Vegan Meetup @ LN Fortunate Coffee

It had been months since the last meetup in October and I was starving! I mean, not only for delicious vegan food, but I was also starving for great company. And by great company, I mean those who share similar values of caring for the Earth and the animals, and who emanate good vibes and pure compassion.

I need more of that in my life and so when I found out about this meetup and knew that I’ll be free on the 25th of March for a wholesome lunch, I absolutely couldn’t resist.

This was my second time stepping into LN Fortunate Coffee. I loved the interior design. Parts of the walls were covered with wood and the rest were painted white. The tables were also made of wood with matching chairs. Overall, this cafe had a minimalist vibe, very neat and clean, and it felt homely.

This meetup (as well as other vegan meetups, I’m sure) was proof of how beneficial and great social media is. The event was created on Facebook and those who wished to go can mark themselves as “Going”. This would enable the event organiser to inform the cafe the attendance a couple of days prior to the event. Very useful and efficient.

The 30 or so people came. The atmosphere was abuzz with delightful chatter. I felt like I was meeting old friends although some of them I’ve known for only several months and the rest for the first time. I liked that I didn’t have to explain myself as a vegan and that the conversation could progress further than “where do you get your protein?”.

While waiting for our food (I ordered lasagna), Raw Chef Yin gave a presentation on raw vegan food. She teaches people on how to make those healthy meals. Her creations are ingenious and delicious — all without heating up food above 45 degrees C (I think). She even brought samples for us to try out like Vanilla Coconut Bites, Cucumber Cumin Crackers, Vegan Sambal Belacan, Chocolate Sauce, and different flavoured Water Keffir (Passionfruit, Jasmine, Chrysanthemum). All RAW and all SO DELICIOUS!

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picture by Raw Chef Yin

 

While devouring our delicious food, we had a good chat with each other. I got to hear more about Chef Yin’s experience with raw food and also Jeremy’s (the cafe owner) business on green energy. It’s really inspiring listening to other people’s stories and what amazing things they have done in their lives.

I also had waffles with matcha and coffee ice cream for dessert. I mean, who can resist this?

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I think I spent about 3 hours there and it was one of the best lunches (if not the best) I’ve had this year so far 🙂

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With Rina (left) and Chef Yin
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With Jeremy the cafe owner

At around half past three, a few of us decided to go to Publika to check out the Eco Festival. It consisted mostly of booths selling environmentally-friendly products and also some performances. There was a booth selling freshly made vegan wraps and cookies by the amazing Davina aka Davina Da Vegan. Very catchy name 😉 We tried her hummus wrap and also the tempeh roll. They were SO good!

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Davina Da Vegan

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So yeah that was a fun Saturday! It’s always so nice to meet up with fellow vegans and I always wish that I could see them more often. The time with them will always be cherished and I’m eternally grateful for their presence and positive energy.

Be kind and love one another. Embrace the vegan vibe!

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Sustainable Consumption & Production | #BB4SCP

On the 1st of December, I had the opportunity to attend a 3-day workshop or conference organised by WWF Malaysia and EcoKnights. This was the first youth conference on sustainable consumption and production (SCP) in this country. Therefore, I was one of the pioneers, which was obviously a great honour.

Most of the participants were university students, which was not a surprise since that was the organiser’s target group. But anyone between the ages of 18 and 30 could attend. I fit into the category just fine and so I asked permission from my employer to attend this conference as part of the training hours that each employee is given.

Thankfully, my colleague also attended the conference so at least I had a familiar face to go to. But really I got along with the attendees there that I hardly felt alienated. We all shared a similar interest in conserving the environment albeit in different ways. And that was enough to create an easy friendship.

The first day consisted of ice-breaking sessions and various introductory talks on the topic of sustainability, namely sustainable wood, palm oil and fishing. I might write individual blog posts on each topic, as it is difficult to summarise such big and important topics. But generally, the talks given highlighted the realness of climate change backed up by science facts. And most of the impacts we see today are the direct result of human intervention.

We were indeed active participants. Many of us asked questions and give our opinions, which was quite unlike the general perception of Malaysian students. But then again, we were not the typical sort. Our minds are progressive and our hearts compassionate. Even so, those of us who preferred to not speak our thoughts had a chance to write them onto sticky notes that were put on a designated wall and probably collected by the organisers for future perusal. In any case, they made a point that our thoughts will – and must – be heard.

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my contribution

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On our second day, we were split into two groups for an outdoor excursion — one group was to visit a wet market, and the other to the headquarters of the Energy Commission. I was in the latter group, which was a relief because I wouldn’t want to go to a wet market to witness various sea creatures being sold as food. As the only vegan at the conference, I don’t think I could bear it regardless of them being caught sustainably.

The Energy Commission or Suruhanjaya Tenaga was located in Putrajaya. It is known as the Diamond Building because of — you guessed it — the Diamond shape of the building! Well, actually you can’t really see it from the ground but looking at aerial shots of the building, it is indeed a Diamond.

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Shine Bright Like A Diamond! (image from http://www.p-perdana.com)

What’s special about this building is the green technology incorporated into its design. There are photo voltaic (solar) panels on the rooftop, which contribute to 10% of the energy consumption. There were also water tanks on the roof to harvest rainwater for irrigation for plants grown around the building. The rainwater is also used to supply water in the toilet.

The Diamond structure of the building was purposeful. Sunlight is able to be reflected from the ground and into the building without the heat because the walls lined with glass windows were at an angle, not allowing direct sunlight to enter. The dome in the middle of the building allows an abundance of natural sunlight to enter thus minimising the need for fluorescent lamps in the building. Furthermore, the white painted walls play a role in reflecting sunlight within the building. Basically, good lighting (for selfies) can be got almost everywhere in the building!

The building was no doubt specifically constructed to be efficient, reflecting the profile of the Energy Commission. A couple of talks were given mostly about energy efficiency and renewable energy. I was very much interested in where Malaysia is going in terms of renewable energy and so I was quite pleased on hearing that solar energy is taking root. What many may not know is that solar panels can be installed within the home compound such as on roofs or on a considerably sized land, and you may use the energy generated or effectively sell it to the grid and you would only pay a lesser amount for your electricity bills.

There are of course certain conditions to installing solar panels. For example, if you use more than a certain amount of energy from your solar panels i.e. more than 72 kWh, you would have to let the energy commissions know. That means you can’t really live off-grid in luxury. You can live off-grid without the need to tell anyone if your energy consumption (from solar) is less than 72 kWh. At least I think that’s what they meant.

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On the final day, we headed to Encorp Strand Mall for the public forum. There was the guest of honour, Jens Brinckmann, who is from Germany and currently works at the German embassy in KL as a counsellor for economic, commercial and environmental affairs. One thing to note is that this event was supported by WWF Germany. Hence, the presence of Herr Brinckmann.

A few other speakers gave their talks: Thiagarajan Nadeson, the head of market and education at WWF Malaysia, who summarised the role and importance of SCP nationally and internationally; Benjamin Loh, manager of WWF Malaysia who spoke about sustainable palm oil; and Oga Chan, a community builder, who presented about the various sustainable small businesses and efforts in this country.

The rest of the afternoon was spent wandering around the fair and getting know the various ecocentric small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Biji-biji is by far my favourite because they are geared towards upcycling materials and turning into bags or wallets — embracing the ethical fashion. They also teach woodworking and simple electronics engineering for a greener lifestyle.

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I really enjoyed this event and I’m truly grateful to have experienced it with like-minded, environmentally aware and passionate people. Not only was this my first time attending an event focused on the environment, but it was also my first experience living in a dorm with 11 other girls – it was great!

This conference really fueled my passion for being a guardian or khalifah of the Earth. I got to learn more about the environmental issues in Malaysia and the move towards sustainable consumption. I also got to watch Al Gore’s documentary “An Inconvenient Truth”, which I had been wanting to see for many months! It’s crazy to think that despite it being produced 10 years ago, it is still very much relevant.

So with all the knowledge I’ve gathered, it is now my duty to spread it around. It is so important for each human being to care as much for the Earth as they do the people they love. This is simply because without the fertile land we currently live on, there can be no people to love.

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for more info about the event, visit the BB4SCP website!

pause. reflect. update

I thought of starting off with some wise, deep sentiment about how we often portray ourselves as characters we wish to become and forgetting our unique personalities… but then I thought nahhh let’s just be a bit informal today 🙂

[important info in the last paragraph]

So it has been a while. I did not post anything for about 2 months. It was kind of expected but dreaded. When something new comes into my life, it would disrupt nearly everything. And this new thing is work, as in a paid, 9 to 5 job.

I completed exams in the beginning of June. I graduated at the end of June, and I started work on the 1st of November. So it was about 4 months of leisure plus job hunting. If I had it my way, I would have wanted a gap year of some sort. Maybe do volunteering or internship work. Or start a small business, or travel, or try something new and exciting.

But I quickly realised that none of those would have been possible.

Now before you think I’m pessimistic or argue that “anything is possible if you just believe”, try to understand my situation. I was a fresh graduate with little to my name. Sure my parents had financially supported my education but that was just that. Since I had graduated, it was not their responsibility to financially support me anymore. I would have to support myself. And because the system of the world we are living in is based on money, I had had no choice but to acquire an income to be able to live adequately.

I am lucky to be able to get a job so soon and one that I am quite happy with. I used to say that I would not like to have a 9-5 job and thought of doing something I would actually enjoy or perhaps starting my own business. But because I enjoy so many things and that I know nearly nothing about running a business, a normal office job seemed to be more likely than anything.

And so I set up a condition for myself. If I have to work at an office, it must be something I would find of value, not a corporate company (if possible), and pays relatively well for a fresh graduate. Thankfully, Fate (God) managed just that for me. I am now working as a trainee consultant at a private, local environmental consulting company.

It is a job I find of value because it deals with the environmental sector, which I had for months thought of going into after graduation even though it is not the subject written on my graduation certificate. In case you’re curious, I graduated with a BSc Natural Sciences in Chemistry and Biology. Most would think that hey, Biology! It’s definitely related to the environment. I would then reply, no, what I did was more towards Biotechnology and Microbiology. It is probably only 5% related to the environment, or less. Then, they would show a look of understanding, but I will never be sure whether they truly did.

Now that I am a bit more stable, I think I know how to fit in time for blogging. And I feel the need for a bit of a change. My blog has basically been a bit of everything — books, food, lifestyle, random thoughts. I know I can’t focus on just one thing where there’s a high probability of getting more followers. My aim has never been about the numbers; it’s about sharing my perspective in life and spreading positive vibes. And I will continue to be as miscellaneous as ever.

However, I would like to focus more on the topics like philosophy, spirituality, sustainability, and the environment, and less on the random stuff. I will continue to write book reviews, as reading is a constant activity in my life. I understand that some of you may have followed me for the bookish things, as I have thought of going into book blogging. But as I’ve said, it’s unlike me to focus on just one thing because there are just so many things to share! So, I apologise if my content doesn’t please you. You may unfollow whenever you feel like it.

So the whole theme of this blog is about my journey of living a meaningful and conscious life that touches upon the subjects like minimalism, spirituality and sustainability. I am also an advocate of veganism and a fervent environmentalist. I strive for compassion in all avenues of life. So if this sounds interesting to you, I hope you would follow my blog and hopefully start a discussion.

Also, I write this to inform you that this current URL (thevioletspirit) will be changed to standardise with all of my social media. So if you would like to continue reading my stuff and supporting me, do follow my blog so that you would still be in the loop when I do change my URL by the end of this week. Otherwise, I thank you for reading and I wish you all the best in the New (Gregorian) Year! 🙂

Chocolate Chip Cookies [VEGAN]

I took this recipe from this blog, which the author got it from this blog! I made only minor alterations—I doubled the quantity and added cocoa powder 🙂

Below is what I did, yielding about 40 yummy cookies.

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ingredients:

  1.     4 cups all-purpose flour
  2.     2 tsp baking soda
  3.     2 tsp baking powder
  4.     1 tsp salt
  5.     1/2 cup cocoa powder
  6.     1 cup coconut oil
  7.     2 cups brown sugar
  8.     1/2 cup plant milk (I used soy)
  9.     2 tbsp vanilla extract
  10.     1 cup chocolate chips

(tsp = teaspoon; tbsp = tablespoon)

method:

Pre-heat oven to 170 degrees Celcius.

Combine the dry ingredients (numbers 1 – 4).

In a separate bowl, mix 6 – 9. I used a whisk but I guess you can just use a big spoon. The mixture will be liquidy.

Combine the dry and wet ingredients and mix well. The dough will be crumbly, which is perfectly okay! Here you can add in the chocolate chips. I had a short supply of those so I added them after I’ve rolled the dough onto the baking pan. But if you have loads, just mix them in! 

I then added the cocoa powder. I didn’t add in earlier because I wanted the cookies to have a marble pattern. 

Roll the dough into a tbsp sized balls and place them on an ungreased baking sheet and flatten them out with your palm. Again, the dough may be crumbly but smoosh it together and it will be fine!

Bake for 10 minutes (and only 10 mins max or else it will burn!). Let the cookies cool and they will harden up a bit. 

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VERDICT

The cookies were soft like Subway cookies. Nicely sweet and with a tinge of saltiness. I was not quite satisfied with the chocolate chips — they didn’t melt at all! So I might try a different brand next time.

I brought the cookies to my cousin’s brithay celebration. I did intend to bake something for that occasion and I settled upon this simple snack. And they were praised by many! One of my cousins liked them so much that he couldn’t quite believe they were vegan. Or maybe he was just teasing me… :p

Thank you Vegan Housewives for coming up with the recipe. It’s super simple and delicious as well!

So, what are you waiting for? Fill up your pantry and get baking! Good luck and enjoy x

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veganniversary

It has been a year since I had not consumed meat, dairy or eggs for environmental, health and ethical reasons. You can read all about veganism all over the internet. I shall list some good sources below. But today, as my “veganniversary” (not really a big deal), I thought it would be fun to do this Q&A thing.

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When did you become vegan?

A year ago. I think it was the 1st of October 2015, the day (or day after) I arrived in the UK.

Why did you become vegan?

I found out how animal agriculture (livestock and byproducts) contributes significantly to global warming. It is also one of the causes of numerous environmental issues like deforestation. I learnt how consumerism also plays a role and that the issue goes much deeper. I discovered that a plant-based diet may help reduce the chances of chronic diseases. Like they say, prevention is better than cure. After knowing about the existence of factory farms and understanding how far we have manipulated animals, I felt compelled to stand up against animal cruelty. I believe that compassion is key to achieve peace and so far this vegan diet upholds such value in every way. 

What was the hardest part about becoming vegan?

Receiving people’s various comments and opinions on minute details when all I am doing is striving to live compassionately and mindfully. Sure veganism is not perfect. Yes, you can’t get B12 on a plant-based diet unless it’s fortified or you take supplements (or perhaps there is a plant containing B12 that I don’t know about or I can just eat soil). But you can get enough and complete proteins from plants like soy, beans, legumes, chia seeds and even leafy vegetables and grains. You just need to be smart and have a good combination of them!

Is it difficult to be vegan?

Not for me. Not if you open your eyes to the horrors of human activities. It is difficult if you keep thinking on your perspective rather than the perspective of others (animals and the environment).

Do you let certain things “slide” from time to time? (for example, use/purchase non-vegan items. etc.)

In terms of animal products other than food, I no longer buy leather and the like. But I still do own such materials that were bought years ago. At restaurants that aren’t so vegan-friendly, I try my best to ask for a modified meal. I might have unknowingly slipped, but I wouldn’t let it be on purpose. Like that time when I accidentally bought a bolognese sauce instead of just tomato sauce for pasta…

Do you support vegetarianism and or “something’s better than nothing’s”?

Yes. Nobody’s perfect but if they are genuinely striving then it’s better than nothing.

What is your favourite speciality vegan item? (name as many as you’d like!)

Currently, all I can think of is sambal tempeh and bindi curry! 😀

What is your opinion of the meat and dairy alternatives?

I’m alright with them. Personally, I don’t eat meat alternatives regularly and I wouldn’t want to mainly because they are processed food. But it’s okay once in a while. Dairy alternatives like soy milk and almond milk are fine. It’s definitely better if I can make them from scratch.

Do you feel judged by other vegans sometimes? How do you deal with it?

I don’t think so. They have all been very supportive.

Do you enjoy being vegan?

Absolutely. Even though I stumble along the way and might have doubts here and there but so far the pros outweigh the cons so I believe that this has been great for me physically, mentally and spiritually. Plus, I get to learn new things and meet new people. And that is always great!


Useful resources:

  1. What is veganism?
  2. The Most Important Speech You Will Ever Hear
  3. Environmental issues from Cowspiracy
  4. Earthlings documentary
  5. We’ve Become Disconnected