What are we going to call vegan burgers now?

Will veggie burgers now be called veggie discs?

Much has been made by an EU plan to stop veggie and vegan products being called after meat product shapes such as burgers, sausages and steaks.

According to the article, “The protected designations would include steak, sausage, escalope, burger and hamburger, under a revised regulation that passed with an 80% approval.” Article at https://metro.co.uk/2019/04/04/vegetarian-food-banned-called-burgers-sausages-bacon-9114570/?fbclid=IwAR2tb7_mbRZBS_rdZJgrRG7oDwLSz2W51biCLrC3QMUrRQMmjM-sT39LNco

There have been a few attempts to do this, most notably in France in 2018: https://www.standard.co.uk/news/world/france-bans-meat-and-dairy-related-words-from-vegetarian-and-vegan-food-packets-a3822831.html

It is a French MEP who has bought the latest proposal before the European Parliament – it will be voted on after the European elections.

The UK dairy industry threatened to take legal action when vegan cheesemonger La Fauxmangerie opened in London – https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/vegan-cheese-plant-based-dairy-eu-laws-cheesemonger-a8775001.html

A whole industry taking on an independent trader seems a bit like overkill – but overkill is what the meat and dairy industries do best! It also stinks of desperation – are they scared that us snowflake vegans might hit their profits? I have blogged on this subject before – https://veganonadesertisland.com/2018/10/28/how-dare-you-call-a-vegan-burger-a-vegan-burger/comment-page-1/#comment-532 – so it is a bit of a shame that this issue is coming up yet again.

As I said last time, words such as sausages and burgers are the names of shapes, not foods. Are we also going to band fish steaks, lamb sausages or goat’s milk? No, that’s the right type of misnaming it seems!

There isn’t a vegan sausage or brand of soya milk on the planet that can be mistaken for a meat product on a supermarket shelf – that would defeat the object, so I really can’t see what all the fuss is about – people who love Quorn Sausages won’t suddenly say “I’m not going to buy them now they’re called Quorn Tubes because they don’t taste the same”. That would be ridiculous, but then politicians are pretty good at being ridiculous aren’t they?

So what can we call vegan sausages and burgers? Discs and Tubes sound a bit silly really – a Veggie Disc sounds like something you’d throw at the Evil Meatathron in an ‘80s video game. A Veggie Tube sounds like a streaming service for plant-based viewers.

Are Bangers OK? That’s just slang, right? Veggie bangers may sound like Moby’s best rave tunes or a Vegan porn channel, but it is one alternative. Plant Circles is another option – although that sounds like aliens have visited your nan’s begonias.

Instead of “steak” maybe we could have Vegan Bricks – or would the building industry be opposed to that? How about a vegan Loaf – I doubt bakers would take issue with that – they haven’t complained about meatloaf (the food, not the rock star – although I doubt they’ve complained about him either).

Some soya milk is already sold as Soya Drink, or Almond Drink, so the milk branding doesn’t seem to have made much difference. But I am a little stuck on an alternative name for cheese – Gary seemed to go down quite well – maybe we couple have a vegan cheese could – Gary and Georgie? Or we could just replace one letter – Vheese or Cheeve – plural Cheeves – that sounds a bit like a butler alternative though.

Will blatant truths such as No Meat be OK? I like the Iceland No Bull, No Moo etc range, maybe they can just remove words like “burger” from their packaging as their brands are strong enough to stand up on their own? You can see from the picture on the packet that it’s a burger shape.

Are musicians going to complain about chicken drumsticks?  Can you see how ridiculous the whole argument is yet?

But post-UK in the EU will this matter? Who knows? Many vegan products are made abroad and, as seen with the cheese war, the UK meat and dairy industries are already pushing for such measures, so an EU implementation may give them an excuse to wander off down a similar crooked path here.

It’s a distraction. It diverts attention from the real issue – the ethical reason for going vegan, the health reasons for going vegan and the fact that many people are moving away from meat and dairy and those industries don’t like that.

 

Punk rock turned me vegan

Punk rock turned me vegan

The anarcho-punk scene of the 1980s was fuelled by animal rights – not just veganism before veganism was cool, but actual animal rights.

Many of us who have been vegan for a while – we’re talking 10 years or more – lament how the animal rights movement of the ‘80s and ‘90s was bigger and more effective than it is now – despite the massive rise in veganism. And that movement had a soundtrack.

Bands such as Crass, Conflict, The Poison Girls, Flux of Pink Indians, Dirt and Icons of Filth wore their hearts on their sleeves in advocating direct action, singing about slaughterhouses, animal experiments and fox hunting. Remember, there was no Hunting Act at all then, so sabotaging a hunt came with a real risk of both arrest and physical confrontation.

This brand of punk was raw, angry, passionate and very diverse. In Meat Still Means Murder, Conflict sang: “From newborn throats, red rivers flood.” The lyrics were direct, powerful and these bands really did mean it.

Some of these bands still exist and the likes of Goldfinger and Propagandhi from the States still have strong vegan and animal rights messages.

The rawness of the anarcho bands really struck a chord with me. As someone who came to punk through thrash metal and grindcore bands such as Napalm Death and Carcass, I found the aggression and anger appealing. And reading comments on punk threads and hearing comments from crowd members during gigs, I know for a fact they are not preaching to the converted.

With the rise of veganism has come the rise of vegan celebrities. Singers such as Thom Yorke from Radiohead and Miley Cyrus mean there’s a vegan for all tastes in music – although I’ve yet to hear a song from either advocating direct action, protest or describing how baby cows are slaughtered. But I guess I could be wrong – I’m not an avid Miley Cyrus follower, her target audience isn’t really middle-aged men though!

Punk rock has always been about rebellion and I love the fact that bands such as Active Slaughter are still flying the flag for animal rights today, but it does worry me that more people are concerned about new flavours of ice cream than are getting involved in protests – protest which attracted tens of thousands in the ‘90s, before the internet, before Facebook and before the advent of keyboard warriors. Why is this?

There is an argument, of course, that the single biggest thing you can do to save lives is to go vegan. And that’s true, but, globally, meat consumption is rising, so, if a farmer can’t sell his animals here for meat, won’t he just ship them abroad?

People have differing comfort zones, but maybe it’s time to ask, not what won’t I do for animal rights, but what can I do?

Is the new Vego vegan chocolate bar a bit of all white?

Vego White vegan chocolate bar

The introduction of the Vego White bar caused quite a stir among vegan chocolate fans.

Vego bars have long been a favourite of many vegans and vegetarians with a sweet tooth, the fact that they’ve branched out – first into a chocolate spread and now into white chocolate – has been a cause for celebration.

But is the new bar any good?

I, like many others, love the traditional Vego bars – they are so chocolatey – they’re big hunks of delight with a nut in the middle. I think it’s the size and mass of vegan chocolate which makes them so good – and addictive. But they are rather expensive at around four quid for a normal bar. They also tend to leave one’s hands with a chocolate coating as it’s impossible to eat a bar before it starts melting. Vego White doesn’t suffer from this problem.

One issue I do Have with it is the foil shroud which houses it inside the main wrapper – that’s double the packaging folks, which isn’t good. It is also on the pricey side at £2.09 for a 50g bar from the independent health food shop where I bought mine.

Vego White vegan chocolate bar

Vego’s white chocolate sister is thinner than its more established sibling and lacks the deep flavour punch of the vegan chocolate’s elder statesman. However, it has almonds! We all like almonds, right? It even states “Almond Bliss” on the wrapper! They certainly add a welcome crunch to this new plant-based confectionary creation.

The Vego White is, like other vegan white chocolate bars, incredibly sweet. If it’s a sugar hit you’re after, then this is definitely the one you want. Personally, I love it, as I get older I do seem to be developing more of a sweet tooth.

However, it has to be said that other, much cheaper vegan white chocolate bars smash you with a similar sweet sensation. I’m thinking of both Sainsbury’s and Tesco own brand bars in particular – although both of that lack the almonds and the relate crunch which accompanies this vital ingredient.

I was also concerned about the “main contain traces of milk” disclaimer on the wrapper – which also proudly displays the word “vegan”. This basically means milk products are made in the same factory as I understand it. Does this put you off? I must admit, I’ve lived with it so far.

So, is Vego White the new king of vegan chocolate.

No. But neither is the other Vego. I like both, I like them a lot, but that accolade still goes to Choices. I don’t see them around as much these days, but a Choices Easter Egg has always been a must and the chocolates are simply divine. I think in their case, it’s the caramel flavouring which makes them stand head and shoulders above the opposition.

 

Choices and Vego vegan chocolate

Why are vegans portrayed so negatively in the Press?

Newspaper slamming veganism

Vegans are in the news a lot.

Veganism seems to generate debate on comment boards, so news sites like stories about us.

The growth in veganism has become a huge talking point and with it comes the inevitable backlash.

The phrase “militant vegans” seems to be applied to any vegan activist. Papers such as the Mail and Metro who use detrimental phrases such as this do seem to spend an extraordinary amount of time publicising vegan-related articles.

https://metro.co.uk/2018/12/17/militant-vegans-target-the-turkey-aisle-in-waitrose-8257667/

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6539063/Counter-terror-police-brought-help-tackle-militant-VEGANS.html

Constant attacks from the likes of Piers Morgan only help to publicise veganism and provide vegans with their own media villains

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6564267/Piers-Morgan-tries-new-Greggs-vegan-sausage-roll-spits-bin.html

The Greggs vegan sausage rolls received a lot of free publicity from bad old Piers – all publicity is good publicity, after all. Piers himself received a lot of free airtime through his anti-vegan tirades. Maybe he was hoping for some free bacon for his trouble?

Both the Telegraph and Mail have a solid middle England readership – that readership includes farmers and we must not forget that the meat and dairy industries are worth billions.

The worth of the vegan pound may be on the increase, but, sadly, it still pales into insignificance next to the animal agriculture pound.

This article from January 2018 gives you some idea of the rise in veganism internationally.

https://foodrevolution.org/blog/vegan-statistics-global/

In 2019, the figures  must be even better with Veganuary reporting its most successful year so far – https://veganuary.com/blog/a-quarter-of-a-million-people-try-vegan/

There have been reports of the dairy industry and other farmers starting to feel the impact of veganism – https://www.veganfoodandliving.com/dairy-industry-crisis-teenagers-ditch-milk/

Therefore, demonising the lifestyle through the use of terms such as “militant vegan” can sell an agenda to lessen this impact. Positive posting about their industry can also help to counter the rise in veganism – https://www.nationalchickencouncil.org/about-the-industry/statistics/per-capita-consumption-of-poultry-and-livestock-1965-to-estimated-2012-in-pounds/

That rise, albeit posted by the industry itself, is pretty alarming – as is the rise in intensive farming.

That is one thing that worries me about the rise in veganism in the short term – the cutting of corners until the square becomes a circle by the meat industry in the hunt for more profit against any falling sales. We have seen with the likes of the persecution of badgers in the UK the lengths the industry will go to protect its interests.

Although, other articles suggest the rise in meat consumption isn’t such a good thing – https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2018/jul/19/rising-global-meat-consumption-will-devastate-environment

The fact this is published by the Guardian is also notable – it’s the audience is mainly middle class, liberal and left-leaning – the stereotypical vegan in other words.

Linked to this we have the Februdairy campaign:  https://www.lep.co.uk/news/business/are-you-ready-for-februdairy-1-9566906

Obviously, supermarkets can’t ignore the rise in veganism – but there does seem to be a hint of guilt around the constant vegan bashing – not only in headlines, but in the comment sections of online stories about vegans and, disturbingly, it seems to be creeping into real life too.

https://metro.co.uk/2019/01/25/vegan-schoolboy-14-punched-bully-tried-force-feed-bacon-8393291/

Yes, there is a dark side to the anti-vegan propaganda and, of course, there is more than a hint of the “do not challenge the status quo” mentality rocking all over the discourse of the argument. “eating meat is tradition”, “we’ve always eaten it” and “this farm has been in my family for generations” is the kind of thing we hear.

Maybe there’s a little bit of guilt in there too – people want to hide away from the cruel reality of slaughterhouses – an “out of sight out of mind mentality”, which manifests itself in online attacks on those who choose not to hide away from reality.

There is a certain amount of hypocrisy there as stories about extreme cruelty to dogs and cats receive prominent coverage. Interestingly, there have also been stories about cruelty to pigs on farms – but, in a way, it is suggested that this is the exception and not the rule.

https://inews.co.uk/news/uk/pig-farm-workers-guilty-animal-cruelty/

Vegans are constantly being told not to “force their opinions down everybody’s throat”, the problem lies in the fact that it’s the very same people saying this that are forcing their views down vegans’ throats.

 

Plant Kitchen makes its mark

Much has been written of the new (ish) Marks and Spencer (M&S has always sounded too much like S&M to me – sex and shopping really don’t mix) vegan range. Apparently, there are more than 60 new plant-based products in the imaginatively titled Plant Kitchen. (https://www.livekindly.co/marks-spencer-launches-plant-kitchen-60-vegan-meals/ ). I couldn’t buy them all – well, I probably could as most are reasonably priced, but it’d take me a month to eat them all, so I bought an armful and decided to review that arm’s contents for my lovely readers.

The first ever supermarket vegan coleslaw has been a hit on social media, as has their potato salad – but, to me, you just shred some cabbage and bung it with vegan mayo for the former and do the same with potatoes for the latter – so I didn’t purchase those.

However, it has to be said, that at two or three quid a pop, most of these products are pocket-friendly as well as vegan-friendly – something I like very much, as I’d always viewed Marks and Spencer food as something middle-class officer workers buy during their lunch after grabbing some new pants from the clothing department – I think some of their pants are vegan-friendly too, incidentally!

The first product I tried was the No Chic’N Nuggets. So, Marks and Sparks have become the latest vegan product producer to try and pun their take on a meat-based meal. But, for some reason, I always feel attracted to fake chicken products above all other fake meat products. And these didn’t disappoint – not too much anyway….

Nuggets

They have a nice strong texture; thick and, dare I say, meaty? But there is no hint of a taste explosion here, I guess nuggets are made for dipping in your barbecue sauce, ketchup, mayo or whatever takes your fancy (I don’t recommend these for dunking in your cup of tea though). They have the ability to absorb flavours, they appeal to kids and work as a good nugget should. They are soy-based, so if you’re soyaist, I don’t recommend them.

No Chic’N Chunks are similar to the nuggets, except not nugget shaped and not coated like nuggets – in other words, they’re meant for curries, stir-fries, salads etc. They perform that job very well and can be promoted above some of their more expensive rivals in my view.

Again, they’re mainly soya, but if you’re OK with that, give them a go.

The No Pork Sausoyges are a pun too far, but they don’t taste as bad as they sound. You’ve guessed it, they’re another soya-based delicacy. Soya is, of course, a plant, but it isn’t the one I immediately think of when I read the phrase “plant-based”, but to be fair, Marks and Spencer do use other plants in their range – plants which are much more interesting than the humble, over-used soya bean.

 

Sausages

Back to the sausages. They’re good. They look like how we’re taught sausages should look, with their meat sausage-style skin and they taste pretty damn good. To me, they’re to sausages what No Bull Burgers are to burgers – in other words, head and shoulders above most of the competition. The seasoning is just right, boast a nice texture and taste lush with gravy.

The Beet Burgers are the only soya-free product I tried and they’re also the prettiest. Aesthetically, I love the red look of beet products – just as I love the satanic black look of charcoal products – but like those, the red doesn’t actually bolster the taste at all – they don’t taste red, although I have no idea what red tastes like. Black, I guess, should taste either burnt or evil – I’m told charcoal buns taste of neither – and beet burgers don’t taste of, well, much at all really.

They actually contain more chickpeas than beet and they are pretty substantial offerings, so good value really, they just taste a little bland to me. To be fair, I’ve found the same issue with other brands of beet burgers, so it isn’t something that’s solely down to Marks and Spencer – it’s just that beetroot lakes a bit in flavour when it comes to using it as a burger ingredient.

Burger

But, all in all, it’s great to see another High Street giant giving busy vegans an ample choice of processed food to fill their weekly shopping baskets.

https://www.marksandspencer.com/c/food-to-order/adventures-in-food/plant-kitchen

 

 

The things people say to vegans…

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before….

As vegans we are all subjected to many wonderful comments and questions from those who look at us and scratch their heads – yes, my friends, we really are that wonderful!

Here’s my handy guide to the barrage of comments that will make you grind your teeth down to the gum….

Where do you get your protein?

We hail seitan (unless we’re wheat intolerant), we are tantalised by tofu and embrace Edamame. But, hey, where have you bean?

Beans are so heavy in protein they give spinach a run for its money in the protein department. Peas are good too – and they’re colourful, easy to cook and go with any food on the planet – except, maybe, ice cream!

Vitamin B12?

Well, most plant milks are fortified with the stuff and nutritional yeast spreads are a great source. It is also available in the outer skin of button mushrooms – and I don’t know about you, but I’m a total mushroom addict.

Seriously, why do people suddenly become concerned about the nutrients in your diet when you become vegan. Have these people randomly asked you over dinner if you get enough B12 before veganism embraced your heart?

No, of course not. People aren’t concerned about the nutritional value of your diet at all, they are just using fake concerns to attack your choices. Not really very clever, is it?

Do you know how many animals die in the production of vegan food?

Well, I’m guessing it isn’t an exact science. This is a new one that’s been tossed in vegans’ direction over the last few months and it makes me bury my head in my hands and shout “arrrrggghhh” at the Facebook page on my screen that has suddenly turned into an anti-vegan cliche.

So, people are worried that insects die in the production of plants that either go directly onto vegan plates or are fed to animals which are then killed?

Well, since you put it like that…. I do, we do, you should do, it’s not rocket science, is it?

It is the most illogical argument against veganism since I found myself alone on a desert island with no plant life to sustain me. Those rowing boats on the park lake can be lethal you know? I was lucky I managed to swim ashore – the island was only 25 metres further away from me than the lake’s shore too!

But veganism is so expensive.

No according to the vegan section of Jack Monroe’s website – https://cookingonabootstrap.com/category/vegan-recipes/

This article from the, normally middle class, Guardian is also useful: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2018/sep/18/no-fresh-meat-how-to-eat-vegan-on-a-student-budget?fbclid=IwAR33ZONH0jyvSpDa-LcnmwOMla9vPe3j4aRBDHDfIA0ovvU03vt0Yx5nrBY

Yes, meat substitutes can be expensive, but vegetables aren’t, beans aren’t, pulses aren’t and you can get cheap spices from any supermarket – come on, get creative on a Sunday and bung it in the freezer for the rest of the busy week.

How do you spot a vegan? Don’t worry they’ll tell you.

Yes, in a restaurant it is pretty essential to inform the staff that you don’t want any animal products on your plate. As the free leaflets advertising meat pop through your letterbox, scream from the billboards in the town centre and scream at you from the newspapers, magazines and TV adverts, one could be forgiven for thinking that it’s the meat producers trying to force their views down our throats…

Have you read any articles on veganism on mainstream news outlet pages on social media? They are all filled with meat-eaters giving their opinions on vegans and veganism – bit ironic really!

You just eat grass/rabbit food

Sorry, but I’ve never seen a bunny tuck into vegan mac ‘n’ cheese, beetroot burgers and chips or the latest vegan pizza to hit the stores.

Why do you make food that looks/tastes like meat

Why do you throw 16 different types of plant (herbs and spices) on your meat to make it taste like plants? Last time looked sausages and burgers were the names of food shapes, not the food themselves. But, let’s be clear here, most vegans object to meat production because of the cruelty involved, therefore, it’s not the taste of meat they are objecting to, is it? Many vegans grew up eating meat – they had no choice, it’s what their families served them for meals – in other words, they forced a meat-based diet down their throats. So how is this different from raising a child as a vegan?

Vegans are extremists

Because not wanting things to die is so very extreme….

 

Vegans just have to (sausage) roll with it

What’s the new Greggs’ Vegan Sausage Roll like?

That isn’t a rhetorical question, I really want to know – well, sort of, I can’t afford one right now.

I used to love the Holland and Barrett ones – cold and dipped in soup or warm and covered in ketchup – we all have different ways of eating sausage rolls – right?

The Linda McCartney ones are divine hot and the little Tesco own ones are cheap and my choice to stick in my pocket while I’m at work. The best ones, of course, are those made at home – with an array of vegan sausages available, it really isn’t that hard. Here’s an example: https://www.thevegspace.co.uk/recipe-easy-vegan-sausage-rolls/

While in Blackpool last summer, my friends were raving about the vegan-friendly sausage rolls at the Poundbakery – two for a quid apparently. I found a pie shop which had vegan pies instead, but I love the idea of cheap vegan food – I’m a working-class lad on a part-time wage, the falafel and avocado generation might as well inhabit a different planet to me.

But why all the fuss? Seriously. A new vegan product is rolled out as Veganuary launches its most successful campaign ever – so, why all the fuss?

Well, most of us who have been vegan for more than a couple of years have had issues with finding vegan-friendly food either locally, while we’re out, or at an affordable price – and since the advent of social media, vegans have become experts at doing marketing departments’ jobs for them. Although, the Twitter responses of Greggs have helped to propel the pastry product into the national spotlight: https://www.livekindly.co/greggs-shuts-down-piers-morgan-hating-on-vegan-sausage-roll/

greggs tweet

Of course, all publicity is good publicity, so enter stage right, the pantomime villain in the shape of Piers Morgan.  As you will have heard unless you live under a rock on the Planet Omnivore in the outer reaches of the Carnivorous Way system, you will have realised that the elation of Piers to vegan hate figure cause célèbre has not only helped Greggs boost their profits but has also helped to raise the profile of the man we all like to hiss at. Rumours that they share a PR company do seem more and more likely.

So, my friends, this is veganism in the 21st century – social media veganism if you will…. And, while I realise that social media is great for spreading the V-word, it can also dilute the message. For me it isn’t about sausage rolls, pantomime villains and PR stunts, it’s about getting more people to stop eating animals, to get more farmers to stop breeding animals for slaughter and for more people to make the connection between animal rights and what’s on their plate.

The veganic threat to society

As Veganuary begins the UK’s national media is in turmoil over veganism!

Are vegans weak “snowflakes” or dangerous militants? Maybe we’re both – maybe we’re militant snowflakes causing an avalanche of devastation om the heads of those involved in the meat industry – or maybe we’re just people who don’t eat animal products.

The truth is we’re all of these things – and more.

Today’s blog is brought to you by a Daily Mail headline – I’m not proud of it, but it comes in response to a programme about us on British television this week!

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6539063/Counter-terror-police-brought-help-tackle-militant-VEGANS.html?fbclid=IwAR0ITqlKis70HKKPI8zXM9rphAC1hAv_hp9bV9B-6iZ12Ygq5j_czD8b0TI

Yes, we’re such a threat with our “grass-eating” ways, that they’re dedicating whole television shows to how we could bring down meat-eating society as we know it.

Of course, the truth is we’re upsetting the status quo. Yep, we’re veganing all over the world – our products are filling supermarket shelves, our adverts are screaming loud and proud from billboards and celebrities are lining up to love us or hate us – we even have our own vegan band staring Moby, Miley Cyrus, a couple of Def Leppard, Brian Adams  and Rob Zombie – it sounds very odd indeed – but so does the concept of militant snowflakes bringing down consumerism as we know it, so it kind of fits.

The irony is that as one industry receives a captive bolt gun to the head, another rises from the organic soil of compassion – yes, consumerism is getting behind veganism as companies cling to the rolling meat-free bandwagon for fear of missing the ethical train in their bid to make their company as green as possible – or to make it look as green as possible.

Of course, vegans are passionate people – some of us even demonstrate – shock horror – and we express our opinions on social media too – some vegans are even militant enough to write a blog – imagine that!

Coincidentally, it’s the start of Veganuary this week – or is that a coincidence at all? I doubt it. As somebody signs up to go vegan for a month every eight seconds, the vegan success story is seriously worrying the meat and dairy lobbies it seems – how dare people lead a revolution based on compassion? How dare they change the way we think?

It’s easier for elements of the Media to concentrate on what they perceive as negative elements of veganism – while forgetting the scenes of animal abuse which come from the UK every day – scenes from inside slaughterhouses and dairy farms – you know, the status quo they are trying to protect….

This is just my way of saying happy Veganuary, and if you haven’t already, give an animal-free diet a go, it’s easier than you think….

https://veganuary.com/

A Christmas vigil

Look into the eyes of the dying.

The main picture was taken at a slaughterhouse vigil. The pigs in the truck were about to have their throats slashed.

This is just before Christmas – a season on joylessness for many, many animals slaughtered for the benefit of human over-indulgent. As half the world starve, the grain that could fill their bellies goes towards raising animals for the dinner table of the “first world”.

This is followed by Boxing Day – a day of pheasant shooting and pheasant shooting. Like the animals killed for meat, many of the pheasants’ bodies are simply thrown away – surplus to requirements – they died for nothing.

Of course, Christmas is followed by Veganuary  (https://veganuary.com/) – more people than ever are expected to take part next year (2019) (https://www.plantbasednews.org/post/veganuary-2019-biggest-year-300-000-taking-part?fbclid=IwAR2zaJ6AVMoLteL1MiVItEzNe3K5SrCDuG5yxzSpZk2IdMFEE02dPeBM3qY0) meaning that there are shining lessons of compassion breaking through the darkness of environmental destruction, animal pain and misery and dangers to human health.

There are even hints that more and more people are shunning meat for their Christmas dinner (https://www.veganfoodandliving.com/one-in-12-people-will-tuck-into-a-vegan-or-vegetarian-christmas-day-meal-in-the-uk-this-year/?fbclid=IwAR20R8-71GijVbvHaWzx5HysyYCKP12vkkYAND27P7naUHsfTxu_9HZQ8D4) – given the rise in veganism over the past few years, this should really come as no surprise. But it is easy to feel alienated by simply browsing the comments to posts about veganism from national media outlets. I know, I know, the first rule of social media is never read the comments!

We sometimes forget that vegans are still in a minority, and the constant advertising of meat and “traditional” Christmas meals rams this down our throats at every opportunity over the festive period. The fact that many feel like the “token vegan” at office parties or company meals out can make this an even more depressing time of year, but the sheer number of meat-free Christmas dishes now available should be cause for joy.

I think, this year, every major UK supermarket has their own version of the vegan Christmas dinner – the Guardian has even rated them for us – although, it has to be noted this is just one person’s point of view – https://www.theguardian.com/food/2018/dec/15/vegan-taste-test-grace-dent-rates-supermarket-christmas-dishes

So, with rising numbers of vegans, one has to ask why the advertising industry is still stuffing images of meat down our throats over the festive season, families make light of the “ vegan option” and some people still feel alienated. Indeed, many of us do not like the thought of sharing a table with those consuming animal products – even the smell is intolerable for me.

This is why attending the vigil was important. Even those of us who have been vegan for a long time need reminders every now and then as to why we choose a compassionate lifestyle – and what could be more compassionate than being there before somebody dies?

It’s also important to make the connection between the living being and the slab of meat on somebody’s plate – need I elaborate any further?

A city’s first vegan festival – an insider’s view

 

We don’t know exactly how many people attended the Thrive Vegan Festival in Peterborough, all we know was it was an overwhelming success.

We put it together in a couple of months. Our small team, spearheaded by Kim Coley, of Soul Happy Well Being Centre in the city, booked the stalls, organised the workshops, the venue, the layout, the rules and regulations and managed to really put veganism on the map in our little UK city.

Kim hosts and I help with Peterborough Vegetarian and Vegan Group’s monthly foodshare, it was this group which was the catalyst for the event. The Thrive Tribe formed with the sole aim of bringing a vegan Christmas fair to life. Peterborough had never held a vegan event. Smaller towns and cities like Boston, Louth and Lincoln had, so we wanted to get in on the action, and boy did we succeed!

We couldn’t have done it without a lovely band of volunteers, who manned the door, filled the goodie bags, served tea and coffee, helped at the video booth, manned the kids’ room and so much more.

Yes, there were issues, mainly because the event was so much more successful than we could ever have dreamed. There were animal rights groups, vegan food, vegan clothes, vegan chocolate, vegan cakes, vegan cheese, vegan cosmetics – you name it, we had it.

The workshops covered everything from vegan motherhood to making curry via Cath Kendall and John Curtin. And, yes it was heaving, busy, packed, a joy to behold for those of us who had worked so hard at pulling it off.

But it was also rewarding beyond belief. I wrote the terms and conditions, designed the receipts and checked people’s public liability insurance. I kept people up to date via email and also worked on some of the PR for the event. Informing the local press and radio and getting the message spread across social media helped enormously. We also conjured up the hashtag #thriveveganfestival in advance of the event to help people get the word out.

The help the people at the venue gave us on the day and in advance was invaluable – we actually called them because the toilets had run out of loo roll! We also had a minor issue with one of the electric points tripping – which was very annoying for the two food vendors affected. Luckily, it was sorted out and both stalls enjoyed a bumper trading day. Sadly, one outside food vendor didn’t make it due to breaking down on the way.

One of the best things for me about attending such events is actually talking to people. I get so inspired by other activists and vegans, it’s always brilliant to hear different perspectives and ideas, and there was plenty of that on Sunday. It’s also great to see the vegan community pull together to make things like this happen.

IMG-20181127-WA0017

It’s also amazing to see how many vegan small businesses there are now. There are many of these events up, down and around the UK now and there are different independent companies at each and every one! Isn’t it fantastic to see so many entrepreneurs putting ethics at the heart of their working lives?

Every event I go to adds new vegan delights to my kitchen cupboards. This time I was over the moon to buy vegan BBQ sauces from Callowfit (www.musclefinesse.com) – they have a brilliant range of dressings and sauces and they are based in Peterborough  too!