Thursday, 14 August 2008


If you're the sort who reads people's link sections all the way down, you may have noticed that the section on knitting has grown a bit lately. This is because, while I have had a bit of knitter's block for a while now, I am slowly getting back into it, with added veganicity.

Let me explain here. I was perfectly aquainted with the principles of veganism (in the form it tends to take in the part of the world where I grew up) by the time I took up knitting. Hence, I have never bought sheep wool or anything of that sort new. Neither have I ever bought a ball or hank of sheep-based yarn secondhand. What I have done occasionally is get a jumper or something out of the recycling bin at a charity shop, unravel it, take out any skanky bits and turn it into something else. Now, I don't plan to do this any more. There is nothing of the sort left in my (rather immense nonetheless) yarn stockpile.

What do you knit with if not with wool? Quite a few things actually. Currently on my needles is a scarf made mostly from a yarn that is 100% bamboo fibre. That sounds rather rough and scratchy, but actually it feels like linen or maybe a silk blend. I have two colours of this bamboo yarn, a rather expensive one that I managed to get at less than half price. It is interspersed with a lacy ribbon yarn called Firefly, which is difficult to explain without a photo. There will be photos eventually.

I also have a whole load of acrylic to use up somehow. I can make a pair of wristwarmers during (for example) an episode of SFU, so I might make a lot of those to sell and donate to charity.

There will be a post on the different types of vegan yarn, when I have a bit more time.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Feeling the Pulse

I hadn't really heard many good comments about Pulse (vegetarian resturant) in Norwich, but I went in there today and was quite impressed. Lunches are generally around a fiver per head (maybe more if you have a more expensive drink) and most things can be veganisied. I had the Mexican panini - you have to ask for the vegan option for this. It kept my blood sugar reasonable for the last couple of shops and the journey home, and my (omni) mother liked it.

Edited to add: for more information about eating out as a vegan in Norfolk, see the VegFolk guide.
Essex (I haven't spent as much time in Essex so don't know how useful this is, but the site looks good)
Cambridge (My favourite of the cafes on here is CB2. They have another branch called CB1, on Mill Road, which is not listed but you can certainly get soy milk there. And books.)

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Hey, folks?

Try not to feel sorry for me if I'm not eating anything in a cafe, ok? Believe me, I would not go somewhere I can't eat *anything* if it was my only chance of food that day. I'm more likely to suffer from the embarassment of being the centre of attention - especially when it quite frankly makes me look and feel like a freak - than from having to make do with a packet of crisps until I get home.
What is helpful, however, is taking your resident vegan's suggestions seriously when it comes to where to eat. Especially if s/he knows a place that buys vegan cakes from his/her friend's company (ok, that just got a bit more specific! But they are great cakes!) or indeed if they know a whole list of places (yes, I have been to nearly all the ones in the town centre) to get great food.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Travel menu

I am currently on something that is part health kick, part not-getting-ill kick and part sheer terror of starting to dislike crisps due to consuming too many while travelling. Commuting for me has always meant a day or so of eating crap. That's ok if it doesn't turn into four days a week of eating crap, for several months. So, this week i'm bucking the trend a bit. I boiled up a triple-load of quinoa, chopped a few different vegetables, made dressing and divided the lot between a Swedish Glace container and a margarine pot. And put some on a plate for today's lunch, of course.

Lunch today: quinoa, chopped carrot, yellow pepper, raw garlic and ginger (chopped VERY SMALL to save mouth-burning!) with green salad, hemp oil and balsamic vinegar
Dinner tonight: quinoa, spring onions, peppers, sunflower seeds, green salad, hemp oil and balsamic vinegar.
Lunch tomorrow: quinoa, carrot and celery with hemp oil and balsamic vinegar, also any leftover green stuff
Snack (the whole time): 1 jar of brazil nuts.

How to transport green leaf salad: get a sealable freezer bag. Place leaves etc inside, not packing them tightly. Seal bag with as much air as possible. Place in plastic tub, large enough to put it in without squeezing air out.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

In the raw

Again, sorry, no nudie stuff in this post. One person gets to see that, and he doesn't do blogs. :)

Ahem, that aside...

This post is about what I see as a major difference between health vegans and those who are in it for animal rights reasons. (Or maybe between 'raw veganism' and any other form of veganism I can think of offhand) There has been a lot of fuss recently, sparked by a person who posted about the damage her raw vegan diet (which wasn't even vegan, but she doesn't mention *that* to the newspapers!) did to her children. (Incidentally, I made another post about this case but consigned it to my draft folder as it was based rather on personal anger and meanness - while I still agree with the overall sentiment, I felt the actual message was rather undermined by the medium of snarkiness. Suffice it to say, the resulting attention has led one of the vegan world's best-known raw-foodists to speak out about the amount of health problems in vegan children she knows.

Now, part of me thinks it was brave of this woman - a first-time parent of a child in the last stages of breastfeeding, so somebody for whom it is an issue like RIGHT NOW - to raise the issue. Because, while veganism (raw or not) is not automatically a bad diet, it is not automatically healthy either. Too many people assume that it is (and incidentally assume that a vegan with a cold or period pain or a broken bone must have been sneaking off to McDonalds, blah). And people who disagree with this will at some point be lambasted for it.

The factor that distinguishes raw, health-minded vegans from certain others among us (maybe the majority?) lies in the solution this person suggests. Now, she isn't doing so blithely or without some kind of conflict, but she is nonetheless raising the possibility of introducing raw goat milk and similar items into her daughter's diet. It is explicitly *veganism* she feels the need to compromise on, rather than *rawness*. Now, reading this as an animal-rights-minded (and so far non-breeding) vegan, this struck me as being the opposite of what I would expect. Maybe this is because my experience is of families where the children are raised vegan but not raw. (And, generally, had roughly the same or a lower level of ill-health than their classmates) Maybe because I can see a whole lot more scope for a varied diet including cooked food than I can for one involving raw animal products. (unless one goes for raw meat, but the salmonella content might be a little *too* varied there!) Or maybe because my beanburger-and-chips fed self had a perfectly normal puberty and came out of it at above average height with teeth that can crack nuts! At any rate, when avoiding animal products for reasons pertaining to the animals themselves is the key motivation for being vegan, then veganism itself is the last principle to be sacrificed, rather than the first.