Thursday, 16 August 2012

I must vent, apologies

I always seem to take the this blog as a way of venting, usually when I am upset or feel I cannot express myself or have exhausted all outlets.  I am a little worried that it might portray the vegan way of life as depressing, so let me just state – I have never been happier, nor more at peace with my actions and my existence than I have been since I have converted.  I believe it takes a phenomenal amount of strength to break away from normality and follow your own convictions in a world that doesn’t readily accommodate nor understand.  To do this, I have had found and nurtured an inner strength and resolute compassion for other living beings that allow me to feel a sense of almost purity in my core self.  The battle is the outer environment, but I liken it to a strong solid tree that might have to withstand varying weathers – sunny days, thundering storms, blustering winds.  Yet it remains – sturdy.  I wouldn’t have the opposite, the inverse, a life of ease but decaying and rotting from within.
I am quite a sensitive soul.  I always have been.  I am extremely in touch with my emotions to the point it can transpire I end up in little emotional wells from time to time.  What has changed however is that I am able to pull myself out of these by myself as opposed to waiting for someone to extend a hand.  I believe this strength has grown further since being vegan as I have had to take my own path and deal with the reaction from omnis I come across in life.  I have not been working the past year due to my inner ear problems, so it has been quite a private journey.  Yet the other day, I went to a wedding, where a lot of old workmates attended and I felt the need to dispel some preconceptions of vegans.  I never want to be viewed as awkward or an inconvenience.  I spent time the night before preparing food to take with me so if any stops were made on route I didn’t have to face the uncomfortable situation of having people buying McDonald’s or the like and me not eating anything as I refuse to give them my money.  It just takes a little forethought and a little consideration – which is symptomatic of the way of life I suppose, consideration.  I did get the initial questions as we stopped in a service station and I browsed through a salad recipe book and someone asked whether I could eat tuna.  So I just reeled off the list of stuff a vegan doesn’t eat, ‘No meat, fish, fowl, dairy, eggs or honey.”.  Phew.  That seemed to be the end of it but I sensed there was more that they wanted to ask.  I am very open to answering questions as I don’t preach.  So it is a nice opportunity to share information and just open minds a little, although most of the time I find myself biting my tongue.  Driving down the motorway, it’s inevitable to pass fields of cows, sheep and pigs.  Hearing “Aw, I love piglets”, and “aw look cows!” made me want to scream, but I just swallowed it down and sent them apologies for the human race and their inevitable fate where they would one day not be in the field and on someone’s dinner plate.  I did see a truck load of sheep off the slaughterhouse – which I wish hadn’t looked at because my tummy fell to the bottom of my seat.  I cannot bear to think about it those poor, beautiful babies.  This world is ruined.
The wedding itself was beautiful, though as expected it did get me thinking about my own romantic prospects.  Or lack thereof...  My stance to abstain from animal cruelty as much as possible bar living in a caravan with my own vegetables (which doesn’t sound terrible to me, in fact quite the opposite), has found me in a strange position romantically.  I have blogged in the past about omni-vegan relationships and the difficulties that can arise from this differing ethical stance.  There was an article about it this morning and naturally the anti-vegan comments have been coming in abundance.  One even likened wanting a vegan partner as being racist – HOW!?  It doesn’t do much to strengthen omni-vegan relations, all this animosity.  I don’t agree with using animals as commodities, though I am well aware that the consensus opposes this.  I have close friends that are meat eaters, who I love very much.  There are vegans that cannot abide meat eaters and some that are indifferent.  There are some that manage to work an omni-vegan partnership, and others who cannot.  Now, I have been very clear in the past blogs as to why I would prefer a vegan partner, or at the very least a vegetarian.  For me it is a question of compatibility and of shared ethics and beliefs.  It is not the inconvenience of cooking different meals or working out where to eat as these obstacles can be overcome and although a bit irritating, have a solution.  For me, it is watching the person I love, who I share my innermost self with, my body with and my life with, doing something that essentially opposes everything I stand for.  Whilst they may be considerate and thoughtful about it, in perhaps not doing it around me and trying vegan meals, it would feel like a smokescreen to me.  I know that deep down they just aren’t on the animals’ side.  I am not saying I would NEVER date an omni, but I cannot deny myself what I know I need from a partner.  This doesn’t extend as passionately to friendships, as I feel whilst I share myself with friends, it is not as intimate as a partner.  I won’t be cuddled up to my friends each night and nuzzling myself on their chest or Eskimo kissing.  They won’t be the person I speak to each night and tell about my day.  So it doesn’t have the same significance whether or not they share my ideals or not (even though I would love for all to be vegan!).  Does that make sense?  Saying that, I do find my time with my veg friends to be very relaxed and like the coming together of shared minds.  Which is indeed very comforting and it does make things feel a lot more harmonious.  Yes, harmony.  I think that is what I crave.  That feeling of peace, which whilst I have created in myself, is not reflected in the world.  So it is nice to find companions of the same mindset.  Though, I have said it before and I will say it again – there are very different vegans in the world – and not all get along!  Ah, it is quite difficult sometimes.  I wonder if I am even making sense at this point. 
It is an interesting experience being vegan in a non-vegan world.  Often challenging, but equally, if not moreso, morally rewarding.  People say to not be defined by your diet – but to me it is the most compassionate way of living, and to define yourself as a compassionate person is no fault in my eyes.  And as a vegan woman, there are few things as sexy as a man who extends his compassion to all creatures.  FO’SHIZ.  Just had to add that in!  *wink*  J

Monday, 6 August 2012

Oops, hello August!

Wow I haven’t been on here in a little while.  I have had some lovely comments coming through which has lured me back to an embarrassingly slow computer.  So thank you J
July has been a busy month for me.  I have applied to enrol on an Animal Management course, which speaks to every fibre of my being.  It would make me so happy to work with animals everyday – as heartbreaking as it will be at times.  But I like the feeling of being proactive about my passion, so this is another way in which to do so.  I could so easily see myself living on a piece of land, in a caravan, with many animal companions around me – all rescued – and all fiercely loved by myself. 
Talking of sanctuaries, last weekend I visited the vegan run sanctuary again for their fundraising weekend.  It was a fantastic experience and was amazing being around so many vegans and all the lovely babes.  I got to feed a pair of beautiful piglets – so much squealing!  Hungry little girls!  I also fell in love with an ex-battery hen who sat on my lap for a good half hour, as I stroked her and sang to her.  She had been there a few months and came in bald ... but now has new feathers growing back!  Like little teeny paintbrushes on her back.  They’re such gorgeous birds.  I have been examining the garden to try and decipher whether or not it can accommodate some ex battery hens but it doesn’t look good .... *hopes for the patch of land dream to materialise*. 
I had hoped, secretly, deep down, perhaps, to maybe find a vegan prince there but alas, that dream continues as well.  Slim pickings out there!  Slim pickings...  I have my Rosie though – who is curled up next to me as I type, purring away.  What is life without animals?
I did have a little drama whilst I was on my little weekend away at the sanctuary.  It was a camping affair so I was conserving my phone and pretty much shut myself off from the rest of the world for the weekend.  Why would I let myself deal with normality when I can run about (flip flop about..) with free running lambs, a deer and other gorgeous ones?  However, I did receive a text, after a couple of vegan ciders, and a friend’s wedding I am to attend is looming.  And there was a problem catering for me...In the end it got sorted but it got me thinking how far my line is.  What would I be willing to compromise for my beliefs?  Would I take a packed lunch all the way across the country whilst everyone else gets to eat a lovely dinner?  Or would I simply refuse?  Would it be a test of the friendship to understand that my diet is so much MORE than just that and is a way of life?  An integral part of my being?    It transpired I wasn’t to be forced to realistically considering these ideas, but it is and can be a huge deal.  Look back to my post about omni-vegan relationships.  Whilst not the sole reason for its break up, it was a contributing factor, in that I cannot see myself with a meat eater.  I live in a vegetarian household and refuse to purchase eggs, milk and cheese when doing a shop for my mum.  I just cannot bring myself to.  All I see in the cheese is a calf without its mother, with milk is a mother screaming for her baby, with eggs – the conveyor belt of death for all the unwanted male chicks.  Maybe I am being too righteous?  But I refuse now to do anything that makes me feel uncomfortable or that doesn’t sit right within myself as far as I have control.  Although I must give my mum credit as she now makes a conscious effort to buy non tested products and is embracing vegan cheese.  It’s these little acts that I truly respect and I felt my heart swell a little for her consideration. 
It’s hard not to become consumed by it all.  For the simple fact that these are LIVES of creatures that are MURDERED daily.  In horrific volumes.  How can a person expect a vegan to not become angry at this horror??  To be passive about it?  No.  Apathy is a disease of the world.  Compassion is a rarity.  Compassion that extends to animals especially.  It’s not that I don’t care about the human cause, but rather I feel that we seem to hold ourselves in such high regard that we really ought to be able to sort our stuff out on our own.  The animals?  They are the true innocents and mistreated beyond belief, and haven’t the capacity to voice in a way that ignorant humans will even listen to.  They ignore the screams and the cries.  So activists fight for those who cannot.  For the animals that are electrocuted, kicked, punched, hung upside down.  Whose throats are slit in front of each other.  Whose last moments are taken away so that humans can eat their remains.  I don’t know how many different ways I can express how truly wrong this is.  It’s simply murder!  So yeah... I will put my beliefs before most.  I will not betray those whose souls I hope are at peace and away from this hellish world.  A voice for the voiceless.  Always. 

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

My feet need some loving. 
They are rather sore.
Today I walked a good 7 miles - partly up a hill! - in preparation for a sponsored walk I am to do in just over a week now.  It is for one of my favourite animal rights organisations - Animal Aid.  I really adore this group and everything they stand for.  They peacefully campaign and put pressure on horrible groups and promote veganism and even have an ethical shop full of vegan chocolatey treats and cosmetics!  Ahhhh *swoon*.

I have been trying to get myself out there with volunteering and stumbled across the opportunity to do this and thought, why the hell not?  I am really looking forward to it.  Should fill my inner peace tank up a fair bit!  Just got to find some sponsors now!

It sadly falls on a day where there is a trip to one of my favourite places - F.R.I.E.N.D Sanctuary - a vegan run home for lots of rescued animals; piggies, cowsies, turkey, chickens, doggies, kitties and a deer to name but a few!  But I am committed to my walk now and either way, that day is a day for me to help the voiceless.  And that is all that matters.  When I went there last time, I went with my lovely vegan friend, and just had the best time.  It made my heart soar so high to see the animals free to roam around and interact with each other and see the different interspecies friendships that had developed.  The beauty in a pig's eyes is something that I have taken from that day.  You don't quite realise just how big they are!  But there is something about being around them. 

I really wish all society viewed animals not only as equals and gave them the respect they deserve, but also all species on the same level.  I hate the prejudice bestowed onto pigs because they aren't widely considered 'cute' or 'fluffy', and therefore are subject to a life as commodity and one whose death sentence has already been decided once born.  And not just pigs, all animals who are farmed for the use of humans.  What makes them different from the animals we call pets?  Nothing.  At.  All.  They are the same.  A pig is a dog is a boy.  I found this the other day, and I really really stand by it.

People need to realise what they are doing.  And make the change.  Make the connection.  All animals deserve the right to live their lives.  Not to be greeted by slaughter when a human sees fit.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Lonely vegan

I type this with difficulty as I have my little Rosie constantly headbutting my hand whilst overseeing what I am typing.  It is times like this I appreciate her company more than ever, because quite frankly, I feel so lonely.
I don't think I was prepared for the social aspects of becoming vegan.  Not only inflicted on me by society but the inner turmoil I would have to contend with in regards to those in my life.

Whilst I would never ever go back to a non-vegan life as the benefits to the world and to myself of becoming vegan outweigh any negative issues I might experience, it still does get to me every now and again.  I imagine it will be something I contend with quite regularly.

In my previous post I talked of the conflict that can arise in an omni-vegan relationship - a partnership where the two people share completely different ethics.  These problems can spill over into friendships, and whilst not as intense, for me I have found I do have to wrestle with how to conduct myself as a vegan around those whose ideals differ from mine.  I feel like I am living the truth and the rest of the meat eating world partake in a cruel, sinister, unnecessary animal holocaust that should not exist.  Anybody who buys into this world are as guilty as those with the blood on their hands.  I do not find any justification in it at all, and it is difficult to then not project these views onto those around you, your friends.  These are people who obviously have redeeming qualities to have become a friend in the first place, but it can sometimes be an elephant in the room when around them.  But I do not want to be a preachy vegan.  If it's a view on something like not liking garlic for example, someone would be able to express themselves quite freely.  But if a vegan does the same it's preaching and imposing.  And society views vegans as a group to be quite militant and judgemental and difficult to deal with, and I do not want to conform to this image.  Whilst it can be true and indeed there are many vegans who are quite negative in their approach to dealing with meat eaters, for example saying they're eating rotting corpses as their friend tucks into a beefburger.  In my eyes this doesn't achieve anything apart from hostility and forcing the friend to dig their heels in further.  People don't like being told they are wrong.  But in my own time, on my own facebook wall I will from time to time express myself.  People don't like that either.  I was told by one individual not to impose my beliefs on them..... They can sit and swivel.  All I can impose upon is somebody's conscious.  I find the defensiveness stems from a deep seated guilt that they are wrong.  But I shall delve into that another time.  The point is, from being in situations with those who lifestyles directly opposes yours makes friendships quite different.  It is hard when a strong ethical view that you are aware of everyday conflicts with the actions of those around you who you care about, and to try and disconnect that choice with the person who is your friend.  It's so hard.  I haven't yet mastered it.  But do I??  I live in a non-vegan world.  Vegans are a minority.  In real life I know 2, one fantastic girl who I've grown very close to recently, and one awesome guy who is a very supportive friend.  They are both awesome in their own right, and it is nice to have people who just 'get it'.  I notice the ease when being with my vegangirlfriend.  I liken it to a pie chart and it just feels like a huge portion of it is shaded in and understood.  A huge portion of what is important to me is shaded in and understood.  Of course after that you have to consider what else you have in common and can you form a friendship full of trust, humour, compatibility etc.  Of course being vegan doesn't guarantee this at all, another issue I have come to find. 

I have joined a few veg*n online community sites to try and find more friends with a common interest.  And though logical, it still came as a surprise that I didn't have more in common with those I spoke to as I thought I would.  Friendships are so strange.  I went to a sanctuary help out day not too long ago, and met with a group of vegan strangers.  Whilst I went with my friend so interaction with the rest was not as prevalent, I still found them to be a little..... much.  I remember listening to their conversation on the train and it just made me a little uncomfortable.  It is such a fine line.  To be honest it depressed me a little bit!  I seem to feel in the middle of these two conflicting sides - one has a ridiculously larger pool of people within for friendships/relationships but their choice to eat meat and dairy conflicts with my view to abstain from that cruelty, and the other is far far smaller but seems to include a strain of personality that conflicts with my rather inward self.  I am being very very general and painting both sides with a large, very different paintbrush - but it has let me to feel very isolated.  From both parties.  It's just people. 

Saying all this, I have a few close friends who eat meat and dairy and with them I don't have an issue at all.  I don't see them as perpetrators of the animal holocaust - they are just my friends.  I suppose that is because I truly love them, and them me.. but everyone else, I have a lot of difficulities with.  Acquanitances or those I am forced to spend time with albeit in a workplace or social situation.  I don't know how to handle it.  Either way, it is very very isolating. 

Monday, 4 June 2012

Omni-vegan relationship?

My blog has been a tad quiet for a little while, mainly due to the fact I have had some 'stuff' going on outside the world of Google - a break up.  They're never easy, they hurt and it is sad to close the book on a chapter of your life, no matter how inevitable or 'right' the decision may be.  But it got me wondering.  I turned vegan during the relationship, and whilst it didn't solely break things apart, it did pose the question of an omni-vegan relationship and how they work, if they work and can they work? 

I do think that omni-vegetarian relationships work a lot easier than perhaps a relationship involving a vegan.  This is at least how I have found things to be.  For me, when vegetarian, even though I was aware of animal cruelty in the meat industry I didn't truly know the extent of what went on to produce to byproducts of milk cheese and eggs.  Maybe I wasn't ready to know, but regardless, the depth of my knowledge and thus my anger was much less as there was less to be angry about.  I find that vegetarianism, though it can be out of concern and protest of the treatment of animals, is closer to a diet, whereas veganism is a way of life.  It is a way of being, of thinking, of considering others.  Of viewing animals and why they are here.  And this is what caused conflict in me.

When vegetarian, seeing my other half using milk, cheese and eggs didn't make my moral fibres flinch at all.  But now these actions have become hard for me to watch.  I see my friends encouraging the production by buying into the market and exhibiting a demand which just causes the industry to continue as it is now.  And even though I feel the same flinch within, to see it from someone you are in an intimate relationship with becomes a tougher demon to wrestle with.  You don't want to preach for fear of alientation, however you don't want it to continue for fear of resentment.  You love this person and they have amazing qualities yet it doesn't extend to animals.  You fight everyday against the system, against the 'normal' ideals and it almost feels like it's put to waste when you see that special person buying into the very thing you oppose.  They care about you, perhaps even have animals of their own, but cannot show that compassion to other living beings.  They are guilty of speciesism. 

Some people are able to put these aspects aside and continue a loving and successful relationship, even marriage and are able to raise children together despite these differing ethics.  Others cannot.  I am not saying the those who buy into the industry in any way are bad people, perhaps even the opposite.  These people are friends, family and partners and have amazing qualities that make you love them, and maybe that is what makes it even harder.  The fact that they are lovely and wonderful that you cannot comprehend why they won't make the change.  Why they won't live according to their good nature and go vegan.  I know it's not good to be seen as a militant vegan, if anything it puts people off.  It's good to promote by example, so for me that's trying to be the best person I can.  But I am far from perfect, and I guess I lack the ability to push aside my ethics and accept a partner that eats meat.  Some say that is a negative, others view it as something to be commended - that I am strong within my convictions and want to share them with the person I share my life with.  My veganism has become a huge part of me - I believe it was always there, I just had to find it.  So now that I have, I don't want to lose it. 

I foresee my future with someone who shares a lot of the fundamentals with me, and my ethics are a huge part of that.  I want to be able to know the person I wake up with is someone that extends their compassion to animals, that sees a pig and sees a sentient being and not bacon.  That sees a cow and sees its beauty and not a beefburger.  I want to be able to teach these values to my children, if I have any, without conflict from their father.  I want them to have that connection from an early age, and to live with that extra spark of love within them.  With the strength to follow their convictions and not apologise for it, to be surrounded by animals of different breeds and see no difference of importance between any of them.  I want them to be vegan.

So whilst it is definitely possible to have a loving omni vegan relationship, as there exists many, I don't feel it is for me.  I respect those who are able to make it work and feel they are lucky to find someone who they love so much that their differences don't split them.  But they way I feel right now, and how I've always been is quite stubborn, and compromising my beliefs is not the way I am wired.  I just have to hope my vegan prince exists, or it is a life surrounded solely by kitties and chickens and piggies for me!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Little lives and open minds

Today, whilst I was cooking, I was rudely interrupted by a teeny fly bobbing up and down around my food.  I soon found myself ushering and herding this tiny fly out like a sheepdog.  I directed it to the hallway and closed the door.  Took me all of 30 seconds.  I know most out there would not hesitate nor question the decision to clap that little fly and squish it and then would carry on with whatever they were doing that the fly's existence marred.  I recall being in high school and whilst we were waiting for our PE lesson to start, an unfortunate and misguided spider happened to scurry along.  Before I could  even protest or volunteer to scoop it up and set it free, its life had been extinguished amongst childish screams and laughter.  I still get sad about that.  To just snuff out a life.  That little spider, and the fly earlier, had every right to be bob and scurry along as I have to be here, so what gives me the authority to end its life?  What gives me the distinction above them to justify being able to hand out death?  I honestly feel they have the same right to life as me.  Humans are so incredibly pretentious to think themselves superior on this planet.  We claim ownership over the land, seas and sky, and over every other living species in this world.  Some call it evolution.  Some feel we have earned this right by forming the intelligence to build produce and distribute.  Is it really evolutionary to lose basic virtues as compassion and empathy though?  I wonder.  We have evolved to live longer and progress further.  I wonder if a long life on this planet is a blessing or a curse.  I wonder if we are progressing further or truly losing sight of what matters. 
I have started watching a couple of speeches made by people sharing the same ethics as myself.  I watch it from the other side of the fence, where the grass is supremely green, and I wonder if had I ever been a meat/corpse eater, would I have been moved by them?  I think it takes a certain sort of person to still be able to reconnect with the innocent compassionate parts of themselves and be open minded to admit that they are wrong.  I think it takes a certain strength inside to be able to realise the truth and make the change.
I am lying here, ready for bed, after having watched a particular speech by an animal rights activist called Gary Yourofsky.  It was just over an hour long, and it felt like 10 minutes to me.  It broke down the lies fed to society by the meat and dairy industries and it made me realise just how right the choice I have made is.  The choice to live in a way that causes the least harm and cruelty.  The choice to live in a way that abstains from involving myself in the needless murder of billions of animals.  I am so deliriously happy I am on the right path, and if anyone is ever so slightly curious to his words, and you have an open mind and a spare hour.  Watch it.


Friday, 11 May 2012

Kitty panic

Ah the stress of owning and obsessively loving a cat.  It's too much. 
Today my baby Rosie and I were gazing out the window at a fox, on the shed roof, eating bread.  It had a bushy tail which pleased me!  Anyway, after about 10 minutes or so, little Rosie starts heaving and I know some sick is going to make a visit, so I rush into the kitchen to fetch a towel, but am too late.  A little furball has glooped its way up and is sitting in amongst brown cat food juice on the chair.  But before I could clean that up, baby Rosie tries to jump off the chair, is all dizzy, and wobbles and falls off!  Hitting the vase of tulips on the way down and into, fortunately, my arms.  Caught my little one!  Scooped her up and popped her down and she seemed a bit fragile.  I kept an eye on her and almost immediately she was back to normal, and pretty soon after she was eating and wandering around as usual... THANK GOODNESS!!!!
But, sweet kittens, in them 10 seconds or so my panic levels had risen sky high!  Shaking, scared, worried.  ACK. 
I ended up doing a silly thing and googling what had happened, even after she had returned to her usual unsual self.  That sent me into another panic.  Talk of seizures, fits, arrrgghhhhhhhhhhhaksklnkewnwen.  But logic prevailed and I realised what had happened was she had become light headed after putting her all into vomiting.  Sigh.
I just love that kitty a crazy amount - my little pudding.  Words simply cannot explain how much I care about her.  She is my world!  A very small, black and white, pink nosed, long whiskered world.  Am still being a paranoid mummy and keeping an eye on her, just because... but she seems all good and is eating, sleeping, wandering around and wanting a good fuss.


Saying that - last night she kept me up something ridiculous!  It's that crazy Siamese blood - she cried ALL night.  Then she yelled at me from 5 am to give her some munch!!!!  I despair.  I have tried sleeping   coping through it all - but no.  All you hear is this yelling/crying/whimpering and I have to feed her and stumble back to bed.  I know I know... I have trained her badly.  She knows she will win.  But she's too damn cute >.< 

Tonight - EARPLUGS. 

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Vegan Creamy Vegetable Pie

The weather outside is horrible - it's all gloomy and drizzly and a bit chilly.  I really fancied some tasty comfort food and have been hankering for some sort of creamy vegetable pie.  Funnily enough, pre vegan I wasn't too fond of creamy foods, but this pie is just divine!
I adapted the recipe from this blog but used some different vegetables, added garlic and cheated with shop bought puff pastry.  Seriously, pastry really isn't my strength at all!  Stresses me out!  But I think the recipe will work well with whatever veggies you want to use as the creamy sauce shouldn't be too affected by them.  It's just all about what you prefer to nom on!  It's always good to use some protein rich foods like beans or soya/tofu because then it's pretty much a meal in one.  I did serve mine with a bit of garlic bread to mop up the creamy leftovers, and anyone who knows me knows that garlic is the love of my life.  :)

Here's my adapted recipe. 

2 Tbsp veg oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic minced/ 1 tsp garlic puree
3 flat mushrooms, sliced
6 new potatoes, chopped into 1-1.5 inch blocks and parboiled for about 10 minutes
1 broccoli, florets
450g cannelinni beans
450 ml/2 cups vegetable stock
1/3-1/2 plain flour
1 cup unsweetened soya milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1 sheet Jus-Roll puff pastry
Soya milk to brush crust

Preheat oven to Gas Mark 7
Fry onion in oil until they are soft.
Stir in the garlic puree/ minced garlic
Tip in drained parboiled potatoes and fry for about 5 minutes
Then add beans and broccoli florets - fry for another 5 minutes
Add mushrooms  (The heat from the pan witll make them shrink.  At this point my pan was getting rather full!  So them shrinking was much welcomed so I could have room for my stock and milk)
Add flour and stir for a minute being careful not to let it burn
Add milk and stock and let mixture simmer until bubbly and thick
Pop mixture into a casserole dish and place rolled pastry on top.  Slit holes into pastry lid so as to allow the pressure to escape whilst baking
Place in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes or when pastry has browned and puffed
NB: my oven is ANCIENT and took closer to 45 minutes to puff up and brown nicely - but created a nice flaky crust.  Just keep an eye on your pie and take it out when the crust is golden and lovely!

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Corpse eating.

Corpse eaters - a phrase I casually came across the other day.

It's blunt.  But ultimately true.  I am not too sure why meat isn't viewed like this normally.  Because that is what it is... right?
When people pop into their supermarket to get their shopping and head to the meat and fish aisle I just despair.  I can barely look down that aisle without feeling sick to the stomach and seeing a parade of death and cruelty.  Yet people will just pick up the cellophane wrapped carcasses, barely resembling the life they once represented, and think nothing of it.  The connection is lost.  People don't equate that chicken thigh as once being a life - a life who had its fate decided by us humans and was denied a full, free, natural existance.  Instead it had been sentenced to a life as a human commodity, born and reared to die for NO good reason.  The idea that this is necessary, that this trade is valid is completely unfounded.  I can survive on food from the ground, from plants and what they offer.  So why does this cruelty still endure?

My view is simple.  Animals have rights.  They have the right to exist in their natural environment.  They should be entitled to roam free, to engage in their natural behaviour, to breed and look after their young.  They should be equal and not be looked down upon.  With this ethos, there is no argument for using them, for exploiting them for human gain. 

I find the hypocrisy within the human race just shocking.  Why is that society views eating chickens and pigs as acceptable but cry outrage when they imagine cats and dogs being bred for the meat trade?  Why have we adopted this attitude to separate these animals?  To grade them?  I see so many people expressing their anger at cruelty to animals, then in the same breath will take a bite out of a beefburger.  *words fail me*  WTF!!!???

I get SO angry at this.  I really do.  It's just all so empty and unnecessary.  I found some simply shocking statistics on the UK alone and I did just want to curl up and cry.  Each year, 900 MILLION animals are murdered for human gain.  I cannot even fathom this.  9.35 million pigs, 15 million sheep, 28 million turkeys, 20 million ducks, 2.25 million cattle and a staggering 850 million chickens.

*head in hands*

That equates to 2.4 million animal lives being snuffed out each day.
100,000 an hour.
1600 per minute.

In the time it takes me to write this post I cannot even bear to think about the amount of animals that have been slaughtered.  There are those that advocate "humane" slaughter but I argue that no such thing exists.  To put the word humane next to slaughter is a total contradiction.  It is described as compassion, sympathy for animals.  I cannot imagine anyone who displays such qualities who would be able to end the life of an animal - to look into its eyes, its soul, and end its existance.  To see that light go out.  Who can possibly agree that is right?  Animals feel pain.  Animals experience emotions.  The distress and anguish of a cow calling out to its calf who has been taken away to be killed.  The fear in a pig's eyes as it sees the slaughter and torture bestowed upon those killed before and in front of it.  There is no humanity in any of this at all.  They are born into a shadow world - one that in no way represents what mother nature had intended for them.  Instead, humans intervened and sentenced billions of pigs, cows, sheep, turkeys, chickens, ducks and other gorgeous creatures to a hellish, short and tortured life.  They are not allowed to live out their natural years, for when they are fat enough or spent they are packed into cramped crates and taken to a slaughterhouse where they are murdered, one after one after one.  For me, who loves animals, ALL animals, I can't really deal with this reality.  I just can't get inside the mindset of those at the hands of the stun machines, the throat slitting equipment, or in charge of the scalding tanks.  I can't imagine the death that eminates from abbatoirs and slaughterhouses.  Concentration camps for non-humans.  Their lives are seen as meaningless.  They are money makers.  Factory farming, behaving in a way to maximise profit.  They will cram as many animals into pens as possible, so much so they cannot even turn around.  They are forced to live in their own faeces.  They are pumped with antibiotics and so much food that they become unnaturally big, so much so some cannot even stand.  They just exist.  Then they meet a horrific death full of fear and cruelty.  No one wants to die alone.  We all hope to die in our sleep, or surrounded by loved ones.  Not to be strung up by one leg, upside down, electrically stunned, to then have our throats or major arteries slit, or then dumped into a scalding tank.  Not to mention the electric stunning is a precarious method that isn't always successful, so often some of these animals are alive when they're put into the tank, or when their throats are slit.  No one wants to die like that.  You can bet your last pound that these animals experience fear and dred.  They are no different from our pet cats and dogs.  The fear in my cat's eyes when I take her to the vet breaks my heart.  I love and reassure her and want her to be ok.  No one offers this sort of affection to the factory farmed commodities - instead they are nothing.  It simply isn't fair.  For those who have pets and love them like they are part of the family, what difference is there in the life of that animal to the life of a factory farmed animal?  There isn't any.  Just how society has decided to group these creatures and somehow it has become ok to end the lives of some species for food, and to protect and love pets.  Yet saying that, there will still be some people who own pet rabbits and will eat rabbit stew!

I know people say that eating meat is natural and we are carnivores (omnivores, duh), etc etc.  Firstly, if you look back, our ancestors probably ate seeds, nuts, fruit, small insects etc.  Our digestive system is just not designed to digest meat.  The intestines are long - meat stays in there rotting and becoming pungent.  That's just rank.  Secondly, even if we were supposed to eat meat, and we had the canines and the intestines to deal with it all, we are sentient beings with a conscience.  Natural carnivores and predators do not have a conscience.  They don't know what is right and what is wrong, so they haven't the ability to choose what they are doing.  We have this.  And I choose to not eat animals.  I choose to make the most animal friendly choices in my day to day life.  I choose to not involve myself in the exploitation of animals - be it for food, fur or animal testing etc.  I choose to do all of this to the best of my ability.  It really is that simple.

It upsets me when I see children eating meat as well.  Children are fed meat in fun nugget shapes and fish fingers, yet they'll get so excited about going to a farm and feeding the chickens.  The connection isn't made until it is too late and the association has been fogged out by society's norm.  Even when the link is made between farm and fork, ignorance takes over.  A finger in the ear, la la la way of dealing with things as they disassociate and ignore the truth of what really goes on.  I read somewhere that there is a lot that can be said about what we put into our bodies.  That food can be positive or negative, and how can anything that lived such a short horrible life be full of anything but negativity?  I liked the sentiment of this thinking.  I always feel more at peace when I eat local fruit, or fairtrade cocoa for example.  I don't want to feel guilty about what I eat, I want to enjoy my food.  And I have to say since turning vegan my moral fibres feel more peaceful and comfortable with what I am doing.  It is a liberating, wonderful feeling, knowing you aren't involving yourself in such a cruel system.  There are those that argue that vegans don't make a difference.  That animals will still continue to be slaughtered, that meat will still end up on the shelves.  And sadly, I do think that might be true.  When I see how much demand there is for meat, dairy and eggs on a daily level it can feel like trying to empty an ocean with a teaspoon whilst there is torrential rain falling on you.  But why would I want to involve myself in something so purely evil and sadistic.  In my eyes, it is sadistic.  To rear animals in horrible conditions to be killed and plopped on your plate.  The idea makes me wince. 

I heard a saying the other day and it is rather pertinent to the choice I have made to be a vegan.  "Be the change you want to see".  And that is exactly what I will continue to do.  Driven purely by what I believe to be right - I do it for the animals.  Every single one of them.     

Vegan hair update!

After a week of feeling like complete poop, I have finally taken some photos of my hair looking all new and non orange/ non yellow/ non wtf is that.  The dye I used was Naturtint in Mahogany Chestnut (4M) on bleached hair.  It was lovely to use actually, had a strange neutral smell, not ammonia-ey at all, and developed very quickly.  The shampoo you get with it comes in a small little sachet, and smells very herby.  The conditioner smells LUSH and is very moisturising.  Considering what I had done to my hair, I am very impressed with how non straw like it is.  It initially came out a lot darker than I had imagined, but after a second wash, it is the perfect colour.  All about maintenance now!
Here are a few photos of how it looks :)

I am really happy with how it came out.  The dye itself cost me £9.99 which is only marginally more expensive than regular dyes like L'Oreal and Garnier and Schwarzkopff.  I don't mind spending just that little bit extra to get a vegan product that doesn't test on animals.  I have fairly long hair and found that the one bottle was a stretch.  I had to cut the bottle open so I could use every blob of dye.  I reckon in a few weeks I might get myself another box just to top up the lighter areas. 

As you can see from the box image, the colour came out pretty close to the model!  Its a rich mahogany with red/plum tones.  Ahhh I am so in love with it. 
Yay !

Friday, 27 April 2012

To dye for.

Whilst the transition to vegan food has been, on the whole, simple for me with the abundance of vegan replacement foods (soya, almond, oat, hemp and coconut milks, vegan mince, vegan sausages and burgers, vegan margarine etc etc) and so many tasty recipes out there, the cosmetic side has been... challenging.

I never realised how many evil companies there were out there in the world.  And what a hold they have over so many products.  So many!  And the power of marketing to make them look 'good' and 'natural'.  I had been so blind.  I will delve into the nasty companies another time, but this essentially paved the way for my latest vegan challenge - dyeing my hair.

As an unnatural redhead, I had experimented pre-vegan with many hair dyes and bleaches and semi permanent tints.  My fullproof combination was Smart Blonde bleaching kit, various red dyes from a range of animal testing companies and top ups of Crazy Colour Bordeaux hair tint. 

All of that is off the menu now.  Whilst Smart Blonde says on their box "against animal testing", I really couldn't find out any information.  I will have to contact them and ask them directly, if they are both vegan and cruelty free.  See, 'cos here is the thing.  I don't feel justified in making these changes in my diet and clothing - no leather, wool, silk etc, without taking it into the world of cosmetics.  The transition is slow, so I still have non-vegan items in my cosmetic arsenal, but I will replace them with non-vegan items once they run out.  It is an ongoing dilemma and one I struggle with.  The hair dye was one struggle I wasn't fully prepared for, until I spent ages googling and researching, reading forums etc.  In the end I came armed with a pretty reliable list of vegan and cruelty free companies.  They are as follows:

Manic Panic
La Riche Directions
Special Effects
Herbatint (though their Flash Fashion range is not vegan).
Jerome Russell

Naturtint and Herbatint are your 'bog standard' permanent hair dye/semi permanent dye that comes in a box. 
Jerome Russell, Manic Panic and Directions all offer bleaching kits.
Manic Panic, Directions, Special Effects, Jerome Russell and Fudge all offer semi permanent, funky bright coloured tints. 

Prices vary between these different products - another factor to consider. 

Manic Panic:  Bleaching kit is around £10 depending if you want 30%/40% vol. 
Directions: Bleaching kit is around £8.50 (offers both 30% and 40%).  In each kit you seem to get one 25g sachet bleach powder, 75ml cream peroxide.  You also get little tools like a brush and a mixing tray and development cap and gloves. 
Jerome Russell:  Can buy the components of a 'bleaching kit' separately.  I personally opted for this brand.  The peroxide cream I used was 40% vol, 75ml and was in Superdrug for £1.52.  I bought 3 of these.  The bleach powder comes in a box containing 4 x sachets at £3.56.  My hair is reddish brown with black roots, and comes down to my bra strap.  I used 3 bottles and 3 sachets (ratio 1:1).  Altogether it cost £8.12 and bleached my whole head.

Manic Panic:
Semi permanent tints in crazy colours and tubs of 4oz range from about £7-8. 
Semi permanent tints are between £4-4.50.  88ml bottles.
Special Effects: 
Semi permanet tints range from about £9.50-£10.  In 118ml bottles.
Jerome Russell Punky Colours:
Semi permanent tints range from about £8-9 in 3.5oz tubs.
Fudge Paintbox:
Semi permanent tints range from £6-£9. 

Permanent hair dyes from about £7-£10.  I bought mine from Holland and Barrett for £9.99.
Permanent hair dyes from about £7-£10. 

In the end, I decided that what was most cost efficient and best for my hair (ish.. minus the bleaching) was to use Jerome Russell Bblonde bleaching kit and Naturtint.  I am just too lazy and poor to afford the upkeep of semi permanent colours over bleached hair once they fade sadly - as lush as they will look.  I have been red for about 8 months now so feel a change is necessary.  I opted for Mahogany Chestnut (4M) after reading great reviews and seeing the colour on the box in store.  Looking at colour charts online frustrated me no end as the resolution of your screen can make all the difference! 

Really washes my complexion out :(

I bleached my hair last night - nightmare.  But it has come out relatively even, even though the ends are more orange than the yellow roots.  I had to leave the house like this!  Praise the universe for hats! 
As I stated before I used 3 sachets: 3 bottles of Jerome Bblonde product.  As I bought the products separately and not in a kit, I had to provide my own mixing bowl and application brush, though the box of sachets does inclue some gloves.  Fortunately, I had kept a brush from previous dyeing endeavours, and just used an old margarine tub for the mixing bowl. 

If you have never bleached before, it is not the same texture as regular dye.  It makes your hair very, very dry and difficult to work with.  You also need to consider that the roots will develop quicker than the rest of the hair due to the heat from your head, so it is advised to apply to the roots last.  Despite this, they always end up going lighter than the rest when I've tried, so don't worry too much!
The bleaching kits come with instructions too, just don't panic if/when your hair tangles and feels dry whilst you're applying the mixture - that's very normal. 

I left the dye in for about an hour and washed it out with water, and applied some conditioner to it.  In some of the bleaching kits you get a shampoo or conditioner - but I just worked with what I had.  I let it dry naturally, not wanting to dry it out further by applying heat.  And as you can see it's come out pretty well!

They say to leave it 2 weeks before dyeing over bleached hair... but I honestly cannot deal with having a thatched cottage atop my head.  So I left it about a day before dyeing it with Naturtint Mahogany Chestnut 4M.  I had not used this particular dye before.  In fact, not only did the price originally put me off pre-vegan but the packaging did make it look to me not as professional as the L'Oreals and Garniers out there.  But having made my choice to have a permanent dye, and the quite frankly awesome reviews of Naturtint, off I bimbled to H&B to make my purchase.  The choice was between Mahogany Chestnut (4M), Light Mahogany Chestnut (5M) and Iridescent Chestnut (4I). 
In the end I found the 'this is what your hair may look like' pictures a bit too 'pink' with 5M, and nowhere seemed to stock 4I apart from online, so 4M it is!

Pictures to come..... //Stay tuned!

Sunday, 22 April 2012


I hope everyone has had a good weekend and whatnot.  Mine was pretty eventless, except that I spent my Friday shuffling around Camden with the OH.  It was horrendously rainy though.  There was thunder and lightning, which ultimately meant that I couldn't shuffle and wander as much as I would have liked, as unprepared me was brollyless.  Nevertheless, I still managed to find myself at the Ha Ha Veggie Bar, where they serve burgers and hot dogs and falafels - everything is vegan bar the cheese.  I had a hankering for a falafel.  Sometimes, I swear my body craves the chickpea.  I can quite easily whack open a can of chickpeas in salted water, teaspoon in hand, and scoff my face.  Chickpeas are awesome.  It was £3.50 for 3 little falafels, some salad (lettuce, cucumber and tomatoes) and a generous dollop of houmous in a toasted pitta bread.  I am a bit of a tight arse, but hey, I was hungry, and I would rather pay a little more knowing it's vegan than from another stall that sells meat alongside.  Around the Camden Lock, there are many food stalls, which in itself provided a small challenge for me.  To my senses, the smell of meat is pure vom.  And to have it sizzling away is even more vom.  My nasal passage was assaulted repeatedly by the smell of cooking flesh. 


I hate to be over dramatic but I did have to hide in my scarf every now and again.  I just can't abide the smell!  But back to yay food.  Quite near the 'Ha Ha Veggie Bar', was a place called 'Cookies and Scream' - a vegan bakery.  I of course had a mini orgasm at this prospect and had a little gander at their offerings.  They had cookie sandwiches, brownies, peanut butter cookies, red velvet cupcakes, chocolate brownies, chocolate filled with nuts and raisins on a biscuit base and my purchase - a plum and almond slice 'thing'.  Essentially a bakewell tart.  It was extremely nommalicious.  (I did TRY to save some for a photo but sadly my appetite and greed prevailed and it disappeard... I could have taken a picture of an empty paper bag but thought, nah..).  The prices here ranged from £2 for anything on the 'bar', and about £3-£3.50 for the chocolate slabs and cookies.  I will definitely go back and sample more next time I head into Camden.  As I will 'Inspiral' - as I am dying to try their Tiramasu Cake.  Yes.  I know.  And vegan.  AHHH...  There is also a place called the 'Loving Hut' closer to Mornington Crescent tube station and apparently, from what I've read they do vegan Chinese food.  This also excites me!!  So stay tuned for another Camden food adventure!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Pint of pus anyone?

I am not quite sure how it has become ingrained in society that drinking the juice from another animal is natural.  To some extent I can understand the meat consumption (not a chance in hell I agree with it), because carnivorous creatures consume flesh in their diet Having been raised vegetarian my whole life, I thought that by not eating meat I was making a stand against animal cruelty and exploitation.  I remember starting to drink soya milk around 4 years ago and avoiding cow’s milk, under the impression the dairy industry was ‘mean’, but if I had taken the time to really clue myself up on what was going on daily, I imagine I would have become vegan sooner.
The truth is, the dairy industry is one of modern day’s biggest cover ups.  The perception of  cow’s milk as if it is this wholesome, healthy foodstuff.  That it is good for you.  That it is natural.
 Er... no.
Don’t get me started on that as yet though!  But do you see any other animal drinking the milk of another species?  You don’t see a kitten suckling milk from a pig.  So what makes it ok for us to steal milk from cows and their babies?
Because it is stealing.  Of course it is.  Cows produce milk for the same reason that humans do – and that is to feed their young.  It is not to be added into a human’s brew on a day to day basis, no.  It is intended for a little calf to get all the nutrients it needs from its mama.  Cows are extremely maternal creatures.  I watched a video the other day about the horrors of the dairy industry, and in it was footage of a cow giving birth and rushing straight over to its baby and licking the calf’s head.  It was beautiful and so tragic, because I knew how that story was to end. 
I’m not a mum.  I’ve never been pregnant, but imagine carrying a baby around with you for 9 months, giving birth and having your child taken away from you within a day, never to be seen by you again.  Imagine.  Just stop and think about it.  How is it then right or moral to bestow the same cruelty and anguish on a cow and her calf? 
Let’s just take some time to think about the cow.   A maternal, beautiful creature that has been sentenced to this existence as a commodity for the human race.  A servant to our demands.  It is sickening.  They are robbed of so much.  So much is taken from them, by us.  By humans.  We shorten their lifespan from 20 odd years to about 5.  They are subjected to such horrors that by 4 or 5 years into their lives they are spent from producing and producing and producing that they are no longer valuable and are murdered.  The sheer emotional and physical toil means they are worn out way before their time.  Is this fair? 
Take into consideration what happens to these lovely girls in their short and terrible lives.  They are artificially inseminated to produce calves to maintain their milk production, and their babies are snatched from them within a day.  I have never heard, nor do I ever want to hear the crying of a cow calling to her calf.  But just imagine it, please.  Is this fair?
I then ask you to take into your minds for a moment the physical strain of holding all the milk us humans require for our teas, coffees and cereals.  Do you think they hold a natural amount of milk?  Think of the demand.  The sheer amount of shops, of milk within them shops, and how quickly milk expires to be replaced.  No, these cows are forced to hold 5 times as much milk as they naturally would.  I ask any woman out there reading this to imagine how that would feel.  Then, let’s add more to this.  Imagine having painful diseases on top of this unnatural, heavy weight.  Mastitis anyone?  An infection of the udder, that not only means that antibiotics are injected into the teat, but that pus is produced.  And let it be known that this pus WILL end up into your milk.  400 miliion pus cells per litre of milk – 2 million cells per teaspoon.  Fancy that milky coffee now?
Now let’s take a moment to think of the babies in this.  The calves.  Born into a cruel world, where their existence is also just a commodity.  A means for their mothers to produce milk.   Taken from their mothers almost immediately and sentenced to a life of cruelty – whether it be short or drawn out.  If deemed unwanted by both the dairy and beef industry, these calves are slaughtered when but a few days old, or they are trapped into a fate the same as their mother’s.  The other alternative is the ‘politically incorrect’ veal industry.  I am not sure how lamb is acceptable but veal is not, but again, don’t get me started on that as well or my head will explode.  To make this particular meat tender, the calves are kept in small crates awash with darkness to stop them from moving.  To make this particular meat white, the calves are fed a liquid diet lacking in the necessary nutrients, which means they often become very ill, with pneumonia and diarrhoea.  Then after a few months of this horrendous existence, they are again, like their mothers, murdered and served up for human greed. 
I am near tears writing this particular blog because, as much as I am trying to make a difference when I stop and think about the supply and demand and how much milk there is and how much cruelty is pumped into each carton, I just want to give up.  I have such little faith in the majority of mankind.  Kind.  We are anything but.  I take solace in the very slim chance that someone out there reading this might have a change of heart and cut out dairy.  I can’t stand the fact this is going on right now, as I live and breathe, that this is happening.  I scream out to the vegetarians out there who are so for ethical reasons, because they love animals.  Look at this industry.   It is no better than meat production – it all leads to cruelty, exploitation, slavery of animals, torture, inhumanity, and murder.  All of it unnecessary.
Cup of soya hot chocolate anybody? 


Morning has broken, and since turning vegan my whole attitude to cereals and breakfast has changed immensely... Mostly because it had to.  I had the disappointing realisation that MOST cereals aren't in fact vegan.  Not even Kellogg's Cornflakes.  'What could be in that?', I wondered.  It's just corn?  Same for things like Rice Krispies.  Then the knowledge of a little fortification called Vitamin D. 

A lot of cereals these days are fortified with vitmains and iron, something which pre-vegan I never really paid attention to.  I just looked for the suitable for vegetarians logo and chucked the box in my shopping basket.  Or, cradled it in my arms to the till...  And being vegetarian means that most cereals out there, with the exceptions of say Lucky Charms due to marshmallow and that kind of thing, are fine.  In fact, I used to spend ages in the cereal aisle debating which one I could see in my bowl in the morning.  COCO POPS.  *snatch*

Now it is a different story, thanks to Vitamin D. 

Vitamin D can be sourced in two ways; from plants or from wool.  Wool.  Yes.....  Wool.  The former being D2, the latter being D3.  I am not entirely sure why D3 is better, perhaps it is more easily absorbed by the body or something, but that little scoundrel is everywhere.  Which has greatly reduced my time loitering in the cereal aisle!  My cereal choices are mostly between Malted Wheats, Kellogg's Fruit and Fibre and porridge.  And the winner of all three and my staple in the morning is???  Porridge. 

*bows down to the oat*

I simply love it.  With a bit of cinnamon, or strawberry jam, or even just a sprinkling of sugar.  If I wake up in the middle of the night, and I am hungry, I will find myself lying there thinking about porridge.  Nutritious, filling, tasty, comforting - like a warm hug on a winter's day.  I do love my porridge.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012


Well hello to one and all.

I should really set the scene more as I deflower my first blog, but instead I find it's 4am and I am all bleary eyed but my mind is far too awake and buzzing with ideas to let me sleep. 

As a fairly new vegan (4 months at this point), I realised I needed an outlet for all my thoughts and finds and feelings to do with this lifestyle.  It has become so instilled in my being, and my head has become a clutter of anger over animal cruelty and exploitation, frustration over the ignorance of the world and excitement over vegan cakes.  *shrug*  It's quite a mix, it's fair to say. 

So I decided to create a space for myself in this cluttered internetty world.  I cleared out a little room and plonked myself in the corner, surrounded by my thoughts, ideas, feelings and of course, my cat.  Called Rosie.  She will make the odd appearance no doubt!

So stay tuned and I hope whoever reads this blog enjoys my ramblings and whatnot.  Goodnight !