I Wish Every Day was VegFest Day!

Yesterday, 27th September, I went to Kensington Olympia for the London VegFest event. I was very excited to be going for the first time and rightly so: it was great!!!

VegFest is a 2/3-day vegetarian & vegan lifestyle show that takes place in London in September, in Brighton in March and in Bristol in May.

There were more than 200 stalls with great food, beauty products, clothing, cooking tools, tons of delicious samples offered by the food stalls, talks about vegan food, lifestyle, vegan raw diets and campaigns, book signings, performances,

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3 Mushroom Recipes – For those who don’t like mushrooms

I love vegetables.

I am probably made of 73% vegetables. The rest is made from tomatoes, houmous, dates, peanut butter and porridge. And Green&Black’s dark chocolate.

But there are some vegetables that I have unreasonable intolerant feelings toward. Namely mushrooms. Or that was the case.

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Vegan Food on Holiday in Normandy

Hello Everyone!

I’m back from another trip, this time to Normandy, and it was lovely!

I’m still trying to be more sustainable, ethical and  healthier by having vegan food and it was the first time I attempted to do this in France, land of butter… and steak.

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Vegan Food on Holiday in Florida

Hello everyone!  🙂

As usual it’s been too long since my last post and not writing for so long has been putting me in a bad mood.

However, after a complete computer fix in exchange for looking after my mate’s fluffy pet while she’s on holiday, I can now use my laptop again 😀

I last wrote just before our holiday to Florida and since then I have been diverted, disconcerted, inspired and intrigued by many things, so I thought I’d start by telling you a bit about the holiday.

It was the first time many of us set foot in the U.S.. As mentioned in my pre-holiday post, I got some lovely vegan treats for the flight as I wanted to eat vegan food on this holiday to the U.S.

The main reason is that thanks to several newsletter subscriptions and by generally reading environment and  food-related articles, I am aware of existing U.S. laws that allow cruel and non-sustainable practices for food production.

This includes the use of toxic substances, antibiotics, animal growth enhancers, keeping pigs in tiny gestation crates where they try to survive without even being able to take one step or move in any way and, unfortunately, a lot more.

You can find out more about this topic by reading:

7 Dodgy Food Practices Banned in Europe But Just Fine Here” (here being the U.S.)

Factory Farming: Cruelty to Animals

Cruelty to Animals

It may be gruesome but it’s what goes on every day, and as consumers who drive demand we can stop this cruelty by not eating meat – or even better – any intensely farmed animal product.

 

Beach just north of Daytona on Florida's East Coast

Beach just north of Daytona on Florida’s East Coast

So I started off the holiday by having Pret a manger’s Superfood Salad at the airport, which has humous, roasted peppers, beetroot, tomatoes, cucumber, quinoa, omega seed sprinkles, salad leaves and a French dressing, it’s really tasty and healthy (and vegan too).

We had previously chosen vegan meals for me to have on the plane and honestly, they looked a lot better – and according to my boyfriend tasted better – than the ordinary meat options (which I’m afraid looked like congealed cat sick).

I had a vegetable and lentil curry and then a really nice grated carrot sweet dessert. As a snack they gave me a humous sandwich and a packet of dried fruit, my boyfriend’s mum also said my food looked nicer than theirs 🙂

For a proper U.S.-style start of the day, on our first morning we went to Golden Corral for breakfast, where you can enjoy a multitude of cold and hot dishes without limit for only $10. For the breakfast meal, they have everything from tacos to fresh omelettes and pancakes cooked as requested and also a chocolate fountain(!). You could actually have a chocolate-covered deep-fried chicken wing, if you so wished.

I asked the people behind the buffet counters if they knew which dishes were vegan but they simply replied with another answer, such as “What?” or “What does that mean?”.

However the manager was really helpful and pointed everything that didn’t contain meat or fish (their baked beans have meat in them), didn’t have eggs, cream, hadn’t been cooked in butter and so on. I ended up having fries (chips) with lots of salad, tomatoes, a taco shell and orange juice. 🙂

Being a family holiday, our first day out was at Disney World – Magic Kingdom, the original Disney theme park.

Prior to the trip I had looked up several websites to have an idea of what kind of food would be served at Disney and if there would be any vegan versions.

The best source I could find was “Eating Vegan at Disney World“, a post from Cadry’s Kitchen blog.

This post is great, full of detailed information on what’s vegan and where you can find these vegan meals. The comments on the post are also full of additional advice to eat meat-free and cruelty-free meals while at Disney.

Cinderella's Castle at Disney World Magic Kingdom

Cinderella’s Magical Castle at Disney World Magic Kingdom

One of the highlights was definitely the vegan burger I had from Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe in Frontierland in the Magic Kingdom park. The lovely man at the till showed me the ingredient list when I asked if the vegetable burger was vegan and told me the fries/chips were cooked in vegetable oil, so I actually had a lovely meal! (several other times I simply had pop corn or Mickey Mouse-shaped pretzels as the only vegan option available nearby).

You can have this lovely burger with corn on the cob, apple slices or French fries. And the great thing is that you can also help yourself to fresh lettuce, tomatoes, salsa and more at the buffet 😀

It was such an amazing meal, especially after running around all day going on Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Thunder Mountain…

Here is a very detailed review of Pecos Bill from the disneyfoodblog.

Vegan Burger dinner at Pecos Bill Disney Magic Kingdom

Vegan Burger dinner at Pecos Bill Disney Magic Kingdom

 

We had another lovely Disney meal at the Katsura Grill in Epcot, in Japan (or rather in the Japan world area in Epcot).

I had vegan sushi – it was quite funny as I once again asked the manager if there were any vegan options and he said: “Is seaweed vegan?” so there was a vegan option after all 😀

Our lunch in the Japan world in Epcot - I had vegan sushi and green tea

Our lunch in the Japan world in Epcot, Katsura Grill – I had vegan sushi and green tea

Here’s the disneyfoodblog review for this restaurant, together with lots of pictures.

 

On our first Saturday in Florida, we went out to the East coast to St. Augustine. This town is the oldest continuously occupied European-established port in the continental U.S.

Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustin

Castillo de San Marcos, St. Augustin

We went there after first stopping at the beach for a quick swim – the beach in this post’s first photograph.

At lunch time we went to Harry’s, a New Orleans-style restaurant. Our entertaining waiter told me straight away that all of their sides (as none of the mains were remotely vegan) had meat or were cooked with butter, so I ordered fries/chips and he said I could order a plain salad too.

My boyfriend and his family had seafood, fish cakes, burgers etc. whereas my meal was rather plain in comparison, but I was happy to stick to having a vegan meal, and that salad was lovely and refreshing 😛

Vegan Lunch at Harry's - Fries and Salad

Vegan Lunch at Harry’s – Fries and Salad

 

Another night, we went out to another restaurant: Outback, a steakhouse.

Our waiter was absolutely amazing and did everything in his power to make sure I knew what I could have from the menu, he even asked the chef to make a vegan version of their fried onion dish and then I had “a bunch of vegetables with no butter”, as another waitress put it.

It was all delicious! I had never seen such a helpful waiter before – ok, tips are pretty important in U.S. restaurants so that may be why all waiters are great – but he really was exceptionally lovely.

On yet another night out, this time in Downtown Disney’s House of Blues, the waiter asked the chef if he could “veganise” the grilled vegetables flatbread and the House of Blues salad omitting the cheese, so I another lovely tasty vegan meal.

 

 

Going to Walmart was very exciting: I’ve heard a lot about this supermarket chain so it was nice to go to one!

I wish I  had more time to discover all the vegan options available, but I managed to get some Skippy chocolate & peanut butter and also found some vegan Amy’s Kitchen meals.

This brand started because Amy’s parents wanted to make both healthy and convenient food. I tried one of their best sellers, the black bean vegetable enchiladas, which were full of flavour and vegan, low in fat, cholesterol and sodium and free of dairy, lactose, soy, gluten, nut and corn.

Amy's Kitchen Vegan Black Bean Enchiladas with raw vegetables and salsa

Amy’s Kitchen Vegan Black Bean Enchiladas with raw vegetables and salsa

While at the supermarket we also stocked up on lots of fresh vegetables, which was great in such hot weather and while on holiday, when it can be pretty easy not to eat enough fruit and vegetables.

I also tried Cinnabon cereals with Vanilla Almond Breeze almond milk for breakfast. 🙂

Cinnabon Multigrain Cereal and Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze

Cinnabon Multigrain Cereal and Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze

Another interesting thing for me was to look at different products’ ingredient lists.

I do it regularly here in the U.K. anyway, to know if something is vegetarian, vegan or simply out of pure curiosity, and I was pretty amazed to see the sheer amount of “stuff” that is added to something as simple as bread. We bought one type of bread with a savoury topping that must have had about 25 ingredients, most of which I had never heard of before and couldn’t even pronounce.

That’s another thing I appreciate about living in the U.K., it seems like there is an effort to make food, even if processed, with less artificial flavouring and colours, additives, preservatives etc; whereas several products in the supermarket had “Made with Artificial flavours” written in bold, on the front of the packet as if it were a good thing. It’s a little confusing. Why almost advertise the fact that an already processed food contains potentially harmful chemicals?

Here are additional sources about food additived used in the United States:

Sustainable Table – Additives

Food Additives Banned Abroad but Eaten in the U.S.

 

This holiday showed me that with a little determination, you can eat following your principles and/or needs wherever you want. You can still have fun and enjoy exploring a different country and meet exciting people along the way without feeling like you’re missing out.

Upon my return to work, my colleagues said I had lost weight and looked very healthy. I felt healthy while I was there too, never bloated or too full. Next time I go I’ll try to visit some vegan restaurants too.

I only saw a fraction of Florida, let alone the United States, and I look forward to exploring new places next time.

 

What do you do to be more sustainable on holiday?

Would you change your eating habits in another country for its laws?

Rosie Y: Experimenting

“Anyone who’s ever told you that you couldn’t make a difference was wrong.”

This is a very important concept from J-F and B L’s blog 222 Million Tons, which is a constant help and inspiration to me.

Since starting this blog in February 2012 I know I have positively influenced some people to think more of what we do, buy, use and waste and these actions’ effects on our surroundings. From showing my mum how easy and better it is to finely chop and eat broccoli stalks rather than throwing them away – which is a small change, an easy-to-get-used-to habit – to bigger issues such as climate change.

After starting a new job in December 2012, I got to know a very interesting, stylish and overall amazing young lady, Rosie Y.

We went to a great exhibition at London’s Kensington Olympia, ART 13, and I asked her a few questions about her little experiment…

Rosie Y - @ ART 13

Meet Rosie Y

For the whole month of February you didn’t eat meat, fish or eggs. Why did you decide to do this?

Because I love eating and in China there is a saying: “民以食为天”, which is an idiom that means “Food is the God of the people”.

When I was in China I decided I would not eat meat in order to lose weight but then I gave up, I didn’t even insist for one day! This time I was determined to give it a go as I hadn’t tried a diet that limited this kind of food before: it was like an experiment to see if I could do it, it was my goal to do it.

The trigger was when my friend, Su Fei, had a vegan month in January and I was very inspired by this and wanted to do something similar. I had previously failed my attempts but Su Fei succeeded so it was time for me to try it.

How did it go?

I was very surprised not to feel any different at first. It turns out that not eating meat, fish or eggs for a month is not as difficult as I expected, but I also didn’t feel lighter or healthier as I expected. I made more of my own food for diversity.

Vegetarian and vegan choices in normal restaurants are few, even normal sandwich shops offer very few meat-free options – I have to admit that I got very tired of eating falafels! Oh, the only difference might be that I felt hungrier, or I got hungry easily; however my stomach always felt good, unlike when it sometimes feels uncomfortable, too full and I feel guilty after eating meat.

Are there any positive aspects you noticed during your meat-free experiment?

I expected it to be very hard but now I feel like I can do so much more, I am not afraid of trying new things. Su Fei suggested to upload some pictures of the food I was eating on Instagram and many people from all over the world liked them, that was very surprising and encouraging.  Before my experiment I thought that meat-free vegetarian food wouldn’t be as tasty as meat dishes but after seeing their pictures I realised that it also look and taste just as delicious.

Before this experiment I didn’t like salad. Now I really appreciate salad’s natural taste, and the same happened with Brussels sprouts and other vegetables I tried. Also, I often used to go for food that had many added condiments and sauces, now I really like simple food as well, less processed and less ready-made.

When you eat, do you think about food’s sustainability?

No, but I don’t know why I believe eating vegetarian is a good thing. At the end of the experiment on 1st March I bought fried chicken, not because I wanted it but because it was an easy and practical option. After eating it I felt unwell, my stomach felt heavy, too full, and I felt like a garbage bin for junk food. I did think that maybe I should carry on eating vegetarian.

After trying a vegetarian month, do you feel like trying and eating more vegetables and fruit?

Yes, I have a plan. I must have a whole vegetarian day before having meat or fish the next, as I feel like a vegetarian diet is good for me and also good for the planet.

Rosie Y @ ART 13

Rosie Y @ ART 13

 

Would you consider giving up meat/fish/eggs/dairy for a while to be healthier/more sustainable/ try something new?

30-Day Vegan Pledge: Day 1

Today was my first day of my 30-day vegan pledge. I am very excited to see how it will go!

For breakfast I had porridge made with hot water and sprinkled with Linwoods flaxseed, almonds, Brazil nuts, walnuts and Q10 sprinkles! (apparently you can have Q10 on your porridge, not just in your face cream!) I had Chinese black lychee tea with it, no milk in sight!

Q10 Breakfast

Q10 Breakfast

I take vitamins and more importantly iron supplements as I often feel tired and I was anaemic even when I ate meat…let’s see if eating vegan food makes any difference!

I prepared everything to make a jacket potato with beans to have at work, so easy and warming during this harsh weather!

Lunch at work

Lunch at work

Jacket potatoes and beans don’t have to be boring, spice them up!

I added ground coriander, cumin, chili flakes and thyme to my baked beans and it all tasted lovely. I also took some lychee tea to work so I can have it with no milk. Plus nuts and rice cakes as snacks (but I got home reaaally hungry).

What do you think? Does trying a vegan diet mean sacrificing too many types of food you can’t do without?

~

Having “sustainable living” ways doesn’t just relate to what we eat, what about what we wear?

Even now that I have a job, I buy less than when I was a teenager. I try to look for things that are a bit different, unique, or that really channel my personality. I usually end up looking different… like a boy stuck in the 90s considering what I wore today (Miss Sixty flared corduroys anyone?) ….but I know I will get there someday haha!

My cool mum shared a really interesting link and about vintage clothing, after all buying second hand clothes is better for the environment as you are reusing something rather than create further demand for new goods… have a look!

I feel like I’d love to wear lots of vintage stuff but I find most vintage clothes hard to match with what I have or just so different that I’m not sure where to start…have you found any good vintage shops that you’d recommend?

Green Trails and Teapot Tales and My 30-Day Vegan Pledge

Hello everyone and welcome to my blog!
After spending my 3rd University year in China studying Chinese, I became more aware of the effects our everyday actions and habits have on the environment and what we can do to prevent Venice becoming the new Atlantis (because of global warming and rising sea levels) by the time my little nephew graduates from school.

While I was in China I began reading more about environmental issues, downloading podcasts about the environment, nature and eco-friendly buildings, products and transport.

I also found out that what we choose to eat has a great effect on how the Earth’s resources are used and I have gradually stopped eating meat (even though I occasionally eat sustainable fish such as line caught mackerel).
My next step is to try something new: I have pledged to be a vegan for a month starting from tomorrow.
For 30 days I am not going to eat anything that has anything to do with any sort of animal, to understand and see for myself if it really is a lot healthier as some say or if it really is over the top as others say.

 

Why Vegan?

Vegans may seem like awkward dinner guests who really love animals, but the reason why many people choose a vegan diet are several:

  • Meat is murder: of course, if you happen to have meat on your plate it means that an animal was killed. However silly and obvious this may sound, in the UK we are so used to seeing meat neatly packed in ready to cook /serve glamorous packaging that is very easy to forget that what you are about to eat used be part of a living creature.

 

Mum and baby cow

 

  • Milk production can be cruel: dairy cows are bred to produce 10 times more milk than a calf would naturally drink and once they don’t produce enough they are sent to the slaughterhouse.
  • Egg production can be cruel: most hens used to be kept in tiny cages and an EU ban on battery cages has started only very recently, but their conditions are still appalling in many countries. In addition to that, male chicks that are born to replace laying hens are killed at just one day old as they are useless for egg production, even in factories that produce free range or organic eggs.

 

Chicks

 

  • Honey production isn’t so sweet: Queen bees are artificially inseminated and killed when their fertility decreases and whole colonies may be killed to save on feeding them over the winter.

Bee

  • Meat production causes environmental devastation: in today’s factory farms animals are crammed together and raised for the sole purpose of being killed for meat, in slaughterhouses that don’t follow best practice rules many animals are neglected and in a terrible state even before they reach the abattoir (what an awful, macabre name!).
  • A vegan diet provides all the nutrients our body needs without animals’ saturated fats and toxic elements that can be found in meat and eggs.
  • Vegetarians and vegans live longer: plant-based diets are healthier and non-meat eaters are less likely to have heart disease problems, diabetes, strokes, cancer and obesity.

Why is being Vegan the best thing you could do protect the environment?

To explain this efficiently I will quote part of a really interesting Peta article: “[…] for every kilo of food that animals eat, only a fraction of the calories are returned in the form of edible flesh.If we stopped intensively breeding farmed animals and grew crops to feed humans instead, we would easily be able to feed every humans on the planet with healthy and affordable vegan foods.

Growing feed for animals instead of food for people also means a constant appetite for land, leading to the destruction of rainforests while livestock farming itself is a major contributor to greenhouse emissions, soil erosion, water pollution and a host of other environmental problems.” A vegan diet uses half the amount of land used to produce a typical vegetarian diet and one fifth of that used for a typical European omnivorous diet.

I will end this post with a song by the Smiths called “Meat is Murder” and click on the highlighted words if you would like to know more.

Thank you 🙂