Category Archives: Family and friends

Teenage Mutant Ninja Vegans

tmnt vegansThis month was my eldest son’s 6th birthday.  He asked for a party and being TMNT obsessed we decided to theme it around these muscley green mutants.  It was great fun scouring Pinterest for ideas and creating the baloons, party bags and cake to complete the theme.  We stated fancy dress on the invites and it was brilliant seeing him dressed as Raphael surrounded by 27 other superheros, animals and princesses.

TMNT poster

 

We’ve held vegan parties before and they’ve always gone well but this was on a whole new scale, the others having been just for family and close friends at home, this was in a local hall with 30 children and their parents most of whom we weren’t sure were aware we were vegan and who we hoped would enjoy the food and not wonder what on earth we were serving up.  We decided to go for pizzas and chips, with crisps, salad and vegan sausage rolls.  My brother’s best friend owns a pizza takeaway and so he generously offered to open up on a Sunday to cater for us and did an amazing job!

 

Cheesy!
Cheesy!

First challenge was the cheese.  We don’t eat a lot of vegan cheese but so enjoy Vegusto Golden cheese once every few months but it doesn’t melt and is quite strong in smell and flavour, so the hunt was on for a vegan cheese that melted and tasted as close to the cows milk cheese our 6 year old guests would have been used to.  We held a taste testing session with my brother, Dad and children, we tested the two Tesco soya cheeses, the mild and the smoked along with the Violife hard cheese.  We loved all three.  They all melted and had their own different taste but we decided the Violife was the closest in looks, smell and taste to cows milk pizza cheese.  I bought 10 blocks and stood grating them using our food processor before passing them on to Nick the pizza chef.  The pizzas were a huge success both with the children and the grown ups who were also given a slice or two.  We topped them with various vegetables, had a cheese and pineapple one, mushroom ones, peppers and cheese ones, plain cheese and tomato and we also left two of the pizzas without cheese just topped with mushrooms.   We ordered 10 pizzas and expected lots to be left over, but most were eaten much to my husband’s disappointment – there wasn’t so much to bring home to munch on!

violife

 

 

Second concern was for those who didn’t eat pizza.  We were putting on big bowls of chips which most kids love, but wanted something easy, cheap, traditional in the party food sense and tasty to go with them.  We decided on Linda McCartney sausage rolls, they went down extremely well.

For dessert we bought Swedish Glace icecream and served up the chocolate birthday cake with it and also put on fruit platters and platters with Jammy Dodgers too.  The kids loved the cake and the ice cream and we had many of the parents asking for the chocolate cake recipe – which I’ll post below.

tmnt cake
The cake! Triple layer chocolate sponge with chocolate buttercream and iced using Renshaws icing.

 

In the party bags we put a TMNT disc shooter, a plastic flipping frog, a musical instrument, a sweet cone filled with vegan sweets and a vegan chocolate lolly.   We placed them into a green paper bag and added a crepe paper mask, a white label cut into a smile shape and outlined with black marker and two googly eyes to turn them into turtles faces.   We did the same with the 12 balloons we had ordered.

party bags
The TMNT party bags. Googly eyes, white stickers, green bags, coloured crepe paper and a marker pen – easy peasy.

 

 

Tuck in!
Tuck in!

Putting on children’s birthday parties can be stressful and take an awful lot of planning, however they’re great fun and can be easily made vegan and as cruelty free as possible!

THE CHOCOLATE CAKE RECIPE

http://www.instructables.com/id/The-BEST-chococlate-cake-ever…that-happens-to-be/

I’ve been using this chocolate cake recipe for the last 2 years, it’s never let me down and is a recipe I’ve passed on time and time again to other vegans and non-vegans who’ve been wowed by it.  I’ve over the many times I’ve used it tweaked it for our own tastes so my own version is also included below.  It works well as cupcakes, square fudge cakes and also as celebration cakes.  It does rise like a non-vegan sponge but has a slightly  denser texture.  This time I used extra light sponge self raising flour and it created a much fluffier cake however we also love the heavier original version made using plain flour which is similar to a fudge brownie in texture.   I use a food processor to mix together any vegan margarine (we choose Pure Sunflower), icing sugar and cocoa powder to make the buttercream, I don’t have the exact measurements as I just keep adding the sugar and cocoa until it’s the desired texture and colour.

Each of these cakes made one layer – I used 3 layers in the cake sandwiched with buttercream.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups plain or self raising flour – plain for a heavier sponge, self raising for a lighter one.

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup fresh orange juice

1/2 cup boiling water

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

First measure out all the dry ingredients into one bowl and the wet ingredients into another.

Mix the dry ingredients together and create a crater in the centre.  Slowly pour the wet ingredients in and combine lightly with a fork, don’t beat or whisk and stop as soon as all dry ingredients are wet.

Pour mixture into a greased tin or into cupcake cases.

Bang tin onto worktop to burst any bubbles, you want the bubbles to form once inside the oven.  Work fast to get the tin into a preheated oven.

Cook for 30-40mins (check periodically) at 350F 180C GM4 and test using a skewer.

 

ENJOY!

 

Answering Concerns


Answeing Concerns scroll

Concerned family members and the wider community often question the nutritional requirements of children and whether a vegan diet can adequately fulfill those needs.  The position of every major dietary organisation around the world is that a vegan diet is not only possible but may offer health benefits and is suitable so long as it’s well planned for all ages and stages of life.

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Here are the positions of several dietary and health authorities from across the globe.

‘It is the position of the American Dietetic
Association that appropriately
planned vegetarian diets, including
total vegetarian or vegan diets, are
healthful, nutritionally adequate, and
may provide health benefits in the
prevention and treatment of certain
diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets
are appropriate for individuals
during all stages of the life cycle, including
pregnancy, lactation, infancy,
childhood, and adolescence, and for
athletes.’  - American Dietetic Association (now the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics)

“With good planning and an understanding of what makes up a healthy, balanced vegan diet, you can get all the nutrients your body needs.” – NHS (National Health Service UK)

‘A vegan eating pattern has many potential health benefits. They include lower rates of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer. Other benefits include lower blood cholesterol levels and a lower risk for gallstones and intestinal problems. This eating pattern can take some extra planning. Vegans must make sure that enough nutrients like protein, iron, zinc, calcium, vitamins D and B12 and omega-3 fats are included. A well planned vegan diet can meet all of these needs. It is safe and healthy for pregnant and breastfeeding women, babies, children, teens and seniors. A variety of plant foods eaten during the day can provide enough protein to promote and maintain good health.” – The Dieticians of Canada

It’s important, as it is when designing any diet around a child’s nutritional needs, that you take care to ensure the child is provided with adequate nutrients, but these can all be adequately sourced within a plant based diet.  Concerns from friends, family members and the public can often be draining on us when we feel we have to explain over and over about how our child’s needs are met, especially when we feel this is not only a way of life that offers ethical alignments but also potential health benefits and major health risks are often reduced compared to a standard diet.

Despite the frustrations around being quizzed time and time again, it’s important to remember that these questions are usually born out of genuine concern.  Misconceptions that have been unchallenged for a lifetime for some will take patience and calm education to undo.  This is a chance to show and educate the wider world, to demonstrate what we know and to offer facts and figures that back up our research.  Arm yourself with nutritional information, know where your child’s obtaining his or her calcium, b12, protein and iron, because you will be asked and having confidence in your knowledge will lay their fears to rest.

The aim for us all should be to use every opportunity we’re presented with to demonstrate that the life of vegan children is wonderful – which is is!  We should be trying to develop a society where there’s a normality and familiarity around children eating a plant based diet and not contributing towards unnecessary suffering of others.  Raising children within a vegan family aligns with the ethics most parents wish to raise their children with, to care for others, place others rights above your own frivolous desires, to show concern and respect for those around you and to not kill, steal or cause harm to animals, humans or our planet intentionally.  We should be confident in our decision being the best for a child’s emotional, social and physical well being and our confidence will help normalise veganism within the wider society.

Further Reading:

http://www.vrg.org/nutrition/2009_ADA_position_paper.pdf
http://daa.asn.au/for-the-public/smart-eating-for-you/nutrition-a-z/vegan-diets/
http://www.vegetarian.org.uk/guides/nutritioninanutshell.htm

http://vegankit.com/eat
http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/
https://www.vegansociety.com/resources/nutrition-health
http://www.dietitians.ca/Nutrition-Resources-A-Z/Factsheets/Vegetarian/Eating-Guidelines-for-Vegans.aspx