T.O.F.U. #5

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Contents Spring 2011 FOCUS


Exploring the issue of : spring cleaning

Vegan treats and tasties

The Astronomical Closet Clean-out Amanda Rogers

Cashew Cookies Marika Collins

Using Zen Habits to Declutter a Hellhole Breighan Hunsley

Baked Saffron Rice Jess of Get Sconed!

Veganism, Happiness, and the Art of Letting Go Ashley Riley

Super Awesome Raw Shake Justin Santora

Spring Cleaning Kristine Elliott

SPOTLIGHT Learn more about fellow vegans

Startling & Beautiful: a chat with Jo-Anne McArthur Kathryn Asher

Pesto Pasta with Squash & Sesame Kissed Cauliflower Deann MacLean Harvest Soup Kristen Suzanne Hot Noodz Teresa Fisher Banana-Blueberry Green Smoothie Heather Nowlan Vegan Omelettes Air Chalieobun Herbaceous Bodacious Quinoa & Millet With Saucy Squash PureĂŠ Kristine Elliott



Bringing veganism to the masses

Living and breathing vegan

Promoting Veganism Leigh-Chantelle Koch Comment je suis devenue Last Vegan Parano Elise de Brouwer

Calgary Review Silvia Pikal Poutini’s Vegan Poutine Teresa Fisher

If the Shoe Fits Angele Miller

DIY Making your own vegan world

Grow It On Your Balcony! Stéphane Groleau Student Baby Food Kelly Twomey Microgreens Melissa Legge

More clickable things than you can shake a stick at! We’ve got ads, email addresses, links, and the table of contents set up to make your reading easier. Just click & go! Issue 5 best viewed as a two-page spread. With something tasty to eat. And maybe a nice beverage as well.

Credits Totally and Obviously Fucked Up is based in St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Editor in Chief

Ryan Patey ryan@ilovetofu.ca

Creative Director

Kira Petersson-Martin kira@ilovetofu.ca

Online Presence ilovetofu.ca



Cover Artwork

Kira Petersson-Martin

Cover Photo

Devon Crosby

Layout and Design

Kira Petersson-Martin (with help from Ryan Patey and Devon Crosby)

Returning Contributors

Kelly Twomey, Teresa Fisher, StĂŠphane Groleau, Kristine Elliott, Kathryn Asher, Jess of Get Sconed!, Deann MacLean, Amanda Rogers, Marika Collins, Breighan Hunsley, and Justin Santora

New Contributors

Ashley Riley, Heather Nowlan, Kristen Suzanne, Elise de Brouwer, Leigh-Chantelle Koch, Angele Miller, Melissa Legge, and Silvia Pikal

Heartfelt Thanks To

Kira Petersson-Martin, for continuing to make all the 1s and 0s pretty and presentable. Devon Crosby, for keeping the website in check and styling a flowerbed into a cover model. The businesses that continue to support what we do, for staying ethical while paying their bills. Keep fighting. Someday the alternative may be the norm.

Letters We just might be on to something here. Issue V.


Admittedly, there were many times when I didn’t think I would write that number for T.O.F.U. So, along with the usual things that a V can stand for, like “vegan”, “victory” and “vendetta”, it also means that the magazine has reached a point that I was not sure I would see.

takes us. With a larger format, plenty of new contributors, and several other interesting tweaks that have kept us working late hours, the issue that I thought might never happen is now the one I have the highest hopes for. Wondering what the Roman numeral is for 50,*


[* It’s “L” - Kira]

We’ve also made an effort to address the “whole vegan.” Veganism isn’t just about food or recipes (although we’ve got plenty of those too!), it’s about a whole approach to life. In issue 5 we’ve made a real effort to highlight that. Whether you’re new to the movement or a long-time veteran, our hope is that there will be something here for everyone. And, if not, let us know. We’ll work on it for next time. Until then, thanks for reading! Cheers,



In this edition of T.O.F.U., we’re changing things up... Again. In fact, I hope we always do. One of the best parts of being involved in the vegan community is that sense of dynamism and innovation. In addition to seeking out new and exciting edible creations, vegans also find ways to make Since this whole crazy idea started, things other aspects of their life kinder, greener, have kept getting better. Issue four played and cleaner. a part in that when we went full colour, and That’s the theme of this issue: spring also when it was offered at a price you chose cleaning, literally and metaphorically. Here to pay. at T.O.F.U. that’s meant taking a hard look The reception that issue has received from at the last issue and clearing out what just around the world has been amazing, and I’m wasn’t working (like the skinny format - not looking forward to seeing where this issue so good for a glossy look).

With all that life throws at you -- family, work, social commitments, household chores, meal planning and never ending todo lists -- it can be difficult to slow down and take the time to appreciate the simple things (moments) in life. For many people, something as trivial as the clutter in their closets can make even days that should be stress-free filled with guilt over all the things they’re not accomplishing, as well as the dream hobbies or vacations that never came to fruition. Of course, life doesn’t have to be so hectic. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the things (and I do mean things) in your life, perhaps it’s time to evaluate what’s really important and scale down.

For me, I hurdle back and forth between a life of constant motion and the unending desire to grow some roots and maintain some kind of stability. So when I have a month off the road, I find myself indulging in my personal comforts like buying another tea cup at the thrift store cause it was too pretty to leave on a shelf unloved, or popping in a nearby antique shop and falling in love with the texture and pattern of a vintage dress that is eight sizes too big for me (I swear to myself that I will find the time to sit down at my sewing machine and take in the seams to my exact measurements). It is hard for me to accept that these things hold no true value to me, though I manage to come to that conclusion time and time again. Every

I pack myself into a suitcase all of the time and find happiness in myself and that small suitcase. When driving across state lines and flying over oceans, it is easy to see that time, though relative, is the most valuable thing to all beings. Those moments spent making new memories with loved ones, talking to strangers, and telling stories to kids... Those are more valuable than all of the riches and shiny pieces of recycled costume jewelry the world could ever possibly offer. I’m getting a head start on spring cleaning to save my sanity and gain some free time before the wind takes me again. More simply said than done. I have the carbon footprint of a salamander, but as much as I advocate recycling, buying things second hand, and curb-side salvaging, I have crammed my temporary home with


enough is enough

time I start packing to head back out on the road this lesson comes crashing down on me like a ton of bricks. And though it is learned often, it seldom sticks. I guess the need for comfort has taken over my cerebrum and I have lost all sense of reason. I now look at all mountains of great trinkets and treasures I have cozied up to for the last two months with a look of grief, horror, disappointment and sadness for the loss of the personal time I will have to dedicate to organizing, cleaning, and storing these newfound lovely items. Even when flooded with those feelings, I feel as though I don’t have time to be dealing with such emotions... Not with all of the work and bills and recordings I have to do. So, I say “not this time!” Apparently, I have gone through enough conditioning, and enough is enough.

oodles of burdens. I of all people should know that you should only get what you need and use, so I am dedicating one week to the Astronomical Closet Clean-out that will extend beyond my closet, dig into my soul, and release me from all that has been weighing so heavily on my heart. I am not

Now you are probably wondering, “How does one part with the items that they liked enough to purchase in the first place?” Well, I’ll be honest. It is not easy. You have to break the cycle of generational social conditioning. That’s where your soul comes into play. Most of the time when I look at


there is stuff out there that “stuff” can never dare compare to saying that you should live like a monk, and I have no plans of this myself, but there are a lot of things that you (and I and many other people) have that take more time away from us than what the item is worth... so in that regard, though purchasing, owning and seeing it daily may give you the feeling of happiness, when you sacrifice your time to this item, you are sacrificing your happiness. I could suggest you take some time to make some lists... but that wastes time and paper... so instead, think of what and who makes you happy, things you have always wanted to do, where you hope to be in 5, 10, 20 years, etc... Now, walk through your home and look at your belongings as if the price tags were still on them... and count the books you have already read, count the things you have to pick up and dust under and around, count the things that get plugged in, take a look in your closet at the garments you have not worn for two or more years. Now, go outside or stare out the window. Aaaahhh.... yes. There is stuff out there that “stuff” can never dare compare to.

stuff, I am baffled and impressed at this crazy direction civilization has taken us. Anything that is dreamed up, can be mass produced the next day. For nearly a century, we have been conditioned to want it - both by media and society. It’s practically in our DNA. That’s all. Once you come to that understanding, you realize you can live in a smaller home, you can have a whole household share one car, you can look just as great and feel just as confident owning two weeks worth of clothes as you did when you had something different for every day of the year, and you can pass on that book you already read. Think about that first time in your first apartment or dorm room. What did you do? Well, probably like most of us, you excitedly went to the store or flea market and bought a mop, a broom, a shower curtain, a rug, some pots and pans and everything else you were sure you needed to make that empty dwelling a hip home. Conditioning. In conclusion, my Astronomical Closet Clean-out has taught me that lasting happiness comes from the relationships you

build upon, alongside that which spiritually and emotionally fulfills you… it isn’t determined by how much stuff you have, nor the process of acquiring it or purging it. You will find your happiness and balance when you discover who and what you want to surround yourself with. Simplicity isn’t “going without”, it is merely realizing your personal comfort level without outside influence. You don’t have to get rid of your favorite things, just scale down and pass along what you no longer appreciate or care for, and from now on, it’s a fresh start. Spend that usual few hours at the mall or shopping online with friends and family. Go make some new memories. Good luck to you in your quest for a happier and simpler life with more free time to do whatever you want with!

So here are some tips to follow my lead and find inner peace and happiness all while living out of a suitcase (unless you are a touring musician, you don’t have to reduce yourself to the gypsy kind of lifestyle... unless you really want to). 1) Host a book swap. Tell all of your friends about your ideas for scaling down, and get them all to do the same. Pick a night for everyone to come for a potluck dinner and swapping books. Whatever is left at the end, donate it to a local library. 2) Garage sale, yard sale, tag sale, rummage sale, whatever you call it... they are a great way to scale down and make a little money for a future trip or special event.

4) If you just have to be rid of these items, donate them. Best to donate to small local places first (local thrift shops, schools, etc.), and then the Salvation Army or Good Will. I try to discourage people from using the big yellow donation boxes that you sometimes see in parking lots - often those items are shipped all over the world and sold to developing countries for cheaper than their traditional clothing. This takes away from their culture and diminishes the value of their crafts and trades. 5) When in doubt, just find a big box and put these “questionable” items in this box in the back of a closet. That way, you can still pull something out if you need it. But after three months, if there are items still in there, then you know for sure that they are not missed. Then, you’ll know what to do.



3) Ladies (and gents), hosting a clothing swap party or a naked ladies party is tremendous fun! Host a party for friends to get together and swap clothes that are still in good condition. The night can get pretty silly when everyone tries on silly things. Google “naked ladies party” and you will learn about the different styles of an NLP.

What’s In...


my suitcase

1 pair of stage boots 1 pair of hiking boots sandals 2 pairs of jeans 6 skirts 6 t-shirts 8 dresses 2 vests 6 sets of pjs 1 set of longjohns 2 sweaters 1 sweatshirt socks and unmentionables (you can never have too many of these!) 1 bag of accessories (such as scarves and necklaces)

my toiletries bag

I’ve become really good at knowing how much to bring on a one month tour vs. a three month tour. When you have to carry all of your toiletries in and out of every place you sleep and every rest stop you haunt, you learn to scale down... organic shampoo / conditioner / soap toothbrush / toothpaste face wash / face lotion / eye cream homemade deodorant homemade herbal hair oil / comb tweezers / nail-clippers sewing kit (needles, thread, buttons, safety pins, scissors) vitamins contacts / glasses stage makeup (organic of course)

the van

cooler pillows / blankets (Oh yeah, we built a bed in there.) camping / hiking bag reusable grocery bags MUSIC road atlas VEGAN SNACKS!

our home our favorite books musical instruments my childhood rock collection (of the mineral persuasion) my favorite childhood stuffed animal (Paddington Bear) vegan cook books winter coats (Necessary space hogs. If the northeast wasn’t so cold I could have a closet vocal booth!) favourite movies free space in my closet (to quickly and simply unpack) an empty cupboard in the bathroom (to quickly put away my toiletries) simplicity peace of mind (knowing that packing will be a breeze!) free time to visit friends and family (which I would have wasted cleaning “stuff”) Learm more about Amanda Rogers, and her band The Pleasants: www.thepleasantsmusic.com www.amandaspiano.com

R ecipe

Cashew Cookies These simple, sweet and nutty cookies are not only vegan, but naturally gluten-free and have no added fat.

Ingredients 1 Cup cashew butter 1/4 Cup silken tofu, blended 3/4 Cup sugar 1/2 tsp baking soda 1/8 tsp salt

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. 2. In a medium bowl, combine cashew butter and tofu until well blended. In a separate bowl, combine sugar, baking soda and salt. Add dry ingredients to cashew butter mixture and stir until combined.

4. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes. A shorter baking time will result in a more tender cookie, while a longer baking time will result in a firmer, crisper one After baking, allow cookies to cool on baking sheets for five minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely. Or enjoy them warm! Makes 18 - 20 cookies. Marika Collins madcapcupcake.wordpress.com


3. Drop dough by rounded tablespoons (or similarly sized cookie dough scoop) onto baking sheets. Use a fork to slightly flatten each cookie.

R ecipe

Baked Saffron Rice with Roasted Peppers Saffron may be pricey, but a little bit goes a long way in this baked rice dish and may change the way you think of rice forever. This warm, Spanish-inspired side is relatively simple if you roast (alright, or buy!) the peppers in advance, and can be easily upgraded to include more heat and vegan protein. This dish was originally created for the Heartichoke Supper Club in Portland, OR.

Ingredients 1 Cup long grain white rice, uncooked 2 Cups vegan broth 1 large or 2 small roasted bell pepper(s), roughly chopped 1 Tbsp olive oil 1/2 tsp saffron threads, crumbled

1 Tbsp lemon juice generous pinch of sea sale black pepper

Recommended 1 small roasted jalapeño, diced

Optional 1 Cup of cooked chickpeas, rinsed or 1 Cup of diced & browned seitan sausage

2. As the broth is warming, add the roasted peppers to the bottom of the casserole dish. Pour in the rice, and once boiling, carefully add the broth. 3. Stir in the crumbled saffron, lemon juice, fresh thyme and a pinch of sea salt. Carefully stir in the chickpeas or seitan, if using. 4. Cover the casserole dish with an oven-proof lid or tightly with foil, and bake for 15 minutes. Remove cover, stir with a wooden spoon, and return to oven, covered, for an additional 15 minutes. Stir once more, and return to oven, covered once more, for an additional 10-15 minutes. Note: If you notice that the rice has begun to stick to the bottom of the pan and the broth has disappeared, you’re ready! 5. Remove the rice from the oven, take off the cover, and fluff. Taste for salt and pepper, and serve as desired.. Jess of “Get Sconed!” getsconedpdx.com


1/2 Tbsp fresh thyme, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Bring broth to a boil, and lightly coat the bottom of a small casserole dish with olive oil.


Promoting Veganism

By Leigh-Chantelle Koch

Being vegan is not enough. We need to utilise our skills, interests, passions, qualifications and expertise to promote veganism as best we can. Don’t underestimate your ability to encourage others to be involved with creating the change we are all aiming for. or lie about your expertise. We can all push for change; the only limits are your passion and imagination.


Get Writing

Why Are You Vegan? What originally made you decide to become vegan? Focus on these areas and educate others about what you believe in and what you know. In order to spread, your idea has to matter to yourself and especially to others. Provide value, have something to say, and try to use a unique approach. Stay focused, inspire others, and lead by example. Work out your strengths and what you enjoy, inspire others with your passions, know your industry well and show confidence in your material. Whatever you do, focus on the positive and the credible, and don’t exaggerate

Writing letters is a really great way of getting our vegan message out that seems to be almost forgotten with the embrace of emails, Twitter, Facebook and other methods of communication. Consider writing to your friends or family’s favourite restaurant that doesn’t have enough vegan options and offer some of your own. Most vegans are obsessed with food, so put this to use: send photos of the great vegan meals you’ve created and make sure you include the recipe. Write to the Editor of newspapers and magazines, giving your feedback on the stories they run, both positive and negative. Write and send recommendations to food manufacturers, shops, grocery stores and supermarkets asking for more options and giving suggestions of alternative brands. Always be polite, check your spelling and grammar and include your full name and contact details. If you enjoy writing articles, submit some of your work to your favourite magazines and newspapers, or to ones who need some differing opinions, or ask to be a guest

Socialising Food is a great way to get people involved. Whether it’s organising regular meet and eats at your favourite vegan restaurant, organising and hosting cooking classes or demonstrations, bringing food to work, or getting people to attend a vegan potluck at your house; there are many ways you can promote veganism simply by showing other people how many vegan restaurants, meals and foods we actually have. Obviously, also showing that the food we eat is delicious is key. There are many vegan groups in most major cities, but if your city or town doesn’t have one, start one. Ideas include: sporting groups (eg. running team, basketball team, bowling team), walking groups, environmental groups, bird watching

groups, gardening groups, shopping groups and more.

Education If you’re good at organising classes, workshops, seminars, forums, panels, or even just able to set up a projector and screen to show DVD and film screenings, work out what your topic will be and find people who can help. Cooking classes and workshops are great, as are nutritional seminars, speaking, panel discussions and more. Find a spot that you can use that is either free or inexpensive to hire and get the word out about your event. If you’re a good speaker, do some research and offer to speak at schools, universities, colleges, health stores, yoga groups and other groups who would benefit from your expertise. Vegan information and starter kits are another easy yet effective way to get the message out, so always have spares in your car or in your bag. Get together with other people who are good at writing and compiling information and create your own information kits, newsletters or ‘zines. You can send and mail out with information to schools, universities, libraries and the like. Another way to get involved is to study what you’re passionate about: Animal Law, Veterinary Medicine, Medicine, Nutrition, Science and the Culinary Arts for example. If you so desire, you can even get involved with governmental bodies and


columnist. Write and distribute newsletters or start a ‘zine on veganism, food, restaurants, products, reviews of products, interviews, quotes and more. Start a writing group and encourage others to help you. Write to your local members of parliament (or even arrange face to face meetings) to ask for stronger animal cruelty sentences or to change legislations. There are sections in publications for public service announcements, ask for a discounted rate (especially if you’re from a charity or notfor-profit group), or see if they have donated space available. You can also approach local radio stations and TV stations for the same.

12 parliament. Some of these jobs and industries really need vegan people to help change the methods that are becoming more and more outdated as time goes on. Could this be you?

Outreach There are many ways to be active in the community and reach out to those who may not know about veganism. Depending on what you do and where you go, you may need licenses, Public Liability Insurance and other council requirements, so make sure you do your research and tick all the boxes before you advertise what you’re planning. A simple yet effect idea is to have a card table or two with information, free food samples and at least a couple of people who are passionate and good at public interaction. Some examples of

where to set up your table include markets, festivals, outside band and music venues, universities, colleges, food fairs, health food stores, restaurants, libraries, radio stations, sporting arenas, etc. Keep in mind to focus on big holidays and specific events where there will be more foot traffic so you can reach a lot more people. Free vegan food samples and other giveaways are a great way to be more interactive with the public. VegFund.org funds people and organisations to engage with the public through food sampling, video outreach and other methods. Leafleting in conjunction with your table or on its own is another way to get your message out, especially in heavy traffic areas such as train stations and universities. Other ways to get people involved is to enter

anyone who joins your mailing list on the day in a draw to win a hamper of vegan goodies or discount vouchers. Message t-shirts, clothing, badges, patches and merchandise or branding is also an effective way to get people to start a conversation with you about veganism. Wear your statements of veganism loud and proud, and be subtle or graphic with your images and slogans. Stickers on your car, diary, guitar, drum kit, or folder are a good temporary way to get the message out. Tattoos are also effective, but less temporary. There are many vegan alternatives to shoes, bags, wallets, guitar straps, belts and more. When someone compliments you on your great sense of shoe style a simple “No animals died for these shoes” brings the message across in a non-confronting way.

Demonstrations, protests, marches and sitins can be organised in many different areas for many different reasons. Make sure you get a group of passionate and vocal people to participate, bring visuals and organise licenses and insurance if needed. There are various holidays and celebrations at certain times of year where there will be extra people and more foot traffic. Places to focus on include pharmaceutical companies, medical laboratories and schools / universities that have laboratories, sponsors who give money to circuses, rodeos and other cruel events; agriculture businesses, designers and companies who stock fur, leather, wool, silk; military training areas, restaurants, embassies, parliamentary buildings, landmarks and many more depending on your goals.

Think of the many ways businesses advertise their company and their products and take a leaf or two out of their book. Fundraisers, broadcasting on TV and radio, advertising in magazines, newspapers, billboards, bus and train stations; direct mail-outs of informative CDs or DVDs, Mobile phone applications and exhibitions are a few marketing options to consider. Point of Sale displays that can be driven or ridden around with your photography, designs or print material on vans, trucks, utility vehicles, bicycles and motorbikes can be quite effective. Most of the above ideas require quite a bit of money to happen, so organise some fundraisers or engage with local, national and international groups and organisations to see if they’d be able to fund your idea.

Other ideas If you’re good with a camera, can keep a secret, can handle seeing abuse and neglect in person and want to get involved on the front line, direct action or undercover investigation may be for you. Other simple ways you can do something today include changing your email signature to include vegan facts, quotes or images; give a gift of a vegan cookbook, voucher for a vegan store, or offer to cook a vegan meal to anyone who isn’t vegan. Phone your local radio station during talkback to share your views, advice and ideas to the general public. Donate goods, your money or your time as a volunteer at sanctuaries, shelters, not-forprofit groups, or local businesses. Organise a fundraiser for your favourite charity, bake offs or cupcake stands always work extremely





well! If you’re in a position of influence use this for good, promote veganism every way you can, whether you’re a musician, poet, writer, actor, on the radio, teaching or a parent. Keep up-to-date with what’s happening in the vegan and Animal Rights movement by joining groups, attending meetings and generally getting involved the best way you can. Support other groups and community events, attend anything you can, even if you may not agree with the group who is hosting the event, or the topics discussed. If you keep an open mind, you can learn more. Sign-up to receive news from your favourite websites and blogs, get Google alerts sent to your email address, join FaceBook, Twitter and other Social Media websites that have constant interaction. (I will be writing about Online Promotion and Social Media in the future.)

Purchase memberships for groups or copies of TOFU Magazine for friends, family, libraries and schools to help get the message out. Support vegan businesses. Read. Listen. Observe. Repeat. Above all the best way you can promote veganism is to be vegan. Be consistent and be genuine, keep an open mind, as there is more than one way to get things done. Remember you can only take one step at a time. Have some time out for yourself to do the things that you love. Ask and actually listen, do your best to promote what we need to for the voiceless. Help build our vegan community. Keep your mind on your goals, stay focused and believe that you are part of the change that this world needs. Promote the positive, inspire others and lead by example. Show how easy it is to be vegan.

R ecipe

Super Awesome Raw Shake Ingredients 1 banana 2 - 3 Cups spinach 1 Cup water 1/2 of a mango 1 - 2 Cups grapes (white or red) 1 green apple. sliced

1 inch piece of peeled ginger 2/3 Cup blueberries 2 dates (optional) 1 Cup of ice (cubed or shaved)

2. You may have to pack this stuff down, so be sure to do so with the blender jar removed from the motor. Seriously. 3. Engage blender, adding a bit of water if necessary. Once things are really spinning, add the apple slices and the ice. Justin Santora justinsantora.com


2 - 3 Tbsp shelled hemp seed

1. Add the banana, water and hemp seeds to a blender first. If you’re adding dates, make sure you’ve removed the pits. This is followed by the spinach, grapes, blueberries, mango and ginger (don’t worry if this sounds weird; you won’t really taste the ginger).


Grow It On Your Balcony!

S t é p h a n e G r o l e a u - w w w. g o v e g a n i c . n e t

Many people don’t have access to a garden: they live in an apartment or have contaminated soil. But many people do have access to a balcony, a roof, or a parking lot. That’s why growing veganic food in a container is so valuable and allows people to get fresh local food even in urban areas. It’s easy, so read on and get dirty!

Starting Out


In short, the recipe is simple: get a container, put dirt in it, plant seeds, then give water and sunlight. That’s all it takes. The rest is a matter of getting more precise and aware of what each plant needs to make them thrive. Now, we’ll go a bit more in depth... Any container can be converted into an urban mini-garden: a bucket, an old garbage bin, a flower box or an old bath will all work. You can also build larger boxes using wood (just avoid treated wood). Smart pots are a new, inexpensive container on the market if you prefer to buy new. It’s only a matter of what you have on hand, and what money or time you want to invest. Though, depending on the space available and the crops desired, some containers might be more suitable. One of the best has a double bottom which serves as a water reservoir. This means we don’t have to water the plant constantly on hot days. See “Building a Container” later in this article to learn more.

What to Grow? Most plants can be grown in containers, though some are easier than others. Depending on

the plant, the needs for nutrients, warmth and light will change. As general advice, I think containers are at their best with fruit-bearing and continuous growing plants (remember, in botanical terms, tomatoes, eggplant, and cucumbers are all fruits!) Climbing plants like beans and cucumbers or indeterminate tomatoes are wonderful because they can

grow vertically or extend on the “balcony fence” continually, saving space and being very productive. Each year, my Spanish beans reach the balcony of my upstairs neighbour! I avoid growing plants that we usually cut (e.g., lettuce, cauliflower), or that we harvest completely (root plants like carrots or beet). Those use space all summer and we end up with only one or two carrots. That isn’t the most efficient approach in my opinion.

Basil grows well too, and is an essential companion, both in the garden and in meals! It’s advantageous to harvest basil by cutting the main stems just over the junction of the two leaves. This produces two more shoots, which increases the potential yield and makes the plant go bushy. Climbing beans are also a good crop that is easy to grow. French filet climbing beans can produce soft and abundant pods. Strings or a trellis can be used to support them. Unharvested beans or overly mature ones can be left on the plant until the first frosts and harvested as dried beans. Spanish beans not only produce big beans, they make wonderful purple flowers. Also, they make awesome chili! Kale is so nutritious everyone should eat it... and grow it! It will grow and survive until hard frosts. And even then, frozen leaves buried under the snow can still be harvested. To harvest, just pick the biggest leaves at the bottom first. Plants like tomatoes, eggplant, pepper and cucumber appreciate the heat. Choose a welllit place, ideally south facing. Placing them next to a brick wall will give extra warmth


We can also mix different plants in the same container. Though, keep in mind the size of the plant at maturity to avoid overcrowding a container. In a typical two by three feet box, you can have two tomato plants, plus a few basil plants, or a few rows of carrots and leeks, or one cabbage in the middle and one lettuce in each corner. For the beginner, the most rewarding balcony crop would be cherry tomatoes. They are easy to grow, productive, and can sustain heat. For small areas, we can also find compact cherry plants. It’s more enjoyable to have many small fruits to eat every day, rather than just one big tomato. Though all tomatoes need regular watering. I prefer the indeterminate kind of tomatoes because they keep growing and produce new vines and fruits until the first frost. I simply attach them to a string fixed to the ceiling and wrap the main stem around. Conversely, determinate tomatoes stop expanding at a certain point and produce a more bushy plant. Tomatoes and cucumbers are demanding plants, needing

rich compost and a very sunny spot. And if we end up with a surplus, it can be frozen as-is in a bag and later taken out directly from the freezer and put in soup or a sauce.

light, but it allows much more flexibility choosing the varieties you’d like to grow. Did you know there are over 500 hundred varieties of tomatoes? Seed packs usually contain basic growing instructions. Seedlings are sown in small trays, then as they grow, we transplant them in bigger pots. The easiest way is to buy ready-made potting mix. Bags are available at garden centres and hardware stores. Try to buy organic ones, and read the label to see if there are animal components.


Feeding the Plants

at night because it accumulates heat during the day. Lettuce, spinach, cress, peas, chards, brussel sprouts and radishes prefer cooler places and are less demanding of sunshine..

Plants or Seeds? Many plants aren’t native to Canada--they’ve been introduced by farmers, gardeners and travellers. So, many plants need to be started indoors if we want them to have enough time during the summer to reach maturity. Tomatoes, for example, should be started indoors six weeks before the last risk of frost, which is around April 5th in Quebec City. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have time to produce enough fruits, if any. You can buy such plants at farmers marker or in a garden centre. Starting seedlings ourselves isn’t the easiest thing: they need regular care and artificial

I would say that the first thing to do if you want to grow vegan organic food is to start by making compost! When we buy potting mix or commercial compost, it’s hard to know if manure, fish emulsion or slaughterhouse byproducts were used in the mix. If you have access to some land, reserve a shadowed area for a compost bin. Otherwise, you can use or start community composting scheme or use a balcony composter. Healthy vegans should definitely consider using their morning urine to fertilize. Rich in nitrogen and potassium, perfect for tasty tomatoes. Dilute one part urine in ten parts water. It’s free stuff, and diverts urine that would otherwise pollute our waterways. In the end, there’s nothing more valuable than experience. Just do it! You can’t learn to play an instrument without practicing, the same is true with growing food. Experience and confidence comes with practice. Take notes of your successes and failures. To help yourself along, visit other gardens, talk with accomplished gardeners, look on the internet

and observe nature. But for sure, don’t wait and try it out!

restaurants. You can ask them, or you can look in the streets, you might find some.

To learn more about building containers and making vegetable compost, visit our Veganic Agriculture Network, www.goveganic.net

The first step is to make a big hole in the bottom of the inner bucket to insert a container with the same diameter. This is the link that will allow roots to go down and reach the water. The water also has the possibility of going up by capillarity.

Good Reading STEINFELD, Carol. Liquid Gold, the Lore & Logic of Using Urine to Grow Plants, New Society Publishers, 2009, 36 p. FLORES, Heather C. Food Not Lawns - How to Turn Your Yard Into a Garden and Your Neighborhood Into a Community, Chelsea Green, 2006, 344 p.

This technique is used by the group EcoQuartier in Quebec City for building containers out of old plastic buckets. Each growing container needs two buckets inserted one inside the other. The first one serves for the potting mix and the plants, the other one holds water as a reservoir. This kind of food-grade plastic bucket can be collected at

Make a few small holes in the bottom of the inner bucket for drainage, and make many small holes in the small container to allow water and roots to access the water. Also, make a hole the diameter of a piece of pipe, and add the pipe so you can later fill the water reservoir (make sure it’s long enough!). To finish, make a small hole in the outer bucket about three inches high from the bottom. This is the overflow. If too much water gets into the reservoir, it will flow out. This avoids drowning the plant roots. Now it’s time to plant! Fill the small container with potting mix and compress it well. Fill the bucket with potting mix, then add plants. When you want to water, just pour water through the pipe to fill the bottom directly. Don’t attempt to fill the reservoir from the top through the potting mix, it will leach all the nutrients.


Building a Container

The tool used to make this hole is simply a piece of an old hockey stick. On one end there is a screw that we screw in the centre of the bucket. It serve as a pivot point. Around two inches (five cm) from the screw, there’s a hole where we insert a pointed screwdriver (a big nail could also be used). Then we simply turn it around applying pressure on the screwdriver. It ends up cutting a perfect hole in the plastic.


My house was extremely cluttered. I couldn’t quite seem to get the hang of keeping it tidy. In fact, I thought there might be something functionally wrong with me because I couldn’t keep it clean. As I read the book “The Power of Less” by Leo Babauta, I could see the light at the end of the cluttered, trash heap-like tunnel. Maybe I could actually keep a home where my mom wouldn’t be afraid to take her shoes off!

maybe -- just maybe -- I could keep a clean house

I’ll share some of the principles in Babauta’s book, as it’s the only approach that’s ever made sense to me. First off, when changing your habits, concentrate on changing only one at a time, no matter how excited you are to change more. Not two or ten but one! He also recommended that you choose one major goal per month. I decided to use decluttering my house as my monthly goal,

So, how do you go about acheiving your goal? Break it up into manageable tasks. This isn’t a new idea, but it really seemed to make sense to me the way Babauta presented it. So I deconstructed my home into 43 manageable areas. Drawer by drawer. Shelf by shelf. In the past, I’d attempted to break my house down into rooms, which proved a complete failure. There are some incredibly dense areas in my home such as filing cabinets which in themselves might take an entire day! Another suggestion was to make yourself accountable for your goal by telling as many people about your goal as possible, and asking them to keep you on track. I chose to blog about the process and post updates on facebook. One friend emailed me to ask about my progress if I didn’t post. I posted embarrassing before pics and impressive after pics.

the weird thing is, i much prefer a tidy home The weird thing is, I much prefer a tidy home. I really wantd this for myself despite what I’d let on my whole adult life. When I achieved a clean house (before my birthday party each year), I’d smile for no reason and feel way better about myself. I’d be more productive, and my mood would be sunny. I wanted to keep it this way. When it was


Some other excuses I’ve used for keeping a messy house: I have better things to do, I don’t care what people think, I like the way I live, I have an awesome rock n’ roll lifestyle that’s meant to be kept in turmoil, and so on. What I didn’t realize was that I didn’t have to completely change my lifestyle, only a few habits. Maybe -- just maybe -- I could keep a clean house. I tried many approaches to cleaning my house, and it wasn’t until my boyfriend said he wouldn’t help me clean until I got rid of 50% of my belongings that I really started searching for the ultimate approach to decluttering.

and not being a messy fuck as my current habit. I decided to do this in December, despite all the pressures and miseries that December brings.

22 clean, I’d be obsessive about it, scolding my roommates when they’d put a dirty coffee spoon on the counter, soiling the newlypristine environment. Without rules, though, I couldn’t adhere to this for long. Life caught up to me and without an iron-strong will, my house was a complete and utter mess in two days. Babauta has a set of guidelines to keep your place tidy on a daily basis: ٥٥Keep one box for all incoming papers. Clean it out once a day. ٥٥Take a week to focus on putting stuff in the inbox and processing it to empty, and putting things immediately where they belong. ٥٥Have a place for each item, even each piece of paper (inbox).

٥٥A chair or a table is NOT a spot for something. Designate a legitimate spot for absolutely everything. ٥٥Schedule regular decluttering days once a week at first and then monthly/ quarterly -- put them on your calendar (this is where my experiment went awry) ٥٥Use washing dishes as mindful meditation. Do this in the morning or evening, whenever it needs to be done. ٥٥Lose yourself in a task. Find the right time of day. Choose important tasks. Eliminate distractions and reap the rewards.

Babauta suggested the you get to your most important goal of the day (which may or may not be your monthly goal, but in my case it was) first thing in the morning. When I adhered to this (predictably during my first week), I always accomplished it and felt really motivated throughout the day. I’d return to my pristine targeted area and peer at it with a shit-eating grin. I’d take my boyfriend and show him what a good job I’d done, like a six year-old having just cleaned her room. You’re supposed to make your important morning task the most important appointment of the day and never break it. But if you do, don’t break it a second day in a row. This proved easy in the beginning.

containers, threw out expired supplements, pawned rarely listened-to CDs... It felt awesome. I highly recommend this approach to spring cleaning if you too have a difficult time keeping your house orderly. I must stress, however, the weekly decluttering days, and adherance to the rules. I was so focused on the initial goal of decluttering the house, I got lazy and only kept the decluttering days as an unwritten “hopefully on Sunday” type of rule. I hereby publicly promise to declutter my house during the next week and keep Sundays as my actual decluttering day from here on in.

I recycled, donated, threw out, and pawned...

So, with all these excellent suggestions in mind, one bolstering the other, I set out to declutter my hobbit hell hole. I set one month as my goal, and unsurprisingly, I wasn’t finished in a month. I skipped a day and then two. I decided to add an extra month onto my goal, and spend January doing the same thing. Lo and behold, by the end of January, ok, by February 2nd, I had decluttered my entire house! Every drawer, every shelf, every piece of clothing had been sorted. I recycled garbage bags full of paper (my major cluttering offense), donated bags of clothing and household items, recycled obscene numbers of practically empty

When your home is clean, your mind is similarly clear, and you can get onto grander things like changing the world. Wait! Your superhero cape doesn’t go on the back of that chair! Hang it up on the hook where it belongs and get busy!

My Manifold Mess blog: http://manifoldmess.blogspot.com

Leo Babauta’s blog: http://zenhabits.net


It felt awesome.

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