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˜‹

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!

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˜‰

If God didn’t intend for us to eat animals, why did he make them out of meat? πŸ™ˆπŸ™‰πŸ™Š

As most of you already know, I am not an extremist vegan. I very much live my life the wayΒ I feel comfortable with and strive toΒ do no harm along the way. For me, the most compassionate way to do this is to live life as a vegan. I live a compassionate life, to lessen the impact of my existence on fellow earthlings, the planet and the future of this world.

I do post about different topics….some of which can be disturbing to some, such as the dairy industry and animal testing. I do this to inform people and share knoweldge. I don’t do it to scare people or make them feel guilty for their choices. I simply want to provide information to allow people to makeΒ informed decisions.

Something that has been tickling me for the last few days is the strange phenomenon of omnivires, usually men, feeling the need to comment on anything vegetarian/vegan/animal related. I read hundreds Β (ok…ok…probably thousands) of blogs/forums etc and see the same behaviour over and over again .

For example…there is quite a big push social media wide for trialling a 7 day meat free diet. On several of these posts I’ve witnessed loads of men saying stuff like “take out the kale and add steak and you’re onto a winner”….”this puts me in the mood for a big steak”….”Oh man, I’m now craving a hamburger!!”.

Why do people feel the need to do this?? Why do, in my experience, men need to post about devouring meat at every opportunity. Does meat equal masculinity??

I mean, I dont spend my life going onto videos and recipes for steak/chicken or pork and write “If you took out the chicken and added broccoli or broad beans you’d be on to a winner!”….or….”all this talk of steak is putting me right in the mood for scrambled tofu”.

Why do folk go onto pages they clearly have zero interest in to post an inane comment like the ones above?? 🀣🀣

I also notice it happens when people post videos or pictures of farm animals, such as cows, chickens or pigs. The same folk say shit like…”I love steak!!”….”Heading straight down to KFC”. Or, for me…the worst one I’ve heard was someone describing piglets as “yummy slabs of bacon”. I mean, really??? Looking at a living, breathing newborn animal and just seeing meat? That’s not normal to me! It’s one thing liking meat, but devaluing a living creature to the point of not even recognising it as a life is psychotic to me!

Don’t get me wrong. There are many many mental vegans out there. Vegans who forget this lifestyle is about compassion…to ALL living creatures, which of course includes other humans.

I’ve heard every point of view surrounding eating animals….

“God created animals for us to eat!” 🀣

“It’s the food chain. We’re at the top. It’s just how nature intended it.” πŸ€”

“You’ll be infertile if you don’t consume animal protein…thats a fact!” πŸ€”πŸ€“πŸ˜‚

“If you walked through a field with a lion….he’d eat you. That’s the natural order.” (This one confused me, as the same person provided we’re at the top of the food chain quote!) πŸ˜‚

“If we didn’t eat cows and sheep they’d become extinct.”Β (Yeah! Because we don’t ever see cats, dogs, hamsters, etc any more!)

“If we didn’t cull to eat them they’d take over the world….”Β I’ll just leave you to ponder this cracker!

I’m sure you could add a hundred more reasons that you’ve heard (and feel free to leave them in the comments, I love a laugh!). But…truth is…there is no need to farm animals the way we do, or to consume the quantities of meat we currently do. It’s not healthy for the planet or for our body! With so many plant based alternatives available to us, we should all strive to reduce the consumption of animals and discourage the practice of factory farming.

End of rant….😁