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16th December 2013

Hannibal Lebanese Restaurant

557 Elizabeth St, Surry Hills NSW

Vegetarians are spoiled for choice at Lebanese restaurants, and on a visit to this inner-urban establishment not far from Central Station in Sydney it seemed safe to order a Vegetarian Platter. It turned out to offer a generous selection of favourites, all well prepared and presented: hummus, baba ganouj, tabouleh, pieces of fried cauliflower and aubergine, falafel and lady’s fingers of stuffed vineleaves, as well as a mysterious dish involving pumpkin. A tall pile of flat bread accompanies this platter, which you can use to scoop up the food, so saving the people in the back of the restaurant from having to wash up cutlery afterwards. We also ordered a plate of my favourite salad, fattoush, a mixture of chopped lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, parsley, shallots, radish and mint that is bursting with taste and nutrition, although the quantity of fried pieces of bread that had been added to the mix was a bit less than I’ve sometimes seen, giving the dish a less crunchy feel. We drank the homemade still lemonade, one glass with orange blossom and another with rose blossom that gave it a very bright colour. It’s impossible not to feel happy after a meal such as this.

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28th July 2013

Veggie Mama

cnr Beaufort St and Vincent St, Mt Lawley WA 6050

The  youthful and slightly counter-cultural vibe at this vegetarian cafe may raise  doubts as to the quality of the food, but how wrong these would be, for while some of the dishes may seem like vegetarian cliches they are spot on. We enjoyed chick pea patties with sweet potato, lightly curried, and subtly flavoured mushroom patties with walnuts and quinoa.  The salads are least as impressive as the hot dishes. That of red cabbage with apple and sultana has a robust, eastern European feeling; the  broccoli with sprouts and diced red capsicum comes with a dressing that gives it unexpected oomph; a mixed salad of carrot, sprouts, cranberries, walnut and parsley is attractive to the eye and the palate. The overall tone is one of lightness that has been obtained without any sacrifice of flavour. Juices and coffee, needless to say organic, are on hand to wash your meal down. After a very happy lunch there I am looking forward to returning!

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7th July 2013

Nepalese Kitchen

481 Crown St, Surry Hulls, NSW

At what I take to be a pleasing indication of familial harmony, when different generations met at this slightly funky inner-suburban restaurant we found ourselves ordering the same dish, but in different versions. Vegetable Dal Baht Takari consists of rice, dal (of the yellow split pea variety), spinach, a tomato achar relish of roasted tomatoes cooked with herbs and spices that has a real depth of flavour, and one of the curries chosen from the menu. One of our group went for mushroom and potato in tomato sauce, another for green beans, a third for eggplant, potato and tomato, and a fourth for potato with accompaniments; the weighting towards the humble spud seems typical of Nepalese cooking. It’s food of the hearty variety that goes well on a cool evening, and we all found it tasty, satisfying and filling. A serve of papads stood by, and for contrast we enjoyed a Nepalese salad of tomato, cucumber, radish and red onion in a lemon based dressing. Doubtless the excellence of the company was the main reason why this was a happy occasion, but the food is great too!

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17th June 2013

Why should we love vegans?

Written by Sun, Co-Founder of Gentle World

I love vegans, first and foremost, for their heightened sense of justice and compassion, in choosing to avoid, as far as possible, products and businesses that exploit anyone’s body, in any way, for any reason.

Akin to abolitionists of human slavery who believe that it is morally wrong to force living, breathing human beings into slavery, vegans have taken that belief one step further, by including living, breathing non-human beings… and for this, I love them even more.

When I look out into our sad, mad world, in which the laws of all lands perpetuate the slavery of animals, I see the violence and cruelty such prejudice breeds. I see the terrifying plight of its victims. I see the unbearable burden it places on the collective conscience of humanity. And I am heavy-hearted.

Then, I turn my gaze to the horizon, and my heart is lifted at the sight of the rising tide of vegans… each one living proof that it’s possible for human beings to evolve their nature from that of predator to one of protector.

By rising above their desire for all products of oppression, these otherwise ordinary people have made the extraordinary decision to free their slaves, thereby striking not merely at one oppressor, but at the roots of the whole rotten business of slavery.

I ask you… How can any lover of justice not love anyone who has the integrity to stand with the tiny minority who are willing to free the lowliest of slaves, considered by the vast majority so insignificant as to be expendable?

Vegans recognize the inherent right of every animal, human or otherwise, to be the sole owner of his or her own body, and they acknowledge our ethical responsibility to treat every body with respect and even reverence for the mystery that gives them life.

Without the need for holy books, rituals, prayers, or obedience to anyone or anything beyond their understanding, simply by listening to the one voice inside them that they do understand, vegans know, as everyone with a conscience knows, that slavery is wrong… whoever be the slave and whoever be the master.

I love vegans for being the most powerful force I see for the evolution of our species, because until we, the people, are willing to free our animal slaves, our own higher nature will remain enslaved.


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26th April 2013

Saffron Indian Gourmet

Corner Margaret St and Gold Coast Highway, Broadbeach, Qld

Four hungry people with very different tolerances for spicy food sat down to dinner at this restaurant in a busy tourist area, and all were satisfied. The novice among curry eaters tried the Paneer Makhani, which took the form of cottage cheese in a very gentle curry sauce. The next step up in heat was the Aloo Saag, of spinach and potato in a mild sauce. The Battat Bhaji was probably the most memorable dish, consisting of dry potato and onion with curry leaves and mustard seeds; we all enjoyed it, and it is thoroughly recommended. And for lovers of spicy dishes there is the Channa Masala of soft chick peas with green chillis and coriander. The vegetarian part of the menu is extensive, and would be worth exploring further. Truly, there is no end to the possibilities of vegetarian food!

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31st March 2013

Taj Mahal

2/235 Flinders St, Townsville

Situated in a tourist strip where there is plenty of competition, this restaurant pitches itself as being both Indian and Persian. The samosas are firmly within the former tradition; they are of the kind with thin pastry, the vegetables finely chopped and a dish of tamarind sauce at the side. But the Sabzi Polou is a revelation. It’s based on rice, to which peas, broad beans, cashews and almonds have been added, with plenty of parsley and dill that give it a green tinge. While this dish is satisfying and filling, it profits from being eaten with something a little more spicy, and we enjoyed it with Navaratan, a richly flavoured Mughlai dish of vegetables that can be had without paneer. Talking with the owner we learn that a Persian couple founded the restaurant, and they are clearly sticking to the old traditions. There are always new vegetarian dishes waiting to be discovered, and this is best done in a friendly and hospitable environment such as that at the Taj Mahal.

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25th February 2013

Naked Fig Cafe

278 Marine Pde, Swanbourne WA

As you might guess from its name, this is a stylish establishment of the kind that doesn’t specialize in vegetarian and vegan food, but on the evening we were there it certainly came up with the goods.  We kicked off with beautifully served small dishes of olives and potatoes, before moving on to some serious eating. The moussaka is a richly flavoured melange of cinnamon infused tomatoes, aubergine and tofu, luscious in texture, while the bean burger is based on a serious pattie and comes with salad, corn ships, green tomato chutney and, for those who want it, Swiss cheese; it’s a nice example of a dish that it would never have occurred to vegetarian cooks to create, but nicely mimics what they do on the other side. My companions tucked into two desserts, lemon meringue pie and lime and lemon brulee, each served with both (!) cream and ice cream.

The Naked Fig has a superb location, overlooking the Indian Ocean. As we settled into our seats the sun was sinking beneath the waves; as we rose to leave the moon was setting. How wonderful to enjoy food of this quality in such a place with good friends!

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10th February 2013

VVOC Meet Up 9th February 2013

Today we met up for a relaxed and delicious lunch at John’s.

Some photos of the yummy fare on offer…

image image image image image


Lunch at Johns….
Slow Cooker Vegetable Stew
Yellow Split Peas
Cauliflower with Ginger

No doubt the recipe names were far more interesting but I forgot to ask our host! After lots of laughs and with full tummies we attended to some business…

(1) Recent postings – thank you to all for keeping up with monthly postings. Looking forward to Melissa publishing her list of bobby calf friendly dairy farms.
(2) Future dates : 13 April – picnic, 8 June – Sunnybank, 10 August – Wynnum, 12 October – Mu’ooz Moorooka, 14th December – Christmas get together TBA.

Thank you again John for the wonderful food.

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6th February 2013

Bobby Calves

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” 
Mahatma Gandhi

I truly believe this statement to be true. And as a vegetarian, this leads me to think about the dairy industry. Of course I don’t participate in the suffering of animals that are raised for consumption, but what about the animals that produce the dairy products? Buy free range, and then you believe they have a good life whilst they produce your eggs, milk and other dairy products. But what about all the boys? I mean the males – who of course don’t produce anything to eat. So what happens to them? It’s easy to ignore thinking about this when you think of yourself as doing the right thing by not eating animals. But this too can be an area of great cruelty to animals. Like the bobby calves, for example. — the “by-products” of the dairy industry, unwanted and treated as “waste”. While dairy cows are impregnated yearly in order to produce high milk yield, the problem of ‘disposing’ of unwanted calves is routine across the entire industry. Sent to the abattoir, bawling for their mother, starving hungry as they are allowed by law to be not fed for up to thirty hours, and in some cases, treated cruelly.  Their inability as babies to comprehend what is required of them, whether during loading for transport or up the races of slaughterhouses, requires them to be treated with compassion and patience — two human traits rarely witnessed when it comes to dealing with unwanted and ‘worthless’ animals.

 If the thought of killing unwanted 5-day old calves is unacceptable to you, then  tell the dairy industry that you don’t think animals should be discarded and killed like ‘waste products’. You can take action by writing to the dairy industry, using a link on the Animals Australia website.

And choose your dairy products carefully. Barambah Organics for example, don’t consider the calves to be a waste product, and all their calves are kept on their farm in their care. No Barambah calves are sent to the abbatoir. Go Barambah!!

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24th January 2013

Xenia, Deaconess of Rome (24th January)

Xenia was born with the name Eusebia, in Rome in the fifth century.


Eusebia was the only daughter born to a distinguished and wealthy family. Her father was a Roman senator.


Eusebia’s marriage had been arranged and in order to avoid this, she fled with two handmaids to Mylassa on the island of Kos in Asia Minor. Upon her arrival she was given the name Xenia, which means ‘stranger’ in Greek, as she was a newcomer.

Xenai established a community for virgins and remained there until here death. She was ordained a deaconess by her spiritual father Paul, who became the Bishop of Mylassa.

Xenia was widely known as a healer and turned no one away, she helped the grief stricken, the destitute and sinners, amongst which she counted herself. Among her listed traits are those of virtuousness, charity, and humility. Xenia was dedicated to her faith and would often spend nights standing in prayer and also fasting.


It is said that Xenia had forseen her death, which took place in c.450. There are numerous references in writings about Xenia which speak of ‘a brilliant cross brighter than the sun’ appearing over her monastery ‘wreathed in a circle of stars.’

The handmaids, who had fled with Xenia and followed her example, asked to be buried at her feet when they died. Many people are said to have been cured when touching the relics of Xenia, in faith.

Xenia is remembered in the Orthodox Church on the 24th of January.

Apolytikion in the Plagal of the fourth Tone:

In thee the image was preserved with exactness, O Mother; for taking up thy cross, thou didst follow Christ, and by thy deeds thou didst teach us to overlook the flesh, for it passeth away, but to attend to the soul since it is immortal. Wherefore, O righteous Xenia, thy spirit rejoiceth with the Angels.

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