, , ,

Be Fraiche Skin Care Workshop

A few weeks ago I went to a Lip Balm and Lotion Bar workshop organised by Helen Dao, founder of Be Fraiche. Helen and I met through one of the Sydney Passion Bloggers Meetups. Helen thought I might want to check out one of her workshops and learn how to make my own skin care. I’m a big fan of DYI’s so it was a no-brainer for me. Here’s a little video I made for fun workshop held at a cosy co-working space in Bondi, The Little Space.

Now I’ve been to many workshops over the years but I have to say that it was the most organised workshop I’ve been to. The attention to detail from Helen during this three-hour workshop was incredible. From the meticulous placement of the bright yellow aprons and safety glasses on the table, to the goodie bags she prepared for everyone, everything looked so fine-tuned and stylish.


Everyone turned up early, including me. Some came from as far as Newcastle. There definitely was a buzz about the workshop which none of us wanted to miss.


Helen gave an introduction about herself – how she went from working in corporate to pursuing her passion in skincare. By the by, Helen is a qualified skincare formulator, having trained in the UK for Organic Skincare Formulation and in France for Perfumery. Pretty impressive and worldly credentials, wouldn’t you say?


As to the workshop itself, each of us had our own setup, complete with our own little scales. We got to formulate our own lip balm and body lotion. The workshop felt like my old lab days, when I was a biologist, weighing ingredients to as precise as one-tenth of a gram, controlling the temperature so that it wouldn’t get too hot when heating and mixing up the ingredients, pouring solution into the tiniest containers and praying to God that I wouldn’t spill any of this expensive stuff.


I learned that most lip balms are made using beeswax, so Helen taught us how to replace beeswax using Candelila, which is a plant-based alternative.. It’s a little bit tricky to work with as it’s much harder to dissolve, but when done well it does the job, and it gives the lip balm a nice shiny coat on it, too.

I would say I had an amazing time except that I can’t use that word anymore since the editor (my boyfriend Nat) has declared the word banned due to overuse. Apparently if everything is amazing, nothing is. He may have a point there and maybe I do need to expand my vocabulary a little bit more. So let me think how best to describe the experience.



Sorry, Nat. It was. And I think you can have lots of amazing experiences if you choose to. Why wouldn’t you?


You can check out the Be Fraiche skin care workshop on their website. They have launched their natural skincare products so be sure to try them the next time you’re shopping for some skincare.


Keren x

, , ,

Vegan Protein Power Balls

I love a good protein ball! And judging from the number of balls I see on the internet, a lot of people love them too. I think protein balls are taking over the food world. They’re slowly invading the counter space at the city cafes, the health food stores, the Instagram, and soon… your very own kitchen, if not already. At least I hope so, with this recipe.

Protein Powerball-9

But before you make them, be warned! There vegan protein power balls can be quite addictive so you want to be careful not to eat all of them in one go! They can also give you a burst of energy and alertness so it’s best not to have them at night. My boyfriend said that they trigger vivid dreams when he consumes them at night. I won’t get to excited about this potential lucid dreaming side effect as I’ve never experienced this myself.

Protein Powerball-18

Why I love these vegan protein power balls

First of all, there’s no cooking or baking involved. It’s a pretty straight forward mix and roll operation. You can adjust the mix before you roll and because you don’t need to cook them, you can eat them as you roll (not advisable for those with a ball addiction :P). They’re rich in fibre, protein, healthy fats, slightly sweet and very moreish. Perfect for snacking in between meals or as an afternoon pick me up.

Protein Powerball-12

Vegan Protein Power Balls
Recipe Type: Snack
Author: Keren
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 25 balls
  • 1 1/4 cup of your favourite nut flour (I use 1 cup ground almond and 1/4 cup coconut flour)
  • 3 Tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 heaped scoop protein powder (my favourite is Bioglan rice protein powder and Sunwarrior raw protein powder)
  • 2 tsp maca powder
  • 12 dates (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/4 hot water
  • 2 Tbsp cacao powder
  • A generous pinch of salt
  • For Coating
  • 2 Tbsp of cacao powder, matcha powder, or dessicated coconut
  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor and process until smooth
  2. Take 1 heaped tablespoon of mixture and roll into balls
  3. Dust or roll the balls onto a couple of tablespoon of cacao powder
Make a double batch in the weekend and freeze them to save time.[br]You could use oat flour instead of nut flour. You can make oat flour by blending rolled oat in a blender for a few minutes until it resembles fine crumbs

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how they turned out for you! Leave a comment below and/or share a picture on Instagram and tag me in the picture :)


Keren x

Meat Free Week 2016

Did you know that Australia is ranked in the top three biggest meat-eating countries in the world (per capita), behind the USA and Luxembourg. Australians eat an average of 111.5 kg of meat per person per year, which is more than double the world’s average of 41.9 kg. This consumption compromises our health and with global meat production predicted to double by 2020, raises serious concerns about long-term sustainability and animal welfare.


Bowel cancer is now the second largest cancer killer in Australia. High consumption of red and processed meat has been linked to both bowel cancer1 and the increased risk of type 2 diabetes.

Globally, the growing demand for meat is leading to increased deforestation, water usage and climate change with the UN identifying the livestock industry as one of the most significant contributors to today’s most serious environmental problems. It has also created the number one animal welfare issue in the world, factory farming.

Australia’s annual Meat Free Week has returned bigger and better from 1-8 August 2016. This week is dedicated to raising awareness of the amount of meat people eat and the impact it has on human health, the welfare of animals and the environment.

Meat Free Week

Meat Free Week 2016 challenges Australians to sign up to go without meat, including seafood, for seven days. By being sponsored, participants have the opportunity to raise funds for one of three leading charities – Bowel Cancer Australia (health), Voiceless the animal protection institute (animal welfare) and The World Land Trust (environment).

With a growing trend towards meat free or meat-reduced meals and the steady rise of flexitarianism over the past few years (a mainly a plant-based diet with the occasional inclusion of meat), Meat Free Week gives people the perfect opportunity to try out new foods, get more veggies in their meals and see whether a meat-reduced diet is for them, even if it’s just one day a week or one week a year.

And for the second time this year, Meat Free Week has expanded the campaign into the UK, gaining great traction with great supporters on board including Jamie Oliver, Paul, Mary and Stella McCartney.


I know there are a lot of vegans who disapprove of campaigns that encourage people to eat ‘less’ meat such as Meatless Monday or Meat Free Week as they believe it distinguishes the consumption of other animal products (i.e. eggs or dairy) as being more ethically justifiably when they are all a result of tremendous violence, and it renders eating a small amount of meat any other day as ‘okay’ when it is not. The argument is that if we make an ethical decision to reject something that is morally wrong, then we must reject it all, every day, and not just on certain days.

I have mixed feelings about this ideal. On one hand, I want people to stop eating all animal products completely, but on the other hand I know that it is impossible for a lot of people to make such a drastic change without easing into it over time and I am glad for them to give it a crack without making them feel guilty as sin when they don’t stick to a plant-based diet from the very first day. I think Meat Free Week provides people with this opportunity in a fun and engaging way. It provides education. Education provides knowledge and awareness for people to make an informed choice. Love it or hate it, the campaign certainly has made a big impact with over 4,000 people signing up for the challenge, and raising over $150,000 for charity in its first two years. 

So here are the two really important things you can do to support Meat Free Week 2016:

1. Sign up for Meat Free Week OR if not participating, donate. It’s easy and you’ll be showing everyone how it’s done!

You can register here to be sponsored as an individual or as a team and encourage others to join you. OR simply donate money directly to the charities here. After registering, downloading the App from App Store  or Google Play is a great way to get friends and family on the spot to sponsor you whilst you’re out and about. Monitor progress, share messages, get sponsors via Facebook and have friends and family make a donation right from the fundraisers smartphone.

2. If you’re already vegetarian, sign up and go vegan for the week. And if you’re already vegan (or already living meat free), sign up and sponsor a meat loving friend for the challenge.

Some useful websites to read during the meat-free week:

Voiceless – An independent, non-profit think tank focused on raising awareness of animals suffering in factory farming and the kangaroo industry in Australia.

Bowel Cancer Australia – Bowel Cancer Australia works to reduce incidence, death and suffering associated with bowel cancer (aslo known colorectal cancer).

World Land Trust – A charity organisation with a 20 year track record of successful environmental projects. 

Meat free week

Here some of my favourite recipes from the Meat Free Week Website:

You can also check out my recipe page for some plant based recipes and inspiration

Check out the Meat Free Week website or their social media channels to learn how you can be part of this great event.

  • Facebook: Meat Free Week
  • Twitter: @meatfreeweekorg
  • Instagram: @meatfreeweek
  • Hashtag: #meatfreeweek

So, are you up for challenge? Of course you are. Give it a go! You’ve got nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

Keren xx

, ,

The Colonel via Deliveroo + Coupon Code


As much as I love going out for dinner, there are days when I don’t feel like eating out, even on the weekends. Lately this has been a frequent occurrence thanks to the arrival of the boxed DVD sets for Breaking Bad (the complete series) and Walking Dead (seasons 1- 5). I had forgotten how addictive television series can be. The last few shows I was into were Gossip Girl, True Blood and Man vs. Food…. sad, I know… but they’re nothing in comparison to these two gems. Breaking Bad and Walking Dead are a hundred times better, and a hundred times more addictive. Goodbye, life.

Deliveroo-13 A lot of times when Nat and I choose to eat in, we’d get takeaway at a local Thai restaurant, Khaohom, which is cheap and easy. Some days however, especially on the weekend, I want something a bit different. Something fancier. Without having to leave home. Just so I can squeeze in another literally gut wrenching, skull-smashing episode of Walking Dead.


Deliveroo is a restaurant delivery start-up which seeks to satisfy this need. It was founded in London two years ago and the company has recently launched in Australia. They may seem like just another food delivery service, but Deliveroo is different in that they focus on delivering food mainly from mid to high-end restaurants – restaurants that traditionally don’t offer a delivery service in the first place. This opens up a completely new range of delivery options.


Image from uk.businessinsider.com

Image from uk.businessinsider.com

Here’s a short clip of my experience using Deliveroo to get one of my favourite dinners home-delivered. I found the website very easy to use and I especially love the ability to add special dietary requirements for my order. I selected The Colonial, a lovely Indian Restaurant in Neutral Bay. Nat is not really (not at all) a fan of spicy food so it takes a lot of effort (or a huge faux pas on his part) for me to get him to an Indian Restaurant. So getting the food to come home instead is the next best thing!

Coupon Code
I’ve teamed up with the cool kids at Deliveroo to give you $10 off your first order with so you can try their service. Just type in the code PASSIONATE when you place your order. This code is valid until 14 June 2016. Enjoy!
Have the best day ever,
Disclaimer: I received credits from Deliveroo to try and review their service. This is not a sponsored post and as always, all opinion is my own. 

Review: Dr Fuhrman’s Weight Loss Starter Kit

Dr Joel Fuhrman is a best-selling author, board-certified physician, plant-based nutrition expert and creator of the Nutritarian way of eating and healthy weight loss. One of his popular products is The Weight Loss Starter Kit, which I have purchased and used myself.

The Weight Loss Starter Kit is a multimedia program. It consists of a suite of books and DVDs:

  1. The End of Dieting book (hardcover, signed by Joel Fuhrman)
  2. Nutritarian Planner & Journal (spiral-bound)
  3. Secrets to Healthy Cooking DVD
  4. Eating Like a Nutritarian DVD
  5. 1 FREE month of GoldPLUS Membership for new members

The program centres around nutrition and healthy eating and offers solutions to people who are:

  1. Trying to lose weight and keep it off
  2. Hoping to get off the endless fad diet money-go-round that never seems to achieve lasting results
  3. Looking for a weight loss solution that not only is sustainable, but will deliver excellent nutrition to help combat high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other common ailments

In this review I will summarise each of the component of Dr Fuhrman’s Weight Loss Starter Kit based on my own personal experience and break it down to help you understand how the program works.


Key Principles

Central to Dr Fuhrman’s philosophy, as explained in his other, highly-recommended and best-selling book The End of Dieting, is his simple health equation:

Health = Nutrients / Calories

In other words, your health is predicted by your nutrient intake divided by your calorie intake. This means that you are advised to consume foods that have the highest nutrient value, with the lowest calories available. Essentially, this means natural high-fibre low-calorie whole plant foods.

A key part of Dr Fuhrman’s Weight Loss Starter Kit is The End of Dieting book. It shows how to break the cycle of endless fad or restrictive diets, and protect yourself with all the dietary and nutritional advice you need. In The End of Dieting Dr Fuhrman catalogues many case studies where people have broken free of their food addictions, dramatically improved chronic health conditions, and lost huge amounts of weight (from 50 to 100kg weight loss) and experienced transformations in their physical and mental health through embracing an exercise routine and a plant-based diet filled with vegetables, fruit, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds.


The End of Dieting also explores a number of topical issues:

  1. The effects of ‘toxic hunger’ and food addictions, caused by eating unhealthy, low nutrient, addictive foods
  2. The Three Habits of Health – eating high-nutrient low-calorie foods, exercise and positive mindset.
  3. Debunking diet myths, including:
    • The Standard American Diet (SAD) which is centered on chicken, red meat, cheese, processed grains and sweets;
    • The Mediterranean Diet, with its over-emphasis on unhealthy olive oil and pasta;
    • The Paleo Diet (and all its high-protein-low-carb predecessors), which, as Dr Fuhrman says, leaves you “dead – like a caveman”;
    • The ‘Wheat Belly’, and various versions of calorie and portion-controlled diets.

Dr Fuhrman urges us to ditch all these diets. He calls for an end to fad diet extremism in all its forms, and instead focuses on health first, by maximizing consumption of crucial micronutrients, and weight second.

Dr Fuhrman’s key message is that in order to have a balanced diet, we should be eating lots of vegetables, especially green vegetables, fruits (including berries), beans, legumes, whole grains, mushrooms, seeds and nuts. His advice is to stop looking for diets and just eat as healthfully as possible.


To obtain the best possible concentration of healthy plant foods, Dr Fuhrman employs a simple acronym: G-BOMBS, which stands for:

  • Greens
  • Beans
  • Onions
  • Mushrooms
  • Berries and
  • Seeds & nuts

Dr Fuhrman promotes G-BOMBS as foods with the most powerful immune-boosting and anti-cancer effects, and raw salad vegetables to help you lose and control your weight. He goes deep into all the benefits of whole plant foods to support weight control and protection for chronic disease.


The Nutritarian Program

The Nutritarian program is designed to help you make a start on a wholefood plant-based diet-style.

According to Dr Fuhrman’s, the Nutritarian diet style “enables you to lose weight and keep it off permanently, without experiencing hunger or depriving yourself of food.”

Not only does counting calories and eating less not work for long-term weight loss, Dr Fuhrman explains, it isn’t supported by advances in nutritional science or clinical evidence. A low-calorie diet that is nutritionally unsound is doomed to fail because it “increases your cravings and hunger signals.”

Included in the book also a healthy eating plan, weekly meal ideas, and recipes.


Rather than focusing on the foods you can’t eat, Dr Fuhrman inspires you to enjoy the kaleidoscope of plant foods that you can eat in abundance.

Six basic guidelines to Dr Furhman healthy eating plan

The plan in the End of Dieting is boiled down to six basic guidelines for everyday eating;

  1. Eat a large salad as your main dish
  2. Eat half a cup to a full cup of beans
  3. Eat one large serving of lightly steamed green vegetables
  4. Eat at least one ounce of raw nuts and seeds
  5. Eat mushrooms and onions, and
  6. Eat at least three fresh fruits a day

And if you find it too hard to remember, don’t worry – you don’t need to. Dr Fuhrman also provided an online daily checklist to help remind you of these guidelines. And to help you even further we have created a Quick Start Guide based on Dr Fuhrman’s guidelines (refer to the bottom of this post for more info).


DVD guides

The two DVDs provide a visual demonstration on how you can implement the Nutritarian lifestyle and create delicious healthy meals.

Eating Like a Nutritarian

Recorded at Whole Foods Market (but could be set at any green grocers, organic store, or produce section of your local supermarket) Dr Fuhrman takes you through the high nutrient (plant) food aisles to show you what to buy and how to prepare all the super-foods that your body needs: vegetables, fruits, beans, whole grains, and the right fats and proteins.

Here, Dr Fuhrman also addresses the biggest dietary myths we have been told, ranging from misconceptions about olive oil to the truth about snacking. You’ll learn about the science behind why whole plant foods help you to burn fat and achieve optimum health, and why it’s important to limit, or avoid animal products in your diet.

Secrets to Healthy Cooking

This video features Dr Fuhrman and his wife, Lisa. They take you into their kitchen to demonstrate the techniques and principles behind preparing delicious super-plant-foods. You’ll learn how to prepare delicious high nutrient recipes, as well as Dr Fuhrman favourite recipes and his general formulas for making:

  • Salad Dressings & Dips
  • Soups & Stews
  • Main Dishes
  • Vegetable Smoothies
  • Ice Cream & Sorbets

As an added bonus, a recipe booklet also is included with this DVD to help you get started.


The Weight Loss Starter Kit also includes an attractive spiral-bound Nutritarian Planner and Journal.

The Nutritarian Planner & Journal encourages you to:

  • Keep track of your progress
  • Commit to your dietary and exercise goals
  • Document your feelings, both the triumphs and the difficulties

A daily journal is a useful tool to help you change your current diet and lifestyle. If you keep a food diary and record your health and weight loss goals, this will assist you to take control over your lifestyle choices.

If you buy the The Weight Loss Starter Kit you can choose this as a ‘stand-alone’ item, or you can elect to sign up (as I have done) for a monthly membership (for new members you’ll receive a free month’s Gold Plus membership). The benefits of being a member of Dr Fuhrman’s online community include:

  • Nutritarian recipes and menus – view, search and print over 1,500 recipes, rated and reviewed by other members
  • Recipe of the Day email – recipe suggestions delivered to you daily via email
  • Healthy Times Newsletters and Position papers – browse a library of previously published newsletters and papers on various topics in nutrition and science
  • The Health Tracker – an easy way to track your progress
  • Webinars and Teleconferences – access to an archive of recorded webinars and teleconferences on a variety of topics in science, nutrition, and health


The Downside

The downside of Dr Fuhrman’s Weight Loss Starter Kit is that it requires you to invest significant time and effort in reading, planning, and preparing for transitioning to a healthy plant-based diet. If you’re looking for a ‘quick-fix’ diet, like, say, the 5:2 diet, where you eat normally for 5 days and ‘fast’ for 2 days on only 500 calories a day, or a restrictive regime like Paleo diet, where you can’t eat dairy products, grains, or legumes, but eat lots of meat, you will be disappointed with Dr Fuhrman’s Nutritarian eating plan.

Although all the foods Dr Fuhrman promotes are plant-based, it is not strictly speaking a low-fat vegan diet, such as Dr Barnard’s 21-day Vegan Kickstart (which I have also done, bought and read the book, and personally endorse).

As Nutritarian, you don’t have to follow this 100% of the time – if you don’t want to. I eat healthy plant-based foods every day as a vegan, and I advocate this diet for optimal health, for animals, and the environment. If you want to incorporate a small quantity of animal products in your diet, that’s up to you. Obviously, though, the more you follow this diet the more likely you will see positive results. According to Dr Fuhrman, “at least 90% of calories” should come “from unrefined plant foods”.

What I think

By adopting and adapting Dr Fuhrman’s Nutritarian eating and weight loss plan I have experienced some weight loss (about 7-8 kilograms/15 pounds so far), and, most importantly to me, this has helped me to bring my cholesterol, triglyceride and blood pressure levels down from dangerously high to well-within safe levels.

I have a family history of vascular disease and stroke, and my doctor has diagnosed me with ‘familial hypercholesterolaemia’, which is a fancy term for a genetic predisposition to high cholesterol levels. Despite this, with medication and dietary changes to a healthy low-fat vegan ‘Nutritarian’ style diet, I have defied my genes and gone from a high-risk to low-risk of dying from heart disease. Not only do I feel lighter and fitter, I am less worried about being around to look after my family and kids as I grow older. Is that worth the US$57.91 for The Weight Loss Starter Kit? I say yes, every penny of it.

The Nutritarian diet style requires a lot of time, commitment and immersion into the program. This might put you off, but I can guarantee it’s worth it.

I don’t follow the Nutritarian guidelines 100% of the time, and occasionally I’ll consume a bit of refined or junk food, or even a glass of red wine (or two)! So don’t worry if you think you can’t follow this always: I don’t. I’m not perfect, and that’s fine. I still want you to enjoy life, but I also know that to see permanent improvements to your weight and health, you have to be prepared to make significant changes to your diet and lifestyle. This program provides a clear and comprehensive roadmap to achieving your weight and health goals for (potentially) the rest of your life.

If you really want to lose weight and keep it off, and improve your health at the same time, I highly recommend Dr Fuhrman’s weight loss program. It’s super comprehensive, educational and quite an investment for your future health and longevity.

Little Green Habits Readers’ Special Bonus Pack

We only promote products that we believe to have tremendous value and that we have used ourselves. I personally had a great experience with this program and I believe that it may help you too. To help you further along with your journey to healthy weight loss, when you purchase Dr Fuhrman’s Weight Loss Starter Kit through our special link (we earn a small commission on any orders made via our affiliate link, but this won’t cost you any extra), you will get a special bonus pack which consists of the following:

1.  Nutritarian Quick Start Guide

If you order Dr Furhman’s Weight Loss Starter Kit via Little Green Habits, you will receive, as an added bonus, a free 25-page Quick Start Guide on how to eat as a Nutritarian – including a shopping list, recipes, meal ideas, and several resource links to nutritional and health benefit information for a huge variety of plant foods.

2. Exclusive email Q&A session

Where you can ask me any questions about how I implemented the Nutritarian lifestyle, lost weight and lowered my cholesterol (I will respond to all emails on this subject for up to 3 months). (*Please note: I am not a medical health care professional and I advise anyone to seek appropriate medical advice before considering changing their diet, medication or exercise).

To get your Weight Loss Starter Kit, as well as your bonus FREE Nutritarian Quick Start Guide just click here and order yours today! Simply email me an electronic copy of your receipt, and I will reply with your Special Bonus Nutritarian Quick Start Guide PDF e-book and we can start planning for your Exclusive email Q&A session.

I hope you find this review useful. If you have any questions or comments about anything I mentioned here, feel free to leave a comment or reach me at: tom@littlegreenhabits.com.

To your health and happiness,

Tom Perry

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?