Becoming vegan is certainly a journey – and a tough one at that. 

Deciding to take the plunge to give up meat and dairy may feel like the hardest part – and in some ways, it is a big decision from the reasons to doing it to whether or not you feel like your body can handle it – but what comes after is tough too, no matter how much research you do.
At first it’s very daunting: learning how to read labels for what not to eat, bombarding yourself with recipes and studying other ways you can get the protein and nutrients you’ll no longer get from meat.
Then there’s the food part. It’s tough knowing you’ll be giving up some of your favourite foods. What I have found hardest is giving up McDonalds and things like a Saturday night curry or Sunday roast dinner with my family. This has been tough because things like a Sunday roast are less about the taste and more about being with family and sticking to the tradition of that certain meal on a weekend.
Luckily, there are so many alternatives out there for all sorts: milk, butter, meat and chocolate – but finding what alternatives are best for you/which taste you prefer takes a lot of time. It takes months of trial and error – in fact it was only when I met my boyfriend did I finally settle on an alternative milk that makes tea taste like tea!
I’m going to share my favourites for you all – although it’s worth noting that just because I like it, it doesn’t mean you will! Still, it’s always helpful to be faced with more options as there may be some alternatives you might not be aware of already.
Here are my favourite vegan products and vegan alternatives.
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CHEESE
Cheese is a tough one for me: I was never a huge lover of cheese or never paid much attention to different types of cheese, but I love things like cheese toasties and a simple cheese and onion sandwich. My favourite vegan go-to cheese is definitely Violife’s original flavour block: it does the job for things like pizza bases, being grated on most meals and also is nice for in a sandwich. The only thing I would say is that it’s a tad rubbery when grating and doesn’t have a ton of flavour, so if having it in a sandwich, it definitely needs some onion or pickle too. Violife’s ‘halloumi’ Mediterranean block has mixed opinions: it’s great in my take of a grilled cheese and chorizo roll, but I wouldn’t say it tastes of halloumi. It’s definitely got tons of flavour and has the right consistency though. Also from Violife: cheese slices work well for basic recipes like burgers or rolls. Mozzarella is great for a pizza topping and in sandwiches, and I can also recommend Tesco’s Free From Original Style Spread for when you’re feeling posh and want a decent cream cheese.
MILK
Luckily, most coffee places like Starbucks and Costa now stock Soya milk and other milk alternatives but my favourite milk is hands down Oatly’s Oat Drink. It’s the closest thing to milk I’ve tasted and is perfect in a cuppa or with cereal. The Chocolate Oat Drink is lush too.
MEAT
I’ve actually found that most vegan alternative meat tastes just like meat when you put it together in a meal, which leads me to think the whole eating meat thing is more to do with sight and presentation. I had vegan hot dogs recently and because I presented them in an actual hot dog bun with onions and ketchup and such, I actually forgot they were meat free. Still, some of my favourite alternatives include Fry’s chicken style strips (great for stir fry’s and curries!), Fry’s chicken style burgers and Fry’s pepper pies and country mushroom pies. Pretty much anything Fry’s! I’m not a huge fan of Linda McCartney’s range but OH MY GOSH her Mini Pork & Apple Sausage Rolls are AMAZING. Seriously. If you love mini sausage rolls at Christmas like me, you’ll be pleased as punch. Just note – these are stated as vegetarian in the name, but are actually vegan too, despite being called vegetarian mini pork and apple sausage rolls.
But seriously though.You gotta try them. I was legit like this when I first tasted them:
TREATS
OREOS! Oreos, Oreos and nothing else. I joke. But seriously the fact that Oreo’s are vegan is the best news ever. Ben & Jerry’s vegan range is lush too, but some other treats I really enjoy are: Pot Noodle Beef & Tomato flavour, Asda’s Onion Rings (currently munching on these as I type), Chopstix, Walker’s French Fries Ready Salted, Original flavour Pringles, (can you tell I love my crisps?!), Original Hobnobs, Kettle Chips Sea Salt & Balsamic Vinegar flavour, Love Hearts, Nākd bars and many more to discover.
I’ll also say it’s worth checking both Tesco and ASDA for their dedicated Free From sections. Though not all products are vegan in these areas, a majority are and once you’re comfortable understanding labels, you’re bound to find tons of yummy items you didn’t realize are vegan. Luckily, Tesco’s Free From products are really easy to understand – just look out for the label that includes Free From Milk (but obviously check the back too in case it includes egg).

Also, Tesco do a very delicious hummus and falafel wrap as part of it’s lunchtime meal deal!

These are just some of my favourite products that I have discovered over the past few months; every time I shop however I come across new things to try and to add to my favourite shopping list. It’s amazing how easy being vegan can be once you’ve got a set list of products and vegan alternatives for basics like milk, meat etc.
Do you have any go-to vegan products you can recommend? Let me know with a comment!
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As mentioned in my previous post, during our visit to Brighton, my boyfriend and I made sure we stopped at Purezza for dinner.
I’d heard plenty of times that Brighton is great for vegan food (and it is!) and Purezza was one place I constantly heard great things about; in fact it was one of the places I was most excited to visit in Brighton.
Purezza was actually the UK’s first plant based Italian restaurant and offers raw food as well as pizzas in a pizza wood fire and other food. It was also the first vegan pizzeria in the UK when it was founded back in 2015. The restaurant is based just a short walk away from the seafront and is a quaint little place.

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We were surprised at how small it was but this is by no means a bad thing. We were welcomed immediately upon arriving and found the place to offer a really relaxed atmosphere. Staff were friendly and easy to talk to, as well as more than helpful.
We ordered so much food; for starters we had garlic bread (with delicious melted cheese! It’s always a win in our books when we find somewhere that offers vegan cheese…), focaccia strips with a dip selection (hummus, pesto and caramelised beet/onion), and cheesy bites. It was all ever so delicious, and the caramelised beet/onion dip was surprisingly tasty.

For mains, we each went for a pizza. I chose the Portobello Road, which offered toppings such as mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, rocket salad and a mushroom sauce, whereas Vincent went for the ‘meaty’ Fumosa: chestnut mushrooms, smoked beet & fried tofu, topped with BBQ sauce. Yum yum.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the toppings such as smoked beet and sundried tomato looked like meat at first glance and with so much packed onto each pizza, we barely noticed any lack of meat. Much like when I eat my fake sausages, I find it’s all to do with the presentation; if it looks like meat then you rarely notice the difference.

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I tried only a bit of my boyfriends pizza but mine was delicious. It was tasty and filling and had a whole lot of flavour. We often do mushroom pizza at home, but I’d never thought of topping it with sundried tomatoes. I can see us re-creating this pizza at home.

Also, I have to give a shout out to the menu. With pizza names like Cheesus, Popeye and Pesto Manifesto, it gave the establishment a quirky and fun twist which I loved. We kind of want to go back and try each pizza one by one…

We couldn’t finish our food so took some of our pizzas to go, as well as some dessert Tiramisu and a brownie. I actually never got round to trying these in the end but I was assured by my boyfriend that they were delicious.

Everything was super affordable and I can’t tell you how great it was to binge on delicious food that seemed unhealthy in thought but was actually really good for us.

If you’re ever in the Brighton area, I’d definitely recommend popping to Purezza for some delicious vegan food.

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It’s always a worry travelling somewhere new and wondering if you’re going to struggle sticking to a particular diet (as in vegan, allergies etc). But it was surprisingly easy to eat vegan in Romania, mainly due to the fact with how religious the country is.
My boyfriend explained to me that Lent is particularly important over there, so in supermarkets it’s really easy to find meat free/vegan products not just during Lent but all year round too – and products are labelled really clearly as well.
We travelled all around the country but luckily my boyfriend is really great at finding places and relies on apps like Happy Cow a lot. Before we set off on our travels, we also made sure to stock up on tons of vegan goodies and snacks for the long car journeys too.
Here’s some of our favourite vegan/vegan friendly finds just in case you ever find yourself in Romania.
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MONDRIAN EVENTS & GARDENS
E85, Popești
This place was actually just off the road side and we stopped here for lunch during our first day. It was a really lovely place, very spacious, with a beautiful outdoor terrace and seating area. We chose to sit in one of the three wooden chalets things and there’s also unique swinging egg chairs dotted around too. The menu was varied with lots on offer. My boyfriend chose roasted aubergine with wedges whilst I went with a veggie option which was melted cheese in bread crumbs (with a side of garlic sauce). We also had a side of salad and bread and it was all absolutely delicious.
SARA GREEN
Caramfil 85, Bucharest
I wasn’t too impressed with this place but this was through no fault of the restaurants. First of all, what we didn’t realize was that it was actually just a food van as opposed to a restaurant – but we didn’t mind! It had a nice seating area outside and was pretty quirky, but this meant the menu was limited. As it goes, the menu changes daily and there wasn’t really anything on the menu that really stood out for me (plus I wasn’t very hungry). In the end I chose a wrap which was filled with vegetables, a sauce and gherkins and I don’t even know why I ordered it as I don’t even like gherkins. Vincent went for a filling burger which was nice when I tried a bite and he was really impressed with the food. He’s full on vegan, so his opinion is legit, and I would give the place another go myself.
RADHA CUISINE
Strada Emanoil Ungureanu 13, Timișoara
This is a cute little gem of a place which is definitely underrated. Unlike your traditional restaurant, it instead provides a set menu which is entirely vegan. We had a tomato soup and croutons for starter, a curry with rice, a samosa and a bread roll and a giant coconut brownie for desert…all for about £4 (when comparing it to pounds that is). Though the menu mostly consists of vegan food, it’s filling and delicious.
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SAMSARA FOODHOUSE
Strada Ștefan, Cluj-Napoca
This was possibly one of our favourite restaurants as everything was veggie and 85% of the menu was vegan too. We were really gutted that we missed eating there on the evening we arrived in Cluj as we arrived so late, but we made sure to stop by for a filling lunch the following day. Not only was the place really beautiful and boutique with a stunning outdoor terrace, but there was so much to choose from on the menu. Like, we were actually spoilt for choice for once. My boyfriend went for a mushroom soup with a generous helping of croutons, whereas I choose sushi (vegan sushi!!!), which honestly tasted like the real thing. Vincent’s soup was creamy and with tons of flavour, and I honestly couldn’t fault the sushi (nor could I work out how they made it taste exactly like actual sushi but y’know, without any fish) Because we always order too much ‘to pick at/share’ and never correctly predict the size of portions, we also ordered bruschetta and a small pizza as sides. These also hit the spot; the restaurant also offered a lot of raw vegan products so the pizza was raw mushroom topped with large tomato slices, olives and herbs and was served on raw almond bread. Yum yum.
FESTIVAL 39
Strada Republicii 62, Brașov
I absolutely loved this place. Set in the heart of Brasov, Festival 39 is themed around the 1930’s with awesome decor, live music and a welcoming atmosphere. Despite being super glam, the food was actually affordable too and each menu was themed like a newspaper! I can’t for the life of me remember what Vincent chose for starters, but for main he had a vegan burrito, whereas I chose to wager my veganism for the evening (Vincent insisted I didn’t go fully vegan for this holiday so that I could try traditional Romanian foods and his mother’s cooking!) and settled for pate on toast for starters and breaded chicken for main. Although I’d say this place is worth a visit just for something light or for a few drinks as it was so unique.
There were a few other places we visited but overall it was a lot easier than I thought it would be. I think the only issues we had were when we arrived to some cities quite late at night and struggled to find places open at that time; therefore from then on we researched places on the go (well Vincent searched while I drove) so that we were faced with a lot of choice.
Our final other issue was when we visited a cabin in the mountains one evening. Though the location was unique, it was pretty damn remote of course. But we thought ahead and stocked up on lots of vegan snacks from ALDI beforehand. As explained before, everything is labelled really obviously with big green labels. In fact, even though I haven’t travelled loads before, I’d say Romania is one of the easiest places to be vegan in my experience!
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Food is the way to a girl’s heart and one of the favourite things my boyfriend and I like to do is discover hidden gems of restaurants and cafes. Being that he is entirely vegan, we often have to think out of the box when it comes to visiting a new place. Of course, we know of a lot of restaurants that offer vegan options, but it’s always a rarity to find an actual vegan restaurant.
Therefore, we were super happy to stumble across Faringo’s restaurant during our time in Blackpool recently. It was one of those ones where we weren’t quite sure to begin with – it’s not a chain, so we weren’t 100% sure it was still open, and it was right next to Blackpool Pleasure Beach and looked like it was tucked away down an alley on the map.
Still, I know that sometimes the best places are found in the most weird and oddball locations, so we persevered and were ecstatic when we stepped inside the warm and inviting restaurant. The menu really was entirely vegan and it was extremely varied too, with vegan pizza, pasta and curry on offer – and even a vegan roast dinner!
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We were spoilt for choice but as we tried to decide, we took time to speak to the owner. He explained that Faringo’s was the first entirely vegan restaurant in Blackpool and had only converted to fully vegan a week prior. The idea came to him when he was asked to put together vegan options for breakfast in the hotel and, despite not being vegan himself, he decided to venture into going entirely vegan.
The result was Faringo’s and what a result. The thing is, being that he wasn’t vegan himself and that it was the only vegan restaurant in Blackpool, we weren’t sure what we expected. Of course we expected the food to be nice, but a lot of places don’t know a lot about vegan food so cook with the wrong oils or offer real basic food = this wasn’t the issue here.
The owner knew exactly what he was doing and we spent much of our conversation sharing tips. The food was beyond delicious too and full of flavour – let’s just say there was no avocado on toast on the menu; only delicious filling food.
The first night, we gorged on cheesy garlic bread and garlic mushrooms for starters, whereas for a main Vincent went for a pizza and I opted for pasta. I loved the unique take on garlic mushrooms and the owner explained that people are always surprised to see their meal served up, having become used to mushrooms covered in breadcrumbs. Instead, the mushroom arrived in a tasty garlic sauce.
I couldn’t say much about my boyfriend’s pizza as it was a little too spicy for me, but the pasta was delicious and filling.

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As usual, my photos suck so I just have the one. It was kind of dark inside the restaurant but in a lovely way, with lots of pretty fairy lights. It gave it a real homely and romantic feel.
The food was so delicious that we returned for a second night, this time having garlic bread and pate for starters and both choosing a pizza for main. Much like the previous night, it was all delicious.
All in all, it’s clear to see that Faringo’s is going to do well. Not just because it’s the first vegan restaurant in Blackpool but because the food is actually amazing and the staff are ever so lovely. Eating in the restaurant sold the whole place to us and now we’re set on staying there upon our next return to Blackpool.
I’m so glad we found this hidden gem and would definitely recommend a visit to Faringo’s if you’re ever in Blackpool.
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On Sunday, my boyfriend and I headed into London for a day out where we dined at Pesky’s Brunch Club, spent a few hours wandering around Camden and experienced some fun cocktail creativity with ABQ London.
I’d booked the tickets a while back as a surprise for my boyfriend, for no particular reason other than the fact that I like to do that sort of thing. I love going on adventures in London so wanted to take him along on one, and I’m also a firm believer that if you want romance in a relationship, you should know that it’s not always up to your other half to provide that. 
Not that my boyfriend isn’t romantic, just I like to bring the romance too. So a fun surprise day out in London seemed like a good choice. Both recommendations I actually got from Joanne from Love Pop Ups – London, although I’d read about the Breaking Bad themed bar, ABQ London before. It was her recommendation that helped me decide whether it was worth the price or not however (spoiler alert: it was!).
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So we headed down to London bright and early yesterday and went in search of Pesky’s (which I think has now been renamed OMNI) which was found at The Yard in Hackney Wick. As always, the pop up was in a really unexpected area, but turned out to be pretty cool. The dimly lit area had a really inviting feel and the staff were super friendly.
Tickets for the vegan brunch club included a three course meal/brunch, as well as two alcoholic drinks. I couldn’t tell you what we had exactly but it was delicious – if I remember rightly, we were served warm mango sprinkled with some delicious spices, followed by three super tasty and filling falafel wraps. For dessert, we had what tasted like mini versions of McDonald’s apple pie, but instead with a raspberry sauce.
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Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Lifestyle | London | OMNI | Pesky's | Vegan Brunch Club
Whilst Vincent went for a Bloody Mary, I stuck to Margarita’s for my choice of drink, which went down well with the food. The food and drink was delicious overall and the only thing I would say was that the service was a little slow for such a small place – however, this didn’t bother us because it was such a nice atmosphere that we enjoyed the time we spent there and glad we weren’t rushed. On top of that, the wait was worth it for such high quality food, especially in regards to how the wraps were presented. 
Therefore, this was not an issue for us and I don’t feel many other people minded either, as a brunch is the type of thing you attend to gorge on food and drink slowly and relax – it’s not an expensive meal where you expect fine dining and super fast service. 
The food filled us up for our busy day in London and we were pleased to find that the sun had come out once we left. We had a good few hours before our time slot at ABQ London so we headed off to Camden. Unfortunately, Camden was really busy, which I should have expected. 
Vincent had never been before though, so it was nice to show him quickly and we enjoyed mooching around a second hand book store and a couple of shops along the street. When we arrived at Camden station, it was closed to people coming into the station due to overcrowding, so we took this opportunity to take a slow stroll to the next station, stopping along the way to enjoy the sunshine and watch some canal boats pass. 
We made a pit stop at The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town too for a couple of cocktails, then made our way over to Shoreditch for ABQ London, which is essentially a cocktail making experience based around the hit TV show, Breaking Bad.

We both love BB, but despite seeing the trailer outside and me dropping repeated hints and quotes from the show, it took a good five minutes before my boyfriend clocked on to what we were doing! But once it was time for us to step on, we were both excited. We dragged on our bright yellow hazmat suits, climbed into the RV and got ready to cook.

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The ticket included a welcome cocktail and two cocktails to make each, which saw us using measuring cylinders, dry ice and more to create the yummy concoctions. My favourite to make was definitely the Walter Jr Breakfast, which included cereal and involved the use of dry ice. 
We both found the whole experience to be super fun and well worth the money. First of all, the attention to detail put into the experience was amazing, from the references from the show throughout the RV bus, the way the members of staff stayed completely in character and even the music.
I found it baffling that in such a popular bar in London, people were continually shouting out ‘Yo, bitch!’ (from the show) or the member of staff helping us proclaiming that she’d spent the morning getting high. She hadn’t, obviously, but it was hilarious and reflected the spot on general feel of the show. It wasn’t PC – but I loved that factor and would have hated if it wasn’t so relaxed or didn’t include as many references.
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The cocktails were actually really nice too! For an experience like that, you expect them to be okay but really you pay for the experience – not the quality of the cocktails. However, I was surprised to find they were genuinely really delicious which was of course a bonus.
Our two hours were up fairly quickly but we had so much fun and felt that the price was more than worth it – in fact, due to how much fun it was, I’d have expected to pay more. The great thing was that it was really fun even just as a couple – you sit in such close proximity to everyone that it’s easy to make friends and joke along with everyone else. Then again, we’ve already agreed to come back as a group.
It certainly helped that we’d both seen the show as we were able to pick up on all the references but I wouldn’t say this was necessary to enjoy the experience.
Finally, afterwards, we stumbled outside and grabbed some food from the ALL VEGAN bus which was also in the cute little courtyard. I had no idea there would be a vegan food bus there, which of course earned me even more brownie points from my boyfriend as he is vegan. 
The food from Just F.a.B was delicious as well as affordable – for £18 each, we could get a meal deal which included a burger, chips, Vegamisù and a beer – which was all vegan of course. We ate it upstairs on the bus to conclude our evening before heading home.
All in all it was such a fun-packed day in London and my boyfriend enjoyed every minute of it. I love how many quirky things there are to do in the capital, but of course the must-do list just keeps on growing. In the meantime, I’d without a doubt recommend both Pesky’s Vegan Brunch Club and ABQ London if you’re looking for something new to try anytime soon.
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