Vegan Food in Frankfurt

DSC_0714Germany is one of the most welcoming countries for vegans. A search of any German city on Happy Cow will give you a long list of not only vegan-friendly restaurants, but many options for dedicated vegetarian and vegan eateries. As I tend to do when I travel, I booked self-catering hostel accommodation in Frankfurt. This means that, should I have trouble finding vegan and gluten-free food, I always have the option to cook for myself. Self-catering can also work out a lot cheaper, although not always. As there are so many vegan options to choose from in Frankfurt, I treated myself and ate out for every meal. Well, it’s only my duty as a vegan blogger right? 🙂

Here are all the restaurants, cafes and coffee shops I managed to cram into my few days in Frankfurt:

Elia (Greek restaurant) – This was actually the one place I ate where they had no vegan options on the menu. Once I explained my dietary requirements, though, the friendly Greek staff were more than happy to request a vegan and gluten-free meal from the chef for me. I enjoyed a plate of rice with vegetables that was beautifully cooked and presented and tasted delicious.

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Saftcraft – On the day I arrived in Frankfurt, I sought out Saftcraft because I thought some fresh juice might perk me up after a long night of travelling. The café is 100% vegan and they have a lot of gluten-free options. The staff were super nice and helpful. Their quinoa Bolognese pot is one of the best vegan lunches I have ever tasted. I’m not usually a fan of iced tea, but as their homemade version was part of the meal deal I thought I’d give it a try and I’m so glad I did. It was so refreshing and tasty, and along with the Bolognese pot just what I needed to restore my energy. I loved Saftcraft so much that I went back for a breakfast smoothie the following morning. The first floor of the café is also a really nice place to chill out with a coffee, and I was happy to hang out for an hour or so whilst I checked my emails and caught up on admin. Wi-Fi connection is far from functional in Frankfurt, which I found strange for a business hub. Saftcraft is a Wi-Fi hotspot, though, which is really easy to sign up for and offers better than average service.

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Coffee Fellows – This chain of coffee shops makes a mean soya latte, and seems to hire some of the happiest baristas on the planet. They do also offer vegan sandwiches if you’re OK with gluten, and their ice-cream bar has an impressive selection of vegan options. You can just about make out the list of vegan flavours on the glass in my photo, but the real reason I took this picture was because of the cute step they have in front of the counter so that children can see all the ice-cream flavours. What a brilliant idea!

Vevay – As someone who travels solo regularly, I’m used to eating on my own. It can feel like you are a burden to restaurants, though, as they are missing out on the money from the extra seat at the table you are taking up. I’ve had restaurants admit me only on the condition I eat at the bar, crammed in next to either the glass collection point, the bathrooms or both. This was  far from my experience at Vevay, though. I was welcomed with a friendly smile, invited to sit where I wanted and not pressured at all to rush and vacate the table. I opted for the protein bowl, which had so many components to it I wouldn’t want to list them all here for fear I would forget some and miss them out. Needless to say it was delicious, and totally different from the food I would prepare at home so a nice treat for myself.

Pho Ngon – This Vietnamese restaurant is a hidden gem in the heart of Frankfurt, and I almost don’t want to tell you about it in case it becomes too popular. A friend who works in Frankfurt took me there after it had been recommended to her from a colleague. They have a few vegan and gluten-free options on the menu, and the young man serving us was happy to advise on what I could and couldn’t eat. We shared the vegan tofu summer rolls to start, which can be made with rice paper. They were huge, and I’m glad we decided to share as a whole portion to myself would have left no room for my main course. I opted for rice with fried tofu and vegetables, which was also a very generous portion. The food was delicious, and the restaurant a really nice setting to eat it.

Kuffler & Bucher Asian Restaurant – Frankfurt airport is either the second or third largest airport in Europe after Heathrow, depending on what information you read. Once you get through security, your options for food depend on which departure area you are in. Kuffler & Bucher is one of the options in Terminal 2B, which is where my flight was departing from. There are two totally different sides to the restaurant, which is a surprising but actually very clever idea.  While one side caters to very traditional German tastes, the other side offers all Asian food. Presuming I had more chance of finding something vegan and gluten-free to eat, I went for the Asian side. They have vegan and vegetarian options clearly labelled on the menu, and the lovely waitress swapped the udon noodles for rice noodles to omit the gluten. She also kindly put the chillies on the side of my dish so I could make it as hot as I wanted to. I could not have asked for a nicer airport meal to finish off my trip.

 

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Plant-Based Pause No 50: Make a Pledge

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘Life is an echo. What you send out — you get back. What you give — you get.’ – Anonymous

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So, you’ve been reading my posts about living plant-based and it’s got you curious. Maybe you’ve read or heard other things about converting to a vegan or plant-based lifestyle. If you’re still not convinced, making a pledge could be a good idea for you. Pledging to cut animal products from your diet for a week, month or year is a great way of trying the lifestyle and experiencing the benefits without having to commit to anything long-term.
I’ve pledged with The Vegan Society, and their website has lots more advice and guidance about living a healthier and more environmentally friendly existence. What about taking the pledge for Christmas and experiencing a cruelty-free Christmas?
Don’t want to go the whole hog (excuse the pun)? Meat Free Mondays ask you to pledge to give up meat for just one day a week. If everyone made just this small change, it would drastically affect our impact on the planet and prevent many unnecessary human deaths. A friend of mine recently joined the Meat Free Mondays movement with his family, and amongst the many benefits they have happily noticed they are much more creative in the kitchen and are eating a much larger range of food.

Plant-Based Pause No 49: When Life Gives You Lemons…

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking.’ – John Kenneth Galbraith

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Or, in this case, when life gives you squash you’d better think of something to make with it. I’m very proud of the squash that we grew in the community garden this year, but when it came to harvesting it we had an awful lot of veg to use up. One of the joys of eating seasonally is that you’re not always sure what you’re going to eat until you know what’s available to you.

With the help of some fresh carrots, also grown in the community garden, the squash soon turned into some delicious soup and pumpkin muffins.

Plant-Based Pause No 47: Spread the Word

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.’ – Antonie de Saint-Exupery

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There’s nothing more annoying than a vegetarian who’s constantly trying to convert the world. As much as I would love it if everyone lived plant-based, they even annoy me. Having said that, I do spread the word about the advantages of living plant-based whenever possible, I just don’t shove it down people’s throats.

When I meet someone for the first time, I don’t announce myself as a plant-based vegetarian. I find that I don’t have to, because most of the time they ask me questions about my diet and lifestyle when they start to get to know me. They’ll notice that I’m not eating the same meal as them, or I’m choosing not to get involved in an event for ethical reasons. I receive their questions with a smile, answer them the best I can and share my knowledge.

There are also other, sneakier, ways that I convince people that living plant-based isn’t all eating lentils and drinking soya milk. In the office where I work during the day, I am quite often asked to bake. My chocolate brownies are a particular favourite amongst my colleagues. When I first started making the brownies, I was a regular vegetarian who ate dairy and eggs and I baked the brownies using eggs. Now that I no longer eat animal protein, I also don’t want to cook with it even if it’s not me who’s doing the eating. However, I don’t like to disappoint people. So, I made a few changes to the recipe and had a go at baking plant-based brownies. When I first presented them to my colleagues, I was nervous that they wouldn’t like the changes. However, all I’ve received are compliments that my chocolate brownies taste better than ever. Switching the eggs for xantham gum makes them denser and stickier, and people are loving them. My chocolate brownies are one of my most powerful weapons in convincing people that plant-powered is the way to go.

Plant-Based Pause No 46: Plant-Based Travelling

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘Freedom is the right of all sentient beings.’ – Optimus Prime, Transformers

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I don’t think it’s a secret that I love to travel. I love exploring new places, especially those off the beaten path, and experiencing as much as I can in the time I have there. In my head I have a list of destinations that I still want to go to based on articles I’ve read, things I’ve seen on TV and stories that other people have told me. One thing that does annoy me when others are telling about countries they recommend is the phrase ‘But it would be no good for you because they eat a lot of meat’. As a plant-based vegetarian who is allergic to gluten, there may not always be the biggest selection of meals for me to eat, but I will always find something. And I usually find a lot more than people expect. Let me put it another way. I’m not a churchgoer. Therefore, when I visit somewhere new I don’t generally pay much attention to how many churches there are or where the nearest one is. However, if I were looking for a church I’m sure there would suddenly be lots.

Eating vegan food on the road can sometimes be difficult, and many times is interesting, but it is definitely possible. Here are my top four tips to help you on your travels:

1. Yes, it’s my number one tip for everything – BE PREPARED. Plan ahead and do your research before you travel. HappyDSC_0147 Cow is one of my favourite sites of all time. Simply enter the name of any major town or city in the world, and they will give you a list of vegetarian and vegan restaurants and shops in the area. The internet is such a valuable tool these days. I went on holiday to Spain when I was sixteen, before the internet was widely used, and I lived off chips and salad for a week. There are some really good vegan travel guides on the market now too.

2. Book self-catering accommodation. Not only is it generally cheaper, but it means you can have total control over what you eat. I travel on my own a lot, and I choose to stay in hostels whenever I can. For the most part they have great kitchen facilities when I can prepare plant-based food and chill out with a glass of wine after a long day exploring.

DSC_02033. Eat what you can. Unless you’re lucky to find a local vegetarian restaurant, you’re unlikely to have more than one or two options to choose from in restaurants. So, if that’s all that’s available to you then that’s what you should eat. You never know, you might even discover a new favourite food. Eating vegan has definitely made me less fussy.

4. Learn the word for ‘vegan’ in the local language of wherever you are travelling to. If you’re not very good with languages, google the word and write it on a scrap of paper or type it into your phone and carry it with you. Then, when you’re desperately trying to explain to a waiter what you can and can’t eat, you can whip it out and sit back and relax.

Plant-Based Pause No 44: How to Survive the Winter

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.’ – Martin Luther King, Jr.

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I try to buy only local produce whenever possible. I’d say about 95% of the fresh food I buy at home is grown in the UK. Recently, for nutrition reasons I have started to add some imported foods such as fairtrade bananas and avocados, but I try to stick to my pledge as much as I realistically can. Here in the UK, that’s pretty easy in the summer. We have lots of fresh fruits growing such as apples, pears, strawberries, blueberries, rhubarb and raspberries. Vegetables are also not a problem. Potatoes, carrots, parsnips, broccoli, beetroot, spinach, kale and lots of other vegetables grow well in our damp, humid environment. When it gets to winter, though, eating seasonally can become a bit of a drag.

I’m sure this happens in a lot of places around the world, through different seasons. All of a sudden that once abundance of fresh food suddenly seems to dry up. Never fear, though, there are ways to survive your equivalent of a British winter. Make the most of the seasonal produce that you can find. If, like us, you see a lot of carrots during this time, search online for carrot recipes. Carrot soup is a personal favourite of mine during the long winter months. Local farmers’ markets are a great place to find out what is available locally at any time of year, and you can download seasonal food calendars for your area.

If you grow your own food, buy seeds that grow at different stages throughout the year. We may have long, cold, wet and sometimes snowy winters here in Wales, but we can also grow lettuce all year round. Dried fruits and vegetables are also a good fall back when the fresh alternatives aren’t available. If you’re crafty and creative like my aunty Christine, you can pickle and preserve produce in the summer and store it until needed. Or, if you’re like me and a little lazier than that, freeze berries to use in smoothies in the winter. Most berries will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.

I’ll admit, by the time it gets to April every year I am sick of the sight of carrots. But I’m still willing to keep eating them so I can enjoy fresh, local produce. Besides, when we do get round to the new summer season again, it makes it all the more exciting to see all that lush, tasty produce.

Plant-Based Pause No 43: Be Warned – You Will Get Addicted

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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When I meet other plant-based vegetarians, there’s often one thing we share in our stories. We all start with ‘At first, I just wanted to cut down on the amount of animal protein I was eating…’. I’ve heard it so many times. I’ve said it myself so many times. When I first watched Planeat and had my eyes opened to the truth that humans are not meant to eat animals, all I intended to due was avoid animal products most of the time. I figured that I could still eat cheese, eggs and milk when I was out and about with family and friends. Five weeks later, my parents came to visit me and we went out for dinner. I chose pizza from the menu, loaded with cows’ cheese, and about five minutes later made the decision that I never wanted to eat dairy again. I felt so ill, I couldn’t believe that I used to eat that stuff all the time.

Since the pizza incident, I have become more and more addicted to living plant-based. Every day I’m looking for ways that I can improve my diet and health and be more environmentally conscious. I search out new websites, read books, sign up to mailing lists and try as many new recipes as I have time for. I can’t get enough.

If a plant-based lifestyle came in a packet or a tin, this would have to be written on the side:

WARNING: Contents will probably cause long-term health benefits such as reduced illness, more energy and weight loss. Prolonged use can result in addiction.

Plant-Based Pause No 40: Take a Deep Breath

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.’ – Indira Gandhi

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If you’ve been following this series of posts from the start of the year, by now you’re possibly living a plant-based lifestyle. Making ethically led, environmentally friendly decisions that impact humans and other beings as little as possible will be ‘normal’ to you. You might think it crazy that you ever ate meat and dairy, or you might be horrified by the amount of waste that you used to create.

You may also be feeling frustrated by other people’s actions. When I see people making the same mistakes that I used to I get angry and annoyed. I want to scream out loud and tell them that what they are doing is not only jeopardising their own health, but it is slowly killing the planet and all other beings on it. However, I also know that doing that is futile and I will only be accused of trying to convert everyone. So, instead I take a deep breath and remind myself that I once lived like them too. I take a deep breath and try to be patient. I take a deep breath and share my knowledge in a way that I hope is inoffensive. I take a deep breath and remember that we’re all still learning.

I take a deep breath every time I hear someone make a joke about how they ‘need’ meat.
I take a deep breath when people make wisecracks about my vegan food.
I take a deep breath when I see yet another colleague throw yet another disposable plastic cup in the rubbish bin.
I take a deep breath when I’m told it’s natural for us to eat animals.
I take a deep breath when omnivores tell me they don’t want to know how animals make it to their plate.
I take a deep breath when people ask me where I get protein from.

I’m sure I have a lot more deep breaths ahead of me. I also know we can make this world a better one, one deep breath at a time.

Plant-Based Pause No 39: Your Decisions Affect Every Other Being on the Planet

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘The maps of the world will have to be redrawn’ – Sir David King, UK science advisor

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I don’t have a problem with omnivores, I have a problem with ignorant omnivores. If you know where your food comes from and how it impacts the planet, and you’re still comfortable eating it, then go ahead. However, most people have no clue about the truth behind what’s on their plate and how it got there. I used to be guilty of this myself. Even when I was a regular vegetarian, I ate milk, eggs and cheese believing that I was genuinely hurting no-one through my actions. Now I know just how wrong I was. Every choice we make impacts the planet and other humans, and now is the time to end the ignorance.

This quote from Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth explains the issue far better than I ever could:

‘One reason climate change doesn’t consistently demand our attention can be illustrated by the classic story about an old science experiment involving a frog that jumps into a pot of boiling water and immediately jumps out again because it instantly recognises the danger. The same frog, finding itself in a pot of lukewarm water that is slowly brought to the boil, will simply stay in the water, in spite of the danger. Our collective ‘nervous system’ through which we recognise an impending danger to our survival is similar to the frog’s. If we experience a significant change in our circumstances gradually and slowly, we are capable of sitting and failing to recognise the seriousness of what is happening to us until it’s too late. Sometimes, like the frog, we only react to a sudden jolt, a dramatic and speedy change in our circumstances that sets off our alarm bells. ‘

A report by leading water scientists at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) found that about 20% of protein in human diets is animal-based. Unless that drops to 5% by 2050 there won’t be enough food to nourish the additional 2 billion people estimated to be alive by 2050. If America alone reduced their intake of meat by 10%, 100 million more people could be adequately fed by the land freed. Most of the grain grown in the world goes towards animal feed. Cows consume 10 times more food than they produce, and we only get a third of the food back from chickens that we put into them. If we all lived plant-based, we could free up enough land and return enough nutrients to the soil to end famine within a couple of generations.

Some people question ‘What’s the point?’. As a species, we easily get defeatist. The damage we have done to the planet seems so overwhelming that you can be forgiven for thinking maybe we have gone past the point of no return. History has shown us that we do have the ability to change, and the ability to make a difference. In 1987, 27 nations signed the Montreal Protocol, the first global environmental agreement to regulate CFCs. Since then, the levels of the most critical CFCs and related compounds have stabilised or declined. At the time, the thought of even stabilising the hole in the ozone layer seemed insurmountable. I can remember consumers looking at the new, strangely shaped light bulbs in the shops and stating that they would never catch on. People complained that they didn’t shed enough light, there was no possible way they could live under those conditions. Conventional incandescent light bulbs are now no longer sold in the UK. The same people who complained about the new, energy saving bulbs now use them without thinking. On the odd occasion that I walk into a room lit by an old bulb, the brightness is so uncomfortable I wonder how we didn’t all suffer from sight problems back then.

Thanks to the wonders of the modern world and the internet, help is just a click away. There are lots of resources to help you make simple changes and improve your carbon footprint. Chasing Ice is a good place to start.

As humans, we are privileged on this planet to have a certain amount of control. We have free will, the ability to make decisions and the ability to question. Don’t just give up this freedom by accepting what’s on your plate.

Plant-Based Pause No 38: Supermarkets Aren’t Always the Bad Guy

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what you want them to achieve, and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.’ – George Smith Patton Jr.

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As I’ve said in earlier posts, I try to do as much of my shopping as possible from local farmers markets and health food shops. Ideally, I’d like to be able to do all my shopping like this. Unfortunately, my life does not allow it. The farmers markets are only on three mornings a week, in different parts of the city, and I can’t always get there. The health food shops don’t open in the evenings, and because of the ridiculous number of hours I work every week I can’t always get there in time. I also can’t always find what I need there. That’s when I use the local supermarkets.

When you’re trying to live ethically, I think it’s easy to see modern supermarket chains as the enemy. Certainly here in the UK, it’s true that they are responsible for encouraging modern, mass farming techniques. For many years their buying power drove out small-scale farmers and producers, and their demands for perfect produce has led to ridiculous levels of waste and prices so low that they are not sustainable. However, the tide is slowly changing. Supermarkets are waking up to the fact that their customers are becoming more conscious of their ethics. The ‘Big 5’ – Tesco, Asda, Sainsburys, Morrisons and The Co-operative – all provide organic choices in their produce departments, sell plant-based alternatives such as soya milk and are keen to label their British products with very visible Union Jack stickers. It’s now also common for supermarket brands to team up with environmental causes in an effort to do their bit and improve their public image. Tesco launched Together for Trees, a partnership with RSPB to stop the destruction of the rainforests. Customers can collect and donate green Clubcard points, and you can earn more points by re-using shopping bags and recycling ink cartridges and mobile phones.

The Co-operative is one of Britain’s biggest farmers. Their first farm, to grow their own potatoes, began in 1896. Today, as well as the potatoes, they mill wheat for their own-brand flour, oats for their own-brand oats and grow strawberries and apples. More than half of the rapeseed oil they grow on their farms is used to heat their head office. I used to work for the Co-operative, and I was pleasantly surprised at how serious they are about their ethics. They were the first business to use biodegradable bags, they designed the first ever biodegradable credit card, you can trace every coffee been they sell back to source and they even ensure they stun all the fish on their fish farms before killing them so it is more humane.

British supermarkets are making the effort to keep up with the ethical changes in shopping trends. That being said, bear in mind that most supermarkets/grocery stores are companies. Although their actions are positive, apart from businesses like The Co-operative (a co-operative, not a a company), they are doing it to increase their profits.

For me personally, there is a place on the high street for both supermarket chains and smaller, independent stores and markets.