Ah, 2017. A year that will be long remembered in our home, for it was the year of the great and terrible vegan biscuit purge. Gone were the chocolate digestives, the all butter cookies, even the plain digestives which were just there to make us feel a little better about our choices. All gone. Well, eaten. And for the last time.
With loss comes emptiness–and an empty biscuit barrel and tummies with room reserved for biscuits. We thought the biscuit barrel would be filled with uncanny valley vegan fake biscuits–biscuits that look like a biscuit favourite, smell like them, even feel like them–and then turn to tasteless dust in the mouth. Maybe a funky aftertaste if they used fake chocolate. But, there was a new hope… One biscuit remained after the great vegan biscuit purge. The
humble gratuitous double-stuffed Oreo biscuit.
Yes, a mainstream biscuit that we could eat! And eat them we have. In fact, most Oreos (check the ingredients) are accidentally vegan! Woohoo, unintentionally ethical biscuits! Awesome.
We hit the biscuit aisle and read lots and lots of labels. And then read them again. And then found ingredients the other had missed (whey–I didn’t really know what that was, but it’s not vegan, and honey–not in bold because it seems no one is actually allergic to honey). We have now begun the great biscuit restoration. Yes, some biscuits are irreplaceable, and the biscuit barrel is different to what it once was, but we have guilt-free treats that hit the mark! Well, when I say ‘guilt free’ I mean no animal
suffered was required for the biscuit. I’ll start our list of our picks with the star of the show…
Fox’s dark chocolate chunkie cookies. This walked into our lives like Jensen Ackles asking for a threesome. It’s a rare find in many supermarkets locally (the biscuit, not a promiscuous Jensen. Sadly). But we have found a dealer (Morrison’s). Thick and buttery, but buttery without troubling a cow, and just enough dark chocolate to provide the fix, but not so much so that the the bitter intensity of dark chocolate triggers my longing for milk chocolate.
McVitie’s choc chip Hobnobs. Ah, my favourite nob. This has actually become my favourite biscuit in the barrel. Don’t tell the Oreos or the cookies.
McVitie’s fig rolls. Bit of an outsider, this one. I’ve always thought they looked like dog treats, but in the spirit of trying new things… I was pleasantly surprised. They’re a keeper. Not sure I’d run with the 30% fruit being a health pro, as I have a feeling it stopped being fruit a long time ago, but hey. We’re not in the biscuit aisle for our health.
Gullon cinnamon crisps were a Factory Shop (UK discount houseware shop) gamble which paid off. We found quickly, that as vegans you learn to womble for food in the most unlikely places for a lucky find, and this was one of them. With a subtle taste it’s always going to be overshadowed by the more attractive cookie and hobnob, but it always seems to find its way into my biscuit dipping.
McVitie’s fruit shortcake. These were my other half’s choice. I told him I didn’t like them. Then ate my share (or his share, if you’re being technical) because I was wrong. It’s funny what you think you like because you have other things that will always get a look in first. Take those favourite staples away and it’s a different story. Nice and creamy, and don’t clog up my gob like the thick shortcake does.
Gullon sugar free chocolate wafers. Not usually a wafer fan, but as they’re basically naked Kit-Kats I gave them a try, and they deliver a mild chocolate hit and are there if I fancy mixing it up a little. Oooh. Daring. My other half doesn’t like them, so he would go for Crawford’s pink wafers. They’re also vegan if you want to go old school, which clearly he does. And they’re camp too.
That’s our biscuit barrel selection at the mo. But if you have different tastes, then there are ginger nut, bourbon, party rings, light digestives (closer to rich tea biscuits), and more (recipes do differ between brands). Why not have a womble and check those labels to see if you can vegan your biscuit barrel? Not much of a sacrifice considering what animals go through for us to have a biscuity treat. Is it?
As we have found with this change from carnist to vegan, there is the panic of loss and not knowing what to eat, and then the sudden calm of finding alternatives. And in this case, having a nice cup of tea (with fake milk) and wondering what the fuss was about whilst dipping a biscuit. How very stereotypically British of us.
The lifestyle change for me and my partner to vegetarian and then vegan has been a process of giving up life-long staple, favourite and comfort foods.
Beyond the peace of mind this gives me I find myself wondering whether I will ever see food in the same way again, and enjoy it as much as I always have.
This irregular series of non-preachy blog posts will follow us, two regular guys, meat and dairy eaters for all our lives, as we explore the reasons for and the challenges and rewards of a plant based diet as we go on our new veg munching adventure…
Next up: venturing into the uncanny valley of fake foods.