Root vegetable soup

36189115_1999281686748843_5251876771074146304_nThis soup may not look pretty, but it certainly tastes good. I needed to use up some root vegetables that were starting to get soft, as well as some wilting kale.

Ingredients

  • 1 diced onion
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 3-4 diced carrots
  • 1 diced white turnip
  • Chopped kale
  • Red kidney beans
  • A handful of dry rice
  • Vegetable stock
  • Thyme & sage
  1. Saute the onions, carrots, and turnip. Once browned, add the diced garlic
  2. Use enough stock to just cover the vegetables. If the soup becomes too thick, you can always add more stock.
  3. Add chopped kale, red beans, and dry rice
  4. Season to taste, and simmer until the vegetables and rice are cooked.

 

Advertisements

Vegan shepherd’s pie – of a sort

My contribution to my choir’s annual potluck supper this year consisted of a vegan shepherd’s pie. I use the term shepherd’s pie loosely, as the dish I prepared takes a view liberties with the classic definition.

The Filling

  • Gardein Beefless Ground
  • Diced onions
  • Diced garlic
  • Diced zucchini
  • Diced carrots
  • Peas
  • Salsa (I use the mild variety, but you can get as spicy as you like)
  • Tomato Paste
  • Dried oregano

I sauteed the onions, then added the zucchini and garlic and cooked until browned. I added the rest of the ingredients and simmered for about 45 minutes. I used the tomato paste to absorb any liquid, as the filling should not be runny.

Topping

  • Potatoes
  • Vegan margarine (I used Becel Vegan)
  • Soy cheese
  • Shredded vegan cheddar (I used Earth Island; known as Follow Your Heart in the U.S.)

Mash the potatoes with the ingredients above. Salt to taste.

Place the filling in a casserole and top with the potatoes. Bake until the top is browned.

 

 

Switzerland bans crustacean cruelty

I was very pleased to read that the Swiss government has banned the practice of boiling alive lobsters without first stunning them. Further, live crustaceans, including the lobster, may no longer be transported on ice or in ice water. Aquatic species must always be kept in their natural environment. Crustaceans must now be stunned before they are killed.  Needless to say, the food industry in Switzerland is not happy about this.

Living in Nova Scotia, where lobster fishing is a large industry, it’s impossible to avoid seeing the cruel treatment of lobsters. You can’t go into any supermarket without seeing a tank filled with lobsters who can barely move. The lobsters are sold alive and, in most cases, will be boiled alive by consumers. I cannot fathom how any normal person can immerse a living creature into a pot of boiling water. It’s also horrible to see freshly-boiled lobsters being served in restaurants, knowing what these poor creatures must have endured. Knowing how far behind animal welfare laws lag in Canada, I very much doubt we will see similar legislation any time soon.

Pacifica Devocean Lipstick

Finding good vegan lipsticks can be very challenging. Because vegan lipsticks don’t use animal derived waxes to thicken them, such as beeswax, they can be rather soft and break easily. I have gone through a number of lipsticks that melted if they were carried in a handbag in the summer, or broke in half. Colour selection can sometimes be limited, especially since, for some reason, so many vegan lipsticks contain shimmer.

I have used Pacifica lip products in the past and wasn’t satisfied with the results. I am not a fan of lip gloss, as I don’t like the slippery texture. Their tinted lip balms had a little too much shimmer for my liking. Their new product, Lip Devocean, however, is wonderful. The lipstick comes in a slim stick, which I like, goes on very smoothly, has no shimmer and, most importantly, does not dry out or irritate my lips. The shade in the picture above is the one I am using: Natural Mystic. The ingredients are:

oleic/linoleic/linolenic polyglycerides (from sunflower oil), butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter, diiostearyl malate, caprylic/capric triglyceride (from coconut oil), simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) esters, simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) oil, euphorbia chinensis (candelilla) wax, cetyl alcohol, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, flavor oil (all natural), tocopherol (vitamin E). May contain: melia azadirachta fruit extract, mica, titanium dioxide, iron oxides, tin oxide, vaccinium macrocarpon fruit (cranberry) extract, coccinia indica flower extract, daucus carota sativa root (carrot) extract, lycopersicum fruit (tomato) extract, and beta vulgaris (beetroot) extract.

The high level of shea butter explains the moisturizing aspect of this lipstick. the lipstick does have a scent, but it’s not an artificial one but, rather, derived from a number of the ingredients above (e.g., rosemary leaf extract, cranberry extract, and so forth).

Highly recommended. All Pacifica products are vegan and cruelty free.

 

 

Exploring Daiya alternatives

 

Image Source

I have been a fan of Daiya products for many years. I was proud to support a Canadian company that was committed to producing cruelty-free vegan products. Now that Daiya has been sold to the Japanese company Otsuka, a large pharmaceutical company that engages in animal testing. Many vegans like me are not at all happy about this development, as we do not wish to support a parent company that conducts animal testing.  It is for this same reason that I don’t buy products from  Tom’s of Maine, for example, which is owned by Colgate, a company that has been conducting tests on animals for decades.

Many vegans have decided to stop buying Daiya products because of this change in ownership. It’s always difficult to know how far up the chain of ownership to take one’s ethics. Daiya products continue to be cruelty-free, as are those made by Tom’s of Maine. The question of parent companies is vexing, since so many companies are owned by larger companies which may, in fact, be owned by even larger companies. Again, how far up the chain does one go?

My approach is to use products made by companies that do not have links to animal testing. If these alternatives do not exist, then I will buy from a company if its products are vegan and cruelty-free, even if its parent company has some links to animal testing.  In the case of Daiya, I have found a number of good alternatives made by companies with no ties to animal testing. My favourites are:

  • Earth Island (in Canada), whose parent company, Follow Your Heart, makes its products in a solar-powered factory, and is firmly committed to cruelty-free products.  The shreds are much better than Daiya’s and the price is comparable.
  • Sheese, made by Bute Island Foods, which does not test on animals, and does not use palm oil.  The Sheese line is incredibly good, but rather more costly than other vegan brands.

I make my own cashew-based cheese, but I do use commercial vegan cheeses if I want something a little firmer, and especially if I want to put shreds on my pizza.

Bikinis, vegan desserts, and PETA

In this article, Phoebe-Jane Boyd, who is vegan, discusses the latest publicity-stunt-gone-wrong by PETA at Wimbledon. This time, PETA had bikini-clad women serving strawberries and vegan cream.  According to PETAthe tennis fans loved our vegan version of the classic Wimbledon snack, which helped prove that there are delicious plant-based alternatives to every dairy-based food you can think of.  Boyd questions the efficacy of these tactics: My own interactions with promotional models at these things have never ended in increased brand awareness, but rather with a feeling of discomfort at the expectation that I’m to treat the women like walking, talking product shelves with boobs instead of human beings.

I gave up my PETA membership a number of years ago, mostly as a reaction to their tasteless publicity stunts, such as this. I am so tired of PETA parading mostly women in scantily-clad costumes to promote animal welfare and veganism. PETA’s pat response is demonstrated below (this was in reaction to its tweet about the Wimbledon event):

PETA’s response is facile at best. The fact that the women in question chose to participate in this publicity stunt does not address the notion of exploiting women’s bodies. Exploitation does not presuppose or require consent (or lack thereof), but is the use of tactics for the sake of profit, marketing, and so forth. These tactics are outdated at best.

There is a long list of reasons why I cannot support PETA: The tasteless publicity stunts, the cloying pandering to celebrities, the sexist and tasteless “sexy vegan celebs,” the aggressive attacks on people (e.g., those wearing fur coats), and their association of the killing of animals with the Holocaust. Many people object to PETA’s euthanasia policy; I am less troubled by this, as euthanasia may sometimes be the only humane solution for animals who are severely ill or injured, and who are not candidates for adoption. At least, I very much hope that PETA does, in fact, use euthanasia as a last resort.

Some tipping points for me were PETA’s attempt to exploit Detroiters’ lack of water by offering to pay their water bill if they promised to go vegan for one month. I was so incensed by this crass attempt at publicity at the expense of people who were suffering, that I phoned PETA and expressed my utter disgust. Besides taking advantage of people who were at a low point, “veganism under duress” is hardly going to produce long-term commitments to veganism, so it was nothing more than a cheap publicity stunt. Another spectacular low point was PETA’s suggestion that a prison serve a teen, who had practised cannibalism, vegan meals, arguing that we are all made of flesh and blood, that we are all animals, and that the violent acts that Harrouff has been charged with are similar to those commonly inflicted upon billions of farmed animals in the U.S. each year. I can’t even begin to imagine how the friends and families of the two people that Harrouff murdered were impacted by this crass suggestion.

There is no doubt that PETA has been successful in pressuring governments and organizations into improving the welfare of some animals, but I’ve never believed in the adage that the ends justify the means. I would much rather support organizations that use compassion, intelligence, and kindness, and whose focus is upon animals and their welfare, rather than on self-promotion.

Elate Cosmetics

Update: I’ve now used the Elate mascara and am pleased with the results. Unlike a number of other vegan mascaras I have used, this one is not wet and sticky, and stays on all day without sticking. It’s a keeper.

While I make all of my household cleaning products, and most of my personal care products, cosmetics are items I still buy. I have been using mineral makeup for at least 15 years and have gone through a number of different brands. It’s important that the products I use be made in Canada; they must also be vegan, of course, and create as little waste as possible. I had been using products made in Nova Scotia but, to be honest, the quality of their minerals was not as high as I would have liked. I very much like the ZuZu Luxe products, but they are made in the US. An attractive feature of these products is that they do use refillable products (unfortunately, refills are not sold in the local stores here), but they do use a lot of plastic.

I am pleased to have found a Canadian brand that not only uses refillable products, but also bamboo for its containers, rather than plastic. Elate Cosmetics is based in Victoria, BC. Their products are vegan and mineral based. They sell bamboo containers for their makeup, which you refill with powder, eye shadow, and so forth. The mascara is not refillable, but it does come in a bamboo container. The products were shipped in the smallest possible box, encased in tissue paper, and held in place with some recyclable packing peanuts, which double also as my cats’ new favourite toy. The products came with a lovely hand-written note from the owner.

The picture on the left shows the bamboo container filled with the foundation powder, which came in the small paper package to the left of the compact. The tube is the mascara, also in bamboo. The picture on the right shows the top of the compact. I was a little alarmed when I saw the colour of the powder, as it looked too dark for me, given pale and fair skin. The colour does not go on as dark as it looks, and it works quite well for me, but I will go up a lighter tone next time. This particular shade is described as fair, with warm tones, and looks lighter on the website. Next time I will select the shade up, which is for very fair skin with neutral undertones. The powder goes on well and gives the matte look that I like. My skin is delicate in nature, but I have not experienced any reactions to the powder so far. I haven’t tried the mascara yet. I have not had much luck with vegan mascaras, as I’ve found most of them to be very sticky, so I’m crossing my fingers. I will update once I use it.