Vegan travels.

June 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

Hello from sunny Brisbane! It’s actually my last day here and i’ll be heading back to the big freezer that is NSW tomorrow.

Grandma and I, in a photo-off – great river walks and fantastic facilities for exercise and relaxation.

Yesterday, I took full toll of my dad’s boating services and requested a ladylike little jaunt on the river. It was so exceptionally beautiful – being on the water is one of my favourite things, and I find it infinitely relaxing and quite meditative. In this instance, the precariously balanced children wrestling at the front end of the boat, playing with potentially deadly hooks, anchors & propellers rendered it slightly less so….but I soaked it up all the same.

So beautiful in fact, that I’m going to spam you with wholly un-health-related pictures from the day. Mental health benefits, no?

Gorgeous colours & reflections.

I’m a sucker for gazing wistfully at the clouds.

Sis, eating with passion.

Hey hey hey! Look who made it on board! They were originally engineered for boating and the like, so of course I had to return them to their maritime roots. UPDATE – have been walking a lot in the vibrams, and tried a little light jogging (we’re talking 50m stints) here and there – no pain or discomfort to report, and looking forward to working my way towards a barefooted gypsy running queen quite soon.

Here is a token (poorly lit/shot) pic of a porridge brekky I enjoyed the other day. With parental funds present, I was able to indulge in some fresh strawberries for the first time in eons! Unfortunately, they just don’t fit my ordinary budget.

This holiday has really been the first time i’ve been away for an extended period as a fairly strict health nut/vegan, and I think it’s something that is doable as long as you’re prepared to take awkward comments & sideways looks on the chin.

In saying that, it is up to you how you want to approach time away. Some people choose to forego their usual eating habits, and just enjoy their holiday – all food is fair game. This may ultimately be a much more relaxed and less stressful method. For me however, ‘healthy’ is just what I want to do; a ‘lifestyle’ as over-enthused women’s mag’s would insist upon  – not so much a crazy diet that I want to adhere to, whilst looking longingly at the ‘regular’ food that everyone else is eating. I don’t want to consume meat & dairy & junk food and things like that because I know how they make me feel, and also the story behind them (ie. refusing to eat animal products for the aforementioned reasons). So in this instance, yes, I wanted to be able to continue with a close-to-normal eating plan.

These things made it so much easier:

  • Packing ‘unusual’ items to take with you, such as Savoury Yeast Flakes, Carob & Cacao powders, Stevia, Spirulina and Quinoa. This way, I at least had a stash of things that are integral to a lot of my eats, without having to pester my hosts to help me scope out the nearest health food depot.
  • Making sure your hosts are aware in advance of your ‘status’. Ie. vegetarian, vegan, raw foodist (gasp!) Even though I have trouble with ‘vegan’ as a label sometimes, because I would eat an egg from a healthy, happy chicken on a lovely, local farm, if it makes things easier just put yourself in a box for the duration of your stay!
  • In the same vein, it might also be easier to use the old ‘allergy’ trick if there are foods you simply won’t eat because of health reasons, etc. Like soy. I’ve found it comes off preachy and judgmental if I go on a spiel about how I don’t feel comfortable ingesting too much soy, and the associated health concerns in front of people who may still enjoy it, and have it ready to serve up to their vegetarian guest (cos that’s all we eat, right?). Instead, a more tactful approach may be to simply say, sorry, I’m allergic! It’s up to you, but I am trying so hard to be aware that not everyone shares the same concerns as me, and may be taken aback by my ‘rules’ regarding some foods.
  • Prepare to be flexible. No, I have not been able to eat organic while i’ve been away. Yes, I have inadvertently eaten some butter or dairy in a recipe. No, I’m not going to say I won’t eat that! to the soycheese my stepmum bought me as a thoughtful alternative to regular cheese – despite the fact it had casein (dairy protein) in it, a bunch of weird flavourings, and made my tummy hurt the next day. It won’t kill me (but I admit, I have felt decidedly lacklustre in the absence of mountains of fresh greens, vegetable juices, and raw foods).
  • Keep up with your exercise if you can – go for walks, explore your new surroundings, pack your runners (or your FFV’s!). This will make you feel much better in general, keep your energy levels up, and help to keep those ‘omigawd i’m losing all my precious fitness’ thoughts at bay!

There you have it! I’ll reiterate, it has not been easy. I’ve actually felt quite depressed and anxious to tell you the truth, as my skin has gone HAYWIRE again, and I suddenly feel sluggish and pudgy. Not that that matters at all but I’m simply channeling the  blerrrghghghghaaaaaaaaaaaewwwwwww vibe. You know that feeling?!

It’s an important lesson for me to learn to maintain some perspective – do your best to be true to how you want to eat and live (for it’s your choice, and should not be subject to the scrutiny of others – however unrealistic this may be!) So i’m definitely having a stern word with my perfectionist monster, and trying to ease on up on the inner turmoil.

It will all be ok, right guys? Right! And on that note, I wish you a happy, positive, healthy adieu, and I’ll see you back in the land of sanity really soon!

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Found: Sole Mates.

June 23, 2010 § 6 Comments

Inhale. Exhale. SQUEAL!

Look what’s wrapped around my newly liberated tootsies. FIVE FINGER VIBRAMS!

I first heard of these while reading the fantastic Edible Perspective, and thought the concept was fairly amazing – simulating getting about in bare feet to increase the strength of your foot, improve balance & agility and guard against injury by returning to a more natural style of movement. The idea is that by allowing your feet to interact with and respond to (contact with) the ground, feedback mechanisms will kick in and automatically adjust posture & running style. Ie. the old heel-to-toe running motion actually places undue stress on the leg muscles and can result in things like shin splints.

When I discovered that there was an outlet close by, I of course couldn’t live another day without trying them out!

I’ve only been wearing them around the house & on short walks so far, because you have to allow your feet to adjust to the absence of all that cushiony joggery action, or risk tearing your toes off. BUT these are seriously amazing – even just walking around outside is a whole new experience in which you can actually feel the texture and formations of the ground. Not only better for your muscles, but also, in my opinion, a more wholesome, connected experience.

Apart from the FFV madness, I’m also in Brisbane visiting my dad & his kiddie winks – ie. my little brother/sister spawn.

I love plane trips – I’m continually in awe of the world above the clouds.

Brother:

Sister:

Nawwwwwww.

My dad must feel lucky to have such special offspring.

I’m aiming to try and actually do a meaningful post sometime soon, but for now am being summoned to create lego monstrosities, jump on trampolines and generally provide holiday entertainment. Luckily I’m at one with my inner child!

A fantastic weekend in delicious company.

June 20, 2010 § 2 Comments

Look who came to visit!

This lovely lady, who happened to bring me into the world. I love when my mum comes to stay! Like every houseguest, vegan fare is force fed under pain of death! Luckily for me, ma is also a health goddess with an open mind (and stomach!) who shares a love of all things lovely, local and leafy.

Of course, we scurried off without delay to the health food depot to replenish our stocks for the weekend, and enjoy a gorgeous breakfast in the sun.

Then it was off to enjoy some incredible winter weather and get the limbs moving.

To satisfy our post-workout hunger pangs, I whipped us us a simple + delicious kale salad.

shredded kale leaves

1/2 avocado

grated carrot

thinly sliced radish

diced tomato

grated zucchini

fresh lemon juice

salt & pepper

drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil

(I ‘massage’  the avocado through the kale leaves first, then add the toppings + dressing)

The PB parsnip fries made another appearance! This time, I used some sweet potato as well – definitely a delicious alternative, however they don’t bake as perfectly as the little parsnip pieces.

We bought this organic keeeetchup (with accompanying American drawl) at the health food store, and even though I really try & limit the amount of things that are ‘pre-made’ in my pantry, I have had the odd occasion lately where i’ve hankered for big slurp of tomata sauce, and this here specimen was a HIT!

It had comfort-food appeal.

Baked some zucchini muffins with a healthy dollop of peanut butter to take on a sea-side picnic.

Beetroot chips & seaweed crackers.

Another kale salad, to go.

Well I think it’s time to hit the hay – one more day & i’m off to Brisvegas to spend some quality time with my dad and his menagerie. Migrating north in the hopes of warmer weather!

Peace out!

In a perfect world…

June 18, 2010 § 1 Comment

…I would be in possession of the following.

The holy-grail of food pulverisation – the mighty vit-ey (mix). Would only set me back a cheeky thousand or so…

Dehydrator for raw, shrivelled treats.

Infinite vegan cook books, artfully arranged in a decidedly organic, fall-where-they-may manner atop a coffee table of recycled local timber…

Amongst natural health bibles…

In a room intriguingly cast with the unique patterns of a Suck-Uk wooden pendant lamp…

Sipping from a spanking new eco-bottle…

From my charming provincial hide-away…

Is this getting out of hand?

There’s some whimsy for a friday evening.

Health food will be the death of me!

June 17, 2010 § 3 Comments

It will be a squeaky clean, wholesome death, but a death all the same. I’ll be a gutter-dwelling, well-meaning vegan in the not too distant future judging by my current spending habits – my most recent health superstore fetish left me considerably poorer today, not to mention preggers with yet another food baby on account of all the ‘sampling’ I had to do, you know, to test the goods.

Drool-worthy items:

Organic date and coconut rolls. These are melt-your-face-off-sweet, and a normal person could probably consume about 1/2 of one before giving up. I took this as a challenge, and dealt with most of the batch today. Yes, the same day I bought them. I’m not known to ration my goods, but prefer the ‘load up for winter’ feasting technique.

No prizes for guessing what happened to this bad boy.

I am looking forward to having a big dollop of this on my oats in the morning 🙂

Coconut sugar. Apparrently it’s all the rage, that’s why you’re hearing it here first! Low GI, quite nutritious and sustainably produced. Can’t wait to try! Although I have been going really well with the ol’ Stevia, which is a great sugar alternative.

New natural toothpaste & deodorant.

Bought this mineral makeup as I gave the Bella Pierre to my mahjah – it was slightly too dark/red for me, and I felt a constant shade of embarrassed. Inika is all Aussie, all vegan, all natural, and all AWESOME in my books.

Also stocked up on raw cacao, carob powder (loooooooove), nuts and other assorted goodies.

Oh and the last week or so i’ve been taking a pro-biotic (I like to think of it as intestinal gardening!) and I don’t know if it’s just been a coincidence but my gut feels amazing! Hah! No, seriously, I have the worlds most vocal/sensitive/touchy/downright bitchy stomach cavity, but it has been at peace with the world of late, and I attribute this to the pro-biotic peace corps who have subdued local unrest.

Ok fellarinos, just a quick post to share with you some of my newest delights! Thanks for your thoughts on the animal issue, and not staging a protest (as yet!). x

Cows with guns.

June 16, 2010 § 8 Comments

Does anyone remember this song? Used to crack me up. Probably not the best note to be starting this serious discussion with, but I think we should all be aware of a looming cow uprising!

(Look who is helping me write this – Chelsea’s little dog. Isn’t she a cherub?)

As you know, I’ve been thinking a lot over the past few months about the ethics of what we consume; what we wear, where we shop and of course what we eat. Despite being a veeegetarian (vegan-leaning vego), I’ve come to realise that I didn’t really have an inspiring, confident answer to the question, “why?”.

Why do I choose not to consume animal products?

Obviously I have a set of personal beliefs,  however I’ve made it my mission to become more informed.

To tell you the truth, I often feel uncomfortable about fielding questions regarding my ‘alternative’ choices, mostly because I fear fitting in to that dogmatic, self-righteous image of the vego with an agenda – an agenda to make people feel uneasy about digging in to that sizzling slice of steak that gives them so much salivatory pleasure. I have never liked to push my opinion, and would infinitely prefer to quietly eat my side of lentils sans commotion than persuade others to do the same.
But reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals, visiting blogs such as The Voracious Vegan and watching documentaries like Food Inc., The Cove and Sharkwater, I’ve been forced to ponder the implications of remaining silent. Could there be merit in at least trying to facilitate some sort of discussion about our mealtime choices? After all, we have arguably been conditioned to simply dissociate from the reality of the food before us, so why not encourage people to take a moment to reflect? Not to agree or disagree with the vegan ideal, or feel guilty or wrong in their choices, but to merely engage.

Eating Animals is a fantastic achievement because it explores the consumption of animals beyond that which simply expresses a moral discomfort in eating another living thing. JSF sets out not to champion the vegetarian cause, but to present the facts about eating meat in a manner that needs no embellishment – an examination of factory farming speaks for itself.

Reading this book has challenged me to view the concept of being a vegetarian differently. I now hold two distinct beliefs.

  1. My personal choice – I choose not to eat meat because I can’t reconcile with the idea of consuming something that was once a living, breathing, feeling creature. There is no need for me to eat it from a nutritional standpoint, that much is certain. Many studies have concluded that the vegetarian diet not only lowers risk of heart disease, some cancers and a host of chronic illness, but via careful planning and much research, I am confident that this diet gives me everything I need and more. The only motivation for me to eat meat therefore, would be to enjoy the taste, and perhaps revel in the cultural and social normalcy of such an act. Strike that one off – I have never craved meat since giving it up, and have found not eating it to be the most fulfilling lifestyle choice in terms of bridging the gap between my passion for animals, and being able to embody this interest daily. Here’s the ‘IF’ – if others don’t share this same value, and feel that eating meat is a natural, enjoyable facet of their lives not worth denying, I am not about to challenge that. It is certainly something that has been historically a part of people’s lives, and I don’t envisage a world in which people forego this pleasure en masse anytime soon.
  2. What I WOULD argue, is that the sources from which an increasing proportion of our meat originates (factory farms) do not fit in with ANY dietary decision, vego or otherwise. This is because factory farming (let’s call it ‘FF’ – let your imaginations run wild with alternative readings of  the acronym…) is an utterly barbaric, monstrous and chilling feat of human engineering, and I don’t believe ANYONE would knowingly condone these practices of modern agriculture. I realise that some animals have it better than others (cattle, sheep > pigs, poultry, fish) and there are exceptions to the rule – farmers who care passionately about the welfare and happiness of their livestock and make it their mission to act humanely. (Even so, reading the description of what happens on the ‘kill floor’ of even those farms striving for sensitivity made me dissolve in a fit of tears that only prolonged hugs from the bf could assuage) However, it is shocking learn that the commodification of animals has not only stripped them of rights to even the most basic of considerations, but the industry as a whole holds catastrophic environmental implications and is completely unsustainable (did you know raising animals for meat, dairy & eggs is one of the leading contributors to greenhouse gas emissions?).

This is the issue that I feel underpins any debate about the ethics of what we consume – for it transcends personal preference and becomes a question of how can we live with ourselves if we continue to support farming practices that are not simply undesirable, but barbaric and detrimental to the health of the planet? This is not about eating meat, but about ensuring that if we choose to do so, that it comes from credible sources that do not contribute to a life of misery and pain for those creatures involved.

A certain degree of active ‘forgetting’ is at work when we eat an animal – we are dissociated in the large part from the concept that the small, tasty cube of protein inhabiting our stir-fry was once an assembled animal. It’s often mind-blowing to ascribe a life, a personality to the food before us. But I am confident that if more people made the choice to engage with their food, to peek out from behind closed fingers and acknowledge that ‘this is a portion of cow that died to become my dinner’, we might have a better chance of putting an end to inhumane practices, and re-work how we obtain our meat.

‘Factory Farms’ conjure this sort of fuzzy notion of horror in all of us, however I believe most people are, to their credit, truly ignorant as to the vast array of injustices that accompany this method of production. I am deliberately omitting the details, as even the most cursory of glances at youtube clips, relevant websites and literature lends an understanding of the enormity of these animals’ suffering. Even products marketed as ‘organic’ or ‘free-range’ offer little credibility, as they too mostly follow the accepted mode of production, with perhaps a window here or an open area there to qualify the label. I also didn’t know that often chicken’s raised for laying eggs are killed after about a 1 year period, as it is more cost effective to replace them with new ones as their productivity decreases. This makes me more determined than ever to shop at local growers markets where I can meet the farmers and feel confident in their practices.

If this all seems like too much, please just take one moment to think. I absolutely wish to avoid inspiring defensiveness about one’s choice to eat, or not to eat meat. I have however been extremely moved by accounts of factory farming, and it’s broader implications for the health of the global population and the planet itself, and feel that yeah, ok, perhaps we ought to suffer a little discomfort if it means striving for alternatives. Is it wrong to ask people to take responsibility for their choices? Or is that like, so depressingly serious and something to think about anytime but now? The truth is, we have to start accepting it – the truth. Carnivore, vegetarian, whatever – it’s clear that if we do nothing in the face of a gross violation of our own responsibilities to the animals we consume, that equates to doing something. ‘Nothing’ is a more powerful stance than any, for it simultaneously ignores and supports the problem – that being, we are cramming thousands of animals into tiny confined spaces, genetically engineering them beyond recognition, torturing them throughout their lives and into death, and serving them up as food. How can we be sustained by such a miserable sequence? Surely this is the ultimate indication of our own humanity.

Links:

Factory farming facts

Excerpt from Eating Animals

Interesting article about a mans path to veganism

Food Inc official website

Exit coma.

June 16, 2010 § 4 Comments

Why hello! Excuses for lengthy absence = end of uni semester, not feeling so chipper, and huge internet bills possibly caused by my net surfing addiction. But am now on holidays and will make a concerted effort once again to start offering unqualified health advice daily!

This was my life in the last crazy-whirlwind weeks of uni – packed breakfasts, lunches & dinners. Committment, or tupperware obsession?

Not to put a damper on my reunion with the blogosphere, I am in a TERRIBLE mood because I was just about to leave the house bright and early this morning to do some therapeutic health food shopping, only to discover my solitary car key has disappeared into fat air. Trying to stay calm and attribute the loss to a blatant attempt by life to break my spending addiction. No car, no overpriced organic goodies. So instead, struggling to be at one with the ways of the automated universe, and turn that grimace into, well, less-of-a-grimace!

Spending addiction since completing uni semester exhibit A:

Very cool canvas hi-tops for winter. First year not buying leather boots and i’m definitely stoked with the alternatives.

Spending has also extended, naturally, to amazing new foodie finds.

Yes, that is pure coconut water in a carton. No additives (apart from organic pineapple juice & acerola), no sugar…they don’t even let air get to the coconut juice before it is siphoned into this little eco bottle for my lip-smacking consumption. Yes I hate juice and packaged drinks of any kind, but I was wetting myself when I saw this. Love, love, love.

To celebrate the re-emergence of my head in the world of the living (as opposed to hidden in front of a luminescent editing screen in a dimly-lit uni-lab 24/7) I also went and got the mop tamed. An amazing thing happened when I went to a new hairdresser – they offered me ammonia-free hair dye! I just get a few blondie bits here and there, but if I can do so without the crazy chemicals, I say yay! She was an excellent hairdresser, and I also bought this new Aussie organic shampoo that she stocked called O & M, that happens to be the most delicious product i’ve ever had the luxury of lathering up into a frothy mess atop my noggin. No parabens, sulfates or cruelty. No consideration for a student budget either…

Tad on the short side, but I generally like to resemble a boy as much as possible.

There was a couple of excruciating weeks in which young coconuts were mysteriously absent from supermarket shelves, and I cried myself to sleep on many a night, however they are back in force, and i’m enjoying them paired with raw cacao & lots of salad options, and pretending in vain that it’s summer..

I also had the pleasure of trying Angela’s Peanut Butter Parsnip Fries. As her title asserts, yes indeed, they did enrich my (once empty) life. I now have a more meaningful existence in the knowledge I can coat roasting veggies in a healthy layer of PB!

I’ve also never tried parsnips before, and dug the deviation from the standard potato or carrot. I do however think these babies would be mind blowing with sweet potato, seeing as the day after I had these I appropriated the notion of putting PB on veggies to include slathering it all over my steamed sweet potato. Results were as expected. Phenomenal.

Culinary fare continued to impress with another of Angela’s favourites – savoury oats. Yet again friends, we must open our minds to curious combinations that challenge convention (see: avocado as a base for chocolate pudding; spinach in smoothies) but more often than not, these ideas are FREAKIN’ RADICAL and must be tasted first-hand.

Didn’t really follow the recipe exactly, but just threw in some veggie stock, savoury yeast flakes, S & P, mustard, turmeric and added chia seeds, avocado, cherry tomatoes, salsa, hummus, sunflower seeds, coriander… I would swim in a vat of these oats, let’s put it that way.

Yet more recipe trials with Caitlin’s flax-encrusted sweet potato balls. Scrummy. Subbed mixed beans for black beans, which seemed to work fine. The only thing I would try next time was maybe a different coating, like ground chia or even a flour, and I need to find some sort of delectable sauce to slather them in.

Post-exams, I’ve also made the time to fit reading back into my life, and have just today finished Jonathan Safran Foer’s (superb author responsible for Everything is Illuminated & Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close) Eating Animals. It was a tough read, and i’m going to talk about it more in my next post.

Last weekend I also went and walked some wee little homeless pooches for a local animal shelter. I feel like it’s not a very big contribution, but I would like to get more involved somehow because stray pets are just such a huge problem, catalysed in the large part by over-breeding, failure to de-sex and thoughtless, impulsive purchases.

This is Inca. She’s only 1 year old and is a Maltese x Jack Russell. She was a total sweetie, and I wish I could’ve taken her home. If you’re interested, here is the shelter website.

Well, it’s off to the gym for me, but stay tuned for a bit of a meaningful post sometime later today or tomorrow. There’s some things on my mind now that it’s free of film, french & feeble study attempts. XXXX

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