This month we spoke to Education Consultant, Emily and her 11-year old son Finnley about veganism in Australia.
How long have you been vegan?
E: Our family has been vegan for about four years.
Why did you decide to go vegan?
E: Ethically I was not aligned with living non-vegan and decided to make the commitment to change my life. Fundamentally it was, and still is, for the animals. Later as I became more informed about the practices of animals in industries such as agriculture, entertainment, science and zoos, it further confirmed my decision to live vegan. The science is also now overwhelmingly confirming the profound detrimental impact non-vegan living is having upon the environment and human health. There are just so many valid reasons for living vegan, but fundamentally the violence and cruelty are unjust, unnecessary, and against our innate nature to be kind.
F: I decided to go vegan because when I heard how awfully the animals were being treated, I thought that it was wrong and unjust. I wanted to do whatever I could to help them and stop their suffering.
What is the vegan scene like in your city/country?
E: In Melbourne, there’s a vibrant vegan scene for food, clothing, activism and the growth of sanctuaries. The term is understood, however, I think that on a deeper level it is misunderstood. By this I mean that the general public are yet to truly understand that it is an ethical life practice, a moral baseline from which to live, rather than just being a diet.
Additionally, that is an “always” commitment, not a ‘sometimes’ life practice. We live in the country and the closest regional town is improving in offering vegan options for eating out and there are frequent activism events. It is definitely growing in our region! I think also as more people embrace growing their own food, which has had huge momentum in Australia, people are naturally shifting towards eating vegan.
F: It is easy to find vegan food, if I was rating it, it would be in the middle. It could improve, but most places do have vegan options. In terms of the people understanding the word vegan, some do, some don’t. The people who don’t sometimes think that it’s just a dietary thing, sometimes they think it’s super difficult, and overly hardcore and extreme, which it definitely isn’t.
Do you have any tips for vegan travellers to your city/country?
E: Research great places to eat out in regional areas as well as major cities. You will be surprised at what you can find, particularly in country towns. Alternatively call ahead, chefs can often prepare something if they know that you are coming.
Make time to visit a sanctuary (like Victorian Lamb Rescue); contact them ahead of time and offer to come out and volunteer for a day. It’s a great opportunity to meet the animals and hear their stories, as well as to contribute and support sanctuary families. Also, contact activist groups for events happening during your stay, so that you may be able to be a part of an event or perhaps help groups prepare for one.
F: Happy Cow is a really useful app. Try researching about what places have vegan options and which of those are closest to wherever you are staying.
Is there any local accidentally vegan food they should try?
E: We predominantly eat wholefoods and homemade at home so I’m not so sure about so many accidentally vegan items as it usually relates to processed foods. To be honest there are so many “vegan” marketed products in supermarkets, health food stores and restaurants you don’t usually have to search too hard…
F: Pringles, BBQ Shapes, Smooshed Balls and Macro Organic Spicy Corn Chips and some Lindt Dark Chocolate.
Any restaurants or supermarkets you recommend?
Shop chain Woolworths has a huge range of vegan products. Go Vita Health Food Stores have an excellent range too. We also have a lot of organic farms like Spring Creek and a fantastic Wholefoods Collective in Ballarat which helps people to access healthy vegan food.
Is there a traditional dish from your city/country that can easily be veganised?
E: My family is English/Irish and so we have veganised Shepherd’s Pie (lentils instead of mince, nuttelex instead of butter), another favourite is Yorkshire Pudding – just use a plant mylk. We also make up a big stew with Tomato Passata and lots of vegetables, herbs and sometimes black beans, cooked all day on the skillet and served with mashed potato. We veganize everything just by using substitutes like nuttelex, plant mylk, no-egg, lentils, vegan cheeses… I don’t know any traditional Indigenous dishes that could be veganised though, however Damper is already vegan…
My husband’s family is Australian Indigenous/American and so we have veganised Thanksgiving with Tofurky and many homemade vegan pies and tarts. We also grow a lot of our own food, make our own sourdough and jams free of gelatine.
F: Bangers and Mash – buy vegan sausages (we like the Aldi ones that are labelled vegetarian but are actually vegan) and use the Gravox that comes in the cardboard box – it’s vegan! We make homemade pizza using pita bread for bases and top with veggies, herbs and Biocheese. We live on a farm and use Dandy vegan marshmallows to toast on the fire too!
What do you think the future holds for veganism in your country?
E: I truly believe that the more people become educated about the truth for animals in agriculture, science, entertainment and clothing, they will make different choices. Particularly as they experience amazing vegan food, find vegan clothing, and experiment with alternative brands and sources of entertainment. Then as their health improves and they feel aligned with their fundamental nature to be loving, peaceful and kind, they will then spread the message and it will continue to grow. Non-vegan living is not sustainable. Let alone the aspect of engaging in or funding cruelty.
People are waking up, they are feeling like they can make a difference and they are maturing in their global responsibility. Veganism is a well overdue future for peaceful, sustainable living.
F: I think if more important people turn vegan, sadly this is the way humanity goes, then more people will go vegan. If more people are properly educated, they will go vegan. If their friends tell them things or they watch Earthlings or Dominion, they have a good chance of going vegan. Technically, we have quite a good chance of having a better future!
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