Sasieology

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Posts Tagged ‘lifestyle’

Vegan Food in Amsterdam

Posted by Sas on June 28, 2016

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I have a confession to make. Although I travel solo a lot, when I am travelling with other people I tend to be the one who just follows everyone else. When I was in Amsterdam, as part of a group of 18, I ate a lot of great vegan food but I couldn’t tell you where some of it was from as I don’t know. I would like to say thank you to my non-vegan friends for picking some tasty eating spots though. Here’s what I do remember about eating vegan in Amsterdam:

Vegabond – This tiny shop and café on one of the narrow side streets is a must for any vegan visitor to Amsterdam. They have an impressive selection of groceries to keep you going (including gluten-free beer 🙂 ) and the café serves the most delicious lunches. The open gluten-free sandwich with vegan cheese and pine nuts is delicious, and I washed it down with a refreshing red juice.

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Candy Freaks – I’d seen this shop on Happy Cow but wasn’t going to go there. Then I stumbled upon it by accident whilst I was exploring (ie lost) in the city. This is the most vegan-friendly sweet shop I have ever been in. Most of the sweets are part of one huge pick & mix, and they are all labelled as to whether they are vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and a whole host of other dietary requirements. The guy running the shop is also super nice, and very keen to direct veggies and vegans around Amsterdam and recommend places to eat. When he told me they also do mail order, including to Wales, I knew me finding Candy Freaks was just going to be dangerous.

Intercontinental Amstel – Most of the recommendations I make on my blog are for travellers on a budget. Just to warn you now, this one isn’t. To cut a long story short, I thought I was going to Amsterdam to celebrate a 30th birthday but the hosts surprised us by getting married whilst we were there! It was a true honour and privilege to have been included as part of their special day, and to top it all off they took us to the 5 star Amstel hotel for an out-of-this-world dinner in their wine room. My friend had informed the restaurant that I am vegan and gluten-free, but none of us expected the meal I got. Every course was as equally thought through and presented as my omnivore friends’. Anything I write here could not do the food justice, and I really appreciate that the hotel staff did not make me feel different or awkward for one second that I was there. This is the first time I have blogged about 5 star luxury, but if you really want to treat yourself I would strongly recommend the Intercontinental Amstel. If you are vegan, gluten-free or have any other dietary requirements, simply let the staff know and trust them to deliver the best meal you have ever tasted.

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Vegan Food in Frankfurt

Posted by Sas on May 31, 2016

DSC_0714Germany is one of the most welcoming countries for vegans. A search of any German city on Happy Cow will give you a long list of not only vegan-friendly restaurants, but many options for dedicated vegetarian and vegan eateries. As I tend to do when I travel, I booked self-catering hostel accommodation in Frankfurt. This means that, should I have trouble finding vegan and gluten-free food, I always have the option to cook for myself. Self-catering can also work out a lot cheaper, although not always. As there are so many vegan options to choose from in Frankfurt, I treated myself and ate out for every meal. Well, it’s only my duty as a vegan blogger right? 🙂

Here are all the restaurants, cafes and coffee shops I managed to cram into my few days in Frankfurt:

Elia (Greek restaurant) – This was actually the one place I ate where they had no vegan options on the menu. Once I explained my dietary requirements, though, the friendly Greek staff were more than happy to request a vegan and gluten-free meal from the chef for me. I enjoyed a plate of rice with vegetables that was beautifully cooked and presented and tasted delicious.

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Saftcraft – On the day I arrived in Frankfurt, I sought out Saftcraft because I thought some fresh juice might perk me up after a long night of travelling. The café is 100% vegan and they have a lot of gluten-free options. The staff were super nice and helpful. Their quinoa Bolognese pot is one of the best vegan lunches I have ever tasted. I’m not usually a fan of iced tea, but as their homemade version was part of the meal deal I thought I’d give it a try and I’m so glad I did. It was so refreshing and tasty, and along with the Bolognese pot just what I needed to restore my energy. I loved Saftcraft so much that I went back for a breakfast smoothie the following morning. The first floor of the café is also a really nice place to chill out with a coffee, and I was happy to hang out for an hour or so whilst I checked my emails and caught up on admin. Wi-Fi connection is far from functional in Frankfurt, which I found strange for a business hub. Saftcraft is a Wi-Fi hotspot, though, which is really easy to sign up for and offers better than average service.

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Coffee Fellows – This chain of coffee shops makes a mean soya latte, and seems to hire some of the happiest baristas on the planet. They do also offer vegan sandwiches if you’re OK with gluten, and their ice-cream bar has an impressive selection of vegan options. You can just about make out the list of vegan flavours on the glass in my photo, but the real reason I took this picture was because of the cute step they have in front of the counter so that children can see all the ice-cream flavours. What a brilliant idea!

Vevay – As someone who travels solo regularly, I’m used to eating on my own. It can feel like you are a burden to restaurants, though, as they are missing out on the money from the extra seat at the table you are taking up. I’ve had restaurants admit me only on the condition I eat at the bar, crammed in next to either the glass collection point, the bathrooms or both. This was  far from my experience at Vevay, though. I was welcomed with a friendly smile, invited to sit where I wanted and not pressured at all to rush and vacate the table. I opted for the protein bowl, which had so many components to it I wouldn’t want to list them all here for fear I would forget some and miss them out. Needless to say it was delicious, and totally different from the food I would prepare at home so a nice treat for myself.

Pho Ngon – This Vietnamese restaurant is a hidden gem in the heart of Frankfurt, and I almost don’t want to tell you about it in case it becomes too popular. A friend who works in Frankfurt took me there after it had been recommended to her from a colleague. They have a few vegan and gluten-free options on the menu, and the young man serving us was happy to advise on what I could and couldn’t eat. We shared the vegan tofu summer rolls to start, which can be made with rice paper. They were huge, and I’m glad we decided to share as a whole portion to myself would have left no room for my main course. I opted for rice with fried tofu and vegetables, which was also a very generous portion. The food was delicious, and the restaurant a really nice setting to eat it.

Kuffler & Bucher Asian Restaurant – Frankfurt airport is either the second or third largest airport in Europe after Heathrow, depending on what information you read. Once you get through security, your options for food depend on which departure area you are in. Kuffler & Bucher is one of the options in Terminal 2B, which is where my flight was departing from. There are two totally different sides to the restaurant, which is a surprising but actually very clever idea.  While one side caters to very traditional German tastes, the other side offers all Asian food. Presuming I had more chance of finding something vegan and gluten-free to eat, I went for the Asian side. They have vegan and vegetarian options clearly labelled on the menu, and the lovely waitress swapped the udon noodles for rice noodles to omit the gluten. She also kindly put the chillies on the side of my dish so I could make it as hot as I wanted to. I could not have asked for a nicer airport meal to finish off my trip.

 

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The Art of Self and Peer Massage

Posted by Sas on October 5, 2015

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As my regular readers will know, I love hunting out and experiencing new activities. I always love discovering ways to live a healthier lifestyle. So, when Alicia Kon told me about The Art of Self and Peer Massage workshop that she teaches, I had to give it a try.

I have suffered from migraines for the past 12 years. I believe there are a number of factors in my life that come together to cause them, and the loss of a family member triggered the first one. I’ve tried many different treatments and medicines over the years, some of which have worked and others have made things worse. Although conventional western medicine does cure my migraines most of the time, I find that doctors have very little interest in the cause of them and how they can be prevented. All they want to do is treat the symptoms. Learning proper massage techniques can help deal with the pain caused by migraines, headaches, back ache and other muscular and joint issues. If you can incorporate it into your routine, massage can help you to relax more and reduce stress, one of the major causes of migraines.

So, on a slightly chilly and grey Sunday afternoon in Wales, I threw a pot of tiger balm into my bag, tucked my yoga mat under my arm and headed over to Cardiff MADE to meet Alicia and the others who would be taking part in the workshop. It was the perfect venue for the course. Hidden away in the loft space, it was nice and cosy for us to practice the different techniques on each other.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the workshop. I’ve had people massage me before, but I’ve never learnt how to massage someone else properly. With Alicia’s calming voice expertly talking me through everything, though, I didn’t have anything to worry about. The workshop lasted 3 hours, although we were all so engrossed in what we were doing that it didn’t even feel like one hour had passed! We started by learning some simple techniques that pretty much anyone can use on themselves everyday. Just a few minutes in the morning can help wake your body up for the day, and if you practice the exercises before you go to bed they can help you sleep better. I don’t know about you, but these are both things I could use some help with on a daily basis.

The second part of the course was where we got to practice massage techniques on each other. Having a real life person responding to your touch is a great way to learn what you’re doing right, and their facial expressions will soon tell you what you’re doing wrong. When you are the person being massaged you gain an even better understanding of what you are doing to the body and how it feels. Alicia also taught us to adapt our technique to suit our own strengths and abilities, and also the physique and flexibility of the person you are touching. I even learnt a few things about myself – who knew that the vertebrae in my spine are so evenly spaced?!

I came out of the workshop feeling relaxed and refreshed. I feel confident enough to use the techniques that Alicia has taught me. Obviously, after just three hours I am no expert. However, Alicia is, so I asked her a few questions about The Art of Self and Peer Massage which she very kindly answered below.

Alicia will be holding another workshop on Sunday 11th October as part of Made in Roath 2016. For more information you can contact her aliciakon.health@gmail.com

Alicia, can you explain what The Self and Peer Massage workshop is all about?

Self Massage is based on Do In, an ancient technique from China which is very useful to prevent health issues and to help keep yourself active and fit. Some minutes everyday does the trick! Peer Massage is based on Shiatsu (from the Japanese, shi: finger, atsu: pressure) so using our fingers, palms, knuckles, elbows  we will be massaging others – the basic and most immediate result of this action/contact is increased blood and energy circulation, it raises spirits and is a first step to better health. I will be teaching acupressure points for when you have a headache, lower back pain, etc.

Who can benefit from Self and Peer Massage?

Everybody can benefit from it, and that is my philosophy behind the workshop – I am passionate about empowering people and bringing these simple techniques back into their hands.

Is it suitable for practicing while travelling?

It is an excellent tool and knowledge to use while travelling. You can apply it to yourself and on fellow travellers you meet on the way 🙂

Do you need any special equipment?

No, the heart of it is YOU CAN ONLY DO GOOD when your intention is loving, that’s why we will be exploring re-linking ourselves to the instinctive and healing power of touch, ours by birth right.

Sasieology is all about visiting new destinations and experiencing new activities. Which destination is on top of your bucket list and what activity would you like to try?

So many! Hawaii and Iceland are the latest 2. Surfing in Hawaii and walking in Iceland are some of the activiites I’d love to try out.

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Plant-Based Pause No 52: Imagine a World Where Everyone Lives Plant-Based

Posted by Sas on December 30, 2014

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘I’ll go anywhere as long as it’s forward’ – David Livingstone, Missionary and Explorer

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This post marks a whole year of these plant-based pauses. I can’t believe that I’ve actually kept up with them and posted one every week. For someone with the attention span of a goldfish, that’s pretty good.

I really hope that these posts help at least one person to learn something new about the food they eat and how they can lead a healthier, happy life that impacts the environment as little as possible.

My dream is a world where everyone lives plant-based. Can you imagine what that would be like? No food shortages, no war, very few cases of cancer, type 2 diabetes eradicated, no obesity…

The full list is a very long one. Unfortunately, it’s highly unlikely to happen in any of our lifetimes. Making it happen needs to be more than just a dream, though. For the human race to survive, this must one day be reality.

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Plant-Based Pause No 51: Pay It Forward

Posted by Sas on December 23, 2014

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.’ – Albert Schweitzers

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Since I first read Catherine Ryan Hyde’s book of the same name, I’ve been a huge fan of the Pay It Forward movement. It’s such a simple idea, and yet so brilliant. And it could change the world. When you do something for someone, rather than expecting them to return the favour, you instead ask them to pay it forward and do something to help someone else. In the book, you have to help three other people, which creates a ripple effect and inevitably the favour ends up coming back around to you. Even if you only pay if forward to one person, though, it has a great effect. And, on the flip-side, why stop at just three people?

Since turning plant-based three years ago, I have paid it forward by sharing my knowledge and experiences of this great lifestyle with anyone who’ll listen. At first I expected a lot of hostility and kept my mouth shut as a consequence. However, apart from the odd (unfunny) joke, I have had really positive responses. Even the most committed meat-eaters have lots of questions to ask me and listen intently to my answers. I’d love to be able to tell you that they are all now committed plant-based vegetarians, but sadly that isn’t the case. I’m happy to say, however, that a lot of them think differently about the food they eat and have made changes to their diet and lifestyle.

Writing these plant-based pauses is one of the ways that I pay forward the tips I have learnt to live a healthier and happier life. I’d love to think that you will continue the movement by passing them on to your friends and family too.

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Plant-Based Pause No 50: Make a Pledge

Posted by Sas on December 16, 2014

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘Life is an echo. What you send out — you get back. What you give — you get.’ – Anonymous

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So, you’ve been reading my posts about living plant-based and it’s got you curious. Maybe you’ve read or heard other things about converting to a vegan or plant-based lifestyle. If you’re still not convinced, making a pledge could be a good idea for you. Pledging to cut animal products from your diet for a week, month or year is a great way of trying the lifestyle and experiencing the benefits without having to commit to anything long-term.
I’ve pledged with The Vegan Society, and their website has lots more advice and guidance about living a healthier and more environmentally friendly existence. What about taking the pledge for Christmas and experiencing a cruelty-free Christmas?
Don’t want to go the whole hog (excuse the pun)? Meat Free Mondays ask you to pledge to give up meat for just one day a week. If everyone made just this small change, it would drastically affect our impact on the planet and prevent many unnecessary human deaths. A friend of mine recently joined the Meat Free Mondays movement with his family, and amongst the many benefits they have happily noticed they are much more creative in the kitchen and are eating a much larger range of food.

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Plant-Based Pause No 49: When Life Gives You Lemons…

Posted by Sas on December 9, 2014

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘The conventional view serves to protect us from the painful job of thinking.’ – John Kenneth Galbraith

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Or, in this case, when life gives you squash you’d better think of something to make with it. I’m very proud of the squash that we grew in the community garden this year, but when it came to harvesting it we had an awful lot of veg to use up. One of the joys of eating seasonally is that you’re not always sure what you’re going to eat until you know what’s available to you.

With the help of some fresh carrots, also grown in the community garden, the squash soon turned into some delicious soup and pumpkin muffins.

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Plant-Based Pause No 48: Move Out of Your Comfort Zone

Posted by Sas on December 2, 2014

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘You only ever grow as a human being if you’re outside your comfort zone’ – Percy Cerutty

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When you’ve grown up on a typical Western diet, living plant-based is all about being outside of your comfort zone. It flips what you know about food, health and lifestyle on its head.
Living plant-based has also given me lots more energy and confidence, which makes me want to try more new things and venture even further outside of my comfort zone. Or my comfort zone has got a whole lot bigger, depending on which way you want to look at it.

I’ve taken up rock climbing to conquer my fear of heights (although I still have the occasional wobble).

Rather than avoiding social situations, I now put myself in them.

Three years ago, I’d barely set foot in a gym. Now, I’m a qualified personal trainer.

Since moving back to Wales, I went to night school to learn Welsh and try to speak it whenever I can.

I make myself do activities that I would have been too scared of before (see picture above). I know I’ll only regret it if I don’t.

My list could go on and on. My challenge to you is to put yourself out of your comfort zone and try something new. Let me know where it takes you 🙂

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Plant-Based Pause No 47: Spread the Word

Posted by Sas on November 25, 2014

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘If you want to build a ship, don’t drum up people to collect wood and don’t assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea.’ – Antonie de Saint-Exupery

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There’s nothing more annoying than a vegetarian who’s constantly trying to convert the world. As much as I would love it if everyone lived plant-based, they even annoy me. Having said that, I do spread the word about the advantages of living plant-based whenever possible, I just don’t shove it down people’s throats.

When I meet someone for the first time, I don’t announce myself as a plant-based vegetarian. I find that I don’t have to, because most of the time they ask me questions about my diet and lifestyle when they start to get to know me. They’ll notice that I’m not eating the same meal as them, or I’m choosing not to get involved in an event for ethical reasons. I receive their questions with a smile, answer them the best I can and share my knowledge.

There are also other, sneakier, ways that I convince people that living plant-based isn’t all eating lentils and drinking soya milk. In the office where I work during the day, I am quite often asked to bake. My chocolate brownies are a particular favourite amongst my colleagues. When I first started making the brownies, I was a regular vegetarian who ate dairy and eggs and I baked the brownies using eggs. Now that I no longer eat animal protein, I also don’t want to cook with it even if it’s not me who’s doing the eating. However, I don’t like to disappoint people. So, I made a few changes to the recipe and had a go at baking plant-based brownies. When I first presented them to my colleagues, I was nervous that they wouldn’t like the changes. However, all I’ve received are compliments that my chocolate brownies taste better than ever. Switching the eggs for xantham gum makes them denser and stickier, and people are loving them. My chocolate brownies are one of my most powerful weapons in convincing people that plant-powered is the way to go.

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Plant-Based Pause No 46: Plant-Based Travelling

Posted by Sas on November 18, 2014

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘Freedom is the right of all sentient beings.’ – Optimus Prime, Transformers

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I don’t think it’s a secret that I love to travel. I love exploring new places, especially those off the beaten path, and experiencing as much as I can in the time I have there. In my head I have a list of destinations that I still want to go to based on articles I’ve read, things I’ve seen on TV and stories that other people have told me. One thing that does annoy me when others are telling about countries they recommend is the phrase ‘But it would be no good for you because they eat a lot of meat’. As a plant-based vegetarian who is allergic to gluten, there may not always be the biggest selection of meals for me to eat, but I will always find something. And I usually find a lot more than people expect. Let me put it another way. I’m not a churchgoer. Therefore, when I visit somewhere new I don’t generally pay much attention to how many churches there are or where the nearest one is. However, if I were looking for a church I’m sure there would suddenly be lots.

Eating vegan food on the road can sometimes be difficult, and many times is interesting, but it is definitely possible. Here are my top four tips to help you on your travels:

1. Yes, it’s my number one tip for everything – BE PREPARED. Plan ahead and do your research before you travel. HappyDSC_0147 Cow is one of my favourite sites of all time. Simply enter the name of any major town or city in the world, and they will give you a list of vegetarian and vegan restaurants and shops in the area. The internet is such a valuable tool these days. I went on holiday to Spain when I was sixteen, before the internet was widely used, and I lived off chips and salad for a week. There are some really good vegan travel guides on the market now too.

2. Book self-catering accommodation. Not only is it generally cheaper, but it means you can have total control over what you eat. I travel on my own a lot, and I choose to stay in hostels whenever I can. For the most part they have great kitchen facilities when I can prepare plant-based food and chill out with a glass of wine after a long day exploring.

DSC_02033. Eat what you can. Unless you’re lucky to find a local vegetarian restaurant, you’re unlikely to have more than one or two options to choose from in restaurants. So, if that’s all that’s available to you then that’s what you should eat. You never know, you might even discover a new favourite food. Eating vegan has definitely made me less fussy.

4. Learn the word for ‘vegan’ in the local language of wherever you are travelling to. If you’re not very good with languages, google the word and write it on a scrap of paper or type it into your phone and carry it with you. Then, when you’re desperately trying to explain to a waiter what you can and can’t eat, you can whip it out and sit back and relax.

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