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The Vegan Society
THE VEGAN POD
The Vegan Pod
Our podcast has returned for a new season! The Vegan Pod, which is hosted by Media and PR Officer Francine Jordan, delves into topical issues faced by the vegan community.
Each month we are inviting guests to share their thoughts and experiences on a range of issues starting with ‘Should vegans date non-vegans?’ Shared just in time for Valentine’s Day, our first episode featured Lewis Foster, CEO of plantbased connection app Grazer, and Claira Hermet, self-love and confidence coach and BBC Radio presenter.
Episode two asked ‘Is it cruel to raise a child vegan?’
Dietitian Lucy Kendrick and Danielle Saunders, parent of one and owner of vegan restaurant Dirty Kitch, unpacked the ethical, social and nutritional aspects of bringing up vegan children. Episode three posed the question, ‘Are vegans portrayed fairly in the media?’
Find all episodes on Podbean, Google Podcasts and iTunes. You can get in touch at
to share your thoughts and opinions, as well as topics you’d like to see covered in the future. Keep an eye on our social channels, where we will be gathering our followers’ thoughts on upcoming topics to include in the discussion.
The Vegan Trademark was created in 1990, and since its launch we have been working tirelessly to improve vegan labelling. We want to give customers peace of mind when purchasing vegan products. Every product to carry our sunflower logo has been verified as suitable for vegans by a team of experts.
In March the Trademark Team hit a huge milestone when we registered our 60,000th product. The 60,000th product registered was a first of its kind – vegan and environmentally friendly packaging developed by Smurfit Kappa. We will work with Smurfit Kappa going forwards to encourage more companies to use their plant-based packaging.
The Nutrition Team has been busy this quarter. Dietitian Heather Russell visited University College Birmingham to deliver a lecture about vegan diets to their nutrition students.
Heather and dietitian Chantal Tomlinson supported dietitians at University College London Hospital with their continuing professional development. They shared tips about how to provide person-centered care for the increasing number of vegan patients followed by a questionand-answer session, which was well received.
We also met with the Prison Reform Trust to discuss how we can help to support vegan inmates whose needs are not being met through prison catering.
On 10 March we got involved in International School Meals Day, an awareness day set up to encourage children and young people to connect and talk about food and the role it plays in their lives.
We jumped at the chance to share the message that vegan children have the right to tasty, nutritious options at school, and to showcase how plant-based menus fully support the aims of International School Meals Day.
Our new Education Officer and Chair of our Education Network, Laura Chepner, led this work.
Laura’s commitment to promoting vegan-inclusive education was formally recognised via her nomination as a finalist in the Excellence in School Food Awards.
Laura said, “I was so honoured to be nominated.
I am extremely passionate about working with educators to explain what it means to be vegan and how to appropriately teach and treat vegan pupils. I know first-hand what it’s like to be the parent of a vegan child and worry that their needs are not being met at school.
Everything I do is to help other parents experiencing the same difficulties, and so to be recognised for my work is just wonderful.”
Laura’s work has recently included visiting a school in
Greater Manchester to talk to teachers and pupils about veganism and inclusivity – an aspect of our Education Network which we are continuing to expand.
If you are interested in joining or supporting our work in this area, please email
LGBTQIA+ Resource Group
Staff at The Vegan Society have created a resource group for LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual+) colleagues and allies. The aim of the group is to improve internal working in relation to LGBTQIA+ issues. It also exists to improve inclusivity at The Vegan Society and to foster an environment in which staff feel confident that they are welcome, whether they choose to share that they are part of the LGBTQIA+ communities with their team or not.
Among its first projects, the group is working on implementing regular equality, diversity and inclusion training for staff. They are also working on running an LGBTQIA+ data collection equality and diversity survey with trademark clients who wish to disclose that information about themselves and their brands. If you have any suggestions you would like to share, or any relevant comments or ideas for the group, please get in touch at
Our Research Team recently launched On the Pulse, a monthly webinar series in which one of our research volunteers present on their topic of expertise. The events are available to everyone and include a presentation and a question-and-answer session. On the Pulse kicked off with an initial session on the long-term health of vegans led by Paul Appleby. To find future events, keep an eye on our social media pages.
You can find several new articles on the Research News page on our website. Topics covered include iron deficiency, the psychology of why people go vegan and vegan advocacy messaging.
to stay up to date.
First vegan violin
Late last year we were contacted by violin master Padraig O’Dubhlaoidh to register his violins with the Vegan Trademark. Padraig is a longstanding campaigner for sustainable and ethical violin making, committed to playing a part in helping the industry move away from the use of horsehair, hooves, horns, bones and more in the creation of instruments.
Padraig says, “Apart from the benefit to animals, society and our environment, it has become very clear that animalbased glues have harmful effects on violins. The adhesive used in my vegan violins has no such effect.”
We shared this Vegan Society first with the press, resulting in over 30 pieces of coverage with mentions in BBC News, the Sun and the Metro, plus an interview with Classic FM.
Padraig O ’Dubhlaoidh
Vegan companion animal diets
Our Research Team recently released a report on vegan food for companion animals.
Motivations, Barriers and Market Potential
looks at the growing consumer interest around vegan food and other products for cats and dogs.
Our survey showed that 49% of those who cared for a cat would be interested in purchasing vegan cat food, while 45% of those with dogs were interested.
The publication of the report comes as a growing number of businesses have started investing in this area. These meals replace traditional animal proteins with protein-rich plants and other ingredients such as grains and certain fruits and vegetables.
Fortification with vitamins and minerals ensures that the micronutrient needs of our animals are met.
Andrew Knight, Veterinary Professor of
Animal Welfare and Ethics, responded to the report. He said, “While we’ve known about the benefits of feeding cats and dogs a vegan diet for some time, it’s really encouraging to see interest in this area is on the rise.”
GET INTO FORAGING
shares the joys of discovering wild food, and gives some practical tips for those looking to get started
Would you like a fresh supply of organic, nutritious, free food? What if I said you could have all this, while developing a closer connection with your local landscape?
As a vegan of 32 years, there are many reasons I love foraging. All foraging walks are a delight as I am never entirely sure what I will find.
Foraging enables me to cut down on plastic packaging throughout late spring and summer when wild food is so plentiful, and partly into autumn too. My food bills are greatly reduced as I harvest fresh salad ingredients on my daily walks, and I enjoy spending part of my weekends making drinks, meals and condiments which I preserve to last me through the colder months.
Apart from knowing which plants are not safe to eat, the most important aspect of foraging is conservation. Since the 1930s, there has been huge habitat decline in the UK. It is therefore vital to protect plant populations by only picking small quantities at a time from colonies which are large enough to withstand some harvesting. Most edible plants reproduce by seeds usually formed from the flowers, so it is important to be restrained when harvesting flowers – if the colony is small, only pick the leaves. Remember also that many animals rely on plants for their food, especially birds and insects, so conserve plant populations for them. To start your foraging journey, here are ten commonly found and easy-to-use plants to look out for this summer.
"Apart from knowing which plants are not safe to eat, the most important aspect of foraging is conservation. Since the 1930s, there has been huge habitat decline in the UK.
To start your foraging journey, here are ten commonly found and easy-to-use plants to look out for this summer.
Do not eat any wild plant unless you are sure it is safe. A comprehensive plant identification guide will help you to feel confident in your decisions, whereas some plant identification apps can often be inaccurate.
Wild thyme can be found on walls, rocks or field edges
Easy to find throughout the year, young dandelion leaves can be used in salads or cooked like spinach as a side vegetable.
To use the flowers, shake them well and pull off the petals, as they often harbour tiny black insects. Infuse the petals in oil or vinegar for flavoursome dressings or use to make wine or tea. For a coffee substitute, chop and roast the roots for 40 minutes at 350 °C and then simmer.
The delicate creamy-yellow blooms of elder trees are a delight to find in summer hedgerows. Pick them with a good stem attached and shake them well to remove little insects. Elderflower can be used to make cordial or wine.
Note of caution:
elderflower has some nasty lookalikes, so exercise caution when picking.
With broad leaves and a head of little white flowers, garlic mustard grows in woodlands and hedgerows. Only pick them if there are lots available, as they only produce flowers and seeds in the second year. Steam the stem and flowerheads like tender stem broccoli, then add a drizzle of olive oil, some freshly ground black pepper and a twist of lemon. It is heaven on a plate.
Look for this plant on dry, bare ground and in cracks in walls and pathways. At its base is a rosette of multiple individual leaf stems, each with small round leaves growing opposite each other in pairs along the length of the stem. Out of this rosette protrudes a tall spindly stem with tiny white flowers on top. Use the leaves, stems and flowers like rocket as a spicy addition to salads and sandwiches.
If you are fortunate enough to live near a lime tree, stand beside it on a summer evening and breathe in the sweet honey scent from its blossoms. It is intoxicating! Use the flowers fresh or dried, infused in boiling water for 5–10 minutes for a relaxing tea which may help to induce sleep.
High in iron and useful for lowering blood pressure, young nettle tips can be cooked like spinach or made into a simple soup by frying chopped ramsons and then adding nettles and diced potatoes with a little water. Boil until the potatoes are soft, then add soya or oat milk, salt, pepper and a pinch of nutmeg before liquidising. Wear sting-proof gloves when you are harvesting them and avoid the older leaves which are too bitter.
(featured on magazine cover)
In late spring and early summer, some ancient woodlands become carpeted in long, broad, dark green leaves from which emerge heads of white star-like flowers. These vast colonies of ramsons can be harvested for use in salads, soup, pesto and any other dish which requires a leafy vegetable and some garlic.
Note of caution: check your harvested leaves carefully because two poisonous plants sometimes grow among ramsons, namely dog’s mercury and lords and ladies.
There are many varieties of mint to choose from. If you find it growing in a field or wood it is likely to be corn mint, but if you find it by water, and its leaves are almost purplish, it is probably water mint. This has a stronger taste so should be used sparingly. Apple mint lives on verges and dry waste grounds, and has slightly paler and less pointed leaves. Use mint leaves to make tea, flavour summer drinks or, for a special treat, sprinkle on top of chocolate ice cream.
This low-growing plant with dark pinkish-lilac flowers and small dark green leaves often forms dense fragrant mats on top of cliffs, but enjoy any dry habitat such as walls, rocks or field edges. Use it in salad dressings and to infuse vinegar or add to mushroom dishes for an extra zing.
If you have a stream near you, check whether there is watercress growing there. Harvest throughout the year, except during frosts, but be careful to avoid pulling up the whole plant. Instead, cut the upper parts of the leafy stem, including the flowers.
Note of caution:
if there are sheep or cattle grazing nearby, wash very thoroughly to avoid being infected with liver fluke, a nasty parasite. If in doubt, cook it to make watercress soup.
Preserving your foraged foods
If you have used your harvest in a cooked recipe, the easiest way to preserve it is to freeze it. Most food lasts for three months when frozen.
When harvesting wild herbs, pick them in the morning and shake them to remove insects. Tie them in small bunches to avoid rot or mould forming, place them in a paper bag and hang them upside down in a warm, well-ventilated room out of direct sunlight and humidity for 2–3 weeks. A quicker method, if you have the space, is to pick off the leaves and lay them on a tray for 3–4 days.
Storing in bottles or jars
After washing your bottles or jars in hot soapy water, sterilise them by using the highest setting of your dishwasher cycle. Alternatively, heat the oven to 140 °C, place a sheet of baking paper on one of the shelves, lay out the bottles so they are not touching and keep them in for 20 minutes. Use the bottles or jars as soon as possible and remember to also sterilise the lids.
Woody River runs foraging walks in the South of England.
to find out more.
150 g ramsons (leaves, flowers and stems) 65 g cashews, almonds or walnuts 2–4 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes 1 lemon 100 ml olive oil Salt and pepper
Wash and dry the ramsons, checking carefully for snails, slugs and bird droppings. Also check to make sure there are no other leaves included. Chop the leaves and add in batches to a food processor, scraping down the sides in between blitzing. Add the nuts, yeast flakes, a squeeze of lemon and then the olive oil a drizzle at a time to desired consistency. Add salt and pepper to taste. Store it in a sterilised glass jar or plastic tub in the fridge for up to five days or freeze in small portions for three months.
4 unwaxed lemons
30 elderflower heads
2 litres boiling water
1 kg sugar
Cut two lemons in half and place them in a large bowl with the clean elderflower heads. Pour the boiling water over the top and cover with muslin cloth overnight. The next day, strain the mixture through the muslin and then heat the liquid in a pan, adding the remaining lemon juice and sugar. When the sugar has dissolved, simmer for three minutes before pouring into sterilised bottles or jars. Store the cordial in a cold place and consume it within two weeks.