“There aren’t many vegan options out there, really, are there?”

I know I say it a lot, as do other vegans, but it is always worth reiterating how much more varied and exciting my diet is since I’ve been vegan (4 years come April!) and just how many vegan options there are out there.

I think the best way of demonstrating this (nobody gets too excited about me reeling off new types of grains I’ve tried since being vegan, or weird and wonderful uses for nut butters) is through the UK Vegan Food Swap.

Although Rachel, who was putting together a box of goodies for me, lives practically down the road from me, she managed to find me a collection of items which I had never tried before!

Meanwhile, I struggled to limit my selection of treats to send Steph to fit within the £10 budget, there was simply too wide a tempting selection of sweet treats, savoury snacks, and cooking ingredients available!

In the end, this is what I went with for Steph – having looked through her blog, I concluded that she is fond of good, solid comfort food, so I tried to steer my selection away from “superfoods” and the likes, and rather towards dependable fun snacks.

Vegan Food Swap March

I couldn’t resist the box of Hale & Hearty 4 Grain Pancake Mix – even the box looks homely and comforting! I know it’s easy enough to make pancakes from scratch, but sometimes it’s nice to have an excuse to make pancakes on a given day, because you “need” to use that box of pancake mix…

As I had recently tried the plantain chips and really enjoyed them, I thought it made sense to pop those in, I thought Steph and Baz could enjoy those as an accompaniment to a hearty (Caribbean-themed, perhaps) sandwich or burger… Or just as a snack, obviously!

Now, it wouldn’t be a Vegan Food Swap without chocolate, so I threw in a bar of one of my favourite chocolates, Prestat’s Dark Chocolate with Raspberry, as I think it’s just perfect for imminent spring sunshine. Nor would it be a Vegan Food Swap without tea, so I chose a box of Qi White Tea – I really like Qi teas, and white tea is delicate and floral, so again perfect for spring.

I came across these black-and-white swirled lollipops in Tiger, and thought they would make a pretty and fun addition to the parcel – same as the fortune cookies, which always seem to make people smile. Lastly, I had to put some sort of Easter egg in there, so I scattered in a handful of these shiny little Divine Dark Chocolate Mini Eggs.

I always wish I could send more, but I will have to wait until next month to go out hunting for treats to send someone else!

In the meantime, I have my own box of treats to work through, courtesy of the wonderful Rachel – and I barely know where to start, with each product I pulled out as exciting as the next:

Vegan Food Swap March

I know I don’t have the best camera skills, but I had even more trouble than usual fitting everything in this photo!

The first thing I discovered was the packet of Rakusen’s Chocolate Digestives, and got super excited because I adore(d) the non-vegan version of these – but everything which followed was just as exciting! I found three packets of Sainsbury’s sweets, a stick of Panda Raspberry Licorice (which survived for about 2 hours after it was unpacked…), a strip of Primal Strips Vegan Jerky in Thai Peanut flavour, a selection of TopasTofu patés, a white chocolate macadamia Clif Luna Bar… yes, the list goes on… a packet of Bloom’s Animal Crackers, a pot of Shneider’s Delinut breadsticks and chocolate dip (the ultimate snack!), little snack packs of dried mango and roasted nut mix from Tesco, and – as Rachel remarked, there seems to be an unwritten rule that every UK Vegan Food Swap box should include some sort of tea – a beautiful box of London Tea Company Raspberry & Chilli Tea!

Rachel was so thoughtful and included a wonderful card (a cat-themed card, how much more perfect can you get?) literally filled from corner to corner with insights into her choices, and advice as to where to stock up on my soon-to-be new favourite treats!

So one last big THANK YOU to Rachel, and also to Mitsu and Sasha for organising it all, and not only massively contributing to a burst of fun and happiness for dozens of people across the UK, but helping us answer “that” question; “Oh you’re vegan… That’s cool… So wait, what do you eat?” – a box of goodies speaks louder than words, eh?

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