It’s hard to write this interview calmly and objectively. Jona Weinhofen is one of my favourite artists of all time, and a major inspiration behind my own move to veganism. Interviewing him was like a major fan girl moment, the fact that he is lovely and kind only served to worsen my swooning. I had the same thing happen when I met him at this years Soundwave in Melbourne where he was helping promote the Carly Ryan Foundation.
Jona is an amazing guitarist, I first discovered him in Bring Me The Horizon, a band he left earlier this year. He plays some wicked stuff with I Killed The Prom Queen (new album early next year!!) Last year, he was named one of the 50 greatest guitar players in Australian history by Australian Guitar Magazine. If you like your music, you’ll like Jona. If you love your animals, and have an interest in veganism, you’ll fall in love with Jona. Join the club!
I asked Jona how long he had been vegan, and was amazed to hear he went vegan 13 and a half years ago. Given Jona is only 30, that’s almost half of his life! He told me that when he was around 15/16 years old he discovered that his two closest friends in high school had both been raised as vegetarians by their parents.
He remembers asking them why and being really intrigued about it. He also started going to local hardcore shows around then and discovered that a lot of the guys at these shows were vegan and vegetarian as well and the more people he met, the more he wanted to learn about why they led this lifestyle. He began doing his own research online and asking his friends and peers a bunch of questions and finding out everything about animal cruelty in the meat, dairy, fur industries etc and soon after he made the decision to go vegetarian and then one year later vegan.
Vegan food is known to be a challenge, but Jona hasn’t found it so. He loves a tofu scramble breakfast and makes a mean cheesecake. In fact, he was kind enough to share his cheesecake recipe with me, it’s at the end of the interview. Take notes. You’re gonna want to make this baby, it’s AMAZING. He also names mock chicken burgers, pizza and pasta among his favourite indulgences. My stomach is rumbling…
I wondered if being on tour would propose a challenge to his eating, but he said that it all depends on the city/country in question. “With aids such as happycow.org and their iphone app, its easier than ever to find vegan/veg restaurants and health food stores all over the world. Since I’m primarily touring Europe, UK, Australia and USA, the amount of vegan restaurants and access to vegan groceries in these territories is ridiculously abundant.”
This makes me think, is the vegan market growing? Is this something that is becoming more and more of a norm in society? Jona thinks so. “I know it is! Issues such as animal cruelty and vivisection (animal testing) are becoming more prominent and I know Australian media has begun shedding light on factory farming through the help of organisations such as Animals Australia. We’re really putting a spotlight on these issues and making them known to the general public so they can understand what goes on behind closed curtains and make up their own mind when they have all the facts.
Veganism is also proven to be growing in popularity with the number of vegans in the USA alone more than doubling since 2009. I think people are beginning to understand that Veganism is a positive move and promotes health, environmental and compassionate benefits. It is no longer seen as a thing for hippys and outcasts to do.”
That’s pretty exciting stuff to read, and I wholeheartedly agree. I had to ask for his favourite vegan products so I could find myself some new goodies. “Goodness, I have so many. i think UK’s Cheezly and USA’s Daiya brand vegan cheeses are pretty revolutionary. I also love the wholefoods chain and visit there often when i am in the USA on tour with my band. Go Max Go Foods Jokerz bars are about the closest thing I’ve found to a snickers bar since being vegan so they’re a nice little naughty treat.” Again, I am reminded that we really need access to Daiya cheese in Australia!
Jona is a pretty regular user of social media, and through this, I learned a lot about being vegan and compassion. I asked him, what’s the one thing about being vegan you’d love people to know or understand?
“There are many things which I’d like people to understand about veganism. I guess I would like people to be a little better informed in general about how our lifestyle has more positive effects around us than any other. There aren’t too many arguments against the vegan lifestyle but the positive affects are plentiful, you’re helping animals, our environment and yourself and your own health all in one go!
There are also a lot of vegan myths which are generally untrue. that we lack in certain vitamins, iron and protein. This could be the case with any diet/lifestyle if you’re eating badly. If you eat a balanced healthy vegan diet, there are nothing but benefits to your health!
I think people should also know that nowadays it is easier than ever to be vegan! With chains like wholefoods and trader joes in the USA, Holland & Barrett in UK and entire health food aisles in Australian supermarkets such as Coles and Woolworths, the amount of vegan products and alternatives on the market today is incredible! People who think we cant eat anything are sorely mistaken.”
I don’t know about Jona, but sometimes I find the negativity that vegans get frustrating. Given he is so vocally vegan on social media, I wonder if this is something he has faced as well. I love his reply: “To be honest once a person becomes informed, their usually aren’t too many criticisms. The conversation may end with ‘Oh I could never do what you do’ but thats just because they don’t have the right motivation, or are lazy, or just set in their ways.”
I tell Jona that he has inspired me, and that if e has inspired me, I can only imagine that hundreds of his other followers feel the same. I want to know what it is that inspires Jona. “It works both ways. when I receive a tweet, or a facebook message from a friend or fan saying that I helped and inspired them to look into or go vegan/veg, that truly makes me happy and inspires me to continue my attempts to make positive changes and impact on the world.
I am also inspired by people i look up to such as other musicians, my close friends and peers and people such as Lyn White of Animals Australia.”
What a guy, right? If you want to know more about Jona, you can follow his tumblr here, his facebook page or his twitter account. He also recommends happycow.org for people trying to find places they can eat around the world. There are plenty of other websites like Peta2.org which have great information and starter packs for new vegans/vegetarians as well.
Jona’s band I Killed The Prom Queen are currently touring, and you’d be mad not to catch them when they are nearby. You can see dates on their facebook page HERE.
Jona’s Peanut butter and chocolate cheesecake!
1 packet McVities digestive biscuits (or alternative like granola etc)
4 tbsp nuttelex (or other non dairy margarine)
2 tbsp sugar
1 tub tofutti soy sour cream (or alternative recipe below)
2 tubs tofutti soy cream cheese
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp unbleached flour
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
Dairy free dark chocolate
4-5 tbsp peanut butter
1. Preheat oven to 160c
2. Crush biscuits into the consistency of coarse flour.
3. Melt nuttelex in a cup.
4. Mix biscuits and sugar in a bowl and stir in melted nuttelex.
5. Press crust mixture into a 9 inch pan or deep dish pie tin.
6. Blend filling ingredients in blender (if using alternative sour cream recipe, ingredients can be added in with cheesecake ingredients and blended. It doesn’t have to be prepared prior).
7. Divide mix in half and add dairy free chocolate to one half, and 4-5 tbsp peanut butter to second half.
8. Pour into crust separately to create layers.
9. Bake for 25-30 mins or until just golden brown.
10. Allow to cool then put in fridge to help set.
You can omit the chocolate and peanut butter and serve plain with berries if preferred.
Alternative sour cream recipe
1 (16 ounce) package silken tofu
1 tbsp olive or canola oil
4-5 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp sugar
Blend 5 mins til smooth. Refrigerate min 1 hour to thicken. Use within 5-6 days.
It’s a public holiday today here in Sydney, so my lovely husband and I decided to take a trip to The Hunter Valley for the day. The Hunter Valley, located a couple of hours north of Sydney, is home to some of Australia’s best vineyards, as well as some amazing restaurants.
My husband and I love the Hunter, and our favourite place to lunch is Amanda’s On The Edge at Windsor’s Edge Vineyard. The restaurant is located on a hill overlooking the vineyards - and yes, the views are incredible.
While Amanda’s isn’t a vegan restaurant, they do have a vegetarian menu with vegan options, and they are happy to try and modify other dishes that are on the menu. Amanda, the owner, is always happy to accommodate us when we’re there, and each time we are surprised by a new and exciting vegan dessert option from the chef. Last autumn when we were there, they made an amazing berry crumble served with fresh fruit, today it was passionfruit sorbet with berries and rhubarb.
Today we sat outside, next to the vineyards, and enjoyed the soft winter sun. You couldn’t imagine a more perfect setting for a relaxing lunch.
Here are some photos from our lunch. If you’re in the Hunter, be sure to check Amanda’s out. You won’t be disappointed!
Tomato, avocado,basil, and roasted garlic salad
Chickpea curry with rice, papadam, and mango chutney
Passionfruit sorbet, rhubarb, and berries
Vegan chocolate sorbet.
Last week I wrote about a question I’m often asked: “What’s the hardest part of going vegan?” Today I thought I’d tackle the other question I’m most often asked: “….Well what do you eat then?!”
I usually let people know that I enjoy much of the same sorts of foods I enjoyed before I was a vegan, I just now have a vegan version. This often takes people by surprise, as I think that they must think I live on a diet of chickpeas, lettuce leaves, and lentils.
For those people that are still unsure about going vegan, I hope what follows next in this post provides you with hope (and maybe even inspiration!) that there is certainly plenty to enjoy as a vegan. I thought I’d share some of the delicious things I’ve enjoyed over the last few days to show that life as a vegan doesn’t mean you go without.
Lunch - steamed rice, stir-fry vegetables with peanut sauce
Dinner - vegan sausages, mash potato, steamed carrots, squash, asparagus with lots of onion gravy.
Breakfast - cheese and tomato grilled on toast, OJ, soy flat white
Lunch - big salad of spinach leaves, tomato, carrot, capsicum, cucumber, and pepperberry dressing
Dinner - vegetarian spring rolls, stir fry tofu and vegetables in ginger and shallot sauce, vegetables and tofu in a red curry sauce, steamed rice (we went out for Thai), vegan chocolate sorbet.
Breakfast - peanut butter toast, double shot espresso
Lunch - stir fry vegetables and tofu in chilli jam and cashew nut sauce with steamed rice
Dinner - vegan lasagne and salad
So you can see I definitely don’t go without! There are vegan options available, they’re delicious, and for the most part, speciality vegan food is readily available. The sausages I used on Friday night, the cheese I used on Saturday morning, and the vege mince I used in the lasagne were all readily available (or similar brands) at local supermarkets, and they are also all available for delivery (in cold packs) from stores like Vegan Online, The Cruelty Free Shop, or Vegan Perfection.
Hope this provides some hope for people considering the shift to vegan life that you definitely won’t go hungry. :)
So I was reading that the 2013/2014 vegan card has been launched. Yay! I was smart enough to get one a few months ago in a set with one for 2012/2013 as well so I am WAY ahead of the ball for once!
This time though, David and Mandy have outdone themselves. Look! They are giving away a TRIP for 2 + 1 nights Accommodation to World Vegan Day Melbourne OR Cruelty Free Festival in Sydney. YAY!!!!
So, to be in it to win it, there are some things you have to do. Vegan Card 2013/14 MUST BE PURCHASED before June 21st. They will be announcing the winner on this date.
Only people who buy the Vegan Card 2013/14 will be eligible to win this prize. When you get your Vegan Card 2013/14 (first shipments go out next week), you must go to myvegancard.com.au and hit the activate button.
You fill out the details to activate your Vegan Card 2013/14, then you will be in the draw.
There are conditions attached to the PRIZE, so please read them carefully. We will be announcing the winner at the Vegan Card launch party at The Green Edge (Brisbane) on the 21st June. Though stay tuned to this space as we have some amazing things planned (if you do not live in Brisbane, we will be streaming it on myvegancard.com.au).
How cool is that? Get amongst it HERE.
And just so you know, to get your $$ returned on the Vegan Card you only have to use it a few times and the discounts more than make up for the price of the card. It’s amazing value - truly, every vegan needs one!
I was asked this question on the weekend as part of an interview I did with the Freedom of Species radio program that airs in Australia. It’s not the first time I’ve been asked this question (or a variation of it) and I’m sure I’ll be asked it again in the future.
Whenever I tell people that food wasn’t the hard part (in fact, food for me was the easiest part), they are often surprised. When I tell people that I enjoy a far wider range of food as a vegan than I did as a vegetarian or a meat eater, they are often surprised. It probably took me 3 or so weeks to find replacer foods for most things I liked (vegan cream cheese, vegan sour cream, egg replacer, mock meats), and within a couple of months I was cooking up a storm with relative confidence. I found I didn’t need to actually learn a whole new way of cooking, for the most part I was able to do a lot of replacing with vegan products instead.
So what was the hardest part of going vegan? Finding appropriate non-leather shoes for work. Non-leather belts. Non-woolen jumpers. Finding out about hidden animal ingredients in my make up. Finding cleaning products that hadn’t been tested on animals. Finding make up that hadn’t been tested on animals. Finding ballet shoes without leather soles. Trying to find candles not made from bees wax. Buying a new car that met my requirements that didn’t have a leather interior… and so on. It took me much longer to find my groove in the lifestyle department. Lifestyle made food look easy!
Now days, I can practically buy all the above in my sleep. I know the brands, products, the places to go to get products that have been produced ethically that minimise environmental impact. Over the coming weeks, I’ll focus on some of these lifestyle shifts and share details of the products, brands, and shops that I use to find vegan products.
A couple of weeks ago, we received a comment on our Facebook page where someone said that animal use is engrained in society. It’s everywhere - and it’s true. It (sadly) is. But with some research, patience and persistence, you can find alternative products.
For those of you who are not aware, Vegan Style is both an online and in person store that sells cruelty-free shoes and products for both men and women. Their physical store is conveniently located upstairs from Las Vegan Cafe at 22 Smith Street, Collingwood, so you can grab a bite on your way out of there in your gorgeous new treads. They’re also online at http://www.veganstyle.com.au/shop/ so you can get your goods all over the country. Bliss. Do we ;ove shoes? Oh my oh my do we love shoes. And Justin from Vegan Style has the best to choose from. I talked to him about the wonder of combining veganism and shoes. Heaven…
Tell us briefly about Vegan Style and how it came to be?
The most difficult thing I experienced when I converted to veganism wasn’t giving up any animal-based food, it was giving up fashionable and stylish shoes. Judging by the applause I hear when I say this at events, I am guessing I’m not alone!
In 2009 my partner and I took 5 months out of our lives to travel; we went to South America, North America and Europe, even staying an entire month in Paris. In this time we came across some wonderful vegan products, both food and clothing. I realised that veganism had come a long way and we no longer had to sacrifice the finer things in life.
I came back from that trip refreshed and eager to try something different. It was around that time that my sister began importing shoes from Brazil, in particular from brands she herself had discovered while living in Brazil. One brand in particular had struck her as being particularly attractive and comfortable; she also noted that this company doesn’t use leather. A quick conversation with the manufacturers confirmed, in writing, that they don’t use animal products in their manufacturing process. I knew there was a market for this product and we decided to retail the products. Vegan Style was born!
From there we continued, and continue, to grow our range by finding vegan products that are both accidentally and intentionally vegan. We now carry some of the major internationally recognised vegan brands, such as Novacas, NeuAura and The Vegan Collection. We are also constantly sourcing new suppliers, which seem to popping up all the time! As we’ve become better known we’re finding that suppliers are contacting us more and more.
We insist that our products not only meet the vegan ethos but are stylish, comfortable and excellent quality. We also eschew products that are made in sweat-shop conditions, we only import from ethical factories in countries with robust worker’s rights laws and with governments who proactively enforce these laws, such as Brazil and Europe. We also have a range of prices to suit different budgets.
How long have you been vegan yourself, and why is it important to you that you promote a vegan lifestyle?
I’ve been vegan for 12 years, before that I was vegetarian for 13. So it’s been about 25 years since I’ve eaten meat. I’ve always had a strong affinity with animals, as a child I grew up with a cat who I adored, however it was when my dad brought home a puppy that I made the connection. I saw the pup asleep in his bed and his leg so closely resembled a leg of lamb or chicken that something clicked in my head and I knew what I really had been eating. I realised I couldn’t eat meat anymore. It took me a few more years to learn what went on in the dairy industry but once I did, I knew I couldn’t support it by consuming any dairy products.
It’s important to me to promote a vegan lifestyle as I believe all creatures have inherent value and the right to live their lives free of the cruelty caused by humans. When you learn how horrific the lives of animals are in factory farms or medical/cosmetic research laboratories, you realise that things you think only happen in the darkest of horror movies, really do exist and are a daily occurrence for many beautiful creatures. I don’t value the lives of one species over another; I believe all creatures have the right to live their lives in freedom. Certainly humans don’t need to consume or use other species to survive, so why do we? We have more and more kind alternatives all the time; we can thrive on a vegan lifestyle, so why not choose a lifestyle that causes the least possible harm?
What is your favourite shoe or accessory in the store right now?
In men’s shoes it’s definitely the Owen shoe. Owen is produced by Novacas and named after a beautiful rescued golden retriever. The shoes are made from waxed canvas and move away from the faux-leather look. They are beautiful quality and quite striking with their red sole.
I have two favourites in the women’s range. I really love the Arisa flats, both the black colour, with its gorgeous rainbow hues, and the champagne colour. I think they’re the most stylish flats we’ve ever had available and are perfect for eveningwear, as well as day wear.
I also love the new colour block heel by Vizzano. A mix of watermelon, beige and black, this high-heel is striking! Vizzano is a Brazilian company and all our shoes made in Brazil are exceptionally comfortable, our customers are always impressed at how comfortable the sky high heels are!
We also have a new range of shoes from a supplier, di Romeo. These shoes are designed and made in Italy, they’re not just animal-friendly, but environmentally friendly too. Plus they are incredibly stylish and amazing quality.
You have a fantastic online presence; do you find the store front or the online shop more popular?
They seem to be about even. The store has only been open a few weeks and our trading hours are still very limited (Friday 6 to 9pm, Saturday 12 to 6pm). There have been many days in the store where we haven’t had a minute to breathe, the store gets very crowded at times. Both the physical and the online store have grown significantly over the last few months and I’m finding I need really focus on having enough stock just to ensure we keep up with demand.
Having a store front is great fun, we often bring in a kitten, or two, that we are fostering, which helps with socialisation of the cats and, let’s face it, our customers love animals and really love to come and say hi to kittens. Not that I’m using kittens to draw customers into the shop! That would be animal exploitation. ;-)
What other vegans do you admire? Who or what inspires you?
There are so many people!
We were inspired by vegan friends in Paris who had just started The Gentle Gourmet B&B, right near the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, they were really passionate about how they could make a vegan world. They have now opened an amazing vegan restaurant, called The Gentle Gourmet Café, in Paris that has the most amazing food! They are also responsible for Paris Vegan Days, an event I’ve been fortunate enough to attend. It was typically Parisian with a focus on food and fashion.
We are also regularly inspired by our close friends Mel and Naty of Las Vegan Café are pretty amazing. They are not in the business to make money, but to bring excellent vegan food to everyone, at ridiculously affordable prices. They are also willing to dream big and have a wonderful vision of a vegan future.
Another dear friend, Souraya of Hello Vegan, who’s currently building her business and filling the gap of ethically produced jewellery, she’s also a fellow animal foster carer. In fact, I really admire all the rescue/fostering organisations run by vegans, you guys do an amazing job and I’m happy to be able to help out.
I also really admire Patty Mark who started up Animal Liberation Victoria all those years ago, she has done so much for animals, but doesn’t seem bitter or angry despite what she’s see. I admire the amazing work that ALV do.
I really admire Erica and Sara of Moo Shoes in New York; they supply our Novacas range, but also run their own shoe store in New York. I had the chance to hang out with them in NYC recently; they’re both such warm and friendly people. They do this because they love animals too. I hope Vegan Style will be like Moo Shoes when we grow up!
I can’t decide what I feel like more after this. A trip to Paris… new shoes… I NEED BOTH. Thank you Justin, we love your store and everything you’re doing. You are a wonder! Vegan Style also have contributed a voucher for our competition, you could absolutely get your toes into some of the most stylish shoes about for nothing. Go enter. Quick.
Late last week, I watched a brilliant video from a talk given by Damien Mander the recent TEDxSydney event. Damien is an environmental activist, and the founder of the International Anti-Poaching Foundation.
Damien spoke at TEDx about the events that had a profound impact on him, that led him to liquidate all his assets, and devoting his life to raising awareness of the environment, animals, and the horrors that they suffer at his new home in Africa.
At the heart of Damien’s speech is the idea of speciesism. Before I went vegan I’d never heard of the term, and i’ll be honest in admitting that it took me a while to get my head around it. So what is speciesism? Speciesism involves the assignment of different values, rights, or special consideration to individuals solely on the basis of their species. In most modern societies, speciesism is evident almost everywhere - it exists when we see the lives of some animals valued more over others - for example, to treat dogs or cats the same way that cows, chickens, or pigs are treated would see you charged with animal cruelty, yet it’s considered “acceptable” to treat these animals this way because their lives are seen as less valuable. We see speciesism at play when non-human animals are seem as commodities, when property rights are more important than preventing animal cruelty, or when human interests matter more than the wellbeing of other animals.
If you have a spare ten minutes, I’d encourage you to watch Damien’s TEDx talk. At the end of hisspeech, he asks the audience to consider this question: “next time you have the opportunity to make a difference for animals, will you be brave enough? Yes or no.” My hope is that the next time you have an opportunity to make a difference for animals, you will always choose a kind option that spares animals suffering, pain, or confinement.
You can watch Damien’s speech here - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FCsyK4aRXQ
You can read more about the International Anti-Poaching Foundation here - http://www.iapf.org/en/wpin/reports/view/1
Hello friends! Have you seen Two Vegan Girls’ Creating The Connection competition? We are looking for Australia’s best fiction, poetry, photography, and drawings (digital art too!), all around the theme of animal protection and rights. Our benefactors are the awesome people at Animal Liberation Victoria and Edgar’s Mission; they do such amazing work for our animal friends, and we want to support them to continue to do this on behalf of all of us who know that every life is precious, regardless of species.
If you’ve taken a great photo of an animal recently, or you’ve got a cool poem, story, or drawing that you’ve done that shows how much you love animals, we’d love to see it! You could win some amazing prizes - in fact, today, we’re announcing exactly what we have up for grabs for those of you who enter. Check this out!
Grand overall prize
Worth over $1000! Our overall winner will receive an Optimum 9200 blender from the brilliant folks at Froothie. Additionally, they will secure a place at the amazing vegan cooking and yoga retreat from Hepburn Retreat Centre in Victoria*. That’s two nights in gorgeous spa country learning how to make beautiful vegan meals and unwinding with yoga classes daily.
Further to the grand prize, we also have over $200 worth of prizes in each category to be won!^
Over 18 Categories
Other Written Works (Poetry, song lyrics, plays) Vegan Perfection voucher, Adorn Mineral Cosmetics voucher, your very own 2013/14 Vegan Card, lunch for two at Kunara Organic Marketplace*, a Cruelty Free Shop voucher, and soap and lip balm from Seventh Tree Soaps.
Visual Arts (photography, drawings, paintings, digital art) An eco beauty mineral make up starter kit from Maeve Botanicals, a box of cupcakes from Mister Nice Guy Cupcakes*, a voucher for a gift from Hello Vegan Jewellery, camera house print vouchers*, and $100 of product from Botanical Cuisine.
Under 18 Categories
Other Written Works (Poetry, song lyrics, plays) An Addiction Food voucher including postage, 5 unreleased flavour 30g tubs of Spun Fairy Floss, a massive pile of chocolate from Pana Chocolate, and an Adorn Mineral Cosmetics voucher.
Visual Arts (photography, drawings, paintings, digital art) Yummy cookbook - Chloe’s Vegan Desserts, beautiful soap and lip balm from Seventh Tree Soaps, a voucher for a gift from Hello Vegan Jewellery, a Warbotanicals gift pack, and vouchers from Vege2Go* and Vegie Bar*.
Entries are just $5 each, or 5 entries for $20 and can be submitted via email and by the paypal link on the comp page. All ages are welcomed, and if you’re worried you’ve no creative bone, get your kids, nephews or nieces to draw a fab pic and send it in to us in their name!
So don’t wait any longer – get your entry into us for your chance to win these amazing prizes!
For more information about the competition, check out www.twovegangirls.com.au/competition
^Terms and Conditions
1. Some prizes are only available for collection/use from the business donating the prize. These prizes are referenced with a * after the name of the prize in the prize listing. All other prizes will be sent to the winner upon supply of a mailing address.
2. All expenses associated with the collection/use of a prize are the sole responsibility of the winner.
3. No prize is redeemable for cash.
4. Prizes are subject to change.
5. Judges decisions on winners are final and no further correspondence will be entertained.
6. Australian entries only
7. Entries must be printable and must be animal rights based.
8. Submissions must be the original work of the author, not having previously won a cash prize, been published or broadcast nor submitted concurrently elsewhere.
9. By entering this competition you give permission for Two Vegan Girls to print works, artwork must be provided in minimum 10cm x 10cm, 300dpi, high quality TIF or JPEG images
10. Entrants gain no monetary conciliation from the sale of the book containing winning entries.