The Creating Vegan!

Monday, April 30, 2012

I can't cook. Wait, I can cook, but I can't create meals, I need recipes. And I don't adjust them - I just cook them to instruction every time.

No more!!! Look what I did last night!! I created a vegan recipe and it was soooo omnomnom you can't even believe it! How exciting!

I need a name for these suckers now, droolworthy vegan food comin up.

First, I cooked some minced fresh garlic in a bit of olive oil, then I added a leftover (fridge temp) baked potato, a couple of chopped mushrooms, and chopped leaves of a bunch of pak choy.

Once that had withered, I added about 1/2c of lentils and a good dollop of toffuti better than cream cheese, salt and pepper, and mixed it all up, before letting it cool.

Whack it on some puff pastry (each sheet cut into 4 squares, I used 2 sheets), fold them into triangles, and spray with a bit of canola oil.

Into the oven (about 160 degrees celsius) til browned. YUMMEH!

How do you feel?

Sunday, April 29, 2012

So, halfway through the official 2 week challenge (though of course you can start at any time!), and having been eating vegan for 3 weeks now myself, how do I feel?

Honestly, if I told you, I don't think you'd believe me. I feel amazing. I feel as though every cell in my body is buzzing and vibrant with life, and I am feel ridiculously happy. I can only attribute this to my food choices - nothing else has changed. I'm still in the middle of a stressful house move, pinching pennies and what not... But it's just there, it's not a big deal.

Every day I read something or watch something related to veganism and the choice I have made. Sometimes it's about health or the environment or animal welfare... Each time I cement my decision. I've had amazing discussions with people on twitter about being vegan, food substitutes, making a slow transition by either eating LESS meat or eggs, or going completely vegetarian. It's exciting and inspiring!

I compare myself now, to the me of 3 years ago and I almost don't recognise myself. I am no longer married, I am 30kg lighter, I am vegan, and I believe in meditation and finding some kind of inner peace in every day. It's amazing. Life is getting better and better!!

Sample vegan meal plan

Saturday, April 28, 2012

This is my meal plan for the next two weeks. I hope it inspires you!

Moroccan Vegetable Stew with CousCous

Powerbean balls and Rainbow Salad

Adzuki Bean Burgers (or maybe just veggie not burgers since the kids love those)

Asparagus and pine nut tart

Spaghetti Bolognese

Mushroom and Asparagus risotto

Vegan Enchiladas

Vegan Chilli

Vegan Alfredo

Jerk Sloppy Joes with coconut creamed spinach

Chickpea cutlets


Spinach, mushroom and leek filo parcels

Vegan potato bake

How did I get to vegan??

Friday, April 27, 2012

So, what is MY story? What made me decide to eschew meat and instead maintain a plant based diet? Well, it's recent and at the same time, it started long ago. On a basic level, I've always loved animals. What child doesn't, I suppose? They're in our stories, they're on our television programs, cartoons, and we're taught to treat our pets with love and respect.

When I was 10, our family moved to the country. My parents bought a small farm, and we had chickens, ducks, cows, and had inherited an ancient sheep from the previous owners. We had 30 acres on which to enjoy these animals, and my responsibility, one of my chores, was to feed and water the chickens, and collect their eggs. They were free range, and I remember going to get the first lot of chickens we kept from a battery farm. My parents saved them from their cages, and we took them home to a lovely big yard, and paddocks beyond that they could roam during the day. I recall them not really knowing how to walk. After being crammed in cages likely since birth, they didn't know how to use their legs. They lifted them and took a long time to set them down again, unsure what process to take to walk. I guess it was one of the first moments I had that I truly felt and thought about farming practices?

I also recall that any time I found a chicken dead - almost always just a result of old age or the elements,  would scream a blood curdling cry as though I were being murdered. I remember getting told off for scaring my poor mum with such cries, but I would be devastated and cry and cry for the poor chickens end. Interestingly, I don't really remember when 'Lady' the sheep died. She was so old and so stubborn but quite lovely. Hand fed and happy to be petted she was a funny old thing. Very much the pet.

You can see how farm life, and pet life sort of intermingled for me. It was never strict farming, yet they were never complete pets either. I recall our neighbour, very much the farmer, coming to show my dad how to cut the heads off chickens. I remember how the chickens ran around without their heads. I remember, for some reason I can't recall, handling severed ducks feet. Just the feet. I remember watching them castrate the calves - how they'd just throw them down, slice open their testicles, and then pour disinfectant straight on and send them running again, blood running down their legs. I remember the mother cows, bellowing for calves sent to market. Separated. I never handled these things well. I always got TOO upset. Almost to the point of frustrating and upsetting my folks for being overly dramatic. I never accepted it. I still ate meat, it was our way of life. We always had and it never crossed my mind not to, until the day they slaughtered one of our cows, and filled our freezer. I remember them serving it up, that slightly different smell that fresh meat has as compared to the supermarket processed variety. And I remember saying.. "you want us to eat Molly??" And refusing. I remember the frustration of my parents. They didn't force me to, but I don't think they were too impressed that I refused my meal, either.

Still, I never tried being vegetarian. Once off the farm it was a case of out of sight out of mind to a degree. And habit. So I ate meat. And cheese. And milk. And eggs. All of it. And often.

I would say it has only been in the last two years that this has become the focus of my life again. I credit that to my friend, Christie, from America. We struck up a friendship, and she is a strict vegan, and a creative foodie, so often our conversations turned to food, and her reasons for eating vegan and I learned more about vegan cooking and she inspired me to try some recipes. Christie, her boyfriend Brent, and their friend Melissa, run one of my favorite vegan food blogs, Turning Veganese. I love seeing what they come up with, cursing it when I can't find the ingredients in Australia, cheering loudly when I replicate their success.

She got me thinking, and mid way through last year, I decided to cut meat from my diet entirely. I couldn't bring myself to remove cheese and dairy, however, but I ate vegetarian. I felt great, I lost weight, and it was really something that felt true to who I am, at the core of my being. I still couldn't imagine life without chocolate, though, despite a dear friend, Vik, sending me vegan chocolate to try (and my enjoyment of it!) I then had gastric sleeve surgery, because I felt that despite the 6kg I lost eating vegetarian, I was still dangerously overweight and years of trying to lose the weight had not found success. This operation would. Post op, I slowly reintroduced foods through liquids, mushies, and eventually solids and a normal diet. Because protein was so important in recovery, and because my knowledge of easily accessible protein was meat meat meat, dairy dairy dairy, I resumed eating those foods again. It was the lazy way to ensure I met my protein requirements with a new smaller stomach.

A month or so ago, I began to look into veganism with renewed interest. I spoke at length with my friend, Vik, who is vegan and who directed me to endless fantastic resources, films, articles, information... The more I read, the more it made sense to me. For animals, for the environment, and for my health. Vik made some suggestions for replacement cheeses (I do so love cheese, it is the thing most difficult for me) and I decided to try some new recipes. Vegan recipes. Soon after, I began my 2 week vegan challenge. I am a n00bie vegan, for sure. I am still feeling my way. I am still finding my resources and informing myself. I am having a lovely time with cooking and creativity and new foods in the kitchen. I feel happier and more settled in life in general. This is right for me. This is true to me.

My son, who is 8, often remarks that he doesn't want to eat animals, and that he wants to be vegetarian, but that he loves the taste of meat. I explained that it's okay. It took me 34 years to be ready, and he would come to it in his own time if it is right for him. At the same time, I offer meat alternatives every day, and allow him to take them up as he wants to. Sometimes he does. We had a great discussion about how vegan is different to vegetarianism. He wondered why I don't eat dairy, if it isn't killing the cows. I explained about mothers and babies being separated. I saw the light of identification and empathy in his eyes and the sadness on his face. I like being able to give him information to make informed choices. Maybe some day... :)

So that's my lot. I feel like all the pieces of a life long puzzle are snapping into place and that this is being cemented. I feel committed to this now. It's my truth.

No more meat! Ever!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Did a wee food experiment yesterday. I had some prawns in the freezer that needed to be gone. I love prawns, you see. I decided to cook them up and eat them - for a few reasons. To see how I felt afterward emotionally and physically primarily. Plus, I wanted to eat the prawns. They're tasty.

It went as I expected. First, I could hardly stand to eat them because they are not vegan. And they are not 'true' to how I feel about food now. I didn't enjoy them on that mental level at all anymore. Secondly, they hurt my stomach. I have some trouble with some foods with my tiny tummy, but since switching to plant based foods, I have not had anywhere near the issues, nor to anywhere near the extent I do when I eat animals. This hurt my stomach, it caused a horrible slimy mucusy situation that made me want to vomit for a long time after I stopped eating. I haven't felt like that since eating plants. I had forgotten about it (and remembered in a hurry let me tell you). Fascinating.

It's nice for me to know that, aside from all the psychological and intellectual reasons I did this, my body is in full agreeance. Meat is not my friend. It certainly affirmed that my decision would make me happier on every level. Never again.

Ethical Vegan

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

I've sort of avoided talking about the most obvious reason people go vegan - animal rights and ethics. I don't want to get preachy, or overzealous and turn readers off. It's hard to be passionate about something without getting too full on.

The best way I can communicate this, the most effective way, is to suggest you watch Earthlings. Okay, to be fair, I have not watched it myself. I could barely make it through the trailer. So... I suggest you watch the trailer. In fact, I implore you to. Please, don't bury your head in the sand, or ignore what goes on. I know it's easier not to look. I know it's easier to eat meat and not think about where it came from. I know we don't want to know. But please, please, make your choices with all the knowledge. Watch this trailer.

This is the most graphically violent trailer for a film I have seen. And it's real. It's not fiction. It's real. It says all I could ever begin to, and it takes just 2 minutes of your time.

Vegan Resources

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Today's post is basically just a bunch of links. Recipes, resources, shops, information... lose yourself in a new world of yummy food, and mindful eating. Brilliant!

Turning Veganese is a food blog run by some of my friends in America. Their food is creative and inspiring - and freaking yum.

Jamies beans - Good old Jamie Oliver has a few vego recipes - not all are vegan, some are vegetarian, but they are yummo!!! This is one of my faves. has a fabulous 30 day vegan meal plan. Especially helpful for those of us new to the game and wanting some meal ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

At some point, Oprah's entire team did a vegan challenge themselves. They went vegan for a week, all 378 of them. Some great resources resulted.

Post Punk Kitchen. This may well be my favourite site EVER. Combining music and veganism this place has great recipes, They have a fabulous community and forum as well.

Mouthwatering Vegan. Say no more. The recipes on this blog are amazing!

Vegan Chickie. A blog by one of my lovely Aussie mates - she has some brilliant recipes. I wish she still updated the blog but the archives have loads to offer still.

The Vegan Woman. I like this article about starting out toward a vegan lifestyle and how to veganise your life!

Veg News A great article about parenting and veganism.

Oh She Glows Yet another brilliant foodie vegan blog. There is so much inspiration out there for vegan food. Who could miss meat?!

Vegan Online A fabulous online store for all things vegan. Not only food, but cleaning stuff, personal supplies, cosmetics and so on. The staff are helpful and friendly and only to happy to help make your shopping experience a good one.

The Cruelty Free Shop. Another online store with loads of noms to make vegan living one helluva good experience. No missing out with places like these around!

Film: Forks over knives. All about how veganism can improve your health. And what meat eating can do. :/

Film: Food Inc. Examines all aspects of food and how it effects health, environment and ethics.

Film: Earthlings. A hard to watch but must see film about humanity's absolute dependence on animals (for pets, food, clothing, entertainment, and scientific research) but also illustrates our complete disrespect for these so-called "non-human providers."

Inspired? Now get into my 2 week vegan challenge!

Why vegan?

Monday, April 23, 2012

So some of you in twitter land have been considering the 2 week vegan challenge. I'm impressed. So why vegan, you ask? Well, lots of reasons. I have to say I have been having fun simply with the food preparation part since I began. I like trying new recipes, I'd never cooked with tofu before, but look how my first dish came out!

Looks drool worthy right?! I KNOW. It tasted amazing! I'm so excited! And last night I made Vegan Chickies samosas... Absolutely divine. And the big news? EVEN THE KIDS ATE THEM. Okay, well one kid. The 3 year old baulked but the 8 year old devoured them. Yes!!!

Other reasons for considering a vegan lifestyle include health. I have not yet watched the following myself (maybe today? life is hectic!) but I am told it is the best film to watch in regards to healthy living and how veganism offers that. It's called Forks Over Knives. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on it if you watch it.

More links to recipes and food ideas coming tomorrow. If you haven't already started, get into this 2 week vegan challenge. Your body (and a bunch of animals) will thank you.

The 2 week vegan challenge!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Wait!! Bear with me, don't write it off straight away. Read first! I know the V word is scary and sounds off putting but it's not! Truly. And what's exciting about it is that you get to try new foods, new ways of cooking, a new way of living. And you challenge yourself. And that always feels good. Tell me I'm wrong! It does!

This Sunday marks Earth Day for 2012. What better way to celebrate than to embrace an earth friendly diet? Being vegan is something I have been interested in for some time now. For a few reasons and only one of them is the cruelty free aspect. Certainly, it feels good to know by not eating meat or animal products I am contributing to saving a life. I've watched some stuff that cemented that as being right for me. It's heartbreaking to truly see and understand what goes on in the farming industry.

But there's more than that. I find that my body craves whole foods. Healthy, raw produce just makes my body feel good. Feel right. And a vegan diet has insane health benefits, in a massive way!

So, my challenge is for two weeks, just two short weeks - that you give veganism a go. Every day I will post resources for recipes, food stuffs, videos, books and research.

If you're freaking out about no cheese and chocolate - don't. Vegan chocolate is AHHMAAAYZING. Seriously. And there are cheesy alternatives aplenty! Besides... it's only two weeks. You can do this, I swear.

I have sourced some awesome blogs and websites full of recipes and stuff to make you drool so hard you will need a bucket. Naturally, I am doing it with you, so we can inspire one another with messages of inspiration and feel good.

So I won't bombard you with info today, we can start Sunday the 22nd - Earth Day, and as I said, I'll post daily with information and links but consider this. 2 weeks and what do you lose? Nothing much. What do you gain? SO much. The feeling of success and pride, the feeling of joy in contributing to a more peaceful, less violent world, the health benefits, new recipes, new ways of thinking, a broader mind. What are you waiting for? Let me know that you're in!

You can also add the 2 week vegan challenge button to your blog.

‎"Compassion is a muscle that gets stronger with use. Eating consciously is an exercise in kindness, and the more I work at it, the more empowered I feel. When I eat food that's grown in the ground or in trees, my mind is clear, my body thrives, and I'm more deeply connected with the world." - Kathy Freston.

The fear of the future

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My 3 year old daughter asked me to read Cinderella to her the other day. I did, and it was a very very abridged short flip book. It was fine, she liked it and asked to put her princess dress on, which she did with a crown and was thrilled to bits.

But as she left the room, she pointed to her book and said, "I wish I had yellow hair. I need yellow hair. I wish I was her." And I almost fainted. I think I died a little inside. And I have not stopped panicking since. At three, she is already wanting to be someone else? Some other representation of 'beautiful' ?? What the hell? And how on earth do I begin to convey that she is far more beautiful than Cinderella or any other princess. She's just perfect already, with her honey brown hair. She is already beautiful.

And how much worse is it going to get if she is saying this at 3???? Will she want to be someone horrid and terrifying like Rihanna or Gaga? God. I feel compelled to make sure I keep filling her life with strong female role models of ever kind. Smart, strong, independent, women.

Where do I start? Help me - who are your favorite role models for young girls these days???

My Inner Bitch

Saturday, April 14, 2012

I know all of you who know me, read the title of this post and thought... "INNER bitch? Maybe.. all bitch?!" And I know that most of you - and all of those who truly know me, will be saying it with a wicked grin of appreciation, and no spite. Because I am feisty. I am passionate. I am a bit of a bitch sometimes. I'm also a very sensitive and easily hurt soul, I just try to pretend otherwise.

But this is not about me the bitch. This is about my inner bitch. My inner mean girl. I didn't coin the term, and I had never given thought to giving my negative thoughts a tangible persona. My lovely counsellor and coach, Julie from Beautiful You, taught me this term yesterday and it made a huge impact.

Your inner mean girl is the one whispering all those awful thoughts. "You're not worth it." "This is because you're a crappy person you know..." "You should be freaking out, this is your fault..." She's awful. And you know me - I don't take shit from bitches, so why am I taking it from one inside my head?! I can shut her down!

The thing is, that for me, her messages and her whisperings about my lack of worth, my fear of rejection, my need for control... They've become my norm. I follow her without questioning if she's actually right. I am on autopilot and I make assumptions about things based on what she has told me. This inner mean girl. She has become a habit for me, and it's time I started becoming more aware of my thoughts and checking to see if what she's saying has merit. I bet I find that almost always, it will not.

My need to control my life is to take away as many opportunities for rejection as possible. Makes sense. if I am controlling things, then no one can hurt me, right? Wrong. It's all an illusion. I still get hurt, sometimes moreso because I have invested myself into things more than I should because of the need to control and do all I can about something or someone. If people don't like me, they don't like me. I can't change it. And what's more, why should I?

It's not something that makes ME lacking. It's not even in my control what others think or believe - of me, of a situation, of anything.

What say you? Do you have an inner mean girl? What does she look like? I see mine as that perfect model type in high school that always made me feel inferior. Not a real person I went to school with, but a representation of that type. The It girl. The popular girl. The mean, bitch. I visualise her saying these things in my ear and I shut her down. She doesn't know me. Almost always I can then search for the truth, for what feels authentic in that situation. What's rational. And it's not what she tells me.

How do you handle your inner mean girl?

Parallel lines

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Do you ever feel your life is almost where it should be, but perhaps not quite? I often feel as though I am hovering over a shadow. That shadow is where I ought to be, but I'm not quite aligned.

I get this sense a lot. I think of things like... If I were meditating more, if I were eating vegan more, these are true to my "real" life. So why aren't I doing these things? Well, no good reason. I forget. I get lazy. I tend to wait for life to sort itself out rather than actively making things happen.

I feel mostly chaotic and not quite in control of life. I've mentioned this before. Sometimes I get it right and I feel like my lines all match up to the shadow life. I guess I keep trying. I want to be that authentic me. It takes effort and that doesn't mean it's not natural either.

Rather philosophical tonight, am I not?!

My mate, Lea.

Monday, April 2, 2012

I've talked about my friend Lea here before. She's pretty awesome, as I said. Funny as fuck. You know what else? She's brave, and she has grace. She is inspiring, strong, and basically, flat out amazing.

You hear people say these kind of things about their friends sometimes. You hear it tossed about here and there... People call ME strong, but I got nothing on Lea. You have to read this entry in her blog HERE. Please, go read it. Tell her you are blown away by her attitude. Because seriously? She's fucking 30. I am 34, I have 4 years on this girl and I have nothing on her emotional grace. I could never handle this like Lea. But this IS Leanne. This is who she is, who she's always been. Maybe the cancer, chemo and crap that goes with it is just highlighting it better, but this is Leanne. I'm so glad I can call her a friend. I'm so proud that I've always had her back and she's always had mine. Through thick and thin. Good and bad. Hair and no hair. I adore her.

I read that post of hers, and after I was proud, and after I sat here shaking my head at her positivity and brilliant attitude, I had a bit of a freak out. A case of the 'but what if's...' It's the most serious kind of dread and fear you can experience. Been here before. But then I read the post again. There is no way in hell she won't get through this, I can feel it. I can see it. Look at her!!! Look at her not only handle this, but kick its fucking ARSE!!!! So fucking proud. You're a bloody legend, Lea. I love you.