Warning: the following statement is both loaded and over-generalised. Most likely to be false. Also, something an English teacher will have a breakdown over.
China does not have greenery. I mean, it is not quite the definition of a concrete jungle (no offense Croydon) but it does not have a lot of open spaces. Over population and futurism has distilled spaces of Tai Chi practice. There’s even a tension amongst local grandfathers and the People’s Republic of China over setting up flowerbeds, only to be mowed down- its green finger red tape madness. But I digress, so I was pretty certain that my trip back to London would have greener pastures.
Here is a round up of my favourite finds/discoveries from London.
Favourite vegan find: vegan doner kebab in Spitalfields market.
The streets of Shoreditch Box Park, Spitalfields and Brick Lane are a vegan hipster’s paradise. I stumbled across a vegan doner kiosk where the lovely lady assembles a fresh wholemeal flatbread served with soy chunks (shredded to give the texture of doner meat), red cabbage (the typical barely-there salad in traditional kebabs) and pickled hummus. The kebab is quite pricey at £7 and a meal deal (with an organic sparkling beverage and vegan baklava) will set you back £10, but for new vegans or those who love to try veganised junk food it is worth a try.
Favourite home-made bake: Protein granola and date banana bread.
In between my instagram feed of white girls squatting and Asian girls applying the repititve overlined eyebrows and mauve lips combo, there are some gems of vegan recipes. I was inspired by the numerous creative veganised baked goods and set to producing my own banana bread. I used almond milk and dates to give the bread a moist (sorry for the offensive use of that word) texture and as a substitute for eggs. The granola added an earthy and crunchy dimension. And, rather than using refined white sugar I used a sprinkling of brown sugar, coconut butter and raisins for added sweetness. It turned out great, shown by how much was eaten in the picture!
Favourite book: Han Kang’s The Vegetarian.
Now, I assure you I am passionate about a lot more than just veganism, but by happenstance the book I was reading was Han Kang’s ‘The Vegetarian’. The South Korean novel, the first of Han Kang’s books to be translated into English, is divided into three parts. It tells the tale of Yeong-Hye, a subdued meek housewife, charmingly described by her husband in the first line as ‘completely unremarkable in every way’. The novel chronicles her supposed unravelling mental state, a diagnosis established through her decision to give up meat, and her abstinence from hard-wired social protocols and formalities. Interestingly, the narrative is sparse (echoing her minimalist lifestyle) but equally jarring. The imagery is dually visceral and bestial with Yeong-Hye’s thoughts only permitted through her brief lucid dreams.
The novel begins with Yeong-Hye’s husband’s flawed and judgemental focalisation; and the chaos and humility her decision inflicts on his otherwise orderly existence. Shifting to Yeong-Hye’s brother-in-law in the second chapter, a failed artist who perversely fixates on her dwindling and malnourished frame. Finally to Yeong-Hye’s sister, In-Hye, and her grappling with familial responsibilities and duties. Through the distinctive and grating prose of each character’s narration, The Vegetarian highlights the multilateral nature of individual decisions. The inharmonious tensions between conformity, embedded cultural attitudes and the failings of rigid social and institutional systems. A bizzare and baffling must-read that deals with a lot more than just the simplicity of dietary changes but the wave of social and attitudinal transformation it brings.
And those were some of my favorutie things during my short trip back to London!
Thanks for reading!