I discovered something new last week.... and am excited to share it with you today!
I've often mused how fun it would be to cook for people in my spare time. I love food! I love cooking. I love having people over for dinner..... "maybe I can set up my own business!" I thought, like the wannabe entrepreneur I am. "Set up a "Vegan to Your Table" business where I go and cook people dinner! Or have them to my place for a vegan feast! That's genius!"
Little did I know - I don't have to start up my own business because it already exists and if, like me, you had no idea what VizEat is - I'm here to tell you!
If you have a passion for cooking, hosting dinner parties, entertaining, but don't want to run off and become a chef - your platform is here in the brilliance of VizEat. (You can now throw that Come Dine With Me application in the bin...)
VizEat is an online community I only just discovered and don't know how I've been without it so long. It is like Come Dine With Me - but no cameras and no competition: just good, old fashioned hospitality with interesting guests from around the world.
VizEat works on many levels - for example: you can use it as a "guest" and organize to have meal with someone from the community (perfect for when you're traveling!) It works for wannabe chefs like myself, who love hosting and want to cook for people all the time and share lovely meals. Best of all, it's great for meeting new people from around the world. Food is traditionally all about sharing, community and bringing people together. I love that there is a safe, online community that is built on bringing people together to share a meal.
I have just joined VizEat as a "Host", so for anyone reading this who is coming to Manchester anytime soon - you can totally COME TO MY PLACE FOR DINNER!
What is VizEat?
VizEat is still fairly new and gathering momentum! If you've ever used Airbnb before - it's like that - but with FOOD! Food, glorious food.
VizEat brings together hosts (from all over the world!) who are happy to open their home for a meal with a guest (or a group) at a time/date you've organized together. You register as a "Host", set up your profile, upload a few "Meals" that you are willing to cook and set a price. You can also go on as a guest and find a lovely host to share a meal with from anywhere around the world.
Pretty cool, huh?
This appeals to me on many levels and I'm so excited to join VizEat. I love cooking (obviously), I love meeting new people and being social and I love the idea that when I next travel (can that be soon, please?) I can have at least one meal with a host from VizEat. I am currently (I believe) one of the only Vegan hosts on the website - so let's go drum up some support for the Vegetarian/Vegan world on there and show that there is high demand for Veggie food out there ;)
Go and have a look around and JOIN THE COMMUNITY! It's honestly so much fun and you only have something to gain.
Want to Come to Mine for a Vegan Feast!?
Oh yeah - I know you do!
Come put my culinary skills to the test :) I love having guests over in my quaint little Manchester flat. I'm still building up my profile, but am having a ball doing so.
Check out my profile here - http://www.vizeat.com/users/profile/hannah
Okay, no need to panic, I didn't really eat pork. Not the kind that once had a beating heart anyway.
I had my first, real, proper "fake meat" experience! And....oh Lord....was it an experience.
I went to one of Brooklyn's many Vegan havens: "Wild Ginger" yesterday for lunch. Very excited. I've been there once before and had a Pad Thai that blew my mind. Also - the atmosphere is lovely too. So many Vegan restaurants have this shitty, dodgy vibe that pisses me off. Just because I'm Vegan, doesn't mean I don't want nice food and good service. Come on people, we have to compete! Luckily Wild Ginger totally competes. They have a brilliant menu, friendly staff and lovely ambiance. This is somewhere I can take my meat-eating companion and feel proud.
But yesterday I went alone and being someone who doesn't miss meat at all, I never order fake meat or have even tried it. I observed the overwhelmingly lovely menu and decided on Pumpkin soup and steamed dumplings. Yum.
It arrived, but no dumplings. In place of my lovely steamed spinach dumplings was this interesting looking dish you see on the left. I thought....hmm...vegetable skewers? In....sauce? Interesting. I thought about asking her to take it back, but then decided against it. I know it's Vegan, so who cares: let's try something different. Upon closer examination I realised it's a version of fake meat with some grilled capsicum and onion between. Interesting. After a few safe mouthfuls of soup and a lot of looking...I took a big bite into a hunk of "meat".
It TASTED SO MUCH LIKE PORK I CANNOT EVEN TELL YOU!!!! Oh my lordy lord. I nearly gagged I had to spit it out. Interestingly enough: it tasted good and yummy and saucy and juicy and all the things I know are meant to be "delicious" and I would have thought were a year or two ago, but now of course I just don't want that flavour in my mouth, it makes me think of pain and dead flesh and suffering.
But, the good news is: now I truly believe that ANYONE could be converted to Veganism with fake meat. This tasted so much like Pork, I have no words. The place for fake meat is finally clear to me now - if you miss these flavours, you can still have them.
I don't think they've mastered a fake steak yet, but if and when they do, if it's anything like as realistic as this was - we can save a lot of cows.
I have been in Vancouver for six glorious days! What an amazing city. This is a place where I will be standing in line at some random place and overhear the following conversation "yeah, you really think you're going to miss cheese, but you don't!"
Seriously! That happened yesterday. I have never felt like less of an outcast, then I do here in Vancouver. Vegan products are everywhere and every place I have gone to eat offers Vegan options. It's amazing.
I have been doing a lot of Yoga in the Vancouver bracket of my trip, as I'm here visiting a friend, who has a life to live, so I can basically spend my days as I please. Why not spend my days giving my body an amazing Yoga work out and then exploring the streets and cafes of Vancouver? Sounds pretty fantastic to me. I'm pretty much living my dream life. All the Yoga instructors are every bit the Canadian cliche I hoped they'd be. They begin classes with readings from their favourite Yoga journals, or teachings that inspire them. I love it. And the best part is that they all seem to be Vegans, or at least promote that peaceful, non-harm lifestyle. So if they aren't Vegans, I'm very confused. For example: last night I went to a Yin class, which is where you hold simple poses for long periods of time, stretching out your entire body. You finish the class feeling absolutely amazing. The instructor said at one point, while we were working our feet "if this is difficult for you, you've probably been wearing dead animals on your feet for too long."
I just can't help but look around and smile. The message is being spread! More and more people are becoming aware of this. I have no doubts that most people in a Yoga studio are there for a "work out", not to become enlightened, so therefore they probably are not even Vegetarians, although a Vegetarian diet is one of the basics of Yoga practice. Although many will not have this basic in place, it makes me smile that there are so many people getting into Yoga, vegetarian or not, they are there: exposing themselves to these ideas. These seeds are being planted and hopefully one day it will all click into place. It makes me smile.
The best (and worst!) thing about Vancouver so far is that Vegan food is everywhere. Just everywhere. In Australia, you really have to search for it: but here: I'll just be walking through Whole Foods and BAM: Vegan Chocolate Cupcake, right in front of me. This is also why my Yoga practice will not provide me with my dream body. There are too many cupcakes around for that.
Whole Foods is a massive, massive company in the USA and in Canada. They have a lot of influence and feed a lot of people, so I take great, GREAT happiness in seeing how Vegan-orientated they seem to be. In the center of the store they have a self-help area where you can pack a lunch. I walked over to it yesterday to have a sneaky-peek and nearly all the food was Vegan. No kidding. I am so curious to know how just the normal, every day person views this! In my dream world they think: "wow, Vegan hey? Maybe there's something in that. I should look into it and see why Whole Foods promotes Veganism..." Yeah. That's my dream-world. I'm sure they just think "where's the chicken in this hippy store? I need my protein! Oh, there it is. Free range hey? Awesome."
But: overall, I really love Vancouver and I'm loving the awareness that Veganism is a growing movement and something that is a lot bigger overseas that in Australia (as I suspected). Here are some more pictures of the wonderful food and the wonderful Vancouver. First picture: a "steak" I had at Naan restaurant last night. I'm fairly sure they grated Beetroot into the mix so it had a red texture. Hilarious! And delicious!
My travel adventures have begun! And first stop: the gorgeous Auckland, New Zealand. I'm in my second day in Auckland and have to say I'm pretty impressed by all counts. Firstly: I have only seen two McDonalds "restaurants", secondly: they have "Green Cabs" and finally: seen PLENTY of Vegetarian and Vegan places. Woo hoo.
Now: when I travel, food is kind of the number one thing that excites me. I love exploring and I love finding beautiful parks, interesting shops and all the "tourist" stuff: but ultimately, I love sitting in cosy cafes, watching people and eating yummy food. My first morning, I went out to begin exploring the city and found a really "hip" looking cafe in the first lane way I discovered. They didn't scoff when I ordered a soy cappuccino, so that's a good start. The menu was pretty fancy, but they did have porridge! Made with water they assured me. So I ordered that with a side of soy milk and it was completely delicious! With poached rhubarb and banana. Yummy!
As I walk and explore: it seems like Auckland is a pretty "green" orientated place. Most of the stores seem to boast environmental awareness, and the Vegetarian places I have found all seem to be packed! There is a particularly awesome one here called "Revive", and I've seen at least two of them.
How cute is that sign?! I just love it. The fundamentals can escape the best of us. Before I left for my trip: I was working three jobs to fund the bloody thing, and a lot of the above, I'm ashamed to say, fell away as "not important". Sleep being the number one. So, so ashamed! But no fear: since I have been "travelling" I have slept like a crazy woman. Last night I slept for TWELVE hours and the night before: TEN! So I think it's safe to say I'm catching up. This is both the problem and the bliss of not having an alarm :) To the left is my yummy lunch at Revive. A curry hotpot with silver beet salad. So yummy.
So, I will continue to post about how easy it is to travel Vegan! To finish off I'll post some great photos of how vegucated Auckland seems to be!
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