Thursday, 25 May 2017

The Politics of Veganism

With the general election just around the corner I felt it important to reflect upon the different parties manifestos with particular regard to veganism and animal rights. It's certainly not the only thing I care about but it is a huge part of my life and belief system. 

For the first time in a long time I actually want to vote because I feel there is a pretty clear and huge divide between the two major parties, particularly when it comes to animal rights. You will have no doubt heard in the press the Tories plans to lift the ban on fox hunting and, more recently, their drop of the UK ivory trade ban from their manifesto. These are two hugely worrying points which on their own have caused outrage. I have also seen a video of Theresa May dismissing a question about vegan school meals because, as she said, "I eat meat". It would seem that I have very little in common with Theresa May and her lack of compassion for animals.   

I invited my friend and fellow passionate vegan Hannah Elgie to present a guest blog post on her own thoughts in the run up to this election...   

 The Politics of Veganism

There is one thing that has been pretty well documented in the run up to this election and that is the Tories will get rid of the ban on fox hunting if they win. I am not a Tory. I have been a Labour voter for as long as I have been able to vote. I consider myself a socialist, feminist, environmentalist but above all a compassionate human being. Being a socialist is about living compassionately, doing no harm to any other living creature, whether that is an animal or fellow human animal. Understanding and being sympathetic towards the other beings on this planet is an essential part of life. Not breeding animals to slaughter and eat them, allowing rainforests to grow, helping our fellow humans when they need it. It’s about having a value system; socialism and veganism go hand in hand. The reason for the terrible treatment of animals by humans cannot go without discussion, the link between the harm done to animals by the hand of humans and the harm we do each other must be made. The consumption of animal products has gone on for such a long time and is considered so normal that we have disassociated the violence towards animals and the violence towards people. As Steven Best writes in his paper Rethinking Revolution: Animal Liberation, Human Liberation, and the future of the Left.

“The project to emancipate animals is integrally related to the struggle to emancipate humans and the battle for a viable natural world. To the extent that animal liberationists grasp the big picture that links animal and human rights struggles as one, and seeks to uncover the roots of oppression and tyranny of the Earth, they can be viewed as a profound new liberation movement that has a crucial place in the planetary struggles against injustice, oppression, exploitation, war, violence, capitalist neo-liberalism, and the destruction of the natural world and biodiversity.”

Essentially, people capable of violence towards animals are capable of violence towards people. Human animals that partake in the meat industry (whether they be farmers, CEOs of dairy companies, meat eaters or vegetarians) are guilty of this violence. They may not have killed the animal but they are creating the demand. Capitalist ideologies promote animal exploitation for human gain largely for the purpose of wealth. Not the wealth of the many, but the wealth of the few and it has been well documented that it is unnecessary. Films like Earthlings and Cowspiracy are evidence of this. Really, it's not okay for humans to treat humans in the ways they do. We have all seen the evidence of the tragic conditions in sweatshops, the awful way people are treated in the diamond trade. Humans largely carry on in their lives turning a blind eye, keeping it out of sight and out of mind all for the greed of material gain. I pose the question, how can we expect to treat animals with more respect when we are so careless with our attitude towards other humans? The two are synonymous.

One of the defining examples of capitalism in action is the slave trade, blatant exploitation of other human beings. In the western world we abolished slavery and have liberated people out of slavery, but now animals are the slaves. Can we humans be truly liberated if we continue to keep animals in slavery and exploit them for the human purposes? We are all animals, after all.

For me, the environment is one of the most important reasons for being vegan. Our survival on this fragile planet depends on us living compassionately with all the animals that call it home. We have all been made aware of how catastrophic the meat industry is for the environment. So much more than the damage that comes from mining for coal or driving cars etc., contrary to what we have been told for decades (please watch Cowspiracy for more information on this). We need to look at our individual lifestyles and judge ourselves on what we do that contributes to wrecking our planet. Our local councils have made recycling our household waste a central issue and its great to bring that to light and make it so easy for it to happen by having the doorstep collection. However, if you care about the environment enough to recycle, then why add to the problem by being involved in the meat industry? A plant-based lifestyle is the only way we can restore the balance in our environment, recycling our waste is just a drop in the ocean in comparison.

Lets look at socialism in action. Jeremy Corbyn. He appointed Kerry McCarthy, a vegan, to position of shadow secretary for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. This demonstrates that Corbyn understands the connection between our fragile plant (that doesn’t belong to us) and a plant-based lifestyle. Having someone like McCarthy in government would bring about real change. The sort of change socialists, vegans and environmentalists have only dreamed of. It would be at the heart of policies not driven out of the public eye because big business will suffer.

At this point I would like to dispel a myth. That myth is that Jeremy Corbyn is unelectable. This is simply not true; no one is unelectable. This is just something the right-wing-press have thought up because they feel truly threatened by the power Corbyn has to create actual change, to bring about a very real alternative to what we have seen in politics for decades. In fact, and this is of paramount importance, Jeremy Corbyn is already elected. He was elected party leader with the biggest majority ever seen. Twice. We don’t ever vote for the person who will be our prime minister, we vote for local MPs and we have seen party leaders change while they are governing our country without having to consult the public. It happened when Blair stepped down, Brown took over. And it happened when Cameron quit, May stepped in. So it is our duty as citizens of this country to vote for what we believe in, the party with the most appealing manifesto, not a personality.

Anyway, back to veganism. I have been talking to Feeding Hungry Minds who deliver the school meals at the school my daughter will start at in September. They have been so helpful and happy to create a personal menu for my daughter so she can be vegan at school. Then the Tory manifesto came out and it said they intend to scrap free school meals. If free school meals are taken away, parents/carers will need to provide packed lunches, which are harder to keep nutritionally adequate and without proper nutrition children cannot learn properly, thus dumbing down a whole group of children. And who, typically, is that group? The poor. I am totally livid about the free school meals being scrapped, not just because this directly affects our family life (not just financially, but also the pressures it adds and the additional time it takes to make a packed lunch) but it will affect the poorest and most vulnerable the most. For so many children this will be their only meal in the day. What kind of compassionate person would think this is ok? Certainly not a mother.

Simon Amstell, writer and director of Carnage says in his interview with Russell Brand, the treatment of cows is a feminist issue. Mothers are having their children taken away from them. It’s a totally awful experience for them, they cry for their babies. How can this be accepted in our society? What kind of compassionate person would be ok? Taking babies away from mothers? So humans can drink their milk? Milk for their babies, not yours.

Steven Best talks a great deal about Speciesism in his article. Speciesism, according to Best, is the belief that nonhuman species exist to serve the needs of the human species. He makes the connection between speciesism and racism or sexism saying it creates a “false dualistic division between one group and another in order to arrange the differences hierarchically and justify the domination of the “superior” and “inferior”.” He says that if leftists and socialists can overcome speciesism and understand how important animal liberation is by becoming vegan, we can then truly overcome the problems we have with the natural world.

I end on a quote from Ghandi:

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

Vote Labour, become vegan.

Hannah x

I would like to thank Hannah for all the hard work and effort she put into creating this post for my blog and I am sure she would love to hear back from some of you so please comment below or tweet her your thoughts.

If you are a vegan planning on voting for the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats or the Green Party then please do get in touch and email me if you would like to contribute your own guest post on this subject.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Wanting, But Failing, To Be Body Positive

I can't really remember a time when I felt as though I really loved my body and figure. I find myself continually reflecting on this being a pretty sad state of affairs but also feeling completely unable to change my mindset. It really annoys me how much time I spend worrying about this and the years I have spent unhappy in my skin. It contributes towards feeling depressed and does very little for my self esteem. At times I feel like it rules my life and my mind and what's really annoying is that I know that if I tried hard enough it could be something I could change for the better.    


Friday, 19 May 2017

Vegan Snack Attack!

Over the past few weeks I've been lucky enough to receive an abundance of different vegan snacks to try out and I've decided to share my favourites with you all in one big blog post. Some of them you may already know and love, others may be totally new to you, but one thing's for sure - they'll all get your mouth watering! 


Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Brighton 2017 - Part 2

Last week we enjoyed our second stay in Brighton of 2017 and I made a conscious effort to try out some new places to eat which, in a place like Brighton, was really hard! It's always so tempting to go back to some of our favourite places but, after numerous visits over the past few years, I still found myself with on ongoing 'must try' list which needed some action taking. 


Monday, 15 May 2017

The Artist Residence Brighton

Last week we celebrated our 4 year wedding anniversary and enjoyed a week away with our time split between Brighton and a return visit to Chewton Glen's amazing Treehouses in the New Forest. We decided on a return visit to Brighton as I was fortunate enough to secure us tickets to see Ricky Gervais in his new 'Humanity' stand up tour, which just so happened to be taking place on our actual anniversary. It gave us the perfect excuse to plan a few days away and this time I was keen to try out a hotel i'd heard so much about, The Artist Residence

When staying in Brighton we usually go down the Air B'n'B route as we normally have the dogs with us and tend to find these properties more dog friendly than hotels. It actually made a really nice change this time to be staying in a proper hotel with all the little luxuries like a mini bar and having your room serviced daily. 

After looking on The Artist Residence website and exploring their many different unique and diverse rooms I was quick to decide on one of the Bigger House Sea View rooms which lured me in with its appealing freestanding bath tub. We don't have a full size bath at home so I always like to book rooms with a big tub so I can make the most of the ability to have a long soak and enjoy some of my Lush goodies! 

The Artist Residence is in such a great location set within the historic Regency Square directly opposite the seafront and the i360, and it's within easy walking distance to the city centre. There's also an underground car park right outside the hotel which made everything so much easier. If you know Brighton you will know that it can be a nightmare to park and when you're carrying luggage you really don't want to have to leave your car too far away. 

I think my favourite aspect of this hotel is that it's set within a typical Brighton regency townhouse which has so much character and grandeur. Despite being a hotel it also gives you the same feeling as with an Air BnB whereby you feel part of the community and not like a visiting tourist. It's both homely and welcoming whilst also being quite quirky and eccentric with its styling. It's definitely the coolest place we have ever stayed in Brighton.  

Our room was a great size and I loved the mix of modern rustic furniture with more traditional period pieces. It was also really well equipped with everything we needed including a mini Smeg fridge stocked with a variety of drinks and a vast selection of snacks to choose from. My husband really appreciated the tea and coffee making facilities too as some rooms we have stayed in recently haven't had both and we often miss the ability to make a nice cuppa in the evening.  

It was really good to see some decent complementary toiletries in the room too which just so happened to be natural and cruelty free. This was again another nice touch and it's more often the little things like this that make a stay at a hotel all the more comfortable and enjoyable. 

The view from the room also didn't disappoint and if you can I would definitely pay a bit extra to enjoy the sea view. It felt amazing to be able to wake up and look outside the window to be greeted by this view! I'm pretty undecided how I feel about the i360 myself and I can imagine that full time residents and home owners on this square must have been quite annoyed by the new addition to the skyline, but there's no denying that it does make photographs a little more interesting and eye catching.  

The hotel is also home to the 'Cocktail Shack' which is a great spot to enjoy a drink in the evening. We decided to stop here for a cocktail before seeing Ricky Gervais (which was an amazing & hilarious show btw - definitely see it if you can!). We were there on a Tuesday night so it was pretty quiet but from what I hear this bar is very popular at the weekend.  

There's also a cafe and restaurant at the hotel but from what I could see on the menu it was pretty meat orientated with limited choice for vegans so we didn't decide to eat there at all during our stay and with so much choice for vegans in Brighton it wouldn't have made any sense to anyway. One night we ordered a Pizza Face Deliveroo to the hotel as we were quite late back and this worked well. It's so good to have the option of Deliveroo when staying in Brighton especially for people like us who don't really venture out much in the evenings (I sound so old!).  

All in all we had a fantastic stay at The Artist Residence and it's somewhere I would definitely stay again and recommend to others. In my opinion it beats any larger chain hotels by a long shot and it encompasses a lot of what Brighton is about being colourful, arty and fun! The only downside for me is that they don't offer any dog friendly rooms and that would be the only thing to stop us staying there again if we had our fur babies with us.   

Keep an eye out soon for my new Brighton post where i'll be sharing with you all some of the new places where we ate out vegan on this trip. It doesn't matter how many times I go back, there's always somewhere new to eat out at! 


Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Cruelty Free Makeup I Buy Again And Again

One thing I always get asked about is what makeup I am wearing and I would like to think that is a compliment to my face looking semi alright and the only reason it generally looks ok is due to good makeup! I would love to be one of those women who can get away with minimal to no makeup but I have had to accept a long time ago that I need a little help in that department. I also love makeup, as well as applying it, and for a long time I actually considered being a makeup artist. 


Monday, 1 May 2017

April Life

Does anyone else feel like April has been a whirlwind of a month which has come and gone in a bat of an eyelid!?? I can't quite believe we are already in May and 2017 is nearly half way over! April is always one of my favourite months and I really enjoy the brighter days, warmer weather and that little bit of time before Summer kicks in when it still feels ok to snuggle up under a blanket without sweating!  


I've actually been feeling (mostly) really good this month. Sorry if I sound surprised but the start of this year was a bit glum and it's taken me a while to find my balance, but I think i'm finally there. We finally found the house we want to buy which has put a spring in my step and it feels like new beginnings are on the horizon. We also sold our house really quickly which was a relief! I love the idea of a fresh start somewhere new and all the decluttering and furniture selling has felt really productive. It feels like we're finally moving in the right direction and plans are in motion! There's a slight bit of anxiety with worrying that it could all fall through at any moment but for the most part we're just excited and looking forward to getting into the new house.  


At the start of April we enjoyed a really great evening out to see Russell Brand's new stand up show Re-Birth in Cambridge. He is one of my favourite people in the world and whenever he tours we tend to go to see him. The last time was in 2014 in Cambridge and the Corn Exchange is a really great venue for live shows as it feels quite intimate. This time our seats were just a few rows from the front which was amazing! He put on such a great show and it's so good to see him back doing stand up comedy again. 

Quite a lot of this month has been spent enjoying the sunshine and the outdoors. It's been so nice to go out for walks without having to bring a coat along! One of my favourite walks this month was to Arger Fen in Suffolk where we got to see their famous bluebell woods. It was so beautiful!  

There was one Sunday, you can probably remember the one I am talking about, where it was so hot! I think it reached about 24 degrees in Essex and so we decided to make the most of it by enjoying a spot of sunbathing at the outdoor pool at our health club. It felt so amazing to be catching some rays so early on in the year and to be doing so in such perfect surroundings. This alone makes the David Lloyd membership worthwhile! 

Another weekend we went to our favourite Essex beach in Frinton on Sea with the dogs and enjoyed a really long walk all the way up to Walton on the Naze. The dogs absolutely love playing and running on this sandy beach! They always have so much fun which really makes us happy. 

Our dog walks have been made even more picturesque by all the blossom petals which adorn the ground at the moment. Blossom makes everything so pretty and I was so happy to see that there is a blossom tree in the garden of the new house! 

I've been so good with my gym schedule this month and i've really made the most of it. With no breaks away and being at home quite a lot it's been the perfect time to get stuck into a solid routine. And i've felt so good for it! It often feels like a struggle getting myself there but the saying 'you never regret a workout' is so true. I've seen real improvements in my strength and fitness and this confidence boost led me to try out some new classes too. It's definitely helped with my mental health too and on days where I have had a low mood it's really perked me up.  


I must confess that I have been really addicted to hot cross buns this month! Most supermarket own brand bakery ones tend to be vegan friendly and my favourite are the Waitrose Essential ones. My husband also found these cute vegan friendly bunny gingerbread biscuits at Co-Op which were perfect for Easter weekend! 

As I am attempting to watch what I eat we didn't go too crazy with chocolate over Easter but we did enjoy a few treats, one of my favourites being this vegan creme egg which came inside The Vegan Kind box. It was so yummy! 

On our night out to Cambridge we decided to head to Zizzi's for dinner as we hadn't been there for so long and I was really craving one of their vegan pizzas. My favourite pizza toppings to have there are mushrooms, spinach, pine nuts and balsamic caramelised onions which are divine! 

An amazing food discovery this month were the vegan ready meals by All Plants. I got to try a couple of their meals out for a blog review and I was so impressed by them! They're really perfect for anyone who can't or doesn't have time to cook. We also found them really useful to have in the freezer as quick meals post workout or when we were feeling lazy. I really can't recommend these enough and i'm looking forward to trying out more of their meals soon! 

On the third Saturday of every month there's a vegan street food market in Hackney and this month we were fortunate enough to be free on the date it fell on so we decided to make the most of it and head into East London for the day. The street food market was so good and I even bumped into one of my favourite fellow vegan blogger friends Nadia from the Not So Quiet Grrl blog. We really enjoyed these super tasty and heavily loaded burgers and I also picked up a couple of pretty cupcakes from the Heart of Cake stall.    

Whilst in East London we decided to stop by at Palm Vaults cafe which has been on my hit list for a while now. Although not a solely vegan cafe they have a good selection of vegan options including gorgeous cake and avo on toast. This small cafe is so popular due to it's gorgeous interior which is an Instagrammers dream come true! If you're keen to check this place out i'd recommend booking in advance as the queues are no joke.   

On Easter Sunday we found ourselves with no plans and no food in the house (not ideal!) so we headed out in search of a decent roast and was lucky to come across one at The Mill hotel in Sudbury. Considering that they didn't have an option for a veggie / vegan roast on the menu they really did come up trumps for us with this one. In essence it was just a load of veg on a plate but it really did taste amazing and it was exactly what we wanted! 

The big news in the vegan food world this month was the release of vegan donuts delivered to your door by The Vegan Kind. I was lucky enough to be sent a few of these to try out and oh my god they are so good! They taste exactly like, if not better than, Krispy Kremes and it's just amazing that you can get these delivered to you. They've been selling out pretty quick so be sure to set a reminder on your phone if you want to be in with a chance of enjoying one of these!  

My final great discovery of the month was this chefs special vegan wrap in Pret which, if memory serves me correct, was a mix of crunchy veg and hummus. It sounds a lot blander than it was and it was actually really tasty! It was exactly what I needed to fuel myself on a shopping trip to Chelmsford. 


There's not many times i'll be able to write this in this section of the regular monthly life posts, but this month we bought a house! After months and months of searching we finally found the house that ticked a lot of our boxes and it's really true when you hear people say that when you find the right house you just feel it. The photo above isn't the house, it's a pub garden drink we enjoyed after having our offer accepted in a pub a stones throw from the house! I won't be giving too much away about the house until we're actually moved in but we are staying in Essex, albeit closer to London, and my hope for more land to offer a home to rescue chickens will soon be a reality. I can't wait! 

I'm also not going to lie, as I have been selling and de-cluttering I have also been making some new furniture purchases which, despite my new minimalistic ways, has been pretty enjoyable. The new house is a total new style to our current one and we will be going for a much more modern and minimal look. I've also had at the forefront of my mind when making purchases that I want them to be really good quality items which bring me joy, rather than just buying something functional. I want to fill my new home with less things but things that I really love.    

I lasted a good month or so without buying any new clothing until now. I just couldn't resist this Brunch Club tee by Joanie Clothing which I have been getting a lot of wear out of this month.  

I also needed a new lightweight jacket and after much consideration I decided on this black denim one from River Island. I want to make more mindful purchases when it comes to new clothing and I want things that will last me a long time and not go in and out of fashion. Denim jackets have been around for centuries so I know this will last me and i've been wearing it so much i'm now considering getting a blue denim one too. When and if I buy anything new I am trying to then remove something from my wardrobe that I don't wear so I don't find myself back to square one with an overfilled closet! 

I also spotted these cacti pj's in Sainsbury's and it was like love at first sight. I bought them for my upcoming Summer holiday but have actually decided to start wearing them sooner because they're just too nice to be packed away until June! They're really lightweight and perfect for the warmer months.





I'm really excited for May for so many reasons! Firstly we have a week away planned where we will be visiting my Mum for a few days and spending a couple of nights in Brighton for our wedding anniversary. We also have tickets to see Ricky Gervais in Brighton on our actual anniversary so we're really looking forward to that. After all the upheaval of the house stuff here it will be nice to get away from it all for a while and just do some normal things. Hopefully in May things will have progressed with the legal side of our house move and we may get a date for moving but I don't think we'll be actually going anywhere until June sometime. 

How was April for you?

What are you excited for in May? 

Have a great month!   
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