Easy Vegan Dinners to Fill You Up

Posted on 30 September 2017

An article by D. Scott Carruthers …

The idea that vegan cooking leaves you hungry comes from the people who have no idea how to put together a satisfying vegan meal! Vegan cooking is not about finding substitutes for meat. It is about finding amazing ways to use the millions of vegan ingredients we have available to us! Think about all of the plant based foods that can be combined into colorful, nutrient rich meals! These foods are packed with the vitamins and minerals that your body needs.

Here are 5 east vegan dinners that will leave you feeling full, fed, and energized:

Lentil And Root Veggie Delight by D. Scott Carruthers

1. Lentil And Root Veggie Delight

Cook the lentils until they are tender. At the same time, begin cooking the cubed butternut squash, beets, turnips, and rutabaga (a yellowish root vegetable that looks like a large turnip but tastes a little sweeter). Add in a can of diced tomatoes as well as some water and Italian herbs and spices. Toss in your lentils and let everything cook together until all of the root vegetables are soft.

This vegan dish is great served over basmati rice.


Bean and Cilantro-Rice Burrito by D. Scott Carruthers

2. Bean and Cilantro-Rice Burrito

Vegan burritos are every bit as satisfying as Mexican meat burritos, and leave you feeling fed but not heavy or lethargic. Fill a wheat tortilla wrap with warmed beans and cilantro rice (just mix white rice with finely chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime).

Next, top it all off with guacamole, corn, fresh tomato, and shredded lettuce.



Seitan Stew by D. Scott Carruthers

3. Seitan Stew

Seitan is a meat substitute made with fermented wheat gluten. This is a great protein source for anyone who feels like they have reached their soy intake limits. Seitan does really well in stews because the hearty texture of the grains absorb a great deal of moisture and flavor. I love making stew with a vegetable, red wine and rosemary flavored broth.

I add in carrot, potato, celery, onion, and seitan, and cook for hours.


Hearty Chili by D. Scott Carruthers

4. Hearty Chili

Yet another hearty and satisfying vegan meal can be made in the style of a chili. Use kidney beans, onion, chopped green peppers, corn, and black back beans. Cook all of this in a crock-pot or on the stove top in a chili foundation made with tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, water, and chili spices.

This can be served with fresh baked tortilla chips (just bake tortilla slices that have been tossed in olive oil and sea salt), or on top of rice or pasta.


5. Veggie Dumplings and Rice

Veggie dumplings are easier to make than you might think. Stores sell pre-made dumping cases that are ready to be hand filled with a lovely veggie medley. You can chop up cabbage, collard greens and kale and mix this with shredded zucchini and carrots. For a meatier taste toss in some mushrooms or a meat substitute.

Next, boil, steam or fry your dumplings (your choice!) and serve with rice.


D. Scott Carruthers has been interested in all things related to food since he was just a child. While in college he started a popular food blog which then translated into a column at the local paper. As Carruthers became known as a food expert he continued to explore the culinary arts.

Posted in Category  General  /   No Comments »
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

Soul Foods in Hout Bay

Posted on 26 January 2017

Soul Foods at the Shoreline Centre, Hout Bay, is a 100% plant based establishment.They provide daily menu items based on seasonal, naturally grown produce. They also do catering. They aim to provide nourishing and delicious food that encompasses the values of compassionate living.

Visit the Vegan SA directory for more vegan restaurants in Cape Town.

Posted in Category  General, South African Vegan News  /   Comments Off on Soul Foods in Hout Bay
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

Elgin Ridge Wines

Posted on 21 September 2016

Elgin Ridge currently have 3 vegan wines available:

Elgin Ridge WineseMCC 2011 – In 2010 Marion was heard to ask Brian to make her some MCC. Her exact words were “what’s the point of a girl owning a vineyard if she can’t have her own bubbly”.

Brian agreed on the condition that the wine would not be released for at least 5 years. The 2011 vintage is 83% Pinot Noir & 17% Chardonnay, matured for 2 years in old French barrels followed by 3 years in bottle. Zero Dosage. The result is a wine of distinct individuality.

For 5 years the MCC was affectionately known as Marion’s Bubbly and is now labelled as MV, Marion’s Vineyards, in recognition of Marion’s hard work in Elgin Ridge’s organic vineyards.

Pinot Noir 2013 – Colour: Deep, rich garnet, Nose: Sweet dark cherries, earthy, roasted cocoa beans, balmy frangipani floral notes, Palate: Black cherries, summer fruits, rich texture, long with good acidity.

Sauvignon Blanc 2015 – Colour: Pale yellow-green, Nose: Upfront ripe pineapple, sweet melon, bell pepper, camomile, blackcurrant, buchu, Palate: Candied citrus, pink lady apple, lime zest, salon tea, rich and textured finish with well integrated acid.

Listed in boutique wine shops such as Vino Pronto, Wine Concepts, Caroline’s Fine Wine Cellar.

Visit the Vegan SA directory for more vegan wines from South Africa.

Posted in Category  General, South African Vegan News  /   Comments Off on Elgin Ridge Wines
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

Health benefits of aloe

Posted on 4 March 2015

Aloe penetrates skin 4 times faster than water… so what?

It is recorded that Egyptian queens Nefertiti and Cleopatra used Aloe as part of their regular beauty regimes, while Alexander the Great and Christopher Columbus used it to treat their soldiers’ wounds. Aloe is well known and has been used for centuries for its wide range of healing abilities.

It's summertime and the beaches are calling in South Africa [Bloubergstrand, near Cape Town] - Photo courtesy of Sheldon HeyAloe has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties which help soothe and restore wounds, burns, insect bites and skin irritations like eczema and psoriasis. It contains antioxidants which protect the skin from environmental pollutants and help combat ageing. It softens the skin and accelerates new cell growth which reduces scars, fine lines and blemishes. It is also very popular as an internal elixir to promote intestinal health, enhance immunity and for detoxification.

What is certainly the most fascinating thing about Aloe however, is its excellent hydration capability. Studies show us that Aloe Vera gel penetrates skin almost 4 times faster than water. ‘So what?’, you may ask. Well, the enhanced skin penetration ability means that it penetrates much deeper too and that it carries other active ingredients deep into the skin along with it, to nourish and hydrate, and to heal common ailments more effectively. The blend of Aloe and other powerful ingredients penetrates through all tissue layers, works harder, heals faster and is more beneficial in combination than individually.

The component of Aloe that is responsible for the enhanced penetrative effect is called lignins, a structural, cellulose-type substance. Lignins penetrates the toughened areas of the skin making it beneficial for a wide variety of skin problems where skin may be hardened or weakened.

Aloe Vera is featured in all Down to Earth products. It draws in the beneficial qualities of ingredients like the potent anti-inflammatory action of African Potato extract in their vegan-friendly Revive Moisturiser

Article by Marlize Nel, in a new window

Posted in Category  General  /   Comments Off on Health benefits of aloe
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

Go natural or go home

Posted on 7 November 2014

Many people are sceptical about the efficacy of natural ailment care products. It seems they only try natural products as a ‘last resort’ or out of ‘desperation’ when pharmaceuticals don’t seem to do the trick to keep symptoms under control.

Down to Earth's all natural products These people are more often than not, pleasantly surprised and never look back once they try the natural approach, after all, many pharmaceutical drugs and treatments are simply synthetic versions of active ingredients in plants and herbs that have been isolated and imitated. But it is often the whole plant, not just the active ingredient, which has the real beneficial action. The plant compounds work synergistically to stimulate the body’s healing capacity. Plants and herbs have of course been used as natural treatments for thousands of years.

Personal care products are used daily by all of us, often without knowing what ingredients they contain. If you have a look at the ingredients list on the label of most mainstream personal care products, you will find a long list of synthetic chemicals, like parabens, phthalates and mineral oils that have shown to be harmful and have been linked to pre-mature ageing, allergies, infertility, cancer and much more. Our skin is our largest organ and can absorb as much as 60% of what we put on it, so it only makes sense to limit our exposure and to go natural.

It’s not just about you. Pharmaceuticals and harmful chemicals in personal care products are being detected in water supplies, polluting our environment. We drink this water and use it to grow crops and feed livestock. These chemicals also end up in our oceans and in the fish we consume, creating a cycle of contamination.

Consumers are becoming more aware of and educated on these matters and are applying the precautionary principle, preferring to stay away from ingredients that are suspected to carry risk. This is one of the reasons why the natural and organic industry is growing rapidly. It is important to familiarise yourself with ingredients, to read the back of labels and to buy from stores and producers devoted to offering you only the best, pure products.

Natural products are made up completely of natural ingredients and if synthetic ingredients are used, they are used in very small amounts and are known to be safe. Natural products are manufactured with appropriate processes to maintain ingredient purity, use no animal testing in its development, use biodegradable ingredients and environmentally sensitive packaging. Natural products avoid any ingredients with a suspected human health risk. The ethos of the natural product producer is to be transparent and to fully disclose ingredients accurately and truthfully.

Marlize Nel
Down to Earth

Why not try a safe, effective, natural and organic Down to Earth product?

The Down to Earth product range includes:
• Revive Moisturiser – a nourishing and soothing day and night cream to minimise blemishes and improve skin tone
• Clear Skin Gel – a calming and cooling antiseptic gel for cuts, grazes, insect bites, pimples and cold sores

Down to Earth products are available at health shops, select pharmacies and online stores. See in a new window for outlets.

Posted in Category  General  /   Comments Off on Go natural or go home
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

Are figs suitable for vegans?

Posted on 24 September 2013

Carina Laubscher: How can I explain in simple terms to flesh eathers why figs are not vegan? Or am I being obsessive?

Please do comment; Carina would appreciate feedback from vegans on this issue!

“Most commercially grown figs are pollinated by wasps. And yes, edible figs wind up with at least one dead female wasp inside. But it’s still not quite the childhood myth of fruits squirming with insect meat. It’s all part of the mutually beneficial relationship that exists between fig wasp and fig plant.

A few points worth remembering about the wasp content:

1. When a female wasp dies inside an edible fig, an enzyme in the fig called ficin breaks down her carcass into protein. The fig basically digests the dead insect, making it a part of the resulting ripened fruit. The crunchy bits in figs are seeds, not anatomical parts of a wasp.

2. Fig farmers want to keep the number of wasps entering edible figs to an acceptable minimum. While the insect’s cooperation is mandatory for the fig to ripen, too many wasps entering will result in over-pollination. Then this fig might be filled with so many seeds that the fruit-like syconium bursts open. While this is good for the plant, it hurts the finished harvest for farmers. To prevent this, farmers separate male and female trees over great distances. Farmers also supply a controlled number of new wasps, often delivered in paper sacks, to dictate exactly how many females have access to a given plant. This means fewer wasps inside when the time comes to harvest.

3. It’s also important not to get too bent out of shape over the possibility of accidently eating the occasional insect. Even with the use of modern pest control, insects partially contaminate most agricultural products upon harvest and on the way to market. From canned corn to curry paste, from premium coffee to peanut butter, most foods contain insects. For example, when tomato ketchup qualifies for the highest USDA grade standard possible, it’s required to contain no more than 30 fruit fly eggs per every 100 grams (3.5 ounces) [source: North Carolina State University Department of Entomology].”

“For some people, no amount of explaining is likely to suffice. Some vegetarians and vegans refuse to eat figs and fig products based on the possibility of insect content. The dead wasps in question, however, were just playing their vital ecological role. There are 900 species of fig wasp, and each is responsible for pollinating one or two species of fig plant. Without these tiny insects, there would be no figs — and vice versa”

How then do these tiny wasps that only live for a few days manage to perform their amazing task of finding and pollinating flowers that are hidden inside the fig? Female fig wasps leaving the fig they have bred in need to fly off in search of another fig tree to continue the reproductive cycle, often a long and arduous journey, which only a few individuals out of thousands manage successfully. This remarkable feat is achieved by homing in on host tree-specific volatiles, a chemical signal released by the fig when it is receptive for pollination.

Completion of this journey is the first test of endurance, as once the pollinator has located a receptive fig, she needs to circumvent the next barrier. The only link the fig cavity has to the outside world is through a tiny bract-lined opening at the apex of the fig, called the ostiole, and it is by means of this passage that the pollinating fig wasp gains access to the florets. Negotiating the ostiole is no easy task, with the female wasp having to squeeze and labour her way between the tightly closed bracts. She is, however, remarkably adapted to do so. Her body, in particular her head and thorax, is extremely flattened and elongate. She also has rows upon rows of backward pointing teeth on her mandibular appendage, situated on the underside of her head, as well as a few strong teeth on her legs. These teeth assist her progress through the ostiole and also prevent her slipping backwards. Nevertheless, the process of gaining access to the fig cavity is so difficult that her wings and antennae usually break off in the ostiole, but this fortunately does not influence her pollinating or egg-laying ability.

The female wasp then proceeds to pollinate the stigmas and to lay eggs in the ovules of some of the florets. This she does by inserting her long ovipositor down the inside of the style. The florets that have styles longer than the wasp’s ovipositor are pollinated, but no eggs are laid in the ovule and hence these florets set seed.

The wasp larvae feed on the endosperm tissue in the galled ovary and larval development correlates strongly with host fig development, encompassing anything from three to twenty weeks. Once the wasps have reached maturity they chew their way out from the galls and emerge into the fig cavity within a short period of each other.

The wingless males mate with the females before chewing a hole through the fig wall to the exterior to allow the females to escape – the male’s only two functions in life, as he dies soon afterwards! The females either actively load up pollen from ripe anthers into special pollen pockets, or in some species passively become covered with pollen, before exiting the fig in search of young receptive figs to complete the cycle.

veganaustin.orgOpens in a new window
www.figweb.orgOpens in a new window

Posted in Category  General  /   Comments Off on Are figs suitable for vegans?
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

Universal Vision organic foods

Posted on 7 February 2013

Universal Vision of Sunnydale, Cape Town, produce Almond Milk and Coconut Milk powders that are mixed with water to create a delicious and nutritious milk. Great with cereals, in smoothies or on its own, warm or cold.

Almond milk contains a good level of protein, magnesium and calcium. The Coconut Milk is excellent for children. Excellent for children. FREE of gluten, soya, lactose or any animal products.

Universal Vision also produce a Himalayan Crystal Salt, a natural unprocessed pinky-orange coloured crystal rock salt which is used instead of ordinary table salt. Formed millions of years ago through a crystallization process when an ancient sea in the Himalayan region evaporated.

The quality of the salt one uses on a daily basis affects the functioning of one’s system on all levels. It is thus important to choose a salt as close to its natural form as possible, and Himalayan Crystal Salt is salt in the form that nature intended. It contains various other minerals besides just sodium chloride, including magnesium, sulphur, potassium, calcium and iron.

Available from Pick n Pay, Dis-chem, Checkers, Wellness Warehouse, Spar, health stores and delis.

Visit Vegan SA for more vegan foods.

Posted in Category  General  /   Comments Off on Universal Vision organic foods
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

Taste of Italy vegan pasta blends

Posted on 4 September 2012

Taste of Italy is a blend of dehydrated vegetables and herbs. There are no added preservative or additives in these vegan pasta blends. Available in 5 varieties, simply re-hydrate and add to your favourite pasta dish… just like you may do with pesto!

Taste of Italy mixes are available from Fresh Earth food stores, Mooiberg farm stalls, Peregrine farm stalls, Pickles & Things.

Visit Vegan SA for more vegan cooking sauces.

Posted in Category  General  /   Comments Off on Taste of Italy vegan pasta blends
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

Are humans really natural or habitual omnivores?

Posted on 28 June 2012

…A regular feature on aspects of morality in veganism by Lizé Oosthuizen

This month I would like to deconstruct 8 of the most recent arguments/statements provided by some of my omnivorous friends for consuming flesh. There are, of course, many more that could be ventured but are beyond the scope of this article.

Canine teeth of a chimpanzee1. As vegetarians, we have probably all heard the following: “But we have canines, why would we have them if we are not omnivores?”

This is a common misconception; humans DO NOT have canines. As very aptly stated by Michael Bluejay (a vegetarian himself who has a most wonderful website guide to vegetarian lifestyles), they are canines by name only, not in form or function. They are named canines most likely (and logically) because of the position in the mouth relative to other teeth.

'Canine' teeth of a humanHave a look at the 2 pictures of the chimpanzee and human teeth – there is clearly a huge difference between our ‘canine’’ and that of a true natural omnivore such as the chimpanzee. Note also that the canines in both chimps and humans are divided by 4 teeth in the middle, hence our ‘canines’ got their name based on position relative to animals who have real canines.

2. Another one of my favourite sayings that I’ve heard more times than I care to count, would have to be: “Humans didn’t fight their way to the top of the food chain to become vegetarian!”

Perhaps I’m missing something but when exactly did this fight between man and animal occur? To my best knowledge are we at the “top of the food chain” because we simply decided that we belong there due to pure numbers, worldwide distribution of our species as well as, debatably, superior intellect (debatable because I think we are simply more creative than our furry friends, not more intelligent – but that will form the core of next month’s article).

I also find it necessary to elaborate on what ‘food chain in this sense really means, which is that we are the most populated animals on earth with the most potential due to our creativity and resultant abilities. It does not mean that we eat every other form of animal on the planet; especially not carnivorous animals that would most likely eat you were it not for your technological advances. A crocodile is a good example. In fact, as humans who consider ourselves so vastly superior to the rest of the animal kingdom, it is our responsibility to protect, rather than exploit, those below us on this ‘food chain’, which would more aptly be named ‘food hierarchy’.

3. And of course who can neglect to mention the all too well known ‘argument’: “Eating meat, especially fish, was responsible for our intellectual development“.

Really? By this reasoning are we also to assume that carnivores should be more intelligent than people? If not, why not? Could it be that as a different species, viz. Homosapiens, we simply have a larger capacity for intellect/creativity than other species of animals? Just like there are more intelligent animals and lesser intelligent animals?

Some of the most intelligent people I have contact with do not eat meat and most of the intellectually challenged persons I have the misfortune to know eat an abundance of meat. However, do not take this to mean that I am alluding that meat consumption makes an individual intellectually inferior. I am not saying this any more than I would agree that meat is necessary for brain development. One’s level of intellect is largely determined by genetics and I can guarantee you that no amount of flesh in one’s diet will make a genius out of a person who has inferior intellectual genes.

4. This next argument, surprisingly, did not cut the top 3: “Humans need protein from meat to survive and stay healthy.”

Why is it that the healthiest people I know don’t eat meat? Why is it that vegetarians, and especially vegans, are less prone to obesity than practicing omnivorous humans? Why is it that, according to studies, vegetarians and vegans live, on average, a decade longer than those who frequently eat meat? Over and above these obvious fumbles in the reasoning of the average omnivore theory promoters, I can attest to the fact that any healthy person does not require the amount of protein commonly believed by society.

Questionable sources of such blatantly false information abound and are most often purported by persons whose emotionally charged opinions undoubtedly stem from desperate attempts to justify their clearly faulty eating habits.

What makes me believe I am an authority on this matter? Aside from thousands upon thousands upon thousands of hours of personal research and cross referencing, I am living proof. Being healthier than any of my meat eating friends who constantly consume protein in these exaggerated amounts and complaining of joint pains, stomach upsets, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and many more, I am confident in concluding that the dietary differences account for much of these ailments, or in my case, lack thereof. Furthermore, as stated well by Michael Bluejay, ALL life forms require protein to survive and become strong – this includes elephants and they are also herbivores.

5. The following statement, often made in an attempt to be humorous and with a smug smile, must be one of the most poorly thought through arguments and as a result one of the most frustrating: “If animals weren’t meant to be eaten by man, why are they made of meat?

At this stage I’d like to refer you back to my comments under point number 3 above. This statement is testament to the fact that meat consumption does nothing for brain development! Seeing that one often needs to explain one’s statements to flesh eating humans I will attempt the following analogy: if recreational drugs, such as cocaine, were not meant to be consumed, why are they made of chemicals that induce euphoria?

6. “Eating meat is natural! Just look at lions – they do it!”

Last time I checked there were quite a few notable differences between human beings and lions, or any other strict carnivores, for that matter! Furthermore, if one wants to make use of the ‘natural’ argument one should follow through on that all the way by hunting your dinner without guns and various other weapons you weren’t born with!

Is it not bad enough that we live such unnatural lives by driving cars instead of walking, using cell phones which emit harmful frequencies, eating processed foods laden with flavourants, colourants and preservatives and working in highly stressful jobs we were never meant to do? Why add to this burden by eating meat when we are so clearly not built for it? And all at the cost of innocent animals?!

7. Yet another intellectually deficient statement presented to vegetarians by ‘omnivores’: “Meat is food therefore we should eat it”

While meat may be food to carnivores and to some genuine omnivores in small quantities, it is not food for humans. Moths, for example, eat material and I’m sure if we were to eat material our bodies would find a way to process it (of course with no nutritional benefit), but does that mean it is food simply because some other animate species consumes it?

8. “But humans have always eaten meat!”

There is much controversy among professionals in the anthropology field on this matter and I am unfortunately not clued up enough on the specifics of human evolution, so I cannot debate this argument on a factual level of what happened in history. However, I can say that I do not see anybody quickly grasping at the opportunity to do much of anything else that our ancestors used to do. In fact, we pride ourselves for having evolved since then and view them as rather primitive creatures doing the best they could under circumstances. So why is it that we attach so much value to their eating habits?

Could it not be that it is simply easier to do so than to actually think for ourselves? Perhaps a fear of what we will be giving up – a comfort zone, if you will? We prize our convenience above truth and the betterment of our environment and those we share it with. The best judge of what we are meant to eat remains what our physiology tells us TODAY.

So what does it tell us? Instead of simply listing the various telltale signs of our dietary requirements, I refer you to and Michael Bluejay’s websiteOpens in a new window. Of the many sites and books I have viewed and read, this is the most comprehensive one I have had the pleasure of coming across. A very convenient table appears on this link which compares carnivores, omnivores, herbivores and humans on various physiological differences and similarities – from the teeth, to the jaw, to the digestive tract and system, liver, kidneys, muscle development and nails.

In conclusion, it was well known that one of the greatest minds ever to have graced our earth was in favour of a vegetarian lifestyle and he was a vegetarian himself toward the end of his life: “Nothing will benefit human health and increase chances for survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet” ~ Albert Einstein.

Although I agree with Einstein, I would like to add for clarity that humans do not need to physically evolve a vegetarian diet. What we require is mental evolution as to date the human body has not been proven to have evolved to process meat. Instead the facts point to the contrary – we are herbivores/fruitarians/vegetarians/vegans, call it what you will, but we are NOT built to consume meat.

Article by Lizé Oosthuizen

Posted in Category  General  /   Comments Off on Are humans really natural or habitual omnivores?
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

The Green Vegan – eco re-using tips part 2

Posted on 21 May 2012

… a regular eco-friendly feature by Terri Morris

Yes I recycle, but I also reuse. After my last feature I looked around my home and realised that there are more ideas I can share on how to reuse things, so here they are …


Re-using glass jars in your kitchen - photo by Terri MorrisWash your coffee, sauce or other jars and peel the labels and use them to store anything from tea bags, lentils, pencils, string, coins – just about anything can be stored in a glass jar.

If you get ones that “fit together” they can be a nice space saver too. I have my 12 favourite teas in old coffee jars – clip the name of the tea from its original cardboard packaging and display through the jar.

Wine bottles

Use rinsed wine bottles as dinner candle holders at your next party, a standard taper “Price’s” candle fits
perfectly and who cares if the wax drips on it? Then you can layer different colour waxes for a pretty effect
and when your done scrape off wax and recycle the bottle with the rest of your glass.

Re-using glass bottles - photo by Terri Morris

Glass bottles – other ideas

Do you have flowers blooming in your garden? Why not make yourself a bouquet and display them in a jar or bottle instead of a vase – a lovely rustic effect makes it more homey. Or buy a bunch of flowers and display one in a bottle of various heights throughout your home?

More green tips coming soon.

Posted in Category  General  /   Comments Off on The Green Vegan – eco re-using tips part 2
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

The Green Vegan – eco re-using tips part 1

Posted on 26 April 2012

… a regular eco-friendly feature by Terri Morris

While I recycle as best I can sorting bottles, cans, plastic and paper and taking them to the relevant skips at the local dump, sometimes I feel it’s not enough.

There is a saying “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” which I keep thinking about so have started looking for ways to reuse instead of recycle, and here are some of the latest findings:

Can Garden

Re-using cans in your garden - photo by Terri MorrisPeel the labels off your cans and wash well, poke a couple of holes in the bottom and put a light layer of pebbles in the bottom for drainage. Top up with soil and plant herbs either from seed or buy seedlings. These can be attached to the wall outside your kitchen for easy access to add to your vegan cooking and make great gifts!

You could use glass jars, plastic containers, just about anything in your recycling bin could be turned into a planter with some imagination. Perhaps you could paint them or glue on beads, buttons, gemstones just about anything with some imagination.

Hanger Frame

Do you have one of those metal space saver hangers lurking in your closet that you had to buy but never really use? Well here is a great creative idea to turn it into something wonderful you can hang on the wall and show off your precious moments.

It’s really easy and only takes a few minutes – just slide the pegs it came with to stagger your photos and clip them up. Hang it on a hook or nail in the wall, and presto!

You could change it monthly or annually, or you could use it as a to-do or wish-list; the possibilities are almost endless.

More green tips coming soon.

Posted in Category  General  /   Comments Off on The Green Vegan – eco re-using tips part 1
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

Animal domestication – justifiable or not?

Posted on 22 April 2012

…A regular feature on aspects of morality in veganism by Lizé Oosthuizen

This month I would like to venture a topic which I experience as particularly problematic:  How moral is it to have domesticated pets?

Owing to my great love of animals, I have pets (4 cats – Sheba, the mother of the other 3: Snowflake, Simba and Toffee and a recent addition to our family, a Great Dane puppy called Frasier), but I am finding it increasingly difficult to justify ‘owning’ pets as this seems to be directly linked to animal abuse in at least 4 ways:
Leonardo Da Vinci - maiden with unicorn

  1. It makes animal shelters, SPCAs and the like, necessary because animals usually accepted as pets (dogs, cats, even rabbits and many other unfortunate animals) who don’t have human homes are automatically considered to be a nuisance and often a potential threat to public health and/or society.  The atrocities that happen at SPCAs are heart breaking, as it is daily practice to have animals that are in perfect health and often very young, euthanised due to limited space and resources and an overflow of new arrivals from, needless to say, irresponsible people.
  2. In order to feed our lovely little meat-eating furry friends, most of us, especially in SA, are forced to buy foods from our local vets or pet shops that contain the left-overs of the very meat we refuse to purchase for our own direct consumption.
  3. Pet breeders are another cause for concern as it is a well established fact that the purer a breed of animal the genetically weaker they become and therefore more prone to diseases and short life spans.  What’s more is that the animals used to breed are often overworked and treated as mere machines kept in order to produce ‘products’ for profits.  Furthermore, each time an animal is purchased from a breeder, one more animal in a shelter dies needlessly.
  4. Finally, can it be considered fair to remove an animal from their natural environment and tendencies by containing them within our yards and feeding them a largely unnatural (and therefore unhealthy) diet?  Would they choose this life if they had a choice?  I find birds confined to cages particularly troubling as they rarely have any space to fly in these prisons kept by persons for their personal amusement from time to time.

Now this leads us to the first and more obvious of 2 moral dilemmas – how can we call ourselves true vegans if we still support animal cruelty in abattoirs and the farming industry by purchasing products that inevitably come from these most inhumane and unnatural organisations for the consumption of our pets?

The second moral dilemma is how natural is it to feed our pets with kibble which is, in most cases, chemical laden and full of ‘meaty flavours’ from dubious sources at best?  By way of example, for those of us with cats, we are very aware that the dry food/kibble contributes to urinary tract and kidney disease in them.  In order to reduce the risk there are all kinds of ‘wonderful’ additives introduced to the increasingly pricy kibble, which is meant to ease our conscience about feeding our pets such an unnatural and often detrimental diet.

Thirdly, animals are robbed of their free will which goes against the principles of vegans.

The source of the problem

One conclusion may be that the problem stems from humans deciding to domesticate animals in the first place.  If we never did this, animals roaming around free would be considered normal.  Perhaps they would have been separate from us much like lions in the wild are separate from where human settlements or urban areas are.  Cats and dogs would fend for themselves and live on natural diets, both unburdening humans from the constant responsibility of catering to their every whim and also gracing these wonderful animals with a longer, happier and healthier life span.

Of course, it could be pointed out that humans provide domesticated animals with shelter, food and safety, where otherwise they may have been subjected to the harshness of nature.  To such an argument I reply that nature takes its course and that “survival of the fittest” is a reality, unfortunate as it may be, but we even see this among people.  By way of example, certain individuals succumb to diseases and die of traditionally non-life-threatening diseases whereas others recover from diseases believed to be incurable – could this not be seen as similar?  In any event, domestication is no guarantee of a good life to any animal for the following off-hand reasons:

  1. It is well documented that many animals are kept by abusive owners;
  2. The food we, more often than not, feed our pets is unnatural and highly processed – this is most likely a reason why domesticated (and factory farmed) animals are known to develop cancers and other illnesses relatively uncommon to animals in the wild who eat natural diets and whose environment has not been compromised by humans in some way;
  3. Pets often walk around outside their yards (cats are especially difficult to keep track of 24/7) and as a result they are often hit by cars, many of which may lie conscious and in pain for many hours before death.

So with the above being said, I am content to conclude that it is in the best interest of animals to be awarded the opportunity to fend for themselves, and attempt to survive as nature intended.  At least seen from this perspective each animal has a fighting chance and is not robbed of free will.

Practicality of implementation

Back to reality though:  due to the structure of our society and the long standing traditions and desires to ‘own’ domesticated pets, it is unlikely that people will adopt new lifestyles free of pets anytime in the near future and therefore we are left to do the best we can by adopting pets from the SPCA, Wetnose, etc, finding solace in the fact that we are providing them with a good home and excellent care while their presence is spared to grace our homes.

If you would like to do something for shelter pets, please visit these 3 links and request a daily reminder to click on a link on the site which allows sponsors to donate kibble to these animals in need: The Animal Rescue SiteOpens in a new window, FreekibbleOpens in a new window and Barking MadOpens in a new window.

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” ~ Mahatma Gandhi 1869-1948

Article by Lizé Oosthuizen

External link: Mdzananda Animal Welfare Clinic, KhayelitshaOpens in a new window.

Posted in Category  General  /   Comments Off on Animal domestication – justifiable or not?
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

The Green Vegan – eco beauty tips

Posted on 11 April 2012

… a regular eco-friendly feature by Terri Morris

When walking through the cosmetics or toiletry section of any store one is bombarded with so many products, creams for every part of our body and other lotions and potions promising radiant beauty, but at what cost to the animals the products are tested on?

Remember, everything you use in the bath or shower goes into our water supply so the purer your body cleaning products are, the cheaper the cost and the lower the carbon foot print.

Here are some basic recipes that I have been using to get you started with some home made beauty products:

Body Scrubs

Home made eco- and animal-friendly beauty scrubs - photo by Terri MorrisSalt scrub – Use a cup of coarse sea salt and add about a ½ cup of oil (olive, grape seed, jojoba, whatever you have) and if you want to make the scrub to smell heavenly add 2-3 drops of essential oil like lavender or ylang ylang. Scoop the mixture and scrub your skin, rinse and dry.

Sugar scrub – 2 cups sugar and 1 cup oil, mix the two together and scent with essential oils if you desire. To use, put some scrub on a face cloth and rub in circular motions wherever you need exfoliating and rinse. It is probably a bit much for a single body scrub so you can store in a jar. It might separate in storage so shake it well before your next scrub.

Face Scrubs

Bicarb Scrub – can be used daily. 2 tablespoons of baking soda and about the same amount of water. Mix together to form a paste and apply to your face in circular motions, rinse and pat dry.

Face Wash

Combine 100 ml of grape seed oil with 10 drops of lavender and 5 drops of geranium essential oils in a dark glass bottle; store in a cool dark place. When ready to use, put 1 teaspoon of sugar in the palm of your hand, shake the bottle and add the same amount of oil to the sugar. Mix, and use on your face in circular motions. Rinse with warm water and pat dry.

Skin Toner

Pour 1 cup of rose water (available at pharmacies) into a bottle and add 5 drops of lavender essential oil, 2 drops of rose geranium and 2 drops of ylang ylang and shake; allow to ‘cure’ for 24 hours before using. I like to use a pump bottle and spray on the toner and let it dry naturally, but you can use a cotton pad if you prefer. For mature or dry skin you can add 5 mls of glycerine or jojoba oil to the mixture.

More green tips coming soon.

Posted in Category  General  /   Comments Off on The Green Vegan – eco beauty tips
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

Man: the king of beasts

Posted on 28 February 2012

… A regular feature on aspects of morality in veganism by Lizé Oosthuizen

Allow me this opportunity to introduce myself as a recently converted vegan following a 10 year devotion to vegetarianism. My name is Lizé Oosthuizen and I have chosen to get involved as a blog writer on the Vegan SA site in the hope of serving existing vegans, but also in order to influence people who have not yet made the leap to veganism (whether from vegetarian or omnivore).

Leonardo Da Vinci - maiden with unicornThose of us who have been vegetarian/vegan for some time would most likely, at some point, have been informed by an omnivore of the fact that Adolf Hitler was a vegetarian. Now I presume that this information is imparted to us in an attempt to shock us into deserting our values which led us to choose our vegetarian/vegan lifestyles, because we wouldn’t wish to possess any of the qualities an evil person such as Hitler may have possessed.

Firstly, I wish to point out, that Hitler’s choice to be a vegetarian had nothing to do with his actions against humanity. Secondly, we can all be served well by realising that even in the most evil of people there is some good. Thirdly, this kind of logic, for obvious reasons that I will not venture here, is based on the most unsound fallacious reasoning known as an ‘Ad hominem’ argument (the character, or another unflattering feature, of the person is addressed, rather than the argument he/she is making, in an attempt to discredit his/her argument). Fourthly, and most importantly, if even Hitler, as evil as he is considered to have been, can feel disgust at the inhumane treatment of animals, what does that say about the level of evil of those who see fit to support such an injustice?!

Are humans superior to animals?

The topic of my piece this month was sparked by an article I recently read online at: ‘The Africa Report’ entitled: “Hitlerian or Vegetarian slaughterhouses”Opens in a new window.

What struck me most about this article in the Africa Report was a particular section of it subtitled: “Animalising of the human being”. Here a brief description is given of what occurs when people are dehumanised (or animalised) by those in power. The author makes a valid point that both animals and humans that are exploited due to their lack of power in society fall under a single system driven by profits. The heading of this section got me wondering, as I have on many occasions before, what is it that we humans consider so superior about being human as opposed to being animals?

This may seem like an odd question to ask, but it is very important to have an answer to this basic question, because if we are honest with ourselves, among all the creatures in the world, past and present, man has been and still is the cruellest – we rape, kill, abuse, destroy without mercy anything and everything that stands in our way of achieving success, as we see fit to define it. Wikipedia (although notably not always an accurate source, but for the purposes of this article suffices) considers humans as distinct from animals on grounds of mental capacity due to highly evolved brains. Among these abilities of higher intellect mentioned are: self-awareness, sapience and rationality.

Can we be so sure (and arrogant as to believe) that animals are not self-aware, that they are not rational creatures and carry within them no wisdom? From what vantage point do we make such claims? Have one of us perhaps been an animal? Could it be that our judgement of animals, their consciousness and intelligence has been nothing short of simplistic assumption?

Any person who has a pet knows they are capable of reason and emotion, not to mention that they are most certainly self-aware – so much so as to believe the world revolves around them (this is particularly true of cats!). And what of wisdom? Animals are all endowed with an amazing intuition and deep connection with nature – they work with nature, not against it – a lesson humanity would do good to learn.

So where has our “superior intellect” left us? We do not exercise enough thanks to cars, elevators, escalators and the like, we eat heavily processed, chemical laden, dead food (which I might add is largely responsible for virtually every disease known to man), we are killing our rain forests, whilst polluting our environment with chemical toxins, thereby reducing the quality of the air we breathe and essentially suffocating ourselves. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, which debatably due to man, may not be around for much longer either!

Do we still feel intellectually superior to animals?! How about morally?

Humans need to be animalised

So how is it that animals should not be ‘humanised’ and people not ‘animalised’? Evidence lends itself to my conclusion that if only people could become animalised we would be able to live in harmony with our environment and all in it. Animals need not be humanised, as the ‘human’ label does not carry with it much to be proud of. To be like an animal in harmony with nature is the ideal.

Oh and by the way, the next time an omnivore tells you “Hitler was a vegetarian, you know?!”, you would do well to advise them that Leonardo Da Vinci was one too (a vegan to be exact), in his own immortal words:
“Truly man is the king of beasts, for his brutality exceeds them. We live by the death of others. We are burial places! I have since an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men will look upon the murder of animals as they look upon the murder of man.”

Article by Lizé Oosthuizen

Posted in Category  General  /   Comments Off on Man: the king of beasts
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

The Green Vegan – eco cleaning tips

Posted on 16 December 2011

… a regular eco-friendly feature by Terri Morris

The modern mass produced cleaners available all use some variation of natural ingredients and scents; we all know the mint fresh or lemon scented stuff I’m talking about. The purer your cleaners are, the cheaper the cost and the lower the carbon foot print. And half the time they work better than the store-bought prepared products and most of the ingredients are already in your kitchen cupboard and are edible and non toxic.

Here are some tips and cleaning formulas to get you started:

Fresh Lemons

Fresh lemons can be handy household cleaners - photo by Johnny Grieg: www.JohnnyGrieg.comAside from the normal culinary uses, lemons have many cleaning uses that can cut down on the use of chemicals in our homes. Try removing smells (garlic, onion) from knives and chopping boards by rubbing them with lemon peel. If your Tupperware has absorbed smells, fill them with warm water and some sliced lemon and leave to soak. Shine up your wok by boiling lemon peel in it.

You get the idea; next time you juice up fresh lemons, refrigerate the peels with pulp and use as needed.

Homemade household cleaners

Basic Shopping List:
Baking soda
White distilled vinegar
Tea tree oil
6 clean spray bottles
2 glass jars

Natural Creamy Scrubber:
Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda into a bowl, add a bit of liquid detergent and water to make it pasty. Apply with a sponge.

Works wonders on the bath tub and any other place you would use a cream type cleaner. If you have any left over, pour into a jar and add a bit of vegetable glycerine to the mixture to keep it moist and store in a dark place.

Window Cleaner:
Mix 2-3 tablespoons of vinegar with 2 cups some water in a spray bottle and shake.

Shake before spraying on the glass and wipe with a cloth or even newspaper. You may add 2 drops of tea tree or lavender essential oil to scent if you wish.

Spray Cleaner:
Combine ½ Tsp baking soda, a small squirt of liquid soap and 2 cups hot tap water in a spray bottle and shake until the washing soda has dissolved. Apply to surface and wipe off with a sponge or rag.

Tea Tree Mould Remover:
Combine 20-30 drops of tea tree oil soap and 2 cups of water in a spray bottle, shake to mix and spray on problem areas. Apply to surface and wipe off with a sponge or rag.
If the mould is heavy, you will need to scrub it off with a sponge scourer. Once removed, keep the spray bottle in the shower and spritz after each use as a preventative measure.

More green tips coming soon.

Posted in Category  General  /   Comments Off on The Green Vegan – eco cleaning tips
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.