Why I’m not “A Vegan”.

I had an interesting learning experience last night. I made a post on a vegan forum (one that claimed to be inclusive, peaceful, and accepting of all questions) – “If you could source yarn knowing it’s origins (from rescued/pet sheep, organic, spun by hand in Australia, dyed naturally with plant dye) would you choose it over synthetic fibre? Asking for business research. All comments which are positive/constructive will be appreciated and respected.”

Some people said “Yeah sounds good!”

Others said “Mmm I personally wouldn’t, but my mother in law is a keen crafter – she’d love it!”

Some said “Nah. Not vegan. Any animal product is not by definition ‘vegan’. Have you thought about cotton or hemp?”

I learnt so much, and most people were so lovely and positive.

Others were downright viscious.

I had no right to call myself vegan. Stupid people ask stupid questions. This question has no place on a vegan forum. I dont really care about people anyway.

These reponses are why I shy away from saying the word ‘vegan’ when talk to people. Why I hesitate, holding my breath for the uncomfortable silence that inevitably follows, and watching the other person prepare their defenses. I dont want to be associated with extremists. (Wait… is this how it Muslims feel?!?!)

So I learned something. I eat vegan food that does not come from animals. I try not to wear leather (unless it’s 2nd hand). I believe cruelty and exploitation of animals is wrong.

But would I choose commercially produced, environmentally unsustainable, chemically treated, possibly sweatshopped synthetic fabrics over the fleece my goats have shed and I have handspun, just for the ‘no animal fibres’ principle alone? No way.

I dont believe in “ethical perfection”, and I dont have one philosophy. I wouldn’t choose animals over environment, animals over humans, or humans over animals. I dont think it’s that black and white.
I ride my horse. Therefore I’m not a vegan. I vaccinate and desex my dogs. Therefore I am not a vegan. I feed my dogs meat. My kids wear their cousins’ hand-me-down leather shoes rather than buying new. I buy and cook local free range meat for my husband (but not often!), because I respect him as a person and respect his choices. I adopt ex-battery hens rather than have them be killed, and sell their free range eggs cheaply, so that others will have an alternative to caged supermarket eggs. Therefore I’m not a vegan.

One forum member put it beautifully:

“I just try to do the ‘most vegan thing’ in each situation”.

Perfect. That’s my mantra. Well nearly: “I just do my best to be kind. What is the best, most compassionate thing I can do here?

I dont think vegans are wrong. I dont know whats right or wrong. I’m not an expert. I’m not the Messiah (“Im just a very naughty boy!”). I dont need a definition, a title, or a ‘box’ to put my beliefs in. I just do my best. We’re all just trying to do our best.

Respect and love to everyone who’s just trying to do their best.

xx

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Ve-ghurt.

Guys guys guys! I found another epic vegan recipe!

I made vegan coconut yoghurt! And its freaking amazing!!! Seriously: Even the kids love it!

And this stuff is SO. EASY.

I found the recipe at Chocolate and Zucchini, and pretty much followed it to the letter, using 3 x 400ml tins of full fat coconut milk, and 1/2 cup No Udder coconut yoghurt (From Woolworths) as a starter. Whisked it all together, divvied it up into the little jars in the yoghurt machine. Turned on my little yoghurt maker and left it alone for 24 hours. PRESTO!

Easy as! (Think of all those amazing gut bacterias!)

You gotta get yourself one of these little yoghurt makers – I got mine from Aldi for about $20. I bought it to make conventional dairy yoghurt when my kids were little, and we just could not get it to set! We tried all kinds of things! Fail after fail after fail. So its basically been in my cupboard doing nothing for about 3 years.

I whipped it out to give this a go, and BOOM! PERFECT YOGHURT. First go. Coconut yoghurt ROCKS.

This morning I had it with 3 chopped fresh strawberries and a level teaspooon of coconut sugar. AMAZING.

So look, there really is no excuses for me not to be vegan now! ‘What do I miss out on?:

Yoghurt – nope. Making as much as I want!
Milk – soy (ALDI organic!) or Pureharvest Oat milk
Cheese – Bio Cheese FTW! (Coles)
Ice Cream – Soy Good Soy Icecream, in moderation!
Eggs – I do eat the odd egg from our lovely free range back yard chookies, but there’s TONNES of substitutions! (Right Maxine? x) Chia, avocado, oil and vinegar….
Meat – berk. Try tofu, kidney beans, peanut patties, vege snags and i had the best burgers this week, by substituting a beef pattie with a GIANT, FAT grilled mushroom. Took up the whole bun! OMG drool.
Butter – Coconut oil in recipes, and Nuttelex spread on toast.
Bacon – gimme a break… #facepalm

Did I miss anything? 😉

This is not about how I look anymore. This is not about weight loss. I ate for weight loss for the last 20 years and it made me freakin MISERABLE. And I still got fat anyway! This is eating for how I FEEL. This is love through food. My tummy feels good, my head feels clear, and my heart is happy.

Go on – make the yoghurt. Its a game changer x

The recipe you’ve all been waiting for…

OMG this cake.

This. Cake.

Ben took it to work. His workmates devoured it. Then he told them it was vegan, and ran a guessing competition what was in it. NONE of them got it!

This is the best choccie cake recipe I’ve found. Note I didn’t say ‘the best vegan choccie cake recipe’. That wasn’t an accident! So easy, so healthy, and YUM.

The original is here, but I’ve tweaked it a bit. So here it is:

Vegan Chocolate Avocado Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Pre heat oven to 170 deg C (150 deg C if fan forced!) – thats 350 deg F for you guys, USA!
Spray-oil and line 2 x loaf tins with baking paper.

In a big bowl, combine:
3 c plain flour
6 T cacao powder
2 t baking powder
2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
Set aside.

In another bowl, combine:
1/4 c coconut oil (melted)
1 ripe avocado (mashed)
2 c water
2 T apple cider or white vinegar
2 t vanilla extract
Whisk these together, then whisk in:
2 c coconut sugar.

Combine wet and dry ingredients and mix until well-combined.

Pour 1/2 mix into each lined and greased loaf tin (YEP – YOU GET TWO CAKES!!! One to take to ‘that-thing-you-said-you’d-take-a-plate-to’, and one for the kids for afternoon tea! BONUS!)

Bake 45 min.

If you want an impressive and also vegan choccie frosting for it, use a stick mixer (or hand mixer, or your ENORMOUS POP-EYE ARM STRENGTH) to mix
2 ripe avocados,  
1 cup icing sugar, 
1 t vanilla extract, 
4 T cacao powder.
And use this to ice it when it’s cool.

OM NOM NOM. Who said vegan food had to be all spinach and mung beans?!

Plums, poultry, preserving and pom poms.

Hill Shadow Inventory:
Rooster – 1
Chickens – 14
Horse – 1
Dog – 1
Fox – ?
Humans – 4
Daily eggs – 3 or 4
Sleeps til christmas – 24

Unfortunatley the closest we’ve gotten Tara to Santa is waving to this reindeer at the mall.

…well, it’s a start.

And our garden produced this amazing beetroot which was ready before all the rest – isn’t it beautiful?!

It’s getting warmer and warmer! The girls are in dresses, sandals and shorts.

UGH! STOP PRESS!
Chickens – 13

Can you believe that?! Just as I was typing that last bit, Mrs Fox took another one, right from our front door step!!! There’s feathers everywhere!

The scene of the crime.

At first I did a quick head count and I was horrified that she took Katie’s favourite chook, Shiny. But luckily, Shiny has a favourite hiding spot on her own round back under the fig tree, and a quick check found her to be there as usual, oblivious to what had just happened round front.

Shiny: lives to dig figs another day!

Phew! I have no idea how I would’ve broken that to Katie this afternoon!

Lennon is recovering beautifully from his ordeal and has actually begun to crow again in the last few days. Unfortunately I think it may take him a while to regain his former glory. His crow sounded a mix between an old fashioned car horn (“A-HOO-GA!”) and a set of deflating bagpipes.

Kate and I made sure we made encouraging comments. (“Gee Lennon, that sounds… er… well that’s really… um… yeah good try, Mate!”)

Christmas activities are ramping up: Concerts, parties, and Katie’s kinder graduation (Where did THAT time go?!) are all in the next few weeks.

One of the events I did check in at was the open day of our local Steiner School. Although I dont wholly agree with the Steiner/Waldorf approach to education, there is so much I love about it: The avoidance of commercialism, the focus on nature, the peacefulness, the importance of creativity.

Feeling totally inspired when I got home, Katie and I made a 2-storey fairy house in the yard, and Kate spent ages furnishing it with feathers, leaves and flowers.

In the afternoon, while Tara had her sleep, Kate and I listened to Tchaikovksy’s Swan Lake Suite (My favourite!) and made pom-poms.

Look! We have apples!!!

THREE APPLES!!!

Yeah ok: not real great for a whole tree. But the poor tree is on its side, totally eclipsed and deprived of water and sun by the 2 massive cypress’ next to it. So it’s a wonder it’s managed to survive at all, let alone bear fruit.

I was hoping to have some apricots or figs to make jam from for christmas presents this year, but alas – no dice. Still green and under-ripe. BUT! I just happened to taste a bit of the ‘ornamental’ plum in the front yard, and knock-me-down – it’s edible!!! They’re just little plums! And it seems the birds have been fooled too – they haven’t noticed them! So I’ve picked a bunch and spent this morning having my first attempt at jam-making!

Little kitchen helper fairy.

It’s a sticky red mess in my kitchen, but i’ll let you know how it goes! Here’s the recipe I used.

And lastly I made this raw vegan caramel slice this week.

Oh. My. Word.

Do your self a favour – download the Raw Desserts App from Ascension Kitchen and make a batch.

You’re welcome.

Have you finished your christmas shopping?
Are you making any handmade gifts this year?
Do you Waldorf? Steiner? Montessori? Homeschool? Unschool? None? All?

Go count your chickens.
xx

Whales, wool, water and wily foxes.

What gorgeous weather we’ve been having!!! I’m sneaking in a quick post and a coffee having put grumpy Tara down for a morning nap, and dropped Katie off at a transition day for ‘big school’ next year. EEP.

It’s meant to be in the 30s today (celcius that is! Late 80s for any US readers! 🙂 Hi there!) so I’ve whipped off the horse’s rugs, filled up all the water troughs and bowls, and given the garden a good soaking last night.

Ben and I mulched it thickly on the weekend to try to combat the heat, and the plants have TAKEN OFF! They LOVE the mulch! We have so many salad greens at the moment – they’re growing faster than I can pick them!: Rocket, silver beet, butter lettuce, and mignonette lettuce. But I’m not complaining! 😉


It’s as high as a elephant’s eye!

Last weekend, Ben was recovering at home from his surgery, so the girls and I headed into the city for World Vegan Day.


Best choccie cake EVER.

What a great day with stalls and music and FOOD! Still can’t get my head around Textured Vegetable Protein (blerg.) or some of those other vegan ‘meat substitutes’ (YUCK. Why bother!?) but we ate the most AMAZING chocolate cake, some delectible blood orange gelato, and Kate drank a whole bottle of rasberry kombucha! (Which I didn’t think she’d be into! More fool me!)

I’ve thought alot about becomming vegan over the years. I was lacto vegetarian in my late teens for about 3.5 years, and I really dont ‘enjoy’ eating meat, or ever crave it at all. Mostly I find myself eating it out of habit, social obligation, or some misguided way of getting ‘enough protein’. Which are all crappy excuses really. (Hey, if Scott Jurek gets enough protein from a vegan diet, I think I’ll be right! LOL – have you read his book ‘Eat and Run’?! HIGHLY recommended.)

But as I get older and I’m horrified by the treatment of animals in factory farms, I find it harder and harder to justify eating meat and dairy. That and the fact that I feel better and less bloated when I eat vegan. I think eating conventional, supermarket sources of meat and dairy involves switching off part of your brain, and turning the moral and emotional side of you off to do it. And I’m finding that harder and harder. Especially now as a mother.

It’s something I’ve been exploring more and more. Seeing images of the live meat trade and high density feedlot farming makes me despair at the human race, and the way we justify our actions as some sort of “for the greater good”. When in fact if you imagine these same conditions and treatments happening to humans, you’d be absolutely horrified.

I had the same reaction after watching a documentray called ‘Blackfish’ recently about Tilikum the Orcha at Sea World, Orlando. The whole thing just breaks my heart. And one of the most disturbing images I found was the ‘harvesting’ of the whales semen for the captive breeding program! Can you imagine anything more soul destroying and disturbing?! Can you imagine if a human male was kept imprisoned and exploited sexually that way?! But humans can justify it as a “captive breeding program” – to breed more CAPTIVE Orchas. To perform. For us. Right. (Don’t kid yourself that the calves and their mothers will be released into the wild to boost Orcha species numbers

I just.

Cant.

It’s one of the reasons adopting our ex battery hens makes me so happy. Yes occasionally one gets picked off by our resident Mama Fox (DAMMIT!) but mostly we’re smarter than her and we let them out when agisters are coming and going in the afternoon tending to their horses, so the Mrs Fox keeps her distance. They get out of their chook house – which is actually quite big – for about 2 or 3 hours a day at the moment, but things should get easier as Mrs Fox’s pups grow up and move on, and she’s less frantic for food. So mostly our girls and Lennon spend their day in the straw, then their afternoon like this:

I wish we could let them out all day again, but we just have to keep them safe while Foxy is feeding her pups. I actually dont have a problem eating eggs from our chooks. I know exactly how they are treated, and I know they probably wont be hatched into chicks anyway (despite Lennon’s best efforts) as battery hens are Isa Browns (or ours are!) and are bred not to go clucky so that they will produce more eggs for the industry. So our girls never go clucky, and would have no clue how to hatch them anyway! Ben and I have talked bout maybe getting another hen or two of a different breed – one with more maternal instincts! – and maybe letting some eggs hatch to chicks. More research to be done there!

Not much exciting happening in the kitchen, except I dad attempt a batch of soap.

Failed miserably.

It hasn’t set, and I dont think the lye I used was strong enough, as it’s still quite soft, oily and crumbly.


The first hint I got that things might be going wrong: “Pour mixture into moulds.” – POUR?! It’s like mashed potato!!!

Back to the drawing board…

Do you eat meat?
What issue gets your blood boiling?
Any fox deterence hints?

Wear your hat and sunscreen! It’s gonna be a warm one! And check your pets have cool clean water today!
xx

But I did knit these – you like?