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Happy Birthday Menyaru!

So it was Menyaru’s 9th Birthday on Sunday! Happy Birthday Malu!!!! I hope they gave you some extra special treats on your special day!

Courtesy of Zoos Victoria

Not only is Menyaru one of Melbourne Zoo’s gorgeous orangutans, he’s also one of the orangs born in the zoo as part of our captive breeding program! The success of this program is a critical part of replenishing the drastically low numbers of wild Sumatran Orangutans, and since then there have been a number of births, including the newest addition (and cutest baby ever!), Dewi. Seriously, if you can you should go and see her now, she’s learning to climb ropes and slowly gaining independence from mum and dad. So cute!

As well as all the extra attention and fruity treats, Zoos Victoria also gave a gift to the orangutans of the Tripa Peatland Forest, on behalf of Menyaru. They donated funding for two motor bikes to enable conservationists there to seek out and assist injured or orphaned orang-utans. How great is that? Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy on the inside doesn’t it?

Well, I really do hate to bring you down, but there sure are a lot of orangs out there that aren’t as safe and secure as dear Malu, or Dewi, or any of our other Sumatran orangs. Those who call the Tripa Peat Reserve home have to deal with assaults on many fronts; n the past six months, approximately 15% of the remaining 10,000 hectares has been illegally cleared, almost definitely for palm oil plantations, and more than 20 fires are raging in the reserve (Zoos Victoria).

When reading these dark truths, it almost seems like their fates have been decided. However, there are things we can do to help! You can join me in my boycott of palm oil in packaged foods, join the Zoos Victoria Don’t Palm Us Off campaign, and you can also visit the website of and donating to the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program, which focuses on the problems in the Tripa region.

In 22 years, over 70% of the Tripas’s peat swamp forest has been cleared and burned for oil palm plantations. The remainder is being drained, cleared and burned illegally if nothing is done, wiping out the 200 surviving orangutans, and causing massive carbon emissions. We are fighting a battle against ignorance, greed and vested interests to uphold the Indonesia’s laws that protect these vitally important peatland forests, save the orangutans, and stop carbon emissions.

Good work guys! Together we can make a difference *cue obnoxious inspirational powerballad*


It’s Sustainable! Or is it?

This video was brought to my attention by the lovely people over at Milk Relief Soap. I urge you to have a look at it, it raises some very important points and questions about sustainability and how it is measured.

This certainly raised a lot of questions for me, so I decided to do a little bit of research. Wilmar International, the company in question, is the number one palm oil trader and palm biodeisil manufacturein the world. A report conducted by Friends of the Earth Netherlands, they have been illegally logging rainforests, setting them on fire, and violating the rights of local communities in Indonesia.

And yet they have been granted a sustainability certificate?
I was really hoping that the sustainability certificate that Wilmar has obtained was not from the Round Table for Sustainable Palm Oil. So I was rather distressed to find that Wilmar is a member of the Round Table itself. Even though they’re responibly for illegally clearing acres of rainforest, and forcing local communities off their rightfully owned land without compensation.

I don’t want to give up palm oil entirely, and not just because it will limit my choices at the supermarket. Palm Oil is an enormous industry that provides jobs for thousands people in South East Asia, most of whom have little to no other alternatives for employment. However, as a consumer, I don’t appreciate being led to believe that something is sustainable when it is clearly not. My own naivety certainly comes into play here, in that I was taking companie’s sustainability status at face value, mainly because I was clinging to the hope that there were actually large companies out there doing the right thing (and thus I can allow myself to eat them). Well, I certainly won’t be doing this any more, nor will I be partaking in any products supplied to or owned by Wilmar. But this sure does make it hard when Wilmar has just bought a 10% piece of Australia’s biggest bread manufactuer, Goodman Fielder earlier this year.

I would love to hear what you have to say on this issue. Please leave me your thoughts, comments and or questions below.

A Letter to … Arnott’s Australia

This is the big one!! Arnotts makes the products that I had the hardest time giving up, including my beloved Mint Slice, so I really hope that they not only get back to me, but they have some good new for me, too! If you would like to send a letter to Arnotts, that would be great! You can do so by leaving them feedback here, or send them a more formal hard copy letter! We might not be able to make them good for our health, but together we can try to make them better for the world!

To Whom It May Concern

Hello! My name is Tegan Webb, and I am contacting you, the makers of many of my favorite biscuits, including Tim Tams, Caramel Crowns, Royals, and Mint Slice, to not only commend you on a delicious products, but I was hoping you could answer a couple of my questions regarding this particular product.

I have recently embarked on a personal quest, of sorts, to only buy products that contain sustainably sourced palm oil, for ethical reasons. As I’m sure you would have heard, palm oil plantations are the major course of deforestation in many parts of South East Asia, and as an animal lover this concerns me a lot. I did notice that they contain Vegetable Oils and or Fats, and as palm oil is not required to be labelled I wanted to ask you if this palm oil sustainably sourced in accordance with the Round Table of Sustainable Palm Oil Criteria and, if not, would you ever consider switching to the use of sustainable palm oil?

Thankyou again for your fabulous food products, and I really hope the answer to my questions is yes, because I don’t want to have to give them up!

Thankyou for your time, I hope to hear from you soon! You can contact me at my email or at the address provided above.

Yours Sincerely

Tegan Elizabeth Webb

Day Thirty!

Friends!!! Day Thirty has arrived!!! Hooray!

When I first embarked on this quest to give up all products that I knew were labelled with palm oil, I wasn’t sure if I could actually do it. However, creating this blog has done so much to bolster my resolve, whilst simultaneously opened my eyes to a plethora of incredible, ethically produced, delicious food products (and the clever people behind them).

First and foremost, I must say thankyou to all you lovely people! You have kept me accountable through this whole thing, and your support advice and kind words have kept me from reaching for the biscuit tin. A lot has been said about the negative aspects of an online community, what with all the spam hackers and twitter trolls out there, but I really think that when used properly it can be an indispensable support system and can provide a lot information and opportunities that I wouldn’t have known about otherwise. So thankyou, thankyou, thankyou!!

Today was a wonderful day; what better way to celebrate getting through a whole month without eating palm oil than going to OzComicCon !! Ok, it’s not at all related, but it was still great! I’m going to do a full follow-up post on my personal blog, but I will say this; although the fact that it was very badly organised meant that we missed out on seeing Patrick Stewart(:(:() I did get some pretty sweet art, and we got to see the Stan Lee panel which was AMAZING! He’s everything you want out of someone you admire, and more!

Breakfast: Tea. My most beloved beverage, where would I be without you to sedate my poor neglected stomach in those hours before lunch time

Lunch: With all the havoc of ComicCon, of navigating crowds of Cosplayers and stalls of comics and merchandise and two incredibly long lines (one to get in, and another for the Stan Lee panel), we didn’t get to have lunch until three thirty that day. By the time we got to Melbourne Public House, a simply chic yet warm restaurant and bar on South Warf, I was as ravenous as a Dire Wolf (I’ve just started watching Game of Thrones by the way. I know, I’m very behind). We ordered a bowl of wedges and some Pumpkin and Feta Aranchinni balls to share, and they were really tasty! The perfect meal for us to wind down from the chaos of ComicCon; I’d really like to go back there for a drink soon, when I’m not so hungover that is.

Dinner: After meeting up with Eleanor for a couple of ciders at the Brunswick Cider House (I can’t say no to a pot of Cheeky Rascal), we headed to our friend Anne’s for a girls night in. We had piles and piles of food, yet none of them were used to make a meal; salt and vinegar Pringle’s, pumpkin and basil dip, hommous, an amazing raw Vegan dip that Eleanor had made using a special kind of vegan cheese, Natural Confectionary Dinosaur Jellies (they’re owned by Cadbury, and thus are involved in using sustainably sourced palm oil), and Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food Icecream. Thank god they used Coconut Oil, or I might have cried, or worse, thrown in the towel. And then wiped all the chocolate icecream off my face with it.

In the midst of this Saturday Night food orgy that could have put the Romans to shame, we watched one of the most amazing movies I think I’ve ever seen; honestly, I don’t why I haven’t seen it before now, I really have no excuse. For those of you who were like me up until last night, and have never seen WALL.E, stop what you’re doing… wait no… finish reading this post, and then stop what ever else you are doing and get yourself a copy, either physical or digital, and make yourself a hot drink, and then watch it. It is the sweetest, most beautifully shot, most adorably thought provoking movie, and really it was the most perfect way to end this part of my journey to minimising my impact on this planet I call home. This is the first movie I’m going to show my children, (when they’re old enough of course) in the hope that like a single plant growing out of a pile of trash, they will grow with the understanding of the importance and the wonder of life on earth planted firmly in their minds. And at least it will tide them over until they are old enough for me to show them the Lord of the Rings. And then Star Wars. And then Studio Gibli. Oh god, my poor children.

Although this is technically my last day of the challenge, the fight is far from over. Palm Oil is still not labelled properly on most packaged foods, and something still needs to be done! I am currently drafting a letter that I will send to my local MP, asking him to back this legislation and force it through Parliament; I will certainly keep you updated on how this goes, as well as the responses from the food companies that I have currently contacted, and more developments on the sustainable usage front.
Although the month has ended and I’m ceasing to record my daily meals, I will still be updating this blog frequently with more recipes, news, and projects. I am by no means going straight to Coles and filling my basket with every type of Arnott’s Biscuit I can get my hands on. Now that I see all the amazing paths I can take in terms of what I choose to consume, and now that I know the effects it has on the world around me, there’s no way I can go back. For me, this is incredibly exciting; for what I have lost, I have gained so much more. And I’m going to continue to push my limits, and learning all that I can, until I reach my goal of being the most ethical consumer I can be.

As for my once beloved mint slice? Well, I still do find myself longing for that sweet kiss of dark chocolate and mint creme, but the difference is that know it can be reduced to a mere whisper with all the knowledge I have gained over the past month. And who knows, if Arnott’s do end up coming to their senses and start using sustainable palm oil, we may not be separated for too much longer.

I’ve learnt a lot of things this past month, I could go on about it for pages and pages, but I’m sure you have much more important things to do than read any more of my ramblings, so I’ll keep it short.
In the end it comes down to the fact that there is only one planet, and we should not let ourselves be so blinded by our own arrogance to declare that we own it; instead, let’s treat it how we would like to be treated. I know that I am not where I want to be yet, despite my best intentions, but I can’t wait to see what I discover on the way to getting there.

Day Twenty Nine

Hello friends! As I come to the close of the month, I just really want to thank all of you who have been reading my work; I hope you’ve gained something from it, whether it be a new perspective, a deeper understanding of what goes into some of your favourite foods, or even just some entertainment! I would especially like to thank all those who responded to my Bake Off post, I really hope you give the recipe a try, because it’s such a good one! And a big thankyou to mydearbakes for the lovely comment; I love your blog, and all your cakes look incredible! I bet they taste good too!

Breakfast: Sanatarium Peanut Butter and Regimental Conserve on toast! Or as I like to call it, breakfast of champions!

Peanut Butter Saladas. A little less inspiring than my breakfast, so I also took a piece of my Kick Ass Caramel Slice for snacks (yes, I’m still calling it).

Dinner: Tonight was a bit night out for my work friend Morgan’s birthday. I’m not going to lie, there was a lot of consuming going on, and I’m not talking about food. Still, I’ve learnt from experience that not eating before a big night out can only end badly. Thankfully, another work friend Grace was nice enough to invite me over for tea and to get ready. A stop in at the milkbar for some salsa and two bags of Dorritos, and we had all the ingredients for the perfect DIY nachos! One of the many things this challenge has made me realise is that is how much I love and eat Nachos.

I have to admit, the only thing that stopped me from going into KFC at three o clock in the morning, is the fact that the line was too long for me to make my bus. I guess you could say that fate and timing saved me from myself.

Day Twenty Eight

Hello friends! Welcome to the second last day of my official no palm oil challenge! I would say that I could almost see the finish line, but to be honest with you, I’m not feeling like I’m going to be hitting the wall anytime soon ( that’s what they call it still, yeah? I’m terrible at sports).

I’d like to say a another quick Thankyou to Lesley Carter for all her likes on my various diary posts, and to Milk Relief Soap for the nice comment you left on Day Twenty Five! Thankyou so much! I’m very impressed with your product and all the information on your site! People, you should definitely check it out, and get yourself some awesome palm oil free soap while you’re there!

Breakfast: Organic white tea with vanilla

Lunch: Two of my gourmet PB and J sandwiches. Mmmm

Dinner: Amazing homemade Kangaroo burgers with mushrooms, onion, bacon, egg and baby spinach. Last night, Kyle, his workmate Dan and I went to see Busby Marou at the Corner Hotel, and Dan was ever so nice as to invite us back to his place for dinner! Roo burgers and red wine were the perfect pre cursor to an amazing gig (seriously, If you get a chance to see these guys play, do it! It’s worth it for the uke shredding alone).

Day Twenty Seven

Hello friends! Before we begin with today’s feedings, I would like to share with you a couple of things happening on the conservation front that might make you smile!

First of all, a healthy baby Sumatran Rhinoceros calf has been born at the Sumatran Rhino sanctuary in Indonesia’s Way Kambas National Park, the first one in the institutions history! There are less than 200 of these beautiful creatures left in the wild, with the most prevalent causes of death being poaching and habitat lost (for palm oil plantations, no less!!!) So this new birth is so exciting! It’s seriously made my day! You can check out the full article about this little guy at Zoo Borns, and I dare you to try not get all gooey eyed over the pictures of him, cos he’s seriously adorable.

Also, the World Wildlife Fund has begun what they like to refer to as a twitterstorm, in which they tweet about a particular issue and encourage others to do the same to gain awareness and rally support. This time it’s for the tigers; with the hashtag ‘text4tigers’, WWF are encouraging people living in the US to text Tigers to 20222, to donate $10 to help save them from an almost inevitable fate of extiction. Click here to find out more, or if you’re like me and live overseas, you can donate online! Tigers, especially in areas of South East Asia (where a lot of the land is being used for palm oil plantations), are in huge danger of extinction, due to loss of habitat, isolation, poaching and conflict with humans. So please, instead of buying those two packets of Tim Tams, or even those blocks of Green and Blacks, maybe you could lend these guys a hand? Leave me a comment if you do, and I’ll be happy to shamelessly plug any blogs or projects you’re working on!

Ok, I think that’s it! Onwards to breakfast!

Breakfast: Vegemite toast, which real butter, that Kyle microwaved for me because I can’t have his table spread. Naww.

Lunch: Today was so busy! All I managed to chow down were two Caramello Koalas from the tea room *sigh* At least Cadbury uses sustainable palm oil!

Dinner: Thankfully, my dinner was a lot healthier! Hokkien stirfry with chicken, snowpeas, onion and capsicum.

Dessert: Some of my Kick Ass Palm Oil Free Caramel Slice.