Thursday, 1 October 2009

VeganMoFo 2009 #1: How I became a vegan (and a menu)

Wow, I cannot believe that it is already the start of VeganMoFo 2009! Hot on the heels of AusNZVeganMoFo, that is a lot of posting and a whole lot more reading! It's very exciting. For the full list of blogs participating, you can head on over to here to catch up on all the action.

For this first day of the worldwide VeganMoFo, I thought I might talk about how I came to be vegan. I haven't really discussed it here before! I would love to say that as soon as I was born, I held my little fist in the air and proclaimed my veganism. However, being born in a non-vegan family and lacking the necessary cognitive and vocal abilities, this did not happen. My mother works at the University of Queensland, and when I was little I used to go in to work with her sometimes. They have some lovely ponds there, and I remember seeing some beautiful fluffy little ducklings and something clicked in my mind. I first (yes, I use the word first) went vegetarian when I was in Grade 6. I was not super strict though, and had no idea about a balanced vegetarian diet. In Grade 8 or 9 I became quite anaemic and ended up eating meat again. Though I still refrained from eating duck! *sigh* False start number one!

In Grade 11 I decided to become vegetarian again. And this time it stuck. I still remember the first meal I made for myself - it was a vegetarian pizza and it had tomato, mushroom, corn, asparagus and cheese on it. I made this decision two weeks before going away on a Duke of Ed camp to a sheep station in rural Queensland! It was a fairly vitamin-free week of potatoes, pasta and cheese, but I would not be swayed. As time went on, I came to learn more and more about hidden animal ingredients. I avoided gelatine, I started questioning places about the type of oil they used, I only ate 'vegetarian' cheese. After school I went to Wagga Wagga to study equine science (random, I know) and I met a girl in my course who was also vegetarian. All the time I thought more and more about the different ways animals were used in food production. But I still considered going vegan to be 'extreme' and a bit 'crazy'. Oh, I know! Slap me now! But deep inside I knew that vegan was the right thing to do. All production animals lives end in slaughter, and I knew that no living and sentient creature should have the entire value of their being based on what they can produce. I did try and go vegan a couple of times in the first year, but swayed back each time. I didn't like soymilk. I hated tofu. Whatever, excuses!

In 2000 I had to go on prac work at a horse stud just outside Brisbane. I was staying there and had to take my own food. This was it, I decided! I packed my bags with soymilk and other vegan foods, and decided that I would just give myself no other option for the duration. And it stuck - I transitioned into vegan and there I have joyously remained! It was the time of the Sydney Olympics, so although I don't have an exact date I consider September to be my veganversary. The big decade is coming up next year!

OK, that is enough waffling on for the moment. If you are still reading, thanks! I hope to share some more of my vegan journey with you throughout this month. But, let's get down to what it is all about - the food!

Oh yeah! This is the Roman Goddess Menu from Veganomicon! Chickpeas Romesco, Saffron-Garlic Rice and roasted green beans. The chickpeas are saucy and delicious - there is almond meal in the sauce to make it a little bit creamy. But my favourite part is the rice - amazing flavour and the toasted almonds give it a fantastic crunch. I could just eat this on its own. Amazing!

The suggested dessert was Chocolate-Hazelnut Biscotti. This was my first time making biscotti. For some reason it seemed really hard in my head, I don't know why. Bake a GIANT rectangular cookie, slice and bake it again! When mixing, it is meant to resemble a stiff dough, but on a 32 degree Celsius day it was not playing ball. Nothing 10 minutes in the fridge couldn't fix though! After the first baking of the giant cookie, it says to let it cool for half an hour before cutting. I found that the middle of the cookie was still warm and crumbly after this, so I sort of sliced bits off the end, let it sit for a bit, sliced off some more end and so on. Again, it could have been because of the hot day. But the verdict: delicious! Much nicer than some of the vegan biscotti I have bought, which have been dry and dusty.

Cute Cat Photo of the Post

This is my very first cat Mo. And that is a two year old me, hugging her close! There are a lot of photos like that, which me hugging her. She was an exceptionally lovely cat and very patient with the kiddies. Mo passed away when I was in grade 3 after being hit by a car. She was around when I was in the womb, and I think my entire cat lady existence grew from having this beautiful lady in my earliest years.

This has turned into quite the long post! I will try and keep most of them a bit shorter - I know we all have 400 blog posts to read each day for the next month! Happy VeganMoFo all!


  1. Lovely post! I really enjoy hearing how other people first made the transition to veganism, it is always so genuine and inspiring. That food is gorgeous and the pic of you hugging/mauling the kittie is too cute! ;-)

  2. I love reading about why people chose to be vegan too.

    those biscotti look amazing.

  3. I love rading personal posts like this. nice story. the food looks good!

  4. Thank you for the lovely post. Long is good! Especially when it's chock full of stories and food. =)
    First off, I must say the biscotti looks delicious.
    And for the main comment, thank you also for discussing your personal journey to veganism. I've been vegetarian for five years, only two of those strict (finally removed the fish) and still don't mind my veggie patties or other food cooked in the same pots and pans as meat (non-vegan family). I'm at the point you mentioned where veganism still seems a bit "extreme" at least for me to do, but most of my cookbooks are vegan ones and I choose to cook vegan meals when I can, so I do wonder if I'll eventually transition into veganism.
    Anyway, talk about long posts!
    Just wanted to say thanks for the daiiy dose of flavor and camaraderie! =)

  5. Those Biscotto would be perfect dunked in my cuppa tea right now! Lovely piccie of two year old you and Mo - it's not much different to your profile piccie.

    AND she has the same name as the most important event of the social calendar - MO-fo.

  6. Great post! A decade of veganism is seriously impressive, even if there was waffling beforehand... when I was vegetarian I thought vegans were all sickly and pale, so that was my waffling!

  7. Ooh, also, I was wondering if I could ask you a kitty question... if you don't mind, could you send me a quick email? tropicalvegan (at) gmail (dot) com

  8. Great post! Really interesting reading about your journey to veganism. And I could eat those chickpeas & rice right now, mmmm

  9. Thanks for sharing your story! I too went veg at age 13 with absolutely no idea how to eat, other than not eating meat.... luckily at 17 I was armed with better information, and the first of the vegetarian cookbooks (like Diet for a Small Planet, which was a good start!). Flash forward over 30 years and the amount of vegan presence, both in cookbooks and on the web is AMAZING. Thanks also for pointing me towards some good VCON recipes. Because I own so many cookbooks now, I don't take the time to really explore one in depth!