Free love

Lately, in between being busy with clients, training a bit more, looking after the house, and spending time out in the sun, I haven’t had a huge amount to say that has been worth writing about, especially as I hope most of you have been out far from the internet, soaking up sunshine and brewing happy thoughts.

I can’t pretend I didn’t spend a lot of that aimless time thinking about whether that makes me a bad blogger or not… but eventually I settled on “not” as an answer. I don’t get a report card or a medal at the end of this, and there is no foreseeable end anyway. In conclusion, I can do what I want.

And it turned out that what I wanted in the last few weeks was to endlessly scour health food stores and independent retailers for ethical bargains. I gambled time and energy for bargains; with every bargain win I returned to the table hungry for more, but occasionally came away empty handed and questioning where that last half hour had gone… and returned determined to end on a high note.

With renewed enthusiasm for all things healthy, ethical, useful, pretty and/or delicious, and good value, I feel I have totally struck the right balance between treating myself and spending wisely. I don’t think this is due to some innate talent I may have (unless you count stubbornness and obsessive tendencies); but it seems the promotion gods were on my side.

As terrible as I am at actually going to any social events, I have a weird craving to know everything that is going on (fomo much?). As such, I must be one of the few people who willingly signs up for newsletters and actually reads (almost) all of them. What I gain in not wasting time watching videos of cute animals or people hurting themselves on YouTube, I lose in scrolling through Twitter in the hope that I will be privy to some tip-off that will save me 20p on a pre-packaged vegan junk snack. We all have our flaws.

But I have now saved a fair chunk of money despite shopping pretty frivolously, and I like to think that I am helping support vegan businesses in doing so. Not to mention, where food is concerned it helps to challenge the view that veganism is expensive or that all vegans live off lentils and leaves. So in the spirit of mutual benefit, I thought I’d share some of my favourite promotions and offers around at the moment!

Booja-Booja & Waitrose

In uni, I shopped mainly in Asda for a year and then exclusively in Waitrose. In my first year in London I shopped mainly at the Cooperative. In my second year in London I shopped mainly in Tesco, and in my third year I shopped mainly in Morrisons and then in Sainsbury, and for the last year I have mainly reverted back to Waitrose. I have kept a record of everything I have spent over the last 7 years (yes, I know), and it has never varied depending on where I have done most of my grocery shopping.

Long story short, Waitrose is not more expensive than other supermarkets (at least when you shop vegan), they just have more expensive options. But they have the cheapest fairtrade bananas I have ever found in London, so there’s that.

The main thing I have noticed is that when they have offers on, they are way better than in other supermarkets. And on way better products.

Booja-Booja offer

Image from Waitrose.com

When Booja-Booja chocolate or vanilla ice cream is 25% off (£4.49 for 500ml instead of £5.99), you buy Booja-Booja. No buts – it’s ice cream… it’s not going to go off, but the offer will end on 15th July.

Fry’s & Ocado

Fry's Traditional Sausages

Image from Ocado.com

Years ago, I first heard about Fry’s on Vegan Fitness. They sounded somewhat mythical to me; so much so that I got quite excited when I first spotted them in a freezer cabinet at As Nature Intended. But at £3 or more for a packet of meat replacement products that I didn’t intend to make staples, I wasn’t ready to purchase them.

Since then I have tried their range of products at VegFest and, having consumed enough processed meat-style vegan products to know I can control myself around them, I would be much more prepared to keep them on hand in the freezer. These things are great for when company comes over and you don’t want to spend your time cooking (or serve them weird overly healthy vegan food), for a quick late-home-from-work weeknight dinner, or a weekend treat feast.

So I’ll definitely be stocking up to take advantage of the 50% off Fry’s products at Ocado, to celebrate the launch of their Fry’s online shop. I have a feeling the products will sell out fast as fans are serious when it comes to their Fry’s fix, and anyway the offer is only available until 6th July.

Rebel Kitchen & As Nature Intended

As I wandered down to As Nature Intended in between clients the other day, I promised to buy myself a treat.

Rebel Kitchen Mylks

Image from Rebel-Kitchen.com

I had been eyeing up the Rebel Kitchen coconut-based “mylks” over the last few weeks, particularly as one contained matcha, an ingredient I am determined to get my hands on. For once I was in the mood for a drink rather than a solid snack, and I decided I would get one.

I actually thought to myself “Wouldn’t it be great if those were on offer today?”, but told myself not to be silly – something so niche, and undoubtedly so popular, will never be on offer. So imagine my excitement at seeing them on offer with 40p off, down to £1.50 instead of £1.90. I don’t know how long the offer is on for, so I will be stocking up… and then undoubtedly availing of their online subscription service. Yeah, I am that obsessed.

Triodos Bank & Nigel’s Eco Store

I know you don’t visit this blog to be told what to do with your money. And that is wise of you, as I don’t know anything about finance (though I can make very pretty spreadsheets).

I do, however, know that I have nothing to lose by opening a free savings account with Triodos ethical bank, especially as I get a £40 voucher for Nigel’s Eco Store (if they accept me). I have been umming and ahhing over moving my money to a more ethical bank, but it’s all a bit scary. With a free online cash ISA, at a higher interest rate than my current high street bank, and with a high rating of 92/100 on MoveYourMoney.org (including 100% for customer service), I’m feeling pretty confident.

Kiva & Reid Hoffman

A couple of years ago, a friend invited me to join Kiva. It’s a microloan site, similar to Kickstarter or Indiegogo in spirit, but the initiatives tend to all be community-focussed in less developed regions of the world (…I don’t know what the current PC terminology is for them).

Basically, you buy credit, and you loan it out in $25 increments. I only ever purchased one block of $25, which I have been recycling since then. I get about $1-2 back a month on average, and though I won’t see the physical money again it’s nice to feel like I am making a difference.

At the moment, a sponsor is giving away $25 to new members referred by existing members. So if you join using my referral link, you get a free $25 loan. Unfortunately, unlike me, you won’t get that loan back as it will go straight back to the sponsor, but in effect you get a chance to vote on who gets a loan and who doesn’t. If now isn’t a good time for you to be making physical donations to charitable causes, it’s a nice way to accrue a little good karma/self-satisfaction.

And every time someone new signs up to make a new free loan, I get a free $25 loan too. I have already used one of my free loans on a young man in Iraq who needs an air conditioning unit for his grocery store – and that was being matched by another philanthropic organisation, so I got to donate $50 for free. Go check it out.

You might also remember our haul of ridiculously reduced vegan sausages last weekend, but that promotion has now been swiped – Ben and I are slightly worried our excessive enthusiasm may have had something to do with that. Sorry.

There are also ongoing sales, discounts and offers at my favourite Ethical Superstore (affiliate link), and a few more offers on vegan-friendly products at Waitrose, and undoubtedly other supermarkets, but I am not highlighting any of those as they are not specifically ethical or vegan companies… and also because we’d be here all day (and night).

I hope this post has been useful – remember we can vote with our wallets!

Do let me know if you avail of any of the offers or if there are any more you think the world needs to know about!

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4 thoughts on “Free love

    • greatveganexpectations says:

      My pleasure! I’m still trying to decide what to order – or more specifically, to persuade myself that it is not necessary to order one of everything. Hope you enjoy 🙂

      • greatveganexpectations says:

        You’ve not tried Booja-Booja ice cream yet?! Get your hands on some as soon as possible, it is so worth the price tag by virtue of being delicious and not full of crap – you won’t regret it! Tip: I wasn’t bowled over by the maple pecan (which is the most expensive anyway I think), but the ginger is delightful and the chocolate and vanilla are flawless. Enjoy!

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