A day for the loved and lost

Elsa

This is Elsa, our beloved baby kitten, who will move in with us in the near future. She is adorable, playful, happy, and loves cuddling. She hasn’t been around long in this life and because of geographical distance I haven’t been able to see her that much yet, but I still love her.

As most of my friends and family know, I also have a deep love for all life. I love and care for all animals. I cry for them, I pray for them, and I fight for them. The last time I ate meat was more than 11 years ago, and in a few weeks I have been vegan for 7 years. 7 beautiful years of living my truth, expressing my compassion and love for life every single day. 7 years of doing my best to not hurt anyone, human or non-human alike.

Today is World Animal Day, and I want this day to be a celebration, a tribute, to all animals loved and lost, as well as to those animals who never got to feel even the tiniest bit of love from anyone during their short lives, before they ended up on our plates, on our bodies or as part of our furniture. I want this day to be a happy day for our furry family members, like little Elsa, but I also want this day to be a remembrance of all those who have suffered to satisfy our selfish desires.

I want this to be a day of love for every non-human out there.

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In my bathroom cabinet

I write a lot about food, and even though food of course is a central part of veganism, it’s not all that there is. As I’ve said many times; veganism is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle. A part of this lifestyle is trying to keep your bathroom as cruelty-free as possible, so in this post I will write about some of my favorite cruelty-free – or vegan – cosmetic brands.

Faith in NatureWhen it comes to shampoo and conditioners, I really love Faith in Nature. I’ve tried so many conditioners, and none of them seemed to work on my hair, until I found Faith in Nature. It doesn’t make matters worse that their products come in a lot of amazing, natural scents! Apart from shampoos and conditioners they also make soaps, lotions, deodorants, cleaning products and even pet shampoos, unfortunately not all of these products can be found here in Finland.

Kingfisher toothpasteFor my teeth I use Kingfisher‘s toothpaste. There are other vegan brands out there, but this one is my favorite. It comes in different versions, both with added fluoride and without. I use the Mint-flavored fluoride-free one.

Crazy RumorsI’m addicted to lip balm, I have to admit that. I have to have one in my bag or my pocket all the time so that I can apply it whenever I want, or I will feel like my lips are cracking. So naturally I’ve tried a lot of different ones, and there are several good vegan ones out there. However, my favorite is definitely Crazy Rumors. They give a soft and not too sticky feeling after applying, and keep your lips moisturized. And they come in tons of different flavors, everything from tea to ice cream.

All pictures in this post comes from the company websites.

A vegan Christmas

We had a great Christmas, even though it was a bit different from what we are used to. We talked to our families through phone and Skype, we met some of our friends at church, we got few but great gifts, and we had some great food.

The food is what this post is going to be about.

Here in Finland we have a bunch of typical Christmas dishes that people usually eat every year, such as different casseroles (“porkkanalaatikko”, “lanttulaatikko”), ham, different kind of salads, and so on. I have kind of found my way to make vegan versions of some of these, and have also added some other dishes that we didn’t necessarily have on the Christmas table when I grew up.

christmas table

So on our vegan Christmas table this year we had these dishes;

  • A vegan ham based on gluten, chickpea and soy flour
  • Porkkanalaatikko, or carrot casserole
  • Red beet salad with home-made mayonnaise
  • Marinated eggplant slices, a vegan version of herring (“silli”)
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Mushroom sauce
  • “Ris á la Malta”, which is a dessert based on rice porridge, with vegan whipped cream, oranges and pomegranatesaladdessert

December update

This month has been packed with different events and happenings, so the blog has had to take a step back for, well… life. Now Christmas is almost here and for the first year ever me and R are celebrating it together, without any of our family members present. So it will be different, but also interesting. Kind of a chance to start creating our own Christmas traditions.

winter wonderland

I had almost given up the thought of a white Christmas this year, since the past month has been so rainy and dark, but over the past few days the scenery outside has turned from gloomy and depressing into a winter wonderland. Even though I’m not generally a winter person, the change is quite amazing and truly makes me happy.

Ever since I became vegetarian, planning and preparing the food for Christmas has been a special thing for me, something I love to do. It’s a day when I feel it’s ok to spend a little extra, both money and time, on the food. It’s also fun to find new dishes and to make vegan versions of the typical Finnish Christmas dishes. So I’ve spent this day preparing some of the dishes we will have for our Christmas table tomorrow (a post about these is coming up in a few days).

gingerbread house

This year we made our very first gingerbread house from scratch, which was not the easiest thing we have ever done, but in the end it turned out quite nice.

Merry Christmas to all of you!

Is eating meat a personal choice?

I’m just popping in to share this short clip from Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, which addresses the issue of personal choice when it comes to eating meat.

Is the decision to eat meat just a personal choice, or is there more to it than that? Is there bias in the choice to eat meat? Where do we draw the line between a personal choice and an ethical one?

Find out what Colleen thinks!

Happy World Vegan Day!

Today is World Vegan Day, the culmination of Vegetarian Awareness Month and my 6th anniversary as a vegan!

World Vegan Day was established in 1994 by the former president & chair of The Vegan Society, to commemorate the Society’s 50th anniversary. That makes this year The Vegan Society’s 70th anniversary! At the same time it’s also the 70th anniversary of the words “vegan” and “veganism”, coined by Donald Watson.

We’ve celebrated this day with some vegan cake. In this case carrot cake (turned carrot cupcake by request of R). The recipe I used is in Finnish, it has been circulating around different places so I’m not sure where it originally comes from. The recipe will make a big baking tray of cake, I made half of the amount which is enough for 12 cupcakes or a smaller cake.

Carrot cake:
2 dl oat or soy cream
6 dl sugar
1,5 dl oil
9 dl finely shredded carrots
6 dl flour
1,5 tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
3 tsp vanilla sugar
5 tsp cinnamon

Start by mixing the cream and sugar together. Add in the rest of the ingredients. Pour the batter onto a baking tray (or into muffin liners) and bake in 175 degrees Celsius for about 40 minutes (shorter time if you make cupcakes). Let the cake cool down before adding the frosting.

carrot cupcake

Vegan cream cheese frosting:
150 g natural vegan cream cheese (Tofutti)
90 g vegan margarine
6 dl confectioner’s sugar
1,5 tsp vanilla sugar
shredded coconut or almond flakes for decoration

Mix cream cheese and margarine together. Add vanilla and confectioner’s sugar and mix until it’s even. It should be quite thick. Spread on top of the cake (or cupcake) and decorate with shredded coconut or almond flakes (or both!). For 12 cupcakes or a smaller cake you only need to make half of this recipe.

If you don’t have access to vegan cream cheese (which I didn’t have today), this is a good alternative frosting:
90 g vegan margarine
6 dl confectioner’s sugar
1,5 tsp vanilla sugar
about 1 tbsp soy milk (or other plant-based milk)
shredded coconut or almond flakes for decoration

Mix together margarine, vanilla and confectioner’s sugar. Add in the soy milk, if needed you can add a little more than 1 tablespoon, but make sure the mixture doesn’t get too thin. Decorate the same way as you would have done with the cream cheese frosting.

Veganizing your favorite recipes: Blueberry pie

When I was a kid my grandmother used to make a blueberry pie that I really loved, and still do to this day. Unfortunately original recipe contains both eggs and sour cream, which I thought was a hindrance in making it vegan. Because of this I didn’t have this type of pie for many years, until I got an idea of how to make it vegan. I tried out the idea, and it resulted in a pie that tasted pretty much exactly like I remembered it from my childhood.

The original recipe for the dough has 125 g margarine, 1 dl sugar, 3 dl flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 egg. The filling has 2 dl sour cream, 3/4 dl sugar, 1 egg, 2 tsp vanilla sugar, 3 dl blueberries.

bluberry pie

The vegan recipe goes like this:

For the dough:
125 g non-dairy margarine
1 dl sugar
3 dl flour
1 tsp baking powder
a little water or soy milk (to replace the liquid of the egg)

For the filling:
2 dl soft tofu, blended until smooth
(1 tsp potato flour/corn flour)
3/4 dl sugar
2 tsp vanilla sugar
3 dl blueberries

Mix the flour, baking powder and sugar. Add the margarine and mix until the batter is even. Add the liquid and mix again. Spread the dough evenly unto a pie dish.

Mix the blended tofu with sugar and vanilla sugar. If you want you can add a little potato or corn flour to make sure the mixture will stay together, but this might not be necessary. Pour the mixture into the pie dish. Pour the blueberries evenly on top.

Bake in 200 degrees Celsius for about 30 minutes.

What I want to say with this post is; don’t be afraid to try to make you favorite non-vegan recipes vegan! You may fail the first time (or then you succeed!), but just get up and try again. It’s worth it for that special food or dessert that you remember from you childhood, isn’t it?