Grass is greener on the Viridian side

Exactly one week after receiving an amazing box of sparkly vegan cupcakes in my UK Vegan Food Swap exchange, I started my Monday morning opening a big box of bottles and jars sent to me by Viridian. It was a good week!

I was contacted on Twitter the week before, asking if I would be interested in sampling and reviewing some of their products. I was already a fan of Viridian products at this point, so I accepted enthusiastically.

Upon opening my parcel, I instantly fell a little more in love with the company. I have always been quite open about the fact that I am a total sucker for packaging – so I love that Viridian’s products are always clearly labelled, with a clean and crisp design, no bold claims or cheap marketing ploys. I was especially impressed with their artfully printed tissue paper – that is totally getting reused.

Viridian samples

The next thing I noticed was the word “charity” marked on the front of every label, and I was intrigued. Turns out, Viridian donate a portion of their profits to various environmental and children’s charities, which are voted for by their stockists. Plus, they only choose charities which do not participate in animal research.

I do, however, appreciate that I am probably an exception to the rule in basing many of my product choices on packaging and philosophy. So let’s move right on to what’s inside those dark little bottles (which, incidentally, can be recycled by your Viridian stockist, earning you a refund of 25p – I don’t know why every company isn’t doing this?!).

100% Organic Raw Virgin Coconut Oil

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while now, you’ll likely have realised that I am a borderline cheapskate. If I can get something cheaper, whether it’s trekking to another shop or buying in bulk, I’ll do it. So for months my only experience of coconut oil was the super cheap stuff in a plastic tub from Asian food stores, and although it smelt slightly soapy and had a very odd texture, I laughed at people spending several pounds more on organic stuff. Then I bought some organic, virgin coconut oil and finally saw what all the fuss is about. Hence, only a borderline cheapskate – if I find something worth paying more for, I’ll never go back to the cheap version. So I was excited to try this luxurious organic and raw virgin coconut oil… But also slightly sceptical. Just how good could coconut oil be?

Well, without sounding too pretentious, let me tell you that this Viridian coconut oil is silky smooth both in flavour and texture. Although I keep it in the fridge and it seems rock hard when it comes out, I can easily scoop a spoonful out. I have used it cold to flake into crumble topping and it melts just like butter (in a good way), sprinkled some into a hot pan for cooking it which it melts instantly without smoking, and Ben has used it to make a chocolate coating for sweets and treats, which turned into a silky creamy molten chocolate sauce and hardened into smooth chocolate casing for nuts and dried fruits. A small amount of it goes a very long way, so I will definitely be keeping a jar of this in the fridge at all times (well hidden from housemates).

Sports Electrolyte Fix

Having now tried a variety of different electrolyte tablets, I was excited to test a liquid (no bulking agents) and an unflavoured product (no artificial flavourings or sweeteners, no taste bias).

The first thing I would say is that it’s quite hard to figure out what dosage to use. The suggested dose is 2.5ml (half a teaspoon), though up to 10ml can be used. Although quantities of electrolytes are listed per 2.5ml serving, who really knows how much one needs? A guideline such as “per hour of exercise”, or “for cold/for hot conditions”, or even according to training intensity, would be useful. Secondly, the bottle is equipped with a handy little dropper cap which dispenses single droplets – but the practicality of this is lost in having to measure out half a spoonful and then pouring it into the neck of a bottle, obviously losing a few precious droplets along the way. A serving size listed in numbers of drops would have been easier to manage. Not a big deal by any means, but just a shame it holds the product back from being amazing.

Now, the stuff on its own obviously doesn’t taste great. It tastes very salty and slightly metallic. What did I expect, eh? 2.5ml mixed with 500ml of water doesn’t taste offensive, but does add a distinctly “flat” taste to the water. I recommend mixing with juice or cordial – although, to be honest, after a tough and sweaty session, I don’t really care what I drink as long as it’s wet and colder than my body temperature.

Sports Performance Oil

Although I have maybe neglected to monitor my intake of the right ratio of Omega-3 and Omega-6, and haven’t fully jumped on the unconditional coconut oil love bandwagon, I am a fervent believer in including more – and, more importantly, more varied – fats and oils in our diets. So I was more excited than most people might be to receive this wonderful blend of healthful oils.

It tastes vaguely of flax seed – slightly nutty and earthy, perfect for spinach and quinoa – and provides slightly more Omega-3 (1667mg) than Omega-6 (1192mg) per serving, helping to rectify our typical Western imbalance.

As ’tis the season and all, I can’t help but think this would make a great gift for a fitness and/or health enthusiast. Its shiny gold cardboard jacket, its niche listing, and its company ethics make it a really thoughtful and original gift. I certainly wouldn’t look it in the mouth.

Sports Multi

I don’t know why, but I always have something against multivitamins. I guess I feel like they’re a bit lazy – can’t figure out what to take, so I’ll take it all. This sports-specific multivitamin, however, looks like a real nice product. Medium-chain triglycerides, branched chain amino acids, green tea extract, manganese, selenium, and co-enzyme Q10 make this product stand out, and make it truly sports-specific.

I know that most people expect some sort of definitive verdict from product reviews, these products aren’t really the sort of thing you can feel an immediate benefit from. The consumption of healthy fats in the right ratio, and the inclusion of trace minerals like manganese, only really have long-term effects – and usually are only the sorts of things you notice when something goes wrong and you realise you are deficient and have been for a while. So I can’t say that these products have changed my life.

However, I can say that despite my default “sceptic” setting, I think Viridian make great products. They don’t waste their time or your money on fad ingredients or marketing gimmicks, and you can tell that their ingredients really are of a high quality. I love that they have a sports range that revolves around long-term health rather than weight loss or muscle gain, and of course that they mark their products are vegan. As an added bonus, they are an ethical company, and although more expensive than value ranges, their products are actually very reasonably priced. I will continue using Viridian, as I feel they provide value for money, and I hope they continue doing what they do!