My Vegan Pledge

go-vegan-I-think

I’ve taken a vegan pledge this March with the guys from EFFA – Exeter Friends for Animals. I’ve been vegetarian for about 27 years now and I have had a lot of vegan friends over the years, and often wondered what it would be like to live a vegan lifestyle. I was asked to do this month long pledge by Wendy at EFFA and I said yes, I’d give it a try. I’m now a third of a way through my month and it has not been an easy start I must admit. You’d think the transition from veggie to vegan would be fairly painless but I’ve found it…interesting, a learning curve, a new experience – but hey – life would be boring otherwise wouldn’t it !!

Apparently between 1% of UK households contain a vegan whereas 4-12% of households have a vegetarian person living there. Most vegans have lower BMI’s, lower cholesterol and lower blood pressure. Vegans eat less calories, less confectionary, less fat and less cakes – one of my reasons to give veganism a try and I’ll give you the results at the the end of the month (says she who has just made a fabulous vegan chocolate cake – pictured below)

431259_10150745444088417_726253416_11503279_489907179_n

So what am I finding difficult so far – not being able to have a cup of tea or coffee at a friend or relatives house, or at most cafe’s or even at the town council where I spend many an evening! I had some issues with curdling coffee at the start of the month but now I’m only using Alpro soya and microwaving a cup of half water/half soya milk then adding coffee seems to do the trick. I’m drinking other things now – more water and fruit juices which can’t be bad.

go-vegan-human-exrement-go-vegan

I miss cheese – I realised I must usually eat some form of cheese most days even if it is sprinkled on top of pasta bolognaise. I can’t bear the thought of not having a lasagne or cauliflower cheese again, two of my favourite things. Or cottage cheese and a baked potato, a cheese sandwich, cheese on toast or creamy goats cheese and cranberry sauce! Apparently there are vegan cheeses but they look so strange I’ve not tried them yet. I also love Stilton and Brie so these things are hard to contemplate not having ever again…but it is only a month, isn’t it…

So apart from possibly losing weight (due to not being such a cheese monster) I am doing this to think a bit more about how being veggie does still involve the killing of animals in order to produce what I’m eating. I’m not really into eggs much these days but it’s amazing how many things contain eggs – eg Quorn which our family eats a lot of. But I know that for every female chick born – male chicks are being killed at a day old every day….then of course how are those female chickens housed and when are they killed for being too old to lay?

Conveyor belts of male chicks on their way to the gas chamber or a giant shredding machine
Conveyor belts of male chicks on their way to the gas chamber or a giant shredding machine

As for milk – I sometimes see poorly cared for herds of cows literally staggering from their fields to the milking parlour, staggering along pot-holed country lanes laden with udders of milk which are there for the calves which were taken from them and…fattened for meat then killed at a young age. Of course not all cows are kept in poor conditions, some live lives of Riley on delightful organic farms but at the end of the day this is farming – and these creatures are killed when the farmer decides their time is up. THE reason I became a vegetarian is because I do not believe that humans have any right whatsoever to kill animals, for any reason*

Both my children are vegetarian and I tell my 10 year old daughter that it is part of evolution. We’ve worked out, like slavery or the death penalty or other brutal acts of violence carried out by humans, that killing animals is quite simply wrong. What gives us the right to murder a living creature and then eat it or wear it or rub it on our skin in a cream or potion? Let’s just hope the rest of the human race realise soon that they have no right to stop a beating heart and no right or need to eat flesh. And as far as religion goes – a god who tells people (in the bible) “Everything that lives and moves will be food for you” is no god I believe in.

tumblr_ludffse5H81qmihiao1_500

* I do believe in euthanasia if an animal (or a person) is in extreme pain however and in my younger days working as a vet nurse, I have helped suffering animals to die a calm, dignified death. I also helped many animals to live too! People should have the right to euthanasia as well – but that’s another blog….

South West Green Party Cookbook

I’m extremely pleased to be able to announce that after many months of preparation – the South West Green Party cookbook is now available! Hot off the press from the lovely people at Axminster Printing, our book features over 60 vegetarian and vegan recipes contributed by Green Party members in the region.

The front & back cover of the book is one photo I took at the recent Embercombe apple day
The front & back cover of the book is one photo I took at the recent Embercombe apple day

You should be able to order the  book from your local Green Party here in the South West. Scroll down to the bottom of this page to find your nearest group http://southwest.greenparty.org.uk/region/southwest

Or contact the South West Green Party – see http://southwest.greenparty.org.uk/shopgreen.html

As lovely as it is the turks turban squash is not included with the cookbook!
As lovely as it is the turks turban squash is not included with the cookbook!

Printed on 100% recycled paper, there are wonderful homemade soups, stews, salads, starters, main courses, cakes, biscuits, breads and more! And Caroline Lucas has contributed her delicious Christmas cake. It’s a great gift idea.

P1040408

A huge thank you to Green Party member Cherry Puddicombe who did all the design work for free! Check out Cherry’s website http://lifework.biz The book includes a chapter on ‘Green Eateries’ – a useful list of veggie and vegan restaurants and cafe’s in the South West.

There are photos of Green Party members throughout the book
There are some friendly familiar faces dotted throughout the book

BREAKING NEWS: AS OF THURSDAY 8TH DECEMBER WE NOW HAVE A FEW COPIES OF THE COOKBOOK SIGNED BY CAROLINE LUCAS – A GREAT GIFT FOR ANY GREEN FRIENDS. THESE SPECIAL EDITION COPIES ARE PRICED AT £10 EACH. POSTAGE FOR ONE BOOK IS £1.

South West Greens Cookbook

Calling all masterchefs out there!! I’m compiling a cookbook/recipe book for the green party here in the south west. It’s a bit of fun, as we all know us greens like our nosh and lots of us are culinary whizzkids behind that kitchen door. We can also raise a few quid from it too if we all chip in and make it happen. We can split the profits between the regional committee (funds for the European Elections in 2014) and your own local parties. Hope you can help, it’s really quite simple, all you do is…

Think of your favourite recipe, perhaps an old favourite, something you (or a friend/relative has) invented or a delicious recipe passed down through the family. (Please do not copy from a cookbook as we could be in all sorts of trouble with copyright!)

Email me the recipe to sdpavey@googlemail.com as a word document.

Please make sure you include:

Your name

Your local green party in the south west

Add a few lines about the recipe – where it came from, why you enjoy it, how it’s best served etc. Any funny anecdotes are great too. Recipes from around the world would be great.

Title of recipe

Ingredients list

Instructions

Optional – photo of you making it, or you and your family eating it.

There you go, easy as pie. If you have a favourite local veggie/vegan cafe or eatery you can recommend, please email me their details as we will be looking for sponsorship for the cookbooks.

Sharon Pavey – Coordinator for the east devon greens & south west regional fundraiser

Click here for the south west green party site

S’cone before you know it…

Making cheese scones today with my 4 year old assistant pastry chef Aleck. Used this recipe from the BBC food website, which took about 15 mins to make and a further 15 mins in the oven. I did put about double the cheese in though as wanted quite tasty ones, and glad I did as they were about average cheesiness after baking.

Quite pleased with the outcome and they taste absolutely delicious – especially when warm, just out of the oven and the butter just melts on them and trickles in your mouth. Just not sure how many will be left by the time hubby gets home tonight with me, Aleck and Nanny Sue gobbling them all up! Sorry honey!

Susan’s Vegetarian Hotpot

I’m making veggie hotpot for dinner – and my little sister often asks for my recipes, so I’m adding it on here for Susan and anyone else interested in a delicious wholesome vegetarian or vegan dinner, to warm you up on a cold winters day like today. If you eat meat and want to know how having a veggie meal once a week can help reduce global warming – click here to find out more about Meat Free Mondays.

So here you go…

Get a casserole dish (with a lid) and fill it with the following:

One or two onions – sliced, chopped, chunky or fine – however you like your onion (my children prefer onion chopped up small so they don’t even notice it but it still adds essential flavour)

I use at least three big garlic cloves – more if anyone in the family is ill as garlic is sooooo good for you, chop them up finely and stick them in the pot

One parsnip sliced

Two carrots sliced

One red pepper, sliced or chopped

One bag of quorn pieces fried, or a packet of quorn or other veggie/vegan sausages fried or oven baked first then sliced and in the pot (this part is not essential – you could just have a vegetable dish)

Tin chopped tomatoes

2-3 potatoes fairly thinly sliced

Half a tin of chick peas

Then add some stock – I use one veggie stock cube (Oxo or Knorr) in about 300mls boiling water. I add a teaspoon or two of marmite to the stock as it’s so good for you and adds to the taste.

Add herbs & spices – the ones I like in my hotpot (at the moment – as it changes from year to year) are fenugreek, thyme, basil, cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, cumin and salt & pepper. Experiment with the  flavours you like and please add suggestions in the comment box at the bottom if you find some tasty flavours.

Mix it all round a bit and stick the lid on and put your casserole dish in the oven on medium for about 2 hours or high for an hour, prod with a fork to see if the veggies are cooked enough for you.

This makes enough for my family of four – usually with some left over for lunch the next day! The great thing about hotpot is you can stick anything in it really – especially left over veggies in the fridge like a leek, green beans, swede or bit of cauliflower or broccoli. Sweet potato is tasty in hot pot too.

I serve my hotpot with some crusty bread and/or couscous, bulgar wheat or Quinoa

Don’t forget to put all your veggie peelings into your compost bin or boil them up to make a lovely layers mash for your chickens like I do (thanks to Holly for this idea!)

I’ve found some other Vegetarian Hotpot recipes if you fancy getting adventurous…

Great BBC article on Simon Rimmer’s veggie restaurant including a recipe for Vegetarian Lancashire Hotpot

Vegetarian Society recipe for Spanish Vegetable Hotpot

Spicy Veggie Hotpot from Asda