Happy Veganniversary: what I’ve learnt about the world

Today marks my first anniversary of deciding to commit to ‘this vegan thing’.

I’d done Veganuary and felt confident that I was on the right track. My reasons started out based on health, but over January 2017 had evolved into ethical and environmental ones.

My eyes were open and there was no going back.

Little did I realise that the next 12 months would be some of the most challenging of my entire life. They would also be some of the most rewarding.

To mark my 1st Veganniversary I thought I’d share my new found truths.

What I’ve learned along my Veganism Journey

  1. A lot of my general knowledge was actually unsupported assumptions. Surely they just put a cow and a bull in a paddock and let em work it out for themselves? No. A million times no. Artificial insemination makes perfect sense from a business perspective – why leave something so important to chance? But the cows will need to be milked anyway, or they’ll get mastitis, right? No. A trillion times no. No other mammal continues to produce milk after a certain time after birth, why do we think cows are any different?
  2. Free range doesn’t necessarily guarantee humane. In a dark barn with barely enough room to move isn’t the free range they show you on the packets!
  3. Protein is not as important as the meat industry wants us to believe. Most of my sources (books, nutrition courses, websites and documentaries) tell us we only need around 80mg of protein in a day. Anything more than this will be eliminated from our bodies as waste. This we can get through a variety of plant foods, such as beans, almonds and sunflower seeds, in abundance. Plus, we can plan to get exactly what we need, rather than overdosing and using vital energy eliminating the excess from our bodies. Seems like simple math to me!!
  4. No matter what facts you give people, admitting they were mislead is very difficult. And I’ll say ‘mislead’ as opposed to wrong, because wrong would indicate a conscious decision was made. This is rarely the case in society. Maybe it’s a pride thing, who knows! There have been less than a handful of people I’ve spoken to about the impacts of animal agriculture, backed up by statistics, who don’t choose to ignore or forget what they heard and continue to do what they always did. Health of the planet, be damned!
  5. No amount of ‘shorter showers’ will come close to the amount of water I’ve saved. Using the stats given in Cowspiracy, converted to the metric system, for each kilogram of meat I don’t consume, I’m saving over 5000 litres of water. That’s 500 “shorter showers” a week! A WEEK!!! Why doesn’t the Australian Waterboard give us those statistics??
  6. Being vegan doesn’t guarantee compassion. This one breaks my heart. To profess so much compassion for animals and then not show it to your fellow species is not only sad, but hypocritical as well. Under this heading comes tolerance as well, but in the form of a lack of tolerance for people doing their best and living by their rules. Vegans can be among the most judgemental people I have ever come across. I thought indoctrination was only for the religious? Apparently I was wrong.
  7. People think they are being funny when they show you pictures of dead animals. This has really mostly been from teenagers, but I’ve had adults make jokes about me eating their chicken salad for lunch. We don’t go around showing them pictures of things that offend and upset them, like dead babies or decapitated human heads, so why do they do this to us? It’s blatant disrespect and, done enough, bullying and harassment.
  8. Sometimes you are surprised by the least likeliest of people. Some family and friends have been ultra supportive of my choice, even choosing to eat with me when they have other options. I know it is highly unlikely these people will ever become vegan, but I can appreciate when they support my choice and show it with their forks! It’s even better when you can have a decent conversation with them where they listen to your reasons and engage in a positive way!
  9. There is a such thing as a fat vegan and I’m fast becoming one! I am only a little bit sad to say the clincher for my choice was discovering that French Fries were vegan! Oh, happy day!! And this was before So Good and Over the Moo released their dairy free ice cream…
  10. Sometimes it seems animal products are in literally everything! From hot chocolate powder to plastic bags, animal agriculture seems to have its claws in all our commonly used products! Luckily for us, most things can be easily replaced. Equally lucky is that most restaurants always have hot chips on the menu!

I am sure there is plenty more that could and should go on this list, but these are the stand out lessons for me!

Let me know what you’ve learned on your journey and let’s see if we can’t spread the word together!!

And for whenever yours is…

Happy Veganniversary!!

Vegan Cooking

10 Must Haves for any Vegan Kitchen

In the short time I have been vegan, I have found many new recipes for amazing foods that I never thought I’d be able to cook, let alone enjoy eating! I have also found that there are a few items that you must have in your kitchen at all times. These may be for nutritional purposes, they make an excellent base for most meals or simply because you love them.


  1. Beans: I usually have a few tins of baked beans, four bean mix and chickpeas in the cupboard. I will often add the chickpeas straight from the can to salads and add a tin of the four beans to savoury nutmeat (see below), salsa or bolognaise. A quick, cheap and easy meal has been baked beans on toast with baby spinach, nutritional yeast and chia seeds. This allows me to be lazy while attempting to get all protein and iron* I need in one meal.
  2. Nutmeat Casserole: I am a huge fan of Vegie Delights Casserole mince. I usually make a savoury nut-mince, just like my Great-Grandmother used to make. Well, almost… Cook some onions, zucchini, mushrooms, peas, corn, beans or any other vegetable, add some veggie stock or vegan gravy to the nutmeat and serve on toast or mashed potato. I have recently started adding Nutritional Yeast to the mix and it has been amazing! I have also use the original nutmeat version to make a stroganoff, but I find it tedious to get out of the can and I am nothing if not a lazy cook! It was worth the hassle in the end though…
  3. Zucchini: I am not 100% sure what the nutritional information is for this most versatile vegetable, but it is green, so it has to be good right? I put it in everything from spaghetti bolognaise to salsa! I just love the taste and texture and it is easy to cook! Baked zucchini is my absolute favourite though… (Apparently Americans call this a courgette, just to confuse the situation even further!)
  4. Spinach: this little baby is amazing and I have added it to everything at least once! A great source of iron, I usually go for the baby spinach variety, but any will suffice. It is a tasty addition to morning fruit smoothies, lunch salad or wrap, and pasta or savoury mince. Again, I put it in everything and see what happens. It is also quite nice in fried rice! Just don’t cook it too long, because I read somewhere that over cooking changes the chemical make up and effects its iron levels (I can’t remember where I read/heard this, but correct me if I’m wrong…)
  5. Tofu: I have been on a nice little love affair with this amazing food! I have used silken tofu to make sour cream for my nachos and salsa. I have scrambled it and eaten it on toast for breakfast. I have even simply fried it and added it to my salad! It is a great source of protein, calcium, iron* and a host of other vitamins and minerals that keep our bodies healthy.
  6. Coconut milk or cream: This is my go to substitute for cream in traditional recipes, so we can still enjoy potato bake, pasta, lasagne and soup!! Also, you don’t get that nasty film of fat that other creams give when cooled. This also helps with the transition, as it allows us to eat what we always have so the change isn’t as drastic.
  7. Mushrooms: As my most favourite food in the whole world, I usually don’t cook a meal if it doesn’t have mushrooms in it. Even then I usually just add them and see what happens! Mushrooms are a good source of protein* and many other vitamins and add a beautiful flavour to any dish. But, I may be biased…
  8. Oats: A wholegrain that is a great source of iron and fibre*. Most Australians will eat these as a hot porridge for breakfast, but I have recently discovered the overnight oats craze, which is much nicer on a hot Australian morning. For overnight oats, add 1:1 ratio of oats and plant-based milk into an airtight jar and place in the fridge overnight (i.e. I cup oats to 1 cup of milk). I also add a tablespoon of peanut butter, a teaspoon of maple syrup, a couple of shakes of cinnamon, 1/2 – 1 teaspoon of cacao powder and a generous pinch of desiccated coconut. In the morning I will add dried blueberries or sultanas (which are also a good source of iron). Just be careful that your plant-based milk doesn’t have high calcium levels, as this can impair the absorption of iron in the body (this information came straight from my Doctor, who I suspect of being plant-based…).
  9. Nutritional yeast: This is a recent addition to my list of must-haves, I often add it to hot dishes just to see what will happen! It is one of the main ingredients in my tofu scramble that gives it a cheesy flavour without all the pesky cruelty to animals! This is a good source of protein and B vitamins, including natural B12 (according to the label)!
  10. Herbs and Spices: Herbs are a great source of antioxidants*, especially parsley. Tumeric* has also been shown to help fight cancer cells and is easy to add to any dish by simply cooking it with the pasta or rice. It will change the colour of the food, but not the taste! Just start playing around with tastes and see what you like.


Mostly, this is a list of the things I like to keep on hand at any given moment. I’m not one for meal planning, as I tend to just eat what I feel like at the time. Often if I’ve pre-cooked something I won’t want it later, not sure why, but this list has helped me to stay on the vegan path and made the transition easier.

Have I missed anything? Feel free to add your must haves in the comments below!!



*Dr Michael Gerger’, How Not to Die. A very basic reference, I know. Definitely not Harvard worthy, but google the book’s title for more information! Also, Dr Greger has a website for further information.


When you can’t see the trees for the forest…

Sometimes it takes me a little longer to get things other people take for granted. You see, I am a highly intelligent person, extremely analytical and logical. This means I don’t have a lot of common sense and I’m surprised I haven’t been hit by a car while crossing the road or starved to death for the want of boiled water.

Sometimes the connections between things are so obvious my highly intelligent mind fails to see them. I tend to think things are more complicated than they really are. Someone has to point out the obvious to me. Like the other day. Massive revelation.

And what was this obvious link, you all ask in breathless anticipation? Wait for it…

The protein we eat is the same protein we have in our bodies that helps create our cells.

The protein we eat is the same stuff that, if you have enough of it, makes your hair curly.

The protein we eat is the same squiggly stuff from Biology 1001, the university course I took a few years ago.

Primary, secondary and tertiary protein cell structure.


So, I went back and had a look at the notes to see what was really going on. I had started my search with a single question – why is protein so important that everyone is so concerned that us vegans don’t get enough? This led me to a few sites which all told me that it is the structural component of cells, it is used in tissue repair, helps in cell communication and development and makes up your vital organs. This is when the revelation hit me like a ton of excited bricks – yes, I did get excited, but I’m a nerd like that.

What did I re-learn from my biology course? Proteins are made up of many amino acids, called the ‘building blocks’ of life. They join together in polypeptide bonds and perform certain functions depending on their make up. Some catalyse the initial phase of mitosis, or cell replication, which is what heals our scraped knee or over-exercised muscles. Others are the same things that sit in our cell membranes and allow hormones and other biomolecules in or out of the cell. Some aid in the production and transportation of hormones, they tell us when to make and release adrenalin.

Taken from the course notes, the protein is the green one…


The more I look back at the notes from Biology 1001, the more I am stunned it has taken me almost 2 years to make this connection. I didn’t even make it when I was taking the course!!

I knew protein was important, but now I know why.

Sometimes my failure at common sense connections astounds me. But, the excitement when the revelation does come is very real.