"Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet"
Albert Einstein

Thursday, 27 September 2012

What i dont miss

I had to laugh last night whilst cooking dinner at home, both my wife and I were home late and needed a quick feed, my wife was spellbound for a few minutes hanging off the pantry and fridge doors searching for inspiration, Unfortunately she succumbed to that corner stone of today’s culture- convenience food and she proceeded to unwrap a prerolled frozen sausage roll from the freezer.

I’m not going to lie I was jealous the pantry was bare and there was little to work with, but with the absence of a microwave I knew her gut filler was a while away…

I found a tetra carton of firm tofu and a half a fresh pineapple and combined it with some curry paste, herbs and a can of chickpeas it was a heat and eat scenario at last minute i threw in some questionable vegies saved from the back of the fridge and I was in… yum

20mins later as im taking out my dishes, a horrible stench engulfed the kitchen.
Hunny, your dinners ready

Counting the costs

Cost comparison for a vegan grocery shop over a regular ‘normal’ grocery shop

One of the many deterants being used to dissuade people from trying veganism is the costs associated with the ingredients required to achieve proper nutrition from a plant based diet.

Cost comparison for a vegan grocery shop over a regular ‘normal’grocery shop

One of the many deterrents being used to dissuade people from trying veganism is the costs associated with the ingredients required to achieve proper nutrition from a plant based diet. I was genuinely under the impression that it was going to cost a lot more to sustain myself on a vegan diet, simply because the cheap mass produced convenience foods are geared toward the masses. I have been pleasantly supprised many of the foods bought and enjoyed will be foods that will continually be in my trolley at the supermarket and are more than just food they are health food.

I looked at our weekly food bill and compared a few core ingredients

These were a selection of basic everyday items and to achieve a fair comparison they were all purchased from the same local supermarket and a handful of ingredients were bought from the local health food shop where necessary.

1 litre standardised milk
1 litre basic UHT soy milk
500gm Hubbards yogurt muesli
500gm Healtheries cranberry Muesli
Yukult drinking yoghurt- 4x 65ml
Blackcurrent superfood drink 500ml conc
Salmon cold smoked 200gm omega3
Flax seed oil 200ml bottle
omega 3
Butter 500gm
Oliviano spread
Sausage roll fzn 750gm
Premade store sushi roll
Cocktail savaloys 500gm
Mix of seedless grapes 500gm

Its hard to comment if you would save money from eating a vegan diet or not. I personally think you wouldn’t, the reason purely being there are so many yummy nutritionally beneficial products available out there.

I haven’t found myself spending any more time on making my meals but I have spent more time thinking about them, for example beans may need to be soaked, nutrition needs to be high and it has to be tasty!

If I look over a day and compare I’d start with a  breakfast of eggs on toast now I will have muesli with fruit and throw a handful of berries at it both meals achieve the same result in that they fill your stomarch one is certainly more beneficial for your health. Looking at the snacks I eat, fruit and nuts have replaced scones, cakes  or biscuits. Lunches haven’t really altered very much ill usually have a basic sandwich with some decent grain bread and ill pass up the mayo and bacon for some mushrooms and chutney. For dinner I have to actually think a little bit because my wife is happily carnivorous J and at the slightest hint of my weakness or inability to come up with something she will jump at the diet launcing a full scale attack,  although she does mean well, and has my best interest at heart.  She is actually the perfect guinea pig for trying out new dishes. I can remember I tried a few vegan curries out before trying vegan and if they were tasty enough with good condiments and breads she wouldn’t notice the absence of meat, but you do have to get creative.

In conclusion for the costs both financial and time wise id have to say in the short term a vegan diet does stack up well on both fronts, this is however in the short term, But what I know is that eating a vegan diet by default makes you more aware of what you are putting into your body, where it gets its nutrition from and where it simply does not

Monday, 17 September 2012

So, Whats it like to be Vegan?

Today is 2 weeks without any meat or animal products AT ALL!
Ive had heaps of people asking what is it like to be vegan and felt i couldn't honestly answer this until I'd been without meat for a couple weeks.
Well, For me in the home it has been relatively easy, making a couple changes and necessary modifications to a few dishes and making simple alterations to recipies it has been rewarding, educational and fun.
Its when I'm eating out that i have found i really get a sense of what it is like to be Vegan and be part of a poorly misunderstood minority group.
Being asked out for lunch or dinner with friends now has a slight awkwardness about it, Smaller establishments are the worst mearly asking at a bakery if a vegetarian filled roll is vegan or not causes much confusion. I have found myself simply avoiding eating out as regularly as i normally would, whilst this is great for my dwindling savings balance, its not what i wanted from this experience.
The few vegans that i do know are creative good cooks, who are not fussy and are innovative in the food choices they make for both taste and nutrition. I guess to a point they (Vegans) are comparable to the likes of chefs when they eat out. What i mean is if you can do it better at home you feel yourself avoiding eating out, Why eat out and be disappointed? or in the case of the vegan why eat out and be alienated?
So how many vegans i wonder find themselves avoiding establishments that don't cater well to vegans when by implementing simple changes like basic staff awareness and a vegan symbol similar to the now well known GF for gluten free. These changes would make it easier for vegan customers and although a small niche market, any dollar in the till is a good dollar!

McDonalds launching first vegetarian restaurant in India

I came across this article the other day whilst trawling through the countless vegan resources on the web. I would like to believe that this is proof that if the market demands it, its needs will be met 

McDonald’s is popular for its “two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions – all on a sesame seed bun” or Big Mac, along with many other not so healthy options. Well, it looks like the fast food chain is turning that around by opening a veggie-only restaurant in India, Fox News reports.

McDonald’s very first veg establishment is set to open the middle of next year near the Golden Temple in the Sikh city of Amritsar in northern India.


“It will be the first time we have opened a vegetarian restaurant,” Rajesh Kumar Maini, a spokesman for McDonald’s in northern India, told AFP. “There is a big opportunity for vegetarian restaurants [in India] as many Indians are vegetarian.”


The company is making such a bold move so as to not exclude those who maintain strict diets. With such a large culture of Hindus and Muslims, whose religion does not allow the consumption beef and pork, this new menu offers more options. Previously, McDonald’s has tailored its menu in India by using chicken rather than beef.


The company also hopes to open another veggie-only location in north western Indian Kashmir, a holy Hindu temple.


Hopefully, McDonald’s stays true to this new veg idea and maybe one day we will see more

Plant-based restaurants being started right here.

Moroccan style roast vegetable salad

Moroccan style roast vegetable salad

1 cup roughly diced pumpkin
1 cup roughly diced peeled beetroot
1tbl cumin seeds
1tsp coriander seeds
1 star anise
2tbl oil
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/2 cup chopped raisons
1 handful of fresh baby spinach

heat oven to 180 degrees C Toast the spices til fragrant (about 5 minutes), grind them in a spice grinder or pestle & mortar
add the ground spices with oil and diced vegetables, toss to evenly coat. and cook till just soft

allow to cool slightly and toss through fresh spinach, almonds and raisons serve with cous cous and a glass seresins vegan friendly chardonnay!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Caramalised almonds with chilli and cumin

This recipie is great to have on hand for when  guests come over and your looking for soomething a little more exiting than salted peanuts or a bag of chips. I think it was taken from one of Ramseys earlier books and is a recipie i had on the menu whilst working at the Smokehouse cafe in Mapua, formerly one of New Zealands highly awarded cafes,

1 1/2 tsp Maldon sea salt - Although expensive it adds a lot to dishes and is a worthwhile inclusion
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin- for extra depth roast off cumin seeds and grind before adding
Dried chilli flakes to taste about a tsp or so
1 tbsp caster sugar
45ml peanut oil- enough to coat and lightly saute the almonds
360g whole almonds
125g caster sugar


In a bowl, mix together salt, cumin, hot chilli flakes, and
1 tbsp sugar.

Heat oil in a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. Add almonds and sprinkle the 125g sugar over the nuts.

Sauté almonds until they become golden brown and begin to crackle continue stirring until the sugar has caramelised (this will take about 8-12 minutes; do not allow the sugar to burn).

Remove almonds from the pan and toss them with spices in a lightly oiled or sprayed bowl. Stir or toss quickly to ensure spices are spread evenly over nuts.

Spray a baking tray and pour nuts onto tray to cool. Break into pieces and store in an airtight container. If the nuts are kept airtight in a clean and dry container, they will keep well.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Eating out as a vegan

A week has gone by now since i decided to go fully vegan for a month, The highlight has been having a re-kindled appreciation for the food that i am eating.
It has been a week full of challenges, overcoming hurdles such as not wearing my cherished woollen socks on these chilly spring mornings through to highlights such as being able to order a tasty meal off a menu without complication.
I am still a little objective towards not being able to enjoy honey as part of a vegan diet, as its an ingredient I've always loved working with both in sweet and savoury dishes. However i now understand the reasoning behind this and would like to add to this my way of thinking, which is that if you make an exception it nearly always opens the flood gates for further exceptions, which would in turn tarnish the incredible significance of a vegan lifestyle, that is being entirely free from all animal protein (I intent to research the health benefits of reduced animal protein in a dietary intake this week so any resources appreciated)
 My wife and i enjoyed the weekend visiting our families in Nelson, this also included a few challenges such as eating out, shopping and eating and cooking with family. The weekend started with me preparing the evening meal for my wife, my mother and my two hungry adult brothers. As we were arriving late i preroasted some chunky vegies in some fragrant whole spices and took some tasty lentil soup from the cafe, It was a case of reheating and simply adding some fresh spinach, served with some fresh bread, dukkah and a local olive oil it was a hit.
However I'm still looking out for a quick, tasty and easy vegan dessert....
The next morning we trotted off to the famed Nelson Saturday market which unfortunately was a dud as the weather simply wasn't playing ball! Disillusioned after making the hr long drive in for the market we headed to Yazza cafe, (Which is located in montgomery carpark) for some brunch and a much needed caffeine pick me up. The cafe has long been a reputed haven for alternative customers serving amazing vegetarian food. The coffee with soy was incredible and from the regular menu I was able to order a mushroom and tomato take of a bruschetta style dish which was filling and tasty, I highly recommend YAZZA CAFE for accommodating vegan requirements fantastic!

That evening we were booked to go to Riverside cafe  http://www.riverside-cafe.co.nz Located in the moutere valley 10 mins drive from Motueka. Being part of a group of 6 in their first week of reopening for the season I was excited to see what the chef would whip up. The lovely host barely flinched when i said i would like a vegan meal despite there being no vegan options on the printed menu. I felt at ease, despite her not being able to tell me what it was that i was going to be eating with her simple smile and the comment "the chef is very flexible". The meals came and i had a wonderland of organic cafe grown vegetables including zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms, pumpkin & baby brussle sprouts served with fresh foccacia and a lovely thick coconut sauce it was a really nice dish. Well done to Riverside cafe and congratulations to them for their recent appearance on TV3's cafe secrets!
The next evening it was off to the inlaws house for the night and the first decent test for my new found allegiance to veganism, Whats for dinner?
Pork roast with apple sauce and crackling followed by Apple crumble with icecream.
Oh boy here we go!
No problem, but my inlaws do make a really nice well prepared roast dinner. I was content with a good selection of roast vegies with fresh herbs and garlic with whole baked field mushrooms and a tomato relish, pheww I strategically filled up on my main course to make the absence of a vegan dessert less noticeable but Linda had gone to the effort of preparing her crumble with no butter and i simply couldn't say no! The crumble was yummy and tasty enough even without the icecream.
Thanks Guys
All in all it was a great weekend

Friday, 7 September 2012

Where do you draw the line?

So where does honey fit in?

The simplest reason why honey isn't viewed as suited for a vegan diet or way of life is by definition. The term vegan was coined in 1944 and is defined as follows:

‘ Veganism is a way of living which excludes all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, the animal kingdom, and includes a reverence for life'

So do we class honey as an animal product?

A.      Yes, because bees are defined as animals they are in the phylum Anthropoda the same as crabs.

But bees don’t make honey it’s a product from plants.


Wrong! Bees are responsible for the production of honey and its transformation from nectar to honey occurs when the bees digest nectar they have collected and then regurgitate it.


We don't, however, need to go back to 1944 to define honey as not vegan. Any definition of veganism would talk about not exploiting animals, and honeybees are, without a doubt, animals and Bees do experience pain and suffering while they are being exploited for their products -not only honey but other products like beeswax &  royal jelly.
There is simply no way beekeepers, humane or otherwise, can avoid harming or killing bees while they are extracting the bees' products.
Many choose their lifestyle because they wish to avoid harming any other creature, and so they choose not to eat honey.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Pumpkin and Lentil Dahl

A really yummy lentil dahl from an Indian chef I work with
2 cups red lentils

About a double handful peeled, diced pumpkin
1 onion, diced small prefer brown

6 cloves roasted garlic
2 tablespoons oil
1 red chilli
1 tsp garam masala (spice)
2 tsp cumin seeds roasted and ground
1 cup coconut milk
1 tsp grated fresh turmeric if available if dried don’t burn it
2 tsp  grated fresh ginger
3 cups water


In a decent medium pot or high sided pan gently heat the oil and fry the onion, garlic, chilli, turmeric and ginger
Add the spices and stir around, put in the red lentils and pour in the water so the lentils are covered, add in the pumpkin and cook for 25 minutes on a low temperature. If the water starts to absorb the lentils add a little more and lastly add the coconut milk and stir around tasting and adding a little sea salt if needed.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

You have to be kidding, How do they even lay the fricken eggs?

It doesnt have to be this way. Or does it?

Like a really evil alien abduction
experience crossed with a Prisoner Of War camp nightmare

Well what can I say, Animal activists  certainly are loosing the battle for the pigs...
Is Productivity really this Desperate?
Well moneywise i can tell you the pork industry is big business, however industry standards are weak and lack monitoring and compliance capabilities
From a business point of view Its easier than beef or mutton due to them currently having acess to natural light and earth.
I suppose they could dim the lights completely to save on power but the pig to space ratio is providing good value. The cage is also pretty well as small as you could make it.

I suppose we should be thankful that cages aren't stacked on top of each other......


Whos up for some maccas?

Okay, so this is how it is….

Ben gets up after a hard night and routinely heads to Maccas drive through. Bundles himself into the car fishes around for some change and gets Into the car  ‘Sweet’ he high fives to himself-made it before 10.30am! Breakfast menu.
"Good morning I’ll have 2x Bacon and egg Mc muffins,
Bargain  $2.45ea! The Golden arches delivers again

But hold on lets look at what I really got..

At the very least this morning hangover fix, in one way or another contributed to the pictures above. We are all - however ignorant we plead in some way aware that animal cruelty goes on for US everyday

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

So, whats wrong with steak and eggs?

A.  In my offered opinion Nothing...But I until a few days ago I was under the impression that animals were given an amount of dignity, However as ive discovered in a factory farming situation they (animals)are treated pretty much the same as vegetables in fact if you want to face fact in some cases vegetables are getting a hell of a lot more care.

Why is this?
Well, In an incompassionate society we would simply say well animals dont need as much daylight or fertilizing Plus 'suited' conditions for living arent as weather dependent. Of course not, in a shed with dim lights it doesnt matter anyway.
But this society would be ill because as members of this species we have been given to our limited knowledge the most advanced range of emotions imaginable- compassion, empathy, love & joy and all of these were originally associated with animals

But these emotions are that of  the old way at a time when animals were reared with care and the "harvest" was a highly antiscipated and respected event.

In my view to consume unethically raised or grown animal products, such as cage eggs and bulk milk is bordering on degenerative

Sunday, 2 September 2012

My three most influential people are/ were vegan

1- Charles darwin

2- Einstein

3- Pamela anderson

Well day ones almost over, The vegan way of life started the hard way this morning after finding out I had no warm non woolen or merino clothing, Thanks to my wife for pointing out that my new Yak wool jersey is not vegan! A big thank you to Helen and Chris for a great soy flat white to keep me going. So far so good!

Basic video with good points, for all you carnivores!


My whole life ive naturally been almost disinterested in meat. My mother was a great cook and although we were raised on a typical kiwi diet of meat and veg, mum was also really good at making yummy vegetarian meals that were tasty and filled us up. The absence of meat largely went unnoticed. In the kitchen the vegetable crisper was generally full and colourful and we always had a fruit bowl ,We lived in the country and enjoyed the lifestyle that went with it- Mum was always baking and we had a vegetable garden, with fruit trees. We had chickens and turkeys and raised pet sheep. We were taught (probably unknowingly) the role that meat played in our diet and we would certainly not have taken meat for granted as is now the case in modern society.

Dont get me wrong meat is delicious, mmmm mmm yummy tender lamb sliced thinly with gravey Yum! HOWEVER most of the meat in our diets is average at best. Its simply not reared, handled or cooked to its full potential because theres no value associated with it. Its just food! With factory farming now spreading like disease and the notion that we dont raise animals anymore, we simply grow them. The meat and two veg meal has become a matter of habit and neccesity rather than the care and effort of a well made sunday roast. Now days the majority simply defrost it, microwave it or order it and smother it in sauce.
Ask yourself how many times have you eaten a meat meal recently and been wowed by it, Im sure theres a few but i'll bet theres a few poor meals aswell.