Christmas Vegan Hot Chocolate Mason Jar – Zero Waste December

Christmas Time, Sustainability | December 19, 2016 | By

The greatest gits are not wrapped in paper… but in love

Happy Monday everyone! It is less than a week now until Christmas –  I am SO excited! There are so many amazing Christmas trees up in Abu Dhabi – look at this beautiful tree in Abu Dhabi mall!

As part of mine & Stephi’s Zero Waste December initiative, this week I have made these cute little vegan hot chocolates in mason jars. These gorgeous little gifts are a great way to ensure you limit your waste this Christmas.

I absolutely love Christmas & the festive period. I love travelling home & spending time with my friends & family, Christmas trees & good Christmas food – roll on Thursday night!

However, Christmas comes at a high price in environmental terms. In the UK, around 83 square kilometres of wrapping paper will also be thrown out or burnt…you can also add to that 125,000 tons of plastic packaging.

Here are some more facts about our unsustainable Christmas activities;

  • More than a billion Christmas cards – 17 for every man, woman and child – will be delivered this year. That’s enough to stretch around the world five times.
  • 52 square miles of wrapping paper – enough to gift-wrap Jersey – will be ripped off by Boxing Day.
  • Six million trees have been bought but only 1.2 million will be recycled. The rest will be left to rot or be thrown away.
  • Shops sell 16 million turkeys and 830 million sprouts. Up to 40 per cent of festive food is wasted.
  • Within three months, 41 per cent of the toys children receive will be broken. Most will go to the tip.
  • Many will get the latest mobile phone but only 10 to 15 per cent are recycled.

Source – Michael McCarthy, Environment Editor

“We all look forward to Christmas and enjoy being with friends and family, but we do end up creating more waste – in fact an additional three quarters of a million tonnes of it. If this waste were recycled it would save 352,000 tonnes of CO2 equivalent greenhouse gases per year – equivalent to taking 111,000 cars of the road for a year.

“The good news is that there are easy ways to help cut our waste-lines and help tackle climate change. Many people either forget or don’t realise that festive items such as Christmas cards, empty tins of sweets and biscuits, and jars of pickles can all be easily recycled and will help our bins shed those extra kilos.”

Source – Fridey Cordingley, Recycle Now

So if your like me & love Christmas & giving gifts – what can we do?

There are many small steps you can take this year to try to cut back on your Christmas gift waste. Here are some of my fav tips & ideas;

  • Send E-cards instead of paper Christmas cards – or make sure the cards you sent are recycled/recyclable
  • Gift someone with an Ebook as opposed to a paper book
  • Send gift vouchers
  • Be creative with re-usable wrapping paper. Why not wrap your gifts in some re-usable material like a scarf or mason jars (like my hot chocolates!)
  • Store your Christmas decorations away safely & e=re-use them the following year
  • Bake Christmas treats as a gift

My little Christmas vegan hot chocolates are the perfect festive gift. You can buy the items quite cheaply & in bulk & they don’t require a lot of effort at all. I simply added the cocoa powder, some candy canes broken into small pieces & some lovely vegan marshmallows. Once the lid was fastened, I just used a small piece of string around the top for a cute but simple final touch.

my vegan Christmas hot chocolate gifts

My mason jars were quite big, so from these gifts, my friends will get a ridiculous amount of delicious servings of vegan hot chocolate. 2 tbsp. from 1 of these jars mixed in with your fav dairy free milk (almond, soya, coconut whatever) gives you the best mug of Christmas comfort EVER.

zero waste Christmas gift idea

I hope you all have a fab week in the run up to Christmas. I have had a lovely weekend here in Abu Dhabi, on Friday I had a Christmas Jumper Brunch with my friends from work (I got a Vegan Casserole cookbook in the secret santa – get ready for vegan casserole spam next year lol) & on Saturday me & Stephi hosted a vegan meet up at her place. One reason I love blogging is the amazing like-minded people I get to meet. It ‘s so inspiring to see there are so many people who have the same beliefs, interests & values as you. Not to mention, the amazing vegan food that comes with it! If you are a vegan in Abu Dhabi – be sure to join the Abu Dhabi Vegan Group for details of more meet ups & vegan advice for the UAE. 

Also, if you are looking for some vegan Christmas recipes, check out my Vegan Gingerbread Men, Vegan Cranberry & Lemon Sprouts (sprouts that actually taste nice) & my Vegan Dark Chocolate & Coconut Christmas Pudding Cakes!

Be sure to head over to to read about Stephi’s Zero Waste Kitchen – it’s amazing (trust me I have visited lol) 

If everyone pledged to reduce waste this Christmas & spread the word, I really believe we can make a big difference. I wish you all a Merry Christmas & thank you all for your support this year – it really has been overwhelming! Lots of love & festive cheer from myself, Nala & Zara. xxx  

How 1 Vegan Meal A Week Makes A Difference: Living Vegan Zero Waste

Sustainability | December 11, 2016 | By

Yes – you can be vegan & go zero waste.

Hi everyone & happy Sunday, I hope you are all having a fab weekend so far. As part of me & Stephi’s Zero Waste December Challenge, this week I wanted to share with you the positive effects that just one vegan meal a week can have on the environment & also share how I try & combine my vegan food/cooking with zero waste.

People choose to live a vegan lifestyle for a number of reasons, some of which include the unethical treatment of animals, the heath benefits, speciesism, a general dislike of the thought of eating animal products & one of the biggest reasons is the impact that animal agriculture has on the planet/environment.

Here is something you might not know –

Animal agriculture is the leading cause of species extinction, ocean dead zones, water pollution, and habitat destruction- Cowspiracy – this has been scientifically proven by a number of credible sources – read more here

Yep & here are some more facts for you – 

& if you don’t know much about the environmental issues we are facing just now, it’s bad. The planet is getting hotter, the air is becoming more & polluted, we are running out of water, our deforestation rate globally is insane & we are losing more & more animal species every year.

Here is a quick breakdown of how animal agriculture is giving us problems from PETA.

  • Water and land are used to grow crops to feed animals.
  • Those crops and water are used to bulk up animals for slaughter.
  • The animals emit noxious levels of CO2, methane gas, and excrement that pollute our air and waterways.
  • Animals are transported in semi-trucks and processed in large factory-style slaughterhouses, and their body parts are packaged and shipped across the country

Scientists report that every pound of methane is more than 84 times as effective as carbon dioxide is at trapping heat in our atmosphere. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency shows that animal agriculture is the single largest source of methane emissions in the U.S.

So what can you do? Go vegan! ๐Ÿ˜‰

But I understand that it’s not something that everyone can jump into straight away, for me the transition period lasted a long time & I am not here to tell anyone how to live there life. I have been vegetarian since the age of 17 and veganism came after that.

But what I do want to do is encourage & inspire people to try to eat one vegan meal or have one vegan day a week, as every little counts towards helping solve our plant problems. You’ve most likely hear of #meatlessmondays which I believe is the same idea.

Did you know that by going Vegan for 1 year you save:

    • 401,500 gallons of water
    • 10,950 sq. feet of forest
    • 365 animal lives
    • 14,600 pounds of grain
    • 7,300 pounds of Co2

Yes really! & having one vegan meal/day a week can also have a pretty big impact too. Visit the Vegan Calculator to see how much you could save – it’s pretty inspiring!

So what about Zero Waste & Veganism?

To be honest with you, I think they go together pretty well. The good thing about having a plant-based diet is that it’s much easier for you to re-heat/freeze & defrost foods without the fear of poisoning/killing yourself. A re-heated veggie meal tastes much, much nicer than meaty left overs. My boyfriend works away, so a lot of the time I am cooking for one, so yes, I do know how tough that can be when trying to reduce waste! A lot of my recipes on the blog are re-heatable & can be frozen, some even last up to 5 days in the fridge, that’s your lunch or dinner for the week sorted!

Here are some tips that I’ve use to try to live zero waste:

  1. Only buy what you need. Stay away from pre-packed stuff, if you need carrots hand-pick the amount you  need instead of buying a huge bag for convenience, as you probably don’t need as many the bag provides & may end up wasting.
  2. Meal prep! I do this most weeks – for example, on Saturday evening I will make a huge Vegan Lentil Cottage Pie and take portions of it into work for my lunch. Home made food just tastes so much better too. & if you have any left over – freeze it!
  3. Take a shopping list. I never go to do my food shop with out a list, if I don’t have a list I end up wandering the isles aimlessly and chucking stuff into my basket for the sake of it. Then I come home and look at what I’ve bought and realize there is no way I can cook for the week with any of this stuff lol
  4. Look at expiry dates & the freshness of your food when shopping – the fresher the food, the longer it will last & the longer it will last the less chance you have of chucking it out.
  5. Make soup! Got a heap of veggies in your fridge & some stock? Boil it, blend it & eat it. Veggie soup is always a winner & always tastes great even if it has been frozen & defrosted.
  6. Go easy on the portions. My eyes are usually bigger than my belly & if you pile your plate up & can’t eat it all, the chances are it will go to waste. Start with a smaller portion & store/freeze the rest.
  7. Store your food correctly. If your fridge is at the wrong temperature or your containers aren’t closed properly you might have to chuck your food out.
  8. Use everything! If your cooking a dish and have a small amount of ingredients left over, just chuck them in!

by hand picking then exact amount of ingredients you need – you are less likely to waste food

al rahba farm

& my last tip/idea relating to food waste that I want to encourage is practice gratitude. It may seem a little deep, but there are millions of people dying of starvation worldwide who would really appreciate the food that you chuck out because you don’t fancy eating or because it’s gone off. When you buy, cook & eat your food, practice gratitude by thinking about the people who have worked to produce & make your food available to you. When I think about people less fortunate than me, I find it difficult to waste stuff.

I will leave you with some of my favorite vegan recipes from my blog, visit the recipe section for more inspo. Do you have any more tips & ideas around food waste? Tell me!

Now for the girls – check out Stephi’s latest Zero Waste post over on about reducing waste during that time of the month. It is really educational & inspiring –  something I hadn’t thought about before – definitely worth a read! Jess xxx

PS – Don’t forget to add me on snapchat – foxesandfood.

My Vegan Strawberry Risotto

My Easy Vegan Chick Pea Burgers

My Vegan Pumpkin & Lemon Linguine 


My Vegan Lemon, Chickpea & Avocado Wrap

my vegan chickpea + avocado wrap

My Vegan Warm Curried Cauliflower & Spinach Salad


& the best till last – my vegan avocado nutella (a must try!!)

my vegan nutella

Saving Water: Zero Waste December with Stephi @desertanddates

Sustainability | November 30, 2016 | By

“We never know the worth of water till well is dry.”

Hi & happy last day of November – WHERE has 2016 gone!?

This month me and Stephi (@desertanddates) are challenging ourselves (& you guys) to take part in a ‘Zero Waste December’.

December is definitely up there with one of the best months of the year, family time, Christmas & lots of festive fun, I think everyone loves it – everyone probably except from the planet.

During the festive period, we buy a lot, cook a lot but we also waste – a lot. So, over the next few weeks, me & Stephi are going to share a few ways in which you can reduce waste through out the month (these don’t need to be applied only to December) to try to raise awareness of the price that waste has on our planet.

Let’s start with water.

Fun fact – Water covers 70% of the Earth, so why worry? Did you know that only 3% of it is clean and suitable for human consumption? Nearly two million people die from a lack of safe drinking water every year. & it’s expected that within the next 15 years – half the world’s population might be living in areas of high water stress.

Water is running out, and pretty quickly too. Not even the governments know what will happen when water runs dry – but they have figured out it won’t be great. We could face serious famine & lack of clean water could give us all sorts of life threatening diseases. You might not care just now because it doesn’t effect you, but have you ever sat & thought what it would be like if you were the one living in a village with no clean water? For some people this isn’t a potential consequence, its real life.

& it’s not just our fellow species that are dealing with the repercussions, our animal friends are suffering too. Animal species are becoming extinct faster than ever due to lack of water which we are using & human activity.

So what can we do? Here are some of my tips & ideas which I am going to start implementing in my appartment:

  • Cut back on the meat & dairy – animal Agriculture is responsible for 20%-33% of all fresh water consumption in the world today. – Cowspiracy
  • Get the maintenance guys in – I’m guilty for this one as I have had a little leak in the bathroom recently which needs fixed. A shower head leaking at 10 drips per minute wastes more than 500 gallons per year. – EPA
  • Turn the tap of when your brushing  – a really effortless action which can have a huge impact – just by turning off the tap while you brush your teeth you can save up to 8 gallons of water – EPA So don’t be lazy & just turn it off.
  • Cut back your shower time – Ok I’m not saying don’t shower or compromise your personal hygiene, but do you really need to be standing in the shower for 30 minutes contemplating your life? No, contemplate every decision you ever made elsewhere don’t take your issues out on the planet. 
  • Don’t flush your facewipes – Your wasting water by flushing them, get a little bathroom bin, there not supposed to go down the loo anyway.
  • Feed your plants your leftovers – giving your furbabies fresh water? feed the old water to your plants, they aren’t fussy. 
  • Think about how you wash your dishes – For example, let pans that need some elbow grease to sit & soak instead of leaving the tap running. If you have a dish washer – don’t run it until it’s ram packed.
  • Think about kitchen stuff you use  – For example, if you use a huge pot to boil pasta, the chances are your going to use more water than needed. Just because you can fill your pot to the brim with water doesn’t mean you should. 

If you look at these small ideas above you will see how tiny little changes can have huge impacts. I do believe that everyone can play their part in some way, whether you decide to take drastic action or you just become more mindful when you’re doing your dishes. Either way, the facts are black & white, we need to take action of some sort, we have no choice.

For me I am 100% going to make more of a conscious effort with my water usage. By doing this you are showing compassion to other people, the animals & the planet – not to mention your bank balance which I am sure we could all use, especially in December! Head over to Stephi’s blog – desertanddates to read all about plastic bag waste – whip out your reusable bags people! Keep an eye out for the rest of our posts this month! Jess xx

“Cherish the natural world, because you’re a part of it and you depend on it.”  – Sir David Attenborough