Our vegan wedding

I never thought I would get married, but now I am. I used to think marriage is unnecessary and even a bit stupid, but I guess that was one of the things I changed my mind about over time. Especially when I knew how important getting married was to the love of my life, how could it not get important to me?

We had a civil wedding a few months back to get our legal marriage certificates, and then we had a blessing conducted by one of the pastors of our own church on the 20th of September. Even though the civil wedding out of a legal point would be considered our “real wedding”, I didn’t feel that it was for real before the church ceremony. During the civil wedding we only had four witnesses, while we during the church wedding celebrated with about 50 of our closest family members and friends.

We had a very much DIY- wedding, we barely hired anyone to do anything, but the ceremony and the reception came together by a lot of helpful and inspirational friends and family members. It was not perfect looking, or perfectly organized, but it was still a great day – I would not have traded it for something “perfect” made by a wedding planner, because thinking about the time people dedicated into making our day special just makes it worth so much more.

I will not post a lot of pictures of us or the guests here, it feels too private for such a public blog, but I will give you pictures of details, and of course of the food and the cake. We had our pictorial outdoors, surrounded by amazing autumn colors. Our photographer was Ann-Britt Pada, and some of the pictures from the pictorial can actually be seen on her website.

My dress was made by R’s aunt in the Philippines, so I could choose any style I liked and also request for the materials to make sure it was vegan. Since the dress was made in the Philippines and I’m here in Finland, I could of course not try it on during the process of making it, so unfortunately it was just a little too big when it arrived and we had to quick fix it with some safety pins. R was wearing a Barong Tagalog, the Filipino national shirt, made out of pineapple and synthetic silk.

When it came to the bouquet, I wanted it to match the autumn colors around us and spice up my otherwise very white appearance, so it was made with different types of flowers in red, yellow and orange shades.

wedding pictorial

The place was mainly decorated by a friend of ours, but R made some of the details.

wedding decorations

wedding decorations

We didn’t have catering for the food, but it was made by some friends of ours, and they were also the ones to mainly decide the menu. We actually didn’t taste the different dishes prior to the wedding, but we trusted our “chefs” and it turned out great. Here’s the food we had on our buffet table (bigger version of the pictures can be seen by clicking them):

  • Afritada, a Filipino dish
  • Stir fried vegetables with tofu
  • Red beet patties
  • Vegetarian spring rolls
  • Fresh salad with olives and sun-dried tomatoes on the side

The wedding cake was made by the vegetarian restaurant Vegana. They don’t officially cater cakes yet, but we still asked them if it would be possible for them to make our cakes, and they agreed. Maybe in the future they will really cater cakes also officially. We asked for chocolate cakes since I’m a big chocolate maniac – and we got to taste the cake with to different fillings a few days prior to the wedding. One of the fillings was strawberries and chia seeds, the other one a kind of chocolate mousse and finely chopped pears. We could not really decide which one we wanted to have, so since we would have several smaller cakes we decided to have a few of each.

vegan wedding cake

One of our friends created the program and many of the guests also contributed with something during the party. R even did a surprise dance for me together with some friends!

All in all, we had a really great day, much because of all the amazing people who helped us and who attended the wedding. Thank you so much, we could not have done it without you!

For sure this wedding was also one of the best advocacies I’ve done for vegan food, because it changed the way many of the guests look at vegan food. My grandfather told me he was skeptical towards the food before eating – because he had no idea what vegan food actually means and probably thought it was all about lettuce and carrots – but he liked the food very much and even asked me for the recipes so that they could make it at home. How is that for success?

European Elections 2014

The elections for the European parliament is coming up this spring, and the Eurogroup For Animals have started a campaign together with many of the local animal groups in the different countries, here in Finland Animalia and SEY (Suomen Eläinsuojeluyhdistysten liitto), to promote animal welfare during the election period. They call the campaign “Putting animal welfare at the heart of the European Elections 2014”.

Their pledge include that candidates promise to:

  • Work to ensure an animal welfare framework law is adopted that provides the highest level of welfare possible
  • Endeavour to minimise live animal transport, review the existing legislation to maximise the protection of animals and ensure it is enforced across the EU
  • Promote a comprehensive EU strategy to decrease animal testing while driving the acceptance and uptake of alternative methods
  • Ensure animal welfare is clearly included in the EU-US Trade agreement
  • Introduce legislation that will ban the cloning of animals for food
  • Develop EU wide standards for breeding and trade of companion animals to protect animal welfare and ensure traceability
  • Work to reduce the number of species and animals being kept as exotic pets and to maximise their welfare
  • In addition I will strive to ensure that animals are recognised as sentient beings in all legislation that comes before the Parliament and strive to ensure all existing animal welfare related legislation is properly enforced
    (Pledge copied straight from the campaign’s website)

So if you live in Europe and are allowed to vote in the election next year, be sure to check which candidates support this campaign and promise to work for better welfare of animals. Discussion about the campaign can be found under the hashtag #vote4animals on Twitter, and for more information around the campaign you can check the website: www.voteforanimals.eu

Finnish factory farming exposed, again

Last week new pictures and videos from Finnish factory farms were released by the animal rights organization Oikeutta Eläimille. This time the footage is taken at several different types of farms, including pigs, cows and chickens raised for different purposes. The footage was originally released during the 45 minuuttia (45 minutes) show in Finnish TV, where also animal activist spoke about why it is important to show what goes on behind the closed doors of the factory farms.

The footage can be found on the website eläintehtaat.fi (translates to “animal factories”). Videos are added to the site as soon after they have been filmed as possible.

On the site you can also watch the story of two piglet brothers (Pig Vision – The Journey of two Brothers), both born into the farm industry, but ending up living totally different lives. One of them is kept at the factory farm and end his life by being slaughtered at 7 months old. The other is rescued and brought to an animal sanctuary where he still lives today. Some of the footage in the video is horrifying – however, common practice within the industry – but the video also paints a picture of how the life of a pig could be if he or she would be allowed to be a pig instead of just a product. The video is originally made by the United Creations organization in Austria:

One of the greatest opportunities to live our values lies in the food we put on our plates

“It might sound naive to suggest that whether you order a chicken patty or a veggie burger is a profoundly important decision. Then again, it certainly would have sounded fantastic if in the 1950s you were told that where you sat in a restaurant or on a bus could begin to uproot racism. It would have sounded equally fantastic if you were told in the early 1970s, before César Chávez’s worker’s rights campaigns, that refusing to eat grapes could begin to free farmworkers from slave-like conditions. It might sound fantastic, but when we bother to look, it’s hard to deny that our day-to-day choices shape the world. When America’s early settlers decided to throw a tea party in Boston, forces powerful enough to create a nation were released. Deciding what to eat (and what to toss overboard) is the founding act of production and consumption that shapes all others. Choosing leaf or flesh, factory farm or family farm, does not in itself change the world, but teaching ourselves, our children, our local communities, and our nation to choose conscience over ease can. One of the greatest opportunities to live our values – or betray them – lies in the food we put on our plates. And we will live or betray our values not only as individuals, but as nations.”

– Jonathan Safran Foer in Eating Animals

Are we learning anything from super storms like Haiyan/Yolanda?

No one has probably missed the typhoon that hit the Philippines last week, causing enormous devastation. The winds almost totally wiped out the city of Tacloban and destroyed many other communities on the island of Leyte as well. Many people have died, even more are homeless and starving.There’s no law and order and getting help to the victims is complicated.

People generously give money to help out, money which is greatly needed to save the people there and rebuild their city and their lives again. But this is not a post about asking you to donate money – even if it would make me very happy if you do – instead I want to ask everybody a question: Are we learning anything from storms like this one?

I’m not talking about developing better plans for how to handle the disaster when it strikes, even though that is also important, and something that should have been paid more attention to in the Philippines knowing that this storm was approaching. However, what I’m talking about is climate change. There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that these storms are getting both worse and more frequent because of the damage we do to our nature. We are all partly responsible for what happened in the Philippines. Just like we are all partly responsible for any other natural disaster that has happened or will happen in the future.

The lifestyle people in the developed world are leading is not sustainable – we are living above our resources – and we all know that. We use the nature as a resource instead of living in harmony with it, instead of treating this planet as the home it is. It is the only planet we have, the only one we are ever going to have. Unfortunately life is not fair, and the consequences of the lifestyle we are leading does not always (never) hit the people most responsible.

We need to change and we need to change now. It’s not enough to change our light bulbs to energy-saving ones or closing the lights or the TV when not in the room. We need to change our way of living; consuming less, traveling less and more energy-efficient, eating more environmentally friendly foods (aka plants), and so on. We cannot anymore reverse what we have done to this planet of ours – and with that to millions of humans and animals –  but we can stop it from getting worse.

You might be thinking that changing your own lifestyle will not make a difference, because you’re only one person among billions, and along with that the many corporations and political leaders who only seek power and economical gain – often on the expense of the environment or the health of humans or animals. But you know what? You can change that. We can change that. Because people together are powerful, together we can change anything.

If not you, who? If not now, when?

Vegemax, Helsinki

Last week we ended up having an unplanned dinner at the vegetarian fast food place Vegemax, which is situated on Pieni Robertinkatu 2-4. We were in the city and passed the place, so why not go and try it out?

I expected the place to have mostly vegetarian foods and only a few vegan alternatives, but they actually have around 50/50, with one vegan menu and one vegetarian. I had their vegan kebab with sweet potato fries, and R had seitan in coriander sauce with baked potatoes. Both our plates cost 10,50 €, which was one of the most expensive foods they had on the menu. They also serve different kind of burgers and salads, and you can order fries separately, just like at any other fast food place.

vegan kebab and sweet potato fries

coriander seitan and baked potatoes

I liked the food – sometimes it’s nice to get to eat fast food also as a vegan – it was enough to make me full without making me feel stuffed and the taste was good. It was not too greasy and I liked the fact that you got the food with several different types of sauces.

The place itself is very small and if it’s full, like when we arrived, it feels quite crowded because you have to sit so close to the other guests. When we were there all the other guests happened to be eating alone and the place was very quiet, so we felt awkward to be the only ones talking. However, the place was very clean and nice looking, unlike many other fast food places.

Maybe there will be a next time, if I’m in the mood for fast food some day. Vegemax is open Monday to Thursday at 11 am to 8 pm, Friday 11 am to 10 pm and Saturday 12 noon to 10 pm.

On our plates

It’s again time for some pictures of foods we’ve eaten at home lately. By lately I here mean the past months, because I’ve just been too lazy to sort all the pictures in our camera any sooner.

Anyways, I hope the pictures can inspire you in some way, or at least make you a little bit hungry. You can click one of the pictures to open the gallery, where you can easily browse through them and also read the descriptions of the foods.