Product review – Harmless House dental range

Posted on 23 June 2015

Eco-Dent Vegan Floss and The Environmental Toothbrush

The Environmental Toothbrush


Sanctum hair care range from Harmless House

This environmentally friendly toothbrush is made from bamboo and the bristles are made from a Nylon blend. The toothbrush, as well as the packaging, is 100% biodegradable and can be put straight onto the compost heap once used. Options include: Adult Medium Bristle, Adult Soft Bristle and Child Soft Bristle.

My expectations

I was very keen to try the Environmental Toothbrush as I had heard great things about it.

My experience of the products

It lived up to my expectations! I loved the eco-friendly packaging and how lightweight the overall product was. The toothbrush itself was comfortable to hold, and although it was extremely light in my hand it was surprisingly durable as I am quite a ‘hard’ brusher.

My overall impression

I love my Environmental Toothbrush. Personally, I think everyone should try this toothbrush and that there should be more environmentally friendly products like this on the market, without all the fancy packaging that just ends up polluting our environment. Just be sure that you get the right size for your mouth and the right bristle texture and you’re all set. I also think they would go great in a guest bathroom for those unexpected overnight guests.

Eco-Dent Vegan Floss


Sanctum hair care range from Harmless House

Eco-Dent offers a range of natural, effective, chemical-free dental care. No dyes, chemical foaming agents or artificial sweeteners are used. The Eco-dent Vegan Floss is a premium dental floss with a unique vegan wax plus a special blend of all natural essential oils for optimum flossing effectiveness.

My expectations

When I decided to become vegan I knew I would be making some changes to the products I used. However, I had absolutely no idea that the floss I used was going to be one of them. The last thing on my mind was to check the labels on the floss in my bathroom cabinet. My initial reaction to hearing that floss was not vegan went something like this: “What?! How can a piece of string not even be vegan? This might be more complicated than I anticipated.”

The problem with regular floss is that they mostly make use of beeswax. I was very curious to try vegan floss for the first time as I wanted to see what the difference would be.

My experience of the products

Though it was not as ‘smooth’ as regular floss, it still did a thorough job. And I loved the yummy cinnamon flavour.

My overall impression

This is a great product. It is also very economical as the length of floss is 100 yards which means it is nearly 100m long. That is bound to last a while. Eco-dent Vegan Floss is definitely a must-have in any vegan dental care regimen.

The Environmental Toothbrush and Eco-Dent Vegan Floss are distributed by Harmless House in South Africa, an online store that specialises in high quality organic, natural, cruelty-free certified and ethically sourced products for the whole family. They deliver straight to your door free of charge on most brands.

Both these products are distributed by Harmless HouseOpens in a new window in South Africa, an online store that specialises in high quality organic, natural, cruelty-free certified and ethically sourced products for the whole family. They deliver straight to your door free of charge on most brands.

Review written by Samantha Jooste

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Product review – Sanctum hair care range

Posted on 16 April 2015

Sanctum is an Australian range which provides 100% natural, organic, vegan and cruelty-free certified bath and body care products. Sanctum’s range of shampoos and conditioners, inspired by the elements of the sea, are specifically formulated to nurture your hair and protect it from environmental damage. The formulations are specifically crafted for Normal, Dry and Treated hair. I tried out the shampoo and conditioner for dry hair.


Sanctum hair care range from Harmless House

This pH balanced shampoo provides a gentle cleansing lather that helps protect and renew the hair, removing dirt and grime whilst retaining moisture. It is designed for daily use on hair that tends to be dry, brittle and unmanageable. The Jojoba oil helps smooth frizzy hair and control split ends.

The rich conditioner is formulated to protect and nourish dry hair. This repair conditioner aims to increase the natural healthy shine and movement of the hair.

My expectations

I was wary of trying another organic and vegan shampoo or conditioner, having not had the best results in the past two and a half years on my vegan journey. To be honest, I think finding a suitable vegan hair care range has proved to be most challenging, as I have very thick and long hair. Not many products have impressed me and therefore I was not expecting much from the Sanctum range either. I was expecting the shampoo not to provide much foam or lather and the conditioner to leave my hair feeling dry and tangled. But in this case I was pleasantly surprised!

My experience of the products

As I opened the bottle of shampoo, I was greeted with a refreshing whiff of aloe, chamomile and other organic extracts and oils. I absolutely loved the natural smell of the herbs. I then applied a generous amount of shampoo to my hair and started lathering it in. Anyone who has ever tried organic shampoo will know that it has a different ‘feel’ and can take some getting used to. This shampoo is similar, but once you find the right amount or balance that works on your hair, it is quite effective. I just have to emphasize once again that my hair is very long and thick so people with shorter hair might have a totally different experience to me.

I was very impressed with the conditioner too. It had the same natural smell which I loved. It was very easy to apply and it left my hair feeling soft and manageable and most importantly, without tangles.

My overall impression

I liked the shampoo, but I absolutely loved the conditioner! I would recommend that the Sanctum Shampoo always be used in conjunction with the Sanctum Conditioner. This is a wonderful range for anyone who is trying to go organic or cruelty free.

Sanctum products are distributed by Harmless HouseOpens in a new window in South Africa, an online store that specialises in high quality organic, natural, cruelty-free certified and ethically sourced products for the whole family. They deliver straight to your door free of charge on most brands.

Review written by Samantha Jooste

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Book review – Fresh from the Vegetarian Kitchen

Posted on 23 October 2014

Beautifully written and illustrated Fresh from the Vegetarian Kitchen by Mellissa Bushby is an ideal cook book for newbies, along with friends and family of vegans and vegetarians, who just don’t know what to cook!

Fresh from the Vegetarian Kitchen vegetarian cook book by Mellissa Bushby (STRUIK LIFESTYLE)The book allows for both vegan and vegetarian options but it is not entirely vegan. Some recipes would need to be modified especially those which require Wooden Spoon butter but this could be substituted with coconut butter or vegan margarine. A great recipe book for inspiration and ideas with exquisite photography, as you flip through each page your hunger is heightened.

Mellissa Bushby’s love of her family and cooking resonates throughout with some of the recipes superbly introduced with reminiscing of fall days and hungry young children; recipes that have been passed from generation to generation that cater from babies to tweens. Delightfully written, it sets a wonderful mood for an aspiring chef.

With a great selection of categories, Melissa managed to include and do a magnificent job of her Braai section, a once-feared event by most vegans, one can now quite comfortably attend knowing they will impress. One of the recipes you will not be able to resist is the kidney bean kofta kebabs. Other recipes like homemade tomato relish and chocolate coated pineapples ensure that no one is going to feel left out.

The starters and snacks are also equally impressive with chilli chickpea cakes and spicy bean balls making certain that each nibble will not only be healthy but delicious too. There is an amazing vegetable soup which takes hours to make but well worth a try. With an assortment of recipes which are quick and easy as well as long and epic, Fresh from the Vegetarian Kitchen is guaranteed to provide something fitting for any age and occasion.

Mains range from pastas to altered cottage pie and risottos which contain an outstanding rendition of ingredients using barley and leeks, in 2 separate recipes. A Thai curry and chickpea based schnitzel also make a debut amongst others, and after much dithering I decided to have a shot at the schnitzel and what fun! First I prepared the bread crumbs, grated the lemon zest and readied the herbs and spices; I didn’t have sage and substituted with rosemary. After all the ingredients were blended, in the oven they went only for a few minutes and voilà – bread crumbs! Then onto the filling; I mashed butter beans, chickpeas and peas along with spices and flour and shaped the dough into schnitzel-type pieces, dipped the pieces into the breadcrumbs and fried. The final product was divine and I shared my schnitzels with friends that were equally impressed.

Fresh from the Vegetarian Kitchen's crusted mushroomBeing incapable of following any recipe to the tee, I have always modified ingredients or recipes in one way or another and didn’t have the accompanying mushroom sauce which I will definitely try as soon as Pick n Pay have stock of soy cream again. I also omitted the ginger (as much as I realise it is healthy, I find ginger to be very strong and will only add it to very saucy dishes). This is another great attribute of Fresh from the Vegetarian Kitchen in that it allows for substitution and each recipe could very easily be modified to vegan or vegetarian or have a bit of a different taste; this is evident in Mellisa’s braai-ed aubergine steaks recipe which have a Thai, Italian or South African inspired dressing that you can choose from. You are not going to know which recipe to start off with and will find yourself planning 3 or 5 course meals.

The baking section was a real eye opener for me having never made breads before. Melissa manages to make baking seem easy and I look forward to trying out the ciabata, focaccia and scones, but mostly her citrus tea bread recipe, as I have always loved Earl Grey tea and think it will be quite fitting in a cake.

One of the main things I love about the book is the effortless, mostly vegan sauce and condiment recipes listed at the back, everything from buttermilk to chutney, and even a vegan chocolate nut spread! Also listed are non-toxic homemade remedies, insect repellents and cleaners, which will certainly come in handy.

With the high use of sugar and white flour being my only concern about the recipe book, I plan to once again modify some recipes so that they maybe include more natural options, but for beginners and those who want to learn how to cook vegetarian and vegan food, this book is a must and for all the master chefs, Fresh From The Vegetarian Kitchen really does have some gems.

Review written by Lesleigh Harnwell

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Book review: Veganomics, by Nick Cooney

Posted on 31 January 2014

Reviewed by Samantha Jooste …

Veganomics, by Nick Cooney (Lantern Books)American author, Nick Cooney, takes us on a fascinating exploration of the vegetarian psyche, in his new book, Veganomics: The Surprising Science on What Motivates Vegetarians, from the Breakfast Table to the Bedroom. He is the founder of The Humane League, a farm animal advocacy organisation, and he is the Compassionate Communities Campaign Manager at Farm Sanctuary. He holds a degree in Non-Violence Studies and his work has been featured in Time Magazine and The Wall Street Journal. He is the author of Change of Heart: What psychology can teach us about spreading social change.

Cooney’s main objectives for writing Veganomics is to provide an entertaining insight on what makes vegetarians tick, but more importantly, to help advocates of vegetarian eating become more effective in inspiring others to make the change to a cruelty-free diet. He shares valid scientific research about vegetarianism, most of which was carried out in the United States and Europe, though some from other parts of the globe. And he provides a more thorough understanding of human psychology and what inspires people to change.

The essence of this book is about vegetarians. It is about who they are and what sets them apart from the mainstream public as well as their main motivations for making the transition to a meat-free diet. Although vegetarians vary as individuals, they differ in distinct ways to omnivores. This is based on statistics such as age, gender, income, education, ethnicity as well as marital status, political views and various other factors relating to their personalities, including their values and their empathy.

Though there are many reasons for people to become vegetarian there are two main motivations that seem to be driving the change. Certain types of people are also more likely to go vegetarian and therefore advocates should perhaps focus on these specific types to save more animals in the long term. Cooney explains that although he groups vegetarians and vegans under the same term to make things simpler, his hope is for the public to ultimately cut out all forms of cruelty from their diets, including dairy and eggs.

In this age of information, meat-free media has a powerful role in educating people and inspiring them to go vegetarian. Cooney examines the effects that books, pamphlets, videos and websites have on bringing about change. He also notes that vegetarian meats are critical in creating more vegetarians and helping them remain vegetarian as taste plays a vital role. The type of language used to describe these vegetarian meats and other meat-alternatives really does matter. Certain labels appeal more to people than others. People respond differently to terms such as vegetarian, vegan, meat-free, healthy etc. Taste test studies proved this and yielded some surprizing results (well, for me, anyway).

Apart from discussing why people become vegetarians he also discusses the barriers that get in the way and keep them from making the change. He points out that habits are hard to change and when people have a perception of something being difficult, then they are less likely to change even if they really want to. Taste, health, convenience and social issues are the four main obstacles that people deal with and are also the main reasons why most vegetarians will eventually go back to eating meat.

When it comes to the farm animals themselves and how people view them, we find that eating meat and not eating meat has an effect on people’s beliefs about them, especially with regards to their sentience, intelligence and their emotional capacity. And people choose to eat specific animals based on these beliefs. When an animal is categorised as a “food” animal, then moral disengagement comes into play for most people. Cooney addresses the numbers and types of animals killed by the average American omnivore each year and the scale of their suffering relative to their time spent on factory farms, their confinement and eventually their slaughter.

Cooney cautions that advocates need to understand the main motivations for people becoming vegetarian and discern which messages work best, before trying to sell the benefits of a vegetarian diet. And he suggests that they use a more research-based approach when doing so. The data exists and is at their disposal, though there is still a great need for more research, especially to measure actual results.

Advocates should not only focus on why people should become vegetarian, but put just as much emphasis on how they can become vegetarian and stay that way by providing them with information, resources and support. It is important for advocates not to expect a radical metamorphosis, but to rather encourage a steady and realistic conversion to a sustainable, lifelong commitment. When vegetarianism becomes a part of their identity it will be much easier to resist the urge to return to a life of meat-eating. Towards the end of the book, Cooney provides actual recommendations for advocates of vegetarian eating, based on research on vegetarians and research on social-psychology.

As a long-time vegetarian and recently converted vegan I find this book to be a relatively accurate representation of vegetarians and their lifestyles. I believe that any vegetarian who reads this book will be able to identify with at least one or more of the traits discussed. Veganomics manages to capture the intrinsic nature of vegetarians and how they exist in a “don’t question the norm” kind of society. Cooney undoubtedly achieves his main objectives for writing this book. I found it both entertaining and insightful. The research presented is detailed and thorough; the key points are structured and easy to follow.

I would definitely recommend this book to all vegetarian advocates who are eager to bring about change. I believe it will encourage advocates (whether they agree or disagree with the recommendations) to question whether their time and energy is being put to effective use or whether their current tactics could actually be hindering the movement.

This book certainly challenged some of my perceptions of what constitutes truly productive advocacy and motivated me to re-examine where my priorities should lie. That being said, I am certain that advocates will find Veganomics to be a powerful and practical guide in their quest to make the world a kinder place for animals.

At the end of the day, one thing resonates strongly with me: Vegans, vegetarians and even semi-vegetarians and meat-reducers have a collective impact on animals. So we, as advocates of vegetarian eating, with the correct approach, could potentially spare billions of animals from a life of existential suffering and a horrific death.

The Surprising Science on What Motivates Vegetarians, from the Breakfast Table to the Bedroom.
Nick Cooney, Lantern Books, 128 Second Place, Brooklyn, NY 11231,, 2014. ISBN 978-1-59056-428-8 (pbk. : alk. paper) ISBN 978-1-59056-429-5 (eBook). 215pp. $9.99

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Review: Kaldi’s Coffee Shop of Johannesburg

Posted on 9 January 2013

Kaldi’s Coffee Shop, Newtown, is my latest addiction in the last 14 hours – super excited to have such a place so close to where I stay for some vegan delights and African food!

Kaldi's Coffee Shop, Newtown, Johannesburg. Photo courtesy of Satya BhatI have had pasta with red, green and yellow bell peppers, soy mince, carrots and some spices, African style yellow rice with brown lentils in a tomato and onion gravy and some sautéed beetroot leaves, 2 (YES TWO) nutty banana smoothies (SUPER SUPER AWESOME, made from muesli, soy milk and bananas), beetroot, carrot and ginger juice, and apple, carrot and lemon juice (addictive!). On top of all this I decided to order a chocolate cake with peanut frosting and waited for it to be baked. Everything was freshly made.

Thanks a lot to Mmabatho Mokwena, the creative mind and owner of Kaldi’s Coffee. Mmabatho is a mother of 4 kids who she and her husband (who is also vegan) have raised their kids as vegans from pregnancy to birth to date! She is 33 years old but does not look older than 20! She is a short, bubbly, friendly, welcoming and spirited lady who has been vegan for about 12 years. She is from the Limpopo province and is Northern Sotho speaking and is actually an actress by profession.

Though her cafe has non vegan items, she is looking forward to slowly transitioning it to healthy vegan meal options. They currently do not have a set menu and prepare something different for lunch and dinner every day.

So my friends, if you stay or work around Newtown or simply want to enjoy a meal or have a snack or drink smoothie in a relaxing environment, please go to Kaldi’s; refer me if you wish and try some of their vegan goodies. It is situated at 30 Jeppe Street, right opposite Museum Africa. If you would like a variety of food for a group of friends/family, arrangements can be made with prior notice. Mmabatho also runs an events and entertainment company: Matlombe.

For further information please visit their Facebook page or contact her directly on 083 757 0277 or by email:

Satya Bhat, 7 January 2012

Visit Vegan SA for more vegan-friendly restaurants in Jo’burg.

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Tales from a vegan runner

Posted on 4 December 2012

Tembisa Run

I had an awesome day (1 December 2012). I was so keen on the Tembisa race, that I planned to go 1 month in advance and bought 2 race tickets as a friend was also going to join me. Well a few days before the race he found out he had to go to a friend’s funeral which was on the race day. Just 2 days ago my back up partner also cancelled on me and I was looking for an alternative plan, I thought taxi 5 am, I’ll wake up and go for it. I was all powered for it; I was not going to be stopped. I managed to find someone a day before the race that was glad to take the place of as a running buddy. It was his 1st time going for a running event and he was ecstatic about it.

The Tembisa Run, December 2012 - photo by Satya BhatI completed the 8 km run in 58 minutes. Running in Tembisa was a different experience. I mean look at what some had to say to me as I was doing one of my rest walks: “You look like the perfect woman for me”, I told myself it’s time to run again…lol. A taxi driver screaming “Hey white lady”… WHITE? LOL. There were little kids running behind me calling me “Umloongu …umloongu” LOL. It was Tembisa’s 1st running event and well it was not bad, though they need to do more for the runners on the road as we were basically running among the cars, and taxis/cars would come over the pavement forcing runners on the road. I saw chickens in cages, donkey carts, and people cheering for us.

It would be great to start a Vegans Athletics support group. I have already gotten like 4/5 people interested in the races and at least 2 of them have joined me. I have attended 8, 5 km races thus far in 2012 with this one 8 km race, and most of the time I have gone on my own. I fell in love with running, I guess running with everyone, the support one receives, the feeling when completing the task is just exhilarating, and off course a medal received for completion. “I am a winner”, and you know everyone who finishes is a winner, that feeling is just priceless for me.

Tomorrow morning will be my 10th and final race for the year, 10 km. I have not been training for these races, I simply happen to walk/run 3.6 km a day between work and home and I never seem to be walking slowly. My meal before a race: 3 glasses of water, 2 hours before the race, 1-2 bananas, 1 date and about 6 almonds, or just cucumbers and dates and this should be eaten latest 30 minutes before the race.

I seem to run well on this, of course I am just am amateur runner for the moment. It just happens also that I run with my camera, my phone and keys. I take photos of the race, so I have the potential to be faster if I don’t stop to take photos but for now I love doing that.

Vegan Picnic Potluck

We left the race venue after prize giving. I just got in time for the Picnic Potluck. A superb turnout, about 16 people attended with LOTS of food, more like each person brought 15 portions of everything! We were more than happy to take some of each other’s food home too. 11 am till 4 pm, 5 hours! Glad to meet some new faces as well as the familiar ones.

The Johannesburg Vegan Picnic Potluck, December 2012 - photo by Satya BhatThanks to Kim and Dani for loaning us their home yet again, thanks to Joelle for organising the event, thanks to everyone for attending it and making it a success: Jessica, Jason, Cate, Paul, Joelle, Ruby, Gideon, Filitsia, Jack, Chanel, Peter, Zayd and Alex. Oops almost forgot there was Aiden, little chap just 4 years old wanted me to watch cartoons with him, gave me a flower, wanted me to jump on the trampoline with him and asked me to stay over! This was my dream come true…:P.

I am so looking forward for more events and people to join us. NB: Next super awesome event in Johannesburg is on Sat 26 Jan 2012 hosted by Dani and Melanie, for more information please visit the FaceBook events page: VEGAN – healthy, earth friendly and compassionate livingOpens in a new window and if you’re certain of attending please RSVP Dani at You can also find more Veg/Vegan Social events on the Johannesburg meetup group: Veg VillageOpens in a new window.

Written by Satya Bhat

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Review African Organics Natural Body Wash

Posted on 26 October 2012

African Organics is an affordable natural hair and body care range. Products are vegan and endorsed as cruelty-free and Fair Trade.

African Organics Natural Body WashClaims/ Description: Honeybush contains potent natural antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties, leaving tired skin refreshed and invigorated. It comes from the rugged terrain of South Africa’s Western Cape and also makes a refreshing tea.

Review: Generally I don’t like using soaps in my shower, because it leaves my skin dry; I usually prefer using Body Wash. After using this product, I first noticed it left my skin moisturized, not dry or tight. The body wash is not foamy but it does the job and leaves you feeling efreshed.

Recommended Retail Price: R 45

Available at: Dischem and health stores

Review by Marjorie Marino, October 2012

Visit Vegan SA for more vegan body care products.

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Review: Esse Limited Edition 10 Year Celebration Pack

Posted on 25 October 2012

When I received the Esse Limited Edition 10 Year Celebration Pack for review, I was so excited because I never heard of this range before. It’s a 100% vegan range and endorsed as cruelty-free by Beauty Without Cruelty. I liked how the package looks and it’s very convenient for using as a travel kit. I like the idea of using bottles too – very environmentally friendly.

Esse Limited Edition 10 Year Celebration PackThe first thing I noticed with all the products is that they have an oily feeling to the touch. I have very dry skin but they still left my skin smooth and moist for the whole day. I also noticed the scent is quite strong but after few more days using the products my nose got used to it.

I was happy to note that all the ingredients are natural and organic. That’s what I’m looking for before, not just because I’m vegan but because I don’t want to use more chemicals on my body.

Overall, I really love the products and I’m very glad to have discovered Esse for myself. I will definitely highly recommend them to my friends.

The products contained in the pack are:

Gel Cleanser Esse Organic Skincare

Description/claims: A foaming, tingling wash that deep cleanses without drying. Peppermint and spearmint oils refresh and improve microcirculation to aid in the elimination of toxins. African Aloe extract exhibits anti-inflammatory properties and regulates immune function.

Recommended retail price: R 200 (200 ml).

Review: This foamy, brownish gel cleanser works well and gives me a breezy feeling after I wash my face. I love the feeling of mint on my face as it’s really refreshing. Apart from the scent being too strong for me, I had nothing to complain about this lovely gel cleanser.

Cocoa Exfoliator

Description/claims: Fine cocoa particles polish and remove dead skin cells leaving the skin refined, soft and smooth. Wild sourced African oils ensure skin is not dry but nourished and protected.

Recommended retail price: R180 (50 ml).

Review: When I first try this exfoliator I noticed the wonderful cocoa scent. The cocoa granules are very fine so they didn’t damage my skin, but they are coarse enough to loosen the dead skin cells on the surface of my skin; it really removes it! After use, my skin felt smooth, soft and moisturized. I felt like my face was glowing afterwards.


Description/claims: The Esse Toner completes the cleansing process to revitalize, protect and improve skin texture. Rooibos extract provides potent antioxidant activity. Extract from olive leaves combats the negative effects of pollution and reduces sun damage. The toner can also be sprayed over make-up to freshen and re-hydrate throughout the day.

Recommended retail price: R135 (100 ml). 10 ml sample size only included in this pack.

Review: When I opened the package and pulled out this little toner bottle, it made me smile because it looks so cute. And when I opened the bottle it the scent was so mild and gave me a relaxed feeling. After I used it, my skin was very smooth and moisturised, I even didn’t need to use moisturizer anymore. It works very well and, what’s more, there’s no added fragrance, just the scent of the natural ingredients.

Eye & Lip Cream

Description/claims: A treatment with high levels of hyaluronic acid which hydrates and reduces the sub-clinical inflammation that leads to long term damage.

Recommended retail price: R210 (20 ml).

Review: I used the eye & lip cream every morning for a week and I noticed my eyes and lips feel instantly moisturized after application. My eye area feels more supple and refreshed. And my lips stopped cracking; it really does its job. It has very mild scent, non-sticky, very easily absorbed and only a tiny amount is needed each time. Love the packaging – no messy pots to put my fingers in – and very easy to get the right amount out.

Cream Mask

Description/claims: A mask to feed and nourish the most dehydrated skins.

Recommended retail price: R300 (50 ml). 10 ml sample size only included in this pack.

Review: I’m not that familiar with using face masks but this product smells great, went on my skin smoothly. It’s not the same the other face masks that leave you looking like a monster afterwards; just a thin layer is applied. After I washed my face with warm water my skin was very smooth, soft and felt fresh.

Note: the Esse Limited Edition 10 Year Celebration Pack RRP is R 490, and contains products worth R 590.

Esse products are available at spas, salons and health shops nationwide.

Review by Marjorie Marino, October 2012

Visit Vegan SA for more vegan beauty products.

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You’re not green until you’ve read Ethical Living

Posted on 29 June 2012

Ethical Living is a magazine designed to inform the buyer of their buying power and it also enlightens the reader to what is really going on.

Ethical Living magazine April 2012 issueInformation that you would not normally encounter without an extensive Google search is gathered and given without any corporate or government interest or intervention.

I found the magazine very easy to read and really quite interesting. As far as informing the public, I give Ethical Living the thumbs up. The articles are well researched and Mariette Liefferink writes beautifully, with quite a list of credentials including CEO of the Federation for a Sustainable Environment, Member of the board of the National Nuclear Regulator, Member of Human Rights Commission’s Section 5 Advisory Committee on Mining and Water and awarded the Enviropedia Eco-warrior award 2011, to name a few. Mariette’s dedication to promoting a sustainable and ethical future is apparent in her articles and also by her credentials.

Most of the public is regrettably ill informed and we often do not realise what is actually going on in our world. Ethical Living is a magazine that you could take to your family and friends as confirmation of the reality of capitalism and the suffering of, not only our planet, but its inhabitants too. The magazine is very easy to use and understand and should probably be on every doctor’s or dentist’s waiting room table … well, maybe homeopaths.

Each issue extensively covers a chosen industry or item, like for example chocolate or dentistry. In the articles you will learn about the process and environmental, social and animal welfare implications of that industry or product. At the end of the highly informative well written articles you get a diagram of different business names with their main company and brand. The company/brand is rated in 4 main categories as well as sub-categories. The 4 main categories are the Environment, Animals, People and Politics. These are marked on the diagram with 3 ratings – worst, middle and best – represented by a red square, a red circle and a green tick. A detailed explanation of the rating system comes with each issue for easy reference.

Other content also includes but is not limited to the ethical traveller’s annual report on the top 10 ethical destinations based on a country or island’s social welfare, environmental and human rights status – quite in depth stuff and information on current boycotts which got me boycotting China again; hopefully this time I can get it to last.

Ethical Living magazine July 2012 issueAll that said, sceptics would have a field day with some of the content. There was a very biased article about Moammar Gaddafi, representing him as a good man and that the USA was responsible for the uprising. It mentioned one bombing which they said was orchestrated by the Americans and did not go into too much detail about any other accused events. This article really got me thinking and wanting to actually research the subject of Libya and its residents and also what actually caused the uprising.

This again is not such a bad thing as at least the article resulted in me thinking as opposed to the drone-like commercial media articles usually churned out for the masses. Now don’t get me wrong, I love conspiracy theories and do not doubt the power which the USA holds over the world. However, I felt that with this article a lot was left out and maybe more research could have been done on the views of the people of Libya and how they feel about their deceased dictator.

I also didn’t like the quality of the paper used by the magazine. For a ‘green’ magazine, the paper is your typical gloss paper, not recyclable but it is apparently sustainably sourced. This isn’t too bad provided you keep the magazine for further reference, and this is something I would recommend considering the vast amount of information provided and the ridiculousness of disposing of a non-recyclable magazine with so much ethical content. There is also a more environment-friendly electronic version of the magazine available if you prefer.

Another great thing about Ethical living is that you can request that they research a company/product which you may be interested in, at a charge. This I feel is brilliant as it gives consumers some power again – for so long we have purchased “in the dark”, relying on internet boycotts to ascertain the viability of a company or product. Now we have a local media source that can really put it to the corporations!

I recommend Ethical Living to any conscious buyer. It is really quite informative and helpful – from which computer manufacturer is greener, to whether or not you should support the porn industry – the magazine offers a variety of different viewpoints and ideas. The electronic version of the magazine is priced around R20 per issue and R200 per annum. If you really need a hard copy you will pay R287 for 12 months supply, delivered to your door.

Ethical Living is available at CNA, Exclusive Books and Spar. You can subscribe on the Ethical Living websiteOpens in a new window.

Review by Lesleigh Harnwell, June 2012

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A health break at the Hoogland Hydro

Posted on 24 May 2012

Last week, my friend and I visited Hoogland Hydro near Pretoria on a 2-night midweek voucher. It is certainly a place for cleansing, rest and relaxation.

Hoogland Health Hydro. Photo courtesy of Antonia DlagnekovaFrom the moment we entered the premises, we were struck by the beauty and serenity that encircled us. Our stay was filled with guided walks and exercise classes but also with opportunities for quiet rest. There were warm pools and Jacuzzis as well as a gym, saunas and steam facilities. Our health was monitored each day by an on-site nurse and there was an evening lecture on health.

The food was almost entirely vegetarian but contained options for every diet preference. With the meals, vegan options included:

Day 1:
(Lunch) tomato soup, sliced and pineapple salad, green salad, herb and avocado salad, beetroot salad and spinach salad.
(Dinner) potato soup, freshly made hummus and veggies, vegetable curry, couscous and green salad.

Day 2:
(Breakfast) oats, fruit and nut muesli, stewed dried fruit, fried mushrooms and tomatoes, stewed prunes and freshly-made juices.
(Lunch) butternut soup, grilled corn, cottage pie, avocado and apple salad, red cabbage salad.
(Dinner) vegetable soup, basmati rice, vegetable stir-fry, baby corn and nut salad and avocado mixed salad.

Day 3:
(Breakfast) same as day 2 but with an added option of fruit salad (which on day 2 contained dairy).
(Lunch) potato soup, brown rice and lentil salad, spinach salad and mixed salad.

With each buffet, there was also table with bread and a number of seeds. In addition, there was a 24-hour cold buffet with fresh fruits and vegetables.

On the most part, the food was impressive in that it included variety and was made with care. The soups were made with vegetable stock instead of salt which provided richness in taste while keeping it healthy. The salads were surprisingly substantial and filling due to the use of avocado, seeds and nuts. The chefs also usually approached us to ensure we are satisfied.

A limitation that caught my attention was that the breakfast buffet did not include any soymilk. However, the chef offered to look for some that day and we have requested that they add it as an option in future.

In sum, I recommend Hoogland Health HydroOpens in a new window as a vegan-friendly retreat of good calibre.

Review by Antonia Dlagnekova, May 2012

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The Vegetarian Kitchen

Posted on 26 March 2012

In her excellent book which covers over 140 recipes of delicious meat/dairy-free meals, Melissa Bushby has created a sumptuous, easy to follow book with excellent photographs by Ryno. Food stylist Brita du Plessis has added a range of plates, bowls, dishes that enhance all the prepared meals.

The Vegetarian Kitchen cookery book by Melissa BushbyChallenged by her lactose intolerant husband, Melissa has created a veritable visual cornucopia, from how to purchase ingredients, their storing and preparation while the recipes are broken down into 10 categories. These range from light meals and side dishes, salads and soups all the way through to the home herbalist.

In her introduction Melissa explains that many of her ingredients are home grown and encourages us to source locally. One of the dishes I tried was the Sweet Potato and Courgette Fritters. Easy to make, her recipe instructions are brief and follow a logical sequence, which is often not the case in many cookbooks! I would recommend the Mushroom Pie from the main meal section and the Upside Down Apple Tart from the dessert. In her home herbalist I used her bath salts remedy. They work!!! I cant wait to try to Herbal Tea with a Slimming Twist…..he he he!

This book is value for money and will add to anyone’s library of well-used cookbooks. Melissa’s pen and ink illustrations add worth to this overall quality publication.

The Vegetarian Kitchen by Melissa Bushby published by Struik Lifestyle.

Reviewed by Antoinette Maake – Vegan SA

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A talk on a different approach to vegan advocacy

Posted on 11 March 2011

By Satya Bhat, 23 February 2011

I was invited by a friend to attend a talk by Sarah Rutherford-Smith who is a PHD law student and a lecturer at UNISA. She is conducting a research on taking a different approach to animal rights so that society can view it differently.

A talk by Sarah Rutherford-Smith on the approach to vegan advocacy. Photo courtesy of Satya BhatThe event was hosted by the Vegan Society at a small cafe called Love and Revolution, which is in Melville. It is a homely place that offers hot and cold drinks, various sandwiches, yummy vegan cake and a variety of books to read. It is a social hub for people who have respect for others, even if their views are different.

As I entered the cafe the place was full of people chit chatting. I met a few of my friends there but my taste buds were calling me to the dessert or was it the dessert calling my taste buds? I was told that there were vegan chocolate brownies and I just had to pamper myself, so I made my way to the till and was welcomed by the lovely Ishtar and Jasmyn who are partners and co-owners of the cafe. They know by now about my sweet tooth and cravings for desserts.

Sarah’s talk began just 10 minutes after I arrived. 26 people attended the talk and there were some heated discussions which lasted an hour. Sarah started off explaining how the case of the Ukweshwama-Zulu bull-killing ritual was brought to court by Animal Rights Africa (ARA) to stop the killing of the innocent animals, but the case was rejected on grounds of “freedom of worship and religion”. She went on to talk about Rastafari lawyer Gareth Prince who challenged the court for the use of cannabis in accordance to his Rastafarian religion. The South African government disagreed stating that “any religious practises must be conducted within the framework of the law and must, if necessary, be adapted to comply with the law, as a failure to do so will result in anarchy”. The point of these examples was to express how the court and society find rituals and culture to be of great value and influence but also seem to consider the law. It made me wonder that the law seems to take the use of dagga to be more of a crime than killing of an animal.

Sarah mentioned how society views vegans as activists or protesters, often portraying a negative image. So the idea was to consider veganism as a form of culture rather than an animal rights movement. Cultural rights brings more focus on oneself and society which some people may find easier to relate to. It seems that society is more about oneself; same cause just a different approach to get what we want. Our approach must not be aggressive but we could rather plant a thought in a person’s mind. Veganism should be seen more as a way of life.

So how can we get society to see what we are all about and bring some sort of understanding? Let us think about branding. Sarah mentioned that when people have to decide where they should put a donation: breast cancer or animal rights, most often the answer is breast cancer, not that people may think that breast cancer is more important than animal rights, it’s just that the awareness of breast cancer is greater. So when we try and portray animal rights we should consider slogans, symbols and brand equity: “What do people want to be associated with?”

After a 20 minute talk the floor was open for discussion. Some people were open to Sarah’s idea, while others were very sceptical. So the main question that was raised: When and how do we start this religion? We could try by being positively visible to others to bring more awareness to all. A great start would be by marketing at schools, universities and colleges, after all, the younger generation are the future of our country.

Allow people to take their own steps to veganism: remember a small step can lead to a giant leap. For some it’s easy – it can all happen in a day but for most it takes some time, for example starting with the programme of Meat Free Mondays which Fry’s and Vegan SA supports. People can be educated in increments rather than being overwhelmed by it.

Open people’s minds to look at animals differently: we find many people who adore their animal companions and would never want any harm to them, so use what people can relate too, to follow a good cause. Try and make animal activism socially acceptable by involving celebrities and talking about it without bringing any judgements on others.

A man who has started a vegan catering company mentioned that most of his customers come there because the food is tasty, healthy and quite affordable, not because of animal rights. Yet when you look at it, tackling what people want (like healthy living), in turn we can tackle what we want (like animal rights). More people read the newspaper, a glamour magazine or a “you” magazine than they would a vegan one, so why not put a vegan/animal rights article where the public can easily view the information?

There were also people who absolutely disagreed with everything above. They did not feel that we should be branded or labelled and that people should naturally from their hearts know what is the right thing to do. But off course, everyone is different and if we want to influence everyone we should think as if we are the other person.

The discussion ended off with the Vegan Society mentioning that there would be more events and picnics yet to come with the next one at Leafy Greens in Muldersdrift around the 13 March 2011.

External Link: All-Creatures.orgOpens in a new window

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A Vegan Society Picnic in Johannesburg

Posted on 22 February 2011

By Satya Bhat, 29 January 2011

The Vegan Society was planning on having their first picnic in the Johannesburg area. Some of my friends attended to find out what this was all about.

Vegan Society picnic at Zoo Lake, Johannesburg. Photo courtesy of Satya BhatWe all had to bring a vegan item to share with each other. Something like a Potluck Picnic. So I decided to make a traditional Konkani dish called ‘Muskud’, which is like a semolina banana pancake. It is one of my favourite sweet dishes, but off course nothing can beat the ones made by my mom!

As usual, my sense of direction needs a lot of working on, I got lost in Zoo Lake! After several calls and walking around the place looking for the picnic, I finally found it. I was parked on one end of Zoo Lake while the picnic was on the other end. Well, can’t complain really.

With all that worked out, I was hungry. We shared our food and made conversations to get to know each other. Some people from Beauty Without Cruelty were present with their 2 dog companions. I tell you, do not judge one by its size – the small little white dog was a feisty one barking at us, while this huge black dog that could probably stand on its 2 feet and be taller than me was the gentle one. Please forgive me for not knowing the species of dogs.

I spoke to a Rastafarian who follows vegetarianism and a Fruitarian who came along with a box of mangoes. I got inspired to eat more fruits, I do love mangoes and watermelon. Ariel, master mind of Freefood Products came with a whole tray of delightful Carob Cacoons. Oh my sweet tooth! He supplies gluten free products to stores like Fruits and Roots in Bryanston, Greenside Cafe and some Spars. Some of the other items he makes include vegan cheese made from baby marrow and gluten free pizza bases. Anyone interested in stocking the Freefood range for their store or restaurant can contact Ariel at

It was 5 pm and I was tired, I bid my farewells and I left the picnic yet again learning new things about people and making new friends. Looking forward to the next event!

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Review: A Japanese Un-cooking vegan class

Posted on 7 February 2011

By Satya Bhat

Being a vegan myself for just 3 years and vegetarian for 13 years, I am used to eating food that is cooked and has spices. But since October 2010, attending the Vegan Society South Africa’s functions and meeting other vegans, opened a whole new door to the World of FOOD. I have been exploring tastes of other cultures so yesterday (26 January 2011) I went to a Japanese UN-Cooking class conducted by Brittany Kesselman. I have heard so much about her and her raw vegan cookery classes for months now from friends and I just had to see what she was all about.

The Jozi (Un)Cooked vegan class. Photo courtesy of Satya BhatI was quite sceptical as everything would be raw, yet excited to try something new. The menu included; Sushi, Teriyaki Vegetables and Green Tea Ice-cream. I thought: raw vegan sushi? Is sushi not normally made with rice? How would we make it? Parsnips … words cannot describe it! But let me try. Brittany made magic – converting simple to amazing! My absolute favourite: Sushi and the Green Tea Ice-cream! YUM is an understatement.

6 ladies attended the class and left with amazement at the new flavours and with new friendships. I had the fortunate opportunity to taste Brittany’s Coconut Ice-cream which was not part of the class. It is vegan but not raw. This was the winner to my heart! It had a smooth creamy texture. My craze for sweetness caused over indulgence in probably half a kg of ice-cream. BUT certainly no regrets at all! Because it was full of nature’s goodness, free from artificial chemicals and processed foods and unknown ingredients. My mind was in peace.

If you love food, love to eat and love your health then Brittany’s JOZI (UN) cooked: A Raw and Vegan Food CompanyOpens in a new window is a MUST! Brittany’s next class will be on Thai flavours. She also takes orders for Raw Tuesdays and supplies some of her foods at selected food stores. With her natural curiousness for flavours, she is making new creations. She makes a superb cashew nut cheese which I have yet to taste. For her latest updates and recipes stay posted on her website.

Some insight in to Brittany’s cooking:
“I have been vegan for 17 years. I became vegan for ethical reasons, though I believe I have stayed vegan for a combination of ethical, environmental and health reasons.

I became interested in cooking when I became vegan since I suddenly needed to worry about feeding myself; the rest of my family wasn’t even vegetarian. Since then I have become more and more interested in the many different cuisines of the world and have experimented a lot with cooking. I have been working with raw food for just over a year now. I am mostly self-trained, though I did spend a month training in the kitchen of Pure Food and Wine, a gourmet raw restaurant in New York.

When I make raw food, all of the ingredients are completely natural, plant-based ingredients.”

External link: Jozi (Un)cookedOpens in a new window

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The Raw Luck Club – a review

Posted on 5 February 2011

Sometime in the last week of November, I was sitting in Greenside Café and came across this pamphlet, mentioning about a Raw Luck Club. It happens to be a monthly function held at a venue where those who wish to attend need to bring a raw vegan dish and a small venue fee of R20. It was just 2 days then since I had missed the most recent one and they were taking a break in the December holiday season. I just had to make it for the next one.

The vegan Raw Luck Club. Photo courtesy of Satya BhatBeing quite a new bird to raw food, I decided to make a salad consisting of avocado, cucumbers, bell pepper, tomatoes, onions, sprouted brown lentils, raw flax seed powder, raw sesame seed powder and crushed sun dried curry leaves. It took me 3 days to sprout my own beans and I was so proud of them.

To be raw, the food cannot be cooked above 42°C, so I couldn’t use toasted seeds. The idea is that the nutritional content of the food remains intact when exposed only below this temperature. Now I know that cold pressed oils are actually raw.

So on Thursday 27 January 2011, I attended the Raw Luck Club for the first time at the Regent Hotel which is situated in Sandton. I arrived there just a few minutes before munching started and set my salad on the table with the rest of the dishes the guests had made.

There were about 50 people who attended. Dr Heidi van Loggerenberg has been hosting this event for just about a year. The theme for the evening’s dinner was ‘Detoxification’, so most of the foods were green in colour. After a short introduction by Heidi, we all had to queue up for the food. I had to take photo’s before the food vanished so, as people queued up, I went around taking my snaps. Finally, I was the last one standing in the queue with my tummy rumbling waiting impatiently to eat!

I met many new and exciting people: Serna and Ayanda from RawWorks who host workshops relating to weight control by choosing what you eat. They are raw food specialists who make wonderful meals that will ease your conscience for enjoying what you eat. Brittany Kesselman from Jozi (Un)cooked and Antonia De Luca from Leafy Greens Café were also at the potluck.

We had an international guest, Jasmine Lovelstzy all the way from the US who happened to have hunted on the internet for this club as apparently RAW Potlucks are quite popular in the USA and some other countries. Jasmine is visiting family in South Africa and is originally from Yugoslavia. She is one with a lovely spirit who was drawn to raw veganism from a very young age.

There were wide ranges of salads, raw sushi, soup, and fruits decorated to be irresistible. Yet again my craving for sweet stuff does not surprise me, I had the desserts first! The top 3 fantabulious desserts which sat at the very end of the table were: Chocolate Delights, some Mango/Granadilla Chocolate Tart and Raw Chocolate/Vanilla Tart. Unfortunately the exact names and recipes I have yet to obtain.

Jenny and Antonia de Luca from Leafy Greens Cafe shared their experience from the Hippocrates Health Institute in Florida in 2010. They were kind enough to provide raw nuts and their special homemade green juice to every guest who attended the potluck.

It was prize time, and people had to fold their sticky name tags and drop them in a hat. 2 little kids pulled out names and 3 prices were given away. The one that I recall is the book: Green for Life by Victoria Boutenko, which talks about the healing powers of greens and green smoothies. We even had a demonstration conducted by Doris Goodenough on how to make one’s own green juice – using a blender and a pillow case. YES, a pillow case – who would have thought about that! A lot of greens, some of which were green beans, cucumber, spinach, mint leaves, were blended together and created a very thick mush. It was then poured into a clean white pillow case that was placed in a container; the pillow case was squeezed to obtain the juice out of it, walla Green Juice. It was passed around for guests to have a taste.

It was time to go home and I discovered my love for raw onions was certainly not shared with most people, most of my salad was left untouched and so I had enough to last me for the weekend. Besides the pungent smell, some people have the notion that onions and garlic causes the body to be imbalanced. Next time I will think twice about onions if I want people to eat my food! This potluck was indeed worth attending! For more information of the Raw Luck Club you can contact Heidi at and find them on FacebookOpens in a new window.

Satya Bhat, 27 Januray 2011

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