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 !