Making kind choices in your everyday life.

Posts by admin

Ethical Christmas Feasting

Posted by on Dec 20, 2014 in Christmas | 2 comments

“As custodians of the planet, it is our responsibility to deal with all species with kindness. People get offended by animal rights campaigns. It’s ludicrous. It’s not as bad as mass animal death in a factory.” Richard Gere

10409324_10152553836409077_6331121596381779618_n

Art: Paco Catalán Carrión

When you’re planning your Christmas day feast, please ponder the plight of the millions of animals who are confined to the most hideous of conditions in factory farms to fuel our endless demand for cheap and plentiful meat so we can “eat, drink and be merry” at this time of year. Life is far from merry for them.

If you are going to have turkey, pork, chicken etc on your table for christmas lunch, please spend a bit more time, money and effort to source it from an “ethical supplier”.

Some great Australia wide websites which help you decipher who the real free range suppliers are, look no further than :

Consume with Care

Flavour Crusader

Sustainable Table

And for seafood, there is this guide :

Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide

For Sydney-siders, a new shop has just opened up in the inner west called Chop Shop Carivorium which stocks, amongst many locally grown, organic products, Melanda Park pork which is unambiguously free range.

If you want to take that one extra step and leave animals off your table this year (or, chances are, you will have at lease one vegetarian / vegan guest at the table – our numbers are on the rise !), read on for some sumptuous suggestions :

* The wonderful people at Bed and Broccoli have shared their fear free christmas recipes. I am going to have a crack at the Tofurky.

* The Sanitarium Vegi Roast with Rosemary and Mint Glaze is an easy, tasty option and can be picked up at your major supermarket.

* Partake in one of the many christmas recipes on display at VeganEasy.org.

* This Easy Vegan Christmas Pudding looks divine.

* For some more snazzy / fancy pants (featuring Donna Hay and Bill Graninger) vegetarian / vegan christmas recipes have a look at these mouth watering suggestions.

Have a happy and compassionate christmas everyone xxx

 

Read More

Smelling gorgeous

Posted by on Dec 14, 2014 in Animal Testing, Perfume etc | 11 comments

“Dear intelligent people of the world, don’t get shampoo in your eyes. It really stings. There. Done. Now fucking stop torturing animals” – Ricky Gervais (love this man !)

704992-bigthumbnail

photo credit : acuteaday.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s be honest, we all enjoy smelling good. A heady, evocative smell can whisk you straight back to a time in your life or remind you of a person quicker than any of our other senses.

However, as with all things beauty related, there is something particularly offensive about having an animal suffer in order for us to smell or look pretty.

My treading kindly quest is a continual learning curve, including the discovery that sourcing cruelty free perfume is not the simplest of tasks.

I have worn Issey Miyake perfume for about the last 20 years. It reminds me of my friend Meg who has worn it for even longer. My fella wears Issey Miyake aftershave. Suffice to say, I love its very particular aroma and all the memories it evokes with just one little spray.

In response to my query to Issey Miyake (owned by Shishedo) about their stance on animal testing, animal ingredients and why they don’t appear on any of the third party certification sites, I received a rather vague and wofty reply which didn’t adequately address my concerns. (“We strictly implement the regulations in favour of the development and the insertion of our cosmetic products in the market. In accordance with the European Directive, we follow the progress of testing methodologies in order to avoid animal testings as we go along with alternatives methods. Therefore, we no longer experiment animal testings for the products introduced in the market.”) What on earth does that even mean ?

I don’t want give money to a company which thinks squirting painful chemicals into an animal’s eyes or onto their skin causing it to blister is an OK thing to do to make money. I want to give my money to a company who has the integrity not to sell to the massive Chinese market (where animal testing is still compulsory for beauty products sold there) and who places the suffering of animals and the environment above making a quid. I think we probably all want this but the seductive world of the perfume industry does not make this an easy feat. Virtually every big name brand (think Clinique, Calvin Klein, Avon, Estee Lauder, Michael Kors) which you see in the David Jones perfume hall either contains animal ingredients and/ or  it (or the ingredients contained within it) is tested on animals or the big company who owns it endorses animal testing. This Choice article is critical of the sales assistants of some brands who will tell you otherwise so don’t always trust what you are told !

The Shop Ethical perfume site is a grim collection of crosses and calls for boycotts due to a whole manner of dirty little secrets which the perfume world gets up to (including animal testing, use of microbeads, use of palm oil).

As for some of the animal ingredients which many perfumes contain…….Musk, Civet and Castoreum are three of the bizarre animal derived ingredients (fancy some anal gland secretions from the civet cat anybody ?) which are often found in perfumes to create longevity but are often produced in a cruel manner – with the animals either having to be killed (beavers in the case of castoreum) or kept in tiny cages for their lives (civet). This article explains a bit more.

To get around the whole dilemma of ambiguous advertising (such as the common line “we do not test on animals apart from if required by law”) or, as in the case of Issey Miyake, they may not test on animals but the “parent” company does (so the profit filters through to the “bad” company anyway…) use one of these independent guides. There are stringent requirements to get on their lists and companies are struck off if they don’t comply. So, the hard work is done for you and you can sit back and smell nice with a clear conscience.

* Choose Cruelty Free

Leaping Bunny Guide

PETA’s guide

A quick inventory of my dressing table reveals, aside from my Issey Miyake, remnants of Pure DKNY  and  Michael KORS (also owned by evil animal testing giant Estee Lauder) and Davidoff Cool Water owned by Coty Australia – also known for animal testing. Sigh. What sort of kind treader am I ? A woeful one !

Cruelty free perfumes I have either tried or yearn after are these ones (and feature in the above guides):

Pacific Perfumes – gorgeous New Zealand company selling a summery array of affordable solid, oil and spray perfumes. I have my eye on the solid perfumed, cute vintage tinned “The Lady’s Moustache”. Who could resist a name like that ? whoreSHOP_1_large

Pacifica Perfumes – USA ethical company (donates to women’s shelters, only uses recycled boxes etc) which are easily found in Australia. They have tantalising “flavours” such as Indian Coconut Nectar and Mediterranean Fig. I have a couple of these perfumes and they are lovely and I usually get a compliment when I wear them. Not so long lasting but affordable enough to have a wee spray every couple of hours.

Lush – I am a huge fan of this kind and ethical company and they have a great perfume selection. I have their solid “Gorilla” Perfume which is a long lasting Jasmine scent.

Natio  – another Aussie kind company that I love. Limited women’s perfume  but a few men’s aftershaves which are deliciously manly and “fworgh” smelling (will try out on my fuss pot other half soon !). Easy to find in Myer, David Jones etc.

Lavanila – this US based company receives consistently glowing reviews and has environmentally friendly (they plant a tree when you order a product from them), chemical free, cruelty free credentials. I want some. They can be purchased in Australia with free delivery from Beautiful Because (which sells an array of cruelty free products). The “Vanilla Summer” promises wofts of “Madagascar Vanilla, mango, pineapple, coconut”. Get out of the house !

Arbonne – love their cute bottles and cruelty free philosophy. Would be a perfect perfume introduction to a teenager who would go nuts over a bottle like this……5243.lg

 

 

Olo – unusual scents aplenty (tobacco, whiskey, wood combo ?!). Sweet little Portland company.

Givescent – small, philantropophic company inspired by the smells of Italy and is chemical free. Gives a portion of it’s profits to worthy women’s charities including “every mother counts”.

So, Issey Miyake, for the next half of my life, I am going to replace you with a kinder, better, more transparent you and find a new signature smell which ticks my kind living lifestyle boxes too. After a couple of decades (nostalgic old stick in the mud, who me ?!) , it is time.

 

 

 

 

Read More

Kind Clothing

Posted by on Nov 16, 2014 in Clothing, Kind Companies | 7 comments

Do your little bit of good where you are, it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world” – Desmond Tutu

I am a bit of a bandit for wearing the same clothes year in and year out. I faithfully don the same dresses, cossies etc year after year, some of which I bought over a decade ago (kind of mortifying when I think about it !) only to discard them when they become threadbare. I am not overly confident with my fashion choices and can get paralysed by indecision in clothes shops so I kind of stick with what I like for a long, long time.

The time has come to take the plunge and buy a few new clothes. I am keen to buy from a company who is going to do something good and kind with my patronage. Here they are, my chosen few garments for 2014 – here’s hoping they are long lasting !

1. This top from Ecolosophy : Made by disadvantaged women in India and Nepal.

mtpp-umbrellas_large

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This gorgeous on line Australian shop is chock a block full of desirable things – all of which give back in some capacity (environmentally, by employing under privileged workers etc). Now is a good time to snap something up too as you have the chance to win a eco friendly product packed hamper when you checkout.

2. These pyjama pants (or should I say my “lurking around the house” attire) from Punjammies. This lovely company assists women in India to escape from sex slavery by teaching them new skills and a way to make a living. Each pair of punjammies is named after one of the women who work in the sewing centres. There are many, beautifully coloured ones to pick from but I like “Kalyani”.

Kalyani Full with border

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 3. This limited addition Hello Kitty t-shirt from the wonderful, amazing Animals Asia. A christmas pressie for my 9 year old niece with proceeds going to help the bears.

hellokitty_back_-500x500_4(1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. These ballet flats from Toms. Thanks to  Toms “one for one” policy, my purchase will mean that a pair of shoes is donated to a child in need (they do other lovely things too such as providing clean water for a person in need for a week when you buy a bag of their coffee).

IvoryMetallicBurlapWomensBalletFlats-10002843-218x153-S

 

 

 

 

 

As for who I WON’T be buying from…….the Just Group in Australia (which includes Dotti, Portmans, Jay Jays, Just Jeans and Jacqui-E) are off my list. Despite a swag of big names (including Myer, David Jones, Collette Dinnigan, Big W) advising that they will no longer be selling garments containing angora wool, the Just Group is continuing to do so despite being faced with the evidence of the horrendously cruel way which is it produced.

It takes a tiny bit more work fishing out these “giving back” companies than just wandering into the likes of Myer but it feels good to know that your purchase is helping another person or animal in need. If you know of any other similar companies, please let me know so that I can add them to the list when my next shopping “spree” comes calling !

 

 

 

 

Read More

Feeling angry !

Posted by on Oct 26, 2014 in Live Animal Export | 6 comments

“It is wise to direct your anger towards problems – not people, to focus your energies on answers – not excuses” – William Arthur Ward

https://www.facebook.com/maxmaxmoo/posts/273846172747899

Ollie the Activist Dog (how cute is he ?)

Has anything made you angry / sad / mad this week ? I have frequent triggers for such feelings…..factory farming, the recent closing down of local women’s refuges in spite of soaring domestic violence, our government’s inaction on climate change, being the only person at the supermarket this morning not to be using plastic bags, the unprecedented number of dogs being euthanased at local council pounds in recent weeks, most stuff that comes out of Tony Abbott’s mouth, birds in little cages, people not walking their dogs and treating them like they are a piece of outdoor furniture, violence towards people and animals in the name of religion, road rage towards cyclists, Barnaby Joyce’s face, finding out that my favourite vegetarian laksa is made with chicken stock……grrrrrrrrr.

Feeling mad (in an angry way that is) is not pleasant but does have the positive result in spurring us into action sometimes.

This week’s sad / mad / angry feelings are directed to our government’s ongoing failure to protect our livestock unfortunate enough to be part of the live animal export trade. I am not going to share the images here as they are painfully sad and distressing and not everyone wants to view them. However, these atrocities involving animals from Australia, which were captured in the recent Eid al-Adha (Festival of Sacrifice) in Kuwait, Jordan and Gaza  have been documented everywhere this week – including Lateline, Sydney Morning Herald and the Animals Australia website.

Live animal export is indefensible. Despite repeated images of these poor, tortured animals being released, nobody has been charged or made accountable and a charity (Animals Australia) finds itself in the position of always being the ones to document and investigate the horror. How any farmer could continue to send their animals overseas, knowing that the majority of animals are still slaughtered without being stunned first or fall into the hands of bumbling, untrained locals to be butchered in the street is beyond me. That is if they survive the harrowing 3 week journey at sea first.

As for our morally bankrupt government, all they want to do is expand the trade into yet more places such as Saudi Arabia where laws protecting animals do not exist. The “it’s good for our economy” or ” but it’s their livelihood” excuses wear a little thin. I have put a few links at the bottom of this page about live animal export and they address all the standard “but they don’t have refrigeration overseas”, “our farmers will go broke”, “that Exporter Supply Chain Assurance System (ESCAS) ensures humane slaughter right ?” lines.  New Zealand banned the live animal export trade back in 2007 (and now focuses on exporting boxed meat) due to the systemic cruelty so why can’t Australia ?

Moving on,  anger can lead to positive action which can be cathartic and hopefully make a little drop of a difference. So today I have harnessed my anger by writing a letter to my local MP (yet again), sending a donation to Animals Australia outside of my monthly donation, here and now publicly thanking the decent politicians who take a stand against live animal export ( including Andrew Wilkie, Lee Rhiannon, Kelvin Thomson, Melissa ParkesLynn McClaren and Ed Husic) and donning my anti live animal export t-shirt with a vengeance…..none of which are earth shattering moves but I am pleased to have done SOMETHING.

DSC00170

Up close and personal !

Has any thing made you crazily angry this week ? More importantly, what were the little steps you took to address it ?

PS Despite this rant, I am not usually a crazy, angry lady ! I can assure you that just as many things make me happy …..my dog’s antics, baking biscuits, the smell of jasmine wofting around,  planning a picnic with friends, boogieing at No Lights No Lycra, listening to Sia, the thought of having a pear Rekorderlig cider in the bath later tonight, hanging out with my beautiful man, indulging in a massage today after a busy week at work, getting an email from my mum on her overseas travels, receiving a gift of a good book to read (Goldfinch, Donna Tartt), Caramel sea salt chocolate,…….the list goes on….thankfully !

 Here are some good links if you want to know more about the Live Animal Export Trade

Frequently Asked Questions about Live Animal Export (Animals Australia)

The Alternative To Live Animal Export (World Animal Protection)

Ban Live Export (official site)

Live Export Facts (RSPCA)

Read More

My Vegan B&B Experience

Posted by on Sep 28, 2014 in Holidaying | 12 comments

Veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, as well as following an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of sentient animals. (Wikipedia)

P0011530

The menagerie – all living together in peace !

During my recent 7 week stint off work (now just a distant, fading memory…waaa.) I did many wonderful things…..including visiting Australia’s first Vegan B&B… Bed and Broccoli near Shepparton in country Victoria. This destination was one that has sat for a couple of years on my lengthy “I want to go there one day” list.

Despite the content of my blog, I am not vegan – but I do teeter on the edges of it. In terms of labels, I don’t quite know what I would be called or where I fit in. See the PS section at the end of this post for more about my dietary and lifestyle choices. My fella is a meat eater but only sparingly these days (I am the cook of the family afterall !).

Bed and Broccoli is run by the lovely and  down to earth Nikki and Scott. The B&B is a transformed old dairy and sits smack bang in the heart of dairy country land which seems an odd fit for a vegan couple and their menagerie. However, to me the small property felt akin to an oasis in the middle of a desert. In a land of flat, fairly tree-less terrain – admittedly with some stunning, yellow canola fields dotted about….Bed and Broccoli is a little haven of life, trees and peace. Birds gravitate to it, obviously feeling safe there – including a stunning pair of wild peacocks, Samson and Delilah, who have made it their home.

On arrival we were greeted at the front gate by Khan, the charismatic ridgeback cross who fawned and gushed over us and made us feel like we were his favourite guests EVER…..only for Nikki to tell us that every guest receives this treatment. You hussy Khan ! The other beautiful canine resident was Chaz, the soulful, quiet Wolfhound cross who would stare off whimsically into the distance like a wise old man. Heartbreakingly, Chaz had been found many years before tied to a tree deep in a forest, emaciated and left to die…..only to be adopted by Nikki and Scott into the dog’s heaven equivalent of a life he leads now.

DSC00014

Soulful Chaz

 Two cheeky cows (steers ? Sorry, I am a city lass !), Frankie and Pacific also call Bed and Broccoli home. Fate, in the form of Nikki and Scott, stepped in and saved them from slaughter when they were “bobby calves” (usually deemed as waste products by the dairy industry). They are now 2 strapping, cheeky, naughty, rough tongued creatures (as you can see by my maniacal grin….I was very happy to have my hand licked as I fed them apples). The sweet old dairy cow “Squirty” was similarily saved by Nikki and Scott and acts as a surrogate mum to the 2 boys, Frankie and Pacific.

P0011505

Feeding Frankie apples

And then there were the bevvie of “girls” – the chooks who have been rescued from different, grim fates to lead “the life of Riley” at Bed and Broccoli….along with their bossy rooster sidekicks. All of them made us giggle with their crazed running styles and unbridled enthusiasm for canned corn.

Now we’ve covered the animals….onto the next most important thing……the FOOD ! In short, it was delicious and whipped up by self taught vegan chef extraordinaire, Nikki.  “Cheesy” (but not of the dairy kind), vegetable packed, enormous calzones were dished up on the first night and home made, delectable pizzas on the second night. The breakfasts were similarly divine (apple pancakes one morning and scrambled tofu…much nicer than it’s name suggests I promise…on the other). We dined outside by the dam, with the sun setting and the magpies warbling in the trees.

Our cottage was comfortable and well equipped (including an 80’s style pac man gaming machine – incongruous, yes, but kept my fella amused) with DVDs and games and a fire to stoke. There were a billion stars to gaze at during the night and, at dawn, we had a bracing reminder about just how early roosters do like to herald in the new day !

The thing which I think would be of most surprise to people who have a stereotypical image of what a vegan life style is like…..our experience was the opposite. I am not at all surprised at how flavoursome the food was as plant based meals are the norm at home but what was a little bit of a pleasant surprise was the “robust-ness” of not only Nikki and Scott but of the animals. Scott is a very blokey, muscular, wood chopping, champion boxer. The dogs, Chaz and Khan, eat a vegan diet too and, the proof is in the photos – they are strapping, shiny, healthy and happy.

I love the way that what would no doubt be considered an “unusual” lifestyle choice in the midst of dairy farming land, is accepted by the local  community. The local farmers want to know when Nikki’s book is coming out and Nikki’s vegan sausages and cakes are shared (and devoured) at community events. From chatting with Nikki, there is no “us and them” mentality which I think is just lovely.

If you are after a unique get away which encompasses kind living, animals, serenity and great food, I would highly recommend a visit to Bed and Broccoli. The next best thing would be getting your hands on a copy of Nikki’s soon to be available book which I cannot wait to get – it promises recipes, stories about the animals and why Nikki and Scott left their jobs on the outskirts of Melbourne and chose the beautiful life they have now.

DSC00023

Meandering the countryside nearby

PS As for me and my ever evolving dietary and lifestyle choices…this is where I am currently at. For any fully fledged vegans reading this page, I know that my choices are riddled with contradiction and far from perfect but they are a work in progress.

– I no longer eat meat but do have a small amount of seafood (around once a week). The seafood thing is becoming harder to justify as I learn more about the issues of over fishing and the unsurprising fact that, yes, fish do feel pain.

– I eat about 4 eggs a week from organic / free range sourced eggs but will not buy any products (eg mayonnaise, banana bread etc) which I know to contain eggs as they will be caged sourced. I usually use egg replacements in baking as they work just as well as eggs.

– I buy meat for my partner from “ethically sourced” suppliers. I do use that term with some trepidation as I do not believe that humane slaughter happens in Australia and that most animals will die in fear so classing any meat as “ethical” can be a bit of an oxymoron. I do acknowledge, however, that the likes of Feather and Bone or Jonai Farm do help the lives of animals raised for meat by raising awareness about the evils of  factory farming and improving some aspects of the meat industry such as transportation and abattoirs (eg sourcing ones that voluntarily install CCTV cameras).

– I will no longer buy leather but I still have some a few leather items in my wardrobe which I occasionally wear. I rarely buy wool products and prefer to source alternate ways to keep warm. See more on my wool post.

– I don’t eat jellied lollies or any thing else which contains gelatin (crushed up bones/tendons – gross !)

– I eat a small amount of dairy at home- namely cheese from Barambah Organics where they don’t remove and slaughter the male calves as they do at conventional dairies. As for milk, I now actually prefer plant based milks such as coconut, almond and soy (Bonsoy is the best !) to cows milk. Out and about, I tend to avoid all dairy.

– My dog does eat meat but I bulk up his dinners with a lot of lentils, chickpeas and vegetables so I can reduce the amount of meat that he does eat.

The vegan lifestyle may not appeal to everyone but it would be hard to argue against the notion that it is a kind and compassionate way to live.

Would love to hear any thoughts you may have !

P0011509

Up close and personal with Pacific

 

 

Read More