Animal testing for cosmetics: Is the end in sight?

The European Union banned animal testing for cosmetics and the import of animal-tested cosmetics in 2013. An Australian Senator, Lee Rhiannon, seeks to introduce an identical ban in Australia.

The Australian cosmetics industry argues that a ban is unnecessary, as animal testing of cosmetics has not occurred in Australia in recent years.

My latest article for The Scavenger explores the issue of animal testing of cosmetics in Australia, and provides a global overview.

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‘Unimaginable pain and suffering is endured by half a million mice, rats, guinea pigs and rabbits for the global beauty industry each year. Their tiny bodies are poisoned and burned; they endure blindness and mutilation.

Rabbits are subjected to eye and skin irritation tests, in which chemicals are dripped into eyes and rubbed onto exposed and abraded skin.

Guinea pigs, a popular companion animal of young children, endure skin allergy testing.

Rodents are subjected to “acute oral toxicity” tests, where a substance is forced down his or her throat, and directly into their stomach, via a syringe.

“Lethal dose” tests are conducted by forcing the animal to swallow large amounts of a test chemical. As the name suggests, this test determines the dose that causes death.

Animals in laboratories are wholly at the mercy of the humans who use their bodies as testing implements. Rodents, rabbits and guinea pigs – small animals who are gentle and docile (the very characteristics that make them popular children’s companions) – are completely defenceless.

Once their ‘usefulness’ as laboratory tools has ceased, they are killed by asphyxiation, neck-breaking or decapitation (without anaesthesia).’

To continue reading, click here.

Ally

photo credit: iStock

 

Cowspiracy: An interview with film makers Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn

 “The incredibly far-reaching destruction caused by animal agriculture is almost overwhelming. What I found the most shocking is that land-based animal agriculture is the leading cause of ocean ‘dead zones’ due to the massive pollution runoff from factory farms, and all the fields of chemically raised feed crops that the animals are fed.”  – Keegan Kuhn, film maker

 

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret has been touted as the film that environmental organisations don’t want you to see.

 

To find out why, click here to check out my interview with Cowspiracy film makers, Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn, published by The Scavenger.

 

Ally

 

 

Zoos: Killing for Conservation

Earlier this year, Copenhagen Zoo sparked worldwide outrage when it killed a healthy 18 month old giraffe, then feed sections of his body to resident lions. The zoo claimed that Marius’ genes were already ‘well represented’ in the European giraffe breeding program.

Weeks later, the zoo killed four healthy lions to make way for a new male ‘breeding’ lion.

This month, a Swiss zoo killed a healthy Russian brown bear cub.

 

 

My latest article for The Scavenger,  Killing in the name of conservation, reveals a largely hidden side of zoos. That is, the killing of healthy animals is regarded as a legitimate form of population management.

But this aspect of zoos is one that stands in conflict to their public face as conservationists and caretakers.

Moreover, captive breeding programs in zoos (referred to as ‘extinction insurance’) breed animals that are largely ill equipped for life in the wild.

To read my article, click here.

 

{A-Z:Veganism} L is for Lamb

Mary had a little lamb, little lamb, little lamb. Mary had a little lamb its [sic] fleece was white as snow….’

Lamb: a baby sheep. Adorable, gentle and vulnerable. The subject of a well-known children’s nursery rhyme, and frequent character in young children’s books.

Lamb: the main ‘ingredient’ of a popular Sunday night dinner – the ‘lamb roast’. Lamb as ‘tasty’ meal; a taste bud ‘pleaser’.

To market we go

Australia is the world’s second largest exporter of lamb.

In the 2012-2013 financial year, Australia produced 456 997 tonnes of lamb. 51% of this total was exported to overseas markets. The Middle East is the biggest export market for Australian lamb. Other major lamb export markets are China and the United States.

In Australia, lamb is marketed heavily as a national dish in the lead-up to Australia Day (26 January) each year. In fact, Australia is the largest single market for Australian lamb, with 9.7kg of lamb consumed per person in 2012-2013. This equates to an estimated annual expenditure of $2 billion.

The marketing of lamb

A popular television ad that screened in the late 1980’s features a young woman receiving a phone call at work with the thrilling news that she has won a ‘romantic dinner’ with Tom Cruise! This once-in-a-lifetime date – including dinner in a ‘top city restaurant’ and stretch limo transfers – is to take place that very night. The same night that her mum is cooking a lamb roast for dinner.

The young woman decisively declines the date with Tom in favour of an oven-baked, baby sheep’s leg. Her work colleagues are almost speechless. Her father, on the other hand, states: ‘Never mind love, you can go out with him any night’. The ad ends with the slogan: ‘Nothing comes before a roast lamb dinner’.

These days, lamb is flogged to Australians by Meat and Livestock Australia’s mouthpiece and ‘lambassador’, Sam Kekovich. This annual promotion takes the tack that lamb is Australia’s national dish. Those who do not partake are un-Australian. This year, vegans were a target of the lambassador’s ‘pro-BBQ lamb’ agenda.

In the article, ‘Carno-nationalism and cultural lambnesia, Peter Chen argues that lamb is not actually a traditional Australian food. He asserts:

‘…the introduction of sheep in Australia was primarily for the purpose of wool production, and potentially productive sheep were too valuable to just eat as infants. Where sheep meat did become popular, this was more a response to the necessities of the wool glut in the 1980 and 90s than a reflection of a national characteristic.

During Autumn 2013, to coincide with Mothers’ Day in Australia, a Meat and Livestock Australia promotion announced that mini-lamb roasts were so ‘easy to cook that literally anyone can do it’- even tattooed men, according to one of the promotional posters. The promotion attempts to link lamb roast preparation and motherhood:

‘The traditional Lamb roast is a family meal that is forever synonymous with the ‘nurture gene’ and being a mum. It’s the one meal we all return home for, because it’s just too hard or too time consuming for us to cook ourselves – and Mum makes it look so easy!’

This portrayal of motherhood is ludicrous and offensive: A nurturing mother slaving away in the kitchen, preparing a time consuming and complicated meal of baby sheep for her grown offspring, who are incapable of cooking it for themselves. The meal of lamb is a symbol of her love, and a demonstration of her ‘inherent’ female caring.

In another promotion, called ‘We Love our Lamb on Mother’s Day’, Kekovich portrays a school child who tells his classmates: ‘…if you really, truly want to show mum she’s special, cook her a lamb roast. She’ll love you for it’.

Lambs to the slaughter

Current projections indicate that 20.95 million lambs will be slaughtered in Australia in 2014. That is equivalent to more than 55 000 lambs killed per day, every day, for 12 months.

That figure represents an enormous amount of pain, terror, suffering and grief – for the lambs and their mothers, from whom they are forcibly weaned at approximately 14 weeks of age. Life on the farm is not idyllic for lambs. They are subjected to tail docking without anaesthesia, and young males may endure castration without pain relief.

The Model Code of Practice for the Welfare of Animals: The Sheep is a set of guidelines that provides detailed minimum standards to assist ‘sheep producers’ to understand the standard of care required to meet their obligations under Australian legislation.

Clause 10.3 permits the use of clubbing to kill lambs that are deemed to require euthanasia:

‘Lambs (but not adults) may be stunned by a heavy blow to the back of the neck to render them unconscious. This should be followed immediately by bleeding out.’

Clause 9.3 of the Model Code discusses tail docking, a practice that is ‘recommended’ for blowfly control and involves the removal of a section of tail. Apparently, it is preferable for the procedure to be performed on lambs aged between 2 and 12 weeks of age. Disturbingly, the Model Code states that only lambs over 6 months of age require an anaesthetic.

So, what are the acceptable methods of tail docking without anaesthesia?

They are listed as: ‘cutting with a sharp knife’ or ‘rubber rings applied according to the manufacturer’s recommendations’, or ‘a gas flame heated searing iron used according to the manufacturer’s recommendations’.

Castration of male lambs is also permitted without anaesthetic if performed before 6 months of age. However, if lambs are to be slaughtered before puberty, that is, prior to 3 – 6 months of age, ‘castration may be unnecessary’. Acceptable methods include cutting with a clean, sharp knife (to remove the testes) or the application of a rubber ring to disrupt blood flow to the testes, destroying their function.

Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) discusses early weaning of lambs. It is referred to as a ‘management practice’ that is ‘useful’ during drought periods, and one that enables ewes to ‘gain their condition faster, resulting in higher conception rates at the next joining’. Weaning is acknowledged as a ‘stressful time’ for lambs and, in order to ‘help reduce the stress’, ‘sheep producers’ are encouraged to keep lambs ‘out of sight and hearing range of their [mothers] immediately after weaning’.

Also, ‘sheep producers’ are referred to a web site called ‘Making More From Sheep’, a joint project of Australian Wool Innovation and MLA. The site includes 11 modules, including one called: Wean More Lambs.

Ewe are not special

As Mother’s Day approaches in Australia, perhaps we’ll see another MLA promotion encouraging people to celebrate their mothers by serving a lamb roast.

The industry does not have any regard for the bond of motherhood between a ewe and her baby. Mother sheep are not ‘special’. The focus of the industry is to maximise profits by weaning lambs early in order to impregnate ewes as frequently as possible. The mother, the ewe, only has value as a producer of lambs.

On Mother’s Day, I will not be celebrating my mum, or my role as mother, by consuming the offspring of another mother.

Ally

In My A-Z of Veganism series, I discuss and explore a topic or issue related to veganism, and my experiences as a vegan – as I work my way through the alphabet!

 

 

{Recipe} Pear and Walnut Cake (plus, ‘what’s going on at Made of Stars?’)

Hello friends!

This is my first recipe post in over 3 months, and it may be my last for a little while too. Let me explain…..

During my blogging break, I took on a commitment that is very important to me and which requires a significant time outlay. Namely, I was offered a role as an Associate Editor at The Scavenger, an online magazine run by Katrina Fox. Naturally, I said ‘yes’!

I wrote a couple of articles for the Scavenger in 2011, about vegan pregnancy and vegan diets for children, and I am thrilled to be involved more directly with the magazine.

In my role as Associate Editor, I plan to continue to write – and source – articles on topics that I am passionate about: animal rights, veganism, vegan parenting and social justice. Some of you know that I have a background in social work, and that I currently work in the community, not-for-profit sector. This also inspires my writing.

So, what does that mean for Made of Stars?

Regretfully, I will no longer be able to commit to a weekly recipe post. Rather, I will post recipes on an irregular basis, as inspiration strikes me. However, I promise I won’t take 3 months to post my next recipe!

Also, I plan to continue working on my A-Z of veganism series (L is for… is currently in the works). In addition, I will link to my articles on The Scavenger if I think they may be of interest to readers of Made of Stars.

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I developed this recipe when we had an abundance of very ripe pears in our fruit bowl. I have made it several times now. It is a moreish and scrumptious cake, suitable for afternoon tea with friends or as a lunch box treat (I have been know to pack a slice in my lunch box for work).

Moreover, the pears can be replaced with thinly sliced apples. I did this on one occasion, and was very happy with the result.

I use coconut sugar, but you could substitute with your preferred sugar if you don’t have coconut sugar in your pantry.

The tiny vegans also enjoy this cake but I am sure that doesn’t surprise you. :) Little Baker enjoys helping with the preparation. When he sees a mixing bowl, he calls out: ‘mix, Mummy, mix’.  Which means: ‘hand over the spatula, Mum’!

Ingredients

(quantity: 10-12 slices)

1 1/4 cups wholemeal plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda, sifted

3/4 cup coconut sugar

1/4 cup walnut pieces

1/3 cup sunflower oil

3/4 cup soy milk (or other plant-based milk)

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp white vinegar

1 large ripe pear

Method

1. Pre-heat oven to 180C/350F. Grease and line a spring form cake tin.

2. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl, including the walnuts. Mix well, then set aside.

3. Use a vegetable peeler to peel the pear, then core and cut into thin slices. Set aside.

4. To a jug or small mixing bowl, add the oil, soy milk, vanilla and vinegar. Mix well with a fork or whisk, then add to the dry ingredients. Mix well until combined, but do not over-stir.

5. Transfer the batter to the cake tin, and smooth the top. Then arrange the pear slices on the top. I also add a walnut half to the centre. Bake for 35 mins (or until an inserted skewer comes out clean).

6. Store leftovers in an air tight container.

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Wishing you all a beautiful week.

Ally :)

 

Hatching Projects: Not all they’re cracked up to be

Hi friends :)

I am ending my extended blogging break by introducing an article that I wrote about classroom hatching projects for Discordia Zine.

 

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Chicks in the classroom: Not all it’s cracked up to be

The children squeal and jostle as they compete for a good viewing spot.

‘Ok, boys and girls, do you all remember what to do?’ The question is largely rhetorical. Of course they remember! They have practised many times, and all have eagerly awaited this moment.

‘Cluck, cluck…cluck, cluck’. The teacher joins the chorus of children’s voices. Their efforts are rewarded: An egg with a pronounced crack emits a faint chirp.

One by one, the inhabitants of the eggs emerge into an incubator; to a motherless existence. The chicks do not experience the welcoming chirps or body warmth of a doting and nurturing mother. Instead, a heat lamp set to 37 degrees Celsius provides their only warmth. They will never know the comfort of snuggling beneath a mother’s outstretched wing.

An unhatched egg lies still, and silent. Several of the children express their concerns for the unborn chick. The teacher knows that it should have hatched by now: the chick is dead.

What is a hatching project?

Hatching projects are promoted as ‘fun and easy do-it-yourself programs that enable children to see chicks actually hatching from their eggs’. School teachers are particularly encouraged to use hatching projects in their classrooms, and some companies also offer hatching projects to nursing homes.

 

To continue reading, click here.

 

Photo credit: ozecha

 

 

{Recipe} Roast Beetroot and Walnut Salad with Maple Tahini Dressing

VVP

Yes, I am running behind schedule with this blog post. But, it must be Monday somewhere in the world*. So, on that basis, I am on time. For those readers who are enjoying a beautiful Tuesday, the last day of 2013, let’s just go with an old adage: better late than never!

This is a salad that I developed for the November Virtual Vegan Potluck. In a moment of uncharacteristic indecisiveness, I decided to develop a different beetroot salad and feature that at the potluck instead. Now, it is time for this over-looked salad to shine!

If you want to save prep time or don’t want to use your oven on a hot day (and we have had a few of those lately,  in my part of the world), you can use canned beetroot instead of oven-cooked.

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Ingredients

3 medium beetroot (beets)

3 cups mixed lettuce leaves

2/3 cup raw walnuts

1/4 cup chopped shallots (green/spring onion)

1/2 cup white beans (eg. cannellini)

1/4 cup cherry or grape tomatoes

for the dressing:

3 Tbsp tahini (sesame paste)

1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 1/2 Tbsp vinegar (balsamic or apple cider)

1/2 tsp maple syrup or other liquid sweetener

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 – 1 Tbsp water

1/8 tsp salt

Method

1. Remove the stalks and wash the beetroot. Poke a few holes in each beetroot with a skewer or fork. Wrap each beetroot in foil. Bake on an oven tray at 200C/400F for about 60-70 minutes. Alternatively, you can cut each beetroot into wedges and toss the wedges in olive oil before roasting in an oven-proof dish on 200C/400F for about 35 minutes (if using this method, I don’t remove the skin).

2. While the beetroot is cooking, prepare the walnuts. Heat a fry pan or skillet on a low heat, then add the walnuts and cook until they begin to brown. Remove from heat and set aside.

3. Make the dressing: Add all the ingredients, except water, to a jug or small mixing bowl. Stir well with a fork. Add 1/2 Tbsp of water, and stir well. If you prefer a smoother consistency, add the additional 1/2 Tbsp.

4. Once the beetroot has cooked, set the tray aside to cool for a little while so that the foil does not burn your hands. You may want to use an oven glove. Allow the beetroot to cool, then cut into wedges. I find it easier to remove the skin once the beetroot is in wedge form.  The skin should come away easily.

5. Spread the lettuce leaves across a platter or large serving plate. Then sprinkle the shallots, beans, tomatoes and walnuts over the leaves. Place the beetroot across the top.

6. Drizzle the salad with the dressing prior to serving.

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Ony one tiny vegan was offered the salad. The others were at school and pre-school when I served this for lunch at my parents’ house. Happily, Little Baker enjoyed the salad, and even ate the leaves.

***

* I just checked; it is still Monday in Salt Lake City and Vancouver!

Happy 2014, friends. I am going to take a short break from blogging. The weather is beautiful, my children are on school holidays, and…well, do I really need another reason? :)

Each Monday (oops!), I feature a delicious vegan recipe that is enjoyed by my own family  – I hope your family enjoys it too.

Ally  :)

A Vegan Christmas Lunch

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Cashew cheese with roasted garlic and smoked paprika from Veganissimo by Leigh Drew

Cashew cheese with roasted garlic and smoked paprika (from Veganissimo! by Leigh Drew)

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Cashew cheese with roasted garlic and smoked paprika

Cashew cheese with roasted garlic and smoked paprika

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Roasted pumpkin, fig and walnut salad

Roasted pumpkin, fig and walnut salad

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Garden salad

Garden salad

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Potato salad with caramalised red onions and red capsicum

Potato salad with caramalised red onions and red capsicum

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green beans with pomegranate molasses dressing

green beans with pomegranate molasses dressing

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Nut roast with lemon and garlic stuffing

Nut roast with lemon and garlic stuffing

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christmas 2013 097***

christmas 2013 091***

christmas 2013 085***

And, then, there was trifle…

Trifle

Trifle

Ally   :)

{Recipe} Thick Soy Cream

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I dug this recipe out last week in the hope that it would be of use to my aunty, Christine, who is gearing up for her very first Christmas as a vegan. :)

I wish I could be there to celebrate with her. Unfortunately, we live a ten-hour drive from each other, so we won’t be sitting down to Christmas lunch together. We spent many Christmases together in our non-vegan days, so the sharing of a Christmas vegan feast would be a very enjoyable and welcome event.

I also hope that this recipe may be of use to others who are searching for a delicious non-dairy, nut-free cream.

This recipe only requires you to have 4 ingredients on hand – soy milk, cornflour, vegan margarine and caster sugar*.

My mum discovered a trifle recipe at Vegan Family House many years ago, and we adapted the cream component of the recipe to achieve a thick soy cream.

This cream can be teamed with cakes, pies and trifle (of course!).

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Thick Soy Cream

(quantity: approximately 300ml or 1 1/3 cups)

ingredients:

2 Tbsp** organic cornflour

250ml/1 cup soy milk

90g/3oz vegan margarine

50g/1.76oz caster sugar

Method

1. Place the cornflour in a saucepan, and add 3 Tbsp of the soy milk. Mix with a fork (or whisk) until the cornflour is incorporated.

2. Put the saucepan on a low heat, and gradually add the remaining soy milk. Stir continuously with a fork (or whisk) until the mixture thickens (about 6-7 minutes).

3. Once thickened, remove the saucepan from the heat, and set it aside for about 20 minutes to allow the mixture to cool.

4. In a medium-sized bowl, beat the vegan margarine and caster sugar together with an electric beater.

5. Add the cooled soy milk mixture a spoonful at a time to the margarine-sugar mixture, and beat until it is incorporated.

6. Serve immediately, or refrigerate in a sealed container until you need to use it. It will thicken further in the fridge.

7. Refrigerate left over cream in a sealed container in the fridge, and use within 48 hours. The cream remains thick for 24 hours. If it thins a little after this time, just use an electric beater to whip it into a thicker consistency.

For another non-dairy cream recipe, see Sweet Cashew Cream.

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delicious with wholemeal wheat scones and strawberry fruit spread.

* A note about sugar:

Australian sugar manufacturers do not use bone char in the sugar refining process. Therefore, all Australian produced sugar is vegan. For this reason, I do not specify ‘vegan sugar’ in my recipes. Naturally, if you reside in a country that uses bone char for sugar refining, you may not be able to buy vegan caster sugar. If that is the case, just substitute the caster sugar for a vegan alternative. White caster sugar ensures that the colour of this cream remains white. However, for vegans, the colour of the cream is a secondary consideration to its vegan status.

** A note about measurements:

An Australian tablespoon is equivalent to 20ml or 4 teaspoons. When I refer to a tablespoon measurement, I am referring to the Australian standard. A US tablespoon is approximately 15ml or 3 teaspoons. So, to my US friends and readers, this recipe requires 8 teaspoons of cornflour. Clear as mud?

***

I am going to spend the afternoon with the tiny vegans, wrapping gifts and making (more!) Christmas decorations. We are also preparing for the imminent arrival of my sister. I can’t wait to see her. Who are you spending Christmas with this year?

Merry Christmas, dear friends. Thanks for reading my ramblings this year. May your 2014 be filled with love, laughter and peace.

Ally  :)

Each Monday, I feature a delicious recipe that is enjoyed by my own family – I hope your family enjoys it too!

[Recipe} Mango, Macadamia and Tomato Curry

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Yes, that says mango.

Mango in a curry?

Yes, trust me.  If you love mangoes, you will adore this recipe. In fact, if you enjoy flavoursome curries, you will be charmed by this one.

I make this curry in summer, when mangoes are plentiful and cheap in my sunny part of the world. The curry also contains another locally grown ingredient – macadamia nuts. This recipe was initially inspired by a mango and tomato curry dish in the print version of ABC Delicious magazine. The original recipe is now available online.

Mango, Macadamia and Tomato Curry is a very saucy curry. That is, the curry has a thick sauce – and lots of it! The sauce is truly delectable, and I have considered adding chickpeas or using the sauce as a base for other curry creations – but, it hasn’t happened yet! The curry doesn’t have a strong mango taste, rather the mangoes add sweetness. The combination of tomato, spices, coconut cream and a hint of basil give this curry its captivating and distinct flavour.

with jasmine rice

with jasmine rice

Ingredients

(Quantity: serves 2-3 people, with rice.)

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 Tbsp curry powder

2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp ground ginger

8 cardamon pods, crushed

1/2 tsp salt

a generous pinch of saffron threads (optional)

5 large basil leaves, finely sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 medium-sized mangoes, peeled, cored and sliced

1 tomato, cored and cut into 8 wedges

1 can (400ml) crushed tomatoes, liquidised (I use an immersion blender)

1/3 cup raw macadamia nuts

1/4 cup organic coconut cream

extra basil leaves for garnish

Method

1. Dry roast the macadamia nuts in a fry pan or skillet until they begin to turn golden brown.

2. To a small bowl, add the curry powder, coriander, turmeric, ginger, salt, cardamon pods and saffron threads. Mix well, then set aside.

3. Heat the oil in a wok, on a low heat. Then add the mustard seeds and stir regularly until they begin to pop.

4. Add the contents of the small bowl to the wok, and cook on a low heat for about 7 minutes, stirring continuously during this time. Add a splash of water (or some of the liquidised tomatoes) if the spices begin to dry out or stick to the wok.

5. Add the garlic, stir, and cook for 1 minute.

6.  Add the mango pieces and tomato wedges, mix well to ensure that they are coated with the spices. Add the liquidised tomatoes, and stir well. Simmer for 5 minutes, uncovered, on a low heat.

7. Add the macadamia nuts, basil leaves and coconut cream. Mix well. Simmer for 2-3 minutes.

8. Serve with jasmine rice, and garnish with small basil leaves.

What do the tiny vegans think of this recipe?

The tiny vegans are big fans of mangoes. The mention of mango in a dish is bound to win the tiny vegans over.  And, as regular readers will have ascertained by now, we eat a lot of curry in this house.

This was Little Baker’s first experience with this curry. He gave it a big nod of approval.

When I mentioned that we were having curry for dinner, 7 year old Tiny Vegan announced: ‘I don’t like curry’.

Really? 

Mat diplomatically reminded him that he had in fact eaten curry just the previous evening at his grandma’s house, in the form of homemade vegetable and lentil curry pies.

I also reminded him that this curry contained mango. He ceased voicing his disapproval for curry, and happily ate his serving.

4 year-old Tiny Vegan asked where the mangoes were when I served his meal. I assured him that they were in there. The mango pieces do break up during the cooking process.

Do I really need to make a point of adding that my daughter enjoys this recipe? Regular readers will not be surprised to hear that.

Each Monday, I feature a delicious recipe that is enjoyed by my own family – I hope your family enjoys it too!

Ally  :)

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