Monday, September 28, 2009

A letter to Living Nature, or: 'honey' is what I call Buzz, not what I expect to find in makeup labelled 'no animal ingredients'

Dear Living Nature,


I was surprised and disappointed today to see that your product range, whilst containing Manuka honey, is labelled as being free of animal ingredients. Your products are correctly vegetarian, but they do contain animal ingredients. I may be mistaken but I thought that you used to say that your products were vegan. In any case, it is inaccurate for your labels to state that you do not use any animal ingredients and I suggest that you amend this statement to reflect the use of Manuka honey.


Miss T

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I am two! or: Veganniversary

On the second anniversary of my veganism – my veganniversary – I have been noticing how my understanding has changed since mid-September 2007, when I had a Skinny Bitch-inspired epiphany at my desk.

I have broadened, and somewhat deepened, my understanding of animal rights and welfarism; I have read and read about food equity and down-the-chain cruelties to humans and animals alike. I am better informed and more widely read – and so I suppose it is inevitable that I have noticed changes in how I feel.

I am, two years on, both more and less committed to mainstreaming. I began with the firm conviction that I would do best if I was open and calm, and I still believe wholeheartedly that if I am the only vegan many of my friends know, then the example I set is especially important. I can be most influential when I am most approachable. To this end, I try to be reasonable, rational and intelligent about my positions, and relaxed about social eatering situations. I try bring food to share, and not put my hosts out. I try to adopt an equitable discussion style and I believe very much that although I decry the happy meat-schmappy schmeat movement, that when someone is proud enough of the changes they have made in their lives to buy organic meat or free-range eggs, that I should tell them that I am proud of them too. I believe that to critique someone else’s choices in these situations is counter-productive and plain rude. When they are ready to talk more, I will be ready to talk with them.

I want veganism to become mainstream so that it is accessible and understandable, and a market force. I want veganism to be normalised and demystified and I want it to become as widespread as possible. I see this as the way in which what was originally such a tiny, fringe movement can spread its message and practices to people who may otherwise have no understanding or knowledge of what we do and why we do it.

But I have also noticed that I have developed a small resistance. I find it harder and harder to be silent and I find that my thoughts as I watch someone devour their meaty dinner are more and more filled with disbelief and frustration. I feel this more keenly and more often that I did two years ago. I am more aware, and I am more committed, and I think this has lowered my tolerance threshold.

I have also found friends. Through blogging, potlucking and writing I have found a whole community, spread beyond the Veganville of Brunswick to Perth, Sydney, Brisbane, Townsville, Chicago and those who I know only through their comments. I have found people who I both like and admire, and to meet people who you not only respect but whose company you enjoy is a pleasure.

Although my primary motivation is animals, I know and believe that I am also doing the right thing for the environment and for my health, and that sustains my belief in veganism as a lifestyle, not a diet like locavism or a practice like recycling. It is an everything. There is nothing that would make me want to go back, and there is nothing that would make me feel that I had to.

This is especially relevant as I look towards the next few years of my life which I hope will contain babies and little creatures running around a noisy house. I am certain that having a vegan pregnancy will only benefit both me and my baby, which stems from my deep conviction that a typical vegan diet is three quadzillion times better for you than a typical omnivorous one, and that a consciously healthy vegan diet (the one in which I give up BBQ shapes, beer, chips and spring rolls) will give me the healthiest pregnancy possible, and my babies the healthiest body and mind I can give.

I like to think that I spread a little understanding amongst those I know who don’t know any other vegans. If I can at least cause one omnivore to say to another “Oh, I know a vegan. She’s ok”, then I’ve done a little dance and made a little love, and next time, one omnivore might say to another “Oh, she’s not a pain in the arse”, and the time after that, one omnivore might say to another “I don’t agree with her, but maybe she’s got something sensible to say”, and the time after that, one omnivore might say to another “Let’s not order steak tonight”.

At least, I like to think that I debunk a stereotype. That is, there is a place for the peace-loving, mung-bean-eating, hemp-wearing, loopy-doopy hippie, and there is a place for the activist, militant ALF types. But their place is where they are, and my place is here.

I have never doubted nor wavered in my knowledge that this is it, forever.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Harmonious Unison, or: Planet VeGMeL

Steph and Danni have turned Godlike and created a planet.

It's a planet where you can read all the Melbourne vegan/vegetarian blgos in one place - and I have to say that I think the snappy name is inspired.

It's called VeGMel - clearly Veg*n Melbourne - but also VGML is the international airline code for a vegan meal. Geddit? Goddit? Good.

Clever eh?

You can check all of us out in harmonious unison over here.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Potluck at the T-House

After years of being a habitual potluck attendee (although I like the word 'attender' or 'attenderer' better), I have finally returned the favour to all my hosts (Emily, Michael and Cindy, Lidia although I didn't go, the Press Club, Kristy and Toby's Wedding etc) and hosted a potluck at the T-House.

The theme was 'new', as the T-House has recently been renovated and is therefore newish. The idea was to make a new recipe, use a new ingredient, try out a new gadget, or to recreate an old favourite. Experiment, my pretties!

We also welcomed 'new' guests - Steph and Danni who are new Melbournites (although we had already met them before when Cindy and Michael hosted an Indian potluck to meet them when they were visiting Melbourne earlier in the year, one which I slackly didn't blog about because I was so embarrassed that I didn't have a chance to make anything and that my contribution was a bag of Kettle crisps), and Anna who is a new vegan and blogger.

I made two new kinds of ice-cream from my new ice-cream maker, which I bought because after excitedly picking up "The Vegan Scoop" by Wheeler del Torro, I realised that I also needed an ice-cream maker to actually make the ice-cream in the book about making ice-cream. Yes.

I made peanut butter ice-cream, which is really just PB, soy milk, brown sugar and vanilla extract whizzed up (ie fat, fat, sugar and sugar), and a chocolate version with raspberry pieces. I also made vanilla and was going to turn it into vanilla with white chocolate chunks, but in a moment of forgetfulness I forgot to replace the freezing bowl in the freezer yesterday morning, meaning that I couldn't turn the chilled mixture into actual ice-cream this morning. I improvised, after a moment of unbecoming swearage, and made a banana, white chocolate, nutmeg and vanilla custardy mix.

I also made rice paper rolls, which I filled with vermicelli, cucumber, carrot, bean shoots, enoki mushrooms, and tofu that I had fried off in soy sauce. Rice paper rolls are ridiculously easy to make, but I still need to involve some Asian mint and make them a little prettier. Sometimes I think that my rice paper roll habit is just an excuse to wrap anything in lettuce with mint and dip it in chilli dark soy sauce.

Other savouries included a platter of delicious dips from Anna including olive and chickpea and a pesto; chorizo sausages from Kristy; and a light and fluffy cous cous salad by Lisa. An in-betweener that I would never have thought of but which was absolutely delicious was the watermelon, lime, chilli and coriander salad by Jo. Finally, Buzz made Cindy's magical sausage rolls to delight and acclaim, and as I write he is whipping up another batch for our dinner. The recipe is fantastic, but I also have to give snaps to his preparation. *edit! I rudely forgot Cindy's homemeade crackers and yummo dip, which I didn't snap, but which was eaten up PDQ.

The groaning savouries table.

The rush begins.

The lovely lady authoress.

Kristy's chorizo sausages, pre-cookering.

My blurry rice paper rolls with lettuce and mint. Yes, that is cos lettuce and normal mint. Let's not go there, sistah.

Jo's fantastic watermelon salad.

Anna's tasty dips.

A line up of likely suspects.

Sweets were equally as multitudinous. There was a kiwi sorbet from Toby; white chocolate and peanut cookies from Pip; adorable oaty-chocolate balls presented on a darling double-decker cake stand by Jo; a white chocolate risotto with apples from the ever-adventurous and always-successful Craig; lovely oaty biscuits by Lisa; chocolate balls also I think from Pip, or maybe Jo?; *Edit: Michael!; and gingerbread form Miss T Junior which she ironically presented in animal shapes.

A table about to get diabetes.

Craig's surprising but delicious white chocolate risotto.

My banana-white chocolate-nutmeg-vanilla-ice-cream-mix concoction.

Beautiful oat balls.

White chocolate and peanut cookies.

Lisa poses.

Sam was tuckered out at the end.

Also, it is my second Veganniversary on, putatively, Tuesday. Everybody dance.