Saturday, 29 September 2007

10 Things I didn't know before turning vegan!

Hello and thanks for the great response I am getting for the blog. It's really encouraging!

Miller now has his first tooth and is using it well! I'd been feeding him almost pureed food but have recently introduced rice cakes (supervised) and he just loves them. He was chomping on big pieces with no problem (please don't try this until your baby is ready!). So I thought maybe he'd like some more solid types of food so yesterday he had small chunks of banana and a mixture of carrot and broccoli cut into manageable chunks.

He is so different from my first born who would only eat pureed fruit until she was around 9 months. The mess however that Miller makes when eating is unrivaled. I have a child gate between my kitchen and hallway as our 2 Labradors just eat anything and lick the kids at every opportunity no matter where they've been or what they've been doing (dog owners will understand that I think!). So they are sectioned off at times and the dogs just lie looking through the bars like deprived prisoners, watching Miller throwing his food all over the place!

Anyway, back to the point, I thought it would be a good idea to post some solid facts on the blog and to make it interesting to those already vegan who know this stuff I've made them reasons why I made the change, the things that moved me into action. And to those who are still eating animals, maybe they will help you understand what is going on out there.

10 Things I didn't know before turning vegan...

1.Because of improper stunning, many pigs drown or are scalded to death when they are put, still alive, into the scalding-hot water tanks that are intended to soften their skins and remove their hair.

2. Like other animals fish feel pain and experience fear.

3. Eating meat causes global warming. Animal methane is 20 times more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere.

4. Veal calves are confined to crates so small they can't even turn around and killed when they are just weeks old.

5. Female calves not raised as dairy cows are slaughtered for the enzyme rennet in their stomachs, used to make cheese.

6. Most chickens suffer from chronic respiratory diseases, weakened immune systems and bronchitis and more than 99 percent of chickens carcasses are contaminated with E.coli bacteria by the time they reach market.(According to a report from the USDA).

7. Research has proved that chickens are smarter than dogs, cats and some primates and pigs are smart too and are often intellectually compared to 3 year old children.

8. No species naturally drinks milk past weaning. A cow's calves are traumatically taken from her after birth so humans can drink the milk designed for them.

9. When taken from ocean depths, fish undergo excruciating decompression which often ruptures their swimbladder, pops out their eyes and pushes their stomachs through their mouths.

10.Animals rely on humans to make a change in their habits to stop their suffering. They cannot tell us to stop but all we need do is look at them to see what we are doing. Meat eating, drinking and eating animal secretions and treating animals as slaves to our desires, whether it be testing on them for cosmetics, wearing them for fashion or sitting on their skins is wrong. No question. It is wrong. And you know it.

Points 1-9 are taken from Peta's Summer 2007 Magasine (see

It's worth a visit to the Peta site and they will send you a vegetarian starter kit if you want a kick start (full of info and great recipe ideas).

On another note, if you are a new mother, I have just released a tv program on called 'Yoga Baby' - just the first episode there now with the second being uploaded later today - it's intended for new mums to practice yoga with their baby to get the relaxation they need whilst strengthening the body and the bond between mother and child.

Have a great weekend, why not see if you can make it better for the animals too.

Thursday, 27 September 2007


Yesterday my 2 year old girl, Heidi, had her MMR vaccination. We combined the visit with Miller's 6 month check up. Both children are doing really well. Miller is 2 months ahead of the charts in terms of what he is doing. Yesterday he actually started crawling for the first time. He had been spinning and shuffling for a while but now in 2 days he can cover a whole room in the time it takes to put the kettle on. Yesterday his adventures covered trying to eat my Yukka plant, eating Heidi's jigsaws and seeing if he could upend a chair! So, the fun begins! Also, he is wanting to stand (assisted) all the time and is eating 3 solid meals a day along with breastfeeding every 4 hours. Heidi is learning 2 languages simultaneously and loves puzzles designed for 3-4 year olds.

So, you would think all was well. Only I went and opened my mouth about our veganism. Not the best idea I'd ever had. I realized soon after I mentioned it that I was speaking to a health visitor and a doctor and not a nutritionalist and I do value my health centre and their expertise but it is clear that there is limited or non existent knowledge of the health benefits of a vegetarian or vegan diet.

The response was a very surprised 'you don't eat meat or dairy?' ....'I respect vegetarians but children shouldn't be vegetarian til at least 4 years of age'. I explained my choice was made and I was hoping for some clarification of if I was eating enough fat whilst nursing my baby etc. Let's just say I got no answers! If you want to know all the facts about the health benefits, please visit where you can find info & factsheets. All I know is mine and my children's chances of getting cancer, heart disease, high cholesterol and osteoperosis (yes the thing you think you need to drink milk to avoid) to mention just a few, are lower than a meat and dairy eaters chances.

Please don't be discouraged by those who have not done their homework. The little you know is probably more than many know.

I'll finish by saying that yesterday, Heidi ate a well balanced diet consisting of fortified porridge (non-dairy) with soya milk, toast with peanut butter, some walnuts, hazlenuts and almonds with dried fruit pieces, a fruit soy yogurt, raisin bread, home-made vegetable soup, wholemeal bread and a banana. If that's not a good thing then I don't know what is... a mcdonalds? turkey twizzlers? Cheese strings?...... You get the point.

Tuesday, 25 September 2007


When you make the decision to change your diet, especially if that involves changing your children's diet too, you are likely to encounter some resistance, especially from your family. They, of course, are simply concerned that you are not harming yourself or your children. It is important to have a real dialogue with your family about the changes you are making and reassure them that you are not only changing your family's diet but improving it tenfold.

It is hard for a new vegan to answer all the questions that everyone starts to ask. The truth is that as a new convert you don't have all the answers. It may be that you made the choice after just one experience. I certainly did, I dropped dairy as soon as I realized what the animals went through. You just won't know all the answers overnight and you are expected to know everything! 'Where do you get your protein', 'Where do you get your calcium', 'What supplements do you need and in what quantity' etc etc. The best thing you can do is state your case as you know it. Again, notice people don't ask questions about the animals here so you can bring it back to that, for example you could say something like 'I don't know all the answers, I'm having to do a lot of research but I do know that this is the only choice I have after learning what the animals go through so I can eat their bodies. Trust me, my children will be my first priority and you have no need to be concerned'....why not even add 'you can help me research veganism if you have the time, it would really help us out,'...but believe me, most won't want to do that.... ignorance is the easier option in most cases, and I don't mean to sound insulting but it is true whether people admit it or not.

However, this is true, you must do some research. I am finding my answers by looking for them, they won't come to you, especially if you live in a society where veganism is rare and perhaps even your doctor won't know what vitamins etc your family need. So look around, subscribe to a vegetarian or vegan magazine, search the net and find what you are looking for. I will try to list new things I am learning, like I mentioned the importance of vitamin B12 - I did get my supplements in the end, found some at an out of the way health store so now Heidi has a daily chewable multivitamin with B12 in.

Support is really helpful especially from those you love but you may be in a situation where some people never understand, no matter what you say and you have to learn to deal with that and let it go. All you can do is live your life the way you want to, hopefully making decisions that don't harm other living beings, and hope your lifestyle choices will influence others around you.

That's all for today, I did want to talk a bit about pets and food options but I am at my studio today and have no picture on my laptop and to talk about my two dogs without a pic of their adorable little faces would be just thoughtless!

Have a good day x

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Why go vegan?

I thought it might be an idea to write a little about why I have made the decision to turn from a vegetarian to a vegan. Firstly, I'd like to recommend a book I received yesterday which I had ordered from Amazon. It's called 'The Peaceful Palate' by Jennifer Raymond and I can't put it down! It's full of gorgeous recipes even I could handle! There is so much choice and it makes you hungry just flicking through it!

So, why vegan? I am sure there are many vegetarians out there, maybe you, who think 'Why vegan? I'm not eating animals therefore I'm not contributing to suffering'. Unfortunately in most cases this just isn't true. Not to say being a vegetarian isn't a wonderful thing and I thought exactly that same thing before becoming aware of other issues surrounding the animals for food issue.

I became what I classed a part vegetarian when I was 25, no red meat or chicken but I ate fish. My reasons being that it was not my right to cause pain to animals. I still ate fish, believing fish felt no pain and often said I could catch and kill a fish therefore that's ok, I could not catch and kill a cow. My argument soon fell apart upon further research. So I gave up the fish. There, so now I'm not causing any animal to suffer for my food choices. Wrong. And before I go on I want to say something about awareness. A lot of people don't want to be aware. A lot of other people know that the way they eat is wrong but close their ears to the facts because they know that if they really learn about what goes on then they will have no choice but to stop their consumption of animal products. People ask why you are vegetarian or vegan but are really asking what you do for nutrients and dishes, they do not seem to like it so much if you actually use the words 'animal', 'dead', 'flesh', 'corpse' etc. That they don't want to know.

My recent decision to adopt veganism as a way of life came around after my willingness to actually listen to the facts. The main ones that made me so adamant never to eat dairy was that of the dairy cow. A dairy cow lactates just as a human does, basically, after childbirth. A cow is made pregnant, carries her calf and gives birth to it. She is a mother and there is a bond between mother and calf. She is usually given 24 hours to milk her calf (and that's not for her benefit as the colostrum or pre-milk is of no use to the dairy industry and the calf gets rid of that). After that time spent with her offspring, the calf and mother are separated. A female calf is raised as a dairy cow, a male calf is taken to the veal industry, where it is usually murdered before it is 6 weeks old. If you believe there is no bond between cow and calf you are hugely mistaken. Calves in rescues centres who are lucky enough to have a mother there, still nurse sometimes age 3 years old (by which time the calf is ridiculously big due to growth hormones - given so they can be slaughtered at around 6 months of aged for normal beef cows). After this, the milk is pumped (for you to drink and eat in cheese etc) until it runs dry. Then the cow is impregnated again and the cycle continues. When a cow can no longer produce calves and therefore milk, she is sent to slaughter. Doesn't this just make you want to cry? If you are a mother you may have suffered mastitus, a painful infection of the breast. Many dairy cows suffer many bouts of mastitus. As mothers, we may put it down to a negative side effect of nursing but at least we are nursing our babies, the cow does not have this basic right.

I do believe in the future, all people we see the consumption of animals and their byproducts a moral injustice, just as most people now know the wrongs of slavery and equal rights for women. To be aware of the mass disrespect for animal life happening all over the planet is just hurtful but change is not gradual, it follows a upward curve so hopefully that time won't be too far away.

If you're not already on the path, please at least don't hide from the truth about what you are eating and what that choice means for those who have no voice.

Friday, 21 September 2007


I am frustrated today as I have just received a letter from Norwegian customs, telling me that I cannot have a parcel which has been sent to me. It is an order from abroad for a multivitamin with vitamin b12 included for my 2 year old and a multivitamin for Matthew and I. The only ones I can find in Norway have animal products in - you don't realize until you start looking how much animal products are used where you would least expect them. These vitamins are not allowed past customs and they are now sending them back. So what do I do? The only b12 supplement I can find for Heidi is not suitable until 3 years and the multivitamins for children I have found contain no b12. So, I try and get fortified soya for her which she has in her porridge but I do not think it is enough.

I will say a little about what I know regarding vitamin b12. It is a vitamin only found in animal products and therefore used as an argument by meat eaters as to why they need meat. However, the fact is that b12 grows on the bacteria contained in meat, not in the meat itself, not that nice a thought after all. It is able to be produced cruelty free as a supplement but every vegan needs it. So I now have to think about this and fairly soon! If you live almost anywhere else in the world I am sure it is very easy to get.

It is frustrating when people do not understand why you have made this choice. To me it is obvious, to others I am simply strange. Norway is a society addicted to meat products, they are everywhere. Even at a petrol station, the smell of hot dogs hits you as soon as you arrive and the sight of all that animal flesh everywhere is quite upsetting to someone who tries to raise awareness of what that animal went through to get there for someone to eat without any thought.

Anyway, onto a more positive note, I am glad to see the traffic coming to the site and it is encouraging me to write often. Today I would like to touch on some recipes for kids. In the last post I looked at some of my favourites but children are fussy and although Heidi eats most of the food we eat there are some things she just adores and here they are:

Pasta and Mediterranean veg:

Rice or egg free pasta
Mixed Peppers

Cook pasta al dente, lightly fry the veg, adding the tomatoes and garlic last, let simmer for 10 minutes, then serve.

No cheese pizza:

*Of course, if you live somewhere you can get vegan cheese then you can use this as a topping, I find it's just as good without

Pizza base (home made or bought)
Tomato sauce (bought or home made from fresh tomatoes and herbs, simmer for 20 minutes to reduce, then strain or blend to desired consistency)
Selection of toppings
Olive or rapeseed oil

Roll out base, add tomato topping place veggies on pizza and drizzle with oil. Cook for around 10 minutes on 200 and serve.

Other great choices for vegan kids are peanut butter and other nut spreads, seed rolls, fruit cocktails and nut burgers/cutlets. You can also make patties up of varying ingredients for meals eg lentils and carrots, beans and oats, just experiment with different things (you can also go to for more info on good dishes). My daughter loves crackers, almonds and rice chips for snacks. I am proud that she dislike sweets and gives them back when given to her and although before becoming vegan she used to love crisps and milk chocolate she has not made any complaint about the change. She is also less manic and grumpy! I try my best to give her a wholesome diet with little additives but it is important that toddlers still get some fat content so don't worry about giving high calorie food.

Now I must get back to my day, I have both children at home today, Miller is taking a nap and Heidi is driving around on a toy truck but her attention is waning so I think we need an interactive task - it's either sorting out the washing or doing a jigsaw...I think the jigsaw might win!

Have a good day x

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Good food!

Well, I said I hoped to post once a week and this is my third post in just a few days! I find myself with a little time tonight so thought I'd share those recipes I mentioned. Talking of food, I have just devoured a gorgeous chocolate mouse (provamol soya desert). Better than the ones I used to eat before I cut out dairy. It amazes me how much eating dairy dulled my taste buds - things taste much better now.

As I said, I am not a great cook. I am not too good at inventing recipes but since turning vegan I have found it so easy. Take yesterday for example, I had a busy day with the two kids, arriving home right at dinner time with no plans and no idea what was in my cupboard. In fifteen minutes I had made a tofu and veg stir fry with rice noodles and it was delicious, my 2 year old loved it and it took no effort whatsoever - and so low fat which is a bonus!

So, here are just a couple of my favourite things so far, I will add more when I learn more!

Lentil spread for sandwiches/pitas/tortilla wraps etc:

1 cup green lentils (cooked)
1 cup red lentils (cooked)
2 cloves of garlic
Spices of your choosing (my favourites are a mixture of tumeric, paprika and coriander - half teaspoon of each)

Optional: half a finely chopped red pepper /quarter of diced red onion or anything else you fancy throwing in there!

Put all ingredients in a pan with a small amount of water (just so it doesn't stick to pan). Cook for 5 minutes. Mash or puree then chill in fridge. Easy & tasty!

Tofu & veg stir fry:

Firm tofu
Soy sauce
Chinese sweet chilli sauce (optional)
Rice Noodles

Of course you can mess around with the ingredients for this too. Marinade the tofu for an hour in some soy and chilli sauce (after squeezing the block to get rid of any excess water). Throw all veggies in a wok or deep frying pan with just a touch of vegan friendly oil (I use olive oil). When veg is done (firm, not overcooked) throw in the beansprouts for 1 minute. Add the tofu and touch more soy sauce. Take off heat. Cook noodles for 4 minutes, throw in stir-fry and mix everything together. Serve & enjoy!

Vegan chilli:

Kidney beans (one tin or cup of dried, soaked overnight)
Chick peas (one tin or cup of dried, soaked min 8 hours)
Tomatoes (1 x tin or a few fresh, chopped)
1 clove garlic
1 Onion
Green or red chillis (how many depends on your taste, I use 2 green or 1 red minus the seeds)
Half cup red lentils (dried)
Optional: mixed peppers/fresh torn basil leaves

Couldn't be easier. Put all ingredients together in an oven pot with lid or cooking pot on top of the stove. Oven cook on a medium heat for about an hour and a half or hob cook on low heat for about an hour (stirring occasionally). If the sauce is not thick enough, add a little cornfllower during cooking or throw in a few more red lentils (but let cook for 20 mins minimum). Serve with rice or tortillas.

Tomato and lentil soup:

This was a favourite before I gave up meat many years ago and I still adore it. Fast, easy and very very nice!

1 onion
2 cloves garlic
2 x 450g tins chopped tomatoes
250 g dried red lentils
Basil (pref fresh but dried ok too or oregano)
Veg stock cube
*optional dash of chilli powder (yes, i like spicy food!)

Cook the onion in a little olive oil til soft. Add garlic, tomatoes, lentils and herbs. Let cook for 5 minutes. Add water and stock (I guess with the amounts,depending on how thick I want the soup) Cook for half an hour. Cool a little then blend roughly. (Tip* use a slotted spoon to drain some of the water off for the first blending session to gauge the thickness of the finished soup, if too thick, put more liquid in the next time). Reheat when ready to eat and add a touch of soya milk if you want a creamy soup. Serve with chunky bread. Can't go wrong!

That's all for now on recipes and there are plenty of sites you can go to for more adventurous recipes, I will add some links when I get chance, (maybe get my husband to post the recipe for his wonderful paella) but I would like to spend a few moments looking at things to buy to have in your cupboard as a vegan or at least things that I have used a lot of in the last few weeks, some of which I'd never used before!

Soya milk
Dried lentils
Chickpeas (dried is more economical)
Kidney Beans (dried is cheaper, tins more convenient)
Black eyed Beans
Soya flakes (good for making burger mix and adding to casseroles etc)
Soya cream
Dark dairy free chocolate (if you are a chocolate fan, after losing the taste for dairy it takes sooo good!)
Nuts - walnut, almonds, hazelnuts
Dried fruits - bananas, papaya etc (Tip* mix with a variety of nuts and some raisins for a perfect snack food - complements wine very well)
Brown rice
Rice or egg free pasta

Also, always have a good selection of tasty veg to hand, my favourites are below, it makes it easy to make anything whenever you like:

Corn on the cob
Red Onions

You will adapt easily to a new way of doing things and even if you don't, it's still just as good for the animals of you substitute meat with a vegetarian alternative. Try spaghetti bolognese with veggie mince, for hot dogs use veggie hot dogs, veggie meatballs with gravy, veggie chicken pieces in a curry. Think about it. You can make a difference. We change the world one at a time.

Monday, 17 September 2007

How to lose weight whilst eating great food!

Here's the really good news, you don't have to try!

I want to start by telling you about my transition from vegetarian to vegan but don't worry, for those of you just thinking of taking a first step towards vegetarian then read on as I will address that later in this post. Apologies too if my focus slips as my little boy is trying to take his first computer lesson as I'm writing - being a new mom doesn't mean we cannot do things, it just makes those things that little more challenging...did I say challenging, sorry, I meant exciting....! On a side note, don't let anyone make you feel guilty for having children and a life, you do still exist you know, no matter what your mother might think...!

So, how did I lose weight without even trying to? Well, lets see the back story. I had my first child, aged 31 and nursing was the best diet I had found, I was back in my post pregnancy clothes in weeks. I ate whatever I liked and didn't worry about it. I did manage to work in a regular yoga practice whenever time permitted and did a few sit ups now and then, nothing exceptional, I was just lucky my shape returned quickly. Not so with number two! A few months after the birth and my weight was going up, not down. Now hang on, that wasn't part of the plan! No new mom wants to still look pregnant. Throughout both pregnancies I was a non meat eater, although I did eat fish with Heidi and didn't cut that out until half way through the second pregnancy (and yes I was fine, less mercury in my body to worry about and no vitamin deficiency...). So I was feeling a touch depressed that I looked like the frumpy new mom I always said I'd never look like when I was listening to a podcast about how we are addicted to Cheese (thanks Colleen at Compassionate Cooks for the eye opener). It only took me 5 minutes to decide I never wanted to eat cheese again. I will later talk about why, for now, I'm keeping to the issue of weight loss. So, I said goodbye to cheese, along with cows milk (I wasn't a calf and didn't really think I needed to drink a cows breastmilk any longer) and eggs went too. There was no thought about what I'd gain in return...

1. Rapid weight loss *and the quality of my milk supply went up
2. A figure I'd not seen in a long time
3. A sense of wellbeing and health never felt before
4. A diet free from cruelty and suffering

Wow, just from making informed food choices! I am now a month into my vegan routine and I am thoroughly enjoying learning new recipes and cooking styles. Living where I do I have limited options but I have enjoyed every single meal recently as if eating for the first time. My body feels so light, I realized the heaviness I felt was due to cheese, milk and eggs, weighing me down. My 6 month old is still nursing and I have no qualms about putting him straight on soya or rice milk when he is ready. My 2 year old (after my receiving medical and dietary advice) no longer drinks milk (if you have or are transitioning a child to a vegan diet they will need a vitamin b12 supplement - more about that in another post) and she has started to eat foods she wouldn't go near before. From a diet of egg-bread, cheese on toast and the like, being a fussy eater like most toddlers, she now enjoys veggie chilli, rice-pasta, broccoli soup and basically eats better than any other child I know. As the pics says - no milk, no problem. She is a happy and adorable little girl who I seriously believe has the best diet I can offer her.

Ok, you're not ready for that yet. Well, that's ok, one step at a time. Just cutting meat from you diet will bring a whole new feeling into your life. Meat weighs you down, humans find it hard to digest, infact meat can stay in your gut for a long long time - I'm not planning in this blog to scare you into being vegetarian or vegan, it has to be an informed choice and one you take willingly but if you have read this far I think you know you are on a road you might not be able to stop walking down. When I turned vegetarian, aged 25, I felt a new lease of life. Colour returned to my face which once just looked grey and I got a spring in my step. I no longer needed to lie in bed every morning, struggling to wake up, feeling sluggish as I went about my day. I felt alive but whats more, I felt good about myself for not eating the bodies of animals.

One thing to remember though, beware of junk food. Yes, it's still available to veggies, especially if you have little desire to cook new food. It's easy to buy veggie pizzas and quick fixes and some of it's really good - just not for every meal! My next post will be entitled 'What can I eat?!' and I hope this will offer some ideas of how to make some changes. I am not a great cook. I am married to one however so this helps. Not all of you will be so lucky so you might make use of my tips for ingredients and recipes that I find convenient and really really tasty - even if you have no inclination to become a vegetarian or vegan and are just reading this out of curiosity, why not give some of them a try, it won't kill you, it won't kill anything else and it might even save or extend your life.

Bye for now...

PS. Miller fell asleep in my arms so I was able to concentrate on this post, thanks poppet x

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Choosing a cruelty free and healthy lifestyle for you and your family

Hi and welcome to my blog. My name is Jill Forrest and I am a new vegan mother. The aim of this blog is to share advice, stories, recipes and tips for a healthier and more ethical lifestyle, free from animal products. Yes, I know it sounds impossible and that's what I thought too until I started to adopt certain things in my life. I hope to offer alternatives which make it easy to transition towards a vegan life. Trust me, you'll feel so much better for doing so!

Don't believe me? Well I'll start by saying that I lost 14 pounds in 3 weeks! Stick with me and I'll tell you just how easy that was.

First I think I should tell you a little about myself. I am English but I live and work in Northern Norway. I have two children, Heidi who is two years old and Miller who is approaching six months, you can see the little rascal here. We have been a vegetarian family for some years and made the change to vegan one month ago after listening to a very informative podcast which I shall tell you more about later (if you cannot wait, then go to

Like many, I used to believe veganism was impossible if you wanted to live a normal life but this is so untrue. Sure, it is what we are led to believe, after all the animal industry relies on our money but I hope in this blog to dispel some myths and raise awareness of just how much of a difference you can make to stop animal suffering in your everyday life.

Posts will be theme based and I hope to post at least once a week. As a mother of two young children, I may sometimes be interrupted by nappy changes and nursing but that goes with the territory. What I hope to produce is an informative and engaging blog and welcome any dialogue with you.

My first issue will be 'How to lose weight whilst eating great food!' as I know it's something many of us new mothers are keen to do without affecting the quality of breastmilk and without feeling tired all the time. The good news is, you can gain energy too. I'm not saying you will spring out of bed for that 3 o'clock in the morning feed but I think you'll be surprised.

So, if you are a new mother or if you are just interested in what I have to say then welcome!

Til next time,


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