By Leigh-Chantelle
Brisbane, Australia 2007

Veganism is not about rules and regulations, it’s not about constraints and fanaticism.  It’s about doing your part the best way you can to cause the least amount of suffering in this world.  My main reason for adopting the vegan way of life is that I believe that we should not use, kill or cause suffering to any (non-human) animals when there are alternatives available.   I believe we as consumers have many choices and with every choice we make we are lending our voice to what we support or do not support.   

I live in Brisbane and am grateful for the options that exist that were not around when I first became vegan ten years ago.  My family and most of my friends are not vegan, and I’ve grown up having to defend my beliefs, growing stronger with my views and understanding why my choices are important.  I believe in leading by example and inspiring others by encouraging their own steps along whatever path they are walking.  Everyone believes that they do their own version of one hundred percent.  Educate and be educated to all the alternatives that exist in every aspect of your life.

I live with my parents who are more health conscious than they used to be.  My family went on a detox at the end of last year and my parents are continuing with quite a few of the changes made since the detox.  My dad works away every second week, so mostly Mum and I cook for each other and she eats a mostly vegan diet then.  When Dad is home they like to have BBQs (I’ll have tofu or tempeh), but Dad is just as good cooking up a stir-fry.

I always start the day off with a vegetable juice consisting of any of the following: carrot, cucumber, celery, ginger, beetroot, spinach and sometimes an apple, pear or kiwifruit.  I don’t eat oranges or orange juice as I am blood group AB and after cutting them out of my diet I stopped getting headaches.  I only occasionally eat citrus fruits.  Breakfast is Mum’s home-made muesli that contains oats, Abundant Earth puffed brown rice, puffed millet, puffed amarath, sesame seeds, slivered almonds, linseeds, sultanas, raisins or currants with rice or soy milk. I also really like Meriram Bircher Style Natural muesli from Coles.   My favourite soy and rice milk is Vitasoy but So Natural is quite good as well.  I like the flavoured So Good milk boxes as well.  Every now and then for a change I’ll make a smoothie with bananas or berries, cinnamon, molasses and rice or soy milk.

I used to eat toast of a morning, but since the family and I went on the detox I no longer do, but I used to eat rye bread toasted with Freedom Foods soy butter (peanut butter substitute) or vegemite with Nuttelex.  Sol Breads in West End have a great selection of different types of bread and some health food stores also stock these breads.  Coles stock three different types of organic breads in their health food isle, King Henry’s Bakehouse Rye Bread is good as well, mostly from health food stores.  I do love toasted dark rye bread with unhulled tahini, avocado and tomatoes.  Also a similar snack that works for lunch or dinner sometimes is Carr’s table water crackers with avocado, LSA (ground linseed, sesame and almond) mix and tomatoes.  These crackers have wheat and I try not to consume wheat often if at all.  Other brands of rice crackers that I like to eat with King Land or Tofutti soy cream cheese are Eat Rite brown rice crackers with tamari and seaweed or Sunrise fat free rice crackers.

For lunch I usually have leftovers from the night before with fruit and nuts, I also enjoy Pure Harvest Rice Cakes with avocado or hommus and King Land soy yoghurt. I always carry a bag full of snacks to work and have some in the car as well.  My favourite snack is walnuts and raisins, I used to buy the Lucky six-pack from Coles, but now make my own.  Stahmann Farms bring out Pecan power snacks that also come in a pack of six, pecans with sultanas (my favourite) or pecans with fruit.  Sun Valley 100% true fruit snacks are similar to rollups but with no additives whatsoever, just 100% apple or apple and apricot and Orgran also have mixed fruit bars with no additives.  Freedom Foods have a great biscuit range including Blueberry Bliss, Apricot Temptation, Spicy Apple, and my favourites Sticky Date or Zesty Ginger.  Also the simple snack of carrot, zucchini and asparagus sticks throughout the day.         

I love my wok and for dinner usually cook a stir-fry with seasoned seaweed, fried rice, pasta with Health Sense Sations vegetarian parmesan cheese, or curry as they are simple and easy to prepare.  When I have a bit more time or a dinner party to cook for I like to make something more elaborate like curry puffs with Antoniou fillo pastry.  My faourite recipes are in my Viva la Vegan calendars or see vivalavegan.net plus I always use whatever vegetables are in season and in the fridge. I rarely use sauces to flavour a meal, other than tahini or Abundant Earth tamari and don’t use garlic or onion much either. I experiment with my cooking, and frequent Chinese, Indian and other stores that cater predominately to other cultures and who have a wider range of alternatives than most supermarkets.  I do go to Coles more than any other supermarket but mostly shop at Mrs Flannery’s and other health food stores.  I do believe that it’s only a Queensland company, but they have a great range of bulk produce.  Most of the brands I’ve mentioned can be purchased at Mrs Flannery’s, in particular, Nutrition Kitchen (nutrikitchen.com or fayman.com.au) make great whole Soybean angel hair style Pasta using red, black or green soy beans.  There are gluten free and organic brown rice twists from Casalare (casalare.com.au) that are great for a tomato pasta.  Berconia make brown rice macaroni (berconia.com), plus of course Orgran have so many products suitable for vegans, in particular I enjoy their Rice and Corn pasta and lasagne sheets.

I used to drink quite a lot of Dewlands fruit juices that come from South Africa, they have wonderful flavours such as lychee, passionfruit and, my favourite, red grapefruit.  I try not to drink fruit juice much anymore due to the high sugar content.  I drink rice milk or soy milk on their own a lot or for a hot drink, my favourite tea is Twinings Infusion Lemon and Ginger, this is great for the vocal chords as well.  Natureland Peppermint is also good as are Perfect Potion’s array of loose teas.

For a quick microwavable vegan meal, Tasty Bite (tastybite.com) from Coles or health food stores, have Bombay Potatoes or Spinach Dahl with basmati rice, with both of these all you need to do is heat and serve.  I do enjoy going to dinner with friends, either taking them out to experience vegan and vegetarian restaurants or finding vegan alternatives at their favourite hangouts.  I must mention that I was pleasantly surprised recently when enquiring about vegan fare at Montezuma’s Mexican restaurant to find a laminated and lengthy selection of not only vegan options, but also other “food intolerance” options on the menu. I find that many other restaurants now have vegan options and not just vegetarian.   

My favourite places to eat in and around the Brisbane area are: Fundies in Paddington (next to another great health store, Fundamental), Magic Apple in Burleigh Heads, My Heart Garden in St Lucia, Magic Wok in Sunnybank, Pu Kwong in Underwood, the Forest in West End.  There are a few more up the Sunshine Coast and down the Gold Coast, but these are the ones I frequent.  Most of the above places I mentioned serve great vegan cakes and desserts, there’s a dessert restaurant called Freestyle Tout (one at the Emporium, Fortitude Valley and the other at Rosalie) that has a huge lactose free ice cream treat.

Now here’s some of my favourite indulgences to satisfy any sweet tooth!  Soy Good ice cream is delicious with Aktavite or chocolate/fudge sauces completely full of sugar, but good every now and then.  Nudie (the fruit juice company, see nudie.com.au) make Nudie ‘n Ice sorbet six packs, the berry flavour has milk products but the lemon or orange flavours are great.  Leda chocolate biscuits are great, as are the Natural Indulgence range of fruit jelly lollies, I get these from the Confectionary Warehouse on Nudgee Road, but Coles also stock them especially around Christmas.  Orgran make great Buckwheat Pancake mix that can be made savoury but sweet is so much better!  I love the Sweet William range of chocolates but Constant Craving chocolates (constantcraving.com.au) are my favourite, you can order them on the internet or some Chocolate Box stores (in particular at the Melbourne airport.)

I love makeup and I love to dress up, I used to buy my makeup from Aveda but now I get most of my makeup from websites such as Pangea Vegan Store (veganstore.com), alternativeoutfitters.com and veganessentials.com.  My favourite brands are Beauty Without Cruelty (for mascara, tinted moisturiser, loose foundation powder, eyeliner and make up remover), Zia (for liquid foundation and pressed powder that comes in refills instead of buying the whole powder with compact over and over again) Zuzu-Lux (for liquid foundation, lipstick and lip gloss), No-Miss (for all my shimmery eye shadow and nail polish), and Ecco Bella has great recyclable compacts for blush, eyeliners and eye shadows.

My favourite place for lotions and potions is none other than Perfect Potion (perfectpotion.com.au) that started in Brisbane and now has opened stores in Victoria and New South Wales, and I have noticed some of their products can be purchased in health food stores.  The “eros” range is my favourite and I wear this every day along with their chakra essential oil blends.  For a great body scrub try the “detox body buff” I also love massaging raw brown sugar and/or rock salt onto my skin for a good exfoliation. 

I thought I would also make mention of some great supplements that I have used over the years.  Not many places stock vegan supplements, Nature’s Own are mostly vegetarian, but as these are available in supermarkets they are not as good as the practitioner-only products that you can only get in health food stores and the like.  Pangea Vegan Store (veganstore.com) has the best range I’ve seen, just keep in mind the shipping costs.  They have their own great brand of supplements, Vegan Life, as well as stocking sublingual Pure Advantage B-12 spray from Oregon Health.  Dr Gunderson’s Red Iron from Healthworx Direct is in a liquid form and vegano.com can source this.  I find that the liquid versions of most supplements are vegan, but always check labels.  Fusion Health (fusionhealth.com.au) specialise in Chinese Herbal medicines, liquid herbs for most conditions, most health food stores sell this brand.  I know of only a few health food stores that stock Fulhealth Industries liquid Magnesium colloid, but most places will order in for you.

Two items I could not live without are Lucas’ Papaw Ointment and Tea Tree oil (make sure it’s 100% - Thursday Plantation is great)  I use both for their healing and antiseptic properties.  The papaw ointment is great for lip balm, sunburn care, tattoo care, lubricant, or as an intense moisturiser.  Tea tree oil is amazing for cuts, scratches, pimples, sore throat gargle, deodorant, and is essential to have in the cupboard.  I use whatever brand of crystal deodorant I see first at the supermarket, health food store or at the markets and also like Thursday Plantation’s roll-on tea tree deodorants and toothpaste.  I use most of the Nature’s Organics range, in particular I love their scented shampoos and conditioners, as well as using Earth Choice dishwashing and laundry liquids or Aware.           

If you are compassionate, be compassionate.  If not, then learn.  Healing of the self comes from healing others and vice versa.  If you do not contribute to any suffering towards any being on this earth, then you are contributing to the healing of the universe.   Believe in your true powers.  Lead by example.  Let your passions inspire all who come into your contact.  Educate and be educated. Take responsibility for all your actions and live your truths.  This is all for the voiceless.


Since this article appeared on my website, I had an email from one of my readers letting me know that Aktavite is not vegan.

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Leigh-Chantelle is an International Speaker & Consultant; Author, Singer/Songwriter and Blogger.

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