Redefining Veganism!

Redefining Veganism!

If you think that if it doesn’t contain any animal products it must be vegan, think twice!

Everything is connected!

Why is it so hard for people to understand that in this existence everything is connected? As a vegan, I’m obviously worried about those who think that this new trend is a good way to make bucks with people who think that the only problem related to animal rights is not to cage them,experiment on them or eat them. What about the environment we live in?

Products so called vegan, also labelled as such, often contain CHEMICALS (yes, I said chemicals) in the form of preservatives, food coloring and so called taste enhancer (why would you need those if the food tastes good?!).

Now, let’s make the connection, vegan doesn’t mean that your food was grown somewhere free of pesticides, fertilizers and other nasty stuff. Manure, blood and other animal parts  are also used to grow food even if the food is labelled “organic” (see the article Veganic vs Organic ).

If you want animals (including ourselves) to be respected and free, they need a home: a healthy one. If you buy canned or industrially produced food you are contributing to pollute the environment thus turning the planet into a huge waste dump.

The Asian food fraud

When I was in Thailand and Malaysia, I discovered that plenty of vegans (Buddhist vegetarians) were convinced that products such as Milo, Maggi Seasoning Sauce and Golden Mountain soy sauce are vegan because they do not contain animal products and they are labelled as such. Milo (made by Nestle’), isn’t vegan at all, not only because it contains milk powder but read the article Why Milo isn’t a health food to know more about it.

Nestle’ has a very bad reputation which started in the 70’s when it advertised all over Africa that milk powder was the best for having healthy and intelligent  babies. As a consequence, many women stopped  breast feeding their babies to give them milk powder instead (Source: How the Other Half Dies, Susan George, Penguin Books, 1986). Maggi in Asia is also another gift from Nestle’ – which for me is enough to stay away from it. However, as it is labelled vegan for the Buddhist vegetarian community in Thailand, you would expect a completely natural product but in actual fact it’s packed with chemicals and funny acids. I couldn’t get more information about the list of ingredients from the official website because they don’t provide any and the rest is in the Thai language. Interestingly, Nestle’ is also a major owner of bottled drinking water distributed all over Thailand (!).

Be aware when visiting vegan (Buddhist vegetarian) restaurants in Asia because most of them use the above mentioned products. They don’t do it deliberately they simply trust the misleading labeling.

What about the West?

The West is even worse because many people who believe themselves to be die hard vegans because they don’t eat obvious animal products, ingest so many chemicals and rubbish that they still haven’t got the meaning of veganism.

Veganism is respect for all lifeforms, including microorganism contained in the land which so generously provides us with food.

If your food contains chemicals, colorants, preservatives, unnamed additives and so on IT IS NOT VEGAN!

If you think you are not contributing to animal slavery because the junk you ingest is not directly connected with a slaughterhouse try to open up your mind and start making connections. If you poison the land, you are destroying an entire ecosystem which is vital for the sustenance of life.

You can make a difference, don’t just be proud of eating slaughterhouse unrelated items, dive into the Truth and check the ingredients of everything that ends up in your stomach! Our Mother Land is as sacred as the Creatures who inhabited it.

In this life, it feels good to do your best!

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Veganic vs Organic

Veganic vs Organic

Is organic food really as natural as you think? Try veganic!

I have to pay a lot of attention to my health so when I buy food, I want to make sure I always buy the best. But can the best be produced on a massive scale? Nope; here is why.

Organic food still uses manure and animal parts (bones, blood, feathers) as fertilizers which often contains antibiotics and other substances which are deleterious for our health.

Organic farmers use organic pesticides which kill insects and still use tillage leaving the land bare and likely to die in a few years. They also use herbicides to get rid of weeds.

Monocrops have also shown to be a disaster for the ecosystem as there is no such thing in nature; in fact they require lots of tillage to manage water, nutrients and weeds.

For this reason, VEGANIC Farming and Gardening was born. The impact of veganic agriculture is minimal on the environment and respects all sort of organisms including microorganisms.  The only fertilizer used is plant based, the land is constantly covered and never bare and predator insects and pollinators are not killed in case of farming. Predator insects are those insects which feed on worms normally found in fruit and vegetables. Pollinators such as bees are fundamental to ensure biodiversity. This kind of cooperative agriculture between farmers and nature is vital to maintain the soil healthy and naturally rich of nutrients which are indispensable for life (including our life).

Why is veganic important?

Because if the same agricultural companies (e.g.: Monsanto) which are managing our frankenfood  put their hands on so called organic farming then I don’t need to tell you what’s going to happen, or better, what’s already happening. They have no respect for life or the environment whatsoever; the only thing they care about is money.

If you are vegan don’t fall into the trap of organic labeling!

Organic farms still kill the land and pollute the environment so we must make sure that agriculture goes towards veganic as soon as possible.

The scientific facts mentioned in this article were taken from Hellen Atthowe’s (organic horticulture researcher  and farmer ) presentation and if you are interested in a in depth explanation, you can watch her presentation here: Veganic Farming & Gardening. If you prefer to see her experiments with the land together with Carl Rosato since the 1970’s, watch this talk: Edible Education.

I thank Mother Earth for being so patience with us and I wish you all a gorgeous and sunny journey!

 

My experience as a solo female vegan nomad minimalist

My experience as a solo female vegan nomad minimalist

Get rid of anxiety and depression at once: live your dream life!

There are many reasons why people want to give up a “common” lifestyle. The most popular is probably economical because more and more people are finding living a “Western” style lifestyle incredibly unbearable: too many expenses, lots of anxiety, depression and frustration. The solution? Change your lifestyle for good!

I remember before I kicked out my old lifestyle I had desperately been searching for an alternative but all the alternatives I found in Europe somehow didn’t fit me; there are eco-villages, communities of people living alternative lifestyles and so on. The problem is that I don’t want to live segregated somewhere or belong to a particular group of people: I just want to be me and I don’t like living with other people, I prefer living on my own!  What’s the point of abandoning an organized society to embrace another one?

What I really wanted was becoming self reliant, healthy and stress and anxiety free so I decided to do what I love the most: travelling around the world!

I’ve travelled as a backpacker for almost two years visiting and doing activities which I was always too busy to do in my “previous” life. I finally discovered things which I like and I don’t like doing. That’s easy – you may think but believe me it’s not! How many of you have attended ceremonies, business dinners or family reunions only because it’s part of the culture? I no longer want to waste my life doing boring stuff only because society expects me to, I just want to be me.

I’m 50 years old so I think that if you really want to change there are no excuses nor limitations, you just need the courage to do it. When I was travelling as a backpacker, I had all my belongings in a backpack (I don’t own anything else) so you really have to pay attention to what you are carrying with you because if  the backpack becomes too heavy, it may be a problem for your back.

I also got rid of a lot of things which we are socialized to believe indispensable; I keep my hair very short so it’s easy to keep it clean, I don’t use shampoo anymore nor any other beauty products: just a piece of soap. I don’t use a toothbrush either because it was causing my gum to bleed a lot so I now just brush with my index finger and only occasionally use natural herbal  toothpaste or powder (Asian). I don’t use toilet paper; here in Asia people always wash after their toilet business so I learned to do the same. When I was travelling, I carried a little towel with me so that I could dry myself afterwards. I’ve never used make up in my entire life; I tried it once when I was a teenager and it gave me such a bad irritation I promised myself never to use it again! I was still shaving my armpits and legs at the beginning of my journey but I’ve stopped. My legs are quite hairy now but it feels liberating not having to depend on other’s people judgement. Nobody judges men for being hairy so why should anyone feel the right to judge women? The list goes on until you are left with what you really need and what I really need to live is not much: good, fresh, nutritious food and a roof over my head, anything else is optional. Of course, I’m describing the life as a vegan nomad in Asia where there is no winter!

Though I have very little money,  paradoxically I don’t feel as anxious as I used to be when I was living in Europe; always fearing the worse. When you are not stressed, you see possibilities everywhere and you have enough energy to embark in new projects even at my age (there is no age limit, I’ve discovered). I was addicted to a few substances when I was younger: nicotine, caffeine, alcohol and for a specific period marihuana. When you live a life free of any type of addictions you feel unbelievably powerful and become more self confident as a result. Once you are completely clean and free you start understanding how bad we treat our bodies solely on the basis that is culturally acceptable (have a look at movies and TV series where people can’t seem to be able to relax without holding an alcoholic drink in their hand. In the past, the other hand used to hold a cigarette but today that’s no longer possible).

The first incredible personal discovery was that I had been neglecting myself for so long that I no longer recognized what my body needed. Resting was out of the question because we are raised to believe that if you rest you are wasting time and time is money. I had to stop working for a long time to take care of my health and at first I was feeling so guilty because the first thing people asked me was – what do you do for a living? – I don’t know why we feel so uncomfortable when in this life we are just spending without having an income. Of course, it’s scary but sometimes you just don’t have any alternatives. People tend to think that you are a billionaire if  you live like I do but the truth is: you need very little money to live this way and the therapy for all your ailments comes from the food you eat and that’s also affordable when you don’t have any addictions.

Nowadays, I live in Cambodia in one room apartment with a cooking corner and a bathroom and I’ve never been happier.  I have to stop travelling to regain my strength for a while. There is a nice garden outside and a place to hang the laundry.

The laundry is also another big issue for me. As a minimalist, I don’t have a lot of stuff but it bothers me using a washing machine knowing the amount of water and detergent that goes to waste and pollutes such a beautiful land. So I decided to buy a bucket, sodium bicarbonate (which is also good for your teeth) and that’s how I’m doing my laundry now.

Then came the second issue: the dishes. No matter which detergent you buy, most of them are sold in plastic containers and they heavily pollute the environment. When the label claims the product is eco-friendly, it normally costs an arm and a leg so I decided to make my own dish detergent with lemon juice, sodium bicarbonate and vinegar. As a vegan my dishes are pretty clean anyway but I live with two carnivores: a dog and a cat. They enjoy eating meat and fish and, as I totally don’t trust whatever is in pet food, I cook for them on a daily basis. It was very hard for me at first but now I’m ok with it, I use a different  pan and cutlery for them. I know some vegans may not agree with me but I will stop feeding them what they need once humanity has returned their share of the planet to them so they can go hunting again and drink the river water.

When you live with very little, everything becomes precious or better, you discover that everything IS precious and nothing and nobody should ever be taken for granted in this existence. I think this is the main issue with a materialistic life: your feelings get drowned by things and you no longer understand what it is that really makes you happy. As a minimalist, almost everything makes you happy because everything is a treat; the less you have the more you treasure it!

Have a fantastic journey dear fellow travellers!

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Vegan Penne with Polpette

Vegan Penne with Polpette

Another traditional Italian dish turned into a health booster and an unbelievably yummy delicacy!

Polpette means meatballs but as vegans we obviously don’t want to eat any dish which contains the word “meat” in them…

As a vegan nomad minimalist, this is a very simple, delicious, nutritious, healthy and cheap dish to cook so no excuses and let’s start making it:

INGREDIENTS for 2 people (generous portions):

1 big young potato

100 gr brown rice

50 gr chickpea flour

1 onion (big is best)

1 fresh tofu

fresh coriander or parsley if you prefer

sea salt

4 ripe tomatoes

2 small cucumbers

fresh chili

1 spoon of fresh palm sugar (organically grown and gathered locally by farmers -nothing to do with deforestation or the palm oil industry!) Use brown sugar if you don’t have it or nothing at all if you don’t want sugar in your food.

Seed oil (you will only need a tiny amount so use whatever you prefer but avoid olive oil which is too strong for cooking)

160 gr penne (if you can find the whole wheat penne is best, I couldn’t)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1.  Fill a pot with water and bring it to the boil.
  2.  Peel the potato, cut it into cubes and put them in the boiling water. The potato is ready when it’s still a little firm. Drain it and let it cool down.
  3. Cook the brown rice the traditional Asian way. Place the rice in a pot and add three times the same amount of water. Cover the pot and let it cook at a very low flame. The rice is ready when all the water has been completely absorbed by the rice. Good quality rice has a wonderful smell once cooked. You can also use leftover rice for this recipe as long as it is not too dry.
  4. Put the chickpea flour in a bowl and add half a glass of water. Whip it with a fork for a few minutes until you get an egg like substance. If it’s too thick, add a little water and keep mixing.
  5. Fresh tofu is normally wet so try to squeeze it a bit with your hands to get the water out and then, break it into little chunks with your hands.
  6. Chop the onion and the coriander or parsley very finely.
  7. Wash and chop the tomatoes and cucumbers into very tiny pieces, try not to loose the juice and collect everything in a bowl.
  8. Chop up a bit of chili and mix it with the fresh palm sugar and put it in a different bowl.
  9. At this stage hopefully all the ingredients are cool enough to be handled. Take a big bowl and put the potato cubes inside. Smash them with a fork.
  10. Add the rice, the chickpea cream, the onion and parsley and the tofu and mix with a fork first and then with your hand.
  11. With your clean hand – this is a little tricky – add a few pinches of sea salt and taste the mixture to see if it’s salty enough.
  12. Start making little balls of about the same size and put them on a clean and dry plate.
  13. Place a non stick pan on a very low flame and add a few drops of oil – just for the crunchiness.
  14. Place the balls carefully in the pan one by one. They will cook quickly so make sure that you have a spoon and a fork to flip them around once one side has become slightly orange. Don’t overcook them! Don’t use your mobile, you must stay absolutely focussed on your polpette! They’ll be ready in no time.
  15. Once the polpette are cooked, place them on a clean and dry plate.
  16. Fill a big pot with water, add 1 table spoon of sea salt, cover it with a lid and bring it to the boil.
  17. When the water is boiling, add the penne and stir. Stir every now and then until the penne are completely cooked (about 10 minutes).
  18. Once cooked, drain them and put them in a big bowl.
  19. Quickly add the raw tomato and cucumber sauce and eventually the chili sauce.
  20. Serve in a plate by adding a few polpette per dish. WARNING: polpette are so delicious that you may want to eat them all at once!

Buon Appetito!

 

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Vegan Melanzane Impanate

Vegan Melanzane Impanate

Some people call them aubergines, others eggplants but in Italy they are known as melanzane.

This delicious vegetable can be cooked in a thousand different manners but today I’m going to share with you the vegan version of a very traditional recipe: melanzane impanate. This quick and delicious dish can be ready to eat in about 15 minutes.

Ingredients:

(For two people)

2 medium size eggplants

1/2 cup of wheat flour

1/2 cup of chickpea flour or pea flour

some salt (ideally, sea salt)

Vegetable cooking oil

Recipe Instructions:

  • Clean the eggplants by getting rid of the non edible top part.
  • If they are very long, cut them in a half and then slice them vertically so that you can obtain a shape like the one in the photo. Ideally they should be about 1 cm thick.
  • Spread the eggplant slices on a plate and sprinkle some salt all over them. Let them sit for about ten minutes (my mother lets them sit for much longer to get most of the water out of the vegetable but if you are in a hurry don’t bother too much about it).
  • In a different plate or a big bowl if you prefer, put the chickpea flour and gradually add a little water while stirring with a fork. This is supposed to be an egg substitute so the consistency should be rather creamy but still liquid. Add a pinch of salt.
  • Now, you need another plate for the wheat flour. Spread it around the plate uniformly.
  • Prepare a non stick pan with a quarter of a cup of vegetable cooking oil in it and put it on low heat.
  • Take one slice of eggplant, deep it in the egg substitute cream, then put it on the plate with wheat flour and turn it around. Do not press the wheat against the eggplant with your fingers, otherwise it will be too much. If you think that there is not enough flour attached to the eggplant, just turn it around another couple of times in the wheat flour.
  • At this stage, the oil should be hot enough to start cooking. As soon as the eggplants are coated, gently place them in the pot and let them cook until their bottom color change into brown. Then, turn them around and cook the other side until crunchy.
  • When the eggplants are ready, put them in a clean plate and wait another 5 minutes before eating them. The eggplant should be crunchy outside but soft and creamy inside.

This is a wonderful dish liked by almost everyone. Traditionally, the melanzane impanate used to be deep fried but if you use a non stick pan, you just need some oil for the crunch effect.

Melanzane impanate is a side dish but I eat it as a main dish together with brown rice and green vegetables to have a balanced meal!

Happy Vegan Day to all of you!

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Vegan Gnocchi di Patate

Vegan Gnocchi di Patate

Gnocchi di patate is a traditional northern Italian dish simply made of potatoes and wheat flour. It’s a very delicious and nutritious food yet affordable and the ingredients widely available. You can use your imagination to make the sauce that better suits your palate but in my case, I made a green been sauce to garnish the gnocchi. By the way, many people love gnocchi just as they are by adding a little bit of olive oil on top once they are cooked.

Here is the recipe:

How to make Gnocchi:

(Ingredients for 2 people)

2 Medium size potatoes better if young

1/2 cup of wheat flour

(I used organic white wheat flour but you can use other types if you wish and if you are allergic to gluten you can use rice or corn flour)

Some salt

  • Peel the potatoes and cut them into fairly big even cubes (not to small)
  • Fill a pot of water and bring it to the boil
  • When the water is boiling, put the potatoes inside and cook until they are soft but still a little firm.
  • Drain the potatoes and put them in a big bowl.
  • Mashed the potatoes down with a fork  and add a few pinches of salt.
  • Gradually start adding the flour with a spoon while keeping stirring the dough with a fork
  • When the dough starts getting thicker, start working it with your hands. If you think that the dough is still too wet, add some extra wheat.
  • When the dough has a homogeneous consistence, make little balls and then extend the edges a little to make them look like those in the photo (this is the traditional Italian way).
  • Now fill a pot with water (o recycle the previous one) and bring it to the boil. Add a spoon of salt (sea salt is best)
  • Add the gnocchi one by one rather quickly because they cook in a few minutes.
  • When the gnocchi come to the surface of the water, wait another minute and then drain them.

Gnocchi

How to make the Green Beans Sauce

(Ingredients for 2 people)

10 Asian long beans or 1/2 kg of green beans

2 cloves of garlic

1 spoon of sesame seeds

Vegetable Cooking Oil (I used pure soy bean oil)

salt

1 red chili

  • Smashed the garlic into small pieces and clean it from its peel
  • Slice the chili
  • Mix the garlic and the chili together
  • Wash the beans and cut them into pieces of about 2 cm of length
  • Put a little oil in a non stick pan and add the garlic and chili
  • When the garlic is starting to turn orange, add the beans and the sesame seeds and stir thoroughly
  • Cover the pan with a lid and wait for a few minutes
  • Occasionally stir the beans again
  • When the beans look slightly crunchy, turn off the heat, add the gnocchi and stir gently then serve.
  • Gnocchi taste better when they are not too hot so let them sit for a few minutes before eating them.

いただきます!

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Cambodian Angels

Cambodian Angels

A great idea good for the environment and good for the people: Rehash Trash.

While I was on my way to the market, I noticed a different shop which I couldn’t quite figured out what it was about. My intuition told me to stop and have a look because it had certainly something to do with recycling by the name of it.

For those of you who’ve never had the opportunity to visit Asian countries, you should know that the biggest environmental hazard is primarily represented by plastic bags. In the past, most Asian countries used banana leaves and bamboo baskets to carry their food and goods around so when those suddenly got replaced by plastic bags, nobody bothered explaining to the people – many of whom are illiterate – that plastic is not biodegradable,  on the contrary it is a real threat to everything and everyone.

I do my best here not to use plastic bags but sometimes it is virtually impossible. Even if I go to the market with my own containers, there are some types of food which are sold sealed in plastic bags (just like in supermarkets), like fresh tofu for instance. But I live here, so I have the opportunity to buy containers (yep, made of plastic) to be recycled over and over again. As a tourist, it is not that easy to do it but here are some tips for those travelling in Asian countries.

Do your part no matter how small, many drops of water together form an ocean:

  • Carry a thermal bottle with you because in countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and Nepal, you can just refill your bottle for a very cheap price without any plastic waste. In Cambodia, most guest houses and hotels have free water dispensers where you can fill your bottle.
  • Make a little room in your backpack or suitcase for a lunch box  so that if you want to buy anything fresh you can ask the people to put it in your box.
  • Do not use a straw when you drink, people are very clean and nobody ever got sick by drinking straight from a glass. I’m your living proof, I even drink fresh coconut milk straight from the market without cooking it: delicious! For coconut water, if you are given a straw just keep it and use it for the time being.
  • If you are given any plastic bags, wash them in your room and use them again.
  • Buy your fresh food from the local market and not the supermarket because they use a lot of packaging just like in the West.

The target is obviously to eliminate plastic altogether but in the meantime, let’s do our best.

Back to my story with the shop named Rehash Trash, I discovered that they are an NGO which recycles rubbish bags and turns them into beautiful and useful items. I actually bought a big laundry basket myself. The women working there are the mothers of several street children who are given the opportunity to make a little income and provide for their kids. They also offer workshops where you can learn how to recycle plastic.

 

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If you come to Siem Reap, do visit them, here is their FB page:

https://www.facebook.com/RehashTrash/?ref=py_c

Be proud of yourself live Eco and not ego!