Author Topic: A taste of moral fibre - the case for veganism  (Read 840 times)

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A taste of moral fibre - the case for veganism
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2012, 03:43:39 PM »
AFTER decades as a culinary fringe-dweller, I have finally come in from the cold. Just as 50 years of knitting have rendered me a Kool Krafter, the plant-based diet of veganism has brought me to the dietary cutting edge.

The annual World Vegan Day celebration, once a somewhat marginal affair in a suburban park, a mecca for wearers of dreadlocks and tyre sandals, is now the height of urban cool. At leafy Abbotsford Convent, young professionals nibble vegan cupcakes and satay while shopping for animal- and environmentally friendly ingredients and clothes.

Dining out once meant side-salad-as-main-course. Then, as food fashions changed, the vegetable stack without cheese. Now the menus on offer along Smith Street in Collingwood alone attest to the revolution in Melbourne's dining scene.
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Sue's tips for vegans.

From the corner cafe's vegan pancakes and chocolate cake to the Press Club Group's adventurous dishes or vegan sushi at Wabi Sabi Salon, there is real and exciting choice. Even when a menu offers little, most chefs embrace the challenge. At Northcote's the Estelle recently, my arrival unannounced (notice when booking is a recommended courtesy), fuss-free and delectable vegan dishes were produced.

But while Qantas still thinks veganism is some kind of health fad, offering apples instead of dessert (too often alongside the cheese patty), the vegan-friendly Lord of the Fries chain has put that notion to bed. Fat vegans? You bet. I'm one of those.

For me, becoming vegan was the product of a journey of dietary self-re-education that began after my last mouthful of meat in 1985 - a gastroenterologist's instruction, intended to be temporary. But the seeds were sown decades earlier, on my father's farm in New Zealand.

''But you're a farmer's daughter,'' his friends protested. They could not - or would not - connect the dots to childhood horrors: seeing newborn calves thrown into a slaughterhouse truck, little legs breaking as they landed atop each other, sheep castrated without anaesthetic and pigs confined to tiny pens. It was a breeding ground for vegetarianism.

''I'm not eating it,'' I told my mother as a sheep, its throat cut outside the kitchen window, appeared on the dinner plate. ''What will you eat?'' she asked, bewildered. ''You can't live on vegies.'' What would I eat? In 1960s New Zealand, I had no answer. But how I now welcome the Animals Australia campaign to halt the killing of 700,000 ''bobby'' (boy) calves a year here.

When in New Zealand a couple of years ago, editing the weekend magazines on The Dominion Post in Wellington, a culinary mecca, my remit included the food pages. A vegan food editor? In a country where I was regularly asked, ''What's the matter, don't you like cheese?'', my colleagues thought this bizarre. So, too, most cafes, yet to discover a fish is not a vegetable.

But, as here, chefs such as Martin Bosley, attuned to the endless possibilities of vegetables, fruit, grains and pulses, were unfazed. Even the chef at a wild food restaurant, its menu a zoo on a plate, welcomed the challenge: ''This is great,'' he said. ''I'm sick of cooking meat all day.''

Veganism can save the world. The ravings of a nutter? Consider this: In June last year, the United Nations Environment Program called for a global shift towards a vegan diet to maintain sustainability as the world's population hits more than 9 billion by 2050. It identified animal agriculture and food consumption as one of the most significant drivers of climate change. Once animal cruelty issues drew most to veganism; now, climate change and environmental concerns are key drivers.

Given that it takes up to 100,000 litres of water to produce one kilogram of beef and just 2500 litres to produce one kilogram of white rice - less for most fruit and vegies - and that in Victoria, 77 per cent of agricultural water is used to grow food for animals raised for meat and dairy products and just 10 per cent to grow fruit and vegetables for people, this is hardly a surprise.

It's a way of life: I do not wear leather, suede and silk or take gelatine capsules, and my cleaning and beauty products are animal-friendly. Celebrities from Casey Affleck, Natalie Portman and Portia de Rossi to Carl Lewis and Mike Tyson are vegan. The most prominent recruit is former US president Bill Clinton, who has lost more than 10 kilograms and sings the praises of the vegan diet adopted to battle heart disease.

When I embarked on this journey, who'd have thought that, 26 years on, I would have a former US president recruiting for my team.

Sue Green

Source: Epicure

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/restaurants-and-bars/a-taste-of-moral-fibre-20120206-1r0s1.html#ixzz1mJRgNV7B