Cleaning Day

Yesterday was Siivouspäivä, in English “Cleaning Day”. It’s a celebration day for second hand stuff, recycling and urban culture which is held twice a year, once in May and once in August. On this day anyone can sell or give away their old things pretty much anywhere (in most Finnish cities) as long as they register their spot on the Siivouspäivä website and follow some general rules.

Siivouspäivä

I love the idea of this event. It’s a good way to make people recycle more instead of throwing away stuff, because it doesn’t cost you anything to sell your things on a day like this, and you don’t need any special permission. Yesterday there were also spots around the city where you could bring broken things for recycling, or give away still usable things to second hand stores or charity – which is great. I also like the fact that the Finnish people get out and actually talk to each other and interact with strangers, which doesn’t exactly happen every day.

I love walking around at these events and looking at what people are selling. It’s one of the reasons why I like going to second hand stores in general. I just love looking at old and used things, because they all have some kind of history. Going to a store full of new things doesn’t give the same feeling at all. The fact that buying stuff second hand is much better for the environment gives still another reason to love second hand stores and recycling events. Everyone wins; someone gets rid of their old stuff and might earn something from it, you get something new, and the environment doesn’t have to pay any price for it.

Black bean brownies

brownies

I’ve stumbled upon different recipes of brownies based on black beans for some time now, and I’ve always thought it sounds interesting and worth trying out. I have my go-to brownie recipe (which you can find here), which I love – it’s sweet, chocolatey, fudgey and melts in the mouth – but it contains quite a lot of sugar and white flour so it’s nothing that I would like to eat too much of. So I tried one of the brownie recipes based on black beans with the hope that I could find a new, healthier, way to enjoy brownies.

This is the recipe I followed:

Unfortunately I was a bit disappointed in the result. The brownies did taste chocolate, they were soft and quite sweet. But the texture was not great; they didn’t feel fudgey enough and didn’t melt in the mouth. I didn’t enjoy them that much on their own, but together with a little peanut butter or vanilla ice cream they were actually really good.

Maybe there are better recipes for this type of brownies than the one I tried, I’m still up for other ones. Baked goods and sweets (especially things with chocolate) are really my weak side, I love making them (and I love eating them!), so finding healthier versions of these things would really be great.

Do you have a good recipe for healthier brownies or other baked goods? Please share with me!

ChooseVeg

Some time ago a worker at Mercy for Animals contacted me, asking me to share about their website ChooseVeg. Since I’m all for helping spread the word on veganism and like to help others that have the same mission, I of course checked the page out.

ChooseVeg is a site with information and recipes for people who are interested in becoming vegan, who have just started their vegan journey, or why not for the seasoned vegan who just wants some inspiration. It’s stylish and simple to use. It doesn’t contain much in-depth information on the issue of veganism and animal rights, but seems like a good site for the new vegan. In-depth information can always be found in other places once you have become acquainted with the basics.

In summary, if you want “going vegan” simplified, this is a good site for you!

Prioritizing

As you have probably noticed, there are sometimes very long gaps in between the posts in the blog. Even though I love keeping this blog – I love writing and this subject is something I’m very passionate about – life sometimes gets in between and there’s no time or energy for the blog. After all, it’s just a hobby. I also go to work, meet with friends and spend time with other activities. Things that often have to come first, even though I would love to spend more time on the blog and writing in general.

If I would ever get the opportunity to do something like this – researching and writing about issues concerning animals, veganism and compassion – full-time, I would definitely grab it, there’s so much more to learn and so much more to be said on this issue. But as of now I don’t have any such opportunity, so the blog has to continue being a hobby, something I spend time on when there is enough time and energy, in between other happenings in my life.

So even if there are sometimes long gaps in between the posts, I hope you will still come back and check the blog every now and then, because I don’t have any plan of discontinuing my writing any time soon. After all, this is one of the things I love the most!

Today’s project: Crackers

crackers

I’ve been planning to make these crackers for quite a while, I’ve had the recipe lying around long enough to forget where I originally found it. The ingredients of the crackers are very simple; seeds and water. No flour, no oil or margarine. They take quite long time to make, but you don’t actually have to do much, mainly just have patience while they get ready. And they taste great! Here’s the recipe:

1 dl flax seeds
1,5 dl sesame seeds
1,5 dl sunflower seeds
(vegetable stock, herbs)

1. Mix all the seeds in a bowl. Cover with water (or vegetable stock if you want the crackers to be a bit salty). Let stay for at least seven hours, over night is great.

2. Heat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius. Spread the mixture on a parchment paper, about 2 cm thick (it will still spread in the oven). Bake in the oven for one hour.

3. Lower the heat of the oven to 125 degrees Celsius. Bake the cracker for another hour, while opening the oven every now and then to let some heat and moist out.

4. Put off the oven and leave the door a little open, while letting the cracker dry up inside the oven. When it seems dry, take it out and break it into good size pieces. Enjoy!

I added some fresh, finely cut herbs into the mixture before spreading it out on the parchment paper, which gives some extra flavor to the crackers. I’m sure you can add other spices if you want, or you can leave the spices, herbs and salt out altogether.

“Do you feel sorry for them?”

As I was having lunch with some of my work mates, they asked me – as so many times before – about my food and what it contains. One of them thought it contained fish, so I told her that I don’t eat fish. Her response was “Why? Do you feel sorry for them?”. I’m not really fluent enough in Finnish to properly explain to her my reasons for being vegan (which I have to admit frustrates me), but I told her that my decision doesn’t have to do with feeling sorry for someone, because that’s not what it’s all about.

This question, “Do you feel sorry for the animals?”, comes up quite often when you tell someone that you are vegetarian or vegan. It is a legitimate question, because you could choose not to eat animals just because you feel sorry for them, but for me – and for most other vegans out there – the choice is about something much deeper than just pity for the animals that get hurt. It’s about respect for them and their lives, not simply their right to be alive, but their right to a good life.

Seeing vegetarians and vegans as just people feeling pity for animals reduce the message that lies behind the choice to not consume them or their secretions, since that would mean you base your choices on emotion rather than rational thinking. Of course there are emotions involved – realizing how animals have to suffer every day for our selfish purposes can be very painful – but the choice to go vegan is usually based on a lot of research, discussions and rational thinking. It’s a choice you make because you come to the conclusion that not consuming animals or their secretions (of which you actually have no nutritional requirement) is the most compassionate way to live; not a decision based on naive emotions.

Compassionate reading: Vegan’s Daily Companion

As I told you before, I love reading – especially books – and there are so many books out there on veganism, compassion and animal activism. So many that I most of the time find it hard to know which one I should read next. However, I’ve read quite a few already and feel it could be a good idea to write about some of them to give you guys a tip on what to read.

Vegan's daily companion

A book on the subject that is great even for those of you who are not crazy about reading is Vegan’s daily companion by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. The book consists of short essays, one for every day of the year, divided into six different categories depending on the day of the week:

  • Monday/For the love of food
    Talks about different vegan foods, their origin and use.
  • Tuesday/Compassionate communication
    Talks about techniques for speaking on behalf of veganism, such as typical questions vegans get and their answers, and alternatives to violent animal idioms.
  • Wednesday/Optimum health for body, mind and spirit
    Talks about staying healthy as a vegan and an activist, in mind, body and soul.
  • Thursday/Animals in the arts: Literature and film
    Talks about and gives excerpts from books and films that in some way tangle the issue of animals and compassion.
  • Friday/Stories of hope, rescue and transformation
    Gives stories of rescued animals and people changing into becoming vegan, both written by Colleen herself and by others.
  • Saturday & Sunday/Healthful recipes
    Provides healthful vegan recipes.

All the essays are maximum one page long, easy to read and provide information on many different subjects concerning veganism, compassion and animal activism. It is truly a companion for someone who is not a vegan but wants to know more about veganism, or for someone who is already vegan but would like to learn more and become strengthened in their beliefs.

My favorite category in the book is definitely the “Stories of hope, rescue and transformation” one, because while there is much sadness in being an animal advocate and witness of the suffering of animals, these stories give hope and happiness to me. They prove that things can change and become better.

I highly recommend this book!