Why did you start The Screaming Artichoke?
It no longer felt like I had a choice. I had so much to share with all the great food I have eaten, places I have been and photos I have taken. I was finding it really hard to connect with the vegetarian community, or at least people who were interested in vegetarian food, and I figured that a blog was the best way to reach out. Mostly, I was flooding Facebook with photos of food and really, nobody was interested! So I took to medium where I knew people were, and had a choice as to how much or how little they wanted to see for themselves.
Are you a vegetarian?
I am a vegetarian, in the simplest sense of the word. I don’t eat poultry, seafood or meat of any kind. I do my best to not eat any animal product where the animal was harmed in the process of extracting it, and ask as often as I can as to ingredients such as rennet, gelatine and similar that are often used unnecessarily in food (click here to read more of a rant-style explanation). I am not a vegan, although aside from a minor lactose intolerance, I find that even dairy animals are often mistreated today, and I try not to eat too many milk or egg products. I try to keep as informed as possible, and buy organic produce where I can, both on behalf of the animals, and the planet.
I have been an animal lover since the moment I was born. I probably had more pets than friends growing up (quite a menagerie, really), and I have never found any of them to be malicious, selfish or spiteful, as can be the case with people. I often find myself saying “if I wasn’t a vegetarian now I probably wouldn’t become one”, but this isn’t really true at all. I don’t believe I will ever again eat meat, although if you want to while we’re at the table together then be my guest. Just don’t expect me to try it (and no, it isn’t funny if it you offer it to me, or make the joke “but cows are vegetarian”. Often times you’ll actually find yourself to be embarrassingly incorrect, with many cows today being fed ground bone and flesh from their own kind. Imagine what kind of mutant diseases that’s probably creating!). I often find myself getting into discussions as to the validity of vegetarianism and am open to every line of thinking. It can go the other way, too, where I can feel intimidated by people who are much more fastidious than I, but I do my best and hopefully I am doing a tiny bit of good. Every little bit counts.
What is your interest in food?
I love every aspect of food. I love eating it, cooking it, researching it, photographing it, styling it. My many dreams include writing, styling and photographing a book on vegetarian food, opening a bar/restaurant (especially one that could be self-sustainable), traveling the world in search of the best vegetarian food on the planet, there’s so much to do and so little time! Every time I achieve one dream, another pops up in its place, which means there’s no time like the present to get out there and make it all happen. I have never really seen myself as a writer, but as part of the creative process it brings out another side of food that I have grown to really love.
What do you hope to achieve from The Screaming Artichoke?
The purpose of the blog is really to show that vegetarians can, and do, eat at the same places everybody else does. I am not one to force my views on others, and I tend to shy away from conversation that is emotionally charged with no facts to back it up. I try to do as much research as I can on farming practises and the way food is brought to the table, both ethically and sustainably, and hopefully in writing the blog I can impart a little bit of information to those who want to know more.
Who pays the bills?
In short, me. Mostly everything sipped, nibbled, skulled, inhaled, sniffed, slurped and chewed has been paid for by yours truly (or my very patient boyfriend). If something seems worthy of introducing to the TSA community and happens to be free then I will always say so, but I will only ever accept offers that seem to have a genuine benefit to the blog and its readers. Please feel free to get in touch with anything you think might be of interest in the realm of ethical, sustainable, local and vegetarian/vegan restaurants, cooking, events, concepts or ideas. However, please also note that if I attend an event or accept a sample of your product that does not in any way make me obliged to say something nice about it, or in fact anything at all. Sometimes silence is the best policy, especially if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all! I am not interested in destroying people’s livelihoods and as an amateur cook at best, I understand it can be very difficult to meet everyone’s needs every time. If I feel that the TSA audience needs to know about a negative experience, I will tell it how it is, but please consider this a constructive criticism.
Are you interested in collaborations, or can you write a piece for my publication?
Yes! Every scenario is different. I love collaborating with like-minded people, and I think the best way to develop new ideas is to share old ones with others. If you’re interested in working together, knowing more about what I do or sharing your own work, get in touch. I will hear out all suggestions and have a pretty open mind. I also write articles on commission, with photos if you like, so let me know if you have something in mind.
What kind of camera do you use?
I take all my own photos, and usually consider my camera the way you might a limb. In my handbag at any given time I generally have a DSLR. I am in the market for a new one, let me know if you have any suggestions!
I want to become a vegetarian. What should I do?
These days there is vegetarian food everywhere, and there is much more understanding (and sympathy) toward the cause. Chefs now often see it as a challenge, rather than a burden, and more and more creative vegetarian options are appearing on menus. If you are considering becoming a vegetarian, it would be worth visiting your GP for a blood test to check your existing levels (of things such as iron and Vitamin B), and maybe a nutritionist to give you some sound advice on what you will need to help stay healthy. I don’t take any supplements, and get blood tests every couple of years to check everything is running smoothly (although I could do it more regularly if you asked my doctor). It is important to make sure you are eating a range of fruit and vegetables, and legumes, nuts and grains can be a really great sources of protein, fats and carbohydrates which are necessary to maintain a healthy diet. If you hate tofu, don’t fret, there are thousands of varieties, and these days you can buy everything from veggie patties to vegetarian sausages at your local supermarket. Remember, even one meat-free day a week can make a difference to your health, and to the planet. Check out Meat Free Mondays, a campaign started by Paul McCartney to encourage people to go without meat for just one day a week for the sake of the planet. Even Richard Branson thinks it’s a good idea!
How can I find out more?
I have read a couple of really great books, discussing the ideas of vegetarianism, factory farming and other inhumane practises used in the food industry today. The following are not for the faint-hearted, but are really great if you want to know more about where your food comes from:
- Eating Animals, Jonathan Safran Foer (explores factory farming, sustainability and the ethics of how our food is produced today)
- Ethical Eating, Angela Crocombe (on how food is produced in Australia and its effects on the environment)