What’s it really like to be Vegan!

Photo by Sam Carter on Unsplash

So, what is it really like to be Vegan? this blog post is from my personal point of view and bare in mind I have only been Vegan since November 2018.

The weeks leading up to going Vegan felt like I was opening my eyes for the first time, seeing the true horrors of how we enslave, torture and kill animals for food, entertainment, fashion and other products.  Feeling that I had been lied to all my life by schools, parents, health professionals, corporations and governments.  Some of these did not realise they were passing down lies to the next generation because they too had been conditioned or brainwashed, just like we all have.  Eating animals is so entrenched in societies now that people think of vegans as ‘extreme’ or ‘weird’.

For the first 8 weeks or so, once I had made the connection, I cried, I felt (and still do) tormented, angry, uncomfortable, frustrated and isolated in my vegan world.  I am ashamed to be human because we cause so much devastation to animals, the planet and other people.  Each day is different, one emotion will dominate on certain days than others.  I feel I have to watch what I say because I seem to upset people and I am often shocked and surprised at some people’s reactions, mainly defensive, they feel attacked, even though I am just talking of my experiences or saying how I feel, I don’t tell anyone they should stop eating animals.  However, maybe I go to far, maybe people’s defences go up, I will give you an example, I said ‘pigs are beautiful’ as I now believe all animals are, I said they are childlike, innocent and like puppy dogs.  I got laughed at and told ‘pigs are disgusting’, I responded ‘so disgusting that you eat them’, oh dear I touched a nerve, I was told I have gone ‘weird’ since my dog died.  

Pigs are not dirty animals, yes they like to roll in mud but so do elephants, it keeps them cool, so why don’t we call elephants dirty? because we don’t have to lower their moral value to justify eating them.  We don’t eat animals we hold in regard, but despite their differences they all feel pain and suffering and for the first time in my life I am seeing all animals as having their own unique personalities.

I have been accused of verbally ‘attacking’ someone, nothing could have been further from the truth, from where I was standing I didn’t throw one insult but I received them.  Unfortunately this is common, I hear the word ‘rubbish’,  if I quote accepted scientific fact about the effects of animal agriculture on the planet for example.  I am often cut off mid sentence, I believe this is because people don’t want to hear the truth because they know their conscience will struggle.   This is quite key for me, I believe I went vegan because my mind was ‘completely’ open, not just a little open but completely open, this helped me see things for how they really are.  Strangely enough, I am seeing a lot of things for how they are, not just in relation to veganism.

There are times I feel quite alienated from people, I feel like I have nothing in common anymore with a lot of people, I am unable to relate and they don’t understand me because of my new view of the world, a view I would not change for anything.  I see it as a forward step, I no longer participate in knowingly harming animals, the planet or people in developing countries.  Whilst we all impact in some way on the planet, animals and other people, I am trying my best to minimise my impact.

I did meet up recently with a vegan friend for lunch and she really ‘got’ me, she understood everything I expressed, she has been vegan for a few years now and was vegetarian for 35 years before going vegan.  This was the first time, I felt I could express my feelings and she understood me completely, she had been through all I was experiencing now and this made me feel so much better, less alienated.

I view things very differently, for example a trip to the supermarket is now like a trip to a slaughterhouse, I know this sounds crazy but I am extremely uncomfortable walking past the meat aisles, I can’t even look at the meat on the shelves, I no longer see food products, I think of where it came from and the suffering associated with it.  It makes me feel sad and repulsed, it is a very strange feeling, why didn’t I see meat this way before?  I cannot believe the amount of meat and animal products that are in the supermarket, it is dominated by animal products, why have I not seen this before?  Why can’t other people see it? and how can I help them to see in a way that they will come to their own conclusion.

I am glad I am alive now, I would not want to be here in the future after we have destroyed the planet and maybe even each other.  Future generations will look back and say ‘why didn’t they do something? the warning signs were there and they selfishly chose to ignore it’.  Change doesn’t happen overnight, what we do now will impact on future generations, but, what if that impact happened in 12 months or 6 months time, would we change now? of course we would, but sadly that sense of urgency is not there.  Imagine if the selfish actions of past generations left us with a dismal world and future, we would be calling them for everything, but why aren’t we calling us and making changes now.  Because all humans seek acceptance and happiness and this capitalist world tells us ‘products’ make us happy, and purchasing these products which coincidently makes the minority rich, again we are being brainwashed, going through life with our mind and subsequently eyes shut, humanity is on the wrong path.

Ask yourself why the truths of animal abuse are covered up, it takes undercover activists to infiltrate to secretly film this abuse, why aren’t these documentaries shown on national television? you just won’t see it.  All I ask is that you question the way things are.

You need a strong social movement  to change the current situation because it is all to do with financial profits, not people’s health or the planet, in fact animal agriculture damages these.  It is wrong on every imaginable level, but it is profitable and as long as it is profitable it will continue. However, if the number of vegans continue to grow, it will become unprofitable, thats when real change will happen. Animals need us, they cannot fend for themselves, because humans don’t fight fair, I am more spiritual than religious, but if  judgement day ever comes, god help us!

The physical pain and torture these animals suffer is bad enough, but the psychological damage inflicted on these animals may be even worse.  Imagine a life where you are confined to a space where you cannot stretch, you can’t walk or run, don’t see natural daylight or feel the sun, imagine you live like this your whole life? then you are sent to slaughter.  Suffering is suffering, it doesn’t matter who it is happening to.  Life has enough suffering, but unnecessary suffering is indescribable.  If there is a hell, the worse I could imagine is being a laboratory animal, a cow, sheep, chicken, rabbit, or fox, it would be my worse nightmare to be born into a life of torture, slavery, abuse and then meet a violent end.

Remember, governments and corporations will try to demonise animal activists and vegans, just like they have historically others that wanted change for equality and justice. Nelson Mandela was once deemed a terrorist, he served 27 years in prison.  He fought against apartheid, as views changed over time, Mandela was no longer deemed a terrorist and went on to become the president of South Africa.  Just like Mandela, animal activists are not terrorists and just like South Africa, I believe the world will ‘wake up’ to the truth because once the truth is out there, it’s impossible to deny.  If you want to play your part in changing the world, start with seeking out the truth for yourself!

 

 

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Healthy Vegan Brown Rice Pudding Breakfast!

Brown Rice Pudding Breakfast

I have this most days for breakfast, I prep it so one batch gives me four breakfasts, it is so tasty, filling, healthy and vegan.

This is taken from the Fork Over Knives website (see above link for their recipe), however, I do it slightly different, see my version below.  You can try both the Fork Over Knives recipe and my version to see which one you prefer.  I don’t use cloves, salt, raisins or apples (I have an oral allergy to apples)

I add banana and mash it up in the bowl once the dish is cooked.  I sometimes add thawed frozen blueberries or raspberries, if they are not thawed I just add to dish and leave overnight for eating the next day.   I occasionally add slivered almonds too.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of uncooked brown rice
  • 1 cup pitted and chopped Medjool dates (you can use any dates, medjool are just my preference)
  • Teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Teaspoon vanilla essence
  • Teaspoon of Pumpkin or Sunflower seeds (or both)
  • Nut Butter (peanut, almond (my favourite) or cashew)
  • 2 Bananas
  • Blueberries or raspberries (optional but recommended)
  • Slivered almonds (optional)

Instructions

  • Cook 1 cup of brown rice and drain and add back to pan
  • Add to cooked rice; medjool dates, cinnamon and vanilla essence.
  • Simmer with lid on pan on a low to medium heat for 12-15 minutes

Options for adding to cooked dish

  • Pumpkin  or Sunflower seeds (or both)
  • Nut Butter of your choice
  • Banana (mash up)
  • Blueberries or raspberries
  • Slivered almonds if required

If I Ruled The World!

Photo by Yash Raut on Unsplash

 

These are some of the things I would implement if I ruled the world!

Education

Education would be reformed, starting with religion.  Religion would be taught for understanding only of the six main religions; Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Islam.  There would not be focus on one religion, if parents want to teach their children one particular religion, excluding all others they could do in their own time, not by using tax payers money.  Pupils of all religious faiths would be allowed in all schools, there would be no exclusions.

Religious teachings in schools would not account for more than 10% of education.  Instead time would be spent teaching real life skills, including; living ethically, budgeting, mental health, coping skills, sex education, global warming, sustainability, the impact of capitalism, compassion and respect for all beings (not just human) and above all independent thinking.

There would be monthly speakers from all walks of life, who will speak on drugs, alcohol, drink driving and the most common forms of criminality to educate children on their negatives and impacts, not just physical but psychological.  Real life reformed ex-drug users / addicts, alcoholics, convicted drink drivers and ex criminals would speak about the uncomfortable brutal truth, including how bad things got for them.  Part of the aim would be to change cultures around the glamorisation of all forms of criminality, and that the law will catch up with them.  Family members or friends willing to speak about the suicide of a family member or friend whilst in prison would be brought in.  Meeting people from all backgrounds can show that people who live an honest life, can be ‘cool’.

 

Media

It would be compulsory for at least 30% of television media to provide educational programmes, at least 20% of this should be about health, and must include documentaries around plant based diets and the biggest cause of environmental damage,(currently animal agriculture) with a recommended list of documentaries which  would include the following amongst others, with a minimum of three of these being scheduled at least three times per year:

H.O.P.E. – What you eat matters

Earthlings

Cowspiracy

Dominion

Land of Hope and Glory

Forks over Knives

What The Health

 

Advertising

I would ban advertisements of all non-healthy food and drinks, it is madness to advertise things that may cause you harm or lead to your death.  If you ever doubt the effects of advertising, why is it a multi-million pound industry?  Healthy foods and drinks would be advertised instead of putting unhealthy messages in people’s brains.

All products made by harming animals would not be allowed to advertise, sorry Hermes hand bags.  You do not need to kill animals for bags, gloves, coats, shoes etc, we have technology now where you can make faux leather products, its cheaper, no animals are enslaved, abused or killed and it’s difficult to tell them from real leather (animal skin), how wonderful is that?  

Working Week

No-one would work more than 30 hours per week, giving every person more time to spend quality time with family / friends, pursue hobbies, relax, educate themselves, obtain or maintain fitness or volunteer some time to a good cause.

Remember governments want you to be busy, work long hours, be stressed and in debt, it keeps you ‘occupied’ that’s why it’s called an ‘occupation’, because populations with time on their hands and nothing to lose are a higher risk of starting a ‘revolution’, a scary word for governments.

Treatment of Animals

I would fund an independent investigation to determine a) if any animal testing is effective or essential and b) if there are equal or more effective alternatives to animal testing.  This would serve to show the public the truth.  All ineffective or non-essential animal testing would be banned, if alternative testing costs more money, then that would be a price well worth paying.  

I am not an expert by any means, but suspect the investigation may show the majority if not all animal testing is ineffective and with advances in science, there shouldn’t be any need to test on animals.  I believe most if not all is outdated and unnecessary.  Whilst animal testing is being phased out, CCTV would be fitted in all animal laboratories.

There would be a phased programme to stop factory farming and a support programme to help farmers and slaughter houses transition their business to more healthy, ethical and sustainable products without harming, torturing or killing animals or the planet.

There would be compulsory training for all owners of newly acquired dogs, this would include training for dogs including socialising and training for owners too.  There would be restrictions on dog breeding, to prevent novices doing just to make money who really don’t care about the dogs.  Breeders would have to attend a comprehensive training course at their own expense, some may say this will push breeders underground, there are already plenty of underground breeders, they don’t care about the dogs, they just care about their profits.  Illegal breeders should in my opinion be put in prison, the psychological as well as physical damage they cause dogs can last a lifetime.

Zoos would be abolished, you will pay a small fee to visit animal sanctuaries where you can interact with the animals or volunteer.

All stray dogs above 6 months old would be neutered.

Industry

The subsidisation of animal agriculture would cease, this would be done in stages and whole food plant based producers would be subsidised (for a duration) instead, to encourage more of them.  In the UK, subsidies would be funded using savings made by the NHS due to people being healthier as a result of other implementations previously mentioned.  There will be less diabetes type 2, cardiovascular disease and many other diseases including cancers.  There would be less people on disability benefits, as people get healthier, the need will be reduced.

There would be a prescription only programme for smokers.  Existing smokers would only be able to obtain cigarettes through prescriptions, the cost would remain the same as currently purchasing a pack of cigarettes.  But this would prevent new people from starting to smoke.

Money that currently goes to The British Heart Foundation, Diabetes and cancer charities could be reduced dramatically, because we already know how to reduce heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers, by eating a whole food plant based diet, the money charities have would be used to cure diseases and cancers not related to lifestyle choices.  There would then be more money to help developing countries recover from the damage we have done, and to fund animal sanctuaries for the rescued animals that were bred for slaughter.  Animal numbers will naturally decline without the help of man’s artificial insemination methods, nature will be as it is intended.

Certain industries would be non-profit making; water, pharmaceuticals etc.  any profits made would need to go back into the industry, research and aiding developing countries.  The reason the pharmaceutical industry would need to be non-profit making is because they currently make a lot of money from people being sick, this is a serious conflict of interest, no-one should make profits of sick people, that is sick in itself.  Neither should a company make profits from making you sick in the first place.

Politics

I would make it illegal for private organisations to fund political parties, political parties would be funded by the government even if they are in opposition, all political parties would get an equal amount of capped funding, then if they want to squander it on ‘expenses’ they would have little left to fund their ‘cause’.  There would be no conflicting interests, e.g. funding from pharmaceuticals or meat producers causing politicians to hide the truth or lie because the don’t want to lose their funding. Ultimately we will pay for them, and if they don’t hit the mark we don’t vote, if they break the law, they will lose all funding.

In the U.K. there is currently public funding for political parties to fund policy development if you meet certain criteria from the Electoral Commission, this would be their only source of funding.  

Final Thoughts

There are many things missed off this wish list, these are just some of the things I would change, obviously these are high-level ideas, the details and practicality for some may be more difficult, but if I ruled the world these would definitely be my ambitions.

Some may say some of these ideas are controlling, I would say that you need to control a ‘mad dog’ or governments and capitalists to be precise.  Governments use distraction tactics to steer you away from the truth, for example, the truth of the animal producing industry, this is why they feed mainstream media with scare stories.  Stories of other governments / leaders plotting to drop weapons of mass destruction on us, the refugee crisis and far too much time is given to joke entertainers such as Donald Trump, I live in the U.K. why is the news here dominated by Donald Trump?  I stopped watching the news about 8 months ago because I got sick of the same ‘misrepresentations’ of the truth churned over and over again, it gets boring, so I decided to find my own truth.

These are my idealisations, I am not a scientist or economic expert, but a human being who wants to see less suffering, pain and disease in the world for ALL beings.

 

How to Live More Ethically!

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead

So, you want to live more ethically?  Me too, but in this messed up, complex world of conflicting information, misinformation and lets face it ……lies, it’s not always easy and definitely not simple.  Despite this, here are some suggestions, that may get you those wings or a few feathers at least!

In the main, people tend to just accept the status quo (guilty, your honour!) in terms of ‘this is how the world is’and ‘what can I do to change things anyway’. If you want evidence of how the majority accept the status quo without trusting their instincts about what is morally (not legally) the right thing to do, watch the documentary ‘Dominion’on YouTube.  After watching this, ask yourself one question what can I do to reduce the suffering? Try to answer from your heart without societies influences.  Be warned, Dominion is graphic and heart wrenching, some people choose not to watch and that’s okay.   I am not one of those people, I like to know the truth, even if that truth is grotesque.  Remember, the truth is knowledge, knowledge is power and knowing the truth can lead to change of the masses.  This brings me on to the first suggestion.

Veganism

The first and in my opinion the most direct impact is to live a vegan lifestyle.  Vegan’s get a lot of stick for their beliefs and there are some aggressive vegans, who hinder the vegan movement, then there are aggressive animal consumers too. I don’t agree with any form of individual intimidation even if it is done passively, this is bullying and not an effective way to get people to see your point of view.   I have watched a video on You Tube with one abattoir worker breaking down crying.  Their job is difficult enough, staff turnover at abattoirs is reported to be 200%.  Off course I don’t agree with slaughter and I do believe the majority of these workers will pay for what they do, whether that displays in their own mental health or their conscience, they may even go on to be vegans, it took me 50 years before I woke up.  

Animals are slaughtered because there is consumer demand for it, don’t blame the farmer or the abattoir worker, they are merely our employees, doing what we tell them to do.  There is no humane way to kill these animals, it is wrong and if you stop to think about it, educate yourself you will know instinctively just how wrong it is.  It really riles me when activists abuse those in the industry, show them compassion as they need to come to the conclusion themselves, educate them with facts and overtime I believe things will change.

Vegan products use no animal products and are not tested on animals, hence, no animal suffers.  You don’t have to be vegetarian or vegan to use these products but your choices can make a difference.  The best mascara and the only one that does not irritate my eyes or smudge is Poppy Austin’s vegan mascara.  If it became the norm for consumers to purchase humane products, those that use animal products for manufacturing and testing would be forced to change their ways, as it’s the consumer that creates demand, don’t ever forget that.  

The whole world can change if individuals make a small effort.  Don’t think vegan products are expensive, some are but there are many that aren’t.  Astonish in the UK do not use animal products or test on animals, these products are some of the cheapest you can buy and they are great at cleaning too.  Lavera  beauty products are also great vegan products  and very reasonably priced, check out the Amazon reviews.

You don’t have to be vegan either to like vegan friendly food and drink, I was drinking plant-based milks, including almond, hazelnut and oat milks long before I became vegan, because they are healthy and delicious.  Never underestimate what you can do to influence manufacturers, just by changing the milk you drink can save the suffering and lives of animals and dairy farmers may branch out into plant-based milks as demand increases.

There are people who will mock you for your beliefs and lifestyle, for some reason you threaten them, probably because they don’t have the capacity to have insight into their own actions or they choose not to have capacity, don’t mock them back, just do what you believe in, trust me your living ethically will make a difference.  Don’t preach, but when an opportunity arises tell people of the great products you use, write the name down for them if you have to, word of mouth is a powerful form of promotion, use it!

Despite what happens in the world I don’t believe we are designed to kill anything whether human or animals.  In the main, we are compassionate by nature and the way animals are slaughtered completely goes against this natural compassion we have.  On the other hand, I understand vegans feeling so strongly about their beliefs, they desperately want to try to stop the slaughtering.  I don’t believe all people will give up meat (yet), unless meat is scarce, but I do believe at some point in the future, though maybe not in my lifetime that vegans will be in the majority.  To me farm animals are beautiful, innocent, child like, some mistrusting (and rightly so) but most completely trusting of humans, they are gentle and in the main tend not to hurt other beings unless defending themselves or their young.  Ethical lesson number 1, stop eating and purchasing animal products, they deserve so much more.

Want to go Vegan?  Don’t know where to start?  visit Challenge22.com, it is a free resource and if you sign up to do a 22 day vegan challenge, you get  assigned a mentor that will advise and help you every step of the way, if after 22 days you decide it’s not for you, then you have lost nothing.

Charity

I believe a lot more people can give to charity than they currently do, I am talking small regular financial donations or donate time if you have it.  People are more mistrusting of charities now, this is unfortunate but with reports of some CEOs and Directors of charities being on excessively high salaries, I am not surprised of this mistrust.

Find just one charity, what do you support, what in this world do you think is unfair or unjust and what can you do to change things?, make an impact.  If you don’t think you personally can make a difference, find a group that you can support to change things on behalf of others.  To be assured (as much as you can) that your chosen charity is ethical, do your research and not just from their website, find other independent sources, then give as little as £1 a month, even this would make a difference as charities can plan ahead knowing they have that £1 a month coming in.

Don’t Breed or Buy pets

Again its supply and demand, don’t buy or breed pets whilst there are thousands of rescue animals looking for forever homes, adopt one or more if you can.  If more people started adopting rescue animals, supply  would decline, why would breeders want to be stuck with a litter of pups because the majority of people adopt rescue dogs?, they wouldn’t.  I know it can be hard and puppies are cute, but you can get puppies from rescue too.  Give a dog, cat or other animal the chance of a loving forever home, you can change their life for the better.  Check out these sites to see the beautiful animals waiting for their forever home; Many Tears Rescue, The Dogs Trust and the RSPCA, there are also many other smaller rescue centres, google if there is one near you.  If you don’t have the time, money or commitment to adopt an animal, consider sponsoring one, you can do so for a very small amount, e.g. £10 a year and even get to visit them, check out; The Farm Animal Sanctuary or Hillside Sanctuary.  Sanctuaries like these do an amazing job, they not only save lives but give the animals the quality of life they deserve, read some of the individual animal stories, they are wonderful.

Put Pressure on Governments

Do some good in the world even if it is from your armchair, sign online petitions at PetitionParliament.uk.

We have the power to change the world, although it may not seem so, in democratic societies, politicians are our puppets, hit them where it hurts, if we let our feelings be known, trust me they will mostly follow through, they will listen not because they care about the people, they care about votes and we  cast the votes.

Feed the Starving

Okay, I agree this is not the answer to world hunger, it’s doing ‘something’ and it’s fun if you like your online quizzes.  This site has interactive quizzes you can play for free and for every answer you get correct, 10 grains of rice go to feed the hungry in developing worlds.  Its called Freerice.com, give it a try.

Consumer Awareness

Find out where your purchases come from, do your clothes pay people a fair wage or are they made by children for a pittance?  Don’t Know? then find out.

Gather knowledge, get your facts straight, be aware of the sources of information, government websites can and do give misinformation and sometimes complete inaccuracies.  Governments often rate their success on how the economy is doing, so they often don’t have our best interests in mind in terms of health and the environment.  There is a trend at the moment to ban palm oil, however, there’s a lot of conflicting information out there, some say 100% certified palm oil is sustainable, others say it still causes environmental damage.    A great website for getting your facts straight is the Ethical Consumer, a very broad website covering everything from clothing to food and drink and many other things in between.  It also has information about palm oil too.

Minimalism

Minimalism is a lifestyle in which people stop over consuming, they declutter their living spaces which in turn has an effect on their wellbeing.  Isn’t it funny when you live more ethically, you feel better, less mental clutter, this is because the world we currently live in is so far removed from how humans are at their core.

The effects of over consumption impact on the planet too.  I have been decluttering for 2 years now (I had a lot of stuff), some I have sold but in the main particularly lately I am giving stuff away, I do this on a weekly basis and still have a way to go.  I have even downsized my christmas decorations, I have one tree and one ornament.  I only had to put my tree up and put the ornament out and I was all done, it just makes life easier and less stressful.  This week I have given away; beauty products (because they weren’t vegan), ornaments, christmas decorations and dog food, because my beautiful dog died 14 weeks ago, I planned to adopt a rescue dog, but I have decided the time is not right yet, as I am single and work full-time.

Final Thoughts

Mainstream views, mostly learned from governments and the media are often wrong.  Historically mainstream views throughout the world have been wrong about; slavery, women’s votes,  and ethnic groups such as Jews in Germany and the Tutsi’s in Rwanda.  They are wrong now about deforestation, animal slavery and slaughter.  Gather your facts, educate yourself, then try to educate others.  Culture change takes time, most people don’t want to know the truth because they know their conscience will struggle and people mostly take the easy option, the option of ignorance.  I did it myself for a long time.

Whatever you do to live more ethically, remember you don’t have to be ‘vegan’ to use vegan products or eat vegan food, you don’t have to be a ‘minimalist’ to start minimising, you don’t have to be a political activist to sign petitions that matter to you, you don’t have to have money to help the starving, and you don’t have to be an expert to consume ethically.  All you need to do all or any of these things is to have a heart and make a small effort, just 5 minutes a week to explore some of these suggestions may just be enough.  I truly hope you do because your actions matter!

 

5 Catalysts That Made Me Go Vegan(ish)!

Photo by Josua De on Unsplash

Twelve months ago, if anyone would of told me I would go vegan(ish), I would of said ‘WTF’, yet in the past six months, my mindset has changed completely.   Firstly, the reason I say vegan(ish), is because I am vegetarian, moving towards veganism.  I don’t eat meat, eggs, milk, but have the odd occasion over the past 6 weeks or so had a small amount of chocolate and crisp that contain milk (yes this did cause me to go on a guilt trip).  I have found having a vegan lifestyle a challenge, mostly because I simply wasn’t prepared, and the times I have not planned or been prepared are the times I have failed, but I continue with my vegan aim.  However, I am now learning more about vegan friendly products and foods.

I don’t believe anyone changes overnight, I believe seeds are planted, these seeds grow, often without you realising, before you make a change.  These little seeds, some seemingly insignificant on their own, can be the catalyst to making a change.  After some reflection, I have realised the following 5 events / occasions were when those seeds were being planted for my vegan journey:

Catalyst No. 1 – Healthy eating

I made a decision earlier this year (2018), that I wanted to eat healthier, I started doing smoothie’s and generally eating what I thought were healthy foods, organic grass fed meat (whenever I could) and goats milk kefir, wild caught salmon etc.  I started my ‘healthy eating’ in January and started to gain weight because I thought I could have as much ‘healthy’ food as I wanted ………. WRONG, I was having up to 4 smoothies a day, not as meal replacements but as drinks in between meals, using lots of fruits including avocados, berries, bananas etc., most of these fruits once blended increase in sugar, yes it is natural sugar, but it has higher calories.  I was also  having Natures Path Nice and Nobbly Granola as a snack, I just have to squeeze in here, this granola is the best I have ever tasted, which by the way, I could not tolerate (because of the oats).  I was using lots of honey (before my vegan days), and baking peanut butter cookies etc.  What I didn’t realise is, yes whilst these are healthy, they can become unhealthy if you don’t use in moderation, lesson number 1 learnt!

Catalyst No. 2 – Forks Over Knives

Realising I had much to learn about healthy eating, I watched the Forks Over Knives documentary about healthy eating, this planted the first seed (no pun intended) for a plant based diet.  It was watching this documentary that made me realise we really don’t need animal foods in our lives, either for survival or health, in fact, we could be healthier without eating animal products.  This was a bit of a revelation for me, although I knew of vegetarians and vegan’s I had not really delved in to the impressive health benefits of a whole food plant based diet.

Catalyst No. 3 – My Dog Dying

This was probably the most significant seed for me, my dog’s premature death (age 3) shook my world.  Having never owned a dog before, I didn’t even consider the emptiness his passing would leave, this really was life changing for me.  This led me into watching You Tube videos of dogs, funny ones to start with to cheer myself up, then animal rescue videos, which made me cry but warmed my heart, then dogs and other animals rescuing and helping other animals and people.  This made me realise, just like people there are some very special animals out there, these videos are magical to watch and helped to restore my faith in there being a reason why we are all here, including animals.

Catalyst No. 4 – Earthling Ed

From watching animal videos, I came across a video by Earthling Ed, called  ‘You Will Never Look at Your Life the Same Way Again – Eye Opening Speech‘ I am not going to say much more, just watch it and then you will start to question the world in which we live.  This video really changed my mindset and made me want to educate myself about what is really going on.  It was this that led me to Catalyst No. 5.

Catalyst No. 5 – Earthlings

Be warned, the documentary ‘Earthlings’ is one of the most horrific things I have ever watched, it is not a gruesome horror film.  Although, it is real life horror for tens of millions of animals, animals that feel pain and fear, that do not deserve to be treated the way they do.  Oh and don’t be fooled by the ‘grass fed’ produce, these animals eventually meet the same barbaric fate as the rest of them.  Earthings is the most shocking thing I have ever watched, whilst I had always avoided watching anything to do with animal slaughter (like most meat eaters do), I felt I needed to know the truth, and so I watched.  I watched through floods of tears, on occasion I even shouted at the screen Noooooooo!  Such was my disbelief in how cruel so called humans can be.  Watching this, whilst haunting, gave me a completely new appreciation and respect for ALL living creatures, creatures that deserve to live free without unnecessary pain and suffering afflicted by us.  One thing that really struck me, is the emotions animals feel, similar to our emotions, love, fear, and maternal instincts.  Whilst this documentary is extremely difficult to watch, I urge you to watch as we should all know the truth, no matter how painful.  If you watch this and don’t change in any way, that is absolutely fine, at least you haven’t buried your head like I did for so long.  I also watched other documentaries after Earthlings on Netflix.com and YouTube.com these include ‘What the Health‘, ‘Cowspiracy‘ on Netflix,  and ‘Dominion‘ on You Tube amongst others.

Things are changing, be part of that change!

Whilst there are more vegan options out there, we are the consumers who can and should dictate what food is produced.  Vegan options are extremely limited in some places, if I have to eat whilst I am out by either picking something up in a shop for a quick lunch or a pub lunch, it is not uncommon for me to only have one or two options.  This is really not good enough, there is strong evidence that points to a plant based diet being one of the healthiest diets, read The China Study so why are we bombarded with unhealthy choices?  It could be resistance to change, profits or both, who knows.

Vegetarian or vegan are two words that seem to offend some people, before I was vegetarian, I would rarely try the vegetarian / vegan option in a restaurant.  I assumed they would taste weird or by ordering them would put me in the ‘weird camp’.  I was wrong, now some of the best food I have eaten are vegan.  I would like to see more people not necessarily turning vegan, unless they are ready to, but open your mind and try some vegan dishes, you may be pleasantly surprised.  The benefits of this, is that they are often more healthy and your choice of one vegan dish, can save unnecessary suffering.  I have read recently one vegan in effect saves the lives of 198 animals per year, most of which are bred to be enslaved for produce and slaughtered.  I have not researched the truth in this because numbers don’t matter, as long as I do my part and no animal suffers or dies because of me.  This illustrates that the little choices we make do matter, your choice matters.

Veganism is a social movement, change is happening right now as we speak, some corporations are responding to demand, there has been a huge increase in plant based milks for example (well they are delicious), and other vegan products, even ‘Greggs’ the bakers (UK) has announced they will be doing vegan sausage rolls.  I feel hope, hope for the future of animals, the environment, people’s health, hope that farmers will change what they farm, as demand grows, supply will meet it.

In my diet and lifestyle change, my soul is feeling purer than it ever has, nothing else has ever felt so right, I seem to be seeing things and people for what they are.  One day, I believe the ‘Kind’ in ‘Mankind’ will be well deserved!

7 Things to Consider if you Want to go Vegan!

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Photo by Mariana Montes de Oca on Unsplash

To Vegan or not to Vegan

So, you have made the decision or you are toying with the idea of going vegan, congratulations, you have officially opened your mind.  If you decide to go vegan or eat a plant based diet, you will be doing a highly commendable act not only for the environment and the planet, but all human and animal kind.  You will feel cleansed and as free as much as you can be from the animal producing corporate  system, we have all unwittingly become a part of.  A system that put profits above everything including; animal slavery, animal torture, inhumane executions and the future of human and animal kind.  In going vegan, you will no longer fully support this abhorrent system.  As your body cleanses, you will seek knowledge about veganism and the truth will unfold, you will be as shocked as I was about how long your mind has been closed.

To me veganism is a journey, you cannot force someone or make them feel bad about eating and using animal food and products.  Only education of how these products come to be in the supermarkets you buy from will seal the deal for many new vegans.  Whether your decision was initially made to improve your health, animal welfare, the environment or a combination of these, you will gain a new more compassionate perspective on life for all living beings that feel pain and emotions.

So you have made your decision, now what …………  well for me, I naively thought I could go vegan literally overnight, some vegan’s may disagree with me, but I think as a meat eater, you need to transition slowly from vegetarian before progressing to veganism.  By doing this, you are more likely to successfully sustain a true vegan lifestle.

There are a lot of things to consider, I was extremely naive, thinking I could go from full almost daily meat eater to vegan overnight.  I was wrong, in the initial stages you may ‘fall off the wagon’, don’t punish yourself, you are still doing more than most people do in a lifetime.

So here are 7 of the things I didn’t really consider before attempting to go vegan:

  1  Food

Okay, obviously you need to consider food, this tip is more in preparation of going vegan.  Firstly, you need to collate some vegan friendly recipes before day One.  It is no use waking up with no plan in place, this is when you will be tempted to call into Greggs on the way to work, they’re breakfast menu only consists of meat, meat or errm …….. meat.  Day one of my ‘vegan lifestyle’ was a fail as I did not take breakfast to work, I purchased a bacon balm en-route, it was not an easy breakfast to eat, I just kept picturing eating a baby pig.  I learned that day to prepare my breakfast in advance, I now take either overnight oats or a smoothie with banana bread …..  obstacle overcome.  There has been only one day since day one, in the past two weeks I arrived at work with nothing (because I had not shopped) and I went without, rather than purchasing an animal product.

Consider your favourite dishes, can these be adapted to a vegan dish, one of my favourite dishes was cottage pie, I used quorn mince instead of beef mince, the quorn was the only item I changed, yes it was not as tasty as my beef mince but it was quite nice.  This week when I cook it I am going to put some extra salt, tamarin sauce, a splash of tabasco sauce and some lentils.  I will go easy and see how that comes out, whether it works or not I will be eating it (I can’t waste food), and if its a food fail, I will just make some slight adjustments until I get it spot on.  Beware, since making my cottage pie, I found out not all quorn is vegan friendly, it is vegetarian friendly but some do contain eggs.

The first time I went to the supermarket to get my ‘vegan’ groceries, I took about 4 or 5 times longer than usual, because there is not a ‘vegan  aisle, the vegan logo / symbols are not always highly visible on these products. I ended up searching looking for a staff member to help, which one did (reluctantly) as she explained she was already trying to help three other customers.  I usually shop online, but wanted to go and ‘see’ what I was buying, have a proper mooch around to see what the vegan options were.  Make sure you allow plenty of time for your first few shops, so you can explore the options, search for vegan products and learn where they are situated.

  2  Go at a snails pace

If you are opting for the whole food plant based diet, unless  you have a lot of money you may have to buy things gradually.  I am not saying it is more expensive, my shopping came out cheaper because meat and fish are expensive.  However, if you have never ate nuts and seeds and you want to be a healthy vegan, you could start introducing one variety at a time.  I started with sunflower seeds, sprinkling them on my overnight oats, my next purchase I will add pumpkin seeds, I want to use at least 4 different varieties for ………… variety of course.

I have just completed week two of my vegetarian / vegan diet, I have surprised myself that I have achieved more than I thought I would I planned to do it very slowly, but I have eliminated, meat, fish, eggs, I eliminated cows milk a few years ago and kefir goats milk a few months ago.

3  Have a clear out

If there is no-one else in your home that will eat your past-life foods such as meat, eggs, fish etc.  give them away, I gave mine away, then I filled my fridge / freezer with healthy plant based foods.  If you have no animal products in your home, you will not be tempted to fall back in to old unhealthy practices.

Also check all labels, you will be surprised the foods that have animal products in, watch out for gelatine, it is made from animals.  Although, there are other products that surprised me, some Bisto gravy granules for example is vegan friendly.

4  Beauty Products and Toiletries

My beauty products and toiletries was not something I really thought about when I decided to go vegan, it clicked probably on day two or three, that if I wanted to be vegan I have to do it fully.  So I started looking through my beauty products and toiletries I had at home, not one of them had a ‘vegan’ symbol on and although some said 100% natural, none stated they did not test on animals, I assume they do, if they don’t state otherwise.  I have the option to give or throw all these products away, but that would cost me a substantial amount of money to replace, so I have decided to replace bit by bit.  I purchased a roll on deodorant  Dr Organic Tea Tree Deodorant which is vegan from Holland and Barratt, I will try other items over time.  I really like the deodorant, it smells lovely and clean, I feel fresh all day long.  I also discovered to my surprise that Superdrug do a good range of their own vegan products, look for the bunny symbol.

5  Household Products

My next consideration was household cleaning products such as washing powder , washing liquid.  I have not got that far into veganism yet, so need to do more research, looking at the vegan eco friendly products on Amazon, they seem expensive.  I am aware, there are cleaning products out there that do not use animal products or test on animals, but you would not necessarily associate them with vegan products.  One such brand is Astonish.  Astonish state on their website We’ve never tested our products on animals or used animal ingredients’.  This is good news because, they are reasonably cheap products and I already have some in my cupboard.  I need to do a lot more research on household products and explore the idea of making my own cleaning products at home.

6  Clothes

Apart from the obvious, leather shoes and bags etc. I never even considered other clothing, a true vegan does not wear wool.  I recently purchased a hat with winter coming in, then found out vegan’s don’t even wear wool, lucky for me when I checked the label it was polyester……. phew!  Okay, I admit I did not do my research on veganism, but I could not understand why wool was not okay, don’t sheep need shearing to stop their coats getting too long and matted, so what’s wrong with shearing them? do we not get haircuts? do we not get certain breeds of dogs trimmed?  I did a little research on this and found PETA gave the clearest explanation ….. now I get it, no wool for me then.

7  Temptation Is All Around

In the UK, when you need to grab lunch to takeaway, there is meat everywhere, the vegetarian options are limited, the vegan options even more so, although city centres seem to be better.  I went into Marks and Spencers to pick up lunch on the way back from a meeting and I could not find anything that didn’t contain meat, fish, cheese or eggs.  I asked two members of staff if they had any vegetarian options, I purposely didn’t ask for vegan options as I struggled to find anything without animal products in.  As nice and helpful as the staff were, they looked at me, looked at each other, one of them screwed her face up, I know she didn’t mean to, but it did make me feel like an ‘awkward customer‘.  Nevertheless she helped me look, we found one dish, a pasta spinach pine nut salad, I wasn’t exactly spoilt for choice, so I purchased it.  I highly recommend making your own lunches.

I still have a lot of self-educating to do, I expect my full vegan journey to take between 1-2 yrs, if that seems like a long time, it is.   During this time I will probably be 80-90% vegan, and the remainder vegetarian, but I expect it will take me longer to get to the 100% vegan mark, which I can sustain for the rest of my life.

One final tip, not really a consideration, but ask around, tell people you are going vegetarian / vegan, you will be surprised who is vegan or can point you in the right direction.  Talk to these people because you can learn from them, they have already passed the stage your at and can offer useful advice / tips and even recipes.

I am finding my feet in the vegan world and don’t expect to be galloping in these early days, but over time, I will learn all about this new, clean, ethical and healthy lifestyle.

 

 

Becoming Vegan(ish)!

 

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Okay, I can’t fully explain this, but I have become very interested recently in veganism or to be more accurate a plant based diet, it has never and I mean never appealed to me before, but I feel I cannot stop this transition, I feel like this is yet another piece of the jigsaw in my journey.

I think it started when I watched the documentary ‘Knives over Forks’ on Netflix which was very enlightening, there is also a Knives over Forks book and cookbook to accompany the documentary.  The documentary mostly focuses on veganism for its health benefits, and boy, they are a pretty tempting bunch of health benefits, including reversal of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.  There are preventative benefits too, such as some cancers and alzheimers, not to mention other benefits such as clear skin, strong healthy hair, weight loss, energy, better sleep and general overall improved health.  

When you are younger you can eat junk food, smoke, drink to excess and you still have energy, but over the long term, trust me it will catch up with you.  When you get to my age (50) and you start to get little ailments such as knee pain, stiffness and general aches and pains, you do become more aware of what you put in to and how you treat your body.  

I have decided, because of the huge change of diet I am about to undertake, I am going to introduce a plant based diet very slowly as I do have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and I really don’t want to aggravate that.  Also, I don’t want to go in full steam ahead and not be able to sustain the lifestyle, I will make the change one small step at a time.  I plan to introduce one vegan recipe a week, this may just be a snack or change to something I already make, such as banana bread, the only things I put in there which I should change are eggs and honey, but I may just keep a little bit of honey.

I have ordered one book from Amazon ‘Deliciously Ella, the Plant Based Cookbook’ which has rave reviews and looks like a beautiful book too.  I have also subscribed to the following websites / blogs  ‘Pick up Limes’ a truly inspirational site with beautiful pictures and ‘I Love Vegan’ which I need to explore further but it looks very informative and being new to this, just what I need to gain more understanding.

I have to say I am loving the website ‘Pick up Limes’, created by Sadia Badiei, who is a dietician and nutritionist, her site is absolutely beautiful, the pictures are enough to inspire you to have a plant based diet.  I discovered Sadia on her ‘Pick up Limes’ You Tube channel, she does not preach but informs in a very simple easy to understand way. She doesn’t try to hard sell the plant based diet vegan lifestyle or herself, she is just so natural and seems to be a lovely person, because of this she does sell the plant based diet, well she has sold it to me anyway.

In becoming a vegan or having a plant based diet, I am going to have to up my game in the meal planning / prepping stakes.  As I said I am going to start by incorporating one recipe or food item per week, I will add my favourites to my draft meal plan, then when I feel I am ready, I will go the whole 9 miles.  I will keep you periodically updated on my transition.