World’s best guacamole recipe…

Thanks Flicka for this insanely delicious guacamole recipe.  Tried and tested it today and it is indeed the world’s best guacamole!

3 garlic cloves, 1 to 2 chillies depending on fire requirements, 1/2 large red onion wizzed up so its in tiny chopped pieces, so you can still get some crunch but it flows through all avocado beautifully

2 avocados whipped up in the processor with juice of 2 small limes or 1 very large lime, this keeps the guacamole its vibrant bright green colour even after sitting in the fridge for a day

1 ripe mango fairly finely chopped

handful of very finely chopped coriander leaves

2 large ripe, smelling gorgeous tomatoes ,quartered, deseeded and chopped into fine little squares. Keep middles for bean stews etc.

decent sprinkle of Himalayan salt and some freshly ground pepper.

drizzle of E.V.O oil

mix together and serve with pittas etc, or cos lettuce leaves for guacamole boats.

Why so angry…?

Most friends who respect you as a person will ask lots of questions about why you’ve switched to a vegan lifestyle and either agree with your reasoning or agree to disagree and move on.  But there will always be some that struggle to accept it and can neither brush it aside nor feel satisfied enough to leave it be.

I’ve got several friends who, nearly two years on from my switch to veganism, are still really quite angry about it. Just as I think everyone’s accepted it, you’ll get a sarcastic comment or a mocking glance and realise that some people are still really bothered by it, despite endless attempts to accept it and move on. There are various similarities in their behaviours and attitudes which help explain why certain people are more accepting than others.  What they have in common is that none of them can quite explain what it is that makes them so angry – no amount of logical, well reasoned, well researched arguments can persuade them to at least accept my reasons for making these choices even if it doesn’t affect their way of thinking.  And we keep ending up where we began – fists clenched, brows furrowed, check mate!

So here’s a typical profile of these types of friends – very traditional values, conservative outlook, relatively right wing, very proud of their ‘British’ heritage and way of life, not particularly comfortable with change, risk-averse, quite cynical of anything ‘newfangled’ or ‘progressive’ etc. They’re the ones who are very happy living within their comfort zones and are very wary of anything that lies outside of it.

The problem with this mind set is that it leaves very little room for intelligent debate, personal growth or fundamental change.   Of all the choices I’ve made in my life, nothing has made it more glaringly obvious which friends fall into which camp more unforgivingly than veganism.

So what are the similarities in attitudes towards veganism I’ve noticed amongst these friends:    

– Questions without any real curiosity.  Asking lots of questions which have nothing to do with the question being asked and are meant purely to demonstrate their disapproval of vegan attitudes.  For example, yesterday I was asked whether or not I am careful about where I buy my coconut oil from.  This would ordinarily be an interesting question as it does pose lots of environmental problems, but the problem with this question was that the person asking had no interest in the answer and was purely trying to pick holes in the vegan diet.  So they are already decided that veganism is a nonsense without actually having looked into it in any detail whatsoever.

Ignorance about veganism.  One particularly disapproving friend has a mother who has been vegan/vegetarian for years and admits that she’s never asked her why and she doesn’t actually know what veganism is.  She regularly offers me cows milk, yoghurt, cakes etc and  clearly doesn’t know what a vegan diet includes or excludes at all.  Which only frustrates me because without even knowing what it is she has such feelings about it – which makes no sense at all and hints at the real underlying issue here.  It’s nothing to do with ones choice to eschew all animal products and everything to do with ones decision to live via a different set of principles to the opens you’re been bought up by.

How dare you change your mind!  One friend said to me ‘I just can’t understand how you can have grown up hunting, shooting and fishing and suddenly change your mind’.  Well of course I can – you grow up doing what you’re told and you only know what you experience.  It’s not until you develop your own thoughts about the world that you discover what your values are and of course sometimes these will be different to your parents.  What on earth is the point of having a brain if not to question things, to learn, develop and grow as a person?  That should be the ultimate aim of a parent should it not?  To raise a child who is confident and curious enough to question, thoughtful enough to think, brave enough to explore, courageous enough to change?

– Another newfangled fad?  Another friend recently made a very sarcastic comment, saying ‘Oh sorry, I forgot, now you don’t like hunting – I really must try harder to keep up’.  The implication being that I am someone who chops and changes and is fickle-minded on these matters which is entirely unfair and untrue.  This demonstrates her discomfort with my changing values and she has somehow taken it personally that I no longer feel the way I used to about certain things we used to share.  I think this is at the crux of a lot of this ‘angry reaction’ – people who you have grown up with and with whom you’ve shared so much, find it particularly difficult to accept your changing values.  They feel that you are somehow rejecting the past and disrespecting everything that you once held in such high regard.  Which really isn’t true.  I understand entirely why I felt the way I did – just as I understand entirely why I feel the way I do about things now.  All of my thoughts, views, opinions are shaped by what I’ve seen, learned and experienced.  Nothing more and nothing less than that.  And to suggest that it is anything personal is just total toffee!

So how best to handle these firendships as they struggle to find their feet again on new ground? 

The impossible thing is that you can’t discuss the real issue here because that would involve admitting that it actually has nothing to do with veganism and everything to do with you growing as people in different directions and not knowing what that means for the future of your friendship.  Friendships are built on shared experiences, shared values, understanding and loyalty.  Some will weather many a storm and some will sink.  Perhaps only time will really tell but in the meantime there are several things we can do to try and maintain as strong a foothold as possible:

– Reassure these friends that you are still the same person – you just make slightly different choices when it comes to what you consume now.

Reassure these friends that you really are not judging them.  These are your choices and yours alone and you only arrived at these choices after carrying out a huge amount of research and finding out things that you’d never even suspected.  So why would anyone else feel the same way you did if they hadn’t read/seen/learned what you have?  You certainly don’t expect anyone else to change over night just because you have.  Remind them that you ate exactly what they are eating very happily for 30 odd years (or whatever it was!) so you are in no place to cast judgement on anyone else.

– If they do ask questions, show that you appreciate their curiosity and try to engage with them and answer without being patronising, dismissive or emotional.  Keep it light and if it looks like it’s getting heavy, suggest that you ping them some links to documentaries, books, websites etc that will explain it far better than you can!

– Remember that this is their issue and not yours.  Their anger at your decision to be vegan has nothing to do with the reasons why you’ve decided to be a vegan and everything to do with their struggle to accept that it is nothing personal – it is not an indictment of your friendship or a judgement on them as a person.  Hopefully once they see that you still value their opinion, respect their views and cherish their friendship, they will be able to accept your choices without feeling threatened or judged by them.

– Give it time. The first few times you hang out together are always the hardest.  Once your friends can see that this isn’t a passing fad or some pretentious thing you like the look of but don’t really understand, they will slowly begin to accept it whether they agree with it or not.  The trick is not to let it derail your friendship in the interim!

What if Everyone in the World Became a Vegetarian?

I came across this great article by L.V. Anderson on http://www.slate.com (an online daily magazine) and thought I’d share it with you. 

What if Everyone in the World Became a Vegetarian?

Calculating the chaos and the changed climate.

Vegan burgers with sweet potato and chickpeas.

The meat industry is one of the top contributors to climate change, directly and indirectly producing about 14.5 percent of the world’s anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions, and global meat consumption is on the rise. People generally like eating meat—when poor people start making more money, they almost invariably start buying more meat. As the population grows and eats more animal products, the consequences for climate change, pollution, and land use could be catastrophic.

Attempts to reduce meat consumption usually focus on baby steps — Meatless Monday and “vegan before 6,”passable fake chicken, and in vitro burgers. If the world is going to eat less meat, it’s going to have to be coaxed and cajoled into doing it, according to conventional wisdom.

But what if the convincing were the easy part? Suppose everyone in the world voluntarily stopped eating meat, en masse. I know it’s not actually going to happen. But the best-case scenario from a climate perspective would be if all 7 billion of us woke up one day and realized that PETA was right all along. If this collective change of spirit came to pass, like Peter Singer’s dearest fantasy come true, what would the ramifications be?

 

At least one research team has run the numbers on what global veganism would mean for the planet. In 2009 researchers from the Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency published their projections of the greenhouse gas consequences if humanity came to eat less meat, no meat, or no animal products at all. The researchers predicted that universal veganism would reduce agriculture-related carbon emissions by 17 percent, methane emissions by 24 percent, and nitrous oxide emissions by 21 percent by 2050. Universal vegetarianism would result in similarly impressive reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. What’s more, the Dutch researchers found that worldwide vegetarianism or veganism would achieve these gains at a much lower cost than a purely energy-focused intervention involving carbon taxes and renewable energy technology. The upshot: Universal eschewal of meat wouldn’t single-handedly stave off global warming, but it would go a long way toward mitigating climate change.

The Dutch researchers didn’t take into account what else might happen if everyone gave up meat. “In this scenario study we have ignored possible socio-economic implications such as the effect of health changes on GDP and population numbers,” wrote Elke Stehfest and her colleagues. “We have not analyzed the agro-economic consequences of the dietary changes and its implications; such consequences might not only involve transition costs, but also impacts on land prices. The costs that are associated with this transition might obviously offset some of the gains discussed here.”

Indeed. If the world actually did collectively go vegetarian or vegan over the course of a decade or two, it’s reasonable to think the economy would tank. According to “Livestock’s Long Shadow,” the influential 2006 U.N. report about meat’s devastating environmental effects, livestock production accounts for 1.4 percent of the world’s total GDP. The production and sale of animal products account for 1.3 billion people’s jobs, and 987 million of those people are poor. If demand for meat were to disappear overnight, those people’s livelihoods would disappear, and they would have to find new ways of making money. Now, some of them—like the industrial farmers who grow the corn that currently goes to feed animals on factory farms—would be in a position to adapt by shifting to in-demand plant-based food production. Others, namely the “huge number of people involved in livestock for lack of an alternative, particularly in Africa and Asia,” would probably be out of luck. (Things would be better for the global poor involved in the livestock trade if everyone continued to consume other animal products, such as eggs, milk, and wool, than if everyone decided to go vegan.) As the economy adjusted to the sudden lack of demand for meat products, we would expect to see widespread suffering and social unrest.

A second major ramification of global vegetarianism would be expanses of new land available. Currently, grazing land for ruminants—cows and their kin—accounts for a staggering 26 percent of the world’s ice-free land surface. The Dutch scientists predict that 2.7 billion hectares (about 10.4 million square miles) of that grazing land would be freed up by global vegetarianism, along with 100 million hectares (about 386,000 square miles) of land that’s currently used to grow crops for livestock. Not all of this land would be suitable for humans, but surely it stands to reason that this sudden influx of new territory would make land much cheaper on the whole.

A third major ramification of global vegetarianism would be that the risk of antibiotic-resistant infections would plummet. Currently, the routine use of antibiotics in animal farming to promote weight gain and prevent illness in unsanitary conditions is a major contributor to antibiotic resistance. Last year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that at least 2 million Americans fall ill from antibiotic-resistant pathogens every year and declared that “much of antibiotic use in animals is unnecessary and inappropriate and makes everyone less safe.” The overprescription of antibiotics for humans plays a big role in antibiotic resistance, but eradicating the factory farms from which many antibiotic-resistant bacteria emerge would make it more likely that we could continue to count on antibiotics to cure serious illnesses. (For a sense of what a “post-antibiotics future” would look like, read Maryn McKenna’s amazing article on the topic for Medium and her story about a possible solution for chicken farming in Slate.)

So what would be the result, in an all-vegetarian world, of the combination of widespread unemployment and economic disruption, millions of square miles of available land, and a lowered risk of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea? I can only conclude that people would band together to form communes in order to escape capitalism’s ruthlessness, squat on the former pasture land, and adopt a lifestyle of free love.

I kid. Mostly. It’s easy to get carried away when you’re speculating about unlikely scenarios—and sudden intercontinental vegetarianism is very much an unlikely scenario.

But if the result of a worldwide shift to a plant-based diet sounds like a right-winger’s worst nightmare, it’s worth pointing out that continuing to eat as much meat as we currently do promises to result in a left-winger’s worst nightmare: In a world of untrammeled global warming, where disastrous weather events are routine, global conflicts will increase, only the wealthy will thrive, and the poor will suffer.

Let’s try a middle path. We’re not all going to become vegetarians, but most of us can stop giving our money to factory farms—the biggest and worst offenders, from a pollution and public health perspective. We can eat less meat than we currently do, especially meat from methane-releasing ruminants (cattle, sheep, goats, etc.). Just because a sudden global conversion to vegetarianism would have jarring effects doesn’t mean we can’t gradually reduce our consumption of meat, giving the market time to adjust. We not only can; we must. After all, with the world’s population slated to grow to 9 billion by 2050, we’ll be needing to take some of the 25 percent of the world’s land area back from the cows.

Nearly vegan…

 
So I had to buy a cake in a hurry on the way to work today (not pregnancy munchies at 8am I promise…) and dashed into Sainsburys and found this oh so nearly vegan carrot cake.  Best I could do at such short notice so grabbed it and ran.  It’s dairy free but does have eggs in it.  Organic too so presumably that means that all ingredients are organic.
 
Verdict: Bloody delicious.  A triumph.  Moist, tasty, carroty and not too sweet. 
 
If I can be bothered I will call ‘Respect Organics’ tomorrow and see if I can get an answer to where they get their eggs from.  Curious. 
 

I don’t say this often… but well done The Daily Mail!

An article about the effects of animal agriculture on climate change.  Not the most in-depth article but with a readership of nearly 3 million people, this is a huge step towards educating people about the effects and consequences that their food choices heating meat and dairy has on the environment:

Will following the A-listers and going vegan like Gwyneth, Beyonce and Anne help stop global warming?