Vegan Scene

The DIY Dilemma
November 13, 2010, 8:36 pm
Filed under: ethos/philosophy | Tags: , , , ,
Ecos paints diy vegan casein

This is ECOS animal-product free paint, but I'm not too certain about their plastic pot...

By Daley

Despite all the vegan ethos and yummy homegrown food that gets cooked up around here, things are not always as pretty as they seem. Over the past week, we have been trying to get our heads around the sheer depth of animal consumption and how it infects many aspects of our lives. Sometimes, no matter how hard we think we are trying to avoid it, the results of mankind’s animal exploitation creep up and bite us from the most unlikely of places. This is a cautionary tale of one such occasion.

We have spent the past few months without a fully functioning bathroom, mainly due to the fact that it was never really installed properly to begin with. The walls and floor were bare, and our bathtub was positioned against a window so that we couldn’t add a shower. There were pipes laying all over the place, and  the whole thing looked like it had been fitted by a bunch of cowboys on there lunch break, which as it happens, was the case (but we knew all this when we bought the house…). So,anyway over the past year, I have spent a great deal of time re-routing pipe work,replacing a non existent lintel that should have been above the window, re-laying the floor, plastering the walls, and basically trying to get the place into a basic useable standard. We have gotten to the tiling and painting stage, and it is here where we’ve become conscious of a snag that has always been there.

I was in search of some paint, some gloss paint in particular, for the frame around the bathroom door. I was looking through the endless shades of white and comparing the prices when the warning sign on the side of a tin caught my attention; “Warning: Volotile Organic Compounds content 50 to 70 percent.” I’ve always known that mainstream construction material has a horrible impact on the earth and have a deep interest in “green” alternatives, but suddenly it hit me that I really couldn’t buy another tub of white paint from B & Q.  What on earth would make me want to chuck that stuff around my house? No, in this day and age, there has to be some other product out there that isn’t going to give my body a toxic cocktail. Back home to Google!

I ended up at this site:

The most worrying  yet informative part of the site was the “Animal Ingredients” section. I found out that not only do conventional, everyday paints contain toxic substances that are bad for our health, they are also full of an animal product called casein, which has now become the major part of my living nightmare.

You see, whenever I see a vegan label or decide something is vegan, I will always wonder if this casein i lurking in the packaging (and so will you after reading this). Casein is made from milk and is a product often used in just about everything you can think of that is made from plastic.This article just about covers anything else you might want to know about what products may contain casein:

So, if after you have digested that, and you  haven’t decided to paint the walls a nice shade of red from your freshly slit wrists, you might want to take a trip over to ECOS paints, should you require something less subtle to cover your walls (

Now, the climbing doesn’t get any easier the farther you get up the mountain. For a start there is the price of this stuff. Five litres of white currently runs at £29. 62 , add around a fiver if you want a colour, then add £8 for shipping, because nobody stocks this paint, and you can only buy it direct from ECOS. Don’t forget to add the tax!

I ordered 5 litres of a colour and 1 litre of white gloss. With all that added, it came to a total of £66. And although it isn’t necessarily ECOS Paints’ fault, I am still waiting for the paint to be delivered, 8 days after ordering it. I wonder how many bacon butties have been eaten by the handlers of my lost-in-transit tins of paint.

By comparison, I could have nipped to  the DIY store and bought the conventional equivalent of ECOS paints for around £35-£40 and finished painting my bathroom that evening. I am glad to have bought the ECOS paint over the other options, but it has caused me some headaches. I would like to have posted about what it was like to work with it, however i am still waiting for it to arrive!

To conclude, I’m left thinking about several questions relative to vegan consumerism. How vegan is any product, packaging, or company? A particular product might not contain any animal products, but what about the packaging? I’m quite concerned now that all the “wonderful” plastic products we use and buy will contain casein or some other animal product, and the fact that we may never know for sure is cause for concern.


growing and juicing wheatgrass- without the special juicer!
October 30, 2010, 11:37 am
Filed under: gardening, health, recipes | Tags: ,

I don’t have one of those awesome specialized wheatgrass juicers, so for the past week I’ve wondered what to do with a mop of long wheatgrass growing in the green house. I’ve read that wheatgrass fiber is not digestible by humans, so I felt I couldn’t just lob it in the food processor whilst making a green smoothie. A dear friend came to visit this week and she has had extensive experience with wheatgrass at a raw food wellness centre in Puerto Rico; she even washed her eyes out with it! She offered up the perfect solution: put it in the processor, add water, and strain. She said the end product wouldn’t be as concentrated as the properly juiced stuff, but that there would still be a very nutritious and digestible liquid. Cool!

Yup, the strained wheatgrass/water mixture smells and tastes strong! it may not be as intense as wheatgrass that has been juiced properly, but we're now sat here drinking fresh wheatgrass goodness.

To grow the grass, we simply soaked the seeds overnight, spread them out atop some compost, and made sure the seeds were always hydrated. The seed germinated and grew quickly. I can tell that several servings will grow from this little tray!

creative advocacy
October 27, 2010, 6:13 pm
Filed under: ethos/philosophy | Tags: ,

I saw this highlighted on the Living Vegan blog and I thought it was a pretty cool way to give attention to vegan advocacy .

the current state of things
October 24, 2010, 5:10 pm
Filed under: gardening

the greenhouse


cut and come again lettuce

mulch (aka our lawn clippings) in the bed just vacated by the climbing beans. there's a little strawberry patch and one lone leek at the end of the bed.

kale -in late October it has a long stalk from which leaves have already been harvested. the aphids left town along with the warmer weather, so there's a healthy crop to see us through the cold.

purple Brussel's sprouts looking like they're almost ready for their first harvest.


roasting pumpkins and the last of the magic beans
October 15, 2010, 8:27 pm
Filed under: recipes | Tags: , ,

I’ve been buying pumpkins repeatedly from the farmers market since they’ve been in season.

The first dish I made was a thick pumpkin and coconut milk  soup. I started by baking the pumpkin for about 40 minutes at 200 degrees Celsius after cutting it in half, placing the halves in a casserole dish (insides facing down), and adding about a quarter of an inch of water  to the dish (to retain moisture inside the pumpkin as it baked). I had a small pumpkin, so I also baked a few sweet potatoes for the soup at the same time. When everything was thoroughly roasted, I scooped the beautiful cooked pumpkin out and mashed it together with the potato. Next,  I added the goop to a pot of sauteed onion and red curry paste. Once it was thoroughly mixed, I added a can of coconut milk and about a cup of water. I let this come to a simmering boil before adding a pile of cooked Wisley Magic beans, which I consider to be a delicacy, and some spinach. I seasoned with salt and cayenne pepper. What a delicious way to savor a pumpkin!

adding the beans

...and the spinach


A few days later, we were ready for more roasted gourd, but this time I did not want it mashed into a soup. I wanted to eat it whole and stuffed!

First I made a quinoa stuffing that took only slightly longer to cook than it would to make plain quinoa. It tasted like a tangy white wine (quinoa) risotto. I briefly sauteed onion,fresh oregano, thyme, powdered cumin, and the pumpkin guts I garnered from the halved gourd before roasting. After about 20 minutes (and just in time for my quinoa to boil!) I added the cooked Q, a handful of presoaked raisins, and raw broccoli to the pot. Next, I did something a little bit daring…maybe experimental, but something that ended up creating the flavor for the dish: I got a coffee mug and put a small table spoon of molasses, a big table spoon of miso, a capful of cider vinegar, a sprinkle of cinnamon, 2 cloves of crushed garlic, and just-boiled water, mixed it, and poured it over the quinoa. I put the lid on the mixture and let it sit on very low heat for a few minutes. Then I got my pumpkins out of the oven, stuffed them up with the mixture, sprinkled some dried parsley over the top, and baked the pumpkin halves for another 20 minutes.

The pumpkin was served with a side of seasoned Wisley Magics and a heap of ginger-beet-tomato salad. I made the salad a day before we consumed it, so it could soften and marinade in the fridge. Besides the three ingredients mentioned, it contained a few capfuls of apple cider vinegar.

It was a great dinner but also a sad dinner because we ate the last portion of Wisley Magic beans growing in the yard. They were truly great beans, being that they were hugely plump and creamy. I don’t think there’s anything in the shop that can replicate them. And that said, I will remember them fondly until I grow the next generation….

a green smoothie that’s red
October 10, 2010, 11:41 am
Filed under: recipes

I’m not sure what kind of leaves these are. They’re waxy and red, too waxy to be beet leaf but smaller than rainbow chard. I picked the leaves up at the farmer’s market.

The smoothie was just a mango and a pile of these leaves. It looks like a berry smoothie, and the leaves are surprisingly mild, so it kind of tasted like one, too.

The first frost
September 30, 2010, 9:15 am
Filed under: gardening

Last night was the first light frost of the season. I’m wearing long johns and doubling up my socks. Winter doesn’t mess about in middle England, and summer doesn’t stick around for long at all. I anticipate we’ll need to light our first fire this week or next.

Several posts back, I explained that I began implementing a green smoothie breakfast, and I’ve stuck with it! My favorite smoothie, which serves 2, consists of two huge handfuls of Nero di Tuscana kale, a large mango, and half of a banana. The energy supplied from fresh, raw kale in the morning is impressive. As the cold sets in, I foresee frequent bowls of warm and stodgy steel cut oatmeal in favor of my tropical smoothies. Still, I’m really glad to have stumbled upon the potent green smoothie, and I know that it will be a friend for life.  Verily, it feels a bit odd to be drinking a blended mango while wearing double layered socks and noticing a slick, silvery lining of frost on the shed across the road…

As far as what’s growing on, I’m happy to report that we are still digging up potatoes from our own beds!! I didn’t expect them to last this long. We have not purchased white potatoes since early June!  Next to the potatoes, we’ve got some hardy turnips fast-developing, and our winter lettuce has already given us a few salads. The lettuce are fast growing and seem very comfortable in the protective green house, next to the multi-colored chili plants and young chard, parsley, and leek plants . The kale, broccoli, and Brussel’s sprouts aren’t doing horrible, but the aphids have made them all a bit shabby. The kale in particular is having a tough time- I end up with very few unspoiled leaves at the moment, despite the various tea-sprays I apply. As the weather continues to turn, I imagine the aphid population will die down and leave us alone!

We also have a patch of enchanting, seven foot tall bean stalks, bearing ripe Wisley Magic beans, which will continue producing until mid October:


The green ones are youngest. The flecks develop and become darker with age, and the flesh becomes tough and dry. We added the older, tougher beans to boiling water 5 or 10 minutes before adding the young ones, so that everything was thoroughly tender.