Tuesday, 30 November 2010

empire iii: wherein i order too much food

coffee and the vegan menu at empire

Went to Empire on Friday with Lisa, who had yet to try out the new vegan menu.

Having heard so much about them, I finally got around to ordering the Spanish eggs with no eggs. Although I had been warned that it would be massive I still ordered a side of hashbrowns; in the end, the serve was really big, and I couldn't quite finish it. I didn't even attempt the bread, though I bet it would have been great. Happily Lisa had just enough room to sample some of the remaining beans, but I still felt folorn at leaving some behind. The spanish no-eggs are beans, mushrooms and vegan cheese in a rich and flavoursome napoli sauce. Mine was topped with avocado, which was just perfect, but usually it's topped with more vegan cheese.

It was delicius, and I will definitely order it again - and for $12, with such a massive portion, I think it's good value.

spanish eggs without the eggs

I love Empire. Tamara is great fun, and always accomodating of vegan requirements, and they stock Mr Nice Guy Vegan Cupcakes! I like to buy one or two to take home. And I'm going there again on Friday.

previous visits: one and two.

Empire Cafe
295 Sydney Road

Open from 10am weekdays (but give them time to set out the tables), and from 8.30 on weekends
Closed Tuesdays

Monday, 29 November 2010

me + usacentrism + monday morning links

I saw Frente yesterday! Everything else that happened over the weekend pales in comparison. Even the odd election (did you get to vote? I know people who couldn't get to any voting points because of the flooding!).

I realised that, two weeks after the fact, I had yet to post a link in my other blog about my intersectionality talk being up at The Scavenger, so I just did that, and took the opportunity to ramble a bit about the USA-centricity of AR (and other social justice topics) online. If you wanted to come over and weigh in, or give me your thoughts, that would be great! intersectionality 101: addressing racism and classism in animal rights activism (a talk) + USA-centrism.

This slightly odd article has been doing the rounds: The Rise of the Power Vegans. It's an interesting enough read, but I found it odd and I'm not sure why.

Unsurprising but interesting to have in a study: Animal-welfare news sways meat consumers:
News coverage of animal-welfare issues causes U.S. consumers to cut back on meat purchases and spend their money instead on non-meat items, a study indicated.
Cows, Goats Escape from Slaughterhouse, Only to be Forced Back In

I meant to link this a few weeks ago, but: Poultry producer's workers claim intimidation. Miscellaneous worker intimidation might not seem that relevant, though it is in a chook production facility, but I've started collecting these sorts of articles in Australia. One of the barriers to effective AR in Australia (I've found) is that all our information for back up comes from the USA or from Europe, so I think it's important to document the patterns (whether they are similar to those famously documented overseas or not) in order to have solid evidence.

One of the things that frustrates me about working in the environmental/climate change sector, as a vegan, is the fact that people are often really invested in not being vegetarian. This article frustrates me: Eco Friendly Fur or No Such Thing? Not necessarily because I'm like 'no fur no fur!' (though I am): but because an argument that starts with 'but they're a rodent! and they're doing environmental damage!' ignores the suffering aspects. Here is my confession: I totally prioritise reducing environmental damage. And I am very critical of introduced species. But humans, you know, did the introducing! So maybe it is our responsibility to not kill them in the usual painful methods used for getting fur. I'm there for reducing their damage on the environment, but pain is not really the answer.

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

mushroom + roast pumpkin lasagna

The weather has suddenly jumped from long coats and scarves to ice creams and trying to stay cool, but one of the last things I wanted to do before the weather changed was to cook a lasagna. Lasagna is not really a great thing to cook in summer, not only because it needs to be baked in the oven; this lasagna featured roasted pumpkin, so it required an extra long oven time.

mushroom + roast pumpkin lasagna

This lasanga is a sum of things that I love in lasagna, and rather than overwhelming with flavour, I found that the textures and flavours worked together to make something totally delicious. There are two distinct layers, a fried mushroom layer and a roasted pumpkin layer, and these two layers are padded with lasagna sheets, sun-dried tomato pesto, and a tomato sauce. So it goes sauce, pasta, pesto (spread thinly across the entire sheet/s), mushrooms, sauce, pasta, pesto, roasted pumpkin sliced, sauce, pasta, and the rest of the source. This was all topped with a mixture of Cheezely and nutritional yeast.

It wasn't too complex; the sauce was a very simple one, made using about 800g (two tins) of tinned tomatoes and some fresh and dried herbs, though I do wish I'd used maybe an extra half a can. Ordinarily I'd make the pesto, but I'd picked up some pesto from world vegan day, and worked that in. Roasting pumpkins is always a delight, and it's no trouble for me to slice and fry the mushrooms.

I sort of wish I'd made some sort of cheeze sauce, combining the Cheezely and the nutritional yeast with some tofu and milk or something, just to make it a little more moist; but the Cheezley and nutritional yeast combination was a perfectly serviceable last minute topping.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

single issue / protest voting: don't do it

There's a line in the talk I gave at the Animal Activists Forum. It was a last minute addition to my talk, but I included it in my edits for the Scavenger because I think it's really important and I feel very strongly about it.

This Saturday is the Victorian state election, and the Coalition Against Duck Shooting is spearheading a voting tactic to 'vote Greens first and Labor last,' based on Labor's policies (or lack thereof) regarding animals. I heard Laurie Levy speak on this at the Animal Activists Forum, and he said that this tactic was based on the success of the Shooter's Party (or something, I can't remember the name) campaigning and voting as a bloc to get things done. He said that this was specifically a campaign targeting the four seats that could potentially fall to the Greens: Northcote, Brunswick, Melbourne and Richmond. And the idea is literally to put the Greens first, and put Labor last. And that's it. That's the strategy.

Protest voting on a single issue is dangerous. It is too simplistic, and too short term. And one that is so targeted as this - it's targeted at these four electorates, as 'vulnerable' electorates, but there's no way to prevent a message like this from spilling over boundaries. And it assumes that - well, specifically, it assumes that the Coalition's promises on animal stuff can be trusted (it can't - look at their history, even just recent history), and it ignores the impact that the Coalition's environmental policies have on habitats, and it ignores all the other issues. It's single issue! If you put the Greens first and the ALP last because of the ALP's failure to act on animal rights issues, you're ignoring every other issue and every other impact.

Vote with your ideology. Vote for someone because you think they might be able to speak for you. Vote for someone because you want them to speak for you, or because the things they say resonate with you. Maybe not all of the things, but most of the things. Don't just do it for one of the things. And your second preference is often just as important as your first, so think about that, too. It's not just a throwaway number in a box. If you want to put the Greens first, do it. And if there's someone else you want to put after them, because they speak to what you believe in, then absolutely do it. This isn't about me making fun of your political party. You vote for who you need to. But don't protest vote. It's dangerous, and it doesn't work. Tactical voting can easily backfire.

Think about your vote, don't just protest it.

Monday, 22 November 2010

eggplant chips at the ebc

deep fried deliciousness

Found this deliciousness on the EBC's menu; I'd never noticed it before, and was excited to try eggplant chips. I expected something cut more like wedges, but instead we received these thin rounds, coated in a batter and deep fried. They were greasy and really oily, but very crisp and the eggplant held this amazing flavour. Shared these with some friends (and, of course, had the parma). Big recommend.

previous EBC visits: one; two; three; four, five.

East Brunswick Club
280 Lygon Street
East Brunswick

Thursday, 18 November 2010

yet another scrambled tofu

I must scramble tofu at least once a week - in fact, I have some tofu in the fridge which needs using up, and maybe there'll be scrambled tofu in my near future. I've blogged about scrambled tofu before, and given the weekly occurrance of tofu in my kitchen I don't usually blog about it, but I loved this one because of the colours.

colourful fuscram, plated

There was some purple cabbage and some coriander amongst the half used veggies rolling around the bottom of the fridge, and they turned out beautifully. I chopped the cabbage in to fine slithers and started by sauteing that before adding the other ingredients (to give it some extra time to wilt), and threw some coriander in at the last second, before using a little extra as some garnish. Beautiful colours, and a great flavour!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

[product] be natural muesli bars

I get grumpy the hungrier I get, to the point where I'm unable to function and it's pretty unpleasant. So I like to have things floating around for me to emergency snack on, and these Be Natural muesli bars have become my favourite, especially for flights and, as it turns out, single bite snacks whilst engaging in sports.

favourite snacks

Not all of them are vegan, but about half of them are (none of the chocolate ones, sadly!). My favourite is the purple one pictured here, which contains pepitas, currents, berries, and some kind of nut.

These are available in my local supermarket, which makes them easy to find!

Monday, 15 November 2010

intersectionality 101: addressing racism and classism in animal rights activism (a talk)

As you may remember I went to the Gold Coast for a couple of days to present at the Animal Activists Forum. I presented, with Katrina Fox on intersectionality in animal rights. It was mostly a primer, a basic introduction to intersectionality. Going in, I assumed that it would all or mostly be new concepts for people, which is why I made it really basic and really casual, lots of chatty examples and things. No jokes, because I'm not very good at that sort of thing.

If you're interested, the text of my talk is up at The Scavenger: Addressing racism and classism in animal rights activism.

Overall I was quite happy with it. It was very condensed, as we only had thirty minutes between the two of us, so there were lots of leaps and gaps and so much covered, but still, I understand it's the first time this sort of topic has been brought up at the forum, and lots of talking came out of it, and I hope that it's a conversation that can filter through AR in Australia and keep moving, because I find that intersectionality is severely lacking in Australian AR.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

halloween cupcakes

Speaking of Halloween (as I was just yesterday), I went to a Halloween party and at the last minute I made some cupcakes, which were themed with my costume.

halloween cupcakes to match my costume

I didn't have time to do anything fancy with the decorating, because I arrived home at five and had to bake and ice the cupcakes, as well as finish making my costume, including painting my nails, before leaving at seven. So cardboard cutout bats it was! Actually I think they turned out quite well.

Shame about the cupcakes themselves, which were a bit dry because I converted a recipe to gluten-free and forgot to increase the liquids, but oh well! I will know better for next time.

Also: thanks to Aldi for lots of ridiculous lollies that just so happened to be vegan!

Friday, 12 November 2010

world vegan day

Two Sundays ago, I ventured out on a wet and windy day to Abbotsford for World Vegan Day! It was wet and windy, and to be honest I didn't get much of a chance to do stuff, as I was mostly there to hang out on the FoE stall.

myspace doughnut

I did, of course, find some time to sample some food. From Crumbs I picked up a pizza (AMAZING) and a chocolate doughnut (heavy, with a tart after taste). The doughnut is pictured above - please note my nails, all done up for Halloween.

Before getting stuck at the FoE stall, on a whim I decided to enter the raffle. And then, later in the afternoon, when I discovered I'd won a raffle prize, I headed over...

i won a raffle!

only to find this giant basket waiting for me! So I left pretty soon after that, so I didn't have to carry the basket around! I'm not even sure what I'm going to do with all this stuff, but it's pretty exciting!

Does anyone want some curly hair shampoo?

Sunday, 7 November 2010

hanging out on the goldcoast

A couple of weeks ago I went to the Animal Activists Forum, which this year was held on the Gold Coast! I plan to talk more about that when I can get the words right, but for now I want to talk about the food that we ate.

We stayed at the Tallebudgera Active Recreation Centre. Part of the centre is a generic sports and rec centre, with public swimming pool and sporting facilities. The rest of it is a gated centre run by the Queensland government for camps and retreats. It's got climbing facilities, and a couple of conference rooms, and a whole lot of basic shared accommodation. What this meant was that, aside from the conference dinner, all of our meals were cooked by the chefs at the Centre.

I didn't take photos of everything, but amongst the breakfasts, lunches and morning and afternoon teas, food included: pancakes, toast, a big cooked breakfast, noodles, rice and vegetables, dumplings, and burgers. Afternoon teas included muffins and biscuits and a whole lot of fruit. And all of it was vegan!

a perfectly serviceable lunch deconstructed burger

I know the organisers were concerned about mixups, given they'd never catered for a fully vegan group before, but aside from honey on the first day (honey was put on the condiments table, and honey-os were included with the cereal options), and one instance of a carton of cow milk being hidden amongst the several cartons of soy milk, everything was good! Nothing was mind blowingly tasty, but some things were good, and everything was vegan, and we were separated from the other groups staying at the Centre so we didn't even have to see their animal products! So it was quite satisfactory.

banana boat

There were two evenings unaccounted for, though: the conference dinner, and the night before it all started, when there were only a few of us loitering around. I wanted to use this opportunity to try at least one of the vego-only restaurants along the Gold Coast, so on the way from Brisvegas R dropped in to Threeworlds Organic Pizza Cafe. All the pizza at threeworlds is vegan and organic and made on bases of spelt. At threeworlds they also make their own cheese, and although I'm not sure what this cheese is made from, consensus on the evening was that it's probably nutritional yeast.

pizza from 3world pizza

I know they look the same, but there are three different pizzas under there! J ended up ordering the Mediterranean pizza, the pesto perfection, and (I think) the satay sensation. My favourite was the pesto perfection, I really liked the pesto and pumpkin combination, and the broccolli on the pizza was a pleasant surprise. I didn't really enjoy the flavours of the Mediterranean. The spelt bases were okay, but nothing special.

Also a pleasant surprise was the roar (sic) desserts that R bought to accompany the pizza. These were so delicious that R, a stringent dissident when it comes to raw desserts, was completely won over by the berry cheezecake! I also found the berry very delicious, and the orange was also very tasty. I can't remember what the third one was (the white one in the photo below), but it wasn't very nice and in fact remained unfinished.

some raw desserts

Overall: threeworlds was nice, and handy to have nearby, but I would choose Plush over it any day.

The conference dinner was held at Zullaz Restaurant in Burleigh Heads. Zullaz is not a vegetarian restaurant - my understanding is that, although there were a small handful of vegetarian restaurants within walking distance of the accommodation, none were able to accommodate the number of people required. So we went to Zullaz and, as far as I could tell, everything worked out okay! We had a buffet specially for us (everyone else in the restaurant was ala carte), and it was just generic, mostly South Asian food in the usual way, with a dessert of bread and 'butter' pudding (which was actually really tasty.

dinner at zullaz dessert at zullaz

Zullaz is mostly GF and dairy-free, which is a good start for getting some vegan food if you're in the area. It was perfectly fine, but nothing special, and there is a Govinda's and a vegan raw restaurant just around the corner, so maybe just if you really need to (as we did for the size), or want somewhere that serves cocktails.

Threeworlds Organic Cafe
2558 Gold Coast Hwy
Mermaid Beach

Zullaz Exotic Cuisine*
21a /50 James Street
Big B Arcade
Burleigh Heads

*I'd like to take this opportunity to remind everyone that exotic is a word that is usually totally inappropriate, because it works to effectively and efficiently other anyone who doesn't fit in to an anglo-discourse. And that is exactly what it is doing to this restaurant!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

[book review] thanking the monkey

I came to Thanking the Monkey with some skepticism. Karen Dawn was recently in Melbourne giving a talk as a fundraiser for Edgar's Mission, and at the last minute I decided to go, prompted by some enthusiasm from J. I liked the talk well enough; I wasn't blown away by it, but I decided to pick up a copy anyway (all the profits for the copies sold on the night went to Edgar's Mission, too!).

I like to think I know a lot about animal issues, but some of the stuff I was reading totally astounded me. I had to start bookmarking, and now my copy is filled with post it notes and little sticky bits (which I'm going to remove as I type this, so I can lend the book out).

Dawn has an interesting, conversational writing style. She talks up her book as an accessible gift book, and certainly it is very accessible. The book is illustrated with pictures and comics, on the premise that even if you give the book to someone who can't bring themselves to read it, they might flip through and see some of the comics, and take away at least a part of the message.

Thanking the Monkey was written as an all-around animal rights book: at some times it's an introduction, covering the basics, and at other times it's quite in depth and confronting.

There are lots of suggestions of other books to read, as well as video and other online links. The book is heavily (though inconsistently) referenced, which I always enjoy. It's also very easy to pick up and put down, as it's filled with lots of separate sections. This means I felt comfortable putting it down for a week and a half and then coming back to it again.

The chapters are set out in a nice way, too: there's an introductory chapter, one on pets, animal entertainment, clothing, as food, animal testing, green/conservation groups, and 'compassion in action.'

One big thing for me was that, it led to me revising my opinion on zoos. I've always struggled with zoos, not liking the voyeristic/trapped components of it for animals, but recognising the need for conservation. Halfway through the section on zoos, I changed my mind. I'm still there for the conservation efforts, but why do we need zoos to fit in to urban areas? Anyway, me and zoos are definitely over.

The book does have some problems. Like many vegan / animal rights texts, there's some fatphobia. At some points there's an undertone of cultural cluelessness. There's also a sort of something, for certain people. "And some human mothers will hand over a baby for a vial of crack," (pg 254) for example, is a statement that I would like to challenge. The book frequently uses terms like 'normal,' which regular readers of this blog will know I dislike, as it positions some of us as not-normal.

However, I learnt a lot of things that I didn't know. I don't know if it was naiveness or overlooking or what, but as the book went on I was blown away by how much I was bookmarking. A small sampling:
  • "...unlike other mammals, dolphins are not automatic breathers; every breath is a conscious choice, and when life becomes unbearable they can choose to take no more. They commit suicide. He says that much of the early mortality rate of dolphins in captivity is a result of suicide: "We literally bore them to death."" (pg 84)
  • There's type of fur (from lambs - not sure why it's not wool), where the baby lambs are killed at a few days of age, and sometimes even the skin of unborn lambs is used. I'm not sure why unborn lambs horrifies me more than born lambs - maybe because the mother has to be killed too? (pg 107) In the USA (not sure if this extends beyond the USA) coats with less than $150 worth of fur don't have to be labelled as having fur (pg 110).
  • Farmed salmon requires about 2.5 times the same amount of wild fish as food.
  • The WWF, as a conservation society, sometimes positions itself squarely against animal rights (pg 295) - this was cool to read because then, when I was talking to the Wilderness Society people at World Vegan Day, I was able to ask so many questions I'd never previously have considered.
Another thing: Stephen Colbert has an adopted turtle daughter: her name is Stephanie Colburtle. Adorable name!

One final benefit of reading the book, for me, was being able to quote from it for my recent talk at the Animals Australia Forum. I gave a talk on intersectionality, and I had wanted to give examples of why intersectionality is needed in AR. Advised against this, I went the other way: I used Dawn's 2005 article ' Best Friends Need Shelter Too,' reproduced in the book, as an example of how intersectionality takes things in to account. So that was nice.

I recommend the book. It's an interesting read, and I learnt a lot, but I recommend reading it with caution. I'm not sure I would give it as a gift book to people who weren't already interested in AR/AW.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

ooh it's melbourne cup day

one of my least favourite holidays. at least now that i'm in melbourne, and it's a public holiday, i don't have to find excuses to not go to work / not join in the "celebrations" (i used to hide in my office whilst everyone else ate chicken and watched the race).

instead of making a bet on the cup, maybe you could make some sort of appropriate donation, or sign the pledge to never bet on cruelty.

at the punch, ward has written about the brutal truth about the horse racing industry; and up at vegaroo, sharon has a list of other alternatives you can do today (including options for cities other than melbourne). there's a protest picnic near flemington (with free mr nice guy vegan cupcakes!).

or you could post one of these links on your facebook wall, and see if it starts a verbal fisticuffs, like it already has for some people. :o)