World Vegan Month Part III

How I talk to people about Veganism

Generally, if I can avoid it, I don’t. Anyone who says they don’t want to be liked is lying; and people are judgmental. People hear that you are vegan and immediately form an opinion of you, whether positive or negative. Some keep that to themselves, some take time to think about it and ask you questions due to genuine interest, some look for an argument and some are just plain rude.

The latter, I just ignore and take myself out of the situation as quickly as possible.

Pretty similar with people who just want an argument. You’ll normally know the difference between genuine interest and argumentative reactions by their tone, and how quickly they respond. If it’s an immediate ‘BUT WHY?!’ or something similar, they probably don’t actually want a proper answer, just to tell you all the reasons why you’re wrong. In these situations, I also try and shut it down pretty sharpish. Arguments get you nowhere. They’re just a waste of everyone’s time and energy.

As much as I would really like more people to take up a vegan lifestyle, I am not in the business of converting. I will answer any questions people may have, and politely tell them they are wrong when they say things like ‘but chickens aren’t harmed for us to get eggs’, but what I choose to eat or not is my business, and their choice is their own.

Often I end up feeling like a burden, like when my manager was buying snacks for stocktake and was stressing about what he could get for me (thank god for Oreos), which is why I tend not to tell people I’m vegan unless I have to. It’s not that I’m embarrassed of being vegan, quite the opposite I am very proud, it’s more that I feel awkward that others have to change their habits/conveniences to suit me.

I do love giving people little vegan facts, though. Seeing peoples’ reactions when I tell them random things like some alcohol isn’t vegan, or that party rings are sfv etc. can be fun. For me it’s important to keep it lighthearted and funny because not taking things too seriously is part of my personality in the majority of situations. You’ve got to give me notice if you want to have a serious discussion cause I need time to get in the zone.

November turned out to be a really busy month for me, so sadly I didn’t manage to do a weekly blog for World Vegan Month.. three out of four ain’t bad though, even if the last one is very, very late. Thanks for reading, if anyone stuck with me 🙂

 

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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/ME

A year (and a bit) since diagnosis

And what a year it has been.

Since being diagnosed last July, I’ve left two jobs to start new ones, I’ve moved out of my parents’ house, been to a six week self-management course, become a vegan, and come off my antidepressants after over three years.

And yes, I’m still incredibly tired; despite making lots of positive changes that have helped in different ways.

Having a label isn’t always a good thing, but when you have so many different symptoms that don’t seem to add up to anything in particular, ME is a really useful label. I can use it to tell employers why I might need an extra break during the day, or can’t do a particular task one day that I was fine doing last week.

I still find it hard to tell people I have this condition, and I’m still working on exactly why that might be. There are many different reasons I can come up with; such as I don’t think they’ll believe me and they’ll just think I’m being lazy or attention-seeking, or I don’t want them to feel sorry for me or treat me any differently, or I just don’t really like talking about myself to people that aren’t my closest friends or family.

For all of those reasons I have only told a select few people, and even then it’s mostly been because I’ve felt like I’ve had to. And so far the reaction has been mostly positive, and the negative ones I think have been down to me not expressing myself clearly enough, which is something I have been working on. It’s important I make it known I’m being serious, which is difficult when I am almost always joking around or being sarcastic.

One way of describing the way ME makes me feel that I’ve used recently is that ‘it’s like being really hungover, but all the time’, which is something most people can relate to and immediately get it, if only the tip the iceberg. It also helps keep the conversation light-hearted, because I don’t want to go into all my symptoms (which is a bloody long list) when someone’s just asked what it’s like to have the condition, because they’ve never heard of it before.

I think what I’m trying to say is; nothing has changed, but everything has changed. I know what I’m dealing with, and I know (thanks to the self-management course and lots of internet research) what I can do to help myself and make my life easier. Going forward, I need to learn how to tell people when I don’t feel well and how to ask for help, and I need to commit to practicing mindfulness regularly to make sure I’m getting enough relaxation time.

This has been a post. Sort of.

 

 

Veganuary Week Four – Not Just for January!

Veganuary is over! And it was… surprisingly easy! You can tell how excited I am because I’ve used three exclamation marks already.

Unfortunately for me, I am not one of those people who goes vegan and feels loads of health benefits or have more energy, but that was a long shot considering my CFS. Also a long shot because of course I’ve tried most of the vegan junk food on offer in the supermarket where I work :’).

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Exhibit A in the unhealthy food category – crumpets and melted vegan cheese

However, knowing I am finally causing as little harm as possible, to my knowledge, to animals makes me feel as if a weight has been lifted from my shoulders; I’m no longer carrying around this guilt caused by knowing how much suffering the dairy and egg industries inflict on cows and chickens.

I also had no idea how much of an impact animal agriculture had on climate change and the planet. The industry contributes more carbon dioxide than all of the world’s transport combined?!?! Blew my mind. It genuinely baffles me that people can call themselves environmentalists and still eat meat, knowing this fact. Burying our heads in the sand about carbon emissions etc. set us back years, think how long this is going to set us back, and how much this is going to impact the planet.

On top of the animals and the planet, there’s the humans. The fact that the grain we in the West use to feed livestock could be used to feed the entire hum

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I’ve actually started to like mushrooms?!

an population of the world, leaving not a single person starving, infuriates me. Why should developed countries have the ‘privilege’ of slaughtering animals for meat, not only at the expense of those animals, but also our fellow human beings.

Knowing all of this, I don’t think I can ever going back to eating animal products. Yes I might slip up sometimes, but as long as I’m doing what I can, I know I’ll feel much happier.

Here’s to Vegan February, March, April, May, June… you get the idea 😉

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Vegan mac and cheese-less, so yum.

Veganuary Week Three – Documentaries

Here it is, finally, my review of five vegan documentaries I’ve watched over the past couple of weeks. They’ve definitely kept me on track, if not frazzled my brain slightly with all of the mind-boggling facts in the process.

Cowspiracy

I had a lot of “WTF????” moments whilst watching this first film. I knew there was some environmental benefits of vegetarianism and veganism, but I had no idea to what extent. And that extent is extreme, and made my overall takeaway from this; why are we not doing anything about this??? Although, the documentary did sort of answer that by explaining just how much influence the meat and dairy industries have in US government. For me this wasn’t so surprising – we all know that money rules the world – but it’s still shocking.

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I recommend all of these films, but if you’re particularly interested in the environment and the causes of climate change, I highly recommend this one, because I haven’t seen the discussion of the impact of animal agriculture on the planet in any other film or article.

Forks Over Knives

This was another “OMG????” documentary, but this time to do with health. The film goes into great detail about studies done by two different men – one a doctor the other a scientist- who have basically proven that animal products cause cancer and heart disease and other big killers in the Western world. Animal products literally cause cancer. How are we not talking about this???

One fact that blew my mind was that erectile dysfunction is one of the first signs of coronary heart disease. I’ve never heard this before but it makes so much sense! If arteries are blocked, blood can’t flow around the body properly, so can’t get to the penis! And it’s animal products that cause the arteries to block (you’ll have to watch it for the proper science), so if you wanna still be able to get it up, you’d better go vegan!

Vegucated

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In this one we follow three meat-eaters as they embark on the vegan journey, and learn all aspects of veganism and the benefits of it. Therefore it was well-rounded and looked at all aspects-from the environment, to health, to animal welfare. Going on the journey along with these people was also very interesting, and made it seem like something much more achievable, as we could see real people and the struggles they went through and how they dealt with them.

Earthlings

Earthlings is always talked about as one of those films that turns people off meat due to it’s shocking nature. It makes me feel sick, want to cry and get angry all at once. It is really heavy, and very graphic, so if that’s something you don’t think you can watch, I wouldn’t recommend. However, the shock-tactic certainly works for me, and lots of other people, especially as the main reason for me embarking on vegetarianism was compassion for animals. I can never unsee those images of the cruelty inflicted on innocent creatures, and couldn’t live with myself if I went back to contributing to that in any way.

As well as the shocking images – including slaughterhouse workers stomping on chickens and throwing pigs around by the tail – there are some myths defunked in this film, including the ‘no part is wasted’ myth in regards to the leather industry. Many people believe leather comes from cattle also raised for meat, but the film shows cattle bought from poor, desperate families in India, put through a terrible and drawn-out ordeal before being slaughtered purely for their skin.

Meat the Truth

With this being the fifth documentary on this topic I’ve watched within a couple of weeks, it isn’t surprising that the majority of the facts and figures were the same as I had already learnt.

However, all of the previous films have been American, so to have a European (specifically Dutch) perspective was really interesting. Marianne Thieme is a great speaker; very likeable and able to keep you intrigued through all of the numbers and percentages.

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Overall, I highly recommend watching all of these documentaries if you’re at all interested in any of these topics. Ignorance is often bliss, but having our eyes wide open is the only way we’re going to make positive changes in our own lives, to the lives of others, animals and the planet.

284268_210517712331331_2327292_nP.S. I always think it’s good to read around the topic to get other opinions, don’t take everything at face value, and always with a pinch of salt. Do your own research as well as watching these informative films, folks!

P.P.S. All of these are on Netflix apart from Earthlings and Meat the Truth which are on Youtube 🙂

Veganuary – Week One

Finally, after over two years of being a vegetarian and banging on about how I want to eventually be vegan, I’ve gone and given it a go!

So far, it’s going really well, and I’m so pleased. I’ve had two tiny dairy slip-ups – one on New Year’s Day when extremely hungover and I was made a milky cup of tea, and the other stealing a small piece of bread with butter on it – but that’t it, and after a week I’m getting used to it and I don’t think it’ll happen again. After all, the first time I said I was going to do a veggie big shop, I came home with a ham and pineapple pizza, and I haven’t done that since!

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Linda McCartney sausages, mash, peas and onion gravy – vegan comfort food 

I definitely think it’s a good idea to go vegan gradually. I have a number of friends who have gone straight from being an omnivore to trying veganism and have failed within the first few weeks or months; many then giving up on the idea because they think it’s too hard.

Being veggie first means I’m used to cutting things out, finding alternatives and reading food labels. It also means I’m firm in my beliefs and my reasons behind giving up meat, and extending that to giving up eggs and dairy, so it’s less about willpower and more about remembering why I’m doing this, and that makes it much less difficult.

Here are some of my favourite vegan products that I’ve found so far:

 

First is obviously that vegan staple: tofu. These marinated tofu pieces are so easy to cook and so delicious I don’t know why I wasn’t using them before. The meal is a yummy stir fry – Sainsbury’s frozen stir fry veg, Cauldron tofu pieces, Yutaka wheat noodles and Sainsbury’s light soy sauce.

Next there’s my favourite, so far, plant-based milk: Oatly! oat milk. Perfect in porridge, my favourite breakfast (Quaker Oats Golden Syrup Flavour), and I’ve heard it’s great in tea so I’ll definitely be giving that a try.

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Hazelnut milk in coffee is pretty good, and rice milk is okay, but I’m hoping when I try more milk alternatives I’ll find one that I like more.

Next something that is very important to me: vegan cheese. I was so happy when Sainsbury’s brought out a range of free from cheese-style products, but very nervous to try them.

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Luckily, I like them! The cheddar-style is probably my least favourite, but on a sandwich with some salad it’s hard to tell the difference. The other two are perfect straight swaps for the dairy version, and I use them in the exact same way.

Finally some sweet things I found in the free from section where I work (Booths, northern Waitrose if you haven’t heard of it :)) Lazy Day Foods free from millionaire shortbread and Bell’s Gluten-free jam tarts – they’re delicious! Who needs dairy or eggs??wp-1483893785930.jpg

Next week I’ll make another update on how the month is going – possibly with some reviews of the documentaries I’m planning on watching this week, just to keep me motivated.

Thanks for reading!

 

Grad Ball

So it’s been a while since Nottingham University’s Graduation Ball 2015 now, but I’m finally getting around to making my post about it. Mostly about what I wore, because the event itself was a bit meh, I only had such a great time because of the people that were there and the amount of wine I drank (and with boiling temperatures in the marquee and hall and no free water, I’m blaming dehydration on the horrific hangover I suffered the next day).

I wanna start with my hair because Gemma did such a fantastic job! I was joking when I asked her to make it into a bow, but she actually did it and it looked amazing. She is a wizard.

11427658_10153156528906713_7037470422335653195_n11407047_10153156529306713_6762972386539455940_nLooook! So impressed by those skills.

My dress is the Elsa dress from Chi Chi London, and it made me feel like a princess, even after my New Look shoes started to make my feet feel like they were on fire. And like I was walking on knives. 11425187_10152979449537749_6822650503264366455_n

For my make-up I went with GOSH BB cream and mineral powder (for extra coverage and staying power), B. ‘Glowing Shimmer Block’ blush, Benefit ‘Brow Zings’ brow kit, Barry M ‘Starry Eyed’ eyeshadow palette (on the lid and on the bottom lash line), GOSH ‘Intense’ black eyeliner pen, Soap and Glory ‘Thick and Fast’ mascara and Natural Collection strawberry shortcake lipgloss.

I don’t know what I looked like by the end of the night after I’d sweated out all of the moisture in my body, but early on I felt pretty fantastic! And all of my girls looked absolutely fabulous; all of the photos of us laughing are my favourites 🙂