I do have some vegan friends, but the majority of vegans I come across are online.
The mad, weird online world.
I joined some vegan groups three years ago for advice and to feel like I wasn't alone. I rarely comment in these groups (actually, I don't think I ever have) but every now and then I enjoy having a nosy.
Sadly, most of the time, I see debates.
Horrible, mean, negative debates attacking someone because they did something "not vegan." People commonly use these groups to ask questions, advice, health concerns or anything of that nature. Tell you what though - do not come here and expect support (sadly).
A post I read this morning was attacking a girl who wrote in asking about non-leather riding equipment - saddles, bridles, etc. I thought nothing of this post, until I read the horrible responses to her question and noticed the girl could no longer be clicked on.
She was no longer a member of the vegan group.
And, I do not bloody blame her. The comments were awful. Just awful. It made me disgusted to call myself a vegan. People attacked her, some simply, some not. One wrote simply: "is this a joke?" and that was the tamest.
Some called her names, many posted in dictionary definitions of vegansim, some had the gall to talk about her horses like they were these poor victims and didn't she realize what she was subjecting them to?
The gist being: you cannot call yourself a vegan if you ride a horse.
Are you fucking serious?
Okay - I want to put this out there right away: if this is what it takes to be a "vegan" - attacking others, acting like the authority on all-things-vegan, shooting others down because they "aren't doing it right", then I don't want to be associated with the word anymore. This is the behavior that fuels people's correct assumptions that vegans care more about animals than other people!
This girl rides horses. She is a vegan so obviously loves animals! If she owns horses and rides them occasionally, why is that your issue or problem? She's not running a riding school, renting her horse out for seven dollars an hour and running it into the ground for her own profits! She's not operating the horse-drawn carriage system in New York City! She's not the guy from Black Beauty!
Leave her alone.
I understand "vegan" means to live without exploiting animals. But surely, in 2014, there are bigger issues than one vegan girl who owns a horse?
I have no interest in participating with a group of people who are prepared to ATTACK someone who is already a vegan because they have a different opinion one one of the many sub-topics within veganism.
"Vegan" shouldn't be a broad term and that's what upsets a lot these days. It should be a black and white dictionary definition that every "vegan" abides by ... but that just isn't going to happen. That doesn't apply to ANY movement these days, especially when the level of pain, destruction and exploitation of animals is so vast and all-encompassing. When I went vegan, I thought I was a purest and that was all that mattered, but three-years later, I naturally chilled out and realized the world is a difficult place to navigate and I can only do THE BEST I CAN.
That attitude actually makes it easier and less stressful to be a vegan. You do it because you want to and because it's natural, not because you're trying to be perfect.
It's difficult to be 100% vegan. If you want to eat out with friends and be social, if you want to visit relatives, if you want to buy clothing in second-hand shops, if you want to keep pets, if you want to go on holiday, hey, if you want to even buy vegetables, it's hard to be 100% vegan. But - if you're heart is in the right place and you're doing the best you can, does that mean you're not allowed to call yourself a vegan?
TRUE STORY: I had a favorite drink at my regular coffee shop for the first year after going vegan. And after AN ENTIRE YEAR of drinking this thing made on soy milk, the Barista told me there was milk powder in the cocoa they used. AFTER A YEAR of making me soy drinks. Why didn't they mention that before?! So, even though I was a pure vegan in my heart and soul, ate completely vegan, felt completely vegan, etc, does this hilarious story mean I wasn't a vegan that entire year?
Of course not! And if you think I couldn't call myself a vegan because I accidentally drank a quarter teaspoon of milk powder a few times a week, you're ridiculous.
Okay - let's get into these sub-topics! The topics that divide vegans!
Sub-Topics I am NOT Okay With
You are not vegan if you eat fish. Simple.
You are not vegan if you eat eggs. If you have hens in your back yard and you choose to eat their eggs, I do not judge you at all. If you eat a vegan diet apart from the eggs from your own back yard, I do not judge you. But I think it's fair to say you aren't a vegan. Is that fair?
You are not a vegan if you wear dead animal skin on your body. Simple. If you buy "recycled second hand blah blah" leather... I guess this is a grey area... but in my mind - I don't want to be SEEN wearing leather. I don't want any of my actions to look like I support this. Faux fur? I think any true vegan would rather vomit than be seen in anything resembling faux fur. Even if no animal was harmed - it still looks like an animal.
4) Pet Food
OOOOOH This is a tough one.....
Do you give your cat or dog other animals to eat? Sorry.... I'm not in favor of this. There are PLENTY of vegan pet food options now... so please use them. I understand that dogs are carnivores... I'm not debating that at all. They are. But they also can be incredibly healthy on vegan pet food now being made. In this day and age - how can we be vegan and against animal cruelty and then buy the SHIT that is sold in dog food tins? Nah, not okay.
Sub-Topics I Don't Care About But Other Vegans are Nazi About
Some vegans eat honey. Get over it. I don't eat honey, but I'm sick of all the judgement. Chill the fuck out.
2) Horse Riding
This is from this morning.... If you own horses, love animals, eat a vegan diet and decide to ride your own horses... I don't understand how this is evil or wrong? If you love your horse and give them treats and cuddle them and feel like you have a relationship... how is that evil to the horse? In this day and age we HAVE PETS. For fucks sake.
3) Hospitality Free Food
I work in hospitality and I see the WASTE. No part of me wants to eat meat or dairy (ew) but if there was a vegan at my work that wanted to eat a flapjack before it goes in the bin - I don't see how that's an issue. It's literally going in the bin. Do they call these people "Freegans"?
4) Relatives That Don't Get It
Visiting relatives that cook for you - I understand not wanting to make a huge fuss. "Vegetarian" seems fine, but "Vegan" still blows minds. If I tunred up at an Aunt's house and they presented me a with Vegetarian Quiche - I would die. Quiche is my worst nightmare. But, I understand this is a grey area for some vegans. You don't want to be any trouble. A tip - offer to cook! This works for me every time.
The point I'm trying to make is that everyone is DIFFERENT and has their own opinion. I understand that super purest vegans must find it hard to understand how a "vegan" could eat cheese for a special occasion, or have a slice of a friends birthday cake or even ride a horse! But what is the most important thing? In my opinion - it's making veganism an APPEALING life choice.
Do not go around making veganism look like this impossible bench-mark no one can reach. It's not going to work. "Vegan" in an ideal world would mean zero animal exploitation, but, as the carnivores are so quick to remind us, that is nearly impossible these days. Animals are hurt. Animals are killed. Animals are killed making grains! Animals are killed so our houses can be built. It's sad, but true.
We do the best we can and show people how much UNNECESSARY suffering happens these days. Eating a vegan diet (or a 99% vegan diet!) is the easiest way to minimize that suffering. It's not about focusing on every minimal thing, it's looking at the BIG picture. That's why veganism makes sense - it is about LOGIC, the future, sustainability, practicality, BIG PICTURE.
If a vegan girl wants to ride her horse, fucking let her! Don't tell her she can't be a vegan because she does this!
It's not like our club is bursting at the seams! We need members, yo.
This incredible picture:
Came from this....
The last two weeks I have learned a lot and had an absolute ball.
But most importantly, I've started taking my work here a little more seriously.
I have witnessed magic of proper food photography; the process that goes into creating a perfect image. Or - even better - when that image comes from an organic moment. (I.e - when the cook and the photographer have nearly eaten everything and decide the empty plates should be snapped.)
I'm used to making food, snapping it quickly with my good old IPhone and getting into the "eating" part ASAP.
Today and last week's photo shoot was all about detail. Detail. Perfection. Angles.
And I loved it.
Lucas of Lucas Smith Photography incredibly offered to start taking proper photos of my recipes and I was nervous. I love cooking and I LOVE sharing, but I wasn't sure if I was up to any kind of professional standard!
I pondered about what might look best, but, in true Hannah Style, I just went for it and made a lot of elements as I went along. I always get inspired by ingredients... sometimes plans change based on what flavors are coming out, what's looking freshest in the shop that morning... what you're craving... all sorts!
In the end - I always want to make food that is simple, fresh and delicious. Food that embodies what veganism should be all about - eating healthy, eating whole-foods and how that can be delicious without getting too complicated.
But will that photograph well?
Turns out, thank goodness, it will. Lucas was passionate about me making what I wanted to make and he would work his magic around it. From day one he was attracted to that idea of simple, fresh, summery food. And wow, work his magic he did!
I thought it would be fun to share a mixture of my photos "behind the scenes" with some of Lucas's incredible shots today.
All the recipes for these dishes are coming via the brilliant Vilda Magazine.
Not bad hey?
Once a week my tiny Manchester flat gets transformed into the cutest little studio ever.
On the start of the first day, I had no idea what to do or how to assist, I cooked, plated things up and kept offering Lucas more and more coffee. But as we go on - I feel far more comfortable arranging food, getting stuck in and even seeing photo options.
It's incredible the difference that a background, a pattern, an unironed napkin (sorry Lucas!), a dish, fresh tomato or naughty crumbs can make!
Quotes of the day.....
Lucas: "Hannah, you did polish that glass before you started plating, didn't you?"
Lucas: "BRING ME THE OATS!"
It goes without saying that this is the start of an amazing relationship and I cannot wait till our next shoot!
In the meantime - let's eat all the cold food and put our feet up. It still tastes good.
Check out all Lucas's photography here: www.lucas-smith.net
Or connect on good old Twitter @LucasCSmith and Facebook.
There are so many incredible images worth checking out, including photos of Manchester city and landscapes. I think they're my favourite. (Oh, apart from the food!)
Until next time,
Love and Sweet Potatoes! Xx (Do you think Lucas would snap just some sweet potatoes and hummus?) xx
Not that long ago - I had to do a bit of repairing. Bit of old rebuilding and investing some time being by myself and just making myself happy. Basically being a bit selfish.
It was great.
The first thing I did was ask a very simple question: "what do I enjoy doing?"
It sounds so simple, doesn't it? Yet how many of us spend time doing what actually makes us happy?
I think we accidentally invest too much time and energy in things that don't matter or do not pay off. We do jobs we don't enjoy, spend time with people we don't actually like, eat foods that don't serve us and before you know it, it's time to go to sleep again and you've spent another day just "existing", but not actually DOING anything worthwhile.
And worthwhile doesn't have to involve inventing something or writing a symphony or saving lives (congrats if you do that, by the way) it can just be whatever is worthwhile for YOU. Investing in yourself, doing what makes you happy.
A long time ago I decided to start living my life a little bit more selfishly. I was investing all my time in other people and, while that is a good thing in some respects, you can only be the best "you" for other people when you're actually happy. Right?
Every day now, I have "Hannah Time". Even if it's just an hour before starting work... I make sure I have some time that is just mine, all by myself. If it can be a full evening: amazing, but that's rare these days. I'm sure it's rare for most people to have an entire day or evening to themselves. Some wouldn't even know what do to with themselves for an entire day!
So, that's exactly why this is homework. Trust me: you will love this.
Find a day. An entire day that is JUST FOR YOU. A day to be selfish. A day to INVEST in yourself. Doing exactly what YOU want to do. I know it seems impossible - even if you start small and just find an EVENING that is yours alone - that'll do for now. But the goal is an entire day.
Yes - I am asking you to organize one complete day off from your life. I'm crazy.
If you have children and a job and all the rest, half a day will do fine, but try and get a solid six or seven hours MINIMUM to yourself.
We are going to design your perfect day.
The is the first day of the rest of your life.
Not literally, obviously. I am not asking you to quit your job. This day is intended to put you into a clear, pure mindset that you can carry over into your normal life. A mindset where you find the simple, easy things that you want to fill your life with and find a way to incorporate them into every day life.
Now: sit down and think about all your favorite things to do; things that make you happy. Things you never get time to do?
It can be anything you like.
Plan a wonderful day, full of activities (or ZERO activities!) that you feel will make you happy, excited and stimulated. Get your hair done? Do a Yoga class? Lie in the park? See a movie? All the above? Do whatever you like.
My Day Went Something Like This
1) Did not set an alarm
2) Cuppa hot lemon.
Sat down for ages, checked some emails, did some stretching .. stared at the sun....
3) Took myself out for Breakfast.
No one needs to witness how much I want to eat in the morning.
4) Walked around for ages and enjoyed the sun.
Stopped in some shops. Didn't buy anything, but enjoyed looking and trying things on.
Vowed to eat less breakfast.
5) Stopped for a coffee. Did some blogging :)
Planned my next recipe for Vilda Magazine. Did some writing as well for my theatrey stuff!
Then - saw a divine friend for lunch :) They weren't very vegan friendly, so I ordered a MASS of side dishes. How well did that work out!
6) Came home. Changed into sweatpants and went for a little walk around the park.
Walking around the park was incredible... especially as the weather is so good right now.
Look what I found! Some kind soul left a deck chair in the middle of the park. Guess the world revolves around me, after all?
I ended up sitting here for ages in the sun, listening to my favorite podcast: Conversations with Richard Fidler. (That my incredible vegan mother produces and my incredible vegan best friend works on! Just sayin...)
7) Home for a real, proper, amazing shower.
Did ALL the beauty routines I never have time for normally. (You know what I mean...)
Then a very lovely, relaxing time MAKING DINNER. Played some music... danced around... chopped vegetables.
8) Dinner and a movie.
All on my own. Perfection.
I cannot tell you how light, happy and fulfilled I feel after spending some time alone with myself, my thoughts and ideas. It’s something we do not get enough time for, but it’s so important. Also: as an entire western world: we put too much emphasis on consumption. It disgusts me a little. We have such an abundance of everything, especially food. Go to the library and read for hours, go volunteer somewhere, go shopping! Go to the beach and drink lemonade! Or maybe go to the DVD store and rent out an entire TV series you’ve been dying to watch. Whatever it may be, do it.
Be the woman you’ve always wanted to be. Even just for a day. Do all the things you want to do. And hopefully, these things can spill over and find their way into your routine.
I honestly believe just taking a day out of life every now and then is one of they keys to happiness. It connects us with the reality that life is not bad. At all. Life is actually very good. We are lucky, LUCKY people. How amazing that one of our biggest problems is that we want to be thinner? Or have more money? Or have more TIME? How amazingly lucky are we? How amazing that we have the power at our fingertips to actually do whatever we want. Life has its restrictions and it’s schedules, we have our own personal restrictions, but ultimately…. We are in charge of our own lives and we determine how happy or unhappy we are. We determine our mindset and we determine how long we stay there.
I really hope you can take a day out yourself soon. One day.
What's a day, really? It can mean nothing.
Or it can be the best day ever!
Yep - that's an old meal of mine. I wasn't always vegan. I once cooked that big breakfast and ate every scrap - the bacon, the eggs... the buttered toast.
I was convinced to go vegan by copious research and nearly every day since then, people try and convince me to go back to meat.
They are DESPERATE for me to not be vegan. For me to explain myself. To come up with any weird, little point that undermines and ridicules my decision.
It would be so convenient if all vegans were mindless hippies, wouldn't it?
If they all smelled bad and they all were high as kites and they didn't think about the "real world"....
Silly, silly vegans with their "morals" and "ideals". Don't they understand how the world works?
Go, take your hummus and your "feelings" and keep them away from my steak! This is how it's always been! People are always going to eat meat, so just get OVER it.
How terrifying it must be, when vegans come along who aren't crazy. When vegans come along who are, kind of... well.... intelligent. They think hard about their choices. They have an answer for every question. They do live in the "real world". In fact - it's this that led them to veganism in the first place.
Makes you wonder if it's YOU who doesn't live in the real world.
The best arguments I've heard against being vegan are:
1) What About the Happy Egg-Laying Chickens in my Back-yard? BOOM. Gotcha. Stupid vegan.
2) This is How it's Always Been
3) I Tried to be a Vegetarian Once and Got Sick. Poor Me
4) What If I'm a Selfish Bastard who doesn't care about the Planet? (You know who you are....) ;)
5) What about small fishing villages in *insert country* who rely on fish for survival?
6) What if you were on a desert island and it was you and a wild hog. Would you starve to death?
That hopefully sounds comical, or like I'm taking the piss. But these are seriously the best arguments I've heard against being Vegan. I think they're all bollocks, but that goes to prove why being Vegan is logical.
The Phantom Chickens in Ma Backyard
The MAJORITY of people do not have chickens in their backyard. Does that surprise you? Does it surprise you to know that so many people say this to me and non of them ACTUALLY get their eggs from a chicken in their backyard?
Do me a favor - if you do NOT have any chickens roaming around in your back yard, dropping their periods on the grass that you so desperately want to scramble up - DO NOT MENTION IT. You cannot use this argument.
If you DO, then fine - I will accept this as a logical argument towards you eating eggs. I'm not stupid. Why am I still a vegan? Because the world egg demand cannot be satisfied in this way. HOW DO YOU THINK FACTORY FARMING BEGAN IN THE FIRST PLACE? They didn't pop up overnight, folks. They are a respond to consumer DEMAND.
If every human being in the world was responsible for making their own food and having their own animals - cool. But that ain't happening anytime soon and while SOMEONE ELSE is getting your eggs - they are likely from a factory farm. I could rant about this all day. EDUCATE YOURSELF.
I haven't even gone into the health on eggs. Another post. Or... JUST GOOGLE. Animal products are not natural for us.
It's How It's ALWAYS Been
I'm not going to waste a lot of time on this. If it's not obvious why, I can't help you.
Firstly - it's NOT how it's always been and that's part of the problem, you idiot. We have NEVER had such high demand for animal products as we do now. Many factors contribute to this, but the main culprits are population growth, China wanting to be like America (as if you would) and general human greed.
We need to EVOLVE. Look into the FUTURE. The future cannot include McDonalds, meat in every meal, osteoporosis, heart-disease and animal agriculture that takes up more room on this planet than we do.
Why? Because that's BONKERS. We eat more meat now than we ever have and health ain't great. All leading health experts agree after hundreds of studies that the focus needs to be on PLANT FOODS. What do animal foods give us again? Oh that's right: NOTHING.
Just because something has always been, does not mean it's good. We are learning more every day... we are getting smarter....
Are you smarter than the billion dollar Dairy Industry convincing you to drink cow milk?
Come on, bro.
I Was a SICK Vegetarian.... SO IT'S STUPID
Sigh, oh sigh.
I'm not going to pretend to be a health expert or to know the ins and outs of a perfect strangers body....
But what I do know is that every person I've met or seen online making this argument did not convince me. In the slightest. I have been able to come up with various possibilities of why their diet may have been flawed.
90% of the time - I will bet person simply didn't really WANT to be a vegetarian anymore. They miss meat. They miss social acceptance. They miss cheese. Whatever it is. They feel ill, maybe... but that can be about ANY problem in the diet. Introducing pus-ridden cheese back into your diet shouldn't cure you of anything. LOGIC PEOPLE. For more on this, check out: Why Do New Vegans Fail?
I hear stories of genuine, very passionate people going back to meat and it does interest me. Obviously they are making the right choice for them and I do not judge anyone.
But, please use your common sense - there are enough healthy, thriving, life-long vegans and vegetarians who prove we have no need for animal products. The human body gets EVERYTHING it requires from plants.
Eat often, eat enough, eat variety. You'll be fine. Do some fucking googling. Don't be a stupid vegan.
What if I'm a Selfish Bastard
This point is a total "wink" to someone I know in real life. (Hey!)
But, he made a good point - which was: "this won't actually affect my life at all. I don't care about animals. I don't care about the planet..."
Well, check mate vegan. The meat-eater wins. If he was being genuine - I guess he wins. It's a very sad attitude... but veganism will have zero appeal to someone who thinks that way. And that's a good thing... being vegan is about being SELFLESS.
You get health benefits not eating animal products, but if you don't care about your health either, I guess that won't tempt you. If you don't care at all about animals or the state of our planet.... I guess you win.
Stop Judging Small Fishing Villages, Vegan! Now, Give Me Some Sushi!
Do you live in a small fishing community? Do you rely on fish for the source of your calories?
I do not judge you.
Do you go to sushi trains and buy fish all the time? Do you eat anchovies and tinned tuna and then use this argument?
I judge you.
Guess what? You live in a fucking first world country and can walk into a supermarket and buy whatever the hell you want. And it's that exact choice that AFFECTS EVERYTHING.
YOU are destroying the oceans. YOU are killing dolphins and turtles. YOU are making unsustainable, shitty choices.
EDUCATE YOURSELF. Stop eating fish.
Next time you go into a supermarket - do me a favor and look at all the fish. Look at all the fresh fish, all the tinned fish.... all of it. All stacked up.
Do you think that's normal? Do you think that's sustainable? You are in ONE supermarket. In ONE location. In ONE aisle. Getting the picture.
Maybe vegans think about this shit.
Vegans would DIE on a Desert Island
The day I become Tom Hanks in Castaway, I'll get back to you.
I can tell you now though -
1) THIS IS MOST LIKELY NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN TO ME SO I WON'T LIVE MY LIFE BASED ON A SURVIVAL MODE I WILL NEVER ACTUALLY GO INTO. YOU IDIOT!!!!
2) I will do anything to survive apart from murdering loved ones. If it's me or the pig, of course I choose me.
I'M NOT AN IDIOT.
Well, is there anything I've missed? Any arguments you want me to answer?
Trust me - I've thought about it.
I wish I could claim a lot of planning went into this recipe... but it was a Classic Hannah: toss it all together and see what happens.
This dish had a lot of different processes - but all relatively simple and can be done at the same time.
Trust me: it's worth it. My three friends who were over to sample this dish seemed genuinely wowed (very satisfying feeling!) And the best part? It's super healthy as well as being delicious!
Veggies, whole grains, veggies, beans, nuts! How can you go wrong? Devour it all, guilt free :)
Maybe save some for your guests.
2 cups brown rice
1 vegetable stock cube (optional)
4 Large Portobello Mushrooms
1 Tbsp Vegan Butter of choice (I use Sunflower Spread)
2 Garlic Cloves, diced.
1 onion, diced
1 can organic Butter Beans
1 yellow Bell Pepper/Capsicum
1 Cup Sun dried Tomatoes (marinated kind. Drained)
1/2 cup almonds
1/2 cup pine nuts
4 cups fresh Spinach
Salt and Pepper
Rosemary (dried or fresh is fine)
You will also need Hummus! Make it fresh here!
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees
Put two cups of rice in a large saucepan with four cups of water. Bring to the boil. Add a veggie stock cube if you like! I love adding a stock cube to my rice for extra flavor. Sneaky. Once boiling, lower the heat and leave until cooked. Should take approximately twenty-five minutes. You want your rice not overdone at all as we will saute it later with veggies - so if anything, make it slightly undercooked as apposed to OVER.
Slice the Parsnips and Aubergine (called "Eggplant" in Australia!) long-ways, ideally getting nice long strips. Place these onto a baking tray and drizzle a little Sunflower Oil and salt over them.
Place into the oven for about half an hour, or until nice and crispy. Turn over after fifteen minutes.
Place your washed Portobello Mushrooms into a separate baking tray with a naughty dollop of Vegan Butter on each. Top with your crushed garlic (leave some for the rice!), salt and rosemary.
Place these under the grill on a LOW HEAT. These can grill for a long time before going "bad" as they'll just continue soaking up flavor. But after about twenty minutes I recommend putting them in the oven to keep warm at a low heat so they don't overcook too much.
By now - your rice should be cooked. Wash the rice with cold water straight away so it doesn't over-cook. (You can do this with a sieve.)
In a large frying pan, or wok: heat up a tablespoon of Sunflower Oil and add the remaining crushed garlic and the entire diced onion.
Allow these to brown slightly. Add the cooled rice, butter beans, bell pepper and sun dried tomatoes. (When adding the sun dried tomatoes, include some of the oil it's marinating in for more flavor. Add as much or little as you wish. I used a few tablespoons.)
Stir continuously until all combined and keep heat even.
When all is combined - add some rosemary, salt and pepper and season to taste. You can taste this mixture as you go and adjust the flavor as you like!
Place your pine-nuts and almonds on a baking tray and oven roast for ten minutes. When you can smell the divine aromas, they are probably ready! Make sure you don't burn them!
Remove from oven and place in a saucepan with all the fresh spinach and one tablespoon of Sunflower Oil.
Save some almonds for presentation.
Add heat and gently mix around until the spinach is wilted and all flavors are combined.
We are attempting to make a tower. Build carefully :)
1) Spoon out some rice on each plate. Make sure each guest gets a bit of everything!
2) Top with two strips of Parsnip and two strips of Aubergine.
3) Add 2 tablespoons of Hummus
4) Place one Portobello Mushroom (which now should be delicious and soft) on top of the hummus.
5) Stuff the Mushroom with your spinach/nut mixture.
6) Finish with a few of the roasted almonds!
I recommend serving this with... well - WINE, a loaf of fresh bread and amazing company. Perfection :)
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