Making kind choices in your everyday life.

Get Writing !

Posted by on Jun 16, 2013 in Campaigning | 2 comments

“We live in a democracy and if enough people get their…campaigning up with sufficient force, then they change markets, they change economics, they change the way that people do things” – Julia Gillard (in response to a question about Live Animal Exports).

 

 

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Image from Michal A. Kessler’s facebook page

 

Letter writing, whether it be to a politician, a shop or the newspaper, is a valuable tool and we should all do much more of it. It allows you to communicate your beliefs which may influence others or expose something which makes an impact on you to somebody else. It spreads the word and, if you are an eloquent, persuasive writer, your words can influence others…even politicians who ultimately make the rules we have to live by.

Conveying a message can be done in a few ways:

1. Having a letter published in a newspaper or magazine.

2. Contacting a company via facebook. I like this option as it is quick and your comments are displayed publicly.

3. Writing an email or snail mail letter to an organisation or individual. A letter in your own words will obviously have more impact than a pre formatted letter.

4. Writing a review (eg on Tripadvisor or Eatability).

 

 If you are on Facebook, I would urge you to “like” “A Letter a week” which encourages just that……

As does, the sublimely kind philanthropist Philip Wollen as part of  his wise “list of daily dos and dont’s“, stating ” Write at least one letter to the media or a politician every week. It doesn’t have to be brickbat – a bouquet is fine too.”

Think about something which has really raised some passion in you recently and write a message accordingly. For some ideas….

– Do you feel unhappy about unsafe work conditions which recently led to the deaths of hundreds of Bangladeshi factory workers in a factory fire whilst making clothes for Westerners ? If so, why not write a letter to your favourite clothing label to see if they have signed up to “The Bangladesh Fire and Building Safety Accord”.

– In light of yet more recent horrors being uncovered for Australian cattle in overseas abattoirs, you may wish to question Joe Ludwig, write to your MP or find out what the opposition leader’s view of Live Animal Export is (in short, it is shameful). Animals Australia provide a very easy link to enable you to write to your MP with the option to use a pre-formatted letter if you are short on time.

– My recent posts may have provided some fodder for a letter to :

* Ask Minister of Primary Industries, currently Katrina Hodgkinson, why mother sows can be immobilised for months at a time in cages or why it is legal in Australia for dairy calves to be denied any food or water for up to 30 hours.

* ask your local supermarket to stock more free range products.

* Demand CCTV in slaughterhouses by following link the here :

If your letter writing needs some fine tuning, there are some good tips here on “How to write a letter to a politician“.

My “letters of the week” this week have a taken the form of :

* A facebook message to cosmetic company Jurlique to express my dismay at their decision to sell their products in China despite the fact that ALL cosmetics in China have to be tested on animals. Basically they are selling their soul.

* A Tripadvisor review of a hotel I recently stayed at in Bali, favourably reviewing my stay but pointing out that I would like to see them install a water dispenser, as other hotels we stayed at had, to reduce the need for so many plastic bottles (30,000,000 plastic bottles are purchased each month in Bali !)

* A facebook message to Philippine Airlines to let them know that I would not consider flying with their airline whilst they continue to transport primates from Indonesia to the US for cruel animal testing. They are the only airline in the world to do so.

This week, the Australian Farmer’s Federation are on my hit list for bullying Coles and Animals Australia into ceasing the sale of the “Make It Possible” (against factory farming) bags.

What has made an impact on you this week which would inspire you to put pen to paper ?

 

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Recipe of the Week – Ricotta “cheese”

Posted by on May 11, 2013 in Recipes - "Cheese" (but not quite) | 0 comments

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Photo from  “Be Their Voice (Stop Animal Cruelty)”

This absolutely gorgeous photo has nothing to do with non dairy cheese BUT it captures how I feel about my favourite season of autumn being here and my happiness at finding a decent and tasty dairy free substitute for ricotta cheese.

Plus, I managed to drop our camera into the wild south coast surf on the weekend, complete with memory card containing  my Ricotta and Spinach Cannelloni dish photo which I was originally going to include….so, you will just have to use your imagination on this occasion !

If you are looking to cut out or cut down on dairy, this recipe is a great one to start with. It is easy and fairly economical to make and it can be used in the place of ricotta cheese for any savoury dish. Should you see yourself venturing into the making of non dairy cheese on a regular basis you will need to stock up on savoury yeast flakes and raw cashews both of which are readily available at any health food store.

This recipe is courtesy of The Simple Veganista with just a few adjustments :

Ingredients

1.5 cups of raw cashews

1/3 cup of water

1 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar or the juice of 1 large lemon

2 cloves of garlic

1/2 Tsp of onion powder

1 heaped Tbsp of Savoury Yeast flakes

Sea salt and cracked pepper to taste

Do

Soak cashews for at least 2 hours in a bowl of water. Ensure that the nuts are covered by about an inch of water.

Drain cashews and place all remaining ingredients into a blender or food processor until creamy.

Store in fridge. Makes about 2 cups.

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Say NO to duck/goose down products

Posted by on May 5, 2013 in Clothing | 7 comments

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love” – Mother Teresa

 


Now that winter is just around the corner and our thoughts turn to warming jackets, doonas, puffy vests, sleeping bags, pillows and the like, please avoid buying products containing duck/goose Down. Until recent years, I didn’t give down products much thought and equated them with luxury and warmth. No longer !

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I have discovered that down feathers are collected from birds by one of two means – most commonly as a by product of intensively farmed meat and fois gras birds or, horrifyingly, from live birds where they can be “live plucked” up to 6 times per year before being slaughtered at a young age. It goes without saying that this obviously involves an enormous amount of pain and terror for the birds. They are forcibly held down as their feathers are ripped from their bodies which often tears their flesh, only to be crudely stitched up again without anesthetic. Both methods are derived from cruel practices with the former, by product option being yet another way of supporting the vile intensive farming industry or, worse still, the fois gras producers.

China, Poland and Hungary are the biggest producers of duck and goose down. People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) estimates that 50% of down comes from live plucked birds, yet the Feather and Down industries in China and Europe provide figures of approximately 3 %. I would imagine that the figure lies somewhere in the middle. Unfortunately, there is little transparency in tracing where the feathers have come from. (In 2009, a Swedish Doco estimated that in Hungary 50-80% of down products came from live plucked birds. IKEA independently reviewed this figure and found it to be accurate and, impressively, cancelled their order of products.)

Avoiding down products does not mean going chilly, quite the contrary as there are so many alternative warm insulation fillings such as PrimaLoft available.

 

 For Doonas

Doonas and pillows containing synthetic fillings are widely available but, next time I am in the market for a new doona, I will be going to :

Bamboo Village. Bamboo is sustainable and, surprisingly, warm (I invested in some bamboo thermals last year for winter in New Zealand and stayed cosy).

For Puffy Jackets

All the big, outdoorsy companies (Katmandu, Patagonia, North Face etc) have a plethora of down free options.

This one, from Patagonia may be a bit dramatic for our mild Sydney winter (and perhaps a tad shiny for my taste).  However, not only is it down free BUT it is filled with recycled soda bottles and second hand fabrics so is very environmentally kind. I am also impressed by the transparency and honesty shown by Patagonia towards their down products which they talk about in a refreshingly unbiased manner here.

If you don’t wish to go down free, at the very least, purchase your garment from one of the suppliers who claim to avoid feathers from live plucked birds. These companies include IKEA, Katmandu, Patagonia and Marks and Spencer.

Whilst researching this topic, I got a tad side tracked and ended up stalking overseas companies who make gorgeous, warm coats free from any animal products and, maybe I am stating the bleeding obvious BUT the overseas winter stuff is all on sale for us Australians at this time of year. I prefer to buy Australian when possible but our Northern Hemisphere friends really do know how to do the cold weather thing better. Take a look !

* Voutecouture Vaute3_large: A US Company. Their coats (see pink one to the left) and clothes in general are beautiful and cruelty free.

* Irie Organics : A UK Company who specialise in Hemp based coats and clothes which has a dowdy ring to it (“Hemp”) but some of the jackets are lovely so don’t let the Hemp word put you off ! They donate to Sea Shephard too from the sale of some of their products.

As an interesting aside, the only real cruelty free feather product which exists is EiderDown. If your pockets are lined with gold, it is something you could consider (US$1975 (!!) for an EiderDown pillow is the going rate). The feathers are left behind in the nests of the Eider Ducks in Iceland each Spring and pain stakingly gathered to make some outrageously comfortable doona or pillow for some lucky, rich person.

 

 

 Further Interesting articles / videos

Cruelty Beneath the Covers : Go Down-Free with Alicia Silverstone

Can Down be Ethical or Green

Down and Feathers

A Vegan Friendly Winter Parker

A Guide to Insulated Winter Jackets that are not made with Duck Down

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Non Dairy Milk

Posted by on Apr 14, 2013 in Dairy | 2 comments

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world” – Ghandi

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My quest to discover a kinder way to live has led to the dairy products in my diet undergoing a gigantic revamp. Have a read of my “dairy” post to find out what has caused my shift away from dairy. I do want to continue to supp0rt the “kinder dairies” though so am not doing away with dairy for good but I am consuming a lot less of it and am enjoying discovering the multitude of alternatives out there.IMGP6094

I will continue on all things dairy for the next few weeks and give you some delightful alternatives to cheese, milk, yogurt, icecream, cream, butter and so on so there is no deprivation involved – only some doors opening into a brand new, kinder culinary world.

You only need to cruise the long life milk section of the supermarket to find the plethora of milk aternatives on display. The photo above shows the variety of “milks” or whatever you wish to refer to them as, lurking in my kitchen cupboard but my chosen few are :

* Bonsoy. At around $4.50 for 500ml it is not cheap but I only use it in coffee so a carton lasts me for the week. I now understand the uproar a few years ago when it was banned from our supermarket shelves for a short time. Good cafes use it as it wins hands down as a milk substitute for your coffee. I now even prefer it to regular milk. It takes a couple of practice runs to get the heating issue just right. It will congeal if you put hot water into it cold so you need to heat it first. I fill a third of the cup I am using to have my coffee in and heat it for 45 secs on med high in the microwave.

* Regular So Good Soy milk is my “milk” of choice for cooking creamy sauces if you’re not after  a coconuty flavour (for Asian dishes, coconut milk is the best – why did I neglect to include this delightful substance from my photo ?!?!). Soy milk is very affordable to buy and easy to find.

* Almond milk is my favourite of the milks for smoothies, porridge and cereals. The So Good Almond Milk is sweetish and great tasting. Again, pretty affordable these days. If you are very enthusiastic, you can even make your own almond milk which I am very keen to try….less packaging and cheaper.

* For travel, the little soy creamers are handy. I bought mine from The Cruelty Free Shop who, along with Vegan Online, sell some delicious looking coffee creamers which I intend to stock up on for my impending trip overseas.

So, get cracking with some dairy free cooking. My recipe of the week, a moussaka-esque dish but better,  uses soy for it’s creamy sauce and it was divine. If I may say so myself.

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Recipe of the Week – “No Lamb” Middle Eastern-Style Bake

Posted by on Apr 14, 2013 in Recipes - Savoury | 0 comments

Thank you to Mouthwateringvegan.com for this one. She is one talented chef and shares some tantalising recipes on her blog.

As I didn’t really alter it at all, I will be lazy and just post the link – here.

Here is how mine turned out. As with all these type of layered dishes, it tasted even better a few days later. It is a bit of work so is not one for the working week. Nor is it in any shape or form slimming. For the dairy free cheese (a topic for my next post), I used Sheese (the blue cheese flavoured one) – it is hard, tasty and grate-able and can be found at smaller specialist supermarkets such as Harris Farm but any dairy free cheese will do. Nutritional Yeast flakes are found in Health Food Shops and create the cheesy flavour (and, are apparently very good for you too). IMGP6083Hope you enjoy this dish as much as my little family did and, apologies for the slightly feral looking casserole dish.

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Meat Free Week thanks

Posted by on Apr 1, 2013 in Factory Farming | 2 comments

“I think the concept of Meat Free week is a great way to promote not only the inhuman approach of factory farming, but also a way to bring a more mindful approach to consuming meat in our daily lives. If we all even just took the approach of having some meat free days in our lives, it would be a huge step in assisting to create a positive change in our world and the environment in which we exist.”
Rebecca Quade

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Thank you to those who participated in the Meat Free Week Challenge. Have sent the promised donation to Voiceless  and the offer stands (I will donate $10 per person who completes a meat free week) for any time you wish during the year.

Whether or not you took part, I hope you’ve been inspired to try out some delectable meat free meals from the blogs I mentioned in the last post (two further ones very worthy of note which have recently caught my eye are The Vegan Pantry and mouthwateringvegan) and given some thought to the ways that each of us can help the billions of factory farmed animals around the world and the ensuing environmental and health problems which come with factory farming.

 

I made it through my Vegan Week Challenge witIMGP6071h just a couple of hiccups and a resulting self imposed fine to Meatfreeweek – firstly for using Oyster Sauce in my Pad Kee Mao dish and secondly for not querying the content of a biscuit I bought at a cafe which would have no doubt contained egg which would’ve almost certainly been from a caged chook.

On the plus side, I found some new recipes to try and have even embarked upon the quest to make Vegan Cheese with the help of Miyoko Schinner’s “Artisan Vegan Cheese” book. Pictured above is my first attempt at the “Sharp Cheddar”. Despite much eye rolling and harassment at home about my new hobby, I am quite excited by the contents of this book which promises the recreation of all my dairy favourites such as meltable mozzarella, ricotta and parmesan with the use of, primarily, cashew nuts and a few obscure ingredients such as xantham gum and rejuvalac.

My “Cheddar” cheese was pretty good for my introduction into the strange new world of vegan cheese making but the texture could do with some improvement to make it convincingly cheddar-esque. Will keep you posted…..there is still much fun and kitchen messiness to be had with my jars of fermenting rejuvalac, mountainous packs of cashews and agar flakes.

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Meat Free Week – it’s betting time !

Posted by on Mar 14, 2013 in Factory Farming | 1 comment

Every man and every living creature has a sacred right to the gladness of Sping time” – Leo Tolstoy

A beautiful quote from Tolstoy but, sadly, the majority of animals bred for food (or for their milk or eggs) in Australia and around the world do not get to experience such “gladness”. They will not get to feel the sun on their back or a refreshing cool breeze on a hot summer’s day. This is because they were unlucky enough to be born into a world where they are not protected by law and they are treated as products, not like the sentient beings that they are who feel fear, joy, pain and loss. They were unlucky enough to be born into a factory “farm”.

The wonderful organisation, Voiceless, has come up with a way of raising awareness about the issues surrounding factory farming through their meat free week campaign. The site discusses why factory farming is cruel, how it is dreadful for our environment and the health benefits which can be gained from a meat free diet (or from a reduction in the amount of meat you eat).

the truth is hard to swallow

I also recently read a great article on Mamamia. It is a balanced, not overly confronting read which summarises the issues well.

You have a few days to prepare yourself for your week long pledge with me. I will give $10 to the Voiceless campaign for every person who commits to going meat free from the 18th to 24th March 2013. To clarify, this means no fish, chicken, prawns, sardines, anchovies, minced meat, quail, pork brothed pho, lamb, bacon……..the list goes on ! All you need to do to commit is let me know as a comment to this page or on facebook. Despite the utmost faith I hold in you, if you renege at any time during the week, you will be up for the $10 donation. Fair ? It’s not often that I say this but, I want to give some money away !!! I will hunt you down at the week’s end and see how you fared and, hopefully, work out how enormously out of pocket I am going to be.

I will be joining the pledge too but will be going a little bit further, by committing to a week long vegan pledge. I can do better with my diet. I would class myself as 90 % vegetarian (I still have salmon every couple of weeks or so)  and 80 % vegan (am still eating my “kindly sourced” eggs and milk a couple of times a week) so there is definately room for improvement in the kind eating stakes for me. I am discovering that an increasingly plant based diet does not mean deprivation – but it does require a bit of  imagination in the kitchen if you want to step beyond the lentils and tofu eating caricature (not that there is anything wrong with lentils and tofu!).

The Voiceless campaign is not about everybody converting everyone to becoming vegetarian or vegan and it is not about vilifying people who like to eat meat. It is an awareness and fund raising campaign and may lead to some delicious meat free recipe discoveries. Also, my sweet man is doing the pledge. If he can, trust me, anybody can – this is a man who truly loves his steak.

“Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh, but what am I going to eat ?” I hear you scream !

The internet will be your friend on this week long journey. Here are my favourite sites and, trust me, you WILL find an abundant array of recipe suggestions here :

The Kind Cook (you will fall in love with it’s author, Mel, and her recipes)

The Mindful Foodie

Veggie NumNum

Humane Society (subscribe to their recipe of the week option)

Sanitarium

Healthful Pursuit

Search “vegetarian recipes” on Pinterest – you will get 1000’s of fabulous suggestions from around the world.

If you are after something quick and easy, I recommend the Linda McCartney range of vegetarian sausage rolls, pies and sausages (my favourite – they are the best vegi sausages I have ever eaten. As somebody who actually likes the taste of meat, I must say that they are convincingly “sausagey” tasting.). Not that I like spruiking anything from the big supermarkets but I have noticed that Woolies have a new “Macro” brand of vegetarian quick and easy meals for sale.

Finally, let’s kick things off with my recipe of the week. I have no idea where I pilfered it from so I cannot give anybody credit. Somebody deserves credit for it though. It is quick, cheap, nutritious and delectable.

Spicy Lentil and Zuchhini Soup

Serves 3-4

1 tbsp oil, 1 chopped onion, 3 grated zucchinis, 1 tbsp of garlic finely chopped, 1 tbsp tumeric, 1 tsp of chilli flakes, 1 litre of “chicken style” or vegetable stock (I use the Vegetarian Massel brand), 1 cup of red lentils, salt and pepper to taste.

Fry onions and garlic in oil, add remaining ingredients and bring to boil. Then simmer for 30 mins.

Good luck in your pledge everyone and don’t forget to let me know of your commitment via a comment – no procrastination, do it right NOW !

 

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