The Royal Hotel, Bridge of Allan.

Yesterday I attended a retirement party in the Royal Hotel. Any organised set meals that I’ve ever attended have been a nightmare for anyone with ‘restricrd diets’. (I hate the term restricted diet, as my diet is anything but restricted). Nevertheless, I put my dietary requirments forward and went along hoping for the best.

It was a semi formal affair, and the theme was afternoon tea!

The starters began to roll out and to my shock, the soup was cheese and haggis! 🀣 Possibly the least vegan dish you could offer to a vegan! Despite the manager having had a meeting with the chef prior to the function, they did not have an alternative soup ready and waiting. So, I watched my friends and colleagues eating their soup.

Very promptly, my own wee vegan plate came from the kitchen. Despite no soup, the little platter was gorgeous.

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I enjoyed a small bowl of pickled salad and a wrap…to be honest I can’t with a hundred percent certainty tell you what was in the wrap, but it looked like artichoke, peppers an cucumber.

Mid way through my wraps a bowl of tomato and basil soup arrived, which was delicious.

Sadly though, they failed to supply even a single vegan cake. A gorgeous 5 teir tray of cakes were sat on the table, but…not a single offering for me. I do think this is a poor show, made worse by the fact there had been a meeting beforehand to discuss options, and despite this the chef made no attempt at a vegan sweet thing. It’s really not hard….and as it was a afternoon tea, I really feel a cake should have been standard. I also couldn’t partake in a tea or coffee as they only had cow’s milk. 😲

They did redeem themselves slightly by serving a sorbet…

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Overall I did enjoy the meal, but…I am forever shocked at how much chefs struggle with preparing vegan alternatives. It is as though their entire mindset is geared around meat and animal products!

For my afternoon tea experience…I’d give 5 out of 10. You can’t call something an afternoon tea without tea/coffee or a cake!

I’d eat there again….if they could come up with a sweet thing! πŸ˜‰

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Straws suck!

I’m sure some of you never even give little things like a straw a second thought! But….I do….and because I do, I’m going to blog in the hopes that maybe you’ll read it and feel inspired to make a small change.

Let’s take a wee look at straws in more detail.

Straws are made up from polypropylene, which is a form of petroleum; colourants (self explanatory); plasticizers (to make the straws flexible) and antioxidants.

A straw has an average lifespan of 20 minutes!!! Yes, you read that right….20 whole minutes of use, before being thrown in the bin! Isn’t that shocking?

I really really struggled to find data for the Uk specifically, but it doesn’t make these numbers any less horrific!

500 million straws are disposed of EVERY DAY in the USA alone! Let me put that into some perspective….end-to-end they would circle the earth TWO AND A HALF times!! 😲

So, what’s my point? Straws are plastic, so can be recycled, right? Well…yeah, that’s technically right, but the thing is….straws are very difficult to recycle due to their shape and size. Often they’re not recycled at the point of binning them because it’s just too much like hard work. Think of McDonalds…. (other fast food chains are available)….think of bars, little cocktail straws. They’re mostly just binned.

So, in terms of the environment, up to 43% of all plastics end up in land fill! And…shockingly…250’000 tonnes (hard to imagine, I know, so allow me to give you a wee visual….imagine 570 cram-packed boeing 747s!) of single use plastics end up in our oceans every year.

Inevitably, these plastics end up in the stomach’s of our marine life. One out of every three turtles have consumed marine plastic! 😫

So, what can you do? How the hell does one drink their coke zero from their take away cup without the straw??

Hmmm….let’s ponder it a second. πŸ€”

Ok, I’m going to go a bit way out here and suggest this….just hear me through….take the lid off (also single use plastic!) and sip it right out the top, using ye’r lips??

Or….if you’re a true mentalist like me, you could carry straws in your non leather handbag! πŸ˜‚

 

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I’m not even kidding!

If you need more of a reason that all of the above….plastic surgeons say sooking through a straw gives you ‘smokers lips’….so, if you can’t make the change for cleaner air, land and oceans…do it for vanity!

Or…for me! πŸ˜‹

Vegan supermarket find…

Many of you may already know about this, but I nearly hyperventilated in Farmfoods today when I found these by accident.

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Vegan sausages. No palm oil and not full of nasties. Only Β£1.49 for 8.

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Vegan burgers. Again, palm oil free. Β£1.49 for 8.

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Vegan mince and meatballs. Can’t remember the price.Β 

We don’t eat a lot of meat substitutes, well other than tofu. But, I bought some sausages and burgers for quick grab fillings for rolls….plus…baby B loves sausages and burgers.

So, in case any of you haven’t stumbled upon these, you can get yourself along to Farmfoods and grab a bargain!

I’m always happy to see s.f.v foods….and even more excited when they have the courage to label them vegan!

Harmonium, Edinburgh.

Last night we decided we’d drive through to the burgh to try out the new vegan bar/restaurant Harmonium.

Harmonium can be found on Henderson Street in Leith. It’s a gorgeous wee building, kitted out very naturally with lots of wood! I believe it’s been open about 4 weeks, so very much still in its infancy!

We arrived at 6.20, which was 20 minutes after the kitchen opened. The place was pretty quiet with a few people sitting at the bar and a couple of tables worth of people eating. The staff were very friendly, but if I’m totally honest a little bit vague. We were walk ins, who hadn’t booked a table (in case anyone doesn’t get the ‘walk in’ terminology). The staff informed us they had nothing until 8.30pm, as they were expecting 8 people in approximately 5 minutes. Ok…fair enough…we hadn’t booked, it’s a chance you take. But…this is when it got a bit weird for me and they lost me.

They told us we could take a seat and have a drink whilst we waited and if something became available earlier we’d be taken. Great! Totally fair! But…then they sat us at a table, and told us we could eat at this table….they gave us menus…πŸ€” I’m not going to lie, I’m now lost. I assumed they were fully booked until 8.30? But…she then explains…they cannot take our order as the kitchen will be busy when the 8 people arrive, in about 5 mins, so they can’t take our order until the kitchen serves the 8 people and it gets quieter! 😲

That made no sense to me, as they had a table…and kitchen staff and we were there…ready to order…and the 8 people weren’t anywhere to be seen yet!

Thankfully, they spoke to the chef who clearly seen the madness in this idea too and agreed to make the food if we ordered. So, we did so…without haste!

Liz went for the fillet-o-tofish, with added vegan cheese and chips and I opted for the tofu katsu curry with brown rice! Mini me didn’t fancy anything really, so she ordered some chips and orange juice only.

I was well impressed with the alcohol free beer and my other half really enjoyed her red wine. Sadly, she cut her lip on a chipped wine glass, but they replaced the glass and gave her a fresh serving of wine, so all well that ends well. πŸ‘

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Let’s get to the food….

The tofish was absolutely gorgeous. Tasty AF! The batter was to absolutely die for and the bun was lovely and soft. Sadly, the chips were freezing, but again…they sorted that out without any bother!

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The katsu is what I actually drove through for, so I was extra happy it was on the menu. It did not disappoint!

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The sauce was exquisite! I loved it, not too spicy but super aromatic. The breadcrumb coating on the tofu was lovely and although not extra firm, the tofu itself was lush. I’m a tofu addict though, and would eat it in any form!

My only criticism is that the portion sizes are small. The chips are sparse on the side and even the separate portions are very small…about 1/3 the size of a Mono portion. The rice was kind of congealed and there was hardly any at all, no where near enough to soak up the sauce. And…the meal was served just warm, a long way off hot! That didn’t bother me last night, as we were starving…but I may have sent it back on another occasion.

The service is a bit sporadic, they forgot our daughter’s chips and took ages to get us mayo, etc. But…they are just open and probably getting to grips with full service on busy nights etc. I’m sure it’ll come together! Oddly enough, quirky service seems to be the norm in vegan establishments….that and short troosers! πŸ˜‚ (you’ll be looking for that now).

We didn’t manage a dessert as they’d ran out of chocolate cheesecake (which is odd considering the kitchen had only been open an hour when we were ordering dessert). The sweet selection isn’t up to much, but hopefully they’ll work on this. High street chains have more impressive vegan treats, but give the place time…it’s only 4 weeks old and the main menu is extensive already!

Despite the wee niggles, we had a gorgeous meal and we would definitely go back!

I’d give harmonium a firm 7 out of 10 right now….which I’m sure will improve with time.

They need some music too. I can’t recall hearing anything!

Overall, big thumbs up to a vegan restaurant in auld reekie. They’ve got a long way to go until they’re as pro vegan as Glasgow, so this is a welcome addition to the city I’m sure we all agree!

Tofooooo and painting.

Back to the painting today, but before I start I decided I needed some sustenance.

Liz opted for vegan cream cheese on bagels with seeds, avocado and marmite….but, as usual, I had to indulge my obsession and have tofu!

For some it’s cocaine or heroin….or alcohol. For me, it’s tofu!!!

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I quickly threw together spicy peanut tofu with bulgar wheat. It’s Β a really simple recipe that I’ve adapted from The Buddhist Chef.

I’m now stappit (a guid Scottish word) and ready to tackle the last few jobs in the house.

Have fun, whatever you’re doing today.

🀘

Appeal for help….if you can. If you can’t, send some positivity & love. βœŒ

Not my usual type of post this morning. But…can anyone help with this old girl. She’s currently in the Pererra, Murcia. She has been used as a breeding machine and now disgarded because she’s older.

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It would cost Β£80 to get her from this shelter and Β£200 to transport her to the UK.

Can anyone find it in their heart or their home for this old girl? If you don’t have room for her, are you able to pay something towards her transport or fees to get to the UK, where we can secure foster parents for her until she finds her forever home?

It’s a long shot…and there are hundreds of dogs needing help, i know this. But, older dogs are very often overlooked and she’s had such a rubbish life I’d like to see her getting some comfort and love in her twilight years.

The world is our lobster…

I was googling interesting facts about lobsters/shrimp, etc when I was struck by something horrific to me…

When you type ‘lobster’, ‘prawn’, ‘salmon’ or any other sea life creature into google, instead of images of these things in the wild you get a plethora of pictures of dead bodies, coated in butter or breadcrumbs on a plate. I literally had to change my search to ‘Salmon alive in the wild’ to get to see an actual fucking fish swimming in the water!

Worse for me…immediately after the death pictures, you get a host of nutritional information such as calories, fat, protein content. πŸ˜”

It would be exceptionally easy to forget that these creatures are actually living, breathing (of a fashion) sentient beings. It comes as no surprise to me that many kids have zero idea that the food on their plate (especially sea food) was ever actually alive! You shouldn’t need to influence your search by using the world ‘alive’ and ‘swimming’ or ‘in the wild’ to see a live being. It’s forgivable to believe sealife is only here to provide calories and healthy oils to us humans, if you use a search engine to educate yourself on them.

This lead me into deep thought. Many people hate the thought of eating meat…such as cows, pigs, chickens, lamb…but are okay with consuming seafood. I started wondering what the difference is….

Firstly, we all have our own unique reasoning for following a lifestyle. So, you may be vegetarian; contrary to popular belief vegetarians DO NOT eat the flesh of ANY creature, including fish….and definitely not the odd cheeseburger when they’re steaming!

Within vegetarianism you have sub divisions, such as ovo-lacto vegetarians who eat eggs and dairy products (the most common form of vegetarianism); ovo-vegetarians who eat eggs but avoid dairy; and lacto-vegetarians, who have dairy but avoid eggs.

You may identify as pescitarian; a pesci refrains from eating any land animal products, but consumes seafood and biproducts of seafood freely.

Some people identify as plant based, now this is not black and white here….some plant based folk do not consume the flesh of animals, or dairy or eggs…but are okay with biproducts being in food, and wear/buy animal products etc. Others, follow a vegan lifestyle but use plant based because they’re not comfortable being labelled as vegan (because again, the vegan movement can be associated with mentalist, extrimeist, militant animal liberation).

So, why do we make our choices? What drives us to choose a path and follow it….and what drives us to deviate, or better, our choices?

For me, it boils down to education. I fully believe most of usΒ do the best we can andΒ when we know better, we do better. Now, clearly this isn’t the case for everyone, some people just don’t give a fuck about animal liberation, or welfare, or the planet. But, many of us do….and research shows people are becoming more informed about where their food is sourced and on a whole (especially in Scotland) compassionate choices are on the rise.

I became vegetarian over a decade ago. I became aware of the true horrors of factory farming, specific to chickens, cows and pigs. I made a decision to stop consuming meat. This was a really easy transistion. I genuinely didn’t comprehend the horrors associated with egg production or milk production. I quickly educated myself on eggs and made a decision to only eat eggs from my own chickens. I still didn’t educate myself on the dairy industry, but when I did….I stopped consuming dairy in any form…and that’s when my vegan journey began!

So, on that note….I thought I’d do a wee blog post on sealife. I have specifically chosen lobster (as this seems to be very popular on the menu right now), shrimp (a cheap and popular shellfish). We spend so much time fighting for land animals, but rarely do you see articles focussed entirely on sealife.

I was shocked at some of these facts. Let’s start with lobsters.

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A rare blue lobster.

Have you ever heard the expression…you are my lobster? I have seen it around a bit, but was ignorant to what it actually means. Lobsters mate for life. They chose a mate and grow old together. They are often seen in the wild holding hands with their partner (or their young). Now, this is a serious commitment as in the wild lobsters can live to be 100 years old! 😯 They do similar things to us…they have a very interesting mating ritual. Now, I don’t think many of us do this first bit, but you never know! The female pees into the home of the male over several days to intice him (I’d buy them a drink, but whatever works for you!). Once he’s interested they begin their courtship…the spend days enjoying some foreplay (lucky lobsters I hear you say!). They stroke each other with their legs and taste each other through them. Once they’re in the zone the female derobes, she sheds her outer hard shell and her little sperm pod. This leaves her very vulnerable, so her BAE stands over her to protect her whilst her new shell hardens, which takes approximately 30 minutes. Once this is done he holds her head in his claws and looks at her whilst he deposits his sperm in the tiny pouch under her tail. Now, doesn’t that sound romantic?? She can then carry this sperm, live, for TWO YEARS until she decides the time is right to fertilise her eggs. How’s that for an independant woman?

They carry their young for 9 months. They go on holiday, travelling more than 100 miles every year! They can be right or left handed.

Now the really interesting things….lobsters do not have a central nervous system (an argument lots of people use to justify eating them). This is absolutely true, they don’t, I cannot refute this. However, instead of the CNS they have bundles of nerve tissues spread throughout their body. They have approximately 100’000 neurons, compared to 100bn in humans (although I’m sure I’ve met some humans who rival a lobster). I wouldn’t be doing anyone any favours if I didn’t present evidence based information, even if it doesn’t fully support my argument. So, with that, Scientists have proven that these neurons most definitely give them the ability to react to threatening stimuli, but they have not been able to determine whether or not they feel pain. And suffering….well, that’s almost impossible to measure in anything. Suffering is an entirely different question.

What they do know is that lobsters cannot go into shock, and as they react to threatening stimuli, they can ‘feel’ everything we do to them. Including when they’re boiled alive or dismembered alive. Now, note I said they feel it…we know this…how they perceive this, I don’t know for certain as there is no evidence to tell us.

Okay, enough of lobsters! Let’s take a wee look at shrimp.

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A shrimp varies slightly from a prawn. A prawn has pinchers on the first 3 of their 5 pairs of legs. Whereas shrimp only have two pairs that are claw like! And…to totally confuse you…a shrimp in the US is a prawn in Australia! 🦐

Anyway, I’ve taken a slightly different approach to the shrimp chat. I’ve decided, in addition to looking at the actual shrimp, to look at the people involved in the production of our packaged shrimp.

Greenpeace state that shrimp caught and processed in Thailand is often associated with human trafficking! It is believed that trafficked workers in Thailand are held captive and forced to work 16 hour days preparing shrimp. Children, so small they have to stand on stools, spend 16 hours a day with their hands plunged in icy water to prepare these snacks! Many of these workers are locked in filthy sheds and threatened with violence.

Don’t worry though, you only buy shrimp caught in UK waters? Well….sorry folks, but Greenpeace report that even UK caught shrimp can be processed in Thailand. Apparently it is a cost saving measure to send the shrimp to Thailand! 😨 How can that even be??

As well as the human element, the shrimp industry is a total environmental nightmare. In the wild…nets stretching 200 feet are dragged behind boats. As a consequence of this, larger fish and sea turtles are caught in these nets ‘by accident’. To put that into perspective, 200 million fish are dragged up with shrimp every year. A bycatch…threatening entire eco syetems. In terms of turtles, it’s estimated that, despite measures to prevent these endangered creatures being caught, 50’000 turtles per year are killed as a result of shrimp trawling. Now THAT is terrifying to me!!

Ok, so let’s look at shrimp farms. Given what we’ve heard above about wild caught shrimp the farms must be better right? Well, think again….

Shrimp farms are perhaps even worse! They are clearing ecologically sensitive mangroves to create shrimp factory farms. It’s estimated that 1/5th of mangroves have been lost since 1980. These farms are known to be a cesspool of antibiotics, fertiliser, banned pesticides and waste. 🀒 Very appetizing!!

They say farmed shrimp have a carbon footprint of…wait for it…ten times more than beef cows raised on cleared amazon rain forest.

So, if that’s not put you off…let’s take a wee look at the little creatures themselves.

They dance!! They dance to attract fish…and when their dance moves work, they venture inside the mouths of fish and remove bloodsucking parasites.

They are defenders of coral! They live on coral and dine on the mucus of the host. They protect the coral from predators. They’re little knights in pink armour!

They’re super loud!! Their snapping claws are louder than a gunshot or jet engine. Wow…now that’s loud!

They too are victums of bycatch. We only want certain species of shrimp for our plate, so for every 1lb of ‘wanted’ shrimp 4lbs of ‘unwanted’ shrimp is caught by accident.

I’m aware this is a long post, but I felt quite passionate about it. Don’t interpret this post as a I’m more vegan than you’ post, as it really isn’t intended like this. It’s simply a learning post….an interesting post.

Like I say, we all have our own reasons for following a lifestyle. This is not about judgement, it’s about sharing information.

If you read it and change some things, great…if not, I’m still happy you took the time to read it.

Just keep swimming….! πŸ˜‰

I love tofu!

My name is Bobbie and I abso-fucking-lutely love tofu!!! Just got to get that out there!!

Today was a quiet day. It started with our usual smoothie….plus an extra two smoothies, as B was smoothie mad today! She couldn’t get enough!! Our favourite is strawberry, blueberry, oatly chocolate, wheatgrass, oats and chia seeds. That being said…B made a gorgeous wee concoction of banana, strawberry, pineapple juice and wheatgrass today and it was devine. She definitely has a flare for flavour combos. I hope she’ll make great cocktails when she’s older! 🀣

Dinner was something new, thanks to The Buddhist Chef. Crispy tofu in a sweet and spicy sauce. We served it with rice noodles, but it would go beautifully with wholewheat rice too.

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This has immediately catapulted into one of my top five meals!!! This will be served a lot in our house. I honestly think omnivores would like this too – tofu often puts people off, but this was exceptional. The texture was just right.

As you may or may not know, depending how well you know me, I have a few pets. I currently have three dogs and two cats.

How to feed my pets is a topic that really irks me. I am not at all comfortable with being a hypocrite…and I am on this front. I don’t consume, use or purchase animal products….I do not believe on ending a life….but, I buy dog food for my dogs. I buy the flesh (and fuck knows what else actually) of other animals to keep my animals alive. πŸ€” This is something I’m not comfortable with. But…I had these pets before I was vegan (or even veggie with Luka). And, they rely on me to provide for them.

For dogs…who are scavengers by nature…it would be entirely possible for them to survive off of a vegan diet. But, cats…who are object carnivores…could not survive without taurine in their diet, which is found in organ meat. 🀒

My dogs are all geriatric, and being perfectly honest I cannot afford the vegan dry foods on the market…but…I also hate buying dog meat, as I know logically this has to be the lowest of the low in terms of welfare.

So…for now…I compromise. I feed my dogs a small amount of meat processed food and add fresh fruit and veg (and wheatgrass) to their meal. I do this for several reasons; to reduce the amount of animal products I have to buy Β for them; to use up waste products and reduce the amount going to the landfill (Bette will also get a rabbit in our new home to aid this); and to improve the health content of the meal by adding fresh produce. Because fresh produce is ALWAYS best!!

I think that’s a fair compromise. Sure, it may not be vegan enough for the militant vegans…but, I follow the path that makes ME feel content. If I can lay my head down at night and sleep feeling comfortable with my decision, then that’s what counts to me.

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The dugs definitely think it’s a good idea!

Perhaps us vegans should only have vegan pets. I’ve actually heard this being banded about. But…for me, I love dogs and cats and my life wouldn’t be complete without them in it. So, I’ll need to continue to find a way that works to allow us to cohabit and enjoy each other’s company.

If you’re content walking a rabbit round the park, knowing that he fits in to your vegan life…fabulous for you, but I’d feel like a bampot and I’d miss my dugs!

The motto of my story….don’t try to mould yourself into someone elses standards, make your own. Do what’s right for you…whilst always striving to do as little harm as possible.

Peace out. ✌