Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Benefits of being vegan

I realized on my way to the studio this morning that I may appear very negative with respect to writing about veganism, however I am in general a positive individual. I guess it is just that those things that seems unfair and cruel tend to stick in your mind the most and that is what drives the need to write a post about it. As I have said previously, being vegan is difficult at times as your awareness is raised as to what animals have to endure and what used to pass unnoticed now slaps you in the face. Yesterday for example I was almost sick in the petrol station paying for fuel as all I could smell was cooking bacon and it smelt so disgusting. For me, the image of burning dead flesh of a helpless, possibly tortured creature cannot be separated. Yet being vegan also brings with it an amazing quality of life. So today I want to talk about the positive aspects of being vegan. I did touch on this in one of my early posts, just after I had changed my lifestyle from pesco vegetarian (fish eating vegetarian) to vegan so now I thought I would make sense to talk about the benefits 8 months later. Everyone is different and I am not saying that these are benefits to everyone following a vegan diet, all I can say is that these effects are real to me and I would like to share them!

1. The psychological benefits: Knowing that I do not contribute to animal suffering makes me feel better about myself as a person. I do not eat the flesh of animal, chew their dead ribs, crunch on their skin, chew minced up body parts, spread smoothed out paste from animal organs on my sandwiches, drink milk intended for that particular animals babies which are taken away from them and usually killed, grate cheese that a small calf may have been killed for a part of its stomach, wear leather that has been skinned off a helpless animal, use cream that has parts of a murdered pig in it, eat eggs from a hen that might have had its eyes pecked out by its neighbour, trapped so close together they have gone mad.....I could go on but my point is that knowing I do not do this makes me feel more alive and part of a change in the world that will come.

2. The physical benefits: I have so much more energy since giving up dairy and my diet is so much more exciting. Before I stuck to the same meals, repeated over and over, now I am looking for new things, choosing new ingredients and experimenting and it is a lot more fun and I feel my body is getting more nutrients and I feel I am taking better care of myself. My skin is amazing, no blotches, no cellulite, no lumps of fat under the skin, a better skin colour and smoother skin in general. My breath is always fresh and doesn't smell of rotting food (sorry meat eaters but you do smell of meat a lot of the time). My figure has changed, not only did I drop a lot of weight in the first month but my shape has changed, admittedly I practice yoga regularly but have always done that so veganism must have made the difference...and it's a good difference. My nails are stronger and I have half moons at the bottom of the nail (I was always told that was a good sign you are getting enough calcium) where I never had them before, my hair is softer and shiner (I used to colour my hair but now it looks so healthy I no longer do it), my joints never feel stiff, I have fewer colds and I have less bags under my eyes even though Heidi still wakes me up at 6am most mornings!

I am sure I've missed some but I hope this list gives you some food for thought and if the psychological benefits don't get you, maybe you'd like some of the physical benefits! What's the harm in giving it a go for a month or even a week and see how you feel. What could you lose, apart from an ingrained untruth that meat eating is acceptable.

Saturday, 26 April 2008


It's a beautiful Saturday morning here in our Arctic hideaway. Matthew has taken Heidi and the dogs down to the lake, then he is off to collect a paddling pool and sandpit I bought for the kids last week but couldn't fit into the car (the boot now refuses to open on our clapped out volvo) and I'm sure he will get a few odd glances carrying a paddling pool considering we are still surrounded by heaps of snow! My justification is that there were 2 in the shop and I spent all last Summer trying to find something suitable that I didn't have to build myself so I wasn't about to let it go!
So I am home with Miller who is sleeping now and the place is so peaceful. It's a shame I couldn't maintain my peaceful happiness for a longer time as all it took was a look out of the window to the neighbouring farm to remember it will soon be lambing time and I will have to listen to the sound of baby goats being murdered. I can't predict how I will react or what I will do. I have thought about filming what I see and hear and posting it on the net but I guess we'll just have to see. It's hard being vegan as so much of what other people consider normal is so unacceptable to me. Anyway, I must get back into enjoying this gorgeous sunny day. When Miller wakes up we shall tootle off down to the studio to film next weeks edition of 'Yoga Baby' which is picking up a lot of speed. We were featured on a Sky News report recently and will be featured in the next edition of Mamma magazine here in Norway. I hope having a raised profile will make it easier to get a vegan message out to can but hope!
Enjoy your weekend and please let the animals enjoy theirs.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Please read the below article from Seattle Weekly and see if you agree with me when I say 'Jonathan Kauffman you are a disgrace to the human race and if anyone values your opinion then more fool them - you are an arrogant and cruel individual with blatant disregard for life'. Please if you are a meat eater, read this and think about whether this lifestyle is acceptable anymore because it is not. I have stopped saying 'I believe it is not'. It is just not.


Baby Goats Taste Better

Whether served in a high-end tagine or $6 birria plate, goat is becoming Seattle’s other red meat.

By Jonathan Kauffman

September 12, 2007

Kevin P. Casey

El Paisano’s goat is adorable in a whole ’nother way.

Extra Info

Lola 2000 Fourth Ave., 441-1430, BELLTOWN. Open for breakfast/brunch, lunch, dinner, and late night daily.

Rosticeria y Cocina el Paisano 9615 15th Ave. S.W., 763-0368. WHITE CENTER. Open for lunch and dinner daily.

Kokiri 32703 Pacific Hwy. S., 253-838-4288, FEDERAL WAY. Open for lunch and dinner daily.

Right now, pork is the iPod of the food world, more of a social movement than a trend. Every culinary magazine and newspaper food section has been giving the pig serious love, and Seattle has seen whole-hog dinners and salumi one-upmanship among its chefs. These days it takes a brave restaurant snob to confess that she hasn't tried pig ear or rendered her own lard.

But sneaking up behind pork—not yet a fad, but more than an oddity—is goat. Many of Seattle's more adventurous chefs have been serving the meat.

"Ten years ago people wouldn't touch goat, but it's becoming more and more mainstream," says Brock Johnson, chef of Lola, which has been serving goat on the menu continuously since the restaurant opened in June 2004. "We just felt that it really fit Lola and what we do here. It's one of our most popular dishes."

A number of other restaurants feature the meat intermittently. "One of my cooks goes out and gets goats from a friend who has a small farm," says Matt Dillon, chef of Sitka & Spruce. "We make sausage [i.e., merguez and chorizo] and use the saddles and do roasts. I also love goat neck, and do a pasta with it."

Jeremy Ravetz, sous-chef at Lark, says, "Goat has a pretty low meat-to-bone yield [meaning a high proportion of waste], so we tend to use it for special dinners such as our Whole Beast Dinner." Joseba Jiménez de Jiménez of Harvest Vine prepares Basque-style roast kid, though he thinks the meat is at its prime only a few weeks of the year. Tamara Murphy, chef of Brasa, concurs. "When I want them is when they're babies—that's when they have the most delicious flavor," she says.

Goat may still be a screw-up-your-nose proposition for many white Americans, but worldwide it's consumed as widely as, if not more than, beef. Central America, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Korea and Vietnam, Africa, southern Europe—all goat territory. And truth be told, most of the local restaurants where you can eat goat meat are non-Western.

But if you prefer to cook your own, and Pixie and Trixie aren't in the backyard, you'll have to search a bit. Goat meat is most popular with recent immigrants, so chichi markets like Whole Foods and PCC don't carry it. Asian grocery stores such as Ranch 99 and Mexican butchers like White Center's Carniceria El Paisano sell goat; however, the most reliable, widespread source is the dozens of markets around the area that cater to Muslims. Shahid Anis, owner of Pakistani-N-Indian Grocery, says that he sells about 15 whole goats a week—all halal, all locally sourced—as well as 30 pounds of frozen goat meat imported from New Zealand or Australia.

If you're searching for local, sustainably raised goat meat, Sea Breeze Farm on Vashon Island sells 30 to 40 kids a year—basically a sideline from its dairy-goat operation. And now's the time to buy: Since the farm's (caprine) kids are born in the spring, their meat is currently at its best. You can call the farm (567-GOAT) to pick up a live animal or buy prepackaged, fresh meat at the Sea Breeze stand in the Ballard, U District, West Seattle, and Vashon farmers markets.

I rarely skip over goat when I see it on the menu. Still, when people ask me how it tastes, I have to admit: either really good or really bad. Chef Dillon agrees, "The problem with goat is it goes from tender to tough quickly."

When it's good—you have to pick just the right goat at just the right age to roast it right, so in my experience, braised is far more consistent—goat is the perfect red meat: tender and lean (goat meat is not heavily marbled), with all of the richness of beef and none of its barnyard overtones, as well as a seductive whiff of lamblike muskiness. Able to take on strong flavors, this is a meat to pair with your biggest cab or Barolo. When the meat's bad—undercooked or too-quickly cooked—a piece of goat can take minutes to chew. At some places, it's hacked into fat-coated chunks studded with bone shards, so eating each piece requires as much concentration as jaywalking across Denny Way in the middle of rush hour.

But the payoff is often worth the gamble.

Right now, Lola's goat ($25) comes in a tagine, a flat-bottomed casserole with a tepee lid. As the lid is removed at your table, a wash of spiced steam rolls up from big chunks of meat, whose braising liquid has been reduced into a glossy brown sauce. Flanking the meat are a peach-half striped with grill marks and a pile of crinkly, dark-green mustard leaves. The goat meat teases apart into long, tender strands with a fork, and its rich flavor, accented with the Moroccan spices in the braise, pairs beautifully with the ripe fruit. The only problem: The sauce, which I'd typically sop up with bread, is oversalted, and salt saturates the greens, rendering them inedible. It's a botched flourish to a gorgeous hunk of meat.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Garlic and walnut spaghetti

Miller is ill today and because I didn't feel like bundling the kids up and out to go shopping I decided to see what I could make with what I had in and the result was a gorgeous and super speedy spaghetti. Heres the recipe and it did me and the two rascals:

1 clove garlic
teaspoon green pesto
3 mushrooms
small handful of broken up walnuts (great for your source of omega 3)
olive oil

Cook up some spaghetti. Heat some olive oil and lightly fry the garlic, pesto and mushrooms. Throw in the walnuts last and cook for a couple of minutes. Throw the pasta in the pan with the rest and add a touch more oil and some black pepper. Serve. If I'd have had a green salad to accompany the dish it would have been perfect but it was still pretty good!

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Think like a chicken!

Very quick today, just wanted to tell you about a great site I found! It's called 'Thinking like a chicken: philosophical stories and essays about chickens". I especially liked the poetry. If you have a few minutes go and get lost in the site at...

Monday, 7 April 2008

Ready meals

Last night I watched a tv show about the success of ready meals. It was quite fascinating. I, like many others I imagine, had not given much thought to how a ready meal is put together. I do not eat ready meals now but in the UK I occasionally bought one of if I was in a hurry or couldn't be bothered to cook. You know the type of food I mean, you can find them in any supermarket, either refrigerated or frozen, perhaps rice on one side and a curry on the other. There are countless variations but the principles are the same.

The programme showed a successful factory which produced millions of these meals for big name supermarkets. Let me describe the scene. The staff in wellington boots, hair in a blue plastic net and blue plastic gloves. Huge tubes filled with ingredients, already cooked, the press of a button and a certain amount spits out the bottom into a tray. Next a bucket of hacked up chicken, a blue hand reaches in and pulls out the desired amount and it is thrown in another section of the tray. Next another tube full of a coloured sauce squirts down over the meat. Another hand squashes all the food down into the sections and the package is put on a conveyer belt to be vacuum packed. All very clinical and extremely unappetising!

What hit me most was the vats of meat. I cannot imagine how many carcasses made up those vats and buckets. Just lumps and lumps of flesh being thrown about by human hands with no regard for what that animal used to be, what it felt during it's probably short and uncomfortable life, what pain it experienced whilst being killed or whether the animals deserve to be slaughtered and hacked up just for a lazy human with no conscious thought about the processes involved to sit and shove a ready meal in his or her face. Am I angry. Yes, I'm angry. Each day I become more angry about meat eating.

I still get asked on a regular basis why I am a vegan and it is always the case people don't really want to know the answer. I started responding really politely saying it is a personal choice and that it feels the right thing to do for me but now I want to answer more strongly and tell people exactly why, down to the last detail, no matter how uncomfortable it makes them feel. I want to tell people exactly how much suffering animals go through just so they can eat a bacon sandwich, I want to tell them the pain of a cow suffering bout after bout of mastitis until she can no longer produce milk and is killed, I want to tell them how pigs are dropped into vats of boiling water, often still conscious so that their skin can be softened for them to eat, I want to tell them how chickens trapped in barns start to go insane and peck each other eyes out, I want to tell them that when fish are brought up from the depths their eyes often pop whilst they are still alive, I want to tell them that calves are slaughtered for an enzyme in their stomachs that makes cheese taste better, I want to tell them that when i watch them eat meat I feel sick thinking that they are eating the flesh of an animal which had no choices in life, was denied any pleasure of living, that was not allowed to form a bond with its parents, that was not allowed any emotional attachment, that was treated as a nothing, a thing lacking intellegance and therefore denied any basic rights. Am I emotional? Yes I am emotional and I am proud of that.

Til next time, please think about your choices.

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