Monday, February 23, 2009

Vegetarianism + Recipe Monday

This post has been inspired by Shelley over at Tea Time, who last week stated on her blog, “as a vegetarian I just didn’t eat at all".

Being a vegetarian myself I find this to be a particulary odd response to living a meat-free existence. Since when did vegetarianism mean having to starve oneself? I never go hungry! In fact, I find that I have before me so many options that I've moved beyond thinking of animals as food. Afterall, meat only makes up 1 food group - there's still fruit and veg, cereals and grains, beans and nuts, dairy and egg to chose from! So, why do some people find it so hard to remove meat from their diet? Is it purely a preference thing, that deep down they really dont want to stop eating meat? Or is it because they've got into the habit of eating so much meat that they dont know where to start to stop? Or is it, perhaps, that they simply arent putting in enough effort?

I do not have any problem maintaining a vegetarian diet, although I will be honest and admit that it did take effort to develop and change my way of thinking and how I went about choosing what foods to eat on a daily basis, especially to ensure that I was getting enough nutrition. Whilst I still consume dairy (for protein, calcium and iron) and egg (protein) products (organic, of course), I do not eat anything that I like to term "animal flesh". This means that I do not eat any meat whatsoever, including fish and chicken, which for some reason is often classed as non-meat by non-vegetarians, even though it clearly is! Nor do I eat foods containing animal rennet (an enzyme taken from the stomach of young calves) or gelatine (made from animal skin and bones). I use vegetable stock in cooking instead of beef or chicken; I cook in vegetable oil only; and I only eat soft cheeses or vegetarian edam/tasty (which contain non-animal rennet). If I cannot find a suitable product on the shelf of my supermarket, then I go without. I simply do not need meat or meat-products in my diet.

So, why be Vegetarian?

First, there are three types of vegetarian diets. The most strict is the Vegan diet, where a person consumes no animal products at all, whereas others, such as the Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian (to which I belong), still eat dairy and/or eggs. Then there is the Lacto Vegetarian, who still eats dairy but will not consume eggs or egg-products.

The reasons why a person might decide to be Vegetarian are numerous. These may include (but are not limited to) moral beliefs, political views, health reasons, environmental and/or economic persuasions, cost, and the desire to live more simply. As Oxfam so eloquently put it:

"Being mindful of what we eat and how it is grown, harvested, marketed, fed and slaughtered is the key to a more humane and environmentally sound diet".

Because the truth of the matter is that as humans we simply consume far too much meat and meat-products. Neither the planet nor our bodies can sustain a meat-intense diet.

I can already hear the mumblings about protein, iron and calcium!
Did you know that a piece of meat is only 20 to 25% protein? This puts it the same scale as nuts, cheese and fish, but is less than that received from eggs or dairy products. A person could remove meat from their diet completely and still be able to consume their daily protein intake, which is around 0.7g of protein per kilo of body weight. In a well-balanced Lacto-Ovo Vegetarian diet, essential vitamins and minerals are found in adbundance.

Also, people who maintain well-balanced vegetarian diets tend to have a lower incidence of cancer and heart disease. Meat-centred diets have already been linked to
colon cancer, arteriosclerosis, heart disease and high cholesterol. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that a Vegetarian is less-likely to eat out or have take-away, or even because the human digestive tract is that of a herbivore.

Then there are the political, environmental and economic reasons for being vegetarian:
1. Farmers in first-world countries are paid to produce more than they could ever sell, whilst in less-developed countries the farmers are discouraged from producing and therefore do not meet demand. At the same time it is not uncommon to find instances of communities in less-developed nations starving because the smaller farmers have been forced off their land (or out the water) so that the mass-producers can utilise it to produce stock for export. Hardly seems fair, does it?
2. Mass-production, in turn, has a devestating impact on the environment. Overgrazing, overfishing, and the over-production of grain for animal feed leads to the loss of rainforests and natural grasslands, a reduction in fish numbers, and causes major damage to the environment such as soil erosion, pollution and, ultimately, climate change.
3. It costs a lot to produce (breed and feed), process, transport and prepare a piece of meat for consumption. That is why you pay so much for it at the supermarket and/or butcher. Reducing the amount of meat consumed each week in your household could end up saving you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars each year!

And, finally, the moral reasons:
I have discovered that it is not necessary to rely on meat in order to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. As a result, I cannot agree with the manner in which animals are bred, modified, force-fed, cage-kept, poorly treated and killed in mass-slaughter in order to meet our excessive, consumerist demands. This extends beyond food. I mean, have you considered where the leather on your shoes came from, or what happened to the sheep that provided you with your woollen jumper? Vegetarianism often involves far more complicated issues than just food, but perhaps I'll leave that for another post.

In the meantime, in an attempt to help Shelley and all those who may stumble across my blog, Monday will be dedicated to Vegetarian Cuisine. I can only hope that by doing this people will think more about their current habits and perhaps work towards making a change. I'm not saying that everybody has to or should become Vegetarian, but by simply reducing the amount of meat consumed in a household each week we can all start to have a significant, positive impact.

And if you’d like to know more about Vegetarianism,
this website is a good place to start.

"Of course the cynic will reply that it makes no difference. However, the power of the example you will be setting should not be underestimated." - Oxfam

(Pictured above)

1 onion
1 clove garlic
8oz grated carrot
2 medium zucchinis (corgettes), grated
1 can of chickpeas, drained and blended
1 egg yolk
2 tspns curry paste (optional)
2 tblspns peanut butter
1C bread crumbs
Salt & pepper to taste

Fry onion, garlic, carrot and zucchinis in pan until warm, but still crisp.
Mix in remaining ingredients and make patties.
Put in fridge for 1 hour to set.
Brush with oil and cook.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Old house.
109 years and counting.
Stone walls, wood eaves, floating floors, open-plan living and dining, two large bedrooms, large yard, tin roof and bull-nose verandah.
First home.
So many hopes and expectations for the future.
So much to plan and prepare for: renovations, restorations, new paint, new drapes, new carpets, fruit orchard, vegie patch, wood heating, cooling...
Quiet street.
No next-door neighbours.
Adventurous puppy constantly entertained.
A good start.

Friday, February 13, 2009

This morning, like every weekday morning, SJ & I got in the car around 7.45am to make the drive to work.

As we were heading out of town and into the Pass (a winding road that makes its way through the ranges) I commented about the haze sitting over the peaks and across the flats. The further we travelled into the Pass the thicker the haze became, and took on a brown-grey tinge. I asked SJ if he thought it to be dust.

Smoke, he replied.

As we came out of the Pass and over the last few hills and down onto the plateau of the Gulf the smoke stretched as far as the eye could see. The hills we were leaving behind were seemingly being swallowed by it.

There are no fires in the area and we do not live in Victoria.
In fact, we are thousands of kilometres away from the nearest bushfire currently burning over the border.

Yet on an otherwise clear, cool and calm morning, with the wind having blown in just the right direction, remnants of the devestation came to settle on my little town.

And as the day continues, so does the haze and its smell.

An eerie reminder.

[I had the camera in my bag and was all poised to take some photos of this strange event this morning whilst travelling to work, when I realised the front windscreen of the car was covered in dead bugs, and so didnt bother].

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Make the decision to stay or leave, they say.

What happens when Mother Nature wont let you prepare for either?

181 men, women and children confirmed dead, and counting.
More than 80 people still remain unaccounted for.
Over 900 homes destroyed.
More than 330,000ha of countryside left ash-covered and smouldering.
Please donate: Red Cross, Salvation Army, and please dont forget the RSPCA.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

PICTURE: Limestone Road by Pro Hart

So, the heat continues.

In this part of the world the weather has been dry and hot, with temperatures reaching 40*C and beyond on a daily basis. In fact, it was only yesterday that the temperature dropped below the 40-mark, "only" reaching 38*C. Yet the rest of the week is expected to be 40+, before a cool change on Saturday night and a more bearable temp of 31*C on Sunday.


Constant heat like this makes you feel drained, tired, nauseous, and grumpy. Aircon struggles and swimming pools are too hot to swim in. Eating requires too much effort, and no beaverage on earth is completely refreshing. Sleep is consistently calling...

I've spent far too much of my time this past week or so doing very little. Still unpacking boxes and sorting rooms after our recent move (I plan to do an entry on our new abode as soon as I get my computer back and find some motivation); no time to establish any sort of routine, although I have been lucky enough to squeeze in some stewing of fresh plums and peaches (home-grown, of course).

I am learning to live without television at the moment as a freak thunderstorm that hit last Wednesday seems to have interrupted our reception. It drives SJ crazy, but I am discovering that no tv means no distractions and I am instead finding myself busily organising our new house and possibly doing too much reading (although, The Life & Death of Anne Boleyn really is a fascinating read. And here I thought I knew all there was to know!).

When the heat subsides, and my laptop has returned to me (hopefully working as it should and no longer deleting random things from the hard-drive, such as its control panel!), and the house is finally unpacked and organised (please let this weekend be the last!), I will finally be able to establish a routine that includes regular blogging.

In the meantime, if it's hot where you are please stay cool; if you're suffering the cold, ice and snow, please rug up and keep warm; and if you are suffering floods (like the poor souls in Queensland), try not to get too soggy!

Until next time...