Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Part Time Vegan?

In recent months there has been a spate of celebrities embracing the vegan diet for health reasons. Among these celebrities are Bill Clinton, Venus and Serena Williams, Chaka Khan and Michelle Pfeiffer. But does this make them vegan?

I think we first need to look at the definition of vegan. According to the Vegan Society “A vegan is someone who tries to live without exploiting animals, for the benefit of animals, people and the planet. Vegans eat a plant-based diet, with nothing coming from animals - no meat, milk, eggs or honey, for example. A vegan lifestyle also avoids leather, wool, silk and other animal products for clothing or any other purpose.”

So this doesn’t include someone who intentionally eats a bit of fish here and there or intentionally drinks some cow’s milk now and again.

I would therefore define some of the recent celebrity vegans as wannabe vegans. Or perhaps, more correctly, that they’re on a plant based diet (after all, “plant based” doesn’t necessarily mean they eat 100% plants!). But in my mind they are not vegan unless they comply with the above definition.

You are either a vegan or you’re not a vegan, you can’t be in between. It’s a bit like someone who has given up smoking, they are either a smoker or a non-smoker, but can’t be something in between. If a non-smoker has a puff of a cigarette every week are they still a non-smoker? Of course not.

And as far as veganism is concerned, my lacto-vegetarian friend who comes along to the vegan pot-luck, and eats vegan food at least once a week, is he a vegan? Of course not.

Yes we want to encourage people to go vegan as it is far better for the planet and the animals than a meat based diet. And it’s great to see celebrities embark on a plant based diet, as this may encourage others to also consider their food choices. But don't be too quick to label them as vegan while they are still eating some animal products! When they have publicly stated "I'm a vegan, I don't eat any animal products" then we can call them vegans.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Come Dine With Me : The vegetarian hypocrites

I watched celebrity Come Dine With Me on Channel 4 earlier this week. Interestingly two of the celebrities, Jodie Marsh (glamour model) and Iain Lee (radio presenter) were both vegetarian, and vegetarian for ethical reasons for that. The other two celebrities Lembit Öpik (former politician) and Debbie McGee (magician's assistant) weren't.

Now what got me was that when it was Iain lee's turn to host the meal he offered salmon to his meat-eating guests. And when it was Jodie's turn she made a rack of lamb for her two meat-eating guests! Why, oh why, oh why?

I'm a vegan and if I had guests round I'd hope they'd respect the fact that I don't approve of killing animals so I wouldn't be giving them meat. Not only that, but the majority of meat eaters don't eat meat at every meal!

To his credit, Lembit made vegetarian food for everyone even though he wasn't vegetarian!

So why did Iain and Jodie do it? Iain really didn't explain why. Jodie made some excuse that she wanted to cook meat so she could find a husband, [as if there weren't enough veggie guys around!!!].

It's sending the wrong message to meat-eaters. It's saying, "veggie food doesn't taste that great" or "I can't make good veggie food" . Veggie and vegan food can be wonderful - just go for a meal at Manna or SAF or Zilli Green in London and you'll know what I mean. See www.veganlondon.co.uk for list of veggie/vegan restaurants.

I didn't know Iain was vegetarian before the programme started. I did however know Jodie was, and that she'd done some work for PETA (in fact a big PETA poster with her displaying all was hanging on her living room wall). Jodie has just gone down in my estimation. She may have won the Come Dine With Me challenge, and she may claim she is intelligent, but clearly she's not that intelligent.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

These are a few of my favourite things!

For those of you with a sweet tooth, I thought I'd post a list of some of my favourite foods and where to get them.

Ice Cream
I love the maple lacuna vegan ice cream from Inspiral Lounge - it's very healthy (no added sugar) and tastes absolutely delicious. Hopefully they will be having a stall at the upcoming Festival of Life on 25 September 2010

Cheese Cake
I have a passion for tofu cheesecake. These are my three favourite sources:
  • Those of you who come to London Vegans meetings will be familiar with Shambhus Caterers. They also cater at the Animal Aid Xmas Fayre and other veg*n events. They do a delicious mixed berries cheesecake for about £3.50.
  • I haven't been to The Green Note in Camden Town for quite a while , but they used to do (and may still do) the most creamy tofu cheescake.
  • If you're wanting a special meal out, go to Manna restaurant in Primrose Hill. It's a gourmet vegan restaurant, and when we went last month the cheesecake was amazing. They keep changing the menu so the cheesecake may not always be available.
Other Cakes
I'm not a great fan of raw cakes (even though they may be healthy), and haven't yet had the opportunity to try out the various vegan cupcake stalls at Greenwich Market. I have however been to Pogo Cafe in Hackney a few times and although this is a workers cooperative and the staff seem to change regularly, I've always enjoyed the cakes here.

Soya Mango Lassi
If you like Indian food go to the Indian Bhel Poori in Chapel Market. They don't have any desserts, but they do have soya vegan Mango Lassi which is a sweet soya yogurty drink. Tastes very nice, and I'm not aware of anywhere else in London that does it.

That's all for now. You can find details of all London's vegan cafes and restaurants at http://www.veganlondon.co.uk/

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Vegan in Marlborough, MA

So I arrived safely at my hotel in Marlborough MA. One of my first tasks was to visit Hannafords, the local supermarket to stock up on food for my stay.

Well, I though we had a good selection of vegan food at our local Waitrose in London but in Hannafords they have a large natural food section. Lots of difference types of tofu as well as veggie burgers and other meat replacements. Not to mention the ready made frozen meals. What I was particularly happy (and very surprised) to see were Larabars. They stopped selling these in the UK a year or two back but they are still on sale in the US and still labelled as vegan. I also found some veggie sushi in the chilled food section which I had for my supper. It was lovely, but I had to avoid the wasabi as it contained artificial colouring.

I nearly bought a tub of vegan non-soya ice-cream (made from coconuts) but didn't because I don't have a freezer in my hotel room so I would have had to have eaten the whole tub in one go. Now i think about it Maybe I'll do this another night.

Meal on British Airways Flight to Boston

I set off today for a 5 day trip to the National Guild of Hypnotists convention, being held at Marlborough, just outside Boston, MA , USA . My British Airways meal was pretty good considering. It consisted of couscous and roasted vegetables together with a roll and vegan 'margarine', salad, and a vegan dessert of pineapple and pistachio nuts with a non dairy custard-like substance. I thought the couscous meal was pretty good for an airline meal.

The girl sitting next to me (an italian girl in her 20's flying with her girlfriend) also had a VGML meal. I assumed she was also veg*n. I realised later on in the flight that she'd got the vegan meal by mistake cos she'd swapped seats earlier on with an Indian girl.

My disappointment with BA however came when they brought a snack 90 mins before landing. It was a tomato and roast red pepper sandwich with a small packet of californian raisins . Sounds good and it looked very nice, and yes the sandwich was suitable for vegetarians and vegans. So why the disappointment. Not because it was white bread, and no so much because it contained e numbers, but because it contained partially hydrogenated oils and fats. Surely BA realise that many people follow a veg*n diet for health reasons. Surely BA realise that hydrogenated fats are implicated in heart disease. So why include these ingredients?

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Tetley Tea develop a tea specifically suited for soya milk

Tetley have developing a unique tea that has been specifically blended to compliment the taste of soya milk.

They say "Perfect for those with a vegan lifestyle, Tetley for Soya has shown in taste testing to be preferred over other mainstream tea brands. So much so that the leading UK soya brand, Alpro®, has given it their seal of approval. "

The teas in Tetley for Soya have been exclusively sourced from high-altitude tea estates to produce the fresh, full flavoured taste which works perfectly with soya. Plus all the teas in Tetley for Soya have been sourced responsibly as Tetley are proud to be founding members of the Ethical Tea Partnership.

Speaking about the new product, Amy Holdsworth, Marketing Manager from Tetley has commented “98% of tea in the UK is drunk with milk, and we learnt from our consumers that soya milk makes tea taste quite different. At Tetley, we believe that everyone deserves a great cup of tea, so taking on board their comments; we’ve blended a fantastic quality tea that produces the best tasting cuppa for soya drinkers”.