Monthly Archives: October 2015

Lambs to the Slaughter

Tofu burger-veganSo we’re over halfway through World Vegetarian Awareness Month – so what? What’s its about?

Being cruelty free, that’s what.

When I was in the Coromandel on a summer holiday some years ago, walking along a pier where rows of people were throwing their lines into the ocean, I watched as a boy pulled a gleaming silver fish from the water and threw it down beside him. As he loaded his hook with more bait the sleek, beautiful creature from the sea threshed frantically on the boards, suffocating to death, and I wondered how I’d feel if I was being suffocated. I never ate fish again.

We’re well into springtime so memories of seeing lambs and calves in the fields just outside our cities are still vivid. But already you won’t be seeing many of these young animals now. Anyone who has heard a calf and his mother calling to each other from separate pens when they’ve been forcibly separated would need a stone heart not to hear the desperation in those cries.

We wince when we hear about cruelty to our fellow humans. Some of us wince equally at the knowledge of the daily cruelty that takes place en masse to sentient, defenceless animals that are imprisoned and slaughtered to please our palates – from the millions of people on the planet who are successfully vegetarian, it’s obvious that choosing to be carnivorous isn’t for health reasons.

Sheep give us their fleece to make warm clothing for our bodies and furnishings for our homes, cows provide milk for our butter and cheese, chickens give us eggs. None of these animals offer us any harm.

So why, when we benefit so widely from their bounty, do we repay them so harshly?

chili con carneIf you’re new to vegetarian eating, why not try something new this month. If you’re eating out – or at home – perhaps try making chilli con carne with kidney beans instead of mince. Or try wraps or pita pockets made with falafel (just remember to use extra sauce – yum).

If you’re eating out and want to try something different, tofu often gets a bad press but Auckland’s Blue Bird Cafe in Dominion Rd and the Raw Power Cafe in the CBD both have excellent Tofu Burgers (as in the photo above), and the Blue Bird has an alternative burger with a delicious walnut-pumpkin patty.

Masala-DosaFor a tasty range of substantial cooked as well as raw salad lunches why not visit one of the Revive Cafes in the city. Or go Indian and order a masala dosa, a thin crispy pancake made with lentils and rice and stuffed with a spicy potato filling. Or for something quite different, take a trip out to Flat Bush in Manukau to the Fo Guan Shan Water Drop Vegetarian Cafe at the Buddhist Temple, and order the spicy Noodle Laksa or one of their other attractive meals, and wander around the remarkably beautiful and tranquil Temple and grounds.

There’s a world of new tastes awaiting you. Along with a clear conscience.

And remember if you’re travelling around the country, or just within Auckland, and would like to know where there are vegetarian cafes, my Guide to Vegetarian Cafes in NZ describes where to find them.

Happy eating!


Lunch at Wagamama, Sylvia Park

For a recent birthday celebration Matt and I lunched at Japanese/Asian restaurant Wagamama at Sylvia Park.

The long community-style tables look as though they encourage relaxed eating, and the menu had enough vegan options to appeal. The service was very quick and friendly, and it was fun watching the cooks with the live flames flaring up behind the tall service bench.

I ordered a Mains-Salad-Chilli-Chicken-Salad-thumbwarm tofu chilli salad which was described as ‘stir fried tofu, red peppers, mangetout, tender stem broccoli and red onions in a sweet chilli sauce on a bed of baby gem lettuce with the wagamama house dressing. Garnished with cashew nuts, chillies and spring onions’ ($18.50). It looked tasty if insubstantial so I requested a side of brown rice.

The salad tasted as good as it looked, the veges were nicely cooked and still firm, and it did need the rice to give it substance, and to balance out the flavours.Matt had the Kouma Yasai* – ‘deep fried tofu marinated in ginger, garlic and lemongrass, stir-fried with broccoli, zucchini, chillies, red onions, garlic, ginger, mint basil and coriander in chilli oil. Served with steamed jasmine rice and garnished with lime’ ($19.70).

This turned out to be a small topping of veges dominated by zucchini – not his favourite – and while the rice bowl was tasty there was a lot of it in proportion to the veg. A side of leafy greens would have been an extra $7.

While the wait staff continued to be attentive, relaxed eating is not, alas, encouraged. Matt’s empty plate was whipped away well before I had finished, and when I did, my own plate was politely removed within seconds. The message was: don’t linger. Not that the restaurant was busy.

Would I go again? Perhaps, if was was seeking a quick, light meal, but other places give better value for money.

*Yasai or V denote vegetarian options, but not always vegan, so do check if you want egg-free.

It’s World Vegetarian Awareness month this October – why not give a vegetarian meal a try when you’re next out at your favourite cafe?