Monday, 30 September 2013

Post Punk Kitchen Peanut Butter Blondies

I can't quite believe that it's already the end of VeganMoFo 2013! The month seems to have gone by so fast, and there are so many things I was planning on posting that I simply didn't get around to. However, one thing I can say for sure is that taking part this year has really kicked me into gear as far as blogging is concerned, and I'm definitely planning on keeping this blog going as a regular thing.

To finish up, there's one recipe that I really want to share with you that really is a favourite in my home, although it's not one that I came up with myself: peanut butter blondies from the Post Punk Kitchen (PPK). This recipe is so simple to make, and deliciously peanut buttery, it's become a real go-to recipe from my vegan dessert/cake repertoire. Someone on the PPK forums suggested a while back to use chocolate chips as a topping which in this instance I chose to do in addition to the peanuts from the original recipe, and it's so delicious!

Vegans and the badger cull

If you live in the United Kingdom, chances are that you'll have heard something about the badger cull which is currently taking place in south-west England. As I have said before in a previous blog post, I am an ethical vegan, so my concern for animal rights extends well beyond the food that I eat, which is why I think that the badger cull really should be considered to be a serious issue for vegans.


Saturday, 28 September 2013

Arctic Activists, Verdant Veg and Baked Beans

This is going to be quite a short post as I'm feeling pretty tired out this weekend and have a lot of work to catch up on after working hard on getting a protest together in Edinburgh to show solidarity with the crew of the Greenpeace ship the Arctic Sunrise, who are being detained without trial in Russia right now after their ship was illegally boarded and seized in international waters last week. If you could take a moment to write to the Russian ambassador asking for their release, regardless of where you are in the world, I would be very grateful:

Anyway, back to vegan food! Today's subjects are veg boxes and baked beans (yum):

Thursday, 26 September 2013

What does a vegan barbeque look like?

Before I went to Brazil earlier this year, I had a barbeque party in the communal garden at the rear of my flat, and everything was vegan! It was an amazing afternoon and we had a fantastic time.

Sometimes people wonder what vegans could possibly eat at a barbeque, so I'm happy to share that this is what a vegan barbeque can look like:

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Broccoli, mushroom and sundried tomato pizza

Today, I finally got hold of a book I've been looking forward to for a couple of months now: Vegan Pizza by Julie Hasson, published earlier this month, when it arrived at my wonderful local, independent and radical bookshop, Word Power Books. Whilst I was growing up in London, pizza night was always the most excitedly-anticipated night of the week for me, food-wise, and after I went vegan, one of the happiest moments of my early vegan experiences was trying vegan pizza and realising that it could actually be just as good, if not better, than non-vegan pizza. Needless to say, I was super excited about the release of this new cookbook.

Monday, 23 September 2013

The wonderful world of vegan podcasting

Before I went vegan, I never really listened to many podcasts apart from BBC Radio 4's weekly Friday Night Comedy podcast. However, as a new vegan in the midst of trying to learn as much as I could about animal rights and veganism, I began listening to and subscribing to quite a few vegan podcasts. Being a vegan can sometimes feel quite lonely, especially if you don't have huge numbers of supportive vegan friends around, and I've definitely found that listening to podcasts can really help me to feel that I'm part of a much wider community of people who care about animal rights around the world and are doing something to try and change things for the better. I've tried a few different ones, and have ended up with four podcasts that I really like and listen to regularly, so I thought I would share them here with you for VeganMoFo 2013.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Couchsurfing hints and tips for vegans

I haven't posted anything for the last few days as I've been away in England, where I was giving a paper at an Oral History Network conference at the University of Warwick. Normally when I'm visiting that part of the country I will try and stay with my awesome friends Sam and Anna in Birmingham, but as they were away whilst I was there, I ended up staying with someone through couchsurfing.

I have only been a member of the couchsurfing website since 2012, so the vast majority of my couchsurfing experiences have been since I went vegan, and I'm happy to say that so far I've had no problems being either a host or a surfer. There are definitely a few things that I've found have made life easier when couchsurfing as a vegan though, so I thought I'd share them here:

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Supporting Vegan Prisoners

I wanted to write this post during VeganMoFo 2013 as it's something I've been thinking about a lot over the last year or so as I've become more aware of vegan issues and animal rights, and last week the blog post I read from the Crabby Crafter about her prison-style serving plates finally prompted me into action.

Those who know me in person will be aware that I am a political activist, although so far I have predominantly active with peace and environmental campaigns rather than vegan/animal rights ones, and this shapes a large part of my life. So much so, in fact, that my research project for my PhD, which I am currently about halfway through, involves interviewing activists in Scotland for their life stories and then working with these to understand more about their lives and campaigns. Some of the activists that I have interviewed have spent time in prison, although most have not. Despite the fact that going to prison is not something that I plan to do at any time in the near or indeed distant future, hearing about other people's experiences has really prompted me to consider how vegans may cope in prison.

Say (vegan) cheese!

I just thought I would write a quick blog post as I've just got home from visiting some friends and family in the south of England, and whilst I was down in London I went to pick up some vegan cheese at Vx in King's Cross, as there is a much better selection down there than I've been able to find in Scotland so far. As you can probably see from the photo, it is possible I went a little overboard with the vegan cheese buying:

Friday, 13 September 2013

We need to talk about tacos ...

Have you already heard of the Taco Cleanse? If not, you're missing out!

In summary, for VeganMoFo this year, a group of vegans in Austin, Texas are trying out a new "cleanse" diet for one month, all in the name of science, but rather than just being some kind of liquid/juice-based cleanse, the Taco Cleanse really is what is says on the tin: every meal, every day should contain some form of taco.

In case you need any help understanding how the Taco Cleanse works, Austin-based vegan blogger Lazy Smurf has produced a handy diagram explaining the different levels which participants can aim for, and some of the likely health benefits of doing so:

Credit: Lazy Smurf (

Thursday, 12 September 2013

September Vegan Night at the Bread Street Brasserie

If you live in Scotland and haven't yet been to one of the fantastic vegan nights at the Bread Street Brasserie in Edinburgh, I seriously suggest you give it a try! I've been to two so far, one in June and one tonight, and the quality has been superb both times, and very good value at just £15 for a three course meal.

The way it works is you get a menu with three different choices for each course, so you get a decent range of choices as to what you can have. Each of the two times I've been to this vegan night, I've been along with a non-vegan, and they've both been seriously impressed with the choices and the quality of the food.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Enjoying homemade guacamole

One of my serious pet peeves about the United Kingdom is that most of the guacamole you can buy ready-made in shops and supermarkets is not vegan, usually because it has some kind of animal milk product added to it such as cream. This used to annoy me a lot when I first went vegan, right up until I discovered how easy it is to make really delicious guacamole yourself at home, and how much nicer it tastes!

I've tried making a few different recipes from other people online, but none of them were quite right for me, so I came up with this one:

Recipe: Really Easy Guacamole

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Product Review: Organically Yours Vegan Meats

At the Portobello Village Show on Saturday, I bought some vegan meats from Organically Yours, an Edinburgh-based food company specialising in providing for those on allergen-free diets. I bought one of their 'Better 4 U Vegetarian Burgers' and a packet of 'Happy Pig Vegetarian Spare Ribs'. I would be the first to admit that, in the packets at least, they didn't look too appetising:

Organically Yours Better 4 U Vegetarian Burger
Organically Yours Happy Pig Vegetarian Spare Ribs

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Portobello Village Show and Braised Tofu Wraps

I'm back home in Edinburgh! It's really nice to be back, not least because I've had so much cat love already. As much as I did enjoy travelling in Brazil, it's been a real relief to finally get back home to my flat and my own space again after nearly two months away.

For my first day back in Scotland, I didn't do very much except wander on down to the Portobello Village Show organised by Portobello Open Door (POD) for the afternoon. This was a lot of fun, and I particularly enjoyed the 'Best Dressed Vegetable' competition, as well as some of the great entries for the 'Recycled Pet' competition:

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Cats I met on my travels!

After my last rather grumpy blog post about problems I had getting vegan food with British Airways, I promised something more cheerful next for the Vegan Month of Food 2013, and as one of the suggested blogging topics on the official VeganMoFo blog is to post a cat picture (seriously), I thought I'd share a few photos of some cats I met on my travels in Brazil this year!

First of all, a cat I happened to pass on the road in the Jardim Botânico district of Rio de Janeiro:

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Some jerk ate my dinner! The story of my stolen supper

As you may have guessed from the title, I have some quite strong feelings about the subject of this blog post.

To give you some background, before I went to Brazil, I hadn't been in an aeroplane for over eight years, which was also before I went vegan, although I was already vegetarian by that point. In general, I remember the vegetarian food on board being pretty poor in quality, and having problems getting any vegetarian food at all on at least one occasion.

Despite having this in mind when boarding the plane, on the flight out to Rio de Janeiro with British Airways, I was pleasantly surprised to find that not only was it simple and straightforward to order a vegan meal in advance, but that the food provided was really very good! I enjoyed some excellent couscous and vegetables, a lentil salad, a tomato and vegetable panini and much more besides. However, this post is about the experience I had last night and today on the return trip flying back home from Rio, which was significantly less enjoyable.

Lunch at Vegana Chacara, Rio de Janeiro

Today was my last day in Brazil before I head back home to the UK. In preparation for going back, we had some real Scottish-style weather here in Rio de Janeiro, so I was very happy that I managed to get up the Corcovado yesterday rather than waiting until today!

After yesterday's visit to Vegan Vegan, I had already eaten at two of the three vegan restaurants in Botafogo, so it seemed clear to me that the obvious choice for lunch today was to go to the last one, Vegana Chacara. I didn't realise until I got there that they are sister restaurants with very similar and health-conscious menus, so I'm afraid today's post will be a little similar to yesterday's! However, it was a great lunch and, if anything, I preferred Vegana Chacara to Vegan Vegan.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Lunch at Vegan Vegan, Rio de Janeiro

I've got to Rio de Janeiro safe and sound, where I'm staying with a really lovely family and their two beautiful cats that I met through couchsurfing, which is one of my favourite ways to travel and get to know a city. Carol, her husband Nando and their two children live in a neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro called Botafogo, which is particularly handy for me as there just so happen to be three vegan restaurants in the area. I felt sure that I was going to get along with them from the moment I spotted this stuck to their fridge:

Monday, 2 September 2013

Seeing animals in Brazil

Although this is the Vegan Month of Food, for me it's very important to be clear that, as an ethical vegan, my commitment to animal rights and the impact this has on my life extends well beyond just my food choices. I don't wear clothes made from animal-sourced materials such as wool, leather or silk. I chose to get my two beautiful cats from a rescue organisation rather than buying them from a pet shop or breeder. I try not to use idioms which reinforce ideas about the acceptability of animal exploitation. I don't go to zoos.

This last ethical choice often comes as a surprise to non-vegans. When it comes down to it, zoos don't kill animals in order to function, after all; indeed, they often claim to be protecting them through captive breeding programs and awareness-raising initiatives. I am sure that there will even be other fellow vegans reading this who agree with that view.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

What I've been eating in Manaus

Happy VeganMoFo! This is my first post in what I hope will be a very active and interesting month of blogging about veganism.

Whilst I've been in Manaus in Brazil for the last fortnight, I've been staying at the home of the wonderful Narhuna from Greenpeace with her and her family, so for pretty much all of my time here I've been eating in their house for breakfast and dinner, and having lunch in the canteen of the Greenpeace office, where I have been volunteering during the week.

As being vegan is much less common here than in the United Kingdom, getting vegan food has been slightly harder here than it is in the Greenpeace office in London, where all the food served is always vegetarian, with plenty of vegan options. On the first day I was here, there was very little I could eat in the canteen except plain rice and salad! There is definitely a lesson there in the importance of telling people you are vegan in advance of arriving somewhere that you're not sure what the vegan options will be like.