Huge thank-you to Rob Garratt at Time Out Dubai for this EP feature!
Better late than never!
An afterword on my 21 day vegan challenge..
Overall, I really enjoyed it. It was a fun challenge to try cooking new foods (using recipes online mostly and sourcing inspiration through Instagram). Eating out in Dubai was a bit hard in some places. Western food places and your typical cafes don’t tend to have any interesting non meat or cheese options, except for some like health conscious new spots in town like Bestro in Galleries Lafayette that is the only place specializing in raw vegan cuisine. Asian food is very vegan friendly. Japanese, Thai and Chinese cuisine have a lot of vegetable and tofu options.
Indian cuisine has a lot of flavorsome vegetarian curry dishes. Middle eastern food is great too of course, my husband is Lebanese, and my mother-in-law cooked up the delicious traditional salads along with cauliflower and a great wheat dish.
One helpful tip? Bring snacks like nuts, fruits and dark chocolate with you if you’re out and about and might feel peckish.
Also when at a restaurant, don’t mention the alien term ‘vegan’, either they won’t know what you mean, or there is shock and/or judgement on choosing a diet that denies meat, fish and dairy; much better to simply say that you are allergic. ;)
Via Instagram I posted a lot of my food pics, both food I grabbed outdoors, and things I’d cooked myself. I shocked myself by making a delicious ‘cheesecake inspired cashew cake’! It was surprisingly easy to make, and tasted delicious! (Meat and milk loving husband devoured it!)
I also enjoyed temporarily being a part of this ‘vegan online club’. It really helped to have advice, food inspiration pictures, and see others living a heathy, inspired life, eating delicious foods that are good for your insides and outside. Speaking of which..
Inner and Outer changes?
After 1 week I felt much lighter, and turned out I had lost quite a few pounds! Also, after eating you generally feel much more satisfied, not ‘stuffed’ like you do after a meal with cheese or meat in it.
Vegans and vegetarians do tend to be slim. It’s a low fat diet if you focus on plant based natural whole foods. You do get junk vegans, however, eating fried battered vegetables and chips probably won’t give you the desired effects you’re after.
That being said, the real appeal is an overall heathy shift, clearer skin, more energy, better sleep, healthier insides. I felt some of these changes for sure. Weird but somehow I felt more peaceful? That could’ve been a placebo effect, but in general when living healthily, I do feel calmer and happier, so it makes sense. 21 days is not a very long time, I imagine the real changes would set in after 3 months or so. The first few weeks your body is probably still adjusting.
So how about now? Vegan for life?!
After the 21 days I broke my fast with some fish, and gradually added some meat and dairy back into my diet. I decided not to go all the way yet, however it’s something I would consider doing again for a time period as I did this time, and at some point I could see myself making the full switch.
Regardless I have been avoiding dairy, just eating a little cheese here and there. I have still been cooking vegan dishes, especially at home. I avoid junk food altogether, and eat meat much less, opting for organic, free range and local where possible.
I think we should all take care with nourishing ourselves with wholesome food and ‘let food be thy medicine’. It’s important too that we look into the industry of meat, fish and dairy and challenge the cruel practice of factory farming. I personally don’t have issues with humans eating animals and fish, but I think we over- farm and that it should be done locally by independent farmers with a limit on the scale of production. It just becomes disgustingly greedy and unjust to both humans and animals when one huge corporation owns and produces all in terrible conditions. The impact on local farmers, communities and the environment are catastrophic, and I really admire plant-eaters that recognize this and choose to eat consciously as a result. I don’t however have much support or sympathy with moaning vegans or vegetarians that feel the need to constantly tell everyone how morally inferior everyone else is to them, and how cruel it is to kill and eat animals for food.. Even if you are right, there is no need to spite!
Oh- one more thing – check these links out if you are thinking of trying a plant based diet out and need a bit of ammunition:
Vegan BodyBuilder Frank Medrano : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RFPsvF3UOdo
Last Saturday my sister and I booked a table for the Dubai Flea Market in the lovely Safa Park to raise funds for the Philippines.
We woke up around 5.30am to prepare for a 8am market start!
We had about 10 huge super heavy jam packed bags. (My shoulders are still aching! haha)
Now when the doors open, the place is crazy. People are grabbing items, pleading for AED.10 on an item you planned to sell for AED.50… At first we started with items around AED.20-30 and ended up doing a AED.1 sale at the end to flog the items left!
Highlights of the market include selling a donated Justin Beiber biography (a friends joke secret santa gift!) to a very very happy little girl. and a fully covered older woman rushing to buy my spiky gold stage bra from New york… !
Woohoooo that moment after 7.5 hours of selling items that we sold it ALL! =D
In the end we raised an impressive AED.4000! Not bad for a days work hey?!
We would like to say a huge THANK-YOU to Haruka, Mary, Pauline & David, Elina, Lucy & Joe, Mustafa for your amazing donated items, you guys rock!!!! :D
The money raise will be going to the completion of the GOFUND ME REBUILDING PROJECT for our cousin’s home, RISE ABOVE CEBU & SOUL AMMO!
More news to come on how those various projects are making a difference! =)
Having some fun with great musicians, playing a few cover songs..
Planning to reshoot soon so we get a separate quality audio quality, but I think Maz did a great job filming, so here’s to not wasting! ;)
Melisa Le Rue – Vocals
Stoyan Stoyanov- Keys
Rami Lakkis- Bass
Artur Grigoryan- Sax
Ayman Boujlida- Drums
Video by Maz Rutherford
Today I am going to touch a touchy subject.
Since I arrived in Dubai nearly 4 years ago, I ‘ve always been uneasy with the terms ‘Expat’ and ‘Migrant worker’. Yes the words themselves disturb me.
Why? Well let’s look at what connotations and assumptions one might make when hearing those words.
‘Expat’ conjures up the image of a Westerner who is living abroad, making cash and laughing in the sunshine. Most are there for employment reasons, but some are there for adventure (could be both). Expats drink beers in Western styles pubs.
In my experience (so this is subjective) they love to complain about the local culture and people, or they take delight in the ‘cute’ things local people they do and their adorable customs.
There is often a sense of separation, and a sense of superiority.
They also often stick together and don’t associate much with the local people.
‘Migrant worker’ conjures up the image of person from a Developing country and a low socio-economic background, who has little choice but to work abroad. They probably have a family at home they are trying to support, and had difficulty finding work in their homeland.
Even when they move country, they do not share the same rights or benefits as ‘Expats’.
They are searching for a better life.
Now, lets refer to the good old Encyclopedia that is ‘Wikepedia’ for a broad definition of both terms. As my connotations above are riddled with my own prejudices and stand point no doubt ;)
‘An expatriate (in abbreviated form, expat) is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country and culture other than that of the person’s upbringing. The word comes from the Latin terms ex (“out of”) and patria “country, fatherland”).’
The ‘United Nations convention on the Protection of the rights of all migrant workers and member of their families’ defines migrant worker as follows: The term “migrant worker” refers to a person who is engaged or has been engaged in a remunerated activity in a State of which he or she is not a national.’
Okey dokey. Not much difference there. I myself would agree that I am both according to these definitions. But society calls me an ‘Expat’.
Why? Because I am UK born and UK educated.
What troubles me is that, we assume that the ‘Expat’ made a choice. But, there are many people here that moved here because they had debts back in England. (Actually, student debt was one of the main reasons I came here!)
Also, Expats aren’t necessarily from a wealthy background.. in fact many of them here come from working class backgrounds, maybe lived off benefits, and came to Dubai to improve their standard of living.
So what is it then that makes them an Expat?
Is it that they are white and from England?
We also tend to assume that a Migrant worker is from a poor background, but I also know that many people living here come from middle class backgrounds and have a University degree. They just happen to come from a Developing country, and are placed in a low paid job here.
Financially the difference in wage means the money they send home is worth more, but they had to take a step down in terms of ‘class’ when they arrived here.
Why? Because of their Nationality.
I know of a housemaid who was a teacher in her home country, but became a maid here in Dubai because she was told she could make more money here.
Social Class can shift when you move country.
There is a stark difference in the salary given to someone from a British Nationality to someone of a Filipino Nationality.
Two people given the exact same Job position with the same level of experience, will receive different salaries based on their Nationality.
Now, to shake it up a bit- there are some people from ‘Developing countries’ who are rich and are coined as ‘Expat’. I know Indian and Filipino Expats for sure- plenty!
It’s definitely not as easy as saying all people from ‘Developing countries’ are migrants and all Britain’s are Expats, no not at all. But- you never hear of a ‘British migrant worker’!
Usually Developing World Expats are from rich backgrounds, or have worked their way up the socio-economic ladder through education and business. Most were educated in the West or went to an International/ private school.
SO! It seems we define someone as Expat when they are in a higher socio-economic class in the new country, and a Migrant worker otherwise. But, that being from a third world country and not from a high social class, will already box you into the ‘Migrant worker’ category, whereas being from a First world country, will place you into the ‘Expat’ ‘box…..
Yes, I still find these words disturbing.
I suppose it is the truth behind them that troubles me more than anything.
When will we be defined as human beings, and treated as such?
‘Nonviolence doesn’t always work – but violence never does.’ Madge Micheels-Cyrus
Just came back from TRAFFIC, an art gallery in Al Quoz that also host some great community events. This evening they screened the award winning feature length documentary “Budrus” directed by Julia Bacha, which tells the true story of an inspiring non-violence movement led by Palestinian family man and community leader Ayed Morrar.
Budrus is a small village in Palestine, close to the West Bank border. In 2003, the Budrus community employed strictly peaceful protest methods to oppose Israeli soldiers trying to build a “separation barrier” through their land; a wall that would wipe out 40% of their land from which generations of the villagers have grown their sacred olive trees, as well as destroy half of a large cemetery.
After 55 non-violent protests, the Israeli Government decided to change the route of the proposed “separation barrier”, thus saving the cemetery and 95% of their land. This was an incredible victory for the villagers, and a great example to the whole world of what can be achieved through peaceful resistance methods.
I think the thing that uplifted me the most about their movement, was the fact that Fateh and Hamas members united along with Israeli’s, both men and women- in the name of justice.
Contrary to what the popular media would lead you to believe, Israeli’s and Palestinian women play a crucial and powerful role in the peace movements in Palestine. And watching the documentary- wow these women are often more fearless than the men!
‘I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, “Mother, what was war?” -Eve Merriam
In relation to the documentary, director Julia Bacha gives a powerful speech on TEDEx, drawing us to the importance of paying attention to non-violence. She argues that the media need to give non-violent movements a voice so that they can spread positivity, so that people can be encouraged and feel that they are being listened to.
Sadly the media stays hauntingly silent when it comes to stories such as the story of the village of ‘Budrus’, though very vocal when it comes to stories of suicide bombers.
Perhaps they are worried that if they show films of Arabs uniting with Israeli’s, and both being beaten and shot at by Israeli soldiers… people might get confused as to who the terrorists are!
That is why we must independently make an effort to unite in the name of humanity and do what we can to support peaceful movements across the world. Lend our ears to listen to the voices of people who need an audience.