Making kind choices in your everyday life.

Topical

The Highs and Lows of Veganuary

Posted by on Feb 5, 2017 in Recipes - breakfast, Recipes - Savoury, Recipes - Sweet, Soup, Topical | 2 comments

“Animals are my friends…and I don’t eat my friends.” – George Bernard Shaw

 

It’s been nearly a week since I proudly completed Veganuary, along with my very un-vegany partner – which makes me doubly proud. It has been a brilliant show of solidarity with nearly 60,000 people world wide joining together to abstain from all animal products for the month of January. My pre January diet was about 80% plant based with the remaining 20% made up of a tiny bit of fish, a fair amount of eggs and the occasional product containing dairy. Here’s what I discovered / learnt from the full experience :

PROS

People are overwhelmingly kind

My partner’s very blokey fire brigade crew all decided to have vegan meals for all of their shifts together – entirely off their own bats, to show their support for him ! Bless !

I found a couple of working week staples which I fell in love with

Overnight oats (1/2 cup of oats, pinch of salt, 1/2 cup coconut/almond milk, 1 tsp acai powder, 2 tsp chia seeds, 2 tsp sesame seeds, 1 tbsp maple syrup – mixed together and left overnight) every morn’ and

a quinoa buddha lunchbox creation (1/2 cup cooked quinoa, 1 tbsp kimichi (from green street kitchen), 1 square of flavoured tofu (Thai, Japanese etc)  1/3 avacado, 1 tbsp sesame oil, chopped capsicum, shallots, a few spinach leaves), every lunch.

Dark chocolate

Happily munched on the 90% Cocoa Lindt variety and adapted to it’s bitterness with ease (as opposed to my super sweet, milk containing Caramel variety which I usually eat).

Greek Delis are a good source of great vegan cheese

I was pleasantly surprised by this.  I learnt that Greek people abstain from animal products leading up to (and perhaps during) Easter. My purchase of a big block of their most popular vegan cheese (name unknown) from a big Marrickville Greek deli has kept me going all month. They told me that more options will be available closer to Easter.

Dairy Free Kingland  yogurt is delightful

Particularly the berry / chai one. It does not have that overwhelming soy or coconut flavour that some non dairy yogurts have.

I am in good company

There are many but my new discovery this month was the tennis champ William sisters.

My friends were happy to give a bit of vegan eating a go and joined us for a brilliant feast at :

The Green Lion – the new vegan pub in Rozelle, Sydney. It was a big hit and I’d thoroughly recommend it.

The list of sublime things to cook up is infinite. The standouts this month were :

Spicy Braised Tofu Tostadas,

*this ridiculously easy chocolate cake

Corn Zuchhini Fritters (in which I replaced the eggs with the aquafaba from the chickpea can – 6tbsp for the required 2 eggs) topped with avocado,salsa and Toffutti creme cheese

* even in the midst of a horrendously hot summer, this spicy Thai soup went down a treat.

* I am yearning to try this baked spinach and artichoke pasta. It’s on the menu this week.

My go to recipe sources just keeps expanding

The Happy Pear was my favourite discovery this month. I could happily live on their recipes alone. These healthy, inspiring Irish brothers are utter gems. I love their instagram feed of their early morning Irish sea swims.

Other people have removed the hard work / label stalking in supermarkets

Thank you Vomad. Your free guide specifically for Australia is outstanding (helps to identify products containing palm oil too).

I’ve scored a good one.

Not only did my fella dedicate 31 days to a plant based diet with no slip ups or complaints but he upped the anti at the end of the month. I had used some bribery to get him to commit to Veganuary by promising him that I’d make a $10 a day donation to his favourite charity (Medicens Sans Frontiers) per day that he made it through unscathed. He ended up donating the $$$ himself, enabling me to donate the same amount to my charity of choice (Project Hope) to let me say thank you. They have helped a situation I have been closely involved in over the last few days which is not my story to tell here. Suffice to say, the staff over at Southern Cross Vets are phenomenal.

CONS

  • Spending $12 on 3 miniscule donuts and cupcakes at a way too trendy little vegan Sydney place.
  • Put on a couple of kgs – too much good food to try !
  • I didn’t achieve the full conversion (or even partial really) of my fella as I had hoped – alas, he is adopting a couple changes (like my overnight oats) so I am happy.

So, looking at the pros versus cons…the way forward for me looks pretty clear. For me it is the most intentional way that I can express my love and respect of animals. It is also the most practical way that I can do my bit to fight against climate change (google animal agriculture and climate change, pick a reputable source, and you’ll see what I mean).

Despite it’s name, if you want to dip your toe in and give it a try, you can sign up with Veganuary at any time. The resources, information and recipes are great.

As per the beautiful words of Pam Ahern from Edgar’s Mission “If we could live happy and healthy lives without harming others, why wouldn’t we?”

Why not indeed ??

 

 

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Autumn

Posted by on May 15, 2016 in eating out, Eggs, Recipes - Savoury, Recipes - Sweet, Topical | 2 comments

“Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns,” ~ George Eliot.

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Image from www.earthporn.com

Where are you my beloved Autumn ? T’is but a mere 2 weeks away from winter and yet another t-shirt wearing Sydney day is just finishing up. Frightening stuff – and, scarier still that our politicians in their election campaign are steadfastly avoiding any climate change talk. It’s all “jobs and growth” but what kind of world are they expecting us to work in and grow into ??

My blogging frequency is about as lack luster as this balmy excuse of an Autumn we are having. I am keen to get back into the swing of addressing a topic once a month or so but, for now, it’s going to be all the brilliant, interesting and inspiring things which have been tickling my fancy or firing me up since I last wrote all those moons ago in Spring.

Inspiring people

  • Marc Ching from the Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation in the US. His missions to save dogs from the meat trade in Asia (most recently in China, Thailand and Cambodia) are epic and heart wrenching to watch but ultimately heroic. He does what so few animal lovers could do or face. When he is not rescuing dogs under the guise of being  a dog meat buyer so he can infiltrate into the grimmest of world’s where dogs are tortured before being killed for their meat, he is rescuing animals from the worst cases of neglect and abuse in the US. Here is his facebook page which follows these incredible rescues.
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    Marc Ching : Photo from Hope and Animal Wellness Foundation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Whilst on this topic, please join Ricky Gervais and sign this petition against the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in China. Public opposition to this barbaric festival grows each year. Please add your voice. It needs to end.

  • Marianne Thieme. I went to see her talk a couple of weeks ago at the 2016 Voiceless Animal Law Lecture Series. This utterly impressive woman is the leader of the Dutch Party for the Animals. I felt like I was immersed in an episode of Borgen – watching a rare species of politician who is progressive, intelligent, compassionate and actually thinking about the issues that will make this world a better place for the people and animals living on it.

If you’d like to know where do our political parties stand on animal protection here is a handy summary provided by Voiceless. If you would like to see better protection for our most vulnerable members of society, you’ll see that the Animal Justice Party tick all the boxes. I know who will be getting my vote at the up and coming election.

Heavy topics over with…..onto some of my more pleasurable discoveries (which I am noticing are dominated by FOOD ) and a viable explanation for my increasingly gripping pants !

Eating Out Recommendations 

Gigi’s in Newtown continues to tantalise my taste buds with it’s mouthwatering array of pizzas and cocktails and other delights. Seriously, go there.

Gelato Blue in Newtown – have always found it to be the best gelataria in existence but it has now outdone itself by taking a leaf out of Gigi’s book and going completely animal product free.

Golden Lotus in Newtown – delicious and affordable Vietnamese food. Vegan Pho and the like.

Food

New vanilla and blue berry flavoured coconut, dairy free yogurt courtesy of Nudie. I hunted down the Vanilla one at Woollies and rate it big time.

All the new drool-worthy Over the Moo dairy free ice cream flavours, including Matcha Green Tea, Caramel and Ginger Ninja.

Successful Recipes

I have been on a biscuit / brownie making rampage of late with the following little morsels getting rapturous feedback…

As for savoury new discoveries……

This one pot Mexican quinoa dish has been on repeat in our household. Love it.

I’ve just fallen in love with a new cooking blog where every dish looks sensational, nutritious and uncomplicated. The Buddhist Chef – check it out. The Dragon Bowl is getting a run this week in our house.

Recycling etc

Like every second person seems to be doing, I have jumped aboard the house and contents de-cluttering bandwagon – albeit at the most snail like pace imaginable (we’re talking a drawer a week). The Slow Home Podcast and The Minimalists are my go to podcasts to bolster my enthusiasm levels. I am trying my best to rid our unwanted items as responsibly as possible – rather than just turfing it out the front for council collection as I know it’ll get chucked straight into landfill. So, there’s been a couple of handy discoveries I have made….

Terra Cycle. I have created a couple of boxes….one for all my old cosmetic containers, squirty gadgets etc which can’t be recycled via the normal council bins….and the other for all our tooth care regalia – so old toothbrushes, used toothpaste tubes etc. Once full, I just print off my label and mail it off (for free) to the creative Terra Cycle people who make it all into something new and functional. Clever hey ?They have a whole lot of different categories like rubber gloves, pens and coffee pods which run in a similar way. You can earn points too but I didn’t figure out how to do this. I just wanted to be rid of my loot.

H & M. Now this is an impressive move for a chain clothing store and sorted one of my dilemmas. What to do with all those sheets, old t-shirts etc lurking in your cupboards which have a little mark on them or are a bit old and threadbare so unsuitable for Vinnies ?? You take them into your local H & M store where they take them off your hands and do something constructive and worthy with them like making them into new products. PLUS you get a 15% discount card for your troubles should you wish to purchase something (which I did not as am trying to curb my consumerist ways too).

Good new app

If you do eat eggs, Choice have released this great, free app to allow you to avoid all the dodgy, so called “free range” eggs when you are at the supermarket. If you’re going to eat eggs, please pay a few more dollars and support the farmer who stocks the 800-1500 birds per hectare rather than those cashing in on the now legally allowed 10,000 birds per hectare definition, even when the poor birds can’t get outside. And, whilst you’re at it, you can let Aldi know that they are living in the past by supporting the continued sale of caged eggs.

Random nice things

I’ve discovered a new funny comedian who’s podcast I’m loving – the inappropriate, ballsy, sweary, hilarious Jen Kirkman. Her books are great too. Divorced and suddenly single in her 40’s, child free by choice, flying anxieties, weird Prince dreams….it’s all there. And, she’s vegan as I only recently discovered. So sad that I missed the boat and did not see her recently perform in Sydney.

Speaking of Podcasts…a new discovery for me is “Knowing Animals“. An informative learning hub for animal related advocacy issues. JJJ’s Lindsay McDougall was the most recent guest.

Movies – 45 years, Rams, The Daughter, Sherpa and Mia Madre are all fantastic, must sees in my humble opinion.

TV Shows – am obsessed with the UK police show “Happy Valley”. It is so engrossing and gripping.

Books -Nest by Inga Simpson, A Man Called Ove by Fredrick Simpson and The Anti-Cool Girl by Rosie Waterland. All great reads.

I sincerely hope that it is not in 2 seasons time until I see you again. I miss tinkering on my little blog but struggle with time management (obviously). I have no idea how many people read it, would not know how to view my stats to save myself but, for my own sake, it’s a way of gathering up everything I learn or discover and plonking it down in one spot. I hope you get something out of it too.

You can find me on facebook as well.

Ciao xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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15 Magnificent reasons to participate in meat free week

Posted by on Mar 15, 2015 in Topical | 4 comments

“But for the sake of some little mouthful of flesh we deprive a soul of the sun and light, and of that proportion of life and time it had been born into the world to enjoy.” – Plutarch

meatfree

Just as Earth Hour does not expect you to live by candle light for the rest of your life, Meat Free Week does not aim to turn everybody vegetarian or vegan . It does, however, aim to have meat eaters pause and think for a week about what they are putting in their mouths and, hopefully, make some positive changes at the end of the week. Whether the motivator is for health benefits, concerns about the environment or  despair at the condition which billions of animals farmed for their meat or bodily products world wide are kept in, there are many reasons to give it a go. Here are 15 of them :

1. You can help to raise money for wonderful charities. I will give $5 to Voiceless on behalf of anyone who makes the pledge via a comment at the bottom of this page or via my facebook page. A Voiceless grant enabled Meat Free Week to become a reality a few years ago. I like to think of them as the brain’s trust behind the animal welfare movement in Australia. We need these smart people to fight against travesties such as Ag Gag Legislation. Alternatively, you can raise money yourself by having friends sponsor you via the Meat Free Week page.

2. The animals who’s lives are taken for us to eat will thank you for leaving them off your plate. Particularly the majority of the animals of the world who lead completely wretched lives in factory farms (50 billion !) before their lives are taken.

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 3. You will be in great company. Some famous vegetarians / vegans who I admire are : Actresses Natalie Portman and Abi Cornish, Absolutely Fabulous icon Joanna Lumbley, Game of Throne’s star Peter Dinklage, funny fellas Chris Lilley and Tom Ballard, cricketer Peter Siddle, writer Marieke Hardie, singers Sia and Missy Higgins, Triple J’s Lindsay McDougall, surfer Layne Beachly and journalist Sam de Brito.

4. You will be healthier – which is precisely why Bill Clinton became a (mostly) vegan in 2010. You will reduce your risk of bowel cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and the list goes on. Vegetarians are 12 % less likely to develop cancer than meat eaters and a whopping 45 % less likely to develop cancers of the blood such as leukemia (see more here). As for the common, “where do I get my protein?” query, these sources are good ones.

5. You will be helping the environment. It takes 4800 litres of water to produce 1kg of pork. The U.N. has identified the livestock industry as one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems. The intensive farming industry is simply not sustainable. See the Meat Free Week page for more.

6. You will be more svelte. Vegan and vegetarians, on average, weigh less than meat eaters. (And this comes from an independently sourced, unbiased ABC article here).

7. You could shut your eyes and pretend that you are somewhere exotic like…..Palitana in India, the first vegetarian city in the world. Or, one of my favourite places on this planet, Mount Koya-san in Japan where vegetarian food in this Buddhist haven is the only, wonderful, option.

8. You can save some money. Your main staples, lentils, beans and tofu are CHEAP !

9. You will discover some fabulous eateries. For example, in Sydney, yum cha at Bodhi (my favourite), closely followed by Yullis and Nourishing Quarter. Rubyfruit in the Blue Mountains and Sweet Bones Bakery are my favourite “out of Sydney” choices. Melbournians are spoilt for choice with Smith and Daughters at the helm (see great blog Where’s the Beef for more suggestions). I am itching to try the highly rated (number 1 on tripadvisor for restaurants in Launceston!) Garden of Vegan in Launceston later in the year.

10. If you are travelling by plane, you tend to get served first if you order a vegetarian or vegan meal. They are not so mass produced so are generally of a better quality. Just remember to order ahead.

11. You will be able, guiltless-ly, to attend a Morrissey concert. This very passionate vegetarian, bans meat from being sold at the entire venue where he is playing (including the Sydney Opera House for his up and coming shows during the Vivid festival).

12. It’s a small way of saying thanks to the heroic, selfless actions of those around the globe who continuously fight for better conditions for farmed animals (land and sea) – including Animals Australia, Compassion in World Farming, Voiceless, Sea Shepherd, Melbourne and Sydney Pig Save and the brave Toronto Pig Save supporters who stand out in the freakishly cold and hot weather conditions in Toronto, Canada to give a voice to the millions of pigs sent to slaughter there. All of you  lovely people are my heros.

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13. Your repertoire in the kitchen will skyrocket. My favourite go to site is One Green Planet, I have weekly recipes sent out to me by the Humane Society and Sanatarium. Pinterest is choc-a-block with talented bloggers and the like displaying their recipes….my latest “on weekly rotation as they are so outrageously delicious recipes” are this thai green curry (NB vegetarian fish sauce tastes exactly the same as “the real thing”) and this fragrant cambodian noodle salad (where I add silken tofu for more protein). If you prefer your recipes in cookbook form, I highly recommend Simon Bryant’s “Vegies”.

14. You will discover how easy the supermarkets are making it for hard working vegetarians who want some convenience food. Sanitarium, Quorn, Macro and Linda McCartney products (LOVE her sausages) are plentiful and have whole sections devoted to vegetarian / vegan food. A little harder to source but so worth it is my new product discovery – Kinda Bacon. On my lord – coconut pieces which uncannily taste like smoked bacon. A serious taste sensation.

15. You will be a trend setter. Move over you bespectacled, bearded hipsters, vegetarians / vegans are truly the new cool and numbers are on the rise ! Israel is leading the charge with a vegetarian population of 8 % up from 2.6 % 5 years ago.

If any of these reasons have inspired you enough to participate in Meat Free Week, please head on down to the comments section or find me here on facebook to pledge your commitment and my $5 donation on behalf of you will be heading to Voiceless. You’ve got a week to get organised, find some delectable recipes and stock up on all that delicious veggie food out there. And for the flaky almost vegetarians / vegans like myself, I’ll be going completely animal product free for the week – anyone willing to join me on this quest ? Good luck !!

 

 

 

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October Bushfires

Posted by on Oct 20, 2013 in Topical | 0 comments

“The predictions on climate change are for worse bushfires with greater intensity as we go down this century. That means that if we are looking to minimising these tragedies in the future we very much have to turn around this catastrophic potential of climate change and take action now in our own time.” Bob Brown

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Photo from Blue Mountains Australia facebook page – taken in Winmalee.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 I am finding the current bushfires burning around NSW to be so upsetting. The loss that people and animals in the affected areas have suffered is heartbreaking and I can’t stop thinking about some of the personal stories I have read about and seen on the news. I am so worried that this is a sign of what is going to be “normal” in our future.

If you are feeling as helpless as I do right now, there are some good ways to help out. The NARGA Disaster Response Team is a fantastic facebook page to “like”. It has so many suggestions on ways to help out – from volunteering to drop items to places in need, how to prepare for a bushfire, ways to donate money and how to sign up to offer your services as an animal minder for people needing temporary homes for their animals.

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Another wonderful organisation is WIRES who are obviously inundated at the moment and would benefit greatly from donations.

Woolworths are generously matching any public donations for the next 2 weeks to the Salvation Army too for the bushfire appeal. This can be done at the check out.

 

Please, weather gods, bring some rain.

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