Floof Friday

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

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

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

T xxx

How to bunny proof your home

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

1. Cable covers

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

2. a puppy pen

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

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

3. Skirting board edges

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

4. Storage boxes

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

5. Tidy up after yourself!

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

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

T xxx

The Pros and Cons of owning a rabbit

It is Rabbit Awareness Week!

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

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

Pros

1. Their curiosity

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

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

2. They can be litter trained

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

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

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

3. Their personalities

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

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

Cons

1. They require a lot of patience

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

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

2. They are classed as exotic pets

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

a) does your local vet have a rabbit expert?

b) where is your nearest emergency vet clinic?

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

d) what are your emergency vet fees like?

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

3. They need a lot of room

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

Sorry, it just really angers me.

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

Overall

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

T xxx

Can vegans eat home grown honey?

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

Do vegans usually eat commercial honey?

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

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

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

But how does home grown honey differ?

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

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

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

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

Would I personally eat home grown honey?

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

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

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

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

T xxx

Ben and Jerry’s Berry Revolutionary

England has just had a mini heatwave (34 degrees Celsius which is pretty uncommon for us!) and the heat of England is the heaviest, most humid heat that I have experienced. Even when the wind blows it is like having someone blow a hairdryer into your face, so it does absolutely nothing to cool you down. It was therefore the perfect opportunity to drink a LOT of iced water, avoid any type of cooking and have ice cream for lunch.

Now Ben and Jerry’s is always top tier in the ice cream game. No matter what flavour you pick you are onto a winner. I am still praying to every vegan entity out there that one day soon a vegan version of their Phish Phood will be released because nothing has come close to it even now.

Now I also don’t buy Ben and Jerry’s that often because they are easily the most expensive option out there. They are also one brand that really suffer with the Vegan Tax: A standard tub of their dairy ice cream is around £3 usually, but the vegan options are around £5.50. They do sometimes go on sale for £3, but then the dairy ice cream will be on sale for £1 and…feels kind of half hearted. I therefore only buy Ben and Jerry’s when I want something a little bit extra instead of just basic chocolate or vanilla. This doesn’t happen this often, and one tub could last me at least a month or two as I really don’t eat that much ice cream.

This Berry Revolutionary though was something real special. It is labelled on the lid as a sundae and it lived up to that. The top was a whipped ice cream with caramel swirls and chocolate chunks, while the rest of the ice cream was raspberry flavoured with chocolate chunks and crumbled Oreo type biscuits mixed into it. I have not had whipped ice cream in years – at least I am assuming it’s the same type of ice cream as a Mr Whippy ice cream – but this was a lovely little topping. It was very fluffy and airy and worked so well with the chunky chocolate and caramel swirls. Obviously it is ice cream so is quite sweet but it was the perfect thing to have on a boiling hot summers day.

Little Lola enjoying her own meal in the background…

The raspberry ice cream though – oh lordy! It has been YEARS since I have had fruit ice cream. Most options available are fruit sorbets which are very different to ice creams in my opinion. I forgot how much I LOVE raspberry ice cream. It has such a sharp taste to it that it immediately wakes you up and is just so refreshing when you feel like you are melting. The little chocolate chunks and cookie bits mixed into it also gave you a lovely little mix of chocolate raspberry flavouring and some really satisfying crunches amongst the soft ice cream. Now I truly could have eaten this entire part of the sundae in one sitting, but luckily brain freeze hit first.

I would honestly say that this option is the best Ben and Jerry’s flavour out there, especially from the vegan offerings. I might even go so far as to say that it is better than I remember Phish Phood being! It was honestly all that saved me from the heatwave and no doubt will get me through a lot of this coming summer, which is (as it is every single year) set to be the hottest on record (or alternatively, thanks to global warming, this year will be the coolest year in history) and I will need all the help I can get to cool down. Yes, the ice cream is one of the most expensive options out there, but if you want a true treat that will last you through summer, I would highly recommend splashing out on this. The fruity flavour also means it would work wonderfully as a post dinner party dessert, mixed with a bowl of fruit and left to enjoy in the sunshine.

Overall: 20/10. Best vegan flavour at there in my opinion.

T xxx

Pudding Stop vegan cookie dough sundae

Oh damn…

Now THIS is how you do a dessert. I think this gave me enough sugar to last me for a good few months but goodness me was it delicious!

A few weeks ago, during some annual leave, we took a trip to St Albans in Hertfordshire. If you have never been, I would highly recommend you visit because St Albans is a beautiful little city. I mean it is technically a city because you have the amazing St Albans Cathedral, but it feels far more like a village. The high street is packed with little boutique shops, patisseries, book stores and independent restaurants as well as some of your more mainstream chains. It also has some lovely cobblestone side paths that are fun to explore and feels very compact – could easily spend a whole day just wandering around all of the little streets and looking at the adorable cottages that line the streets. It’s also a 30 minute train to London Bridge so can easily make a lovely day trip or long weekend visit. There are a lot of pretty parks to walk around and a lot of roman heritage throughout – most notably being the fact that it is based at the top of a really big hill so you can get some really lovely views at certain points around the city.

Aside from all of the history and cute little boutiques to keep you busy, it also has one of the best pudding places I have ever been to. It is called the Pudding Stop and is always a must visit when we do venture out to St Albans. The city as a whole is really good for vegan options, and they do actually run a vegan market down the main high street at certain points of the year which is always very exciting. The pudding stop have some very good vegan options, and I decided to try once of these.

I will preface this with the fact that I felt like a hummingbird after eating this, but I had also done around 15000 steps so felt it was a reasonable treat. The vegan cookie dough sundae had one scoop of coconut and chocolate chip ice-cream, one scoop of chocolate sorbet, caramel sauce and chunks of cookie dough. Now the coconut ice cream was nice enough but the chocolate sorbet was to die for. It was rich and silky and had a slightly bitter taste to it compared to the other super sweet parts of the sundae, which actually helped offset a lot of the sickly sweetness. The rest is exactly how you would expect: cookie dough was literally small chunks of cookie dough and the caramel sauce was the sweet sauce you’d expect.

I was grateful that they do not give you too many cookie dough chunks as I am pretty certain they were just lumps of sugar. As I say above the chocolate sorbet was the real star of the show and did help to mellow out the overly sweet flavours of everything else. The ice cream was very refreshing and you did get a real hit of coconut with it, which I think I preferred. Sometimes coconut ice cream (at least I feel anyway) can have so many things added to it that it doesn’t actually taste like coconut, so it was really nice to have this creamy and sweet ice cream that did taste like it was freshly made.

This sundae cost £5, which I have to say was an absolute bargain for the amount you get. It does not sound like much but they are very generous with their scoop sizes and I did find it quite the struggle to finish. And not just because I felt like I could see sound I was so buzzed! It was fantastic quality and I feel if you were trying to get something similar to this in London or a much larger main city it would cost you at least double (if not triple) that price for way less actual product. As a special one off treat, this is completely worth the price and I would highly recommend it if you do stop by.

Overall: 9/10. Absolutely delicious, but not something I could eat on a regular basis. But absolutely worth the one off treat.

T xxx

PSA: Vegan Percy Pigs

One of the biggest staples of Britain is Marks & Spencer’s, and I think the main reason for this is Percy Pig. What started out as a little pig-shaped sweet has now grown into the mascot, who has cakes, sweets, decorations and stuff toys all in his image and his honour. Which is rightly so because Percy Pigs were always one of the best sweets out there and definitely were worth the hype.

Their Percy Pig sweets (and the very many combinations that have followed, including some of Percy;’s farmyard pals) were always vegan friendly but were not fully vegan. Perhaps you saw that wonderful moment where Piers Morgan (some ‘TV presenter’ here in the UK) who tried a gelatin free Percy Pig and then proceeded to act like he had been poisoned. It was quite the show from a man who claims that anyone under 40 is a ‘snowflake’. But I digress…

I have not had a Percy Pig in years but am very excited that Percy Pigs are now offering vegan options. The best part is that they also clearly label the packs that are vegan friendly. The ones I saw on offer (may vary depending on store and location) were Percy Pig Piglets, Phizzy Pigtails and Percy Loves Penny Pig. I couldn’t see if they did the standard Percy Pig as a vegan version, so if anyone does find these please let me know!

I have yet to try these (currently limiting my sugar) but am very excited to see such a well-loved and well-known sweet offering vegan options. Just goes to show how fast the vegan movement is spreading and makes me more and more excited that one day veganism will be the norm.

If you have tried any of the vegan Percy Pigs please let me know how they are! Also let me know which is the best packet of sweets so I know what to get on my next treat day.

T xxx

How to be a LGBTQ+ ally

While my main passion in life is animal activism, I find that this relates to all social justice issues that affect our society today. As a vegan, I try to live my life causing as little harm as possible, and this includes how I interact with other people and how I address different issues within society. Just as I want every animal to be treated with compassion, fairness and equality, I also wish that for human on our planet. No group of people should feel ashamed about who they are, who they love, or for what they believe in. I strive to advocate and to be an ally for all groups in society, and while I as a heterosexual white female may not be able to understand and relate to many of the issues other people face, I will always listen to their stories and advocate for the much needed changes.

I also believe that love is love: So far as I am concerned – provided it does not involve animals or minors and all adults involved are fully consenting – all love is worthy love. If you love men, women, both or neither, you do you. Again, while I may never understand what it feels like to feel as though you are in the wrong body, or that your gender does not fully represent you, I fully support people being allowed to discover this. I do not believe (nor adhere to for the most part) stereotypical gender roles – anyone can wear a skirt and anyone can wear make up. I believe that people should be allowed to love who they love without judgement and that there should be no limits on who people should be allowed to love. I also believe that sexual orientation is on a spectrum: I don’t believe that people are 100% fully straight or 100% fully gay, nor do I believe that your sexual orientation is set in stone as soon as you reach puberty. I believe that everyone should be allowed to explore their own sexuality and their own identity with support and understanding, and that this is also something that you continue to discover as you grow and experience new things. In today’s society, gender identity has become such a huge part of life that there are now so many different genders and so many different sexual orientations that I do not think it is possible to be just one for your whole life. I also believe that at the end of the day, a person’s gender or sexual orientation doesn’t harm anyone – it doesn’t disrupt my life to call someone I used to refer to as ‘she’ to instead refer to them as a ‘he’ or ‘they’. But to those that are part of the LGBTQ+ community, even this tiny little change in language can mean the entire world to them and allows them to live their most authentic life.

So why am I writing about this now?

June is Pride Month, in honour of the Stonewall Riots which took place in 1969 in New York and is considered the most important historical moment for the pride movement. Pride Month is therefore an opportunity to promote and celebrate the pride movement, and to encourage members of the LGBTQ+ communities and society as a whole to do away with outdated and homophobic behaviours that still persist today. In 2022, there are still 69 countries which still criminalise homosexuality, with the death penalty or long prison sentences being given to those who are prosecuted for homosexuality. It was not until 2015 that all 50 US states allowed same-sex marriages, however there are still ongoing issues with some smaller, more conservative or religious counties within the US that refuse to recognise a same-sex marriage license. There are also still issues with homophobic views and comments about LGBTQ+ communities and these can be spotted in everyday conversations. If something slightly annoying has happened or if something hasn’t gone as well as thought, it is common to say ‘that’s so gay’ or ‘how gay is that’, as though being gay is still a bad thing. Ironically, ‘gay’ used to be a term used to express extreme joy and happiness, so it is interesting to see how language has changed.

How can you be an ally?

Attend Pride events

Not only are Pride events wonderful opportunities to meet with members of the LGBTQ+ community, to hear their stories and to show your support for their campaigns, they are always a wonderfully fun day out. I have been to two official Pride events and it is always the loveliest atmosphere. Everyone is so welcoming and accepting and supportive that just radiates from the entire event. It is so lovely to see people being unapologetically themselves and to see everyone there celebrating and supporting one another regardless of their background or where they are in their own journey of discovery. The music, the fashion, the general culture of the LGBTQ+ community is also next level and I am always amazed at the creativity and the excitement that they all pour into their art. It is also amazing to see how their art makes a statement and helps to encourage even more acceptance in wider society.

The majority of events happen in June, however in the UK there are a number of Pride events that happen throughout the year. There are also some cities – Brighton, London and Manchester come to mind – where the LGBTQ+ community are very prominent and therefore have their own special events almost on a weekly basis, be it gay only night clubs or extravagant drag shows.

Speak up about issues

I work in quite an old-school industry, so while the majority of people I work with are all very lovely individuals, they can have some outdated views on what LGBTQ+ really means. A big topic of conversation lately in the office has been the debate as to whether or not we should include our pronouns in our email signatures. Some people thought it was unnecessary – your gender is based on your genitals and they cannot understand why someone would not feel that way, because they have never had to question their own gender themselves. But it is important to note that while pronouns can be very personal to someone who genuinely has struggled with their own identity, it is also just a really logically solution for everyone. I have a gender neutral name and am called Mr and Sir on a daily basis, especially over email or in letters where people have never spoken to me on the phone or seen a picture of me. Now for me, I don’t really care what people call me but I would also hate to mis-gender someone who does really care about this. I therefore raised this fact with my colleagues and they then started to think of it from a different point of view – no more uncertainty about whether to address an email as Sir or Madam, or Mr and Miss (sometimes there is even a debate around Mrs, Miss or Ms!) because emails would have that information right there for us to use. It would also remove that awkward embarrassment when someone who has been calling you a Mr for the past three weeks finally speaks to you on the phone and is then very surprised and apologetic to find you are in fact a Miss.

Read and learn from LGBTQ+ creators

Now I have no where to start with this because the resources out there are INFINITE. If you wanted a good place to start with books to read, Penguin Publishing have this very helpful list. It includes a mix of fiction, non-fiction and biographies that provide a range of views and experiences surrounding gender and sexuality. One of my favourite books was ‘Girl, Woman, Other’ by Bernadine Evaristo, which not only included stories surrounding love and gender, it also tells all stories from the point of view of black women which is also very eye-opening and informative. Now some of these books can be quite heavy – gender and sexual exploration and discovery is rarely easy or conflict free – so if you want to read stories that are more light-hearted then gay romance novels are always a winner. Of course these can also range between super duper cheesy rom-com to heart breaking tragedies, but you will be spoilt for choice. If you wanted an obscenely well written book to get you started, I thoroughly enjoyed ‘Song of Achilles’ by Madeline Miller: It is based on the Greek mythology/history that tells a gripping retelling of the Achilles’ story while also weaving in the love story between Achilles and his lover Patroclus.

There are also countless creators on Instagram, Tik Tok and other social media platforms that can provide you with a new insight into their life as part of the LGBTQ+ community. There are also a number of shows that can also be turned to for further information: One of my personal favourites is Ru Paul’s Drag Race. It is entertaining and funny and every single queen brings to light their own struggles that they have experienced in both the LGBTQ+ community and the drag show circuit. Definitely a good place to start if you want to experience something completely different to your usual shows.

Consider fundraising and raising awareness at work

If your work does not already have a fundraising department (or at least a few fundraising initiatives throughout the year) make one for Pride and to support LGBTQ+ initiatives. You can get as creative as you like: Bake sale, fun runs, Step Challenges, design competitions (t-shirts, mugs, stickers etc) or fancy dress days. You could include leaflets and additional information around your initiative and all money raised would be donated directly to your charity of choice.

Here is a small list of charities that help the LGBTQ+ community, however there are hundreds out there that specialise in different issues too, such as youth and children charities or AIDs and HIV awareness. These are all UK charities, however no doubt there will be country specific charities where you live.

Stonewall – main charity for all LGBTQ+ issues and campaigns

Mind Out – mental health charity for members of the LGBTQ+ community

Bi Pride – for bisexual support

Hidayah – a charity for LGBTQ+ Muslims within the UK

London Gaymers – a gaming community open to all members of the LGBTQ+ community

Elton John’s AIDs foundation – a charity created by Sir Elton John to help stop the stigma and hate surrounding those with AIDs, as well as fund research into how to stop the AIDs epidemic and improve medical treatment

Final thoughts

I also want to take this opportunity to say that this little blog will always be a safe space for everyone in society. You are welcome here, regardless of your gender or sexual orientation, and I will always want to hear your stories. That also goes for everyone else – regardless of your religion, your culture, your race or your age, you will always be welcome here and I am so happy that you have found this tiny little bit of the internet.

I am also still learning. As I said at the beginning, while I may never be able to relate to the struggles or understand the internal conflicts around gender, sexuality, race or religion, I will always strive to learn as much as I can about other people’s experiences and to do my best to advocate for their rights to a happy, free and authentic life. If anyone has some other useful resources, or has any recommendations for books/films/articles/movies/creators then please do leave these below in the comments or send me a private email and I will make sure to look into them all!

Thank you all for reading this little note, and I hope you all have a lovely June, a lovely Pride and I shall hopefully see you at an event this month!

T xxx

Fry’s Popcorn chick’n

I have heard great things about Fry’s, but unfortunately in the UK the brand is quite hard to come by in regular stores. Usually I only see it on offer at the very expensive and very niche places, such as Whole Foods or Ocado. However in the last few months I have started to see some of their products appear in regular grocery stores, so I finally decided to see what all the fuss was about.

One of our go to meals is our medley. This is usually what we have if we don’t feel too hungry, or just want a load of different comfort foods without it actually being a meal. So this will usually involve chicken nuggets, a sandwich of some sort and some crisps, although we do change the brand and the product every week depending on what we fancy. The majority of the food is frozen, as I think it is always best to have these super easy foods available on days where I either don’t want to cook or don’t want anything massive for dinner. So these little popcorn chicken pieces sounded perfect to just have in the freezer should one of those days arise.

These are also very good. They are light and fluffy on the inside and definitely have that meaty texture. Now there is still a degree of ‘this is clearly fake meat’ because I personally don’t like my meat alternatives to be super meat-like – it always makes me panic that I am indeed eating meat and then I feel guilty even though I know that it isn’t meat. So for me these were the perfect texture, but if you prefer the more meaty texture then you may not like these too much. Now the instructions do say to only cook these for 10 minutes, but I found that 10 minutes was not long enough to crisp up the outside. The first time I cooked them, after 10 minutes the outside was a bit soft still and while it still tasted very nice, I would have preferred it to be a bit crispier. I now therefore cook these for about 15 minutes – until each piece starts to look a darker brown rather than the golden brown – and I find that this makes the outside nice and crispy and also doesn’t dry out the chicken filling. That being said, my oven is not the best oven, so you may need to experiment a bit when you come to cooking these so you can get the perfect time.

Price wise these were actually on Tesco Clubcard offer for £1.50, but full price they are £3. We got about 4 servings out of the box (roughly 6/7 pieces for each serving) so not a bad amount of food for the price. However, I do not think it does anything different to the cheaper options out there. Personally, popcorn chicken tastes exactly like a chicken nugget to me, so I don’t really notice any difference on what shape my chicken takes. So while this popcorn chicken is very good and definitely worth a try, there are cheaper options out there in the form of nuggets, strips or plain pieces. Personally, I probably would pick these up again to keep them in my freezer for those days when we don’t fancy cooking, but it isn’t something I would eat every single week.

Overall: 7/10. A solid option out there, but nothing too special.

T xxx