My Diet Is Better Than Yours!

The only types of labels I like are the ones that are plastered around my kitchen reminding my husband exactly where to put each pot, pan, utensil or ingredient. The OCD side of my persona enjoys nothing more than looking in my cupboards and seeing everything in its place – perfectly organised, nothing out of the ordinary. Ironically – this is the exact reason that I hate the labels we put on each other. They aren’t harmless guidelines (my husband would argue the same about our kitchen system) they are parameters – unyielding, unforgiving and often untrue. And nowadays I see it more than ever when it comes down to what we eat.

From Daniel Vitalis.com

I Am Not Vegan

I thought I was vegan for a year and a half – apparently I was not (and never will be) a “proper” vegan. I actually experienced anger from a lot of vegans (some of them good friends) about the way my improper vegan lifestyle was damaging to the overall cause. I did not consume meat or dairy. I did not eat store bought eggs. I did however eat eggs from my parent’s hobby farm where no chicken was or will ever be killed. This – to my surprise – enraged people. In my view I was being true to the cause; I was not contributing to the negative treatment of any animals, nor environmental degradation related to food production, nor the exploitation of local/indigenous people (apart from my mum when I would force her to make me Pavlova). But I received a lot of criticism from people that I would not have expected it from. I was told that I was not as good a person as my properly vegan counterparts. I suspect that these people were trying to change my opinion/stance/behaviour but all it did was completely alienate me from a really beautiful philosophy.

What happens when you criticise someone…

See while I was looking down the end of a pointed finger (they were yelling down at me from a far superior plane of spiritual connectedness) all I could look at was their fridge. Highly packaged foods with little nutritional value. Non-organic fruit and vegetables, which have more miles attached to them than Richard Branson. Genetically modified soy. Carbon heavy plane tickets. How on earth could this person be judging me when they are committing all sorts of environmental sins? And there we have it! As soon as you tout yourself to be the Messiah of all things holy you turn a massive looking glass onto every decision you have ever made in your life. You immediately push people on the back foot while they grapple for their self-defence can of pepper spray.

Forgetting the labels and accepting each other  

In my mind I am doing all that I can. I do not support industries that I do not agree with. I do support those that I do. Such as oyster farming – it improves water quality, provides local people with non-destructive employment, and many studies prove that they do not feel pain. But in the end what I believe (and if you agree with it) does not matter. Omnivore, locavore, vegan, fruitarian, organic devotee, self-sufficient. They could all spend their entire lives criticising different aspects of their consumptive habits or they could look at all the positives of their collective diets. If people have made the conscious decision to alter their food habits for the better then they should be praised rather than demonised about the specifics. Call me vanilla or defeatist if you will but I feel that positive reinforcement beats punishment and shame every time.

What everyone should do

In my opinion there are only three things that every single person should do;

  1. Everyone should endeavour to be as informed as possible about any industry or impact that they contribute to. If you don’t agree with it – don’t contribute to it.
  2. Don’t judge. Everyone has different opinions, timelines and motivations to change.
  3. Lead by a great, happy, kind example! People gravitate towards good energy.

I am really sorry if this has come across as a rant or as if I do not like or believe in the Vegan cause. I very much do and I still apply a lot of these philosophies to my life. I just started to notice a lot of really wonderful people that are all committed to a better world, bickering over the idiosyncrasies of their respective diets. That has just been my personal experience and my motivation behind the article. I just hated that people said that I was not a supporter of animal rights because I eat oysters. Humans are like onions dammit – we have layers!!!

Steve Irwin ate meat and did a hell of a lot for this planet. Ellen DeGeneres is vegan and does a hell of a lot for this planet. Saddam Hussein ate meat and Adolf Hitler was vegetarian and I guess it’s safe to say that they have both done a hell of a lot to the planet as well. Let’s focus on the good in people hey?

Please feel more than free to leave comments. Are you a food snob? Have you been shamed about your diet? Do you think it is a good tactic to incite change? I ‘d be really interested.

Make Your Own Toothpaste

My finished toothpaste

I discovered how to make my own toothpaste on Saturday and now I can categorically say that I won’t be turning back. In this previous post, I explained the reasons why you might want to look into this alternative rather than your average over-packaged, chemical-ridden, animal-tested varieties… But on top of that, there is something so fun about making it yourself! Getting your nutty professor on and testing out different mixes and scents.

The mix that Shani (from Ecoburbia and The Painted Fish) showed us works well for me, but is also the first I have tried. She also gave two other recipes which I will try once I am up with this batch. But for now…this one works swell. Give it a try.

Ingredients

(For tips on where to get these ingredients, see Notes)

  • 4 tsp Bicarb Soda (aka Baking Soda)
  • 1 tsp Salt (table is fine, or crush sea salt)
  • Glycerine (or Glycerol) – as much as needed to make a paste
  • Recycled jar or container

Optional ingredients

  • Essential Oils (like peppermint, vanilla) – make sure they are food-grade!
  • Lemon or Lime peel (dried and ground)
  • Mint leaves – finely chopped
  • Stevia leaves – dried and ground

Method

  1. Mix the Bicarb soda and salt in your container with a spoon
  2. Add Glycerine bit by bit while stirring until you get a smooth paste
  3. Add one of the optional ingredients here and stir. I used Peppermint Oil and it was lovely. It gave the traditional toothpaste-y smell which is good when you are getting used to a new taste.

My finished product! Peppermint Toothpaste.

Note – Where to buy

  • Bicarb Soda – Found in supermarkets, deli’s  etc. Try and aim for bulk to reduce packaging – Planet Ark in Freo sells it in 5kg boxes
  • Sea salt – best found at stores like Kakula’s Brothers or Sisters where you can buy bulk herbs and spices for a low price.
  • Glycerine / Glycerol – can be bought at chemists.
  • Essential Oils – Food grade essential oils can be found at healthstores. Manna Wholefoods in Freo definitely stocks it.

Review

The most important thing you need to realise here is also a very obvious point – this is not your standard toothpaste. You don’t have the Sodium lauryl sulfate in there to make it all foamy, there aren’t artificial sweeteners to make it taste like an after dinner mint and you have put a teaspoon of salt in the mix! At first, I was a very excited…

Eager beaver…

There is definitely a salty tang to it but there is also a sweet minty taste too (if you used the oil, as I did). The Glycerol has quite a sweet taste to it and gives it the smooth pasty consistency which is quite nice – it almost feels like you are just brushing with a wet brush. The bicarb soda acts as the cleansing agent (you can actually feel that working) and the salt is the abrasive. All in all it is not bad. Whenever I felt myself noticing it I just imagined I was at the beach and asked myself if I would mind if a little salt water got in my mouth. Nope.

hmmm… Think about the beach….

But then… I lost my head. I swallowed a bit of the stuff. Shit got crazy…

DON’T SWALLOW THE TOOTHPASTE

I really did consider not putting that photo and tip in… and this is not only because of how physically flattering it is for my face (obviously). I wanted to be honest about the experience and not promise some amazing flavour just to get you to try it! This is not a reason to consider not trying it… It is no different to your average toothpaste: If you swallow it you are going to be met with a few fairly unpleasant sensations. Don’t swallow it. It tastes like salt. Imagining I was at the beach did nothing to help me then, although my husband (the photographer) thought it was the funniest thing he had seen all week.

After our first few teething problems I am truly sold on this DIY toothpaste. My husband has converted as well and we honestly feel that it does wonders. Our teeth look whiter and we have breath tested each other at different points throughout the day and passed with flying colours. It is also just a damn good feeling to know that you are not contributing to environmental damage, animal cruelty and an overall bad system every morning and afternoon. I hope you enjoy it.

Palm Oil – What the hell is it and why is it bad?

Image by Emily Ehlers

To me it seems that palm oil is my generations CFC (chlorofluorocarbon). Think about it, the eighties was the decade of big hair and what were people using to keep it looking so deliciously bouffant? They were using hair spray – unceremoniously – to the point that they even named a Broadway musical in its honour. We now know that all aerosols (as well as refrigerators) were using chemical compounds called CFC’s. Retrospect is a spiteful thing because we also know just how damaging these chemicals were to the environment. However then, due to lack of information (or perhaps more a case of being misled by those that had the information?) people were going about their everyday lives not realising that they were actively contributing to irreparable environmental damage. Then in 1985 the bubble burst and the announcement came(1); there was a hole in the ozone layer above the Antarctic and CFC’s alone had caused it. Fast forward to 2011 and we are in the same predicament, but there is a new player at our table… Continue reading