How to be a Happy Vegan in London

How to be a Happy Vegan in London

 

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Are you thinking about a trip to London and concerned about vegan options? Our  British adventure was full of plant-powered choices and so will yours!

Here are some ideas and specific locations that will help ease your worries about being vegan on your European vacation:

  1. Designate your vegan meal for the airplane when booking your flight. If it says that is not an option, call the airlines right away and let them know what you will need. Next, call the airline again 24 hours before your flight and remind them that you will need a vegan meal and snack. As a back up, bring snacks from home just in case their are no options.  As a backup, I purchased a delicious Nutty Monkey (gluten free oats, almond milk, maple syrup, lemon juice, almond butter, banana, coconut, cacao nibs) at the airport from a vending machine company called the Farmers Fridge. It isn’t a vegan company, but they have options. You could recycle the container right there in the machine, and it was mostly organic, local food. There are also lots of vegan options at the airport restaurants (we were leaving from Chicago O’Hare) yet it is very expensive. Pack your own! europe-043.png

 

2. We flew into Dublin, Ireland and stayed for two days in an apartment in the center of town called The key Collection Temple Bar Apartments, which was perfect for walking to everything including restaurants and grocery stores.

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I loved having a kitchen that we could eat our breakfast and dinner in. We would stock up on all of our favorite items, and eat before and after our exploring.

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We found a wonderful grocery store within walking distance of our apartment. Check out the Organic Supermarket, or The Good Food Store. There is also a vegan butcher in Dublin that we did’t get a chance to check-out called Sova Vegan Butcher.

3. When we arrived in London, we stayed at the Park Plaza County Hall London, which is situated within easy walking distance to the London Eye and the Waterloo Tube station.  We began our quest for vegan groceries and dinner immediately upon arrival to London. It was a slow start, only finding a few mediocre vegan items until stumbling upon a couple gems in the quaint Lower Marsh neighborhood. My husband and I found a restaurant called Sino Thai that was amazing. My husband ordered the Tofu Pad Thai and I ordered a very simple white rice and steamed vegetables. Yum!

The second gem was a grocery store called the Greensmiths.greensmiths

Just close your eyes as you first pass their mini-butcher shop, and head down to the beautiful produce on the first floor, and the basement full of interesting vegan surprises. We found faux burgers and sausages, bread, yogurt, cookies, fruit, veg, crackers, salads, cheese, specialty drinks, and much more. The corner store grocery experience and neighborhood walk down Lower Marsh had us loading up a cart every evening after our day of exploring. Check out the Lower Marsh Market on Facebook to learn more about the area. Let me know if you find the illusive bakery lady that sells amazing vegan cupcakes. She needs a shout out too!

4. On our 10 mile walk to the Tower of London, we found our favorite vegan friendly Vietnamese restaurant called Banh Mi Bay near St. Paul’s Cathedral.  Great food, clearly marked vegan items on the menu, charming restaurant, and great service. We were all filled up on the Tofu Vegetable Pho.

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Don’t make the same mistake we did and head back there on the weekend because they iz clozed!! That was utterly disappointing.

5. After learning how to navigate the Tube (and more importantly utilizing Apple Pay to access the Tube, receiving Oyster Card prices) we found all sorts of wonderful spots in London. One of our favorite spots is Soho where we found more delicious pho at Pho and an all vegan ice cream shop called Yorica.

europe-036.pngAll I need to say is Free Sprinkles! This place is so much fun with its wonderful topping options (including a Jammy Dodger and whip cream), cute shop, sweet staff, and excellent selection of frozen yogurt and ice cream flavors. We took a second trip to Soho just to get another scoop.

6. I should have openly admitted at the beginning of this post that we are not only vegan, but we are also Dr. Who and Torchwood nerds, so one of our final destinations in England had to be Cardiff.  We hopped on the tube at Waterloo and headed to the Paddington station, where we connected with Rail Europe for our 2 hour trip to Cardiff. On our way from the train station to Cardiff Bay, we found a new restaurant that had some vegan options that hit the spot called Octavo’s Book Cafe and Wine Bar. It’s called a hidden gem, because it is! Only vegans or folks with food allergies will understand how magical it is to stumble upon a sign that says vegan options this way. Octavo’s came through with the yummiest seitan hot dog that was topped with pickles, mustard, caramelized onions and a side of coleslaw. europe-046.png

As we were on our way back to the train station, we wandered through the alleyway called Castle Arcade and found Simply V, Cardiff’s vegan shopeurope-012.pngI couldn’t believe we had stumbled upon another amazing spot. We bought most of Cardiff’s best vegan junk food and 4 faux cheesy sausage pies for the train ride home. My daughter and I had just been talking about how we were tired of all of the signs for shepherds pies that were certainly not vegan, so I won’t ever forget the look on my daughter’s face as we both took our first bite, and the flaky crust nearly melted in our mouths. Amazing! Thank you for the good work you are doing at Simply V! europe 019europe 013

Happy Vegan traveling!

WelcomeTree Farm Vision

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“Odd as I am sure it will appear to some, I can think of no better form of personal involvement in the cure of the environment than that of gardening. A person who is growing a garden, if he is growing it organically, is improving a piece of the world. He is producing something to eat, which makes him somewhat independent of the grocery business, but he is also enlarging, for himself, the meaning of food and the pleasure of eating.”
Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays

Our vision at WelcomeTree Farm is to better the health and happiness of our community and the world as a whole:

* Inspiring personal health, deeper compassion, and environmental mindfulness through organic gardening, whole food plant-based diet, meaningful movement, meditation and a connection with animals and nature.

* Teaching about the benefits of growing an organic garden and being an organic consumer (Our health, healing & preserving our environment, a sense of purpose, spiritual well being, education of a new generation, and our interconnections with all living things…).

* Sharing our passion for ending the destructive forces of factory farming through hands-on educational activities and lectures that cultivate a deeper compassion for all sentient beings. (I plan to visit Farm Sanctuary in Watkin Glen, NY in 2019 to learn more about how we can support the mission to end factory farming).

* Supporting low-income and elderly community members in establishing their own organic gardens (Individuals or families would be supplied with low or no-cost organic vegetable seedlings, tilling or raised-bed construction, and “as-needed” levels of support with planting, weeding, harvesting, and recipe/cooking support).

* Selling, sharing, and donating organic vegetables and fruit to the community that we live in. 

* Actively engaging in our local and government politics to help ensure:

1) The integrity of organic farming.

2) Support of diversified, sustainable farm practices that protect people, animals, and soil health.

3) The right to know what is in our food.

4) Food, shelter and health justice, where food free from pesticides and human/animal abuse, a place to call home, and health care are treated as the basic human rights that they should be.

Would you like to support the WelcomeTree Farm vision? Just click the Donate Button at the top of the page. We will let you know exactly how your contribution helped to further our goals. Please pass along our website to your friends and family. Thank you.

Any questions? Contact Denise at welcometreefarm@me.com.

Living Wabi Sabi

It is not despite our problems, but because of them that our hearts hold everything we need to be joyful.” Taro Gold

iphone fencev 040 I am going to begin with some honesty today: Our barn is really not a barn. It is only a corn crib disguised as a barn.

After spending sometime with the goats and chickens yesterday, I began feeling like a disgruntled corn crib owner. All I could see were all of the problems, and began picturing everyone else’s perfect barns.  I don’t really know who these perfect barn owners are, but I know their barns are better than mine. My thoughts quickly spiraled off into images of Animal Welfare folks coming down the driveway with their take-em-away truck because they had gotten wind of the goat turds that are intermittently found floating in water buckets and hiding in baking soda dispensers.

I suppose it could be all of those farm magazines I read… If someone was coming to my house to write a story about my farm,  I guess I would scrub that sucker down too, put diapers on all of the chickens and goats, and maybe replace the chicken feed bags that keep the wind out with a real tarp. My barn would probably look pretty darn good, in kind of an Ozarks- hillbilly sort of way.

Now, let’s rewind things a bit, to an important memory.

I could barely take it all in when my daughters and I drove up the long driveway to the old farmhouse on 1500 acres of land, and there it was… the little red barn within walking distance of the house. At the time, I knew nothing about corn cribs, so it was a barn to me. We looked at the house and I was giddy, but not as giddy as when the gentleman told me that the corn crib was apart of the agreement. He slid open the heavy old door and I could do nothing but grin. It was a real old barn with its rafters full of spider webs and the sun shining and wind blowing through the broken panes of glass of the four square windows. My senses overloaded with joy. It’s almost like I could see the chickens roosting in the rafters and the goats bedded down together in the golden straw. It was perfectly imperfect.

This memory began flickering as I was contemplating my barn dilemma at the kitchen table. At that same moment, the mailman drove up our driveway, and hopped out with a package. In that package was a book from a friend titled, Living Wabi Sabi by Taro Gold. There sat in front of me a book about an ancient Japanese Buddhist philosophy centering around “…the oddities, the perfectly imperfect uniqueness of you and me and everything…the value of objects, events, and the entirety of life “as is” unpolished, unpredictable, and natural.” It is a book about the empowerment of imperfection.

The book begins with the author’s grandma telling him, ” You will grow to be even happier than you can possibly imagine today.” She was right. After reading the book that same morning, I felt tremendous joy about who I am and the life that I am living.

There is so much beauty in everything that is imperfect, including you and me. The broken window at the peak of barn is like my anxiety, or the open slats that have to be covered to keep the wind out are like my imperfect body, or the never-ending shit that is everywhere, and I mean everywhere (please be careful  where you put your hand) is like the poo of life that just won’t go away no matter how much you try to scrub it. Scrape away one giant pile of frozen shit one day, undoubtedly there will be a new one soon there after.

I guess the more I love and accept my Wabi Sabi corn crib, the more I can love my Wabi Sabi self.

I am including a video of a group of people in Paraguay, South America that seems to embody the Wabi Sabi philosophy. It’s so beautifully imperfect.

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