Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

Vegan Musings

Yesterday my boet was in town and we went out for lunch. I chose Massimo’s in Hout Bay because I have never been and I know that they have an omni and special vegan menu. I had a most delicious vegan pizza (my only mistake was adding vegan cheese to it; horrible, unmelty coconut oil flavoured lumps) and everyone’s food was good. They even had a selection of vegan wines to choose from. I like that. It was all expensive. Eating out is expensive which is why I don’t do it that often.

It is so important for me that being a vegan isn’t about having to spend more money on food. Eating out is an absolute treat. Buying ingredients is not about buying expensive meat or dairy substitutes. In fact the only thing I don’t resent spending money on is cashew nuts, after discovering how they grow when I was in India.

Although I adore the brilliant sharing of information, recipes and advice on social media, the curse of belonging to Facebum vegan groups is that they can be both judgemental and snobby. This is a problem when vegans are trying to convince the average Joe that being a vegan is both accessible and affordable.

So when I am Facebum invited to a pop-up dining experience at R450 a head, or I read about a vegan high tea that costs the same as my weekly veggie purchase, I get a little antsy. When I read that soy milk is out and almond milk, at double the price is in, I do have a bit of a knee jerk response that omnis who might want to transition would find that off putting.

Big Friendly and I popped into De Waal Park on Saturday. I dragged him because I saw on Facebum that there was a vegan bake sale on and I wanted to support it. I want to support as many vegan initiatives as I can so that they continue to happen. I didn’t tell him that the teeniest crunchie and minute lemon poppyseed square cost R40. The poppyseed cake was ok. Big Friendly didn’t even remember to eat the crunchie I bought for him. It was too small to notice on the kitchen table.

And I am left feeling a little grumbly. This is what I think. Animal based protein is expensive. If a restaurant needs to ‘veganise’ a recipe they are leaving out the most expensive part of it. Vegan dishes cost less to make than omni ones. Soy milk costs only a teeny bit more than cow’s milk. Anything with cheese in should be more expensive, not less expensive than the non cheese version.

We vegans should be able to convince people that veganism is not a pastime for the well-heeled. But we need to demand that it is more affordable.

 

Taking Sides


I woke up nauseous this morning. At first I thought I was physically ill, but the minute I turned on my computer and went to both Facebum and twitter in two different tabs but simultaneously, I felt the bile and my temperature rise.

 

Of course I see what I follow. This morning it was, in no particular order, the Israeli defence force’s slaughter of unarmed marchers, the bombing of Syria, a racist conflict on an aeroplane, a few incomprehensible decisions by Donald Trump, the glorification and vilifying of Winnie Madikizela Mandela, the mountains of plastic polluting our oceans, the online abuse of women, nasty jokes about vegans, vegans abusing dairy farmers, and pleas to donate to gay rights, animal abuse, the Palestinian cause, making theatre, and a sick child.

No wonder it feels like end of days. The thing I hate about social media is that it is devoid of nuance. Everybody is shouting and everything is so extreme. It is like living with the volume button stuck on rage. Everything is about taking sides. And if you are on the other side of anything you are open to abuse, from the side it looks like you are against.

I started feeling a bit frantic. The feeling carried on while we walked the dogs; Linus seemed to be a bit under the weather.

And then I came home and I saw that the seeds I had sown, literally, in the tiny patch of soil in our weenie front yard, had started to spring up. Poppy seeds make the tiniest green sprouts, smaller than an ant’s head, and there are the tiniest tomato shoots growing from where tomatoes fell off the miracle tomato vine that grew by itself and yielded the most delicious and unusual pear shaped cherry tomatoes, and I think I saw some sweet pea shoots (maybe).

I am not going back to social media today. I am going to buy special dog food for Linus. I am going to water my shoots with grey water, and I am going to a live discussion and meet up about whether there should be a creative policy around BDS in support of Palestine.

I will just post this link on FB and twitter so you can read about it and take sides.

OY! Theatre and DNA

Things have been happening at the Theatre Arts Admin Collective, in Observatory. Twice a week young people from all over Cape Town have gathered, under the inspiration of Caroline Calburn, and the direction of Jaqueline Dommisse, and they have been rehearsing a play.

Last night I went to the opening performance of DNA written by Dennis Kelly and performed by the company of (almost totally) school goers, and I was absolutely blown away.

Every single aspect of this extraordinary production was completely professional, and mindbogglingly good. So good, in fact, that they deserve a proper review.

The plot. A group of teenagers do something bad, really bad, then panic and cover the whole thing up. But when they find that the cover-up unites them and brings harmony to their otherwise fractious lives, where’s the incentive to put things right? A modern Lord of the Flies, with more swearing, introspection and added horror. It is really, really scary.

Jaqueline Dommisse has worked magic with these young performers who have fully developed characters, stage presence and a deep understanding of the material. What they lack in stage experience and technique they totally make up for in commitment and presence, and they work gloriously as a team to create powerful, emotional, meaningful work.

Jaqueline’s set is inspirational. A jungle gym is skeleton, structure, status and school ground. The use of the space is amazing, allowing the children to pound across the distance. Music and superb lighting (Frans) add to the charged atmosphere, and even details like prosthetic make-up are perfect.

There are things that make me happy and proud to live in this city (not often, but sometimes) and a youth theatre company down the road from where I live, is my newest happy making thing.

I am so excited that I am going to be working with this extraordinary company next. They are going to be exploring improv with me, and we will aim to perform some traditional TheatreSports shows at the end of the term. Watch this space.

Vegan Lasagna Supreme

I spent the day cooking – a rare occurrence, but very successful. I made vegan kneidlach (matzo balls) in non-chicken soup, and then I made my first ever and definitely the best vegan lasagna. I scoured vegan lasagna recipes online and loved parts of them, but not the whole ones, and so I took the bits I liked from the recipes, adapted them, and combined them, and it was a total success.

I am going to try and write up the whole thing, and all the parts.

The parts

Italian tomato sauce, made from scratch, mushroom and spinach filling, cashew ‘cheese’, bechamel, lasagna sheets

  1. Tomato sauce

Ingredients – half onion chopped, clove of garlic, 1 fresh chilli, olive oil, dried thyme, sweet basil, oregano, 1 tin tomato puree, a small tub of tomato paste, water, a handful of fresh basil, balsamic vinegar, salt, black pepper

Fry the onion and garlic in a splash of olive oil, adding the dried herbs and chilli. Then add the tomato paste and stir before adding the tin of tomato puree (you can use a tin of whole tomatoes too), balsamic vinegar, half a tin of water, salt, pepper to taste. Cook on a medium heat until the sauce thickens slightly and bubbles. Then add chopped fresh basil and mix in.

2.  Mushroom and spinach filling

Ingredients – half a punnet of button mushrooms, a bunch (or packet) of spinach – washed, de-stemmed and shredded, half an onion, Italian dried herbs, clove of garlic, salt, pepper and lemon juice.

Fry the onion, garlic and herbs. Add the finely chopped mushrooms, and when golden, add the spinach, salt, pepper and lemon juice.

3. Cashew cheese

Ingredients  – 1 cup pre-soaked cashews, clove of garlic mashed, 3 tbsp olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, 6 tbsp water and 3 tbsp nutritional yeast.

Blitz everything in a food processor until smooth.

4. Bechamel

Ingredients – 1.5 cups soya milk, 2 tbsp flour, 3 tbsp olive oil, salt pepper

Heat the olive oil and add the flour, whisking fast until smooth. Add the milk slowly, whisking all the time, over a medium heat. Stir until sauce thickens, adding salt and pepper to taste. When sauce is thick take it off the heat.

Build the lasagna by putting dry lasagna sheets down first, then layering mushroom and spinach, tomato sauce, bechamel and blobs of cashew cheese. Do this three times in this order, ending up with a béchamel and cheese top.

Bang into a preheated (180°) oven. I used a casserole dish with a lid, and I baked it for 40 minutes.

I have made myself a bit sick. I have eaten half that dish. So good. So amazingly good.

 

 

Twitler Helen Zille

I have been stewing over Helen Zille’s latest twitter debacle. This is what she had to say about the families of those who died or whose health was severely compromised in the Life Esidimeni tragedy. Zille tweeted on Tuesday: “It is good that the families of the Life Esidimeni victims have received a measure of justice and compensation. I would like an answer to this question: What did they do, before these tragic deaths, to raise the alarm about their loved ones starving + living in profound neglect?”

Now Zille is no stranger to the arrogant, ill informed, rude, racist, anti-poor tweet and has been rapped over the knuckles on more than one occasion. Her biggest tweet scandal (up until now), which she fought to justify in an embarrassingly tenacious fashion, was that not everything to do with colonialism was bad. She just could not see how that would be hurtful and offensive to every single person of colour and their allies.

This time however, she has, in a tweet, highlighted exactly how utterly out of touch she is with how unseen, unheard and helpless the poor are. She imagines a world where everyone has the same ability to shout loudly and demand to speak to the manager. She comes from that world, where she can complain about things and be heard, seen and taken notice of.

Recently I have been to both Groote Schuur and a private medical hospital and the difference is beyond glaring. I am not dissing the utter magnitude of the success of Groote Schuur and all who work there, I am merely comparing the difference money can make. Carpets, new furniture, new equipment, more staff, better equipped nurses, more space, more people to talk to, more attention, more value to life. There are very sick people at Groote Schuur, from all over the country, receiving expert treatment from exhausted, underpaid, over worked practitioners, but the queues at the clinics are long, public transport unreliable, resources scarce. I am in awe at how successful the labyrinthian maze of Groote Schuur is. And that is one, huge, subsidised public hospital.

Helen Zille’s tweet is so completely rude and vile because she has no idea what it is like to be helpless and dependent on what is available. She has no idea what it is like to not be able to keep a sick family member alive if you have no money. She has no idea what a world without insurance or a hospital plan or transport or food looks like. She literally cannot imagine it. And she is in charge of the Western Cape. It makes me sick.

In a Pit Latrine

Every word of that phrase

Incomprehensible

Not in English or any language

Should those words be allowed to be seen

Together

 

In a pit latrine should not refer

To anything

Nothing should be in a pit latrine

 

Menstrual blood should not be

In a pit latrine

The results of a cheap take out meal

Should not be seen

In a pit latrine

Old news should not be

In a pit latrine

 

Shame should not surround

A pit latrine

Like the lingering smell

Spreading out

And back down

Into deeper shame

 

A thing should not be in a pit latrine

Slipping out of a hand

Or pocket or sleeve

No thing should be in a pit latrine

 

A body should not be

In a pit latrine

A body should not be allowed to slip into those words

A body is was a person

 

If we destroy the words can we destroy the thing?

It should be easy. Like destroying a person.

Cheap cheap it seems.

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