If youre considering opting for a vegan lifestyle but concerned you might miss out on the advent calendar fun, let us set your mind at ease.
With one in eight Brits now vegan or vegetarian, many companies are responding by introducing vegan alternatives to munch on during the festive season.
While most of these contain dark and bitter chocolate, there are some hidden gems too – such as gin, tea and whisky, as well as the odd beauty calendar.
Heres our pick of the best vegan advent calendars this Christmas.
Packaging: Its big, red and the doors are very easy to open. Like the tagline says: Less sprouts, more sweets.
Whats inside: Our favourite of the lot. Made from natural juices with no added colourings, the calendar contains four flavours of sweets including blueberry bliss, peach fizz, sour watermelon and wild strawberry. Warning, once you start eating these you might find yourself having eaten all of them within an hour (its worth getting a second one, just in case).
Festive joy: On the back of each door the kittens have scribbled a cute little note.
Best for: Anyone who is vegan but loathes dark chocolate, cat lovers and people who like Made in Chelseas Jamie Laing, the owner of the brand.
When and where you can buy it: Exclusive to Waitrose in store, but you can also order it from Candy Kittens.
Packaging: Does what it says on the tin – your average chocolate advent calendar with 24 doors and a cute, albeit boring, snowman design.
Whats inside: If you prefer to savour your treats, youll enjoy this one. The organic pieces are very, very thick and will last longer than most other calendar chocolates. Extra tip: pop it into your morning coffee to get a delicious mocha flavour. Downside, windows are a bit tricky to open.
Festive joy: Extra large chocolates, and were always down for that.
Best for: Yourself or greedy people who always nag that the chocolate never lasts.
When and where you can buy it: Available now from the Vegan Kind supermarket.
Packaging: Branded Magical Snowfall, the packaging resembles a dark winters night with a glittering tree on the front thatll give you the festive feels.
Whats inside: The tasty chocolate inside isnt just plant-based and vegan, its also gluten-free, wheat-free, soy-free, and free of GMO ingredients and palm oil. But it could taste a little bitter for some palates, as it only contains 4% sugar.
Festive joy: Youd be supporting a small family business, rather than the big retailers.
Best for: Anyone who doesnt need the layers of sugar to enjoy a nice piece of chocolate.
When and where you can buy it: Buy it online from Yumbles.
Drinks by the Dram Whiskey
Packaging: Heavy and red, made from a sturdy cardboard material to neatly hold the treasures inside.
Whats inside: It might seem a bit pricey, but not when you consider the contents – 24 whisky flavours from all over the world including France, England, Scotland, Japan, America and Ireland. Each wax-sealed bottle contains 30ml of whisky with distilleries such as Cotswolds, That Boutique-y Whisky Company and The Blended Whisky Company (a very strong blend of 52.3% ABV) and more.
Festive joy: Whisky instead of chocolate? Yes, please.
Best for: Whisky connoisseurs or beginners who want to expand their knowledge of the spirit.
Packaging: Rather than open doors, you pop off the lid, and inside are handmade chocolates with dates painted on top.
Whats inside: This ones actually not vegan but vegetarian, and a good choice for those who with gluten allergies. It also doesnt contain any eggs, yeast or artificial ingredients.
Festive joy: The lid works as a 3D Santa, which is fairly festive.
Best for: People who like free from products and appreciate quirky sweets.
When and where you can buy it: Order it from Yumbles, here.
Packaging: Very pretty, in a seasonal gold and red design, featuring a Bambi-style illustration.
Whats inside: Hmm, were in two minds about this one. The 70% dark chocolate is nice, but having to peel away the foil after opening the door was a let-down.
Festive joy: In support of the Woodland Trust, each chocolate is made in the shape of a woodland creature and a good deed is always festive.
Best for: Possibly one for the kids (thanks to the animal shapes), if your little ones like dark, bitter chocolate. Otherwise, adults who enjoy a decent chocolate at a decent price.
When and where you can buy it: Available now, order it from the Vegan Kind supermarket.
Packaging: Minimalistic design in the brands traditional style, opens like a book. But once again, the foil appears when you open the door (though we suspect thats to maintain the quality of the treat).
Whats inside: Oh, the bitterness. Its 100% Ecuadorian dark chocolate, made with cocoa nibs and nothing else. If you know someone who is very particular about their chocolate, this is the one. Or if you want to play a prank on a sibling or colleague who keeps eating your daily treat, offer them one of these – and watch their expression.
Festive joy: A special chocolate, for a special season.
Best for: Not for the faint-hearted.
When and where you can buy it: Buy it online or in a Hotel Chocolat store.
Price: £59.00. You need to spend a minimum of £60 to order it, so you have £1 left over to spend on biscuits.
Packaging: Beautiful and well-organised. No doors to rip off here; instead, you can pull out delicate drawers from your new tea closet. Shaped like a home and stands up on its own.
Whats inside: This Christmas, treat yourself to more than your usual morning brew. Each of the 24 drawers contains four tea bags, so technically you get 96 days worth of goodies. Some of the flavours include green Sencha, peppermint, Darjeeling black tea, Rosehip and Hibiscus, and Masala Chai.
Festive joy: 96 treats, remember.
Best for: Tea lovers, your nan or your parents.
When and where you can buy it: Sold at Ocado and swiftly delivered to your door.
First 4 Hampers Gin
Packaging: Its a humongous Christmas cracker – were in love. However, it was rather fiddly getting the bottles out of the doors.
Whats inside: Flavour, flavour, flavour. Gin flavour, that is. Indulge in Yorkshire Tea, Raspberry Jam, Strawberries & Cream and Mulled Winter Fruit, alongside Sloe gin, Rhubarb and Rosehip, Orange, Lavender and Cucumber gin. Theres more, but we dont want to spoil the surprise.
Festive joy: Like the creators of the cracker say: Gin-gle all the way.
Best for: Yourself. Or get an extra one and share it at the dinner table on Christmas Day.
When and where you can buy it: Sold at First 4 Hampers, Amazon and Master of Malt, among others.
Packaging: Each window reveals a little white pouch with a message like some secrets are best kept concealed.
Whats inside: Vegan skin treats in a tropical theme; fruit peel, wild mint, lime and pineapple wash, a bamboo face cloth and a velvet coconut cream in a tantalising whipped texture.
Festive joy: Red and gold, and youre supporting animals everywhere, since its vegan.
Best for: Vegans, animal-lovers and people who miss the summer sun.
When and where you can buy it: It was released on 19 October, buy it here.
Why do onions make you cry?
Im not crying, Im just cutting onions (Picture: Getty)
Have you ever been chopping onions and ended ..
Have you ever been chopping onions and ended up looking like youd just watched The Notebook for the first time? Yup, us too.
Onions have the power to make us cry more than any of our exes ever could, which is pretty annoying given we cant ghost and block a vegetable.
There are a whole host of methods to avoid the tears when cooking with onions, but have you never just wondered why theyre so sob-inducing in the first place?
We have some answers for you.
The tears you cry when youre chopping onions are reflex tears, which are brought about by some sort of external irritant.
You also have basal tears which are around all the time and act as eye lube, and emotional tears which are around when someone calls you a mean name or you see the John Lewis advert.
Reflex tears are released from the lachrymal glands, which receive signals from your brain to do so if your eyes need to be flushed out due to things like dust or smoke.
As you chop your onion, an enzyme is released, which in the air becomes a compound called syn-propanethial-S-oxide.
This is the mix that sets off your lachrymal glands, as your body tries to protect itself from the oncoming chemical attack.
Apparently you can build up something of a tolerance to syn-propanethial-S-oxide, but theres no official timescale so you just have to endure the pain of cooking until it lessens.
In the meantime, this year brought a tear-free onion to our stores, so you could always just try that instead.
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Kelloggs launches beer made from leftover Corn Flakes to reduce food waste
Kelloggs will release a beer made from leftover Corn Flakes.
The beer i..
Kelloggs will release a beer made from leftover Corn Flakes.
The beer is being made to lessen the environmental impact of food waste, to ensure that customers no longer worry about what happens to leftover food.
The Throw Away IPA is made by Seven Brothers Brewery in Manchester. It uses upcycled cornflakes which are too big, small or overcooked to sell in a box of cereal, as a proportion of the wheat grain which goes into the beer.
The cornflakes actually sweeten the taste of the beer.
The beer is the same colour as cornflakes, and is helping food distribution charity FareShare, as 10p from each can will be donated to the cause.
Corporate social responsibility manager for Kelloggs UK, Kate Prince, said: Kelloggs is always exploring different and sustainable ways to reduce food waste in its factories. So it is great to be involved in such a fun initiative with a local supplier.
Kelloggs is working hard to eliminate food waste in our manufacturing processes and give our consumers the wholesome products they love with minimum impact on the planet. Our approach has delivered a 12.5% reduction on food waste in our UK sites this year.
Alison Watson, from Seven Brothers Brewery in Salford, added: Seven Brothers Brewery is delighted to be working with Kelloggs on a project which uses edible but not-sellable cereal.
Kelloggs recognises that it has an important role to play in reducing food waste, and that includes finding uses for edible food that doesnt make it into the cereal box. The cereal is perfectly safe to eat but the flakes might be too big, too small or broken so not good enough for our packs.
We plan to create three beers including a Hoppy IPA which will be launched this month and sold in our Ancoats bar and the Dockyard, MediaCityUK.
McDonalds is selling chicken nugget Christmas decorations
Its December, and so finally its time for McDonalds to release its Christmas de..
Its December, and so finally its time for McDonalds to release its Christmas decorations.
The fast food chain has launched a number of chicken nugget themed decorations, and we cant wait to hang them on our trees.
The chicken nugget bauble comes with glitter and a Santa hat, and was designed by BombKi1, the designer who makes baubles for Fortnum & Mason.
There are also chicken nugget fairy lights, made up of a string of McNuggets with golden arches to ensure your tree looks like it was made at McDonalds.
Ben Fox, marketing director at McDonalds, said: Our new Reindeer Ready campaign aims to remind customers that we are there when they need us at this time of year – from a Christmas shopping coffee break to a pre-party burger or even a mid-present delivery carrot stop.
If you havent already put your Christmas tree up, and you love a McDonalds, you know what to do.
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