Yay! Small steps…

According to this article by the BBC, up and down the United Kingdom this month, events will celebrate World Vegan Month.

Full article here

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Missing the entire point!

Susannah Constantine has caused outrage by posting a picture of her ten-year-old daughter Cece proudly clutching a dead duck and with her face smeared with blood to mark her first kill.

Her first kill: With blood smeared across her face, a smiling Cece, 10, poses with the dead duck

I’ve been reading all the various reactions from people and mostly the debate has developed into whether or not you should be honest with your children about where meat comes from.  And this is missing the point entirely.

1. How much of the meat that you eat on a daily basis was killed on a country estate by posh people for ‘sport’?  The odd pheasant casserole possibly if you’re in the 1% of the country that takes part in these country pursuits but otherwise basically none of it.  So if ‘education’ is really what this is all about then you would presumably be as keen to take your kids around a slaughterhouse, a factory farm or a chicken shed? No I thought not… The reality is slightly less palatable isn’t it?

2.  Of course you should be honest with your children about where meat comes from – but not if you’re feeding them totally incorrect information.  Not if your moral compass is completely out of whack.  I was told from a very young age where meat comes from (I was raised on a small farm) but I never witnessed it.  The closest I came was when mum insisted we stay inside whilst dad strangled all the chickens that had stopped laying eggs so were now ‘surplus to requirements’.  Funnily enough, my parents weren’t shuffling us into ringside seats for this barbaric spectacle.  Alongside my education of where meat comes from I was also told that these animals were put here to feed us – that that was their purpose, their raison d’etre.   I was told that we needed meat to survive and that is was an entirely natural process.  What total nonsense!

3.  I was certainly not told the whole truth.  How most animals in the world are kept in horrific concentration camp conditions for their entire lives before being needlessly slaughtered at a dismally tender age.  I wasn’t told what happens to every single male chick born to the egg industry – minced alive at less than a day old by thousands.  I wasn’t told what happens to the dairy calves that aren’t wanted for veal – killed within the first week as ‘by-product’ of the dairy industry.  And I certainly wasn’t told that I could live a perfectly happy, healthy, compassionate life without ever having to eat, wear or use any animal products ever again.

So if the person guiding you through life’s moral maze is a member of the third reich and is telling you that it’s ok to gas someone because they are Jewish it’s probably not the kind of education I’d be wanting for my kids and its certainly not a defense to say that at least their being honest!

A child is incredibly easily influenced by what their parents say, as we all are by people in positions of authority to us, which is how otherwise decent human beings throughout history have been coerced into doing horrific things under the misguided guise of ‘doing the right thing’.

Teaching children that it’s ok to kill animals for sport or food is not okay in my book. It’s wrong, it’s confusing, it’s deeply irresponsible and it’s dangerous.  If we want to raise the next generation of children to be compassionate, free thinking, rational individuals then we need to start being honest about how inexcusable it is in this day and age to consume any animal products of any kind.

Rant over.

Vegan silver lining…

So I’ve just had my wallet stolen straight out of my bag which was hanging on the back of a cubicle door at the local swimming pool whilst I tool the girls for a quick pee before their swimming class.  Aggghhhh!  But rather than dwell on feeling furious that the chances of the next person to walk into that cubicle being the type of person who would nab a wallet and run rather than hand it into reception (I reckon about 1 in 50) I am choosing to believe that they are someone who is having a bad streak and in desperate need of some extra cash and they will spend it wisely and appreciatively.  hmmm…

But apart from the £50 cash I’d gotten out that day to pay the plumber (!) what I’m most annoyed about losing is my beautiful Matt & Nat wallet which I only bought earlier this year.  But every cloud and all that – now I get to choose another one and ask Santa for it this Christmas…

Matt & Nat are by far the most stylish vegan bag and accessories design label I’ve come across. Matt (standing for material) and Nat (for Nature) have a great motto which is ‘live beautifully’ and they design understated, beautiful pieces that are ethically made and sustainably sourced.  They’re not cheap but they’re reasonably priced for what they are.

Check them out… http://mattandnat.com/

Now.. which wallet do I go for…?

A vegan in Uganda…

We’ve just returned from 2 weeks in Uganda.

We had no idea whether we’d be able to continue being vegan or not and so were pleasantly surprised to find that it was actually pretty easy.  We were staying in an area called Masaka which is a large sprawling town 140 km from Kampala.

masaka011

Cooking and eating revolves around the weekly food market that descends on the town every Friday and Saturday.  Local farmers bring their produce in large wheelbarrows to sell and the streets are literally groaning with fresh fruit, veg and spices.  Every stall looks identical and is selling identical produce at identical prices so I have no idea how people decide who to buy their week’s bounty from!  But there are plenty to choose from.

Unused spices

What’s available is obviously entirely seasonal but there seemed to be plenty on offer in October.  Potatos of various varieties, colours and textures, avocados the size of pineapples, passion fruit, jack fruit, sweet potatos, tomatos, green beans of all kinds, pineapples galore, mangos, aubergines, chillies, bananas and plantain absolutely everywhere, oranges, lemons, limes, paw paws – absolutely plenty to keep you satisfied!

jodhpur_skyline.jpg

market

Avoiding meat was very easy as meat is such a luxury that it is actually quite difficult to come by.  The meat that was available was hanging very uninvitingly in the sun from large butchers hooks, dripping blood and still covered in fat, gristle and patches of skin.

Meat on sale. Uganda’s beef industry is facing quality and organisational challenges.

Dairy is relatively hard to come by also.  We didn’t see any cheese for sale in Masaka.  You can get it in supermarkets in Kampala but it’s very expensive so presumably is imported in.  We got long life soya milk in Kampala so we didn’t have to drink cow’s milk.  Vegetable butter is easy to get so that’s not a problem.  When eating out there was almost always a vegan curry option but I confess we had the occasional non-vegan pizza when we were all curried out!

I was interested to know how people would react to our being vegans and was surprised to find that everyone was very accepting and understanding of it.  As soon as we explained that we don’t eat any animal products people just nodded and seemed to understand.  Which just goes to show that you should never underestimate people.

Miso-Marinated Portobello Carpaccio (Vegan)

Last night’s ridiculously delicious supper!

Miso-Marinated Portobello Carpaccio (Vegan)

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons red or white miso paste
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons juice plus 2 tablespoons thinly sliced zest from 1 lemon, plus 1 extra whole lemon, cut into wedges
  • 4 portobello mushroom caps, stems and dark gills removed
  • 4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 ounces arugula or other spicy greens
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pistachios, roughly chopped or pressed in a mortar and pestle
  • Coarse sea salt such as fleur de sel or Maldon
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Method

  1. Combine miso paste, brown sugar, soy sauce, vegetable oil, and lemon juice in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Marinade in fridge for at least an hour or overnight preferably.
  2. When ready to prepare, preheat oven to 350°F. Remove mushroom caps and wipe off excess marinade with paper towels. Place on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet gill-side-down and roast until top surface is dry and mushroom is tender throughout, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes to cool slightly.
  3. Using a very sharp knife, cut mushrooms on a sharp bias into thin slices. Transfer slices to a serving platter or individual platters, fanning them as you go. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with lemon zest, pistachios, black pepper, and coarse sea salt. Toss arugula with remaining 1 teaspoon olive oil, squeezing one of the reserved lemon wedges over the greens. Top mushrooms with arugula and serve.  Et voila!

Thank you ‘Serious Eats’ for this recipe!