November 2011 VEC Winners!

Thank you to all who submitted their entries into the Prize Draw. After reading through
remarkable and inspiring entries we're thrilled to announce the winners...

Thai Green Curry
Melinda's tofu Thai green curry

Melinda's vegan pizza with Cheezly

Melinda's vegan pizza with cheezly

Marcos Garcia - 2nd prize winner


Laura Campione - 3rd Prize winner

Melinda Brockhus
1st Prize Winner

About Melinda

My name is Melinda and I just hit the big 30! Midlife crisis for me has been finding my life's passion! I'm just about to leave the working world to go back to Uni to study primary school teaching, where I hope to educate kids on much more than reading and writing and now my vegan passion has been unleashed!

Since I signed up I've never felt better!

I feel healthier and my skin feels nicer than ever and I have no guilt! I know that I'm not harming anything when I eat or shower or put on make-up! It's an amazing feeling! It's now taken over my life! I signed up as a member of ALV and want to do more to help the animals that have no voice and need our help!

Melinda's Prize Winning Entry

I have been vegetarian for most of the year after realising that I just didn't feel right when I ate meat. I have long avoided eating veal and lamb and pork for years as I just felt that those animals had terrible lives, but still continued to eat chicken, fish and beef. It just didn't sit well and was making me upset - so I made the switch and never felt better. Then the Vegan Easy Challenge came up, one of my friends, a vegan encouraged me to do it - and I thought it would be a great way to make the final push!

I started off thinking it would be easy - but the amount of dairy in things I'd never thought of was insane! So I went through my draws at work and home pantry and did a big label reading session! So much food went to the boyfriend!

But once I'd started thinking about it logically it became easy. Vegan Thai green curry, TVP spagbol, pizza night with cheezly and fake peperoni, onion rings from the post punk kitchen website - my boyfriend was almost joining me in my belief that we didn't need meat or dairy or animal products of any kind. Next was the bathroom - make up tested on animals, shampoo that wasn't vegan - all into the bin! I decided if I was going to do it, I would do it right!

I took my boyfriend with me to World Vegan Day in Melbourne - it was amazing! All the products, the wonderful people, the amazing food and drinks! It was pretty much heaven! Lunch at Las Vegan Café for Sloppy Joes, afternoon snack at Trippy Tacos, many meals at Veggie Bar - I was on my way to not eating animal products or by-products again. The feeling that knowing I was doing as much as I can to not contribute to the animal industry is amazing! Finding new vegan treats is equally amazing and delicious! I signed up for the Living Vegan mag and the Vegan Cheat sheet shopping list is my new bible!

My mum who was at first sceptical about the whole change in diet, now sees how happy it's made me, I feel like I have more energy and I feel healthier than ever. She even called me to ask if she can make me a vegan Christmas cake and mince pies so I don't miss out for Christmas! Of course I've had to listen to many lectures of aunts and friends about how I'll get osteoporosis or I'll get an iron deficiency. At first I would argue with them giving them fact and figures I'd researched of the net, now I understand I need to in fact show them through meals! Showing them a vegan meal that has a great balance of nutrients and vitamins in it is my new weapon of choice when it comes to the arguments and non-believers. Come over for a meal and I'll show you how I can get everything I need in a meal!

I can say after the 30 days I never want to eat cheese, drink milk from tortured dairy cows or use the egg of a poor chicken that has the life of a slave again. My boyfriend has adapted his ways too, eating more tofu with me, less meat and trying to avoid dairy where he can - which is making me proud! A small achievement. But the best part has been people asking me about the challenge and me being able to teach them about where there food comes from! The amount of people that don't realise what's in things, what their eating and where it's from has shocked me! The world needs educating and I'm on a crusade to do it!

I have loved the opportunity to change my life for the better for animals and the planet! Thanks Vegan Easy Challenge!

Marcos Garcia
2nd Prize Winner

Marcos' Prize Winning Entry

I am a 61 year-old man who became a vegetarian at 54 and I was in the transition to a vegan diet. I know, I was a bit slow but the best tool that the factory farming industry has is the ignorance of the people and I was one of those ignorant until my daughter and animals organizations I came in contact with (and especially through my regular work as a volunteer at Edgar's Mission) gave me the information I needed to take the right decision. It was not that easy in the sense that I had to eradicate the habits of 61 years which is probably not the same than doing it as a 20 or 40 year-old. I love cooking but I am very disorganised with my time, and here is when the Vegan Easy Challenge became a very important part of my intent, helping with the preparation of the pantry, wonderful recipes and so much information.

I was very gladly surprised of the wonderful organization of the Challenge, and now totally grateful for all your hard work that helped me reach this point of my life, where I got an incredible peace of mind knowing that my actions are not going to harm anyone. And of course there are also the health and the environmental issues. Also, a very important part of the Challenge is meeting wonderful people that I am sure I am going to keep in contact with.

My personal Christmas present is becoming a Vegan that I do not have any doubt I will never regret (I only regret not having done it sooner), for the animals, for myself and for the planet.

Thank you very much, beautiful people. And from my heart, I wish you a very merry Christmas and a great New Year.

Laura Campione
3rd Prize Winner

Laura's Prize Winning Entry

The first time I heard about the Vegan Easy Challenge was in March 2011 just as the Challenge was ending. I was so disappointed that I had missed the opportunity that I kept a watchful eye out for when it was happening next. As soon as the announcement was posted online I knew I would have to sign up. The day entries opened I filled out my details and began researching!

My love affair with animals started at age 3 when my dad got me a kitten (without asking my mum- of course). My mother, never having had a pet of her own, was less than impressed when her ex-husband took me home after our weekend visit with a tiny feline. Leo was always an outside cat that I would play with until he would run up a tree in protest. I would dress him up in dolls' clothes and put daisy chains around his neck. I'm sure he hated it but we loved each other whole heartedly until he died of cancer when I was 13. I have still never fully recovered.

I was a meat eater like any other. My parents are both Italian and their parents were raised on small farms in rural Italian towns. Those were times when animals were just animals and had to serve a purpose to be considered at all useful. It should come as no surprise then that meat was a staple in our diet my whole life and any questions about animal suffering were quickly brushed under the carpet and dismissed as "Silly".

My father is a hunter and a fisher and goes on his annual pilgrimage to the duck and trout openings. In a similar way my questions about this practice were answered with, what I still consider to be, excuses. Perhaps this helps people disassociate or push aside the guilt. I feel that this is a trait passed down through generations of hunters- learning to justify their actions because it's what their father taught them to do.

... You can read Laura's full account of her inspiring journey into veganism in the Autumn edition of Living Vegan magazine available soon...