Sticking it to the man.

Hi there! I’ve been doing some thinking recently (help us all!) and it occurred to me that through this new way of life I’ve been living the last few years, I’ve been able to participate in my own acts of resistance against things I wasn’t even aware of before. Here are a few ways I’ve been sticking it to the man…

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ooh, so edgy. Bare faced b+w shot

cosmetics- don’t use shampoo, and only use 3 makeup items

I am resisting the advertisement industry that lies and profits from women’s insecurity, telling us that we need an eye cream, foot cream, nail cream, and a different soap depending on whether you are male or female. My hair and skin haven’t been softer since I ditched the products which whilst doing a job, make your body reliant on them for something it can do naturally.

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taken from zerowaste_munster

clothes- buy only a few items of clothing as needed, from ethical brands and charity shops

Spanish brand ZARA for example churns out a crazy 52 (micro) seasons a year, averaging 12000 styles (the retail average is 3000). It’s just irresponsible to think you can produce so much and encourage people to buy more and more with the situation already in dire straights. I am resisting the over over over-consumption and prices so low that people pay for your clothes with their lives on the other side of the planet.

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Ribs sans animal products from 100% vegan restaurant Cafe Van Gogh

veganism- I choose not to eat animal products

I’ve had people personally offended that I don’t eat meat. I’ve even had people ask me how I can call myself Jamaican. I am aware that in some cultures meat is very embedded into the every day, but there is no reason why someone should have to condone an act they consider wrong to be a part of a culture. I’ve also been told that I am being rude or fussy when refusing food that someone of another culture has made for me because it has meat in it. I understand that for a lot of people, they don’t see or think about the process and simply see meat and animals as food. My intention is not to reject your generosity but rather to live by a principle that I think matters.

Also, something I haven’t had to experience as a woman, but that I have witnessed happen around me: the association of manliness with meat-eating. Who knows where it stems from; cavemen ideology, the preoccupation with protein and muscle-building, I can’t really comment. But as weak as the argument seems from someone liberated from the need to fit in with gender stereotypes, I have seen that in many people the need to perform their gender and what they consider to be essential components of their gender is a really strong pull.

I am resisting the association of meat-eating with culture or by being a mixed-race British person of Caribbean heritage who does not eat animal products. And as a woman I do not perpetuate the myth that to be strong, healthy, happy or fit in, it is necessary for any gender to do so either.

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Yeah, so we got a little bit political today, but that’s okay! It’s important to remember that often things that are worthwhile and right, are not easy. Being aware of underlying influences in society is crucial to breaking their power and realising that they do not need to control you. Thanks for reading 🙂

Ethical clothing.

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Finisterre Clothing (Source)

Yes people. It’s all very well trying to buy environmentally friendly fabrics, and not use animal products, but it all means nothing if you’re still buying into businesses that effectively use slave labour. (That was a bit more direct than I thought it would be, but there’s nothing like a little harsh truth!) As it’s Fashion Revolution week, and the anniversary of the Rana Plaza disaster, I figured it might be good to share something.

Now I’m an advocate of the largely secondhand wardrobe, because not only does it contribute to good in the world, (if it comes from a charity shop you are making a donation to their work) but it means that instead of garments going on a one-way path to the garbage heap, they become part of a loop economy. Products that can be used again by someone new, avoid the fate of landfill and all the horrible dangers associated with it. When you buy secondhand you don’t require anything to be made from scratch in a factory, so no energy is wasted to create it. There’s enough already in existence to mean we shouldn’t need to buy very much completely new! It can go round and round the loop until it can’t be used any more!

However, sometimes you can’t be searching high and low for things. Also, there’s something to be said for encouraging and supporting ethical businesses with our money. So without further ado, here is a list of ethical clothes manufacturers on my radar…

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The White T-shirt Co.

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Good quality t-shirts designed to last a lifetime, they can even be tailored to your requirements.

Credentials: Organic, Fair trade, Vegan

Prices: ££

Hiut Denim

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Good quality jeans produced in a small factory (they make 100 per week!) They commit to repairing any jeans you buy from them for free for life!

Credentials: Fair trade, (Some) Organic, Repairs for life

Prices: £££

Finisterre

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Casual clothing with a focus on outdoor activity wear. Very good knitwear, jackets, base layers. Committed to eco-friendly initiatives.

Credentials: (Some) Organic, Fair trade, (Some) Recycled materials

Prices: £

Monkee Genes

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Organic jeans in a large range of styles and colours.

Credentials: Organic, Fair trade, Living wage, Vegan, (Some) Recycled materials

Prices: £

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Beaumont Organic

Beaumont Organic

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Casual/luxury clothing made from organic materials

Credentials: Organic, Fair trade

Prices: £££

Rapanui Clothing

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Organic t-shirts and hoodies

Credentials: Organic, Fair trade

Prices: £

Sea Salt Cornwall

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Casualwear, shoes and accessories

Credentials: (Some) Organic, Fair trade

Prices: ££

Swedish Stockings

Based in: Sweden

Specialises in: Sustainable hosiery made to last, using eco-friendly practices and materials. They also accept any brand of hosiery for recycling to divert them from landfill!

Credentials: Fair trade, Recycled materials, Eco-friendly practices, Zero Waste

Prices: ££

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Bibico

Bibico

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Ethical casual clothing using natural fibres

Credentials: (Some) Organic, Fair trade

Prices: ££

Green Fibres

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Organic underwear, nightwear and outerwear

Credentials: Organic, Fair trade

Prices: ££

Lowie

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Casual clothing and accessories committed to introducing organic and eco-friendly materials to their range. They offer free repairs on all purchases too!

Credentials: (Some) Organic, Fair trade, Repairs for life

Prices: £££

The Keep Boutique

Based in: UK

Specialises in: Ethical brands offering casualwear and accessories

Credentials: (Some) Organic, Fair trade

Prices: ££

5 things this Monday…

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Evening friends!

  1. First up, a petition! Let’s show the supermarkets that we as the consumers do not want our produce smothered in plastic. Sign this petition and share it with your family and friends- let’s do this.
  2. A London cafe has ditched dairy after watching a 5 minute video on the dairy industry called ‘dairy is scary’. They put the above poster in their front to explain why. It’s so exciting to see companies taking action after educating themselves 🙂
  3. I have finally started using this search engine that I heard about a little while ago. They plant trees with the money raised from ads. I’ve only used it for one day and they are committed to planting 8 trees on my behalf- talk about an easy way to do something awesome for the planet! See this video for more on how it works…
  4. Looking for a zero waste alternative to hair gel? Well look no further! This amazingly easy recipe requires only flax seeds and boiling water. And that’s not even the best part- you can use the seeds again and again before composting them!
  5. If you’re based in the UK you will no doubt be familiar with many of these restaurant chains. Fun fact: they all have vegan options and some even have a whole menu. YIPPEE!

5 things this Monday…

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  1. The picture above shows a turtle who got caught in some plastic packaging from a 6-pack of cans. It caused the his shell to be misshapen as it grew- but that’s not all. This poor guy’s organs were unable to fully form due to the constriction of his body. Even after he was liberated, Peanut has been unable to live unaided which is really sad. But now he’s being looked after and makes appearances across schools in the US to teach them about what happens to plastic waste! It is pictures like this that really bring it home that our consumption is making animals really suffer.
  2. Now for some happy news! A vegan cafe has opened in Mexico City, and is challenging the eat-obsessed culture. It’s called ‘Los loosers’ and it sounds magnificent 🙂 hopefully this will be the beginning of better availability of plant-based food in the area.
  3. Lots of people don’t have the option of visiting bulk shops where you can fill up your own bags and containers. How do you do your best to minimise packaging and landfill waste whilst shopping at your average supermarket? Zero Waste Nerd tells you how.
  4. Next up, the Independent hears about how undercover investigations are exposing the widespread animal abuse in farms. It’s time to face the reality that the vast majority of the animals we eat have lead terrible, painful and scary lives. It is not necessary to cause this suffering, and it’s about time it ended. Please take a read if you have not yet learned about what modern animal agriculture looks like.
  5. Finally, nutritional evidence shows that the healthiest diet AND the most environmentally friendly, consist of the same foods. Diets which are low in meat, dairy and oils as well as processed foods are better for your body and have the least environmental impact. Have a look for yourself!

Have a great week!

 

5 things this Monday…

Happy Monday friends! I’m feeling determined and am lining up several posts for this week, so stay tuned! In the meantime, here are 5 things that have caught my eye…

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  1. Sainsbury’s is leading a really exciting initiative to encourage shoppers to eat less meat! This involves improved visibility for vegetarian and vegan products alongside meat options and other plans. Companies are cottoning on to the environmental importance of eating less meat! If you are ever in doubt as to whether veganism makes a difference, consider this one of the many reasons why it does!
  2. We’re all familiar with 5-a-day, but scientists have found that eating 10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day is even more beneficial to your health (I know, it kinda stands to reason). On a vegan diet, I have to say this is a lot easier to manage- sometimes I get 5 in my dinner alone! Seeing how many veggies you can shoe-horn in is a good challenge.
  3. Schools in California, United States are cutting cheese and meat from the lunch menu to help the environment. I’m so excited that institutions are really starting to take this seriously and take charge of climate change. More please!
  4. More you say? Well the German government has banned meat at official functions! YES! What a great example to set, by taking a practical step that people can follow 🙂
  5. M&S released this recipe for savoury rosti pancakes ahead of pancake day tomorrow and they look SO GOOD! I bought all the ingredients today and I’m going to give it a go..

Review: Food Choices (2016)

 

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(Source)

What did people do before Netflix, eh? (don’t answer that question, they probably were a lot more productive!) At least when it comes to documentaries, it’s really the place to go! In the theme of Veganuary, I thought I’d watch a foody documentary that’s been sitting on my watch-list for a while. Food Choices follows Michal Siewierski on his journey to discovering the most healthy diet for humans. It felt like an extension of other Netflix food documentaries, featuring interviews with Joe Cross of ‘Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead’ and Dr.T. Colin Campbell of ‘Food Matters’. Here are the stand-out points for me:

Whilst it has been made complicated through all manner of fads and ‘studies’, it seems the perfect diet for humans consists of the following 4 main food groups: fruit, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. The ideal foods are high in fibre and unprocessed.

Doctors are not trained in nutrition hence why they focus on treating health problems with medicine (what they are trained in). This only tends to control the symptoms and adds others. Especially in America, but across the West, corporations interfere and confuse the situation by trying to make money through false food information as theor primary focus is profit.

Myth= we (humans) are hunter-gatherers designed to eat meat

Reality= those closer to the equator and most of the planet relied on starchy foods (corn, potatoes etc.) to survive. Only in the far North and South in places such as the Arctic did people have to eat large quantities of meat due to the scarcity of other food options in the extreme cold.

Our bodies are designed to eat fruits and vegetables. Some animals ave sharp teeth and claws to kill and eat animals, whilst we see in colour to detect fruit and vegetables, and our hands are perfect for picking and peeling them.

Myth= you can only get protein from animal products

Reality= it is impossible to be protein deficient especially on a plant-based wholefood diet as long as you’re getting enough calories per day. Humans do not need a lot of protein, not nearly as much as we are made to believe. In fact we get health problems as a result of too much! Our kidneys, and liver are put under stress by over consumption of protein and we are at a far larger risk of cancers.

Myth= we need milk for calcium

Reality= the higher the calcium intake from dairy products, the higher the risk of osteoporosis. There is calcium in all sorts of food, such as oranges!

All of the nutrients generally lacking in the population can be found in plant-based foods, whereas all of the over-consumed ingredients come from animal products/processed foods

We are the only creatures on earth that consume the milk of another species AND that consumes milk after infancy- IT’S NOT NATURAL! It’s designed for baby cows to rapidly gain weight! High fat, high cholesterol, no fibre- it’s just like liquid red meat.

No wonder people are addicted to cheese! The casein used to bind cheese together has been proven to be as addictive as heroin! (paraphrased from Karyn Calabrese)

‘Eggs are the most concentrated source of dietary cholesterol in the average person’s diet’ Dr. Michael Greger

Cholesterol only comes from animal products, and additional cholesterol causes heart diseases.

Commercial chickens are fed antibiotics, genetically modified corn and soy.

We are the only species on earth that does not live in harmony with nature.

Anyway, those are my notes. If you haven’t seen any food documentaries, I would recommend Food Matters, Cowspiracy or Forks Over Knives. This one I enjoyed the first half of, but I’d say there are others that deliver the message a bit better. I did like the humble approach of the guy and the way he asked simple, common questions and tried to find the answer.

Leather.

Okay, so let’s talk about leather. It’s pretty much been a staple of our wardrobes since the beginning of time, and I have to say I didn’t bat an eyelid about buying and using leather up until a year ago. I used to think it was the only quality, durable, smart material to go for, especially when it came to shoes and bags.

Lots of people justify buying leather for its long-lasting qualities and think that it’s a byproduct of the meat industry, however whilst I can’t dispute the first point, the second is an over-simplification. You can read about how the meat and leather industries have a bit more of a complex relationship here and here.

Now that I am a vegan, I try to avoid using animal products wherever possible, for environmental and ethical reasons. but I have had a few exceptions. For instance, I have a few pairs of leather shoes that I bought before becoming vegan that I wear regularly. I don’t intend to buy any more new leather, however I think it would be a waste not to continue using these shoes because the damage has already been done and I do value them. On the other hand, I have donated a few bags and pairs of shoes that I don’t make enough use of or that I no longer feel comfortable owning anymore. Basically, it’s up to you how you deal with the leather in your home. In my opinion there are no wrong answers.

As for buying new items of clothing and shoes, here are a few of your options…

Secondhand leather– there are plenty of leather products on the secondhand/vintage market with a heap of life left in them. If you really like the way leather looks/feels/performs, this’ll be your best bet as you don’t need to contribute to and encourage the leather industry by buying new.

PROS: you get leather, secondhand can be cheaper

CONS: may have to search longer/harder to find what you want, promoting leather by wearing it

New leather alternatives– nowadays it is possible get good quality, sustainable and ethical vegan leathers. This means that no animal skins went into the making of that material- woo! Buying new does mean more energy is required to produce it, but sometimes it’s necessary; besides, it’s good to support brands that are contributing positively to the fashion scene.

PROS: no cruelty, better ethical/environmental credentials generally, encouraging good companies

CONS: can be expensive, requires more energy to produce than buying secondhand

If you are interested in new vegan leather alternatives, here are some highlights from the places I’ve found online…

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Cream Kate Loafers, Beyond Skin, £99
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Citibag, Wilby, £70

 

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Melissa elastic heeled boot, All Sole, £72

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Ville- Carbon, Matt and Nat, £84

Vegan November feat. My sister

So last month, my sister Naomi decided to eat vegan for the entirety of November. I thought it might be interesting to ask her some questions for anyone wondering what it’s really like to switch diet, or anyone on the fence about the whole thing. Naomi kept me updated on how she was getting on during November, so I had an idea of how it was going, but her answers are pretty great and not what I was expecting! Take a read…

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Did I mention my sister’s an awesome cook, baker AND photographer? Here’s her vegan banana and chocolate cake!

Why did you decide to be vegan for November?

You’ve been a vegan for ages now! And I’ve been watching loads of documentaries over the last six months or so. I’d stopped drinking cows milk a few months ago, and I’ve tried to cut down on meat because of both the ethical and environmental impact meat and dairy production has on the environment, but I realised that I wasn’t really cutting down at all. Going completely meat and dairy free was the only way I could see that I would actually put the time and effort into searching for and trying out new recipes, and hopefully make a change for good.

What were your thoughts/reservations before you started this challenge?

I actually thought it was going to be harder than it was! I ate meat probably three times a week, and dairy every single day, and I couldn’t see how I was going to like food without these things in them. Also, most people I told said that they wouldn’t be able to do it, which I think added to my fears about it.

What’s been the hardest part of being vegan?

Cheese! I love cheese! I thought I’d miss chocolate and meat the most, but there are substitutes for both, I found finding cheese substitutes really difficult, and it was definitely what I missed the most.

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Vegan toad in the hole. Cooking and photo by Naomi 🙂

Are there any recipes or products that you’ll keep using?

All of them! Apart from one disaster lasagne, the rest of my meals turned out really well. I found they filled me up and were actually fun to make. I will definitely still be making my vegan toad in the holes and my macaroni for years, and the bean curries. I don’t think I will ever bake with dairy again either, my vegan baking was probably the most successful part of the month!

How did your friends and family react to your decision?

As I said earlier, most people said they wouldn’t be able to do it (some people said they would “die” if they had to be a vegan), which I sometimes found a bit annoying, but a lot of people were also very supportive. I took quite a few cakes into work and everybody loved them. It was definitely a talking point, people were always interested in what I was eating and how I’d made it. A lot of people thought I’d lose weight as well, but I actually put weight on!

What differences (health/mood/outlook etc.) have you noticed since you changed your diet?

I noticed a massive difference in my energy levels! I didn’t feel bloated or heavy after eating large meals (no laying on the sofa for the whole of Sunday afternoon!). Mood wise, I didn’t notice a huge difference, but I think overall consciously thinking about what’s going into your body, and knowing that you are eating things that are not only healthy for you but also making an impact on the environment would naturally improve anyone’s mood and outlook. I definitely feel healthier overall.

Would you recommend this challenge to others?

Definitely! A month isn’t a huge amount of time out of your life. It gives a goal to aim for which is manageable without committing completely, which is just what I needed. I was really surprised that I hadn’t had any chocolate or meat cravings after the first week or so, and so proved to myself that those things aren’t going to affect my mood negatively if I don’t have them in my diet. I really feel that I was stuck in a rut with my diet prior to starting the challenge, and I am really excited to keep trying new recipes, especially the cake ones!

 

1 year on: LUSH ‘Right Eyes’ mascara

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(Source)

I got this mascara from LUSH a few weeks after my arrival in France, and initially it was a purchase I was very sceptical about. Compared to conventional mascaras, this one takes far more application to get the desired results not to mention the short brush which takes a lot of getting used to. On the plus side however, it is one of the few mascaras that comes in an even partially recyclable packaging AND it’s made of mainly natural ingredients- woo!

What I really do love about it is that it doesn’t irritate my eyes (I would often have to clean off my old mascaras in the early evening as it would get in my eyes and start stinging). When I first bought it, the consistency of the mixture was thin. It was like wetting your lashes with a black liquid. It was really easy to smudge onto your lid by accident, especially with the short brush. You had to let it dry then reapply (LUSH advises using several coats). With time the mixture becomes more like conventional mascara, and I tend to only apply 1 or 2 layers nowadays.

Price:

Again, I bought my mascara in France, but in the UK ‘eyes right‘ sells for £12. This is a pretty competitive price for a mascara. Depending on what brand you are used to using, you could be making a saving, or at least paying the same amount as before.

Durability:

You are supposed to replace mascara every 3 months, says a Google search I did just now. I may have hung on to this one 4 times too long, woops. Over time the consistency only got better, and I haven’t had any adverse effects from using it so long. I guess it’s up to you as to how long you keep yours.

Verdict:

Now that I have had a year of using this mascara, I have gotten used to the texture and short brush. If you prefer significantly bolder, thicker lashes, it’s just not gonna give you what you want; thankfully all I want is a mascara that makes my lashes a teeny bit longer and darker. In my opinion it’s a small price to pay for a product that uses significantly more natural ingredients, has a better animal rights and ethical record and comes in a more recyclable bottle than nearly all its peers. As for the future, I plan to wash out the bottle and refill it with a homemade zero-waste mascara. If that fails I will repurchase ‘eyes right’ then recycle the old glass bottle.