Think I'm going to enjoy this...
"No Meat, No Dairy, No Problem" by Mark Bittman in the New York Times. (December 29, 2011)
Among your other resolutions — do more good? make more money? — you’ve probably made the annual pledge to eat better, although this concept may be more often reduced simply to “lose some weight.” The weight-loss obsession is both a national need and a neurotic urge (those last five pounds really don’t matter, either cosmetically or medically). But most of us do need to eat “better.”
If defining this betterness has become increasingly more difficult (half the diet books that spilled over my desk in December focused on going gluten-free), the core of the answer is known to everyone: eat more plants. And if the diet that most starkly represents this — veganism — is no longer considered bizarre or unreasonably spartan, neither is it exactly mainstream. (For the record, vegans don’t simply avoid meat; they eschew all animal products, including dairy, eggs and even honey.)
Many vegan dishes, however, are already beloved: we eat fruit salad, peanut butter and jelly, beans and rice, eggplant in garlic sauce. The problem faced by many of us — brought up as we were with plates whose center was filled with a piece of an animal — is in imagining less-traditional vegan dishes that are creative, filling, interesting and not especially challenging to either put together or enjoy.
My point here is to make semi-veganism work for you. Once a week, let bean burgers stand in for hamburgers, leave the meat out of your pasta sauce, make a risotto the likes of which you’ve probably never had — and you may just find yourself eating “better.”
These recipes serve about four, and in all, the addition of salt and pepper is taken for granted. This is not a gimmick or even a diet. It’s a path, and the smart resolution might be to get on it.
Link to the article:
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/01/magazine/mark-bittman-going-semi-vegan.html?WT.mc_id=GN-D-I-NYT-MOD-MOD-M234-ROS-1211-HDR&WT.mc_ev=click&WT.mc_c=176918 As long as there are mainstream articles like this getting written, especially for papers like the New York Times: I'm happy. Of course, I don't like the idea of "semi vegan" because it seems to me like a way to hold on to things you shouldn't want, but it's certinely better than eating meat every day. Thanks Mark!
It's a new year....let us hope that this year, more people make Vegetarian or Vegan choices. Just in my own life: since I became a Vegan: my mother has become a Vegetarian, one friend went from Vegetarian to Vegan, my brother's girlfriend became a Vegetarian and nearly all my close friends have agreed to cut down on their meat. When I say that, I hope it doesn't sound like I go around preaching: I absolutely do NOT. I am, however, very lucky in life that people around me are interested in my life, as I am in theirs. When we see each other we talk about our day, our thoughts, our relationships with others and of course our ever-shifting values and opinions. Therefore it's only incidental that my friends hear about my Vegan choices. It's a huge part of my life and I know they don't begrudge me talking about it occassionally. Whether it be telling them about a great new shop discovery or telling them in dismay that one of my favourite dresses is made from wool and do I now have to throw it away? My friends are wonderful.
What they prove to me, every single day, is what I have always maintained: this idea of Accidental Ignorance. We are not told....ever....the realities of the meat and dairy industries unless someone around us is informed or we actively type into YouTube: "abuse in dairy farm". Once the information is being presented to you it is pretty hard to ignore. Most of the people in my life (of course there are some exceptions) are happy to accept that Vegan ideas are not crazy or stupid, they are in fact interesting, thought-provoking and forward thinking. I hate when people get riddled with guilt when I talk, but then I have to remember that that is how I felt too. When I watched Food Inc for the first time I felt disgustingly guilty! I cried watching that film and vowed to try being a Vegetarian. It worked for me. I don't know why it couldn't work for anyone else.
I hope that in 2012 more people get informed! I also hope brilliant movements like: Meatless Monday go on and continue to grow. Anything that makes people go: "oh....why are they promoting no meat on mondays? Does that mean there is something wrong with meat? What's wrong with meat" and maybe they will start thinking.
Here is a link to the Meatless Monday Australia website: http://meatlessmondays-australia.com/ If you aren't already a Vegetarian/Vegan, please check it out and see the good you can do by just cutting out meat ONE DAY A WEEK. If that sounds challenging to you then I shudder a little.
Still on holiday in Fiji and it is absolutely amazing! Last night we went to the resort's New Years celebration which did involve watching a Pig get roasted on a spit. Lovely. But I did manage to rumage together an AMAZING vegan meal from the buffet. I'll put a pic below.
My brilliant friend Christy has been reading Bill Bryson. Now, if you haven't ever read a Bill Bryson book, you really should. He's full of brilliant and interesting facts, often about things you never knew or thought to know about. But they are always relevant. For example: two of the best ones Christy has read out to us thus far; firstly: Juliet actually WAS getting married pretty young, even by the standards of her time. I distinctly remember in English class being told that it was pretty expected for a fourteen year old to be married off. But no, Bill tells us that the average age of a woman getting married even then was twenty-two! Thank you Bill. Second awesome bit of info: lawns! Who knew that lawns and keeping a nice lawn would be a problem? Well, Bill knows. Americans use an excess water, land mass and chemicals keeping the perfect mowed lawn, to a point where it is hugely bad for the environment! Who knew? I haven't done much googling on that, but it totally makes sense in my head.
Anyway: I have a point to all this. Christy and I had a discussion a few days ago (whilst in the pool of course) about wool. I said that I had a wool dress and wasn't sure if I should get rid of it, or keep it because I had it before I turned Vegan. She thinks I should keep it and then asked why wool was bad when sheep have to be sheared. I admitted I hadn't done a lot of research on the topic, but of course it all comes under the bracket of "animal exploitation" in my eyes. I can live perfectly happily without wool, so why would I take advantage of sheep to use their wool? She made the argument (which is true) that sheep do actually have to be sheared and yes, by human hand. The discussion didn't go on much longer; I think we needed a cocktail, but yesterday, whilst stuck in Bill Bryson, Christy had another interesting paragraph to read to me: about WOOL! Go Bill. Bill talks about how after decades of mutilating their natural breeding: sheep NOW have to be sheared by human hand because (of course) we have made it so. Humans saw wool: decided they wanted more of it: fucked with nature and now sheep have to be sheared. Another great chapter for man and our damn ego. The problem now of course: is that sheep DO HAVE TO BE SHORN. Unless we start now and try to reverse the damage we have done. Of course I don't even know if that's possible.
So why not use the wool? Time to do some research methinks::
Here's what Vegan Peace have to say:"Vegans avoiding wool products isn't understood by many people. Since sheep need to be shorn to remove their excess wool, people don't really see anything wrong with the wool industry. One simple reason vegans avoid wool is because it involves the exploitation of sheep. What most people don't realize however, is that the wool industry also involves a lot of cruelty..... People have selectively bred our modern sheep with the thick heavy coats. About 30% of all wool used worldwide comes from Australia. The most commonly raised sheep there is the Merino. Merinos have been specifically bred to have wrinkly skin to produce more wool. Their coats are so thick that some die of heat exhaustion during hot months. Unlike wild sheep, Merinos cannot shed their fleece.
Since domesticated sheep can not shed their fleece themselves, their wool will grow longer and longer while flies lay eggs in the moist folds of their skin. The hatched maggots can eat the sheep alive. To prevent this from happening, ranchers will perform an operation called mulesing. Without anesthesia large strips of flesh are cut of the backs of lambs and around their tails. Other procedures performed without anesthesia include punching a hole in the ears of lambs several weeks after birth, docking their tails and castrating the males. The castrations are done when the male lambs are between 2 and 8 weeks old, with the use of a rubber ring to cut off their blood supply."
There's a lot more in that article if you want to go on reading. So, once again it all comes down to personal choice: as I said above, I can happily live without wool in my life. I don't think that's a big deal to me. Also, I am a hundred per-center. If I'm going vegan, than I am GOING VEGAN. I have no need for animal products in my life and if people don't understand that; that's okay. My one wool dress will remain on the debate table as I have only had it for a little over the year and worn it once. Am I ready to give it up? We will see.
(I suspect the answer will be yes)
And here is the amazing dinner I managed to shove together from the meat-centric buffet. Sooooo delicious!
I am currently on a wonderful holiday with two of the greatest friends and women alive. My lovely ladies: Christy and Kate. Neither Christy nor Kate are Vegans or Vegetarians but they are wonderfully supportive and understand that I'm not crazy or a wanker. I think the greatest part of this holiday was when Kate said to me: "Hannah, I always imagined that being Vegan would be hard, but seeing you this week, it just ISN'T."
Such a great complement! And such a good point. We go out to restaurants three times a day on our wonderful holiday (with the exceptions of just stopping for hot chips now and then...DON'T TELL ANYONE) and each time, there is perhaps an unspoken thought: "what's Hannah going to order?" and guaranteed, 100% of the time, there is at least one thing on the menu I can have. And it's always delicious. Very occasionally it is tempting to ease up on the Dairy issue; especially when at an Italian restaurant (for example: the gnocchi I ordered last night already had cheese INSIDE the gnocchi.... I mean, come on, I'm not crazy!) but most of the time, it's just not a problem at all.
I see the biggest challenge for Veganism being this misconception that it's difficult. How do you choose food? Don't you wish there was meat in that? How do you know it's not cooked with butter? Worries, worries, worries!
It may be hard to understand when it is so far from your lifestyle: but when you are doing it, day by day, meal by meal, it is just not even a challenge. Because you do just that: take it meal by meal.
Ultimately: it isn't hard as long as you have a firm, solid reason for never wanting meat or dairy. If you are giving up dairy because it's fattening, so you've become an "accidental vegan" you are more likely (in my opinion) to have dairy occasionally, maybe as a "treat" or "because I'm being bad today" and that's just not a good enough reason if you want to be Vegan for life.
Veganism is something to take very seriously and know wholly why it is a life choice for you. Your objection to Dairy should be nothing short of the disgust you feel knowing what animals are put through daily to provide that glass of milk. And obviously: the horrendous impact on your body is good motivation as well; but it shouldn't be the sole motivation.
I've been very flattered by Kate's interest in particular. She is very open to reading articles representing a Vegan perspective, wants to look at this blog and is happy to hear my rants about things! Very lovely of her! For most people, I think they will just decide that Veganism is just not an important enough cause for them to be interested in and want to change their life so dramatically. Animals: eh, not a big deal....don't love 'em. The planet, well we are killing that anyway, right? Obviously these are perspectives I do NOT understand on any level and I see Veganism as being a very small, easy but IMPORTANT way of making a huge difference, but I can happily accept that some people just don't choose this battle. Kate's battle involves wanting to volunteer in third-world countries and help educate the women there. I can't begrudge anyone THAT.
If someone is willing to do some reading and educate themselves about the truth behind meat and dairy and accept that this is a very relevant issue in our world today: I'm happy. My biggest issue is ignorance. Having no idea that meat is actually NOT that good for you, having no idea that it actually ISN'T natural for cows to produce that much milk etc. Because a lot of people just don't think about these things.
Having said that: I accept these things are accidental ignorance. We have been told our entire lives to eat meat and dairy. Told from childhood that milk gives us strong bones. Therefore: I call it accidental ignorance. There needs to be more information out there about meat and dairy, that isn't being funded by the meat and dairy industries! Both Peta and the goveg.com campaigns are doing some really interesting things like television ads which say "meat is murder". I don't know how affective these ads will be, but if it gets people thinking and wanting to go hit up Google and see for themselves: once again; I'm happy.
Just get informed. Please. Information is a valuable and brilliant thing. If you think Global Warming is a crock of shit, go and READ why people believe in Global Warming, I beg you. If I am dramatically apposed to something (like meat) I'll go and do my damn research and make sure I never look like a fool! Don't be a fool!
So, research, don't be ignorant and please do not make the mistake of thinking this is hard. It isn't.
The Guardian newspaper is on board! A brilliant christmas article in the Guardian today, by a MEAT EATER. This is just pure fact people; no spin, no vegan-propaganda. Just cold hard truth.
Why vegans were right all along - Famine can only be avoided if the rich give up meat, fish and dairy
George Monbiot, The Guardian, Tuesday 24 December 2002 01.01 GMT
The Christians stole the winter solstice from the pagans, and capitalism stole it from the Christians. But one feature of the celebrations has remained unchanged: the consumption of vast quantities of meat. The practice used to make sense. Livestock slaughtered in the autumn, before the grass ran out, would be about to decay, and fat-starved people would have to survive a further three months. Today we face the opposite problem: we spend the next three months trying to work it off.Our seasonal excesses would be perfectly sustainable, if we weren't doing the same thing every other week of the year. But, because of the rich world's disproportionate purchasing power, many of us can feast every day. And this would also be fine, if we did not live in a finite world.
To continue reading, head to http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2002/dec/24/christmas.famine?fb=native&CMP=FBCNETTXT9038
If you have a spare hour.....please take the time to watch this.
I can't imagine a more articulate, concise and brilliant justification of Veganism. If anyone can walk away from this speech and want to eat meat: they can surely only say: "cause I wanna."
He is my new Idol. Gary Yourofsky. His website is: www.addaptt.org
A list of things that I HAVE to have in my Pantry/Fridge:
All the Vegetables you can imagine
Avocados and Tomatoes
Spinach, Kale, Lettuce
Chick-peas, Organic baked beans, Lentils
Pine-Nuts, Brazil nuts, Almonds, Sunflower seeds, Raw peanuts
Hummus (home made if I can be bothered)
Basil and Rosemary are my favourite herbs
Soy sauce, Sesame oil, Flaxseed Oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Coconut Oil
A loaf of Sol Breads Multigrain
Organic Peanut Butter
Soy Spread (Butter)
Loving Earth Chocolate Coconut Spread
Loving Earth Raw Cacoa Powder, Wholemeal Flour
Organic Egg-Replacer, Baking Powder, Vanilla Essense
Vegan Chocolate (for baking....oh and snacking)
These are my staples that I usually have in the house at all times (on a good pay week!) With a pantry like this I get all my vitals, get to be adventurous with how I cook and am NEVER bored!
I think some people imagine that being a Vegan would be boring. Um. WRONG. You can enjoy pretty much everything from your life before, except more so because there's no moral or health guilt. Well, let's be honest, sometimes Vegan food aint healthy. I'm pretty sure the milkshake I had yesterday wouldn't have helped me in anyway. So, here is a list of foods you don't HAVE to miss:
Butter: Well, that's easy, Soy spread is sold everywhere. And it tastes exactly the same.
Cheese: There are various Vegan cheeses: Notzarella for example. I don't really dabble as I don't miss cheese that much. But I guess it can be useful for some cooking (and FOOLING!)
Milk: So milk they are yet to replicate a Vegan version that tastes like real milk, (thank god, milk now makes me gag) but the non-dairy milks are amazing. Soy, Almond, Coconut, Rice, Hazelnut even Quinoa! After a bit of adjusting, you won't miss the real thing.
Chocolate: Um..there is SO MUCH VEGAN CHOCOLATE. Do you think we Vegans are aliens or something? And I think it's better, just saying.
Hot chocolate: There is nothing better than a warmed up cup of Bonsoy with a spoon of Loving Earth Chocolate Coconut Butter mixed into it (Thank you Jess)
Spaghetti Bolognaise: See recipe in My Kitchen. I missed Spaghetti Bolognaise so much that I determinedly made a Vegan version. And it's amazing.
Scrambled Eggs: Grab some hard tofu, mash it up with a fork, chuck it into a fry pan with some soy butter, salt, pepper and anything else you want: some spinach, some sun-dried tomatoes, whack it all on a yummy slice of sourdough and YOU HAVE SCRAMBLED EGGS. Yum.
Baking: I am now so arrogant that I believe I can bake anything Vegan. Oh yeah. There are so many Vegan recipes out there.....get googling. (Or just stay right here on this site...)
Pancakes: I can make pancakes easily. So can you: and Vegan pancakes do not taste different in the slightest. For the lazy ones there are even Vegan pancake batter mixes. Life is good. Chuck on some berries, melted chocolate, Maple syrup, whatever you want. All the above if you're a little nuts (and awesome. Oh...add nuts too)
Meat: Now, Vegan cuisine really has come a long way. Today, there are fake meats (to cook at home or have in restaurants) that taste exactly like the real thing. Like cheese, I don't miss meat at all, but I have tried fake meat and it tasted scarily simmilar. So, if you think you can't live without a slab of beef: you don't have to. You can have an amazing marinated "steak" anytime. For your first try: I would say go all out and hit a really nice Vegan place so they can make you a good one. If you have bad fake meat first up, you could be put off for life.
Fish: In Australia, I'm yet to find fake fish (not because I want it, just for curiosity) but my Skinny Bitch friends assure me (in their books, sadly not in person) that in America they even sell fake Tuna, that you can mix with your Egg-Free mayonnaise and you're good to go.
Mayonaise: Egg-Free Mayonaise. Done. Snap. It's delicious.
Cookies: cookies...oh god cookies. Do you really think I live without cookies? See My Kitchen.
Brownies: As above.
Ice-Cream: Australia has just been won-over by an AMAZING Vegan ice-cream called: Coco-luscious and it is actually to die for. They have so many flavours and I'm in love with their whole company.
Hmmm....this list is looking shorter than I thought it would.....that's okay, just means I can't remember much that I miss out on. Win.
So, latest read: The Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr. Kris Carr, definitely a new hero. A woman who was diagnosed with cancer at 31 and did everything within her power to heal her body. This woman is amazing. More than anything, she (like many other Vegans) just wants the world to know how easy it is to live this way and how your body will just love you forever!
In the book she talks about her cancer, her life before (ie: oh, that's probably why I got cancer) and how she went about informing and healing herself with a (you guessed it) plant-based diet. The best thing about this book is that it really INFORMS you. I now know nearly everything about every kind of food group and how it will impact my body. There is a lot of detail in how different foods will digest in your body and the impacts they will have. It's fascinating and nice to be so knowlegable about your own body.
In the book she includes a 21 day cleanse where you drink a lot of green juice, give up all your vices (including animals) and meditate each morning. It's lovely and I definitely aim to try it one day. My only question is about the juices: I've become a 'wake up and have some organic fruit' type girl, so switching to green juice in the morning would be interesting.
But this is a really good example of using your own head and doing what feels right for you. Whether you have fruit or a green juice in the morning, I'm sure your body will love you either way and just be so grateful you aren't stuffing animal fat and cholesterol into it. So, definitely something new for me to try!
Um, can you say "Alicia Silverstone"?! I mainly remember her from that brilliant speech in P.E (Clueless) where she explained to Miss ?Stoger? how "that machine is just a law suit waiting to happen!" But, it turns out that she is not just a hilarious comic actor, she is also a vegan! And has been for a bloody long time. I first saw her talking about it on Ellen ages ago; very very eloquently and inspiringly, and now she is writing books, blogs and being inspiring all over the place.
The best thing about this video is that Ellen AINT vegan yet! Amazing to see how people can change......
Isn't she amazing? A walking, talking, shining example of why this is a great way to live. I love Alicia as well because she's not just about eating Vegan, it impacts her entire lifestyle. She wants to live a life where she is giving back, not consuming and loving animals in person as well as ethically.
I think it is really important for people to see Vegans more this way than the awful cliche of screaming and yelling at meat-eaters and throwing blood on them (though admittedly I've day-dreamed about it once or twice). I don't think anyone could hear the way Alicia Silverstone talks and be annoyed at her or think that she is doing this to be wanky or any of the other stupid things Vegans get accused of. She is just trying to be a better person and be a positive change in the world.
She is brilliant.
Definitely one of my Vegan heros.
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