Is the American Dream real?

I was looking through some old photos over the weekend, and making myself sad about how I (and almost the entire world) have not had a holiday in almost 2 years!! I love travel, and now more than ever the travel blues and wanderlust has truly set in. The idea of getting on a plane and travelling to far away lands to meet new people, new cultures and (most importantly) new foods sounds like a fantasy to me right now.

So I thought I would share a few of my favourite finds over the years of my vegan discoveries, and I would love to hear your thoughts on some of the places I have visited. I am going to start a little travel part, where I can talk about the vegan food I have come across on my travels and also let you guys know which places are worth the visit and which are better missed.

In 2018, my partner and I went to LA for 2 weeks and it was…odd. I have been to LA before but I went when I was 16 and honestly I think LA was a very different place 10 years ago. The sheer size of the city itself baffles me. I have lived in London before, and worked in London for most of my professional career. London, I sometimes forget, is a tiny tiny little city compared to others. England as a whole is a tiny little island. It baffles me that in England, I can walk from one end of London to the other in under 2 hours (give or take). I can drive to Scotland in 4 hours. In LA, you drive for 3 hours and you’re still in LA. Blows my mind.

I have also never seen such a harsh contrast in money before. In London, the majority of places all look the same for the most part. Even in my area there aren’t really any ‘poor areas’. There are of course homeless people, but I also always see support workers and outreach workers on the street talking to them and helping them. I see people offering them food and drinks and any spare change they have. In LA, I would walk past huge, high-rise apartment complexes that have ‘For Rent’ signs hung across them, with make shift tents and shanty towns set up underneath them. I also noticed that all of the homeless people I saw, seemed to have a mental issue of some sort. They were either standing in the middle of the road with no shoes on, staring at the sky, or were swaying in the streets muttering to themselves. I would drive through beautiful well kept streets with mansions on every corner, drive across a set of lights, and see derelict houses with smashed in windows and beat up cars with no tires on in the drive ways.

Now I know that London has it’s share of issues, as does every city and neighbourhood across the world. But I had never seen such a harsh split between wealth as I did while I was in LA. I have also never felt my privileged so much before. We stayed in a hotel that was in Downtown LA, about a ten minute walk from the finance district. On our first night, after a 12 hour flight, we ran across the road to the McDonalds to grab something quick for dinner before we both passed out from exhaustion. We stood in line, and were greeted by 2 different people showing us their crack pipes, and the other ten people eyeing up our trainers. Needless to say….we left. And never went back in there again.

There were some parts of LA and the surrounding area that were beautiful, and were the picture perfect ‘American Dream’ that we are all sold. I completely understood why people wanted to live in those areas. Hell, ever since I first visited LA when I was 16 I planned my whole life around one day moving to LA and living by the Californian coast and surfing every morning. But that dream came crashing down around me when I saw how ignored some parts of the city were. Not even unkempt, or lazily maintained….there were places that had clearly not seen any care from the government or services in decades. There appeared to be no infrastructure at all to help anyone. And maybe it’s just who I am but I couldn’t ignore it all.

Now maybe it was because we went in November, so there weren’t many tourists, the weather wasn’t always bright sunshine and there weren’t any crowds to hinder our views of places. Venice Beach was the biggest shock to us: There was barely anyone there. We walked along the boardwalk and were met with the homeless people trying to sell us their crafts and boarded up shops. We saw two shanty towns that had been made down side streets, and the entire strip just looked….sad. It didn’t look anything like the Hollywood movies would have you believe, with the bustling crowds and muscle beach jocks and the beautiful life guards running in slow motion along the golden sand. It looked abandoned.

Despite everything though, we still had a wonderful time. We got to go to Universal Studios, Disneyland and even got excellent seats to watch WWE Survivor Series live at the Staples Centre. It was a holiday of exciting highs but truly upsetting lows. To see a city that is so often painted as the Land of Dreams, to in reality just to be completely mundane and in some place downright depressing. I have walked alone in London at 2am, and never felt unsafe, but in LA we were genuinely worried to be out past sundown. We were usually out at 7am as soon as the sun came out and then back at the hotel by 7pm when the sun went down.

If any of you are from LA, please PLEASE tell me your experiences of living in LA. Am I just being cynical? Have I just gotten too used to England life and customs that anything different to that shocks me to my core? Am I sounding like a bit of a pompous cow? Obviously this was just my experience, and part of me is curious to go back during peak tourism season to see if LA is a totally different place when it is full of people. I do have some truly wonderful memories of LA and the surrounding areas, and I think LA will always hold a very special place in my heart. But I also feel like LA is best to be dreamed about, rather than lived. If reality and practicalities were no issue, I would still love to live in a little seaside apartment where I can surf every morning and jog along the beach in the evening. But unfortunately the reality is not that and the practicalities of life in LA (and America as a whole from what I have read) mean that the American Dream is something that is not, if ever, actually achievable.

If you are an American, or a LA local, please let me know your thoughts. Let me know if there are any non-tourist areas that I need to visit instead and I shall add it my travel plans! Stay safe everyone.

T xxx

100 POSTS!

How strange to think that this is now my 100th post on Taylor Tries Her Best! To think that I started this blog purely to talk about my newest vegan discoveries and now look at where we are!

What’s even weirder to think about is that I have written 100 posts, of which at least 90 of them have been about a vegan meal in some way, and yet I have only just started to try everything that is available out there. Which is why I find it so hard to answer the question ‘What do vegans eat?’ because – clearly – we are just as spoilt for choice as the rest of society is. The idea that vegans are super lean, super green, animal loving machines that only eat salads and fruit is so alien to me: If this blog teaches you anything I hope it’s that vegans come in all shapes and sizes and get their food from the exact same places as everyone else does…we just don’t use animals to do so.

But mainly, thank you to everyone who has joined me on this platform. I appreciate every single one of you and hope that over the many years that I hope I can run this blog for, we can discover new and exciting recipes, treats and meals together as a team.

Be safe out there guys, and I shall see you all soon for another day of me stuffing my face!

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

Black Lives Matter

The death of George Floyd has shocked and enraged the world and the protests that have been and continue to be carried out in the USA over this past week are long overdue. But this is also the first time that I have ever been face to face with my own privilege. As it stands the only thing I have working against me is that I am a woman, and this is something that I have always actively fought against. I am here to hold my hands up to say that while I was aware of the injustices that have been happening, I never felt like there was anything I could do because I am not American.

But enough is enough. I recently came across a video that was shared by Vanessa Grimaldi on Instagram (her page can be found here) which showed how black parents are having to raise their children to deal with everyday racism. No one should ever have to be raised to fear the police, or to fear that they will be killed or unjustly punished purely because of their skin colour. I am sickened, angered and appalled that racism is still as pronounced as it very clearly is and I am also so embarrassed that I was not aware of this. But on her page, Vanessa also shares a really helpful document (here) on all different types of resources that us white people can use to educate ourselves and to help support anti-racism work.

Billie Eillish also released a statement that perfectly sums up why the #blacklivesmatter movement is so important and she expresses it in a way that I can not do justice to. You can read it here, and again it shows the massive issue that seems to always follow anytime Black Lives Matter is mentioned. Yes all lives matter, but as it stands society still seems to believe that black lives matter less than other lives.

I have spent so much of my time fighting for the right of animals, to protect our environment and to ensure that everyone is respected and protected – regardless of their gender, race, sexuality, religion or any other identifier that you want to pick. A person’s life and their value as a person should never be based on their skin colour, and it seems so alien to me that this sort of hatred still exists in the world today. If I was to be completely honest with you all, I am not 100% comfortable about discussing these issues, but this isn’t about me. These conversations need to happen and change needs to come about. Proper, real change that will mean that black kids can go to school without fear of being harassed by the police, or that their skin colour will effect opportunities throughout their life. So get uncomfortable, get mad about this and do something about it. This list here is also a good place to start!

It’s time that I, and all white people, use our privilege to help those who have been oppressed. The list above has been a great resource to start with and as I find more I shall share these with you too. I am learning and currently educating myself more about this issue and how I can help, and if you guys have any other resources or comments or advice to help to spread the message then please do get involved, leave a comment and let me know.

Stay safe, stay strong and together we will all get through this. If 2020 has taught us anything it is that we need to support every member of society and to work together to ensure that racism is once and for all a thing of the past. 

UPDATE: 2/01/2020

Here are a few more resources that I have found if you are also looking for more information:

https://www.theblackcurriculum.com/ourcurriculum – a social enterprise to bring Black British History to the general curriculum. They have a lot of information, worksheets and lessons available for teachers and students to use in school. You can also donate to their cause through the website.

There is also a link here to add more diversity to the current English GCSE curriculum, by adding titles such as ‘I’m no longer talking to white people about race’ By Reni Eddo-Lodge to the list of books that are to be studied.

Here is a list of American Bail Funds that you can also donate to (if possible) should you not be able to attend a protest in person but still want to help those at the protests. This is American specific, but anyone in the world can donate.

You can use this template to write to our MP. You can find out who your MP is by using this website.

This one is a little outside of the box, but you could try to protest virtually: Chinese players of Animal Crossing have been using the game to display political protest messages. Create your own signs and have them available to download for the wider community, or share these creations on other social media to help spread the message further.

A fellow Blogger, Blogging By Hayley, has this really useful history page about black history in the UK.

Update: 05/06/2020

Here is also a full list of the petitions that you can sign in the UK. They only take a few seconds to sign and are also a good way to be involved with change if you aren’t sure where to begin.

T xxx

What my bullet journal taught me

I’m sure you have heard it before but having a bullet journal genuinely changed my life!

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As you can see, my bullet journal is not the most artistic of places. Mainly because I am not a super artistic person…yet! I have used this lockdown period to play around with watercolour painting and it has been nice to play around with something new. I am most definitely someone who needs to write stuff down as it helps me plan out my day and shows what I need to do and what I need to work on. Even when I was at work, I was The To-Do List Maker in the office: Everything is colour co-ordinated and everything is written down in a notebook somewhere. Dated and indexed, of course.

1. To accept chaos

As someone who strives to be perfect in every aspect of my life (and is something that I am working hard to combat), my bullet journal became just another form of stress for me because if a spread didn’t turn out exactly how I imagined in my mind (which was very often!) I would deem myself a failure and not use the bullet journal as it is intended. As I have said before I am not artistic. I can doodle as much as the next person, however whenever you look at bullet journals on Pinterest or on YouTube those bullet journals are genuine works of art.

While I have been using a bullet journal for the majority of this year, I have learnt to just accept that perfection is not always obtainable. Plans will change, and this will result in a big old line through the page. Bits will be scribbled in and scribbled out, dates will undoubtedly become confused and sometimes the whole spread just needs to be binned because it doesn’t actually work for what I need it to. I now know to use my bullet journal for exactly what it is intended for: organisation and stress relief…I write what I need to do or remember and if it is messy, then oh well. I forget that no one will be seeing this but me and if I don’t mind, then it really doesn’t matter.

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2. That I really don’t do much

Another thing I realised during my first few months of bullet journalling was seeing just how empty my first few spreads were. No wonder I always felt unmotivated because I was literally going to work, coming home, sleeping and then doing that day after day after day. I wasn’t doing anything for me. Sure I would see friends, but when I looked back at the month I had had, I noticed that even these were only really a couple hours out of my weekend.

I therefore realised just how much time I had and that I should spend at least some of that time on me. Even if I only did 20 minutes of exercise once a week, it was at least one thing during the week that I had done that was (at this point anyway) out of the ordinary. It is something that I always make sure to do, so that even if I have a really busy day at work I make sure to go home and watch a YouTube video or read a page of a book or even go for a long walk through the local park. Now, I feel that my time is being spent more wisely and I am finally making progress on those little personal projects that I always wanted to start.

3. That I do not need multiple notebooks on the go at one time

I will be the first to admit that I LOVE notebooks. And stationary. Of every variety. It is one of the few things that I can genuinely say that I am obsessed with. So naturally I always have tons of notebooks lying around and not being put to their intended use. As with before, I always believe that a pretty journal deserves to be filled with pretty writing, and as my hand writing is not the prettiest I have always been hesitant to dishonour those notebooks with it. But again, I learnt how to let go of everything always looking ‘perfect’ and I have also learnt that a notebook does not need to be used for one particular task: Sure, I could have ten list books going at one time, but why bother with the stress of remembering what list is in which notebook when I can compile it all into one notebook. This way, no matter what it is I am looking for, I know that it will be in my bullet journal. And since I also make sure to index my pages or at least have them in a semi-organised order, I know exactly where in my bullet journal to find the information I am after.

4. My bullet journal keeps me focused

One of the big selling points of a bullet journal is that it can be a form of accountability. Every time I set up the month ahead for my journal, I make sure to include a list of three goals for the month ahead. At the end of the month, I then include a place to see whether any of those goals worked and what needs to be changed to make it work for next month. This has meant that I have finally managed to set those important routines and habits that help me get through the day, from remembering to take my vitamins to making sure I workout or prepare a blog post. This also means that I am actually sticking to the goals that I make for myself and also means that I actually achieve these goals. And let me tell you, there is nothing more satisfying that crossing off an item on your To-Do list.

If you guys use a bullet journal, what have you found works well for you? Also let me know what spreads have been life-savers/changers for you so I can give them a try!

T xxx

Hug your pets today

Yesterday, we lost our Merry.

img-20190828-wa0005Little Merry enjoying a bit of banana in my hand

He was about 3 years old and had been on the decline for a few days. We made vet appointments just to be sure but he didn’t make it to them. He died at home, next to his brother Pippin, with me and my partner nearby to help comfort him in those last moments.

He was, without a doubt, the sweetest and most calming presence in our lives. We got Merry and Pippin after we had moved into our first place together. We were still commuting into London (an hour each way) and working super long days, but coming home to them both made the flat we were renting really start to feel like a home for us. Merry was always the calming presence: He always kept his cool and only lost it if he saw a piece of banana coming his way. He would sit happily up on our shoulders and survey his kingdom from on high, and there was no greater pleasure for him than running away from us around our flat and making us chase him, always staying just out of arms reach or waiting until the last minute before hopping over our hands and running circles around us.

IMG_20180428_152458The ultimate floof

Even when we moved house into our first owned property, when we were rushing around trying to get everything sorted and get everything into place, Merry was completely unfazed. He and Pippin slept almost entirely through the house move and when they did wake up to explore, they ran around again as if they owned the place, Merry always making sure that Pippin didn’t get trapped in any small space and didn’t run into anything he shouldn’t have. Merry helped us to slow down in the evenings and to remind us that everything can be a game if you want it to be. Even in his final hours, he would sit quietly in our hands, nibble on his favourite chocolate treat and lick our fingers as thank you. No matter what is happening, there is always time in the day for a treat.

In one way I am so grateful that we are in lockdown, because it meant that I could be there for him in his last moments. I know that he lived a good life and was probably one of the most spoilt little gerbils in the whole world. But it still hurts. I know that he is in a better place now, where it rains yogurt drops and there are endless tunnels to dig and explore. I feel very grateful that of all the gerbils in the world, we were lucky enough to get Merry.

So please hug your pets today. Tell them how much you love them and how honoured you are to be their guardian. Enjoy the moments when they are driving you mad or testing your limits, because those will be the things that you look back on and laugh about. Hug them close and spoil them because I can guarantee you that they are completely worth every second of it. Yes this hurts, and my house already feels a little bit emptier now that he is gone, but if given the chance to do it all again I would. Without any hesitation. Without any doubt in my mind. Merry made me a better person, and if you have never had pets I understand why that may seem like a strange concept, but Merry taught me how to enjoy the moment, to explore everything that I come into contact with and to see every new environment as a chance for a new game.

I had a lot of plans for this week as it is Mental Health Awareness Week. But those are now out of the window. So instead, I am going to cuddle Pippin, buy him all of the new toys he wants and help my household through this grieving process. Which in a way, I guess is also looking after my Mental Health anyway!

Stay safe everyone, give your pets a massive hug from me, and maybe take today to enjoy all of the little moments that you have with them. If your pet falls asleep on you, I guess you now have no choice but to nap with them!

T xxx

 

Wash your hands!!

It has been a bit of a weird time this week. Half of the world is going mental about coronavirus, while the other half is pretending that nothing is happening.

I have been super busy this week, trying to figure out what the plan is for everything moving forward. And I’m sorry to say, there is no real plan because there is so much unclear at the moment. So this is just a little note for everyone:

Stay safe out there, look after each other and keep your hands clean!

T xxx

Video Game of the week…

This week has been a tough one! From super busy schedules to super stressful work days, this week has felt like a crazy whirlwind of activities but also the longest week of the year. And sometimes no matter how hard you try, there are some things that not even a good work out can fix and you just need a complete dose of escapism from real life….and what better way to achieve this than with video games!

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

Animal Crossing has existed in the world of gaming since 2001, first appearing on the Nintendo 64. It has since then had 7 games released across the multiple gaming devices. Pocket Camp is the latest instalment of the Animal Crossing world and is also the first to be used on a mobile device.

The transition

Adorable. There are no other words for this game except that: ADORABLE.

It follows the general aspect of Animal Crossing in that you play as a little digital person who spends their time building the perfect community. It is an RPG world building type game, where you can create and build whatever type of society that you please: For example in New Leaf, you are the new Mayor of a small town. In Pocket Camp, you run a campsite. Throughout the game, your fellow inhabitants are anthropomorphic animals, from elephants to hamsters and all other manner of animals in between. You carry out activities for the animals from planting certain plants to building certain features and adding to the overall success of your chosen area.

In Pocket Camp you travel about the different areas and fulfil tasks for the visiting animals. In return, they give you certain supplies that can then be used to craft features and furniture for your camp site. Each time you complete a task for an animal you develop a better relationship with them which in turn helps level you up, and as you level up you can craft and build a bigger variety of items.

Interior design

On of the best things about Animal Crossing is the ability to create whatever environment you wish: In each game you are given you’re own little house which you can decorate however you like, and even the town itself can be moulded to look however you wish. In Pocket Camp, you are almost spoilt for decorating room as you have the main area of your campsite, where visiting animals can request certain items or pieces of furniture, as well as having your own personal camper-van which you can decorate as you own private residence. The game allows you to constantly change the campsite having different themes: You can build a tree house for the animals that love all thing ‘cute’ or a skating half pipe for those who love ‘cool’ things.

Challenges

Animal Crossing is a game that also uses real time in it’s game play: 24 hours in game is 24 hours out of it. The game also changes with the seasons allowing you to build little snowmen in the winter or celebrate Halloween in the fall. In the main games the seasons also change which animals or fruit you can collect throughout the year meaning that you have to play for at least a solid year in order to catch the hundreds of different creatures that the game has on offer.

Pocket Camp also uses this to release timed events during the seasons. Over the Christmas period you could collect candy canes to craft cosy festive items and in the New Year you could watch a firework display. The summer months brought summer festivals with fishing tourneys and flower challenges to create brightly coloured beautiful digital gardens and a little summer paradise. The upside to this is that you stay engaged with the game but the downside is that every item that is available for the limited event is also so darn cute that you become glued to your phone in order to get them all before the time runs out which is a whole new level of stress that only those who love collecting can really understand.

The Calm of Animal Crossing

Animal Crossing has always been a very calming game to play. Since there are no specific ‘quests’ that need to be completed, you can simply play the game at whatever pace suits you. The music is also calming as there is no real urgency for the game: It doesn’t matter if you want to play for 5 minutes or 5 years, the game ticks along as it needs to and you can spend your time with whatever activity you want to.

Pocket Camp is no different. As there are only 4 visiting areas, there are only 4 animals that have requests for you at any one time. Each animal has 3 requests to complete before they are satisfied, and depending on how much farming you’ve done before hand (catching fish or bugs or collecting fruit from trees and seashells off the beach) it will depend on how long it takes you to complete each task. At most, it can take about a half hour to finish all of the tasks (if that!) and I find this to be just the right amount of time to unwind: I can play it on my lunch break while I enjoy some food or even before bed instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media and making myself sad.

Outcome

This game is just as adorable as the others. The game is utterly charming, with each animal having their own style and wit. It is varied enough that you don’t get bored but also slow enough that you don’t feel any need to rush through the game. As there are no levels to complete you also don’t have to hit certain save points or checkpoints as the game just saves as you go on and each time you complete a task or change location. It is fun and calming and just utterly serene in every way.

Have any of you guys played this game? Let me know your thoughts below!

T xx

The little things in life

Every day at work, at around 12.30pm, one of the council street cleaners will do her round outside of my office where I currently work. She pushes her cart, sweeps up old cigarette butts and crisp packets, before taking a 5 minute breather on the park bench. At around 12.45pm, the man I can only assume is her husband comes strolling out from one of the side streets with the tiniest and most excited pug puppy I have ever seen. The pug pulls his owner over to the lady, who meets him with almost equal excitement, and they have a little walk around the green patch of scenery close by, sit down, and have a little lunch break together.

Image result for happy gifs

I have watched them enough times while I am waiting for my documents to print or for certain files to finish copying, that I have their routine down. I am very much a people watcher – leave me at a little coffee shop with a massive mug of tea, my book and a nice window seat and I could happily spend my day there watching the many passers by go about their business. It is one of my little pleasures in life, and one I wish I could do more. Plus, I genuinely believe that a proper cup of tea can cure all ailments…so that always helps!

The last couple of months have been pretty stressful for me for a whole array of reasons and while I sat watching the little pug bounce happily around his owners’ boots, I began wondering if it would ever be possible to be as happy as that little doggo. I feel that this is something that has been left off of the curriculum at schools: How to be happy. More importantly, how to be happy wherever you may be in life. Yes I may be 25, and as far as society is concerned I am a fully functioning adult that should be more than capable of looking after myself. In reality, I am not…or at least I don’t feel like an adult. I still live at home with my parents, I’m still on their car insurance and I have only very recently finished my education and managed to get my foot onto the career ladder of my choice. All the while I have my peers – or worse, the younger generation – working in high flying jobs for better pay, with their own mortgages and living the life that I at 16 thought I should be living at 25.

Image result for happy gifs

However, every now and again I am reminded that life is short: With all the horrible things going on in this world from terrorist attacks, mass shootings and the threat of nuclear war, I am reminded that time is fleeting. My first 25 years have flown by and I already feel like I wasted so much of it worrying about things that did not even deserve a minute of my attention. Who cares if my hair is getting frizzy? Why do I care if I look tired or have bags under my eyes? Last night I stayed up until midnight (for the first time in months may I add) and watched a movie with my Dad, eating biscuits and candy and laughing about the events of Geordie Shore. Was I tired the next day? Ashamedly so. Did I regret my choice? Hell no. The little things in life, as cliche as it sounds, really will become the most important things.

So this is my message to you, lovely few of you who will read this, or stumble across it late at night by accident: Enjoy the little things. So what if your thighs are a little bit thick?! Revel in the fact that your legs are strong enough to carry you wherever you need to go. So what if your hair is super untame and won’t style right? When you’re 80 with thinning grey hair you will long for the wild locks of your youth. Ignore the negativity that other people will try to force on you because at the end of the day, the only person you need to impress is you. You are the only person you will have to live with every second of every day for the rest of your life, so you might as well learn how to love the little things that make you special.

Let me know what makes you guys grateful. What little everyday things make your day infinitely better?

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