5 things this Monday…

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EXCITING NEWS! UK restaurant Zizzi has released a new spring menu which includes  gluten-free and vegan options for lots of meals, including PIZZAAAAA! Now to (not so) subtly redirect all friend and family gatherings there…

More random vegan news, particularly of interest to those feeling the loss of bacon from their lives- it’s early days, and it might be hard to source, but there’s a seaweed 2x healthier than kale (my one true love) that apparently tastes like bacon when cooked. You’re welcome.

A day late for actual Easter Sunday, but everyone knows chocolate eating is still socially acceptable for many weeks to come, right? I was super excited to find this vegan, palm-oil free recipe for creme eggs!

With a lot of fruits I have to be honest, I pick them up and hope for the best. This article about how  to tell when 8 fruits are at their tastiest was massively helpful. Yay to not floundering in complete darkness anymore!

The image at the top of this post is 1 of 3 depicting the devastating effects of deforestation, forest fires and melting ice caps. Beautiful and sad, but great to see artists raising awareness.

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Dinners inspired by recipes.

I’m a massive fan of Pinterest, and it has been my favourite place to search for vegan versions of all sorts of meals and desserts recently. I would definitely advise taking a look at some vegan meal boards or searching up specific alternatives if you’re lacking inspiration.

The title kinda sums up my approach to recipes: What I end up making is normally inspired (sometimes very loosely) by the recipe rather than what you would get if you followed it to the letter. This is DEFINITELY not because I know better than the amazing people that created the recipes, but rather because I like to keep things 1) simpler and 2) cheaper. Very rarely do I use ALL the ingredients in a given list. But each to their own; you just have to make things work for you and be realistic.

Here are 2 common dinners that I cook, accompanied by the link to their original recipe….

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One Pot Tandoori Quinoa – I first tried this a few weeks ago, my main attraction to the recipe being that you can put everything in one pot/wok and just leave it to cook, WIN! It came out such I vibrant colour due to the curry powder and turmeric I added, and tasted awesome.

Link to original recipe here

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Masala Lentils and Rice – There are a lot of spices that I didn’t have for this recipe, but the basis is there, and it’s totally fine to use what you have. I added a massive wedge of lettuce for the greens- so filling, so tasty.

Link to original recipe here

 

5 things this Monday…

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Have a picture of spring. Go on.
  1. The Youtube channel All Time 10s makes lists of interesting facts about all sorts of topics in- you guessed it- 10s. Here are 10 facts about meat production that ‘could turn you vegetarian’ at least. Obviously there is no obligation to take any action after watching this (and it’s not gory) but it’s good to be aware of the facts in any case.
  2. This article based on evidence from Oxford University, claims that climate change will kill about half a million people by 2050. Real and devastating effects have begun and will continue to worsen if we don’t do something, and now.
  3. This next one is something I have on my list of next things to tackle in my life: sending less waste to compost. Here are a few tips on using roots and stems from vegetables and making the most out of the food we buy and grow.
  4. The Picture of Mary, a danish blog (in English) shares a recipe for zero waste crisps! Not an effort I would go to regularly, but I would definitely try it for a treat.
  5. I’m including this last link in here because it describes in a way I couldn’t articulate, that every purchase we make is a vote for the kind of world we want to live in. Every time you buy from an unethical unecological company “you’re standing up and clapping long enough to encourage an encore, and an encore is exactly what we get.” Read the whole post here.

Food shopping part 2.

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My local bulk shop (Source)

Everything I don’t or can’t buy from the market on a Saturday, I get from my local bulk shop. In Rennes that means heading down to Scarabée Biocoop, which sells organic fruit and veg, a selection of jarred items, as well as dried goods in bulk. This is where I stock up on pasta, raisins, rice, oats, flour and nuts amongst other things.

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Again, the process begins with preparation. I already have my list (with the market items crossed off, I am left with items to buy from this place), so I get together my tote. I’ve owned this shopper for years and years and I like it because it’s strong and just big enough. Inside it I place my handmade canvas bags, mostly sacks with a few smaller drawstring pouches. I also like to bring another tote bag just in case I buy too much to carry in the one.

How this particular shop works is that they provide paper bags which you fill up to your desired amount from the bulk bins. You then weigh the bag on the scales and it prints a price sticker which you attach to the bag. At the till the cashier scans the sticker and you’re done! The only difference I make is using my own canvas bags instead of the paper ones. I made sure to pick lightweight canvas and to sew them as light as possible, as obviously I am adding weight to the food I buy which would increase the price. My canvas sacks are brilliant at withstanding weight and the stickers stick well, but peel off really easily too which is great for when I get home. Obviously the stickers are disposable and non-recyclable which is really annoying, but this is as close as I an get to zero waste shopping where I am.

At home I empty my grains into my glass bottles and jars, collected from previous market and supermarket trips, then put the canvas sacks back into the tote ready for the next week. I wash these bags as and when I feel like they need it (the same goes for the mesh grocery bags for the market).

5 things this Monday…

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  1. For those who are interested in second-hand clothes shopping but don’t really like their options at the moment, this is an interesting idea. Thred Up resembles a ‘normal’ clothes shopping website and does deliveries.
  2. Earth Hour falls on the 19th of March (Saturday), and involves switching off your lights between 20:30 and 21:30 (UK time) to show support for the environmental movement. Rather than as an energy saving thing, it’s more of an awareness project. Having a candle-lit dinner or gathering is one of the things WWF recommends to celebrate. If you do take part, be sure to sign up here so that your effort is recorded in the stats and people see how important it our planet is to us!
  3. This website I found suggests ideas for recycling/reusing the more obscure items that would usually go straight in the bin. From video tapes to pistachio shells, cereal boxes to overripe fruit, it’s worth checking in on here before chucking or composting anything, and you can even ask about items that haven’t been discussed yet. Very pleased with this find.
  4. One Green Planet is a great place to keep in the loop as far as environmental news goes, but today I just want to draw attention to the Crush Plastic page. If there’s one type of waste worse than any others, it has to be plastic. This page has a healthy mix of hopeful news of people fighting against the pervasive plastic production, and not so hopeful news of the effects of plastic pollution to remind us to keep going. Worth a look every once in awhile I’d say!
  5. Vegan rainbow unicorn cupcakes– need I say more?! They’re raw which means no baking, and they look to die for! I then went onto Kristina’s website, and looked at all her desserts… I’m inspired. I’m hungry.

Food shopping part 1.

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Last week I bought this beautiful wicker basket which makes me feel like Little Red Riding Hood! After weeks and weeks of envying the trolleys and baskets paraded by my french neighbours, I went on a mission to a second-hand furniture warehouse thingy with the sole purpose of finding myself one of those babies. Apart from the obvious aesthetic reasons, I can vouch for the fact that my basket has made market shopping WAY better. I used to carry a couple of totes, meaning I would be constantly unhooking the straps off my shoulders and trying to organise the produce so none of it would be squashed by anything heavier. It was doable but complicated, and I could never find all my produce bags! I now feel like I have my system sorted, so without further ado… Here’s how I shop zero waste at the weekly farmers’ market in Rennes, France!

Firstly, it’s all about preparation. On Fridays, the day before market day, I plan all the meals I want to make for the week. From that list I make another list (I like lists, guys) of things I need to buy for those meals. The second part of the preparation involves lining my basket with a tea towel and filling it with mesh bags for produce, and any other containers needed. The above image shows what I took yesterday; aside from the mesh bags, I took a paper bag for dates (they’re so sticky!) and a jar for olives.

When I get to the market, I work my way through my shopping list being sure to specify ‘no bag please’ (‘sans sac s’il vous plait’) as many vendors provide paper or plastic bags and automatically fill them when you order. It took me a while to have the courage and foresight to master this, but I’m a pro now! If you ever do end up receiving something in a bag you didn’t want (happens to the best of us), just immediately empty the contents into your bag/basket and give it back to the vendor, they’re fine with it. Larger fruit and veg like broccoli, sweet potatoes and bananas I generally tend to put straight in my bag/basket loose, whereas I use my mesh bags for tomatoes, green beans, mushrooms etc. to keep them together and protected a bit. The people at the olive stand are more than happy to weigh my jar and subtract it from the end price, but before this I used to bring back the plastic container they provided me with the first time to reuse.

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Clockwise from top let: green beans (in bag), potatoes (in bag), tomatoes (in bag), carrots, kale, lettuce, broccoli

Contrary to my fears when I began to shop package-free, I’ve found market vendors to react positively to my bags (or at least indifferent, which is also fine by me!), in fact I’ve received more compliments from them than anyone else! Also, getting home and storing my purchases before returning the bags back to their place and not being left with a load of plastic is a sweet satisfaction. This week I treated myself to fresh apple juice which comes in a glass bottle that I reuse to store my rice, pasta, grains etc.

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my rather adorable bounty

As for non fruit and veg groceries, I do a second small shop on Mondays at a package-free supermarket which I will explain next week. Until then folks!

Overnight oats.

There was a time not too long ago when I could forgo breakfast (and sometimes even lunch as well) and get through the day, but everything does catch up with you at some point- less food in the morning would mean a humongous dinner and ravenous evening snacking. That almost feels a world away now, as I can’t really leave the house until I’ve well and truly fuelled up.

My fuel of choice is overnight oats. As the name suggests, it involves pouring your oats into a bowl making sure to cover them with your choice of milk or water, (I tend to opt for almond or hazelnut milk) and leaving the bowl in the fridge overnight until breakfast time. By the morning the oats are lovely and soft, and the cold nut milk makes it so refreshing! I like to add a banana and one other fruit just to give it a bit more flavour and pack in the energy. Here are the most common combinations I go for (pictured above)…

  • 1 banana + 1 clementine (+ dark chocolate chips)
  • 1 banana + 1 kiwi
  • 1 banana + 1 date (+ vanilla)
  • 1 banana + 1 handful of raisins

Note: if you forget to prep your breakfast overnight, try and leave the oats to soak for as long as you can, as they taste better and are absorbed into the body easier the longer you leave them (ideally at least half an hour, but even 5 minutes is better than nothing!)

I find overnight oats to be both light enough to eat first thing in the morning, and filling enough to energise me for HOURS! Seriously, it’s crazy.

5 things this Monday…

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  1. Have you ever seen an okay top in a shop going cheap and decided to buy it only to almost never wear it? I have. Many times. Here’s why it might not be hurting you, but it has more of an impact than you think.
  2. This short video By TED-Ed looks at the ways some creatures have adapted to climate change. It’s such a relief to know that they can adapt in order to survive (though many are in trouble). It means we have a bit more time to sort the world out for them before they become extinct forever! There’s the challenge…
  3. Bea Johnson of Zero Waste Home recently went to Japan and took these amazing pictures of the package-free food she saw there. Like she says: “Once you gain a selective vision for package-free items, you see them everywhere!” It’s just a matter of practice…
  4. Polar bears must be the most cited victims of climate change. I’ve seen a billion and one depressing pictures of emaciated bears struggling on tiny patches of ice and whatnot, but this image of a polar bear rooting around in trash is one I never expected to see. It reminds us why we need to stop creating so much junk in the first place. The same goes for the lion picture at the top of this post- you just can’t get your head around it…
  5. A great way to start to make a difference to the fate of the planet is by cutting out plastic from your life, which can be done by making a few changes to how you shop. Plastic Free Tuesday shows us a few tips for supermarket shopping plastic-free.

Craving meat.

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A picture of some haribo i took back in September. You’re welcome.

On a day-to-day basis, I’m loving veganism. I feel energetic, lighter, fitter, happier and my conscience is clearer. I live alone (in university accommodation, so kind of) and everything that comes into my fridge and cupboards is good for me. However, I have to admit I still struggle when I have to be around meat.

Don’t get me wrong, I am committed to not consuming animal products, and I’ve seen way too much to be able to allow myself to go there, but on a taste-bud level… It still gets me. The smell of meat makes me salivate, and I can still taste it on my tongue. I was watching a documentary on the fish industry a few days ago and just looking at the fish made me crave them. I hope I’m not offending anyone here, but I just needed to be honest and get it off my chest. For someone who’s lived their whole life as a meat-eater, I sometimes struggle to untrain my habits.

Saying that, I have heard from many vegans that with time, you lose that craving. Already after a few months of this diet it’s definitely easier than at the beginning, when all I could think about was how much I missed meat! Just like I have learnt to love vegetables I’d hated in the past (spinach, sweet potato and carrots to name but a few) just by persevering, I know I will eventually have no desire to put another animal product in my mouth.

This is where motivation has to kick in. Motivation is the difference between failure and determination. I have to remind myself that every day I am saving innocent animals from absolutely horrific conditions and slaughter, that I am living in a way that means I am not contributing to the destruction of the planet and its resources at a rate it could never recover from, and that I am dramatically reducing my risk of developing cardiovascular disease and cancer (see Hungry for Change or Food Matters on Netflix for more on this).