I have been an omnivore my entire life. As an Aussie male, social events throughout childhood and adulthood have been marked by the presence of one continuing theme … bbqs and meat as the centre piece! Well maybe that, good beer, cricket, Aussie rules football, surfing or any other sport that could be watched or played within the confines of a backyard or on a beach.
Work has taken me from living in Melbourne, to Sydney, to Saskatoon in Canada, to Houston in Texas USA and now back to Melbourne. The opportunity to see the world and embrace new customs and cuisines has been phenomenal. Each of these locations had a similar social outlet – good food and great friends. Moving around the world allows you to experience new things, but as a creature of habit I have tended to miss the foods I love to eat again and again. This led to cooking at home more and more to try and replicate the dishes I loved most from around the world.
As an amateur cook (heavy emphasis on amateur – no Masterchef in the making here…) I have enjoyed the process of learning to make dishes that evoke happy memories due to the tastes being forever linked to fun times had with great friends around the world. Classic Aussie snags or chops on the bbq and fish and chips at the beach. Poutine from Canada, and to this day the best Naples style pizza I have ever eaten (in the Canadian prairies?!? What the. Il Secondo you know what I am talking about). Smoked beef brisket and pork ribs from Texas, not to mention Cajun and mouth watering Mexican and Tex-Mex…
Learning to cook has been a humbling experience punctuated with multiple failures (ahem – learnings…). I had wrongly assumed through much of life that you either had an innate talent for cooking or you didn’t. Cooking could not be learned. This view turned out to be completely wrong. Discovering various websites and in particular Americas Test Kitchen led to the discovery of the secret ingredient that so many home cooks and professional chefs already know – cooking is a science and can very much be learned!
Global adventures with work also introduced me to my amazing wife Fiona in Sydney in 2009 and then our much loved fur baby Sasky in Saskatoon in 2012 (Shepherd Husky cross). We adopted Sasky from a rescue centre after serendipitously walking past an adoption day event in a local park near our house. Sadly in June 2018 our beloved fur baby Sasky died after contracting a series of autoimmune diseases including megaesophagus and myasthenia gravis. She had travelled from Canada to Texas to Australia with us and will forever be our ‘first born’. This then led us to adopt another dog in July 2018 named Hannah, a 3 year old Husky Malamute Shepherd cross. One month later our first ‘human’ child was born, Dylan. You may ask were we crazy adopting a new dog one month before our first child was born? The answer is yes. Don’t look at dog adoption websites when grieving…
Why am I telling you all of this and what does it have to do with turning vegan for a year? Two key reasons: (1) watching our dog Sasky die proved to me I didn’t have the stomach to watch animals suffer or kill them, so I was probably being hypocritical buying shrink wrapped mince and sausages from the supermarket without a second thought; and (2) witnessing childbirth and watching Dylan come into the world I couldn’t fathom tearing a calf away from its mother at birth and so dairy became a dilemma as well. And eggs? Let’s just say ignorance is bliss and google can be both enlightening and a dangerous thing.
So I decided that in 2019 I would try to go vegan. Emphasis on I. This is not a crusade to turn everyone else in the world to veganism. It is an individual choice and will not be pushing it onto others (including my family). Many friends and loved ones make a living working off the land and in the dairy and beef industry. They are wonderful people that work extraordinarily hard. Period. This choice is about me. It is also an outlet to fill a void left after our beloved Sasky died and to try and help other animals in some small way. It is also a way to share learnings around more sustainable and animal friendly practices for those that do choose to eat meat and animal produce. We live in an amazing time where more humane farming practices are being implemented every day. A local example is ‘How Now’ Dairy Farm in Australia.
So why a blog? I love to learn, and love to share those learnings with those around me. I am also an introvert and uncomfortable generally engaging with others in a social setting other than those I already know. A blog represents an opportunity to share everything in going from a 100% omnivore to a vegan (as well as being a complete beginner when it comes to blogs… things can only get better from here folks I promise). It also presents an opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone and engage with a global audience… so here goes!
I will make mistakes. Technical from a blog perspective, but also potentially missteps around veganism. That is ok – I have always been fairly binary and extreme in my views, but for once intend to be a pragmatist and am drawing inspiration from Suzy Amis Cameron and her organisation ‘One meal per day for the planet’ which advocates the benefits of changing just one meal a day to plant based rather than animal based. A lot can be said about not being extreme in views. Will try and be vegan, but if I find myself in a situation that makes this impractical then so be it and I will let you know.
In the 365 days ahead, I will publish a weekly blog detailing practical learnings and tips that others can use to avoid some of the pitfalls and fill in the blanks. If you have ideas or suggestions on things to focus on and share learnings about, please yell out and I’ll be sure to do so.
And what happens after 2019? Well you’ll have to keep reading 🙂
Happy 2019 y’all!