{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.


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} Rocky Road


I regard rocky road as a Christmas time indulgence.

Aargh, Christmas!

I know that some of you are preparing for Thanksgiving, while others may still be recovering from Halloween (or the Virtual Vegan Potluck 4.0!). In that case, the thought of Christmas is a little confronting. Nevertheless, it will be here before we know it!

I have been considering the recipes that my family may indulge in for Christmas lunch this year.

Well, in all honesty, I’ve mostly been thinking about the desserts. :) But, one has to start somewhere when planning a menu!


Vegan marshmallows are quite pricey in my part of the world, so rocky road only makes an appearance in our home on special occasions, like Christmas.

I use dark chocolate or ‘milk-style’ non-dairy chocolate, but you could use non-dairy white chocolate if you prefer. Many rocky road recipes contain glace cherries, but I prefer to use dried papaya. You may prefer to use another variety of dried fruit, or a vegan ‘gum- style’ lolly (candy) like ‘gummy bears’.



250g/8.5oz non-dairy chocolate

100g/3.5oz vegan marshmallows, roughly chopped

2 generous Tbsp dried papaya (paw paw) OR other dried fruit OR vegan ‘gum-style’ lollies, finely chopped

1/2 cup raw macadamia nut pieces

1/3 cup desiccated or shredded coconut


1. Line a loaf tin with baking paper.

2. Add all of the ingredients, except chocolate, to a medium mixing bowl. Mix well.

3. Melt the chocolate. I use a large glass bowl, resting over a saucepan that contains a small amount of boiling water. Ensure that the boiling water does not touch the bottom of the bowl. Do not allow water or steam to come into contact with the chocolate. Once the chocolate has completely melted, remove the bowl from the heat.

4. Add the other ingredients to the bowl of melted chocolate. Mix well with a spatula, and ensure that the ingredients are well-coated by chocolate.

5.  Scoop the rocky road mixture into the loaf tin, and press down with the spatula.

6. Refrigerate for approximately 90 minutes, or until ‘set’. Then remove rocky road from the tin, and cut into 12 pieces.



Are you wondering what the tiny vegans think of rocky road?

4- year-old Tiny Vegan doesn’t like marshmallows. That rules out rocky road for him, since I’m not going to make it without its star ingredient. And, Little Baker is too little for chocolate. The other tiny vegans enjoy it, of course. No surprises there!

But, now that I have made rocky road in order to share the recipe with you, I probably won’t be making it for Christmas day after all. I have just had my rocky road ‘fix’ for the year.

What is your favourite Christmas day dessert?

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

Ally   :)

If you missed the recipe that I took to the Virtual Vegan Potluck, click here

{Virtual Vegan Potluck} Rainbow Salad with Chilli-Mint-Lime Dressing

rainbowsalad1Welcome to the Virtual Vegan Potluck and a beautiful, warm spring day at my place.

The tiny vegans have set the table on the verandah, and 7-year-old Tiny Vegan is waiting to pour you a refreshing drink. Just be careful where you rest your glass – Little Baker (21 months) may snatch your ice or straw!

Sit down, relax, and enjoy the view of distant mountains while you indulge in a bowl of my potluck offering:  Rainbow Salad with Chilli, Mint and Lime Dressing.

This colourful salad is a scrumptious medley of vegetables, herbs and dry-roasted cashews. A flavoursome, mildly spicy dressing of red chilli, coconut sugar, lime, garlic, tamari, and mint leaves completes the recipe. rainbowsalad2


serves: 4-6 as a side salad

2 x medium zucchini, chopped into matchsticks (I use a julienne peeler)

2 x medium carrot, chopped into matchsticks (again, I use a julienne peeler)

1 medium red capsicum (bell pepper), thinly sliced

1 shallot (green or spring onion), finely chopped

1/2 cup beetroot (beet) leaves, destalked, and finely chopped

2/3 cup finely chopped coriander, stem and leaves

6 large, fresh basil leaves, finely chopped

1/2 of a medium raw beetroot (beet), peeled and grated

1 cup raw cashews

for the dressing:

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 small red chilli (birds eye), seeds removed, and finely chopped

6 large, fresh mint leaves, finely chopped

juice and pulp of 1 freshly-squeezed lime

1 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce

1 tsp coconut sugar or brown sugar

1/4 tsp vegan fish sauce (optional)


1. On a low-medium heat, dry roast the cashews in a fry pan or skillet until they begin to turn golden brown. Set aside.

2. Prepare the dressing: Add all of the ingredients to a small mixing bowl or glass jug, and mix well with a fork. Set aside.

3. Add the vegetables and herbs to a large mixing bowl in the order that they are listed. Mix well, but gently. Then add the dry-roasted cashews (set a few aside for garnishing). Toss the salad gently until the cashews are incorporated.

4. Pour the dressing over the salad, and toss to distribute the dressing.

5. Garnish with mint or basil leaves, and cashews.

6. Serve immediately.


The Tiny Vegans’ Verdicts

Regular readers know that I usually mention the opinions of the tiny vegans (my children).

In this case, only 9-year-old Tiny Vegan and Little Baker were offered the Rainbow Salad. They both enjoyed their portions.

The addition of a tiny amount of chilli in the dressing makes this salad a ‘tiny vegan’- friendly recipe. If you prefer a spicier dressing, add the chilli seeds as well.


I hope you have enjoyed your time with us. Your food journey continues! To visit The Vegan Cookbook Aficionado, and indulge in Megan’s delectable recipe, click here.

rainbowsalad5If you missed the delicious offering from Janae at Bring Joy, click here.

If you want to go to the beginning of the Virtual Vegan Potluck, click here.

rainbowsalad4Thanks for stopping by! I hope to see you again soon.

I apologise for the beetroot stain on your shirt – Little Baker doesn’t usually throw food. :)

If you are new to Made of Stars, please consider signing up for email updates, following the blog through WordPress, or joining us on Facebook and Twitter.

Ally  :)

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…to The Vegan Cookbook Aficionado


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…to Bring Joy

vvpLOGOThanks to Annie and Keely for their support and assistance.

{Recipe} Corn Fritters and Tartar Sauce (gluten-free, soy-free)


Source: Arbon Publishing

Today, I feature two delicious recipes* from ‘Veganissimo! Beautiful Vegan Food’ by Leigh Drew.

Corn Fritters and Tartar Sauce are gluten-free and soy-free recipes.

Corn Fritters

serves: 12–14 fritters

preparation time: 15 minutes

cooking time: 1 hour



1 1⁄2 cups (10 oz/285 g) corn kernels (fresh or frozen)

1 medium red onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, minced

1 medium capsicum (red bell pepper), finely chopped

1 bunch (approx. 4 oz/115 g) coriander (cilantro), finely chopped

1 cup (5 1⁄2 oz/155 g) masa harina or polenta

1⁄2 cup (2 oz/60 g) chickpea flour (garbanzo bean flour)

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon ground black pepper

1 cup (8 fl oz/240 ml) soy-free or soy non-dairy milk

1⁄4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) olive oil


1. Preheat the oven to 190°C (375°F). Line a baking/cookie tray with kitchen baking paper.

2. In a large bowl, mix together the corn kernels, red onion, garlic, capsicum (bell pepper), and coriander (cilantro). Stir through the masa harina or polenta, chickpea flour (garbanzo bean flour),salt, and ground black pepper. Pour in the non-dairy milk and olive oil, and mix the ingredients together well. Set the bowl aside.

3. Place a nonstick or cast-iron frying pan over medium heat. Form ½-cup portions of the mixture into patties, and pan fry the fritters in batches of three or four at a time. Cook the fritters for about 5–7 minutes or until they are golden on the underside, flip and fry them for a further 3–5 minutes, and then place the fritters onto the baking/cookie tray. Place the fritters into the oven to bake for 15 minutes or until they are fully cooked and set in the center.

Serve with tartar sauce (recipe to follow).



Source: Arbon Publishing

Tartar Sauce 

Preparation time: 5 minutes, plus overnight soaking of cashews

Cooking time: none

Yields: 2 cups



1 cup (41⁄2 oz/130 g) cashews, soaked overnight and drained

3⁄4 cup (6 fl oz/180 ml) water

1⁄4 cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) white balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 garlic clove, minced

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1⁄2 teaspoon white pepper

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 bunch chives (approx. 1⁄2 oz/15 g), finely chopped

1⁄3 cup (21⁄2 oz/70 g) finely chopped gherkins (cornichons)

1⁄4 cup (11⁄2 oz/45 g) finely chopped capers


Place the cashews, water, white balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, garlic, salt, white pepper, and olive oil into a food processor. Blend the ingredients until the sauce is smooth. Pour the sauce into a bowl, and stir through the chives, gherkins (cornichons), and capers.

 Tartar sauce can be used on sandwiches, served with pan-fried or battered tofu, and even offered as a dip.


For my review of Veganissimo! Beautiful Vegan Food, click here.

* The recipes and specified photos are reproduced on Made of Stars with the kind permission of Arbon Publishing, Sydney.

Each Monday I feature a delicious vegan recipe – or two! 

Ally  :)

{Book Review} ‘Veganissimo! Beautiful Vegan Food’ by Leigh Drew


Today, I am delighted to feature a review of Veganissimo! Beautiful Vegan Food by Australian cook book author, Leigh Drew.

It is a dilemma faced by all individuals who eagerly open the cover of a new cook book for the first time: what should I cook first? This challenge is all the more pronounced if one is hungry at the time!

Ultimately, I chose two recipes from the Charming Cheeses, Pates, Dips, and Spreads chapter, as I had the ingredients readily available. To date, I have prepared 11 recipes from the pages of Veganissimo!, and several more are earmarked for imminent preparation.


Chive, Garlic and Walnut Spread

This spread is visually appealing and tasty. I am always interested in simple dishes that incorporate walnuts (and all of their omega-3 fatty acid goodness).

Although I used freshly-picked garlic chives from our herb garden in this recipe, I wouldn’t recommend that you do the same. The spicy garlic flavour of the chives aggressively competed with the mellow, sweet flavour of the roast garlic. Definitely use ‘regular’ chives as outlined in the recipe. Nonetheless, we still enjoyed the flavour of this dip, and I imagine that it would be a delicious substitute for pesto.

Chunky Beet Dip

This dip is scrumptious. It contains mint and oven-roasted beetroot (beets). I used freshly-picked mint from our herb garden.

The aroma of onion, garlic, vinegar, coconut sugar, salt, and white pepper bubbling on the stove is captivating. My husband, Mat, entered the kitchen at this point and proclaimed: ‘something smells alright out here’. Talk about an understatement!  I particularly enjoyed this dip teamed with avocado on toast.


Zucchini Muffins

These muffins are superb! I decided to make this recipe to force myself out of my comfort zone. I usually overlook savoury muffin recipes, giving preference to sweet muffins. I’m so glad I decided to bake them!

Once the muffins cooled, I offered them to the tiny vegans. Minutes later, my daughter returned to the kitchen, imploring: ‘Can I have another one? They are so good’. I found them to be incredibly moreish too. I plan to bake these again soon.


Spinach Hummus

I make a batch of hommus each week for school lunchboxes. I am planning to alternate between ‘regular’ hommus and spinach hummus from now on. The flavour of the baby spinach is so subtle as to be undetectable. This recipe is a great way to incorporate raw greens into the tiny vegans’ diets.

Overnight Breakfast Cups

My daughter prepared this recipe alongside me one evening while I was cooking dinner. The next morning, we forgot that it was in the fridge! When I discovered it, I devoured a bowl for an afternoon snack. I topped my serving with additional non-dairy milk and a drizzle of maple syrup. I omitted the recommended peanut butter. My daughter had a serving the following morning for breakfast.

Our breakfast cups contained quinoa flakes. In all honesty, I’m not a big fan of quinoa flakes. Drew also suggests using rolled oats and – as we are not on a gluten-free diet – I will do that next time.



Thai-style Yellow Curry with Coriander Dressing is truly delectable. I served it with brown basmati rice. I omitted the fresh red chilli from the recipe, and used a pinch or two of dried chilli flakes, to ensure it was ‘kid friendly’.

The method of tofu preparation involves the following steps: freezing; defrosting; squeezing; tearing; tossing with a smidgen of olive oil and tamari; then, finally, baking.

This process results in deliciously flavoured and delightfully textured chunks of tofu. 7 year old Tiny Vegan was particularly enamoured with the baked tofu in this dish, and I have since employed this method while preparing tofu for a stir fry. The blocks of tofu that entered our kitchen this week were directed straight to the freezer for an overnight chilling. I look forward to my next bowl of yellow curry. The tofu is currently defrosting!


I prepared Lancashire Hotpot for a family dinner at my parents’ house. It was popular with the adults and children, and I envisage this warming and comforting meal being a regular winter dinner in our home.

The sliced potato topping was well-received by the members of the household who hold disdain for mashed potato toppings (I’m not mentioning any names! They know who they are). The recipe does not instruct you to remove the bay leaves, but if you don’t like biting into whole bay leaves, I suggest that you remove them from the mixture before transferring it from the saucepan to the oven-proof dish.

Pikelets with Whipped Maple Cream

I prepared the pikelets for the ravenous tiny vegans as an after-school snack. As a consequence, Mat and I were not able to indulge in as many pikelets as we would have hoped to devour. Nevertheless, they were popular with the tiny vegans, and the strawberry jam and whipped maple cream were very pleasing accompaniments.


My sister was visiting for the weekend when I made Italian Farinate. She described it as the gluten-free lovechild of frittata and pizza. :) I used fresh thyme (leftover from the hotpot recipe) rather than rosemary.

I particularly enjoyed the farinate the next day, after it was reheated in the oven. The base had crisped up further and the flavours had intensified. Next time I make it, I will use baking paper in my spring form cake tins, as I found the farinate a little difficult to remove from the cake tin bases. Farinate would be perfect as an alternative to garlic bread, served with pasta dishes.

Soft Molasses Gingerbread Cake

My cake preference rarely extends beyond chocolate, so I baked Gingerbread Cake to push myself out of my cocoa-shrouded comfort zone. Drew suggests making this cake in a bundt tin. As I do not own one, I used a springform tin instead (combined with a lower oven temperature and a longer cooking time).

I am not keen on ginger in sweet recipes. I am not enamoured with chocolate coated ginger or candied ginger. I prefer my ginger in savoury dishes, like curries and stir fries. Consequently, although I had purchased a packet of crystallised ginger for this recipe, I decided to omit it. It was a good decision. A couple of the tiny vegans tasted the crystallised ginger, and did not like it. They enjoyed the cake, however.

If you adore gingerbread cakes, you will be charmed by this one. It rose beautifully, possessed a nice texture, and each bite was flavoured with a hint of molasses. I topped the cake slices with leftover whipped maple cream, rather than the suggested icing.


Chocolate Raspberry Muffins

This recipe is my kind of indulgence! These muffins are a decadent, moreish, and tasty treat. They contain frozen raspberries, raspberry jam and chocolate chunks. I replaced some of the oil with applesauce (as suggested by Drew). These were immensely popular with my extended family members. I will definitely bake these muffins again. They possess the decadence of a cupcake, making them an ideal ‘special occasion’ muffin.

About the Book

The 208-page book contains over 120 recipes presented in 10 chapters (with an elegant use of alliteration), including:

Beguiling Breakfasts and Brunches 

Splendid Salads, Soups and Side Dishes

Pleasing Pasta and Ravishing Rice

Stunning Stews, Classy Curries, and Precious Pies

Sublime Sauces, Marinades and Dressings

Divine Desserts

The instructions are clear and unambiguous. Colourful symbols are used to highlight the soy-free, gluten-free, or low fat status of a recipe. Recipes that require 30 minutes or less cooking time are also highlighted. Ingredient measurements are specified in ounces, grams and cups ensuring that the recipes are useful and practical to readers across the globe. Furthermore, the recipes were tested by a bunch of international recipe-testers.

A couple of the recipes that I made contained all-purpose (plain wheat) flour. This type of flour isn’t a pantry staple in my kitchen. My preferred ‘gluten-loaded’ flours are wholemeal wheat and wholemeal spelt. I would like to use these flours when I next bake Zucchini Muffins and Chocolate Raspberry Muffins.

For the information of gluten-free readers, the book contains over 90 recipes that are gluten-free or contain a gluten-free option, including Gingered Cheesecake Bar Cookies, Vietnamese Savory Pancakes, and Sizzling Polenta Gnocchi with Sage.



Creative use of colour

The photos are beautiful and visually appealing. Vibrant colours, like burnt orange, sky blue, and lime green, are used effectively. Each chapter has its own colour theme, which is used consistently throughout the chapter: in the photography props (ie. tablecloths, straws, etc.) and the featured ‘tips’ sections that accompany the recipes.

The book features an introductory chapter called Building Blocks of Vegan Cuisine, which includes useful information about kitchen equipment, pantry essentials, egg substitutes, nondairy milks, and more. This section is peppered with brief recipes that highlight vegan whole foods, including Nut Milk, Refried Bean-style Dip, and Quinoa Tabbouleh.

The pages are thick and robust, which may seem like a trivial consideration. But, it becomes an important quality in a well-loved and frequently thumbed cook book.

What am I cooking next?

It’s a toss up between Satay Shiitake Mushroom and Eggplant Kebab Wraps and Tempeh, Eggplant and Sweet Potato Lasagne. Or, I may go straight for the Chocolate Mousse Tart with Raspberries.

Curious about the burger on the cover?

That’s a Portobello Burger with the Lot.

With a scrumptious collection of recipes covering a wide range of categories, my copy of the book is fast becoming well-thumbed. In my experience thus far, Veganissimo! lives up to its name. The food is truly beautiful, in both appearance and taste. And, as I have indicated, the layout of the book is visually appealing and easy to navigate.


If it would thrill you to see the colourful cover of Veganissimo! perched among your cook book collection, or if you think the book would be the perfect gift for a special vegan in your life, you can purchase a copy here or here.

About Leigh Drew

Leigh is based in Sydney, Australia, and has been vegan for over a decade. Veganissimo! is her third cook book.

Disclosure: A free copy of the book was provided to me by Arbon Publishers. All opinions expressed are my own (except those attributed to the tiny vegans, Mat, and my sister – of course!).

Tomorrow, I feature a recipe from Veganissimo!


{Recipe} Nut-free lunchbox snacks: chilli and parsley crackers; oaty carob bites

The following recipes are suitable for a nut-free lunchbox.

Many of the lunchbox snacks that I prepare at home contain nuts, as my school-aged tiny vegans are not restricted from bringing nuts to school. However, 4 year old Tiny Vegan began attending a ‘nut-free’ pre-school earlier this year. Consequently, this has inspired me to experiment with nut-free lunchbox snacks.


These tasty crackers consist of dried chilli flakes, fresh parsley, nutritional yeast, ground flaxseeds, tahini, oats and brown rice flour.

This recipe was inspired by a gluten-free cracker that I featured during Vegan MoFo. I decided to experiment with a nut-free cracker recipe that consists of pantry staples – like dried chilli flakes and tahini – and fresh herbs. I chose parsley as it grows so abundantly in our little herb garden.



(Quantity – approximately 40 small crackers)

1 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup brown rice flour

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (savoury yeast flakes)

1 Tbsp ground flaxseeds (golden or brown)

1/2 tsp salt

1/8 – 1/4 tsp chilli flakes

1 tightly packed tsp of finely chopped fresh parsley

1/4 tsp asofoetida (hing) or garlic powder

2 tsp tahini (sesame paste)

5 Tbsp water


1. Pre-heat oven to 180C/160C fan-forced/350F. Line a baking tray with baking paper.

2. Use a food processor or coffee grinder to grind the oats to a fine flour. Add the oats to a mixing bowl.

3. Add the remaining dry ingredients, including the fresh parsley and chilli flakes.

4. Add the tahini and water. Mix well with a spatula or fork, then use your hands to form the mixture into a ball of dough.

5. Sprinkle brown rice flour onto a wooden board or kitchen counter. Knead the dough for several minutes on the floured surface, then divide the dough it into about 6 segments*. Use a rolling pin to roll each segment, one at a time, to a thickness of about 3mm. Use a pizza cutter (or knife) to cut the dough into small crackers, roughly 4cm x 4cm.

6. Transfer the crackers to the baking tray. Prick each cracker with the prongs of a fork a couple of times. Bake for approximately 15 -18 minutes, or until the crackers are a light golden brown colour.

7. The crackers will harden as they cool. Once cooled, store in an air tight container.

*I divide the dough into segments as I find it easier to ‘manage’ (ie. roll and cut) a smaller quantity of dough.


The Tiny Vegans’ Verdicts

The tiny vegans are enthusiastic about spicy food, so I use the full 1/4 tsp in this recipe. If you – or your kids – are not keen on spicy crackers, use 1/8 tsp for a subtler ‘kick’.

The tiny vegans enjoy these crackers plain, or with dips like hummus.



This recipe is a nut-free version of a recipe that I developed for Vegan MoFo, Nutty Cinnamon Bites.


1 cup oats

1/4 cup sunflower seeds

1/4 cup raw carob powder

1 tsp cinnamon

1 cup dates

1/2 cup sultanas or pitted prunes

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

coconut sugar and/or shredded coconut for coating


1. Place all of the ingredients into a food processor in the order that they are listed.

2. Process the mixture for about 2 minutes, until it clumps together and forms a large ball on the blade. The mixture will stick together when pressed between your fingers and thumb.

3. To form into balls: Scoop out a heaped tablespoon of the mixture, and roll it between the palms of your hands until it forms a ball. Repeat with the remaining mixture. Roll the balls in shredded coconut and/or coconut sugar. Can be eaten immediately, or refrigerated for half an hour before serving. Store leftovers in the fridge.

4. To form into bars: Transfer the mixture from the food processor to a loaf tin lined with baking paper. Press the mixture into the tin with your fingers or a spatula. Smooth the top. Place in the freezer for a couple of hours. Remove from the freezer and cut into bars. The bars can be topped with raw cacao nibs or shredded coconut.


The Tiny Vegans’ Verdicts

This recipe is a popular lunchbox snack with the tiny vegans – in ball or bar form.

Every Monday, I feature a delicious vegan recipe that is enjoyed by my own family. I hope your family enjoys it too.

Ally :)

{Recipe} Sweet and Sour Tofu and Vegetables


This recipe consists of a sweet and sour sauce that is free of the questionable ingredients that the store-bought and restaurant versions contain. No bright pink sauce here!

I should warn you, lest you curse me afterwards. You will need to do some washing up after preparing this dish – a wok, a saucepan (two, if you cook rice), a fry pan or skillet, and an immersion blender.

But it will be worth it, I promise! The meal is scrumptious and moreish, and the food preparation stage is simple. Maybe you could offer to cook, if your partner washes up. ;)


(Inspired by a recipe in The Vegan Health Plan by Amanda Sweet*)

(serves 4)

250 g firm organic tofu, cubed

1 1/2 cups chopped white mushrooms

1/2 cup sliced celery

1 medium-sized red capsicum (bell pepper), chopped (equates to 1 1/4 cup chopped)

3/4 cup pineapple pieces, fresh or tinned

1 1/2 cups carrot slices

1 tomato, chopped into 8 wedges

1/2 large red onion, thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger

1 tin/400g of crushed tomatoes

200ml low-sodium vegetable stock

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce

2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 Tbsp raw sugar

2 Tbsp organic cornflour

1/4 cup raw cashews



Make the sweet and sour sauce first: 

1. Use an immersion blender, blender or small food processor to liquidise the tinned tomatoes, until smooth. Set aside.

2. To a medium saucepan (on a low heat), add the cornflour. Add the stock slowly, and stir with a whisk to avoid lumps forming.

3. Once the cornflour is incorporated, add the liquidised tomatoes, soy sauce, apple cider vinegar, and sugar. Bring to a boil, then simmer gently for a few minutes. Taste the sauce – if you prefer it sweeter, add additional sugar. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and set aside.

Prepare the tofu:

4. Cut the tofu into cubes and cook it in a fry pan, until lightly browned on all sides (I use my cafe-style sandwich press to brown the tofu). Set aside.

Prepare the vegetables:

5. Heat 2 Tbsp of water in a wok. Add the onions, and cook until softened.

2. Add the garlic and ginger, stir well. Cook for about 60 seconds, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the carrots and celery. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4. Add the capsicum. Cook for 60 seconds.

5. Add the mushroom and pineapple. Cook for 2 mins.

6. Add the tofu and tomatoes, and the sweet and sour sauce. Mix well. Bring the sauce to the boil, then allow it to simmer gently for 2-3 minutes.

7. Add the cashews to the wok just prior to serving. Stir through.

8. Garnish with coriander or additional cashews. Serve with brown basmati or jasmine rice.

* This book is out of print.


The Tiny Vegans’ Verdicts

My daughter enjoyed this meal, as I expected. One of 7-year-old Tiny Vegan’s favourite restaurant dishes is sweet and sour ‘not-pork’. At the very least, I knew that the sauce would be well-received by him.

And it was. In fact, he happily ate the contents of his plate.

I merely refrained from including mushroom and capsicum in his serving. Which, in turn, inspired 4-year-old Tiny Vegan to request his meal minus the mushroom and capsicum.

The disdain expressed for mushrooms by some of the tiny vegans is really quite disheartening for a mushroom admirer like myself. Cooked capsicum isn’t popular either. At least they’ll eat it raw.


The Virtual Vegan Potluck will be upon us soon. I will be participating again. This time, in the salad section. I am incorporating the featured ingredient into my recipe – beetroot (beets). Sign up at this page by 9 November (US time).

Every Monday, I feature a delicious vegan recipe that is enjoyed by my own family. I hope your family enjoys it too (with or without the mushrooms!).


{A-Z:Veganism} K is for Kill Floor

The concrete floor is bitterly cold beneath her body.

She attempts to stand. But her weak legs cannot support her, and she collapses.

Milk gently flows from her engorged udder, and mixes with blood on the floor.

The blood of her kin.

The white and red swirls drip into a nearby drain.

Soon, her blood will join the stream.


K is for…

Kill floor.

Each year, billions of animals take their last breaths on the world’s kill floors.

It is difficult to imagine the slaughterhouse environment as anything other than brutal.

The confusion and terror of the animals.

The smell.

The noise.

While researching J is for Jacob – a piece about the experiences of Australian animals subjected to the live export trade- I viewed photos and videos taken on kill floors in Indonesia and Egypt.

Some of those images are seared in my memory.

Bulging eyes. 

Gaping wounds.

Blood. So much blood. 

I could never subject myself to witnessing these sights first-hand.

But some individuals do.

This post highlights the experiences of three people who spent time in slaughterhouses. All three produced books that provide a disturbing glimpse into the slaughterhouse environment.

Sue Coe, artist and author, spent many years visiting slaughterhouses across the United States. Armed with a sketchbook, she visually documented the struggles and deaths of countless animals – cows, horses, goats, pigs, sheep. The product of that documentation is a book titled ‘Dead Meat’.

Of witnessing the killing of goats in an Arizona slaughterhouse, she writes:

‘The door slowly closes. The older man grabs the front and back legs of a goat, swinging the goat to the ground. He pins the goat down by putting his boot on the other leg. The second goat watches and backs away…The younger man electrocutes the goat and cuts [the] throat. The second goat cries like a child, she shakes. They drag the first goat, still kicking and writhing, into a concrete pit’.

Understandably, Coe writes of her desire to save animals:

‘Sheep bleat even after their throats are cut. They writhe. Every part of my being says to stop it, save them, which is impossible…I feel sick and my legs are shaking – my hands too – I concentrate on acting ‘normal’. Various animals are killed. I look for a way out’.

There is no way out for the animals. They leave the facility as ‘boxes of meat parts’.

In his 1906 novel, The Jungle, Upton Sinclair writes about the experiences of immigrant workers in a Chicago slaughterhouse in the early 20th century.

Sinclair gathered information while working ‘incognito’ in Chicago meatpacking establishments. He intended his novel to expose the exploitation and appalling conditions endured by workers in slaughterhouses. Of ‘wool-pluckers’ he writes:

‘[their] hands went to pieces…for the pelts of the sheep had to be painted with acid to loosen the wool, and then the pluckers had to pull out this wool with their bare hands, till the acid had eaten their fingers off’.

However, many readers focused more readily on the issues of food contamination that the book highlighted.

The general public were alarmed by descriptions such as this:

‘There were men who worked in the cooking rooms, in the midst of steam and sickening odors, by artificial light; in these rooms the germs of tuberculosis might live for 2 years, but the supply was renewed every hour’. 

And this:

‘When, for instance, a man had fallen into one of the rendering tanks and had been made into pure leaf lard and peerless fertilizer, there was no use letting that fact out and making his family unhappy’. 

Of workers who had fallen into the tanks, he writes: ‘Sometimes they would be overlooked for days, till all but the bones of them had gone out to the world as Durham’s Pure Leaf Lard!’. 

Sinclair conceded that the public cared little for the workers in slaughterhouses but they certainly ‘did not want to eat tubercular beef’. Or human-laced lard.

What about the non-human animals in slaughterhouses of the early 20th century?

Of the slaughter of pigs – referred to as ‘porkmaking by machinery’ – Sinclair writes:

‘There were high squeals and low squeals, grunts, and wails of agony: there would come a momentary lull, and then a fresh outburst, louder than ever, surging up to a deafening climax…One by one [the workers] hooked up the hogs, and one by one with a swift stroke they slit their throats…[The hogs] vanished with a splash into a vat of boiling water’.

Clearly, slaughterhouses of the early 1900’s were brutal environments for non-human and human animals.

More than one hundred years after the publication of Sinclair’s book, Timothy Pachirat, Assistant Professor of Politics, made the decision to work undercover in a Nebraska slaughterhouse. He writes about his time there in a (non-fiction) book that has been dubbed ‘The Jungle for the 21st century’.

Published in 2011,  Every Twelve Seconds: Industrialized Slaughter and the Policitics of Sight, provides an account of industrialised killing from the viewpoint of a participant. 

Of his motivation to experience a slaughterhouse from the inside, Pachirat states:

‘I wanted to understand how massive processes of violence become normalized in modern society, and I wanted to do so from the perspective of those who work in the slaughterhouse’. 

How do the workers perform this ‘work’, day in and day out? How do they regard the fear and resistance of the animals that they are paid to slaughter? Are they callous and heartless people with little regard for animal suffering?

The pages of Pachirat’s book provide some insight into these questions.

The politics of sight

Patchirat discusses the fact that modern society censors, compartmentalises and conceals that which is unpalatable. The annual killing of billions of animals in slaughterhouses is hidden from the public gaze.

In Dead Meat, Coe states:

‘…When Sinclair wrote ‘The Jungle’, packinghouses were very proud of their slaughtering techniques and would offer guided tours for the public…By the end of the 20th century, that [was] no longer the case. The public is not welcome. Slaughterhouses, especially the larger ones, are guarded like military compounds’.

The branding of animal rights activists as ‘terrorists’, and attempts to introduce legislation that would ban the filming of undercover footage in slaughterhouses (and factory farms), demonstrates the lengths that industry will go to in order to conceal that which is ‘hidden in plain sight’ (to use a phrase coined by Pachirat).


Photo by author

But the act of killing is concealed and compartmentalised within the slaughterhouse too.

Workers are separated into departments within the slaughterhouse environment. Consequently, Pachirat explains, it is conceivable for non-kill-floor workers to bypass entirely the witnessing of animals being killed in the slaughterhouse. Moreover, it is easy for most workers to avoid encountering a live animal at all – even in a slaughterhouse that kills hundreds of thousands of animals per year.

What about kill floor workers? Surely, they can’t avoid the reality of their role in the killing of sentient beings? 

Pachirat argues that the act of killing is hidden here too. In the very place that we would expect it to be most visible:

‘…the kill floor is divided spatially into a clean side and a dirty side. The dirty side refers to everything that happens while the cattle’s hides are still on them and the clean side to everything that happens after the hides have been removed. Workers from the clean side are segregated from workers on the dirty side, even during food and bathroom breaks’. 

This separation is required to avoid contamination of the finished product – the ‘meat’ – but it also serves to conceal the violence of killing.

Of the eight hundred workers on the Nebraska facility’s kill floor, only four workers are directly involved in the killing of the animals. Moreover, less than twenty workers have a direct ‘line of sight’ to the killing of the animals. Pachirat states, in a 2012 interview:

‘Of 121 distinct kill floor jobs…only the ‘knocker’ both sees the cattle while sentient and delivers the blow that is supposed to render them insensible. On an average day, this lone worker shoots 2,500 individual animals at a rate of one every twelve seconds’.

This undisputed fact – that only the ‘knocker’ administers the captive bolt gun – allows for the remaining workers to distance themselves from the act of killing. Pachirat states:

‘…the kill floor operates with 120+1 jobs. And as long as the 1 exists, as long as there is some plausible narrative that concentrates the heaviest weight of the dirtiest work on this 1, then the other 120 kill floor workers can say, and believe it, “I’m not going to take part in this.” ‘

Pachirat provides a powerful example of the way that euphemism is used in the slaughterhouse, to disguise the sentience of animals:

 ‘…the use of language is another way of concealing the violence of killing. From the moment cattle are unloaded from transport trucks into the slaughterhouse’s holding pens, managers and kill floor supervisors refer to them as ‘beef.’ Although they are living, breathing, sentient beings, they have already linguistically been reduced to inanimate flesh…’

Pachirat argues that the responsibility for the violence inflicted on animals in slaughterhouses does not rest solely on the shoulders of the ‘knocker’ or the other slaughterhouse workers.

It rests with all of us.

‘Our complicity lies not in a direct infliction of violence but rather in our tacit agreement to look away and not to ask some very, very simple questions: Where does this meat come from and how did it get here?’


The dairy cow’s body is still now – but still warm.

She did not consent to her death.

Nor did she consent to the theft of her newborn babies during her short life. At 7 years old, she was still many years from old age.

Soon, rough hands will work quickly to remove her head and hooves. A man with a power saw will remove her skin.

In life, she was prized only for her ability to produce milk.

She will leave the slaughterhouse in pieces.


Although not within the scope of this article, the correlation between increased crime rates and slaughterhouse work has been explored, and makes for interesting reading. Research suggests that crime rates are higher in towns and suburbs that contain a slaughterhouse.

Are violent people drawn to slaughterhouse work, or does the nature of the work encourage slaughterhouse workers to act violently outside their workplace? Or a combination of both?

To read more about these issues, refer to these articles:

Slaughterhouses and Increased Crime Rates: An Empirical Analysis of the Spillover From ‘The Jungle’ Into the Surrounding Community (2009) Fitzgerald, AJ et al. Organization and Environment.

Animal abuse leads to human abuse (2012) Grezo, C New Internationalist


References for K is for Kill Floor:

Coe, S (1995) Dead Meat Four Walls Eight Windows, NY, USA.

Pachirat, T (2011) Every Twelve Seconds: Industrialized Slaughter and the Policitics of Sight Kindle eBook, Yale University Press

Sinclair, U The Jungle Kindle eBook, Waxkeep Publishing

Solomon, A Working Undercover in a Slaughterhouse: An interview with Timothy Pachirat  March 2012

Note: The experiences of the dairy cow (in my intro and conclusion) were inspired by Coe’s drawing, Meat Fly (click here).

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} Creamy Mushroom Sauce with Spelt Spirals


This simple, quick and tasty recipe uses ingredients that are fridge and pantry ‘staples’ at my house.

My sons aren’t keen on mushrooms, so I don’t even attempt to serve this meal to them. This is a good lunchtime option for Mat and I when the (older) tiny vegans are at school (and pre-school).



(serves 2)

2 cups thinly sliced mushrooms, white or button

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 can/400ml organic coconut cream

1 Tbsp organic cornflour

1 generous Tbsp chopped, freshly-picked parsley leaves

1/4 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard

black pepper

2 tsp olive oil, divided

Spelt spirals (or your preferred pasta)


1. Cook the desired amount of pasta according to the directions on the packet. Once cooked, strain and set aside.

2. While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tsp of olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add the cornflour, and stir with a wooden spoon until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

3. Shake the can of coconut cream before opening it. Add the coconut cream gradually, stirring continuously with a whisk, to avoid lumps. Once all the coconut cream has been added, use a wooden spoon to stir the sauce periodically as it thickens. The sauce will take several minutes to thicken. Add the salt, a few grinds of black pepper and the mustard. Mix well. Remove the saucepan from the heat, and set aside. The sauce will thicken further on standing.

4. In a separate saucepan, heat 1 tsp of olive oil. Add the garlic, stirring until fragrant. Then add the mushrooms. Cook them for 3-4 minutes, until they begin to release water.

5. Add the cooked mushrooms and garlic to the sauce and stir well, on a low heat. Bring the sauce to a warm serving temperature. Stir the parsley through just prior to serving.

6. Spoon the spirals into bowls, and top with the mushroom sauce. Decorate with a sprig of parsley, and serve immediately.


The Tiny Vegans’ Verdicts

As I mentioned, this recipe is not popular with most of the tiny vegans. My daughter is the only one who enjoys this meal. Little Baker likes spelt spirals but is not impressed with mushrooms. Yet.

I am hopeful that he will eventually succumb to the charm of mushrooms. My daughter disliked mushies until recent years. Now she is enchanted by buttons and shiitakes. :)

Dr. Joel Fuhrman says this about the mighty mushroom:

‘In one recent Chinese study, women who ate at least 10 grams of fresh mushrooms each day (which equates to about one button mushroom per day) had a 64% decreased risk of breast cancer.

All types of mushrooms have anti-cancer properties. Plus, mushrooms are unique in that they contain aromatase inhibitors — compounds that can block the production of estrogen.

Aromatase inhibitors are thought to be largely responsible for mushrooms’ preventive effects against breast cancer. Even the most commonly eaten mushrooms (white, cremini, and Portobello) have high anti-aromatase activity…

Keep in mind that mushrooms should only be eaten cooked: several raw culinary mushrooms contain a potentially carcinogenic substance called agaritine, and cooking mushrooms significantly reduces their agaritine content’.


Ok, fess up! Do you eat raw mushrooms? Did you realise that you were messing with agaritine? :)

 Every Monday, I feature a delicious recipe that is enjoyed by [some of the members of ] my own family- I hope your family enjoys it too. 

Ally :)

{Recipe} Blueberry Cheesecake (no-bake, gluten-free)


This lilac-coloured dessert is adored by 7-year old Tiny Vegan. He requested it for his recent birthday. I was happy to comply. It was simpler to make than last year’s birthday cake: Pikachu (of Pokemon fame). :)

Blueberry cheesecake consists of a base and a filling.

The base contains almonds, medjool dates and raw cacao powder. These ingredients are processed in a food processor until well combined, then the mixture is pressed into a lined springform cake tin, and placed in the fridge while the filling is prepared.

The filling ingredients – organic blueberries, macadamia nuts, cashew nuts, maple syrup, lemon juice, water, and pure vanilla extract- are blended together in a high-speed blender (or food processor).

Although the base and filling are simple and quick to prepare, there are a couple of ‘inactive’ tasks that take considerable time- namely, the soaking of nuts and the cake ‘setting’ in the freezer.

The day before I require this cake, I soak the nuts for at least 4 hours. Then I make the base and filling in the early evening, and place the finished product in the freezer. The next day (after about 12 hours in the freezer), I remove the cake from the freezer, remove it from the cake tin, and refrigerate it until it is required. This ensures that we are not eating a frozen cake. We all prefer the taste and texture of the cake in its defrosted state.

However, if you want to eat a frozen cake, go for it. It is very refreshing on a hot day.



the base:

1 cup raw almonds

1 cup medjool dates

2 tsp raw cacao powder or cocoa powder

the filling:

4 cups macadamia nuts or cashew nuts (or a combination), soaked for at least 4 hours in water

1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen organic blueberries

1 cup water

1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp pure maple syrup

1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tsp pure vanilla extract


1. The base: Process the almonds in a food processor for about 30 seconds. Add the medjool dates and cacao powder, and process until well combined. The mixture should stick together when you press it between your fingers. It should not be dry and crumbly.

2. Line the bottom (not the sides) of a springform cake tin with baking paper. Press the base mixture into the cake tin, using a large spoon or your fingers. Smooth the top of the mixture. Put the cake tin in the fridge.

3. The filling: To a high-speed blender (or food processor), add -in this order- the water, lemon juice, maple syrup, vanilla, nuts, and berries. Process until smooth. I use the extra large smoothie setting on my Blendtec (4 or 5 times) to reach the desired consistency. Taste the mixture. If you prefer it sweeter, add an additional tablespoon or two of maple syrup.

4. Remove the cake tin from the fridge. Pour the filling into the base, and smooth the top with a spatula. Cover the cake tin (with foil, or a large lid), and put it in the freezer until frozen.

5. Once the cake is frozen, remove it from the freezer. Remove the cover, and the springform section of the cake tin. Place a large plate over the top of the cake, and turn the cake upside down. Remove the base of the cake tin and the baking paper. Place another large plate (or a cake stand) on the base of the cake, then turn the cake over, and remove the first plate. Place the cake in the fridge until you are ready to serve it.

6. Decorate with blueberries (fresh or frozen) prior to serving.

7. Store leftover cake in the fridge.

The Tiny Vegans’ Verdicts
All of the tiny vegans enjoy this cake, including Little Baker (who enjoyed licking the spatula).

Every Monday, I feature a delicious recipe that is enjoyed by my own family- I hope your family enjoys it too.


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