Monday, May 14, 2012

hi ho hi ho it's off to another blog we go...


So, Vegan March finished a while ago. It's now Vegan May, or Vegan for Life as I sometimes jest.

Alas, it's true. I would really like to find a way to live a truly vegan lifestyle. It seems that vegan march was simply a happy, accidental beginning. From vegan food in Manchester to vegan house arrest in Bali. We covered it all. It's now time to expand the horizons and consider other aspects of life and the World around me. I studied Fashion, worked in many many shit jobs and some considerably better. I have been on films sets and repairing sweaty underarms. I've cleared excrement from car parks for global sportswear giants and i've gaffa taped over the brand logo on my trainer to work as set design pig for very little money. My experience in a fine art gallery and then studying again at 30yrs, helped refine my style a little. It will never be gleaming, but I know what I like and I always have something to say.

The Vegan Gypsy is now gabbling away over on Wordpress:



Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Vegan April? The blog goes on...

It's well established that there is no way back into dairy territory. The thought of a French friend of mine dribbling over a baked brie pie actually makes me feel a little queasy. It always did, just now a little more so. Brie was always a cheese with which to offend me, baking the stuff only made it more obscene. Why would you ever want what was already more than gooey enough any gooier?! I really don't understand and now I don't have to. Never will I have to explain that yes, I love cheese just not the gooey ones, or the veiny ones, or the really dry crumbly smelly as hell ones. Oh and of course not that Italian maggoty one...

WHY WOULD ANYONE EAT THIS?

Eggs are also surprisingly out. A mere month ago, I discussed my intense love of eggs. How quickly the worm has turned. I really don't intend to eat one anytime soon. I jested to a friend that should I get to meet the hen, maybe I'd eat an egg or two. City dwelling means that for the short term, this is not a huge threat to my new straight edge (ish) lifestyle. 

Assuming the contents of my guts remain vegan I now have another spectrum of unchartered territory... vegan clothing, vegan makeup, vegan life all around... especially vegan shoes...

VEGAN SHOES! 

My heart seemed to bleed with every letter of that phrase. I've seen vegan shoes in the past and they are exactly as ugly as they sound. Of course, having a degree in Fashion Management and considerable experience working in garment production as well as making clothes myself, I know that it needn't be the case. Alas folks, it is. 

Thankfully there are a few creatures out there tackling this worrying issue including Brighton's own Vegetarian Shoes. You are however very sadly mistaken if you think you are going to convince me to wear anything they sell other than these boots, carefully selected and stocked by dear sweet Vx of Kings Cross...
Oh hang on a minute... they're not exactly what I was looking for this summer, but I don't have much choice as I WILL NEVER EVER WEAR "PUMPS" OR ANYTHING CALLED CORNELIA OR DAVINA. I AM SO ANGRY I'M SHOUTING IN THE ONLY WAY POSSIBLE... CAPITAL FUCKING LETTERS!

This summer I intend to be wearing shoes like this...
Source:http://www.miumiu.com/en/US/e-store/dep/shoes/cat/sandals/product/5XP414_3B2P_F0187_F_140#

Ah yes lovely you say, but are they vegan?
Well, snakeskin look.. "Ayers embossed calf leather" means a no I'd say. So, what about these...
source: http://www.net-a-porter.com/product/180462

Well, "Silk and Leather" plus a bit of human cruelty probably (Just guessing, this is fashion we're dealing with kids), means they're also a definite vegan no.

Ok, so how about these little babies...
Source: http://www.net-a-porter.com/product/194026

Well the "Textured-leather platform sandal" bit of the description suggests another NO.

Even these Sam Edelman shoes that I might be able to walk in leave me weeping with leathery vegan defeat.


Until all of my existing shoes are dead and gone, I will battle on through in what I have. Unfortunately the dearth of suitable summer footwear in my wardrobe means I have to tackle this one pronto. Luckily I'm from UK's very own shoetown, so intend to make some inquiries when I'm up for my apres Easter retreat. Before sawing my own legs off, I may as well conduct some door to door enquiries.

WATCH THIS VEGAN FRIENDLY SPACE....


TOP VEGAN EATING OUT....

As discussed rather a lot, eating out has been one of my biggest inspirations yet also irritations during vegan march. It has meant that I have tried loads of things I can now do better at home but has meant that I've spent a fricking fortune in doing so. Going vegan basically means you can only ever eat out with other vegans, vegetarians or worst of all, your carnivorous friends who will piss you off eternally with their smug martrydom after forgoing meat for a meal. No fair. It would be nice to only have vegan friends so that you could safely plough into every place on a table however, for me at least, it's just not going to happen. It would also be rather nice to find myself a vegan love interest, yet I'm not pinning my hopes on it and I'm not vegansexual just yet... Vegansexual you ponder? Read all about it here, here and here.

During vegan march I sampled many food establishments, mainly during the day. The following are my top picks;

Where? Soho, London
Why? Great, great food, despite being a buffet/ canteen style affair. It's fast, it's pretty well priced and it's right in the middle of Soho. Right in the middle of overpriced but wonderful fabric land, record shops, my old workplace Agent Provocateur and sex alley. They've got seats outside so you can sit and watch the cracked up world go by, listening to the chorus of fruit & veg men while the media lunching fly past looking hot and important. Once you've finished you can pop next door to the Endurance for a pint potentially served by a hot bearded friend of mine.

Where? Kensington Gardens, Brighton
Why? Again, just go there and see. The staff are lovely, the menu is extensive, well priced, healthy and the place is right in the middle of the good part of town. You might be best to avoid it on a Saturday as squeezing your way down that street could induce rage from the most balanced of Brighton, but you could always shoot in from the Gloucester Road end.

Where? Hackney, London
Why? Vegans still need to go to the pub and seek answers in pint glasses. The Kenton means you can do this via a variety of glasses... Aspall... Becks Vier... Stella (if you really must).. or even down through the rim of a Peroni bottle. The legal list goes on. It also means you can hunt for the mystical truth in the crumbs left at the bottom of your legal Tyrells crisp packet. There aren't any vegan pies (come on pieminister, do the decent thing..) and I've made that mash, so know very well that it sure aint vegan, which mean it's strictly drinks and crisps mid week BUT you can get a vegan roast on a sunday...

Where? Tufnell Park, London
Why? After playing a gig there with Lone Taxidermist last Saturday we stayed on and had a bloody good night. You know that you're not in East London here because everyone looks happy and some of them looked a long way from cool... but still weren't cool... and didn't mind... and still didn't look cool because they didn't care about being cool... oh god... I've been in the game for too long... I can't escape it. This bar was fucking awesome and although I didn't actually eat there, I had an extensive chat with the chef about what he could muster for a vegan diner. He seemed like he would relish the challenge and explained vegan plans he had up his sleeve. In order to make sure they get a place on a permanent printed menu, round up all your vegans and go. I'll meet you there for pints, rock and vegan love.


Ones I've heard about but havent tried yet...



Covent Garden, London

Archway, London

High Street Kensington, London

Soho, London

Brighton

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

TOP FIVE VEGAN BREAKFASTS...

As follows are my top 5 breakfasts of vegan march. Remember, I'm like a dying grizzly bear in the mornings so if I can find time to make breakfast any human can.

1. Porridge with oat milk, goji berries, dates, coconut, cinnamon and raspberries. woooooaah... that was a good day!
source: http://lindapiequeen.wordpress.com/2010/04/12/porridge/


2. Rosemary, thyme and garlic baked potato rosti with chilli beans and mushrooms
source: http://ayushthecook.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/potato-rosti.html


3. Wholegrain toast with... get ready for this one.... tahini, dates and raisins. The combination of the bitter, gloopy, intense sesame with the super sweet fruit has really struck a chord now!
source: http://petitcuisinier-solange.blogspot.co.uk/2010/01/my-first-green-smoothie-and-toasts-with.html


4. Wholegrain toast with crunchy peanut butter and banana - ye olde favourite
source: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1897711/peanut-butter-and-banana-on-toast

5. More toast with hummus and avocado plus spinach and tomatoes if the shelves are really stocked.
source: http://thisyearwillbemyyear.tumblr.com/

I thought that breakfast would be the worst meal to try and figure out but I rather enjoyed the change. I secretly knew the breakfast habits I'd gotten myself into were not great, so this gave me the impetus to change.

I never quite found the time to experiment with vegan pancakes, waffles, hash browns etc, so that's what vegan APRIL will have in store... yipppeeeeeeeee.

TOP SHOPS..

Although we might all like to pretend we only shop at farmers markets and never ever go near a Tesco's, we know it's a lie. Since turning vegan it's become abundantly clear that some shops are great and possibly even like their customers for reasons beyond MONEY, while some don't. The list that follows are the shops that now make my eyes light up and my heart leap, for they mean that... I.... can....eat. Hurrah!

Where? Nationwide
Why? Have you been into one? I'm not going to even bother answering my own question, they're just awesome and you need to get to one ASAP.

Where? Nationwide
Why? Because they're all over the place and seem to make great efforts to please their customers, even the annoying vegans, by labelling up their food with 'SUITABLE FOR VEGANS'. Ok, you can't find as much as you might like, but they also did pioneer labelling wines, which led many other retailers to follow, so they deserve recognition. Thanks Coop.

Sunny Foods
Where? Brighton
(76 Beaconsfield Rd, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 6DD, United Kingdom, Tel. 01273 507 879)
Why? The fact that this shop doesn't even seem to have a website is further proof of my point... it's so local it probably doesn't need one. It's been busy everytime I've been in there and is such a nice, friendly, welcoming little shop that I expect it is frequented by anyone remotely health conscious within the local area. It has a great selection, is well priced and has accomodating opening hours that mean even commuters can get back from London and down there before it shuts.

Where? Kings Cross, London
Why? Conveniently located in Central London, this little vegan haven means you can grab a vegan hot dog for lunch, some tofu and soya milk for the next mornings breakfast all in a lunch break. Oh and perhaps you've earned a cake for the journey!

Where? Shoreditch, London
Why? Expensive but huge and very well stocked for all dietary needs. It also means that should you wake up somewhere in East London after a particularly hard night of partying, you can drag yourself down there for a vegan muffin and a baby carton of Almond Milk. You can't do sweaty fry ups anymore remember?!

special mention to...
With branches in Northampton and Cambridge, if you ever find yourself out in those parts get to Daily Bread. God watches everything they do and I've heard he even blesses your shopping, so it's really worth a trip. Plus if you're Northampton at least, you're likely to go hungry if you don't, so it's your call. I'm just giving you the heads up!

THE END

Vegan March is over.

I didn't tell you but this was all in the name of art. I was doing a project that was largely based on observations of the animal within the human. So many have done it before, how could I possibly do anything new? Well, that was not my concern. My concern was how I could possibly truly observe the animal when the animal was still a part of my daily consumption. The only way I could think to do this was to stop, go vegan and instead be completely consumed by the challenge that was Vegan March.

It's been tough and I genuinely did not expect to end the month intending to be a full-time vegan. The things I've learnt about the meat industry, dairy farming, processed food etc etc mean that I feel as if I really have no choice. For as long as I live in a country where I have the luxury to make such choices, I  choose vegan.

To round up my month, I am going to do a few posts on my favourites finds of the month.

I also have more plans afoot, news to follow.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Day 30: Vegan Covent Garden

Some of you will probably already know it but even after my eleven years of London living I had to double check. The wonderful little hidey hole that is Neals Yard in Covent Garden, has plentiful vegan food options as well as back rubs, hot skaters and nice stuff for your face. When my folks were in town we paid the Neal's Yard Salad Bar a little visit. 

Ignoring the hideous orange and purple decor, they have quite a good, welcoming menu that caters for meat eaters, veggies and vegans. With food codes ahoy all over the menu, I think they've probably got all picky eaters covered, so it's a good place for varied palates. Generally, the prices are really low, especially considering that they offer open air dining right in the heart of Covent Garden. I do, however, think some things are most offensively overpriced especially as the food has a definite canteen, reheated feel and the service we received was a long, long way from special. £5 for peanut butter on toast? Do me a favour you greedy hippies.

Sadly I didn't have my camera on hand for documentation but I gave the vegan pizza a go. It was odd. Passable, if for nothing more than offering a starting point for my own vegan pizza trials. There was nowhere near enough herby flavour, yet there was definite potential. The vegetables were good and the vegan cheese gunk stuff ok but the lack of definite flavour of any sort meant I was enjoying the consistency of the base more than anything. 

Although I find it very easy to linger and amuse myself writing about the bad bits, it's a lovely place to sit on a sunny afternoon and with so many vegan options, I should probably shut the fuck up and make the most of it. However, I refuse to be grateful when I'm paying for the pleasure. Pictures like this epitomise what pisses me off about vegan dining thus far...


Colour scheme and smiley sun imagery aside, seriously?! This picture is on the gallery page of their website. The first and only picture in the gallery, to be precise. Do I need to point out how shit it is? I'm no photographer but did someone really fail to notice Mrs 90s bedcover jacket, standing smack bang in the middle of the shot?!! Sort it out. It's ugly, lazy, hippy vegan and you know I'm hunting sexy, slick, chic, affordable vegan. So far Ms Cupcake is the only one who's made it anywhere close. Where is everything else?!




Thursday, March 29, 2012

Day 29: CAKE AND VEGAN FISH AND CHIPS - FUCKING YES!

In lieu of more grovelling about my cyber slacking, I thought I'd write you a late night post about baking and fish & chips instead. Apologies get boring, chips and cake do not.

This month has been a real test and I have more than failed, however I have discovered a lot about myself, my terrible habits and what I really enjoying sliding between my lips. I thought I would die without butter. You heard all about it here. Well. I have not consumed even the tiniest bit of it this month and I tell you now... I've learnt to survive. It's salty goodness only made me fat so I'm over it. Savlon spread is my new friend. Butter is merely a memory of pregan past.
I awoke this morning to that moment of terror most of you will have experienced at least once. The one when you realise the sheets are not yours and you have little recollection of events leading to your nudity and/ or geographical location. Thankfully, I was at my friends house and had innocently passed out, mouth gaping, clutching my toothbrush. Anyway, she's a terribly healthy lass and has cupboards that are more vegan than mine will ever be, so had loads of legal hangover help in food form. The visit also brought back an old memory...

Vitalite! You'd forgotten about it too hadn't you?! Well, in addition to producing one of the most memorable adverts/ catchy jingles about a fake butter ever, they also still make VEGAN fake butter. I've even double checked the site as I could barely see this morning so missed the stamp on the tub!



Among the key learning of the month have been that I need to do considerably more intense and focused research on two topics: CHIPS & CAKE! I know that publicly blogging offers the chance to create the sophisticated, demure, groomed persona you potentially dreamed of, however I decided against that from the very start. Why waste your energy bullshitting? I don't want to be fat but I do occasionally enjoy the most quintessential of British fodder: chips and cake, and I may as well tell the world about it. I love them so much so that I have failed the challenge twice due to consumption of chips. One was Day 24, the other was.... today. I'm hungover, it was out of my hands. My body did the talking, forgive and forget jaaa?

Now chips came up in discussion way back on Day 5 with a friend who is very well informed on the Fish & Chip industry and it's techniques. Having a father who owns multiple Fish & Chip shops around central England, this particularly enterprising friend initiated a concept called Celiac Tuesday where, yup, you're there, every Tuesday saw specific oil and equipment used to enable all the local sufferers to creep from the woodwork for their fishy fix. Now, why the hell aren't there vegan chips out there??? Well, some quick googling tells me that there are, you just have to find them. If any of you are in the North, perhaps you could whizz over to Manchester to the Chorlton Big Green Festival and find the folk at Something Fishy to try some for me? Until I get back into my freelance world, I'm trapped down south plotting and planning, so could do with some roving reviewers to do some legwork for me...

Today really was an eventful one and at last, it saw me cross the threshold into the wonderful Brixton world of Ms Cupcake. I've talked about her a lot but hadn't actually tried a full cake, only a bit of icing at Brighton shamblefest. Well worth it, is my summation. Although terribly, terribly sweet, those cupcakes are seriously good and motherfuckingveeeeegggaaaaannnn. You really wouldn't know it either. The Triple Chocolate one is yet another specific item that I can honestly say will keep my on that vegan wagon. If I can get sweet hits like Booja Booja and this super, rich, incredible delicious chocolate cupcake, vegan life will be ok. I've discovered that butter can go to hell but cake is here to stay, so it better be vegan!

Despite the stupid hour already, I'm popping out to one of those evil 24hr hypermarkets around the corner for some vegan items to whizz up into the following cakes. I've got folk to thank and I want to do it with cake. If I don't make the bloody thing, some other dickhead will go and buy one full of earlobes and little eggy foeti that I can't eat. That's not happening.

I'll try and take some pics and give you a review of how these two bad boys work out;




I wish I didn't but I really enjoy late night baking! Right, I'm off...

Day 27 and 28: DID NOT EXIST

Yesterday, 27th March 2012 basically did not exist. It didn't happen. It was a blur or a day that began on Monday 26th 2012 after 2hrs sleep. 

Bad planning, procrastination, chaos, disorder, lacking confidence in my own decision making and a disturbing lack of technical skills are many of the reasons for this ridiculous behaviour. I punished myself brutally for being so chaotic and now feel like absolute shit. If any of this sounds familiar to you, it won't come as much of a surprise that I had a college deadline yesterday. 

After surviving my all night marathon and dragging myself, an A1 portfolio and a bag full of sketchbooks etc 20 mins to the train station, I was then forced to stand on the packed train for the entire journey between Brighton to London. Ouch! I was so tired that I kept falling asleep standing up, waking up as I was about to fall over. I can only imagine how funny that must have been to observe. Can you believe that even with that kind of display, not one person wanted to volunteer their seat?!

Day 28 was much the same, blur blur, invigilation, hanging out with my parents and then going to my own private view. Yes that is the truth. MY OWN PRIVATE VIEW. It wasn't a solo show sadly, just a tiny space within the City Lit Foundation Course show, but one day. You have to start somewhere right? 

So forgive me for slacking but I have been arting and socialising. I have also been thinking very hard about how to continue from here on. Blogging daily is tough, tough, though and I just don't understand how people do it in their spare time alongside real life jobs etc. I'm thinking about it.. 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Day 26: TOO BUSY FOR BLOGGING... OR EATING PROPERLY!

BUSY BUSY BUSY.

But I have some very good news. More sweet snacks have made it through my rigorous taste tests....


Montezuma's Orange and Geranium Chocolate... delicious AND vegan!


and Provamel chocolate desserts. Yum, yum, yum. Buy them here if you so wish.

Having a mental week with far too much time either spent in London or travelling one way or the other. It's taken over three hours door to door, on three of my return journeys this week - aaaagh! Anyway, it means that I've been living on Pret Hummus wraps and ready salted crisps. I don't know if either of those are officially vegan but seriously, what are you supposed to do? Anyone who knows me knows I get a bit mad if I have too big a gap between meals and my willpower is severely waning now. I don't know where any more mystery body parts hide. I've got the obvious ones down, but I just don't know about anything else and no-one seems to bother with labelling anything for vegans, so it looks like the dull side of this will continue long into April.

*UPDATE*
Balls. I've just looked online and no, the Pret wrap is not vegan. I HATE THIS! I swear the label in the shop doesn't mention the yoghurt dressing, I swear it. Either way, the website lays it all out for us. Ball, balls, balls.

http://www.pret.com/menu/baguettes_wraps/chunky_humous_salad_wrap_PUK4334.shtm

That reminds me, M&S have really fallen to an incredible depth way into my bad books. I've been into two different Simply Food stores this week to grab something in a rush and could not find a single thing that stated it was vegan. Am I looking at the wrong food or do they in practice, not bother with the vegan label? The website says they do, but of course it does. Has anyone ever seen one in real life?!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Day 25: LATE AGAIN BUT WHAT'S A DEAD COW TO DO?

Source: http://bayourenaissanceman.blogspot.co.uk/2010_01_01_archive.html

So, in the wee small hours of Day 26, I write about Day 24's realisation that led to Day 25 and the topic I will discuss now. Boundaries.

Wikipedia provides an explanation of some appropriate terms; 

Boundaries
"Personal boundaries define you as an individual. They are statements of what you will or won't do, what you like and don't like...how close someone can get to you. Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify for him- or herself what are reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave around him or her and how he or she will respond when someone steps outside those limits".

Guidelines
"A guideline is a statement by which to determine a course of action. A guideline aims to streamline particular processes according to a set routine or sound practice. By definition, following a guideline is never mandatory. Guidelines are not binding and are not enforced".
"The Chandrasekhar limit (/ʌndrəˈʃkɑr/) is the maximum mass of stable white dwarf starIt was named after Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, the Indian astrophysicist who predicted it in 1930. White dwarfs, unlike main sequence stars, resist gravitational collapse primarily through electron degeneracy pressure, rather than thermal pressure. The Chandrasekhar limit is the mass above which electron degeneracy pressure in the star's core is insufficient to balance the star's own gravitational self-attraction. Consequently, white dwarfs with masses greater than the limit undergo further gravitational collapse, evolving into a different type of stellar remnant, such as a neutron star or black hole. Those with masses under the limit remain stable as white dwarfs. The Chandrasekhar limit is analogous to the Tolman–Oppenheimer–Volkoff limit for neutron stars."

As you can see, I'm having some technical issues today. I'm not in the best frame of mind right now. Kind of hallucinating through lack of sleep and excess time infront of a computer. FCP maaaaaannn. If anyone would like to fix them, do let me know. Otherwise I vow to do better tomorrow.

SO basically, what I'm saying about boundaries is that they are frameworks we create for ourselves and the lives that we are building around us. Sometimes it's nowhere near a conscious thing but we do often also have a remote view, even if purely instinctual about where we are heading and in what we believe.
This project has questioned so many things, not least where I would like to set my boundaries in terms of what I wish to be prepared and consumed, to then be broken down and become a part of what and who I am. 
This really is how I began to think before I became a vegetarian. After being repeatedly ill in Bolivia. Really, really ill, unable to leave my bedroom for days because of fever and the stomach pains. It was really horrible and I began to wonder if the animals were trying to send me a message. I know it sounds ridiculous but what other option would they have?! They couldn't exactly schedule a meeting or contact me through my website could they? What's a dead cow to do?

I would like to remain vegan, particularly removing all dairy products from my diet, for good. I just think it will be really difficult, especially while I am not entirely prepared for a life of vegan cooking. So I think that from April, I will try to live as a vegan full time, sometimes permitting a wander off piste until I really get the diet right. 
If someone makes a cake using a dairy product, I happen to "knock on" (Sharpe, N. 2012. February 27th, Hackney) and I am promptly offered tea and a piece of said special homecrafted baked good of sorts, what point is there in me not enjoying a piece of the cake that already exists and will exit regardless of what I believe in? 
Or is the hope and perhaps intention that the world will become less reliant on animal products and their derivitives, so that a vegan diet becomes inherently more possible, supported and widespread. Information is the main thing that limits the vegan community. People really don't know what they are eating and for a large part, do not seem to care. However, much as I'm not a huge fan, look at what Jamie Oliver did with his school dinners programme? He really got in there and made people think. 

I'm rambling, farewell.


ps- Jamie goes vegetable for a month.



(source:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-1383582/Jamie-Olivers-Food-Revolution-chopped-American-TV-blow-crusade.html)


Day 24: THE ULTIMATE FAILURE



Day 24 was an accidental, massive, failure in almost every possible way. I failed because I;

  • Didn't write a post
  • Ate chips, from a chip shop cooked in from non vegan oil.
  • I also had mushy peas. I have no idea how you would even begin to make mushy peas but I guess butter and possibly milk? cream?
  • The above offending items were accompanied by sugary, sugary ketchup and a can of tango. Tango?! I never, ever drink tango, so I really don't know what I was thinking. 
  • Tried to guess which beer would be vegan. Secretly thinking I knew the answer, I chose Kronenbourg. A few sips in, my friend whipped out his clever internet phone and used veggiewines to confirm that of all of the beers in this particular pub I had inadvertently selected the wrong one. The barman wouldn't change it so I decided that having already failed on a huge scale, the reign may as well continue. The fish had already been de-bladdered. Wasting the rest of the delicious pint was not going to take that back.
At the end of what was a very long day, I made my friend promise never to speak of the repeat failing. Instead though, I've decided to discuss it myself as I did promise to be honest here and a day of shameful introspection has given me an interesting perspective. I have returned to a topic that has popped up in my thought process a few times; the notion of boundaries. As this is technically day 25, I am signing out here, to return to discuss this further....

Friday, March 23, 2012

Day 23: GLOBAL GUEST BLOGGING

As promised, here's today's guest blog post from a dear friend in faraway lands. She's been on a big adventure and as mentioned, has spent the day under house arrest. Apparently the pain was softened with a vegan lunch, alas an irritating ipad and other difficulties meant that a blog about today was not possible. Who cares though right? So long as my cyber world knows I have well travelled friends thinking of me and the vegan trial with every vegetable they consume, everyone's forgiven.

She's most definitely not vegan but a food pig after my own heart who does like her vegetables and can put a few nice words together. Now let's hear what she has to say:



"I am indeed in Bali, but I as I am trapped in the hotel celebrating the new years day in the wildest fashion possible by staying silent and still I cannot fully contribute about vegan Bali today.....so let's start with what I found in India....
.....Potatoes! Potatoes and more potatoes! I'm so sick of potatoes! Don't get  me wrong the food there was amazing but I have a rule when I eat - my food must have at least three different colours in it, always including green. Now when every meal is yellow in colour (like me) it doesn't matter how almost-vegan it is or healthy, it's just boring....yellow, ochre, brown.....so I resorted to raw salads and juices (erm don't try it unless you're up for projectile vomit from both ends, I didn't mind that too much as I had no time for ashrams and Ayurvedic treatments so I saw that as my detox enema sessions). 
But what I really want to tell you about vegan finds in India is the cake man of Pushkar.   There's a man pushing a cake cart from 8pm every night in Pushkar selling vegan cakes that he makes himself. They are soooooooo good. Banana crumble anyone? Spiced cake? Apple pie? He even makes gluten free raw chocolate balls. 40 rupees a slice, divide by 77, it's like, 0.00000008 micro pennies per slice.  Ok its got honey but its so bloody yummy. He wraps them in pages from a manky old book he keeps in the cart. Oh and for the non vegans, the lassi in Jaipur is to die for. Sure you might die in that awful city but at least have a lassi first". 


(I don't know who or what this last pic is, but it's beautiful and I would rather have spent three hours there today than travelling back from London. thisisveganmarch)

Day 23: GUEST BLOG FROM BALI... COMING UP

That's right cyber family, today you're getting a real treat. Instead of a bad, hastily written post by a lazy trial vegan who has had very little sleep and is incredibly sick of looking at a computer screen, you are going to get a little taste of vegan Bali thanks to a good friend who is currently trapped in a hotel room as part of the National New Year 'celebrations'...

COMING UP...

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Day 22: CITY SNACKING - 9bar, 9bar, 9bar

I


As a vegan commuter, city snacking is a very important topic. While I often bring my bike for the commute, sometimes I can't or won't, so do not have a huge rucksack with enough space for a pre-prepared day of vegan dining. While you can always find a (shit) vegan supermarket salad of some sort, it's the rest of the day that's the real problem. We all remember the school days of finding your banana squashed all over your schoolbooks. It certainly doesn't have the same charm when you're a 30year old, trying to sound important with a banana mangled over a moleskin. 

  


So far during Vegan March, the only quick snack that has been able to simultaneously satisfy my brain, sweet tooth, budget and portability needs is the mighty 9bar. They're healthy, delicious and give off  a marvellous, wholesome feeling as you crunch through them.

I've tried anything that looks remotely sweet and vegan this month with Nakd bars the only other thing coming anywhere near to hitting the spot. The problem is Nakd bars look disgusting and the consistency is vile. They're mushy and feel almost lukewarm, a little like eating baby food for grown ups. Admittedly they do taste good but this newbie vegan still needs to satisfy the mind. I won't be going anywhere near any more baby food unless I'm about to die of a hunger and/ or stealing it from my own baby. Should you want to sample some, you can order some here

Source:http://www.honest-to-goodness.org.uk/index.php/chocolate-sweets-snacks/confectionery/nakd-cocoa-delight-bar-35g.html

The reason this post comes today is that I haven't had a 9bar for a long time as I just never see them anywhere, that is until I found one yesterday in Ground in Hove. I joyously devoured my soya latte with the 9bar, delighted to have been reminded of it's existence and smug in the knowledge that it must be vegan. When you look at the front of the bar you will see every claim know to man; a vegetarian society stamp, gluten free, dairy free, can make you fly etc etc. I even checked the ingredients and saw nothing suspicious. 

Before writing a post about 9bar being the best vegan snack in the world I thought I would double check on their website. Again, loads of claims but nothing specific about being vegan. This made me suspicious and start to hate 9bar for being so sneaky, so I wrote a rambling message on their contact page asking whether they were vegan or not. I was not expecting a response so quickly, let alone from the MD! At 7.30am I received the following reply. 



So, I'd missed the honey and therefore failed yesterday as a vegan. Damn you 9bar, I was so busy looking for regular sugar and butter that I missed the honey! This post ends on a positive note as overall I still love 9bar. After an email exchange between 9bar bigman and myself I concluded that...

I LOVE 9bar for tasting so amazing, 

I HATE 9bar for being made with honey, 

I LOVE 9bar for having an MD that responds to idiots himself at 7.30am and.... 

best news of all...

I LOVE 9bar for having a brand new, fully legal honey-free vegan version in the pipeline. It's expected in all major supermarkets in June, so militant vegans, get ready!





Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Day 21: THERE'S A RAT IN MY KITCHEN

Try really hard not to sing that terrible UB40 song as you take that title in. It's true, there indeed was a rat in my kitchen. For weeks I had suspected a mouse to be the one scuttling around as I moped around the kitchen at weird times of the day searching for inspiration. Tonight I confirmed the truth. I saw the rat a. on a wok and b. hugging a bottle of olive oil. With the oil living on the worktop, I am slightly concerned that filthy rat feet could be the reason for me feeling so deathly. Either way, living nowhere near any vegan food retailers meant that I needed to bleach the shit out of the kitchen and crack on. In my haste I bleached, cooked and devoured so quickly that there was no time for (my rubbish) photo documentation. I whipped up some bombay ish potatoes and a bizarre combination of curry spices, coconut milk, onion, chickpeas, cauliflower, raisins, peas and carrots. It was all I had and it worked out quite well. I won the vegan fight for another day.

Feeling rather stressed due to current very important non blog activities I am not feeling my most inspired. To help with todays post I enlisted the help of our good friend google, using the trick that reaps rewards aplenty for birthdays and special events: I perform one google search using a phrase, few words or something that amuses me with it's relevance to the recipient. I then select my favourite result, ideally from the top row. In this instance I used two combinations as the first was such a long shot:


Search 1. "Big grey rat hugging olive oil"

Result: Man pulling corn on the cob inspired silly face
Source: http://christopherreichert.blogspot.co.uk/2008_08_01_archive.html


My second search had to yield better results so I kept it simple;

Search 2. "Rat in a wok"

Result 1: Rat in a wok
Source: http://www.allvoices.com/contributed-news/8307679/image/73926558-dead-rat-in-wok


Result 2: Dried Rat jerky 

Source: http://www.charliestudio.com/charliegrosso/www/blog/2008_04_01_archive.html

Result 3: Rats that have probably been nowhere near a wok
Source: http://www.cnngo.com/explorations/play/outdoor-adventures/hunting-rodents-indonesia-104672




Result 4: My next holiday?!
Source: http://www.islandmix.com/backchat/f16/your-best-soca-pics-2006-a-145789/


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Day 20: AM I DEAD?

Call it bad time management, call it my new ridiculous diet, call it too little sleep, call it a combination of all three. Whatever it is, I am virtually dead today. I've had lots of stuff, vegan and otherwise whizzing around my head, but nothing seems to be making it's way out retaining any type of sense. Today's post will therefore be short.

Today's food consumption:

Breakfast: Toast with avocado and hummus

Snacks: a banana, 3 oatcakes with chopped dates and a soya latte

Lunch: vegan burgery thing with potato wedges and lettuce, cucumber, tomato, carrot, sunflower seeds, almonds and apple

Dinner: I could not wait until I got back down South so went to Govinda's in Soho as I knew that was a safe one. It was ok. For £5.95 the small thali includes 2 vegetable dishes, rice (white, brown or vegetable), 'salad' and either a bread roll or a papadum. It was pretty good, but the broccoli dish was not exactly spectacular and the salad was a bit of sad looking lettuce and some tomatoes. The staff were all lovely and the relaxed environment was quite a nice hidey hole in the middle of London but I just don't want to be forced to eat in this way. I feel really sad that eating out is either going to take permanent planning ahead, sticking to vegetarian places or worse becoming a Hare Krishna. Very few of my friends are vegetarian let alone vegan so this is going to get really annoying. I LIKE EATING OUT ALMOST AS MUCH AS I LIKE BUTTER!

The main outcomes of the day are that I don't want to have to find entirely new friends so that I have dining companions and I no longer understand how the term Vegetarian became so widespread and quite so misunderstood. I now see it to mean something more like a vegan that doesn't have a clue what they're eating. I really think that if you're going to eat animal derivatiVes in every meal, you may as well just have a bloody good steak. 

PS - MARKS & SPENCER ARE ABOUT TO GET ANOTHER WRATH RIDDEN EMAIL AS I TRAWLED THROUGH ANOTHER SIMPLY FOOD TO LEAVE EMPTY HANDED AS I COULD NOT FIND A SINGLE THING THAT STATED IT WAS SUITABLE FOR VEGANS. ANNOYING!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Day 19: BRIGHTON VEGFEST - JUST NOT SEXY ENOUGH THANKS



So Vegfest came to Brighton this weekend and I went. I came home armed with freebies from the lovely, generous folk at Goodlife, as well as shocked and delighted tastebuds from the endless samples.. sweet... savoury.... sweet... savoury.... weird... repeat, repeat.

I accidentally spent all of my money in the pub the previous night, so couldn't buy anything but tried...
  • seriously good carrot, cardamom, quinoa and something or other flapjacks... from a lovely lady representing Flaxfarm in Horsham
  • pretty nice chocolate milk from the folk at Kara
  • Diary free chocolates from Moo Free (I wish I didn't hate the packaging but oh I do)
  • A big squidge of icing from Ms Cupcake as the last cake samples had been devoured as we approached the Ms Cupcake guy.
  • A delicious wild mushroom burger from Vegusto. I was too busy eating it to pay attention to it's official title so just tried to find it online. While it tasted incredible and I was totally sold when the guy told us about the mushrooms being picked by fairies in the wild Swiss hills there's a large part of me that hopes it's not this! When a product tastes this good, there is simply no need to kill it with pictures that make it look like some sort of emergency organ delivery.
  • Moving on... I was impressed with my little taste of Bessant & Drury ice cream in chocolate and strawberry. For me the strawberry was very good but Booja Booja stil far outshines in the chocolate field.
  • I got info'd up about Veg boxes delivered to your door by Riverford
  • Finally, Good Life  were giving out cool bags containing four boxes of their frozen lazy vegan food.. ta very much! (sorry for such a rubbish pic)






I left with lots of new information and tastes for my vegan mouth but opinionated as ever, I have a fair bit criticism for Vegfest.

(The more forgiving vegan blogger in Brighton had much more positive words to say so why not have a little read here before being poisoned by my vitriol)

There were so many positives about what was there; the scale of the event, the amazing freebies, tasters, generally wonderful, friendly folk and good good vibes, that it's even more of a shame that it left me so confused and irritated. It looked like a cross between a jumble sale, 1980s corporate function and a school cake sale. I think the horrendous rabbit warren inspired venue paid a huge disservice to the stallholders who had largely made a serious effort to make their wares look fantastic and marketable.

There was no visible promotion from the busy main road. Had I gone alone and not with a friend who knew where it was, I would have had no idea where I was going, got mightily fucked off with sat nav chirping away telling me to turn around and would have gone home. Luckily my friend led the way.

Once we arrived, there seemed to be no signage to help navigate the two floors, instead there were some green, boring looking flyers on a few tables and people milling around in big groups very very slowly. It was all just too much like slow, meditative chaos for my liking. I like chaos elsewhere but not in my trade shows! MAKE IT SIMPLE!

The layout was just confusing, with rooms appearing to give birth to other little rooms, that led back to the original rooms, slightly Alice in Veganland.

Overall, it really was just far too disorganised to be taken seriously, which just seems so unnecessary. It serves as a reminder that if I continue with a blog after thisisveganmarch, it will have to encompass the other areas in which I have experience and passion... fashion... art...interiors... film... infact anything beautiful! I really think that in order for, what sadly is, 'the alternative way of eating' to be sold to the wider world, things need to be done differently.

Why can't being nice to the world just be a little bit sexier?