I don't really know very many vegans in Ireland. I know a couple of vegetarians who occasionally dabble in veganism and raw food, and people who eat healthy organic food, but nobody who is a dedicated vegan. This is why I decided to suggest to my friend in Bremen that we do a little vegan exchange by post, for fun! I've been to Germany a few times, but I wasn't the most healthy person back then, and I can remember living off takeaway food (pretty much just pointing at something on a chip shop or Chinese menu), bread, and anything basic like beans or pasta that I could buy from local store and cook up at the hostel. So as a result, I've never really had any proper German-specific vegan food.
The package I sent him included a couple of Nakd raw food bars (only really available in the UK and Ireland - I guess I'm to blame for his addiction to them now... sorry about that, man! I'll send you some more if you're good!), a coconut sesame snap bar, a Doves apple and walnut cereal bar, some raspberry liquorice, Nakd cherry flavoured raisins, a minestrone cuppa soup from Lidl, and a cute little strawberry shopping bag from the Asian Market in Dublin.
Now on to the package I received in return. My parcel I sent out seemed VERY inferior in comparison, as the other morning I was awoken by the postman with a HUGE box, with drawings all over the outside, and my treats were all individually wrapped in gift paper and tied up with cute gold ribbons!! Very unexpected, and very cool! It made me feel guilty I hadn't gone to such a huge effort with presentation!
He sent me 12 lovely vegan treats:
- 2 packets of Coconut Sesame Snaps
- some Energy Balls
- 2 packets of Soup (Lentil Dhal & Vegetable Pasta)
- Toffee Laces from Ikea
- Dark Chocolate with Praline in the middle
- Hazelnut & White Chocolate Marbled Spread
- a Vanilla & Almond fruit bar
- a Coconut fruit bar
- some Strawberry Lollipops
WOW! That's a lot of stuff! Here are some pictures (yes I opened them in bed, is that such a crime?!):
As you can imagine, I was very excited and wanted to try everything and had NO idea where to begin, as there was so much to choose from! I started with the marzipan balls because I ripped through the packet by accident as I was unwrapping them (that's a good enough reason right?!)... they were delicious, but then I'm addicted to marzipan in a serious way, so that was a sure-fire win! I can't wait til Christmas, so I can get to eat marzipan fruits by the bucketload!
I've also tried the soups. The first, lentil dhal, was really nice. They are very quick to make soups, sort of like a cuppa soup that takes a bit more boiling. You basically pour in 500ml of water over the mixture and bring it to a boil in the pan for a few minutes. The dhal soup had lots of tumeric, curry powder, cumin and coriander in it, so it was really nice. The red lentils made it quite mushy and filling as well. The vegetable pasta soup was fun to eat because the pasta pieces were in the shapes of tiny letters of the alphabet ^_^ I felt like a little kid eating them, but it was so yum! The only thing I'd say about these soups is that they are quite salty (sea salt is listed on the ingredients) so they wouldn't be something to have on too regular a basis. I love salt though, so that's fine by me!
I tried the praline chocolate as well, it was nice and smooth and creamy. I've never come across anything like this before, as we don't seem to have a very exotic choice of vegan chocolate here in Ireland. I love hazelnuts so the filling of this chocolate was right up my street and I had to take a rein check to make sure I didn't devour the whole 100g bar in one sitting!
So being a huge fan of hazelnut chocolate you can bet the chocolate spread went down well too! My friend said that my "tastebuds will explode" when I try it, and they pretty much did! I was only just saying last week how it was disappointing that we can't get a vegan white and hazelnut chocolate spread, I really never knew it existed, so it was a nice surprise to unwrap this treat. I'd also just run out of chocolate spread, so you can imagine how greatful I was to receive it! I had it on a bagel this morning and it was extremely difficult to put it back into the cupboard, because I just wanted more and more... I'm going to try to make it last as long as possible, but I doubt it will even last a week in my house! When it's finished I'm going to take the empty jar to a few health food shops in Dublin and see if they can stock it. The company is from the Netherlands and I'm sure it can't be that difficult to import?
I still have to work my way through quite a few of the products. I'm looking forward to the coconut, date, and nut "Energy Balls" and the other fruity bar. I tried the vanilla and almond one (pictured below) and it was quite dense and naturally sweet like a Nakd bar. I loved it! We definitely have to do another exchange soon, maybe in a few months' time, nearer Christmas... it was just so amazing to get to try out what other vegans from different parts of the world eat for snacks on a daily basis. So thank you, my lovely friend, for making my tummy very happy these last couple of days! ^_^
Germany is so vegan friendly, especially Berlin, from all the posts I've been reading about the city over at the Vegan Backpacker, and I'd really like to go there next summer for a vacation. However I think I'd have to stay about 3 months to get around to trying out all the lovely cafés and restaurants in the city!
And last but not least, here's a photo of me putting my feet up, relaxing while eating my snacks... I got these shoes yesterday for €4 at a charity shop. They are vegan and are exactly like these Converse boots. THEY ARE AWESOME! I've been wanting a pair like this for so long, so they were a great find :)