Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My bleeding heart story about animals and being a kid.

I haven't always been vegan, or vegetarian. In fact, I spent the first 20 years of my life on a mini farm where we ate our sheep, cows, pigs and eggs.

When I was about 3yrs old I got a little pink plastic comb and mirror set from Santa because I was such a good little girl. And Mum found me in the paddock one day sitting with a calf combing his hair and showing him in the mirror how well I had styled his quiff.

And as I got older I was responsible for feeding the new calf we would buy each year for the freezer. Morning and evening I would be out there feeding him, letting him suck my fingers gazing up at me with those gorgeous eyes.

And then I would get served up roast beef and steaks and I knew where they came from and I hated it. And I still ate it whilst threatening my parents with vegetarianism.

When I was about 8 I adopted an unwanted, sick lamb from one of our sheep and called him Smiley. The farm vet told us that Smiley probably wouldn't make it through the night but I sat with him in his cardboard box full of towels in the laundry and sang him songs out of my piano lessons book and cuddled him. He made it through and was one of the few sheep that didn't get buried in our freezer. Even when he got huge and old he would come running up to me in the paddock - I would have a moment of anxiety wondering if he was running to say hi or running to bowl me over. It was always to say hi and get a pat and a cuddle round the neck. He died of old age and I never had to farewell him on my dinner plate.

Whenever Dad went out to the farm with his gun, and with a particular knife and bowl, I knew what was about to happen and I dreaded hearing the gunshot. I would make sure to stay on the other side of the farm until I knew it was all over. But I was horrified to come across Dad one day, straddling a terrified kicking sheep whilst trying to cut his throat yelling at me to go away. That disturbed me no end. As an unreligious child who had attended but a couple of bible classes a year at school I actually wished I could be the animal Jesus so no more animals would have to feel pain. What a martyr child. And a hypocrite. I still ate meat. As a teenager I moved my bedroom into the shed. The same shed where the sheep's carcass would hang for a couple of days, outside my bedroom. I had nightmares about it's ghost coming into my room.

When I was 9 I saved a baby sparrow from the jaws of a cat while we were on holiday. Inspired, I called him Tweety (look, I was 10, ok?) and brought him home to look after. Tweety was great. When he was big enough we would let him outside on our 4 acres to fly around during the day and at night he would come back to sleep in his birdcage. I could call him from anywhere on the farm and he would come sit on my hand. I could even recognise his tweet out of all the other birds. It sucks but eventually Tweety ended up mauled by my own cat. Sob! Mum and Dad did surgery on Tweety's leg and put a little bandage on it and I prayed and cried myself to sleep. He lasted a few days looking thoroughly miserable and when he died Mum threw him into the trees without telling me, to be kind no doubt. But I spotted her from the window and put two and two together and made a little cross out of icecream sticks and put it in my diary with his tearfully written obituary. After Tweety I rescued a few more birds who eventually stopped coming returning at night but would still come visit us on the farm.

This doesn't even touch on the 'traditional' pets, the cats, dogs and rabbits I have loved in my life.

Sometimes I'm a glutton for punishment and I go ahead and read the ignorant and uneducated anti-vegan comments at the end of various relevent articles and the like. And I wonder how on earth these commenters can even be the same species as me, and how some of the things they say I could NEVER fathom thinking or feeling as far back as I can remember. I always ate meat but I also always felt bad about it. It NEVER sat ok with me and I wonder how there are people who go beyond defending eating meat to being unaffected by animal abuse, or worse, find it fun.

Are some people just born that way?

All I want for Christmas (aka: World, leave my family alone)

Woohoo! I got some great news today. Mum told me that Dad's blood sugar monitor read 5.9 the other morning. After years of meds keeping his blood sugar down in the 7's and 8's this is the first time it's ever been in the 5's! For those that don't know, normal blood sugar for non-diabetics is around 5 so this is brilliant news. He is still on meds, but to see that his new vegan diet has already had this much effect at reducing his blood sugar in just a couple of months is really exciting. Yay yay yay! I want to stand up in the office and shout it out to everyone.

[Skype 9:26:09 AM] Mum: i screamed with delight

And check this:

[Skype 9:31:45 AM] Mum: He said to me that i didn't have to do the vegan thing with him if i didn't want to. Doh!!! I believe in it!

Nothing can make you believe in something more than actually seeing results.

It was only a few months ago that Mum came to stay and the whole idea just didn't resonate with her to the point I got a bit mad (so much for vegan peace and love). I'm so glad something has clicked and she's had the mental shift that I think all vegans get. I just hope Dad can make the shift in his head too, because my fingers are crossed now for more 5's and less meds.

That's all I want for Christmas.

Subnote: Ok, I lie. I also want my brother to beat his brotherfucking cancer. Is that too much to ask?

Monday, December 21, 2009

The tragedy that is my love life

Whilst I would love to meet a veg*n guy, sadly (and amazingly, cos I'm a such a catch) I don't have a long queue of men beating down my door allowing me to pick and choose only the sexiest veg*n ones who also like great music and don't love Two and a Half Men. And considering I only know two vegetarian guys and don't actually know any vegan people in real life except my family then I don't have much of a choice in the matter.

I haven't dated anyone seriously since I have been vegan (9 months) but in this time I have had dalliances with blokes who bring sausage rolls back with them for breakfast in bed. And guys who don't give up trying to get me to go to the races with them and 'we don't have to watch the horses.' Or make jokes about getting a housepig so they can peel them for crackling on demand. And guys who take a pig trotter with them to a party to shake hands with people.

I can't not notice these things, and whilst I can ignore them it hardly makes me want to jump into bed and ravage them.

And in Carrie Bradshaw SATC styles, I couldn't help but wonder, if you can't get exactly what you want, where do you draw the line on just how much you want it? Can you ever really get serious about someone who has a fundamentally different belief about how we live our lives? When it comes to matters of the heart, am I fucked?

And, if this means anything, I'm still giving the housepig peeling guy a go.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Comfy, trippy, grumpy gluttony.

I have been doing a few bits and pieces in the last week, nothing worthy of a whole post, but perhaps all together they will equal more than the sum of their parts.

Comfy Chair
I believe in fair trade. So in return for my mate Nick trying out my Grumpy Bastard trivia, I tried out his at Comfy Chair. Nice place, nice couches, average chips. Mine wins. Nick is now a convert and a dedicated Grumpy attendee.
98 Lygon St
East Brunswick

Paris Cat
We hosted our client xmas party here this year. What a GREAT venue! The size and layout of the place make it look busy even before your guests arrive. Cute, cosy, intimate, great service, gorgeous little jazz trio and yummy food. Well I assume the food was yummy, I didn't arrange a whole lot of vegan options. I only ate one miniscule bruschetta and a spring roll and then had a bad moment of weakness and had an oyster shot. Actually, two. Why am I revolted by meat and dairy yet I loved the oyster shot? Anyway, my badness aside, if you are thinking about venues for next year The Paris Cat is a winner.
6 Goldie Place
Melbourne CBD

Republica Amello
Our evening at the Paris Cat was followed by a nice messy sales team boozey lunch afternoon session love-in downstairs from Soul Mama. Food was a mixed bag, some (omnis) said theirs was great, others were average. Republica got points for being able to serve me something vegan considering the veganless menu, but really I owe the thanks to the other table who had called in advance to arrange vegan options then didn't all show. I ended up with a bread flavoured rissole which was not particularly edible with a somewhat redeeming but really small salad on top. Thank god for chips. And wine.
16 Jacka Blvd
St Kilda

Trippy Taco
Finally made it here! On my way back deflated from a failed bad taste prom dress shopping trip at Lost & Found Markets I stopped by for a vegan taco. $5.50 gets you a soft taco (or, small tortilla if you ask me) with a pile of chili, beans, salsa, lettuce, avocado and vegan cheese. Yum and cheap and not too big so I didn't feel like a fat bastard afterwards.
48 Smith St

Japanese place on Smith St on the Collingwood side, south of Stanley St, north of Gertrude (this probably narrows it down to about 5 places).
I'm so sorry Japanese place but I can't remember your name. But we met on Saturday and you sell a delicious vegan handroll that I hadn't seen anywhere before - you had divine spicy tempeh with dark miso sauce. I was the girl in the faux leather jacket. Call me.
Japanese place on Smith St on the Collingwood side, south of Stanley St, north of Gertrude

Cute! I hadn't been here before despite having walked past and been enchanted by the warmth emanating from the place. I love a good tapas bar, especially one that's chilled and more on the cosy pub end of the scale than the upmarket bar end. With a cute little jazzy band (I'm ignorant, I don't know if it was actually jazz) playing in such a small space, and with those windows that open out completely so you are almost seated on the pavement it made for a feel-good way to spend the evening. But I only tried one tapas dish (Pea and a-herb-I-have-forgotten dip with bread) because I am a gluttonous pig and had a pizza before I went out for dinner. And speaking of Gluttony...
325 Smith St

Gluttony it's a Sin
Somehow I managed to swing a random breakfast date and headed to Gluttony with a rotten hangover and unsure of whether I could actually face food. Luckily for my hangover, Gluttony doesn't have much in the way of vegan breakfast so I opted for the lunch menu which meant I got a great gnocchi salad (mostly salad, little bit of gnocchi, perfect). End result was that I didn't feel revolting afterwards as I can imagine my date did after his big bacon and eggs breakfast (he said it was average btw... so this just confirms all the average breakfast reviews about Gluttony and if you were thinking about getting the spud jack to see what it is, don't). I have read mixed reviews about Gluttony, but I have always enjoyed it (opt for lunch not brekkie) and love the fact they have a whole vegan page in the menu and it actually changes sometimes! No way!
278 Smith St

Hell's Kitchen, Section 8, Double Happiness, B3 Cafe Patisserie
My mate is writing an article on alley bars in Melbourne so being the good friend that I am I obliged by joining her for a few at a few. Hell's Kitchen always feels super cool hipster trendy scenester stylee to the point that, while I like it, I feel out of place (which is incredible cos I am so fucking cool). Section 8, I'm obviously not cool enough for either. Why is it meant to be good? Double Happiness, you're alright but you don't do pints. Have I got fitzroyalty problems? B3 Cafe, thanks for the $4.50 rice paper rolls to line my stomach. I like you. I even thought it was cute that when I asked if they were vegan you said you don't know what that means so we went through what's in them. Considering the list was basically rice noodles and lettuce I think we're safe.
Melbourne CBD

Grumpy's Green
I still love you Grumpy and I promise I will stop seeing other people. Despite getting off to a rough start because I don't like your bands on Friday I do love your trivia nights. And now I love your chilli infused vodka shots. I heart chilli in drinks and last night's was something special. A mere sip to level it in order to carry it to my table was spicy enough to bring on hiccups which lasted a good 30 mins and made me appear more of a drunken lout than I actually am. I was even scared that if I did the whole shot I might puke from overdose of chilli. (I didn't). Also tried the chocmint and the redskin flavours, but chilli wins by far. We sucked at the trivia and came 5th. I'm sure we would have come first if it wasn't for Cindy and Michael's team having one hundred million people in it. But that's ok. If we ever win the $40 bar tab (or any bar tab, ever) at least we might get more than a sip each.
125 Smith St

Good tempeh. Take 2.

I have found out that baking tempeh in marinade is the best (and only?) way to eat it. And the recipe Theresa gave me in the comments on my first tempeh post was even better than the Swell Vegan one (sorry A-K!). If I was a good foody blogger who took photos I would have. But I think my flatmate thinks I'm weird enough as it is...

Theresa's tempeh - if you haven't tried it, um, try it!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Farmers must act to preserve animal agriculture

I find this article a little bizarre. And not just because it's big-ag being honest (about being dishonest).

The premise of the article is that meat and dairy farmers need to fight to bring their story to consumer markets to ensure people keep buying their products.

The strange part is the complete transparency which usually isn't evident, and in fact probably isn't intended.

Check out this quote here:
“The problem we have has almost doubled because we have allowed the activists to define us, we have allowed the activists to tell the public what we do and how we do it and frankly, we’re sitting back and continuing to allow that to happen”

So he's not denying that the activists are telling the truth. What he is saying is that people are hearing the truth and not liking it and it's the activists fault, and the farmer's fault for letting them.

So if activists are telling the truth, exactly which stories is he suggesting farmers bring to the table to refute it?

And, you know what? If something unnecessary appears to be getting phased out precisely because the truth of it is abhorent, how on earth do you justify trying to hold onto it?

Collingwood Dirt Cheap Foody Books

Somehow I have been there a bunch of times, spent way too much on stuff I still haven't read, and never actually paid any attention to the food and health section (no, I don't understand this brain lapse either). This time I did check it out and found some great foody books, a couple of which I had been after for a while. Woo!

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
The End of Food by Paul Roberts
The 30 Day Diabetes Miracle by Franklin House, Stuart Seale, Ian Blake Newman
Food Matters by Mark Bittman

Is it too much to hope that I will find the new Eating Animals there?

All I want for Christmas is more vegan foody ethics conscious eating books. Am I a psycho?

Dirt Cheap Books
222 Johnson St

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Activists owe thanks to factory farmers

If you want to hear a new stance on the pros of factory farming check out this link.

Well, I will give this guy a few points for trying a completely different tact from the usual anti-veg, pro-big-ag arguments.

But, unfortunately not enough points to balance out the huge deficit he's taken by presenting his completely nonsensical point.

His premise is that animal activists should thank farmers because, through farming, they have given activists time to pursue their activism as opposed to spending their time hunter-gathering.  In a roundabout way this makes sense.

But then he goes off on such an irrelevant tangent with this quote:
"Pacelle spends his days trying to abolish animal agriculture. Even as he spends his time in this manner, he should be thanking farmers that he's able to do so. If he had to find his own berries and leaves, not much time would be left for working against the so-called "factory farms.""

Perhaps the farmers could grow berries and leaves (because that's all veg*ns eat) instead of killing animals - this would also free up time for Pacelle to do his thing. Does it really follow that farmers have to kill animals to free up other peoples' time? Is this why they do it? So it's not about profit after all? (And what does he mean by 'so-called "factory farms"' anyway?)

Beat this even more irrational argument:
"Let's take this a step further. While Pacelle and other animal rights activists do not agree with meat consumption, they should at least realize the contribution to society. How many engineers, scientists, teachers, doctors, etc. were able to purchase a turkey at the grocery store for the holidays? Without animal ag, these folks would have had to raise their own turkey. To me it's a no brainer. Society is better off with these folks working in their chosen field, not raising backyard turkeys. "

No brainer? Try no brain. I think this guy has completely missed the point. Just don't eat a turkey. Then no-one has to raise it.

I'm not sure if this is a joke, but heres the next well-thought-out logical conclusion to be made:
"Unless Pacelle and the other animal rights folks have completely surrounded themselves with vegetarians, they should be thanking our country's meat producers. That means the postman, car dealer, waiter, mechanic, etc. Unless all these folks are vegetarians, animal ag has benefited Pacelle."

Why don't we also thank the tobacco producers? Whatever would we do without them? Imagine if the smokers had to quit their jobs to grow tobacco. Probably better thank the fast-food giants while we are at it. Would suck if we had to grow our own greasy burgers.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tempeh doesn't suck after all

As I have mentioned in my previous tempeh post, I have never made tempeh that doesn't suck. I'm an eating machine and can eat anything (non-animal) but the tempeh I have made before has been so damn hideous I have binned it every time.

But Anne-Kristen from SwellVegan has shown me the tempeh light. I bought her very cute little veganzine which she posted me from the US for a measly US$5 incl. postage. And I tried out her recipe for Orange Glazed Tempeh. Not just on me, but on my poor guinea pig parents. In hindsight I realise that was a pretty risky move, but it all worked out well. It was great! And my traditionally meat&3veg parents actually ate it. All up. So big thanks to SwellVegan <3

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Strokes. Diabetes. Veg eating. Avoidance issues?

Right, that's it. I'm biting the bullet and just making any old post on my blog so I can get back into the swing of things. Somehow, since my last post about going to NZ for a week, I haven't wanted to write. I think it's because I didn't really want to write about how it all went in NZ, because, despite the fact it was great to see my parents (and my cat!) it was actually pretty tough too. Dealing with my own emotional rollercoaster about my Dad and about my brother's cancer is hard enough without having to deal with my parents' own rollercoasters.

So, I just won't write much about it! In brief:
- I bought 'Simply Raw - Reversing Diabetes in 30 Days' on DVD and watched it with them
- Mum was brilliant and jumped right into the whole vegan thing and now has a wonderful positive mindset about it (This surprised me)
- Dad complained BITTERLY about his meals (so did this)
- Dad's blood sugar improved just in the week I was there
- they have been vegan for about a month now and Dad's blood sugar used to be in the 7's and 8's. Now it's in the low 6's. 5 is what non diabetic blood sugar looks like.
- Dad's recovering REALLY well from his stroke

And that's the end of that for now.

Because what I really wanted to write about was some positive stuff that allowed me to remain the emotionally devoid and heartless sod that I am. Who needs a heart when you can have a lump of coal?

Las Vegan Bakery
I have finally checked out a couple of veg*n joints I have been promising to try.  One is just round the corner from me so really I couldn't delay any longer.  I grabbed my only veg friend (thanks Una!) and checked out the cute little Las Vegan Bakery (that's not really a bakery).  The very modest and homely interior combined with the animal lib mags and the sweet old dude who served us made for a relaxed and positive dining experience where I didn't have to try and not notice the huge slabs of animal bits on my fellow diners' plates. I went for the tofu and tempeh chips in satay because I have never had tempeh prepared for me before which was the reason, I decided, I hated tempeh.  And it turns out tempeh doesn't really taste like ar5e at all! Una got the faux chicken shnitzel. Surprisingly convincing what with the stringy texture and all that.
22 Smith St

Lentil As Anything
My other foray into veg dining was a trip with my brother, sis in law and gorgeous 3 yr old niece to Lentil as Anything. This place is great! How exciting getting to fill your plate with as much vegan food as you can fit on there and having more options than salad! With eggplant curry, sweet potato curry, pasta salad, meatballs (these were the best!), salad, roti, papadums, and a soy latte how could I complain? I'm such a fat bastard that when I saw the selection I swapped the plate I was holding for a bigger one. And then you can pay whatever you like! How cool is this?  I love Lentil As Anything's philosophy - they are a not for profit community serving veg*n food and fair trade, organic coffee and tea. They have no set prices, you simply drop some money into the box on the counter. This allows everyone in the community to enjoy eating out, having fresh and healthy food without placing a focus on their financial situation.
1 St. Heliers St

Umago Cafe - Pizza
Yum! Not much needs to be said really, it's pizza. But what does need to be said is they have soy cheese available, and it's great! Admittedly, I have more love for Mr Naturals simply because I know I'm putting my money into a company that doesn't sell meat. But Umago's is delish and more like 'normal' pizza, and not quite so pricey!
171 - 173 Brunswick St

Grumpy's Green
Good ol' Grumpy's on Smith.  Vegetarian, locally sourced booze, grey water loos, recycled furniture, spunky pub quiz dude, friendly barstaff. What's not to love? All that aside, I'm trying out the pub quiz at The Comfy Chair in Brunswick next week. I'm sorry Grumpy. It's not because I'm not feeling the love. More like an exchange of pub quizzes among friends.
125 Smith St

And on that note I have got it all out of my system and can get back to normal.

PS. Endless thanks to all you lovely people who wrote all those supportive comments re: my Dad.