Oooey Gooey Melty Love

Life is good.

Since taking the advice of the Vegan Cheese Lovers group on Facebook and purchasing the Non-Dairy Evolution Cookbook my relationship with vegan cheese has changed beyond recognition.

After spending months as a new vegan lamenting the absence of cheese in my life and buying terrible plastic ‘wannabees’ in the supermarket, after spending months trialling and trying to make my own cheeses based off recipes I had found on Google (and failing miserably), I now feel like I have achieved fully fledged bonafide vegan cheese-maker status. Its a pretty amazing feeling.

2016-08-10 06.35.43.jpgI’ve made about 6 recipes from the book and each one has been amazing. Amazing in different ways – some have kicked ass with their flavours being so close to dairy cheese they caused a happy dance in the kitchen, whilst others have just been divine in their own right.

The latest experiment from the book was the brie (recipe to follow). I have to confess its not my fave of all the flavours BUT what it does have going for it is that it melts. Its ooey and gooey and actually melts like dairy cheese under the grill and even browns off a little. I had it for brekky yesterday with tomatoes and popped it under the grill and I was grinning from ear to ear.

The man who wrote this book is quite possibly someone I could begin to hero worship.

So…to the recipe and to the cheese. I know that’s what you really want….

Seriously – if you are into this sort of thing and you fancy having a go…I recommend you buy this book. Its a ninja game-changer. I’ll never buy vegan cheese again unless my back’s against the wall.

Ingredients:

  • 2tsp raw apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup refined (or normal…refined just has less coconut flavour) coconut oil
  • 1.33 cups almond / soy (I use my homemade nut milk)
  • 1/4 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1 tablespoon mellow white miso paste
  • 1.25 teaspoons kappa carrageenan
  • 1 tsp himalayan pink salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon truffle oil

2016-08-10 06.35.21.jpgThe recipe is in the book – re the process – it doesn’t feel right to share it for the world when this man has spent this amazing amount of time creating these recipes. The only thing I would change – and will next time I make it – is the truffle oil. It was too strong for me and overpowered the cheese entirely. I love truffle flavour but I found it too much in this cheese. I would have reduced the truffle slightly (by half probably) and added in 1/4 teaspoon onion powder to balance it I think. That’s what I will do next time.

What a wonderful world we live in – where we can eat something so alike to dairy cheeses without any of the pain, suffering, forced separation or pollution. If only it were this way around and that non-dairy cheeses were the norm and dairy was the minority. I dream of the day. As would the cows and the calves if they knew, I imagine.

Happy cheese making everyone!

 

 

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Happy anniversary to me

Its been a year. A year since I stepped out on this adventure to become a vegan.

I can’t believe a year has gone by, 2015 flew. I also can’t believe this lifestyle has been my lifestyle for over a year. I haven’t been perfect (there’s no such thing anyway) and I have faltered along the way but I also haven’t beaten myself up about things, I haven’t regretted the decision for a single day and I also have never felt better.

imagesI love the fact that my life is now virtually free from cruelty, that I am no longer partaking in the cruel hidden rituals of suffering metered out everywhere around the world in the name of our tastebuds and that I’ve re-connected with a moral compass I sort of lost along the way there for a while.

Thank you to my husband for your support – I know its been possibly harder for you than it has been for me. And thanks to my friends for questioning but never judging.

What have I learned along the way in this journey of mine?

    1. There is more cruelty being metered out to helpless sentient beings than I ever imagined possible
    2. That reading is my best friend – I have learned so much this year simply from reading and absorbing from whatever I can get my hands upon
    3. That people, not just animals, suffer from the mass production of dairy and meat – those working in slaughterhouses suffer from addiction, relationships breaking down, PTSD and more – to cope with what they do and see each day
    4. That most people are curious and ask intelligent and insightful questions of why but that some are just closed to it and choose to be defensive instead
    5. That the support of my husband, friends and family has been more valued than they will ever know – esp when I read online about how cruel and judgemental the loved ones of others are to them – I count myself very lucky
    6. That people surprise you – at least 3 friends have become vegetarian and one vegan in 2015 – from watching Earthlings and choosing to become more informed
    7. That there is hope – there are so many amazing vegan groups online and on FB and I love reading their daily comments and recipe ideas
    8. That there are some serious hardcore vegan police out there – who I choose not to engage with. They are merciless and unforgiving (and passionate which I respect). They are the ones who – undoubtedly – make change happen but also alienate along the way
    9. The best way to engage others is to be open, honest and gentle in the delivery of your reasons why
    10. That I don’t feel the need to wear my veganism like a badge – there are many who love their t-shirts etc but I don’t feel like I need to advertise it. I never wore a vegetarian t-shirt – why the need for a vegan one? Each to their own. No judgement for those who do but for me its my personal choice and nothing more.
    11. That so many are quick to condemn cruelty but far less are as quick to change anything as a result
    12. That milk is really really terrible for you and that the marketing of it as the best source of calcium astounds me
    13. That govts and the food industry are in bed together all over the world
    14. That making a buck seems to be more important than doing the right thing by a nations citizens and animals and thus cruelty reigns supreme
    15. That there is no looking back. I can’t un-know what I now know and…that life is better this way.

Here’s to the future, to what I have learned and what I have yet to learn.

Thank  you to those who follow this blog and good luck to all those just starting on this journey.

My first Vegan Christmas

Its been an interesting few weeks observing all the the impending hype about Christmas and watching all of the amped up adverts on the TV concerning getting some ‘pork on your fork’ and making sure you order your ham and turkey in time. On the radio this morning driving back from North Sydney I listened to a conversation on Nova about the importance of ordering in time to make sure that, god forbid, you went without meat on Christmas day and had to eat tofu. They laughed and laughed as if that were the funniest joke in town and the most awful outcome on a day of indulgence. I turned over radio stations disgusted with the presenters and their attitude.

Its a time of year when there is so much meat eaten, so much. Which…in my head, equates to so much death. So much. I think its especially apparent in my mind after watching this recent expose (well done to the team who did it) about farming in NZ.

Coupled with this I just read an amazing book, ‘Slaughterhouse’ by Gail Eisnitz. It made me so angry. It is an amazing amazing read. Not, unfortunately, a tempting title for many non-vegos or vegans I imagine, but its such a revealing and shocking read that I wish more would read it. I wish I had read it years ago. It documents the untold cruelty exacted against animals in the process of factory farming and documents that they are NOT one-offs and they are not unusual incidences of cruelty, they are (as I always felt was the case) everyday and common and par for the course. It talks of cows reaching the 4th stage of ‘processing’ (eg after shocking, having throats cut, and having limbs dismembered) and STILL BEING ALIVE. It has interviews with many many workers at these plants to reveal this is true in about a 3rd of all the cows they have to skin (alive). It talks of pigs having pokers stuck in their eyes, in their anus, in their mouths just to get them to move more quickly through the line. It talks of chickens still being alive when they reach the boiler (already having their feathers removed and their throats cut). And…the important distinction here – is that ALL of those workers interviewed agreed that none of these movements were muscle reactions / twitching, but rather than animals were still bellowing, making noises, rolling their eyes etc.

So – when I read the reaction to the farming expose in NZ and the reactions of, ‘but we love our animals…’ I just wanted to cry. The problem isn’t about whether you love them and treat them well whilst they are at the farm. The problem is when they leave the farm and where there is no accountability and no visibility. I say that again, no accountability and no visibility. If the workers themselves reveal that they are seeing this every single day, that means every single day that thousands of animals are being abused and tortured and its all hidden away and secret and instead what we see are images in the media about getting your christmas ham in time. It sickens me, honestly.

This is the reason I gave up meat all those years ago. The invisibility, the pain, the hidden agenda, the profits of the companies who run these factories and, its not just the animals who suffer, its also the workers who get injured and psychologically scarred by what they have to do every day.

If even one animal is abused in this way (and there is so much more I haven’t mentioned that’s shared in this book) then I can’t ever justify eating meat. I don’t understand how anyone can. Except I can, because its not widely known, its not widely shared and its designed to remain that way.

In the states at the moment a woman is being charged criminally for giving a pig on its way to a slaughterhouse water. Water. Apparently that pig is public property and she had no right to interfere with it. When did we stop seeing animals as beings and start thinking of them as property to be treated as we see fit. This underbelly of human emotions terrifies me.

So – I am looking forward to a christmas where I inflict no pain, am the cause of no suffering or death and where my life choices do not in any way mean that another being is abused beyond any level which we could call humane. I am not perfect, I make mistakes, I am not putting myself of a pedal stall here, I am just so pleased to not be part of the process and I am so happy that all those years ago, aged 14, I saw that documentary on TV late one night and it opened my eyes and forced me to question the world as I knew it.

Happy christmas to you all and please please consider the choices you make and what really happened behind the scenes to make for a merry christmas.

Namaste.

In Egg-less Wonderment

Today’s post is all about the celebration of eggs or rather…the lack of.

Eggs were the reason I became vegan in the first place. They were the straw that broke the camel’s back. I literally had no idea of how male chicks were disposed of, as I didn’t know it was something I even had to worry about. All those years of being vegetarian and I had no idea that I was supporting – inadvertently – something so cruel and so inhumane by simply eating an innocent old egg.

So – today is all about celebrating that knowledge and celebrating the amazing things happening around the world to try and remove that reality and find a way around using eggs to pave a way for a better, healthier, pain free, sustainable, cholesterol reduced, more enviro friendly future. Its a big call. But there’s some really exciting stuff happening.

First up – I saw this today and was so impressed at what Hampton Creek foods are doing. Not only did they take on the US egg industry who fought them over their egg-less Mayo (which I would love to try) and won….

They are also working really hard to try and create the first comparable egg-less scrambled egg. Imagine the possibilities. To say I am excited would be an understatement.

Next up – Germany becomes the first country to ban ‘chick-shredding’. Even that term turns my stomach. But what a result. I couldn’t be prouder of their decision and I hope that other countries follow suit (hopefully without replacing the options with an equally inhumane one). Read more here. 
Egg free wondermentFinally – I discovered, a few weeks ago, an egg-less wonder of my own. Not something I can take any credit for but I loved it all the same. It was an egg-free spanish omelette. WTF I thought. Read Here
I bought one, fully expecting to be disappointed and that it would be glaggy, and not especially tasty. I LOVE IT when I am proved wrong.
OK – no one could ever confuse it for an actually omelette (more like a spanish tortilla than an omelette in taste) but it was delicious for breakfast and equally so for dinner with a salad.
It wasn’t exactly low in calories so I had two meals of it, half and half.
20151008_072223I really was impressed and will definitely be ordering it again and wanted to share the love.
Here’s to a world with less pain and more yummy egg alternatives! Happy Weds all.

The Clock of Invisibility

Why would we eat a pig but not a dog? Why would we eat a cow but be distressed by the death of an elephant that was poached in the wild? Why would we eat lamb but find it upsetting to read about animals on the news being killed upon escaping from a zoo? Why would we be upset by the killing of a shark that attacked a surfer but not be upset by the billions of deaths attributable to us in factory farms globally?

This makes me so curious. Chatting to a friend the other day make me think more on it as they were astounded when I commented that I saw no difference between eating a chicken, a dog, an elephant, a lion, a pig, a horse or any other animal for that matter. Each life matters and none more or less than any others.

Something that always intrigues me is the strange paradigm that exists in society today about meat and animals. We are conditioned to view some animals as edible and designed to meet our needs and others as companions and friends and some others as exotic and intriguing and to be protected (and certainly not eaten).

How do rational caring people find the death of one animal distressing however they don’t find the deaths and containment of the billions of animals that die for meat consumption globally distressing?

Its such an interesting juxtaposition.

Consider it this way, each week 1.2 billion factory farmed animals are killed for consumption. Each week. This is more, on a weekly basis, that the total number of human lives lost in all battles throughout history. In just one week.

And yet – these lives are invisible. Where are they? Where are the factory farms? Why don’t we see them? 

This is part of the reason why there is moral outrage when an elephant dies for ivory in the wild and yet no-one bats an eye lid as they chow down on their steak whilst watching the news piece about it. Because we don’t see it, we don’t hear it and, in the main, we don’t want to know about it. To know about it forces an ethical decision that ignites a passionate discussion and means we can no longer choose or remain in ignorance.

I really don’t see the difference between eating a pig and a dog. If either had been a pet I imagine I would have had the same emotional attachment to either. And in different societies different animals are revered or not…e.g dogs in china are regularly eaten, as are horses in France…and cows are sacred in India. This alone should indicate the vast differences culturally between what we do and don’t eat and that what we think of as ‘acceptable’ meat to eat is nothing more than societal and familial conditioning (combined with a little marketing and exposure).

Consider that a pig is called pork…a cow is called beef…a baby newborn calf is called veal…and so on. We become more and more disconnected with what we eat with every day that passes. Whats more, its so clever and so invisible that we don’t question it or even realise its happening.

Its easy to eat meat when you have no connection to the meat you are eating and no relationship with it, especially when the way it is farmed, processed and killed is out of sight and out of mind. I just wonder why more people aren’t curious and don’t question it? I find it eery and unsettling that an entire industry can remain virtually out of sight.

Then theres the role of marketing and lifestyle. Get some pork on your fork? Every time I see that advert I cringe. Especially in Australia, meat eating is connected with good health, with social occasions, with family, with celebrations, with muscle tone, with masculinity and more…what a huge huge barrier to breakdown and what a huge glass ceiling.

I watched this fantastic you tube video which basically sums up exactly how I feel about being a vegan and why I became one. I only wish I could be as pragmatic, rational and well-spoken as this lady but I wholeheartedly recommend a watch and a share:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0VrZPBskpg

I became a vegan 6 months ago and I have loved every step of this journey I have been on. Its still challenges me and it still tests me – but it also moves me, gratifies me and comforts me.

I hope that, as time passes, the clock of invisibility around what we eat and where it comes from continues to be lifted.

Until then, let’s keep sharing the truth and remaining true to ourselves.

Peace.

Calling all Earthlings

I am dedicating my blog today in honour of a good friend (who know’s who he is). Yesterday I saw this interview with Ellen and posted it on Facebook: www.youtube.com/watch?v=L24NW01Rgak&feature=youtu.be

She was so eloquent and really relayed clearly and succinctly the reasons why veganism is a good choice. I was really impressed. What I didn’t expect, was that a good friend of mine would watch it, hear her reference the film Earthlings and straight away watch it.

Earthlings – in case you don’t know – is an award-winning documentary film about the suffering of animals for food, fashion, pets, entertainment and medical research. Narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, its the most powerful movie I have ever seen with the most compelling real horrific facts about what we do to the animals we eat, wear and own.

I haven’t even watched the whole thing. I watched about half, and had to stop as I was a sobbing wreck. I literally couldn’t stop crying. I am not a ‘cryer’ when it comes to movies and this movie literally floored me. Its not an easy watch. Its probably the hardest thing I have ever watched. If you are even considering vegetarianism, let alone veganism, this movie will confirm all of your doubts about what we do to animals and how the world hides it from us in the form of marketing, ‘barn laid’, ‘free range’, ‘pasture fed’ blah blah blah. Watch this and you’ll understand what really happens.

So – to my friend – who went in stone cold and unknowing and watched the whole movie – you have my utmost respect. You can’t unknow what you now know and I am impressed you stuck with it. Its hard hard going not only to watch but also to have so many ‘realities’ and ‘truths’ about what we eat challenged so viscerally.

Here’s the way I see it – Gandhi absolutely nailed it when he said, “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.’ Currently they are treated as if they were in their own private holocaust, the world over.

Thank you to my friend, you have inspired me once again and I am happy knowing that one more person knows the truth.