Thursday, May 27, 2010

My Favourite Visitor

My father came over for a few days and we ate some lovely food - including gorgeous bhajis and curries from Monty's of Kathmandu, sandwiches and salads from Blazing Salads and a load of homecooked stuff.......... but did I take any photos? NO! I didn't! I am officially absolutely hopeless! I suppose it just demonstrates what an amazing time I was having with my father, I really don't get to see him as often as I'd like to. I'm very close to him, he's one of the greatest people on this planet! I am pleased to say that my omnivore father enjoyed all of my vegan cooking (including the chilli non carne and broccoli soup I have mentioned here before), and he even had tempeh and veggie skewers at our barbecue as well as a few vegan cereal bars, flapjacks, chocolates and raw seed & nut cakes throughout the duration of his stay. We also visited the new milkshake bar. I had a vegan soya ice cream shake with peanut butter and bourbon biscuits - it was lovely! A bit pricey at just under 5 euros though, so I think if I want one I'll be making them at home in future. I really wish they had more vegan choices on their menu, I might suggest a few things to them! My father had the Fererro Rocher shake, it's his favourite chocolate so he was quite happy about that... Here are some random photos from his visit :)

Friday, May 21, 2010

Latest Treat Finds

Just a quick update about a few vegan treats I've found recently.

- Spar's own Hazelnut Chocolate Spread
This stuff is gorgeous and only costs €1.99! Thank you very much Blueberries for drawing my attention to this lovely spread. I've been missing Nutella and Forrero Rocher since going vegan, but now I can just have a spoonful of this amazing stuff to ease my cravings. I have been thinking about putting it on bagels with mashed banana, spreading it on crustless slices of brown bread and rolling it up to make little "swiss roll" snacks, as well as using it in baking or to sandwich two HobNobs together.... mmmmm.

- Tesco Light Choice Cereal Bars 
They are €1.99 and there are about 5 or 6 bars in a box. The chocolate & orange one is vegan, as is the blueberry & cranberry. I think the maple & pecan may also be vegan, I'll have to check again when I go to the shop next. I've tried searching on the Tesco website but I think these are relatively new bars with an improved recipe and I keep finding older products online which are similar but not quite the same. They are very low in calories (around 75-90cals depending on the bar) and make a nice little nibble in between meals.

- Flahavan's Oaty Flapjacks
These come in Original, Chocolate Chip and Cranberry and are Irish Only products as far as I'm aware. There are 6 bars in a box and they are only €2.00 in Supervalu at the moment - can't go wrong with that! Each of the varieties are vegan, but I'm currently having trouble getting hold of the Cranberry and Original flavours again. Cranberry (pictured below) is my favourite, but lately I've only been able to find the Chocolate Chip flapjacks. The chocolate ones are lovely and quite coconutty, they also have more of a crunchy rather than chewy consistency. Definitely one of my favourite shop-bought snacks at the moment.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cosmetics you want to Eat!

I love love LOVE Lush Costmetics! Many of the things they sell are vegan - there are crazy bath bombs, natural deodorant sticks, gorgeous-smelling moisturisers, pretty soaps that look totally edible, fresh face masks, scrubs that really do eliminate spots and are kind to your face, tasty lip balms and all sorts of hair care products. They are a very environmentally conscious company, who believe in minimal packaging and do not test on animals or buy from any suppliers who have tested on animals. If you've never been to Lush, check it out - you'll be able to locate your nearest branch a mile off, the smell is unmistakable!!

Another company I am a big fan of is Ren Cosmetics. I don't normally buy many of their products though as I am too broke, but they are definitely worth the money and most of them are vegan. Ren are against animal testing and their policy can be read here. The product pictured below is a cooling eye gel. I remember buying it once in a panic because upon waking one morning my eyes were SO puffy and dry - I'd never experienced anything like that before and was in a bit of a panic as they were so sore! This gel sorted them out in a jiffy and was worth every cent - it was amazing and I still have it in my make up bag, for emergencies.

I also thought it was worth mentioning in this blog that Superdrug (a shop in the UK and Ireland) have a fantastic range of products suitable for vegans. As far as I am aware most of the products they sell from their own range are vegan - certainly most of their shampoos, conditioners and shower gels are, as well as a lot of their skincare products like moisturiser, cleanser, toner and eyecare products that I have come across. The bottles all state their suitability and say that Superdrug is also against animal testing. HURRAH! I have always loved Superdrug, they are excellent value and now I can shop there guilt free!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Recent Challenges

Being a vegan isn't always easy, in fact one could say that it is often "difficult, difficult, lemon difficult". I've come across a few issues recently that I thought I'd write about. The first, being a milkshake bar that has opened in Dublin city centre.

Quite a few people have been getting excited about this new place on Dame Street. It is Dublin's first and only milkshake bar and it offers soya milk and soya ice cream alternatives on its menu. So yesterday I went into the bar with a friend who is doing an experiment for her end of year Journalism course - she went vegan for a week and blogged about it here: A History of Dieting. We queued for over 10 minutes to eventually be told "sorry, we ran out of soya milk, we'll definitely have some in tomorrow". I know of someone else who was told the same thing that day AND a couple of days previously. Since our visit I've heard of even more people being turned away on different days! I was pretty disappointed (and confused) at how a milkshake bar could run out of two rather important ingredients for such a long duration of time. Then the more I thought about it, the more I realised just how wrong going to a place like this was, for a vegan. Do I really want to patronise a company that makes most of its money from dairy milkshakes? Do I really want to give them my money and help them to thrive? There are only a couple of things on the menu vegans can choose from - peanut butter, bourbon biscuits and jelly tots being among the few. Absolutely everything else they stock is a vegan's nightmare: Oreos, Kit Kats, Kelloggs' Cereals, Galaxy, all manner of Dairy Milk chocolates, Nestlé products, Toblerones, Jaffa Cakes, Custard Creams, Wine Gums, Hersheys.... anything and everything we vegans choose to avoid! People have been telling me that I should feel "greatful" that this store is recognising the needs of vegans and the dairy intolerant amongst us. However, I beg to differ, seeing as most places you go to eat will have at least something edible on the menu, whether it is a salad or a veggie fry up, it doesn't mean we should feel so greatful that we should support these places! Just because MacDonalds have a veggie burger, fries, onion rings and an apple pie that vegans can eat, does that mean we should support them? Most vegans would feel uncomfortable purchasing something from a joint such as Maccy D's, and I find it equally disturbing supporting a bar that dishes out dairy products by the gallon every day. So I've come to the conclusion that I should probably avoid this place like the plague. I can make my own milkshakes at home, thank you very much, then I can know exactly what goes into them and also not waste my time or money getting to your store only to find out I can't even have anything!

My friend Orna and I came across another challenge while out at Dublin's "Africa Day" in the Iveagh Gardens on Sunday. We really wanted to try some authentic African food but they didn't seem to have any Ethiopean stalls - I tried some of this food from a stall out in Dun Laoghaire last year and it was totally vegan friendly and absolutely delish! So we located the stall which looked the most veggie/vegan friendly and on trying to ask what was in a certain item, we found the language barrier to be quite a hurdle. After asking the first time and getting "potato" as the answer, we tried to press the chef into elaborating a little further, upon where she just started shouting "POTATO! POTATO!" at us. There was quite a queue forming behind so we opted for some of this "potato" concoction and a plateful of spicy rice. It was very tasty, but I'm not at all sure if the potato dish was actually vegan. We couldn't quite work it out - it had a hint of cheese and the colour was yellowy, but it definitely didn't have the texture or consistency of cheese and the colour could easily have been from the sweet potato or the spices.

On talking to the daughter of a Nigerian friend today I mentioned what we'd had and she told me "oh that would be Pan da Diam" (apologies, but I have no idea how to spell this, therefore it was impossible to Google) and when I asked if it was made with cheese or dairy I got laughed at as if I was stupid. However, as we all know, just because some people think it's dairy free doesn't mean it is dairy free - they just don't think to check the label. Apparently it's made with some kind of powder, so it's possible that there could be cheese or milk in it, we just don't know! However, it was an enjoyable afternoon and it was nice to get to try some traditional food, experience a different culture and listen to some African music.

Another issue would be: Pets! Is it ok for a vegan to have a pet? I have kept dwarf hamsters for a while now and love them so much (my first dwarfie, Bump, is pictured above). I'd ideally love a dog or a cat, but at the moment our lifestyle just wouldn't suit owning a larger pet that requires more responsibility. Rescue animals are obviously the main choice for vegans wanting pets, but then questions such as whether to feed it a diet of meat or not are raised (no problem there with my vegan hammies!), and whether you should be the "owner" of an animal like it is an object.

I have no idea what to think about this as I originally went vegan for health reasons alone. I am relatively new to the whole ethical side of veganism. What does everyone else here think about animals as pets?

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Marlay Park Farmers Market

Today the boy and I cycled out to Marlay Park, in Rathfarnham. It was a lovely sunny day for a picnic and a stroll in the woods. Every Saturday there is a Farmers Market here in the courtyard of the main house. While the boy had brought a sandwich and a fruit salad with him straight from work, I had a yummy lettuce and red cabbage salad, 4 falafels and salsa & hummus dips. There were also stalls selling organic fruit jams, bread, cakes, muffins, olives, condiments, fish, pizzas, sausages and pretzels - something for everyone. Blazing Salads have a stall here selling their delicious bread and vegan cookies.

Here's a little photo collage of our afternoon trip. Pictured are some of Blazing Salad's cookies, my Falafel Salad, the Organic Jam stall, and a cute shot of myself and the boy holding hands ;) Click on it to enlarge!

Bubble and Squeak

I cannot deny that my breakfast this morning was pretty damn good! The other night I made the boyfriend some bubble & squeak patties with leftover potatoes and brussels sprouts. All I did was boil and then mash a few potatoes with some vegan margarine, chop some onions and fry them along with some already cooked and shredded brussels sprouts, then mix them all together and form them into little cakes. I coated the outside in flour to stop them getting sticky and to help them stay together when they were fried. I didn't measure or weigh my ingredients, and I didn't season it in any way because I love my potato and my sprouts just as they are! I ate them with a liberal application of HP brown sauce - perfect! Please excuse the terrible photo, my house seems to be awful when it comes to natural light.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Top Five Most Annoying Questions

I really am fed up of having to justify and explain myself to some people! Here are some of the idiotic things people ask on a weekly basis:

1. What on earth do you eat?!
What do you THINK I eat? Do you really live off only meat and dairy? No you don't. I eat vegetables, fruits, pulses, nuts, seeds, soya products and grains. I also eat a lot of meat substitutes and I enjoy my dairy replacements too.

2. I really couldn't live without pizza and chocolate, how do you do it?!
Erm, hello? I don't live without pizza and chocolate. In fact, I eat a lot of it! And I can still eat fried food and crisps.

3. Where do you get your protein from?!
I probably eat a lot more protein than you do, mister, seeing as I actually have to THINK about my diet. I get it from beans, nuts and soya products. Especially beans, I love them!

4. OK so where do you get your calcium from?!
Why do you believe that you need milk for calcium? Calcium is found in a variety of foods and you certainly don't need an abundance of it. We are the only species that drinks milk after infancy, and are also the only species that drinks the milk of another animal. It's pretty weird when you think about it. And guess what? Once we've been weaned off milk, we actually don't NEED it any more. We only need that much calcium when we're growing!

5. Where do you draw the line??
The real answer to this is - I don't know. And I'm not ashamed to admit it. I just do my best because it's all I can do. Sometimes I will slip up. Sometimes I feel bad about it, other times I just shrug it off and say it can't be helped. We live in a crazy world and it's tough to avoid cruelty 100% of the time. I just think that if everyone was more aware of what was going on around them and where their foods and other products came from, the world would be a lot better place. I don't preach. I don't ask people to become vegan or vegetarian... I just ask them to open their eyes and maybe try to make even one small change.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Statement from Jameson

Yes, it's what we've all been waiting to hear:

"Jameson Irish Whiskey is suitable for vegans. No animal products of any
description (including milk, eggs, honey, gelatin, isinglass etc.) are used
in the manufacture of Jameson. It is a good idea to state the suitability of the drink for vegetarians or vegans. It is an idea we are considering at the moment.

Nuts about Nuttolene!

Nuttolene is a vegetarian meat loaf made from blended peanuts, water and sea salt. I keep meaning to take photos and blog about it, but I hardly ever buy it and when I do, I just end up eating it all and remembering too late!

Nuttolene comes in a can and you have to open both ends and push it out like a big sausage. You can then cut slices off and use them as little burgers (they are great marinaded in BBQ sauce for barbecues, and fit in little burger buns perfectly) or chop it into cubes and eat it raw, grilled or fried with a salad. There are probably far more adventurous things you can do with it but I have not yet discovered what these things are!

There is a cheaper version of Nuttolene also in Holland & Barratt, under the name of "Granovita Nut Luncheon". It is very slightly higher in calories than Nuttolene for some reason, even though the ingredients are the same. It is also a lot cheaper! This is the brand I usually go for.

I nabbed the two images below from - the second picture shows the Nuttolene dipped in a flour and water mixture and then rolled in a spicy ground nut mix. They were then oven baked. I'm going to try my own variation of this next time I purchase a can of this lovely stuff, as I have a nice southern fried spicy mixture and some stuffing mix sitting in the cupboard begging to be used :)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Temple Bar Food Market

Every Saturday there is a food market in the square outside the Gallery of Photography in Temple bar, with stalls selling hot and cold food such as olives, cheeses, barbecued meat, breads, cakes, Indian snacks, fajitas and burritos, hot dogs and noodle dishes. I went there last weekend and forgot to take a photo, so went back this weekend armed with my camera - and of course it was also a good excuse to buy more food! There is a raw vegan food stall at this market (Natasha's Living Food) selling raw brownies, chocolates, fake cheesecakes made from cashew nut cream, falafels & crackers made with a dehydrator, sprouted hummus dips, etc. It all looks delicious! So here's a photo of some of the goodies on offer...

Disturbingly, one of the stalls sells HORSE SKEWERS. I was really shocked by this, surely nobody wants to eat that here - do they?!?!!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

A good point of Converse-ation?

So, I got some new shoes! Vegan shoes ^_^ I love Converse but haven't had a pair in years. I've had canvas Addidas ones for ages and I loved them but there are holes in them now because I've worn them so much. I still have a few pairs of leather shoes (Nikes, Golas, Adios) and I do feel a bit of a hypocrite when I wear them. But just because I'm vegan am I going to throw away all my old shoes and belts? In a way, to me, that would be even worse, like an animal had died in vain. I know a vegan who has her favourite pair of shoes (leather) re-heeled, she has had these shoes for years, and I think this is a good and considerate thing to do. This also raises the question that if I found a really nice pair of shoes in a charity shop, would I buy them if they had some leather on them? I think I would, because I don't really see how recycling someone else's cast-offs can be so bad. Just like I wouldn't mind buying a jumper or a hat made from wool if I came across a second hand item somewhere and the profit went to a charitable organisation. Of course, I would totally draw the line at an old item made from fur, sheepskin, etc. even if it was handed to me for free! Some things just *aren't right*.

It's hard to know where to draw the line when you're a vegan, especially when I only really started out being a dietary vegan for health reasons... but the longer you're a vegan the more you begin to realise that there is no end to the evil in this world, and no matter how hard you try to buy totally cruelty free, there are going to be mistakes you make without even realising it :(

Monday, May 3, 2010


HOW have I LIVED without Tempeh in my life?! Thanks to my new friend from Germany, Lutz, I am now addicted to Tempeh. I just know that when I've almost finished the block I'm going to have a little panic attack until I get my hands on some more before the junkie-type withdrawal symptoms set in.... can't be fun having to go cold-tofurkey!!

For those of you who do not know what Tempeh is:

"Tempeh, or tempe in Indonesian, is made by a natural culturing and controlled fermentation process that binds soybeans into a cake form. Tempeh is unique among major traditional soy-foods in that it is the only one that did not originate in China or Japan. It originated in today's Indonesia, and is especially popular on the island of Java, where it is a staple source of protein. Like tofu, tempeh is made from soybeans, but tempeh is a whole soybean product with different nutritional characteristics and textural qualities. Tempeh's fermentation process and its retention of the whole bean give it a higher content of protein, dietary fiber, and vitamin. It has a firm texture and strong flavor. Because of its nutritional value, tempeh is used worldwide in vegetarian cuisine; some consider it to be a meat analogue."

So here are a few photos of my Tempeh experiments. Being very new to all this I kept it quite simple. First is fillets of Tempeh marinaded in barbecue sauce and grilled on the George Foreman, with curly kale that has been cooked and then tossed in sesame oil.  

Lutz recommended that I tried frying up some tempeh in soya sauce and then glazed it with agave nectar. It's so easy and simple but the taste is just SO good! I think it really brings out the nuttiness of the tempeh's taste and texture, and cutting them into bite-sized cubes meant that they could mix well into the quinoa I made to go with them. All I did there was cook the quinoa for about 15 minutes and stir in some fried pepper, onion and garlic, then seasoned with some Chinese five-spice.

Here is a simple Thai Green Curry that I made with coconut milk, Tesco's own green curry paste, spring onions, red peppers, lemongrass & lime juice. Mmmmm, it was good!

If any of you can read German check out Lutz's activism website to get the low-down on how to make graffiti stencils, stickers, buttons and much more to raise awareness against animal cruelty. Good work, man! :)

Saturday, May 1, 2010


I absolutely love trying new food. Today was one of those great days where everything you eat is amazing. I went into town with a friend and had a lovely spicy bulgar wheat and chickpea salad at the Gourmet Burger Kitchen which was really nice, apart from the fact that it came with Raita (cucumber yoghurt dressing) that I somehow totally missed on the menu. So I had to scrape what I could of it off.... they also have a good range of veggie and lentil burgers, falafels, etc. My friend had the puy lentil burger which looked delicious. We then went to a couple of art galleries before stopping off at the food market in Temple Bar. I love it here and had forgotten how good it is. There is even a raw vegan food stall with lovely cakes and crackers (all very expensive though!) and the Indian stall seems to have quite a few vegan options. I opted for a spicy carrot and chickpea kofta, it was served with a hot tomato sauce and I really wanted a samosa too - maybe next time...

I completely forgot to take photos of everything mentioned above!! (I'm absolutely useless)

I picked up some Tempeh at the Asian Market. Now I just need a recipe because I have no idea what to do with it!

I also picked up some canned Seitan (I have no idea where to find it packaged?) which is fried gluten. It comes in several different forms in the Asian Market, this one was "mock duck" and it has a really meaty taste so is a good substitute if you like that kind of thing. It also has quite a meaty texture and shreds the same as meat too. I thought I'd also try out a tin of Greek aubergines in tomatoes and onion sauce. Was lovely! I mixed the mock duck and the aubergines together and put them inside a rice wrap used to make Summer Rolls. I had two of these for my dinner and they were absolutely delicious! Probably not the healthiest, as the aubergine dish was quite oily and the gluten was fried - but it was a nice vegan junk food dinner that really satisfied my taste buds and it was still a lot healthier and cheaper than getting a takeaway ;)