The Perfect Imperfection.

About a month ago I decided to create a survey to ask vegans some questions so I could try and find out two main things:

  1. A) Is there only a particular type of person that will become a vegan?
    B) Has religion-or lack of-anything to do with it?

Then I went a little crazy and found out so many other things that I decided to split the answers into separate blog posts (clever me).

Q1: What does veganism mean to you?
Personally, I never really think of myself as vegan, I just think of myself as a person trying to do the best they can with what they know.
Have you heard the joke about being able to spot a vegan because they will surely tell you?
Yeah well, I don’t volunteer it to anyone, well except for writing it all over my blog and social media of course 😉
Don’t get me wrong people know I am a vegan but, I don’t converse much about it because I fear that as soon as I do an automatic wall goes up and I become isolated and a source of awkwardness. If people ask me to my face then I will never lie but, I find it hard to introduce the topic so, that joke is just another excuse to demonise vegans and make us look like something we are not.

When I read through the survey answers of these questions I found out a little about Donald Watson, the Vegan Society founder.
A man who coined the term ‘Vegan’, taking it from the beginning and the end of ‘Vegetatian’ since a vegan usually starts as a vegetarian and then takes it to its logical conclusion.
A peaceful British man who saw the beauty and possibility in Veganism: ‘It would be the greatest revolution ever known’.

All of the answers I received for this question were full of peace and passion which is, of course, the backbone of veganism: We oppose violence by definition.

Yet the answers did vary.
‘Veganism is my life’, was one and another said that being vegan is not a religion or an obsession but simply a choice between using animals and not, comparable to choosing to live in the city or the country.
Both cannot be argued with (by me at least) when one becomes a vegan one is not obsessed with being different but life automatically becomes different:
Where can I eat? What shall I wear? What toothpaste can I use? Where can I buy lipstick? Do my friends like me anymore?

Realising that other vegans exist and wade in the same pool as me really helped me think with clarity. I especially recognised the main answer to this question being that vegans live without worry of purposely exploiting animals and causing them pain.

As vegans we make mistakes, it isn’t about being perfect but actually the realisation that none of us are.
If I eat or use something, later realising that it wasn’t vegan I do not chastise myself or beat my head against a wall I just add it to the list of never-again products.
I remember being pounced upon when I ate something which I later found out had dairy in it. The fact that the ‘pouncer’ took great delight in my failing was both hurtful and ridiculous: If I eat an animal product accidentally should I then quit being a vegan and eat steaks to my hearts content?
It makes no sense and sincerely very few anti-vegan arguments do.

The basic point that underlines all the answers was the determination to end a personal responsibility towards the abuse of animals.
Realising, also, that the environment around belongs to animals as well as humans and destruction of it can be slowed down by a vegan diet.
*Deforestation
*Habit loss
*Climate Change
These are all words used in the argument for a vegan lifestyle (not a diet).

Veganism is a revolutionary idea that can literally change the world as we know it.
It is an effort to be better and more compassionate and I as I strive to be prouder of my label I will continue to accept my failed perfection, well my cats still love me for it anyway 😉

*Thank you to all those who helped with the survey*

 

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Great Balls of Tofu

Living in Korea as a vegan hasn’t been impossible but it also hasn’t been as easy as it is in other parts of the world. I don’t want to ever complain too much because at the end of the day it is just a ‘first world problem’ but my husband and I do get a little down when we have to cook all the time and usually the same things that taste the same.

We work from 9-6/7 so the day is basically gone when we get home and then we have to cook, GAH!

Recently, I have really tried to dust off my apron (which I don’t actually own) and be more productive in the kitchen coming up with things that will tantalise our tastebuds.

And I came up with a recipe…a good recipe…actually a great recipe 🙂

Bear in mind I am not a cook by any means and I hope that this recipe will be as enjoyable to others as it is to us but, if it is not, please forgive and tweak and twerk to make it better and better~

Ingredients
Tofu – something we have a huge abundance of living in Korea, I used a 340g organic pack.

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1/4 cup of nutritional yeast -more or less depending on how much you love it!
1/4 cup of Buckwheat flour-I only had buckwheat at hand and it is gluten-free so win/win but I am sure any other flour would be fine.
1 teaspoon of parsley
1/2 cup of cooked quinoa
2 tablespoons of soy sauce or less depending on the strength of the salty taste you like( I was using Bragg’s liquid aminos but just read it is chemically created so stick with soy or Tamari BLAH)

Cook the quinoa (a rice cooker is the best thing ever if you can invest in one).
Drain the tofu by placing a large saucepan of water on top of it for about 15-30 mins and then crumble into a bowl.

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Add parsley and soy (and any other spices you can think of trying).
Add yeast, flour, quinoa, and mix.
Make into balls as demonstrated and cook on a low heat in a frying pan of oil until brown.

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Makes about 10-12 depending on size.

Add to spaghetti and enjoy (I hope).

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Cries of the Rainforest

Have you ever felt like this Bradley Cooper lookalike?
Stressing to the brink of a nervous breakdown that everything you buy, everything you love, everything you need isn’t ethical?
No? God you are lucky!

Palm oil is probably the most infamous oil right now and for some it sets off a niggling feeling that they shouldn’t be buying it but it is in everything so what can one do?
Actually that wasn’t too far from my head space most of the time on this issue:Palm Oil is in 50% of supermarket products and this includes everything from washing powder to ice cream to toothpaste to shampoo as well as a ton of packaged foods.

Palm Oil is also not always labelled ‘Palm Oil’ on the ingredients list it actually has over 200 alternative names and they can be legally used by companies who, of course, take full advantage of this.

However, luckily for those in the EU a recent legislation has abolished synonyms and ordered companies to label a product for what it is.
Unluckily for those in the EU we consume over 6.6 million tonnes of Palm Oil compared to 1.2 million tonnes consumed by the USA.

Some articles that I read were so saturated with difficult and sometimes incomprehensible vocabulary and phrasing that it is little wonder people with full-time jobs or busy schedules don’t fully realise the terrible things that are happening because of this oil.

I will try and make this post as clear and easy to digest as possible so that we can all be fully mindful of the terrible devastation that is caused by the use of Palm Oil.

What is Palm Oil?

Palm Oil is an edible vegetable oil taken from the pulp of the fruit of the oil palm trees originally from Africa but exported to South East Asia in the 20th century. During the British Industrial Revolution the demand for Palm Oil started to grow significantly as the oil was used in anything from candle-making to industrial lubricants.

The demand began at approximetely 250,000 tonnes annually rising to 60,000,000 tonnes used today.

Palm Oil is cheap, versatile -demonstrated in the numerous products that it is in today- and a huge amount of Palm Oil can be produced: From 1 hectare of land approximately 3.82 tonnes of oil can be produced per year.
In other words, from one international rugby pitch (for the fellow Welsh readers) or American football field, 8428 pounds of oil can be produced compared to 756 pounds of Coconut Oil.
This is simply why big businesses love to use Palm Oil.

Where is Palm Oil from?

As I previously wrote, Palm Oil originally came from Africa but since the 20th Century has been produced largely in South East Asia.
A food naturally derived from one part of the world and then transported to somewhere else should already raise alarm bells about its suitability in that area.

Now 85% of Palm Oil comes from Malaysia and Indonesia, the islands with the most biodiverse tropical forests found on earth, and the industry wipes out an estimated 300 American football field sized rainforests per hour, home to rare plants, endangered wildlife and indigenous people.

What are the Environmental effects of Palm Oil?

‘There isn’t an I in T.E.A.M’. Humans have co-existed on Earth with so many other different species for thousands of years and yet we have gone it alone. We have let our Ego control us and we haven’t stopped to look at the destruction that we have left on the path behind.

Indonesia is the third highest greenhouse gas emitting country because of the Palm Oil industry: It seems cutting down 300 football fields worth of rainforest trees every hour releases a lot of carbon dioxide which the trees have been keeping safe from us. This toxic carbon rapidly speeds up climate change: if we don’t act now and we keep things as they are climate change will be the cause of human extinction.

The Palm Oil industry also causes water pollution as well as soil erosion a not-so-well-known problem that is destroying the very fabric of how we and other species survive.
dalai Lama
In nature soil is moved around by water and wind at the same rate as new soil is produced therefore causing little issue however, agriculture and human’s desire for profit has been a catalyst to this process which rids of important and nutrient-rich topsoil that plants and crops need to live and grow.

When I started researching Palm Oil the one thing that I couldn’t get my head around was why do we have to continually take rainforest land when we have so much of it already, then I found the answer…Hallelujah!

The Palm Oil industry ( I cannot say all of it of course) is in bed cuddled up nice and tight with the timber industry. There is a pattern found between Palm Oil plantation and illegal logging and with 20 million hectares of abandoned land in Indonesia that could be used for Palm Oil production that is obviously ignored one can only assume the worst.

The obvious Environmental effects are of grave concern and affect all walks of life from humans to flora to fauna and as a vegan it is hard for me not to point out the suffering of the wildlife.

The Rhinoceros, the Sunbear, the Pygmy Elephant (please read the article on the deaths of a group of elephants two years ago) the Clouded Leopard, the Proboscis Monkey, the Sumatran Tiger along with the more famous Orangutan are all animals heavily effected by the Palm Oil industry in devastating ways.

This beautiful episode on Nature of the Orangutan’s plight will offer an insight into what is happening: in 5-10 years these ‘People of the Jungle’ will more than likely be extinct.

It is important to note that some seeds that we rely on can only be germinated through the Orangutan’s gut, with the deaths of more and more of these animals the less chance we have of survival.

What can be done?

Reading more and more about sustainable Palm Oil and the efforts of the WWF to collaborate with plantations and manufacturers to create the RSPO (Rountable for Stainable Palm Oil) seemed like an answer -as demonstrated in the video at the beginning- but unfortunately it isn’t the way to go.

Greenpeace is highly sceptical of sustainable Palm Oil and I have to say so am I.

Here is the deal, most companies GreenWash; which means they spend more money on advertising that they are Green than actually being Green!
RSPO supplies a number of ‘Green’ certificates to plantations that can prove they are sustainable, certificates are given to equal the amount of tonnes of Palm Oil made. The plantations are then able to sell these certificates to ANYONE, ($10 being the going rate) the main buyer being companies who then claim they use sustainable Palm Oil even though they have no idea where their particular Palm Oil comes from.

Watch this video for more info.

And the funniest thing of all is that the commonly used processed Palm Oil isn’t even that good for us! Granted the fresh Palm Oil is but, that isn’t what we get in the majority of products with Palm Oil that we buy.
Palm Oil is used as a replacement for Trans Fats so that companies can write ‘0g Trans fats’ on their label but Palm Oil has as much saturated fat as butter, something we shouldn’t be eating a lot of.

Conclusion

Avoid Palm Oil as often as you can.

Nature is a beautiful thing that relies heavily on team work.
The sad reality is that if humans disappeared nature would thrive, if other species disappeared we would die.

It is difficult to pinpoint the moment in which we were able to completely ignore the cries our environment but we have and if we don’t turn back soon then I am afraid Palm Oil in our eye liner is the least of our worries.