Veganuary: Delicious meat-free alternatives to try this winter

by helen hall on January 4, 2022

The start of a new year is often used as a time to embrace something new. Vegan diets are becoming more popular and with more meat alternatives than ever available in the supermarkets, making a few switches to your diet has never been easier.

What is Veganuary?

Veganuary is a charity that encourages people to adopt a vegan diet in January and throughout the rest of the year. While the charity sets a challenge to go vegan for 31 days, you may want to simply try more vegan meals and see how they could fit into your lifestyle.

According to a poll, the number of Brits adopting a vegan diet has soared. It’s estimated that the number of vegans increased by around 40% in 2020, with around 1.5 million people following the strict diet. While vegans cut out all animal-derived products, from meat to dairy, there’s a growing trend of people dubbed “flexitarians”. A flexitarian refers to someone that has increased their plant-based meals but have decided not to eliminate meat or other animal products entirely from their diet.

There are many reasons why more people are adopting a vegan lifestyle or are actively choosing to reduce how many animal products they consume.

Animal welfare is a key reason why people become vegans, but others may choose a plant-based diet due to health reasons or to reduce their impact on the planet.

If you’re interested in a vegan diet, whether you want to try new foods or cut out all animal products, there are plenty of meat alternatives you can add to your dishes.

5 meat alternatives to try when cooking

If you’re new to trying vegan food, it can be hard to know what to replace meat with in your favourite recipes. There’s a whole host of vegan websites and recipes available online and these five alternatives can be used next time you cook.

1. Jackfruit

Jackfruit has become a staple for meat-free diets. Its consistency is similar to shredded meat so it’s often seen on menus as a replacement for pulled pork. The flavour is subtle, so you can try using different spices and sauces when cooking. You can buy jackfruit fresh or tinned to suit your plans. This vegan pulled jackfruit recipe is a great place to start when trying this ingredient.

2. Tofu

Tofu is made from soybeans and is one of the most common meat substitutes. It’s versatile, so you can bake, grill or fry it to make it part of a range of recipes. When you’re cooking with tofu, keep in mind it has a high water content. So, pressing the tofu before cooking to remove some of the moisture is a must if you want a crispy texture. This quick and easy sweet and sour tofu recipe delivers three of your five a day and tastes great.

3. Tempeh

Tempeh is similar to tofu and, while not as popular, it can give your meals a heartier taste. It has a nuttier flavour than tofu, so it can really add to your dishes, but it’s also more likely to overpower the spices and sauces you use. It can be grilled, fried or baked. If you want to give cooking with tempeh a try, these teriyaki canapés with a peanut dip are perfect.

4. Quorn

Quorn is a meat substitute that originated in the UK and is a well-known brand. It’s derived from a natural micro-fungus – while that may not sound appealing, it’s a great substitute for meat in your meals. There are plenty of different Quorn options to choose from that you can directly substitute for meat. The chicken-style pieces or fillets, for example, can be directly swapped for chicken in a recipe, while Quorn mince is a great alternative when cooking family-friendly recipes like spaghetti bolognese or lasagne.

5. Lentils

For many vegans, lentils are a staple part of their diet thanks to how versatile they are. They can add a deep flavour to dishes and complement many other vegetables you want to add, as well as mixing well with sauces. You can buy dried lentils in the supermarket or opt for a tin of them. This comforting spinach, sweet potato, and lentil dhal is a great option for winter nights.

These five options just scratch the surface of vegan cooking. There are plenty more substitutes and new ways to cook using vegetables to really enhance your dishes without using meat. As well as cooking from scratch with these ingredients, supermarkets offer an ever-growing selection of pre-prepared vegan meals that are great for seeing which flavours and produce suit you.

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helen hallVeganuary: Delicious meat-free alternatives to try this winter

What happened in the property market in 2021?

by helen hall on January 4, 2022

Despite the pandemic, the property market continued to move in 2021. Thousands of families purchased their first home, moved up the property ladder, or decided to invest in property during the year. Here are a few of the key events and figures that highlight what happened in the property market in 2021.

A Stamp Duty holiday helped support the property market

There were concerns that Covid-19 restrictions would lead to the property market stalling. To combat this, the chancellor introduced a Stamp Duty holiday in England and Northern Ireland in July 2020, and, after an extension, it finished in September 2021. Scotland and Wales also introduced similar temporary reductions when buying property.

The holiday meant that homebuyers could save up to £15,000 when buying a home. The threshold for paying Stamp Duty temporarily increased to £500,000, compared to the usual £125,000, so fewer families need to pay the tax. It encouraged more people to consider moving while they could reduce the associated costs. According to Which?, around 1.3 million buyers benefited from the holiday across the UK.

The organisation also estimates that the holiday led to sellers hiking property prices by more than £16,000 as buyers clamoured to find a property. As a result, the Stamp Duty holiday is associated both with increased demand and rising prices.

2021 was the busiest property market since 2007

The Stamp Duty holiday helped to make 2021 the busiest property market in almost 15 years.

According to Zoopla, by the end of 2021, 1 in 16 homes had changed hands, making it the busiest property market since 2007. Homebuyers in 2021 may have experienced delays in the process, from mortgage applications to solicitors, as professionals in the industry dealt with higher demand alongside the pandemic restrictions.

House prices continued to climb

Rising property prices have been making headlines over 2021. With demand rising and the Stamp Duty holiday placing pressure on home buyers, it’s no surprise that prices increased in line with this.

In November, the average UK property prices reached £270,000 for the first time according to the Halifax House Price Index. In the three months to November, prices increased by 2.3%, while over the year they had increased by 8.1%. Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland have outperformed the UK average in terms of property price growth.

The pandemic affected what home buyers were looking for

The pandemic and the associated restrictions led to a shift in what home buyers were looking for in a dream property.

Reflecting a wider trend for working from home, the Zoopla data shows there has been greater demand in commuter zones and more rural areas. With the freedom to work anywhere, workers are increasingly searching for a home with a local area that meets their needs without having to contemplate work opportunities as much.

In addition to this, larger homes with outdoor spaces were in demand after lockdown restrictions meant people were forced to stay in their homes. Home offices and larger living spaces have also become key features home buyers are looking out for. With people appreciating the space their homes offer more, it could change which types of property are in demand in the future.

What will 2022 hold for the property market?

There’s no consensus among property experts about what 2022 will mean for the property market. However, according to a report in the Guardian, demand for property is set to continue driving up property prices, albeit at a slower pace. It is estimated that property values will increase by up to 3.5% a year between 2022 and 2024.

If you’re looking to purchase property this year, whether as a home or as an investment, working with a mortgage broker can help you access a mortgage with a competitive interest rate and the flexibility you want. If you’d like to talk to one of our team, please contact us.

Please note: This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

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helen hallWhat happened in the property market in 2021?

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