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“Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” Samuel Johnson.

London. This bustling city has joie de vivre running through it’s veins; a truly magical place that I’m grateful to call my home. There are a million things that I love about this vibrant melting pot of cultures and a thriving street market scene is definitely at the top of that list! London’s has a rich historic tradition of local markets in every borough and neighbourhood and this wonderful variety of local street markets is definitely one of my favourite things about the city:) I recently had the pleasure of visiting one such iconic Victorian street market – the incredible Broadway Market in Hackney! And let me tell you, this place is vegan shopping paradise! Breads, desserts, chocolates, fresh fruits and vegetables, vintage clothes, skin care products, vegan cheese, condiments, hot street food from a range of different cuisines..this versatile market is a vegan shopper’s dream come true! Fresh quality produce, exciting vegan treats, wonderful local producers, conscious consumers with their own shopping bags..everything about the place made me happy:) Held every Saturday from 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM, I highly recommend this outdoor street market to Londoners and visitors alike:)

Check out the YouTube Video for a glimpse of the wonderful things that Broadway Market has in store for you:)

Vegan Shopping Guide | Broadway Market, London | Animagus Eats - YouTube

After two hours of wandering through the wonderful stalls, I finally got myself some exciting vegan goodies for a wallet friendly total of 17.50 GBP! Check out my Instagram TV Video to hear me talk about what I scored at the wonderful market:)

• Vegan Cinnamon Bun from Nyborg’s Kitchen (Danish Bakery)
• Fresh Lettuce & Pak Choi from Wild Country Organics (Local Produce)
• Spicy Vegan Kimchi from Kimchi & Radish (Artisanal Korean Kimchi)
• Thrifted Summer Cotton Blouse from Paul Goby Vintage (Vintage Clothes)

If you have some time to spare on a Saturday in London, I suggest you head to Broadway Market in Hackney for a weekend afternoon well spent! Here’s the Top 4 Tips I recommend in order to make the most of your time there:)

1) Snack & Shop: First things first. Grab a cup of coffee (or drink of choice) and a delicious vegan treat (I devoured the Vegan Cinnamon Bun from Nyborg’s Kitchen) and then slowly start making your way through the market alleys:) Snack and shop my friend, snack and shop! I mean, is there any other way really?

2) A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That: The best part about shopping in a street market is that you can talk directly to the producers and you have the option of tasting and trying the products before actually buying them! Bite into a delicious olive (or two). Moisturise your hands with some natural shea butter (Liha Beauty – pictured below). Nibble on some vegan cheese. Smell, taste, test everything! The possibilities are endless:)

3) Get The Essentials But Pamper Yourself Too: After all the tastes and nibbles, it’s time to commit! Get yourself some of the weekly essentials like fresh produce from Wild Country Organics or a hearty loaf of rye bread from Nyborg’s Kitchen. But please remember to pamper yourself to an extra treat or two! The wide range of exciting products in the market is truly impressive and it would be quite a shame to leave without a special treat (like the Artisanal Vegan Kimchi at Kimchi & Radish) that you can’t get anywhere else; something to remind you of the Market in the weeks to come:)

4) Grab a Bite: Now that the shopping and exploring is all done and dusted, you can finally get yourself a delicious hot bite and head to the London Fields Park right next to the market for a nice little picnic:) Indian, Persian, Vietnamese, British, French..the cuisine options are never ending; there’s something here for everyone:) Personally, I’d love me some good old Indian Chaat or Pakoras! A perfect way to end the day:)

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Mood: It’s the final season of the popular TV series (and book), Game of Thrones, & GOT fever has taken over the world! Waking up at unearthly hour on Monday mornings to watch the latest episode, hilariously creative memes on social media & heated post episode discussions among the fan community..there’s so much more to enjoy in this season than just the episodes themselves! I myself have been having weekly GOT watch parties with my friends & it’s just so much more fun to savour these moments of the final season with your buddies and loved ones around you:) And of course, food has been a big part of my GOT watch parties, with special vegan snacks and treats for every episode! The GOT fever is truly global & I love discussing the ‘AHA’ moments of each episode with my friends spread far across the globe:) One such friend, Sapna Talati, lives in San Francisco, and she too has been having weekly watch parties with her husband! She loves cooking and thought it would be fun to make dishes that the GOT characters eat on the show; ie. food was that prominent in the medieval ages. If you’ve seen the Winterfell feasts & the suppers in the North, there’s a lot of bread, soup and wine that goes around..basically, Bread. Soup. Wine. Repeat. So my friend Sapna decided to make a traditional bread & soup supper for her last watch party & it turned out to be a hit! She was kind enough to share the recipe with me, so I could make it myself & also post it on the blog for all of you:)

About The Dish: The recipe is for Focaccia, which is a flat oven-baked Italian bread that has a crustiness on the outside and a fluffiness on the inside; that’s amazing to pair with soup, dips, spreads..or can be enjoyed by itself too! I made the Focaccia bread for the last watch party & it turned out to be DELICIOUS! Every bite was delightful & my friends were super impressed too! I added extra toppings to give it my own touch & that’s the beauty of this bread; you can customise it to suit the flavours you love:) I served the bread with some fresh homemade Guacamole & it was the perfect combination! The recipe requires just 10 simple ingredients & it’s a great dish to have in your culinary repertoire:) Simple. Crusty. Fluffy. Hearty. 100% Deliciousness:) This Easy Vegan Focaccia Bread with Cherry Tomatoes & Fresh Thyme is bound to become a house hold favourite! Happy Cooking:)

Recipe YouTube Video: Check out my YouTube video to see how to make the recipe:)

Vegan Focaccia Bread with Cherry Tomatoes & Fresh Thyme | Easy 10-Ingredient Recipe | Animagus Eats - YouTube

Time: 3 Hours 15 Minutes (25 Mins Prep + 2 Hours Rest + 45 Mins Baking + 5 Mins Cool Down)
Serving Size: 1 Medium Loaf (2-4 Adults)
Category: Bread; Side
Author: Animagus Eats Community

Ingredients:
Base Ingredients
• 2 cups All Purpose Flour
• 2.5 tsp Active Dry Yeast
• Pinch of Unrefined Brown Sugar (approx. 1/4 tsp)
• 1 cup Cold Water
• 1/3 cup Olive Oil (+ more for greasing/garnish)
• 1.5 tsp Sea Salt

Seasoning
• 4 Cherry Tomatoes (cut in halves)*
• Fresh Thyme (approx. 7 stems)*
• Smoked Paprika Powder (to taste)*
• Salt & Pepper (to taste)
• 1-2 tsp Olive Oil

Method:
1. Combine the yeast with the flour & add a pinch of sugar. Mix well. Add the olive oil and salt & mix until dough becomes crumbly. 

2. Warning! Things are about to get very sticky, but rest assured it’s normal:) Focaccia is a very wet dough and it will require a slightly uncomfortable sticky kneading. Add 1/3 of the water to the flour & begin to mix together. After a minute, add the remaining water and knead well. The dough will feel very wet and sticky but keep kneading for 5-10 minutes. If after fifteen minutes of kneading, the dough still hasn’t come together to form a smooth ball, add more flour and olive oil in small increments until it does.

3. Once you have a smooth ball of dough, add some olive oil to your hands & coat the ball with the oil. Next, place the ball in a well oiled bowl and cover it with plastic wrap.  

4. Let the dough rest undisturbed at room temperature for two hours. It should double in size by the end of the two hours.

5. Preheat the oven to 210°C (410°F). Place the dough (which has doubled in size) in a well oiled baking pan of your choice. Smooth out the dough gently but evenly; so that it fills out the bottom of the baking pan. Shape it into a somewhat symmetrical circle;) Make small wells throughout the top of the dough using your finger tips. Drizzle olive oil on top and some of it should pool in the wells you just made. This is also the time to add the seasonings of your choice:) I used cherry tomatoes, fresh thyme, smoked paprika powder, black pepper & sea salt.

6. Place the dough in the pre heated oven. Bake for 45-50 minutes at 210°C, until its fully cooked & golden brown on the outside:) Every oven is different, so the cooking time can range from 45-60 minutes; depending on the oven.

7. Remove the bread from the oven & let it cool down for 5 minutes. Add a final little sprinkle of sea salt (or seasoning of your choice) on top of the bread. Enjoy that freshly baked bread aroma wafting through your house while you wait for the bread to cool; your stomach rumbling in anticipation:) Once the bread has cooled down, slice the bread & serve with soup or the spread/dip of your choice:) While it tastes best when enjoyed hot & fresh, the bread can also be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for 2-3 days. And voila! Your Easy Vegan Focaccia Bread with Cherry Tomatoes & Fresh Thyme is ready to be devoured! Happy Eating:)

Notes:
*This recipe is made by hand and takes some time to knead; but a stand mixer could also be used for any steps involving kneading. Because of the long resting and baking time, be sure to start making the dough three hours before serving time. The dough can also stay in the fridge for up to one day; so you can make the dough in advance. 
*While I used cherry tomatoes & fresh thyme, you can use fresh toppings of your choice! For example, chopped onions, other herbs, etc.
*I added the Smoked Paprika Powder before baking & it turned our great; though the colour darkened, giving the bread a charred look. If you don’t like the charred look (or taste), you can also add the dried powder seasoning (of your choice) after baking (before serving). 

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Mood: NEED. COOKIE. NOW. This mantra was basically the all consuming voice in my head as I stormed to the kitchen like a woman on a mission. You know, sometimes you just crave a comforting cookie and you need it now..and I mean, like right now! I had no recipe in mind but I wanted to use simple ingredients that would bake quickly, taste good and yet be quite healthy..all at the same time! And that’s how these Double Chocolate Chip Vegan Lace Cookies were born:) 1 Bowl, 10 Ingredients, 20 Minutes, 12 Decadent Cookies. And did I mention, they’re also gluten free and refined sugar free? Success! Light. Lacy. Soft. Chewy. Addictive. Indulgent. Finger Licking Deliciousness:)

Recipe YouTube Video: Check out my YouTube video to see how to make the recipe:)

Double Chocolate Chip Vegan Lace Cookies | Gluten Free + Refined Sugar Free Recipe | Animagus Eats - YouTube

Time: 20 Minutes (+ Cooling Time)
Serving Size: 12 Cookies (Medium Sized)
Category: Dessert
Author: Animagus Eats

Ingredients:
Dry Ingredients
• 1/4 cup Oats (I used Gluten Free Oats)*
• 1/4 cup Ground Almonds/Almond Meal*
• 1 tbsp Cocoa Powder*
• 1 tsp Baking Powder
• 1/4 cup Semi Sweet Chocolate Chunks (Vegan)*

Wet Ingredients
• 1/4 tsp Vanilla Essence
• 2 tbsp Plant Based Milk (I used Almond Milk)*
• 3 tbsp Maple/Agave Syrup
• 1 Flax Egg (1 tbsp Flax Seed Powder + 3 tbsp Cold Water)
• 2 tbsp Coconut Oil (Solid)*

Method:
1. First, preheat the oven to 200°C/392°F.

2. Next, mix 1 tbsp of Flax Seed Powder with 3 tbsp of cold water and set aside in a bowl for at least 5-10 minutes. This step is very important because it needs to thicken up; so that it can act as a strong binder to hold the cookies together:)

3. Add all the dry ingredients (except the chocolate chunks) to a large bowl and combine well.

4. Next, add all the wet ingredients to the dry mixture (including the flax egg) and mix well (add the coconut oil last so that it doesn’t solidify further). Combine the ingredients properly and make sure that there are no solid coconut oil chunks in the cookie batter.

5. Finally, add the chocolate chunks and gentle combine them well; making sure they’re well incorporated across the cookie batter.

6. Line a large baking tray with baking paper; it’s important to use a large tray so that the cookies have enough space to expand without intertwining into each other. I actually used one large baking tray plus one small baking tray to give the cookies enough room:)

7. Scoop 1 tbsp of cookie batter (I used the 1 tbsp size baking spoon itself) onto the baking tray. It will appear quite wet and that’s perfectly normal:) Repeat again, 1 scoop at a time, until you have used up all the cookie batter. It’s ok for the scoops to be quite rough/uneven; don’t flatten them because the cookies will expand and flatten out themselves during the baking process:) Make sure to space out the cookies well; giving each cookie enough room to expand:)

8. Place the baking tray in the pre heated oven and bake at 200°C for about 8-9 minutes. Every oven is different, so keep an eye on the cookies to make sure they don’t burn (I burnt my first two batches!). I baked them for 9 minutes:)

9. Once the over timer goes off, take the cookies out of the oven and let them cool down. They will appear quite soft when you take them out, but allow them to cool down for at least 10-15 minutes. Once they’ve cooled down, they will hold their shape and you can gently take them off the baking sheet and transfer them to a serving dish/air tight container. They taste best when eaten at room temperature with the gooey chocolate chunks working their magic, but they can also be stored in the fridge for 2-3 days in an air tight container and they still taste delicious a few days later:) Whether you keep them outside or in the refrigerator, remember to always store them in an air tight container to preserve that freshly baked goodness:) And voila! Your Double Chocolate Chip Vegan Lace Cookies are ready to be served:) Bon Appétit:)

Notes:
*I used Gluten Free Oats but you can use also regular oats, according to your preference:)
*If you don’t have ground almonds/almond meal at hand, then you can also make your own almond meal/flour at home:) Check out this easy recipe by Foolproof Living:)
*If you don’t want to use cocoa powder, you can skip it to make regular (not double!) chocolate chip cookies instead:) I made a batch without cocoa powder and they tasted delicious too:)
*I used a vegan baking chocolate bar and cut it into bite sized chunks. But you can also use pre made vegan chocolate chips instead:)
*I used Almond Milk but feel free to use other mild flavoured non dairy milks instead:)
*It’s important to use solid (scoop-able) coconut oil; if the coconut oil is liquid/melted, then the texture of the cookies will be affected. If you don’t have coconut oil, you can try using solid vegan butter or nut butter. I have not tried this recipe with these substitutes, but please let me know if you have success with them:)

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This edition of the ‘Food For Thought with Vegan Change Makers’ interview series is all about International Women’s Day! Women are ruling the plant based world and this post is dedicated to all the incredible vegan women change makers, leaders and role models that are working every day to make the world a better place for every living being:) Happy International Women’s Day Ladies! You’re an inspiration:)

This special issue features Shasvathi Siva,  a strong female role model in the young but growing plant based industry in India. From starting as a friendly neighbourhood food blogger and vegan cheese maker to transforming into a successful plant based entrepreneur and the Founder of Cowvathi, a cow friendly food startup in India; her journey of change is a true inspiration:)

  • Name: Shasvathi Siva
  • Location: Mumbai, India
  • Change Maker Category: Plant Based Entrepreneur
  • Enterprise Name: Cowvathi
  • The Year the Enterprise was founded: 2017
  • The Elevator Pitch: Breaking stereotypes about vegan cheese and plant based food with a delicious vegan food product range as an alternative to dairy products
  • Products: Vegan Cheese, Dips, Yoghurt & Plant Based Milks
  • Website: www.facebook.com/cowvathi/
  • Personal Instagram Handle@shasvathi 
  • Enterprise Instagram Handle@cowvathi

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s your story? When & why did you decide to go vegan?
I’m a simple, happy-go-lucky girl from Chennai, who moved to Mumbai about 12 years ago along with my family. After we moved to Mumbai, we welcomed two beautiful dogs into our home. They changed our lives upside down. My parents were the first ones to make the connect. My dad visited a dairy farm and decided to go vegan overnight. I took more time than he did, finished my research and watching a fair share of videos before making the choice to give up all forms of dairy. I wouldn’t say that was an easy journey, but once I reached this side, I realised the grass is truly greener here.

When, why & how did you start your enterprise and what is your vision/mission or dream for the organisation?
I worked in advertising as a writer for 5+ years, and constantly carried around the weight of not feeling fulfilled. I really wanted to contribute to the vegan world and the growth of veganism in India. Cowvathi was only a blog then, so I decided to take her forward and create her into a brand itself. When I started the blog, I had no idea that one day I’d turn it into a brand. But I guess I had already begun my journey without even realising I had. My vision for Cowvathi is that one day I want to set up a quaint cafe with all kinds of affordable vegan food:)

What’s the story behind the name Cowvathi?
My father had bought this farm set of animals. I wanted to take the pig from the set, but he loved the pig too much. After putting up a fight, he finally settled on giving me the cow. (Thank goodness he did, huh?) I took days trying to come up with a name for her, but just couldn’t. I was trying too hard. Then one day the name ‘Cowvathi’ just popped into my head while I was fast asleep. I got attached to the name and decided to stick with it.

What were the main challenges you faced as a plant based entrepreneur & how did you overcome them?
Entrepreneurship is all about challenges. All kinds of them. But as a plant based one, I think the first challenge is explaining to people why this is important and why I am doing this. Other challenges include delivery, cold storage, etc; which I’m still figuring out as my journey progresses.

Tell us a little about vegan cheese. What goes into the process? What can it be used for? And how does it compare to traditional dairy cheese in terms of the taste/texture/eating experience?
The vegan cheese I make is from Cashews. It’s quite versatile & can  be used for making pizzas, pastas, lasagnas, sandwiches, Maggi (Noodle Brand), & so much more. It’s a different experience from Cow cheese because the ingredients are completely different. But having said that, it does give a very cheesy flavour. I’ve received very good feedback for my cheese, especially the Vegan Garlic Basil Cheese.

What is your typical daily vegan meal plan? What do you usually eat for breakfast, lunch, snacks & dinner?
I LOVE FOOD! A typical day for me includes mainly South Indian food. I start the day with 2 huge glasses of fruit smoothies; move on to Poha/Upma (Savoury Breakfast Dishes) for breakfast; lunch is mostly Rasam (South Indian Broth), rice and a vegetable curry; snacks include fruit/steamed veggies/salad; & dinner is a repeat of lunch. In the middle of this, I manage to dunk a couple of mugs of Chai (Tea) too. And I occasionally binge on vegan junk food as well.

What is favourite vegan comfort food/dish?
Rasam Rice. Maggi. Curd Rice.

What is your favourite vegan friendly cooking ingredient that we will always find in your kitchen?
Onion!

“Veganism goes beyond food, it’s a lifestyle change.”

What is your favourite vegan/cruelty free item of clothing/fashion that we will always find in your wardrobe?
Veganism goes beyond food, it’s a lifestyle change. Even clothes. Everything I own is fabric made from plants and plant derived materials, and not animals. You’ll mostly see me walking around in a comfortable pair of cotton pyjamas and a cotton top/t-shirt.

What is your favourite vegan/cruelty free personal care or lifestyle product that we will always find in your home?
Kajal (Eye Pencil/Liner). I cannot do without Kajal at all.

What is a product or ingredient that you were surprised to learn is not vegan and/or a product or ingredient that you were surprised to learn was in fact accidentally vegan?
Uncle Chips (Indian Chip Brand) are not vegan! But Oreos are vegan:)

What is the most common veganism/plant based/cruelty free lifestyle related question that a lot of people ask you & what is your answer to that?
“But there are no vegan places next to my house“: I tell them that there is no need to have a vegan cafe next to you so you can go vegan. Veganism is a lifestyle, not a one-time meal plan. You can eat vegan anywhere and everywhere.

What is a common veganism/plant based/cruelty free lifestyle related stereotype or myth that you often come across & that you want to address or break?
That veganism is expensive. It really isn’t if you learn to start making use of your kitchen smartly.

What’s your favourite veganism/plant based/cruelty free lifestyle related Book/Movie/TV Show/Podcast that you would recommend to others & why?
I don’t really have a book or movie for reference since they affect me too deeply. But I really liked Okja (Netflix), in recent times. I’d also like to share some of the biggest vegan inspirations on Instagram.
@sweetsimplevegan
@jamesaspey
@earthlinged

What advice would you give to people/aspiring entrepreneurs looking to start plant based enterprises?
Go ahead & be part of the change! We need to build veganism in India to a much larger extent & work really hard to make it mainstream. But also make sure you know the shortcomings & the difficulties in running a business. I’d suggest that you work with a fellow vegan company for a couple of months; so the learning can only help.

What are advice would you give to people who want to transition to/continue to maintain a vegan & cruelty free lifestyle?
DO IT! It’s more than important for the animals, the planet & your own health. It’s very possible to live vegan today anywhere in the world. The animals will thank you profusely:)

I hope you enjoyed the second edition of Food For Thought with Vegan Change Makers! I would love to hear your comments or feedback about other interesting questions I could add to my interviews in the future! I’m also looking for other exciting vegan change makers to feature in my upcoming interview series. If you know anyone who is making a difference in the world of veganism (anywhere across the globe), then please leave me a message on my Contact page with the details! Thank you:) 

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