The Lone Vegetarian

The sky was an eery shade of red and the vermillion hues in the grass matched it perfectly. The sounds of cattle crying out sounded throughout the field. A baby piglet stared up at me with its lifeless eyes, its mouth slightly ajar. Blood was pouring out of its neck profusely.

#datvegetarianlyf

#datvegetarianlyf

This was the nightmare I had as a teenager that made me want to become a vegetarian for the right reasons. I had tried it once before, with the goal of losing weight by taking meat out of my diet, but it didn’t work out. Now, I can happily say that I’ve stuck with my vegetarianism for the past six years because of that conscious decision I made.

As a Pacific Islander – who are infamous meat eaters in their own right – living life as a vegetarian in a family full of carnivores is definitely as difficult as it sounds. With my busy schedule of combining college, work and my outside hobbies, I barely get enough time to cook a decent meal for myself. When I get home and there’s a chicken dish sitting on the kitchen counter, it’s either my job to a) Pick around the deceased animal and eat or b) Think of something quick and easy to make. On my most busy days, a pot of boiling water and a bag of pasta becomes my best friend.

Nine times out of ten, I have to cook for myself on my days off. Dinner will usually consist of meat which means I’ll have to cook my own vegetarian option. If my family is feeling sorry for me, they’ll either make the main dish vegetarian acceptable or take out a bit for me before they add the meat. When I go to extended family events or social gatherings, the meat-eater in my relatives and friends are very apparent and my options are very limited. I am usually only left with a bit of salad and baked potatoes on my plate.

Dining out as a vegetarian has become a lot easier than it was when I first started: I am aware of my options and know which restaurants cater to the eating-conscious. There are a few restaurants that have little to no vegetarian options so I’m left with ordering an egg and mayo sandwich and a glass of water.

I’ve learned most of the dishes in my arsenal from my mother. When there’s meat involved, I easily just substitute it with tofu and my own version of the meal is created! One of my go-to dishes is called a “Hawaiian Haystack” which was passed down from my mum: it’s basically a dish where you have rice and stack honey mustard tofu on top of that, and you continue to stack various ingredients on top of that, including cheese, dry noodles and pineapple. Seriously. Try it. Honey mustard tofu is to die for.

Life as a vegetarian in a family full of meat eaters is challenging,  but it’s not impossible. Nothing is impossible for me. Insert arrogant hairflip here.

– by The Black Widow

I am not Plastic Fob-tastic

If I had to choose one term that I hate with a fiery passion to abolish, it would be “plastic fob”. Never heard of it? Let me explain.

100% genuine. 0% plastic.

100% genuine. 0% plastic.

To those of you who don’t know me, my cultural background is Maori, Samoan and a dash of Irish in there somewhere. I was born in Australia so I identify myself as being Australian but will never hide my cultural background. I am proud of my pacific roots and embrace my culture – maybe not to its full extent, but I still love and acknowledge where my ancestors have come from.

As I have had a “traditional” Australian upbringing in the beautiful country town of Bathurst, I’m not as cultured as someone who was born and raised in the islands; I don’t know all of the cultural norms and I don’t speak neither fluent Maori or Samoan (not for lack of trying, I have pestered my parents to teach me on numerous occasions). In fact, I speak better Portuguese than I do either of those languages.

Does that make me any less Samoan or Maori than another child of the pacific? No, it doesn’t. As people who are normally stereotyped as easy-going and friendly, why are some Polynesians so bitter towards each other?

This is where “plastic fob” comes in. A plastic fob is, basically, someone who has a cultural background from the Pacific Islands yet doesn’t act or behave like a “normal” Polynesian would. That is what pisses me off. I get this term branded on me by so many of my own people who don’t even take the time to actually get to know me. My best friend, who had a similar upbringing as me and who is half Samoan and half Italian, has the same issue as me; we went through a lot of the exclusions just because we were “plastic”. I know some of my siblings have to deal with this kind of, dare I say, bullshit, as well.

Let me put this on the record: I am not plastic. I am not pretending to be anyone but me. I am who I am. Just because I am not musically gifted in singing or playing acoustic guitar does not make me any less Polynesian than it does the guys from Nesian Mystik. Just because I am not working in some form of security does not make me any less Polynesian than my big brave cousin who does. I haven’t been to neither of the homelands (New Zealand or Samoa just FYI), but you try and put me on a plane and you will see how difficult of a task that is (see attached).

I get judged a lot just because I am a lot different to the “stereotypical” Polynesian man and have been called a “plastic fob” many times in my life and sometimes worse. It’s ridiculous.

Please, my fellow Polynesians, whether you be Samoan, Tongan, Fijian, Niuean or Maori, we need to learn to stick together and not judge one another just because we’ve had a different childhood. One of the things I most enjoy about our culture is how I can bump into someone whom I’ve never met before and still say hello or give a polite nod just because we have that same cultural similarity. We are some of the most beautiful people on the planet so let’s not change that and let’s please abolish the term “plastic fob.” It tells a better story about the insulter than the insultee.

My name is Nikki. I am Maori. I am Samoan. I am Irish. I am a journalist. I am a rugby league enthusiast. I am video gamer. I am a horror movie lover. I am a country head. I am a pole dancing student. I am my own person. I am not plastic.

– by The Black Widow