Squirrel Appreciation Day

21 January marks Squirrel Appreciation Day!

This day was introduced by Christy Hargrove, a wildlife rehabilitator to encourage people to learn more about the UK’s most common wildlife. It is to help promote the welfare and care for our red and grey squirrels. Now I have only ever seen grey squirrels – outside our house we have a number of very large trees which are always being climbed by a group of the little grey guys. It’s quite funny seeing them around this time of year because they are so chubby I am always amazed they manage to make it up the tree in the first place!

But it turns out that grey squirrels are not our native squirrel. The red squirrel is actually our native breed, and the grey squirrels were introduced to the UK by the North Americans in around 1800. Unfortunately the grey and red breeds do not get along, and the grey squirrels forced the red ones to have to move to more remote and uninhabited areas of the UK. Today, there are estimated to only be around 140,000 red squirrels left and they are mainly located around Scotland and very northern parts of the England. There are multiple campaigns currently ongoing by the Wildlife Trust and the RSPCA to help promote squirrel welfare and to help bring the red squirrel populations up.

Threats to squirrel populations

The main issue squirrels face is that, namely, grey and red squirrels cannot live together long term. Due to their sheer numbers, grey squirrels have taken over most of England and the UK and as such red squirrel populations are dwindling. Grey squirrels also carry (but are unaffected by) squirrelpox which is fatal to red squirrels. Hence the main reason why the two species cannot live together long term. There are a number of organisations though that are currently working to help create red squirrel protection zones which would stop their habitats from being lost to deforestation or to grey squirrel populations. I shall leave links to a number of these campaigns at the end of this blog if you want more information on the work and conservation efforts done.

Unfortunately, squirrelpox is still relatively unknown although a vaccine is currently being developed. This vaccine however will not be ready for some time still (mainly due to the issue of how to actually administer the vaccine to red squirrel populations), and so the main way to protect red squirrel populations is to simply keep them away from grey squirrel populations. As it stands, there is very little chance that squirrelpox can be transmitted to humans (and even if it did, there is very little evidence to suggest that it would even be harmful to us) however it is always encouraged to not handle wildlife unless absolutely necessary (due to safety or welfare concerns for example) and if so to always wash your hands thoroughly to avoid any sort of contamination. It probably goes without saying, but this applies to every type of wildlife and not just squirrels – if in doubt, leave them be and call the RSPCA or other wildlife organisation who can advise on how much contact (if any at all) is needed in a situation.

The other issue is the reputation that squirrels have and the lack of knowledge around them. In the winter especially, people always assume that squirrels hibernate like many of the UK’s mammals. But that is not true. Physically a squirrel is just not able to store the amount of fat that would be needed to sustain them throughout the cold winter months and so hibernation is not an option. It also explains why they are known for being bird-feeder thieves, taking all of the best nuts and seeds and leaving very little for the bird populations in your garden. Squirrels are also crepuscular (i.e are most active during dawn and dusk) and so are usually active when most birds are still asleep.

How can you help?

The main way to help look after your local squirrels is to have squirrel feeders in your garden. These should be placed away from your bird feeders, preferably near to trees and higher up than a normal bird table would be. Wildlife World have a specially created collection of squirrel feeders that will help keep them fed and hydrated (as well as entertained) during the winter and colder months. You can find a link to those here.

Another way to help them is to simply enjoy them. Where I live, I have a little gang of squirrels that live in the trees nearby and they are honestly such characters. If anyone has ever visited St James’ Park in London, you will no doubt have seen the incredibly confident and borderline tame squirrels that harass people for some of their lunch, picnic or coffee. As mentioned before, always avoid handling wildlife unless it is an absolute emergency but many may still let you get quite close to them to watch them eat, play and scurry around in the ground looking for their buried nuts. As with all animals, squirrels are complex and adorable animals to see in their day to day routines, and even on my most hectic and crazy days, the little nutters outside my house never fail to make me smile.

For more information see the links below

If any of you do have squirrels, share some pictures on here of your own little neighbourhood clan! Also, if anyone has red squirrels please send as many pictures as you can – I can’t believe I didn’t even know about these little guys until researching for this post! I will definitely be looking out for these guys next time I am up north.

T xxx

Whats plants are poisonous to cats?

With the Winter Solstice now passed, it is the time of the year where we start to look towards the spring and the summer. For many people, this may include planting new seeds, both figuratively speaking and literally speaking. January through to March is normally the best time to plant many flowers and vegetables so that by summer they are ready to bloom, turning your currently drab and lifeless garden into an oasis of colour and fragrance.

But what if you have a cat? Aside from the concern that they may try and dig up your seedlings or trample over the shoots as they begin to rise, there are a number of common household flowers and plants that are actually very dangerous for your pet to even be around, let alone eat. In many cases the pollen from some of these plants can cause a wide array of respiratory, skin and eye issues that may be quite hard to treat. I have therefore made a list of the most common plants that are poisonous to our feline friends, in the hope that moving forward you will either omit these plants from your gardens this year, or at least move them to an area where your cat cannot get to.

As with all things to do with pets, if you think your cat may have ingested something they shouldn’t have ALWAYS take them to the vet as soon as you can to ensure that they get immediate attention.

Outside flowers

Now I feel this is the most important issue, as with a garden you do not know what wildlife will be coming and going on a daily basis. Not only do you have your own cats to worry about, you also have neighbourhood cats, strays, feral cats and natural wildlife such as foxes, badgers and hedgehogs (in the UK anyway).

The most common types of flowers/plants that are poisonous to cats include:

  • lilies of any kind – the majority of lilies are poisonous to almost every type of animal and people too. As pretty as they are, I would again advocate that you do not have any type of lily in your home or garden just to be on the safe side.
  • foxglove
  • dogbane
  • water hemlock
upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4a/Plu...
Dogbane flowers

There are also a number of flowers and plants that you should be cautious about putting into your garden, unless they can be planted somewhere where you know your cat (or any other wildlife) could get to easily. These include:

  • bluebells
  • clematis
  • daffodils
  • wisteria
  • tomato plants
  • Rhododendron
  • dahlias
  • hyacinths
  • peonies
Paeoniaceae | Description, Taxonomy, & Examples | Britannica
Peonies

There are however a wide variety of flowers and plants that are completely safe for your cat to be around, and the Cats Protection have a full list which I shall leave here.

Inside plants

According to Cats Protection, there is only one family of indoor plants that is toxic to cats and those are cycads. This family of plants look similar to ferns and are often confused with types of palm trees. From looking at these types of plants they appear to grow quite tall, so the chance of you having one inside your house are quite low.

There are also a number of plants that can be dangerous for cats to ingest, although they are not necessarily toxic to them. If ingested, it is likely that your cat will experience nausea, vomiting and other gastrointestinal problems, but they will not be poisoned. The most common of these include:

  • Aloe vera
  • Poinsettia
  • English Ivy
  • Peace lily
  • snake plant
Indoor Peace Lily Plants: Growing A Peace Lily Plant
Peace lily

Please see the list here from Cats Protection for a full list.

Cut flowers in the home

Aside from the ones outside, you must also be cautious of the flowers that you bring into the home. Again the pollen alone can be enough to cause serious skin irritations or respiratory issues to your feline companion so it is best to double check any flowers in your home to make sure that they have not been nibbled on, or that no pollen has fallen onto the ground where your cat may be able to sniff/lick/touch it.

This list also applies to any flowers that you may grow in your own garden (as above) and so if you do wish to bring those flowers inside, you must make sure that they do not come into contact with your cat in any way. I for one will always advocate that if there is even a slight risk to the well-being of your pet, then simply remove it entirely from your home and garden and simply go for cat friendly options.

The most common toxic type of flower are lilies as discussed above, so again I would say to just completely avoid lilies in your home or garden.

Other types of flowers that you should be careful with are:

  • Hydrangeas
  • Chrysanthemum
  • lavender (quite a surprising one)
  • peonies
  • poppies
  • Tulips
  • sweet pea flowers

Some of these are quite surprising as they are probably some of the most popular flowers for people to have in their home. I for one am surprised that peonies are toxic, as they are my favourite flower! But now I know that they are potentially bad for my cat’s health, I now make sure to only ever have fake flowers. Again a full list of flowers can be found here from Cats Protection.

Final thoughts

As I have mentioned above, I always air on the side of caution. I will always put the welfare of my pets above the aesthetic nature of my house and/or garden. If you are ever worried, consult your vet or the Cats Protection website for full details on what plants and flowers should be avoided.

The other alternative is to do what I do: buy fake flowers! Not only do many fake flowers look IDENTICAL to the real thing, there is ZERO chance that I can kill it, meaning i don’t feel bad about any flower or plant dying as soon as I bring it home. As someone who has never had (nor is ever likely to develop) a green thumb, this option works perfectly for me to fill my house with beautiful flowers while ensuring that they cause no harm to my pets.

I hope you have found this article informative and I hope that it will inspire you to try new and varying flowers and plants for this coming year. If there are any others that you think should be added to the list, then please do let me know in the comments. Otherwise, I look forward to seeing pictures of all your wonderfully colourful – and now cat friendly! – gardens come summer!

T xxx

‘The reality of…’ series

When I was thinking about ways to improve this little blog, I thought about some of the things I wish I had known more about before I started on my vegan journey. There is so much information out there that it can be very overwhelming to really know what the reality of a situation is: I knew that eating meat felt immoral to me, but why did i think this? I knew that most vegans don’t wear wool or silk, but what was this based on?

Veganism can tend to be viewed in a very black and white mind frame, in that you are either 100% perfect or you are a bad vegan. Even when I have looked into some of the issues for my own interest and for my own information, the amount of information was still too overwhelming to really wade through, and the information was at both ends of a spectrum: Either 100% good or 100% bad. There was very little middle ground, and I think that this middle ground is where many people sit when deciding whether or not to begin a vegan lifestyle.

I therefore thought it would be helpful to see both sides of the arguments on a number of different topics and issues. Hence, ‘The reality of…’ series was born! I really want to be able to not only deepen my own knowledge of a topic, but also to share that information with others and open up a chance for discourse and discussion. I do not believe that anything in life is as a simple and good and bad, and this is always something that has really interested me. It will also be interesting to see what new things we learn along the way and see if that in turn affects our views on other subjects.

I truly believe that a person can never be too informed about a situation and as someone who loves learning and reading up on different viewpoints and arguments, I am really looking forward to seeing where this series goes. I cannot guarantee when I will post them, as I already think some topics may be WAY more complicated than others and therefore will have way more information to read through. But I will be aiming for at least once a month to begin with and see how I get on with that!

If any of you guys have any topics or issues that you would like to discuss or wish me to research, then please do let me know in the comments, or even send me an email and I shall do my best to get through them!

T xxx

Ben and Jerry’s Vegan: Save our Swirled Now

It has been 28 degrees (Celsius) here in England for the past week, and let me tell you that us British are NOT PREPARED for such prolonged heat. It happens so rarely in England and without any warning, so naturally we all just sort of freak out a bit when it gets to anything over 25 degrees. To anyone reading this who lives in a tropical or normally very hot country who may be thinking that 25 degrees is not very hot at all, please do remember that England rains 90% of the year and when it is not raining it is either completely grey or snowing. Heat is a strange occurrence that we still have not got to grips with.

I, however, love the heat. As someone who normally runs about 5 degrees colder than everyone else around her, I love being able to wear a t-shirt and not freeze instantly. If I am being honest, 25 is the perfect temperature for me. Mainly because it means i can eat ice cream for lunch and no one says anything because they too are melting.

Ben and Jerry’s are probably the best ice cream makers in the world. I don’t even think that’s an opinion anymore. They are so universally loved that you cannot think of ice cream without thinking of Ben and Jerry’s. And while I am STILL holding my breathe for a vegan phish food to be released, their vegan options are still a really good choice if you want something a bit more exciting than simply chocolate or vanilla.

The Save our Swirled Now flavour is their social justice campaign flavour to bring to light the issues surrounding climate change. So not only are they selling you ice cream, but they are also bringing your attention to a very real issue that needs very real and urgent support. The packaging is 100% plant based recyclable, and all ingredients are fair trade. For more information on the whole campaign and to read more on climate change, see these links:

The Ben and Jerry’s official Page

WWF Climate Change Fund

Earth Day page

National Geographic info page

There are hundred of articles out there about climate change and what we can do – individually and as a society – to reduce our impact on the environment, but these are the best starting point to see the facts and figures.

As to the overall flavour of the ice cream…it’s nice. It is quite sickly – due to the coconut, the caramel and the chocolate chunks – so you can’t eat more than a few spoonfuls in one go. But it does have a very nice balance of the flavours, and it is very refreshing on these hot summer days: With some fruit and maybe a little bit of whipped cream you’d have the perfect summer treat. The chocolate chunks also add a lovely crunchy texture to the ice cream, but just be careful you don’t crack a tooth on the very large chunks. I am not a fan of vanilla, so it is actually really good to have a flavour that is a bit more exciting than vanilla without being just pure chocolate.

But honestly, when my food also comes with a side of environmental activism, I am 100% a fan! The price of most Ben and Jerry’s Ice creams seems to be about £5.50 which is actually such a rip off when the non-vegan versions are only £3. Is it worth that money? For some flavours yes, but not so much for this. But would I pay that extra £2.50 to help support global activism and outreach tasks across the globe, and all I have to do is eat some ice cream? Absolutely.

Overall: As a flavour, 5/10. As a way to make an eco-conscious purchase, 9/10.

T xxx

How to have a sustainable Christmas

Christmas has just jumped up on us hasn’t it?! Usually you have all of November to prepare for Christmas and to ease into the festive spirit after Halloween, but as the UK spent all of November in lockdown, I emerged from my lockdown to endless Christmas tunes, Santa figures everywhere and far too much red and green decorations.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas: cosy pj sets, lots of food, time off to totally relax with my family and friends, wrapping up presents so they look all cute. But Christmas is also quite a wasteful time of the year, largely in part to the amount of wrapping and packaging that comes along with it all. I have tried my best to make sustainable choices this year, and thought I’d share with you guys some of my ideas that I have found really helpful over the Christmas period.

1. No wrapping paper

Most wrapping papers contain a plastic backing or covering on them and so cannot be recycled.I no longer buy wrapping paper. All of my presents have been wrapped with brown paper and I then also buy some ribbon or string to tie around presents to make them somewhat presentable. I have also seen some examples of people who buy a stamp to decorate the brown paper whoever they wish. Other alternatives is to wrap presents with newspaper, or even to wrap them with another gift: If you have bought someone a pretty scarf, you can use this scarf to wrap up another one of their gifts. You could also use reusable canvas bags or gift bags, so that once the present has been given the person then also has a useful bag to use moving forward.

2. Shop second hand

This can be hard, as I appreciate that not every single area of the country will have affordable charity stores, but even just buying a few good books or DVDs or CDs, or a nice new jumper for the winter from goodwill or a charity shop can make a big difference. Normally these places are cheaper than buying brand new in store (although with some charities this is not always the case) and you can also find some really cool, vintage style pieces that the recipient will no doubt love. It also helps you get used to not buying into fast fashion and helps you look out for more sustainable shopping options.

3. Shop locally/small

As with the above, this is not always easy. Places like Etsy have a lot of options available, but can sometimes be really expensive for what they are. That being said, if you know of someone on your Facebook or local area who makes candles or embroidery kits or can paint really pretty portraits, why not support them? Not only will you be getting some lovely handmade gifts to give people, you will also be helping to support a local and small business, all of whom have probably had a very tough 2020.

4. Make your own

Now you do not have to be overly creative in order to do this sort of gift. For example, if you know that your mom’s favourite hobby is sitting down with a good book and a big mug of tea, why not create a ‘Christmas Hamper’ for her which includes a few charity store books, a selection of different teas and maybe a fair of really fluffy and snugly socks. Not only is this way more personal for the person getting the gift, it can also be a lot of fun hunting out tiny little bits that you know the recipient will really appreciate. In previous years I have also made ‘Activity Jars’, where I fill up a jar with a load of different activities to do so the recipient can use it throughout the year if they are stuck for something to do. Get creative and see what you can come up with!

5. Buy sustainable gifts

One of the easiest ways is to buy people useful things that they already use every day. Items such as reusable coffee mugs, metal straws, wax food wrapping, canvas bags and refillable or insulated water bottles are all really good gift ideas that also support sustainability. Most people will use these items on a daily basis already, so buying them a sustainable version will mean they get a useful gift that they can use the whole year round.

Have you guys found anything else that helps with a sustainable holiday season? Let me know in the comments and I shall make sure to try them all out this year! Now to actually begin my own shopping…

T xxx

Vegan Food Wraps

Over the past year or so I have been trying so hard to limit my carbon footprint, which also means I have been trying to create less waste. Unfortunately this is not always possible. I am no where near zero waste, but I have been trying to actively make decisions that mean I am throwing away as little as possible. Or at least ensuring that anything I am throwing away is at least able to be recycled.

I had heard some good things about these wax wraps but could not find any near me. With everything going on with lockdown, I have felt a bit odd ordering off of Amazon, and the local places near me didn’t have this stuff for sale. Luckily for me, my Mom found a set on her travels and I was a very happy birthday girl!

So far they have been pretty handy. They do work like clingfilm…kind of. Because they are wax papers, you can mould them and shape them with the heat from your hands, and they do hold their shape really well once done. They are way more rigid than clingfilm (which I guess is obvious) but so far they work exactly the same, with none of the environmental waste.

If you guys know of any other handy zero waste swaps that I can make please let me know in the comments below!

T xxx

Can vegans visit zoos?

One of the big dilemmas that many vegans face (myself included) is the issue regarding zoos: We want to see wild animals that we may never get to see, but we also don’t know how we feel about these animals being taken from their natural habitat and put on display for us to stare at. Now there are laws in place that state how big animal enclosures must be, how these animals are to be treated and how these animals are to be transported and cared for during the move between zoos. However, just because something is protected by law that doesn’t mean that it is inherently moral to do so.

Animal rights and zoos will always be a minefield because there are so many conflicting points to debate. So much so that you could write a 10,000 word essay on animals within captivity and the influence this has on their rights…which is exactly what I did for my undergraduate law degree! But for ease, I shall try and summarise the main points as best I can, as well as provide you with further information where you can read up on the matter and come to your own conclusion.

Conservation

One of the big reasons to keep zoos part of modern society is that they could be argued to be a huge source of conservation for endangered animals. London Zoo, for example, carry out conservation efforts in nature reserves around the world, using part of the money they earn through donations and zoo tickets to fund these efforts abroad. But with all conservation, the real reason why conservation is needed is because the wild animals are being hunted to such an extent that they are now at the risk of becoming extinct. One could argue that the main issue regarding animal welfare is that the trade and hunting of animals needs to be (ideally) completely stopped and properly policed, which would then allow the animals in turn to rebuild their numbers naturally without the need for human interference. However as this is unlikely to ever happen (at least not in the next 20 years) conservation efforts allow zoos to help these efforts abroad while collectively looking for a better solution. You can read more on the London Zoo conservation programmes here.

Education

This is very closely linked the conservation work, as most zoos run education programmes. These programmes help to educate their visitors and schools about the real life issues that are facing their favourite animals: deforestation, hunting, wildlife trade, pollution, human interference etc. All of these issues impact on animals in a variety of different ways, and for many people they would not know about this impact had they not learnt about it at the zoo. Now during university I actually worked part time at London Zoo (as a retail worker, not actually with the animals…unless you count the guests…) and it always surprised me how little people knew about the animals they were looking at. For many of the guests I spoke to, the zoo was their first real introduction to these animals as real life, living beings that needed our help. It is one thing to hear about the threat to tigers due to poaching in the news, but to actually see these beautiful creatures up close brings the reality to your doorstep. These animals do not want to be in captivity, but for many of them these animals have not known any different: They have been bred in captivity to keep their numbers up because their wild counterparts are being hunted to the point of extinction. By educating people to this nasty reality, zoos can help people take real action by donating to conservation efforts, volunteering abroad or by spreading awareness themselves of the issues that are affecting animals world wide.

Now of course this raises the other issue of breeding animals within captivity, only to keep them in captivity, but again these issues are so complex and have so many different aspects that require further research and debate, that one blog post would never be able to do it any justice! One big reason against animal breeding programmes in captivity is that zoos physically do not have the space to ensure that the animal gene pool is varied enough in order to help those animals survive in the wild. You can read more about these issues here.

Lack of natural behaviour

Another thing that really struck me while doing my research is how different animals react to life in captivity. It may seem quite obvious: prey animals thrive while predatory animals tend to suffer more. For prey animals, in the wild they are – naturally – hunted for food by the bigger animals and thus do not tend to live very long lives. Therefore in captivity, with this threat of being eaten removed, they can surpass their usual life expectancy. Plus with all of this extra free time they’ve now gained (since they no longer have to fear for their lives every day) they are free to play, explore and mate as much as they wish, meaning that when you see them in the zoo they are most likely displaying their very natural behaviours that you are less likely to see in the wild.

The predators on the other hand do not display this behaviour. When I worked at the zoo, I sometimes got to work near the lions, and people were always upset that these lions were not running around and roaring 24/7. To which we would always reply ‘why would they?’. (PSA: Lions do not roar unless in a fight, but they do make strange howling noises at dawn. If you are ever near Regents Park at about 6/7am, listen closesly and you may actually be able to hear the lions morning alarm!) In the wild these predatory animals would usually have to walk vast distances every single day in the hunt for food, but in captivity this food is delivered to them, every day at the same time, and so they have no need to hunt. And also, let us not forget that lions are called big cats for a reason, and when was the last time you saw any cat do something that it didn’t absolutely have to do? If my cat is lying close enough to her food, she sometimes won’t even stand up to eat. This is why you do not see many big predators in captivity: The longest a Great White Shark has ever been kept in captivity was 198 days, and this was only because it had to be released for eating the other sharks in the exhibit with it. While I am all for education, I somehow don’t think a child needs to see another creature ripped to shreds by a shark.

Feeding issues

Another big issue that keeping predatory animals in captivity raises is how to feed them. Many large predators eat whole other animals in a day or two, and this puts a massive strain not only on the zoo to be able to afford to supply such food, but also on the animals that are being killed needlessly to feed an animal that does not need to be in captivity in the first place. As we saw with our friendly shark above, most sharks feed off of seals, turtles and other large fish, which would not only be hugely costly to have imported into the zoo on a weekly basis, but also counterproductive: why pay money to help turtle conservation efforts while simultaneously paying for turtles to be captured and killed to be turned into food for your zoo animals? While this example is a bit extreme, it does raise the question of the needs of the few or the needs to the many: Is it better to let one animal die out in the wild, or let hundreds of less endangered animals die to support it in captivity? This is not an easy question to answer, and it is essentially an issue that needs to be debated in an entirely separate blog post, but it is still important to think about this issue and to research if there ever could be a happy medium.

Nature reserves

For those who do not go to zoos for moral reasons, nature reserves could be the happy alternative that combines the best of both worlds. The animals are kept in relative freedom (i.e, they are not confined by cages but their territories are limited to the space of the reserve) and yet people are still able to visit and to see these animals in a more natural setting. Nature reserves also bring with it their own levels of protection, in that hunting in national reserves are (for the most part anyway) illegal. There can be some work arounds, but for the most part the animals within nature reserves are protected from any poachers and are a big source of tourism: People will travel far and wide to see an animal in their natural habitat, and this in turn provides money, jobs and continued support for the countries with nature reserves and the communities around them. Nature reserves still help to educate people, and help with conservation efforts, while allowing the animals within them to live almost entirely free of any human interaction or interference. But it does also allow for humans to step in when needed, to patrol the boundaries for any poachers, to provide veterinary care whenever an endangered animal becomes sick. Nature reserves therefore help to provide a healthy balance between humans helping animals to survive while still allowing them to live free and natural lives.

What are your thoughts? How do you feel about zoos? Let me know in the comments below as I always want to hear the different opinions surrounding these issues.

T xxx

Happy Earth Day!

In honour of today, and in honour of this gorgeous earth that we live on, step away from the computer and go outside. If you are in lock down, go for a little walk outside, or just sit by an open window (preferably one which gets some sunshine) and take a look at the sky…it is SO BLUE! Just take a little bit of time to appreciate the world in which we live and to reflect on the impact we as a species are having on it.

Screenshot 2020-04-22 at 16.46.18The park outside of my house looking like an actual green-screen movie background!

Stay safe everyone and if you want more information, see the Earth Day website here.

T xxx

Veganism: Common questions answered

 

Before I went vegan, I had a whole heap of health problems: I was constantly tired, always exhausted, my skin was terrible and I had so many issues with my stomach it became the norm to just be in pain with it. I was vegetarian for 7 years prior, but only after cutting out diary and eggs did all of my health problems more or less fix themselves. Yet despite my vast health improvements, my mental improvements and my overall happiness, I am always greeted with the same responses whenever I tell someone that I’m vegan. So I thought I would share these with you, and how I combat them.

Image result for vegan gifsIn case you didn’t know…this ^^^ is meant in sarcasm 😉

“Where do you get your protein?”

This is one of the most common questions that vegans are asked. All of a sudden, people become very concerned with the amount of protein that you are eating as there seems to be the understanding that ‘protein deficiency’ is something very common. It isn’t. In most cases, protein deficiency is not a real thing: Yes you can have low levels of protein, but the only way you can truly become protein deficient is when you are deficit in EVERYTHING else, or in other words, are seriously malnourished or starving. In modern day society, the only reason a person would be lacking protein is because they are not eating enough of the right thing: Beans, tofu, lentils, even certain types of vegetables have enough protein in them to meet your daily targets.

Image result for vegan gifs

“But our ancestors ate meat…”

Yes…meat that they hunted down and killed with their bare hands, used the skins for their clothes, and lived in caves…it’s a bit different. Your ancestors also believed that the Earth was flat, that women aren’t people and that blacks should be the slaves of white people. Your ancestors lived in times where food was scarce, where foraging for their next meal was all that they spent their time doing and would normally eat more fruit and veg than meat for the most part (mostly because berries don’t fight back when you grab them). Your ancestors didn’t let women vote until 1918, but that was only if they were over 30. Your ancestors also believed that university was for the super rich, and that the idea of premarital sex was punishable by flogging, whipping and stoning. Your ancestors didn’t think that marital rape was a crime until around the 1960s. Your ancestors, quite literally, are monkeys. When I hear this excuse I can’t help but laugh, because just as everything else in history has changed, so will our attitudes towards animals and the environment change.

Related imageOh Scott Pilgrim ❤

“But if we didn’t eat cows, they would overrule us”

I like this idea that all of the cows in the world are currently planning world domination, and are waiting for us to stop eating them to begin the uprising. It’s hilarious! I just picture cows in factory farms with little blueprints, planning Mission Impossible style. In reality, veganism is not a movement that will enact change overnight: No change has ever had effects overnight. Veganism is the gradual movement to a cruelty free lifestyle, and as such is something that will gradually over time become more normalised. Due to this, factory farms will get smaller and smaller as the demand for meat slowly declines, and as such not as many animals will be bred to keep up with these demands.

“But if you lived on a desert island, would you eat animals?”

This is another one of those unrealistic scenarios. If I am ever unfortunate enough to end up on a desert island with NOTHING to eat but a pig, yes I would eat it, as a matter of survival…as would every single other person in that situation! But how did the pig get there? Are there berries or fruits on the island that the pig has been eating that I could eat? How am i going to kill the pig? Am I supposed to wrestle it to the floor and rip it apart with my bare hands? Do I have a knife? Can I make a spear? How did I end up on this island, by myself, with no other means off of the island, with no supplies ANYWHERE to be found? This is one of those situations where context is key: Am I on a desert island now? No? Oh…well are there thousands of other alternatives to eating animal products? Oh there are…hmm…I think i’ll go the most harmless route then.

“So do you believe in complete freedom?”

Now this is a rare one, but the fact that I’ve been asked this at all baffles me. Why is this asked as though this is a bad thing?! The thing about being vegan is that it is a lifestyle choice rather than a diet: I didn’t go on this diet to lose weight (I actually think I’ve put on weight thanks to the yummy vegan chocolate and junk food I can find!) but rather to live a life that spoke to me. I went vegan so that my actions coincide with my ideology. If you want to read a bit more about this, I wrote a previous blog post about why I went vegan so feel free to have a little browse of that too! In short, you can tell a lot about a person by what they eat and as far as I have noticed, all vegans I have met are wonderfully open minded individuals who just have a lot of love to give and have a lot of care to show the world. I have also noticed them to be genuinely very happy and go-lucky people, who take everything in their life as a new experience that they are grateful for. And if that makes me a weirdo for believing in that kind of lifestyle, then I think I can live with that.

In summary…

Simply put, we are all living in a society where veganism is no longer this weird and hippy-ish ideology…it’s cheaper, it’s healthier, it’s good for your conscious and it is now SUPER easy to live a cruelty free lifestyle, without really having to think about it. No matter what your reasons though, I would like to mention that just with this, as with all things in our world, education is the KEY to success. There are hundreds of amazing resources out there to help educate you on animal agriculture, your health and your mental well being, and even if they don’t convince you to try veganism, you’ll have definitely learnt something new…which is never a bad thing!

If you have thought about going vegan or even have some questions about it, feel free to ask away! Also, I’m trying to get into the flow of writing more often so if you want to keep up to date with me, subscribe! I would like that rather a lot 🙂

T xx

How going vegan changed my life

No hyperbole intended…But it’s true. I have been vegan now for about 1 and a half years, and I am still learning new things every day. I am in no way, shape or form the ‘perfect vegan’ and I think that’s what makes this whole life style so exciting. So if you have ever thought about trying it, even for a few weeks or a month, here are some things that helped me make the decision and, most of all, stick to it!

1. My health

Anyone who really knows me will know that I have always had problems with my stomach. Countless trips to A&E, meetings with doctors and at one point I even tried alternative medicine practises to diagnose what my problems were. My stomach would cause me so many sleepless nights, from intense pain to constant discomfort for weeks at a time, but since going vegan these occurrence are few and far between. While I still do not have a definitive answer as to what the issue is (IBS? Hormone imbalance? Endometriosis? Chronns? Food allergies?) there is no doubt that switching to a plant based diet has helped lessen the symptoms dramatically!

Furthermore, my health in general is way better. I sleep better: I no longer wake up feeling tired and slugish, or wake up multiple times at night. I have more energy to do things: Recently I’ve started hitting the gym at 6am, heading to work for 9, rushing around all day until 5pm and then still having the energy to go for a long walk in the evenings before I cook my dinner and settle down for the night. I’m also a better runner, in that I feel my body is less achey after a hard gym session, my legs don’t feel as heavy when I run, and while I’m still not at my ideal level of fitness, having a stable plant based diet has undoubtedly helped me along that journey.

Furthermore, my diet is better because, quite frankly, most junk food isn’t suitable to vegans. Next time you go to a shop, pick up a bag of sweets, or a chocolate bar or even a can of soup and you will see that they almost all contain some sort of milk ingredient. Due to this, no matter how good that chocolate cake may look, when you have learnt all that I have about the diary and egg industries, the cake really doesn’t seem worth it at all. When I want to buy quick and easy food now (such as ready meals or microwavable foods), I have to really think about the food I am buying and normally, if I have to think that long about it, I don’t really want it to begin with! Plus, with all of the amazing alternatives being created every day, I am still able to enjoy all of my favourite comfort foods but in a way that causes the least amount of damage to our planet.

2. My appreciation for food

Now this may just be me, but I swear food tastes so much better now I’m vegan. Also, food just looks nicer. Every plate is bright with colours, smells amazing and tastes so much richer than any meaty meals I had in the past. Even when I was vegetarian, food didn’t look as inviting as it does now that I’m vegan. Now this may be simply because I am eating a much more varied diet of fruit, vegetables, tofu, lentils and nuts (to name but a few) but I just feel that vegan meals look so much more inviting than other diets out there.

I also have a better understanding of food. I have not always had the healthiest relationship with food, but since going vegan I feel I have gotten to understand food, nutrition and even my own body more. I am almost at the point where I can work out the exact food that it is craving, to the point I actually look forward to coming home and having a huge bowl of carrots and broccoli, or a nice cold smoothie. I now understand that calories are not necessarily all there is when it comes to food: Peanuts may be high in calories, but they are the super good fat that I need to get through a morning, and while bananas may be high calorie, they are the perfect way to stop my sore muscles from aching at the gym. Food not only looks and tastes better, but I also no understand how to nourish my body and how to eat in a balanced and healthy manner.

3. I feel like a better person

Now I am in no way saying that I am a better person when compared to others: I don’t think meat eaters are barbaric, or all a bunch of idiots, just as I don’t believe that all vegans are angelic activists. I feel that I am a better person when I look back at how I used to be as a person, which I think also shows how I no longer try to compare myself to others or try to appease other peoples desires: I am living my life in a way that is ideal for me, as an individual. I am able to live my life knowing that I am acting in a way that fulfils ME, that fulfils MY needs for MYSELF and allows ME to be the kind of person I wanted to be growing up.

I have always loved animals and the environment, and even though I went vegetarian at 16, it wasn’t until I was 21 that I finally started to understand the gap in my logic: I love animals, yet would cause them pain and suffering just by eating eggs. I am against oppressive and exploitative practices, yet still drank milk every morning with my tea. I feel as though I live a life that is now in line with all of my beliefs and that in itself is a very empowering feeling.

Now I’m not saying it isn’t tough sometimes: vegan junk food may be hard to find on a daily basis but it is not exactly impossible to find. Crisps, vegan chocolate bars and now sorbets and ice creams are all becoming more and more readily available, to the point I am probably eating more food than half of my friends! By understanding my food more, I now understand the difference between nice sugar (oranges, apples, kiwis etc) and bad sugar (vegan cakes, soy milkshakes, plant based candy) so that now when I want chocolate, I know that I really want chocolate, rather than just because it was convenient.

Still not convinced?

I am in no way saying that this should be a snap decision, as just with every lifestyle choice, it can be done wrong. The good thing about living in this day and age is that information is at the end of our fingertips no matter where we are and I believe veganism has taught me the importance of self-education. There are hundreds upon thousands of vegans in the world, and most of them are very lovely and encouraging individuals. Join a facebook group of vegans to get inspiration and motivation, follow vegan youtubers for yummy food ideas, google the animal agriculture business and learn about the industry on a deeper level than it’s advertising campaign. There is so much information out there that I know for a fact that I will NEVER know everything there is to know, but that’s what makes this entire life style so much more exciting. If in doubt, I find this little quote always gets me through:

Image result for dumbledore quotesDumbledore always came through with the nuggets of wisdom

If you guys have any questions then by all means ask away and I will be more than happy to help…or at least point in the direction of someone who knows more! 

T xxx