Money: how much I earn

| Life & Stuff, Writing & Publishing

Was chatting with a friend last week and he mentioned how he thought he’d be making much more money by this age (my age – 30-ish), and how he worries that other people are making much more than him.

I told him it’s not something I’m worried about – I know I earn less than most other people my age. There’s something liberating about accepting that you don’t have much money and just dealing with it.

He asked me quite frankly how I live on such a little amount, but to be honest I barely even notice. I took a $25K paycut to run this festival (kinda – my income isn’t that much lower than my previous job but because I run the festival part time it’s pro rata) and I just don’t need a lot of money to live – I rent in a sharehouse in Coburg, I don’t buy $200 t-shirts, I don’t own a car or take PT, I don’t have expensive electronics, computers or gadgets, my furniture is mostly second-hand, I don’t care about status symbols or the ‘latest things’* and I don’t have an extravagent lifestyle.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a good life – I eat out, I travel, I do stuff, I drink, I buy books, I have a nice bike. What more do you want? More of all those things? Yeah, that would be nice I guess… but I don’t want more of those things at the expense of giving up this job or having to work in a corporate environment.

So because I’m not shy about telling it how it is, and because I would LOVE to hear how much you earn (nosy)…

$3865 is how much I made for writing in 2009, including:

  • Neon Pilgrim
  • journalism/essay writing
  • freelance copywriting

$2000 is how much I made for editing work in 2009, including:

  • The Words We Found

$1640 is how much I made doing ‘miscellaneous‘ in 2009, including:

  • festival panels
  • workshops

Yep, $7500 from freelancing, which I did on top of full time work. Plus about $6000 from Vignette Press, though obviously that is offset by outgoings (I broke about even). This will appear insanely low for some people and quite admirable freelance-wise for others. What do you think?

How much am I earning now? My income at the festival is $50K pro rata and I work 3.5 days – you do the math – plus I’m still freelancing.

Are you brave enough to talk about what you earn?

Money, it’s a gas!

*Am desperate for an iphone though.

Edit: see the follow-up post to this, Mo’ money, mo’ money

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How to be vegan: roundup

| Food

That’s it for How to be vegan, my online guide for navigating the transition from omni or veg to vegan. The full round up of how to go vegan posts is here, and also archived under the turning vegan tag.

There is still more I can say on this topic, but I’ve capped it here because I think these posts together make a pretty good primer for anyone considering becoming vegan.

I might touch on ‘dealing with non-vegans’ in the future, but I’ve resisted doing it this time because the comments on this series are peppered with good advice in that vein. So I urge you to read the comments on all the posts – my lovely readers have left some stellar advice and shared their own stories on the articles, which just goes to show how diverse we vegans are. I’ll still be keeping an eye on the comments and updating the posts as needed, so please continue leaving your comments, links and questions!

How to go vegan:

  1. Going vegan
  2. What to do with your non-vegan stuff
  3. What is vegan food?
  4. Reading labels
  5. Ninja vegan
  6. How to cook vegan food
  7. Vegan baking
  8. Coming out
  9. Eating out
  10. Vegan community

Finally, thanks to everyone who read and commented! You made this week doubly fun for me, and your insights, tips and ideas really got me thinking more broadly about veganism yet again. You rock.

Image by nyxie.

How to be vegan (part ten): vegan community

| Food

Transitioning to veganism can be tough, and going it alone can make it even harder. So get in touch with your vegan community!

When I went vegan I had one vegan friend, now I have loads. I met a lot of vegans online through forums (the post punk kitchen is a good one), and also through food blogging, and through them met lots of other vegans too. There’s probably a vegan mafia to tap into near you as well. If you don’t know any vegans, your local veg society might be a good place to start.

If you live in an isolated place or are really too shy to go and meet some strangers from the internet (don’t worry, we’re not all mad – some of us are actually kinda… normal), blogging and online forums can be a good way to connect with other vegans and swap information. You might be surprised how much you come to appreciate online friendships!

Why is vegan community important? I have written about this before, but I value my vegan friends for these reasons:

  • Some of them are really good at reading labels and they keep me updated about ninja vegan products.
  • It’s nice going out for an all-vegan dinner sometimes.
  • It’s great to be able to talk about omni annoyances without having to worry about offending anyone.
  • They are great sources of recipes and restaurant recs.
  • Moral support from people who really get it.
  • It’s comforting to know you’re not the only vegan freak out there.

Vegans – do you know many other vegans? Where did you meet them?

Image by penguincakes.

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How to be vegan (part nine): eating out

| Food

Eating out can seem like a big, scary deal when you first go vegan. And it can suck sometimes when you’re a veteran vegan too. There are three things to navigate – where to eat, ordering, and dealing with your eating buddies.

Go veg
The top choices for eating out would be vegan and vegetarian restaurants. Pure vegan restaurants are pretty thin on the ground in Australia, especially outside of Melbourne. Eating at vegan restaurants is a total joy, because not only can you eat everything there (mostly – some places still serve honey, so you still need to check) but the staff won’t treat you like a freak.

Vegetarian restaurants hold a similar joy, except for those places that don’t cater to vegans very well, which is very frustrating (and surprisingly common).

A quick google search will reveal any veg restaurants in your area, or there’s always the Veg Food Guide, which will be released as a national publication later this year. (Plug!)

Non-veg options
Eating at non-veg restaurants can be totally joyful or a big pain in the arse. While you’re transitioning it can be pretty daunting, especially if you’re not totally up on what things are vegan or not. Try to keep your ordering simple; even though this might mean eating something boring or bland at least you will know it’s vegan.

Look up or think about what sort of food you can eat at different kinds of restaurants. For example:

  • Italian – risotto hold the cheese, plain pasta with Napoli sauce, or veggie pasta hold any cheese.
  • Indian – veggie curries, but beware of the use of ghee.
  • Asian – have things cooked with garlic rather than oyster sauces.
  • Cafes – salads are a good bet, as is avocado on toast.
  • Pubs – if it’s not cooked in animal fat, a bowl of chips.
  • Middle Eastern – felafel, hommous and tabouli are your friends.

I know that looks a bit depressing, but it’s not forever! As you find out more about vegan foods eating out becomes less of a hassle, and you’ll get more confident about what you can eat and how to order what you want.

A few tips for navigating non-veg restaurants:

  • Check to see if the restaurant’s menu is online before you go there so you’re prepared. If the menu isn’t online do a search to see if anyone veg bloggers have written about eating there.
  • If you’re going to a restaurant and their menu doesn’t appear vegan-friendly, call ahead to let them know you’re coming. That way the chef can prepare to have something for you to eat. (This is more for nice restaurants – calling your local Chinese joint will probably just confuse them.)
  • Don’t be afraid to ask what can be made vegan, or to request alterations to dishes. You’re a customer and you have a right to order what you want.
  • Don’t assume that the waitstaff will know what a vegan is. (I once told asked a waitress and she recommended the ‘chicken pizza without the cheese’.) Say that you are a vegetarian and that you don’t eat dairy or eggs. That should lessen the possibility of any nasty surprises appearing on your plate.
  • Don’t be a pain in the arse. Assertive yes, apologetic or aggressive, no.
  • Don’t suffer in silence. If you’ve requested something vegan and it comes with something non-vegan, let the waiter know and send it back.

Eating with others
A few tips for navigating the social politics of eating with non-vegans:

  • Accept that you will sometimes sit at a table of people and eat a really boring salad or plate of veggies, but remember it’s the restaurant’s fault, not the fault of veganism. (I had plenty of shit meals as an omni, too.)
  • Veganism isn’t about missing out. You often won’t have control over where your friends want to go and eat. Don’t be shy to go somewhere and not eat (though do eat beforehand so your stomach isn’t growling!), or just to drink.
  • Accept that people will not eat vegan because you’re there (and never ask them to). If this bothers you then think about skipping the meal and arriving for drinks later, or arranging non-eating social occasions.
  • Don’t talk about veganism while you’re eating! If you’re with people who don’t know you’re vegan, someone will inevitably hear you ordering and ask you if you’re veg. If they want to talk about it, say that you’ll talk about it later.
  • If you don’t make a big deal about being vegan, probably no one else will either. If someone is being an arse or trying to force you to talk about it, refuse to engage.
  • Understand that many people find veganism confronting, and that some people might feel judged or threatened by simply having you eat vegan alongside them. Accept it, and accept that it’s their problem, not yours. See above if they start being a dick about it.

Vegans – what are your top tips for navigating eating out and social events?

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How to be vegan (part eight): coming out

| Food

So you’re vegan – how do you devastate tell your loved ones?

I got all shy about coming out vegan. I told my flatmate when I was doing my test run, but kept it mainly to myself apart from that. Then when I kept being vegan I knew I would have to start telling people.

I told my vegan friend first, something like, ‘soooo I’ve kinda been vegan for five weeks’. Then I just told the people who needed to know (the people I eat with, i.e. my friends) as I saw them. I was just leaving a job at that time so I never had to tell my colleagues or anything. (Now, mostly when I go into a job people already know I’m vegan. It’s kinda on my resume.)

I think some people have a much harder time than me. No one got upset or angry or anything when I told them, but I was infuriated by bemused responses – there were a few intimation that this is a phase or that veganism is something ridiculous.

How to tell people you’re vegan

This is the best advice I have for coming out vegan:

  • Pick your timing. Arriving at your mum’s house for dinner and telling her then is probably not the right moment. Even if you don’t want to do it on the phone, call ahead and say you won’t be eating later or something.
  • Be calm and assured – take a few deep breaths if you’re nervous.
  • If you’re nervous, practice what you’re going to say.
  • If you think you know what people will object to, think about what you will say to those objections. If your dad will lament the fact that you won’t be able to eat his spag bol, explain that you will still be able to eat together, which is the main thing. If your partner will be worried about health, let them know you have thought about nutrition and you are going to look after yourself.
  • That said, you don’t need to defend your choices. Don’t let yourself be drawn into an argument or heated debate. If things aren’t going well, end the conversation politely and say you’ll talk about it later after everyone has calmed down and taken some time to digest the news.
  • Make it clear that this is important to you and you are committed to your decision. This might take time. Once people start to see you are serious then they might become more willing to accept it.
  • Understand that the idea of veganism can be very confronting to some people. I have spoken to people who literally can’t visualise what I would eat if I don’t eat meat, dairy and eggs. Try to be patient and explain why you want to do this in simple terms.
  • Coming out time is not the time for lecturing, evangelising, converting or suggesting that whoever you’re talking to should look at their own habits of consumption.
  • Don’t feel as though you need to have all the answers. This is key for me. I am really bad at remembering facts and figures, so if someone is pushing me for evidence and proof and numbers, I get flustered, start feeling stupid, and end up looking like I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’ve learnt to not engage in those situations. You can always say, ‘hey, why don’t I email you about it later’ or even make a date to talk about it again (and come armed with some evidence).
  • Whatever happens, try not to get worked up or angry. Walk away and try again later. (This is easier said than done.)
  • A rule I follow all the time – don’t talk about veganism while you’re eating. (Unless you’re eating with other vegans.) If someone brings it up change the subject or say something clear like, ‘let’s talk about this after we finish eating’.
  • Don’t let anyone belittle you or treat you badly. If things start disintegrating, say you’ll talk about it later and leave.

Vegans – any advice for coming out?

If you’ve blogged about it leave a link in the comments and I’ll put it up here.

Coming out stories:

Image by sonicwalker.

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How to be vegan (part seven): vegan baking

| Food

Cooking vegan is one thing – anyone can do a stirfry – but what about vegan baking? How do you make a cake without eggs and butter? What whacky vegan ingredients do you need to hold it all together? Will it taste like shit?

Vegan baking is not all that different to non-vegan baking. The principles are the same, it tastes the same, it looks the same. It just has different ingredients. (Are you sensing a theme here yet?)

What about eggs?
Many bakers see eggs as a stumbling block to vegan baking, because they play such a vital role in the binding process. Vegan baking uses stuff like jam, applesauce and tofu to bind things, and the results are usually much moister than non-vegan baking. And no, you can’t taste the tofu. That would be weird.

I think the best way to demonstrate how easy vegan baking can be is to put up my two favourite simple vegan recipes. I use and adapt these all the time – they are my go-to recipes. Try them and then tell me vegan baking is hard, or vegan baked goods are weird. I dare you.

The easiest cookies
Ok so I realise I don’t even know this recipe – I just make it from the top of my head. There was a recipe once but it’s long lost. So here it is the best I can do it… having written it down I’m almost embarrased by how simple it is. That’s why it’s my go-to recipe I guess!

1 cup flour
1 cup oats
1 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup canola or veg oil
1/2 cup water
dash vanilla essence
1 cup tasty additions – chocolate, peanut butter, nuts, sultanas, whatever floats your sweet boat…

Mix dry ingredients together and make a well. Mix the wet ingredients together and pour into dry ingredients. Mix well. Add in the tasty additions. YES IT IS THAT EASY.

Drop small balls onto a greased baking tray and press down lightly with a fork or spoon. Cook at about 175 degrees. After five minutes grab a spatula and gently flip each cookie over then cook for another 10 minutes. Take out the biscuits and cool. They will be soft and chewy and yum!

Chocolate cake!
This recipe is adapted from the Fat Free Vegan‘s raspberry chocolate cake. It is not fat free. It ends up looking like this, or if I make it double and frost it good, like this.

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup oil
1/4 cup raspberry jam
1 tsp vanilla
1 tblspn vinegar mixed with 1 cup water

Preheat oven to approx 200C. Grease a cake pan.

Mix dry ingredients together then add the rest. Beat rapidly for a few minutes until everything is blended. Pour into greased cake pan and bake for about 20 minutes. The cake is done when you can stick a skewer in the middle and it comes out clean.

You can double this recipe and put jam or cream between the two halves, and frost it to your heart’s content. For icing I usually use Nuttelex, icing sugar, vanilla, a bit of boiling water and cocoa and then beat the shit out of it.

Challenge baking
Ok, not all vegan baking is easy cookies and straightforward cakes. Some dishes do pose more of a challenge. Mousse, trifle, macarons, souffle and tiramisu all fall into this category, and many more besides. But they are not impossible to create, they just need a little ingenuity and a good recipe. With a good recipe, even I can make a tiramisu!

From the comments
You don’t need vegan recipes to bake – you can use omni recipes and substitute ingredients. Like Nuttelex for butter. And fake egg for eggs. Mandee suggests Ogran’s no-egg and Steph recommends making your own ‘egg’ – 1 chinese soup spoon of applesauce + tsp baking powder per egg, mix and add to recipe as usual.

Vegans – any tips on vegan baking? Leave links to easy vegan baking recipes and I’ll add them up here!

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