Observations on Kitchen & Dining behaviours

There is power in deliberation. Conscious inaction can be a good thing. At the beginning of my journey, I kept myself in a state of growing awareness. Mindfulness helped me know what to do and allowed me to set a plan that was tailored to my unique lifestyle and social situation.

Let’s break this down into small bite sized pieces. In this post, we can take a moment to observe our Kitchen & Dining behaviours:

  • Food waste: Are you finishing the meals you prepare? Do items go dormant in the fridge until they’re thrown away? Recognise patterns.
  • Animal consumption: Count the number of animal products used to make a meal i.e Ricotta + Chicken = 2. Take note of anything you could live without.
  • Dormant appliances: Consider that the items in your kitchen should work for the space they occupy. How often is each item put to work? Are they paying their way?
  • Disposables: Do you use plastic wrap, paper towels, disposable wipes or silicon-coated baking paper? Observe your reliance on these items.

This might seem like it’s only for zero waste beginners, but we can all take a moment to observe where we are at. None of us are perfect. There are insights and opportunities in observations. Be patient with yourself. A change is coming…


Mind boggling zero waste dairy.

This is a post for all my non-vegan earth lovers and for anyone, like me, whose mind is boggled by zero waste dairy. It gets easier. Our approach is to seek out recyclable, reusable or byo packaging and generally eat more plants. While our health and well-being are paramount, we feel that any effort in favour of plant-rich foods should be applauded.

As Michael Pollan says…

“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”

Here’s some food for thought on zero waste dairy:

  • Adopt something plant-based: I’m a non vegan ex-cheese snob who loves soy milk, coconut yoghurt, nut butter; and macadamia feta. I’ve tried cashew Parmesan and discovered that it’s easier to make myself. It’s great on roast vegetables. As a result, I’m now cooking with nutritional yeast. It’s not always peachy. When our soy boccocini melted into a ‘pearl jam’ consistency, I must admit I struggled to find it appealing 😜
  • Ask questions: By popular demand, a couple of local dairy farmers are now stocking milk in refillable glass bottles. We want to be a voice in that popular demand. For me, it still takes courage, but I’m getting used to saying “I’m trying to reduce my plastic use, would it be ok to put this in my own container?” I’m looking forward to a day when I can buy soy milk in glass too. We also return egg cartons for reuse.
  • Avoid plastic: We have found milk, yoghurt and cheese in glass or paper packaging from local suppliers. We buy parmesan in bulk to reduce packaging overall. It’s a conundrum for me that many vegan options are not yet plastic-free in Australia.
  • Favour local, ethical farmers: We’re lucky enough to live near ethical farmers. When we do buy dairy, we’ll try to support those that are not only ensuring that animals live well, but they also support environmentally sustainable practises in agriculture. Meat and dairy industries vary across the world, so this one takes a bit of research. I’m forever learning and try to be mindful of bias, propaganda and greenwashing.
  • Make it yourself: I experimented with homemade yoghurt and it’s surprisingly easy! Am yet to make vegan milk, but the recipe for almond milk seems like a no brainer.

Zero waste plastic free dairy and vegan alternatives

Zero waste plastic free dairy and vegan alternatives

Plant-based cheese review from a cheese snob!!

My French-influenced upbringing made me a cheese fiend for most of my life. I understood the difference between cheeses before I knew how to multiply. When I was 3, I liked smoked gouda. When I was 8, my preference was brie. Just like a fine cheese, I was well cultured. Later in life, when I lived with my best friend and vegan buddy, I actually found it easy to be vegan at home… except for cheese.

Soy boccocini

The bocconcini is ok. The texture matches its dairy counterpart. It melts in an unfamiliar and less attractive way though (it looks like ‘pearl jam’ when melted). It’s soy-based but doesn’t have a soy after-taste (note that I might be biased because I love soy milk). It tastes creamy.

In use: Do not melt. Add to salads and serve cold. 

Cashew cheese

The cashew cheese is astoundingly delicious but you can make this yourself for a fraction of the price. Just grind up some cashews, salt and yeast and save a heap of dollaridoos (As a bonus: Add silken tofu for a creamy vegan béchamel sauce). This jar is far too expensive for what it is but I like that they have exposed how easy it is to substitute the flavour of Parmesan sprinkles. To me, this mimics the cheap Parmesan flakes, not the actual cheese block.

In use: Sprinkle on roast vegetables before putting in the oven. Then make your own after this runs out.


By demand: Why am I not vegan?

My dietary requirement is “vegetarian-preference / no onion”. By demand, here’s your “Why isn’t she vegan?” post 😜

Our household has three humans and a dog 😀🙃🤓🐺. One of us is diabetic. By eating more nuts, mushrooms and leafy greens, all three humans have reduced their meat/dairy intake significantly. I take a non-pious, anti-evangelical approach to environmentalism. This is why I will never tell a friend what they should/shouldn’t eat or how their plastic product is polluting our planet. I maintain a positive, supportive stance, forever learning from others. Ensuring psychological safety is paramount.

When I cut out major meat consumption 8 years ago, I decided to only boycott beef, lamb and pig. This way, my partner (who is such a great cook that he should be a chef #justsayin) can still experiment with different cooking styles. If he wants to cook red meat, we have kangaroo. One dose of red meat per week seems to work well. I’m ok with this low level of consumption.

I eat butter, eggs, cheese and occasionally ice cream. I do prefer vegan butter but not as much as I love my mates. We all drink soy milk because it prevents food waste.

Why I’m not vegan or vegetarian:

  1. Onion-free vegetarian food is hard to come by (chicken or fish is often the low-onion option at restaurants).
  2. I love my husband.
  3. I love cheese. It’s one thing my family can bond over.
  4. I want to support diversity in meat consumption ie kangaroo & emu to reduce soil salinity and rabbit, buffalo and camel to keep numbers down.
  5. I’ve learnt that it’s easier to be zero waste if you’re vegan. I am inspired to find a way to make meat/dairy more inclusive to zero waste living.
  6. I don’t believe in absolutes.

💚 Thanks to the increasing awareness of Fodmap diets, I’m able to reduce my chicken and fish intake. Thanks to the growing popularity of kangaroo meat, I’m able to support this farming practice. Thanks to inspiring vegan friends, I’m aware of how to balance nutrition for a low meat / high exercise lifestyle.


Milk in refillable glass bottles. 

The best cow milk I’ve ever had. Truly. I don’t normally like cow milk so this is particularly amazing. Thanks, @stdaviddairy for serving fresh milk in refillable glass bottles.

I highly recommend trying this if you’re near Fitzroy. It’s only $3 to refill the bottle, but it has to be clean and 100% dry to reduce any chance of bacteria in the empty vessel. These bottles are great in the dishwasher and drip dry easily. I was concerned when they labelled the milk with a 3-day expiry. I now realise this is highly precautionary as the milk lasts a bit longer than that. My only reservation is that they’re only open Mon-Fri 6:30 am – 4:30 pm, so I have had to take a brief detour on my way to work to pick up milk. I’m unlikely to keep this up long term, which is a shame as this milk is particularly amazing. I wish their retail side was open on Saturdays, or available for after hours delivery.

This also got me thinking… if we can refill dairy milk, then surely it’s safe to refill non-dairy? I wonder if vegan milk could be sold at bulk stores? Does this exist anywhere? If not, I nominate @thesourcebulkfoods to lead the charge.


Package free cheese

“Hi, Do you happen to sell any of your cheeses package free? I have my own container.”

Thank you to @thecraftandco for being amazingly understanding and supportive of my desire to go zero waste. You guys rule.


Tried to make yogurt. Accidentally made ricotta.

Tried to make yoghurt. Accidentally made ricotta. Still tastes amazing!
Many moons ago, the wonderful @therootedroamer saw my question about zero waste yoghurt and she messaged me her mum’s recipe.
Legend! This unselfish act of reaching out to a total stranger and sharing ideas has been a reoccurring pattern within the zero waste community.
We’re all going through a tough transition and it’s been an inspiration to receive advice and ideas from so many wonderful people.
Every comment or question I receive brings me one step closer to knowing what the hell I’m doing. Thank you, everybody!


The challenge of zero-waste meat and cheese

I love cheese so very much. Going 100% plastic free has been challenging for us non-vegans.

It’s hard to find cheese and meat without planning waaaay ahead. Our options are further limited by a 9-5 work schedule. Most places aren’t open late, and there’s a small window during the weekend.

We happened to run out of meat and cheese when @plasticfreejuly clocked in so we went without for a few days. I told our housemate about our struggle. On her day off, she managed to find places in Carlton that sell cheese and meat (almost) plastic free. I don’t know which one I’m more excited about: the giant slabs of cheese in our fridge, or the thought and generosity behind this gesture. Thank you @jujuskoo101 for being amazing