Baking & Dessert

By Aine Carlin | June 30, 2011

Photo: Aine Carlin

People are often surprised to discover I’m vegan. I’m not exactly sure what a vegan is supposed to look like but apparently I do not possess the attributes normality associated with one. Make of that what you will. 

Photo: Aine Carlin

I think we are all guilty of judging others – appearance, accent, color, height, weight. We humans are a judgmental lot. I think part of it is to do with the fact there is a lot of misinformation surrounding veganism, which is why many people jump to conclusions about what it means and what kind of person would deliberately exclude themselves from most of society.

Photo: Aine Carlin

We live in a meat-eating, dairy-consuming world and that isn’t going to change anytime soon, so does my being vegan really make a difference? Perhaps not in the grand scheme of things but it certainly gets people thinking and questioning their own lifestyles and at this stage I’m more than content with that. I’m not expecting the world to go vegan overnight. In fact, I’m not expecting the world to go vegan at all. All I ask is that we begin to realize our hunger for cheap, fast, nutrient-deprived food is harming the planet, the animals that live on it and us.

Photo: Aine Carlin

Living consciously is not so difficult and once you get into the swing of things it becomes a breeze and surprisingly rewarding. Everything we do has an impact, which is in some way felt around the world and has a hand in shaping the planet we live on. No, I’m not some crazy hippie nor am I a holier than thou vegan who looks down on people and gets on her soap box at every opportunity – okay, so maybe this is my soap box but I try to use it responsibly.

Photo: Aine Carlin

I’ve never forgotten that I too once ate meat (devoured it), added dairy to every meal possible (and I do mean every meal), used eggs in a ridiculous quantity (a dozen per week – no word of a lie!). So I get it. I totally do and I’m here to assure you that if I can make a change to my lifestyle so can you. Baby steps are quite alright and guilt should not feature – ya hear me! No guilt allowed.

Photo: Aine Carlin

Do you want to know how to begin this new adventure then? The simplest way to start is to start asking questions: where has this meat been sourced? Have these eggs come from caged hens? Is my lettuce laced with pesticides? That sort of thing. When the answers come back less than satisfactory, you’ll know what to do. Trust in yourself. Goodluck and safe travels – it’s going to be one heck of ride!

p.s. here’s a little muffin recipe to ease you in.

Photo: Aine Carlin

  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar or any vegan sweetener of your choosing
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup flaked almonds, plus more for decorating
  • 1 pear
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 bar chocolate of your choice
  • splash of soy milk
  • chopped almonds


1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celsius/350 fahrenheit.

2. Place all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.

3. Peel the pear, cut into smallish pieces and mash. You could also use tinned pears and cut them into chunks instead of mashing for extra peariness.

4. In a small bowl combine the soya milk, vinegar and oil. Set aside and allow to curdle.

5. Chop the almonds allowing some larger chunks/pieces to remain for texture.

6. Add the mashed pear to the dry ingredients and gradually pour in the soya mixture. When it forms a thick batter stop adding liquid. If, however, it is too dry add a touch more soya milk.

7. Stir in the almonds and combine throughly. Do not overwork the batter as it will lose it lightness.

8. Divide the mixture between six muffin cases and bake in oven for 12-15minutes. Every oven is different so be sure to keep an eye on them. Remove from oven and allow to cool on a rack before taking them out of the cases.

9. Melt the chocolate and soya milk in a pan over a low heat. When the muffins are completely cool, poke several holes in the top using either a chopstick (this was all I had to hand) or a toothpick. Carefully pour the melted chocolate over the top, repeating until the entire top of the cake is completely covered.

10. Chop a few more almonds and sprinkle on top of the melted chocolate. Set aside for an hour or so until the chocolate has hardened.

Eat them all at once or store them in a container for a few days.

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