Sunday, June 15, 2008

VeganExpo 2008

Today my nephew and I attended the ‘Cool the Planet :bite by bite’ third annual VeganExpo held by the Hickson Street wharves just to the western side of downtown Sydney. Charlie asked me to come along and as we’re both into the vege life and the encompassing issues I gladly went along; Steve Kilbey was on the bill so we tailored our time to hear and see his talk & live performance. Luckily the event was held indoors at ‘Arrivals Hall’ as it was a sodden, windy, cold & generally miserable day out there!

The event was heavily attended and the stalls ranged from those peddling vegetarian magazines and wares, to herbal teas, animal cruelty & deforestation information, animal testing & preservative-free soaps, and various naturopathic/herbal remedies in the form of Goji & Kakadu juice. I took an immediate interest in the Kakadu juice as it was new to me and I’m always looking out for new superfoods, with the added plus that the juice is made of mostly Australian wildberries; I take an interest Australian wildflowers and their tinctures so I was immediately drawn to examining the juice and its ingredients and properties. The girl serving I’d known from a health-food store in Bondi Junction where I go for my gymnema, though the guy I think talked me into becoming a distributor! *gulp* What do I say when he calls me..? Website worth checking out www.kakadujuice.com.


The catering at the event seemed to come from Green Gourmet who have their restaurant in King Street Newtown - the buffet offered was precisely the same food offered at the Newtown store. This of course included tasty and succulent ginger not-beef & sweet and sour not-pork! There were little not-sausages and tofu cakes, plus spinach stalks & mixed veges. Lovely food at reasonable prices.

One speaker discussed how the meat industries cover up the names of their products as separate to the animal’s name, eg, beef instead of cattle, pork instead of pig etc. He said that an attempt was made to change the name of ‘lamb’ and how the marketers of meat products are very clever in this way. Infections during lactating are not only painful for the cows concerned but minute yet substantial amounts of pus & blood make it into the consumable milk-stream. That was enough to make me reconsider my daily work-a-day ‘skim latte’… and I think it has actually; Long Blacks for me are now the go I reckon.

Steve Kilbey came onto the stage with his Guild 12string and delighted us with passionate takes of Providence, Wolfe, I’m almost with you aka I’m almost Vegan!!, & Under the soylatte milky way! In between each number Steve spoke ardently and with great humour about vegetarianism, veganism, and the impact these have had on this life, health, and the world around us.

Of specific interest is that Kilbey came to be a staunch vegetarian at the age of 17, back in 1971! Australia in the early-70’s and vegetarianism are not synonymous; as Steve said he ate mainly chips, and there was only one brand of tinned vegetarian hotdogs available that his mum stored the cupboard with! I realise that was a brave decision for the time and Steve said as much; I looked back over the time I was about 19 or 20 in 1989 & 1990 when I was dipping my toes into the vegetarian world, and by then ‘vege-dogs’ and packeted textured vegetable protein were becoming readily available, so it was obviously a lot easier to find readily-packaged vegetarian foods 20 years on from the early 70’s. And certainly, as Steve remarked, ‘vege-burgers’ on bistro menus.

Steve relayed his long-standing belief that meat will be banned in his lifetime, and used smoking as an analogy, ie, that legally allowed places for cigarettes to be smoked have diminished since about 20 years ago. I don’t think meat eating will be ‘banned’ though; more likely rising price of commodities and food inflation will price it out of most peoples pockets, and worryingly, perhaps a lot of other foods including grains and rice (it’s happening now). The illuminati will never give up their meat. gWbush won’t be handing in his ranch, his barbeques, his four-wheel drives, in any foreseeable hurry, it’ll have to be nuked out of him.

But the cost of ‘mass-producing meat’ (ie, mass slaughter of animals to feed us) to the planet’s health – as discussed by Steve Kilbey and other speakers – is alarming. Cattle use up vast amounts of topsoil in their grazing and emit methane in large amounts. What did Steve Kilbey say in a blog once?? …why are we chopping down the Amazon?…for big macs?? Yet I liked Steve’s answer – says Steve, “people come up to me and ask how do I give up meat? well, my answer is do your best”. Do your best. That’s good, and with that, be aware, not just with diet but in all areas of your life. When we shop at the supermarket much of our consumables are stored in plastic; the bags we are given if we don’t take our own are plastic. This eventually finds landfill or the sea, what are we to do?? Our petrol-economy emits vast amounts of Co2 into the atmosphere every year. I read and or saw a couple of quotes on those current affair docos – one to do with gasoline & oil, the other to do with food, “most people have no idea of where the food they’re eating comes from, how it’s derived and how it’s packaged and processed”. Really it’s about raising one’s awareness of their own footprint on the planet and being grateful for what is offered to us so readily and easily, here in the west, and to utilise and use it all with care and grace, to tread as lightly and considerately as possible. And yet, I threw out my empty plastic lunch-plate in the large green wheelie bin outside, 3/4 full of plastic plates & forks!

For myself I’m almost a vegetarian, but not quite. I buy tins of tuna though I never cook with chicken or red meat. I take dairy such as yoghurt, and I use milk for tea & coffee. In my journey it’s all about being aware more and more. Every time I get in my car and I realise what a miracle it is to drive from one destination to another in quick time …something that was dreamed about in past generations, and is actually happening now, but for how long who knows.

Sometimes the body will tell you what it likes to have ingested. If you’re sensitive enough you realise that fresh vegetables and fruit, plus raw grains, and plenty of fresh water, is what it’s silently and sweetly asking for.

It was a very worthwhile afternoon, and thanks again go to Steve Kilbey for his passion and candidness in sharing with us his songs and anecdotal experiences.

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Al-Anon

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