Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Media Watchering, and Bill Clinton, or: something reasonable

Hello chickens,

The last two months have been up and down, up and down, and I shan’t say more.

Here’s a lil’ sumthin’ sumthin’ from today’s Age online healthy blog section – not to shabby and not outrageously hysterical (at this stage. Wait until the charred-chops and salty-sausage eaters consider this article a threat to their way of life, all they hold dear and the Great Aussie Dream).

Also, did anyone see the recent M Magazine (also The Age) which highlighted people who are social oddities – the asexual fellow, the childless woman, the nudist – and a vegan. I was all fine and dandy with this until the vegan bloke wrote that he is happy to each ‘happy eggs’. I don’t want to be the Vegan Police but if you’re going to put your mug in a national magazine as an example of a lifestyle choice that most people are unfamiliar with or think is a little on the beardy-weirdy side, don’t confuse the matter by saying that you’re not actually very strict and can eat whatever you want really. It makes us all look flaky. If you need to do it then just do it, but please don’t make a great big public song and dance about being vegan if in fact A) you are not, and B) you probably know darn well how often the rest us have to explain that we can’t make just one little exception on this one little special occasion for the butter milked from your delightful cows and churned by your rosy-cheeked milkmaids, and your yolky eggs collected lovingly from your feathery chickens by crooning farmhands.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Vegan products in a non-vegan brand, or: the perils of the supermarket

It’s not often that PeTA and I agree. As I rule, I, like many others, feel very icky about their tactics and imagery, but they get thoroughly criticised for that if other places so if you’re interested, just go and have a google.

But to the agreement: I agree that L’Oreal are vile animal abusers and I haven’t used any of their products since veganising myself over three years ago (my how time flies when you’re busy reading every label on every product you buy …). However, I read some time ago that they had brought out a vegan hair care line, EverPure, which actually marketed itself as being vegan, and my interest was piqued.

I had a little tussle with myself when I finally saw it in the supermarket on the weekend. My personal policy has always been that through mainstreaming and the wonders of shoppering veganism would become more widely known, acknowledged, desirable and even easier for people to live with. I have always supported the power of the market in being able to bring consumers vegan-friendly, reasonably-priced and high-performing products, and I am always pleased to see any product which states its vegan credentials on the label, because this is recognition that being cruelty-free is a selling point and worth shouting about – and I usually buy one in a show of support. The EverPure line meets all these criteria.

But did I want to support a company I know to be heavy users of animal testing and derivatives? Not really. Did I want to buy a line they had produced – one of many other, non-vegan lines, admittedly – which highlighted that it was vegan? Yes.

So my next question to myself, staring intently at the shelves in the personal care aisle, was that even though the product was vegan, in that it contained no animal products and had not been tested on animals, was it ok to buy it knowing what we do about L’Oreal? This was really where I felt uncomfortable.

And then I looked around me at the supermarket where I shop every week. That supermarket sells flesh and cow breastmilk and chicken ova and all sorts of non-vegan things. In my trolley was bread from bakeries that offer honey-infused lines. I bought cereals that offer yoghurt covered raisin varieties, baked beans which have ham-filled counterparts, hummus from brands that also sell smoked salmon dip, and tinned soups which I had to hunt for amongst their chicken stock and milk solids-filled shelfmates. On a naughty day I’ll buy chips that I can eat whilst leaving the honey baked ham packets from the same brand alone, and some types of sweet biscuits but not the creamy ones. I do this all the time. I choose products that suit me, and ignore the rest. I choose to buy things and tell companies that I, the consumer, want milk and honey free bread, cereal-only cereals, bean-filled baked beans, dips made only from chickpeas and vegetable soups that only contain vegetables. I choose because I have to and I want to. I choose because despite the existence of the outstanding Radical Grocery, I cannot and do not buy all my grocery items at vegan-only shops. My belief in the power of mainstreaming and my desire to see veganism become more widely understood and accepted make me choose.

And so I chose to try EverPure.

Incidentally, it wasn’t half as good as Organic Care and almost three times the price, but I would still like to know what you would choose. I chose one way, but you may choose another. Do you buy vegan products from non-vegan manufacturers (or do you not consider those to be vegan products at all?)? Or do you draw the line at very-non-vegan companies like L’Oreal and Proctor&Gamble on principle? Or do you support companies putting a toe in the water and buying their vegan-marked products regardless?

I’d really like to know – without wanting any Vegan Policing, I think this is fascinating.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Dymock's continues to impress me, even on a whirlwing whizzbang lunchtime quickie shop.

This lunchtime's haul includes the new 2011 Sarah Kramer 'Go Vegan' calendar, which will adorn the toilet wall at the T-House so that guests are held captive whilst reading its messages. No pics as only the 2010 calendar is on the website, and we couldn't possibly be that out of dat, daaaahling.

I also bought Sara Gruen's new book, Ape House. Ape House follows the bestselling( which I'd never heard of) Water for Elephants which is set in a circus (not vegan) during the Depression (neutral vegan) and according to the cover is about learning to communicate with ... an elephant (quite vegan). 

Ape House, and I rip this from the blurb, features bonobos who speak American Sign Language escaping into the world and capturing media attention for doing spookily human things - not so spooky given bonobos known intellectual abilities, just spooky to those who still consider animals to little more than responsive, unsentient biological machines. I don't know what it will be like, but it seems to be compassionate at first glance, and certainly better than other books by certain authors who misunderstand and misrepresent veganism and then send very rude emails exhibiting a complete lack of manners when called out politely for sloppy research.

Review possible shortcoming, and in the interests of full disclosure I should add that I also bought a book on uses of bicarb soda around the home because I am a bit sad.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Argument not over yet, buster, or: babies in the crockpot

With more from the "never ever read the comments" file:

I quite liked this article. It doesn't resolve anything, but it does try to pinpoint why killing and eating baby animals can be more confronting for omnis than eating adults. Speaking about the discomfort is identifying it, which is small as it is, is a step towards questioning. 
My favourite new form of omni-spam is this kind of comment: "All you sooks who cry about eating baby animals, you are such hypocrites in your leather shoes and belts!". Yes you would be. But I'm not. Argument not over yet, buster.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Next stop: World Domination, or: I spread my metaphorical blogging wings

For the duration, meaning for the period in which I am engaged and probably for a bit afterwards too or for as long as I have things I wish to inflict on the blogoverse's collective ears, I'll also be blogging over at PolkaDot Bride (in the Weddings section), which is a blog that leaves me with long strands of sticky saliva extending from lip to keyboard as I gaze at the prettypretties (that sounded so unglamorous, but I assure you it's the very height of style). 

My first post is up and there will be more. I'll continue to write here too, focussing on more vegan-nuptially things, but remember to have a squiz and Polka Dot Weddings too.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Forcing it down your throat, or: Don't read the comments.

I don't want to comment on the slightly bizarre and pointless article. 

However I will say this: why is it that any article about veg*ism is responded to immediately by a number of comments demanding that  veg*ns just shut up and stop telling the author of the comment to eat meat ... and why do these comments appear before a single pro-veg comment has appeared? 

It is an imaginary blast against an imaginary veg*n? Is it wishful thinking, in the way that one often has verbally violent arguments with people in one's head, coming up with a number of cutting and pithy remarks that utterly fail to spring to mind in real life? Or have the authors actually met some haranguing veg*n at some time? They do exist, but thankfully I have only ever seen them online and certainly not amonst my own friends. 

My experience is the opposite: I have had it demanded of me over the dinner table to explain myself. I recently had a chef tell me I had a mental illness, in a faux-but-not-really joking way. I have had friends introduce me - regularly - as "the vegan". I have had a million questions, all designed to find the tiniest flaw in logic as though the possibility that I would agree that if alone on a desert island having been shipwrecked without communciations devices with a newborn to feed and the absolute certainty that I will never escape then I might drink the milk of the cow stranded with me means that the entire agri-business structure is ethical. I've had countless "I could never ... I love cheese ...." and "Tasty tasty murder", usually while I'm eating. I've had "Well sorry, we're going to order pork anyway", without me having said a word. I've had "plants have feelings hahaha". 

And this in response to what I said, which was ... nothing. 

In my experience omnivores confronted with veganism are often aggressive, defensive, abusive and loud. Some aren't. A surprisingly sad number are. I will only discuss veganism with people who I think want to have a reasonable discussion with me. Otherwise I am silent. 

Who is forcing what down whose throat?

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mrs B, Engaged Vegan

Dear Reader, 

I married him. 

(Not just yet, but I will). 

My absence from this blog recently has been in the most part due to my frenzy of organising after the lovely Buzz and I decided to get hitched. And the secrecy was because we were not yet engaged, and I wanted to be proposed to and he wanted to  propose, so we were keeping it all under wraps. Instead of blogging, I spent my time caressing my wedding folder, emailing vendors and whipping myself into increasing fervour about bombonniere. 

But now we’re official! He is my fiance and I am his fiancee. Without going into the teary details of the proposal, I will just say that it was perfect and meaningful and it rocked. And there is a rock. 

Buzz also gave me the best present he could have on my 30th birthday when he said that he wanted to have vegan food at our wedding. This had been a little sore point for me, as early on our relationship I had made some sort of thoughtless generalised sweeping comment about it, inadvertently putting the omni Buzz onto a knife edge and asking him to do something he wasn’t yet comfortable with. I’d come to terms slowly with a compromise in my own head, reluctantly accepting that it was his wedding too. But blammo! Out of the blue on my birthday he said he wanted all the meals to be vegan. My heart went all butterflyey and pitter patter. 

So as we embark on a planning a vegan wedding, I think this will become my fodder for the next year or so. There are of course a number of posts and blogs already which describe fantastic vegan weddings - not least of which is In The Mood For Noodles, when K and Toby had a potluck feast and hosted a truly brilliant reception - but as our wedding will be a bit more traditional, and really quite big at 150 guests, I think our trials and tribulations will be useful for any others planning an Offbeat Lite (as they say on wedding. 

And so, Item the First! 

The Grub & Booze
We were both on board with all vegan food, and as much of the alcohol as we could manage. Our first consideration was finding a venue that didn’t baulk at the idea of catering for 150 vegan meals, and more to the point, didn’t offer us a menu of salad - risotto - fruit salad. 

This actually proved to be one of the most heartening aspects of all the organisation we did. Every single venue we contacted was very open to vegan meals and one of them - The Centre Ivanhoe - even prepared us an excellent sample menu before we went to inspect the venue. They will be using this on their website as an example of what they can do, so any couples looking for an Art Deco masterpiece should definitely contact them. 

The other consideration was alcohol. We needed somewhere that could offer to either source vegan wine and beer for us from their own suppliers, or allow us to supply our own with minimal charge. The second option is much less desirable; the cost per head we were quoted to BYO was between $10 per bottle and $25 per head! 

I had to come to a compromise on champagne. The only vegan champagne is Moet et Chandon, and maybe Veuve Clicquot, and our budget simply can’t stretch that far - and if it did I’d feel terribly wasteful. Our bridal table will have Moet - a girl has to have champers on her wedding day! - but I’m comfortable with something else being served to our guests and I would not be comfortable with not offering them champagne at all. Considering I had originally come to terms with a half omni menu, I think this a place I’m happy to rest. 

In the end we inspected four venues whose capacity was adequate, and each of them was beautiful and extraordinarily accommodating about our needs. The Centre Ivanhoe, Quat Quatta and The Willows were all excellent and very helpful, and I would happily recommend them. 

But in the end we chose the first place we visited, which set the benchmark for everywhere else. The Treasury Restaurant at the Sebel Hotel really captured us - it is an old bank now operating as a restaurant under a hotel , and the architectural virtues and sense of history really sealed the deal. The building is immaculately restored - nothing less glamorous than peeling paint - and offers the right balance between a sense of both spaciousness and intimacy that we want for our guests. We can hold the ceremony there (indoors is very important given it will be winter and evening!), then guests can head up to the mezzanine level for drinks and canapes while we get our photies, and then the reception will be held downstairs again. A bit of a change of scenery and no one (except us!) has to brave the dark and cold! And the best bit is that when the night is over, shoes are kicked off and eyes are closing, we can simply head to the lifts and be carried up to our room.