Wednesday, 12 August 2015


“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” 
― Mahatma Gandhi

Today I made a decision.  A decision also made by others that some people frown at and mock.  But a decision that will prevent me from having the blood of thousands of lives on my hands.

I recently watched a short movie called Meat video and I felt horrible and angry.
Horrible that perhaps I had unwittingly been a part of such savagery and angry that I was incapable of smiting such evil like the hand of God,  the old testament one.  However restricted I might be to rain down fiery sulphur upon these pieces of human filth, I'm not totally powerless.  Just because I can't stop it doesn't mean that I have to be a participant, and so, I'm giving this vegan thing a big ol' crack.
Rachel's on board, although I don't think she fully appreciates the difference between a vegan and a vegetarian yet.  Everything from now on has to be scrutinised. Make up, clothing, soaps, cleaning products and of course food.
To be honest, I'm not sure I fully appreciate the situation I'm embracing either because I LOVE EATING MEAT.
Meat to me is like scotch to Ron Burgundy.  How am I going to go without my poached eggs and avocado or a big ass beef pattie on my burger with pineapple and beetroot? (it's an Australian thing) How is it even possible to have granola with out milk and yoghurt, or pizza without cheese and pepporoni? And SEAFOOD?  Holy mother of sweat meats. Fish, prawns, occy? How about oysters? Come ooooooon, they're not a real animal!  
Without even realising it I've just stumbled on to a hugely contested argument about the value of different types of life that I personally think comes down to your reason for the change in lifestyle. 
A vegan by definition is a person who does not eat or use animal products. So if you choose to eat shellfish such as oysters, clams and mussels you are not a vegan. That doesn't mean that you aren't doing a good thing by following certain lifestyle guide lines.  You can still feel enamoured that cows, chickens, pigs, etceteras are not being tortured and killed in your name. It's not a big deal.  Our power is in making our own decisions and not living by someone else's ideals.
My personal decision to go on this journey has been something I've considered for quite a while but complacency and not thinking too hard about it always won out.  Arguments I had in my head were in the realms of:
  • How will I get all the nutritional requirements my body needs to operate at such a high level? 
  • My training will be wasted because I won't be able to build and maintain muscle mass, especially having a very high metabolism and being naturally quite thin.
  • I don't like a lot of fruit and vegetables so there'll be nothing to eat.
  • I'll spend ALL day in the kitchen prepping and cooking.
  • I couldn't be stuffed
And then I think back to last year when I spent a few weeks in Africa filming an anti poaching documentary.  Damien Mander, creator of the International Anti Poaching Foundation in Zimbabwe is a giant of man.  He's an ex Australian Navy Clearance Diver and an ex private military contractor with around 12 Iraq tours under his belt.  He's seen death and depravity in it's most extreme.  He is also a vegan.
Damien told me that after moving to Africa and setting up the IAPF to protect the lives of animals, he could not in good conscience then kill and consume other animals for food.  It would make him a hypocrite and so he found a way.  In the wilds of Africa with vastly less resources than any of us have at our disposal, he found a way.  So what's my excuse now?
If Damien can do it, if a 136kg NFL linebacker can do it and even accredit it to making him a stronger, healthier player then it's time to get my ass in gear.

I have learnt through my period of recovery after losing my hand and leg to a shark that there are very few things if any, that can happen to us that somebody hasn't already been through.  There is no reason that we have to do it alone.  All it takes is a little research and perhaps finding a champion of your cause. Someone or group to follow and aspire to be like who can lead you to victory.
I now have in my repertoire and support team the Thug Kitchen cookbook.  A handy vegan reference where I can find amazing looking vegan food and get sworn at with multiple fucks per page.  Seriously check it out. These guys like 2 things a lot. Cooking and swearing. 

Now it begins.  I'm going to ease myself into this with the grace of a fat naked man lowering himself into a Russian hot tub ensuring that I don't shock myself into regretting my choice instantly and there by ensuring longevity in my fight to save thousands of cute furry lives.

I know that they taste great and if they didn't want to be eaten then they shouldn't have been made of meat but if I have the choice of life or death, why would I choose death for something that just wants to live.

The happiest video ever:


Wednesday, 15 January 2014


Firstly, for anyone that has had to go through the heart ache of losing a friend or family member to a shark attack, my sympathies and condolences go out to you. They also go out to those that have lost people on the roads in motorcycle accidents this past year in Australia, all 220 of them and just as much to those that lost loved ones to drownings in Australian waterways of which there was a whopping 291.
When all things are considered, I can't fully understand why the Western Australian premier Colin Barnett has decided to get so hard line on an issue that took 5 lives last year.  Comparatively speaking it would seem he has bigger fish to fry on the roads in regards to crotch rockets, of which I'm a huge fan of by the way. Also, perhaps he should invest more money enforcing a mandatory wearing of floaties rather than  indiscriminately slaughtering our sea life with baited hooks.  Surely as sane an idea as just killing everything to make sure you get the one you want. I'm  curious as to how he plans to ensure that only sharks above 3m are killed when all previous indicators show that more by-catch (dolphins, turtles, whales, rays etc.) are caught than the intended target.  Your plan is flawed sir and must be reconsidered and that's just in regard to the dubious rationality of the scheme, let's not forget the ecological, ethical and emotional toll on the sharks themselves, the by-catch and the people of this planet that love and respect them. Shark week on discovery channel is the highest rating programing on the whole planet with more than 21 million viewers each year.  Perhaps Colin would like to explain to this mob why he's going to kill their favorite animal because make no mistake about it, they are watching this country right now and shaking their heads in disgust.       The ocean is a wild place that we don't yet fully understand and for a person who admitted that he isn't an expert in the field to presume that he should play such a detrimental role in upsetting its delicate balance blows my mind. I can't fathom the self importance that must be at play with a person who wants to "take a hard line" in something he knows little about. 
Study and history has shown that removing an apex predator from an Eco system will systematically affect the whole balance, perhaps creating an over or under abundance of other life lower down the food chain, further disrupting the food chains below them and guess where all this disrupting ripple effect leads to.  Us!  Less sharks to eat the large predators who in turn eat the bait fish resulting in an over abundance of large predators and an under abundance of food to supply the growing population. Then throw in humans raping the oceans with overfishing and we're left with licking the algae off rocks because let's face it, that's all that's going to be left. 
This is a larger issue than just one pot plants hair brained scheme to swaddle every one in bubble wrap, but when said 'pot plant refuses to listen to scientists, his constituents, documented history, world wide laws of protection and good old fashion common sense then a target must be drawn up and the people have to stand up together to quite literally scream bloody murder. 
In Australia murderers are sentenced to 15 years to life and there are over a thousand currently serving time. These are human beings who have chosen with their free will to kill another person and yet we don't execute them. Colin Barnett does however want to slaughter animals en-masse because very occasionally we become an unsuspecting and probably mistaken target.  Perhaps if we weren't taking all of the great whites natural prey from the ocean we wouldn't ned to be as concerned. 
The ocean is not our back yard swimming pool and we shouldn't expect it to be one. It's a wondrous, beautiful, dangerous place that provides our planet with all life. It and it's inhabitants need protection from those that would do it harm.

Some good FB links:

A pot plant and his hook

Saturday, 13 April 2013

                        INVESTING IN PEOPLE

“If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” 

On a plane to Launceston, Tasmania from Sydney recently an older bloke sat down in the aisle seat of my row. I was seated in the window seat and the space between us was empty. As I usually do I began to gather 'intel' to see what I could deduce about him. This is something I picked up partially through being a soldier and the saying 'time spent in reconnaissance is seldom wasted' although not totally relevant in this case, often pops into my head.
As soon as he sat down, off came the brown desert boots, a hole in one of his dark blue socks. A green fleece vest sat upon a stripy blue faded T-shirt which stretched slightly over his stomach. The grey in his beard, thin hair and clothes made him seem for all the world, unassuming. A man of the same era as my father.
We struck up a conversation after I enquired to the length of the flight and it progressed onto where we were from. Don it turns out worked at a bible college in Launceston and had moved there about 6 years ago from Whyalla, South Australia. Initially it wasn't permanent but he and his wife loved it so much they stayed and have no plans to return. 
Along with whatever general duties Don did at his bible college, he also travelled to do charity type work. He relayed a story to me about a recent trip he took with some other members of his christian church to Africa to deliver motorcycles to ministers in the area. It seems that the ministers areas can comprise of several hundred kilometers and they're the main source of not only redemption for the soul but also medicines, medical assistance and counseling. So this small band of the faithful flew into Uganda to pick up a bunch of slow and small but cheap and reliable, 100cc Chinese made motorcycles. The mission, to deliver these bikes to the ministers in the Democratic Republic of Congo to use as transport around their parishes. A trip of about 800km over mainly dirt roads. Truely an epic and slow journey through extremely hostile country which took two weeks to complete. After passing through one check point on their journey a truck a ways behind them was opened up on by soldiers with machine guns, killing the driver. When I asked Don why, he replied that the driver probably rubbed them the wrong way. I guess that's one way to put it.
Whilst in the DRC and staying in a city called Isiro , which has had documented cases of Ebola, Don realized that the system of charity that many of the poorer families were getting by on was floored. So with some locals of influence including nurses and a judge and using his own money, Don instigated a loan system. When I enquired as to how well it worked a smile spread across his ruddy cheeked face and he told me of a woman who came to borrow $15. With this $15 she bought a pot and ingredients to make batches of food. She set up a stand on the side of the road and sold her food. With the money she made, she paid back her loan and bought some small cooking utensils. She returned to borrow $25 shortly after and with that she bought a sheet of plastic so that her customers could eat in the shade, some more ingredients for cooking and selling and could even afford to send her children to school. The school system is free but you can't go unless you can afford to buy the uniform and books. In other words it worked brilliantly. By giving the people with purpose and plans or small businesses better access to more money than they would usually see and making them responsible for it as a loan, they were not only helping the individuals but assisting in the growth of the community and even getting the money back to be reinvested.
After returning home Don discovered a book called "The bank of Bob", about a man funnily enough named Bob who decided to find out if money he'd been donating was being used as intended and if it had helped. Bobs book led Don to an organization named Kiva.
Now Kiva is a totally not for profit organization established to help those in need all over the globe. What makes Kiva different though is that its very much like the system that Don set up in Isiro. Instead of making a donation you provide a loan to a person or group who have made a request through their local Kiva connected institution. Instantly I was skeptical about how these loans were repaid and what if they weren't. The loan amount however, the smallest being $25, is so insignificant that if its not paid back then so be it. I'd consider it a donation to some one in greater need than myself. Kiva's website boasts though that 99.01% of loans have been repaid and they've made in excess of $420 million dollars worth of loans since their inception, with 100% of the loan amount going to the applicant.  
As soon as i could i jumped on to the kiva website and threw caution to the wind and made quite a large loan to a group of women in Guatemala to assist in their business and in sending their children to school. That's right, you can even choose who your loan goes to. I'm totally blown away by the idea and love it to no end. I'm hoping that this one donation can be recycled and reused to change and assist in improving the quality of other people's lives.

To be totally clear I'm not writing to try and sell the idea to anyone but instead attempting to re-instill faith in our fellow man and woman. Good people are out there in the world doing good things for other good people and not just putting more money into another rich company's pocket.
I treasure the idea of being able to directly help people create and sustain a better life for themselves and their family. 
Thanks to my chance encounter with a man named Don who read a book by Bob, the bank of Paul is now open for business.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

"We acquire the strength we have overcome." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Recently I had the opportunity to spend a little time with some AMAZING women.
These women just blow me away.
They're not women of industry or politics or even thriving women of corporate development but these women are strong and I don't just mean mentally.
These women are physically superior to some men that I’ve encountered in the military and back that up with an emotional strength that I hope that I can one day replicate.
Very early on in my recovery I was hopping around the Victoria Barracks Army gym in Paddington, Sydney.  Literally hopping around because I had just lost my leg and at that point didn't have a prosthetic. My good friend Brock drove me there every day so that I could relearn how to train, it was also great therapy for my mind.
One day out of the blue a pretty female soldier with a big smile and even bigger bright blue eyes approached me and apologised for staring at me. I was understandably taken aback. I was at the time extremely self-conscious and had developed a technique to deal with all the stares, where if I didn't look at anyone then they weren't looking at me. Yet, here was this woman bolt upright in my face apologising for staring. I looked away and mumble an uncomfortable response of, “It's ok, no worries”.  But she continued and said to me that she had only been admiring my eyes and was just having a perv.  I was shocked, embarrassed and secretly pretty chuffed that I was getting checked out, especially when I wasn’t at the time feeling very good about myself.
Three years on and this same women who took strength from seeing me start my training is now a strong independent single mother and working as part of Brisbane's Soldier Recovery Centre at Enoggera Army base. Not only raising her own child after a physically and mentally abusive relationship but also doing her best to develop a system to get injured, wounded and ill soldiers back to work with the help of a small undermanned and under equipped team.
I recently had the opportunity to donate some time to speak to this group and share my story and my tools and techniques of physical and mental recovery, thanks solely to this woman’s belief in me. I gave a group presentation and then had some time to chat with just the soldiers. We finished the day with some fitness therapy at Crossfit Michelton. A “box” owned and run by Phillip Cosgrove, the son of ex CDF General Peter Cosgrove. Corporate key note speaking is what I do now as a fulltime job since transferring to the Navy Reserves Diving team but the greatest reward of this job is the time it allows me to try and help those most in need, our wounded, ill and injured soldiers for example. The following night this woman secured her absolute strength in my mind by competing in the open Crossfit games and performing admirably.
I took along to these games a friend of mine who is also a young strong single mother. A mother who has raised her child through absolute brutality to herself. Through out the Crossfit games, this young pretty mother and her passionate child screamed support for competitors that they didn't even know, actually drowning out others around them, especially when cheering for the girls. They have a bond unbelievably strong not just built between mother and daughter but secured between every woman and themselves, whether they know them or not. A bond so strong because the mother has had every bone in her face broken, because she has been choked unconscious, because she has had to be the unwavering rock so that her daughter will never have to be afraid as she was. I had the pleasure of admiring how this small unconventional family operated and couldn't help but become wrapped up in it. I learnt that a young child could have a heart so big that when she found out animals were hurt in our world, she shed actual tears for them. That a mother could love and want to protect her child so much that they learnt and practised martial arts together and have bond that even when I tried to give the daughter a present for her and her mum, she still felt guilty and questioned me.
A nine year old girl said to me, “money is to be earnt, not to be given'.