Chocolate Mousse

It’s really hot in the UK right now. Like, we are literally having a heatwave. This is unusual for us so of course I need to make something yummy and refreshing to deal with the heat.

A chocolate mousse garnished with orange and lime sounds perfect.

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This is really easy to make which is great for me because I am absolutely rubbish when it comes to sweet food.

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Here’s the ingredients:

1 avocado, peeled

A shot glass full of soya milk

2 tablespoons of coco powder

Here’s what you do:

Blend it all together

Put in fridge for about 5 hours

Garnish with lime and orange

Eat in your garden in the sun

Feed to your Beard.

20150420_112924 20150420_113048 20150420_113043 20150420_113036 20150420_113117 20150420_113158 20150420_113211With this little treat you get good fats without tasting the avocado at all. If it’s not sweet enough for you, you can always add a teaspoon of agave nectar, golden syrup or sugar. I liked it just the way it is.

 

Enjoy friends and remember to stay hydrated in this heat.

The Face of Trans*

In the media lately there has been plenty of coverage of the lives of Caitlyn Jenner and Laverne Cox. Even Aydian Dowling has been on the Ellen Show. The point is that these people are seriously privileged.

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What’s it like to be transgendered in everyday life without celebrity privilege? I asked some members of the trans* community to give an account of what life is like for them. I think it’s important that we educate the general public so we can end the travesty that is transphobia. I also want those who are trans* to know that they are not alone.

This is James. He has preferred to remain anonymous. I’ve known him for a few years now. We met as part of an online vegan community.

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“I don’t know when I realised I was trans. Or maybe I did and just didn’t have the words to convey a sense of unease; a disconnect between my mind and my body. I only noticed how alien my chest feels once I began binding. Since discovering my transness, the feelings of discomfort with my body have located to very specific areas and I’m trying my best to modify the physical map of my body to match my mental map, though last summer I decided that I feel the best route for me would to go through the NHS and see if I can get some treatment. To this day I’m still waiting for my first appointment.

I never really knew any (out) trans men. I began identifying as non-binary around the age of twenty seven, when for the first time in my life I became exposed to spaces where it was ok to be queer and where binary gender concepts were scrutinised. I moved to a new city around two years ago and I began masculinising my appearance, though I initially found the word “trans man” difficult because “man” to me had so many negative connotations which where embedded in my mind from encounters growing up.

I didn’t want to be associated with “that guy” and I associated masculinity with misogyny and entitlement at the time, though subsequent conversations with a variety of people have helped me make a distinction between the concepts which helped me a lot. It took me a few years of knowing, but not admitting to myself that I’d need to take this step, to really come to terms with who I am, despite the fact I still often get my brain in to knots dissecting the crossroads between gender and the body and probably always will. In short, I don’t know how to explain how I got here because it’s complex, but I’m here and I’m way happier.

Life and day to day stuff? I’m a support worker for disabled adults. My job is very gendered and I’m out to my employers and they’ve been great. I’m really lucky that I haven’t experienced a great deal of transphobia so far, though I admit I’m also protected by the fact that I have a sibling and mother who’re very supportive and other amazing people in my life. I’m not saying I don’t struggle because I do still have periods of not being able to get out in public and I do get in to very negative thought patterns. I’m also worried about the content of gender clinic appointments, about medical gatekeeping and about how I’ll deal with transition, not only in changes to my body, but changes socially.

I’m hoping that this time next year I’ll have a bit of stubble coming through and a deeper voice. The process feels slow and I imagine there will be more challenges ahead than what I’ve faced so far. I have a roof over my head, people who love me and a lot of security in my life that I know many trans people don’t have. It’s for these reasons that we need to be working together, whether we’re trans ourselves, friends or partners of trans people, or individuals who just give a damn. It’s society and the oppressive systems under which we live that are the problem and we need to keep working together to fight them.”

This is Syluss. We met about 4 years ago through a mutual friend. Syluss has done two of my tattoos with a third booked in soon.

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“I always knew that I didn’t feel the same as anyone else or how I was expected to be from a really early age. I remember when I was a child, probably around the age of 9 or 10, praying to whoever every night that I would wake up being a boy as I didn’t feel right in my body. Fast forward to the age of 21, it all surfaced again after years of just being a gay girl. I discussed it with a couple of people and a friends mum and she mentioned that I was too pretty to be a boy. During that time the internet wasn’t as readily available to get all the information you needed to discover what was out there and who can help. So time went by, I got involved in music and travel and after living in Australia and seeing a great Trans and Gay community in Melbourne and how it’s much more accepted there than in England, I finally made my mind up to go ahead with it when I came back. So at the age of 36 I started the process. That was March two years ago and on September the 9th will be my 2 years on hormones. I get asked a lot why I waited so long to do it. In a way I wish I had just gone for it sooner. But mentally, I don’t think I was ready for it. I had to go through the path in life that I did in order to gain the experience and back bone to face life’s challenges that would come with transitioning.

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I am a full time tattoo artist and completely out about my trans-ness and am blessed with a couple of thing’s really regarding that.
Number one is working with a group of people that don’t see me any other way than who I am and treat me as a regular cis guy. Also this makes for a great environment for other trans men and women to come and feel comfortable to get tattooed in a non judgmental space. Even though the studio is on the High Street in Exeter, we are on the first floor making the area private and relaxing and not your usual fishbowl parlor. So people are safe in the knowledge that they can just be who they are and not worry about anyone infiltrating their personal space. We have a few regular trans-guys that come and get work by us for this exact reason.

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I really am grateful for my job and I work really hard and am pretty booked up. Because of that, a lot of my time when not tattooing, is drawing up designs, painting and designing custom work for other people etc. Summer is my busiest period so I usually book off time throughout the Winter/Spring and Autumn to go for long weekends or epic road trips in other countries. I love to travel and its my biggest passion other than art. I’m in a fortunate position that I have no dependents so I make the most of my own time. So I save, travel, repeat.

I can honestly say that I have been very lucky with regards to my transition so far. In the beginning I lost a couple of people because I think they didn’t know how to handle it but I think it was more due to people worrying about what their own friends and family would think of them knowing a “trans” person. To be honest, there is no love lost as It weed’s out the weaker people who I wouldn’t be able to rely on as a supportive friend. And I have plenty of those that do care greatly about me. So what more can a guy need.
Devon is very conservative and a bit more insular than nearer to London for example, so I am a minority here. There is only one gay venue in the city. And the whole Trans thing is more taboo down here. Touch wood, I haven’t had any abuse from anyone and to be honest, if I did, I am not afraid to name and shame people on their ignorance, so maybe that’s why I haven’t had anything done to me personally.
People will always talk and criticise something they don’t understand. If customer’s want me to openly talk about it and they ask me questions, I am happy to answer because it’s important to educate people on the subject. A lot of ignorance come’s from a lack of understanding. But when people get to know me then they realise that I am just like every one else.. Maybe just a bit cooler hahaha.”

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This is Gracie. They identify as gender variant. (The * is used at the end of trans because it can be an umbrella term. People with variant genders or no gender at all, like myself, also come under that banner and I think are probably very unrepresented, even in trans media.) She has also decided to remain anonymous.

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“I first knew when I tried on women’s clothes and realised how comfortable I was in them and how they suited me. Then I realised I’ve always had feminine behaviours and I’ve liked girly stuff since I was young so it kinda all made sense.

 Work wise I continue to be a guy, but I much prefer to be a girl because I am able to express myself without being restricted by ‘expectations’ of a masculine man so I would say I’m female 75% of the time now
I love women’s fashion and adore being beautiful, getting my nails painted, trying on clothes and I’m a shopaholic who can’t stop buying! I’m still interested in railways though.
I’ll be honest, bigotry exists and it generally comes from ‘alpha males’ and proper narrow minded men who think that being a woman is somehow below being a man and so they find it funny. I just shake off these irrelevant comments because my friends have all been amazing.”
This Ben. We’ve known each other on Facebook for about a year. We met through an abolitionist vegan network.
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“My name is Ben, and I’m a 45 year old Australian male. I identify as transsexual, transman, male, man or bloke with a cunt, depending on who I’m with. I wrote a memoir of my life’s journey (so far), so in that way I’m fairly open and candid about being trans. But in everyday interactions, I don’t particularly share my gender story. I felt strongly like I was a boy, or meant to be a boy, when I was about eight years old, in the late 1970’s. But I didn’t really understand how that was, or what to do about it. Puberty when I was eleven really threw my life out of kilter, and my teenage years were hellish. There were other issues around family dysfunction, abuse, and my sexuality that meant I never revisited my gender issues until I was thirty-two. I identified as a lesbian from thirty, but was probably really bisexual, if I’m being honest. My transition to Ben was fairly easy – certainly in comparison to what I expected. I had much greater support from work-colleagues and friends than I imagined, but my already strained relationship with immediate family meant their acceptance of my true self was never going to happen.

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My sexual self awakened after two years of testosterone and a bilateral mastectomy, and I spent some time “catching up” on sewing my wild oats with male partners. Not long after this I met my cisgendered male partner, and we’ve been together for eight years. We describe ourselves as a gay couple with a twist.

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I’m very comfortable in my own skin – apart from the getting older bit – and despite some sacrifices from my old life, transitioning has been the best decision I’ve ever made. Being Ben has truly been lifesaving.”

Unfortunately none of my transwomen friends were able to write me anything in time because they were too busy. I hope this gives you an incite into what the trans* community is really like and that it has helped to educate you and dispel any myths. Please feel free to ask as many questions as you like.

Your gender queer vegan. X

Slow Cooker Saag Aloo

I made this to liven up my midweek meals. All you need is a slow cooker. I picked mine up from an ethical house clearance charity near by for £5.

Please feel free to pin the below image on Pinterest.com. :)

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Ingredients

800 g potatoes, chopped (I don’t peel mine, but feel free if that is your thing.)

1 tbsp of oil

1 tsp mustard of choice

1 tsp turmeric

2 tsp garam masala

140 g frozen spinach

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Method

Place all the ingredients into the slow cooker and cook on a medium heat for 5 hours. When it comes to the water, use as much as you need to fill up the slow cooker pot. Serve with garlic bread.

Nice and easy. :)

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Vegan Poached Egg

As someone who has been vegan for near on a decade, I’ve never really missed eggs. It’s only because a newbie vegan said they were missing them, that I even considered making them.

I can’t take all the credit for this. I got a lot of inspiration from the internet on ways to make this actually happen.

Also because of where I live, lots of fancy ingredients just aren’t available here. I wanted to make a poached egg any one, anywhere could make. I’m also unable to eat the Vegg due to production methods. (Made in the same factory as crustacean products which I am allergic to.) With that in mind, here are the ingredients for the yolk:

120 ml water

1 teaspoon of vegetable stock powder

1 teaspoon of cornflour

1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric

2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast

1/2 a teaspoon of English mustard

1/2 a teaspoon American mustard

1 tablespoon of vegan butter (I used Vitalite.)

Blend everything in a food processor, except the butter and pour into a hot pan. Turn the heat off and melt the butter into the mix straight away. Drain into a small bowl and leave to cool.

Ingredients for the white:

600 g of firm silken tofu

3.5 tablespoons of arrowroot powder

2 teaspoons of vegan gelatine powder (I used vegan non-sweetened powder.)

1/4 teaspoon of salt. (If you can get black salt, even better.)

Blend all the ingredients until entirely smooth. Now get your poaching device and fill it with the white mixture. Make a well in the middle and fill with yolk. Depending on the size of your device, 1 or 2 heaped teaspoons. Cover the yolk with white until it isn’t visible and drop device into boiling water.

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Cover the pan with a lid so the top is also cooked. (For about 15 minutes.)

The first egg was actually crap. Why? I put the yolk in whilst it was still warm.

20150414_133712The second one I thought I’d cracked (no pun intended) so I served it on spinach, maple bacon and an English muffin. It fell apart because I only cooked it for 8 minutes.

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Then I made this little diamond. 15 minutes, gently simmered and lovingly turned onto a plate without breaking.

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The yolk is thick and mustardy, just like a chicken’s egg. The white is soft but bouncy. It’s also not as fatty as an egg because you are not adding much fat, but it is still high in protein and B12.

I left some of the 6 I made, in the fridge and heated one up for later. Although it fell apart a bit, it was very tasty with a home grown herby freekah salad.

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I hope this helps anyone craving chicken’s eggs as a new vegan and changes the lives of those of us long term vegans who never dreamed this would be possible.

 

(N.B I know it doesn’t look pretty. What do you want? A perfect vegan egg? Hahahahhaaha! :P )

I’m sorry, but you’re wrong this time.

In this blog post I am going to be swearing, a lot. If you are easily offended, please don’t read past here. This is not for you.

Last week was busy in the world of abolitionist veganism for quite a few reasons. Sadly none of them were positive.

I’m going to start this story right from the beginning. Right back in September 2014 when things started to really change.
I and many of my UK vegan friends were part of The Abolitionist Vegan Society or TAVS for short and had been for quite some time. The movement had been founded in the US on Gary Francione’s principles of abolition of animal exploitation, in response to the lack of consistency in The UK Vegan Societies ethics. I had never felt more at home. I had long conversations with members about everything from animals to my gender identity. I felt we really understood each other and I felt like Sarah K Woodcock was my friend, even though I had never met her. Unfortunately last summer there was a lot of racial tension in the US and rightly so after what happened. It seemed like the US members of TAVS then went on a mission to declare every single action of anyone who disagreed with them as racism, sexism or homophobia. They had taken being an intersectional group to a level that no normal person could possibly ever live up to. A few UK TAVS members voiced their concerns and others declared that they were going to disassociate with them because they couldn’t live up to the new expectations. In no way were these people racists, homophobes or sexists. In fact they were and still are bloody good vegan educators. They are my friends and just because they are white, does not mean they are racist or anything else for that matter. TAVS went on a bullying hate campaign calling them misogynists and plastering their pictures all over the internet and quotes from their Facebook walls where they had used the word cunt. (More on this later.) It was so bad that one even had to change her name so she couldn’t be identified. All the UK abolitionist vegans that I know immediately withdrew their support from TAVS in disgust. I messaged Sarah asking what was going on and the reason’s for her actions and I was ignored and unfriended.

Us UK abvegans felt very alienated. We had no one to represent us. So what we did is went back to what we should have been doing all along, grassroots vegan education and not messing around on Facebook with TAVS.

A few months later Pete Crosbie who runs the Willowite Animal Sanctuary, posted the below image. He is an Australian TAVS advocate. He also provided the pictures for the TAVS calender. He was not reprimanded at all. It wasn’t even mentioned to him when I spoke to him about it. (No offence intended Pete.)

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Why if cunt is such a horrendous word was he not pulled up on this? Convenience. It was convenient for TAVS to ignore this because it didn’t further their agenda and they got to keep their calender.

In the last few days it has been made public that Tower Hills Stables, a supposedly vegan sanctuary in the UK have been selling eggs from their rescue hens in a vain attempt at trying to educate people on the horrors of the egg industry. Gary Francione picked up on this and publicly asked on their FB page why they were doing this. I have also chimed in on this debate as I don’t feel it is effective activism, it is exploitation and is not what vegans should be doing. A few hours later it was brought to Francione’s attention that Martin who runs the sanctuary, had used the Buddha image from above. Francione has started a hate campaign and is actively bullying Martin, calling him a misogynist and splashing images all over the internet. Francione never picked up on Pete Crosbie. Maybe because he is an abolitionist and Martin isn’t.

So now you have the background to what I am about to say, it might make a bit more sense as to why I am saying it.

I do not and have never had a problem with the word cunt. I first heard it when I was 10 years old, but didn’t really know what it meant until much later. The word itself is the only English language word that describes the whole of the genitalia. It has various origins mostly involving female deity worship and words that describe the genitalia in a pleasant way. I can think of a lot more offensive things to call it than cunt:

George Bush

Unmentionable parts

Tuppence

Wizard’s sleeve

Hairy axe wound

Beef curtains

Gash

Cock pit

Spam purse

Bubble gum sandwich

Pussy

Spunk skip

Pink velvet sausage wallet

Bucket

Slit

Clunge

I mean for fuck’s sake! Those are some really offensive terms right there and it’s always cunt that is singled out. It is a word of beauty! As the world migrated away from female goddess worship and towards male god worship, it also moved towards more sexual repression and male privilege. The word became taboo in the middle ages at the height of single male deity worship. The female and her devilish temptations should not be mentioned.

Therefore is it misogynistic to single the word out and demonise it? Is it not damn right bloody sexist as a white, heterosexual male to decide that a word reclaimed by some feminists (including myself) is in itself wrong?

In the UK and Ireland the word cunt is used as a term of endearment in most circles of people under 50. We call each other cunts as we do call each other mate. The word describes genitalia but it also describes your friend. Therefore to have the American’s (TAVS and Francione) impose their sexism and cultural colonialism on us because they don’t understand is absolutely unacceptable. How dare they!?

I’m sorry abvegan movement, but you’re wrong this time.

 

My Gender Queer Life

I grew up in a house with two opposite sex parents. I like to state this because it is not by any means a given in life. My mother was and still is obsessed with femininity and my father has always been traditionally masculine. A pretty traditional upbringing in all senses of the word.

I was closer to my dad as a child. I don’t really know why. By the time I was 3 I could name every car on the road because he loved cars. He often took me to work with him at a car showroom and to various motor sport events which I loved.

My mum put me in dresses for a long time, but as soon as I could choose, I was in trousers and a t-shirt. They made me feel more comfortable. Not to say I didn’t enjoy spending time with my mum, because I did.

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The first memory I have of knowing I was different was when I was 6 years old. My mum and my sister had taken me and my niece and nephew to an outdoor public paddling pool. It was a hot day and all the kids were running in and out of the water. My nephew threw his shirt off and ran into the pool with just shorts on. I took my shirt off and ran in after him. I was shouted at and told that girls must wear tops at all times. I protested, but I was really embarrassed. I had broken a social norm and all I ever wanted to do was please my family. It effected me so profoundly that I didn’t even consider what I felt like inside for almost 20 years.

Around the age of 14 I came out to my family as a lesbian. I had a girlfriend and it was becoming increasingly difficult to hide it. It was a relief but I suffered for it at school and in my personal life. To be honest this is quite irrelevant to my GQ story, other than a particular point I want to make:

Sexuality and gender and two different things.

  • Sexuality is who you are attracted to.
  • Gender is how you identify.

Like with the binary gender norms (male and female), sexuality is also enforced in a trinary (probably not a word.) Straight, gay or bisexual with the assumption you are straight unless you say otherwise.

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As an adult I have come to realise both are on a spectrum, identifying as pansexual and GQ. (Being pansexual means you are attracted to the whole spectrum and reject the gender binary.)

Around about the age of 27 my partner of 3 years left me. We had a mortgage together, 3 cats and we had built a stable life. She left without warning and little explanation. My boss at the time was an unsympathetic homophobe who basically told me to get over it. I sat and cried at my desk everyday until HR eventually signed me off sick for a week. I drank a lot and had time to think about what she had potentially been suppressing in me. I started to explore my feelings about gender on Tumblr and Reddit. I started to connect with people who felt the same way about themselves as me. We didn’t fit in the gender binary. We didn’t identify as male or female. We were gender queer.

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Now here is where it gets complicated so pay attention. There is a trans* umbrella. It encompasses lots of different identities such as gender fluid, bigender and agender as well as gender queer. I personally am fluid in my gender. Sometimes I feel more masculine or more feminine. However most of the time I’m entirely androgynous. I identify as gender queer because I don’t fit. I’m queer of the norm. If I want to actually pass as a cis male, then I will dress as one and do exactly that. I find it harder to pass as cis female for fucks sake and I have a damn vagina!

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A lot of my gender queer friends have gone on to transition to become who they really are. For example having a female body and transitioning to that of a male. They are now transgendered people. Me on the other hand, I am already who I am and that is queer as bloody folk. ;)

 

So what is my life like on a daily basis? I get up and I think about how I’m feeling. Shall I wear tight jeans or shall I wear a baggy hoodie? Shall I leave the hairs on my lip or shall I pluck them? Suitably dressed for how I’m feeling I’ll go to the gym. Unfortunately at my local gym they do not have gender neutral changing rooms so I have to make a decision based on how I am presenting to the world. Sometimes this is made for me and I am ushered into the male changing rooms because even being androgynous means you are definitely male in the binary world. After the gym I’ll go to the supermarket to grab some shopping. I’ll need a wee because I’ll have drunk a lot post workout. Again there are no gender neutral facilities. I look at the door and the symbols don’t match who I am or how I feel. I have to yet again make a decision I’m not comfortable with. If I go into the female toilets I am often whispered about and sometimes even blatantly shouted out. If I go in the male toilets I could get beaten up. Ah I’m at home now. I’ll check Facebook and see what’s going on in the world. I’ll get misgendered as ‘she’ by strangers and even people I know when my profile clearly states my preferred pronouns are they and them. You know I’m really tired already and I haven’t even been to work yet. She this and she that all fucking night long. ARGH!!!!!!!

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As you can see it’s difficult being a non-binary person in a binary world. Every action can be a stressful situation just waiting to open up and swallow you. Only around people who truly accept me can I be comfortable and sometimes even they make mistakes. It’s so hard to be unconditioned when your whole life you are told that the binary is the only thing there is.

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Being gender queer certainly isn’t any form of attention seeking as I have been accused of in the past. It’s just me trying to express how I really feel inside on the outside.

I hope this little ramble has made things clearer for you. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them below.

Baked Lime Cheesecake

Anyone who reads this blog will know there aren’t many sweet recipes on here. Why? I am simply rubbish at baking. Occasionally I hit a good recipe though and this is one of them. This is my take on a baked lime cheesecake.

BeFunky_20150228_203213.jpgAs normal my adventures in baking are never pretty, but this one tastes amazing!

Ingredients:

1 pot of plain vegan cream cheese (I used Toffuti.)

The juice and zest of one lime.

Half a pack Hob Knob biscuits.

Half a mug of sugar (More if it’s to your taste.)

It’s that easy!

Method:

  • Get the oven on to heat up. About 200 degrees should do it.
  • Empty half a pack of hob knobs into a plastic food bag and tie up. Beat with a rolling pin until they form a fine crumb.
  • Spread your crumb in the dish you want to bake your cheesecake in. I used a small Victoria sponge tin.
  • Pour the remaining ingredients in your food processor and mix until a sweet paste has formed. Add more sugar and lime to taste. A drop of vanilla essence could also do wonders here.
  • Spread thickly over the biscuit base.
  • Bake for 45 minutes checking regularly to ensure it doesn’t burn.
  • Leave to cool then place in the fridge to set before serving.
  • Take to your newbie vegan friend’s house and show them that they can still have cheesecake. ;)

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 Serve with vegan ice cream to be extra naughty. ;)