7 Places You Must Visit In Tokyo

“I wonder if you know
How they live in Tokyo
If you seen it then you mean it
Then you know you have to go” 

That is one catchy song. I remember singing along and dancing to the song a few years ago when it was released as a theme song for Fast & Furious – Tokyo Drift . It wasn’t a bad movie too. But I used to have a huge mild crush on Vin Diesel, so I might be biased.

Tokyo. What an incredible city. It is where my Japan trip starts and where it ends.

Buzzing city, crowded street, neon lights, skyscrapers, swanky malls, crazy costumes, high-end fashion and the unparalleled public transportation system. Tokyo is as I imagined it to be and more! It definitely is one of the most amazing cities on earth. Here’s my list of 7 Places You Must Visit In Tokyo, if you’re lucky enough to be planning a trip there. Take me!!

1. Ginza

For the first few days in Tokyo we stayed in Ginza. We were only meant to stay there for 2 nights but we gave ourselves an extra night. Obviously this has nothing to do with the massage chair in my hotel room, or the amazing aerial view of Tokyo. I may or may not spent 30 minutes each night at the massage chair.

Ginza was very convenient and central to the major attractions I wanted to see, such as the Tsukiji market, the high street shopping and eateries at Yurakucho. I was there Christmas 2013, and during the early evening and night, the Christmas lights come on, bringing an amazing spirit of festivity to the area. I even saw Santa(s) racing through in motorbikes.

Only in Japan


 Beautiful Christmas lights





View From the hotel room… at night


And during the day…


2. Sensoji Temple

Located in Asakusa, this is one of the most popular temples in Tokyo. It is so colourful and majestic and I love the busy shopping street which leads from the outer gate to the second gate of the temple. It is 200 meters long and you’ll find tons of Japanese souvenirs, traditional food and snacks here. The temple itself is spectacular but the shopping street…bloody awesome!






3. Tokyo National Museum

I love museums so I’m probably a bit biased, but I love Tokyo National Museum.

It is the oldest and the largest museum in Japan. It has so many interesting traditional pieces and wonderful display. Although there’s hardly any English translation on many of the displays, it gives you some insights into early Japan. The exhibits comprise of old Japanese artworks, potteries, paintings, and other significant historical artifacts such as Samurai armour and swords.

The walk to the museum itself is quite scenic as it is situated in Ueno Park (right next to Ueno station). I came during winter but if you come in March or April, you will be greeted with lots of cherry blossoms as the park has more than 1000 cherry trees lining its central pathway.

Tokyo Museum



Old man playing a traditional musical instrument at the park. A cool sight.

Man playing traditional string instrument

Tokyo Museum

Tokyo Museum

Tokyo Museum

Tokyo Museum

4. Shibuya

It’s like being inside an MTV music video with all the music, the neon lights, the giant video screens and the flood of pedestrians crossing the intersection every time the traffic lights turn green. The city is very lively with tons of shopping centres and entertainment quarters, as well as some really nice restaurants and cafes.

I stayed in Shibuya for about a week and I absolutely love it! For me it was the perfect place to stay as a base while venturing Tokyo and its surrounding spots. I stayed at the Excel Tokyu Hotel right above the Mark City and the Shibuya station and I found it to be very handy and convenient, not to mention that I get the view of the famous Shibuya pedestrian crossing from the hotel.

Yes. They have rooftop futsal!

Shibuya rooftop soccer field

The famous Shibuya scramble crossing

Shibuya crossing


Shibuya’s street view from hotel room


Outside the Shibuya Station lies a bronze statue which has become one of Tokyo’s most popular meeting points. It is a statue dedicated to a dog named Hachiko. If you don’t know who Hachiko is and haven’t seen and balled your eyes out over the English remake Hachi: A Dog’s Tale then I recommend you do some research, borrow the DVD and watch this amazing heartwarming tale of loyalty and love.

Hachiko is a Japanese ‘Akita’ who became a national hit in the 1930s because of his incredible loyalty to his owner, even long after his owner’s death. Hachiko waited at the Shibuya Station every day for its owner, Hidesaburo Ueno, a professor of agriculture at the University of Tokyo, to return from work. One day the professor didn’t return as he had suffered a cerebral haemorrhage and died. Hachiko continued to wait for the professor, appearing precisely when the train was due at the station each day for the next ten years.

Love and loyalty, something we all can learn from Hachi.

Hachiko Statue in front of Shibuya Station


5. Tokyo Skytree

Tokyo Skytree is a new landmark of Tokyo (built in early 2012) and is the tallest building in Japan with a height of 634 meters. It offers a spectacular view of Japan. We went there. Twice. We went there just before Christmas and on New Year’s day – bad move. At both times it was so overcrowded with people and we had to wait for hours before we could even start queuing up to get tickets to the observation deck.We ended up hanging around the shopping complex Solamachi located at the base of the Skytree. It probably would have been one of the best things we did IF we got up there but it was cold and windy so we gave it a miss. It is definitely on my to do list the next time I visit Tokyo (hopefully in summer next time).

Tokyo Skytree

Tokyo Skytree

6. Harajuku and Omotesando Hills

Even if you don’t feel like shopping, just walking around the streets lined with cool and trendy shops that’s uniquely Japanese is quite a treat in itself. I walked from Shibuya to Omotesando through the famous ‘Cat Street’ but you can always catch a train to Harajuku station. The whole area is fashion-crazy and is very teen and pop culture -focused, though you can find some high end fashion labels around Omotesando Hills too.

You could literally spend one full day here just browsing all the different shops. I missed going to Daiso (the 100 yen store) but it was probably good for me as I would have bought the entire store.

Not sure what the speech bubble means but I thought it’s a cool display.

Louis Vuitton Tokyo


Sale, sale and more sale



Street food!



7. Akihabara

If you’re a tech-geek, a gamer or a manga-lover, then you’d absolutely go nuts here. Though I’m a recovering game/manga-nerd, I couldn’t help but get really excited when I see a human-sized Gundam robot in the Gundam Cafe. This place is like an electro maze. Everywhere you go, the streets are lined with shop after shop of games, computer parts and electronic gadgets. There’s a lot of cosplay on the streets, mainly young girls dressing up as sexy maids promoting maid cafe. Something that you will never see anywhere else in the world.

Anime everywhere!



If you’re also a food-nerd, make sure you check out Chabara near the JR Akihabara station. It’s an awesome market full of fresh produce and tons of Japanese foods, including some very delicious vegan foods. There’s tons of free samples for tasting and the staff are very helpful when it comes to checking what’s in (or not in) each product, since everything is in Japanese. Let’s just say that I bought enough Japanese coated peanuts to last me a lifetime.




So there you go! Hope this inspires you to out and about in Tokyo… not that you need any convincing!

What’s the first thing will you do in Tokyo? I’d suggest trying out their bidet. It’s lifechanging!

Japan Travel Tips For Vegan

When I booked for my Japan trip, I was still a full blown omnivore foodie. I remember being so excited at the thought of eating some of freshest and finest sushi and sashimi from the Tsukiji fish market, indulging in authentic omurice and okonomiyaki, splurging on Kobe beef, and lining up to get my hands on the best ramen Tokyo has to offer. Japanese food has been one of my favourite cuisines of all time and it was my life long dream to go to Japan to eat… and eat some more. 


This has been somewhat a moral dilemma ever since I decided to make a lifestyle change and go plant-based (i.e., free from all animal products) a few months ago. A few people have suggested that maybe I should ‘take a break’ during the holiday, compromise and become a pescetarian instead or ‘postpone’ it until after the new year. The thought did cross my mind. It will make my trip a lot easier and less complicated. I’m still only a few months into this diet, and plus, it will make a really good new year resolution.


Being a pescetarian during the trip may seem to be a good compromise, because even though I have a clear stance on not eating land animals and their products (i.e. meat, dairy and egg), I am still not sure how I feel toward the ocean creatures, especially oysters, prawns, clams and sashimi.

Sure, I could try to rationalise and justify it however I like but at the end of the day the only person who will have to live with that decision is me. So, I had to do what I feels right, and just to what I can. Just because you can’t do everything, doesn’t mean you can’t do something, anything. It’s how I got started into this whole vegan thing. I don’t see why I should stop just because it’s a holiday.


What I can do is to be as prepared as much as I can and put myself in favourable situations as much as possible. I knew that it would be a real challenge but I couldn’t give up without trying.

So, I researched online to get as much information as I could. printed all the vegan-friendly restaurants in Tokyo and Kyoto (the two main cities I visited), learned some basic Japanese, made some translation cards and then prayed for a smooth trip.

Of course, it’s not a real travel adventure without several mishaps and unexpected obstacles. Let’s face it, it’s not easy travelling with a dietary preference or peculiarity or restriction as others may see it, regardless where you go. Finding vegan food can be challenging in your own hometown, let alone in a place where you don’t read or speak the language and have no clue where you’re going. Not the mention that Japan is probably one of the least friendly places for vegetarians, let alone vegans.

Getting vegan food in Japan is particularly challenging due to a few cultural uniqueness:

  1. Japanese diet is fish-based. So, Japanese food commonly contain fish or fish-derived products. You can run away from sushi but you can’t hide from dashi; a cooking stock made using shavings of preserved bonito fish. They’re everywhere. In sauces, salad dressing, miso soup, everything.
  2. Japanese writes in Japanese – as in Japanese characters, not alphabets. Common sense stuff I know, but I was expecting to see many English translations like in many Asian countries. I was wrong. Unless you can read Japanese, checking to see if food labels or restaurant menu contain egg, milk, meat, fish and any other animal products is almost impossible.
  3. Japanese speaks in Japanese. Duh! Yes I know. I just wanted to say, don’t expect to find a lot of proficient English speaking Japanese outside the hotel setting. This makes conveying the fact that you don’t eat meat, egg, dairy or fish difficult. They tend to be too polite to say no and would nod in agreement, even if they don’t necessarily understand you.

What made it even more challenging for me was the fact that I was travelling with an omnivore. I didn’t want to be the ‘difficult’ one. As my boyfriend rightfully said, a few months ago I could eat ‘anything’. From that to not being able to find anything to eat (which often happens) and have to look for places to eat, is a significant change.

Almost everyone I know are omnivores and heavy meat eaters. I’m the only one with a plant-based diet in my family, my circle of friends, my workplace, and pretty much everyone else I know in real life… except an ex-colleague of mine whom I don’t see in real life but maintain friendship with through Facebook. I do plan on getting to know other vegans in the future through events and meet ups, so if you’re one, let’s be friends :)

I feel so grateful that I have a sweet and understanding man who gives me a tremendous amount of support. He associates vegan food with healthy food (vegetable = healthy) and was willing to venture and get lost in the cities with me trying to find vegan and vegan-friendly places.

The whole trip was quite an experience and a huge learning curve. Looking back, there were some things that I wished I have known and could have done better, and believe me, I will do those things next time I travel to Japan.

Here are my top 10 Japan Travel Tips For Vegan which hopefully will make things easier for you in Japan if you’re looking to maintain a vegan and vegetarian diet while you’re there:

1. Happy Cow

A great resource to find vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurant around Japan, and around the world. Also has an app which tells you which ones are closest to your current location.


2. Japan Guide

Not a vegan guide but an all-round guide with forums that cover anything from transport to food. I find it invaluable when I was planning my travel itinerary.

3. Kyoto Guide

A good website to listing some of Kyoto’s vegetarian (and vegan) dishes including recommendation for some restaurants.

4. Japan Survival Guide by Just Hungry. 

A great website explaining the cultural aspect of Japan and some survival tips. It’s also where I got my vegan dining out card from. It was a lifesaver.

5. Vegetarian Survival Guide To Japan by Never Ending VoyageAlthough the website caters for vegetarians, there are some great tips and food information which are very useful.

7. Google Maps.

Really helpful when trying to find places. Even the locals use it when trying to give direction.

Google Map


8. train.jp. 

It’s a great app that helps you figure out which train line you need to get from A to B, specifically for the JR-line. Highly recommended if you have a JR pass.


9. Japanese.

A great English/Japanese dictionary app with pronunciation functionality . You learn basic Japanese using this app.


10. Wi-Fi.

I can’t tell you enough how important having a wi-fi access was for me, especially since I didn’t get a rental sim card with data allowance. It’s the only way I was able to check the weather, news,  apps, get in touch with people at home, etc. If you can’t get a rental sim card with data then you will need to find accommodation with wi-fi connection.

11. Print lots of this vegan dining out card

Whenever I struggle to communicate what I can or can’t eat or confirming if the snacks I plan to buy are vegan, I just show this card. It was a vegan lifesaver :)


That’s it! Hope this is useful for you. Let me know if you have other vegan tips for Japan you wish to share.


Interview with Leigh Drew – Author of Greenlicious – 101 Ways to Love Your Greens


A month ago I was invited to celebrate Leigh Drew’s new cookbook, Greenlicious, 101 Ways to Love Your Greens. It was a marvellous event! I was able to eat ALL of the food for once.

You see, when I go to events, as you can imagine, most times it is a non-vegan event. I’d often get a special meal and most times people are very accommodating of my dietary needs but there’s nothing like the freedom of being able to eat everything on the table without having to check the ingredients or interrogate the waiting staff. I shared some photos from Leigh’s event in my weekly recap video – you can check it out here.

Now back to this cookbook. Greenlicious shows all the different ways you can eat more greens and illustrates just how versatile and delicious veggies can be. It was a real pleasure to meet Leigh in person, she is so warm and friendly and passionate about her food. The book is also co-authored by Amanda Benham, an Accredited Practising Dietitian and Accredited Nutritionist, which makes her ideal to answer any questions surrounding plant-based nutrition.

I bought the book, got it signed, and I felt healthier already. I asked Leigh and her publisher (Arbon Publishing) if I could interview her. Here’s how it went down.

PS: Make sure you read all the way to the bottom of the page for an exciting announcement.

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Crunchy Kale Salad with Everyday Miso and Tahini Dressing

crunchy kale with miso tahini dressing


I used to be one of those people who would often say, ‘I don’t have time for this or that’. I think it’s a lame excuse and I’m now consciously trying not to say those words. We all get the same 24 hours every day and we all spend it as we wish. It’s all about priorities and trade-offs.   There’s this famous quote which rings true in many of my situations: “If it is important to you, you will find a way. If not, you’ll find an excuse.”

Now, making your own lunch often fall in the grey zone between being important/not being important. But when it only takes less than 20 minutes to make… there really is no excuse, is there?

I’ve been making this quick toss salad for a few months now, slightly differently every time depending on what I have in the fridge, but it is super easy and so quick to make that there really is no excuse for me to go and spend 30 minutes (and a few extra dollars) getting take away for lunch, other than pure laziness on my part, which was what I almost succumbed to last Sunday. But I didn’t. I made the salad, ate it and felt great. I even went on to prepare a few more for lunch this week to save some time washing up. And, yes, in case you’re wondering, they keep fresh for a few days in the fridge because I keep the dressing in a separate container.


The Everyday Miso and Tahini Dressing is something I’ve created to make eating raw vegetables so much more pleasant and enjoyable. It is inspired from my last trip to Japan where I had some of the most delicious salads, simply prepared and drizzled with lots of creamy sesame dressings. It’s full of umami taste (a fifth element of taste of which can be describe as a “pleasant savory taste”). It also serves well as a dip for celery sticks and carrots. It’s so simple to make and consist of 3 ingredients.

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Vegan Halloween Edition- Roasted Brain


Halloween. The second highest grossing commercial holiday after Christmas. What should I say, some people are for it, others are against it. As for me, my last Halloween dress up party was years ago so no spooky costume for me this year. I’m not really into gory stuff so the whole spooky halloween theme doesn’t really appeal to me.  I do however, love pumpkin and themed food so I love the creativity aspect of this event. I remember my last proper Hallooween brunch at Mr.G which was pretty weird and spooky with animal blood, hearts, ants, and other strange stuff. Reading the post again I can’t believe how much I’ve changed, being vegan and all. Eating animal body parts is now history for me. But as is the case with anything, it’s just good to reflect on the past, to see how far we’ve come.

So this year I’m doing a much much kinder Halloween :) Still somewhat spooky but definitely not as scary and weird.

Alright, let’s get into this recipe. It looks like brain, it’s vegan, gluten-free, paleo and it’s easy to prepare. It’s also healthy, tasty and certainly Instagram-worthy. If it doesn’t look impressive on camera, then what’s the point, right?

And right now you’re probably wondering how to create a vegan brain, eh? Well, it’s easy! It’s already out there.

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Interview with Jess Bailey from The Cruelty Free Shop

the team by Noah

If I had to list 3 things that play a crucial role in my early transition to a plant based diet, vegan cheese would top the list, followed by vegan chocolate and then soy milk. I don’t think I could live without them, or maybe I could, but I don’t want to. Life’s too short.

Last month I had the opportunity to interview Jess Bailey. A really lovely lady and an awesome animal welfare activist. Jess is the founder of the all-vegan grocery shop The Cruelty Free Shop. If you read or watch any of my product review posts or videos, you’d be familiar with the name. It is where I buy most of my vegan goodies from, it’s a vegan shop heaven!  She started the shop 13 years ago with a mission to make it easier for people to become and stay vegan. She also founded the annual Sydney Cruelty Free Festival with the goal of showing people how to make small changes in their every day lives in order to make great change for animals.

More recently Jess created the Vegan Day Out events in Sydney and Melbourne which encourages restaurants to offer more vegan meals on their menus and to allow non-vegans a chance to try vegan food (and to give existing vegans a fun day out too!).

So without further ado, here’s Jessica.

Hi Jess, thanks for taking the time to do this interview. I found out about your store just after I started my transition to a plant-based diet. I went shortly after and I was like a kid in candy store. You have a huge variety of vegan products! It really has made my transition a lot easier. You’re also very involved in the community, advocating for animal rights and sponsoring the annual cruelty-free festival. How did you get started?

It makes me happy to hear that we helped make your transition easier – that is exactly what we aim to do!

I first became aware of animal rights issues when I came across an Animal Liberation stall at a festival and picked up a heap of their flyers, I read them all cover to cover on the train home. Until then I’d been blissfully unaware that I’d been supporting animal cruelty every day, like so many others I just hadn’t thought about it. Once I had all that information in my head I had no choice, I could no longer go on being responsible for animal suffering so, over time, I phased out all animal products from my pantry, bathroom cabinet and wardrobe. Deciding to become vegan is the best thing I have ever done, I am no longer responsible for suffering – that feels very good! The fact that it’s also better for the environment and my health are just the icing on the cake.

As far as starting the shop goes, when I first went vegan two things struck me; firstly the inordinate amount of time I spent reading labels to find all those hidden animal ingredients, and secondly the amount of people who said “I used to be vegan but it was too hard”. These comments inspired me to create a shop that would make it easier for people to become and stay vegan; a place where people could shop safe in the knowledge that no animals were exploited or killed for any of the products on the shelves.

I mentioned earlier that you have tons of vegan products in your store. How did you manage to get your hands on so many different products?

That’s the fun part of my job! I trawl overseas websites, blogs, wholesalers and importers for those hard to find vegan products and then I get to try them all! I love finding hard to get products like vegan fish sauce, marshmallows without gelatine and, my favourite, cheeses without dairy.

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One year with a vegan girlfriend

A week ago I celebrated my one-year veganniversary. I would have missed it if it wasn’t for my boyfriend who reminded me that it was coming up (he’s very good with dates and numbers). I cannot believe that a year had gone by. It felt like it was only a few months ago that I made this life-changing decision.keren and lamb

I was going to write a post outlining my 12 month experience as a newbie vegan but I thought I would save that for another day and instead, do something a little bit different this time like; getting my boyfriend to write his experience with me during this transition. After all, this lifestyle change did not only impact me, it impacted him too, and probably more than what I gave him credit for. And for the record, he is not a vegan, yet. I’d like to think of him as a VIP (vegan in progress).

He has been nothing short of supportive and wonderful in the last 12 months accommodating my new vegan lifestyle. I don’t have any vegan friends in real life and he is one of the few people I know who really understands how much this change means to me and accepts it (even if it did take some time as you will read from his post below). He has an old, formal and ehem, pompous style of writing (sorry sweetie :P) but I think you will enjoy his piece. If nothing else, you will be able to see things from a different perspective which may help you, should you decide to pursue the same path as me, to understand the impact it may have to people closest to you.

So, without further a do. Here’s Buzz. 


Occasionally I make an appearance in this blog, usually with the nom de guerre ‘Buzz’ or something similar, and frequently with a mild rebuke for uncivilised manners or for my propensity for punishing ourselves in the gym or with our jogging shoes to earn what it is we will have for dinner that night. I have a confession to make. I am as far removed from a foodie as one possibly can get. I am the sort who eats to live, that is, I use food as a car uses petrol rather than seeking satisfaction or stimulation from food in its own right. I don’t know which end of a cucumber to hold, or the difference between pomegranates and pommes frites, and I certainly can’t be trusted within two metres of the kitchen, so I end up sitting on the sofa, along with the dog, patiently waiting until a scrap is thrown on the floor for my consumption.

How it all started

Just over a year ago my girlfriend, the author of this blog, woke up one morning, decided my life wasn’t hard enough as it already was, and adopted a vegan diet and lifestyle. We all know what a vegetarian diet is but I did not know the difference between vegetarian or vegan diets until this time. The timing was a little bit unfortunate as we had booked flights to Japan, for Christmas, and that country’s culinary culture revolves around sushi and sashimi.

To be perfectly forthright I didn’t expect her vegan phase (for I took to calling it a phase to her annoyance) would last until, or during, our trip to Japan so after some grumbling I acquiesced, forewent the prospect of home-cooked haloumi cheese (a particular delicacy which ended up in the bin one unfortunate evening when I ate them to the exclusion of everything else on the plate) and began familiarising myself with strange and exotic phrases such as probiotics, sustainability and, worst of all, cruelty-free. It might be cruelty-free for animals, but it’s certainly cruel and unusual punishment for me. But her phase lasted, and lasted so long I eventually gave up referring to it as a phase, and twelve months later here we are, still alive, still with sufficient protein, and, I cannot deny it, a bit healthier.

Vegan foods and health

I think most people adopt a vegan, or vegetarian, lifestyle either for the sake of our four-legged or two-winged friends or for health considerations. Since I can’t cook, since I live in a house with pizza coming and going literally every other day, my diet was, shall we say, less than perfect before meeting our vegan blogger. Even when we began courting each other, a year before she embarked on her project, we were still eating rubbish on most occasions. In her case it was a weekend indulgence since she ate well enough the rest of the time, and in my case it was no worse than what I ordinarily ate when left to my own devices. But when she adopted a vegan lifestyle, when I began eating vegan food with her, my diet cleaned up almost overnight.

Even if you don’t adopt vegan food specifically to eat better, it’s impossible not to, because, frankly, what else is there to eat other than greens and other vegetables and fruits? Yes, there are nuts, chips and other guilty treats to indulge in but if nothing else, you are going to have a plateful of vegetables almost every meal and that certainly beat my usual fare of pizza, burgers and other greasy substances. My skin’s tone has improved, my stamina has increased and I’m getting sick a little less often now that most of my weekend meals come with a vegan or vegetarian flavour. The psychological effect of eating a big plate of vegetables on the weekend carries over during the week, as well: it seems to defeat the point to eat well on the weekend and then clog up my arteries the rest of the time, and I find I am beginning to seek out healthier alternatives during the week when I am by myself as well as when I go out and about with a vegan companion.


Eating out as a vegan

The subject of going out and about is the biggest obstacle to leading a vegan lifestyle. When eating at home you have control over every ingredient and you know to avoid butter or honey or other animal products besides meat (the difference between a vegetarian and a strict vegan diet) and there is absolutely no ambiguity as to whether something is permissible or not. When venturing out, however, when you turn over the chef’s hat to someone else, you lose that control and you have to plan ahead, ask questions and take precautions to avoid nasty surprises.

There are many vegan-friendly places nowadays (I certainly think there are a lot more now than, say, ten years ago although I wasn’t paying close attention a decade ago) and I’m sure it’s much easier now than it was in the past, but accidents still happen. There is nothing more irritating than sitting down for a meal in a restaurant when your stomach’s rumbling after a long day and when the food comes, it has a dab of butter or a scrap of egg or a dollop of cream which renders the whole plate inedible (and although I still eat meat and animal products, when I go out with my girlfriend, I consciously ask for dishes which we can share together because, otherwise, it defeats the point of eating together).

It’s a challenge

The two biggest evils, in my opinion, are butter and noodles made from egg, because although most people know not to put meat in a vegan dish, many kitchens automatically or absentmindedly pour butter on top of vegetables and other side dishes, and most noodles (a staple of Asian food) are made from eggs and the waiting staff are not always aware of the exact contents of something as generic and common as noodles.

We’ve had our share of culinary mishaps and plates sent back to the kitchen in disgrace but we’re getting better: we’re asking the right questions, we’re not taking the waiting staff’s competence for granted, and we’re flexible (as you must be to obtain vegan fare in a restaurant that does not cater specifically for vegans). When I make a booking I now know to ask whether so-and-so has vegan-friendly food, when I scan the menu I look for dishes which are vegan or which can easily be converted (usually with the removal of the feta) before I look for myself, and my girlfriend has a knack for getting entrée-sized dishes increased to constitute her main course (a clever technique which has saved the day more than once), and steakhouses and marina restaurants will always have a very limited range of permissible dishes so you’re best off going elsewhere. It can be done, but you have to plan ahead, ask the right questions, and be willing to compromise with an entrée or side dish made larger to function as the main course.

A sidenote about eating out with a vegan companion: Our trip to Japan went ahead, and despite the profound language barrier and unfamiliarity with the country we managed to find enough vegan food to survive. In fact we may even have put on weight. Of all the places to go with a vegan companion Japan wouldn’t be the worst because, apart from fish, they have a very clean diet full of tofu and free of Western-style additives such as butter and cream and my girlfriend discovered the unmitigated joys of red bean buns, which all the convenience stores carry. I think our trip to Japan was an epiphany for me: if we could get through the trip, food-wise, it really wouldn’t be all that bad back in Sydney, and so it has proven.

My final thoughts

Is a vegan lifestyle for everyone? Probably not, at least not until the politically-correct brigade take over the world and ban everything tasty and pleasant, but it can be done, if you’re willing to make the effort and go to the trouble (you’ll have to cook a lot of food and forgo a lot of popular dishes at restaurants); and it can be survived, if you like your vegan partner enough.

Like everything else you get a return proportionate to the effort you make: my girlfriend made the effort to adopt a vegan lifestyle and as a result she can rest with a clean conscience at night content in the knowledge she hasn’t caused any unnecessary suffering, she has the healthiest diet I’ve ever encountered and she has cultivated a new measure of discipline and which will stand her in good stead for everything else she undertakes. And I made the effort to accommodate her phase and so I still have a girlfriend.

Interesting insight. I’m so happy to know that it’s not all bad and frustrating for him. What about you? Have you experienced something similar?

Fennel Orange Strawberry Salad (vegan, paleo and gluten-free)

Wow! Where did the time go? I left the country for three and a half weeks and I came back to this Awesome. Weather. Spring has sprung!

One of the things I love about spring is the diverse range of fruits and vegetables available in this season: the berries, the citrus fruits, peas, cauliflowers, broccoli, asparagus, all the things I love to eat! Strawberries are cheap as chips and, oh my goodness, fennel is here! And I love fennel.

Strawberry and Orange Fennel Salad-3

Let’s be honest here, fennel and I weren’t friends until a couple years ago when I discovered that it’s actually a vegetable and not a weird-looking giant onion. It actually tastes really nice: it’s slightly sweet with anise-like flavour. You may need to get used to its flavour at first but if it is combined with the right ingredients, you can render its taste mild and delicate. I love eating it raw as it has the most irresistible crispy crunch similar to that of celery. It stays crunchy for a long time after it’s sliced or cut, making it a perfect ingredient for salads, and in fact, I think fennel salad tastes even better the next day.


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Chat Thai Fried Sweet Potato Balls (vegan and gluten-free)

sweet potato ball2
Thai Fried Sweet Potato Balls (also known as Khanom Kai Nok Kra Ta) are one of my favourite Thai snacks. I first had them when dining at Chat Thai – a Thai restaurant in the City which serves great authentic Thai food and sweets. From then on, I have been madly in love with these addictive and delicious Thai street snacks.

They taste mildly sweet, slightly crispy on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside. Perfect for afternoon snack or footy night!

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Sweet Potato and Date Bites (flourless, sugar-free, and vegan)


Recently I experimented with flour-free, refined sugar-free baking.  Now that I’m pretty comfortable baking without eggs and dairy, I thought why not push the boundaries. I mean surely you can remove eggs, milk, butter, flour, and sugar and still make good muffins right?

And so I put on my apron and started throwing things in the bowl. I didn’t come out with muffins, but I came out with something which is equally delicious and dare I say it, even more morish. Behold these bite-size muffins which are mildly sweet, chewy and every little bit is delicious. They are completely flourless, egg-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free. You’ll be surprised at how easy they are to make.

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