5 Reasons it is Hard Being a Veggie


Welcome to Tofutopia

Welcome to Tofutopia

  • 1. People ask you whether you eat fish. My reply is usually a tongue in cheek “if it’s got a face I don’t eat it” but I will let the vegetarian society give you a more definitive response.

“Someone who lives on a diet of grains, pulses, nuts, seeds, vegetables and fruits with, or   without, the use of dairy products and eggs. A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, fish, shellfish* or by-products of slaughter.”

*Shellfish are typically ‘a sea animal covered with a shell’. They take shellfish to mean;

Crustaceans (hard external shell) large – e.g. lobsters, crayfish, crabs, small – e.g. prawns, shrimps. Molluscs (most are protected by a shell) e.g. mussels, oysters, winkles, limpets, clams, etc. Also includes cephalopods such as cuttlefish, squid, and octopus.”

The Vegetarian Society also describes the different types of vegetarian:

“Lacto-ovo-vegetarians: eat both dairy products and eggs; this is the most common type of vegetarian diet.

Lacto-vegetarians: eat dairy products but avoid eggs.

Vegans: do not eat dairy products, eggs, or any other products which are derived from animals.

Eggs: Many lacto-ovo vegetarians will only eat free-range eggs. This is because of welfare objections to the intensive farming of hens. Through its Vegetarian Society Approved trade mark, the Vegetarian Society only endorses products containing free-range eggs.

Religious Reasons: Some people may be vegetarian for religious reasons. Jains, for example, are either lacto-vegetarian or vegan, while some Hindus and Buddhists may choose to practice a vegetarian diet.”

  • 2. The vegetarian society call them the by-products of slaughter, I call it “crap” you have to look out for when doing your shopping. “Crap” can include gelatin (see below picture if you ever wanted to know why you should avoid eating this stuff) which can be found in yoghurt’s, sweets and even some flavours of Dorito. Also if you buy cheese you have to make sure it has a V for vegetarian on the packaging otherwise it will contain rennet, which is described by the vegetarian society below the photograph.

Not so yummy gummy bears

Not so yummy gummy bears


“In cheese making, for milk to separate into curds and whey (curdling), the process requires the addition of rennet. Rennet contains the enzyme chymosin. Rennet can be sourced from the abomasum (fourth stomach) of newly born calves where the chymosin aids digestion and absorption of milk. Adult cows do not have this enzyme. Chymosin is extracted from slaughtered calves by washing and drying the stomach lining, which is cut into small pieces and macerated in a solution of boric acid/brine for 4-5 days. Three of the major sources of protease for coagulating milk are from animal sources, veal calves, adult cows and pigs, the other three are from fungi.”

That’s right folks rennet is the stomach lining of cows and pigs, yummy.

The other thing to look out for at the super market is wine, because wine often contains animal based ‘fining agents’ and for a better explanation of what these are this time I have asked Peta.

 “The majority of people are unaware that wine, although made from grapes, may have been made using animal-derived products. During the winemaking process, the liquid is filtered through substances called “fining agents.” This process is used to remove protein, yeast, cloudiness, “off” flavors and colorings, and other organic particles. Popular animal-derived fining agents used in the production of wine include blood and bone marrow, casein (milk protein), chitin (fiber from crustacean shells), egg albumen (derived from egg whites), fish oil, gelatin (protein from boiling animal parts), and isinglass (gelatin from fish bladder membranes). Thankfully, there are several common fining agents that are animal-friendly and used to make vegan wine. Carbon, bentonite clay, limestone, kaolin clay, plant casein, silica gel, and vegetable plaques are all suitable alternatives. Now, the trick is finding out where you can buy these wines. You can check your local organic or health food stores, local organic wine makers, and co-op’s, and most regular wine/liquor stores will order vegan wines upon request.”

The stand out line for me is “blood and bone marrow” I am not sure that passes the taste test for me.

  • 3. People try so hard to “get” your vegetarianism it ends up making you feel like an alien from another planet. People can try so hard to accommodate you that it makes you feel like you have inconvenienced them, so at a party or a function where you say you are a veggie the first question is that familiar old friend to the vegetarian “But you do eat fish?” (see point 1) You politely advise that no as a vegetarian you do not eat fish. They look crestfallen but then brighten up, “so do you eat cheese or milk”, here you have two options, 1) launch into the full vegetarian society endorsed explanation about Lacto-Vegetarians and Vegans or 2) in my case just say yes I do eat cheese (for the record I am a Lacto-ovo-Vegetarian who only eats free range eggs and is trying to cut down on cheese and milk and add a little soya milk into his life)


  • 4. You can still encounter outright prejudice. Take my recent trip to the supermarket as an example.

Me: Can you show me where the vegetarian frozen meals are please?

Shop worker: I’m sorry we don’t have any, we only sell normal food here.

Me: I see, because the last thing you would want in this store is a bunch of abnormal vegetarians running around.

Shop worker: After a slight pause. Exactly, sir.

Or there was the time when we asked my daughter’s school whether the Jelly (or Jell-O for my American friends) was vegetarian because it did not indicate it on the school menu. After a lengthy email exchange the school to provide it but not without first taking my daughter out of her lessons and marching her to the kitchen so the chef could take a photo of her to put up on the kitchen wall for “identification purposes”. And when my daughter entered the kitchen she was greeted with “Here’s the vegetarian”

  • 5. You always need to have your wits about you. You can never assume that a proffered dish is vegetarian, unless you have prepared it yourself. So being a vegetarian is tiring, very worthwhile from an animal welfare and a health point of view, but tiring because you are always on guard never sure when someone will try to stealth feed you an animal based product (see Totalitarian Meals) or like the time when my Mum served me “vegetarian chicken kievs” which turned out to be turkey kievs, full of meaty meaty turkey. This incident ended up with my Mum and I wrestling for the packaging to prove the true ingredients. (Full story to follow in a future instalment of Welcome to Tofutopia)

For more information about Vegetarian and Vegan foods and other interesting facts about animal welfare and organic living these are some good sites I have found. (I do not necessarily endorse all the views contained within these sites but I have found them a good resource for facts, figures and recipes)

The Vegetarian Society

Meat Free Mondays


Raw for Beauty

The pictures in this blog post were are all produced by me with the exception of the gelatin photo, which came via the Raw for Beauty website.

Welcome to Tofutopia


Image by TheWorldOutsideTheWindow


Totalitarian Meals

Recently at a conference, waiting patiently in line with plate in hand, it occurred to me that the buffet is a most undemocratic way of serving a meal.

I mean, if you think about it, this is a serving style that must have been created by a totalitarian mind. Picture the scene; a despotic maniac is hanging about in his palace/lair/hideout/hole in the ground (depending what stage of his rule we are in) and he has just finished dealing with one of his underlings. His attention turns to matters of national importance, lunch. This dictator decides he needs to devise a way to starve the weakest members of his corrupt society and thus he devises “The Buffet” –  “Mwa ha ha ha,” (evil laughter).

It is ingenious and perfectly fits his style of governing; it really is survival of the fattest (sorry fittest) at work at its most basic principle.

Let me explain; you really need to move fast to get an equal portion in the Buffet game. It is an art to know when to move to the queue –  move too soon and look like a greedy pig, too slow and you really are the outcast of society and you will be left with half fingered spring rolls and egg sandwiches. The strongest amongst us don’t care of course, they are already queued up before the party has even started with their specially re-enforced plates.

Only the fastest, strongest (not necessarily slimmest) and most adaptable will thrive in this game and of course, like all good totalitarian regimes, the cards (or vol au vents) are stacked in the favour of the Carnivore (who in this analogy can be the ruling dictatorial regime of your choice). For if you are the mighty carnivore you are already at a distinct advantage; you can eat everything and anything and probably have the constitution to survive the sometimes questionable hygiene practices of those who prepared the Buffet (probably underpaid but obedient regime underlings).

If however you have special dietary needs or are a vegetarian it is a whole different game. You get to play what I call Vegetarian Russian Roulette; oh the gun is fully loaded my friends, with chicken mayonnaise wraps and sausage rolls! Whether one of the “mystery dishes” that you put in your mouth is vegetarian or not is anyone’s guess. The Carnivore does not need to wash his hands before a meal or even after going to the toilet for he has an iron fisted constitution that can smash all those who object and will not tow the party line; they can handle peanuts at will and place them back in the bowl for some poor unsuspecting person with a less strongly constituted bowel to consume.

Beware my friends the buffet, the most undemocratic way to serve a meal; only the strongest will survive. I have no tips for you, it is just the law of nature – so be careful out there and my only suggestions are: get in the queue early no matter what polite convention dictates and if you’re not sure what it is, then don’t eat it….

©John de Gruyther 2012 (the words and pictures are all my own, the tofu is from the shop)

Tweet Geek – Firefly, Episode Two

Paisley Soul MEME

Welcome to a new feature called Tweet Geek. I intend to re-watch and review some of my favorite television shows starting with Firefly.

Where does the Tweet bit come in, I hear you ask? Well the challenge I have set myself is that each review has to be contained within the 140 characters of a tweet. I will then post my review on this blog and on Twitter.


Photo by Raven Underwood (Creative Commons)

The Train Job (In One Tweet)

“Duped into stealing medicine by a psychotic German, the crew play Robin Hood & the men in black are looking for River, what could it mean?”


Joss Whedon is a great writer and his shows are known for there funny one-liners and fast-talking characters. So just for the blog element of the review, I will share my favorite line from each episode.

Drunk pro-alliance bar fly to Mal -    “Your coat is kind of a Brownish color” (A good old fashioned “wild west” bar room brawl then breaks out)

Next up Episode Three, Bushwhacked.

Tales From The Edge Of My Living Room

Paisley Soul MEME

I wanted to share with you a poem that I recently submitted to an online magazine. Writing this poem was an interesting and new experience for me because it was the first time I had written poetry with guidelines set by someone else. I found the experience interesting but not necessarily fulfilling.

The theme that I had to write about and the tone that was requested didn’t suit my usual way of writing or seem to give me scope to examine the themes I usually like to explore. However I really enjoyed trying to write outside of my comfort zone and my first attempt ended up with a piece that I really love Loxton’s Time-Travel Gift Certificates, which I have already posted on this blog.

Anyway I was fairly happy with the finished poem but do let me know what you think in the comments section below.


Dad has retired

And I am 35

I thought retirement would bring lawnmowers and marrows

But instead it has brought sky diving,

Rally driving, hill walking and

Parish councils


It’s made me re-think all I thought about retirement

What will I do?

Will I even be able to retire

Numbers glide through my head

70, 75, 80

As Dad soars through the sky on his hanglider


Society tries to catagorise us by age,

Shape and colour

But it’s all a façade


So soar Dad soar,

I cast my memory back, this brilliant man built boats,

Worked 5 jobs so my sister and I could eat,

He never really complained just smiled

Day on day

His family to support, so life was ok

His patience a virtue to a child


Now I’m too big to be pushed in a pram

Or wrapped up in Impossibly strong arms

But just because he’s retired and I’m middle aged

Doesn’t mean he’s any less my Dad,

A hero and a model that on life’s path shows

There’s no limit to ambition

If you have imagination


So long live your retirement


©John de Gruyther 2014

Tweet Geek – Firefly


Welcome to a new feature called Tweet Geek. I intend to re-watch and review some of my favourite television shows starting with Firefly, episode one.

Where does the Tweet bit come in, I hear you ask? Well the challenge I have set myself is that each review has to be contained within the 140 characters of a tweet. I will then post my review on this blog and on Twitter.

For such a short lived show Firefly already has a classic feel to it and Mal Reynolds is one of my favourite characters of all time. So without further ado here is my first Tweet Geek review;

“Capt Mal Reynolds, war veteran turned space cowboy steals medicine from the Alliance. River,the Doctor & a priest come aboard. #Firefly”

I will be working my way through Firefly, one episode at a time, and then finishing with my one tweet review of Serenity (the film that wrapped up the story so far for the Firefly gang), so be sure to check it out and comment below on your favourite parts of Firefly.  Also let me know what show you would like me to do next, my thoughts at the moment dwell on the X-Files but I am open to suggestions.