HEMA Everclean Fluoride Toothpaste (HEMA)

HEMA toothpasteOne thing that takes some time when you decide to go vegan is finding non-food items, and especially make-up and toiletries, to replace old items that contain animal ingredients or that come from companies that test on animals. It’s a process that is not as straightforward as shopping for food for a number of reasons (not knowing the animal testing stance of companies, ingredients being less recognizable, etc.). Because of this, a lot of people end up seeking out toothpaste and other self-care products that are specifically aimed at the vegan market and that are sold at health-food stores and vegan specialty stores. Nothing wrong with this, of course, and there are some really nice make-up and self-care brands to be found on that end of the market. But sometimes, you just want to be able to run out and buy a tube of toothpaste someplace convenient, know it tastes good, contains fluoride (which not all health-food brands do), and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

So I was excited to discover that this HEMA brand toothpaste fits that bill! It’s cheap, easy to find, is not tested on animals (HEMA doesn’t do any animal testing and doesn’t sell in China), and contains no animal ingredients. It tastes good, and contains fluoride. That’s pretty much all I need in a toothpaste!

This should be available at all HEMA stores.

Almdudler

AlmdudlerFor some of you, this will be nostalgia, for others, a new discovery (probably depending on your age and nationality).

Almdudler is an Austrian, carbonated soft-drink with herbal extracts which, according to Mr. VSiB was quite popular in Belgium (and other parts of Europe) in the 1970s. Recently, it seems to be making a bit of a comeback, and along with that comeback is a vegan logo on the label! A lot of sodas are accidentally vegan, but few in Belgium proudly wear it on their sleeve.

Mr. VSiB likens the flavor of Almdudler a bit to Canada Dry Ginger Ale. It’s not exactly the same, but if I had to think of a more well-known drink to compare it to, that’s probably indeed the closest comparison. It’s not too sweet, and it’s got a light, herby flavor. With the weather turning spring-like, I can see a chilled bottle of Almdudler being a nice refreshing change from the usual soft-drinks out there. (And according to Wikipedia, it makes a good mixer with both wine and beer.)

I found this at the Delhaize Shop & Go, but it’s probably available at a variety of different supermarkets.

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Succès du Jour Filled Waffles (Colruyt)

gevulde-wafelsMr. VSiB always keeps his eyes out for new (to me) vegan products I might miss while shopping, and recently, after a trip to the Colruyt, he came back with this huge box of filled waffles! Not only are they 100% plant based, they’re made in Belgium!

I was intrigued. I’d seen these kind of waffles before but they had always been non-vegan. Having lived in the Netherlands, I was familiar with stroopwafels, but Mr. VSiB told me that filled waffles were a different beast. So I was excited to be able to try a vegan version!

What can I say? These are soooooooo good! I’m a little embarrassed to admit how quickly I went through this rather large box of waffles. They are indeed different to stroopwafels. These are softer, with a layer of fine vanilla sugar inside. (According to the company’s website, they also make a brown sugar variant, but I’ve yet to run across that.)

So far, the only place I’ve found these has been at the Colruyt, but I’ll be keeping my eyes open in other stores.

Bio-Bandits Egg-Free Mayo (Albert Heijn)

biobandits-egg-free-mayoFor a while now, I’ve been jealous of our neighbors to the north who have had the luck of having an accidentally-vegan mayo (Remia Mayolijn) available to them in supermarkets. Recently, Belgian sauce company La William started producing a vegan sauce called Mayella that was available in supermarkets during the summer (although I’ve heard of sightings later in the year too) but this was more dressing-like and less mayo-like in its texture.

So I was excited to hear that these little jars of egg-free mayo were being sold in Albert Heijn supermarkets both in the Netherlands and Belgium. On a recent trip to Antwerp to visit my friend Hanne, we stopped at the AH to check out the situation. It took a bit of searching to find these, as they’re not near the other mayos, but instead are in the “free-from”/”natural foods” section.

We tried them almost immediately on burgers, but it wasn’t until last night that I had a chance to try them in the make-or-break situation of having them with fries. The verdict? The texture is good, and holds up well to dipping, but to me, they taste quite strongly of sunflower oil, which I find detracts a bit from my enjoyment of them. Also, the chili mayo definitely doesn’t taste very strongly of chili at all, and it would probably make more sense to just buy the plain one and add your own chili sauce to taste. (I love mixing my mayo with Sriracha!) I’ll probably stick with my favorites: Bio-Keuken Veganaise or Follow Your Heart Vegenaise, both of which are easier for me to get ahold of either locally or online. (There aren’t any Albert Heijns near me, much to my chagrin.) But if you have easy access to an Albert Heijn, I would definitely recommend giving these a try.

As far as I know, AH is the only place you can find these at the moment.

Schlagfix Coffee Creamer (Shavt)

schlagfix-coffee-creamer“What do you drink in your coffee?” is one of those recurring questions I see popping up on a regular basis on vegan groups. I’ll admit that I’m not a huge coffee drinker, but I go through phases where I do enjoy one cup a day. When I’m at home, I’ll happily whiten my coffee with almond milk, but I’m more likely to have my one cup a day when I’m out and about, either in the train on my way to work, or at work itself. For a long time after going vegan, I pretty much just got used to drinking my coffee black (with sugar) because the only places I would get coffee didn’t have a vegan option for whitening it.

Enter Schlagfix, a German company that seems to specialize in vegan dairy substitutes. They’ve made these little take-away coffee creamers that are easy to pop into your bag and have with you for anytime you might be someplace where coffee is on offer, but no plant milks are available. At 59 euro cents for a pack of ten, they’re pretty affordable, and, unlike some other plant milks, they don’t separate when they come into contact with the acid in the coffee. Because of the amount of packaging involved, they’re not something I would want to use every day, but they are really convenient for those of us who prefer a bit of cream in their coffee, and like a cup to go sometimes.

I ordered these at Shavt, and so far, that’s the only place I’ve found them in Belgium but they’re likely available at other vegan specialty stores, both bricks-and-mortar ones, and online.

 

 

Fruit Bowl Peelers

fruitbowl-peelersThe Carrefour Express near the station has a wall of gummy candies and sometimes when I have a few minutes to kill before my train, I’ll browse the ingredient lists on the packages there in the hopes of stumbling upon an accidentally vegan candy. I’m usually disappointed, but one day, I noticed these promising-looking packages tucked in between all the others and was pleased to discover that my initial impression was correct. Not only are these vegan, but they’re also free of added sugars and gluten free. They’re basically made from just fruit and pectin.

So what are they like? They’re basically strands of pressed, dehydrated fruit purée bundled together to form a type of rope, from which you can peel and eat the individual strands. Excuse the non-vegan comparison, but in terms of experience (not taste) they’re reminiscent of string cheese. In terms of taste, they’re very intensely fruity, not overly sweet, but very flavorful, and the texture is firm and a bit sticky but not chewy. For the North Americans out there, I can best describe them as being like the love-child of Twizzlers and Fruit Roll Ups.

I found these two flavors at the Carrefour express, and soon after that I found a third flavor – black currant (not pictured) – at the Kruidvat. So they might be available at other supermarkets and drug stores.

Strawberry Cheesecake Oreos (Limited Edition)

oreo-strawberry-cheesecakeAs many of you know, the US is blessed with a large variety of vegan Oreo flavors that aren’t available in European supermarkets (although you can often find them for a steep price at specialty import stores). Recently, European Oreo manufacturers seem to be trying to introduce new varieties in the form of special limited-edition flavors. Earlier this year they introduced limited edition Peanut Butter Oreos, which to my dismay were NOT VEGAN. 😦 (The Peanut Butter Oreos from the US are vegan and are one of my favorite flavors.)

So I was super excited to find out that their newest limited-edition flavor – Strawberry Cheesecake Oreos – are vegan! I immediately bought four packs on finding them on the shelf at the Colruyt. These are good. The strawberry scent hits you the moment you open the package, and even Mr. VSiB (who is not generally an Oreo fan) liked these.

I’m not sure how long these will be available. Considering that I still see the Peanut Butter ones occasionally on the shelf, I would think these should stick around for at least a few months. But you would not go amiss stocking up on these before they disappear.

I found these at the Colruyt, but I suspect they’re available at most any store where you can find Oreos.