Floof Friday

So I realised that I had gone through Rabbit Awareness Week without bringing any awareness to my rabbit. She is easily the most spoilt rabbit in all of England (possibly the world) and I would not have her any other way. She is sassy, she is a banana fiend and she will literally lie there for hours if it means she gets head rubs.

She is also a very messy eater…but only over herself…

I hope this week has provided you with some useful information about rabbit care but if you have found any other useful tips or articles, please do share them with me! I am always looking for more ways to spoil this little bunny rotten…

T xxx

How to bunny proof your home

Following on from my previous post, I thought it would be helpful to share some of the bunny proofing tricks that I have used in my own home to protect my home and my bunnies. A lot of this has been done through trial and error and while a few of them were a bit of a hassle to set up they have been worth it in the long run.

1. Cable covers

Hands down the best purchase we ever made. This has come in handy so many times and since bunnies are absolutely obsessed with eating the forbidden ‘Spicy Hay’, these cable covers will make sure that they can’t chew through the wires no matter how determined they may be. We bought a few packets of this white cable covering from Ikea and that allowed us to cover all of the cables behind our TV: power plugs, internet cable, HDMIs, extension leads…all covered and safe from bunny teeth. I would recommend you get the cable covers that are very tightly coiled so that there are no gaps in the casing once the cable is s covered. I would also recommend that you cover every single cable – even if you think it would be too high for your bunny to reach, trust me when I say they will find a way to chew it.That was how we lost our first internet cable…

2. a puppy pen

Another really useful item that we purchased was a puppy pen. We made sure to get one that was collapsible and came apart, as we use the individual grates to block off any areas of the house which we don’t want our bunny getting to. We use ours mainly to block off the TV (our bunny is quite obsessed with pulling out all of our games and DVDs so she can climb into the TV unit) or the side of the fridge. We also use one as a make-shift baby gate to stop her going into the bedroom unsupervised without us having to shut every door in the house. We also went for a puppy pen that was way higher than needed, just so there was no chance that our bunny could jump over it. Ours came with 8 metal grates that you link together with long poles, meaning that we can use the grates individually or block of areas using only 2 or 3.

The pen was also helpful when we first got our bunnies, as it gave them more space to hop around in when they were first home and meant that we could slowly expand their living area as we got everything bunny proofed. It also came in handy (the real MVP if I’m honest) when our bunnies de-clanned, as it meant we could safely separate them both and attempt re-bonding with much more ease than had we tried to keep them both in separate rooms the whole time. I would recommend though that you get the pen grates that have the thinner gaps, as we learnt early on that rabbits are 90% fluff and can get through the smallest of spaces.

3. Skirting board edges

So this may be a hack but it has honestly worked perfectly for us. We picked up some of these right angle plastic piping covers and cut them down to size to cover all of the skirting boards that the bunnies could easily get to. We stuck them down with just a little bit of double sided tape and honestly they have been fantastic. The bunnies can have little nibbles of the plastic without causing any damage at all to it, and once they’ve worked out that they can’t chew this material, they lose all interest. We mainly have it in our living room/kitchen and the bedroom as this was where the bunnies spent most of their time and started to try and chew these skirting boards the most. Now our bunny pays no attention at all to skirting boards. As the covers are also white, they blend perfectly into the skirting boards themselves so you keep that polished and clean look.

4. Storage boxes

Anything at bunny level will inevitably be chewed. Bunnies explore their surroundings the same way dogs and cats do – with their teeth. They will have little nibbles of everything they come across to work out what it is they have actually come across. As such, anything that is left unguarded on a low shelf or on the floor will be played with by your bunny. We use these fabric boxes to put onto any shelves or ledges that are within bunny reach. We also fill them with somewhat heavy things – blankets, duvet sets, books etc – so that a cheeky bunny can’t just pull it out and go wild. Again…learnt that the hard way. You can pick these up pretty cheaply too and while your bunny may take a few nibbles of them every so often, they are pretty sturdy and unlikely to sustain any real damage. I also find they make my areas look a lot neater as all of the contents are hidden away and out of sight. Again this probably helps make the area look far less interesting to a curious little bunny.

5. Tidy up after yourself!

This is the biggest thing when it comes to bunny proofing. While all of the above will make your life much easier and your home much more suitable for a little bunny, do not leave anything precious within close, unsupervised proximity. I have lost many a bag handle because I left the strap hanging just a little bit too low on the table, or did not put my shoes away properly and woke up the next day to find the covered in tiny little teeth marks. It obviously goes without saying that this is not the best thing for your rabbit – you don’t want them chewing or ingesting anything that could harm them – but it can be hard sometimes to know exactly what is safe out of reach of your bunny. Bunnies are incredibly determined creatures and they love to explore, so if there is a nice new item just out of their reach, they will spend hours trying to get to it. Always make sure that your bunny’s area is clean and tidy, and full of fun and exciting toys to keep them busy especially when you may be asleep or out of the house and they can’t be supervised the whole time. If you have even the slightest concern that they may be able to reach something, move it away. Always better to be overly cautious so as to protect both your bunny and your general belongings.

I hope this all helps but do let me know if you have found any other useful ideas to keep your home and your bunny safe!

T xxx

The Pros and Cons of owning a rabbit

It is Rabbit Awareness Week!

I feel that rabbits are horrifically underrepresented when it comes to pet care and pet ownership. Even if you have never owned a dog or a cat, I find most people know what it takes to care for each of them. Don’t get a dog unless you have the time to walk them, and don’t get a cat if you don’t want to empty a litter tray everyday. Now I will admit that as much as I love being a bunny mom to Lola (and to Sasha before she crossed the rainbow bridge) I was very much disillusioned as to just how much work goes into these little animals. We tried to do as much research as we could but found that there were few resources out there to fully prepare us, and many of the things we have learnt over the past 3 years of being bunny parents has been largely through a process of trial and error.

Therefore in the spirit of Rabbit Awareness Week, I thought it wise to share with you all some of the pros and cons I have found about owning rabbits, to helpfully provide you all with more information should you also be considering becoming a bunny parent.

Pros

1. Their curiosity

Rabbits are very curious creatures. They will want to explore every inch of their new home and find new and exciting ways to get into trouble. While some people may find this as a con, I love seeing Lola explore new areas. My partner and I try to be proactive and block off all the areas where she could damage either herself or property (skirting boards, wallpaper, wires, bags, shoes etc) yet somehow every day she will find a new way to surprise us – This last week she worked out that she can jump onto my desk chair and then work her way up to my desk, which has all sorts of new and interesting things to sniff and chew and play with including my laptop and my jewellery. So now every time we leave the house or go to bed we make sure that the chair is tucked in close to the table and fill it with pillows so she has no space to jump up.

This curiosity though also provides new ways to play with your bunny. If you find they love wires (as all bunnies love the forbidden Spicy Hay) then invest in a rope toy for them to chew on. If they love to nudge things out of their way, buy them some big straw balls that they can roll around and chew. One of Lola’s favourite toys is actually a cat toy: It’s a brightly coloured ball with a smaller ball and a bell in the middle. It has holes all around it which are the perfect size for her to pick up with her teeth and fling them around the room. They make a very satisfying thud and the bell is super loud and she loves to do this for at least 10-15 minutes a day.

2. They can be litter trained

Rabbits will go the bathroom every time they eat, and if you know one thing about rabbits it is the amount they can poop. However if you have their main source of food (hay) in one area they will learn that this is the area where they also go to the bathroom. Lola and Sasha both picked this up very quickly and aside from the occasional stray poop that is flung out of the litter tray when they jumped out, we rarely had any accidents. If anything, when Sasha was sick this was one of the first signs that something was wrong as she would not go to her litter tray.

We use a cat litter tray, but never use cat litter – it is toxic to rabbits. You can get a wide range of rabbit suitable litter from wood chips to recycled paper clumps. We use a recycled paper based litter so it is softer on Lola’s feet than the wood chips, and also means it is more absorbent, making it easier to clean.

In general though rabbits are very clean animals. They clean themselves the same way that a cat does most of the day and if you have a pair of bunnies you will find that they spend the vast majority of their time grooming each other too. Provided you keep up with cleaning their litter tray, there is practically no small – since their diet is 80% hay they tend to only smell like hay.

3. Their personalities

Lola and Sasha could not have been more wildly different: Sasha was the fun loving, free spirit who was not bothered by anything. Lola, however, will not eat her greens unless they are put into her specific bowl and placed at her chosen eating spot. Just as cats and dogs can have different personalities, so too can rabbits and I think this is where the majority of the misconceptions come from. People assume that because rabbits are small and cute, that they are automatically sweet and affectionate creatures. They are not. Rabbits can be very territorial and can get quite aggressive when they feel like someone is encroaching on their perceived territory: Lola for example has genuinely lunged at me before because I had the nerve to try and stop her chewing my bed frame. Rabbits are also naturally prey animals so can be very skittish and wary of new people or experiences: This can be anything from introducing a new person to them to picking them up.

But again this to me is a pro. Every single animal will have their own little quirks and personality and rabbits are no exception. I loved getting to know Lola and Sasha and even now Lola still finds new ways to make me laugh or melt my heart even further.

Cons

1. They require a lot of patience

Rabbits are prey animals so are naturally very skittish and very wary of everything around them, especially when you first bring them home. I think it took us about a week of bring Lola and Sasha home before they braved leaving their starter hutch. I cannot count the amount of time we spent just laying quietly on the floor while they hopped around us, sniffing us very slightly and fleeing for their hutch if we so much as blinked too loudly. While every rabbit is different, do not get a rabbit if you immediately want a super cuddly and affectionate pet. I have had Lola with us now for roughly 3 years, and there are still things I do that spook her: she hates it when we turn on our hob cooker (unavoidable as we need to eat) and if I wear a new pair of slippers she hasn’t fully inspected yet she will run from me.

But for me this makes the entire process so much more rewarding. To think that now when I lie down on the floor with her she has no hesitations to climb all over me, hopping on and off without a single worry. I love that when I come home and she hears the door open, she has a brief moment of panic but then goes straight back to sleep once she hears my voice and sees that it’s me. I put all of this down to how slowly we introduced her to everything. I would sometimes spend about an hour just sitting quietly on the floor with her and letting her chose how to interact with me. It also meant that during this time I got to just sit and watch her and sometimes even play with her toys with her: she would throw her ball at me, I would roll it back to her, she’d throw it back and then binky away. I think this is also why I think rabbits are not good pets to get for a child (if I really thought about it I don’t think any pet should really be left to the sole responsibility of a child) as it can take a while to truly earn their trust.

2. They are classed as exotic pets

This one is the biggest issue for me. Since rabbits are quite a common pet you would think more vets would know what to o with them when sick. But no, as with most areas of the pet industry vets tend to have a larger focus on cats and dogs. We are very lucky in that our local vet does have a specialist rabbit vet as part of their staff, but I think this is rare. When Sasha first became sick we took her to the vet multiple times and they couldn’t fully work out what was wrong. We had to take her to an emergency vet a few times too, at about half 11 at night when she would have an episode of G.I Stasis, and they wouldn’t know fully what to do apart from give her drugs. We ended up having to take her to a fully specialist vet – at the Royal Veterinary College in London. That was our nearest ‘specialist’ rabbit practice. Now the Royal Veterinary College were great, but at the same time even they couldn’t figure out was wrong with her. I think when it comes to pets, more research, time and education is put into how to properly care for cats and dogs instead of the many other pets that are out there, including rabbits. If you are looking to own a bunny then, I would implore you to do your research first and find out:

a) does your local vet have a rabbit expert?

b) where is your nearest emergency vet clinic?

c) how many rabbits does your vet have on their register?

d) what are your emergency vet fees like?

Without getting to how exploitative emergency vets are (I could go on for days) I would make sure to know exactly where the closest one is and what their fees are. Trust me when I say that some of these fees can be extortionate because it’s an ’emergency’. We went once and were charged nearly triple what our regular vet would have for the exact same medication that we would have gotten from our vet. But, as it was deemed an ’emergency’ and really we had no other choice because our pets life was literally on the line, we had no choice but to pay it. Now we are lucky because we always budget to have left over funds at the end of the month, and now we explicitly put money aside every month purely for ’emergency vet visits’. But some people may not be able to afford these fees and it is obviously a horrific situation to find yourself in.

3. They need a lot of room

Rabbits do not belong in hutches. I will die on this hill and if you think that rabbits do belong in a hutch long term then you need to seriously educate yourself. Again this is largely due to the lack of education that there is around rabbit and rabbit welfare and care that everyone assumes that a hutch is a perfectly good permanent living arrangement for a rabbit. It is not. It angers me beyond words that the general advice given is that a rabbit can have a hutch so long as it has space for 3 hops in any direction. For starters, that is barely any room at all and also restricts the amount of zoomies and binkies that a bunny can do (a bunny binky is the greatest thing to witness and everyone should experience this as often as possible) but can someone please explain to me why pet shops are EVEN ALLOWED to sell hutches that do not meet these space requirements?!

Sorry, it just really angers me.

While it takes a slightly bit more work, having your bunny live in a dedicated room – preferably one that you inhabit on a regular basis for a considerable amount of time – of your house will add infinite happiness to your bunny and to you. Lola currently occupies our entire living room/kitchen area, so we spend the majority of our time sitting around with her. She watches us play our video games, watches movies with us and binge watches TV series with us. She and I sit and have breakfast together every morning and in the evening we will sit together and have dinner. She gets to meet all of our friends and family, and I think this is what makes her such a confident little bunny. Having your bunny live in your house with you and enabling your bunny to live freely in your home will make bonding with them so much easier and will also mean you get to see your bunny more often, see them play and you will learn their little routines. The only time I think you should have any sort of hutch is when you first bring our bunny home, but this should be placed in the room they will soon inhabit and should be left mostly open for them. Then as they grow more confident and get used to their new surroundings – and you have fully bunny proofed the area so it is safe for them – you can remove the hutch all together.

Overall

Having a bunny adds a whole new level of joy to your life. I find something new about Lola every day that I spend with her and while looking after her can be hard work sometimes, it is a thousand percent worth it. I would not change being a bunny parent for anything in the world and I feel such joy, contentment and honour everyday at having this adorable little creature with me throughout my days.

T xxx

Can vegans eat home grown honey?

This is a topic of debate that I see very often and I am always interested in the different arguments for each side. I therefore though it would be fun to hear from you guys as to what you would do: Would you eat home grown honey? And by home grown I mean honey that comes from an individual’s own hive that they keep as a hobby, rather than from a farm or commercial enterprise that is mainly keeping bees for financial gain.

Do vegans usually eat commercial honey?

Obviously everyone is on their own vegan journey so there is no ‘correct’ answer, however from my experience and from speaking with other people the majority of vegans tend to avoid commercially produced honey. Some argue that it is because it is an animal product means a vegan should never eat this as vegans do not eat, wear or otherwise use any animal products as much as they possibly can. Honey would be no different.

Others have also mentioned that commercial honey comes with a large degree of exploitation and that on commercial scale honey farming the welfare of the bees is of least consideration. To harvest honey, bees need to first be smoked as this makes them sleepy and less aggressive, and then the actual harvesting part can cause the death of a lot of the colony’s bees because they get trapped in the machines or get trapped in the honey comb as it is being removed from the hive. Since the entire message behind veganism is to avoid causing harm to any living being as much as possible, by buying commercial honey you are directly funding the continuation of this practice.

The other point I see mentioned quite a bit is that the bees actually need the honey – it is their main food source and when winter comes it is all they have to survive on. Bees need the honey to survive, we don’t. So why eat something we don’t need, especially when there are so many vegan options out there that do the same job such as maple syrup and agave syrup, and in many cases are also cheaper than the honey on sale.

But how does home grown honey differ?

The largest plus of a person keeping their own bees and therefore being able to harvest their own honey is that they would know exactly what is being done to the bees. There would be no (or at least very little) concern over exploitation, as the bee keeper would only take what they wanted and would always ensure that the health of the hive came first. At least, that would be my thinking should I ever keep my own bees. I would know exactly how healthy the hive was, how much honey was produced and if I wanted to take a little amount for myself I would make sure that the hive always had enough honey in the combs to ensure a healthy winter.

The scale of honey harvesting would also be far smaller. One person can only eat so much honey, and even if they did gift it/sell it to friends or family this would be no where near the same scale as a commercial enterprise. 10 jars (let’s say) of honey is barely a drop compared to the hundreds of thousands of jars that are produced every day by a commercial company. Let’s also assume that a jar of honey would last a family a month – twelve jars or honey a year for one person is still a tiny amount compared to the commercial production line which needs to make millions a year.

There is also a very slim chance of a private person selling honey for a profit. Sure they may want to get rid of some excess honey and make a little bit of money on the side but again, if we assume it is only being sold to friends and family this figure is still likely to be around £100 a year (assuming they sell one jar for £2-£5 to maybe 10 people once a month for a year) which is nothing compared to the thousands (if not millions) of profit made by some commercial brands.

Linking to all of the above, you would assume that someone who does keep their own bees doesn’t do it simply so they have free honey: beekeeper doesn’t appear to be the most relaxing of past times and you would expect that someone who would be interested in keeping bees would do so because they have a general interests in the bees themselves. Yes the honey is nice, but they much more enjoy seeing the hive grow and change and develop over time, seeing how the bees interact with one another, and also perhaps feeling like they are playing their part in helping to protect the best pollinator around. Bees are already in great danger from commercial grade pesticides and farming practices, and without bees many flowers and crops would cease to exist without the required pollination taking place. There are many campaigns ongoing to help bring the pollinators back and by keeping a hive, it may help someone feel like they can protect at least this hive from any future troubles.

Would I personally eat home grown honey?

Ok so I don’t actually like honey. I don’t really like syrup either. If I want to add something sweet to my porridge or pancakes or oats, I will usually go for fruit or (arguably the most unhealthy option out of everything) a literal spoonful of granulated sugar. So I have really gone most of my life never eating honey. However I do try to avoid it as much as I can when it comes to premade packages, such as breakfast bars or granola, where honey is so regularly used as a healthier sugar source.

But I think that even if I did keep my own bees, I would still be very reluctant to eat the honey. I would always want to ensure that my hive was healthy and had enough honey to keep them fit and healthy so I wouldn’t really want to take that away from them, especially for a product that I wouldn’t normally eat otherwise. Now perhaps I would sometimes take some honey to gift to a friend or family member for their birthday or Christmas, but again this would be maybe 4 jars a year? A tiny amount in the grand scheme of things and again I would only even consider it if I knew that my hive had more than enough to keep them healthy.

As with everything I do, my main concern is always the animals. Everything I do, I do for them. Sure the environmental impact and sustainability aspect is always a plus, but the animals are always at the root of any decision I make: If an animal had to suffer or be disturbed to get this product to me, then I don’t want it.

What do you guys think? Would you eat home grown honey? Why or why not? I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions so please do leave me a message below!

T xxx

Frankie & Benny’s vegan mac ‘n’ cheese

I haven’t been to a Frankie & Benny’s in years. There used to be one round the corner from where I lived but since moving there isn’t one within a reasonable distance. However we took a trip into Wembley (London) the other day and decided to see what new options they had added to their menu. I have seen people rave about their pizzas so I wanted to see what else they offered, if anything at all.

They actually have a surprising amount of vegan options and I did take my time deciding which one I fancied the most. In the end I went with a good comfort meal, of mac and cheese. I also decided to try their vegan milkshake as I don’t think I have had a milkshake in years either and I got too excited.

The mac and cheese was…pretty average. It was very creamy but didn’t have any real ‘cheese’ taste to it. It did have some tomatoes in it which did add a nice bit of acidity to the meal and stopped any of the cheese from being too thick or overpowering. I also appreciated that the portion size was smaller than I was expecting and I felt like it was the perfect amount of mac and cheese. Many times places give you such a large portion that the meal just starts to feel stodgy and heavy with every additional mouthful, but this portion of mac and cheese was the right amount that left you feeling comfortably satisfied without feeling bloated or overstuffed.

The milkshake was a letdown, I hate to say. It was basically vegan vanilla ice cream with some chocolate flakes in it. It was advertised as being ‘chocolate chip’ but there were so few chips it may as well have just been called a vanilla milkshake. I am not the biggest fan of vanilla so I only managed about half of it before I started to feel a bit sickly, and it wasn’t even a big glass. As I say the chocolate chips weren’t even chips, they were more like chocolate shavings – those really thin flakes that are mostly used for decoration in cake making. Barely any chocolate flavour to any of it. Very disappointed.

Overall: 7/10, Mac and Cheese is a good option, but nothing overly special or new. The milkshake is a total skip – unless you just want a vanilla milkshake.

T xxx

Floof Friday

In case you didn’t know this already about rabbits, rabbits LOVE banana. If anyone in our house so much as picks up a banana there is a mad scramble behind us as Lola attempts to get a little taste.

And her begging always works. Because we are softies.

Lola however, is not a softie when it comes to banana…

She practically climbed us to get a bit of that sweet, sweet banana goodness. But this little picture makes me giggle everytime so I thought it would also make you guys giggle.

T xxx

Cats Protection: Stop the Big Kitten Con

I believe there are many different ways to promote activism and to be an activist for a cause you care about. As such, I do my best to sign as many petitions as I can, in the hope that our government will actually pay attention to the issue at hand and begin making changes to solve it. I am therefore going to share some of those on here in the hopes that more lovely people will sign and raise awareness for these important issues.

My most recent one this week has been the Cats Protection Stop the Big Kitten Con campaign and petition that is currently ongoing. The petition can be found here.

The petition and the campaign is calling for better regulation of cat breeders within the United Kingdom. As it stands, there are none. Scotland has a set of protections but it is the only UK country to do so and obviously that needs to change.

Their CATS 2021 report concluded that 68% of cats purchased in the last year were found online. The online sales of cats and kittens can have heart-breaking consequences, with kittens being separated from their mothers too soon which impacts on their behaviour, health and sometimes even their survival. Mother cats are also at risk of neglect, poor treatment and over-breeding and as there are no regulations in place to stop this behaviour, it is near impossible to know just how many cats and kittens are being affected by the cruel kitten trade.

For more information, please head to the Cats Protection website or check out their YouTube video for more information on the kitten trade.

T xxx

Are pets vegan friendly?

I was on the internet late at night and came across a vegan discussion thread where someone had commented that you cannot call yourself a vegan if you have a pet. Their whole argument was that vegans should not do anything that exploits or causes an animal to be exploited, and by having a pet you were exploiting an animal for your own personal gain – you have a pet because you want one, not because the animal wishes to be a pet.

This whole line of thought just baffled me really. Now I can understand why someone would not buy a pet from a breeder because there could be a degree of exploitation involved, but is rescuing an animal from a shelter really exploitation? By this logic, are rescue centres and animal shelters also exploitative because they rely on animals in need to stay in business?

I can understand why some vegans (myself included for the most part) do not agree with horse riding, dog racing or Crufts. I do not however believe that owning a pet means that you are exploiting an animal. Now I know I am not alone here when I say that my pets have always enjoyed the best life that I am able to give them: They have unconditional love (even when they have chewed through the third set of internet cables), a warm place to sleep, as many cuddles as they will allow me to give them, and a loving family that literally plan their whole lives around them. My partner and I make sure we stick to our routines to ensure that our bunny stays happy and calm, and I would literally cancel plans if it meant my cat was going to be home alone during the night. My pets (and any animal for that matter) have me at their beckon call and I would not have it any other way.

I have also seen arguments that emotional support animals or service animals such as guide dogs are not vegan friendly. I am sure we have all seen the recent news of an animal activist yelling at a blind man because he had a guide dog with him. Now sure it could be argued that there may be a degree of exploitation involved when it comes to training guide animals but you can not convince me otherwise that these animals – guide dogs, hearing dogs, emotional support animals – are not the most loved, adored and cherished of pets in the whole world. I have been working to educate myself more on what life is like for those who have crippling social anxiety – who can’t even go into a shop without suffering a panic attack – or for those who are blind or deaf and I have seen how much trust and love they have in their support animals. I see people who have regained some of their independence thanks to their service animals and I can see the gratitude on their faces that their service animal is willing to help them.

The entire argument as well that all animals should be free and wild is pointless at this point. The reality is, most pets would not last long out in the wild: We as a species have bred these animals to be companion animals – they are bred to have the majority of their wild instincts removed from them a little bit more with every generation. We made these animals domesticated and as such it is now our job to look after them and to protect them in ways they no longer can.

As with most things in the world it is not a simple black and white matter. It really bothers me that there are some people out there who call themselves ‘vegan’ while spouting such nonsense. There is no such thing as a perfect vegan, and in today’s society there is absolutely no way you can live your life without exploiting something along the way. But what you can do is be as kind, empathetic and considerate as you can be to every living being you come into contact with. If a newbie vegan does ask about a certain topic, encourage them to do their own research and sign post them to different opinions, while still reminding them to do what they believe to be the right thing.

What do you guys all think? Do you think owning pets is a ‘vegan’ thing to do? I would love to hear other people’s thoughts on this matter because it could be such an interesting debate.

T xxx

BOL Japanese katsu curry

I finally decided to try the BOL range! I have heard pretty good things about it and their food does always look quite appetising. Unfortunately though, as I don’t have a microwave, that limits a lot of their ready meals – and many other ready meals really. They also tend to be the more expensive option on the shelves so I have always avoided them and gone for something a bit cheaper when needing a quick meal. But I finally decided to just try one.

This one actually could be cooked on the stove which I obviously needed. It took about 5 minutes so definitely an easy meal if you’re ever stuck after a busy day. I also liked that the packaging actually told you to rinse and reuse the pot, which is not something you see very often. My pot is going to be repurposed as a great overnight oats bowl!

Taste wise, unfortunately it did still taste like a ready meal. The sauce especially had that very faint powdery taste to it that ready meals tend to have, although the actual veg contents did seem to be a lot fresher. The rice didn’t end up super sticky and the potatoes didn’t just crumble at the slightest touch. The sauce was not hot at all, which I was quite disappointed about. I definitely did not get an katsu flavour either – it tasted ok but I couldn’t really tell you what the taste was. Mostly just veg…with some kind of sauce? I however did appreciate that the veg that was meant to be crunchy did actually remain crunchy after cooking – it didn’t just turn to mush like most ready meals do.

It was also very filling, so while it may not have tasted amazing, it definitely filled me up for the rest of the afternoon. So effective, but not satisfying.

Now this cost £3 and while that is still expensive compared to some of the other options out there, I suppose it isn’t the worst price? You could probably get this once (or twice depending on your situation) and keep it in reserve for a quick lunch or easy dinner during the week. They do also have a few other flavours in their range, as well as other BOL meals that needed a microwave. I will definitely try the others and let you know which the best one is – although let me know if you have any recommendations!

Overall: 5/10. It’s fine. Not great, but not bad either. A perfectly fine option for an easy and quick meal.

T xxx

What is the difference between plant based and vegan?

I do get asked this a lot. When people find out that I follow a vegan lifestyle, they almost always ask ‘oh, so you must be plant based then”. Which then brings the discussion regarding what the difference is between ‘plant based’ and vegan’. So I thought it would be fun to open up the discussion here!

The main difference

After some research online, the general consensus seems to be that ‘plant based’ is a diet, whereas ‘vegan’ is a lifestyle choice. They are not exclusive though, as many people who follow a vegan lifestyle will also follow a largely plant based diet, but there are many vegans out there (and for the most part I would include myself in this) who do not follow a fully plant based diet, just as there are many who do eat a plant based diet who do not also follow a vegan lifestyle.

What does ‘vegan’ really mean?

The Vegan Society’s formal definition is: “Veganism is a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”

I also want to highlight that the Vegan Society definition is that veganism is a lifestyle – it is not just about what you eat. A plant based diet however is just that, a diet. While some lifestyle changes may be needed to always ensure you are eating a plant based meal, this diet only extends to one aspect of your life – what you eat.

Lifestyle vs diet

I for one will always say that I follow a vegan lifestyle, and not just the ‘vegan diet’ part of it all. I do not eat meat, eggs, dairy, honey or any other product that comes from an animal. I also do not wear leather, silk or fur and do my utmost to ensure that I do not buy any product at all that contains any sort of animal products – this can be anything from the type of glue I use in crafting projects to the type of laundry detergent I use.

A diet on the other hand, is purely the food. Now if you have read even the smallest part of my blog, you know full well that I am as far from p’plant based’ as one could possibly get. Now while this is something that I am working to change for my own health reasons, I do not follow a vegan diet purely for the health benefits that come with it. Quite frankly it has only been very recently that I actually started to take my own health seriously (which can be a discussion for another day). But from what I have been able to see online, those who do follow a purely plant based diet do it largely for their health. While animal welfare may be a concern of theirs, it is not the deciding factor. You will no doubt have seen the stories in the news of athletes and celebrities who follow a plant based diet who make a point of saying that this is purely for the health benefits that come with it. As mentioned above, you can be plant based but not vegan.

I always like to take the opportunity to highlight the part that says ‘as far as is possible and practicable’ because I think that this is very important to remember. There is no such thing as a perfect vegan. It is a myth and a very damaging standard to try to achieve. If you need medication in order to simply get through the day, then take this even if it is tested on animals. If the only thing that gets you through hay-fever season is local honey or bee pollen, then take this. The way I like to think of veganism is that everyone should be doing their best, and this will look very different to everyone involved. At the end of the day, you have to be well enough in yourself in order to promote veganism in the way you want to, so if you don’t look after yourself for fear of being deemed an ‘imperfect vegan’ then you would never achieve anything.

Conclusion

It seems quite obvious that being ‘plant based’ and being ‘vegan’ are not exclusive, and there is of course a large degree of overlap between the two. But I also think that they need to be considered individually when you are first getting started on your own vegan or plant based journey, because the two terms can be used interchangeably and has even confused me a few times!

What do you guys all think? Please do leave a comment or even email me privately if you wish to add any comments or have any other questions you would like discussed.

T xx