Simply kohlrabi winter side

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Food

koolrabi-winterpostelein

This is an awesome winter salad of kohlrabi (koolrabi) and winter purslane (winterpostelein), topped with mustard vinaigrette and sunflower seeds. The distinct tastes of kohlrabi and mustard go very well together, and it’s even better with some fresh leaves in the mix. The seeds add some more variation in texture.

I love how the salad looks so peaceful.

And kohlrabi is such a cool veggie: it looks like it could be from out of space.

Peace out.

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Image: Pixabay, face added

Cliteracy by Sophia Wallace

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art / Illustration

Artist Sophia Wallace aims to improve the role female pleasure organs have in our cultures and our bedrooms. She does this through her ongoing art project called Clitoracy. Do check out her website, texts and artworks including the first – and beautiful –  anatomically correct sculpture of the clitoris and TEDx Talk! They’re amazing and needed.

Artwork in the image from street art page. I think it’s absolutely stunning. I wish I had something like that. Oh yes, I do!

Green beard monster

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Food

This green ‘spaghetti’ monster arose from the salt marshes of Portugal and is called monk’s beard! It originates from Italy, where was cultivated by Cappuccino monks in Tuscany, hence the name. A possibly prettier name for this veggie is agretti. It grows in saline soil so it tastes salty, too.

You can eat it raw, steam it, shortly boil it, fry it… I did the latter and liked the structure and salty taste! I had the classic combo of winter purslane (winterpostelein) potato mash topped with roasted sunflower seeds and fried monk’s beard. And there was mung bean soup. Oh I love food.

Monk’s beard is in season right now, so catch it if you can!

Psst, agretti is a good source of vitamin A, iron and calcium! 🙂 (source)

Bad dairy news for a better future

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Food / Other

It’s not easy to deliver people the bad news, especially if they know it’s there and don’t want to hear it. People do this thing called strategic ignorance, in which they deliberately ignore all information they wish didn’t exist, so they can tell themselves that all is fine. There’s no problem there, as long as I can pretend there isn’t.

This strategic ignorance is also being used by people to deny the problems that arise from using animals to get meat, dairy and eggs for human consumption. The problems range from animal welfare, to underpaid farmers who cannot support their families and to climatic changes leading to even more suffering of humans and other species. And honestly, animal products aren’t so good for your own health either.

However, many people prefer to ignore all this, because they don’t want to feel the guilt that comes with knowing. While actually the fact that they do their best to ignore the problems is a result of them already knowing what they’re doing is not right and already feeling uncomfortable. When people get angry when you tell them something about the effects of their meat consumption, it’s not because you are wrong, it’s because they know they are.

All this makes it hard to spread the word about such difficult issues. You don’t want others to feel bad, yet you find it important that people know about the damage they indirectly contribute to! So how do you get to their heads?

There is not one answer. The movement will grow slowly but steadily. People will open up once they are ready. Though, we don’t have to sit still: we sure can help to speed it up a little! 🙂

This month I am lucky to contribute to a campaign of the environmental NGO Milieudefensie/Friends of the Earth NL about (un)fair milk (for Dutch people: Eerlijke Melk), about everything related to the product. So far the campaign had two major actions which were performed simultaneously in 15 cities of the Netherlands, with a third action in one city still to come. The aim was to break the strategic awareness walls of people, to bring the knowledge where it doesn’t go naturally, and to spread truthful information along with offering solutions.

The first action consisted of handing out newspapers under a different, previously existing so well-known name. The papers were handed out on train stations, so travellers could read them on the train (and leave them for others to read!). The paper was a good mix of satiric jokes and real, serious content. I really like how they made it. I hope people weren’t too pissed off when they found it wasn’t De Pers and that they could appreciate the paper for what it really is, at least a little.

The second action was one of symbolically marking trees for logging, with signs stating that the space will be used to grow soy to feed livestock. In reality in South America tropical rainforests are being cleared to be replaced by soy plantations to feed our dairy cattle. Most people don’t realize that the damage this causes in terms of climate change and the livelihoods of local inhabitants is tremendous. Here, people could go to a website to object the actually unreal logging, where they could then learn about all the real issues and things that are happening right now.

This action predominantly aimed to get the (local, regional and national) press to report about it, so that people would learn about it via media. This happened! Activists were on the TV, the radio, on news websites and in newspapers. Yeeh! In my town the beautiful signs were ripped of in no time, as ordered by the municipality, which is a shame. But okay we did our best, and the local action did get reported on some websites (because I sent them the press release), which was our goal! And at least now we didn’t have to clean up ourselves afterwards.

I am not sure of the exact results of these actions or of the whole campaign (which is still going), but for sure a lot of people have seen some of it and were encouraged to consider the issues and their own role in them.

In communicating matters like the wrongs in our food system, I think the part of offering alternatives or solutions is really important. People are afraid of giving up their lifestyle and parts of their identities. Once you show them that they can fill the newborn gap with something else, that the change is not the end of their personal world, it’s less of a problem. Good examples of showing the bright side are initiatives that show how much fun having a vegan lifestyle can be. (Like vega[n] lifestyle festival Veggie World happening in three weeks!)

In addition, what is nice about campaigns of more well-known NGOs and such is that they are usually perceived as very credible; they (are thought to) have the facts about the problem and the solutions. For individuals it is much harder to stay strong when others are sceptical about what you’re stating, because well, you didn’t do the research yourself… It’s good to have more large organisations on board in the whole environmental and veganism movement. This will surely help a lot.

I’m curious to see how all of this will develop in the near future, to see whether we can collectively choose for sustainability or not. Here I mainly liked to share the specific actions of Milieudefensie, because I think they were pretty nice. Further, I was too lazy to look up sources for all that I state, but you can do your own research on the webz or ask questions below in the comments. I am pretty convinced of the causes and effects of the consumption of animal products, as you can see. I hope you don’t mind. 😉

Thank you for reading and enjoy plants!

Milieudefensie does not state that we should completely stop producing and consuming animal products, but they are in favour of shifting towards consuming more plant-based food and way less animal products than we do now.

Pictures via (volunteers of) Milieudefensie.

Self care, you, me and beauty

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Thoughts

Recently I played a game in which so-called ‘revealing cards’ asked my boyfriend and me wicked personal questions and we had to answer in complete honesty. Some where not so difficult, but others made me think. These questions and answers are so interesting – such good food for thought! – that I’ll drop them here.

So, what would you say when a silly card asks you the seemingly simple yet existential question:

Question: “When do you choose for yourself?”

Do you have an answer? I think a lot about ‘these kind of things’, but this question is difficult! I hadn’t thought about it this way.

Maybe you’d want to think about your answer before reading on.

When do you choose for yourself? … Is it when you leave everything be and be with your own needs and feelings? This can be choosing for yourself, choosing to take care of yourself.

But then, if you choose for yourself, are you not just being selfish? I find this distinction difficult sometimes. I think that in our culture self care is often seen as selfish. We always have a thousand things to do, and just ‘sitting still’ for a bit doesn’t seem allowed. We can feel guilty for giving ourselves what we need instead of giving to others constantly. This is of no help to anyone, because having some peace with ourselves is super important for our well-being!

Self care is needed to stay happy and be able to help others.

Taking care of each other is beautiful, but you cannot do it if you yourself are exhausted from constantly running around helping others. Self care is needed to keep yourself happy. So it is crucial, not a luxury!

We may not always know what we need at the time, and what the uttermost best option is to do, but we have to try to do what’s good for us. We have to take care of ourselves first. (Just like in the air plane!)

My answers to the question were these: I choose for myself when I ask for help and advice, when I take care of my body, when I let go of social pressures and stay in when I prefer to rest, when I see a therapist, and I chose for myself when I took a break year after my Bachelor degree.

My pattern is to want to be there for others all the time, to help them. I too easily get caught up in all that’s happening outside of me and it wears me out. I am learning that there needs to be a balance. Self care needs to come first, it needs to be the base from which you care for others. You are the base.

The second important question we got was the following, which was a nice follow-up:

Question: “What about yourself do you find beautiful?”

This question I found even harder than the first, because you can look at it in different ways or on different levels.

This question holds two concepts: yourself and beauty.

Yourself, your self, you: Who are you? I am [name], [age] years old, I live in [town], [country]. I am [profession], and in my spare time I like to [hobby] and be with [relationships].

I have feelings; I like the nice ones, and I dislike the painful ones.

I also have feelings, like all people. I like the nice ones, and I dislike the painful ones. And I have developed ways to deal with them, which work quite okay, most of the time. But sometimes they don’t. Then I have to remember that I am not my feelings, I am not my mind. I am. What am I?

We have concepts of who we are and of who others are. These concepts are useful, but they can also be in our way. We tend to want to distinguish ourselves from others, we tend to think in binaries. You versus others. Beauty versus ugly.

The concept of beauty: What is beauty? Can we find things beautiful without judging other things as ugly? Can we think of ourselves as beautiful without labelling others as ugly?

The concept of beauty is tricky, because we are taught that ugly is its opposite. There is this thing called inner beauty, but do we even know what that means? Isn’t everyone’s inner beautiful?

Beauty isn’t opposed to ugliness.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, you have to learn to see it properly. In that sense, it also isn’t opposed to ugliness. There is beauty in everyone. What is beautiful in me, is beautiful in you as well. In essence we are all beautiful.

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How helpful are these questions and concepts and my writings to you? Join the discussion by writing comments!

Further, on The Woman’s Network are among other things podcasts about radical self care and yonis. They’re good to listen to while pampering yourself tonight. 😉

Image via eommina on Pixabay.

Spirituality meets polyamory, and they fall in love

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Thoughts

My previous writings about polyamory resulted in me getting quite some comments and questions from friends along the lines of ‘this is all nice and good, but aren’t you just perfectly monogamous?’ Well, I may as well am, but this depends on how you see. My first post about the topic was intended to grow some familiarity with the term polyamory, with the possible interpretations and implications. Today I will tell you more about why I find polyamory important.

The bottom line of my previous post: Polyamory is about respecting your relationships and doing your best to make it work for everyone involved. It is about being able to love multiple people at the same time and it is in no way an excuse to treat others unethically.

What I didn’t mention explicitly is that for me polyamory is closely related to spirituality. This again depends on your definition of spirituality. I could use personal development as an alternative. I’ll use them both here.

What I mean with this spirituality or personal development is the process of cleaning your mind of everything that doesn’t help you being happy; the process of truly connecting with yourself. This is the most difficult thing, but when you do progress, you will find more space for happiness, peace and compassion: for love.

You will learn to be more compassionate towards yourself and others. You will get to see others as they really are, and then you will see there really aren’t so many differences. We all have these needs and feelings. We want to feel safe and connected and if we feel differently, we can do weird things in an attempt to feel whole again.

I believe people are not good or bad. We just are. And the most important thing is to do is our best to help ourselves and each other to be happy and feel loved.

For me growing understanding of myself and others and practising to be more compassionate has helped me to feel more love for myself and for everyone. I think polyamory is a perfect term for this love as it translates to loving many. One can practice to feel more love, to direct it to others and thereby help them feel more love as well. How can this not be polyamory?

I am in one romantic relationship. We help each other a lot, to learn and grow, etcetera. It won’t be possible to be in another equally intense relationship at the same time, time wise for the least. And I also don’t feel the need for it. However, this does not mean that there is no more love, or that other forms of relationships, more or less romantic, cannot happen.

I may use the broadest possible definition of polyamory, but it makes sense to me to see it like this. Practically I may be a regular person with regular relationships, but I prefer to look at it a little differently, because this serves me.*

I like to be in contact with people and I don’t want my relationships to be defined by some standards set by our societies. I don’t think having multiple romantic relationships is wrong; it just totally depends on the context, on whether you’re being ethical or not.

So this is where spirituality finds polyamory. But the other way around? I think that if you want to sustain multiple romantic or intense relationships you are bound to face huge challenges. Intense relationships always come with challenges, therefore they provide good ‘opportunities’ to learn. Everything gets more complicated with more people involved, so the challenges posed will be more difficult.

To sustain multiple intense relationships you will have to do a lot of work, a lot of personal development. Otherwise you will end up hurting yourself and others, over and over. I think that everyone who is interested in having multiple relationships at the same time will sooner or later learn that this is how it goes. Thereby, polyamory meets spirituality – or how you want to call it.

I think we all have to learn how to treat ourselves and each other well, but having more relationships or contact with people can help us to get there sooner. It doesn’t have to go like that, but it certainly can. Polyamory simply cannot work without compassion and lots of love.

So this was my pretty belated explanation! I hope you enjoyed it. If you know better terminology or anything, you know where to write a comment.

Love!

* Just as there is no need to label your relationships, there is also no need to label your relationship views. Identifying with being polyamorous may or may not serve you. Maybe you don’t have to identify with anything, but considering the theme can be useful.

Note: In this and alike posts I may seem to act pretentious, as if I ‘get’ it all or so, but that’s not necessarily so. I’m trying to be a good person, but I have my troubles. I’m also not sure if these super broad definitions and ‘vague’ words or talks are too useful, but again, for me it makes sense somehow, and I hope some others appreciate it too.

Beetroot ‘n bean salad

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Food

I thought to make burgers, but then I realised that at the moment I totally lack a blender or so to mix it all together. I’d use a grater for the beetroot, but lupine beans are tough! So I decided on the simpler version of a burger: a salad!

As you can see, there’s (boiled) beetroot, lupine beans and kale in the mix. The kale is massaged with a dressing of tahini and lime (classic combo!), and pepper, salt and oil (everything to taste, and to texture).

I like the combination of the ‘earthy’ and more ‘fresh’ hints of flavours. The different textures go really well together as well! Beetroot, lupine and kale are all very different. The tahini/lime dressing also makes a great addition, as it makes the mix more interesting and varied, as well as more fresh-ish due to the lime.

How do you eat your beetroot? I’d love to learn more great combos!

The art of being like zen dog

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art / Illustration / Other

“He knows not where he’s going
For the ocean will decide –
It’s not the DESTINATION…
… It’s the glory of THE RIDE”

For everyone who doesn’t know where they are going: be more like zen dog. Having a goal can surely help you, but most important is being happy in this very moment. This moment is all there will ever be. So let us enjoy the ride while it lasts, instead of focussing only on future destinations.

I like zen dog as an example. Happily floating in his little boat… We people make everything so difficult. Let’s take it easy. 🙂

Zen dog post card via Really Good, I miss you post card via Flying Tiger

See also: Why your life is not a journey (~ Alan Watts and David Lindberg)

Purple kale, smoky tempeh and shoyu tofu

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Food

Today I have some pictures of and notes on kale, tempeh and tofu for you.

I already knew I love kale, but then I found purple coloured kale! I roasted it, just like I described here. Actually, I misunderstood the oven and had to complement with using a frying pan, but then I got purple kale crisps! I’m not sure whether it tasted any different from usual green kale, but the colour made me a little happier anyway.

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I brought the kale crisps to a put luck dinner and everyone liked it. Win!

To the same (Christmas) pot luck I brought tempeh, which I had marinated with sunflower oil, liquid hickory smoke, rosemary, garlic and salt. All this gave it a pretty intense flavour!

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Liquid hickory smoke (of Mex-Al) is a very interesting substance which can make all your food taste smoked! Its ingredients are water, vinegar, smoke flavouring liquid hickory smoke, colour caramel E150d, emulsifier E433. I haven’t found many applications yet, but it’s surely nice to experiment with. See the a picture of the bottle on the bottom of the post.

Here’s a picture of well-done tofu.

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It can be hard to get tofu crispy. The reason is that from itself it contains a lot of moist, which makes it hard to fry it. What helps, is to squeeze out the moist before frying. After squeezing, you can marinate it for a while with oil and whatever you want, so the tofu can (already) absorb it. Then, just fry it in a frying pan (possibly with extra oil) and be patient! Crispy tofu takes time!

Here I fried the tofu in oil in combination with my favourite soy sauce: Shoyu of De Nieuwe Band. If you get the chance to try this one, do it! It tastes great. Or: if you have a favourite soy sauce: share with me, so I can try that one too! (The package of this shoyu recommends to only add it in the end to prevent the taste to disappear due to the heat, but I did add it earlier.)

The two mentioned tasty liquids accompanied by a tea egg bird and a plant shadow sweep (right).

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Shoyu soy sauce of De Nieuwe Band and liquid hickory smoke of Mex-Al

This was today’s collection of food pics. More generally, these days I’m enjoying loads of mushrooms since my boyfriend loves them, and I try to eat mostly local vegetables, like cabbages and tuber vegetables.

Have you developed new food habits or cravings recently?

Reflection time

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Other / Thoughts

Moving is exciting and exhausting. I try hard to stay graceful and equanimous, though I get discouraged by the fact that we have to do without internet and physical mail. I want to get my shit organised but the circumstances make it really difficult. On the other hand, being disconnected from the outside world sure has it’s pros and cons. This years’ Christmas family reunions were nice and crowded, so now we can happily redraw and rest again. We can take time to reflect.

It is good to revisit your core motivations to find if you let them lead you.

Here comes one cliché December topic: resolutions. Do you have ’em? I do see benefits of reviewing the course of your life and whether you’re really doing what you want to be doing. And of revisiting your core motivations to find if you let them lead you. For me this is a good exercise and now is really the right time for it. It also helps to think in time periods or phases and cycles. For me, the last years thinking in calendar years has made a lot of sense, since major changes has happened in winter time.

Most of all, I want to be good to the world. I hardly lose this aim out of sight, however, it is not concrete, which makes it hard to accomplish. How do we make it manageable? There are many ways and there is no right or wrong. There is hardly good or bad…

My course was one of being interested in nature and following from that in the environment that allows nature to be. Everyone benefits from a healthy environment, so that became my focus. But now, even though I am 100% behind what I’m doing in university, which is my main occupation, I find it hard to stay motivated when there is so much going on outside this institution and the scope of my little research. As a result, my focus is pretty scattered which mostly leads to me feeling as if I’m all over the place but really I’m just hardly there.

So it could help to realise what matters to you, what motivates you, and based on that to choose several focus points to work with. Focus points can be aims or themes, but at least it should give you some sort of direction. The next step is to think of concrete activities for each focus point, which lead to making progress in the way you want. It is important to check back to see if the activities are in line with your (core) motivations.

This is actually the same as what I already wrote about and quoted earlier: about an article named ‘The Easy Way to start Exercising’, which is about linking exercising or whatever to your primary values. I’ll quote again: ‘It became fulfilling to him because he could see it would help him in his primary values. That’s the key to easy exercise and to life – link it to what you already love and it will become something you love.’ That is so nice! We just have to remember why we do what we do, and if we are convinced of the reason and the activity, we feel fulfilled.

Now, I actually tried to make a tree of focus points and activities for myself, according to the ‘exercise’ I suggested. I already found that taking it too seriously will not work, for there will always be some disorder in the overview; in the form of overlap and inconsistencies. Let it gooo, and just enjoy what is there.

This is what I found for my focus point of promoting veganism:

  • join more vegan activities/initiatives/etc. and motivate others to do so too
  • contribute to organising such activities/initiatives/etc.
    • choose a specific organisation or initiative to actively support
  • experiment more with different dishes/specific products
    • get more familiar with aquafaba
  • write about veganism on blog and/or other platforms
  • read more veganism related blogs and websites

Promoting veganism is already quite concrete. I also had the focus points learn more about [certain topics], learn to self-care and prepare career. They are quite doable, not to at once make a full roadmap to a certain end goal, but some actions can be thought of. However, some other important topics are missing and I’m not sure what to do with that. I’ll make some notes at the bottom, as reminders to consider them again later in the upcoming year.

What do you think? I realise that some people are firmly against making resolutions for calendar years, so they may get annoyed by posts like this. I suggest that if you do not like to think in terms of resolutions or goals, you can still try to recognise your core motivations. What drives you? I’d say this is a good exercise for everyone, as it will contribute to leading a fulfilling life.

I’d love to hear from you.

Happy New Year everyone! 🙂