The Last Pig: exposing ‘humane’ farming’s betrayal of farm animals

For over a decade, Bob Comis operated a small-scale pig farm in upstate New York. Over time, his incongruous relationship with the pigs began to trouble him. He experienced delight and laughter in their company. Yet, each week he drove a small number of pigs to the slaughterhouse. Eventually, he turned his back on pig farming. This change of heart encouraged him to pursue vegetable farming and embrace veganism.

BobPig-logo-705x397

Today, Comis’ farm is abundant with new life; vegetables sprout from the earth that once bore hoof prints.  The pigs are gone. A number of pigs were spared the fate that awaited their kin at the slaughterhouse. They are living out the rest of their days at animal sanctuaries.

Filmmaker Allison Argo was drawn to Bob’s story, and  – with cinematographer Joe Brunette –  is producing a film called, The Last Pig.

I interviewed Argo about the power of Bob’s story, her inspiration for making the film, and ‘humane’ farming’s betrayal of animals.

You can read my article here.

Argo and Brunette have launched a crowdfunding campaign to cover the costs of the film’s final scene and the editing process. You can contribute here.

{Book review} Greenilicious: 101 Ways to Love Your Greens

cover

Last year,  I reviewed Veganissimo! Beautiful Vegan Food by Australian cookbook author, Leigh Drew.

Today, I am delighted to feature a review of Drew’s latest vegan cookbook, co-authored with Amanda Benham.

Greenilicious: 101 Ways to Love Your Greens is promoted as a recipe book and a ‘how to’ manual on green vegetables. Greenilicious features over 40 different green vegetables – from witlof to okra, and tatsoi to basil.

Drew’s creative recipes demonstrate that green vegetables are nutritious and delicious. With a scrumptious collection of healthy, vegan recipes, my copy of the book is fast becoming well-thumbed. I have cooked and tasted over a dozen of the recipes thus far. I want to share my Greenilicious journey with you.

****

stir-fry

With only six ingredients, Baby Bok Choy and Shiitake Mushrooms Stir-fry is quick and easy to prepare. My sister and I prepared it for a lunch with my parents, and served it with white rice. It was very popular, and I am keen to make it again.

***

edamame

Chilli Garlic Edamame is a favourite of the tiny vegans. They are enamoured with edamame, so this simple and tasty dish was devoured in no time! I reduced the chilli content to ensure that it was not too spicy for the youngest of the tiny vegans.

***

cauliflower curry

Cauliflower Pea Curry is easy to prepare and features ingredients that are readily available in my kitchen- spices like garam masala and turmeric, and vegetables like onions, tomatoes and, of course, peas and cauliflower. I adjusted the chilli content for the tiny vegans. The leftovers were delicious the next day with some coconut milk added.

***

sesame halva

Greenilicious contains a comprehensive collection of delectably named and scrumptious-tasting green smoothies. We indulged in Sesame Halva, Cooper’s Cherry Pie, Lamington, Blueberry Pancake, and Mango Ice-cream. My father, who is no stranger to green smoothies, was captivated by Sesame Halva. He deemed it ‘beautiful’. I enjoyed all of the smoothies, but I particularly adored the rich cherry flavour of Cooper’s Cherry Pie.

I have adopted Drew’s practice of adding frozen peas to smoothies. What a brilliant idea! Reluctant green smoothie drinkers (ie. children!) are unlikely to detect a handful of frozen peas added to their favourite smoothie.

***

quiches

I am always on the lookout for lunchbox suitable recipes, so I was thrilled to discover Mini Asparagus Crustless Quiches. I served the (gluten free) mini quiches as an entree for dinner one night, and the leftovers were divided between lunchboxes the next day. The mini quiches can be eaten warm or cold. I cooked them in silicone muffin cups (rather than a muffin tin), which works really well for popping them into lunchboxes. If you aren’t a fan of asparagus, the recipe includes a variation for baby spinach, rocket or kale.

***

roasted balsamic

Roasted Balsamic Brussel Sprouts and Broccoli is a simple and delicious recipe, comprising only six ingredients. I enjoyed the flavour of the oven-roasted greens – a nice change to my usual practice of steaming broccoli and brussel sprouts. I served it as a side dish with other vegetable dishes, including Ethiopian Greens (see below).

***

tzatziki

Pine Nut and Almond Tzatziki is a raw recipe that contains three varieties of greens – cucumber, parsley and mint. This recipe is suitable as a condiment (for curries) or a dip (with vegetable crudites). I also enjoyed it on a salad wrap.

***

tofu salad1

Tofu Salad with Shredded Cabbage, Peanuts, Chilli, Mint and Miso Dressing is one of my favourite recipes from the book (so far!). It consists of Chinese cabbage, cucumber, mint and a green fruit – Granny Smith apple. The recipe calls for fried tofu puffs, however, I cubed and pan-fried the same quantity of  firm tofu (as I was unable to locate tofu puffs). I was also unable to locate a Chinese cabbage, so I used a Drumhead cabbage (ie. green cabbage) instead. Truly delicious!

***

rocket frittata

Rocket Frittata contains silken tofu, potato, nutritional yeast, and chickpea flour – and is gluten free. My sister and I prepared it for a family dinner. We made it earlier in the day and served it cold, with salads. The next day, I  heated a leftover slice. It is tasty served either way.

***

ethiopian greens

Another favourite recipe from the book is Ethiopian greens with spiced chickpeas. This side dish, comprising rocket and English spinach, is very flavourful and moreish – and was also popular with Mat and my daughter. The spiced chickpea component of the recipe is presented as a dip and, therefore, is suitable for use where one would use hommus. The spiced chickpea ‘dip’ is stirred through the greens after serving. The spiced chickpea ‘dip’ also found its way into the tiny vegans’ lunchboxes.

chickpeas1

***

About the book

The 208-page book contains 101 recipes presented in 8 chapters (with charming titles), including:

Not Just Salad Days

From the Cabbage Patch

Turn Over a New Leaf

Flower Power

Like Peas in a Pod

To give you an idea of the layout of the book, the Not Just Salad Days chapter consists of recipes containing salad greens and lettuces, while Flower Power comprises recipes containing broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower and artichoke (and more). Like peas in a pod includes recipes that contain…yep, you guessed it!

The recipe instructions are clear and unambiguous. Symbols are used to highlight the gluten free or raw status of a recipe. Recipes that require 30 minutes or less cooking time are also highlighted.

For the information of gluten free readers, the book contains 90 recipes that are gluten-free, including Classic Cavolo Nero Rissotto, Cauliflower Marinara Pizza and Thai-style Snake Bean Green Curry.

The food photography is visually appealing, and every shade of green imaginable is represented throughout the book. Moreover, the layout of the book is easy to navigate (if you have some kale wilting in the fridge, locate the Turn Over a New Leaf chapter or head to Super Smooth – for a delectable smoothie).

Greenilicious features an introductory chapter called Welcome to the Wonderful World of Greens, which includes useful information about the nutritional benefits of green vegetables, tips for encouraging children to eat vegetables, and suggestions for easy and quick ways to incorporate greens into your daily meals. A two page nutrient content table is also included in the book.

What am I cooking next?

It has been very hot in my part of the world this week, so I am keen to prepare a hearty salad whose preparation does not require the use of an oven. There are several good options, including: Oak Leaf Salad with Shaved Beetroot and Avocado Dressing, Shredded Snow Pea Salad or Butter Lettuce Salad with Pears, Walnuts and Lemon Olive Oil Dressing.  And, of course, on a hot and humid day, a delectable – and very cold – smoothie is most welcome. A Watermelon Sorbet smoothie would be a refreshing and delicious choice.   

For lunchboxes, I would like to try Rosemary Crackers, Coriander Pesto and Pumpkin Scrolls and Broccoli Fritters. And, once the weather cools down, I am keen to taste some of the delicious soup recipes: Miso Soup with Tatsoi and Mixed Mushrooms, Watercress Soup and Cavalo Nero, Lemon and Garlic Soup.

What about dessert?

Let’s face it, no recipe book would be complete without the addition of at least a few  sweet delights. Greenilicious does not disappoint! Among the book’s pages you will find Spiced Chocolate and Zucchini Cake with Macadamia IcingChoko Apple Pie and Hint of Mint Cheesecake. All with a healthy dose of greens.  

Curious about the meal on the cover?

That’s Raw Tex-Mex Tacos.

If you are keen to get your hands on a copy of Greenilicious, or if you think the book would make an ideal gift for a special person 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. Greenilicious is her fourth cookbook.

About Amanda Benham

Amanda became vegan in 1983, and is a leading expert in plant-based nutrition. She has been a nutrition consultant and dietitian for over 20 years.

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 and other family members– of course!).

Ally 

Shining a light on Australia’s pig farming industry

Back in August, I interviewed Chris Delforce, the writer and producer of Lucent, a new Australian documentary.

Poster4-XS

Lucent provides a comprehensive exposé of the largely hidden Australian pig farming industry.

Chris told me about the disturbing findings that undercover footage has revealed on Australian pig farms – the diseased and distressed sows; the dead and dying piglets; the painful procedures performed on piglets without anaesthesia; the beatings and abuse inflicted on pigs by workers; and the overcrowding and cannibalism.

IMG_0916 (6)

Lucent premiered in Sydney in October, and has screened in other states.  On Sunday 23 November, Lucent is screening in Brisbane at Event Cinemas, Brisbane City Myer Centre from 3.00 – 5.00 pm. To purchase tickets, click here.

To read my article Lucent: Exposing the Australian pig farming industry, click here.

For more information about Lucent, Australian pig farming and Aussie Farms, click here.

Image credit: Aussie Farms

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.

iStock_000002472322_mouse_petri_Medium

‘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.

 

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.

 

1309544_24531511

 

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.

VVP4

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.

VVP5

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 🙂

[Recipe} Mango, Macadamia and Tomato Curry

mango1

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 🙂

{Recipe} Rocky Road

rockyroad1

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!

rockyroad2

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’.

rockyroad8

Ingredients

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

Method

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.

Indulge!

rockyroad3

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

%d bloggers like this: