If I had to tell you one app that you simply must have as a new or established vegan is... Happy Cow!
Happy Cow has been around for ages, first as a website, and in recent years as an excellent app available on the App Store and on Google Play.
Happy Cow is great because it is the largest database of vegan, vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurants in the world. It also has lists of vegan hotels, bed and breakfasts, catering services, vegan organisations, pop-ups, supperclubs, farmer's markets, bakeries and even museums.
The great thing about this very reasonably-priced app, is some fantastic features.
1. Using the GPS capabilities, you are able to find a place to eat where you happen to be.
2. Using the 'trip function' you can look for all the places that seem interesting before you depart on your trip and keep them on one list and you do not need internet access to access the list.
3. You can add venues. If you happen to notice a new possible listing, then you can submit it to the Happy Cow site or through the app. What I have noticed is that the admins of Happy Cow are kind of selective as to which ones they approve. For example, they will not approve a restaurant that has perhaps one vegan dish in an area that has a ton of vegan options, click here for their full criteria.
4. You can add images and write reviews so you can contribute to making the site better and better.
It's also super for your own city. I am sure, unless you have this app, you will not actually know the extent of the vegan options in your city or town. I have had so many tell me that they think that vegan pickings are pretty thin in the city I live in (Bangkok) and I have to tell them that there are a TON of options here, you probably have just never looked!
Of course, as great as Happy Cow is, some places are vegan deserts. There really is not much that's there, even with a ton of research ahead of time you might not . My advice when travelling to these kinds of places as a vegan is
1. Buy food at the supermarket, granola bars, hummus, carrot sticks, fruit (the ultimate fast food) and eat in your hotel room, or get self-catering so you can cook for yourself.
2. Get really creative in restaurants. Call ahead and ask if they can accommodate you. Look on the menu and see if it's possible to veganise an item.
3. Most importantly, get in to the mindset that it is okay to NOT eat deliciously all the time! I have had some incredible travels in my life where the food was kinda sub par (as a non-vegan too), like vegetable fried rice for a few days. Yeah... It was really boring and not hugely tasty, but I eat so well 98% of the time, 2% of the time I might not. It is (to me) not a big deal. Plenty of people (and of course the animals) have it plenty worse than me.
I have a done of other tips and tricks to eating out and socialising as a vegan in my ebook.
This video (it's a bit long) but it will show you how to use the Happy Cow app through a screencast and all of its advanced features.
This recipe came about due to an excess of prepared couscous in the refrigerator. I had prepared a salad (which included couscous of course) last weekend for our monthly supperclub that I run with my friend Marciel. I don't usually use couscous but it has a lovely texture and it takes so little time to prepare. If you like mediterranean flavours then you should give this one a try.
Try these tips to help make this salad easy to prepare.
1 1/2 cups cooked couscous (see instructions for cooking)
1/2 cup loosely packed cilantro, finely chopped
1/2 cup loosely packed Italian parsley, finely chopped
1/2 cucumber, quartered and cut in to 1 cm chunks
1/2 red onion, cut in half and shaved extremely thin
1/4 sun-dried tomatoes cut in to slices (I used dried tomatoes rather than ones packed in oil)
150 g cubed tofu (pressed and marinated in lemon juice and dried herbs)
10 Kalamata olives pitted and sliced
1 lemon, zested and juiced, about 3 tablespoons
1/3 cup cashews (soaked for 1-2 hours)
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon sweetener (agave syrup works but also sugar works too)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 tablespoon toasted pine nuts
Salt and pepper to taste
Put the couscous in a large bowl and pour the boiling water over it. Cover with a lid or a plate and set aside for 5 minutes. Then remove the lid and fluff with a fork.
Toss the finely chopped herbs with the couscous, as well as the sliced cucumber, onion, sun-dried tomatoes and lemon zest.
Blend together the lemon juice, cashews, agave nectar, chili powder, and cumin, then toss this dressing with the couscous.
Stir in the pine nuts. Taste and season generously with salt and pepper.
Serve immediately, or refrigerate for a couple of hours so the flavours meld together.
Store leftovers in a covered container for up to 5 days.
As my wonderful trip has come to an end, I am starting to reflect on it. Of course, we have seen beautiful landscapes, experienced amazing weather and spent time with wonderful friends and family. All brilliant components of a fantastic summer holiday! This holiday I managed to fit in a lot of activism. Inspiration, knowledge and ideas as well as some action including 2 protests and 1 vigil. This was great for me as I often feel I have plenty of knowledge but putting it in to action is something I struggle with.
This vigil in Vancouver was to bear witness to the chickens that are killed at a local slaughterhouse.
So why bear witness? Why look these animals in the eyes as they are about it be killed?
“When the suffering of another creature causes you to feel pain, do not submit to the initial desire to flee from the suffering one, but on the contrary, come closer, as close as you can to her who suffers, and try to help her.”
-Leo Tolstoy, A Calendar of Wisdom
Sadly, there is very little that we are doing to help these creatures but hopefully, at the very least we raise awareness of the suffering of these creatures and help people see what goes on behind the walls by people looking at these images.
The event was combined with a protest informing drivers about what goes on.
Please watch the video below to find out more about the vigil and meet some of the individuals that end up on our plate. (there are a couple of typos which I am very embarrassed about but my computer was not cooperating. Re-rendering is not an option!) Also, sorry the audio at the beginning is not great. The trucks were so loud!
If this moves you and you want to take action, not contribute to the suffering of these animals, get in touch.
Canada and the USA is delicious and I admit to some 'panic eating' that is eating ALL the delicious things because basically I have a FOMO. There have been a lot of delicious burgers (including possibly the best one ever) and cakes. Today's breakfast had to be a healthy one. I am travelling but luckily my lovely in-laws have a fantastic, well-stocked kitchen AND a high powered blender.
A smoothie bowl is not rocket science and there are a million variations, but here's what I did this morning.
Ingredients For The Smoothie
1 cup frozen blueberries
2 frozen bananas
1/2 to 3/4 cup of soy milk
1 tsp flaxseeds
8 cherries pitted (in season. HURRAH)
small handful of blueberries (in season. HURRAH)
half a handful of walnuts roughly chopped
handful of whole grain cereal. I used Just Right.
Add the smoothie ingredients in to the blender and turn it on to max using the tamper if necessary to push the fruit on to the blade. Add more soy milk. You want it to be thick but not quite as thick as nice cream. Pour in to a bowl and add your toppings being as messy or tidy as you want. I try to be tidy, but it always looks pretty ordinary. Instagram your creation and if you do what I do, stir all the prettiness in and eat it.
Our last day in NYC was a lot of fun... We met my dear friend Jacqui and Jamie for breakfast at The Butcher's Daughter. I liked it, but didn't love it. I thought it was a bit expensive for what you got and compared to other places close by like Atlas Cafe for example.
This was mine. I had a bagel with vegan cheese and bacon.
Jacqui had pancakes.
Seb and Jamie had a bagel with a schmear.
Juice and iced coffee FTW. Look how pretty it was inside!
Then Jacqui and I headed to Central Park to wander and chat. Seb and Jamie went to the Space museum.
Jacqui got roped in to a street performance... Rather her than me!
Then Seb and I had to head to the Newark. Seb said that Newark was known as a terrible airport. He was not wrong.
We arrived in Vancouver quite late. The next morning, we walked from False Creek to Granville Island! Pics following!
Surprise suprise.... Today focussed around food and walking! A lazy morning started with a walk to By Chloe.
As I am sure any vegan with a pulse knows that By Chloe (owned by the adorable Chloe Coscorelli) is a new vegan restaurant in NYC which consistently has lines down the street. I love the branding, I love Chloe, I love the food, I love that it is popular. I love the work she is doing. I love that she's young and conventional looking and busting vegan myths left, right and centre with everything she does.
So, we headed to By Chloe to be there when it opened as we hate (with a passion) waiting in line. Glad we did. By 11:15 there were queues down the street. We wanted to try everything but we settled on the Guac Burger, the classic burger, sweet potato fries with regular fries and 2 muffins (for Seb who still has not eaten them)
Everyone waiting for By Chloe to open!
We headed out to walk to The Daily Show studios where we had tickets to see the taping of the show via The High Line.
This was a shop that seemed to be selling activist propaganda. It was at the start of The High Line which is in the old Meatpacking District.
The High Line. Whoever managed to bring this to fruition is kind of a hero!
Slightly different angle of the streets is fun!
Some art for sale. Would have loved this....
Us waiting in line for The Daily Show. We had tickets to line up, but we were not sure if we would actually be successful in getting the tickets. We had to wait for 90 mins to get them.
We got them! YIPPEE!!!!! Trevor Noah and your cute dimples!!! We're coming!!!!!
No pictures allowed during taping obviously, but we had an absolute blast.... We have been watching the Daily Show for years and we love it!
After we fulfilled that #goal. We met up with friends we had met in NYC last time, we went over to Brooklyn to try out the amazing (and brand new) Screamers Pizzeria. Like a typical pizza joint, you can buy pizza by the slice and the calzone it was simply epic.
We were also lucky enough to see and be introduced to Joshua Katcher from The Discerning Brute (vegan men's fashion and I also love that he discussed meat and masculinity in his blog. And Leanne from Vaute Couture.(she has a high end vegan fashion label).
Thanks for Stacy and Keith for introducing us to this place and for (as always) fun times!
Image from Instagram: stacydelin. I wish we had a picture of Stacy too!
When we come to NY we seem to spend a lot of time walking.. When the weather is this great, I don't want to spend a moment inside. This was our lovely hotel. We are staying at the Hotel Indigo in the Lower East Side. Travel hacking meant we could stay here for 70 USD a night. (we used points to get the price down to something more affordable)
We walked over to Tower One and stopped off for an expensive smoothie at Organic Avenue and marveled at the incredible products there including a ton of vegan cheese. I got the mint choc chip smoothie which I will need to recreate at home and probably for much less than the $10 price tag.
We continued to walk to Tower One where we met our dear friend Lindsay who I had not seen for 8 YEARS! We went up the observation deck.
Then we headed to Blossom in Chelsea for brunch! I had the creamy spinach Rigotini with porcini mushrooms. See those bits of bread? They had creamed fennel on the top. Supperclub inspiration for sure.
We rolled out of the restaurant and staggered some more!
Then we met friends from our Indonesia era of our life at Candle 79! All in all an amazing day! Thanks NYC and awesome friends!
Upon arriving yesterday, we left the airport and immediately went to Hertz to pick up a car and drive to Woodstock Farm Sanctuary. It was a 2.5 hour drive to what I realized was stunning countryside in upstate New York. Rolling hills, wooded hillsides and clean looking streams and rivers until we arrived at the farm. We were in disbelief as we pulled in. It was the quintessential farm that we all picture in our minds when we things of farms (of course the reality for most animals is so different to this). There were red barns, trees all around and it was so very clean. The difference between this and all farms of course was the fact that these animals were never going to be killed and eaten. Indeed, this was a place where the animals interests are put to the forefront, they can dust bathe, wallow, come and get petted and are fed healthy delicious food,
Just before I had left Bangkok I was extremely sad. The latest Animals Australia undercover investigation had just been released on ABC's 7:30 report (thank you ABC for airing this). The footage involved animals being shipped to Vietnam and killed in the most horrific way possible. I felt desperately sad about this and for a little while I felt devoid of much hope. (luckily this is usually a temporary thing for me and I am pretty good at getting myself out of the hole of sadness)
Luckily, I did not need to wait long as we had this visit on the cards.
I recommend everyone visit these places. Vegans who need to find hope but also non vegans who want and need to make a connection with the animals that are on their plate. The 90 minute tour was fun and informative and of course the animals were so adorable. Here are some pictures...
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It's here! Our summer holiday! As an international school teacher, I get wonderful holidays every summer and my partner Seb and I usually try to make the most of this time. This time we are heading to North America. We are not covering a huge amount of new ground on this trip. We are here to see friends, spend time with family and go to a conference. If you are interested in seeing what we are doing, I am really going to try to blog everyday.... If you are interested in finding out more about my trip, consider subscribing to this blog, FB, sign up for my newsletter, Instagram etc.
My journey to North America was in FIRST CLASS! So, how does a humble international school teacher afford to travel first class? Well, basically, we did not pay for it! My partner has a hobby and a passion that I very much approve of. Travelhacking! It involved collecting points and being very strategic about using their, transferring them etc. I know very little about travel hacking except it involved spending a bit of time everyday scanning deals, researching flights, being flexible about when and where you travel etc. If you are interested Seb always suggests starting by looking at The Points Guy's work and getting started there.
So, the flight was amazing. The food was good (better than economy of course) but not of the same standard as the non-vegans.It might be hard to go back to economy after this!
Yesterday, I had to go to school on a Saturday (along with the rest of my colleagues) to get some immigration paperwork completed. My school is ofter used as a location for various community activities who use its wonderful facilities.
I'm not there usually on the weekend so I have no idea if this is a one off or a regular thing, but there was an NBA Junior training camp and event being held there. Many students from all over Bangkok it seemed were there.
What really struck me is along side all of the great work that was being done improving children's basketball skills was this HUGE advertising display for a Thai milk company who are (according to their website) big sponsors of the NBA Junior events here in Thailand. There were about 30 people from the dairy company there helping children shoot hoops where the backboard had messages on how milk was such a great source of Vitamin B12, D, Iron etc right where they are focussing and concentrating with all their might. Clever marketing for sure!
If you think that the choices that you have made all of your life when it comes to what you eat, have been yours and yours alone, then I ask you to consider, how much cleverly crafted messaging have you been exposed to since you have been a young child? Has it really been your choice? Or have we been manipulated into believing that certain products are indeed necessary for health and vitality?
I had, what I call, my awakening thanks to Brighde Reed. I never felt good about eating meat, but I continued to do so because "it's part of the natural food chain", or "we need protein"... things so ingrained in many of our heads since childhood. A few inquisitive questions to Brighde, quite simply, changed everything. She helped me see that we humans can actually live a healthier life on a plant based diet. I had no more excuses. What made changing my ways so easy, though, was how Brighde opened my eyes to the fact that a Vegan diet isn't so much about the things you can't eat, but more about the things you can! I've never had so much fun in the kitchen, making and creating things I thought I'd have to give up, impressing people with delicious food that's, *gasp*... vegan!