Friday, 28 November 2008

All about... cheese

When I decided to be vegan, I knew that the hardest part would be the cheese. I didn't eat too much meat, but I was addicted to cheese and everything with milk. Cheddar, mozzarella, cream cheese, milk with chocolate, ice cream, etc. But I always loved cheese. But, as everybody knows, being vegan is a matter of choice. Choose between eat without cruelty or eat because of the taste is one of the choices we must do. And I chose being vegan.

Of course it wasn't that easy, but it was worth it. And I got used to eat things with no cheese (or milk) and I was happy with my decision. I think if you're vegan and you're not fine with this, you continue suffering because what you don't eat, you should think again about everything. So, my life was like that for many years. Years without cheese.

One time a friend that went to Europe gave me a piece of vegan cheese. It was the first time I ate cheese in 5 or 6 years. And it was awesome! Sometimes people ask “Why do you want to eat something with the taste of something you don't eat?”. It's simple to me: I'm not vegan because of the taste of food. There are a lot of food that is really good, but I'm always putting it behind my choice. Being vegan is more important. So, if there is a food that tastes good – yes, even like cheese – and that is vegan, I will love it! So, I was really happy to try my first peace of vegan cheese.

After that, I stayed other years with no cheese. And it was fine too. In 2004 I went with my husband to Europe and could eat different kinds of vegan cheese in London. I was like a small child with candies. Couldn't stop eat them! I remember that when I came back to Brazil I wrote an article for a newspaper called “Alice in Wonderland”. Of course, it was about me being in Europe. And here I am, again. And, yes, I still feel like I am Alice in Wonderland. In Dublin they have basically all vegan products made in U.K., so it's really easy to find vegan stuff. If I eat cheese everyday? Yes, I do. Not everyday, but almost. It's so great I can eat cheeseburger, lasagna, sandwiches with cream cheese, etc. The only food I think that is really perfect even without cheese is pizza. I love the marinara pizza (you can read more about pizza here). Of course I want to try a margherita pizza some day, but I'm fine with the options we have here.

Well, living in this heaven of vegan cheese, I thought I was a little bit crazy being so happy with a small thing like that, but these last days I realized something: all my vegan friends in Brazil are crazy about vegan cheese too. Every time I'm chatting with somebody I read “When you come to Brazil, could you bring me some (vegan) cheese?”. Nothing about clothes, or perfumes, or CDs, or vinyls... Just (vegan) cheese!

So, I have to say that (Brazilian) vegans are happier with (vegan) cheese in their lives. Should I start to sell them instead of being a journalist? I think it would be like selling Brazilian beans here ;-)

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Cooking with pleasure

As I wrote here before, I'm not a great cook. Neither my husband. We like to cook sometimes and I just know how to do (fine) a few things like lasagna, pasta, sandwiches and cakes. But some days we are really inspired to cook and this is the best thing.

Nobody needs to love to cook to do it. Most of the times you need to cook (because you need to eat, of course!). Or you can choose to always go out to eat. We enjoy eat at home even when we aren't inspired to cook something special. I admire those people that love to cook. It's a talent. My sister-in-law is one of these people. Every time she goes in the kitchen we can expect great food and dessert. And I have a Brazilian friend that is like that too, but she cooks more food for parties (like snacks and sweeties). Not that we just eat them at parties, we used to go to her house every weekend to watch movies, chat and eat those delicious things. But when she cooks for parties is even better. Last week she did cakes and small sweeties for a reggae party. Everything yellow, green and red! Amazing. I wish I could be there.

Well, the thing is that after I started this blog and after I have had more time at home (I'm not working yet since we moved), me and my husband are reading more about recipes and watching some TV shows about cooking. And it's so inspiring! So we decided to try to cook more things we like. It will not be some kind of obligation because the best part is to make it with passion and having fun. Yesterday was a bad kitchen day. I was so excited to cook my classical pancakes and none of our frying pans worked. It was so frustrating. I got pissed off and we just ate junk food during all the day. But today was a great Sunday with my husband in the kitchen! He decided to go out to buy some special things and he cooked an awesome pasta that he called Penne alla Ferrari. I helped a little, but he did the hard work. And we have had a great time cooking together and an amazing meal!

So, this is our deal: we will experiment lots of recipes every day we feel inspired to cook. And we already have 3 recipes to start: Rice balls from Brazil Nut, pizza from What The Hell Does A Vegan Eat Anyway? and Polpettone from the Italian Veganblog! Thank you for all these inspiring blogs and I'll let you know our experiences some day.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

A beautiful horizon or just Belo Horizonte

I was born in Belo Horizonte (in English it is “beautiful horizon”), a city of Brazil that has approximately 2 million people living there. When I say that to people here in Europe, everybody says it's a big city. Yes, it's big but not that big when we talk about Brazil. Anyway, it's the capital of our beautiful state, Minas Gerais. I like the city, but there's nothing so special there to me... And it's not that easy to be a vegan girl there too. Well, it's getting better, but still far way from perfect.

Vegetarianim/veganism is not that popular in Brazil yet. I say “popular” not meaning a fashion thing, an option that people find to be more healthy. It's just not easy to meet vegetarian/vegan people or find food or products to buy at supermarkets. I thing the worst thing is still going out to eat. There are just a few options and most of them just open during the day. The best thing to do at night is going to some friend's house and cook some stuff there (that's what we used to do almost every weekend!). And when we go out and try to ask about the ingredients it's a nightmare. People just don't understand why you want to know it or why you (these freak people) don't eat meat, cheese and eggs. I will not write today about the most common questions and comments we are used to listen to in this post (this deserves another post!) but I have to tell you the weirdest story about questioning the ingredients happened to us, me and my husband, last year when we decided to call the delivery service of a big pizzeria. We just asked about the ingredients because in Brazil they (many times) use eggs or milk. And we got this answer: “Sorry, we can't tell you the ingredients of our pizza because it's a secret recipe.” What? ? ? As far as I know there are not a lot of recipes of pizza. It's not the secret recipe of Mr. Krabs's popular Krabby Patty burgers (yes, I do watch SpongeBob SquarePants)! But the most used thing people do to us is to lie or just say what they think it could be in the food. They say that there's no milk or eggs or meat. So we had to start to say we're allergic to these products to make them tell the truth (or to be afraid of lie I suppose) and this is so sad.

But, as I said before, things are getting better. There's a fancy area in the town called Savassi and there we can find good places to eat. The first awesome initiative I saw there was in a fast-food place that sells Arabic food (falafel, sfiha, hummus, baba ghannouj, etc). We used to go there to eat falafel and sometimes the manager was there and talked to us. We (and other friends that use to go there) always asked for more vegetarian/vegan options and we tried to explain him how was the vegan diet. Well, one day we saw that the place was closed. We just got in panic. But it was just a refurbishment. When they reopened we were there and we had a great surprise: they did a new menu with more vegan options and they have written “vegetarian” and/or “vegan” right by certain products. Does it seems stupid and natural to you? I have to say that in Brazil most of the places don't do that. So it was like a victory to us, vegan people from Belo Horizonte.

Even about fast-food, the best option it's called Piper Rubra. They serve a great salad buffet and have also burgers (try the pumpkin with curry one, it's amazing), pizzas and falafel balls.

There's just one restaurant I really like. It's not the only vegetarian option, but it's the best for sure. It's a thai food restaurant, a pay by kilo self-service. Really, really awesome. I miss going there. This is probably one of the few places I miss in Belo Horizonte.

And to finish, a tip about a place to take açaí (remember my post about it here): Ponto do Açai. There you can try açaí with strawberries. Perfect!

That's all about my beautiful city for now!

You can find some places contact (in Portuguese) at Gato Negro website.

Pics credits:
Belo Horizonte view:

Piper Rubra pizza:

Saturday, 15 November 2008

All about... my father

Today is my father's birthday. And it's the first year I'm far away and can't celebrate with him. But I will do here a small homage to him, to a man who always helped and supported my choice of being vegan.

When I told the news that I would stop to eat meat at home, it was not a big surprise because I have never been a big fan of meat. So my mother said something like “what's the big deal?”. Than came the second part: I would stop to eat (and use) all kind of animal product. Well, this was a big surprise and something they couldn't understand at that time. For the first one or two years, my father thought it was a kind of “rebellious attitude” that was coming with the punk/hardcore lifestyle. He used to say that it wouldn't last for a long time. Even without understanding (and believing in my choice) he started to help me. First, I was still living with them at that time, so he (and my mother) started change some small, but important things to me, at home. Everything that we could eat together (like pasta, margarine, biscuits) they started to buy the vegan option of (oh yes, pasta in Brazil usually has eggs). And many times he was going to the supermarket, he was coming back with something that he discovered (reading the ingredients) that was vegan.

He has never let any of his friends or our relatives make funny (and stupid) jokes about the vegetarianism. Every time we have been out to eat, he always talked to the manager of the place to ask to some vegan options for me. Every party he did at home, there was lot of food for me. This may seem not a big deal, but most of my friends hadn't the support of the family when they decided to become vegetarian or vegan. And he was there, for me. Trying to make my choice easier in a city and in a time when there weren't many vegan options around. When people didn't even know what was veganism. He was one of this people too. He didn't even know how to explain my choice. When people asked him if his daughter was vegetarian, the answer was always “she is more than vegetarian, she doesn't eat nothing that comes from animals”. This was the way he found to explain the veganism. And I couldn't be more proud.

Today he's celebrating his birthday with friends and family in his house. And I am here. And I will have a big and great vegan salted cake to celebrate!

Happy Birthday, daddy.
And thank you for always being by my side.

PS. 1 I will have to translate this post to him, but it's worth it.

PS. 2 Today is also the birthday of a great vegan Brazilian friend. Clarissa, we will celebrate this day together in Berlin soon!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

All about… places

I love to travel. Probably this is something that most of the people loves too. But as a person who loves to write about food, I think I have some different ways to see things. And one example of this is what I like to see and visit while I am travelling.

I like to go to all tourist places. I love to see the buildings and the architecture, mainly here in Europe that everything is so different from Brazil, a new and poor country. And I love to visit the churches, they are wonderful. And the thing I like most is going to parks and gardens (top 1). The second thing is going to restaurants! This couldn’t be different, right?

From every city I have been, I have a memory of a place. Not always good, but memories. Sometimes I think it’s funny and silly because when people ask me about some places to go to, I have a tendency to talk about restaurants or somewhere related to food. I have to stop my thoughts before open my mouth! But I think I’m not the only one. Most of my vegan friends have always some kind of “food tip” to give too! For example, I have never been to Berlin, but I know that when I will go there, I must go to a fast food place that has the best vegan “chicken cheeseburger” ever and another place that has the best vegan cup cakes ever. This is almost everything I need to know about what I have to visit there!

Well, I could write here many tips of many cities, but I prefer do it separately in other posts because each city has a history that comes with the food or the places. I will finish this post with a general on line tip, which helps us (me and my husband) a lot in our food-experiences-around-the-world: It’s a vegetarian guide that has restaurants locations in USA, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Hong Kong and Singapore. And the best thing about this website is that it has a lot of people opinions and you can compare and know if the place is what you expect or not.

By the way, for those friends that access this blog, you will have some vegetarian/vegan tips of the places I have been too! Enjoy it ;-)

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

All about... being vegan

Many people can think that is a silly thing create a blog to write about food. But I don't care. Food (and drinks) are a good part of my life and I feel good writing about some happy experiences I have with them. And the mainly reason for that is because I am vegan. Being vegan doesn't mean live to eat or to drink. But certainly means care more about what to eat or to drink.

I've been vegan for the last 11 years. Before that I used to think about food to decide what I liked or not. It was easier and it was sillier. And I just realized that when I started to read and talk about being vegetarian/vegan. We are responsible for the world we live in. And I always wanted a better world. Maybe because of that I started to go to hardcore/punk shows and it was there that I started to think about vegetarianism/veganism too. At that time it was normal to know a lot of people that cared about this. It was easy to find books and flyers about it. But even having a lot of information, it's not an easy decision. Being vegan is not just about what to eat or not, it's a lifestyle. You have to change basically everything in your life. But many, many kids at that time took their decision based on just fit in a group. And today most of them are not vegan anymore. Most of them are not even vegetarian. And I don't understand that. Probably I don't want to understand. In fact, I can't do nothing about that because they are decision of other people. But I can be sad. In the same way I'm happy when I see somebody giving the first step to be vegetarian/vegan.

After 11 years, I continue to believe that I'm doing the right thing. That I'm trying to make this world a better place to live. No, I can't change the world. But I can do something to make it better. Being vegan is not the only thing to do, far way from that, but it is one thing to do. To care about the world we live is something that is a part of my life. And it's not just about being vegan. It's about fight for what you believe. And because of that I decided to be vegan. I decided that I can eat without causing suffering, without murder. I decided that the taste is not the best reason to choose my food. And I realized that it's worth it. A lot. Because after all these years I can consider myself a person who eats well, who enjoys food and who still has a tasty food, like everybody. But I can do it without giving up something I really care about. And this is so awesome!

Being vegan is not just about the food. But this blog is and I hope I can inspire some friends with my small thoughts and experiences. I hope some people can just see how great is eat well being vegan, that we can eat most of the things that everybody eats.

And the best thing about it is that even if in the hardcore/punk scene it's not cool anymore being vegan/vegetarian, the world is bigger than that, and I see everyday more people trying to fight for a better world.

One by one, day by day.

(Pic: Vegan Kebab - Juice Vegetarian Restaurant - Dublin)

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Happy World Vegan Day!

World Vegan Day is a vegan holiday celebrated since 1994 on November 1st, the anniversary of the creation of The Vegan Society.

Some links:

In Portuguese:



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