Making the switch to vegan an easier option

Carola Castellana's vegan chocolate and pistachio cake.

Carola Castellana's vegan chocolate and pistachio cake. - Credit: Carola Castellana

It’s January, so it’s time for Veganuary, and a chance to think about cutting back on the amount of meat and animal products we buy. If that seems a step too far with all that’s going on in the world, then I thought I would make it a little less painful and tell you about cakes and other delicious things you can enjoy. 

So, let’s start with vegan cakes. What, no eggs, butter and cream? How can a cake be delicious without those? Well, the world of vegan baking has developed in so many ways, and the cakes and bakes you can buy now are amazing. Many cafés will have a vegan option, which is also great for anyone needing to skip dairy.

Harpenden cook Carola Castellana specialises in vegan cakes.

Harpenden cook Carola Castellana specialises in vegan cakes. - Credit: Carola Castellana

Carola Castellana specialises in vegan cakes, and is based in Harpenden, where her husband plays for Saracens. Her Insta-feed (@castellanavegancakes) is gorgeous, with pics of red velvet, coffee, carrot, pistachio, orange and chocolate, apple cakes and more.

Originally from Argentina, Carola has been vegetarian since she was 10 years old and became vegan three years ago. In more normal times you can buy her cakes at The Goode Kitchen in Southdown and George Street Canteen and lots of clients order from her direct. Her chocolate and pistachio is the current bestseller.  

I asked Carola why she became vegetarian and her answer was "I would never eat my pets so I couldn’t eat animals", which makes a lot of sense!

She is hoping to be able to sell at markets and food festivals in the future when the situation changes, which would be great. If you would like to order a cake, email her An 11 ins cake costs £40 and a 9 ins £25. The cakes come presented in a box, and include delivery, so ideal for a present, too.  

I wrote about Plantopia a while ago, but this is a reminder that they do an excellent range of hot main meals, all plant-based, to be delivered to your door. For Veganuary they are offering 10 per cent off your bill, so a great time to try them. Their cocoa chilli and veggie burgers are outstanding.  

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Eat Wholefoods is a treasure trove of delicious groceries, both at their shop on Hatfield Road near Morrisons and at their regular St Albans market stall. Did you know they do delivery too, which is great for anyone stuck at home at the moment. Local delivery is free if you spend over £20 and they are also offering 10 per cent off for Veganuary.

They do an amazing range of beans from beluga lentil to black turtle, in tins or dried. These are so useful for Bolognese-style sauces, burritos, chillis and more. If you are into home-baking, they have all sorts of flours, baking powders and dried fruits, including egg-free replacements if you want to try vegan baking. They have plenty of gluten-free options too. For those on a health kick this January (you get my admiration!), Eat Wholefoods also have a great range of herbal teas, smoothie powders, oats, grains and superfoods, from hemp protein powder to bee pollen. The prices are very reasonable and the quality outstanding.  

I’m all about easy switches so if you get a glass bottle milk delivery have a look to see if they now do oat milk. Milk & More, who we use, now do, so we now have oat milk delivered which saves on endless Tetrapaks, which are not widely recycled.  

The Pudding Stop are doing a vegan peanut butter and jam cookie cup for January, and the shop is open for takeaway. And don’t forget that gin, is of course, vegan. Good luck to you all!