5 unexpected benefits of a vegan diet.

About one year ago I decided to try a vegan diet for a month, to see whether it would work for me.  I expected it to be quite difficult to maintain, but I’d been curious about veganism for years and following a period of research into benefits of such a diet and the reality of the farming industry, I wanted to at least attempt to go vegan.

 

It’s nearly a year later and I’m still going strong on my vegan journey.  Once I’d done my research and some planning, I didn’t find it very difficult at all to make the transition to a vegan diet.  A lot of the obstacles I’d expected were non-issues, and I reaped a huge number of benefits.  My skin improved, I lost a little weight and I had more energy.  But going vegan had a number of benefits that I hadn’t predicted would cross my path before I started on this journey.  Today I wanted to share five unexpected benefits of being a vegan:

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  1. Vegan food takes less time to prepare.

Eating vegan is a huge time-saver.  Initially, I had a couple of shopping trips that took twice as long as usual because I had to check a lot of packages to figure out what was vegan friendly.  But once I knew what to buy, shopping was a total breeze.  Cooking vegan food takes a fraction of the time it used to take me to prepare meaty meals.  Vegetables cook a lot more quickly than meat, and a lot of the meat substitutes require less cooking time as well.  My meals are done so much more quickly now.

2. Your palate changes

Over the past year, I’ve tried to keep an open mind about food.  I’m not generally a picky eater, but I am normally hesitant to try new things.  A lot of vegan foods have a reputation for being boring and tasteless, and I tried to keep an open mind when sampling new ingredients or foods.  In fact, I’ve found loads of specialised vegan foods that are super tasty, which I now get cravings for.  I pushed myself to try some vegetables that I’ve never been fond of and found that I actually really enjoy them.  I think that since I changed my diet, my palate and tastebuds have changed somewhat too.  Just the other day I found myself snacking on a handful of cherry tomatoes, a food that I previously hated and found bitter.  I feel proud of myself for trying so many new foods and adopting loads of them into my cooking.

3. It’s easier to wash the dishes

Have you ever tried to chisel dried-up cheese off a plate that once held pasta or nachos?  It’s damn near impossible.  But when you don’t eat cheese, you never run into that problem!  Even the vegan cheese substitutes don’t stick as voraciously to the crockery as dairy cheeses, and are easy to wipe off.  As a person who hates doing the dishes, I welcome this.

 

4. You weed out the jerks

I don’t think that I’m a preachy vegan.  My personal philosophy is that the food you eat doesn’t make you a dick….but the way you act about it can.  When I started ordering vegan meals in restaurants and sharing pictures of my vegan cooking on social media, there were the inevitable number of eye-rolls and comments challenging my decision.  And while it wasn’t fun to be made to feel shitty about my food choices (especially as I made an effort not to bite back judging people who do eat meat) those jibes served a very important purpose.  I was able to look at those people who were so negative towards my diet and evaluate whether I actually wanted to continue spending time with them.  It allowed me to see those people who shout down others who don’t share the same opinion as them and step out of their path.

 

5. You can lick the bowl

Vegan baking is made extra fun by the fact that you can eat raw cookie dough without fear of food poisoning.  There are no raw eggs that might harbour salmonella, so it’s perfectly safe to lick the bowl after your cake goes into the oven.  Heavenly.

 

Do you eat a vegan diet?  What are some of the unexpected benefits you found?

 

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Vegan pasta with creamy mushroom sauce

One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about adopting a vegan lifestyle is re-working some of my old favourite recipes to make them vegan-friendly.  I’m an absolute sucker for creamy pasta sauces but it’s tricky to find a way to make them without using cream. Although there are some vegan cream alternatives, the supermarket here doesn’t stock any of them.  So I had to get a bit creative when substituting cream from my recipes.

 

Last week I was craving something delicious and filling. What I really wanted was my mother’s mushroom and spinach pasta sauce.  So I put on my thinking cap, had a bit of a tinker in the kitchen and came up with this dairy-free version.  It’s lower in fat than the traditional recipe, and it’s perfect for vegans and lactose intolerant folk.

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium brown onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 100g mushrooms, chopped
  • 100g baby spinach leaves
  • 200g block silken tofu
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken style stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups pasta

 

 

  1. Cook pasta in a pot of boiling water until al dente
  2. Heat the oil in the pan and fry the onion until soft.
  3. Add the mushrooms to the pan with the onion and fry until soft.
  4. Chop the tofu into small pieces and pulse in a food processor until it is the consistency of pouring cream.  If the tofu is too thick, add water in small increments until the consistency is right.  Add a the turmeric to the tofu cream.
  5. Reduce the heat on the mushrooms and onions.  Add the tofu, the nutritional yeast flakes and the stock and stir to combine.
  6. Add the spinach and herbs to the sauce.  Stir on a medium heat until the spinach is wilted.  Remove from heat.
  7. Drain pasta and stir through sauce.

You can very easily adjust this recipe to your personal tastes.  I like adding a little more nutritional yeast because it gives the sauce a cheesier flavour.  You may also like to experiment with adding other herbs as well.

 

I love this technique of using blended silken tofu to replace cream in pasta sauces and casseroles.  It works a treat, producing a rich creamy texture without any animal content.

 

 

The Cruelty Free Shop vegan snack haul

Shopping for vegan food can be a challenge in a small town.  Even though my local supermarket is bursting with fresh produce, plant milks, cereals and fruit, the one thing that is lacking is good junk food.  It can be extremely challenging to find snack foods and sweets that are vegan.  While there are a whole bunch of great “accidentally” vegan items on the shelves, it gets kind of tedious when you have to check every label to make sure that what you’re buying doesn’t contain any animal products.

 

A few weeks ago I visited The Cruelty Free Shop in Fitzroy, Melbourne and it was like falling down the rabbit hole.  It is a vegan supermarket that sells everything from snacks to meat and cheese substitutes, desserts, junk food, cosmetics, toiletries, sex supplies and even clothing.  It was so refreshing to be able to fill my cart with whatever took my fancy, and to be spared the tedium of label-checking.  I knew that every single item in that place was vegan and I went a teensy bit nuts buying delicious snacks and treats.

 

 

The Cruelty Free Shop also has a fantastic online store. I’ve shopped with them online as well and I loved the fast service and awesome range of products.

 

Here is a full list of the items mentioned in my video:

I had such a blast shopping at The Cruelty Free Shop and I can’t wait for my next visit.  There are so many rad things I’d love to stock up on the next time I’m in Melbourne.

 

What are your favourite vegan junk foods?  Do you have any questions about vegan shopping or cooking that you’d like me to cover in future posts?

 

Note: This is not a sponsored post.  Everything featured here was purchased with my own money and I was not compensated in any way.  I just love this store and the products they sell and am excited to share them with my readers.

What I wore: 18/4/2017

Once upon a time I owned a gorgeous pair of black boots.  They were leather with silver hardware and a stack heel. They found their way into my life after a chance encounter at at second hand store.  After countless adventures together, they tragically parted ways with their soles last winter.

 

Since then, I’ve been on the hunt for a pair of boots to replace them.  I had a clear picture in my mind of what I was after, and yet the perfect boots were somewhat elusive.  But recently I snapped up this pair of vegan leather boots on ebay and they are just ideal.  Supple, soft and comfortable, I believe they are set to become a wardrobe staple.

 

I paired the boots with one of my favourite vintage dresses for a drive to take some photos of street art and lunch with my parents.

 

I am wearing:

  • Black and red floral dress (vintage)
  • Black leopard fishnet tights (K Mart)
  • Black vegan leather boots (ebay)
  • Silver swallow chain link belt (vintage)
  • Turquoise earrings (handmade by my aunt)
  • Silver ring

 

This belt belonged to my best friend’s grandmother. It is such a gorgeous and unusual piece.  It always adds a bit of interest to simple dresses, and I love the way it looks when paired with something heavily printed.

My headscarf is actually the sash off my dress.  As I was wearing the silver belt, I thought it would be fun to pull my hair back with the sash and go all matchy-matchy.

 

These boots are just what the doctor ordered.  They are beautiful for wearing with my hippie getups, but they will also look great with some of my grittier punk-rock looks.  I have even worn them to work a couple of times over cigarette pants and under prim dresses.  They were a brilliant find and I’m so chuffed with them.

Product review: Woohoo Body deodorant paste

I recently came across the Woohoo deodorant paste at my local health food store.  I was in dire need of a new deodorant as my previous deodorant had all but given up the ghost.  The lass behind the counter recommended the Woohoo paste and I took it for a spin.

 

I don’t remember the last time I got this excited about a deodorant.  Maybe I’ve never been this pumped about something that gets rubbed on my armpits.  But I want to draw your attention to this product today because I’m hooked on it.

 

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Image from Woohoo Body

 

Deodorant paste is not a concept I was really familiar with before I tried this product.  During my teen years I used aerosol body sprays.  When I started shaving my armpits I graduated to a roll-on to avoid the agony of spraying B.O-basher on my raw pits.  And last year I started using solid stick deodorant.  But this paste was entirely foreign to me.

 

The Woohoo paste comes with a teeny little spatula, which you use to scoop out a pea-sized bit of deodorant.  You then work the paste between your palms and as it warms up it softens up and spreads.  You then rub it into your armpits with your fingers.  Let me tell you, I felt really weird that first morning, massaging the paste into my pits.  But now it’s just a regular part or my morning routine.

 

Before I talk about how the Woohoo paste performs, I should take a time out to talk about the difference between an “antiperspirant” and a “deodorant”.  See, a lot of us use an antiperspirant, which stops you from sweating.  It does this by blocking your pores so the sweat can’t escape.  A deodorant doesn’t stop you from sweating, but it does stop the sweat from smelling bad.  Woohoo deodorant paste is a deodorant, not an antiperspirant.

 

It’s important to make this distinction because I am very used to antiperspirants.  So it was a bit of a shock when I experienced wet armpits while wearing this product.  My first thought was “oh crap, my deodorant’s failed” and I waited for the offensive stench to start wafting from my underarms.

 

But then….the stink never came.  Even though I was sweating, I didn’t smell.  It was fantastic.

 

Now let me tell you, I’ve put this deodorant to the test in some pretty harsh conditions.  I’ve worn it on 40 degree days while I’m hanging out with no air conditioning.  I’ve worn it to a performance review at work.  I’ve worn it to a 12-hour punk concert where I danced wildly for extended periods.  And in all of those situations, my armpits have been stink-free.  In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever found another deodorant that has held up as well.

 

I’ve never had any issues with the deodorant leaving residue or marks on my clothes.  Even when I’m wearing crisp white, it doesn’t leave any stains at all.  Once it’s rubbed into your armpits it’s invisible.

 

I also love the fact that the Woohoo deodorant isn’t heavily scented.  I like to wear perfume and it’s irritating when my deodorant interferes with my scent of choice.  The Woohoo paste has only the lightest scent, which wears off soon after you apply it.  I got the Urban variety, which smells really fresh and breezy, like clean linen.

 

The Woohoo deodorant is kinda on the pricey side.  It’s $17.95 for a 70g pot.  However, I’ve had my pot for three months and I’ve used about a quarter of it.  I reckon one pot will last me a year of daily use.  I usually go through a stick of roll-on deodorant every three to four months.  So this actually works out a tiny bit cheaper in the long run.

 

Best of all, this product is cruelty free and vegan.  So no animals have to suffer for you to be stink-free.  Everybody wins!

 

I really can’t recommend this product highly enough.  I’m so flipping impressed with how well it performs and I just had to tell you all about it.

 

Have you ever tried a deodorant paste?  Did it work for you?

Things I Love Thursday 5/1/2017

Happy Thursday gorgeous-face!  I hope that the first week of 2017 was smashing and that you’ve got lots to be smiling about.  Because I sure do!  Here we go…

This week I love:

  • Grill’d.  I have been a fan of their burgers for years, but this past week they won me over completely.  I called into Grill’d at Southern Cross Station to grab some dinner on New Years Eve.  I chose the Field of Dreams burger, minus the cheese and mayo, and sat down to wait for it.  While I was waiting, one of the chefs approached me and asked if I was vegan.  She had noticed my docket and wanted to check because the pesto on the burger also had parmesan cheese on it.  She made a bunch of vegan-friendly suggestions and together we build the most delicious burger on the planet.  I was so appreciative of her assistance.  As a new vegan, it can be hard to know what to order in restaurants and so it was awesome to have someone help me out.
  • Rogue One.  Wowza, I was not prepared for the amazingness of that film.  David and I went to see it last week (on the same day that Carrie Fisher’s passing was announced.  *sob!*) and I was blown away.  It was crazy good.
  • Kitty head-boops
  • American Horror Story: Hotel.  I’ve been blazing through this series and I’m enjoying it a great deal.  I’m addicted to Gaga’s glamorous costumes and the art deco styling of the Hotel Cortez is making me drool.  The story is pretty good so far, and reminds me more of season one in the way it’s been jumping around in time.  I plan to finish it off over the next day or so.
  • Yarn shopping.
  • My herb garden.  I’ve got three plants growing strong, and I can’t wait for them to get big enough for me to start using them in my cooking.
  • Frozen cola slurpees
  • Raspberries
  • Crop tops
  • Throwing away a stack of threadbare bed sheets and frayed towels.  I no longer need to fight my way into my linen cupboard every time I need something.
  • Cool breezes through the open windows of an evening.

What do you love this week?

Vegan Eggnog recipe

Eggnog is one of my favourite Yuletide treats.  The very first sip always leaves me with an overwhelming rush of Christmas spirit. Lately I’ve been experimenting with what I call a vegan-ish diet, in that I’m eating a mostly plant based diet with as few animal products as possible.  I’ve been attempting to convert some of my favourite recipes to make them vegan-friendly, and I couldn’t resist trying to create my own vegan eggnog.

The results were a delicious, creamy beverage that is like Christmas in a cup.  This recipe is really easy, and uses ingredients that are available in most supermarkets.  You don’t need any special equipment or appliances and it’s ready to drink in a matter of minutes.

 

This eggnog recipe is for you if you:

  • are vegan
  • are lactose intolerant
  • are watching your cholesterol
  • are grossed out by the idea of drinking raw egg

 

You will need:

  • 1 cup non dairy milk.  I love cashew milk for this recipe because it has a sweet flavour.  Almond milk also works really well.  But you could use soy milk, rice milk, oat milk, coconut milk or any other non-dairy alternative.
  • 1/3 cup coconut cream.
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 shot brandy (if you want to make this a boozy bevvy.  If not, leave the brandy out)

 

Method

Place ingredients in a jug and whisk with a fork until combined.  You can also put it in a cocktail shaker and give it a good shake if you want a frothier drink.   Top with a little cinnamon in a glass.

 

This recipe makes enough for 2 glasses.

 

Variations:

  • warm milk, spices, syrup and coconut cream in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring often.  Pour into a mug and add brandy if desired.
  • Add a teaspoon of drinking chocolate to make a chocolate version.

Happy nogging!