Wednesday 30 January 2013

30 Days of Vegetarian: Day 15 - Halfway!

So today marks the halfway mark of my 30 day challenge. I have to say I have not felt tempted very much at all, even today when I was at a market research session and the light refreshments they offered were 90% meat. I didn't look at them twice and was more than happy with my fruit and vegetable wrap which was pretty crappily made as well...Literally a bunch of vegetables in a badly wrapped wrap.

However, I did end up chatting with a fellow vegetarian there and I was surprised to hear he has never had meat in his life. Vegetarian since birth. Interestingly, his girlfriend was a massive meat eater when he met her three years ago and now she is vegetarian. Which made me think, I am pretty fussy about who I date and if I don't think I could date a meat eater as I think that constant temptation would be too much for me to handle. So now I would need to find an attractive, successful, funny vegetarian gay guy! I mean, the options were already narrow to begin with - now I need to add vegetarian to the list? Might as well start investing in cats from now!

I was looking at a vegetarian friendly group earlier and someone posted this "ice cream" recipe with just using bananas! I love bananas so super excited to try this out! Have posted the picture below if anyone else is interested in making it!

Tuesday 29 January 2013

30 Days of Vegetarian: Day 14 - Happy Cow...Happy My!

Today has been a big eating out day, lunch, snack and dinner.

Lunch was a falafel wrap at Trios where I discovered I do in fact love falafel but have no love for hummous. Really not my cup of tea. I sampled the 'chicken nuggets' at Lord of The Fries - which I don't know if it's obvious to people is strictly vegetarian and vegan 'fast food'. I am quite tempted to try their burgers next time I am around one.
However, both these meals did not really satisfy me. So I don't think I will be visiting them anytime soon. It will be more of a necessity than a desire.

For dinner, I used the Happy Cow app on my phone and discovered Mr. Natural Vegetarian Pizza in St Kilda. Happy Cow is a pretty good app; it lists all vegetarian, vegan or vegetarian friendly food places nearby with reviews, directions and links. Kind of like Urban Spoon but more suited to my needs.

Going on to the food, I was torn between the pumpkin pizza and the broccoli pizza. I ended up choosing the broccoli one which was a mistake. Not that it was bad, but the broccoli and rocket pizza I made last week was by far more superior and delicious. I will say the pizza was so filling I couldn't even finish it!

Tomorrow is my half way mark and feeling pretty confident. Hopefully these are not famous last words!

Monday 28 January 2013

30 Days of Vegetarian: Day 13 - Bullseye!

So this goes where and then I...
Today involved my first social outing with the Vegetarian Victoria group and it was a two hour archery session in Kew. It's funny, I started feeling a bit nervous as I approached as I knew absolutely no one. It felt like being the new kid at school and figuring out which table you should sit at. Fortunately, everyone was very friendly and there was a mixture of vegetarians, vegans and the in-betweens with various years practising. Needless to say, I was the baby of the group.

The archery was a lot of fun. Managed to score four bullseyes. Of course, I shot about 70-80 times so not a great ratio. Few arrow burns and sore fingers but fun overall. I found the irony of a bunch of vegetarians aiming for a bullseye worth a giggle or two.

I did manage to get a few tips on places to eat at and stuff, and a very useful website called Happy Cow which shows you all the vegan/vegetarian friendly restaurants wherever you are. Quite a few of the people there swore by it so have downloaded the app and will be using it over the next few weeks and see how we go!

Dinner tonight was Florentine Tortellini with spinach and garlic. Quick and easy and although not pleasing to the eye, it was very filling and delicious.

Meat cravings have been minimal. It's funny, the amount of times I had declared no more junk food in the past and literally two days later, I would be back at KFC. I take it a step further and say no meat and I have no problems doing it - maybe it's the fact I've gone public with it and there is a lot more invested. Either way, I am beginning feel better so that's a positive.

30 Days of Vegetarian: Day 12 - The Brilliant Madame K

So in the last 12 days I have been doing a lot of reading and research into vegetarianism and checking out the vegetarian communities. On a whole, it has been good and interesting but there is that small group of people who believe that being a vegetarian makes them better than other people and the holier than thou attitude does not sit well with me.

The offending photo
A fan reaction
For example, there was a photo of a North Melbourne football player eating a kangaroo burger as part of a Grill'd campaign. One vegetarian decided to get rid of all her North Melbourne FC memorabilia (with "Kangaroo Killer" scrawled all over it) and throw it in the bin, then take a photo of it and vent her disgust. Yes everyone is entitled to their opinions but don't start preaching your cause, especially to those who are converted or borderline converted. It's a sure fire way to make people turn the other way.

For dinner today I went to Madame K's Vegetarian on Brunswick St in Fitzroy and it was by far the best vegetarian place I have been to. Went along with a friend who has been vegan for a number of year and we chatted about a few animal rights issues and stuff. She has also referred me to Fry's Vegetarian non-meat meat products like....popcorn chicken!!!! My one weakness has been battled and won. Although I have to try it first but she said her husband loves it so I have high hopes!

But anyway, going back to Madame K's; taking all things into consideration, including price, variety, ambience and quality of food it was amazing. I had the Vegetarian Oyster Sauce, which was stir-fried mushroom made lamb with snow peas, onions, shallots and bean served with brown rice. It was absolutely to die for and so filling. I sadly didn't have room in my 'pudding stomach' to try the Banana Roti with berry sauce and ice-cream :( But next time for sure.

Sunday 27 January 2013

30 Days of Vegetarian: Day 11 - Temple Grandin

Going on a friend's recommendation, I watched Temple Grandin (movie) last night. Temple Grandin is a doctor of animal science at Colorado State University. She also has autism (when Dustin Hoffman was researching his role in Rainman, Temple is who he spoke with). In a time when autism was still 'the great unknown' Temple was able to use the anxieties of feeling threatened by her everyday surroundings to create better welfare for animals.

She believed that the worst thing you can do to an animal is to make it feel afraid and how animals use their emotions, including how they use them to predict the future. She used all the above to introduce designs for sweeping, curved corrals which intended to reduce stress in animals being led to slaughter.

Temple has received some criticism about her work, especially as the animals are still killed for their meat. But let's be honest, brutally honest; these animals will be killed. As much as people would like it, I do not believe we will ever reach a time when everyone stops eating meat or stops wearing leather. But to be able to help lower the anxieties these animals have and attempt at giving them a better "life" is the next best thing. And no one seems to have done more to help this cause than Temple.

If anyone is interested more about this inspiring woman and the work she has done on livestock behaviour, design of facilities and human slaughter of animals, click here.

Saturday 26 January 2013

30 Days of Vegetarian: Day 10 - Falafel Love

Sadly, not much to report on today. Obviously I kept my distance from any meaty substances. Found a place in Southbank food court that makes an awesome felafel salad. Haven't had felafel in many many years, forgotten how awesome it can be! Although I did find it annoying that there was so much tomato in it. I hate tomato. I can eat it when it's mixed in with other vegetables but I probably had the equivalent of a whole tomato left when I had finished the salad. But if that's my only food gripe today then I think I am doing very well.

I'm quite surprised by the misconception a lot of people - including myself - have about vegetarians thinking they can only not eat meat, when in reality, a proper vegetarian stays away from all animal derived products - eggs and dairy. Vegans on the other hand, include this but also make it a lifestyle choice with cosmetics and clothes and the rest. If I am wrong, someone correct me!

That's it today folks...officially one third of the way and feeling pretty good about it!

Friday 25 January 2013

30 Days of Vegetarian: Day 9 - Even Milk Isn't Safe!

So now that I am getting some routine in my life, I am eating properly...for lunch today I had a pumpkin, eggplant, cheese, capsicum, caramelised onion focaccia with basil pesto at Centro Espresso which is a cafe near my work. Wasn't too bad...I did have a wander around neighbouring stores to see what other food options I have available to me, and I spotted one place's pretty intense looking falafel salad. That's tomorrow sorted.

Had to dash to a friend's book launch straight after work so dinner was a few slices of vegetarian pizza. Nothing exciting but was in a rush and starving so had to settle for that. In the past, it would have been a few dim sims, KFC or something like that. And I definitely have those thoughts at times, and talking about it doesn't help! What do you do when you have that craving and you see that damn colonel staring right back at you. Or, like what happened to me the other day, a girl gets on a train and sits right next to me and begins eating popcorn chicken KFC - My ONE weakness! I'm having the beginnings of an internal Family Guy Chicken Fight!

In non-food related news, I came across Animals Australia and their petition to demand animals not be treated as waste product as a lot of calves are after they are born. The video below is pretty harrowing to watch. I didn't think anything since Earthlings would get to me but it seems to be constant, this abuse to animals. And the video below refers to producing milk, has nothing to do with the cow being killed for its meat. I don't understand how such practises can continue and people not doing anything about it.

Wednesday 23 January 2013

30 Days of Vegetarian: Day 8 - Mexican Beauties

Had dinner at Mamasita tonight with three friends and between us we were vegetarian, gluten free and dairy free so they really had their work cut out for them. Fortunately, the guys at Mamasita are extremely accommodating and were pretty much able to meet most of our needs within their menu. 

Started off with the to die for corn and then we got platters to share including the buñuelos de garbanzos (Chickpea fritters, heirloom tomatoes, zucchini & jalapeño herb sauce - pictured below) and the enchiladitas de queso y papas (Goat’s cheese & potato stuffed tortillas, blackbean arbol sauce & cress salad)

Great platter, just too spicy for my sensitive buds :(

Fortunately I didn't need to pronounce these names. Everything was delicious and even though there was a couple clearly eating some meat dishes next to us, I did not once think about the beef or lamb options that I would usually readily have. 

I still don't know if I will continue with the vegetarian in me once the 30 days are up but if the food is always as good as this could be, including the variety that was on offer, then it certainly makes the decisions a bit easier!

Currently on the lookout for any CBD situated vegetarian restaurants, so if anyone knows of any, hit me up!

Tuesday 22 January 2013

30 Days of Vegetarian: Day 7 - In My Grill('d)

Nothing exciting to report today actually. Had a pretty busy day/night so no time to watch or read anything. However, at work I did discuss with a few people Earthlings and even my description about it was enough for them to be 'grossed out' by it. Yet they said they would not watch it and continue eating meat because 'that sort of thing doesn't really happen here' and even though I don't have anything to show it does, I feel confident that it does. But I guess it just goes to show people will believe what they want to believe as long as it suits them.

Had to rush to review a play straight afterwards and was famished by 9:30pm. I was with a very fussy eater so we ended up at Grill'd (and even there, she didn't like the fact that there was a bit of seasoning in the ketchup!) I had their Field of Dreams veggie burger; grilled field mushroom, basil pesto, roasted peppers, tasty cheese, salad and herbed mayo. Was sooo good. Almost better than their chicken burger. Almost.

Did find this short ad on YouTube with their 3 reasons on why people should be vegetarian. And if you can't watch the video, here are the three reasons...

1) Because no one should have to make a living by killing
2 )Because you know this is wrong
3) Because everyone wants to be free

Monday 21 January 2013

30 Days of Vegetarian: Day 6 - The Ugly Truth

Not sure why pic has come out like that!
So not the greatest breakfast and lunch today. Breakfast was two pieces of toast with honey, a banana and an oats slice. Lunch was rice crackers with avocado which I sneakily made at work. I'm having a bit of trouble finding a healthy and filling breakfast. If anyone has any quick and easy vegetarian friendly breakfast ideas that would be fantastic!

I was seriously disturbed by Earthlings, a documentary that looks at animal welfare and cruelty in relation to animal shelters, factory farms, leather and fur trades, sports and entertainment industries, medical and scientific professions and slaughterhouses. It was absolutely horrific in its depictions of how animals are killed for our taste buds. And it is for this reason I urge everyone to watch this, and if you are unable to watch it or choose not to, you need to ask yourself why. Because ignorance is not an acceptable reason for choosing to eat meat.

I'd like to think that the footage they showed us was sensationalistic and just a small percentage of slaughterhouses and so forth treat animals like that but there were so many different examples shown. Even kosher meat, which states is merciful and quick is not and if anything, seemed more horrific and terrifying for the animal. Seeing pigs having their tails, eats, teeth cut off and being castrated with no anaesthetic was almost unbearable to watch. 

But it wasn't just the killing for food I found disturbing, but the way animals are treated for entertainment such as zoos and circus' and medical experiments. It did look like a lot of footage was dated so I would like to hope that in this day and age it is happening less and less and standards are rising but I guess that is something I will need to look into.

What I do know however, is that the more I read and hear such things the more I feel like I will not return to eating meat once the challenge is over and not because I choose not to but because I don't think I would be able to eat it. I don't understand how we can condone such behaviour and I feel that if we had to kill our own meat almost everyone would be a vegetarian. As humans, we must learn empathy for these animals. At a minimum, we should all be ensuring that animal welfare in any environment for any purpose is at its highest possible standards and that should be something everyone agrees on. Vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.

This video was posted on a mate's Facebook, and if you can't watch Earthlings, at least see this. It is only 3 minutes of your life.

Well, I am off to have the leftover of my awesome pizza from last night! Been looking forward to this all day!

Sunday 20 January 2013

30 Days of Vegetarian: Day 5 - Vegetarian Foodgasm

Today it happened. Only took five days but I had my first vegetarian foodgasm. For lunch, I re-made the red bean tortillas from Day 3. Although quick and easy to make, I am not a big fan of it. Might become a sometimes food for me. But my foodgasm came from something I thought would not be that amazing.
Green (broccoli and arugula) pizza with garlic and pesto. The picture online did not look appealing at all but broccoli is my favourite vegetable. was absolutely amazing. Arugula (or rocket) is just perfect for pizza. Really filled me up too. This one is definitely going on the 'favourites' pile.

Bon appétit!

I found this documentary on Vegetarianism and although it was heavy on religions and eating meat - the beginning of it and its discussion on the the ways animals are killed - even in a free range farm - left me feeling quite disturbed. For example, the cruel way that male chicks are killed as they cannot create more chicks and they take longer to grow than their female counterparts.
In the hour I watched this documentary, it stated that 132 000 animals in the US had been slaughtered. And despite not having any statistics to back this up, I genuinely believe that this is likely.

On a lighter note, I also found this commercial promoting vegetarianism. A little bit raunchy but I am sure you can all handle it ;)

As a non-meat challenge, I think I am doing fine. As a lifestyle option, I am beginning to realistically question if I want to be part of a group that kills animals for no other purpose than for its taste. Especially as all the health and nutritional benefits we get from meat can be received from other non-meat food sources. As much as I love my meat perhaps my wants are not always as important as the lives of animals. And when I am discovering and eating the great food above it doesn't seem like such a hard choice to make!

30 Days of Vegetarian: Day 4 - Variety is the Spice of Life

Today was a pretty standard day...apart from going to bed at 5am after watching Paranormal Activity 3 (not recommended) and waking up 11:30am. I had nothing to eat all day except a banana and a muesli bar. Which makes me wonder, I don't have a good diet in general. I don't eat three meals and three snacks a day. I usually have two meals and that's it. If I'm not eating properly then not eating meat and and getting protein and the rest of it must have some negative effects on me. I head back to work on Monday so hopefully early morning routine will sort me out.

For dinner I met a friend visiting from Sydney, who as it turns out, is a big meat fan. We headed to Brunswick St for a bite and I thought I would try and get him to go to the amazing Vegie Bar, which I have been to numerous times as a non-vegetarian and always had great food and service (except this one time, but that's not for here). Sadly, he was hell-bent on steak so we ended up at Cafe Nova where I ordered some fries and the nachos with black beans, salsa, guacamole and cheese. These were the only items on the menu that were meat free (apart from a salad but I needed something more filling). It made me question two things;

At least I know what black beans look like now
a) Is it common or usual for vegetarians to have to sacrifice eating good, tasty food because of their diet? Why is it so hard for people to not eat meat for one evening?  It's almost like being a vegetarian (and a vegan) is looked upon with disdain by our superior meat eaters. And I am not saying that was my experience with my mate, but it did raise the question.

b) I thought vegetarians were so much better catered for in restaurants and cafes. I thought we had just as much variety and choice than our meat eating counterparts? Is there a special menu we need to ask for? Can any meal on the menu be made without meat, do we just have to request it? Do chefs hate us for being picky?

Saturday 19 January 2013

30 Days of Vegetarian: Day 3 - To The Supermarket!

Finally had some time to get to a supermarket and get some food for real diners. A few people told me that once you stop buying meat products you also start saving money - well this grocery shop was just as expensive as my usual one, so not sure if I have done something wrong here? All that you can see on the left cost me $56.75 - and it's not like these things are staples as I am going to have to buy them all again next week!

I did some more research and maybe I was just ignorant or perhaps it's a common misconception but it turns out proper vegetarianism also includes no dairy or eggs. I already don't eat dairy so that's not an issue but interesting that even vegetarian websites seem to include cheese in their recipes.

Dinner tonight was black bean quesadillas. Was quite looking forward to having these as I know how filling and delicious they can be. However, my lack of culinary skills was soon evident when I stared down at all my ingredients and was utterly confused as to what/how I should be preparing it all (it's been a while since I cooked anything). Anyway, the picture below shows the website's image and my results. I'm pretty sure you can tell which is which though.


I couldn't find black beans at the supermarket and with time against me I settled for red kidney beans - which I suspect would give the same result. And no shells, so settled for tortillas. So in fact, I think I ended up having red bean tortillas instead of black bean quesadillas! Was still good though as I hoovered it down!

I found this brilliant documentary through a twitter friend today called Meatwork. In it, the filmmaker - a meat-eater herself - goes to work at an abattoir for five weeks to discuss wether she would eat meat if she had to kill the animal herself. It's graphic but it's not, and I certainly don't know if I could have done it. Which begs the question, if it upset me just by "watching it" then how can I justify eating it? Food for though quite literally...

Thursday 17 January 2013

30 Days of Vegetarian: Day 2 - Swedish Temptations

My friend and I organised to pop my Ikea cherry - she needed extra shelving so we agreed to make an outing and also have lunch there; where I have long been told about Ikea's amazing Swedish meatballs.
Unfortunately this was decided upon last week, - BV (Before Vegetarianism) - so I was unable to sample them, which I was quite gutted about. I had to ask what was on offer for vegetarians as I almost ended up having some fish dish in error and even though there isn't a wide variety of food there, it was disappointing that there was only one vegetarian I settled for pasta with vegetable sauce and a slice of "daim" chocolate cake (the best chocolate bar in the world in my opinion). Ironically, that and my bottle of water was the same price as my garden salad from yesterday!

Ikea cafe - 1 point
Port Melbourne Cafe - 0 points

                              No to swedish meatballs :(

Yes to vegie sauce pasta :)
On a side-note, that cross and tick were the first time I have ever done anything like that in Photoshop before and it took me forever to figure out! Really not as technologically savvy as I thought I was!

It was way too hot today to go supermarket so dinner was pasta and ready made vegetable sauce. Spotting a trend? But I have gone online and found some really interesting vegetarian recipes from Eating Well that I am looking forward to creating. They seem quick and easy and there's even a few foods I have never heard of before; what's an arugula? 

Have gone online looking for any vegetarian related events or groups, and there isn't much. There seems to be a lot of vegan groups but not sure if there is any "hostility" between the two. haha. Even finding a vegetarian cooking class has been hard and still have not been able to find out. There is a vegetarian singles night coming up but I doubt it would cater to a gay audience...but maybe I'll go for a laugh, you never know right?

Wednesday 16 January 2013

30 Days of Vegetarian: Day 1 - Goodbye Dumpling House

So here we go...woke up this morning and breakfast was a banana and breakfast bar. Breakfast was never going to be an issue for me though as rarely have any form of meat or fish at this's all the other meals.
My $20 Garden Salad and Smoothie in Port Melbourne
Having just decided last night to do this, I realised that I was not adequately prepared food wise for such a life change. Getting to work at 12:00pm, I visited a nearby cafe in Port Melbourne and paid $20 for a garden salad and banana smoothie. $20!!! Nothing fancy about this salad, lettuce, tomato, carrot, cucumber and onion. Even the dressing was dry. Felt so ripped off. Need to hit the supermarket - or markets - tomorrow or Friday and stock up.
I'm not very knowledgable on nutritious foods and stuff so have been advised egg, beans and tofu is the way to go. If anyone has any exciting recipes that are quick and easy, let me know! I don't fancy 30 days of salad.
Dinner with my mate and this was my first big challenge. We went to Shanghai Dumpling House in Chinatown where I generally hoover their pork and beef dumplings. This was in fact the first time ever that I did not have dumplings at SDH. Instead I settled for the mushroom and vegetable dumplings in noodle soup - because there's soup they don't count. They weren't that great but I know it's because of how they were made there; I mean SDH is known for being cheap and quick (and also for their 'great' customer service) so it's by no means disheartened me. I will however have to stay clear of SDH for the next 29 days...
A friend in France has also asked me if as part of my challenge am I also doing research into vegetarianism and meat eating (health, environment, animal and human welfare). And although not initially part of the plan, I think I will look into this as well. I would be interested to hear why people are/have been vegetarians and think I want to immerse myself into this lifestyle for the next 29 days at least.

Tuesday 15 January 2013

The Eve of the First!n

Having turned 30 recently, I have felt quite lost and confused as to what my place in the world is right now...if anything, I feel like my life has regressed. My friends tell me, "My, you've done so much, you've lived in Japan for two years, you've lived in England for two years and a lot of people haven't done that". And that's all fair and good, but since coming back from England in 2010, there has definitely been something missing and for the life of me, I just don't know what.
Earlier today I was reading a friend's blog today about her 30 Days of Lady - in which she wore make-up and acted all lady-like for a month. This inspired me to make the 30th year of my life, my 12 30 Day Challenges Year. Those astute readers will realise I will have to continue into the beginning of 2014 (can't believe I am already thinking that far in advance!) but the OCD'er in me is fine with that - sort of!
From tomorrow begins: 30 Days of Vegetarianism. I went 6 months without eating meat in 2006 so I think this will be quite simple but you never know...anyway, I will try and post my daily struggles/musings and hopefully you'll enjoy them!