Yesterday I went out to Ikea. We usually cycle, but the weather has been a bit dodgy recently so we decided to go by bus, which was quite interesting as I've never really been so close to Ballymun (Dublin's most infamous affordable housing estate of tower blocks, most of which have now been demolished). I can't believe people still live/squat in the remaining burnt out, abandoned, wrecked flats. I shuddered as we passed them, seeing faces peering out of some of the windows, gangs of junkies hanging out in the horrible, dark shells of the buildings, stick-thin mothers with pushchairs and toddlers running along behind them as their mothers go score their next fix... nasty. I'm really fascinated by Ballymun though, as I've read "Dying to Survive", the autobiography of the well known recovered drug addict Rachel Keogh, who went from this to this. It's incredible how some people manage to turn their lives around.
Photo credit Ross McDonnell
But anyway - on to Ikea!
Foodwise, there really isn't much out in Ikea for vegans, but if you have a poke around you can find some pretty decent stuff. From their café I bought a large 100g dark chocolate bar (49c), a small pack of ready salted crisps (45c), a salad bowl (€1.95) and a bowl of vegetable soup (€1.75). How's that for value! I've had the dark chocolate many times before and have used it in recipes such as my dark chocolate peanut butter stars. It's quite sweet for dark chocolate, which is probably why I like it so much. The crisps were quite like Kettle crisps and were really crunchy and flavoursome. My boyfriend later bought a huge bag of their crisps which were sour cream and chive flavour, which I helped him devour once I discovered that they were also vegan! The salad bar is very good value, especially if you're good at piling your bowl high - a talent I acquired as an impoverished student! There's sweetcorn, beetroot, carrots, onions, tomatoes and cucumbers in there. Their vegetable soup was nice too, I didn't get a chance to check the ingredients but it didn't taste like it had any dairy in it and I've heard online that it is vegan, although I cannot totally guarantee it. It was so busy there that the staff were running all over the place and I couldn't corner them to question them. Other vegan options from the café section would be the pasta with tomato sauce, a plate of chips, a plate of veg, or some of the items from the breakfast menu such as hash browns, baked beans and grilled tomatoes. The lack of vegan desserts is disappointing, but at least there is the option of crisps, fruit or chocolate. Their free refills on all drinks policy is great too!
We browsed the shop for a while and bought a lovely new duvet cover, a cute tray for the kitchen and some freezer bags, even though we said we wouldn't buy anything! Then we went to their "Taste of Sweden" section and got a few small goodies to take home. I bought their Lingonberry Jam, Roasted Onion Salad Sprinkles, Singoalla Raspberry 'Creme' Biscuits, and Ginger Orange Thins. The only item I've tried so far is the raspberry biscuits, and they are quite like Jammy Dodgers but way nicer! I was surprised to see that the creamy filling is made from vegetable fat margarine and sugar with vanilla flavouring. I can't see any animal products listed in the ingredients so if anyone knows otherwise please inform me.
Ikea's policy on animal welfare and food standards can be found here, but I do not find it very encouraging at all. They say they "encourage and support" organic farming, although I really can't see how, at such low prices, this can be the case. Their meatballs are so processed that I just feel so disappointed whenever I see anyone eating them - not only because they are made from dead animals, but because they are so far from being fresh, organic or healthy for you. At least they do set some standards though, and publish them on the site for everyone to see.
I do so love Ikea though. As a new home owner it has made furnishing the place so easy when it did eventually come to Ireland. We must have spent a fortune on designer Italian and Norwegian furniture before Ikea showed up! Now that I only work part time it's good there's somewhere more affordable to get some really nice, modern and well designed bits'n'bobs :)
Here I am trying to squish all the goodies I bought into my bag. It didn't go so well!