Archive | January, 2012

Sandra on Public Breastfeeding

26 Jan

Regular guest blogger Sandra talks about her experiences breastfeeding in public. This comes as Womens Views on News reports that Callista Gingrich calls the cops on a breastfeeding mother. We have heard rumours that this story is satire, we dont know if it is, but the fact the story is all too believable should say something regardless. 

I’ve been breastfeeding my daughter Ella for 18 months now, and I breastfed exclusively for the first nine months (I’d like to say that I only started weaning her because she was so determined to eat the food from my plate!) so there were (and are) many times where I’ve had to feed her in public. So what’s the big deal?

Let me set the scene. I’m on a bus, feeding Ella, with her sling wrapped around us to help shelter her from the noise and lights, as she’s trying to sleep. Two women get on the bus, sit directly behind me, and one mutters (very loudly) that “it’s not cold, I don’t see why she’s wrapped up in her coat like that”. To which her friend says, “no, love, she’s feeding her baby.” Here I predicted the end of the conversation, but instead, she raised her voice even more and lambasted me (indirectly of course) about how it was “indecent” to have my breast out in a public place, and that I should have brought a bottle to feed my baby with so I wouldn’t be disturbing others with the unwanted sight of my body.

There are so many things that made me angry about what she said – not least the fact that I was covered up to begin with (she couldn’t even see my breast, she was only aware it was out once someone else informed her), the fact that her suggestion to feed Ella with a bottle would have been a hindrance to her breastfeeding (since a rubber teat can cause nipple confusion and stop babies knowing how to suckle properly at a real breast), and that breast milk takes a fair bit of time to express when you’re trying to stock up for a whole day out of the house (or wait, should I be giving her cow’s milk instead of mine?) Perhaps should I have just let her go hungry, and let her cry for the entirety of the journey? – but the worst part was the fact that she was offended by me using my breast for the most natural reason I can think of.

This little snapshot isn’t an isolated experience, I’ve had people (including my closest family) ask me to feed Ella in the toilets so as not to offend people, had people tell me it’s not my legal right to breastfeed in public, and so many rolled eyes I’ve lost count. The attitude that it’s inappropriate to feed my hungry baby from her natural source of food is insanity. What on earth is unwholesome about breastfeeding? Nothing. 
What’s unwholesome is the idea that a woman’s body is an object of purely sexual purpose at all times – I’ve heard women say they won’t breastfeed because “that’s where men play” or that it’s “weird and unnatural” because “you don’t want your baby sucking your tits after your boyfriend”. This attitude leaves a lot of new mothers embarrassed and almost ashamed to breastfeed their child, and breastfeeding can take a lot of perseverance to begin with.
If we can’t deal with the thought that a woman’s breasts are a part of her body designed for the nurturing of her children, how can we deal with the thought that some women might not want to keep them covered up all the time?
Check out Sandra’s blog here and follow us on twitter and facebook!

Valentine’s Day Event

25 Jan

We are very excited to announce that Naked Vegan Cooking will be organizing a clothing-optional pop-up restaurant at a secret location in Manchester on Valentine’s Day evening, where we will be serving a romantic 3-course meal.

Keep an eye out for more details in the next few days.

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Veg and Peanut Soup

21 Jan

This recipe has been submitted by Hannah, who is a member of the lovely Golem Housing Co-op. We love the idea of putting peanut butter in soup – in fact, we love the idea of putting peanut butter in everything! Hannah says:

This tasty soup is cheap, substantial, and really good comfort food in the depths of winter, and tonight’s version fed the 9 people in our cooking co-op (with salad and bread) for under £10 in total. Win all round!

This recipe really doesn’t require preciseness in the amounts, or combination, of vegetables. Chuck in whatever’s in the bottom of the fridge crying out to be eaten, or raid the reduced section of your local greengrocers like I did. The original recipe for this had no split peas in, but I had the urge to eat some, so added a few in. Be creative!

30 minutes preparation, 60 minutes cooking time (or at least 2 hours in a haybox) – Serves 8

Naked Hannah holding a plate with a bowl of soup, some salad leaves and nice bread. She has long brown hair, glasses and is smiling cheerfully

Ingredients: 1 tbsp vegetable oil, 3 medium onions, 5 cloves of garlic, 2 peppers, 900g of carrots, 800g of potatoes, 5 sticks of celery
1 tin of sweetcorn, 250g of yellow split peas, 1 tsp of chilli powder (or as much as you fancy), 1.5 litre of vegan stock, 1 jar of peanut butter

1. Put the split peas in a jug with lots of boiling water, just to get them softened up a bit.
2. Dice all the veg into similar sized chunks. I like them to be quite fine, as otherwise this can start to look much more like a stew. If that’s what you like though, save yourself all the chopping, as it can take a while.
3. Stick a big pan on the hob on a medium heat. Add the oil, onions and garlic, and fry until softened.
4. Add the chilli powder and fry for a few more minutes.
5. Add all the other veg and stir well to coat it in the oily goodness.
6. Once everything’s thoroughly mixed, add the stock, split peas (without their soaking water) and peanut butter.
7. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for about 45 minutes, or until all the veg and split peas are cooked through.
8. Serve with optional salad, bread and clothes.

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Cereal Bars

17 Jan

This scrumptious-looking recipe comes from the lovely Michael, a couchsurfer from Loch Lomond over the border in Scotland. He regularly organises “kitchen surfs” – mass cooking sessions for couchsurfers – which sound amazing.  Thanks for the recipe!

Michael says: “I hope you like my recipe that I adapted from one given to me on the back of an envelope from a mysterious ‘Hannah’ years ago. When young couchsurfers come who have never cooked or baked I often start them with this.”

Hats (and everything else) off to you, mysterious Hannah!

5 minutes preparation, 15 minutes cooking time

Ingredients: 3 cups (250g) oats, 1 cup (120g) chopped nuts, ¾ cup (70g) dried fruit e.g. raisins, cranberries, figs, or dates, ½ cup (70g) seeds, e.g. sunflower, pumpkin, caraway, hemp, linseed, or even add a little aniseed too. (All variable / optional.) , 2 tablespoons (25g) plain flour (gluten-free works fine). (Add more flour for more cake-like bars or less for tougher bars.) 1½ tablespoons (30g) sugar (preferably golden granulated) 1½ heaped tablespoons (10g) cinnamon,  ½ tablespoon (4g) nutmeg, 2 tablespoons (30ml) golden syrup, maple syrup, or substitute molasses / black treacle for a stronger flavour. (Add more for a chewier bar.), 150 ml boiling water

Naked Micheal taking vegan cereal bars out of the oven. he is wearing an apron.

Heat oven to 160°C/ gas mark 6.

Mix all of the dry ingredients together.

Put the boiling water in a jug and stir in the syrup then pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and mix with a spatula thoroughly until it is all absorbed.

Spread the mix onto greaseproof paper on a baking tray and fold the paper over the top and use a rolling pin to form it into an oblong of cereal bar thickness, square it up with the spatula and re-roll until firm.

Bake for 15 minutes – or longer for a harder bar.

Once cool cut into bars with a bread knife.

Yummy looking cereal bars arranged circularly on a terracotta plate

Variations

Add margarine for a more flapjack-like consistency.

Increase the spices and decrease sugar for healthier bars – but the sugar acts to preserve them. Keep them in the fridge in an airtight container to keep longer.

Vary the spices e.g. allspice, mixed spice, ginger.

Add chocolate chips and/or cocoa powder into the mixture.

 

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P.S Why not check out our latest project? The Burrow Housing Co-operative

 

Alex on going top free

15 Jan

Alex talks about her experiences going top free at festivals and in Manchester City Centre. We thought we would take this moment to point out this gallery of “normal” breasts; whilst we don’t agree with everything on the site, it can be a pretty useful resource. 

In early July, we had a heat wave.  I was at a festival in the beautiful Ribble valley and it was around 30 degrees C- a far cry from our usual weather in Lancashire!  Everyone was lounging around on the grass, soaking up the sun and naturally, a lot of people were shirtless. Wanting to enjoy the sun on my skin too, I took my top off, but within minutes I had security personnel telling me that I had to put my top back on or leave the festival.  The difference between me and the numerous other topless folk there?  They were all men and I am a woman.

When I went topless in the centre of Manchester while filming “My daughter the teenage nudist”, it took less than a minute for a police officer to come over and insist I put my top back on. He didn’t even seem to notice my topless male friend standing right next to me. In Michael Deacon’s review in the Telegraph he describes the policeman as “valiantly trying to maintain eye contact”; yes, how valiant of him to manage not to stare at my breasts, despite such a provocation on my part (can you hear me rolling my eyes?!)  He goes on to say that  “[w]hile Alex was admonishing the policeman for his sexism (walking around topless in public is “a freedom you’re denied as a woman”), a fully dressed man, brandishing a mobile phone, asked if it was OK to take a photograph of her. “No, it is not OK!” she snapped, clearly affronted…”  From Deacon’s tone, his implication is perfectly clear: if you get your tits out, what do you expect?

This response is so telling of our attitude to women’s bodies; by revealing my chest I am somehow inviting harassment, and if a man can manage not to ogle me, he should be applauded. Now I am not so naive or optimistic to have thought that my going topless was not going to get a reaction. I knew perfectly well what to expect. But that is exactly the point I was trying to highlight – a woman can expect to be sexualised, told she is being indecent, harassed or even arrested simply for possessing a woman’s body. The freedom I am angry about being denied is not the freedom to walk around Manchester city centre topless, it is the freedom from constant objectification, sexualisation and the male gaze.

Alex lounging in the sun at the festival with one male and one female friend. Alex is topless, with flowers in her hair, and the male friend has their shirt open. There are a few topless men in the background.

Topfree

There is no excuse for this double standard – there is simply no good reason why a woman’s chest should be indecent in the same context in which a man’s is innocuous. At the festival, when I asked for a justification the first thing they said was “there are children here.” Yes, God forbid an innocent child should see a woman’s bare chest, they might… what, exactly? Be corrupted into thinking that a female nipple is no more obscene than a male one? See a woman enjoying the sunshine? But of course such a relaxed attitude to women’s bodies would be at odds with the cultural message they are receiving every day- that a woman’s body is a sexual object first and foremost. After gently suggesting that children couldn’t care less about a topless woman, the second explanation the festival security gave me was “there are teenage lads here and it will cause a commotion.” Like Michael Deacon, they felt that my breasts, and not the teenage boys themselves, would be responsible for any ensuing trouble; indeed men would be incapable of simply treating me as another human being rather than a sexual object once my nipples were visible.

It is worth noting that the issue is not having breasts, it is being a woman.  I have no doubt in my mind that a flat chested woman, or a woman who had undergone a double mastectomy, or a trans woman without breasts would face a similar challenge to being  topless in a public setting. I have no doubt that if an androgynous person were to go topless, the deciding question in whether or not to allow them would be- are they a woman? Indeed when the androgynous, male-bodied model Andrej Pejic appeared, arguably presented as female, topless on the cover of Dossier Journal, shops and newsstands placed the magazine on the top shelf or even covered it up. Pejic, as biologically male, does not have breasts, but when presented as female, the acceptable male chest becomes an unacceptable female one.

Yes, I knew exactly what to expect when I went shirtless in Manchester city centre, but how should you respond to a society that tells you your body is obscene because of your gender, other than by refusing to accept that? My suggestion to everyone, regardless of gender, is this: resist the objectification of women in your own thoughts and behaviours, turn off MTV, go topless in the sunshine (when you feel safe to do so), challenge sexism in any guise, think of your body as a vessel that allows you to experience the world and recognise that other people’s bodies do the same for them, they are not there for your titillation.

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P.S Why not check out our latest project? The Burrow Housing Co-operative

Chocolate, Banana and Chai Cupcakes with Chocolate-Chai Drizzle

14 Jan
This is the first guest post since our brush with fame and hopefully it will inspire more of you to get cooking and send in some recipes. These fantastic cupcakes are from Sammy, who says:
Hello, I’m Sammy, a new young naturist from Portland, Oregon. After discovering you guys from “My Daughter’s a Teenage Nudist,” I decided why not give it a go! So, here’s my cupcake recipe I created this evening:
Choco-Nana-Chai Cupcakes W/ Choco-Chai Drizzle
Makes: 12 normal-sized cupcakes
Preparation time: 15-25 minutes
Cooking time: 20-25 minutes
Cupcake Ingredients:  3/4 cups water,  2/4 cups soy/almond/hemp milk ,  3 chai tea bags , 1 ½ teaspoon pumpkin spice powder (more or less for chai taste),     2 cups flour, 2 Bananas, 1 cup sugar , 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
Drizzle Ingredients: 1/2 cup melted vegan butter, 1/2 cup cocoa powder, 1/3 cup soy/almond/hemp milk, 3/4 cup organic powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin spice powder
Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, line cupcake pan. Mix water and milk, then heat until boiling.  Add the three tea bags. Let steep while you are mixing the other ingredients.
2. In a bowl, combine all dry ingredients. Mash one of your bananas until clumpy, then add the mashed mess to bowl.
3. Take the tea bags out of the water/milk and measure 1 cup tea, set aside. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add vanilla, oil, tea, and vinegar. Stir until just mixed.
4. Fill cupcake liners 2/3 full (about two spoon full’s). Chop up second banana into thin slices, and add about 2-3 slices in each liner, barely sticking out of cupcake mix.
5. Bake 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
6. Once baked, Leave cupcakes to the side to cool.
7. For frosting, add melted vegan butter in a small bowl or 4 cup measuring glass. Add cocoa and whisk very well.  Add the milk and mix again slightly.  Put this in the microwave for about 1 min. 30 sec., making sure the mixture is boiling. Once the mixture is done in the microwave, put in powdered sugar and vanilla and mix until barely any powdered sugar clumps remain.  Mix in Pumpkin Spice. Once you are done with this, it should look like a chocolate sauce.
8. Once cupcakes are cool enough, take them out of pan, set on a large plate (or any other dish you’d like), and drizzle on that sauce to your liking!
9. Any leftover sauce or cupcake mix? Eat it, or feed it to your kids, knowing you aren’t harming any animals throughout this whole process!
a dozen cupcakes in a cupcake tray

a dozen cupcakes in a cupcake tray

a dozen cupcakes on a pink plate finished with chai drizzle

a dozen cupcakes on a pink plate finished with chai drizzle

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P.S Why not check out our latest project? The Burrow Housing Co-operative

P.P.S: Our friend Jacob has just started a campaign for awesome sex and relationship education, something which we totally support as sex and relationship education in the UK and beyond is limited as it is and constantly under threat. Check out the campaign here, or via their facebook.

Thoughts on “My Daughter, the Teenage Nudist”

13 Jan

I thought I would jot some thoughts on how our recent brush with fame in “My Daughter, the Teenage Nudist” went whilst it is still fresh in my mind! First of all, I’m really glad about our portrayal in the documentary, and I think we came across pretty well. We were filming with the documentary crew for a long time and talked a lot about the politics of feminism and body image, and I’m glad that at least some of that comes across. The production company were pretty cool throughout, considering they could have properly screwed us over if they had wanted to! For those of you who have seen it, you can catch it on 4OD if your in the UK and here if your are from overseas.

I feel to a certain extent that the some parts of the documentary seemed a little de-contextualised, and it’s a shame that overall the result made the documentary less political than it could have been. The production company must have a lot of footage of me, Luke and Alex ranting about feminism, capitalism and body image on their cutting room floor! Although I think we always knew that going on a mainstream telly was always going to involve a bit of a compromise on politics, so overall I think we’re pretty chuffed with how it’s gone.

My biggest bugbear is probably the title – “My Daughter, the Teenage Nudist” along with being largely misleading (at least half of us were male and over 20), it seemed to promise furtive glimpses of underage feminine sexuality which ran contrary to what the documentary was about – being comfortable in your own skin. I guess that was Channel 4’s way of hooking in the punters.

Reading through some of the reviews in the papers, almost every one picked up on a conversation between Luke and two girls whilst flyering in Manchester, about how Darryl and Alex were pretty attractive, and whether or not this made them good adverts for body-positivism. I don’t want to speak for Alex or Darryl, but I’d wager that every person, no matter how conventionally attractive, has had doubts about their body image and self esteem at some point. This is pretty much the basis of the beauty industry – fostering hang-ups in order to profit from cosmetics, creams, and cover-ups. As such, going publicly naked represents a big step for anyone, regardless of how pretty other people think they are. And frankly, as astute as those girls statements were, I imagine the media’s reaction would be much more scathing if this was a documentary about older and well-weathered nudists, sadly. It’s a case of damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

Another thing I’m surprised hasn’t been raised much in criticism of the documentary is about how white we all are. There is a serious lack of diversity in the show, and the naturist movement/community as a whole. We talked about it a fair bit with the production crew (which didn’t make the cut), and have jotted down a few of our own thoughts on the subject, but would love to hear your thoughts on how this situation can improve – get in touch if you want to contribute articles to the blog, or have any good resources to share.

I hope I can speak for all of us when I say that we have been really overwhelmed with the positive comments, tweets and emails that have flooded in. Some comments have been amusing, others filled with anger (of the good sort), and more so have been incredibly touching. I’m sorry that we won’t get chance to respond to them all, but thank-you for them all the same.

Whilst I’m on the subject of thanking people, I’d like to give a shout out to my best friends and naked vegan comrades, Luke and Greta. You’ll probably recognise Luke from the documentary, and heard how his body-positive attitude has helped me come to terms with some of my own body issues. Greta wasn’t in the documentary as her family was worried about the potential of it being sensationalised and sexualised in the media (which in hindsight was well founded) but has really been a powerhouse behind making this project work, as well as doing some really fantastic campaigning around the media and ad industries perception of women and bodies.

We’ve met some good people through doing this documentary, and have come a long way since the documentary was filmed. Naked Vegan Cooking also has some exciting projects coming up, including naked clubbing and a pop-up restaurant which you can hear about if you subscribe to get email updates or to our events mailing list. Other ways of keeping in touch with us include facebook and twitter. And don’t forget if you fancy giving naked vegan cooking a try in your own kitchens you can submit your own recipes to go on the blog here.

With love, Jess

P.S. You might want to check out our housing co-op project : )

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