Hong Kong – Day 1, 2 & 3

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This is just a quick snapshot of my holiday to Hong Kong and a bit of a memoir of my experiences.

Day 1: The Day of Arrival.  After dropping off my bags at the hotel, I spent the day wondering around the little lane ways in Wan Chai.  This part of the town was less developed than the CBD.  I realised that I underestimated the language barrier.  The lane ways were covered in small stores and outlets.  There was no order to how the shops are situated. For example, there were meat stores shoulder to shoulder with ladies lingerie shops.

Wan Chai, Hong Kong 2017-04-22

Day 2:  Less disoriented after a decent night’s sleep.  This is when I noticed how ridiculously busy this town is! Seriously, it seems like people are in such a hurry.  Aside from when riding the escalators I have not  many positive social etiquette from people here.  There is no concept of “giving way” to others when walking.  I have been impressed with the city’s transport network however.  The train network, which is almost identical to London’s underground metro, is efficient and fast.  Oh and their Octopus card, which is like the ‘go card’ in Australia, can be used not only for transport but also as an eftpos card in general.  I thought this was super cool 😎 

Happiness Square, Wan Chai 2017-04-23

Day 3:  I visited the Victoria Peak, which is probably one of the top 3 tourists attractions of the city (the other 2 in my opinion are Disneyland & Macau).  The highlight of the day was riding the Peak Tram.  The tram has been operating since 1988 and has a maximum slope of nearly 45 degrees (48% gradient).  Tram ride is a MUST in my opinion.

View from the Peak Tram 2017-04-24

My travel tips for Hong Kong based on my first 3 days here are:

  1. Be prepared to battle the crowd.
  2. Be prepared for a language barrier.
  3. Be prepared for confronting scenes of animals in meat stores (dead & alive), especially if visiting areas outside of the CBD. 
  4. Enjoy the efficient transport network.
  5. Eating out is not as cheap as I thought it would be.
  6. Very limited vegan options (at least any that is clearly marked), slightly less limited for vegetarians but an abundance of exotic food to try if you eat meat (snake meat anyone?)

I hope you enjoyed this post and maybe find it useful if you are planning to travel to Hong Kong.  Please share your own experience if you’ve travelled to Hong Kong ❤️

Sexism?

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I watched the Married at First Sight (MAFS) Australia episode 18 last night (7/3/2017).  I rarely watch the show but I do read the re-caps.  Anyway, I want to write about one of the show’s couples: Cheryl (25) and Andrew (38).

Andrew bagged out Cheryl in derogatory ways during a boys’ night.  Some of the other “boys” didn’t agree with his conduct and decided to tell Cheryl.  When Cheryl confronted Andrew about his behaviour and what was said, he either denied or said he couldn’t remember.  Gas-lighting much?  Moreover, all but one of the “boys” sided with Andrew.  This is a television show so everything was filmed.  There was no denying Andrew’s appalling conducts but here is the thing.  How much of this happen in real life?  I am guessing HELL OF A LOT!

I was disappointed to see men over middle age act so childish and treat others (a woman in this case, but could’ve been anybody regardless of gender) in such a derogatory manner.  When Cheryl tried to confront the situation, Andrew mocked and made fun of her in front of their entire group.  Nobody batted an eye lid!  How did we come to this?

It scares me to think that Andrew and others’ behaviour are not isolated.  Young men these days don’t take responsibility and own up to their mistakes.  More and more people succumb to the bystander effect.  Is this the world we have to live in?

Cheryl was bullied on national television last night.  Andrew was the bully.  The remaining 10 or so team members didn’t say anything.  Does that make them accomplices?

This is what one Facebook member said:

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I want you to know Andrew’s behaviour is unacceptable.  I also want you to know that it is not ok to stand-by.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere ~ Martin Luther King Jr.

Creamy Basil Pesto & Mushroom Fettuccine (vegan)

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Hey there,

I made sensational creamy basil pesto & mushroom fettuccine today. It was inspired by the vegan roasted garlic alfredo by Carrots and Flowers but I added my own little twists to it.

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This is a delicious, cruelty-free (100% vegan) dish. Add gluten-free pasta and BOOM – it’s gluten free also. Here is the recipe:

Creamy Sauce Ingredients
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 1  avocado
  • 1/2 cup of nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup of hemp seeds
  • 3/4 cups of water
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon to squeeze (or 2 tsp of lemon juice)
  • 10 basil leaves (average size)
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • 1/2 tsp of ground black pepper
Pasta Ingredients
  • 500g of fettuccine
  • 250g of mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup of leeks
  • 1 broccoli head
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • salt to taste (optional)
  • ground black pepper to taste (optional)
  • Parsley for garnish (optional)

Method

Sauce

  1.  Add all the sauce ingredients (garlic, avocado, nutritional yeast, hemp seeds, water, olive oil, lemon squeeze, basil leaves, salt and pepper) into a blender. Optional: pre-roast garlic with a bit of olive oil.
  2. Blend well.
  3. Turn off the blender and taste test. Add salt & pepper to taste if required and blend again.
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All sauce ingredients in the blender, ready to go

Pasta

  1. Cook fettuccine in a pot of boiling water.
  2. Drain the fettuccine and wash pasta to get rid of that starchiness.  I find this helps untangle some of the pasta stuck together.
  3. Get a large saucepan or a wok and heat 2 tsp of olive oil.
  4. Once the oil is hot add leeks, mushrooms and broccoli. SautÊ for 5 minutes. You can pretty much add any vegetable you like here. Try onion for extra flavour.
  5. Add pasta and stir through the vegetables.
  6. Add the pasta sauce and stir through.
  7. Add more salt and pepper to taste (optional)
  8. Serve.
  9. And most importantly, ENJOY!

 

What Children Learn from Animals in Circuses

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On 14 January 2017 Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus announced that they will be closing down permanently as of 21 May 2017.  They will perform a few shows between now and the 21 of May 2017, but after that Ringling Bros no more.

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus is a United States traveling circus company.  Their main show is called “The Greatest Show on Earth” which includes animal performances such as camels, monkeys, dogs, horses , lions, tigers,and elephants.

Without even touching on the inherent cruelty in training and confinement of the animals, some people would still argue that animals in circuses are a good way for children’s education.   I completely disagree.

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Animals in circuses teach children that it is ok to confine somebody for our entertainment.  It teaches children that it is perfectly ok to confine, abuse, and objectify non-human sentient beings if that entertains us.

Up until the mid 20th century (1950s) the western countries such as the United States hosted freak shows using unwilling participants as a form of entertainment.  Up until the similar era the United States also displayed African American humans in zoos.  These are instances where we have confined, abused, and objectified other human beings for the sake of “entertainment”.  In modern society, anybody who identifies as a “normal” person would be shocked if freak shows and zoos with humans re-opened.  How is using animals for “entertainment” different?

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Where is the evidence to say that animals “want” to be in zoos or perform in circuses?  Most of the animals used in circuses are non-domesticated animals that are either captured from the wild or bred in captivity.

Animals in circuses teach children that it is OK to dominate and control other beings if they are “different” to us.  they teach that objectifying and using others for personal entertainment is ok.  This creates a lack of empathy in children that could carry into their adult life and adversely affect their human and other non-human interactions. As if our society doesn’t have enough social problems already.

See another article about this topic here.

The well known Australian moral philosopher and animal rights activist Peter Singer said:

“When children see animals in a circus, they learn that animals exist for our amusement. Quite apart from the cruelty involved in training and confining these animals, the whole idea that we should enjoy the humiliating spectacle of an elephant or lion made to perform circus tricks shows a lack of respect for the animals as individuals.”

I welcome the permanent closing of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus in May 2017.  I just hope the retiring animals are surrendered to reputable sanctuaries to live out the remainder of their lives.  Sadly there are already talk of them being surrendered to other cruel industries such as animal research facilities.  Such is the fate of this lot of unfortunate animals.  My silver lining of  hope is that other circuses follow Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus lead and cease animal performances so that new animals are not captured and bred into this outdated industry.

Why Vegan?

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Those who follow my blog know that I am passionate about veganism.  Wikipedia defines veganism as “both the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, and an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of animals.”

I became vegan 3 years ago, at the end of 2014.  Before then I followed a vegetarian diet (I didn’t eat meat but still consumed dairy & eggs).  You can read a summarised version of my vegan journey here.

Since I’ve become vegan I have discovered so many health benefits that I’d like to share.

Improved Mental Health

I am not claiming that a vegan diet would cure mental illness however, I found that since aligning my actions with my core values of kindness and compassion, I am fundamentally happier.  This is because I see the world through a different lens – a lens without the ‘invisibility cloak’.

Dr. Melanie Joy, the key founder of Beyond Carnism, explains the invisibility cloak as “Carnism”.  Listen to her TEDx talk on Carnism.

Carnism is the invisible belief system, or ideology, that conditions people to eat certain animals. Carnism is essentially the opposite of veganism, as “carn” means “flesh” or “of the flesh” and “ism” refers to a belief system.

Once I shifted my belief system from Carnism to Veganism, I felt a weight shift off my chest.  I felt at ease with myself in a way that I had never felt before.  I no longer participated in unnecessary violence toward other sentient beings, and that felt better than eating any type of animal product ever did!

Better Food Choices

Once I made the conscious decision to become vegan, I had to shift my mentality about food.  Food I previously consumed became no longer food.  Rather I saw those as body parts of dead sentient beings, and products of cruelty and injustice.

I learnt about alternatives to meat and diary.  I made my diet entirely plant based.  This is also referred to as a vegan diet, or simply ‘vegan’ (although being vegan is more than a diet – see end of the article).  My simple google research revealed how much nutrition can be obtained from a plant based diet.  Vegan Easy is an excellent source for loads of vegan recipes and other resources about plant based eating.

Also check out Australian Guide to Healthy Eating.  This is the national guideline in Australia for a healthy diet!  Look at the five good groups.

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The entirety of the Grains, Vegetables and Fruit categories are already vegan. These 3 groups alone make up more than two thirds of the circle!

Then there is the “Dairy” category for calcium and “Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds” category for protein.  These are the only categories with animal products.  As the name suggests protein can be obtained from tofu, nuts and seeds.  Meat, poultry, fish and eggs can easily be replaced with other plant based sources of protein such as lentils, quinoa, tempeh, beans, grains, and broccoli.

Dairy is the other concern many people have when considering a vegan diet.  Most people believe that dairy is the only source of calcium.  Calcium is important for strong and healthy bones but there are many plant based sources of calcium.  These include leafy greens (e.g. kale), collards, broccoli, okra, figs, oranges, almonds, pistachio nuts, hazelnuts, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, soybeans, chickpeas, navy beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, lentils, tempeh, tofu, fortified non-dairy milks, fortified soy products, fortified breakfast cereals, and fortified orange juice.  Visit Vegan Easy for loads more information about healthy plant based diets.

While I didn’t suddenly become invincible to illnesses, my sinuses became less frequent and my blood results showed that my overall health has improved over the last 3 years.  My vitamins, protein and cholesterol levels are well within the healthy ranges.  Before I became vegan, before I was even vegetarian, I was often anaemic.  Since I changed my diet my iron levels have consistently been in the healthy range.

I am not saying that cutting off meat and dairy will miraculously make you immune to every disease.  There are certainly naughty foods that are still vegan (100+ naughty vegan food) – fried chips or nice cream anybody?  What I am saying is that it is entirely possible to live and thrive on a well balanced plant based diet.  The only supplement that is universally recommended with a plant based diet is vitamin B12.

Still concerned about health impacts of a plant based diet?  Consult a qualified dietitian! For those who live in Brisbane, Australia, ‘Human Herbivore‘ is a good website.

Other Benefits

Apart from mental and physical health benefits at an individual level, there are also wider scale benefits from being vegan:

1) As vegans we would not only stop consuming animal products but we would also stop contributing to the suffering in clothing (e.g fur, leather & wool), entertainment (e.g. circus animals, aquariums & zoos), medicine/laboratory experimentation (e.g. cosmetic testing), and working animals (e.g. horse-drawn carriages).  There are loads of vegan friendly alternatives to choose from.

2) We would significantly reduce the carbon footprint on our planet.  I aim to write a post about the water consumption and land clearance associated with animal agriculture and non-animal agriculture.

3) Generally, we would develop an increased awareness toward other social justice issues in the world such as; poverty, child labor, sexism, LGBT rights, racism and all things in between.  Dr. Melanie Joy explains why eating animals is a social justice issue because commodification of animals is a result of a widespread oppressive system just like racism, sexism, and heterosexism.

Ultimately, cultivating compassion and justice is not simply about changing behaviours; it is about changing consciousness so that no “others,” human or nonhuman, are victims of oppression.  To bring about a more compassionate and just society, then, we must strive to include all forms of oppression in our awareness, including carnism. – Beyond Carnism

So what are you waiting for? Order a FREE vegetarian starter kit today!

Blackfish Dies

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If you haven’t already seen, you must watch Blackfish. It’s a documentary about orcas in captivity – in particular follows the story of one orca, Tilikum –  and exposes the adverse impacts of killer whales (i.e orcas) in captivity. 

The documentary adds an emotional anchor to keep the audience engaged as it tells how Tilikum was captured, torn away from his family at the tender age of 2 years (orcas have a similar life span to us), and ended up in Sea World. It is a heartbreaking story of his life as an unwilling performer at Sea World for over 25 years. Before Sea World, Tilikum spent some years during the 80s & early 90s at ‘Sealand’ which has since been shut down.

It highlights that the orca entertainment industry is destructive, not only to orcas but also to humans, by presenting 3 deaths of trainers, a near death experience and multiple unpublished incidents. 

Following the OH&S legal trial in 2012, Sea World is no longer allowed to undertake interactive shows with orcas. This is good for the safety of the humans, but what about the orcas? 

Orcas are mammals who have great intellectual capabilities. They have the biological capacity to have a sense of self. They are very close knit to their families. What must Tilikum’s life been like? In a concrete tank, completely isolated from his family, no (or minimal) enrichment, and ‘forced’ to turn tricks to survive. Just imagine… 

Without any graphic footage, the movie Blackfish still pulls at your heartstrings. 

On Friday 6th January 2017, at the age of 36 years and after spending 33 years of his life in captivity, Tilikum has died.

Rest in Peace at last.

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#EmptyTheTanks

 

Try Veganuary

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Why love a dog but eat a pig?  Try eating a vegan diet this January.

Veganuary aims to reduce the suffering of animals by inspiring and supporting people across the globe to go vegan for the month of January

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