weird and wonderful crisps in my time. I’m certainly a fan of the colourful and earthy beetroot, parsnip and carrot variety, but I must admit, when I was sent some raw kale chips to review, I was slightly perplexed.

Kale is a form of cabbage, no? You can’t make crisps from cabbage! Well, apparently you can and it turns out they’re pretty tasty. I was sent four different flavours: cheese and purple corn, wasabi wheatgrass, baobab and onion and raw cacao and cinnamon.

At first glance, they didn’t look hugely appetising. They were very dark green in colour and if you’re the kind of person who is put off a meal by the sight of a mound of spinach, then these may not be for you…

Organic

In fairness, it’s difficult to judge any food in its packaging and I can imagine these would look very appealing served alongside a sandwich or a nice salad with some fresh, crusty bread.

While we’re discussing looks, the chips were well packaged in brightly coloured and fully recyclable eco-packing, which clearly states that the product is suitable for a whole range special of dietary requirements, as it does not contain any dairy, wheat, soya or sugar.

Looks aside, the cheese and purple corn chips (which won the 2012 Free From Food Awards) smelt delicious. They did not have the usual greasy and oily texture of crisps, but instead, were light, delicate and crispy, with a strong taste of mature cheese.

Healthy

Instead of being fried, the chips are dried and dehydrated, which means they’re much healthier than normal crisps. The manufacturer also prides itself on steering clear of all additives, preservatives, MSG and GM ingredients, instead favouring organic alternatives.

The unusual wasabi wheatgrass flavour was nutty and peppery, with a spicy aftertaste, while the equally curious baobab and onion flavour had a pungent, salty aroma and a rich, earthy flavour.

The raw cacao and cinnamon flavour was more of an acquired taste, as my taste buds were confused by the sweet, sugary taste of what otherwise appeared to be a savoury product.

Light and crispy

Overall, I wouldn’t view kale chips as an alternative to traditional crisps, I would see them as something distinct and different. If you took a packet along to a house party, you might get some funny looks, but they are definitely worth a try and I will certainly be popping into the inSpiral café next time I’m in Camden.

A 35g pack of kale chips costs £3.45, while a large 80g pack is priced at £5.95. For more information, visit the inSpiral Visionary Products website.

Photos: InSpiral

Mexican bean burgers

Mexican bean burgers

Mexican bean burgers

This summer may be proving a bit of a washout, but you can still manage the odd barbecue between the inevitable cloud bursts! After last week’s post about vegetarian barbecues, I thought I’d share this recipe for tasty Mexican bean burgers.

Preparation time: 10 mins

Cooking time:10 mins

Serves: 3

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 100g breadcrumbs
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • small bunch coriander, stalks and leaves chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp fresh salsa
  • salt and pepper

Method:

  1. Tip the beans into a large bowl, then crush roughly with a fork.
  2. Add the breadcrumbs, chilli powder, coriander, egg and salsa.
  3. Season to taste, then mix together with a fork.
  4. Divide the mixture into six and shape into burgers.
  5. Now they’re ready to stick on the barbecue. They should take about 5 minutes on each side until golden and crisp.

I like to serve these in fresh granary rolls with corn on the cob and a couple of vegetable kebabs. Just spear slices of courgette, pepper, mushroom and halloumi, sprinkle with paprika, drizzle with olive oil and grill on the barbecue for five minutes. Yum!

Photo: Cowomally

Vegetarian barbecues

Vegetarian barbeque

Barbecue

After a very long slog, I finally finished my exams last week, which I thought called for a celebration! And what better way to celebrate than with a nice, sunny barbecue? Although I admit, the sunny part was slightly ambitious for Wales…

I love eating outside and was feeling the need to get my fix of Vitamin D after too many days spent shut away in my study with my head buried in a textbook! So armed with bean burgers, halloumi and plenty of cider, I set out to meet my friends.

Bean burgers

But unfortunately, it seems that barbecues are just another of those times when it’s not socially acceptable to be a vegetarian. As far as I can work out, there are three such occasions: 1. Christmas dinner, 2. Full English breakfasts, 3. Barbecues.

Your normally understanding friends are likely to do one of the following:

a) Look bemused and ask: “But what DO vegetarians eat at barbecues?”

b) Argue that beef burgers are far superior to bean burgers and swear that the smell of sausages will convert you.

c) Try to make a joke out of the whole thing by saying something like: “Well, for every cow you don’t eat, I’m going to eat two..!” (Yes, I really have heard that one.)

Vegetable kebabs

All in all, barbecues are a trying time for vegetarians. Even if you manage to persuade your friends that actually, vegetable kebabs are very tasty and that the smell of burgers probably won’t stop you being veggie after 10 years, you still have to deal with the barbecue itself.

There are a number of pitfalls here. If you’re the only veggie present and your host has provided you with a separate barbecue, you instantly feel like you’ve caused trouble and then you look like a loner with their own “special” food.

Worse still, you have to cook your food alongside all the meat and however hard your friends try to keep their burgers away, someone will inevitably say: “Sorry, I think I just got meat juice on your veggie sausages.” This is far from ideal.

But despite all this, I still love barbeques. As soon as the sun comes out, I just want to head to the beach, crack open a nice cool beer and enjoy the long summer evenings.

Photo: Spiros K