Posts Tagged ‘eggs’

Vegan Easter Chocolate Summary

Wow, it’s been a tough and busy week in the Vegangstaz offices. People sometimes think that going vegan means sacrificing chocolate, and thus Easter wouldn’t be much of a joyous time. You couldn’t be more wrong, and this week I’ve gone through the labourious process of eating my own weight in delicious chocolate, just so I can tell you guys exactly how delicious the chocolate was. We’ve done all this so you don’t have to. Don’t we treat you guys well, eh? You lucky people. In all seriousness though, some of these are now going at bargain prices due to Easter being over and all, so maybe you’ll snap up a tasty deal.

Speaking of being lucky, I was pretty lucky in my Easter presents this year. With eggs and other goodies from my mum and dad, our very own Ellie and Wrosie, and a couple of little treats from ermm… myself, I was rather well endowed with delicious chocolate this year. So here’s a little round up of everything I’ve been eating. If you’ve managed to get your hands on any fantastic Easter chocolate this year then we’d love to hear from you as well! The world needs to know that vegans can indeed eat chocolate, and we get through a fairly large amount of the stuff too.

Without any further ado, I’ll dive straight into the chocolate summary (although I would rather dive into a chocolate lake than a chocolate summary, but this’ll have to do…)

Hotel Chocolat’s Easter Eggsposé Dark Chocolate Egg

The Eggsposé... with a few of the central mini eggs missing. Guilty.

Hotel Chocolat have had a range of eggs called the Eggsposé range on offer this Easter, of which the dark chocolate one is vegan. Rather than being a whole egg, they are, in a rather unorthodox fashion, just half an egg, but are packed with 8 mini eggs which are described as “taking centre stage.” And take centre stage they do, because each of these mini eggs taste incredible. They are dark chocolate coated, with a heavy sprinkling of sugar, and they also feature a rich praline filling. The egg itself may only be a half, but it’s a very thick half, and is actually far more satisfying to eat your way through that most of the thinner whole eggs out there. At £14 these aren’t cheap though, although I should probably say that they weren’t cheap because they’re now available at a bargain of £7. And my super rad parents got mine so I can’t complain. Chocolate fiends, get yourselves down to Hotel Chocolat‘s website and snap one of these up!

Cocoa Loco’s Dark Chocolate Hen

The delicious Cocoa Loco hen... before I smashed her apart and ripped out her chocolatey insides

Thanks to the wonderful Wrosie, I got one of these delicious lil’ darlings. This is a fairly standard dark chocolate affair, but the quality of the chocolate is second to none, and it’s Fair Trade as well. At roughly £10, this hen provides enough tasty dark chocolate to satiate even the most chocolate-hungry, and again it’s very thick. When you’ve managed to bite your way through you’ll discover a tasty surprise of additional chocolate buttons inside. I managed to work my way through my hen’s bum as it was probably the least thick area of chocolate, and then picked the buttons out one by one like tiny little tasty poops. Whether Cocoa Loco deliberately structured the hen that way or not, I don’t know, but it worked well for me. Sadly, as Cocoa Loco is by no means a major company, getting your hands on one of these may not prove to be easy. Wrosie got mine from Infinity Foods in Brighton, but otherwise you’re gonna need to have a search around. Do check out Cocoa Loco‘s website though, as they are a great company and are renowned for both their ethical integrity and their quality, so it doesn’t get much better than that.

Montezuma’s Organic Cheeky Bunnies

You get eight of these tasty dudes in a pack

Again bought for me by the wonderful Wrosie from the also wonderful Infinity Foods, this was a smaller addition of eight mini chocolate bunnies. Again, this was a dark chocolate venture, but again Montezuma’s uses only the finest ingredients which they ensure are fairly traded. Indeed, their principles are more important to them than the chocolate itself, as you can see from their ethics section on their website. These bunnies were fairly pricey at nearly £4 per box, but Montezuma’s never disappoints. Their chocolate is top quality, and I have huge respect for them as they make it very easy for vegans to pick and choose. Everything is clearly labelled by them, and staff in their own shops always know the situation with the latest vegan products. I am always hugely impressed by this company, and these bunnies are no exception. Look out for Montezuma’s stores all around the UK (and their chocolate is often sold by other stores too), or order yourself some stuff online.

Choices  Dairy Free Easter Egg

Plain, simple, yum

Thanks to Ellie from Ellie’s Vegan Kitchen for supplying me with this one! Perhaps the most widely available egg out of this year’s selection, this egg has been created by Celtic Chocolates, an Irish brand whose confectionary is widely stocked in health food stores, including the Holland and Barrett chain.

Their chocolate is an attempt at vegan “milk” chocolate, and they do a pretty good job at it. Their Easter egg for this year, sporting a sub-brand name of Choices, is plain and simple in its design and what it offers. A standard sized egg, complete with six small individually wrapped medallions of chocolate. At £4, this is pretty reasonably priced for vegan chocolate, and I think it’s pretty tasty too. Not the best vegan milk chocolate out there… we’ll get to that in a minute… but it’s certainly up there and it doesn’t taste vegan in a way that some vegan milk chocolates do. This egg is a great choice, and it’s a pleasure to see it being so widely stocked – I don’t think anyone would have too much trouble in getting their hands on one of these. Now it’s post-Easter though, you may have to wait a year, unless you trawl your local Holland and Barrett bargain bin – there must be some of these left somewhere.

Moo Free Organic Dairy Free Easter Egg

My Moo Free egg looking fairly ominous as it creeps out of the shadows, but fortunately there was nothing to worry about. Except maybe my pretty bad photography.

After picking up a few of these at Vegfest over a month ago, I have been struggling to keep myself from eating one, as they’ve been sitting around and taunting me day and night. Fortunately I managed to make it through to Easter, and Moo Free‘s egg has not let me down. The pinnacle of vegan milk chocolate, Moo Free are always a delight. This egg is plain and simple – a standard 100 gram chocolate egg. There’s no frills in the way of added chocolate buttons or bars or anything like that, but for what it lacks in extra goodies it makes up for in taste. This is the closest you will currently get to milk chocolate if you’re a vegan, and I’m pretty sure any dairy chocolate lover will have no qualms about tucking into Moo Free‘s goodies. At £4, this egg seems somewhat pricey seeing as, on the surface, it seems to offer very little, but I think that this chocolate is a must-try. Pick yourself up a bar from one of these various suppliers, and if you get through life without eating your way through at least one box of their pralines then you haven’t truly lived.

So there you have it. Easter 2011, done. Still working through the chocolate but not too fast. Please let me know if you have any suggestions for eggs which we should be trying next year though! Or if you’ve been given an egg which you feel would benefit from a quick review on here, I guess I wouldn’t mind if you sent it over… It’s a tough life having to eat all this chocolate for everyone, but hey, I’ll cope. Someone’s gotta do it.

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Chickens lay eggs anyway…

Veganism can be hard to comprehend if you don’t look into its ethical reasoning. Vegetarians clearly oppose the killing of animals, but when it comes to veganism it’s different. I mean, no animal is killed for its produce, at least directly. Such a practice would be counterintuitive, right?

Let’s, for a minute, just forget the complexities of arguments to do with the life span of produce animals, their livelihood, and free range vs. battery farming. Let’s forget about what happens to dairy cows, the issue of whether milking is natural, and what happens to their calves. Let’s forget about conditions for chickens and issues with genetic modification and human intervention into the egg-laying process. All these issues are important to vegans and ethical vegetarians, but understanding the implications of many of these things and the processes that go on behind closed doors can be difficult and require plenty of time to get your head around.

For now, let me put to you a single issue within the egg industry that highlights to me why veganism is the only diet which minimises death through eating practices, and why ethical vegetarianism falls short, and also explains why around 40 million chicks are killed each year in the UK alone during egg production. In fact this issue is so difficult to swallow (as I’m sure eggs may be after we’ve talked about it) that I can put to you the best case scenario for egg production, besides keeping your own chickens.

First it’s important to note that farming is a business, and like any other business it needs to make money. It is due to this fact that I have yet to come across a farm that is, by my standards (which I don’t think are unreasonable), ethical. But picture the closest thing you can to this in your head. Picture a local, truly free range farm, where chickens are given ample space and are respected.

Now, first you need to realise that these chickens are probably there for one of two purposes – either meat or eggs. Notice that I said either-or. For the last few decades, there has been specialisation and cross-breeding to ensure that the most efficient chickens are used for each job. There are certain types of chickens which lay eggs infrequently and irregularly, but grow fat quickly – these are broiler chickens (i.e. they will be used as meat). There are others which don’t grow so large but lay eggs nearly every day – these are layer chickens. Now, the farm in your head will realise this and will be breeding specialised chickens for each purpose. It wouldn’t make sense to just breed one type of chicken because they would not be maximising their possible output as a farm in terms of either egg production or meat, and as a farm is a profit-making business it must choose specialised breeds of chickens. This is logic, and there is nothing wrong with that.

So, keep that picture in your head of your farm, with the broiler and the laying chickens. The farm is going to need to ensure that it breeds these chickens to keep their levels up, otherwise when the chickens die out the farm will be left without any. To do this, some eggs are fertilised from both the broiler and laying chickens. The broiler chickens will hatch, they will be grown until their slaughter date, at which point they will be killed for meat. The laying chickens also hatch, but here’s where the difficulty lies.

Only female chickens lay eggs. But there is no way to ensure that only female chickens are born. So, as with all birds and most of the animal kingdom, half of the chickens born are going to be female (and therefore can be utilised in egg production) whilst the other half will be born as males. This is where things get a bit depressing I’m afraid. There is no use for these male chicks whatsoever. Remember, the farm is a business. Keeping these chicks when they can’t perform the duty they were bred for, egg-laying, would be wasteful and has a negative effect on profits. Even the most ethical farm, that one you’ve hopefully been picturing in your head, would have a very hard time justifying the keeping male chicks for the sake of their lives when they have nothing to offer. These chicks are thus killed at birth.

Methods for killing the chicks tend to be through the use of mass-scale death machines. Some are dropped straight onto large electric plates, frying the chicks (who are barely hours old) alive. Others are gassed with their carcasses being utilised as reptile and snake food. The “humane” way (as recommended by the RSPCA and Humane Slaughter Association) is to drop the live chicks into a macerator – essentially a machine which minces the chicks into a paste, quite literally (not too dissimilar to the machine that destroys Preston at the end of the Wallace and Gromit film, A Close Shave). For arguably the least fortunate, they are simply placed in giant bin bags on top of each other and left to die, like the rubbish that the industry thinks that they are.

There is no farm that has any use for male chickens from an egg-laying specialised breed. This to me is the single biggest argument for veganism in terms of animal ethics. Whilst this focuses purely on eggs, it highlights to me why vegetarianism is severely ethically lacking. The logic behind the argument is obvious and strong, so please think about this when it comes to questioning the importance of veganism as an ethical movement.

For more information on the fate of males in the egg industry, please watch this investigation by Viva! Just to warn you though, whilst the footage is not gory it is nevertheless very distressing.

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