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Monday, 31 October 2011

Children and Animals #1

A few months ago 3 of my little cousins (all under 13) were eating meat and I was lurking in the kitchen.

''Nicola, why's this got red stuff in?''

''It's blood''


*Puzzled expressions*

''Because it's a dead chicken's leg''

*Horrified expressions*

Cue the rest of my family furiously telling the girls to ignore their lunatic cousin. Fast forward 3 months to the announcement one of them made that she's now vegetarian - I'm beyond proud of her!

I'm constantly thinking about the results of my actions and whether something I say will piss people off so much that they use it as ammunition against our cause. But in cases like this when I see a real opportunity for my message to be heard, I'm obliged to speak out.

A conversation with my Dad afterwards went something like this:

Dad: *Frowning* ''Come on Nic, you know you shouldn't have said that''

Me: ''Why?''

''You know why'' *looks at me as if I'm just being ridiculous*

''No I don't. Why shouldn't they know the truth?''

''Because they're too young, they should be shielded from stuff like that''


''Why, because if they knew the truth they wouldn't want to eat meat? If they're being forced to eat it, they deserve to know where it's come from. Either stop force feeding them the dead animals which you know they would choose not to eat if they were given the option, or tell them the truth. And if their parents are sure that they're doing the right thing by feeding them meat, then they should be fine with them knowing the truth.''


He agreed in principle but still felt uneasy about me saying things like that to the kids. Ellie is a bright little girl and I'm not suggesting my one statement turned her veggie (she read Charlotte's Web too) but children are just less indoctrinated, less brainwashed into the idea of gorging on flesh, they're so close to making the connection that all they need is to know the truth. Before they reach a certain age they don't defend their actions with pathetic excuses, they just get it. They agree and they're disgusted and I'll be damned if I'm supposed to let parents force feed our friends to compassionate little people without saying anything.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Cecil Says #2


Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace, the slaves of the ordinary.''
~ Cecil Beaton

Friday, 21 October 2011

Vegan Meetings

I have had such a brilliant past few days! Until Wednesday, would you believe it - I had never met another real life vegan, apart from Dan, my boyfriend, but we went vegan together so he has nothing new to offer me, in the nicest way possible - haha!

So after being inspired by people like Veganelder to get off my ass and do more for our furry friends, I got in contact with a few fellow vegans on Facebook who told me about a public meeting that was being held on Wednesday to discuss plans for a Beagle breeding facility (for use in medical testing) which is planning to open near where I live.

I arrived and noticed there was tea and coffee on offer, I couldn't see any milk and then I spied a carton of non dairy stuff and instantly I knew I'd found myself a bunch of like minded people.


The speakers were absolutely brilliant, so inspiring and full of amazing information that really opened my eyes about vivisection. I've started to write another post to summarise what I've learned, and I'll share that soon. What I loved most was that they were extremely intelligent intellectuals, ex doctors and surgeons, don't you just love having those people on our side?! They relied on facts and while they also felt passionately and some of them clearly were very emotional about the plight of our beloved animals, (a few tears were shed) they reminded us all to focus on the evidence that we can prove is not based on opinion as a way to get our message heard and make real change. Very enlightening. I know if I want to spread our message this is exactly what I have to do. There's no point ranting to people about how cute animals are and how against speciesism I am, that's just my opinion. The way to get them to listen is to provide facts. And now I'm starting to gather quite the collection of them to support my views.

Two of my favourite 'speakers' took pride of place at the front of the room, and sat patiently as a reminder to us all who we are fighting for. It was so cute, I noticed that they made noises at some very opportune moments during the speeches, it was as if they knew we were talking about helping their friends :-)

What snooty little posers :-)


At the end of the meeting some people stuck around and I had the fortune of meeting this wonderful group of activists.

It's so exciting and motivating to be around people who care. We're all keeping in touch and will be getting involved in various protests and outreach. In fact, Paris and I actually stopped at a butchers and fishmongers on the way home and stuck some PETA stickers on their doors, teehee. Sshh, don't tell anyone.

Then last night I went to an event ran by the local vegan group, which I've only just discovered too! We all went to the local vegetarian restaurant and ate a feast of Persian vegan food. The food was fabulous and I scoffed the best chocolate cake known to man. I tried to get a picture but it was too dark, booo.

While there we noticed one of the ladies at the table was also at the meeting the previous night so we exchanged emails and she is very active with animal rights so hopefully she has some things I can help out with too.

Thank you so much to those of you who suggest I join a vegan group, it is absolutely the best thing I could have done, and I'm just delighted to have met such wonderful people. I had no idea there were so many of us hiding in my little city!

I'm literally fizzing with excitement at the people I've met and the things they've taught me that already I could fill a book! Don't worry this manic post is almost over and I won't bombard you with it all at once, but expect lots of excited future posts!

Yayyy! Happy happy happy :-)

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Is The World a Better Place For Having You in It?

When I first watched Schindler's List about 6 months ago I was completely unprepared for the effect it would have on my life. If you haven't seen it, you must watch it. To summarise:


''Oskar Schindler is a vainglorious and greedy German businessman who becomes unlikely humanitarian amid the barbaric Nazi reign when he feels compelled to turn his factory into a refuge for Jews.'' (Source)


The true story of a self confessed ''profiteer of slave labour'' ended with him breaking down in front of everyone he had saved from the Nazis. Distraught, he has a realisation that he could have done more, saved more people, had he not wasted so much money. The part that really struck a chord with me was where he points out his car and says ''why did I keep this car? Ten people, right there'', and goes on to realise that each of his prized material possessions equalled human lives that he could have saved.


It forced me to see that when I choose to say, spend my money on an expensive pair of shoes, I am also choosing to not send that money to Africa to a starving child. I am choosing shoes over life. And it just highlights the emptiness of material things. They just don't matter, and I can continue to convince myself that they do, or I can wake up.


Saying that this affected me just doesn't do justice to the profound impact it had on my life. Everything material just suddenly seemed so unimportant and worthless. It made me question the direction my life had been heading and I literally couldn't get out of bed for a week, because I was so despairing.


All my life I have been driven by the idea of wealth and success. I opened a clothing shop and factory last year and all I cared about was expanding, and making as much money as I could. I dreamed of fancy houses, one in London, one in New York, a nice little holiday home in India, perhaps one in Vegas too. I imagined how fabulous it would feel to be the richest person any of my friends had ever known. Attaining these goals was the most important thing to me, and suddenly I realised the vulgarity of what I was wishing for. Everything I had ever wanted repulsed me. I felt so conflicted and didn't know how to deal with it.


I got over the inital shock and got back to work, but the thoughts kept creeping back in; my life had no real meaning and I didn't want to ignore it forever. I wondered if I needed a religion? I read books on spirituality and then Buddhism, hoping to find a place for me. They certainly helped, and I forget where now, but I read something that resonated and became my motto for life: 


I want the world to be a better place for having me in it, to give back more than I take out.


And that's it, that became my guiding light. It was the final push that led me to being vegan. How can I say that I have given more than I've taken while I exploit animals and take things from them that they have been forced to give? Well, I can't. 


My emphasis is on animals, it's what I'm passionate about. Now I feel like I'm heading in the right direction, all I can do is strive to be good and do better, and help their cause, and that idea leaves me full and hopeful, and the emptiness has disappeared. It's the only thing that drives me any more. I'm now more motivated than ever when I work, but it's because I know that the money I make is to help them. 


I spoke about my plans to open a farmed animal sanctuary which I can use to educate people about veganism in a recent post, and since then I've started to look at land I can buy to get the ball rolling. I am firmly focussed on that goal and it drives me more than anything. It's the reason to get out of bed and go to work. Making money for myself just isn't enough.


So now, when I choose to say, stay in bed and not do any work I know that I am choosing my own laziness over the lives of animals. I'm not saying I manage it all the time, I often slip into denial but it's soon replaced by a feeling of emptiness and I get off my ass and try to make my life count.


Every day there are times when I become aware that I'm not doing enough, and I am overwhelmed at the size of the task, but then I think about that final scene where Oskar Schindler realises that each decision he has made really matters and it reminds me that I can change things, that each person is powerful and can do things that matter, every single day. 

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Volunteering At The Dog Shelter

This afternoon we spent a few hours at the local dog shelter...

 Lord Wallace and Cecil donated lots of their toys, leads, collars and blankets to the homeless poochies who are sure to appreciate them a lot more than they do. 



There are over 40 dogs in at the moment, and it's very difficult to watch them all in their cages, desperately in need of their own home, trying to hypnotize me with their big gorgeous eyes, and bewitch me into taking them with me. 


I need to think carefully first though, and make sure that if we do adopt one, that they're the right fit for our family. Especially because Cecil is so fragile and nervous, and during the day our Frank and Delores (the bunnies) have free rein of the garden (it's so cute seeing the dogs and the bunnies together!).

The dogs there are well looked after though, and fortunately this shelter has all the staff it needs to clean out the kennels etc. So all that's left for us to do is to make a fuss over the little tykes, take them for walkies, and make sure they know they're loved. If my furry friends are anything to go by, then there can literally never be enough fussin' and belly scratchin'!


 This is Summer. A very energetic young pup. They told us she is friendly but pulls quite a lot on the lead when you take her for a walk...



 So Dan decided to let her have her way, and she took him for a run instead :-)



We took her for the longest walk as she was in most need of being tired out!



 This little scruff bear was only found yesterday so didn't have a name yet. We named him Ernie. He looks like an Ernie don't you think?! He's quite timid but loved getting a fuss and had a lovely time on his walk. He really captured Dan's heart and was his favourite pooch of the day.



Prince is not in very good shape at all. The poor little angel has mange :-( I dread to think what his life was like before he arrived at the shelter. He has the sweetest of sweet hearts, such a lovely nature, but he doesn't have much confidence at all. 



He's so itchy and scratches himself constantly - so much that the fur on his tummy and legs has gone and has been replaced by painful sores. Thankfully he's getting all the help he needs and there are a few people who are dying to give him the loving home he deserves as soon as he's better.



 This little lunatic was so bouncy and jumpy! I LOVED her. She's called Star, and indeed she lives up to her name. Such a little diva, she was so excited on her walk that she kept charging at us and jumping up with joy! Best feeling ever :-)



 Little Tye is the most laid back, easy going little dude ever. He loved getting kissed and cuddled and was so content to just be near us.





As you can understand, it's extremely time consuming to take each pooch for a walk, which means many of them don't get one, and as I'm sure most of you will know, it's essential to their happiness that they do. So next time you have some spare time and you're in need of some fluffy snuggles to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, go and give your local shelter guys a fuss and a walk. You won't believe how much they'll thank you!

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Cecil's Look-Alike

Me and Dan are always saying how our little Cecil looks like a cartoon character or a Pixar creation. And here's further proof that he is just too cute and gorgeous to be real. My friend bought a book for her daughter and look who was in it...


Uncanny!!!

I love it :-) when I look at this page, all I see is my little Cecil prancing around in his ballerina outfit making his mummy so proud. 

*Note to self: Must make Cecil a tutu. Too much? 

Sunday, 9 October 2011

But Drinking Their Milk Doesn't Harm Them or Anything, Does It?

After being offered a cup of tea at a colleague's house, it was my time to tell her that I'd gone vegan.

Her: ''But it's not like drinking their milk harms them or anything is it?''


Me: ''Well I always thought the same as you, but recently I found out the truth. I was surprised too. Cows are constantly kept pregnant, their calves are taken from them at birth and killed for veal. The cows are also sent to slaughter anyway when at around age 4 (normal lifespan is 25) they are so badly damaged and in permanent pain from constant milk production that they can no longer be used.''

Which is honestly, just the tip of the iceberg; I wanted her to know the facts, but was concious of saying too much too soon and coming across as a militant vegan. Which of course I totally am.


A baby calf - just 4 weeks old. Seen here at a 'Livestock' sale, after being taken from his mother so she could produce milk and he can be sold for meat as an added little bonus for the greedy farmer. Score! Two for the price of one! (Source)

Anyway, she didn't believe me. Probably thinking the same thing that I used to think; that vegans are extremists and refuse to use animal products based on some hippy notions that I don't understand, and so make up lies about animal cruelty to get us to join their cult.

''But I thought they were dairy cows?''


''I don't know what you mean by that, they are dairy cows...''


''So then they don't have to keep them pregnant.''

Be aware that this lady is an extremely intelligent, successful, well respected businesswoman, so her thoughts are likely to resemble those of many others. And that what she was saying is that she believes there to be a breed of cow that just gives milk, constantly and painlessly. Forever. Like a milky bottomless well given to the human race as a gift from God.


''There is no such thing as a cow who just gives milk constantly...why would that be a thing?''

*Blank stare*


''Think about it. They produce milk to feed their newborn calves. If there were no calves, there would be no milk produced.''

''Euurggghhh. Wow.''

I'd said enough, something had resonated at least. She was stirring the milk into her tea and I noticed her face scrunch up a bit. I was dying to quickly tell her about the legally allowed quanitites of pus and blood that goes into milk, but I thought better of it - save that for next time!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

My Little Carnivorous Sister, Nade.

As anyone with a younger sibling knows, it was my duty to make her life difficult when we were little. After a few years of her putting up with me bullying her into saying swear words and eating her own bogies, I began to see that she wasn't born into our family for my own amusement, and we became best friends.

Occasionally we'll spend our time together acting like real grown ups...


But usually we wont.


Don't ask.

Aside from being the funniest person in the universe, she's recently grown up to become one of the most kind and compassionate. It'd be cruel of me to say I never would have imagined her to turn out like this, but I'll say it anyway. 

I was always able to talk openly and frankly to her about my thoughts on meat, even though she ate it. She was never disrespectful or defensive, in fact she would cover up the meat on her plate so when we ate together I didn't have to look at it. She listened to what I had to say, but didn't usually have anything to add herself apart from something along the lines of ''yeah, I know you're right, but I couldn't live without steak''. She ate meat at every meal, she ate her steaks blue and one time I recall her drinking the blood left on the plate with a straw(!!!!). Entirely carnivorous.

In my experience there are two types of meat eaters, the ones who are in denial and refuse to listen to the truth, for fear of having to change, and the ones who can listen to what you say and it apparently has no effect on them. Nade comes from the latter category. 

The others are the type of people who I have always tried to educate; sure that once they allow themselves to see the truth, they'll change. It never occurred to me that someone like Nade would ever give up meat, I couldn't imagine the massive shift in attitude that would have to take place for them to do so. I thought at least the other people are part way there, at least they feel guilty and responsible sometimes. Where some people would cringe and get angry if I pointed out that the rib there were eating was actually from a dead pig's chest, she would literally not bat an eyelid.

A few months ago we started reading books on Buddhism, it was weird, we both decided to do it at the same time so went to the book shop together and got Buddhism, Plain and Simple. That very same day, I was in the kitchen and she came in, announcing ''Nic, I think I'm going to have to be vegetarian''. I literally could not believe my ears. ''I know eating meat is wrong, I know it is, so I shouldn't do it.''
Definitely recommended 

Unlike me, Nade loved to eat meat, she never had any of the nagging feelings that I'd had right throughout my life. I'm still in shock I think, because of how much strength it takes for someone to make such a change so suddenly and selflessly. 

I think since then she's really allowed herself to awaken to all manner of truths, it's as though the curtain of denial has been lifted and she no longer inhabits the greedy, self fulfilling world she was a part of. She was a professional dancer, but she now volunteers in Ethiopia, educating people on environmental issues and women's rights. 

Apparently she's also abandoned the idea of cameras as this is the only photo I have of her in Ethiopia. She gets to play with wild monkeys every day too so you can imagine my frustration at her taking no photos*hint hint*

Not one to appreciate being labelled, so I'll avoid calling her a freegan or a flexitarian, she will eat meat that would have otherwise gone to waste. I'm going to talk about my ideas on this another time, as I think it leads to some really interesting questions. But for now I think my point is how excited I am at the thought of such unlikely folk awakening to the truth. I'll never rule anyone out, and I realise the importance of having faith in people to do the right thing in their own time. It's nice because it kind of eases the burden I know a lot of us feel, when you think of it this way. 

Nade has been writing a blog since she got to Ethiopia...she doesn't often get access to a computer and when she does she frequently encounters power cuts, but the posts she writes are witty and entertaining :-)

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Chilli

Measuring and weighing and following recipes hasn't seemed to work for me so far, I must be missing the chef gene. My best dishes seem to be the ones where I just wing it. Measurements get me all hot and bothered. 

To make my chilli, I do a fair bit of guesstimating and just fling it all in (after frying the veggies) let it bubble for a good hour or so, and hope for the best. Works for me!


1 tin of baked beans in tomato sauce
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
Some sliced green pepper
Some sliced red pepper
Some cloves of garlic
Bit of chilli powder
Some fresh chillies; amount depending on how spicy I'm feeling at the time
Loads of onions
Some mushrooms
Some TVP
And whatever herbs, spices and nices that happen to tickle my fancy that I find in the cupboard
Sometimes I'll put a tin of kidney beans in too

I love it with basmati rice and a fresh baguette and Vitalite (sunflower spread). Dan eats it with tortilla wraps and all the trimmings (jalapenos, vegan mayo, lettuce, salsa etc.). 

Rather tasty I must say!

Raw? Gimme More!

I've always been rather afraid of this whole raw foods lark. I'm not adventurous with food, and I like me some  grease. Fry it, roast it, saute it, it's all good with me. But raw? Blergh. So when Dan was sent to buy me a chocolate bar and came back with some raw nonsense I wasn't best pleased. 



I had a cautious little nibble. And then gobbled the rest. It was like angels dancing on my tongue. If this is what raw foods taste like then consider me firmly on the band wagon my friends! I HATE raisins and have never dared to eat a date, but what a clever combination, it tastes like a moisty crumbly creamy chewy chocolatey orangey brownie with delicious little nutty crunchy bits in. Genius!

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

You sneezed?? That'll Be Because You're Vegan!

My boyfriend broke his toe playing football a few weeks ago. The other day his mum asked him how it was getting on. Still no better, she told him it's because he's vegan. Clearly not getting enough calcium, and prescribed him a feast of cheese and milk.

Forgetting the fact that Dan drinks an obscene amount of fortified soya milk due to his banana milkshake addiction, rendering her point about him not getting enough nonsensical, everyone knows that bones take at least 6 weeks to heal. What she's saying loosely translates as ''because he hasn't developed super sonic healing powers with which he can mend a snapped bone in a fortnight, surely being a vegan is killing him'' or something like that. 

I'm astonished at how quickly meat eaters jump to conclusions about our health based on no evidence whatsoever, and will deny the scientifically proven facts supporting a vegan diet that I provide them with.

Most infuriating are those who love to tell me how dangerous my diet is while they eat take away pizza every night. What, seriously? You're honestly concerned about my nutrition? I have to wonder, do they really believe what they're saying, or are they just trying to be a pain in the ass?

They're too snuggly? 
Oh, that's because they're vegan.

Too Lazy?
That'll be because he's vegan

Too stylish? 
Because he's vegan.

Looks too much like Oliver Twist in that hat...
Vegan.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Cecil Says #1


''Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do''
~ Steve Jobs

Sunday, 2 October 2011

The Fever

A highly contagious condition characterised by bouts of nausea, a loss of self awareness, sudden and uncontrollable excitability, embarrassing changes in pitch of voice, warm feelings throughout the body, unexpected instantaneous euphoria, outbursts of kissing and hugging and an inability to contain emotion.

Can cause sufferers to lose their grasp of the English language and resort to baby speak and nonsensical sentences.

It is strong enough to cause even the most macho of men to lose their minds and reduce them to a cooing mess.

Common triggers include puppies, kittens, chicks or almost any other baby animal, with the effects being particularly strong if said animal is doing/wearing something cute or has a silly hairdo.



Youtube is responsible for  the widest outbreak of The Fever in known history, with the most acute symptoms being reported by people who have witnessed videos such as this:

=

Long term sufferers report an increasing number of triggers, each more ridiculous than the last.

I personally suffer at least 3 episodes per day. Triggers are now so tenuous I have been known to uncontrollably squeal, and call out ''Ohhh look! Cecil blinked! It was soooo cute! Awww look! Now he's not blinking!! Aww!!''.

And I know for me it's only going to get worse. I've lost much of my self respect, and social etiquette is a thing of the past - I think nothing of grabbing a strange dog and kissing him on the mouth, sometimes with tongues, while passers by look on in horror. It's too late for me, but save yourselves!

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Cecil Learns to Gimme Five

I feel compelled to show off, as any proud mum should, that my little baby learned a new trick tonight! Aww, he's such a sweetheart, I love him so much *goes to snuggle him*.

video

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