Making kind choices in your everyday life.

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)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 !

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Up close and personal with Pacific

 

 

12 Comments

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  1. Patti Telfer

    Oh I know that very sweet face. Agree that the B and B, is an amazing place. As soon as you enter you get this feeling of peace. This B and B changed mine and my husbands life for the best. Even our health has improved. Very thankful to a little Hen called Miss Dinks for changing our life. The lovely couple that run the Bed and Broccoli, Nikki and Scott are the nicest and kind people that I have ever known. Well worth a visit.

    • Tread Kindly

      Thanks so much for commenting Pattie. So agree with you about the feeling of “peace” that comes over you on the property. It was definately a life changing visit for me too. I would love to go back again one day.

  2. Deb Baker

    Oh Ing I absolutely agree that the vegan lifestyle is the most kind and compassionate way to live. But it is so hard when feeding a family of five. I too try to buy ethically sourced meat but like you say it’s not an easy task in this country. We used to have chooks but don’t anymore. But we get our eggs from a couple of local families. I wish I had the time and money to fully undertake this lifestyle but it is somewhat tricky with those constraints. But every little bit helps I guess. What a beautiful place this B&B looks. I love that the community have embraced their venture.

    • Tread Kindly

      Hi Deb, thanks for taking the time to comment – most appreciated ! I am a big believer in the fact that every little bit counts – none of us a perfect in our quests (I am far from it !) but as long as we try and are aware of the issues, I think we are doing our bit. You should try and visit there one day Deb, you’d love it !

  3. Cate

    This place is definitely on our ‘to to’ list. Wish they’d set up a similar venue in Queensland, somewhere around Maleny or Montville would be ideal, as the journey down to Victoria would mean leaving our own pets in the care of others – something we are loathe to do.
    Thank you for your insight into this amazing place!
    Cate & Family
    Woodgate Beach Qld

    • Tread Kindly

      Thanks for the feedback Cate and family – I hope you do make it there one day. I wish we had something like it closer to home too (I am in Sydney)…I would love to run something similar one day when we escape the big smoke. Yes, the pet thing is a big thing for us too (and we only have 1 little dog !) – we are lucky to have the most wonderful dog walker / sitter nearby who looks after our dog as well as we do.

  4. Louise Harrison

    Thanks so much for your article. Having traveled the world for 3 decades with my job, amazingly Nikki and Scott’s B&B now tops my bucket list of place s to visit. Great to see that it lives up to expectations. In terms of the vegan lifestyle, I agree with you and am in a very similar position although I do eat a lot of seafood. Am struggling with that. Can’t wait for Nikki’s book to come out as I think that will help. Thanks again.

    • Tread Kindly

      Hi Louise, oh please go there, you will not regret it. Glad I am not the only one who struggles with their belief in a vegan lifestyle but not always getting it right (yep, seafood for me too..). I can’t wait for the book. Thanks so much for your comments, most appreciated !

  5. One Small Life

    I continue to love what you do here Ing. Please write a post on egg replacements for baking (very curious!). I continue to eat a “mainstream” diet which includes all the “bad” things which is pretty much impossible to justify. The vegan ideal is a great one, but a bit unrealistic for me at present. This does lead to a bit of tension (and feelings of failure!) from time to time, but I try not to beat myself up about it. I find I am far more proactive if I’m in a positive frame of mind. Becoming overwhelmed and depressed at the state of the world and my part in it only leads me to want to binge out on non-fair trade chocolate and vast amounts of alcohol. xx

  6. Tread Kindly

    Hi Kate, I was thinking at the time that I should have put a link to the egg replacement comment – I have talked about it previously in my “egg” posts. I usually do the chai seed mix – it works well as a binder and the chai seeds are supposedly very good health wise. Please don’t beat yourself up about ANYTHING – you are obviously such a compassionate and kind soul and as long as we do our best, surely that counts ! Am in complete agreement with you about being overwhelmed / depressed with many aspects of our world and that chocolate and alcohol are superb antidotes. Thanks again for your words, you are lovely ! xxx PS and ditto about the “failures”….I can be quite hard on myself too about everything I should be doing.

  7. Bridie

    That B&B sounds fantastic! (Although a little far for us sadly).

    I know what you mean about how your food choices may come across as riddled with contradiction. I’m sure my own food choices come across the same way… It used to really bother me. There was always a step I could be taking something further. In the end, however, I made peace with the fact that I really am trying, that it’s somewhat of a journey, and there are bigger issues in the world (in my own little life, even!), and that that kind of stress wasn’t serving me, or anyone else for that matter. We can spend so much time analysing our impact on our planet (which is important!) but we’ve gotta have a little grace for ourselves too!

    • Tread Kindly

      Too true Bridie and it sounds like you and your family are well and truly doing your bit for the animals and the environment. Thanks for taking the time to comment – they are wise words !

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