Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Electro Tropical Beats and Vegan Tapas

Get your Cornish dancing clogs on this Saturday 24th February for a night of Latin American infused food and grooves at Mount Pleasant Eco Park at Porthtowan.  

This extremely vibrant venue (and now the annual home for the Cornwall Vegan Festival), is playing host to electro tropical band Camo Clave who combine traditional Latin American rhythms and synthesisers, effects and processors.  This lively Bristol band look like they will add a very much needed blast of tropical warmth to a predicted chilly February night.  

Tickets for the gig only are £8 but you would be a fool if you didn't get yourself an advanced combined supper and gig ticket for a very reasonable £18, as the Latin American infused music is complemented and preceded by a delicious vegan tapas supper.

Taparty Spanish Food Services, a new and traditional Spanish food business based in Cornwall, is providing a selection of tapas, pinchos and other traditional Spanish dishes, each one distinctive of the different regions of Spain.  Ana Lozar, owner of Taparty, was born and raised in Madrid so you can be sure this menu will offer true authenticity.  I couldn't find details of the vegan menu on the website but according to the email I have just been sent it is as follows.

The Menu will consist of :

Pisto - Vegetable Stew
Buñuelos de Patata - Deep fried potato balls with garlic and parsley
Berenjenas con sésamo tostado - Deep fried aubergine with toasted sesame seeds
Patatas Revolconas - Boiled potatoes fried with onions, garlic & paprika
Champiñones al Ajillo - Garlic Mushrooms

To get your tickets for either the gig or the combined supper and gig, and for further details, get yourself on to the website quick.  At the time of writing there only appear to be 30 tickets left!

Monday, 19 February 2018

The Game Changers

We've said it before, but this really is an amazing and game changing time for the vegan movement.  It seems like every day there is a new film out, or another vegan being given time on mainstream television or radio, even if we still have to fight all the old cliches and say the same things, over and over again.  It really is starting to pay off though.  So many people have woken up to the lies they have been brought up on, pushed by the mainstream media, big agribusiness, and the pharmaceutical industry.  Supermarkets are falling over themselves thinking of ways to sell more plant based dishes, even if they are sometimes barking up the wrong tree, like trying to sell Cauliflower 'steaks' and Mushroom 'mince' for ridiculous prices.  A few are bringing out their own vegan ranges, and all are expanding shelf space for vegan friendly products.  The times really are a changing.  

The massive impact that the films Cowspiracy and What The Health had, and are still having, on this movement is probably the greatest single contributing factor towards this unprecedented growth in plant based eating.  Yes there have been plenty of others, but these two films seem to have found the 'magic formula' for converting so many people to plant based diets and the vegan cause.  As truthful and harrowing as some of the other more graphic films are, they can turn some people off due to the fact that those people just don't want to face up to the reality of their food and clothing choices, and will point blank refuse to watch scenes of animal abuse and slaughter, as they 'love animals' and hate seeing them hurt.  Cognitive dissonance is the technical term for this hypocrisy.  

There will soon be another film out; one that has the potential to hopefully have even more impact than the 'big two' mentioned above.  It will, as the saying goes, be a game changer.  So much so that they decided to call it that.  The Game Changers has already premiered to rave reviews at the Sundance Film Festival, and is getting its European premiere soon in Germany.  From what we have seen so far, it is going to be huge.  Executive directed by James Cameron (yes, he of Avatar and Titanic fame), and directed by Louie Psihoyos (The Cove and Racing Extinction), it tells the story of James Wilks, an elite special forces trainer and winner of 'The Ultimate Fighter', as he travels the world to find the truth behind the protein myth; that we supposedly need animal protein to survive. The trailer was only released yesterday, so do check it out below.

Some of the characters featured in the film will perhaps be familiar if you have seen Cowspiracy and What The Health, but there are plenty more newer faces on the ever expanding vegan scene, telling their stories and setting inspiring examples that show that a plant based diet is no hindrance to peak physical performance; in fact it is just the opposite.

Check out The Game Changers website, and sign up for updates to find out more.  This film is going to be huge!  We can't wait to see the full movie.  

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

V Kids

Isn't it weird how the traditional fairy tales most of us were brought up on are full of violence, crime and generally horrible stuff?  Parents quite happily read Little Red Riding Hood to their little ones whilst not really stopping to think about the murder of the grandmother!  What about Hansel and Gretel with its child abduction or the bullying in Cinderella?

Buddy the loveable pigletThese stories are so well ingrained into our society that few people question it.  Those that do may well argue that it is all part of slowly introducing our children to the real world and to learn morals.  That's fair enough I suppose but then it is an even funnier world in which we live if parents settle down at bedtime to read The Three Little Pigs to their kids having just served them up a sausage supper.  Animal agriculture is no fairy tale, but should it be represented as such given the subject matter of many traditional stories?  The plain truth is whilst some subject matters are cloaked within children's stories, the abuse of animals is largely ignored (apart from the seemingly accepted abuse of the big bad wolf).

We don't have kids but I do have nieces who are both being brought up vegetarian in Alaska.  They also love books so I am always on the look out for inspiring books to send them that break the normally misrepresented values in society.  I was delighted therefore to hear of a Cornish vegan author who is doing just that.

Chloe the stroppy teenage sheepV Kids are a series of vegan story books and pre-school stories that focus on and aim to open the eyes of children to the relationship between humans and animals.  Although ultimately enjoyable and positive these books are not afraid to tackle the sensitive subject of how animals are used to supply the meat and dairy industry in an honest but considerate way.  It's an important balance to strike when it comes to kids and also, let's face it some adults too.  If you make things too harrowing, however truthful, people of all ages will more than often turn off and go into denial.

The V Kids Animal Sanctuary series is aimed at 8-13 year olds and follows the adventures of Lou Lou and Lawrie as their contact with a  piglet called Buddy leads them to embark on an ambitious plan to set up their very own animal sanctuary.  So far there are five books written in the series with each book seeing the young animal campaigners rescuing a new animal each time; from a stroppy teenage sheep to a chicken with a sense of style.  There is also an accompanying vegan recipe book inspired by the characters in the stories.

For younger readers, and available for pre-order soon, are the pre-school V Kids books.  These are written in humorous rhyme with colourful illustrations to accompany, and are aimed at 18 months to 6 years.  With a slightly less direct approach they still aim to encourage questions about the relationship between humans and animals.

Lisa Hart is the author and founder of V Kids.  Lisa is a former primary school teacher who also studied children's literature at university.  As a vegan herself she was inspired to write the books for her own 9 year old daughter who is a pescatarian.  She wanted to find a gentle way to inspire her daughter to become vegan through her own choice rather than feeling like she should because her mother is.

The books are self published by Lisa and available for pre-ordering currently.  She aims to release one book per month so any pre-orders will be sent out at the end of each month.  For more details on, or to order the V Kids books please do check out the V Kids website.  The website also includes details on pre-school clubs that V Kids are currently busy setting up too.

Thursday, 8 February 2018

It's Nuts To Eat Ice Cream In This Weather!

It is the weather for voolly (vegan woolly) hats and gloves, inside out umbrellas and ducks at the moment.  It is certainly not the weather for ice cream; unless you're us of course.  We are not ones to stick to seasonal food dictates, so when I picked up an old copy of Veganlife magazine from August 2017 and happened upon a recipe for pistachio ice cream there was no way the pounding hail against the window was going to put me off making it.

I nearly got put off making it however when I saw the price of pistachio nut butter;  one of the defining ingredients in the recipe.  It was £7 for a small jar!  However with only 3 tablespoons of the nut butter needed for just one tub, and one jar able to make 3 tubs, it works out cheaper than shop bought vegan ice cream offerings out there.  

Taste wise too; well we are just about to make our third tub so that should answer that one!  Hmmm, I feel an addiction coming on, as well as an empty jar of pistachio nut butter!

The recipe is a simple mix of soya milk (I used hemp though), soya cream (I used Oatly), the aforementioned pistachio butter and sugar (I used coconut sugar), with a sprinkling of chopped pistachios added whilst churning it.  It is more than the sum of its parts believe me; proving that you don't have to include a massive amount of ingredients to achieve tasty results.

Unfortunately it's not my recipe so I am not about to breach copyright and share it in its entirety.  If you have the August 2017 edition of Veganlife magazine though, break it out and have a gander on page 94 and there you will find it. 

Failing that the good news is that the original recipe is from a rather interesting book called 'The Best Homemade Vegan Cheese and Ice Cream Recipes'.   Even the compiling of just cheese and ice cream recipes in one book is an unusual concept and to see it includes such recipes as kombucha cheese is peaking my interest even more, and I may end up grabbing a copy myself.  

Ice cream weather it might not be but we will be eating this pistachio ice cream every day given the choice.  We might just have to save up for another pot of pistachio nut butter first though (or start making our own)!

Friday, 2 February 2018

Vegan - Fad or Lifetime Commitment?

Poll from The VegFest Express Online Magazine Poll 

With Veganuary now over the question will be how many participants will remain vegan and how many will return to their old way of living?  We know from previous Veganuary’s and also a recent poll by The VegFest Express Online Magazine, that quite a few people do continue as vegans and of those that don’t many end up at least making changes to their old way of eating and living.  The latter is the case with a colleague.  

He was an unlikely candidate for Veganuary so I was pleasantly surprised when he told me he was trying it.  I was delighted too with the way he threw himself into it and we’ve had many good conversations over the past month.  He made me a vegan cake as a thank you for my help and support and I shared the fact that I was proud of him for trying it.

Here’s the thing though.  It kills me that he’s not a ‘remainer’.  I’m not going to give him a hard time about it as I truly believe everyone has to find their own path.  I am pleased he at least tried it and will be a ‘reducer’.  I don’t get it though.  I really don’t get it.  Once you have successfully tried and survived on a plant based diet; once you have opened your eyes to the environmental advantages and once you have discovered the horrors of the animal industry, how can you go backwards?  That is the biggest kicker for me; how can you unlearn those things?

I have long term friends who were staunch vegans but are no longer.  I have a mental block in understanding, comprehending and analysing how they could have been so heavily absorbed in the reasons for being vegan but then have so easily ‘unlearnt’ that or ignored it years later.  I am by no means having a ‘pop’ at my colleague, my friends or any ‘non-remainer’ who took part in Veganuary.  After all any attempts to look into and try a vegan diet should be applauded.  I am merely expressing and trying to come to terms with something that for me seems to belong to another planet. 

I love Phil deeply for many reasons but one of them is that I know he totally gets what I mean and we discuss this frequently.  There is no way on this earth, or any other for that matter, that us two long term vegans would be anything but vegan.  For both of us we knew that the moment we went vegan.  The harsh realities that set us on that vegan path, which back 30 years ago were more centred on the sheer cruelty involved, couldn’t ever be forgotten or unlearnt.  All the other positive reasons to follow a plant based diet, including health, environmental and humanitarian, were wonderful bonuses discovered along that early journey.  Films such as Cowspiracy and What the Health have certainly highlighted the environmental and health reasons in the modern vegan world.  Many people have connected with this and become vegan as a result but are these then the vegans that stray from the path?  After all even the healthiest health freak indulges in that naughty cake every now and then, and the staunchest of environmentalists may buy a 5p plastic bag on the occasional unexpected shopping trip when the bags for life were forgotten.

What of the vegan that has truly, deeply, desperately and heartbreakingly connected with the mind of the animal in its final moments of its short life before it becomes another part of a packaged part of flesh?  Possibly that deeply embedded and shared pain is what sorts out the temporary vegan from the life vegan?  Surely once you’ve opened your heart to that and had it broken you would never be anything but vegan?  

Veganuary is an amazing gateway.  The sheer increase in the amount of interest in Veganuary the media has shown this year has certainly propelled veganism into the mainstream and the consciousness of many more people.  That is the important part as that leads to exploration and education into plant based living with people then connecting with it on various levels; and one level leads to others.  Which level however may possibly be the deciding factor as to whether they remain vegan in the long term or not.  It is the difference between a fad and a deep and compassionate understanding of the true impact that a plant based diet can have on your own life as well as many many other sentient beings.  Either way, I will continue to encourage and support anyone that shows an interest in a plant based diet, be delighted by anyone that remains a life vegan and no doubt continue to be perplexed by those that don't.

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Jack in the Veg Box

Jackfruit seems to be taking over the vegan meat substitute world these days, with one national supermarket even stocking a prepackaged Sweet and Smoky BBQ Pulled Jackfruit and BBQ jackfruit sandwiches popping up on many a vegan restaurant menu now.

Back in 2002 we were in Southern India and frequently bought fruit from the local ladies for a healthy breakfast.  Our most gregarious and therefore successful seller/buyer relationship was with Lily.  Her small stature and flashing white smile belied the demon businesswoman she was.  She would have given Alan Sugar a run for his money for sure.  One day she said she would get us some jackfruit, something she didn't have as regular 'stock'.  True to her word she did and the three of us sat down on the beach to share and devour this huge fruit.  That was an example of how good a saleswoman she was; we bought it and we all shared it!  Not that we begrudged it in the very least, especially as the prices she charged were not only cheap but also far from ripping off the local tourists (but maybe we got mates rates?!).  Either way we were more than happy to 'buy local' and get the enigmatic smile of Lily thrown in for free.  

To us back then jackfruit was just a tasty tropical fruit.  Who would have thought all these years later that it would have become such a vegan staple.  I wonder what Lily would make of all that now?  You don't see fresh jackfruit much around these parts due to its size and tropical origins, but it is becoming widely available in tins.  We've even seen tins of organic jackfruit recently, and the price can vary considerably.  If you have a local 'world foods' type store nearby, they will be sure to have some.

The most familiar guise of jackfruit in the vegan world today seems to be in BBQ pulled jackfruit sandwiches but it is equally suitable for many other dishes such as creamy curries, Mexican tacos, or Chinese inspired stir fries.  We've recently been taking the BBQ jackfruit idea and adding it to the top of pizzas.  With our friend from Vegan Laptop Lunchbox coming round for a natter and showering us in jackfruit gifts, we've had plenty to experiment with too.

So as tasty as a pulled jackfruit sandwich might be, there are many more options to explore with this versatile fruit.  This Vegan Food and Living page is a great place to start but any web search will turn up a multitude of options too.  It's time to think outside the jackfruit box!

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Wave Energy and Vitamin FA

Much is spoken about the nutritional value of food and lifestyle choices these days.  We should or shouldn't eat this or that, we should take this or that supplement, we should or shouldn't do this or that thing.  Whatever.  Undoubtedly though there are a couple of things that us vegans should be considering, as good as our diets may be.  

Some of you may get your vegan health essentials in other ways equally as valuable to body and mind, but for us we couldn't live without our Cornish Wave Energy.  There just seems to be such an energising and soothing feeling when you take the time to watch those waves roll in, or in Phil's case, ride them in.  Perhaps that is one of the main reasons many people head to the coast for holidays. 

Vitamin FA may be one vitamin that is not talked about too much in the medical journals and for good reason.  The pharma business surely would not want you to know about such essential nutritional values as it is totally free and of no monetary value to any big business venture.  It is super important though.  Vitamin FA is indeed Fresh Air.  Okay, so fresh air isn't an actual vitamin but its health benefits are very real, along with the very real and beneficial ability to grab some essential Vitamin D from being outdoors.  

Put Wave Energy and Vitamin FA together and you 'double your money' as it seems that these wonderful things called negative ions (which seem misnamed if you ask me) are in their highest concentration around moving water.  Scientific research claims that negative ions can reduce fatigue, depression, seasonal affective disorder and colds; amongst other debilitating mental and physical symptoms.

How many of us get a good dose of fresh air and daylight on a regular basis, especially at this time of year?  I know that, with all the inclement weather we have recently been experiencing, I feel I haven't been getting enough fresh air and daylight and the messy sea offerings haven't exactly given Phil much chance to recharge his wave energy.  

With this in mind therefore, at any opportunity to 'get out there', we will.  Phil has managed a couple of surfs here and there the last week and we have both been out stomping our home patch when the rain stops falling and the wind stops blowing sand sideways into our faces.  Physically it felt great and, with beautiful waves to gaze at, seals, choughs and oyster catchers to observe and wonder at, it was more than a breath of fresh air.  Mentally it allowed us to clear away some of those winter cobwebs of the mind and peer through to the not so distant spring.  

For details on stockists of Vitamin FA®, Wave Energy® and Negative Ions®, follow the link* to the outside world.  

* PS. There is no link.  Just step away from the computer, open the door and go outside!  It isn't Trade Marked and doesn't cost a thing!

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Jo's Vegan Nosh

If there is one book you should get this Veganuary it's Jo's Vegan Nosh. On the merits of the tasty, comforting but predominantly simple vegan recipes it contains alone it is a must (and actually a very cheap buy at just £5).  However there is more to it than that. 

Jo's Vegan Nosh is a collection of recipes devised by Jo or donated to Jo by friends and family over the years and now collated in her memory.  All the proceeds from the sale go to organisations helping animals and the Penny Brohn Cancer Support charity.  Some of you may have known Jo as Jo Badger or her real name, Joanna Robertson.  She sadly died of cancer in 2013 at the young age of 36.  Regardless of whether you knew Jo or not you should know that this book represents a small part of what she was about, and how many people knew and loved her.  I can vouch for that as I spent time with Jo many years ago 'in the field' and although we moved in separate directions, her east and me west, and lost touch, I will always remember the sheer determination, energy, love, dedication, braveness and compassion Jo showed to whomever and whatever, furry or not, crossed her path. 

This book is a treasure to me now and every time I cook a recipe from it I will think of Jo.  I bought copies for a couple of mutual friends too as I know they will treasure it also.  

If you knew Jo you will either have already bought this book or upon reading this I'm sure you will now.  If you didn't know Jo, please do buy a copy anyway as the likes of Jo don't come along that much and her legacy is something definitely worth supporting.  The recipes are damn tasty too.

You can buy copies from either the Viva! online shop, Animal Aid's online shop, from Ebay or for an increasing list of stockists around the country and more information visit Jo's Vegan Nosh Facebook page.

Wednesday, 3 January 2018

Giving It Some Welly

I know, I know, the festive season is over so why am I putting this post up?  Well, we don't need Christmas as an excuse to have a good nosh up and we do love our roasts regardless of the season.  

I happened across this festive recipe on line for Portabello Mushroom Wellington before Christmas (the video below popped up on my Facebook feed) and I fully intended to make it for Christmas dinner but then we happened upon a Tofurky roast and succumbed.  Instead I made this for New Year's Day dinner and it was lovely, especially so as the chestnuts we used were foraged ones that we had previously cooked up and squirrelled away in the freezer.  It makes enough to feed a few Phil's so we have leftovers to enjoy too (another excuse for a roast tonight me thinks!).

So Christmas may be over but that is no excuse to not enjoy some wonderful filling winter warmers like this one!  We highly recommend it.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Vegan Christmas Cards

It is December so I reckon it is okay to mention the C word now (not that I haven't already).  Besides time is creeping on and if you want to do that whole Christmas card thing, it's about time you got on with it!  

Although I don't go mad with cards, I do like to send some.  However, I do struggle finding ones that fit how I feel about the season.  Not so this year as, with complete delight, I discovered a set of wonderfully bright, bold and very vegan Christmas cards in a shop in Glastonbury.  I've found out more about them since. 

The Seasonal Veggies range of Christmas cards by Go La La (pictured at the top) comes in 8 different designs created by a dedicated vegan.  You can read more about them in the link above, including how to buy them direct from the website and details on how to get your own local retailer to stock them.  Alternatively you can purchase any of the 8 designs from EBay.

There are it seems a few other options for vegan Christmas cards on the market too now.  Spreading the love around, I also chose to buy some from the Viva! website, one of which is pictured on the left.  With the bright colourful typographical vegan messages including 'Avo Merry Vegan Christmas', they were hard to resist. Do check out Viva's entire range from the link above.

I didn't just send these cards to vegans.  Of course I know it will put a smile on the faces of those vegans I did send to. I am also however hoping that these cards will stand out on the mantelpieces of the non-vegans too and just spread a little vegan thought throughout the festive season and beyond.

Here's to a more compassionate season to all creatures over the Festive period and beyond.