A Vegan's Guide to Newcastle

Friday, 22 January 2021

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As someone who has lived in Newcastle for about two and a half years, and been vegan all that time, it’s fair to say that I know a fair amount about the vegan food landscape of the city. Newcastle has so much to offer in terms of vegan food, and although it’s not somewhere I’ve heard people talk about elsewhere in the country as a great place for vegans, it is truly an unexpected vegan paradise. In this post, I’m going to bring you through some of the best places to get delicious vegan food in different areas of the city. So no matter if you’re a long-time resident, student, or just visiting for the weekend (once restrictions permit!), there’ll be something here you’ll love! This isn’t an exhaustive list however. There are always new places popping up and I can’t claim to have tried all the vegan food in the city. Some of these places are still doing takeaway or delivery, so do please support them if you can to make sure the vegan scene in Newcastle stays as amazing as it is!




City Centre


Supernatural Café

 

Right next to the train station, Supernatural is a long time They have some incredible cakes, some of which I genuinely think are the size of my head. As well as delicious sweet things, they also have larger meals and lunches. Inside, it’s decorated with fairy lights and sofas alongside the tables. A very cosy setting on a cold Winter’s day! 



NCL Teahouse (formerly, and forever in my heart as, Quilliam’s)


Quilliam’s is potentially one of my favourite places in Newcastle. It’s cosy, unique and I always feel more relaxed when I walk in there. It’s a great place for working (I’ve had many a study group there), blogging, reading books for my course or just for fun, and for meeting up with friends for a chat and a cuppa! As they’re open until midnight every day except Sunday, they’re a great place to go if you’re a student and need some place to go and work that isn’t the library (when lockdowns aren’t in place that is).

 

Quilliam Bros. specialise in tea, but if you don’t like tea then there are one or two coffee and hot chocolate options. Their menu does also include several vegan options, and many options which can be veganised, these include larger meals but also some cakes, scones and soups. 

 

Nudo Sushi (Grainger Street and Northumberland Street)


I love sushi. I did before I was vegan, and it’s something I am still able to enjoy. Nudo was one of the first places I tried when I moved here, and their food is certainly tasty. All allergens are really clearly labelled, and they have several different vegan options, from spicy tofu noodles to sushi boxes and hot rice bowls. One thing I’d say about Nudo is that it’s difficult to avoid plastic and non-recyclable waste there.


Karma Kitchen


Tucked away amongst the clubs in Bigg Market, you could so easily miss Karma Kitchen. The main restaurant is up a flight of stairs through a door you could easily miss if you didn’t know where you were going (I can’t remember if there’s a lift so I’m unsure on how accessible it is if you want to eat in) but it’s such a hidden gem! Run by two sisters, Karma Kitchen’s menu is entirely vegan and is ridiculously delicious. If you miss going out for an Indian since becoming vegan, this place will calm all your worries. Some of my favourites options include their Tofu Makhani and Tofu Tikka Massala. I happen to love tofu, but there are loads of non-tofu options if that’s not your thing, don’t worry!

 

When my family (three omnivores) came up to visit me last year, I took them to Karma Kitchen for a meal out. We all had completely different mains while sharing a few different starters, and absolutely loved it. One thing we all noticed was how good the dips were that came with the poppadoms. While they were still the same main four you tend to get at most Indian restaurants in the UK, we agreed that these were some of the best we’d had. We left feeling full, satisfied and with a bag of leftovers for me to finish at home. 

 

They also do deliveries both locally around Newcastle, and also all over the UK through the post!



Shijo


Ah Shijo… How I love you but how you damage my bank account, and how I have missed you since lockdown began. Their main shop is in Haymarket Metro Station, and the smell when you walk passed it never fails to make me hungry. In 2019, they opened a shop in the basement of Newcastle Uni Students’ Union and it has become even more of a temptation for a ‘treat yourself!’ kind of lunch. My go-to Shijo order is Tofu Teriyaki, which isn’t surprising considering how much of a sweet tooth I have. They also do Pumpkin Katsu Curry, Vegetable Gyozas, Vegetable Spring Rolls, and sometimes do Pumpkin Teriyaki if they’ve run out of tofu!



Hi You


Hi You is an Asian supermarket on Newgate street, and it is a treasure trove. I usually got there to get some ‘Beef Jerkey’ flavoured dried beancurd or some packs of mo chi, which are some of my favourite snacks/treats, but I will also sometimes get some packs of tofu or other bits and pieces too. 


Zapatista


Zapatista are a burrito bar, and have shops on Grainger Street and Ridley Street., as well as a new one in Durham as well. I haven’t had their food much but my flatmate (who is veggie) absolutely loves them! They may be a burrito bar but they also sell tacos, chillis and fajitas. You can pack them full with loads of veggies, just make sure to have none of the dairy fillings if you want your burrito to be vegan. 


Vegano


Vegano has a wide range of food from breakfasts to doughnuts to lunches and evening meals, they have everything! Including some incredible looking milkshakes, I have been dying to try but have been prevented from doing so by Covid. They have been open for around two years and I remember being so excited when they opened and went several times in the summer term of my first year at uni. 


Vegano is also pretty close to several city centre student accomodations, so if you’re a student and fancy a snazzy vegan doughnut as a post-essay celebration, this is the place to go!



Quayside Market


Run every Sunday, the Quayside Market has so many vegan options available. Sellers often include some businesses with shops elsewhere in the city, including Vegano, and Redhead Mac and Cheese, but there are also lots of mobile businesses who sell their food there. These include Sun of Seitan, who do delicious BBQ ‘meats’ made out of (you guessed it!) seitan, and Curry Rolls. There are loads more sellers and lots of different options. You can find food from around the world at the Quayside market and there’s something for everyone, including too many vegan options to choose from. It’s the perfect place to go with omni friends or family. 


Curry bowl I bought from Curry Rolls at the beginning of September

Newcastle Uni


This post may be particularly useful for Newcastle students who are wondering about the vegan options available to them when they come to Newcastle. I don’t know what’s available in Northumbria, but I can tell you the vegan options on Newcastle Uni campus! 

 

Food vans

 

Occasionally there are food vans (owned by the uni) which set up around campus, and which always have at least one or two vegan options. I had a lush green Thai curry from one before. 


Luther’s


As a student, Luther’s bar is one of the places you’ll first see around campus. Many society bar crawls start there, and it’s a great place to stop off in between lectures (when they’re actually in person). They also sell a variety of food, including some vegan options. In my first week, I had some spicy noodles with tofu which I remember liking, and there are a couple of other options too (although I don’t go there such anymore as I’m on campus less)


Humpit


It’s a bit of a vegan stereotype to be obsessed with hummus, but let’s be real the occasional stereotype can be accurate. Located on the top floor of the Students’ Union, Humpit do huge pittas stuffed with hummus and salad, as well as hummus bowls, salads and shakshuka. They also have some sides and hot and cold drinks. A must-have for any hummus lover!


Co-op


Co-op have really upped their game in terms of their vegan options in the past year, and while it’s appreciated, it’s not necessarily great for my bank! In 2019, the NUSU shop transformed into a fully-fledged Co-op with so many more products, including their new vegan range, Gro. This range has lots of tasty options, including a hoisin ‘duck’ protein pot, hoisin duck wrap, hot pasties, steak bakes and sauasage rolls, ready meals, frozen items and indulgent chocolate cupcakes as well as the usual falafel and hummus combo. My favourites are the protein pot and cupcakes, but I need to try out more of their meat substitutes.



The Stack


There used to be more vegan options available in The Stack. From the Hungry Vegan, who had the most amazing vegan subs, to Soul Shack and Junk It Up who had been a staple within the Newcastle vegan landscape before the pandemic and are sorely missed. Hopefully, new vegan businesses can open there and bring new vegan foods to us!


Sushi Me Rollin’


Yep, even more vegan sushi options! I tried their food ages ago and I remember it being super tasty if a bit pricey.


Grainger Market


Grainger Market is a gold mine of local businesses and food outlets. Some of its more well know food options may include huge and cheap pizza slices, but there are vegan options too! While these are some options I love, there are always new places popping up in Grainger Market and options in pre-existing shops may change to be more vegan-friendly.


Bulk Stores


There are a couple of places in Grainger Market where you can buy food in bulk, using your own containers. The main and oldest is Fruit and Nut. They have loads of barrels of all sorts of items, from chocolate powder, oats and flour to lentils, rice, dates, granola, and more! They have so many options and for generally reasonable prices, it’s definitely worth checking out if you haven’t already! Although make sure you have cash as they don’t accept card. 

 

More recently, another bulk with a bigger emphasis on ‘zero waste’ opened called Nil Living. They are a lot shinier than Fruit and Nut, and do sell lots of the same things (e.g. legumes, flour, etc.), but they are more expensive. Because of their emphasis on ‘zero waste’, they also sell liquid refills (body wash, household cleaner, etc.), and a wider range of plastic free and vegan general items, including candles, soap bars, foil, combs, vegan condoms, a variety of sustainable menstrual products and biodegradable nappy sacks. 

 

I recommend using Fruit and Nut for as many of your food needs as the have available, and then going to Nil Living for any other items (or if you want to have a look and see some sustainable menstrual products in person!). 


Snackwallah


Indian street food right next to one of the doors going into the market, and it’s entirely vegan! It’s super cheap and super tasty. If you’re looking for a break from shopping or a day about town, Snackwallah is the perfect pit stop. 



Veg Shops


I try to do as much of my veg as shopping in Grainger Market as possible. There are so many veg shops to choose from, and it’s a great way to support local businesses and buy more local and seasonal produce (although keep any eye out for labels of the product’s origin and know what you’re looking for  while not breaking the bank. It’s also an easy way of buying food without plastic packaging, just make sure you bring along your own reusable bags and you’ll be good to go. 


Redhead Mac and Cheese


Ah mac and cheese… a meal so reliant on animal products it can be difficult to recreate as a vegan. But there are ways! I have found and tried several recipes online, but if you’re don’t in the mood to make one yourself, Redhead Mac and Cheese have a vegan option! Obviously most of their menu is different dairy versions, but they didn’t forget the vegans. Their mac and cheese is super creamy and rich, and you have the option for extra siracha ontop. Redhead also do deliveries of pre-made mac and cheese for you to heat up at home. 



Pumphrey’s


Pumphrey’s has been in Newcastle for decades, I think actually centuries?! They are most famous for their coffee, which you can buy as grounds or sit in and drink at their Grainger Market shop. They have oat and soy milk, so they have vegans covered! They also have a shop in a different part of the market selling loose leaf tea. A lovely spot for a pitstop or catch up with pals. 


Acropolis 


I only went to Acropolis for the first time this autumn, and I am now obsessed with their vegan souvlaki. It’s so good. They pack them completely full with vegetables, it’s so good. They have various other veggie and meat options too. It’s the actual best. They also have several other locations around the North East!



Sandyford and Shieldfield


Kimchi Planet


I am obsessed with Kimchi Planet. I’d been meaning to go there for a while, but I finally made my first purchase there in the first week of the March lockdown (we love a bit of comfort food), and they have had my heart ever since. As the name might suggest, Kimchi Planet is the place to go if you want to get some incredible Korean food. Their menu includes rice bowls, kimbaps, kimchi fried rice, drinks and other sides. They have several vegan options, all of which are super yummy. My go-to order is Vegan Beef Bulgogi with a side of kimchi. You genuinely couldn’t get better than that. 

 

Both of my parents have tried some of their meat options when they’ve been visiting or helping me move in/out of houses, and have loved those just as much as I have the vegan options, so this is definitely a place to bring your meat-eating friends and family. 



Little Green


Out of all the vegan cafés and restaurants in Newcastle, Little Green is the one you will probably be most likely to hear about. I went there for my 20th birthday with some friends, and we had a really nice time. I tried their tapas, which was delicious! They had so many tapas options, including ‘Miso Tofu’, ‘Meatballs in Tomato Sauce’. The others mostly had different pizzas. Little Green have a wide range of food, changing night to night. For example, Thursday is Curry Night. They also have brunches, salads, dough balls, cakes, and a whole lot more!


The Carriage


Ever dreamed of going to a completely vegan pub? Well one actually exists – two, really, but I’ll talk about the other one later. The Carriage is a bit out of the way, and like Karma Kitchen, would be easy to miss if you weren’t looking for it. I first went there over a year ago with a friend, and tried their ‘Fish’ and Chips, made out of banana blossom. I won’t lie, the texture was so similar to actual fish that it kind of freaked me out a bit, but I managed to get passed that and it was super tasty. 



Heaton


Shoetree Café


If you’re looking for incredible vegan fluffy pancakes, Shoetree is the place to go. They are completely vegetarian, with most options either being vegan or able to be veganised. Theya re quite small, and every time I’ve been they’ve been very busy and I’ve only just been able to get a table. Apart from pancakes, they sell toasted sandwiches, cakes, a wide variety of coffees, and more. They also have a small number of toys nearer the back for children! Since reopening after lockdown, they’re now takeaway only. 



Sky Apple Café


I’ve still not actually been to Sky Apple yet! I’ve walked past it several times and it’s on my list of places to go. They’re a veggie and vegan café on Heaton Road and are currently still open for takeaways on Friday nights! They sell burgers, breakfast burritos, curries, BLTs and pasties, and become a chippy on Friday nights, including vegan fish and battered sausages! I’m hopefully going to give their food a try soon. 


General Store 109

 

If you don’t fancy going all the way into town for bulk food, General Store on Heaton Park Road have loads of products. From spices, coffee, and other dried foods to refills of oil, showergel, shampoo, and more, they have so much. They also sell freshly baked bread and pastries if you fancy a treat! 

 

Butterfly Cabinet


The sister café of Quilliams, Butterfly Cabinet is right next to Sky Apple and has several vegan options, including a huge vegan Full English Breakfast! They also do some incredible fried potatoes and caramelized onions. Delish! 


Heaton Perk


Heaton Perk is just lovely. It’s right next door to General Store and is such a cute café. They have some lunch options, but mostly have hot drinks. They also do really tasty vegan milkshakes! It’s a great place to work, study, write or eve just have a bit of a people watch, especially if you have a window seat.



Jesmond


Fat Hippo

 

Fat Hippo is an all-round favourite of Who doesn’t love a burger and some snazzy chips? Fat Hippo have got loads of different types of both, including vegan dirty fries which are increeedible. This is another one that’s great if you’re eating with omnis too. They also have an underground restaurant in the city centre too. 

 

Café Bar One


This is another one I’ve not tried the food yet, but their menu looks lush and they sell good hot drinks, including some lush vegan winter specials! Definitely somewhere to try once lockdown is lifted!

 

Ouseburn


The Ship Inn


This sister pub of The Carriage, The Ship has a similar menu, and is just as incredible. However, the location of The Ship is definitely nicer than The Carriage. Instead of being surrounded by roads, The Ship is right next to Ouseburn Farm and is surrounded by trees and away from main roads. They have a huge amount of outside space, which is absolutely perfect for social distancing, and generally makes for a lovely space to eat when it’s a nice day.

 

Their food is also brilliant. I genuinely think they might have the best chips I’ve ever eaten?! They have typical pub food, but veganised and it is LUSH, with portions that will keep you full until the next day. 


 

The Tyne Bar


Another staple pub with lovely views right by the River Tyne and Ouseburn Canal, and with plenty of outdoor space, The Tyne Bar is a gorgeous place to grab a drink or some grub. You can get a vegan hot dog, pulled jackfruit bowls and burritos, as well as falafel wraps and burgers. 


From when the pubs were still open!

Ethical Clothing


I also want to highlight some great ethical or secondhand clothing businesses in the Newcastle area that I think are worth your support!


Mojo Lingerie


If you’re looking for some ethical and sustainable lingerie, have a look at Mojo Lingerie. Run by one woman in her garage, she makes everything herself (as well as running the social media and posting everything to customers). She also makes reversible pieces, so you can wear polka dots one day and stripes the next! 


Melanie Kyles


Melanie is a fashion designer who focuses on ethical and sustainable design and production. She has a few items available on her website, but also makes items to order and sells embroidery kits and tuition.


If you have any recommendations for places to get great vegan food or other sustainable and ethical items, like clothes, please let me know by commenting on this post or messaging me on either Instagram or Twitter! 




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10 Best Books I Read in 2020

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

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I read some great books in 2020, a mixture of fiction and non-fiction, and I even managed to read a few books that weren’t part of my course – I know, what a shocker! I thought I’d share with you some of my favourites from the past year, some you may remember from previous mentions in Monthly Wrap Ups or from my favourite lockdown reads, but some may be completely new to you. Either way, I loved reading all of these books and I think you will too!



1. Out of Office by Fiona Thomas


As a final year student, I’ve been thinking a lot more about life after uni over the past 6 months, and freelancing is an option for me. While it may not be my whole career, I will likely do at least some freelance work and this book is an incredible resource I know I will go back to. It covers everything from getting started, taxes and ensuring you are able to take time off to looking after your mental health and avoiding burnout. Fiona’s writing style is so engaging and easy to read, I got through this quite quickly. Each chapter ends with a checklist of activities, so you know exactly what you need to do in each section. A must read for anyone considering freelancing in any respect! 



2. Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams


Ah, Queenie. This book has honestly seared itself onto my heart forever. It is such a raw story, covering some difficult subjects including miscarriage, sexual assault, poor mental health, misogynoir and more. The character of Queenie feels like a friend. The whole time I just wanted to give her a hug. It’s a very comforting read, especially if you’re going through a rough patch and need reassurance that things will get better. I can’t wait to see what Candice Carty-Williams writes next and hoping to see screen adaptations of this book!


3. 10 Minutes and 38 Seconds in this Strange World by Elif Shafak


This book is frankly heartbreaking. It follows the life of ‘Tequila Leila’, a murdered sex-worker, during 10 minutes and 38 seconds after her death as she lies on the streets of Istanbul and loses consciousness. We see her early childhood and family, meet her five closest friends, and find out how she ended up working in Istanbul. I loved the characters in this book, particularly Leila’s closest friends. It is a story which truly highlights the importance of chosen family. 


4. Daisy Jones & the Six by Taylor Jenkens Reid


This book helped me get out of a bit of a reading slump near the beginning of lockdown, and helped me get through my final assessments for second year. I could barely put it down and got through it in about a day. It’s fair to say it completely took my mind off my assessments and off the pandemic, even if only for a few hours. The characters were interesting and I enjoyed the structure. If you love the drama behind bands like Fleetwood Mac and ABBA, you’ll love this book. An easy uplifting read that will remind you of when we're able to go to concerts and read books on holiday in the sun!


5. Dracula by Bram Stoker


The firs one on my list that I read for my course! I loved the module thi was on so much and probably could have included more books from it to be honest, but I decided on just this one! Most people will have a basic idea of the Dracula story, but I have to admit that I didn’t really know the details until actually reading the book. It’s weird, creepy, sexy, and I really enjoyed (even if the end did drag on a bit). 



6. Animal Farm by George Orwell


I read this at the beginning of lockdown as part of a small book club I started with a student volunteer group I’m involved with. It was a great me thinking about something other than lockdown and uni work, as well as keep myself occupied while I was by myself. Yhis wasn’t the first time I read this book, I read it a couple of years ago, but it was still just as enjoyable and so much to discuss within it. 


7. Trumpet by Jackie Kay


Ugh, this book. I felt this book in my heart. It follows the aftermath of the death of jazz musician, Joss Moody, from the perspectives of those around him – his wife, son, friends, the press and more – as it is revealed that he was trans. Some of the language isn’t what we would use today (it was written in the 90s) and most of that language is used in point-of-view chapters of characters who are quite transphobic or at least are at that point in the story. This book is honestly gorgeous. It’s so filled with love and tenderness and still so sad. I would highly highly recommend!



8. Feminism, Interrupted by Lola Olufemi


I feel like I’ve talked about this book so much already but I’m going to talk about it again. It’s an incredible introduction to intersectional feminism and gives me true hope in the movement and what it can be. This book is concise and accessible but doesn’t compromise on conveying the nuance of the issues at hand. I cannot recommend this book enough. If you are unsure about various issues and want to learn more, please read it. It also makes a great present!


9. Sex Ed by Ruby Rare


This book is incredible, and I have raved about it to so many people. Aside from looking amazing and having gorgeous illustrations, it contains the sex education we all deserve to have had at school. Ruby Rare covers everything from wanking and sex toys to how a sex drive actually works and the effects of sexual trauma. I just want everyone to read this! And yes, that does mean I will happily lend my copy to anyone I know in real life (if I haven’t offered to already!). 



10. Quite by Claudia Winkleman


This was one of the last books I read in 2020 and I really enjoyed it. I laughed a fair bit and I found it really enjoyable! It’s not what I would call a memoir, it’s more, well, Claudia Winkleman’s guide to life! From the importance of eyeliner, to how to know when a partner isn’t right for you, to the reasons you should love the Tube, there’s so much packed in here. For me, it was something light and fun that could distract me after a busy day and was a book I couldn’t put down!

 

I’m always looking for new things to read – even if I don’t necessarily have the time to read them – so please let me know some of your recommendations!




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5 Reasons You May Not Be Able to Use a Menstrual Cup (and Why That's Okay) | #ACupaDay

Friday, 8 January 2021

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Trigger warning: sexual assault, FGM 


 

Menstrual cups are brilliant, but they’re not for everyone. Mine suits me really well, but different bodies, different life experiences, and different preferences, means that menstrual cups don’t suit everyone. 

 

1. Vaginismus

 

Vaginismus is a condition which causes the vaginal walls to close and prevent foreign objects from entering. This can often occur with people who are survivors of sexual assault, but can also have no specific cause. Most often it is caused by something mentally.  Whatever the cause, it does mean that penetration of the vagina (by tampons, menstrual cups, fingers, sex toys, penises, etc.) can become impossible in some cases (although levels vary between each person).

 

From what I’ve seen (based on others’ experiences), the series Sex Education seems to do quite a good job of representing it. Even seeing representation on TV and film is incredibly rare – I think the only other place I’d heard it mentioned was YouTube (big up Rowan Ellis and Hannah Witton for that). It’s something that affects a lot more people than you’d necessarily think based on how much it’s talked about. 

 

2. It may be triggering

 

For anyone with sexual trauma in their past (whatever that may be), anything around the vulva, particularly involving inserting something into the vagina, has the potential to be triggering. Similarly, FGM survivors may also feel very uncomfortable using products like menstrual cups and may also be physically unable to use them as they would cause significant pain and discomfort. 

 

Whatever someone’s history, we all need to do what is best for our own wellbeing, and both our physical and mental health.


3. A disability may prevent you from being able to insert and remove it properly

 

Let’s be real, even if you’re fully able-bodied they can be tricky to insert if you’re just starting out. Occasionally, I have times when I need to readjust mine several times, and that’s as someone who has used menstrual cups for over 3 years. For many people with mobility issues, issues with their hands, backs, etc. (I’m sure there’s many ways this could be affected) menstrual cups will just be impossible to use. There are other sustainable alternatives, such as period pants, but as I mention in my review of my first pair, they are currently still quite expensive so levels of accessibility intersect and become complicate depending on both your physical body and your financial circumstances. 


4. You may really like the type of period product

 

In this case, I would still encourage you to look at the ways you can make that product less wasteful (if you’re in the position to do so). If tampons are your thing, perhaps consider a reusable applicator (if you like using applicators at all) and organic tampons such as the one sold by OHNE and TOTM. As from being better for the environment, these are also much better for your vagina as it significantly reduces the number of chemicals present. The same goes for pads – see if there’s something organic or reusable you like!


5. You just may not like them!

 

For whatever reason, you may not get on with menstrual cups. They may just not suit our body, you may not like the idea of them. That’s okay. Our bodies prefer different things, and hey! It’s your vagina, you get to decide what goes in it. If you’ve tried menstrual cups before but didn’t get on with them, I presume you want to have a less wasteful and plastic-filled period, and if you do that’s great. There are lots of alternatives to menstrual cups if you want to have a sustainable period, which I discuss in a previous blog post, and hopefully one of those can be useful to you.


Whatever menstrual product someone chooses to use, they should not be shamed or be pressured into using a particular type. As I mentioned, we are all different and different things suit our bodies. 



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