I have a confession.
Despite being a passionate vegan for two years, I’ve not been particularly “active”. I started my own blog, which was a safe way to get the message out there while curled up in my P.J’s, but I’ve never participated in a protest, attended a rally, or been much of an “activist” at all.
Considering how much I care about this; I’m a bit of a wimp!
A few nights ago, I was sat on Facebook, being lazy, munching on sliced banana with cinnamon (my new addiction) and there, right before my eyes were the words “Manchester Animal Action: tomorrow at 11am.”
Facebook can be so creepy sometimes, I hate that it knows me so well. But, privacy issues aside, I clicked on the link, thinking, “I’m going to do this; tomorrow I’m going to go and fight for animal rights!” What came over me I do not know, but it seemed like fate and who am I to turn my back on fate? I hit “attending” before I could change my mind and went to bed in a minor state of panic.
I spent most of the morning having imagined arguments with strangers and worrying about out what a Vegan Activist should wear. Then, I dressed completely normally, grabbed some snacks and went to go get the bus.
The location was full of people and I couldn’t see any “vegan activists” (no, they didn’t have giant tattoos on their foreheads.) After wandering for a while, I had nearly decided to bail on the whole thing and go get a latte, when I saw some people struggling with bags and posters in the distance. I took a deep breath, decided it was fate again and went over to help carry.
I felt immediate satisfaction and was happy that I stayed. We started chatting and setting up the stall, which was when the leaflets with pictures of chickens in blenders and cows hanging upside-down caught my eye. Admittedly, not my usual approach and I was a little scared about how people would react, but, among the torture fliers, we were also armed with chocolate flapjacks, “cream cheese” crackers and other treats to lure even the most die-hard carnivore.
For the first hour I was too nervous to do much. I stayed right back and just tried to make friends with the others at the stall. While chatting about tempeh brands and eco-shoes, I enjoyed watching people pass by and their varying reactions. People would come up to us, some curious, some not, but everyone wanted free food. I honestly think those flapjacks did more for veganism on this day than any of us. All I had to do was keep smiling, know the flapjack recipe and not run away.
Then: a turning point.
A lovely old man came over and looked very curious, so I mustered up all my courage and went over to hand him a leaflet. We started talking and he told me that he’s in very poor health and has started to become curious about “you people” and “this veg thing”. I felt my heart swelling, asked him what was wrong and before I knew it, we’d been talking for twenty minutes. Suddenly all my focus was on this man, who was open and wanted advice that I am in a unique position to be able to give. It was the best feeling I’ve had in a long time. After he’d gone, I felt enormous pride, only strengthened when my fellow activists looked at me and said: “you’ve got the touch.”
After that, the rest of the day was fantastic! Immediately I looked around for a new target and once I was open to it, talking to people was a breeze. I spent the day having conversations with strangers about how easy my lifestyle is and why it’s so important. Really – it was a dream scenario! I had willing people, putting themselves in front of me, asking me to talk about what I am most passionate about in the world. Well, okay, if I must!
That day I was a part of a small, but determined group who successfully demonstrated that vegans aren’t crazy or weird – we just want to inform those who are curious. And can bake a mean flapjack!
After such an incredible experience, my resolution is to not shy away from situations that seem scary. Being a vegan activist doesn’t have to come from a place of anger or rage, it should be the opposite. You can spread love, awareness and delicious things. This will be what attracts people to you and, when I think about it, isn’t that why people go went vegan? The peace. The love. The baked goods!
Do you only have five minutes? Or five dollars? Or five things in your fridge?
Well, the vegan lifestyle is be here to help! When I think about my "broke university days" and the money I spent on food, I would honestly say I spend LESS now. I remember my usual packet of 2 chicken breasts, which would set me back around eight dollars. Now, how much fruit and veggies can I buy for eight dollars?! Answer: lots.
I'm going off good old Aussie supermarkets here, but I would also say I could buy (of the cheap persuasion) a packet of pasta, a tin of chopped tomatoes, some garlic, some basil and some mushrooms for eight dollars...maybe even less. (And before publishing this post: I went to a UK supermarket near me and it checks out! Even in the UK.)
Here are some easy, fun, staple vegan meal ideas that meet at least one or more of the following criteria: five minutes, five ingredients or five dollars! And a bit lower down, I'll switch from super simple to the "gourmet" variety. I always like to jazz up my food :)
Basic Tomato and Basil Pasta
1 Packet pasta (err...a dollar?!)
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 clove of garlic
Do I need to write how to make this? Oh okay. Cook your pasta. Sauté your chopped onion and garlic in some oil....add the tomatoes and some of the basil. Leave to simmer while your pasta cooks. Add the cooked pasta, stir through and enjoy! Add the remaining basil on top for prettiness.
1 Packet...um...nice pasta :)
About four large tomatoes
3 cloves garlic
Large bunch spinach.
This was an amazing meal that our Italian exchange student made once. Basically: put your pasta on to cook. Put your oven on to "grill". Halve your tomatoes on a baking tray and place them on with all the cloves of garlic you desire. Drizzle with some oil, salt, pepper and the basil. Place in the oven for a good twenty minutes or so.
Take a potato masher and CAREFULLY mash the them all together on the tray. The tomatoes are known to burst a little, so be careful as they'll be hot! Add this delicious constancy to your cooked pasta. Add the spinach, more basil and toss everything together. This meal is to die for! Any Italian would be proud.
Easy Peasy Beans on Toasty
Yeah, that's right! Beans on toast. Maybe I've been in England too long, but when you're broke: this totally counts as a meal!
2 Slices of bread
1 tin of Baked Beans
(Spinach if you feel like adding some "health")
Drizzle of Olive Oil
Toast ya bread. Bam. Chuck ya beans in a saucepan. Bam. Take ya toast out. Bam. Drizzle on some oil - YUMMY BAM. Pile on spinach and tip beans on top. Done.
How good does that look? It's really that easy. A great substitute if you're not a big bread-eater is to substitute with brown rice.
1 large Portobello Mushroom (or 2 smaller ones)
1/2 an Avocado
Some greens of your choice (that picture has Kale)
1 Bagel, toasted.
In this recipe, I use the avocado as a butter replacement, but feel fee to add oil if you wish. While your bagel is toasting, all you need to do is grill the mushroom for ten minutes or so in the oven with some oil, salt and pepper. It wll be to die for!
Layer the bagel with smashed avocado, greens and then your mushroom on top. Drool.
Couldn't let this post go without mentioning the humble and amazing baked potato. You can buy a bag of potatoes SO CHEAPLY. There's a reason why people lived on them in war.
Put two nice big potatoes in the oven about an hour before you're ready for dinner. Then, when they feel ready, cut them in half and fill with any/all of the following ideas!
- Vegan Butter or Olive Oil
- Smashed Avocado, salt and pepper
- Baked Beans
- Make a mixture of sauteed onion, garlic, tomatoes and kidney beans
- Other roasted Vegetables
If it was me...I would probably add a side green salad or massive corn-on-the-cobb. Divine!
And I enjoyed writing this post so much, I may make a habit out of "cheap vegan meal" ideas :)
A post dedicated to my new love affair with the oh so simple, oh so under-rated....THE SALAD.
Since embarking on my Raw adventure a week ago (the 80 10 10 diet, to be specific) I have been creating a salad nearly every night of the week and it didn't take long for that to become my favourite part of the day.
The basics: make it big, keep it simple and make sure your ingredients are GREAT. Honestly: fresh lettuce tastes so much better than week-old, sad lettuce. Rocket science? Make sure you always have plenty of yummy fruits and veggies in your cupboards, a lemon, some herbs and a nice bowl to excite you. The power of a snazzy bowl should not be overlooked.
Never doubt that a salad will fill you up and leave you satisfied. I spent a long time adding a few slices of bread or rice or potatoes because I thought there was no way I would feel full eating salad. No way. Hmmm I wonder why that was? Probably because my salad was about the same size as my "side salad" would have been. If you're going to make a meal of salad; make it a MEAL. I'm talking GIANT! Start off with an entire head of lettuce or an entire packet of spinach (or a mix!) and then add an abundance of raw veggies. I cannot believe how simple, nourishing and satisfying I have found this new evening routine. Now, if you are or are not inspired, I'm going to make you look at my salad pictures of the week and give you the 411 :)
I made these salads super basic, often using a lot of the same ingredients to keep my life simple. But I'll be making more exciting ones to come!
My favourite so far...and it was only meant to be "leftovers"
Head of romaine lettuce
1 yellow pepper, cut into thin strips
Two stalks of celery
Juice of half a lemon.
Wait...that's not it? THAT IS IT. And this salad was absolutely delicious.
Ladies and Gents: Meet....TAHINI
1 head romaine lettuce
1 small box of cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 Cucumber, in cubes
1/2 Green pepper
Juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon raw tahini
SO SIMPLE IT'S RIDICULOUS. Why does it taste so good??? Oh right: because your body LOVES you when you eat this stuff.
My dinner last night!
1 head romaine lettuce (trend starting or what?)
1 small box cherry tomatoes
1/4 avocado cubed
1 tablespoon tahini
Sweet and Juicy!
1 head romaine lettuce
4 Chopped tomatoes
1/2 Green pepper
1 cup green grapes (I swear it works!)
sprinkling raw mixed nuts
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