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Posts Tagged ‘Everyday life’

Where’s Emily? 

Regular visitors of the site might have noted that there have not been a lot of new posts lately. The reason for that is that a few months ago, we moved over to Southern California. Even though I am now in vegan wonderland, a piece of my heart is still with Paris. Each vegan find was like a hard-earned victory.

I have a few places and things I never got round to writing about, so I will be posting occasionally. I really have been touched by the kind words in the comments on the site and appreciate the many commenters who have taken the time to share their knowledge with us all. Writing this site was a real pleasure, and through it I met so many wonderful people. I hope that our paths will cross again, perhaps on one of my forthcoming visits back to Paris. I am looking forward to writing about new Vegan Paris discoveries!

In the meantime, in the words of Hemingway, I will continue to carry with me the “moveable vegan buffet” [I am paraphrasing.]

Emily

Swami's Beach

Swami's Beach

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The annual VeggiePride march will take place in Lyon on May 16. Based on their site and the materials available there, it will be a fairly militant affair with a message of animal solidarity and animal rights. Their manifesto is a quite useful summary in French of good reasons to be vegetarian/dairy-free vegetarian [although they don’t cover insect exploitation.]
There are a few vegetarian restaurants down in Lyon, according to Happy Cow. The one that looks good to me is Soline. However, I have not visited Lyon since I was a homestay student placed with a family of furriers back in the early 90s. I did not succeed in converting them to vegetarianism… maybe the march will!

The annual Veggie Pride march will take place in Lyon on May 16. Based on their site and the materials available there, it will be a fairly militant affair with a message of animal solidarity and animal rights. Their manifesto is a quite useful summary in French of good reasons to be vegetarian/dairy-free vegetarian [although they don’t cover insect exploitation.]

affiche-vp-2009-couleurs-petitjpg

There are a few really nice looking vegetarian restaurants down in Lyon, according to Happy Cow. However, I have not visited Lyon since I was a homestay student placed with a family of furriers back in the early 90s. I did not succeed in converting them to vegetarianism… maybe the march will!

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Sending vegan children to French school, whether private or public, does present some difficulties. To give you an idea of how complicated it can be, here is a summary of my experiences in the three different schools my children have attended.

Firstly, they were at the Steiner/Waldorf school just outside Paris. Part of the Steiner/Waldorf philosophy is a focus on agriculture, so the food they serve is not just organic, it’s bio-dynamic! However, at the Steiner/Waldorf school where I sent my little ones, a vegetarian option was available, but not vegan. So what does a vegan do? You are only allowed to bring your own lunch if you can provide written proof and approval from a doctor including much documentation, details of allergy tests or other medical reason, etc. I would need to find a pretty flexible/corrupt doctor to pull off that paper work! In the end the teachers just turned a blind eye to my son bringing his own lunch but the downside was I still had to pay full price for the cantine, which he took no part in.

Next, we were at a Montessori school in the 5th. Here, the children have the option to bring lunch from home vs. eating at the non-organic school canteen. It felt good to be playing by the rules. Strangely though, I had to pay a small monthly cantine fee. For what I wasn’t sure but the school was working very well for us, so I didn’t press the point.

Finally, at the public school in our neighborhood there is a vegetarian option but not vegan. We were told the kids could just eat the vegan stuff on the plate i.e. have a nice plate of plain spaghetti. This I don’t consider a balanced option. Children are strictly forbidden to take food from home without doctor’s approval. In this case, luckily, our children have the choice to go home from noon to 1:30. This works well for us. The school is close, so the kids come home and it’s nice to see them and provide them a nice organic, vegan meal.

There is no snack time at the French schools (except the Waldorf) so that’s not an issue. But there are often birthday celebrations or other fêtes involving food. In these cases my kids pass on the food and may just enjoy some juice. If I am lucky enough to know in advance, I can leave a vegan treat with the teacher for my child or I give them a special treat after school to celebrate the event.

Looking back, it hasn’t been easy for me but it’s just about do-able and the kids have always got nice food and are growing big and strong.

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France is famous for its baked goods, as am I! But they do things a bit differently here than back in the USA, particularly their very precise flour classification system. Here are some key things I have learned about shopping for your baking supplies.

Wheat flour is numbered based on how much of the original grain has been removed, ranging from the whitest Type 45, a pastry flour, all the way up to type 150 which is a 95% wholegrain. 55 (all-purpose) is used for white bread, and types 65, 80, 110 and 150 are for various kinds of brown bread.

My local shop doesn’t carry 45 or 55 so I usually go with 65 and it works very well for cakes and cookies. I usually prefer to use other kinds of flour that add some nutritional variety, like spelt, kamut, or brown rice and they are all available at a typical Paris health food store. One type of flour that I discovered only in France is chestnut flour. It’s very nice, a little more expensive than the others but very distinctive.

I personally have never used soy flour in the past, but did notice that Le Grand Appétit carries it in “precuit” [quick cooking] form. Le Grand Appétit does not carry egg replacement or baking powder and soda, though.

Valpiform vegan egg replacement powder is hard to find. It’s often hidden on the bottom shelf in the gluten free section of Naturalia. I brought a box of EnerG egg replacement powder with me when I moved here so haven’t tried Valpiform but I bet it works well. It’s probably so good that they have to hide it!

Valpiform

When it comes to baking powder, check the ingredients. I’ve noticed some powders contain non-vegan ingredients and it’s easy to get confused when you’ve got poudre à lever, poudre chimique, poudre levante and levure boulangère to choose from. I’ve been using this Nat-Ali poudre à lever. It works well but each packet contains such a small amount: if you want a container of good old Rumford baking powder without aluminum and Arm & Hammer baking soda, you’ll find it at Le Grand Épicerie of Le Bon Marché or Lafayette Gourmet at Galeries Lafayette.

Nat-Ali

Wheat gluten is generally available. If you use flax meal in your baking, you’ll have to grind the seeds yourself. I do mine in my Vitamix blender: you can also try a regular blender or use a coffee grinder, or even a mortar and pestle should do the trick.

I like to use canola oil for baking and here in Paris I use l’huile de colza. It’s not exactly the same: the color is much darker, a deeper gold, and the flavor strong. It works in baking but I’m thinking of switching to sunflower oil.

On the topic of Canadian baking supplies, I use organic maple syrup as the sweetener in most of the baked goods I make. However, a liter bottle is just under 20 euros! How I miss our Neighbour to the North. There is no shortage of other sweeteners: white sugar, brown sugar, rapadura, sucanat, agave, rice syrup and molasses. 

A final tip: What’s really wonderful and great quality is the pre-made vegan and organic pâte brisée (tart pastry) and pâte feuilletée (puff pastry) that you’ll find at Naturalia, Monoprix etc. Really simplifies making tarts, pies, gallettes, etc.

Happy baking!

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En Vacances

I’ll be spending the next week discovering Vegan Morocco: will report back when I return.

E.H.

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Galette des Rois fever has hit Paris, as it does this time each year. But of course these egg and butter based traditional pastries are not the kind of thing my family eats. Thankfully, the wonderful cooks over at VG-Zone have a great vegan recipe which I made with my kids tonight for them to take in to school and eat. As you can see, ours didn’t turn out quite as magnificent looking as theirs but not bad for a first try. And they are delicious!

galette de la princesse

Tomorrow my little ones will be making ‘real’ Galette des Rois at school with their classmates. I am biting my tongue and letting them join in the fun but I will now have to introduce them to the joys of salmonella prevention!

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