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 !