Making kind choices in your everyday life.

Posts by ingleberry70

Kind Dairies

Posted by on Mar 8, 2013 in Dairy | 4 comments

“I’m only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do” – Helen Keller

Moving on from the sad truth behind the conventional dairy farm onto some posts about what you CAN do to make some kinder choices when it comes to dairy products.

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I am working through all the dilemmas which come with making kinder food choices and have reached the point where I am still consuming a small amount of dairy (predominantly feta cheese and Greek yogurt) but it is only at home and only from one producer – “Baramah Organics” (and the yogurt containers are good for food storage, hence nutty container collection in photo !).

I plan to gradually eliminate dairy from my diet – due to the similarities to the “humane meat” oxymoron….despite the fact that these cows appear to lead good lives (and I am referring to the lucky few who live on the “kind” dairies) and that their farmers should be supported for the care they give to their land and animals, I personally do not feel comfortable with any animal being forced to go through the ordeal of becoming pregnant and giving birth every year just so her milk, meant for her baby, can be consumed by humans. And, after she can no longer give us any milk, she still ends up facing an undignified and premature end at the abattoir which does not seem fair. No other adult animal does this (steals milk from another species) and it is undeniably exploitative of us greedy humans to force an animal to produce milk year after year just because it tastes nice and we can.

Additionally, the health claims associated with dairy food are some what dubious….after all, the Japanese, one of the lowest consumers of dairy in the world, consistently achieve the greatest longevity. More and more people are becoming lactose intolerant and I have learnt that calcium can be easily gleaned from plant based sources and the delicious recipes using dairy alternatives are endless – I am  learning to cook without cheese, cream etc and am loving it (as is my waist line – let’s face it, cheese makes you fat !).

In the meantime, however, I have a partner who has no desire to say farewell to dairy so….we’ll do the best we can in our little household to keep us all happy.

The run down on the kind dairies that have caught my eye in Australia is as follows  (I have fixated on the bobby calf issue as this is the aspect of dairy farming which I find the most confronting). These farms are all superior to conventional dairies (ie the industrialised ones which produce the cheap milk and cheese found everywhere) in respect of how they look after their animals and land and their cheeses contain non animal rennet (regular cheese contains rennet which is sourced from the stomach of calves). The milk, cheese and yogurts from these dairies are significantly more expensive than your standard supermarket milk / cheese but, at least by spending a bit more, you are less likely to over consume and contribute to the world’s insatiable demand for cheap dairy products. Plus, you can be satisfied that the farmers who are going out of their way to do the right thing are being paid for their efforts (as opposed to the ridiculously cheap milk being sold by Woolies and Coles – what better way to bankrupt Australian farmers and create sad, unhealthy animals hey ?). Plus, they taste so much better than your average milk and cheese.

Barambah Organics

This dairy is located in Queensland. To quote from their website “At Barambah Organics all the calves that are born on our property stay within our care. Our calves are not considered by us to be waste products.

At the age of 6 months we take the females to another one of our properties which is 20kms from the dairy farm. There they have 1,300 acres to roam, and we take the males to our 1,000 acre property at Murgon. No Barambah calves are sent to the abattoir.”

They produce unbelievably delicious yogurt, milk, labna and cheeses and they are getting easier to find at the shops , Australia wide.

Elgaar Farm

Another dairy which obviously cares deeply for it’s animals. I find their products a bit harder to source in Sydney (although their products – milk, cheeses, yogurts, cream and butter – are sold at Dr Earth, Newtown). Like Barambah, the calves are not separated from their mothers until they are much older and the cows are retired on the property when they have outlived their milking days rather than being sold to the abattoir. They offer a cash incentive to return the containers. Read more about this kind Tasmanian dairy here.

B-d Farm Paris Creek

This dairy is in South Australia and it’s products are readily found in health food shops and some smaller supermarkets. Their calves spend a few days with their mother before being placed in a group of calves and their mother still feeds them before she is sent for milking. The dairy tries to sell the male calves to local farms but sends to nearby abattoir after several months if there are too many. They have a good range of yogurt and cheeses including Bries and Camemberts.

Mungalli Creek Dairy

Another Queensland dairy doing the right thing. I wrote an email to them and received a very comprehensive reply detailing the care they take in respect of their land and animals. The calves are kept with their mothers until old enough to be removed into a group of calves. The male calves are usually given to neighbouring farms and if there is a surplus, they are humanely euthanased and buried on the property. (Still sad but so preferable than what happens on the conventional dairy farm).

The Mindful Foodie, one of my favourite blogs, has written a similar article about the dairy dilemma and has also included information on 2 kind sounding goat dairies (which face the same issues as cow dairies in terms of the unwanted male offspring) – Hindmarsh Valley and Holy Goat in Victoria. Goat cheese from Nimbin Valley in NSW appears worthy of note too, from an animal welfare perspective.

Best practice is to have an inquiring mind and ask questions – particularly at Farmers Markets where cheeses etc from smaller dairies are often sold. Or, send an email to the company – from my experience, most appear pretty obliging and are happy to answer questions.

Keep an open mind about trying some dairy substitutes which will be my next dairy related blog topic………..whilst on the topic, I am off to whip up a vegetarian lasagna with cashew cream “cheese” for tonight’s dinner…if it is presentable to the public eye  (some of my creations are far from it) I will even share it with you ! X

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Recipe of the week – Quinoa tabbouleh with smoky eggplant dip

Posted by on Mar 3, 2013 in Recipes - Savoury | 2 comments

Before I launch into this week’s recipe, I want to give you the heads up that I will be enticing you to make a bet with me very soon. Voiceless are running a “Meat Free Week” campaign from the 18th to the 24th March to raise money to stop factory farming. The campaign asks that people abstain from meat (yes, including fish !) for a week. You can have friends sponsor you -(if you go to their website you can read all about it plus find some great recipes) OR, I will donate $10 for each person who makes the pledge. If you are vegetarian already, I will donate the same amount for anyone who is keen to try out a vegan lifestyle for a week (this includes me !). If you fail in your quest, you can donate the $10 in lieu of my donation. It is a great issue raising campaign by Voiceless and you will no doubt discover some new and wonderful recipes should you accept the challenge ! I will give a list of my favorite cooking websites / blogs during the week so some tantalising recipes will be just a click away. Stayed tuned for more on this challenge !

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This is a quick, nutritious mid week meal which is whirled out regularly in my house. It serves 4 people and takes about 45 mins.

Ingredients :

400g eggplant

3 tbsp lemon juice

1 heaped tsp smoked paprika

2 tbsp olive oil

salt and pepper

4 flat breads (I used mountain bread as am on a bit of a diet but Lebanese bread or pitta bread works well) – brush with olive oil.

100g red quinoa – rinse well before using

180ml water (or vegetable stock)

2 tomatoes – seeded and chopped

1 Lebanese cucumber – seeded and chopped

1 spring onion

2 cups curly parsley leaves chopped

1/2 cup of mint leaves chopped

Ready made Felafel balls (easily found in supermarket) – 2 or 3 per person is about right.

Directions :

Heat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Put eggplant in oven for 30 mins, turning with tongs every 10 mins or so.

While eggplant is cooking, put quinoa into saucepan with stock or water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat and cook uncovered for 15 mins, by which time the liquid should be absorbed. Remove from saucepan and allow to cool.

Put the tomato, cucumber, onion, parsley, mint, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper into a bowl. Add the cooled quinoa and toss to combine.

Remove eggplant from oven but leave oven on. Cut in half and scoop out flesh. Place eggplant flesh, 2 tbsp lemon juice, 1 tbsp olive oil and the paprika into a food processor. Whirl around until combined.

Put felafel balls into oven for recommended cooking time (about 5 minutes for the brand I buy) and 2-ish minutes before they are ready, put in your olive oil brushed flat bread.

Remove bread and felafels. Smear eggplant mix over the bread and top with the tabbouleh and felafel balls. (Add an optional dollop of garlic sauce).

Bon appetit !

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Dairy – the sad truth

Posted by on Feb 22, 2013 in Dairy | 10 comments

“I became a vegan the day I watched a calf being born on a factory farm. The baby was dragged away from his mother before he hit the ground. The helpless calf strained its head backwards to find its mother. The mother bolted after her son and exploded into a rage when the rancher slammed the gate on her. She wailed the saddest noise I’d ever heard an animal make, and then thrashed and dug into the ground burying her face in the muddy placenta. I had no idea what was happening respecting brain chemistry, animal instinct or whatever. I just knew that this was deeply wrong. I just knew that such suffering could never be worth the taste of milk and veal. I empathised with the cow and the calf and, in doing so, my life changed” – James McWilliam.

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Like the majority of people, I have grown up eating and loving dairy products – milk, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, cream and all those other delicious concoctions. Up until recently, I thought that milk was just a by product of a happy animal and was pleased that I was eating healthily and keeping my bones strong . Plus, I loved the taste.

It has only been over the last 18 months or so that I have been educating myself on what goes on behind the scenes in the dairy industry that I have had my light bulb moment in realising that the dairy industry is not the kind, wholesome and healthy one I believed it to be. Once again, consumer demand for cheap and abundant milk has led to the demise of the small, family run dairy farm – to be replaced by the equivalent of factory farms to deliver the $1 litre milk and cheap cheese we are used to seeing in the supermarkets.

So, to begin with, some facts and figures about the dairy industry in Australia today :

* The typical Australian dairy cow is inseminated each year so she can have a calf each year so she will produce milk. Her calf is taken from her usually within the first 24 hours of it’s birth so her milk can be used for human consumption. She is inseminated again and the cycle continues. This video from Animals Australia shows it how it is.

* The separation process of the mother and calf is deeply distressing for both. Cows are doting mothers and they will mourn the loss of their baby. There is endless footage on the internet clearly showing the confusion and saddness of the mother when her baby is taken away.

* The average dairy cow is sent to slaughter at 5 years of age, when her milk supplies dwindle and her body succumbs to illness. She would otherwise live to 20-25 years.

* 700,000 male calves (bobby “worth a bob” calves) are sent to slaughter, usually around 5 days of age. They are considered waste products of the industry. The female calves are destined for a life identical to their mothers.

* A calf will suckle about 5 times per day if left with his mother but it is legal in Australia for the calf to be denied any food or water (known as Time Off Feed) for 30 hours prior to it’s slaughter.

* Many dairy cows suffer from painful and untreated lameness and mastitis and their bodies are pushed beyond their limits to produce the maximum amount of milk possible.

* Australia imports an enormous amount of cheese so it is worth considering the even less fortunate life of a dairy cow overseas. In Europe, normal practice is for the cows to be permanently tethered indoors – some without even being allowed the natural urge to lie down. And, veal crates are abundant. By buying imported cheeses, you are unwittingly supporting these dreadful practices.

* The handling of the fragile calves during transport and at the abattoir is often rough and violent and they are not protected by CCTV footage. Undercover footage at the Riverside Meats abattoir in Echuca, Victoria, revealed its workers cruelly treating the calves. This was shown in ABC’s Lateline a few weeks ago and can be viewed here.

* This article shared by Voiceless eloquently discusses the whimsical yet skewed view a lot of us hold about the dairy industry.

* If, as a result of learning about the plight of the dairy cows and their calves, you are seeking to reduce or eliminate dairy from your diet, my following posts will cover some delicious dairy free substitutes and recipes and who to contact to voice your concern about how the dairy industry is allowed to operate.

* If you would still like to keep dairy in your diet but want to source your products from kinder dairies, I will be discussing that too so…….stay tuned !  X

There is an enormous amount of information out there and the following, factual articles are ones worth reading should you want to learn more.

* Dairy Cows Fact Sheet thanks to Animals Australia

* A life of quiet suffering – the dairy cow thanks to Voiceless

* Dairy Cows courtesy of Compassion in World Farming

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Not happy Chinese New Year for the sharks

Posted by on Feb 16, 2013 in Sharks | 0 comments

 

“May our daily choices be a reflection of our deepest values, and may we use our voices to speak for those who need us most, those who have no voice, who have no choice” – Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.

 

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January 2nd 2013. Shark fins drying on a Hong Kong building’s roof. Photo from Anthony Dickson/AFP/Getty Images

 

We are currently in the midst of Chinese New Year celebrations – a very colourful and interesting time to be in Sydney.

Alas, Chinese New Year means a surge in demand for shark fin soup. Shark fin is predominantly eaten by the Chinese and Taiwanese and is a symbol of wealth, has a number of dubious and unsubstantiated health claims attributed to its consumption and is often eaten at celebrations such as weddings.

Sharks are killed at the rate of 200,000 per day world wide to meet the world’s demand for their highly valuable fins. For most of these sharks, not only is their death exceptionally cruel but also so obscene in it’s wastefulness of the animals body. The fins are cut off whilst the shark is alive before the shark is thrown overboard to drown or bleed to death. The shark’s body is of less value and is harder to keep fresh so the fishermen would prefer to fill their boats with the valuable fins and discard the live body overboard like rubbish.

Shark populations have declined by 90% in the last 30 years. I find it incomprehensible how mankind has come so perilously close to wiping out a species of creature which has been around for millions of years and is at the top of the food chain in the ocean. What are we thinking ? What is going to happen to the ocean’s ecosystem in the future if we continue to pillage it as we currently are ? All for the sake of some glutinous, tasteless animal part to placate the wealthy Chinese.

Shark finning is illegal in Australian waters (which doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen – a fin-less and dying shark was found washed up on a NSW beach in November 2012) but we still import 10 tonnes per year which seems a touch hypocritical and counterproductive.

What can you do ?

write to the Minister for the Environment to demand legislative change to ban the sale of shark fin in Australia as has occurred in Hawaii, California and Toronto-  to name a few places taking a stand.

– join a group such as Sharksavers, Stop Shark Finning or The Australian Anti Shark Finning Alliance  (TAASFA) to support their campaigns and to educate yourself.

– boycott restaurants who serve shark fin dishes. Unfortunately there are numerous ones in Sydney and Australia wide – ones which I have, regrettably, eaten at numerous times over the years. TAASFA’s wall of shame lists them here. Let the manager of the restaurant know the reasons why you will not support their business.

– support restaurants who have turned their back on this cruel industry – such as award winning Melbourne Cantonese restaurant Flower Drum who removed Shark fin from their menu in 2012. Or, even better, if it’s yum cha you are after, try my favorite haunt, Bodhi in Sydney – beautiful setting with not a shark fin or any other animal product to be seen on the menu.

– don’t underestimate the power of the individual. The collective rise in public condemnation of shark finning worldwide has seen a ban on the practice in the European Union as of 2012 (which is encouraging as Spain has been the largest supplier over recent years) and has seen large, luxury hotel chains such as the Shangri-la in Hong Kong (shark fin capital of the world) recently abandoning it from its menu and airline Cathay Pacific no longer carrying it on board.

 

 

 

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Recipe of the Week – Vegan Pad Kee Mao

Posted by on Feb 8, 2013 in Recipes - Savoury | 6 comments

 

I was brought up in a family where adventurous, tasty, garlic riddled and spicy cooking was abundant (thanks mum!). I also, unashamedly, love food and am really beginning to revel in the joy of cooking.

This has led to me having an intolerance of bland food and means that I am on a constant mission to find the perfect, taste bud tantalising meal which my carnivorous partner enjoys equally.

Through Pinterest and various blogs, I have literally hundreds of recipes bookmarked ready to try. My blog is not one devoted to veganism or vegetarianism cooking – there are numerous (and often fabulous) sites devoted to such cooking……HOWEVER, as I gradually cover all the topics I intend to, the recipes without any animal products are, unquestionably, the kindest ones. I believe they are also the ones which have to fight a little bit harder to prove themselves in the taste department.

So, the recipes I will be sharing over the ensuing months are ones which have been the stand outs from my prior week in the kitchen.

Whether or not you are new to vegetarian or vegan cooking and want to maybe have a meat free meal or two this week……or if you are already into vegetarian or vegan cooking…..here is the first of many for you to try !

Recipe adapted from Saucy Cooks and serves 6 people. Takes about an hour to prepare and cook.

 

Ingredients

For Noodles /Vegis

1/2 cup Peanut Oil

500g Flat Rice Noodles (I used the soft ones from the Asian grocery)

3 tbsp chopped garlic

2 tbsp chopped shallots

1 chopped brown onion

1 head of broccoli – chopped

1/2 eggplant – chopped (sprinkle with some salt first to draw out moisture)

500g chopped pre cooked tofu (the one with the brown outer layer from the Asian grocery) (otherwise you will need to fry firm tofu in batches as per original recipe)

6 Shitake or Oyster Mushrooms, sliced

1 cup of snow peas cut into thirds

1 red or green capsicum – chopped

1 cup of Thai basil leaves, shredded (should be available at Asian fruit shop, I am luckily growing it in my garden).

2 chopped tomatoes

1/4 cup corriander

 

For the Sauce

1/3 cup Golden Mountain Sauce (readily available at Asian groceries)

1/4 cup vegetarian Oyster Sauce (readily available at Asian groceries)

3 tbsp Palm Sugar (substitute with brown if you don’t have it).

3 tbsp rice vinegar (I used balsamic vinegar which was fine)

2 tbsp roasted chilli paste (I used Sambal Bawang Putih garlic chilli paste from the Asian grocery – it is quite hot !)

Some black pepper

 

Instructions

1. Unravel or cut your noodles so they are in bite sized strips and set aside.

2. Make sauce and chop vegis.

3. Heat 1/4 cup of oil in wok and add garlic and shallots for about 30 seconds.

4. Add vegis and stir fry for about 5 minutes (not including basil and tomatoes)

5. Remove Vegis and put aside in a bowl.

6. Add remaining oil into same wok, heat and toss noodles around for a couple of minutes making sure they don’t clump together.

7. Add sauce to noodles and stir fry for about a minute.

8. Add cooked vegis and tofu and toss to combine in wok.

9. Add tomatoes and basil, stir some more.

10. Add corriander and serve.

* The vegis are interchangeable but the thai basil leaves and Golden Mountain Sauce are a must – they give it that distinctive and authentic Pad Kee Mao flavour.

 

Pad Kee Mao

Pad Kee Mao

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