Looking for vegan gifts for foodie friends? In this review, Sara Walker goes vegan for the day with Yumbles, an online company designed to showcase artisan food and original food gifts.
Yumbles specialise in stocking a range of vegan and ‘free from’ foods as well as dairy, fish, meat, baked goods and spirits, all with an emphasis on natural and homemade and sourced directly from the artisan producers themselves. With vegan diets becoming more popular, their vegan range includes meat and dairy alternatives as well as snacks and chocolate and they have lots of ideas for vegan gifts.
I’m vegetarian rather than vegan, but I’m always interested in trying new foods and learning more about what’s available. I really like the Yumbles ethos, which aims to connect producers directly to customers and has some really interesting offerings. I liked the fact that the snacks and even the cheese were portable, so if you’re off somewhere and you’re not sure you’re going to get something you’re able to eat then they’re ideal for putting in a pocket or cooler bag. Several of the snack bars would make an easy, fuss-free breakfast or emergency lunch replacement if you’re in a tearing hurry, including the Creative Nature Raw Cocoa bar, the TREK bar, the Dove’s Farm bar and the Get Fruity bar. Alternatively, a few rounds of vegan cheese, some oatcakes, fresh tomatoes and fruit in a cooler bag would make an interesting and easy lunch.
The two vegan gifts from Yumbles up for review were the Vegan Chocolate and Snack Hamper Gift Box, £31.50 from The Goodness Project, and the Vegan Cheese Selection Box, £17.06, from Tyne Chease.
Both products arrived promptly by post, and both were beautifully presented. The vegan snack hamper came in a cardboard box with tissue paper wrapping, a raffia tie and a handwritten note, while the vegan cheese selection came in a little wooden box packed with hamper straw, also tied with raffia. Both of these would make lovely presents, and both felt really special, like treats.
Vegan snack hamper
This box has impeccable vegan credentials, so if you’re avoiding things like dairy and honey then there’s no need to obsessively check labels! It contained 13 snacks, both sweet and savoury, including:
Peakz crunchy salted caramel chocolate squares. I have to admit I wasn’t really looking forward to trying these, as the description reminded me of children’s breakfast cereal! When I opened the bag, though, there was a very strong, appetising chocolate/caramel aroma and the snacks had a lovely texture and crunch. Very moreish!
Vivani white chocolate and strawberry crunch bar. I’m not a big fan of white chocolate, but this was quite nice, with real strawberry flavour and a crunchy texture.
Vego chocolate and hazelnut bar. This was another one I wasn’t looking forward to, as the packaging reminded me of cooking chocolate! My expectations weren’t high, but actually I really enjoyed it – it had a soft, praline-y texture with whole hazelnuts.
ichoc vegan chocolate bar. This looked like a conventional milk chocolate bar, with the dairy replaced by rice powder. I felt the texture was a little waxy, but if you’re vegan and you’re missing milk chocolate this was a very recognisable substitute.
Montezuma’s very dark chocolate bar. If you want a straight chocolate hit, this is the one to go for. It contains only four ingredients (cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter and vanilla flavouring) and is naturally vegan. Delicious.
Creative Nature Raw Cocoa bar. This one smelt much nicer than it tasted – the smell was very chocolatey but the bar itself was a bit tasteless.
TREK Cocoa Chaos bar. This one came ready divided into segments, useful if you didn’t want to eat it all at once as it was very filling! I liked the crunchy texture.
Dove’s Farm freee apricot and chia bar. This one was a little bland, but unlike a lot of cereal bars it wasn’t too sweet and had a lovely, chewy texture – this would be ideal for breakfast if you’re in a hurry.
Organica apricot dream bar. Gosh, this was sweet and a bit sickly but it had a lovely, chocolately taste and would make a great occasional treat.
Get Fruity strawberry bar. I really enjoyed this one – it had a natural strawberry taste and wasn’t overly sweet.
biona pomegranate hearts. This was probably my least favourite of the snacks, but that’s a personal thing – I’ve never liked jelly style sweets of any description! These are gelatine-free and suitable for vegans, so great if you’re missing wine gums! They contain natural fruit flavours as well.
Quibbles sour cream and onion cashew nuts. These were delicious. Personally a hamper full of 13 bags of these would have done me nicely!
Organic corn puffs. These were lovely – if you like peanuts! They didn’t taste greasy and had lots of flavour – perhaps a little on the salty side.
Overall, I would personally have liked more savoury snacks in the mix, although it’s worth noting that The Goodness Project do lots of other hampers which do have different mixes of products. Otherwise, I thought this was beautifully and thoughtfully presented and would make a really nice gift.
Some of these would make quick and easy breakfast and lunch replacements, others (like the vegan chocolate) are just pure indulgence.
Vegan cheese selection
The vegan cheese box is a great vegan gift ideas and contained 10 little individual rounds of cheese, each one a different flavour.
Instead of milk, the cheeses are made from ground cashew nuts so they’re lower in saturated fats than standard cheese. Flavours included original, dill, garlic, Ethiopian spice, mustard, chilli flakes, Za’atar spice, sundried tomato, pink peppercorn and smoked.
They’re not quite like cheese. The texture is very slightly grainy, and the taste is blander. That doesn’t mean they’re not good, though – in fact, once I stopped thinking of them as cheese and started thinking of them as a savoury spread, I thought they were very good indeed. I paired them with bread and crackers for lunch and also tried the original flavour one chopped on a baked potato with salad dinner. It doesn’t melt in the same way as conventional cheese, but it does keep its flavour well!
Original flavour – this had a sharp mustardy tang, even though there was no mustard in it! Slightly sharp, and very nice on toast as it spread well.
Sundried tomato – I thought this one was a little bland and disappointing.
Smoked – I love smoked flavours, and this one was delicious – probably my favourite.
Za’atar spice – I had no idea what to expect from this one and not sure I could tell you what was in it, but whatever it was, it worked! Really enjoyed this one.
Pink peppercorn – it was nice to have the crunchy texture for contrast, and it wasn’t too peppery. Very nice.
Mustard – again, very nice – tangy without being overpowering.
Ethiopian spice – slightly disappointing as there was more aftertaste than actual taste! Nice to try though.
Chilli flakes – I’m not a big chilli fan but this wasn’t overpowering. Little warming kick at the end.
Dill – gorgeous! I really liked this one, with a fresh, summery taste.
Garlic – I have to confess, my non-vegan other half nicked this one so I didn’t get to try it! His tasting notes were that it wasn’t overpowering, in fact he personally would have preferred more of a garlic kick.
Overall I thought this was a really nice selection, with definitely something for everyone. If you’re not sure if you’re going to like vegan cheese or not, this is the starter pack to try. And any vegan friend will be extremely grateful for it as an unusual and thoughtful gift.
So if you need vegan gifts for foodie friends, check out the range at Yumbles for some inspired ideas!
Images: (c) 2019 Write Image for You Media
(Disclosure: The vegan gifts were supplied for the review, but all views are honest and our own).