Why Do White Parents Need To Talk To Their Children About Racism

It is always good time to talk about race and racism. I have been wanting to write this post for a long time but the sense of urgency came with the story of Ahmaud Arbrey, a victim of hare crime. Ahmaud (a black man) was shot dead in America by two white men whilst he was simply jogging around his own neighbourhood. He was a victim of hate crime which took place in February, but no action was taken for more than 2 months. It is only now when a video showing his killing went viral that the men were finally arrested. The men were not arrested because the video exists, they were arrested because we all saw it. The fact that such a racist crime can go unnoticed and not be investigated unless there is pressure from the masses goes to show how systemically racist our institution is..

Before I embark on this blog on racism and why we should talk to our children about race, let me acknowledge my own privileges. I am a brown immigrant in the UK, that makes me a marginalised person yet I have so many other privileges that makes it all the more important that I use them to my best of abilities to talk and educate people around me about race. I am, for starters a CIS gendered able-bodied person, I am highly educated, I am financially self-sufficient and the list goes on….Having listed them, I’d like to say that white privilege outweighs them all in the world of race and racism. And so it is all the more important for white parents to raise a generation that is not only inclusive but also intersectional.

Why do White people need to talk about race and racism with their children?

If you are white, you have a privilege of colour and majority. Just because you think you are not racist does not exclude you from talking to your children about racism.

One of the biggest thing to remember is that white people have a massive privilege of NOT having to talk about racism with their children, an option not many people of colour like myself do not have. We have to make our children aware of the real life effects of our skin colour.

If you believe that colour doesn’t matter and that you want to raise your children to not see colour; you need to talk to your children about race. Raising ‘colour-blind’ children is very dangerous. For starters, to say that colour doesn’t matter and that children don’t see colour when they are young has not only been proven to be wrong. Research shows that children notice skin colour as early as six months and they start to show preferences towards people the same colour and features as them at around the age of 2.5 years. Hence, it is absolutely essential to talk about race with your children.

People get harassed, abused, killed, sacked from jobs, not given a raise, paid less and exploited on a daily basis only because of their skin colour. You do not have to try hard to find the fact. It is just one google search away. So let’s not pretend that if we choose to not see colour, racism will be over.

To not see colour is silencing. Silences perpetuates injustice. It encourages the mindset that only the experiences of white people matter and that if it isn’t experienced by some white person, then it isn’t validated.

As children get older, discuss the real-life incidences of racism with them from past and present. In order to have a world that tolerates different races, we need to allow our children to reflect on the incidences and join us in our fight against racism.

How can we talk to our children about Race and Racism?

  1. Acknowledge and Name : To start with, educate children with the different races and about their culture. Give them the right tools and vocabulary to talk about people of colour.
  2. Tell your children that people of different races can also be doctors, teachers, police officers etc especially if you live in an area that is predominantly white in nature. Tell them that it is not okay to treat them unfairly just because they are of a different colour. Being different is okay and this conversation needs to happen on a daily basis.
  3. Diversify their bookshelf : Actively seek out for books that have characters of different colour, culture and race. For older children, encourage them to read books written by non-white people. Here is a list of books that may help you talk about racism in particular.
  4. Be Mindful Of The Toys – If you children enjoy playing with dolls, try and diversify the dolls. We not only have a white blonde doll but also a black and a brown doll too. We also have toy food from different cultures like samosas, fried plantain etc If you child has a toy doctor or a fireman, make sure they are not always white in race representation. And if you are finding it hard to find toys representing different cultures, atleast use it as an opportunity to talk how these toys could have been someone from a different race too.
  5. Diversify your social circle – The more people of colour you have in your social circle, easier it is for your children to identify with them and see the injustices that they may face.
  6. Monitor Media Consumption – Everything from TV, games and the internet is very white centric. Introduce children to some international programs, watch some documentaries together and/or reflect on the imbalance or prejudices that they witness in media.
  7. Be Bold and Educate yourself – Just because you are white, don’t shy away from talking about racism in fear that you may say something wrong. We all make mistakes and learn from it. The best way to go about it to read on it as much as possible. I would highly recommend ‘Sway’ by Pragya Agarwal if you want to find out about your own unconscious bias etc. It is digest and an encyclopaedia of sorts to have on your book shelf.
  8. Challenge injustices – If you see somebody being treated unfairly based on their colour or race, challenge it in front of your children. Or tell your children about the actions you took to stand up against racism. Lead by example!
  9. Donate to social justice charities – If you are capable, contribute towards a charity that helps fight against injustices towards marginalised people. Money has a lot of power, by donating some money that can have immediate impact on the lives of people who have suffered can speak volumes.

There is a lot of work to be done, especially by White people, and it may feel uncomfortable and sometimes challenging. But such is the reality of any social change. And you can help bring  social justice by talking to your children about race and racism.

Birthday Traditions Waldorf Way

Last week we celebrated RoRo’s 4th birthday. Due to the pandemic, we had to find ways to make this day special without a party.

RoRo loves a good celebration like a true desi. He was promised four birthday parties because of various reasons including that his birthday fell the day before Easter. It meant none of his friends would have been free. So he was going to have one family birthday, one at his farm school, one at beach school and one at our home the weekend after. But hey ho!! We didn’t expect a lockdown.

I think this is where traditions come into play. Though slightly disappointed, a few traditions that we follow makes up for the lack of party. A sense of familiarity and warmth. These traditions make children feel loved and cared for, gently, in a nourishing manner.

So without much ado..let’s begin…

1. A Birthday Verse

A birthday poem

Every year, the night before my children’s birthday I say a little goodnight poem to them. This is where all the celebrations begin. I don’t do it for the older kids anymore because they are a bit older. But RoRo absolutely loves it. It makes it all very magical.

This year RoRo, wondered if the fairies will visit him. I didn’t have the heart to deny it so I said perhaps the fairies will bring him a card. I made him a pretty card with the poem (that I was meant to read to him) written on it. So when he went to bed and opened his quilt, he found a surprise fairy card. He couldn’t believe that the fairies did visit him…..

This is what the poem says…

When I have said my evening prayers,
And all my clothes are on my chair,
And Mother/Father switches off the light,
I’ll still be [3] years old tonight.
But from the very break of day,
Before the children rise and play,
Before the darkness turns to gold,
Tomorrow, I’ll be [4] years old!
[4] kisses when I wake,
[4] candles on my cake.

I love this poem so much. RoRo didn’t want to turn 4 at all. He kept saying how number 3 was his best number. But a little help from the fairy made it all okay.

2. Breakfast Table

There is something so special about waking up to your mundane breakfast table adorned with a beautiful table cloth that only comes out on birthdays, full of yummy food and lots of presents.

When RoRo wakes up, we light a little candle on the breakfast table. He is welcomed in with a table full of surprises and big cheer from us all.

We start by putting him on our lap, holding him firmly if he likes that, he does. This helps him to not feel overwhelmed. We start reading all the birthday cards to him first. Then we prefer to first eat our breakfast before opening the presents. Or we open one or two presents. Let him enjoy it while we prepare and eat breakfast.

3. A birthday Crown

I love all things handmade. I am not a very crafty mum but I always wanted to make something handmade for RoRo. So as a tradition, we make him a crown out of felt. RoRo loves wearing it just like a party hat. It is something he can keep in his dressing box later. It is very simple to make. Plenty of tutorials available online.

4. A Walk

After an exciting morning and a rather overwhelming one, we as a family often go out for a walk to ground ourselves and especially the birthday boy. This walk is absolutely essential because often the walk is followed by a party. Thought this year that wasn’t the case, a walk was very welcomed.

5. Birthday Cake

I have baked cake for RoRo since he was two. His first birthday cake was ordered from our favourite cafe because we were feeding a house of 30 people but as the parties got smaller and cosier, the cakes became easier to bake. I love baking and RoRo loves what I bake. I think it is just the best memory to have growing up knowing your mum baked and cooked on your birthday.

This year he wanted a vanilla cake with vanilla frosting. This child couldn’t be any easier to please.

After our walk, we cut the cake and had a few snacks that RoRo has wished for.

6. Dinner

Party or No party, dinner has to be a special treat. Growing up my mum always made my favourite dishes. And I try to do the same with my children. This year RoRo really wanted a Chinese takeaway, his favourite. But restaurants are closedwhere we live and so my mum and I made him a Chinese feast. He absolutely devoured it. Is there any bigger joy than watching your kids relish what you cook for them?!

7. Bedtime

After dinner, we go straight to bed. We say goodnight to everyone and then take one of the new books that was received as a present.

When they are this young, we try to keep bedtime as usual without much compromise. So at 8pm, RoRo was fast asleep.

I hope you enjoyed reading our little traditions that are easy to maintain in any circumstance providing that sense of normal.

Feel free to pick and choose any of the above rituals and add to your birthday tradition. One doesn’t need to do everything. The idea isn’t to make you feel anxious or less if you can’t do it all. Just do your best, your children want nothing more than your attention and love.

Hot Cross Buns (Vegan, Egg free, Dairy free)

Vegan Hot Cross Buns

We are in the middle of a pandemic. This year Easter literally just jumped out of me from nowhere because being in a lockdown means it is hard to remember the dates. Also, this year we won’t be able to go to my mother in laws for Easter, which is usually our tradition due to the lockdown. However, as soon as I realised that Easter is on this weekend, I decided to try baking Hot Cross Buns.

Often I leave this bit of baking up to my children’s grandpa as she is really good at it. But this year I thought of giving it a go and they turned out great. The benefit of doing it at home is that we can skip the raisins. Now I know that it is pretty controversial to not add citrus, raisins and peels. But my children and I just cannot stand them. But feel free to add them in the recipe if you like.

Ingredients: (makes about 12 to 15)

3 cups of flour (some extra for kneading and for the cross)

2 tsp of quick yeast

9 to 10 tbsp of caster sugar (add less or more depending on your taste)

1/4th cup of of melted butter or oil (some extra for greasing later)

2 cups of blood warm milk (I used Oatly)

2 tbsp of spice mix (I used cloves, ginger and cinnamon)

1/2 cup of ground almond (optional)

a little bit of maple syrup (for glossing)

1tsp salt

Method:

First things first, add yeast and 2 tbsp sugar in one glass of milk. Leave it aside to rise. (you can skip this step and ad yeast straight to the flour if using quick yeast but I still like to do it this way. I find the rising of the yeast reassuring).

Now in a bowl, add the flour, ground almond and the rest of the sugar, spices and salt (add raisins and peels at this stage too if using). Mix well.

Then add the yeast and oil. Mix with a wooden spoon. Add more milk. It will not form a dough yet. It will be sticky and textured but wouldn’t hold any shape and that’s fine. Once mixed well. Cover it with a cloth and leave it to rise for an hour or so. It should rise almost double in size (don’t be disheartened if it doesnt rise as much. Even a bit of rise is ok. Remember the more you bake and work with yeast the better you will get )

After an hour, take it out. Sprinkle flour on the table or your work top. Take the dough out and start kneading it. Add more flour to form it into less sticky dough. Once you can form a big ball with it. Flatten it a bit with your hands and then cut it into equal parts. Or simply tear into equal parts.

Once you have formed the balls. Lay them on a grease proof sheet on a tray (I grease the paper but people say it is not necessary). The size of the ball should be half the size of the final product you are after.

Now leave the tray aside for another hour to rise. While it is rising…take some flour in a separate bowl….I took 2 tbsp to start with and keep adding water by the teaspoon. Mix it to form a thick paste that is runny enough to spoon it on top of the buns into crosses but not so runny that it drips off the buns altogether.

Once the buns have risen and are ready to go in the oven. Spoon the flour paste on top of the buns into a cross shape. Put it in the pre-heated oven at 160 degree C for about 15 to 20 minutes or until lovely and brown on the top.

Once out, using a brush gloss the buns with maple syrup or agave syrup. You can also use golden syrup or milk mixed with icing sugar. My mother-in-law actually put crosses made out of marzipan but again that’s not my jam.

Homeschooling as a Person Of Colour

It would be completely dishonest of me to deny some insecurity around the decision to homeschool. No one in our family has ever chosen this path, afterall. ..I believe in an education where children can and must be allowed to pursue their interest with full guidance and support. Having said that I am always aware of the fact that I am also raising multiracial children in a society rife with institutional racism; where PoCs gets paid less than their white counterparts; where your name is enough to put companies off from getting you in to interview, etc. (POCs have to apply 70-80% more times than White Britons for a job interview)..Although my children have names that may slip through a racist CV-sift, immigrants trying to make their way here know the ultimate importance of education or certifications: That’s why Indian parents or my friends black parents care so much about the grades. Because if your name and skin is already a problem, perhaps you can excel at your grades, giving people one less reason to discriminate against you…Also for those countries that have pulled themselves out of poverty, in which parents rely on their children when they get older, education is the overwhelming priority and avenue to success, something that sometimes feels culturally alien to many in the UK…It is in this moment that homeschooling can sometimes feel like an absolute privilege for my children; with the home schooling community largely a white one, is there an entrenched, rather subconscious sense that “the kids will be OK” in part because those kids won’t suffer from institutional roadblocks to their success? Does this lead to a sense that formal education doesn’t matter because the consequences of its absence won’t be so severe for the privileged?..It’s a tricky balance to strike. Are you home-schooling? Are you white/brown/black? What do you think about this?

My Thoughts on Risky Play

If you have known me, you will know that I allow my children risky play more often than not. Long time followers might have seen my 2 year old RoRo with a cutlass and big two with sheath knives. Yes we have had accidents but nothing that a plaster or a kiss couldn’t fix. They still remember the adventure more than the little boo-boos and the infamous A & E trips. .
.
But I wasn’t like this all the time and every now and again my heart jumps when I see Reuben dive down the promenade straight into a sea of seaweed but I quickly navigate the risks around. .
.
When you have three kids who love adventure and adrenaline it is hard to keep on top of them and you will find yourself saying ‘NO’ all day. So I had to loosen up a little. And it has been very rewarding for both parties. I have noticed kids often do a risk-assessment of their own if given the freedom. For instance, RoRo chose not to jump off the promenade, “I am too small”, Reuben chose to stay away from RoRo the whole time he was holding a cutlass and RoRo never brought the cutlass indoors…none of those things were prompted by us. .
.
The lessons I have learnt is to carry extra set of clothes, a towel, snacks, water, sweeties and plasters (That is if we are driving). .

Do Homeschooling Children Learn Anything?

Fox skull found at farm school

People often wonder, ” Do homeschooled children actually learn anything?” .
.
We live in a world where we have been conditioned to believe for generations that all forms of learning only happens in a classroom. That, if you did not learn within the four walls of a school then that education is not valuable.


That might have been the case and there might have been a time when schools were necessary to keep children out of factories, begging on the streets and what have you. And today, it is more to do with childcare than education.


But do me a favour and look around you. We live in an age of technology and information. With the right guidance and resources, children can learn anything they want to that is appropriate for their age and capabilities. This is not to say that one can enter into a surgery without attending any medical college. But as far as learning is concerned, a lot can be achieved from visiting the library, the local farm, museum, beaches and meeting people and interacting with people who work there everyday.

With no bells ringing to say when to start and stop your learning, children get a chance to delve deep into a topic they connect with. Hopefully they will remember what they learn better than I can remember trigonometry (in school). I think I forgot most formulas etc as soon as grades were out. Is that the kind of learning we want for our children?

If considering homeschooling, remember it is harder to stop them from learning in a free environment.

Delaying Formal Education

We have decided to NOT introduce formal education to our three year old until he is six, keeping in line with what is a mainstream practice in many Scandinavian countries. But it is such a privileged topic that I simply do not discuss it here as often, acknowledging the fact that many have to send their children to school. (I speak from my own experience)
.
.
So when Weronika from @multiculturalmotherhood asked me to shed light on why I chose to delay formal education I thought I’d write down some of my personal reflections.
.
.
> 15 minutes of lunch break vs an hour of read-aloud with his meals.
> Regimented academic study vs creative play and healthy physical activity
> Tracing pictures vs playing in a den under my work desk.
> Keeping tidy (frustratingly so) vs painting all over himself.
> Reciting the alphabet by rote vs making songs about everything and playing word games….
> Toy tools and craft work forced by a teacher vs cutting veggies, playing with spices and stirring a big bowl of dal with his mumma.
.
.
There is also no shortage of academic papers detailing concern from educationalists about the damage a less-than holistic approach to early learning is having on children.
.
.
Quality time for us during which I am not nagging him to wear his uniform, finish his homework or packing his lunch boxes is also a bonus.
.

..
What are your views on delayed formal education? Or do you think it is best to teach them early?

On Raising Vegan Children – Q & A

A picture from our visit to India almost 2 years ago.

My kids aged 13, 11 and 3 years old and I have been vegan for over 3 years now. My youngest has never consumed any animal products nor has he seen a doctor in his life, credit to his plant based lifestyle and extended breastfeeding, I say.

The word vegan makes a lot of people uncomfortable, I have been there myself so I empathise. Having said so it is Veganuary ( a campaign drawn to encourage people to try veganism for a month at the beginning of the year and take it from there) and I thought I will try and answer the most commonly asked questions in the hope that it might help those in doubt or need that last push to take the plunge.

Without much ado, here we go….

What is Veganism?

Veganism is a lifestyle wherein an individual chooses to not consume any animal product or byproducts. A vegan lifestyle avoids eating dairy products, meat, poultry, seafood, honey, bee pollen or eggs. This lifestyle also avoids the use of leather, wool or silk. Some vegans may also go as far as avoiding products that were tested on animals as much as possible.

Do you children feel that this lifestyle has been imposed upon them?

My eldest two were 10 yrs and 8 yrs old when they went vegan. They made an informed choice and had no obligation to go vegan, given they had a non-vegan ally in their dad. So they could have chosen to stay non-vegan if they wanted to. And they can always go back to their old lifestyle anyday.

As far as my 3 year old is concerned, he has never tasted animal products so in his case, a vegan lifestyle is imposed on him only as much as other parents impose meat eating on their children. I do not think any parent asks their 6 month old if they’d like a sweet potato or sweet bread (it is a kind of offal I think) if you know what I mean!

Is it hard being married to a person who is not vegan?

When I married my husband I was not vegan myself. My love for him wouldn’t have changed just because I chose a different lifestyle. Veganism is like an awakening. I believe in giving it time. And if it never happens, it isn’t my place to judge. It is harder for my husband to be outnumbered as a non-vegan at home than it is for me to be a vegan. It is getting especially hard with our 3 year old asking questions about his eating habits. My husband has come a long way and he actually doesn’t really consume animal products as much as he used to. At home we only cook and eat Vegan food. And if he fancy’s an egg for breakfast he cooks it himself and sources it from what he may consider as the most ethical source.

What do your children think about their dad consuming animal products in front of them?

I have raised my children to be very compassionate and inclusive towards others. My older two believe in choice and that everybody has their own journey to make.

The questions have started coming from a 3 year old though. ‘Dad, pork is from a pig. Maybe that pig did not want to die?’

‘Mum why does daddy eat meat?’

I actually do not have one answer fits all for these kind of questions. I simply say that, “meat eaters probably do not know that animals get hurt and have to die before they are turned into meat. Maybe one day they will find that out like us and they may change.” That is the best I can do for now and I hope he will find answers to these himself.

What is wrong with dairy ? The cows need milking or else they may get mastitis. Aren’t we doing them a favour?

No. The need to milk her is totally man-made. If a calf is allowed to drink the milk that is designed for his/her needs only, there will be no need to milk a mother cow. In the wild, many different animals lactate and they all manage absolutely fine without any human intervention, barring a few exceptions.

The entire dairy industry is questionable. Every act from impregnating a cow, to separating her calf in the first few days of infancy to then sending the calf to a slaughterhouse, especially if it is a male calf irks me. The female will be raised just like her mother for dairy. And the poor mother? She gets sent to the slaughterhouse too before she has even lived half of her life, because of the poor milk production.

Do vegans need to supplement?

In my personal opinion, vegans or non-vegans all need to take some kind of supplements given the poor quality of food in general. One of the most difficult nutrients for vegan to retrieve from their diet includes B12 and though one can get all their vitamins and other nutrients from perfectly designed and planned diet, with children and their fussiness, I play safe and give my children Vitamin D, B12, Iron (occasionally) and multivitamin gummies, bear in mind that I supplemented my children even before we went vegan.

Is a vegan lifestyle expensive?

It can be. If you want to eat high quality mock meat or processed food, or ready vegan meals you better be loaded. But eating wholefoods like lentils, legumes, vegetables, fruits etc is not very expensive, atleast not for an average middle class family. Eating nuts and seeds is also an important part of a balanced vegan diet, which I appreciate can be expensive but if you cut out meat from your diet and buy groceries in bulk, in the long run it works out cheaper.

If you extend veganism towards your wardrobe, make up etc. Again, the more ethical you choose, vegan or non-vegan things get a bit expensive. I stick to second hand shopping and depend largely on hand me downs for my children. I only buy when I have eliminated all other options.

Isn’t it hard to be vegan ?

It depends. Starting anything new can be challenging. My biggest challenge when I became vegan was to prove to people that veganism matters and that it isn’t some hippy-dippy shit and that there is science to back it up too. To convince that I, as a loving and caring mother to my children, was not putting their health at risk because of my moral values was challenging. But now everybody gets it and given the current climate crisis etc, people welcome our lifestyle easily. Also to be noted that, hosting a vegan guest is much easier now than it was ever before.

Another hard aspect for many might be the cooking aspect. If you can’t afford ready meals or do not want to consume processed food then you need to or would want to know how to cook wholefood ingredients. It isn’t hard but it needs practice nonetheless. Plenty of recipe books are out there or youtube videos to help you out.

As far as not eating meat or seafood etc is concerned, it is all in the mindset. Once you watch videos of slaughterhouses or how animals are treated in the slaughterhouses, I bet you wouldn’t want to eat meat again. As for me, I grew up eating a lot of vegan meals as part of my diet. A lot of Indian meals, which is what I grew up eating, is by default vegan like chana masala, aloo gobi, tofu and soy etc. Same goes for my children. So choosing to eat more of those was an easy shift.

But what about organic or free range meat? What about bio-dynamic meat?

I think that is even worse. If an animal was well looked after and was treated very humanely throughout its life, then the animal is likely to put more value on its life and taking that away, to me, seems wrong. The worst kind of worse.

I have seen you and your children wear woolen clothes?

It is true! I am not a purist. We do wear wool but strictly second hand, vintage or hand me downs. If I ever own a new woolen jumper, it is likely to be a gift from somebody who doesn’t quite understand the whole concept of veganism. But I will never put in my own money to buy a pair of brand new leather shoes or a bag or a silk saree or a woolen jumper.

Vegan and sustainable clothing etc are very expensive and I personally cannot always afford it. Also a lot of vegan clothing is made out of synthetic fibres (that are harmful to the environment and if mass produced, it is likely to be exploitative a.k.a not fairtrade) which I do not like personally. So if I had a choice between a brand new synthetic jumpers made by underpaid, abused workers somewhere in India or Bangladesh or a second hand woolen jumper. I would always choose the more breathable, natural fabric.

Humans have been eating meat forever, we used to be hunter gatherer, we are made to eat meat. We also have canines?

In early evolution, man did everything they could to survive. Historically, humans did a lot of questionable things. The point isn’t in the fact that humans used to hunt and eat meat, the point is in the fact that in today’s world, can we, especially in the first world countries justify farming and killing of animals when there is enough plant based food available?

I honour the fact that there are still many communities around the world who largely depend on seafood and meat due to the lack of agricultural land and what have you. They aren’t doing anything that they cannot justify. But I do not think, I, as a middle class privileged person from a first world country can justify mindless consumption of animal products.

As far as canines are concerned, the hippos have the largest canine in the entire wild world, yet they seem to thrive on plants. I hope that answers that question.

I hope I have answered some of the important questions. If you have any more please comment below and I will answer as promptly as I can.

Jess’s Moroccan Curry

Today’s contribution is by ‘forest school Jess’ (that is how I have known her). She is one of the most down to earth person. If you are into photography, you will love her handle (@woodlands.and.waves). Her landscape and wildlife photos are just the best. I do love the look of her life.

Here is what she has to say…

Hi I’m jess but most people around here know me as forestschooljess. I am in my happy place (well second happy place, because I’m not prepared to put photos of me in the bath on instagram!) Eating my most favourite snack – dried figs dipped in almond butter (do it, especially in the bath & thank me later)
This recipe kind of sums up my approach to climate change – I am only one person but I have to do what I can. Many of the ingredients are grown in my own garden or from the local farmers market – ‘dig for victory’ guys, only this threat is bigger than we’ve ever faced before. Growing your own is also (as I discovered) a lot of fun. The herbs and veggies used can totally be seasonal or from your frozen harvests, it’s the moroccan flavours which bring it all together.

It’s also a low waste meal as I get 4 portions from this recipe (that’s 2 days in our house!) With no plastic either (ingredients came loose or in recycleable cardboard, jars, cans or tins) so its a big hitter in ‘save the environment’ bingo! Why yes the long dark nights do whizz by in this house 😂

The other personal commitment I have made is not to fly abroad. As we live in the Highlands of Scotland and I’m a fully fledged foodie, if I want exotic, flavourful cuisine It’s coming out of my kitchen! And so this recipe was born. Hope you enjoy it!

Ingredients:

Jess’s herby Moroccan(ish) curry

Need: frying pan, oven dish with a lid, knives & chopping board

Vegan recipe – use faux chicken pieces, marinated &/or fried tofu or just load up on different veggies (mange tout/green beans/peas/small broccoli florets/sweet potato cubes cut small etc)

  • Coconut oil – 2 teaspoons for frying
  • Large Red onion x 1
  • Garlic cloves (large) – grated – x3
  • Ras El Hanout spice blend (this can be found in most big supermarkets – it means ‘best of the shop’ and would be an individual spice blend made in Arabic spice shops) – 2 table spoons
  • I add these Optional additions to the ras el hanout – Turmeric – 1 teaspoon Cinnamon – 1 teaspoon – grated nutmeg – 1/2 teaspoon
  • Harissa paste – 1 teaspoon (spicy – reduce if children/you not into really spicy food)
  • Big handfuls of fresh chopped:- coriander, mint, sage
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • Himalayan salt (to season or omit) – regular sea salt is ok
  • Black pepper (to season or omit)
  • Splash of apple cider vinegar (pref with the mother) if you have it this really adds a good tang but not essential
  • Cous cous to serve

Method:

  • Melt coconut oil in large frying pan
  • Preheat oven to 150 degree (fan)
  • Create spice blend in a bowl if adding extras
  • Fry off ‘chicken’ or tofu pieces 
  • Turn down heat and add spice mixture coat pieces in the warmed spice mix – enjoy the yummy smells! Don’t let spices burn – add more oil or turn down heat if nec.
  • Add to a Pyrex dish with a lid and set aside.
  • In the pan you’ve just used add the chopped onion and fry until translucent – (add more coconut oil or turn down heat if sticking)
  • Add the trimmed green beans & any other veggies (I love mange tout & petit pois)
  • Stir in some more spice mix
  • Grate 3 cloves of garlic into pan
  • Stir fry over a medium heat until smell of garlic comes through – 1minute ish
  • Reduce heat and add coconut milk
  • Stir until all melted together
  • Add any remaining spice mix – stir
  • Add chopped herbs mix
  • Stir
  • Add good splash of ACV and any salt/pepper seasoning – taste it and see if you need it.
  • Pour over ‘chicken’ pieces (or if using a root veg instead just add to the pan, stir and transfer to the Pyrex or oven pot with a lid)
  • Oven on 150 fan for 20-30 mins

5 mins before serving make plain cous cous – packet instructions

Serve and enjoy! 

If you like our recipes and try it, please do not forget to like and comment below. You can also tag us on Instagram with the hashtag #plateplantplanef

Raising Eco-Conscious Children

At the Global Climate Strike

I grew up in the concrete jungle of Mumbai. My daily encounters with nature were limited to the plants on the balcony, street dogs, cats and the cows – yes, also in the street; sacred and sniffing the petrol fumes. These were the limited encounters of a grimy, colourful metropolis but they made me very happy. We belonged to a very humble middle class family, who had just enough to keep us afloat. That, in India, meant a different thing to what it might mean in England: it meant water restrictions, limited hours of electricity, and bartering hard in the local markets. 

Processed with VSCO with preset

As a result my parents made me aware of the importance of not letting things go to waste early on in life. Though it was parsimony rather than environmentalism that was the motivation, they were sowing the seeds of environmental consciousness in me subconsciously through their values. Later on in life, when I met my husband, he introduced me to a new world of environmentalism: he was and still is, intensely interested in how public policy can drive positive environmental change.

Over the years we’ve become a sort of micro-macro double-act, often frustrating each other along the way, but also learning from each other, so raising children to be environmentally conscious came naturally, even if that is/was initially by osmosis; rather than through something didactic. 

Anthropocentrism and the Microcosmos

With the environmental crisis worsening, we’ve been talking about this more. One conclusion we’ve come to, based on both of our experiences – and the ongoing need for a shift away from a deeply entrenched anthropocentric mindset, or the species-egoism of humans – is to start by gently encouraging an imagination that transcends anthropocentrism. An imagination that recognises there is a tiny community among the ants or the right for a beetle’s home under a stone to go undisturbed: certainly not for any small thing to be stamped on or squashed for fundamentally no reason. 

Respect, in short, for non-human animals. 

Processed with VSCO with preset

Put a secular or spiritual spin on that as you see fit. But escorting the wasp back outside in a jar where possible, gently “finding a new home” for the spider (even if beyond small eyes it’s dumped fairly unceremoniously out of the window; hey, we’re all human… ) is a simple start to inculcating reverence or respect for non-human lifeforms; empathy requires imagination – the imagination of someone’s suffering or situation –  and the imagination to understand that there is a whole other realm of important life, animal communities going on all around us even in cities is important. 

My husband remembers vividly being told firmly but gently by his grandmother after picking up a rock in the garden to find all sorts of bugs and centipedes to put it down carefully again, because “that’s their home and you’re disturbing them; they live there…” She was right. 

(Mosquitos, perhaps, are the one exception to this rule: squash the little blood-suckers mercilessly!)

Their World

I asked my children if they considered themselves to be lovers of nature and if they have a sense of responsibility towards it? A genuine question. Yes, was the answer and to the question of why, they said simply through observation, experience and exposure. Whether it’s sitting quietly under a tree, walking the dogs or rescuing an injured bird, somehow it’s all added up. I hope it grows stronger; through a love for the natural world, not fear. They are aware of the climate crisis, but a drumbeat of doom isn’t the answer for me. I want to see them inspired. One of my husband’s friends builds low-maintenance seawater greenhouses, through which crops can be grown in arid regions using small desalination plants powered by renewable energy; I want them to see and by inspired by such things. Meanwhile, the kids and I live a plant-based lifestyle (husband remains omnivorous), we buy second-hand clothes and we are careful with our water and energy usage – using a tariff that involves renewables only. We avoid plastic and we recycle whenever we can, but not militantly, just with a general sense of awareness not to tread too heavily on the planet.

Ultimately, I think as a parent who wants to raise environmentally aware children, one must keep educating oneself and simply try to educate in turn through best practice. This doesn’t mean you have to share every big of new information with your child to keep them up to date with your finding but children are very curious. At different phases of their lives, they will ask questions. To be able to answer those questions will not only empower you but will give your children tools to understand and communicate the same to others. Children can sometimes catch you off-guard and that is ok. Whoever said answers cannot be found together? When your children are as old as mine, you will realise they start teaching you a few things too. 

That is when you know, you did something right. 

This essay was originally written for the initiative ‘Parents of the Planet A’.

Create your website at WordPress.com
Get started