The one-year-and-almost-a-half Vegan Anniversary

I’ve been vegan since around March or April 2012.  I thought I’d post a bit of a question-answer, based on questions I have been asked but before I do, if there’s one thing, one thing at all I’d like to tell the world about being vegan, it’s this.  I never wanted my blog to be ‘preachy vegan’ but I gotta get this one out because I’m asked all the time in real life and sometimes it does my head in.  Ready?

YOU DON’T NEED TO EAT ANIMAL PRODUCTS FOR PROTEEEEEEEIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNN.  Or iron, or calcium or whatever despite what tv ads tell us.  Robert Cheeke and Billy Simmonds are vegan body builders and there are raw vegan body builders and atheletes too, winning titles and proving people wrong all the time:


robertcheeke

billysimmonds

Isn’t it really hard to be vegan?

Not at all!  In fact, I’ve found it easier.  I always considered myself an adventurous cook and love many different cuisines of the world.  But that knowledge back then does not compare to the knowledge I’ve gained since.  Knowledge is power, and I have absolutely no trouble or difficulty whatsoever with being vegan.

But aren’t you tempted by anything?

Nope.  I’ve never had a single temptation.  And to all those people who say that veg*ns secretly crave meat… well, there’s a lot I say to that but I prefer to keep my blog polite  😉  No, I do not crave meat or any other animal products.  I recently had to help with the washing up at a barbeque and the animal fat on my hands and the smell made me feel sick.  I had completely forgotten about the greasy washing up, the film of grease on the kitchen sink, the smell of it on tea towels and so on.

What about cheese?  Don’t you miss cheese?

This is a popular question put to vegans.  For me personally no, I don’t miss cheese at all.  I do believe I have a dairy intolerance as I never felt good after cheese or yoghurt.  I’d switched to soy milk years ago and never liked cows milk since and felt sick if I had some.  But as for cheese, well I was very fond of a mountain of parmessan on pasta but I’m now more than satisfied with vegan alternatives.  I did enjoy a good gorgonzola now and then but I was always mindful of fat, cholesterol etc and steered clear of the brie and camembert Husband always bought.

What about eggs?

I never really liked them much to begin with.  I used them all the time in baked goods but I love vegan baking and the many ways of including egg alternatives.  And I especially love that my children can eat cake batter without raw egg  🙂

Are you a vegan for health or ethical reasons?

When I began, it was definitely more health focused.  Now, I’d say equal parts but leaning more towards ethics. I’ve learned too much about animal cruelty and suffering in the production of food to ever be tempted.

But what if you were trapped on island with no food but there were wild pigs…

Did you know this is one of the dumbest questions vegans are asked?

Do you feel better/worse?

Honestly, I feel much better when I eat well (as in, (vegan) whole foods).  When I tried mostly-raw for three weeks I felt amazing.   Since cutting out animal products specifically, yes I do feel better overall and less ‘heavy’.  Even in to adulthood I’d get acne outbreaks and the odd boil-like lump now and then, but they have all disappeared.

However being vegan does not mean one necessarily eats zero crap.  At the start I was a bit of a junk vegan, as I was so excited about vegan this-and-thats.  Pies, cakes (especially cheesecakes), pancakes,waffles and so on. When I eat that kind of stuff, usually containing gluten or sugar or oil and I have too much of it, I don’t feel well.  When I eat unprocessed, healthful foods I feel fantastic.

What have been some of your favourite discoveries?

Ooh!  Nutritional yeast (nooch) which is the yellow stuff and not yeast you bake with.  I love kale, especially dehydrated kale chips.  Hemp protein, hemp seeds, milk made from different nuts are all fab.  Making my own alternatives to things like Nutella, or treats like biscuits and muffins.  Raw foods and places that serve raw.  I love going to vegan places to eat and  I also love veganising Greek dishes, though I have been slack with that and it was a reason I started this blog.  Oops… And oh my goodness, did you ever guess there’d be an amazing number of egg alternatives?!?!

Is eating out difficult?

Well, yes and no.  If I go out to eat I just stick with the places I know, or places I haven’t tried that I know do vegan.  In Melbourne we have so many great options that finding a place to eat isn’t that difficult.  It seems more vegan places are popping up, or more venues are offering vegan dishes.  However there are some times when there really aren’t any food options for me if I want to eat out (hello Apollo Bay…).  In those cases I just have to be better prepared.  If I go out somewhere with a bunch of people that aren’t vegan, I have to look through menus in advance and work out what I can eat.  But I used to do that anyway before I was vegan so it’s no big deal.  There have been a couple of frustrating moments when people in a group said there’s no way they’re going to a vegetarian place.

Have you converted anyone?

My sister has eliminated meat from her diet which is a huge change for her, as it was for me.  My mum is not cooking with meat as much (though she is still omni).  Some of my friends and relatives have read The China Study, I don’t know if it has influenced them but they’re reading it and that’s great (if you haven’t read The China Study, I encourage you to do so or check it out on YouTube).

What are vegans… you know… like?

I’ve met vegans of all ages and backgrounds.  There are vegan medical professionals, teachers, top level athletes, students, body builders, writers, parents, kids, grandparents, personal trainers, bankers, chefs, programmers, research scientists.  When I attended the Ban Live Exports rally, there were great grandparents there holding up signs.

How has it been for your family?

For Husband, not so fun.  He is an extremely fussy eater (not in his eyes, ha ha…) and really does not like a lot of what I make however this also applies to my pre-vegan cooking. He only eats about five different vegetables and prefers most of those raw.  Which is great, but when it comes to cooking a veg stew or curry, I still have difficulty with what veggies to put in as he doesn’t like cauli, broccoli, pumpkin or sweet potato.  He’s all about the potatoes.

As for the kids, Arthur (nearly 9yo) and DeeW (5.5yo) have adapted well.  Arthur was initially extremely upset at the prospect of me not making him toasted cheese sandwiches or Hawaiian (ham-pineapple) pizzas.  He swore he would not eat vegan pancakes if they didn’t have dairy milk, which was his favourite.  Now, he looks through my vegan cookbooks (well, the cookies and pies ones) and has no problem whatsoever with vegan alternatives.  As for the toasted cheese sandwiches, he barely remembers them and never asks for one.  Oh hang on, yes he did ask the other day and I said it’s vegan cheese or no cheese and he didn’t argue. Yay to no cheese in the house!

The kids, especially Arthur, have gone from not trying anything to now willingly trying a bit of almost everything.  They’re not quite there with lentils and chickpeas yet, but when you have children with sensory based food sensitives, it can be extremely difficult!  Some of the healthier recipes that have worked wonders are:

Oven baked tofu nuggets from Vegan Dad.  I could not believe it when Arthur ate these in one go and asked for more.  Folks, this was massive in my house.  Truuuust meeee.  I now make different versions using almond meal and nooch instead of breadcrumbs.

Vegan sausage rolls from Where’s the Beef.  A fantastic recipe!  I now use oats instead of breadcrumbs and I also add cauliflower that has been finely chopped in the food processor.

– baked tofu that has a little maple syrup in the marinade (though I’m trying to cut that down).

– biscuits (cookies) made with nuts and dates as the sweetener.

– DeeW likes my tomato pasta sauce that is made with cooked sweet potato that gets pureed along with the canned tomatoes, lentils, onions and garlic.

Whew okay!  I think that’s about it for my reflection! Thanks for reading 🙂

This blog post is dedicated to my buddy Tah-tahs who used to put up with my “but I still need meat for my proteeeeeeeeein” pre-vegan whines  😛

PatrikBaboumian

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Some Stuff We Eat and Some Food Stuff We Say in Australia

I thought I’d put together a blog post on ‘Aussie’ foods, or food experiencess, I’ve had in my life.  It’s a bit tricky because most is non vegan and I only like to feature vegan foods.  I do have a lot of vegetarian readers so for this post I’ll show images of vegetarian stuff (mostly sweets!).

I also thought I’d mention some of the words we say for various food items, that have other names in (mostly) North America.

In Australia, we say biscuit for cookie.  Even though we use the word cookie, it’s seen as more of an American word.  If my children ask for an Oreo, they either say Oreo or biscuit (photo from Wikipedia).  Oh, and we say fairy floss, not cotton candy:

oreo

Biscuits!

We say scones, elsewhere say biscuits.  Scones are made from self raising flour, butter, milk and salt then baked in the oven (photo from misterniceguy.com.au):

mngscones

Scones! (cooked in the oven)

Someone please correct me if I’m wrong here.  In Australia we say plain flour for ‘all purpose flour’.  We say self raising flour, I think, for ‘cake flour’.  Basically it’s plain flour with raising thingies added, so you don’t have to add in baking powder to a recipe.  For corn flour, we mean corn starch– often added as a thickener to a sauce for instance (photo from White Wings website.  When you’ve got a White Wings mum, you’ve got it maaaaade):

wwsrflour

Self Raising flour! Used for baked goods that need to rise, like cake

Here we say jam, in North America you guys say jelly.  Growing up, I never understood why American kids would eat peanut butter with jelly (photo from the IXL site):

jamscones

Jam on Scones!

An Australian sweet treat is a lamington.  It’s a sponge cake cut in to a cube and covered in chocolate icing then rolled in dried coconut.  Some are plain inside but others have cream or jam, or both (photos from Wikipedia and http://www.coles.com.au respectively):

plainlamington

Cream filled lamington

jamlamington

Jam filled lamington

Arnott’s Assorted Creams were the cause of many a battle between siblings when I was growing up.  In the pic below (taken from http://www.calorieking.com.au) starting from top left going clockwise, we have Delta Cream, Orange Slice, Monte Marlo (this had to be separated before you ate it, or you would be thrown in jail), Kingston (my favourite, fortunately there’s a good vegan alternative!) and Shortbread Cream.  Or as Arthur used to say, and we never corrected him, Shortbread Crimes:

assortedcreams

Arnott’s also had the non-cream variety packs:

assortedarnotts

Okay, I think that’s enough of the biscuits.

Pies (unfortunately the very non-vegan variety, aka gristle ‘n’ gravy) are considered an Aussie staple by some. They’re sold at sporting matches and are pretty much everywhere.  The more well known brands are your typical high fat high salt massively processed parcels of grossness.  There are loads of variations and yay we also have some great vegan options (photo from Where’s the Beef).  Now, I grew up thinking Americans only ever ate hot dogs at baseball games.  The Australian equivalent is pies being eaten at our footy (Australian Rules Football) games:

wtbfunkiepie

Sausage rolls are very common here.  We had these for dinner tonight using the recipe I borrowed from Where’s the Beef.  I add in finely food-processor-chopped raw cauliflower and omit the breadcrumbs:

vegansausagerolls2

When I was in primary school (about 1980) a popular frozen treat was a Sunny Boy.  Another flavour was called Razz and was more raspberry flavoured.  Collectively, they were referred to as ‘frozens’.  Because… they were frozen. Basically it was a frozen pyramid of sugar and nasty colours and additives.  Now, if you were lucky, sometimes the inside of your packet would have a special stamp called a Lucky, which entitled you to get another frozen for free.  It was quite an experience finding a Lucky.  I think they’re still around and I would hope they’re not as nasty as they used to be.  I couldn’t find a picture of the 1980s packaging:

sunnyboys

A ‘Frozen’ cost 5 cents when I was in primary (elementary) school.


I’ll leave you with some incredibly dorky old TV commercials.  Wow, I almost can’t believe TV ads were so cringey.  Believe me, there are many more examples…

(highly effective, people still tell their kids to Slip Slop Slap)

(highly effective… because people still quote this kid.)

I think our tv ads these days are only sliiiightly better.  But none beat this:

If I had to name one favourite thing about Melbourne, it’s our multiculturalism. When people have asked me a question like “what’s a typical Australian dish”, I don’t really have an answer because there’s just so much on offer!  I’m reminded of an article I once read quoting a survey saying the number one favourite English food was curry. Thinking of the meals my mum made growing up, there were lots of Greek dishes of course but nothing fancy like moussaka, more just simply every day dinner foods.  These days, my mother will cook curries, Asian stir fries, Italian, you name it.  I absolutely love that I can find whatever cuisine I like (I assume!  I still have to track down a place that makes food from Panama!)

I’ll leave you with this video of a favourite song of mine growing up.  Thanks to Johanna of Green Gourmet Giraffe for reminding me!

Embarrassing crushes (where most of my readers will run away)

Inspired by Xenia’s wedding post over at Collar City Brownstone (check out Xenia’s home, it’s beautiful) I decided to make a blog post about some of the celebrity crushes I’ve had throughout my life.  I’m sure I’ve left lots out, which is probably a good thing.  In a sort of rough chronological order, I present the following.  I’ve decided not to include any text because when I started typing, I realised I was making up really pathetic excuses.

EDIT:  I forgot to mention that I wasn’t going to put names in, so you guys could guess!  But I’ll put the names in at the bottom, from top to bottom  🙂

crush8

crush9

crush14

crush20

crush19

crush21

crush22

crush32

crush25

crush1

crush23

crush2

crush7

crush12

crush13

crush26

PNO_189351_U2

crush28

crush11

crush30

crush29

crush16

crush24

crush31

crush10

crush18

crush27

crush3

Rapper LL Cool J Barechested Wearing a Crown

crush6

crush4

ANSWERS!

1) Christopher Reeve as Superman

2) Michael Jackson in the Thriller era.  I had a Billie Jean windcheater (sweater)

3) Kim Hughes, Australian cricketer

4) … Grizzly Adams.

5) A constipated Kenny Rogers.  I thought he was soooo handsome.

6) Michael Landon as Pa.  Then that Highway To Heaven show.  I must have inherited this from my mum, she loved him too from Bonanza days.

7) Alby Mangels (that’s for the Aussies here!)

8) Barry Gibb.  You may be noticing a theme of big hair and beards here but mercifully, no photo of Santa Claus.

9) Yul Brynner.  Etc etc etc.

10) Ralph Macchio in Karate Kid days.

11) Alex Papps in The Henderson Kids (a good Aussie drama for young adults).  Carry on, togeeeeether, every step of the waaaay…

12) Patrick Swayze.  I was on the Swayze bandwagon before Dirty Dancing, thank you!

13) Bros.  Either twin, I wasn’t fussy.

14) Simon LeBon and his hair.

15) George Michael.  Poor Andrew Ridgley never got a look in.

16) Timothy Dalton as Prince Barron in Flash (Ah-ahh) Gordon.

17) Bono (and I still think he’s gorgeous).

18) Nik Kershaw.  Did you know The Riddle was just random ramblings according to Nik, because he needed to get the melody right?  But then it took off and people around the world are still trying to come up with meanings and Nik is all “there is no meaning!”

19) Johnny Depp from 21 Jumpstreet..  I’m not a fan of his these days.  The modern Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was one of the worst movies and casting I’ve ever seen.  I couldn’t get over how bad that movie was.

20) Tim Finn from Split Enz, who didn’t always look like that.  He’s so handsome, see?

21) The singer from Men Without Hats.  I never knew his name.  Oh hang on, Wikipedia says Ivan Doroschuk.

22) Michael J Fox!

23) Joey from Degrassi.  If I went to Degrassi High I would probably have been picked on for that.

24) Harrison Ford as Indiana Jones (yes he looked better dressed like this).

25) Carl Sagan– a worthy crush!

26) Axl Rose.  I think it was the whole bad boy thing, which is quite lame now.

27) Freddie Mercury.  Did you know his real name was Farrokh Bulsara?

28) Patrick Stewart.  Brilliant actor and what a voice!

29) LL Cool J.  He’s just gorgeous.  I saw him on Sesame Street rapping “it’s addition, you don’t need to be a mathematician, add em add em add em addem up” once and let me tell you there is no better way to start your morning!  This lady loves Cool J!

30) Christopher Eccelston.  Superb actor.

31) Lupe Fiasco.  I was very taken with his song/video “Bitch Bad” (don’t let the title fool you!)

I completely forgot one of my big crushes and you guys have to guess this one: