All Plants Lovin’

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Put your hands up if you like plants. Even better dance around or give plants a kiss – if you love having them around you, in the earth and fields or your living space, and especially if you love how they nourish us in so many ways. A few months ago in Edinburgh someone had written on a wall ‘Love animals, eat plants’. I remember looking at it and thinking something should be added onto the end: ‘love plants too’. Often if you’re vegetarian or vegan it’s presented as out of a love for animals and not wishing to cause them harm or suffering. But what about plants? They deserve all the love in the world because, together with soil and insects, they pretty much give us everything. Oxygen, greenery, food, textures, flavours, spices, cleaner air. We need to celebrate plants and appreciate them in all their glory.

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London-based company All Plants is one bunch of eco-warriors doing just that. They cook up delicious vegan meals and deliver them to your door, making a plant-based diet easier than ever before. For too long being vegan has been tricky with fewer options, fewer places to buy, more effort involved than the dominance of meat and dairy products everywhere, which has been something of a barrier for those who want to eat more plants or are curious about doing so.

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But sigh and struggle no longer. All Plants has an array of planty meals on offer which you can eat at your leisure, with your feet up, no hassle, no sweat, literally easy as pie. Their Cashew Mac is to taste-die for and if you order a box Golden Sesame Satay has gotta be in there – you won’t be disappointed. These two are just the tip of the plantberg though – they’ve got everything from paella to burrito bowl to moussaka to risotto, and all of ’em are hearty, nutritious and satisfying.

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All Plants is so inspiring because not only are they making it fast and simple to eat healthy delicious plant-based meals for all us mega-busy foodies, but their mission as a whole is one big boost of planet-positive. Their aim is to encourage and stir up the next billion plant-powered people, doing so in as sustainable way as possible with recyclable and compostable packaging, carbon neutral deliveries and huge reduction of food waste. What’s not to love? It’s too easy and no one has an excuse not to eat or try 100% plant-dishes now.

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Eat plants, love plants. Simple.

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Foodie’s Paradise: Partridges Food Market

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Food markets are a wonderful, traditional and natural thing – something humanity has been doing for hundreds of years as a way of trading, exchanging and buying food. They create a physical and visual circumstance where consumers can see, smell and often taste (the most important aspect of anything we eat!) food before they buy it. We can literally ‘feast’ our eyes on an array of delicious fare.

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Markets are direct, personal and unambiguous presentations of fresh ingredients and real produce, usually handmade or cooked or baked on a small scale, by passionate people. They operate on an intimate level, and not only foster interaction between one person and another, but between producer and consumer, farmer and customer, maker and eater. Furthermore, they characteristically encourage the sale and consumption of local and seasonal food. That was why and how markets first began – a local farmer or baker would set up a stall for those who lived nearby to come and purchase locally grown vegetables, or bread kneaded and baked from local wheat or rye flour, or meat reared from cows or pigs living in neighbouring fields. Today, people all over Britain and the western world are doing the same thing; in a kind of revival of something we’d lost and forgotten about for a good fifty years.

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Everything about food markets is positive and nurturing – natural, sensual, personal, local. So different to the experience we as people have when buying food at supermarkets; pushing our trolley round aisles and aisles of plastic-wrapped food in a sterile, odourless and artificial atmosphere, as if food was made by machines and just appears on the shelves out of thin air, with no human being or plant or animal or particle of soil involved in its growth and production at all.

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The great news is food and farmers markets are on the rise, becoming more and more popular, attractive, accessible and prevalent. They are quickly starting to be seen as valuable, exciting ways of purchasing and enjoying food, both in terms of buying ingredients for home cooking and as a delicious lunch or snack. Partridges Food Market is one such market, where every Saturday tens of growers, producers and companies set up their stalls in Duke of York Square for anyone in London to enjoy. It’s always heaving, and for a good reason – the array of food on offer is both amazing and mouth-watering.

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There’s raw honey from Spain; organic vegetables from Riverdale Organic Farm; cheeses from France, Wiltshire and Somerset; raw super foods by Detox Delivered; a hog roast; Chinese dumplings; paella; French crêpes and galettes; speciality curries and Indian dishes; haggis toasties; sushi made right in front of you at the stall; burgers with a range of toppings; a Brazilian pastelaria and deli; vegan cakes and biscuits; petit fours; organic sourdough breads; handmade ravioli and gnocchi… The list goes on!

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My absolute favourite stall is Rainforest Creations. Their spread of tropical-style raw salads, dips, flans, cakes and sweets is like a rainbow of vegan, plant-based, refined sugar free delight and goodness. It makes natural, healthy vegetables look like the food of the gods. And it all tastes incredible. Their salads range from tropical coleslaw and angel kale and avocado to mungbean-lentils and red quinoa. And their sprouted hummus is the best I’ve ever tasted, with subtle hints of spice, herbs and turmeric. You can get almost everything wrapped up in a corn and split lentil roti, or just a tub bursting with salad, an akashe ball and a good dollop of hummus.

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If you haven’t been to Partridges Food Market, Rainforest Creations alone is a reason to get yourself there. But it’s wonderful to just go and wander round; to see, smell and take in all the food and bustling people – to experience genuine food out in the open air and have your fill of fresh, delicious produce that’s natural, personal and real.