Sorry, today’s blog post has nothing to do with Justin Timberlake. But it is about chocolate, so I’m hoping maybe you can forgive me.
When I was in university, I was lucky enough to be the friend and housemate of a guy – let’s call him James, because that’s his name – who despite not being much of a vegetable lover himself completely understood and supported and encouraged my plant-based lifestyle. In fact, he confided that he caught himself reading the ingredients on a packet of beef mince to check it was vegan (spoiler alert: it wasn’t), out of habit after having become inquisitive as to all things “accidentally vegan”!
It is true that I, along with all vegans I’m sure, read a lot of labels. It has turned into a subconscious habit, picking up packets of foodstuffs that could potentially be accidentally vegan whether I want to eat them or not – and it is something I have come to enjoy. In the interests of hurrying a shopping trip along, I sometimes have to not read the ingredients of every product that I have no interest in buying… but there is always time to dissect the contents of any new-to-me bar of chocolate.
So although there may have been a slight clue in the name, when I clicked onto the Vegan Town website for the first time I spent a fair bit of time routinely clicking through product descriptions and ingredients lists before it finally hit me that everything is vegan! The realisation was strangely invigorating, like those moments you look up from the street and notice, for the first time, how beautiful the buildings around you are.
I’m not sure what made me click away from pages filled with chocolatey vegan treats (vegan vanilla creme egg, anyone?) and onto their About page, but I’m glad I did. There, I gleefully read about how the company is fully vegan, independent, family run, and that they donate 10p from every order to charity (Animals Asia and Hillside Animal Sanctuary)!
Recognising that they have only been around since 2014, I wanted to try and help anyway I could – a girl can only buy so much chocolate for herself – so I reached out to Vegan Town and asked if they’d be happy for me to write a blog post about them. I had been on their mailing list for a while but couldn’t remember where I had heard about them – and had never see their name anywhere else since – so I thought it might be helpful for a few more people to be aware that they exist. And, perhaps more importantly, for new or established vegans to know where they can turn for their chocolate fix! Vegan Town kindly got back to me and offered to send me some treats and I was hardly going to say no!
I very eagerly opened the box when it arrived and was pleased to discover two products I hadn’t tried before, although I knew they existed: a chocolate-covered marshmallow lolly, and a Round Up! (vegan “Wagon Wheel” biscuit… we’ll get to that later).
Both products are made by Ananda Foods, but it is mainly important to note that that chocolate-covered marshmallow lolly – gelatine-free and dairy-free and vegan – has sprinkles. I love anything with sprinkles. I am not, however, a crazed marshmallow fan (although I do have memories of ploughing through bags of the gelatine-laden stuff as a kid, which may explain my current lack of enthusiasm somewhat), so I generously donated the lolly to Ben.
I didn’t grow up in the UK, so I can’t quite explain why so many people seem to have a profound hatred for Wagon Wheels (jam and marshmallow sandwiched between two biscuits and covered in chocolate).
I ate one once in 2004, on my first holiday to the UK with friends, and enjoyed mine sheepishly as my friends bit into theirs exclaiming how they were as horrible as they had remembered… I don’t really see a situation in which I could feel so strongly opposed to a marriage of marshmallow, biscuit, chocolate, and jam. Plus, these guys are pretty damn cute:
I believe the Round-Up!’s non-vegan counterpart is covered entirely in chocolate. Messy eating, I say. The vegan version offers smudge-free biscuit holding opportunities, but doesn’t compromise on melt-in-the-mouth chocolate fun with its chocolate edges and thick drizzle on top (or is it the bottom?). You’ll notice, of course, that the biscuit is chocolate too rather than its plain non-vegan relative, so more chocolate – yay!
The marshmallow itself is a bit firmer and chewier than you might expect. But I’ve never been one to decry a bit of substance.
The big blob of jam in the middle did make for an interesting eating experience… it reminded me of this open letter of burrito rage that made me laugh more than is normally condoned on public transport. But, in the end, jam is good and biscuit is good so no complaints here.
Vegan Town also stock one of my new favourite chocolate brands, Vivani, along with household names Moo Free and Vego – but also some others I had never heard of like these Bonbarr mini dark chocolate and coconut bars.
For the less fanatic, you can still stock up on more mildly chocolatey treats such as a Clif chocolate almond fudge energy bar, a pack of Beyond Flakes granola bars, or Doves Farm gluten-free soy-free nut-free lemon zest cookies.
Even if you are only there to shop for a chocolate-lover friend of yours (hello, friend!), Vegan Town also stock a variety of chocolate-free vegan sweets from chewy treats to fizzy retro sweets – and, yes, marshmallows – so you can still throw in a chocolate-free treat or two for your efforts.
And if you don’t even know why you’re still browsing VeganTown.co.uk, why not start with one of their surprise vegan treat boxes? They offer two sizes (10-14 products or 20-28) and can ship to Europe! Whatever you’re there for, remember you don’t need to read all the ingredients – that means more time for ordering and then eating your treats! And 10p of every order goes to a good cause, so really, you’re just doing a good thing.
Oh, OK then – only because you’ve been so good reading all the way to the end of this: