School's out, summer's here, and there is nothing better than dining al fresco in the sun. But for those of us who don't have a garden, a picnic is often the best way to enjoy the best of Britain's outdoor season.
For those of us who can't, or don't want to, tuck into the normal fayre of sausage rolls, scotch eggs and egg sandwiches, I've rounded up the best vegan options from savoury to sweet for picnickers this summer.
Okay, let's start with the bits that will fill you up – pasties from Chunk of Devon (yes, Devon, not Cornwall). Being from Devon hasn't stopped them from becoming two-time champions of the UK's best pasty, which makes them good in my books.
What's more, they have a fabulous vegan range (and veg too if you don't mind a bit of cheese in your life). Options include Cheatin' Cheeze Pasties, Ploughman's Pasties, Spicy Jack pies and Chunki Roast Veg Pasties. Not a bad selection for a product that is traditionally meant to include meat!
The perfect pairing to a tasty pasty – a dollop of relish. And it doesn't get much better than Tracklements Sweet Pepper Relish. A tangy, sweet and sour relish, you can genuinely taste the chopped peppers and cucumber and hint of mustard seed and chilli. What I love about Tracklements is, as well as being vegan and gluten-free, they use the best produce they can and British whenever possible. They only use 100% sustainable, environmentally friendly electricity, and their packaging is 100% recyclable. And it tastes great. What could be better?
Snacks are a must on any picnic, and the new Snack Bites from Gosh! should be top of the list. Perfect for a picnic, these individual packs of mini-bites are available in two flavours – Moroccan Spiced Veg and Smokey BBQ Sweet Potato. Both flavours are packed full of delicious veggies, herbs, and spices and ready to eat straight from the pack. No fear about the waste either, as the bags are 100% recyclable too.
For me, it's all about olives that have been perfectly warmed by the sun. But – as a lover who seems to attract the naysayers, I'm often left with too many to manage. No longer will that be a problem thanks to OLOVES - packed in individual packets, these little bags of olives are crisp, flavoursome, and delicious and perfect for one on a picnic. Available in four flavours – Lemon & Raspberry, Basil & Garlic, Chilli & Oregano, and Chilli & Garlic.
Another crunchy classic – crisps. Fairfields is an old family favourite brand – some of their potatoes are grown in my parent's village, so I thought I'd tried every flavour. However, these vegan crisps have some tricks up their sleeves; vegan Rib of Beef or Bacon & Tomato Crisps for a meaty flavour without the meat. What's more, all of the crisps are made on their farm using renewable energy, are gluten-free and using natural flavours.
Finally, for the health-conscious, BitesWeLove is a deliciously tasty new crunchy pea snack recently launched in the UK in three delicious flavours. High in fibre, they contain 60% less fat than comparable vegetable snacks and crisps, making them perfect for on-the-go picnic snacking. The three new flavours include Sea Salt & Black Pepper, Smoked Paprika and Sour Cream & Jalapeño, so something for everyone to tuck into and enjoy.
Chunk of Devon, RRP, £35 for the full veggie-vegan picnic selection, including 6 x vegan pasties and four veggie options. https://www.chunkofdevon.co.uk/
Tracklements, RRP, £3.75 for 220g, https://www.tracklements.co.uk/
Gosh!, RRP, £1 per pack, https://www.goshfood.com/
OLOVES, RRP, £8 for ten packs, https://www.oloves.com/
Fairfields Farm Crisps, RRP, £18 for 24 x 40g bags, £18 for 12 x 150g bags, https://fairfieldsfarmcrisps.co.uk/
BitesWeLove, RRP, £2.25 per pack, https://www.biteswelove.com/
What is life without a sweet treat? Sad…! But thanks to Crosstown Doughnuts, it doesn't have to be as they have an incredible selection of vegan options they claim are every bit as delicious as our original selection, made with 100% plant-based ingredients. And I can't say I disagree.
Crosstown use chia seeds and coconut butter in our dough and a varying combination of oat milk, coconut butter, dairy-free dark chocolate, and silken tofu to make the fillings and glazes. While you can't choose what you receive, I can promise you won't be disappointed by the mixed box as every one of the doughnuts we tried (and we tried 6) were delicious.
Or, head to the cookie aisle with Floozie Stuffed Cookies. The signature stuffed cookies come in six flavours, the brainchild of Pastry Chef Kimberly Lin – formerly of Claridge's, The Savoy and Dominique Ansel Bakery. Five classics include Cinnamon Crunch, Chocolate Chunk; Celebration Cake; Pecan Pie; and PB&J. There is also one rotating special for those who like a bit of change. My favourite has got to be the classic chocolate chunk which – if you pop it in the oven for five minutes – oozes chocolatey goodness. Don't expect to walk away without your hands covered in chocolate… They all come individually wrapped, so they are also perfect for popping with any picnic for dessert.
For the ultimate sweet rush, try the available-all-year Mummy Meagz Chuckie Egg. Containing zero animal ingredients or palm oil, this delicious vegan chocolate egg is the perfect indulgence, with no added nasties—a great little bite for any sweet-toothed picnicker.
Drinks – Soft
For those warm summer days when hydration is vital, Feel Good Drinks has your back. 100% natural, 'fruitful' sparkling waters which not only taste good but do good too, with a sustainable and purpose-led ethos with fun that supports social and environmental initiatives. Made from a blend of fruit and sparkling water, the range has no artificial flavours, added sugar or sweeteners, and 15% juice content. They are genuinely refreshing on a hot day. They are guaranteed to be a hit for those who want something a little more enjoyable without the booze.
For fizz that doesn't go straight to your head, look no further than Bella Italia. A unique 0% alcohol-free sparkling wine made & bottled in the heart of prosecco country in Treviso, Italy, using revolutionary technology keeps the unpasteurized & micro-filtered must fresh, with nothing added except the carbon dioxide. The result is a fresh Italian sparkling wine with a delicate flavour and 0% alcohol. Pop in a strawberry or two, and it's perfect for anyone who wants to join in the fizzy fun, just without the alcohol.
Or, there is Nuisance Drinks, a premium range of sodas that can be enjoyed standalone or as a substitute for your standard mixers. A Cotswolds based company, they champion ingredients found directly on their doorsteps with three unique flavours – Wild Bramble & Rosemary; Mint, Cucumber & Chilli; and Wild Nettle. Each soda has its unique flavour and natural colour. They do taste incredibly refreshing on their own and can certainly be used as a 'dry' drink choice – mixed with a gin. It's a nice alternative to your classic G&T if you're looking for something a little lighter. What's more, Nuisance donates 1% of profits to Rewilding Britain - the only country-wide UK charity committed to rewilding and the fantastic benefits it can bring for people, nature, and climate.
Drinks – Boozy
Finally, it would be remiss of me not to mention the hot drink of last summer – and again this year – the hard seltzer. There are many on the market, but two of my favourites are Naughty Water and Long Shot.
Naughty Water is vegan, gluten-free, keto-friendly, contains zero carbs and zero sugar, and is just 72 calories per can. The vodka is seven times distilled and only has only natural fruit ingredients with added vitamin C and is paired with three exotic flavours, including Sparkling Cranberry; Mango & Passionfruit; and Blood Orange.
Long Shot are Great Taste award-winning fruit-infused hard seltzers with all-natural ingredients and nothing artificial. Vegan, gluten-free, keto-friendly, low in calories and low in sugar, Long Shot mix grain alcohol with fruit, sparkling water, and nothing else. Available in three delicious flavours too – Grapefruit; Raspberry & Blackcurrant; and Strawberry & Rhubarb.
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Chatting Food Contributor: Chloe Walden Chloe has a passion for all things food and drink. Whether that’s getting stuck into cooking a new cuisine in the kitchen, dining out in a new London hot spot, or adding a new tipple to her drinks trolley, her life revolves around what’s next on the menu. On the weekend, you can often find her with a G&T in one hand, and a cookbook in the other. Twitter: @chloewaldenPR Instagram: @chloewalden