31 Dec 2014

Is It Vegan to Kill Insects?

If you're vegan or vegetarian, chances are you've been deemed 'hypocritical' at some point in your life. It's usually non-vegans who are the hypocritical ones - so why would we ever be labelled as such? Well, perhaps we've swatted a blood-sucking mosquito. Perhaps we've bug-sprayed a large spider infestation (yeah, they're technically not insects, but we'll consider them for argument's sake). Perhaps we've stepped on an ant while trotting down the side-walk.

All of these scenarios are probable. It's likely they've happened to you. I know for sure that I've dealt with all of these scenarios, and I've been vegan all the while. Some non-vegans (some vegans as well, probably) may look upon these acts as cruel and therefore not vegan. I, however, disagree.

"As vegans, perhaps we've swatted a blood-sucking mosquito. Perhaps we've bug-sprayed a large spider infestation. Perhaps we've stepped on an ant while trotting down the side-walk."

Let's start with the blood-sucking mosquito scenario. In most cases, I would consider the murder of any sentient being completely unacceptable, but there are some exceptions to this rule. Baseless, senseless and unnecessary killing, in my opinion, is always wrong. Occasionally, however, you must kill for self-defence. You may feel remorseful for doing so, but sometimes, it's your only option.

In most cases, it's best to shoo the bothersome insect away before resorting to killing it. That's usually my choice of action. If you live in an area where mosquitoes are renowned for carrying infectious diseases, however, it's better to rid of them as swiftly as possible. To reiterate - this is an act of self-defence rather than callous greed, so it is not cruel. It is not anti-vegan.

Taking care of a spider infestation is a similar act of self-defence. If these potentially venomous creatures have invaded your home, ridding of the danger as soon as possible is the safest option. In the case of a very large infestation, poison is the simplest, safest and quickest way to remove the danger. Protecting yourself and your family is, again, not anti-vegan.

"Always and only choose the 'kill-method' as a last resort. If any other viable option exists, choose it."

Always and only choose the 'kill-method' as a last resort. If any other viable option exists, choose it. Unfortunately, we don't always have this luxury, so we must choose another course of action. If there are a manageable amount of spiders in your home, and you're certain they pose no threat to your health, safely and carefully move them outside. Use humane spider traps, catchers and repellents if possible. You can purchase an innovative 'no-kill' spider catcher here.

If any larger animal posed an immediate threat to us, our homes, or our families, we would take care of the imminent danger as soon as possible through any means necessary. I believe we should use the same approach when dealing with the smallest of critters. After all, we can make a much larger impact on the world while we're alive than while we're ill or deceased!

Regarding stepping on ants: this is something I'd call an accident. An often regrettable and dispiriting accident, but an accident nonetheless. I would never, ever go out of my way to kill an ant. I'm saddened when I watch people purposely step on them, especially children. I see it as a sign of a complete lack of respect for life.

Compassionate people go out of their way to avoid injuring all creatures, ants included. Sometimes, however, we make mistakes. Sometimes we don't see the tiny critters. Sometimes we misstep. Completely unintentional harm is not comparable to the intentional harm of paying for animals to be killed and eating their dead bodies - as such, it is not 'unvegan'. 

What about termites? Again, this is a case of home-invasion. If a rogue creature has entered your habitat with the intent of destroying it, you must do whatever's plausible to rid of the problem - as any animal would do. Sometimes, sadly, the only plausible option is to kill.

"Completely unintentional harm is not comparable to the intentional harm of paying for animals to be killed and eating their dead bodies - as such, it is not 'unvegan'."

All of this is only my opinion, and vegans have differing views on the matter. I don't speak for all vegans and vegetarians. Some don't agree with killing in any way, shape or form; and believe it is better to sacrifice our own lives than those of other sentient beings. I respect this opinion, but to me, it's unrealistic. No matter how heart-wrenching taking another life may be, it's unfair to beat yourself up. Our lives are important too, and - as aforementioned - we can't make a real impact while we're dead. Respect your own life and do whatever you can to preserve it, so long as you're trying your very best to avoid harming others. That's called being vegan.

24 Dec 2014

7 Inspiring Vegans Over Sixty

Remaining completely healthy, energetic and youthful past the age of sixty seems like an unachievable dream for many people. I don't blame them - many people who reach this older age generally do suffer from health problems, reduced energy and declining cognitive ability. Not all, though. It doesn't have to be that way. If you want to feel energetic, happy, healthy and youthful well past the age of sixty, veganism is the way to go.

Despite what meat-enthusiasts tend to say, most vegans know for sure that there's nothing unhealthy or damaging about the vegan lifestyle. In fact, many see it as the healthiest possible way to live. I mean, it makes sense, doesn't it? Living compassionately, caring for others and helping the environment as much as possible is bound to have a positive outcome for all involved.
In this post, I've compiled some fantastic examples of wonderful, compassionate people who have lived the vegan lifestyle for a great number of years and reaped the benefits. Please enjoy their stories. If these seven people don't inspire you, I don't know who will.

Dr. Ellsworth Wareham 

If anyone can convince you that living a vegan lifestyle is incredibly beneficial for your health, it's Dr. Ellsworth Wareham. He's been vegan for nearly forty years. At 99 years old, he barely looks a day over 70, and is wonderfully articulate and witty for his age. He spent the majority of his life working as cardiothoracic surgeon, stopping just four years ago, at age 95 - now, that's what I call inspiring! If anyone ever tells you that vegans don't get all the nutrients they need to live a full and healthy life, tell them about Dr. Ellsworth Wareham. There's no way they could rebut you. He's a heart doctor after all, and knows what's good and right for our bodies.

Dr. Warehouse credits his good health and longevity partially to his vegan lifestyle, as well as his dedication to maintaining a stress and worry-free state of mind. Many of us, including myself, could learn a great deal from this inspiring man.

Watch an interview with him here.

Jim Morris 

Jim Morris is 70 years old and his well-built physique is more impressive than that of your average 20-something. He has been vegetarian since 1985, at age 50, and vegan since 2000, at age 65. He has a 30-year competitive body-building career under his belt and owns his own gym. He has maintained his muscular, sculpted physique since very early in life, and his health has only improved since becoming vegan.

Before adopting his new lifestyle, Morris suffered from debilitating arthritic pain every night. Since become vegan, his pain has completely diminished. He also attributes an improvement in eyesight to his plant-based diet and compassionate lifestyle.

You can visit his website here.

Mimi Kirk

Mimi Kirk, once voted America's Sexiest Vegetarian Over 50 (and you can see why), is 71 years old. She has been a raw vegan since age 69 and a vegetarian since her early 30s. Interestingly, she was influenced to stop eating meat when she accidentally bit the back of her hand while eating a roast beef sandwich! This encouraged the sudden realisation that roast beef is animal flesh, and she vowed never to eat meat again. And what a great vow to take. It's clearly paid off wonderfully for her, and for the animals as well.

Kirk demonstrates an excellent attitude towards life and older age. Despite being 71, she claims to feel as fresh, free and energetic as she did at 20. Kirk's story is a wonderful example of how living compassionately can improve every aspect of your existence.

Check out Mimi's website here.

Annette Larkins

Annette Larkins looks fresh, healthy and stunningly beautiful at 72 years old. She lives a highly dedicated, raw vegan lifestyle and eats directly from her own home-grown garden. She became vegetarian in the 60s, and has been eating a completely raw diet for over 27 years. She refers to her garden as her 'fountain of youth', and it's easy to see why.

Her husband, who is an omni (and looks 30 years older than Annette), now wishes that he had decided to make the same lifestyle change as his wife. He is bombarded with questions about his partner when out in public - people often ask if Annette is his granddaughter!

Her mind is as functional as ever - Annette spends her free time building computers, sewing her own clothes and gardening. She can also speak three languages!

Larkins's website is available here.

Janette Murray-Wakelin and Alan Murray

I saw Janette Murray-Wakelin and Alan Murray at the Vegan Festival in Adelaide this year. They both looked fantastic and their wonderful speech was very inspiring - they have set the bar incredibly high for people their age. At age 64 and 68 respectively, Janette and her husband ran 365 marathons in 2013. That's a marathon every day for a year without a single break - an achievement most people half their age could only dream of.

Janette and Alan are both raw vegans. They love their fruit and often consume over 30 bananas per day, along with fruit-and-veg-laden green smoothies. They promote kindness to all life - including animals, of course - and attribute their astonishing fitness levels to their compassionate lifestyle.

Check out their website here.

Storm Talifero 

Storm Talifero is a 64-year-old raw vegan (I'm starting to see a pattern here...) He has followed his healthy, cholesterol-free lifestyle since 1972 - and looks just like he was born then! Like the other raw vegans in this post, Talifero credits his youthful appearance, energy and happiness to his fresh, delicious and completely unprocessed diet. He has written his own book, "The Garden Diet" (doesn't that sound much more appealing than "The Dead Bodies Diet"?) and produced "Breakthrough", a documentary about raw veganism.

Storm believes that following a raw vegan lifestyle is the best way to slow down the ageing process, living by the motto "fresh is best". He's a living manifestation of this belief.

His website can be found here.

21 Dec 2014

Should Vegans Date Non-Vegans?

I'm a member of several vegan-related groups on Facebook, so I come across a huge variety of differing opinions regarding what vegans should and shouldn't do. I was browsing through some posts the other day, and one particular comment struck me in particular. Apparently, some vegans are committed solely to dating other vegans, and refuse to give anybody who isn't the time of day. I'm not saying this is wrong - it's their choice who they date - but it is extremely restricting. It's difficult enough to come across vegan friends, let alone partners!

Some may say that if you date a non-vegan, you're compromising your morals. You're bringing somebody with an (assumed) completely different moral compass into your world. You might have to let them bring the bodies of dead animals into your own home. You'd have to watch them contribute to animal suffering. Would all of this make you "a lesser vegan"?

To answer this question purely based on personal opinion, I'd say it's perfectly fine for vegans to date non-vegans - just as it's acceptable for us to be friends with people who eat animal products. We can't restrict our relationships so strongly - if we did, many of us would be left all alone. A lot of people live in areas where they know no other vegans, so they don't have much choice in who they build relationships with.

"It can be very difficult to more-or-less dedicate your life to somebody whose core moral values are so out of line with your own."

I can, however, understand why vegans would want to avoid dating (and especially living with) non-vegans. It can be very difficult to more-or-less dedicate your life to somebody whose core moral values are so out of line with your own. I'm currently in a relationship with an omni, so I know how it is. On the occasions where my partner eats animal products I often look at him and wonder - how can you eat animals? Why don't you care?

When we are so dedicated to our own moral values, it can be extremely difficult to understand how otherwise loving and compassionate people could not be vegan. To us, it's the absolute moral baseline - but others don't see it that way. Unfortunately, since we're currently living in a world where vegans are relatively few and far between, we have to learn to live with this confusion. We must accept that some people simply haven't found the right path yet, and hope they eventually will. 

To balance out these downsides, at least in my opinion, partnering up with a non-vegan has just as many benefits. Perhaps the most obvious is the ability to introduce your partner to the vegan way of life. Since my partner and I have been together, he has learned a great deal about the vegan lifestyle. He's been exposed to delicious food and information that he would've otherwise known nothing about. Thanks to me, he now knows all about the cruelty in animal agriculture and often defends veganism when his friends try to discount the lifestyle. I definitely see vegan potential in him.

"We can't restrict our relationships so strongly - if we did, many of us would be left all alone."

Another excellent benefit of partnering up with a non-vegan is, if you live with them and prepare their meals, you can make sure everything they eat is vegan (or at least vegetarian). This is the case with my partner and I. He eats all vegan and vegetarian meals at home. If we go out to eat or get takeaway, he will occasionally have meat, but that's relatively rare. So, the more time he spends with me, the less animal products he consumes. That means less animals suffer overall.

For those who will only consider other vegans, I respect and understand your choice - but please don't try and shame people who choose to date omnis. Remember how restrictive it is. Remember that some people really don't have an option one way or another, especially if they live in a small town. Also remember that vegan plus non-vegan relationships are not all bad, and can result in something very positive - brand new members of the vegan family!

"Another excellent benefit of partnering up with a non-vegan is, if you live with them and prepare their meals, you can make sure everything they eat is vegan."

Don't feel guilty for being in a relationship with a non-vegan - it does not mean that you have compromised your morals. It's incredibly difficult simply to meet other people who are vegan in your daily life, especially vegans that you're totally compatible with! Just think of the positives - through associating yourself with non-vegans, you open yourself up to the opportunity to bring new people into our world - and you can stuff them full of delicious vegan food, which is always fun to watch!

18 Dec 2014

You Love Animals AND You Eat Meat? Impossible...

I've come across many strange people in my life, but few as mindbogglingly peculiar as self-proclaimed "animal lovers" who eat meat. In my experience, I've found this is a common thing. Many people claim to be animal lovers and go out of their way to promote animal rights to some degree (i.e. boycotting palm oil and adopting pets rather than shopping for them). What confuses me, however, is the fact that they partake in all of this animal activism while willingly and regularly consuming animal products. They say they love animals, and yet they eat them. As a vegan, I honestly can't get my head around the concept of claiming to love somebody, paying for them to die and then eating their corpse. To the people who do this: our definitions of love must be very different.

For the purpose of this article, I'll go with the most commonly accepted and largely universal definition of love:


1. a strong feeling of affection.

2. a great interest and pleasure in something.

If this is the definition of love we're all comfortable with, then loving animals while eating meat simply doesn't add up. It's practically impossible. If a meat-eating "animal lover" told me they love me, I'd be seriously afraid, and with good reason. I'm not at all interested in being imprisoned and slaughtered in order to end up on the plate of somebody who "loves" me.

Most people love their parents, friends and partners - their pets, too - but would they pay for them to be slaughtered and then eat their dead bodies? Never! True animal lovers respect all animals in the same way they would a family member. They would never, ever do anything to harm them. 

""Animal lovers" who eat meat are really just some-animal-lovers. They love the "cute" animals, the "pretty" animals... the animals society deems deserving of love, i.e. dogs, cats, and bunnies."

I do understand that there are some people out there who genuinely love animals and still eat meat. These people are different in the sense that they haven't yet made the connection (between meat and animal suffering), but eventually will. After all, most vegans have eaten meat at some stage in their life. I'm one of them - I didn't make the connection between meat and animal suffering until I was six years old. As a true animal lover, I immediately cut out meat for good after my "big realisation". The amount of time it takes for somebody to break free of the meat-eating mould is often largely dependent on their upbringing. Some people have been brought up to believe that meat-eating is completely necessary for good health, so I can understand why it may take them a little longer to break free.

"To truly be an animal lover, you must acknowledge that all animals are deserving of love, respect and freedom, regardless of how cute and cuddly they are."

If, on the other hand, a person knows exactly where meat comes from and also knows that we don't need to eat it, they simply cannot call themselves an animal lover. You can't love somebody and willingly eat them too. "Animal lovers" who eat meat are really just "some-animal-lovers". They love the "cute" animals, the "pretty" animals... the animals society deems deserving of love. You're not an animal lover if you care solely about dogs, cats, and bunnies.

To truly be an animal lover, you must acknowledge that all animals are deserving of love, respect and freedom, regardless of how cute and cuddly they are. To only love animals that make you feel good (through their pure adorableness), in my opinion at least, is quite selfish. All animals - from cows to horses to goats to fish - experience love and pain just as dogs and cats do (some even more so). When compared to each other, for example, cows and dogs are not all that different - they look very similar, experience pain in the same way, and are both able to form deep emotional bonds with their human companions. Why love one and eat the other?

The same is true for many other animals we have been programmed to see as food. Pigs, chickens, goats, sheep, ducks - they are all capable of complex thought and emotion. Even more importantly, they can feel pain. They have families. They can suffer. If you truly loved animals, you would do anything you could to avoid inflicting pain upon them. You certainly wouldn't pay for them to be slaughtered and eat their remains! In fact, that's the complete opposite of what you would do.

The best way to show your love for somebody is to dedicate your heart and soul to granting them freedom and happiness. Veganism is a great way to do this - in fact, it's the best way. Through veganism, we advocate against the commodification of innocent and sentient beings, we promote equal love and respect, and most importantly - we save lives.

If you genuinely consider yourself an animal lover, go vegan. It'll be the best change you ever make.

12 Dec 2014

Why Do so Many Vegans and Vegetarians Go Back to Eating Meat?

If you're a vegan or vegetarian that uses Facebook, chances are you've noticed the latest 'anti-vegan' article currently doing the rounds. This article, from the Huffington Post, claims that vegetarian (and vegan) diets are just phases. Here's the opening line from the article:

"Proving your meat-pushing relatives right, most Americans who eat an all-plant diet really are just going through a phase."

I have a few questions to explore. Is it true that vegans and vegetarians will almost always go back to eating meat? Is it really just a phase? If it is true that so many vegans and vegetarians return to a mainstream diet - why is this?

The simplest answer to the latter question is as follows: I don't know. At least, I can't be certain. I was vegetarian for twelve years (I made the switch at age six) and have been vegan for almost three, so I can't speak from personal experience - I've never gone back to eating meat. I can, however, offer a hypothesis for those who may be interested.

To answer this question, I'll begin by offering you the simplest, most accurate description of veganism I've found to date. This one comes from The Vegan Society:

"Veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, as well as following an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of sentient animals."

The second part of this description is just as important as the first. Vegans reject the commodity status of sentient animals. Consequently, we don't use animal products, since doing so would promote the commodification of sentient beings. So, in reality, veganism is much more than a diet. It's not simply plant-based eating, it's a moral and ethical philosophy (or, as some call it, a lifestyle).

People who eat plant-based diets for the right reasons (i.e. to prevent animal suffering or to help the environment rather than purely for their own health) very rarely return to eating animal products. A strongly ingrained moral philosophy is difficult to rid of, and the majority of people would see no reason to rid of their ethical beliefs in the first place.

"Veganism isn't just a phase. It's a lifelong moral commitment."

Let's say you're opposed to murder (as most people are), and have felt this way for your whole life. You hold a strong and deeply ingrained moral belief that it's completely unacceptable to maliciously take another person's life. It'd be very unlikely for you to suddenly pull a one-eighty and decide that murder is A-okay, right? The same goes for vegans. We strongly oppose the abuse and commodification of animals. Most of us have felt this way our whole lives - for some, it just takes a while to make the connection between animal products and animal suffering. Once we make the connection, however, we're not going to go back. The only way you could go back would be if you gave up your moral beliefs - something that, as I mentioned, rarely happens. That's why veganism isn't just a phase. It's a lifelong moral commitment.

But what about vegetarians?

Well - that's a little different. A large proportion of vegetarians do avoid meat for ethical reasons, but others only do it for their health... and they fit the definition of vegetarianism just as well as the ethical vegheads. There are several reasons why health-based vegetarians could go back to eating meat. Perhaps their vegetarianism was only a trial or a short 'health kick'. Perhaps they didn't want to deal with criticism from family members, friends and strangers alike. Perhaps they didn't give their bodies enough time to adjust to the new diet (so they felt sick and thought they needed meat), or perhaps they just sucked hard at making vegetarian food and went back to what they were used to. Ethical vegetarians, on the other hand, usually stick to their guns or move on to veganism. I'm an example of one such individual - as mentioned, I was vegetarian for twelve years before becoming vegan.

I haven't eaten meat in over fourteen years now, and I made the initial decision when I was six years old. So, at least in my case, I can be certain that my abstinence from the use of animal products is not a phase. There are many others in the same boat as me - if you take a look through the comments of the original article, many people have been vegan or vegetarian for ten, twenty, thirty, forty years.

I haven't yet mentioned the sample size of the survey 'proving' that vegetarianism/veganism is just a phase - 11,000. That's quite a meager sum when considering the existence of the 16 million vegetarians and vegans in the USA alone. Similarly, the survey was confined solely to the United States, a country where meat consumption levels are massive, advertising of animal products is rampant, and various companies push the notion that animal products are necessary for good health (which is of course untrue). The 399+ million vegetarians (40% of the population) in India, for example, were ignored.

"There are enough vegetarians and vegans out there who are dedicated to their morals and would never give up on their beliefs to prove that it's the furthest thing from 'just a phase'."

Based on everything I've just mentioned, I think it's fair to conclude that the mentioned article is far from the truth. It's a perfect example of what some would call "anti-veg propaganda". There are enough vegetarians and vegans out there who are dedicated to their morals and would never give up on their beliefs to prove that it's the furthest thing from "just a phase". Meat, cheese and eggs don't even look or smell like food anymore. I can't look at a hot chicken at the supermarket without feeling sick and mournful. It's more than just about the food, though - veganism is an expression of my soul. I, for one, know damn well that's never going to change.

23 Nov 2014

Should Vegans Keep Pets?

I've debated with non-vegans many times in recent years, and one of the stand-out comments to me is: If you're vegan and you have pets, you're a hypocrite. This argument is particularly popular in debates about the ethicality of zoos and similar institutions in which wild animals are kept captive (i.e. Seaworld). Apparently, according to the people who use this argument, keeping domesticated animals as pets (or companion animals, as some call them) is directly comparable to keeping wild animals in zoos - a practice opposed by many vegans.

"There's no better way to show compassion to someone than to offer them your unconditional love and care."

I've had companion animals in my life since I was an infant, and I have always considered them part of the family. I care for, love and cherish my pets as I would a child. I'm sure many other vegans will agree with this sentiment. Companion animals can bring joy and happiness to any family - but should vegans exclude themselves from this kind of relationship? Personally, I don't think they should. To put it succinctly - in our current society, there is nothing non-vegan about keeping domesticated companion animals.

Keeping wild animals captive in zoos is not comparable to keeping domestic animals at home. The reason for this is fairly obvious - domestic animals and wild animals are vastly different. The domestication of animals such as cats and dogs is a sad reality, but an unavoidable one. These previously wild and independent animals are, as a result of human interjection, now largely unable to care for themselves. Unlike wild animals such as lions and deer, almost all domestic animals remain in a consistently juvenile state. Domestic animals are almost completely reliant on their humans for food, water, shelter and medical care. Zoo animals, on the other hand, have not been domesticated. They are not designed to live under human care as domestic animals are. That's why the two situations are not comparable.

"Keeping wild animals captive in zoos is not comparable to keeping domestic animals at home. The reason for this is fairly obvious - domestic animals and wild animals are vastly different."

When left to fend for themselves, domestic animals typically have very limited lifespans. Homeless animals face starvation from food shortage, exhaustion, disease, severe weather conditions and abuse from passers-by. If not picked up and taken to a shelter by animal control (where the animal will likely be killed due to overcrowding), strays rarely live for more than five years. Under human care, they can live three times as long. Survival in the wild (or in suburban/city streets where most abandoned animals end up) is especially difficult for animals that once lived with humans.
Vegans don't buy animals from breeders or pet stores, they adopt them. To adopt an animal, particularly from a kill shelter, is to save a precious life. This is why keeping pets in your home cannot be considered abuse or exploitation. Adopting an abandoned animal into your home is one of the strongest ways to show true love and endearment. Purchasing animals from pet stores or breeders, on the other hand, is strongly discouraged within the vegan community. Many pet stores purchase their 'stock' from farms where animals are over-bred and treated poorly. Similarly, breeding is considered unethical because of the large number of homeless animals awaiting adoption. As they say: don't breed or buy while shelter animals die.

Pets and their humans can have amazing bonds
Most vegans consider their pets to be part of the family and  care for them as they would care for their own children. We do not exploit our companion animals, nor do we restrict them from living free and enjoyable lives. To adopt an animal is to give them a forever home where they will experience true warmth and love rather than the cold, concrete floors of suburban streets or animal shelters.

"Keeping pets in the home cannot be considered abuse or exploitation. Adopting an abandoned animal into your home is one of the strongest ways to show true love and endearment."

If you're a vegan with companion animals and somebody tries to guilt-trip you for your compassionate choice, remember these points. To reiterate - there is nothing non-vegan about providing a loving home for a helpless and dependent animal. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Veganism is all about showing compassion towards all life, and there's no better way to show compassion to someone than to offer them a lifetime of unconditional love and care.

19 Nov 2014

"Lions Eat Meat, So Humans Should Eat Meat!"

If you don't have time to read this entire post, you may scroll to the bottom to read a short summary of the main ideas.

If you're a vegan on social media, it's likely you've heard one of the most common arguments against veganism - Lions eat meat, so humans should eat meat. There is so much wrong with this statement that it's difficult to know where to begin. First off, however, we can at least firmly establish that humans are in fact not lions, nor are we closely related to them. This fact is set in stone.

"We can firmly establish that humans are in fact not lions, nor are we closely related to them."

To build on this idea that humans are not lions, we can discuss our dietary differences. The modern human is considered omnivorous. By definition, an omnivorous animal is able to digest both animal and plant matter. Humans, as omnivorous animals, have a choice in whether or not to eat meat. We can survive with or without it - but we can't survive without eating plants (at least nobody has as of yet). Lions, on the other hand, don't have a choice - they're obligate carnivores, meaning that they subsist solely on animal matter.

Another problem with this argument also relates to the matter of choice. The majority of humans living in developed societies have an abundance of options available to them in terms of food. All we need to do is walk or drive to the local shopping center and we're faced with thousands of choices. Lions, on the other hand, tend to live in desolate environments where food sources are scarce. They genuinely have no choice but to eat animals - if they didn't, they would die. The majority of humans, however, have the (generally much cheaper, healthier and easier) choice to eat only plant matter. This idea can be summed up with one excellent quote: If you could live happily and healthily without harming others, why wouldn't you?

This is a wonderful quote because it highlights this concept of choice in the simplest way possible. There is no real way to argue against this quote - nobody can say that it's impossible to be healthy and happy as a vegan. There are millions of healthy and happy vegans existing as living proof of this concept. Humans can easily obtain all nutrients needed to keep our bodies running through the sole consumption of plant matter. Lions, however, don't have this option.

"If you could live happily and healthily without harming others, why wouldn't you?"

To further elaborate on the stark difference between humans and lions, I'll bring up a few common lion behaviours that would be completely unacceptable for any human to even think about doing. Would it, for example, be morally acceptable for a human to carry their young by the neck? With their teeth? No, of course not... but lions do it all the time. Would a lion licking its private parts be considered weird, creepy and downright inappropriate? No, of course not - but, if a human were to do the same thing in public, the reaction would obviously be quite different! Evidently, lions and humans have acutely different moral standards. So, just because it's morally acceptable for a lion to eat meat doesn't mean the same for humans.

So, we can easily conclude that this all comes down to the concept of choice. Most humans have access to a wide variety of healthy food that doesn't result from the death of an animal. Lions do not. As omnivores, we can subsist entirely on plant-based diets without having to worry about missing out on any essential vitamins or minerals. Our health won't be compromised. Given the choice between contributing to animal harm and not contributing to animal harm (while remaining healthy either way), I'll pick the latter every time. Veganism is the best way to avoid harming animals and the environment. It's a simple, easy choice available to the majority of humans on this planet. Lions, unlike humans, simply can't be vegan - so the comparison between us isn't valid. Overall, humans and lions are so biologically different that it's silly to try and connect the two species, especially in terms of dietary requirements and lifestyle choices.

  • Humans are not lions - would you believe it?!
  • Lions are obligate carnivores, humans are omnivores
  • Humans have a choice in what they eat, lions don't
  • Humans can live happily and healthily without meat, lions can't
  • Lions simply can't be vegan, but humans can
  • Lions do many things that would be morally unacceptable for humans to do
  • There's really no sense in comparing the two species - we're just too different

4 Nov 2014

One Vegan Can Change the World - Tips for Making a Difference

Some time during the 1940s, the word vegan was coined by one man. One man - Donald Watson. To anyone who believes that one person can't make a difference, let that sink in. Donald Watson gave a name and a voice to a movement that was previously unheard of, and that name is still in use over 70 years later. His new term gave meaning and substance to the idea that animals are thinking, feeling, sentient beings rather than mere commodities. Without Donald's influence, the vegan movement wouldn't be where it is today.

If you're one of many people who believe that one person can't change the world - please reconsider. In fact - scratch that - you must reconsider. One person can in fact make a momentous difference, especially thanks to the rise of modern technology and global communication. Through the use of the internet - which is by far the greatest invention in modern times - one person can reach thousands. Decades ago, such a thing would have been unimaginable - but not now.

"One person can in fact make a momentous difference, especially thanks to the rise of modern technology and global communication."

I've heard it time and time again - non-vegans telling me to give it up, because nothing's going to change. 'The whole world isn't going to go vegan overnight... so why bother?' is a common question. I honestly struggle to understand the reasoning behind this particular sentiment. When we think about previous triumphs for liberation throughout history - i.e. the abolition of black/white segregation - who do we think of? Large groups of people or individuals? Obviously, the answer is the latter. Specifically, Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks come to mind. These people were mere individuals, and yet they achieved great things... world-changing things. Perhaps, in the current age of the internet, where we are able to reach massive audiences without falling victim to regulation or censorship, these two influential people would have reached even greater heights.

This is why I find it quite silly when non-vegans tell us to 'get off our arses, get outside and actually do something productive.' They don't realise that the internet is our greatest blessing and asset, and using it properly can do more for the animals than any 'physical' work ever will. Through the internet, we can spread uncensored and unregulated information out to the masses. Decades ago, this simply wouldn't have been possible. Commercial forms of media (film, television and radio) very rarely make any attempt to highlight or acknowledge animal cruelty. Perhaps they're scared of igniting too much controversy, or perhaps they just don't care. Either way, it doesn't matter, because we now have a much more reliable form of mainstream media to utilise, and we should all be very thankful for it.

"Through the internet, we can spread uncensored and unregulated information out to the masses. Decades ago, this simply wouldn't have been possible."

Through Twitter, Facebook and my blog, I am able to spread the vegan message to thousands of people each week - and this number will only grow larger. Many others have done the same. In recent years, the vegan movement has grown by the thousands. Vegan restaurants, grocery stores, festivals and cafes are popping up all over the world. For that, we can thank all of the individuals who pour their hearts and souls into utilising social media (and other forms of outreach) to spread the word about what really goes on in the meat, dairy and egg industries. Without these individuals, the vegan movement would never have reached the level it's at today.

Michael Jackson said it best - If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change. Truer words have never been spoken. If we wish to make significant changes to society, we must begin by focusing on, analysing and altering our own actions. A message that starts with one person can eventually reach billions. Even if our message only reaches one or two other people - that still means we've made a difference. Every change, every effort - no matter how big or small - is always worth it. Always.

Ways you can make a real difference for the animals
  • Create a social media business page or blog to spread the word about veganism
  • Cook vegan foods for your friends
  • Share information about veganism on your personal Facebook or Twitter page
  • Join vegan/vegetarian forums and provide tips and help for those transitioning into our lifestyle
  • Talk about veganism with your friends
  • Join Vegan Outreach, a not-for-profit volunteer-fuelled organisation that works to end cruelty to animals
  • Create a club for vegans and vegetarians in your local area
  • Wear clothing displaying messages about veganism when out in public
  • Sign online petitions
  • Keep on top of protests in your area and join in whenever possible
  • Boycott companies that promote animal cruelty
  • Praise and show your support for companies that release vegan options (while continuing to boycott their non-vegan options), prompting them to introduce more vegan varieties  
  • Make sure everyone around you knows just how fantastic veganism is!

1 Nov 2014

What to Do If You Accidentally "Break Vegan"

For those who aren't aware, 'breaking vegan' involves a vegan eating non-vegan food on an isolated occasion (i.e. not regularly, doing so would obviously renounce their 'vegan' title). I've known non-vegans who think this is something vegans do regularly. They think vegan food is so terribly boring that we absolutely must sneak in a piece of meat every once in a while. We know, of course, this is not true. However, every once in a while, a vegan may accidentally eat something that's not vegan. And that's okay.

I've had this issue before - several times, actually. When I was first transitioning into veganism, I wasn't fully aware of some of the more 'obscure' non-vegan ingredients (i.e. carmine). Because of this, some of the foods I ate that I thought were vegan turned out not to be. Sometimes, pure ignorance caused me to accidentally eat non-vegan food. For example, I used to order 'Italian Herbs & Cheese' bread from Subway when I was vegetarian. Once I became vegan, I obviously needed to switch to something different. Honey Oat bread was my first choice - it sounded interesting and more flavoursome than the other breads. It wasn't until months later that I realised 'Honey Oat' meant that the bread actually contained honey. For some reason, I hadn't made the connection at all. How silly of me, right?

"Every once in a while, a vegan may accidentally eat something that's not vegan. And that's okay."

That was the first occasion, but it certainly wasn't the last. I once ate a bowl of spicy noodles after skimming over the ingredients thinking they were fine - but after checking for a second time (after eating the noodles) I realised they contained a very small amount of shrimp. An unnecessary amount... I have no idea why it was even in there. I doubt it would have made a difference to the taste. Anyway, I felt very guilty again for the entire night and had trouble sleeping.

There have been several other instances. I've eaten cookies containing whey powder before learning that whey is a milk derivative. I've consumed drinks containing carmine, not knowing about the source of this ugly ingredient. All of these incidences resulted in guilt - but the guilt was unfounded. I understand why I was upset, but I shouldn't have worried so much. I know better now. Eventually, after some deliberation, I was able to come to terms with my mistakes. I didn't worry about my Honey Oat, spicy noodle, carmine and cookie mishaps any longer.

I'm sure many others have made similar mistakes. This is totally understandable - at first, it can be daunting to prowl through food labels searching for non-vegan ingredients, only to be bombarded with numbers, codes and unusual names. A good solution to this is to cook from scratch more often (then you know exactly what you're eating) but this isn't always possible. A quick Google search should help you find all the information you need, however, so you can easily brush up on all of the non-vegan ingredients to watch out for.

"When we accidentally consume an ingredient that isn't vegan, and later find out the truth, we learn never to consume that ingredient again. We shouldn't feel guilty - we should learn from the experience and move on."

How did I finally manage to accept my errors? I simply acknowledged that veganism isn't about being perfect. We're human, and we all make mistakes sometimes. Some non-vegans follow the ideology that if you can't do something perfectly, don't do it at all (i.e. "the whole world won't go vegan so don't bother with it at all"). This, of course, isn't a useful sentiment. Humans can never be perfect - but this is a positive trait. It allows us to constantly strive to be better and stronger. So, if you're vegan and you accidentally consume meat, dairy or egg, please try not to feel guilty.

When we make mistakes, we learn from them. This allows us to grow into better, more educated people. The more we fail, the more we will learn, and the more we learn, the greater impact we will have. When we accidentally consume an ingredient that isn't vegan, and later find out the truth, we learn never to consume that ingredient again. We shouldn't feel guilty - we should learn from the experience and move on.

Do the best you can - if you make a few mistakes, that doesn't mean you have to renounce your veganism! We've all made mistakes before. Every single one of us. We simply have to try our very best - that's what really matters in the end.

29 Oct 2014

DreamWorks and Pixar Movies Promote Veganism

In my previous post titled Disney Films Promote Veganism, I discussed the various ways in which Bambi, One Hundred and One Dalmatians, The Fox and the Hound, Dumbo and various other Disney films all follow animal rights related themes. Disney is not the be all and end all of pro-vegan films for children, however. Many similar and equally effective films also exist, instead under the names of DreamWorks and Pixar. In this post, I will discuss those films in detail.

"These movies are not propaganda - they are simply aimed at young children, as most young children understand that animals are friends, not food."

In 2013, a film called Free Birds was released. Free Birds is not a DreamWorks or Pixar production, but rather a similarly styled CGI film made by a lesser-known company called Reel FX Creative Studios. It wasn't the best movie by any means. It holds a dissatisfying 5.9/10 rating on IMDB, and I personally found it outstandingly mediocre. I did, however, appreciate the message the film portrayed. The film follows a group of turkeys who travel back in time in an attempt to remove themselves from the Thanksgiving menu - thankfully, they succeed. For me, it's always satisfying to see films shown from an animal's point-of-view. This message, however, didn't hold up well with a few other IMDB users. Scrolling through the Free Birds IMDB boards, I found several posts screaming 'Free Birds is vegan propaganda!", "Did PETA make this film?!"... you get the drift. All of this seemed strange to me, since I'd never seen anyone else complain in such a way about the abundance of other films (such as those made by Disney, Pixar and DreamWorks) that project a similar message. These movies are not propaganda - they are simply aimed at young children, as most young children understand that animals are friends, not food. I believe we should all watch these films again as teenagers and as adults. They really could teach us a thing or two about showing love, respect and sympathy towards all life - an important value that, unfortunately, many adults seem to lack.


Moral: Animals don't belong in zoos

Madagascar follows the lives of four zoo-dwelling animals - a zebra, a lion, a giraffe and a hippo. The moral message is quite clear here - the animals are out of place in the zoo, which is situated smack-bang in the middle of the hustle and bustle of New York City. Instead, the animals belong in the wide open expanses of the wild. In captivity, their lives are dull, repetitive and sheltered. Because of light pollution, they see nothing but endless darkness when they gaze up at the night sky. Instead of the melodic ambiance of natural wildlife, they hear manufactured reverberations from a radio. The zebra, Marty, knows this is not how life should be. When the four animals are rescued from the zoo by a group of animal rights activists, plans are made to ship them to a sanctuary in Africa. Along the way, however, their crates topple from the boat into the ocean, eventually washing up on the shores of an exotic island country known as Madagascar. Here, the animals meet new friends and eventually realise that, despite the extra work involved, life in the wild is much better than life in captivity could ever be. This film teaches us that zoos, regardless of how 'well' the animals are treated, are not the place for wild creatures.

Chicken Run

Moral: Animals farming is cruel

Like many children's films with animal rights themes, the humans in Chicken Run are depicted as evil and sadistic. This, unfortunately, isn't far from the truth. Many farm owners care only about making the greatest profits - they extend absolutely no care or compassion towards 'their' animals. This film depicts chicken farming in the most realistic way ever shown in mainstream cinema. The chickens, for example, are expected to lay several eggs daily in order to keep up with supply demands. Some chickens have attempted to escape from the horror, unable to deal with the pressure of laying egg after egg any longer. Shockingly, yet realistically, one hen is slaughtered and eaten after going several days without producing any eggs. Soon, when profits begin to dwindle, the farmers decide to begin selling chicken pies instead of eggs - much to the animal residents' collective horror. They consequently devise a calculated plan for escape, and eventually succeed. This film encourages the idea that animals do not want to and do not deserve to be killed and eaten. They are as equally deserving of respect, freedom and happiness as any human.

Finding Nemo

Moral: Fish are friends, not food

Finding Nemo explores the story of some of the world's most misunderstood and under-appreciated creatures - fish. For some reason unknown to me, fish are often seen as less deserving of freedom, love and respect than land-dwelling animals. They are killed and eaten by the billions each year. Perhaps this is because of the unusual sentiment that fish don't feel pain (an idea that has been debunked many times). In this 2003 Pixar film, we finally see the world from the point of view of these fascinating creatures. Like Madagascar, this film touches on the concept of animal confinement. Somewhere along his journey, Nemo finds himself trapped in a small fish tank in a dentist's office. On finding out that he will soon be given to a young girl to keep as a pet, he desperately attempts escape. The film also explores the concept of mass fishing. Fishing boats are Nemo's father's biggest fear, and he forbids Nemo from going anywhere near them. In this way, we see these unfortunate fish as individuals, and are exposed to their suffering at the hands of the greed of humankind.

Nemo is a friend, not food
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron

Moral: Horses deserve to run free

This film follows the life and trials of a headstrong horse named Spirit. This film revolves strongly around the theme of humanity's greedy, violent nature. During the film, Spirit is captured and taken to a US cavalry post where he sees restrained horses being ridden and used by humans. Understandably, Spirit is frightened and confused by this behaviour, believing that the restrained horses are being used as slaves. When a man known as the Colonel tries to tame and ride Spirit, he refuses and is harshly punished by being tied to a post for three days with no food or water. After many attempts to tame and ride Spirit, and many battles, the humans finally acknowledge that Spirit and his friends shall never be tamed, and they are set free. This concept reinforces the idea that horses are not transport devices or slaves. They were not put on this earth to serve humankind - they exist for their own reasons and deserve freedom.

"Animals do not want to and do not deserve to be killed and eaten. They are as equally deserving of respect, freedom and happiness as any human."

The form films listed above are only some of many. Look to Disney (as detailed in my other post), Warner Bros., and Blue Sky Studios for various other examples of films that promote animal rights. Through these films, I learned many important moral lessons as a child. These morals are still embedded strongly in my mind to this day. Unfortunately, for some people, these important morals wear off as time goes on. People fall victim to the malevolent influences of our greedy, callous and money-hungry society. We need only to look back to these films to remember what we may have forgotten - something that all children understand. Animals are here for their own reasons, not for our use. They are not ours to eat, to capture or to wear. They are our friends, and we should treat them as such.

26 Oct 2014

Disney Movies Promote Veganism

If you lived out your childhood during any period beyond 1923, it's almost undeniable that Disney films have influenced your life in one way or another. Whether it was Dumbo who won over your young heart in the 1940s or Mufasa who taught you about the circle of life in the 1990s, we've all felt Disney's magical charm in some way.

Over the years, Disney movies have consistently touched on the concept of animal rights. They have almost invariably shunned humankind, highlighting our species as the destructive, selfish virus it collectively is. On the other hand, however, Disney has sanctioned the few human beings with love and compassion in their hearts - the few who truly care about animals.

"Disney movies have consistently touched on the concept of animal rights. They have almost invariably shunned humankind, highlighting our species as the destructive, selfish virus it collectively is."

Veganism is the basic expression of support for animal rights. Through veganism, we encourage the idea that non-human animals are sentient beings who experience love, fear, pain, and an expansive range of other complex emotions. They are not mere commodities for humans to use at their disposal. Many would argue that Disney 'anthropomorphises' animals in their films - but I disagree. I see the term 'anthropomorphise' as a fabricated extension of speciesist logic. To me, this term implies that any animal showing signs of emotion or personality must be somewhat human, as if emotion and personality are human-only characteristics. As animal lovers know, this is not the case. Animals express their emotions in different ways to humans, yes - but that does not mean the feelings aren't there at all.

In this post, I will discuss the various important moral lessons I learned through Disney films - lessons that many people, unfortunately, have forgotten with age. Disney taught me to love all life regardless of our differences. I think, as adults, we should all look back to Disney films and remember how we felt as children. Children know intrinsically that animal are friends, not food. That's why so many children love to watch movies and television programmes about animals. I mean, would a little kid want to eat Peppa Pig? Shawn the Sheep? Peter Rabbit? No, of course not! Would they want to hunt Bugs Bunny? Ellie the Elephant? Fantastic Mr. Fox? Again, of course not. Disney knows this. Disney understands children, and accordingly, they understand animals - at least, more than most do. Let's begin.

One Hundred and One Dalmatians
Moral: The fur trade is Cruella and fur-wearers are De Vils

Perhaps one of the most obvious animal-rights-promoting Disney films, One Hundred and One Dalmatians tells the story of an evil woman (Cruella De Vil, by name and by nature) who wants to make a fur coat out of puppies. This is a prime example of Disney's expression of human beings as cruel and selfish, and conversely, of animals as intelligent, compassionate and loving. This film teaches us that wearing fur is all kinds of wrong, and that anyone who does so is indeed a 'Cruel Devil'. The film elaborates strongly on the concept of hell, which is fair in the sense that a fur farm is indeed a living hell for animals. This may all seem rather morbid, but it's the unfortunate truth. As all Disney films tend to do, the horror comes to an end before the film's finale and the pups are fortunately reunited with their families. If only this was the case for the millions of animals who fall victim to the fur trade.

Moral: Hunters are horrid, deforestation is dreadful

This is another fairly obvious one, and the film that has consistently held the greatest moral influence over me ever since my first viewing. I will never forget the impact this film had on me as a child. At six years old, I was a weeping wreck after watching it. This wasn't long after I became vegetarian, and as such, the film tugged strongly at my heartstrings. I was going through the process of realising exactly how humans treat animals, and it was awful. Back to the movie. In Bambi, we enter the beautiful, idyllic world of a nurturing young doe, her newborn son, and a strong-willed father stag. They live surrounded by various flora and fauna, all existing in glorious harmony, where enchanting music forever lingers in the dewy air. Suddenly, horribly, interrupting this beautiful, tranquil wonderland, comes man. Specifically, The Man in the Forest. Without a hint of remorse or compassion, The Man in the Forest murders Bambi's mother with his gun, leaving young Bambi frightened and despondent. Later on in the film, when tranquility has only just returned to the forest - The Man in the Forest returns. This time, he brings his greatest weapon - fire. This is a representation of a heinous act so common in our modern world - deforestation. Once again, what does all of this tell us? Animals are calm, gentle creatures, and humans are cold, callous and bent on destruction. Horrifyingly, this is all too accurate.

Disney movies can help children learn about the importance of protecting nature and animals
The Fox and the Hound
Moral: All life is equal and sacred

Again, this 1981 story touches on the concept of hunting. Lying deeper, however, is the exploration of more complex, under-represented themes like interspecies friendship and speciesism. As in Bambi and One Hundred and One Dalmatians, the humans in this film are depicted as cruel, selfish and emotionally detached. Right from the get-go, we witness the callous shooting of a mother fox. As a direct result of evil human interjection, a mother is dead and a child is orphaned. Later in the film, we see a hunter attempting to raise a new hunting dog, Copper. Copper, however, doesn't want to hunt. He wants to play - with Tod, the orphaned fox. This, of course, angers the hunter, who cares only about himself. The idea of the hunter adopting Copper relates to the concept of speciesism - he sees foxes as pests, dogs as workers, and himself as a superior entity. He has assigned different roles to each animal based solely on their species - this is blatant speciesism. The idea of Tod and Copper becoming friends demonstrates that animals can form friendships (despite their differences... if only more humans could do the same) and experience love, fear, happiness and despair. As vegans, we are very much aware of this.

Moral: Animals don't belong in the circus

This film is slightly different to the previous three, but it still explores some core concepts - humans are cruel and selfish, animals experience emotion, and animals deserve respect. Through this film, children see the circus for what it truly is. They are finally allowed to see past the bright lights, flashy costumes and the exciting atmosphere. Behind all of this magical glory are dim, dark, dreary cages... cells... prisons. The elephants are confined against their will and exploited time and time again by humans. We see the spectators at the circus cruelly taunt and mock Dumbo, and as Dumbo's mother attempts to defend him, she is detained and placed in solitary confinement on the grounds of being a 'mad elephant.' Despite the all-too-true horrors this film highlights, the overall concept of Dumbo trying to become a 'circus star' isn't appealing to me. I suppose you can't expect much more from a 1941 film, though. Regardless, we still witness the mocking of Dumbo and his mother's unfair, terrifying confinement - which was enough to turn me off the circus for good as a child.

The Lion King 
Moral: The natural world is our most precious and beautiful gift

Although many non-vegans may see The Lion King as an anti-veganism film (you know, the old 'lions eat meat' argument), I heartily disagree. I think this film highlights the importance of equality for all life, and that the natural world is much more beautiful than anything humans have manufactured. It tells us that life moves on and repeats harmoniously without human interjection. Unfortunately, as we all know, humans have hugely thrown off this balance through the introduction of large-scale farming, habitat destruction, deforestation, over-breeding and mass pollution. Vegans seek to reverse or at least subdue humankind's negative effects upon the natural environment. This film reminds us of how beautifully balanced the world could be without the destructive, selfish interference of humankind. It tells us that no species is more important than another, and that we are all here for our own reasons. Again, this is the basis of veganism.

"[The Lion King] reminds us of how beautifully balanced the world could be without the destructive, selfish interference of humankind. It tells us that no species is more important than another, and that we are all here for our own reasons."

This is not all that Disney has shown us about animal rights. Look towards films such as Brother Bear, The Jungle Book and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs for more. Other children's films, including several made by Pixar and Dreamworks, which I will be writing accompanying posts about, also touch on the same concepts. Many adults could learn from the lessons taught by these Disney films and others made by similar animation companies. We only need to look back at our former selves - our very young selves, when our hearts were pure and untouched by society's dirty hands. Then we will learn how we should really feel. Once, we all loved animals. To anyone who exploits animals now, I ask you - when did you lose your compassion?

18 Oct 2014

Restaurant Review: Montezuma's and Elephant Walk

If you're ever in Australia, or South Australia more specifically, you absolutely must give Montezuma's and Elephant Walk a go. Both restaurants are located on Melbourne Street, North Adelaide. Montezuma's in particular has remained one of my favourite restaurants for many years. I loved it as a vegetarian and I love it even more as a vegan.


Montezuma's restaurant is a Mexican delight that is very close to my heart. My boyfriend and I have delighted in their delicious spicy offerings on many special occasions, particularly our first ever 'real' date! I may be biased, but I simply adore Montezuma's decorative and fun-loving atmosphere. The prices are very reasonable, and hey even offer a 'Montezuma's Gold Card' which is great for regulars like me. After every fifth visit to the restaurant, you receive a free meal. You can't go wrong with freebies!

Although Montezuma's isn't a vegan restaurant, there are still many options available that can be veganised. They cater to people suffering from various allergies and dietary needs, which is excellent for plant-based eaters. You can simply tell them you're vegan - you won't be met with a confused expression like you might at some other restaurants! You shouldn't ever have any problems ordering a veganised meal. They have also recently added vegan cheese and vegan sour cream to their menu. I'm keen to try it on my next visit.

Before ordering your main meal, you can opt to order some corn chips and dip for starters. My boyfriend and I always order the three-dip platter, which consists of a frijole dip, spicy salsa and a cheese dip. My boyfriend, an omni, eats the cheese dip and leaves the rest for me. Make sure to order the frijole dip without cheese, because they'll usually sprinkle some on top otherwise.

The addictive three-dip platter with corn chips

The vegetarian frijole (bean) tacos are a favourite of mine. They're totally vegan when ordered without dairy, and they're delicious. On my last visit to Montezuma's, however, I ordered something a little more filling - a frijole enchilada with rice, salad and extra re-fried beans. It was affordable, tasty and almost too satisfying - I had to re-adjust my belt after finishing! I drizzled the remainder of the salsa dip on top of the enchilada for some extra spice. The enchilada was as good, if not better, than the three-dip platter. I highly recommend this meal! Make sure to let the waiter know that you don't eat animal products when ordering and they'll happily cater to your needs.

Filling, delicious and affordable - what more could you want?

Overall, Montezuma's provides a delectable meal and a thriving, colourful and vibrant atmosphere. 

Elephant Walk

Located just down the road from Montezuma's, Elephant Walk cafe provides an unique, atmospheric and unforgettable dining experience. It was by far my favourite dessert cafe as a vegetarian, and admittedly, I was rather dismayed about 'never being able to eat there again' when I became vegan. To my excitement, though, I recently discovered that they offer vegan meals! I almost jumped out of my chair with happiness when I heard the news, and planned to visit the next week.

Elephant Walk's menu is ever-changing. They usually have one special vegan dessert on the menu, as well as offering hot soy-based drinks. In the past they have offered plant-based cakes and cinnamon donuts, but on my visit, they offered waffles. I'd never had waffles before, but I was certainly keen to try them! Several toppings are offered, including maple syrup, apple pie filling, shaved coconut, berries and coconut cream. They are also served with a generous dollop of coconut milk ice cream. My boyfriend and I chose to embellish our waffles with sweet maple syrup, hot apple pie filling and lashings of shaved coconut. 

These were almost indescribably delicious - the photo doesn't do them justice!

Surrounded by the comforting, romantic and ambient atmosphere, my boyfriend and I relished in the sweet, rich taste of these delicious waffles. It's certainly the sort of dessert that could convince an omni to turn to the 'bright side'! I can't recommend them enough. The coconut ice cream was cool and sweet with a near-perfect consistency. They were pricey, at around $13, but well worth the cost. 

Overall, Montezuma's and Elephant Walk provided an amazing dining experience, and I can't wait to go back. They're both located on Melbourne Street (although Montezuma's has other locations) and are only a few steps away from each other, which is why I love to visit both places in one night. If you live in Adelaide, or plan on visiting sometime, you definitely need to check these places out. I assure you, you will not regret it!