Category: Lifestyle

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Position Vacant – HHFS Fundraiser & Arbonne Team Member

Are you interested in earning an income and supporting our charity at the same time?

The Idea

Hi! I’m Maree Earnshaw – I’m an Executive District Manager & Independent Consultant for Arbonne. I currently dedicate 100%* of my Arbonne commission income to Happy Hooves Farm Sanctuary, our non profit animal rescue that I co-founded and co-direct under our registered charity, Animal Actionist Ltd. I’m looking for passionate and compassionate people to join my Arbonne team to help me raise more money to support this incredibly important and meaningful cause. Could that be you?

By donating my commissions, and building a team of independent consultants within my group, we can generate a larger and more consistent income for the sanctuary. This means that anyone who joins my team and sells the products, automatically sends a percentage of commissions to our cause. This gives YOU the rare opportunity to run your own business, earn a potentially lucrative income AND support our charity without handing over any additional money. We simply earn when you do.

I’m looking for team members in Australia, US, Canada, UK, Poland, New Zealand and Taiwan to join my animal loving, socially aware and motivated team. No prior sales experience is necessary as training is available both one on one and online. Please join us if you are a team player, committed to your own success, love animals, and if you’re self motivated to complete training & business development meetings – either online or in person.

You will be promoting and selling premium quality Arbonne products that are vegan, effective, environmentally friendly, and safe. The Arbonne range is diverse and easy to love! The range includes makeup, skincare, nutrition, body and hair care. Our “Happy Hooves” team is VERY supportive and will guide you every step of the way in establishing your new business and to reach your personal goals. Read more HERE for information about what it means to become an Arbonne Independent Consultant.


The Offer

Arbonne skincare products, based on botanical principles, became a reality in the United States in 1980 and are now shared throughout the world through the Arbonne network of Independent Consultants. Building on these same founding principles, the product line has since grown to include both inner and outer health and beauty products that are unparalleled in quality, safety, value, benefits and results.

The wonderful thing about Arbonne is that it’s not just about great products, it’s also about great people. The Arbonne family is made up of thousands of individuals working to make their dreams come true. Through sales incentives and rewards, travel opportunities, a generous SuccessPlan and great products, Arbonne offers a unique opportunity that can help make anyone’s vision for the future a reality.

Ready to Go?

Please send me a message to lodge your interest and to find out more by clicking the photo link below.

* Percentage of Maree’s personal income donated to Happy Hooves is subject to change and at the sole discretion of Maree Earnshaw. However the percentage of team contribution remains constant and in line with team sales and earning levels as prescribed by the Arbonne Success Plan.  Find out more about Independent Consultant income potential via the Arbonne Independent Consultant Compensation Summary.
Guest BloggersLifestyleVegan aMusingVeganism

And So This Was Christmas!

So here we are, at the other end of it all. Another year flown by, another New Year ushered in with all its tacit promise of better things to come and promises made to be better humans. I anticipate that many New Year’s resolutions have been made by compassionate people choosing veganism to improve this entity we are, Humankind, to be kind to our fellow beings and to treat our planet with more respect.

In terms of Christmas, things are a little different at our home compared to what they used to be, and that is because Jiffy and I opted out of Christmas years ago. I had been disenchanted with Christmas for a long time, and he began to feel a similar discomfort. There are a number of reasons for my disillusionment; some, but not all based in veganism, and here’s a rundown:


My Dad was a no-nonsense atheist. Mum – you know, I’m still not entirely sure how she feels about God in any sense of the concept. She was raised a Lutheran. While Dad made his opinion clear, they left me to seek my own way and for a while I too was a confirmed atheist. Then as I became a bit disillusioned with science and its dislike of anything it can’t measure, I diluted my stance to agnosticism. I guess I am still an agnostic because I am both disconcerted by some of the evil acts that are perpetrated in the name of religion, yet ready to acknowledge that the concept of religion, in terms of giving people meaning in their life and a set of guidelines to help them aspire to be better human beings is wonderful, assuming it is not abused. Ultimately I believe there is something going on in the universe that’s a truckload bigger and more important than me (ok, probably a couple of things), so as long as I acknowledge that and continue through life without hurting anything then that’s okay. Right? Without hurting even the people who hurt others. Especially that last one. I’m not too good at that yet, but I’m working on it. That, and forgiveness. I can hang onto a grudge with all 20 digits for millennia. As I said, I’m working on it.

Golly, I’m the first to acknowledge I don’t have the answers! But at any rate, I felt that I was not in a place to celebrate the birth of Christ the way that Christians do. With all due respect, and acknowledging my belief that Christ existed, the fact is that I also believe that there are many avatars whose births aren’t celebrated in the all-encompassing fashion that his is (at least where I live), and who are as deserving as he. Buddha, for one.

To put it simply – isn’t Jesus Christ’s birth what Christmas is about? How’d all that other stuff get in there?


Ugly, ugly, ugly. Were any of you brave enough prior to Christmas to watch a movie or, perish the thought, the tenth rerun of a Big Bang Theory episode on a commercial channel? Were you suddenly overwhelmed by the urge to go out and buy stuff, especially stuff that was going to exponentially improve the quality of your life, like, say, a remote control helicopter? Did you want to go to Harvey Norman and buy something, anything, because, omg – they were giving you a-lot-of-months interest free? Did you realise that you forgot to buy something for your boss’s wife’s next door neighbour’s second cousin, and hallelujah you were saved because there were last minute Christmas gifts available JUST FOR YOU TO BUY?? Or perhaps, like me, you discovered the merits of the mute button on the universal remote (said remote, incidentally, being something that has improved Jiff’s life exponentially…..).

And those commercials were gentle compared to the ones for the Boxing Day sales that appeared one nanosecond after Christmas was done. Shops in the eastern states opened at 5:00am – to the queued up hordes – ? Really?

I remember being a kid in delicious agony having to wait for Father Christmas to deliver my prezzies. It was all about the prezzies-for-me. This was before I was old enough to feel obliged to return the favour, so I must have been pretty young. How did I become this Mini-Me who salivated at the exciting promise of new things and goodies? Sindy doll. The fancy Chrissy doll, whose hair could be short, medium or long, thanks to a roller in her head and a crank on her back. Barbie doll. Gee, lots of dolls. Toys, toys, toys. Some dumb people gave me food. Everyone knew food wasn’t presents! Worse, some idiots gave me clothes! Ya what?? Hasn’t anybody yet written the definitive guide entitled What to Give a Kid for Christmas so They Don’t Hate You?

Obviously the bar has been raised, because Sindy and Chrissy have been replaced by Xbox Kinect or sundry i-Gadgets. Or was that so five minutes ago? Gadgets! I first became aware of other (especially young) people and their gadgets – and the way said gadgets are changing our way of interacting with the world – during the three years I studied art in Perth 2008-2010. This involved two hours on buses and trains every day, a three-hour round-trip door-to-door, don’t get me started. But it offered me an opportunity to people-watch and it was usually me who was doing the watching. Apart from those thrillseekers who actually communicated directly with each other on public transport, most commuters were engaged in other activities. Many folk were reading books or the daily paper. Some stared into oblivion, trying to avoid gazing straight into the crotches of those who were standing. A few spoke on their mobile phones (and I am convinced that some of them were not having conversations with real people – they were just shouting controversial things into their phones to make it look like they were important. Or maybe had friends). Some txtd with great concentration. There were those with their ear buds in, listening to their music so loud that I could have sung along with it, even from the other end of the bus…that is, if I knew the words.

By far the most sobering were the people who sat in their seats and listened to music while txting, constantly, for the entire journey, without looking up occasionally to perhaps take in the view or reconnect with where they were at present. So lost in their own worlds, apparently oblivious to all around them – like the overtly funny but somewhat chilling scenes in Wall-E, where obese people sat in little pods with a computer screen in front of them, engaging friends via the computer, but not interacting with other real, live people directly next to them. And they’d lost the ability to walk. Silly cartoon, right? The txting earbud people I saw in buses and trains were so used to the constant soundtrack in their head that they didn’t physically respond to music. When a favourite song comes on I think it’s so gorgeous to be able to let go and tap hands and feet, move body, mildly headbang. Dance like nobody is watching. Sing like nobody is listening. Surely that’s not just me?

At a time when our consciousness is supposedly expanding, these must-have cool gadgets are informing us more about the rest of the world at the expense of relating to what is immediately around us.

But I digress.

The point is, one of the greatest inspirations for me to opt out of Christmas was how commercial and profit-driven it is these days. Maybe I am mistaken about the significance of Christ’s birth. Maybe in our world Christmas is about buying stuff. If so, a name change is in order – “Buy-mass”, anyone? Ok, that’s a bit lame. But you see where I’m at.

The Meatfest

There is a pig slaughterhouse about twenty minutes past our local town. Our town is on the highway and the pig trucks come through our town en route to that vile place, with their “cargo” of doomed beings. It is a sad and demoralising sight. Some of their squeals are bone chilling. If I am close enough to that truck, those little guys look me right in the eye and all I can do right then is apologise for my own species and ponder how anyone can believe it is okay to turn these living, breathing, feeling beings into a food that we don’t even need, that we eat just because we like the taste.

In about October each year the truck carries more pigs per load than the rest of the year. I don’t know for sure why, but my guess is that it has something to do with Christmas hams. From an ancient way of preserving meat when there was no refrigeration, to a mainstay in the sad Western diet; those unfortunate beings are killed and dismembered to be ingested by humans as part of the traditional Christmas dinner.

Joy to the world.

For any person with a modicum of awareness who has witnessed a piglet zooming gleefully around an open field, or exploring, playing, being loved or getting belly rubs, there is little to separate the piglet’s obvious joy from that of a dog’s in a similar situation. Sadly, most pigs are raised in factory farms, in overcrowded pens on concrete floors, no straw to bed down, in their own muck, for six short months until it’s their turn on the truck. And then, if it is a clear day, the ones on the outer edges of their level on the truck get to see sunshine for what may be the first and only time in their miserable lives. According to there are approximately 850 million pigs in the world at any time. That’s a lot of misery, and that is only one of the intelligent species that we exploit.

Turkeys are also unfortunate enough to be part of our Christmas dinner picture, even with its decidedly American roots. Turkey marketing peaks in Australia around Christmas time. Just like chickens, turkeys have been bred to gain weight as fast as possible. A turkey’s lifespan could be as much as ten years, but here they are slaughtered at just 12 weeks old, and suffer diseases and crippling as a result of their rapid growth, not to mention cruel practices like debeaking. I just read a report that cites if a 3kg human baby grew at that rate, at just 18 weeks of age, that baby would weigh 227kg.

We are Frankenstein. But then, Frankenstein did not eat his creation.

I have seen a pair of rescued broiler chickens (those raised for meat alone). Having been allowed to live beyond the six weeks of age when chickens are usually slaughtered, these two young chickens, a male and a female, grew into something surreal. When I described them to a friend, I used the word “abominations”. They were so massive, they could barely walk on their crazily splayed legs. Encountering them filled me with revulsion and pity. They both died shortly afterwards; she first and then he, his end possibly quickened by grief. He’d lost his mate.

Well, enough of that. You get the picture. Another reason I opted out of Christmas was my inability to be gracious about nice, and even deeply religious and kind, people being good and pious at Christmastime, yet not giving a second thought to the creatures whose lives were taken for Christmas dinner. Or maybe giving a second thought and eating them anyway. A fleshfest at a time when leaders ask us to think of our “fellow man” and peace on earth seemed so hypocritical to me. How can there be true peace on earth when there is so much cruelty and hypocrisy? Getting back to science, that negative energy has to go somewhere…

Was anyone else ready to throw spitballs at Curtis Stone’s smiling face on the telly as he spruiked Christmas fare that is disproportionately meat-heavy? Turkey, ham, prawns, anything that moves. And along with the annual flood of Christmas recipes come the concurrent articles about how to lose the weight you put on over the festive season. That, right there, says so much about a troubling, wasteful side of us – that so many of us overindulge that there is impetus enough for the media to offer us articles on how to fix the unhealthy mess we made of ourselves in a very short period of time. In amongst that are your concerned government’s reminders to eat 2 fruit & 5 veg every day. Trust me, folks – they do that because they care for you. My Cynical Side is popping up and insisting I tell you that it’s actually because they anticipate the rapidly approaching and monstrously vast health crisis caused by our meat-centric, dairy-heavy sugar-laden, junk-food infused, vegetable-starved, fibre-free western diet. Oh Cynical Side, you little rapscallion, you mischievous imp – I forgive you.

See, I’m getting better at forgiving already. I thought this was gonna be hard!

So, without engaging in a regular Christmas, how did we spend the past couple of weeks? Jiff and I shared some special time with loved people and our critters. We ate wonderful vegan food and, in fact, Jiff used the opportunity very well indeed. He happily cooks up a storm in the kitchen at any time, but he has just discovered the best dhal recipe in the universe (thank you, IsaChandra – you legend!), not to mention the equivalent level of creamy tofu chocolate mousse (from The Joy of Vegan Baking by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau).

You need a protein injection, you protein-deficient, sickly-looking vegan-type? Cop one in the mousse!

In between discovering them, he whipped up a few more awesome Indian dishes courtesy of Manjula (we love Manjula). We shared a few drinkipoos and a lot of laughs, and we acknowledged our fellow creatures with love.

We didn’t kill anybody.

And we toasted how great it is to be vegan. Happy New Year!

For the critters…

Guest BloggersLifestyleVegan aMusingVeganism

Vegan A-Musing: Family! – by Ramona Janssen

Firstly, I would like to acknowledge that this post went in a different way than I had anticipated it would.  I have mentioned the documentary Forks Over Knives a number of times, but this is because I found it fascinating and profoundly relevant.  I am in no way connected to that documentary nor its makers.

My human blood family is pretty compact.  The concept of “Family” is a little alien to me, inasmuch as I have never really had much of it to deal with.  Mum and Dad came to Australia from Germany after World War II, while all the rellies, bar my Aunt, stayed in the Vaterland. Now I have my Mum and my Aunt who is actually my Dad’s cousin, and no siblings.  I also have my partner, Jiffy, and thus a connection to a few of his relatives, like his Dad and his partner, and Jiffy’s Aunt.

What I have discovered as the years go by is that family have become more precious.  Albeit they often shit me to tears, the fact is that they are my family and I am mostly glad that they are around.  I have considered the possibility that maybe I do my share of shitting them too……maybe…..

What a clanger veganism can be when it comes to family!  My first tentative baby steps into vegetarianism, which began when I was a child, were met with harrumphs and very little support.  Given my parents were German and, let’s face it, the Deutschies of that generation sure loved eating animals – knackerwurst and leberwurst, kalbsnierenbraten, kohl und pinkel, braten in general, wurst, wurst, and more wurst.  They ate – and omg, I atebloodwurst, the notorious black pudding (who the hell thought up putting “blood” and “pudding” in the same sentence, ffs?  It’s just wrong)!  If you’ve ever wanted to know what that is – and believe me, you don’t – one definition is “a kind of black sausage made from minced pork fat, pig’s blood, and other ingredients” (1).  The German word for meat, “fleisch” even sounds creepy, especially since its literal translation is flesh – it is pronounced “fl-eye-sh” as one syllable.  Meat could be (and usually was) served at any and every meal, vegies were boiled to mush and salads were made up of cooked vegies.  Bleh.

My folks were overjoyed in the least possible way that I wanted to quit eating critters.  They believed that vegetarians were weird, pale, sick-looking hippies shunned by society while they ate handfuls of nuts.  I wish I’d grown myself a pair of nuts back then because it was all too hard without my parents’ support and basically, I still enjoyed the taste of meat.  Not pretty to admit, but it’s the truth.

At twenty years of age, doubled over in agony and vomiting bile, I was admitted to Emergency in the local hospital.  During an ultrasound, the tech was pointing out my inside bits as they appeared on the screen – “There’s your kidney…there’s your this and your that…” and I had to take his word for it because couldn’t recognise anything, the screen was just a weird accumulation of grey and white.  Suddenly onscreen there materialised this easily-identifiable “bag” tightly filled with marbles, and the tech informed me, “That’s your gall bladder, nicely filled with gallstones!”  Oh happy days.  Gallstones had a reputation in those days – to develop them you were supposed to be female, fair, fat, fertile and forty.  Tick the female bit, so to speak.  But hang on – I was half the freaking recommended age, fairly fair (after several drinks), only slightly chubby, fertility was unproven, so HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?  It turned out that the gallstones were formed out of cholesterol – hello, clue!

Mum picked me up after the operation.  We’re talking here of a vertical incision from solar plexus to belly button because the wankers hadn’t invented keyhole surgery for gallstones back then, thus I was left sporting one big physical scar and countless emotional ones.  I was hungry because all I’d been given to eat in hospital was hospital stuff (they called it food).  My darling Mum offered to take me somewhere for lunch and I was starving and craving fish and chips, the battered kind that beckons all manner of disease and nasties.  That’s what I ate for my first post-hospital meal, after being rampantly surgerised for a disease probably caused by my diet.  Kick me, somebody.

There were rumblings indeed from the mater and pater when, some six years later, I finally grew those nuts I mentioned back there a bit and chose a vegetarian lifestyle.  It took another seventeen and a half years before I went vegan and by that time Dad was no longer around – he had developed type 2 diabetes and, after an initial fright at the diagnosis during which he made the calculated switch from drinking beer to the healthier scotch whiskey (!), he carried on smoking and drinking.  And it killed him, although he did manage to make it to 77, copping a stroke along the way.  I had many “discussions” with him about his diet and my own lifestyle choices.  This, a man who adored animals – he just would not stop eating them.

I wonder what he would say today, after I’d bound and gagged him and forced him to watch Forks Over Knives?

I kept talking to Mum but she couldn’t help herself, apparently – butter and cream, eggs and salami, down the hatch they went.  She stacked on the weight and found herself a tad unfit.  About 18 months after Dad had passed, we were walking to her house, a mere 500 metres from mine, when she had to stop and catch her breath.  Shortly thereafter she was admitted to the Emergency Department at a nearby hospital with shoulder pain.  They ran an ECG and sent her home with medication to treat an ulcer.  A short time later the same thing happened.  Again she was sent home.  The third time she experienced this severe, recurrent pain in her shoulders, and just after she desperately told me that she didn’t want to die, I drove her to the major hospital in the city (an ambulance would have been bound to take her to the local hospital again) and there, finally, the ECG revealed she had suffered a heart attack.

An angiogram showed that the blood vessels to her heart were in such a poor state, with one major vessel reduced to the width of a hair, the doctors decided to let her ticker rest for a couple of days before performing bypass surgery.  She was hooked up to a machine to help pump blood around her body.

Only after all this did my Mum give up eating meat.  Eight years on and I am still asking her to quit the dairy.  She doesn’t consume much and most of it is when she is out at her weekly seniors gathering.  She has come a long way and I do acknowledge that.

Then there was Jiffy’s Mum, diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at, if I remember correctly, four years of age.  A few years ago we accompanied her to a ceremony where a small group of diabetics who had lived for 50 years with the disease were presented with a commemorative medallion.   Most of their diabetic peers had died in the interim, and it is worth noting that the majority of the people presented with a medallion that day had shared the same doctor, Jiffy’s Mum included.  She used to tell me she was convinced it was cow’s milk that had caused her diabetes.  While I don’t know if that is what happened, there is plenty of compelling material online to support her theory – just Google something simple like “cows milk diabetes”.  Some will agree with her belief re milk, some may find it controversial, others will just disagree.  I know what I believe.  She had a lifetime of pricking digits to test blood several times a day, injecting insulin and watching what she ate and drank.  She once told me she was terrified of losing limbs, an insidious possibility that is a complication of the disease.

Jiffy’s Mum passed away in July last year, barely making her sixties.   The cause was diabetes mellitus.

Jiffy’s Dad lives on the other side of Australia from us so we don’t see him very often.  One of our visits in recent years was a response to a call from his partner’s daughter, who informed us he’d had a heart attack and was in hospital.  When we arrived, his partner was a train wreck, and he was in bed, oxygen mask on his face, and his whole head was bright red.  He was also unusually emotional and started crying when we spoke to him.  Lucky enough to avoid bypass surgery, he had had a stent inserted into one of his cardiac blood vessels.  He too had barely made it into his sixties.  He now eats a hearty regime of medication every day, including Lipitor, aspirin and stuff to lower his blood pressure.  He still eats animal products, but feels secure in the knowledge that the milk he chooses is low fat (ha! Watch out for that one if and when you watch Forks Over Knives!).  He has had a few associated health scares that put him back in hospital, notably two episodes of severe dehydration.

People!  Drink water and avoid that shit!

My Aunt who lives here in Perth was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes years ago and has done very little about moderating her lifestyle to deal with the disease.  I have spoken with her so many times, but I identified that changes, even small, perhaps slightly inconvenient ones, were graciously plopped in her too hard basket.  Things like losing some of her way-too-much weight that obviously interfered with her enjoyment of life, or reducing the amount of animal products she consumed, and drinking water.  But she hates water.  She liked orange juice – yes, the sweet kind – and drank that by the two litre carton.  Her liquid intake was mainly coffee and OJ.  She liked sweet biscuits with her coffee.  She loved her weekly outing to eat fish and chips on the wharf.  She was recently diagnosed with kidney failure, and has been given a year to live.

I have spoken with all these people, my family, about food and lifestyle choices.  My Dad used to shut down our conversations about vegetarianism; indeed, shortly before he died (and a dozen years after I became veg) he still emphatically stated to me, “You have to eat meat”.  But why did he think I have to?

It is obvious to me that there is something very wrong with the long-term health of many of my family members.  I wonder why they are intellectually able to acknowledge that what they eat today is what they are tomorrow, but then are so challenged by the thought of giving up animal products, even for a relatively short period of time, even if just to see how they feel (and I’m not talking a token vegan dinner).  I get the impression that deep down there is an angst that compels them to reject embracing veganism because of course it threatens their ingrained way of life, the very thing that has got them this far (the ones that are still alive, that is).  It probably got them here in the condition they’re in, too……While some of the rellies, notably my Dad (77) and my Aunt (80-something) have made it to a ripe age, their quality of life was/has been severely compromised by the state of their health.  Anybody truly want to live a long, unhealthy life?  Or at least, would they consciously choose to be unhealthy?

I am certain that many vegans are all too familiar with dealing with family members who just don’t want to know about veganism, even though it is one of the most empowering decisions we can ever make for ourselves.  I attempt to share ideas with my family because, first of all – I care for them!  And I have familiarised myself with information that is available for those who wish to discover it, information that is not in the mainstream (although I suspect the mainstream can now just about see it coming.  I suspect it looks a bit like an avalanche).  For me it’s a lifelong quest and to wit, I have just started reading The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell II.  I’m 16 pages in and already shaking my head in disbelief.

Don’t be disheartened, fellow veegs!  Sometimes trying to share the good stuff with family reaps rewards.  Jiff and I sat down with his Dad and partner a couple of weekends ago, and we all watched Forks Over Knives.  While his partner chose to focus on only the info re processed food, Jiff’s Dad, bless him, piped up with, “Yeh, okay – let’s give it a shot,” which was promptly followed by two loud clunks as our jawbones hit the deck.  Cynicism can become a habit, you know.  I am unsure whether the compelling info on the documentary convinced him, or the fact that we advised him Ozzy Osbourne decided to try veganism after watching the same program.  Or maybe it was the fact that the word “vegan” was hardly heard at all; what was referred to was “a wholefoods, plant-based diet”.  I guess for some people, choosing veganism is more about their own health than animal rights and that’s okay.  Either way I am convinced it is better for the planet, for us and our fellow beings, so if humans latch on to health themselves up, it’s still a great thing.

I have since emailed Jiff’s Dad more info, plus links to various sites, including the registration site for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s next 21-Day Vegan Kickstart which commences on 2 January 2012 – I am now hoping he is still as enthused about taking responsibility for his health as he was after the credits rolled on the documentary.  21 days is a short amount of time when you are talking a whole life, and really – what has he got to lose?

A lot, come to think of it.

For the critters ….

Mum today, being awesome and groovy. Isn’t she gorgeous?

Guest BloggersLifestyleVegan aMusingVeganism

Vegan A-Musing: The Cruelty Free Festival – by Ramona Janssen

It’s been a hectic few weeks in my world but oh so rewarding.

I had the opportunity to be involved in organising the Cruelty Free Festival in Perth this year. Well okay, it was more by default. My bloke, Geoff, took on the role of Chief Food Organiser months ago, while I happily carried on doing other stuff. Man, did he ever take it on – face buried in the laptop as I got to know every hair on the back of his head by its first name. Monosyllabic responses to my conversation-starters, even the riveting ones!

He was doing an awesome job, but as the festival itself loomed nearer he was suddenly offered a short-term casual job that was too good to turn down (and happened to coincide with the festival and just prior to it), accepted it, proceeded to delegate his festival load and bang – mones collapsed under the weight of the not exactly-welcome responsibility for…….the cake stall (insert dramatic music here).

Lucky for me, if there is one thing vegans usually do when it comes to food (besides eat a lot of it), is report for cooking duty in stunning fashion. Our joy in vegan food is the shareable kind, and most of my peers are thrilled at any opportunity to showcase the wonderful array of eatables to anyone who stands still long enough. Or moves. Or breathes. Or doesn’t. It only took a few emails to follow up the fine work Geoff had started to enlist a veritable army of happy bakers.

At this point, Geoff’s job was cancelled. Of course I expected him to assume the cake stall helm again. It was his baby, or at least, part of his baby. I never expected him to take it as a done deal that I would continue organising the cake stall.

Always expect the unexpected.

The big day arrived, just last Saturday, and we unloaded our heaps of gear at the Earthwise Centre in Subiaco. The weather was windy and rainy and we were armed with a cheapie marquee off ebay. The struts were as sturdy as garden hose and the cover was less so. With the assistance of about a half dozen of our peeps, we assembled the doodads and attached the roof and three sides. Geoff and I walked to our nearby car to get something and heard a terrified yowl. We looked back from whence we came. With one gust, the wind had lifted our carefully-erected marquee up like a parachute, and there it was – airborne, with a squealing person dangling from the bottom of each strut, hanging on for dear life.

Struts were bent and tent pegs too, while the wind kept blowing just to remind us it was still there. As we put everything back together, allowing places for the wind to blow right through the marquee rather than parachute it, I figured things would improve from there. And they did.

Start time was 10:00 and the atmosphere charged as we drew closer to opening up to the public. The festival consisted of various stalls promoting cruelty-free living, social justice and sustainability. For example, Sea Shepherd had a stall, so did SAFE (Saving Animals from Euthanasia); there were cosmetics and clothing and petitions. The Perth festival was put together by Animal Rights Advocates (and they rock). ARA had organised continuous live music throughout the day; there were talks and cooking demonstrations and a fantastic transportable water bubbler station where people could refill their drink bottles.

And of course there was food. What positive, happy vegan event exists without it? There were three food stalls in our marquee; Geoff’s homemade spicy Italian hotdogs (aka ‘notdogs’), Earnie’s homemade savoury pies, and of course our cakey stuff. Our happy bakers deposited their wares and we had everything from Rainbow Spongecake (or Pride Cake, as Creator Kelly declared), to Golden Vanilla Cupcakes with Fluffy Raspberry Coulis Notbuttercream frosting (that’s with fresh raspberries and a nod to our beloved vegan cooking and baking Pillar of Awesomeness, Isa Chandra Moskowitz). We had Salty Choc Chip Oatmeal Fig Cookies (and they were amazing!) to Blondies (delish!). There were gluten-free cookies too. What a spread! We also had booklets of the recipes used in some of the baked goodies on offer.

Basking in management duties, I declared that we’d set the cakes up at 09:45 so they’d be ready for presentation and sale at 10:00. We made a good attempt, but no sooner were the cakes on the table at 09:45 – still in plastic containers and whatever other means of transport were employed – than the humans started buying. Doh! We had cake covers and platters and all manner of purty stuff for displaying the goodies, but no. The humies were hungry. The cakes were within striking distance. They grew themselves legs and walked off the table.

Geoff fired up the VGQ (that’s vegan for ‘BBQ’) and started frying onions. This was 10:00am in the morning, before the pm, and yet once the aroma of sizzling onions wafted over the footpath, a queue of droolers formed. Try breakfast, people!

He’d made 150 snaggers in our kitchen, calculating that number should see us through. Two and a half hours of constant hotdog-assembling later, and they were cleaned out. That is one hotdog per minute for 150 minutes. So the horde descended on Earnie and his pies because poor old Earnster and his weenie piemakers had been hidden behind the large and glamorous VGQ – suddenly he was visible and set upon by the hungries, forking out his Better-than-beef and corn mornay pies like a tornado of pieness. The guy even made his own pastry! And if you’re having any silly ideas, let me assert right here that Earnie is MY pastry makin’, pie-bakin’, meat forsakin’ friend – go find your own.

The pies didn’t last long either. Note to self: for 2012 festival – Bring. More. Food.

All this time, of course, our cake stall was going ballistic, cakes and cookies heading off in every direction. Satisfied customers coming back for more and I don’t mean just once. Some people spent a lot of time in the three queues outside our marquee, sampling a hotdog, going back for seconds, trying a pie, having anothery, finishing off with a cake. And then a cookie. And it was raining.

We had so much cake! So many cookies! Slices and stuff! We sold it all!

The response to our offerings was enthusiastic and heartwarming. People were amazed by the food, in awe that it was free of animal products. One big bloke had bought a hotdog and was stomping past the ARA stall. Tracy couldn’t get up to our marquee fast enough to tell us that he’d taken a bite of his hotdog and declared (possibly paraphrased), “Bullshit! This has got meat in it!” When advised by someone nearby that it was definitely vegan, he took another bite and said, “BULLSHIT! This has definitely got at least meat juices in it!” No dude, let me officially broadcast to you now that that sausage, the one that has hopefully got you thinking about who you eat, is made of gluten flour, besan (that’s chickpea flour) and spices.

I wandered up to the building in which the talks and cooking demos were being held. Peeping through the windows, I noticed that every seat in the place was filled. People were listening intently to Nick as he talked about issues relevant to the cruelty-free theme. Maree (yes, our own beloved Animal Actionist) waited outside with pamphlets, information and the documentary Earthlings for anyone who had been stirred to find out more. And there were many people who had been stirred.

As the day wound down and the rain really set in, some of us walked around, packing up and reflecting. It is clear to me that for whatever reason, people are really starting to question where we are as a species. This includes, of course, where we find ourselves in time and on this planet, as one of countless species who also share our earth. Their interest seems more than politeness, it has an energy that suggests shifting consciousness and a desire to make a change for better, for us and for our fellow beings. They embraced our food, ideas and philosophy and all this in the rain. Perhaps they are now considering this – would our world be anything but better with less cruelty in it?

The answer? As if.

Note to self: Might need a bigger venue for next year’s festival…..

For the critters

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Guest Blogger.. Say Hi To Ramona

Hey everyone, I have joined forces with a lovely lady who is an excellent writer, and an avid animal lover.  Allow me to introduce you all to the passionate & delightful, Ramona Janssen!  *applause!*

‘Mona’ has graciously agreed to write periodic blog posts discussing all things relating to animal rights, veganism, compassion, health … the list goes on and on.   Anything that affects animals and our world are topics that Ramona has a keen interest in, and I’m sure you will find her posts poignant and thought provoking.  An immense animal lover from childhood, Mona has always felt deeply for the suffering of our non-human friends – but like all of us, it took her a while to fully realise just how exploited so many are, and her unwitting complicity in it all.  This first entry is an introduction to what you can expect to see in the coming weeks, and explores her journey and thoughts on animal exploitation & veganism.

Enjoy.  Over to you Mona….

Hello to everyone, and welcome to my first blog post.

Veganism is rising.  It was a whisper, then it was a presence, and now there is an undeniable quickening as more human beings awaken to this incredibly rewarding life choice.  If there was ever anything wrong about being vegan, it was that there were too few of us – and that is rapidly changing.

There is something about being vegan that transcends a choice in diet; it is also a philosophy, a freedom, a connection, a relief and a state of joy.

Without doubt, choosing to become vegan is the single best thing I have ever done, and I would like to share my passion for it, tales and opinions and joy and humour – with you.  The list of potential topics is vast, but includes “Shiny, Happy Vegans”, “It’s Not all About the Food.  But omg, the Food”, “Vegans vs Vegos (in the Nicest Possible Way)” and responses to current affairs.

Initially I will blog every one to two weeks.  Thank you Maree, for hosting my blog – you are awesome.  And you’re vegan, which means you are even more awesome.  How awesome can one little dynamo package of critter-mad human be?  Humans don’t come any better than you.

And so to begin, I think the best way is:

Why Am I Vegan?  The Evolution of the Mones.

Some humans eat meat.  Some do not…..

Year: 1989.

Scene: Murdoch University, Perth, Western Australia; a frustrated Communications student (I wanted to do art, dammit), I got involved with Animal Liberation on campus.  They were screening a documentary called “Hidden Crimes”, which was ostensibly about animal experimentation.  The gradual revelation of brutal and shocking acts committed by my fellow humans on my fellow beings was nothing short of deeply disturbing.

But somewhere amongst the various scientific experiments, the filmmaker had cut in footage of the slaughter of a cow.  I can’t remember whether the doomed one was male or female; I will refer to her in the feminine.  It is 22 years since I saw the footage, and this is how I remember it:

She was brown and beautiful and looked straight into the camera.  A man took aim with a rifle and shot her in her head.  Next she was hoisted by her hind legs until she dangled; a man then cut her throat and jumped back as the blood gushed out.  The man walked around her hanging body, cutting with a sawing action, severing her head.  Somewhere in all this, as she hung upside-down, her front leg moved in an arc, and it was not the result of anything moving it other than her.

In a short time all that was left of her was a hanging lump of meat.

In amongst all the cruelty in scientific experiments, the gravest offences against those who cannot speak our human language, it is possible that the slaughter of that cow disturbed me the most in its sheer vileness.

I remember being horrified, overwhelmed by the wrongness of it all.  The girl next to me was sobbing.  After the documentary ended I went to a toilet and sat in the cubicle, dazed, shattered.  I was filled with revulsion and shame, and then realised that something in me had changed, had shifted or perhaps just surrendered.  When I arrived at my flat later, my Mum was there and had cooked fillet steak for dinner; I remember her being rather annoyed at me when I advised her I was not going to eat it and in fact, I was going vegetarian.  This should have been no surprise to her, considering I had made a number of half-hearted attempts at going vego during my childhood/teens (without support from my well-meaning parents).

Even though I still enjoyed the taste of it at that time, I stopped eating red meat and became a white meat carnivore (which, let’s face it, is a more honest term than “red meat vegetarian”!).  It was only a few weeks before I made myself a chicken sandwich on rye.  I put it in my mouth and it was as though I had taken a bite of sawdust.  It had happened.  I had moved to the next stage without really noticing.  All meat was eliminated from my diet.

As I thought about it, I realised I was opposed to animals being killed so that I could eat them or wear them.  In hindsight I didn’t do much research about it, but it seemed fair enough to me from what I knew.  So the next things to go were leather and silk – fur was never an issue because it always seemed inherently wrong to me.  I started by deciding to never buy leather or silk again, but I kept wearing those leather shoes I still had in my wardrobe.  I shopped compassionately, choosing cruelty free soaps and stuff.  I still enjoyed eating eggs, cheese and yoghurt.

The internet arrived and suddenly there was far more information readily available about everything, including factory farming, the truth about the dairy industry and the egg industry, inhumane practices that are considered normal as part of animal husbandry; the list is long, comprehensive and revolting.

Fast forward to June 2006.  At this point I was happily vegetarian, and looking forward to being in the audience at a Peter Singer lecture at the University of Western Australia.  I understand he rubs a lot of people the wrong way, but there is no denying that he has a gift for asking the uncomfortable questions with clear reasoning.

At some point in the evening he spoke about the dairy industry and what happens to the babies.  Yes, babies.  Calves are babies; innocent, desperate to suckle, and in need of their mother’s love.  Despite this, they are torn from their mothers shortly after birth so that humans can feed on the milk that was meant for them (i.e. the calves).  The heifers are raised in nurseries to become part of the dairy herd, and the young males who are not kept for breeding purposes are usually kept alive for three to four months to end up as veal, or fattened to be slaughtered as yearlings.

I knew all of this, yet somehow had managed to continue consuming dairy right up till then.  As Peter Singer talked, I was transported back to a holiday in the South West of Western Australia, when I had been witness to the most awful bovine bellowing.  It was explained to me that the sorrowful, panicking sound was the mother cows calling for their babies who had been taken from them and that it would go on indefinitely.  Suddenly whatever it was that I had been protecting myself with just fell away.  No more denial, just a definitive decision to be something better than the cause of that tragedy.

Thank you, Peter Singer.  I walked into your lecture a vegetarian, and walked out vegan.

Well, almost.  We have rescued ex-battery chickens on our property, and have learnt much from them – including the fact that even if we ask them not to, the chooks who still lay eggs will do so on mostly a daily basis.  I kept on eating my beloved chooks’ bumnuts (although I noticed that they were starting to taste oddly bitter), while working on convincing my partner, Jiffy, to consider becoming “vegan” too.  He resisted bravely, until a friend of ours convinced him to watch Earthlings.  I chose not to watch it, knowing full well I would end up a blubbering mess, so I went to bed.  I was gently woken up by Jiff after he’d watched it, and he said, “I finally understand where you are coming from.  I don’t want to be part of that anymore.  I am going vegan.”

“We’ll still eat our chooks’ eggs, right?”

“No, I want to do this properly.”

And so it was somewhere around the beginning of the southern spring of 2006 that two new vegans were born.  That’s when the fun started – and I really do mean fun, although I won’t be writing about that here today.

The point of this article is to tell a story of one person’s journey from eating meat to veganism.  I ate meat until my 26th year.  I was vegetarian for 17 more.  Now I look back and acknowledge that although I choose to not waste time with regret, if there was anything I could regret about this, it is that I have not been vegan my entire life.

If you are considering becoming vegan – it is a wonderful, amazing life choice and you will only truly understand this once you choose it.

What are you waiting for?

For the critters

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The Live Cattle Trade to Indonesia – what we can do to end the senseless cruelty…

I just watched the Four Corners expose on live cattle trade to Indonesia (… if you haven’t seen it already, I urge you to watch it now via the link before you read on, it will be a real eye opener and make the content of my ramblings below easier to understand.After watching the doco, I read the ABC message board full of people wondering “what can we do to stop this unbelievable cruelty??” Many are saying we must sign petitions, talk to our MP’s, write to industry leaders, etc.. but very few are talking about any effective action that would make a profound statement or generate real and lasting change.  Whilst the beef industry exists (and sheep, chicken, etc), there will always be unscrupulous operators, dodgy dealings, unknown and hidden horrors for the animals.  That is the nature of business, profit and globalization… we cannot ever hope to control everything to a consistently satisfactory level, not ever, it’s impossible to police and implement on a global scale.  Not even on a National scale for that matter, as we have seen in recent expose’s of the cruelties at a Pig Farm in Tasmania, and Battery Sheep in Victoria – to name only a few.

So what CAN we do to really make a difference?  What is the one thing we can do that will make producers and industry stand up and listen?  Let me tell you my thoughts on this…. I firmly believe that all we have to do is to STOP purchasing beef (and other animal) products and we STOP supporting the inevitable cruelties that happen behind closed doors in the name of PROFIT. If you consider that It has taken over 18 years for us to find out about this single issue…  you can be damn sure there are so MANY MORE that we don’t know about, but they do happen EVERY DAY to millions of animals all over the world. Industry will never stop these practices whilst the consumers continue to purchase the products and generate generous profits.  The reality is that consumer demand drives industry – so if we cease demanding a product the industry must change, it is the ONLY message they will really listen to, of that we can be sure, because history tells us that everything else we have done so far has not and does not work.

Battery Hens... this horror continues despite constant consumer outrage.

So what does that mean? It means we need to consider the word “Vegan”.  I know the mere mention of this word makes many roll their eyes and walk away… but please, hang in there with me for a little bit longer.. hear me out and make your mind up at the end, ok?

For those of you who do not know, a vegan does not eat or wear animal products, they do not support animals used in entertainment or experiments, in a nutshell – they reject animal exploitation.  But being vegan is much more than a diet and “conscious consuming”..  Veganism is a social justice movement, a revolt against profiteering over morality, an ideal that embraces peace and empathy, a mindset that rejects violence and oppression over the innocent.  By it’s very nature, veganism tackles animal cruelty and exploitation head on, in the most profound and meaningful way.  Go Vegan and you live true to your convictions.. if your convictions are that animal abuse (and abuse of innocents) is morally unjustifiable.  Go Vegan and live in accordance with your values…. if you reject violence and value empathy and compassion. Going vegan is the one most significant thing we can do, RIGHT NOW, to help all animals.

That’s pretty amazing stuff right there… but will it really make a difference?  How does depriving yourself of the stuff you love to eat make any difference to anyone?  What’s the point because you’re only one person and changing what you eat won’t make any difference in the big scheme of things, right?  Well, let me put it this way… yes it does make a difference because every time you request a vegan option from a restaurant you are establishing a “demand” for cruelty free meals, every time you request vegan options at a store, you establish a demand for cruelty free products.  Producers DO listen to demand, so many companies are already jumping on that and producing high quality, healthy, good karma food and products to satisfy these new requests!  Vegan options are all over the place in the US… and it’s a growing trend here in Australia too, with vege and vegan restaurants popping up, meat alternatives being introduced to the local grocery store aisle, faux leather fashion accessories are everywhere, you can find vegan skincare & haircare ranges, and even alternatives to animal testing is slowly being embraced.  These products and industries are popping up because individuals like YOU and ME are asking for them… THAT my friends is the change that veganism creates. The more of us who ask for cruelty free products, the more will be produced and THAT is progress! However, the pressure needs to be consistent and constant if we ever want to effect lasting change.. like any social movement, there is a real need to stand firm and to never waver in your demands.  Imagine the outcome if those who opposed slavery had only opposed it for a while, and then acquiesced that humane slavery was ok after all, every now and then…  No, if we want cruel practices to end, we have to oppose them completely and fully… hence the vegan ideal.  As we all know, some of the most horrendous cruelties are committed to the animals in our food production so it is the food industry that needs to change the most, not only for the sake of the animals, but for our health as well.

Fry's vegetarian chicken style nuggets

Some may say that going vegan is too extreme.. but is it really? Has any other method ever achieved significant welfare changes for animals? The animal welfare movement has been around since well before the 70’s and we’re witnessing more cruelties and exploitations now that we have ever seen before.. that should tell us something. Sometimes the only way to get things done is to put our money (or values) where our mouths are.. literally in this case… to stand up and fully reject a societal norm that no longer holds true.  It’s not a hard thing to do, it’s liberating and joyous, and it is oh so very important.

Of course, another plus for going vegan is that you’ll be helping yourself too… because there is something that happens to you on a spiritual level when you reject violence, you find an inner peace you’ve never felt before. It is beautiful to be caring and this will shine through in you and everything you do.  Go vegan and you open your eyes to the hypocrisy and deception, freeing yourself from the illusions that the meat and dairy industries have fed to you for so long. All the bogus health claims, all the lies about welfare standards, all the dissonance we all feel when we know that we’re supporting something that we would never do ourselves can be left behind.  Trust me, that alone is liberating beyond belief! Compassion and harmony can be a reality, it only takes small, mindful choices every day. Think for a moment about all the animals that endure so much hardship, agony, terror and pain whilst we humans slowly figure out that what we’re doing to them is wrong, we owe it to them to try harder, to strive to become better human(e) beings.

Love who you are, and what you do

If you would like to know more about how to go Vegan.. I welcome you to contact me.  Almost everyone I know loves animals, and they want to live healthier lives and they care about the environment.. I know these things are important to you. It is easy to go vegan, you can start slowly or go “whole hog” straight away, please don’t do nothing because you cant do it all… do whatever you can, now.  I’m here to help with veg starter kits, links, recipes, support networks, the lot.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Peace and love.

The Animalactionist

PS – if you missed the Four Corners expose on live Australian cattle trade with Indonesia – you can view it here:

via The Live Cattle Trade to Indonesia – what we can do to end the senseless cruelty….

Animal CrueltyEthical EatsFactory FarmingLifestyleVeganism

A letter to Coles & Woolworths

After the expose on factory farmed pigs on 60 minutes last night, I decided to write a letter to Coles & Woolworths:

Dear Decision Maker,

It is a no brainer that the industrialised abuse of farmed animals will not be tolerated by an informed society – and that your patrons will be looking to you to support “humanely raised” animal products. Whilst this is, of course – an essential step for a retailer such as yours to take – I sincerely hope you will also increase your stocks of meat alternatives (vege meats). The simple fact is that free range and organic are again just “labels” and “guidelines” that can be manipulated and abused – at the end of the day producers will “do what it takes” to meet demand and this very fact is what has created this mess in the first place. If we significantly decrease our meat demand the production levels can be scaled down – removing the supply/demand “need” for intensive farming. When you consider too the environmental implications of animal agriculture, the reasons to reduce meat are more compelling than ever. We look to you to please fill this growing need for alternatives.

Sincerely …

I hope the terrible realities of intensive farming gives us all reason to think deeply about the role we play and the effect our purchasing choices have. It’s all very well to demand that producers change their methods but we have to remember that they are doing what they have to do to keep up with heavy demand. So it is up to us to reduce that demand – and reduce it significantly!

As you already know – I decided to remove myself from the “consumer chain” completely two years ago and became a vegan. I did this because it suddenly became clear to me that every time I purchased an animal product, I was saying “I’m ok with whatever the producers are doing to these animals, I support it”. I could see that no amount of “labeling” (ie; freerange) will ever be a guarantee that the animals I eat will be treated well. I came to this conclusion as I considered a society that starts to put heavy demand on these labels … How could this industry ever really change if the demand is so high? There will be an ever increasing population of people, increased competition, fewer resources and dwindling unoccupied land …. It just doesn’t pan out. I then started to investigate the health & environmental impacts of a meat versus vegan diet. Everything started to make sense – all of these very important issues were linked – so it was an easy decision for me to make, and a decision I have been very happy with ever since – no regrets. (yes, there is life after cheese!! 🙂

I’m not asking you to become a vegan (although that would surely make my heart sing with hope) … I’m just laying out the situation as I see it and inviting you – dear reader – to consider these points and to think about what you can do.

We are all responsible for our world, and in these troubling times we have much to consider. The writing is on the wall for the animals, our environment and our health – it really is up to us to take a stand and demand change.

What are your thoughts on this topic? Will you be making any changes to tackle the issues that are important to you? Please share your thoughts with us, I would love to read your point of view!

Peace & love – from Mars xxx

Visit Animals Australia website to learn more

A sow confined to gestation crate

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My Raw Food Detox Rave

For those of you who have endured my ravings about the raw vegan food detox I attended in October – I KNOW you’re desperate to learn more, (who could blame you?) so here is the link to the Embracing Health website. 

The kind and very talented lady who runs the retreats is Leisa Wheeler and I can assure you, she knows her stuff when it comes to natural health and diet!  During 6 days of detox you learn more about the very essential role a clean diet and lifestyle plays on your health and overall wellbeing than you’re ever likely to remember (thank god for the information folders – thanks Leis!).  You not only cleanse your body during the retreat – you also open your mind, debunk mainstream health and dietary myths, tap into your personal power and before you know it you’re feeling amazing and you’re ready to truly take control of your health – possibly for the first time in your life. 

These retreats are so much more than just detoxing off junk food – they are a tonic for your whole person, an essential education and a truly holistic approach to addressing your health and lifestyle concerns.  I highly recommend Leisa and her amazingly wonderful team to anyone who wishes to heal – on any level – in a safe and compassionate environment. 

Thank you Leisa (and all the participants at the WA Busselton retreat) for gently guiding and supporting me to another level of health, awareness and happiness.