London Vegan Festival

September 5, 2009

It’s tomorrow, I’m going.

I plan to eat as much dark chocolate as possible, see
Andrew O’Neill, a vegan comedian (does that make him funnier?) and go to a talk on Veganism, Anarchism and Pacifism – about the politics of being vegan. Will report when I get back on Monday morning.



Concern for Climate Change

September 3, 2009


When at Lounge on the Farm (Early Bird 2010 tickets on sale now, by the way), we signed with Friends of the Earth to pressure our local MP’s into signing Early Day Motion 845 on deforestation for feed crops and climate change.

EDMs “are formal motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons. However, very few EDMs are actually debated. Instead, they are used for reasons such as publicising the views of individual MPs, drawing attention to specific events or campaigns, and demonstrating the extent of parliamentary support for a particular cause or point of view.” – from the Parliamentary website

This is the letter I recieved from my local MP Julian Brazier. He is unable to sign this motion until it has been approved by others but he ‘understands the concern.’
I particularly enjoyed this line: “In the short-term, however, there is no doubt that demand for imported feed crops will continue and that, without it, our livestock industry would collapse.” And we can’t have that.

As a vegan, I ‘donate’ as little as possible to that sector and would happily see it collapse. The concerns which Julian Brazier truly understands are those of the government, and the Government’s concerns are for business. If the livestock industry collapses, that’s a whole load of profit (and jobs) they’re never going to see again. Of course, if the livestock industry keeps going the way it is, that’s a whole load of rainforest and clean air we’re never going to see again. Well, we won’t see those days. But our children might, and their children probably will.

When it comes to sending a message to the people in power, signing postcards is all very well, but the places we spend and items we spend on send an equally, if not more effective, message. While never buying meat or dairy again is probably the biggest f-you to the livestock industry currently contributing 18% of global greenhouse emissions, that idea doesn’t necessarily float everybody’s boat.

Friends of the Earth suggest cutting down on animal products, and consumption in general, advising people to only buy what they need and re-use that which can be. I advise people to purchase any animal products from local, sustainable sources and support farmers who treat their animals better and don’t use feed that has more air miles than you do. Or you could just eat tofu. Om nom nom.

If you haven’t already, please go to FOE and
find out how to urge your local MP to sign this EDM. The more awareness, the more possibility of change. The more possibility of change, the more rainforest our kids will have to go backpacking through.

If you’d rather do something FUN and support their Fix the Food Chain campaign, then head to the Hammersmith Apollo on November 12th for LIVEstock, hosted by Friends of the Earth where the latest and funniest stand-up comedians have been herded together for ‘barnstorming comedy of the rarest breed.’ Go, laugh, support.


Travelling Vegan: Amsterdam

September 1, 2009

Amsterdam. City of great culture and architecture, omni-present canals and bikes, the Red Light District and the Rijksmuseum, and food, food, food. Oh, and cheese.

The last few times I’ve visited Amsterdam bakeries and steakhouses beckoned from every corner, waffles glistening with chocolate of every shade and sprinkles of every colour, doused in sugar or steeped in caramel, strawberries adorning their sweet lattices, so I wondered how I’d fare for convenience food what with having to eschew the delicious crisp yet chewy with just the right amount of sugar waffle option. Oh, and cheese.

We camped this time, at Zeeburg, which I recommend most highly, so there was no real option to cook food. As such, we turned to Albert Heijn for succour. There is one on practically every corner, and they must have sprung up in the last year or so, because neither I not Holly (my other Amsterdam frequenter) remember there being quite so many. Still, good for us!

One day, I swear I will travel vegan and attempt to eat properly, but as it is, we all survived on a diet of tigerbread (and they do wholemeal tigerbread in Holland!), hummus and crisps. I also had an apple a day, and popcorn. Lots of delicious popcorn. The Albert Heijn ‘extra puur chocolade’ with 72% cacao mentions nowhere that it contains milk, so I stocked up on that too at 82 cents a bar. As you can see in the photo below, there was also a large array of pre-packed salads. For some reason I didn’t think to buy one, but they’re there, they’re vegan, and they’re convenient.


As for places to eat, there were plenty. Before I left I checked out Veggie Place and Happy Cow, making a list of around eighteen places that looked good, including a couple of health food shops. While I was there we managed to make it to Bolhoed on the Prinsengracht, which deserves, and will get, its own post. For sheer convenience, there is a Falafel place in every district. There are five Maoz Falafel places in Amsterdam, and having not come across one before, I have to say they’re pretty good. It was 4€ for quite a hefty serving, but the best part is the salad bar. (Isn’t it always?) We didn’t take full advantage, I pushed some cucumber and cous-cous in the nooks between falafel and pita before we rushed for our tram, but there was a couple in there who were clearly experts. They would take a couple of bites of their pita, revealing new crevices which were perfect for spooning a little more taziki into, or tucking some more lettuce around, then sit down, take a couple more bites, and repeat. You probably can’t get away with this so much when it’s busy, but we were there around ten or eleven in the evening.

For breakfast the next day, we ended up at the Soup Kitchen and had Sweet Potato soup. After checking the website just now, I realise that it probably wasn’t even vegetarian, but it came with soft white bread and was damn tasty. Perhaps I should learn to say ‘Is there milk in this?’ as well as ‘Thank you’ when I travel now. (Bedanke, by the way.)


I think three days is probably an adequate amount of time to survive on hummus and crisp sandwiches, and if you have a little more money than we did (and a tin-opener, or camping stove…) then Amsterdam does cater well to vegetarians, and vegans, alike.

At the end of this month I’m going to Corsica with my family, and I imagine it will be quite interesting to see if they appreciate my vegan input. We are expected, by my Mother, to buy and cook our own food, so I don’t think it will impact too much on the family table, as it were, but they also like us to all eat together. Watch this space!


Climate Rush – The Roadshow

August 28, 2009

“Climate Rush is inspired by the actions of the Suffragettes 100 years ago, who showed that peaceful civil disobedience could inspire positive change. We are a diverse group of women and men who are determined to raise awareness of the biggest threat facing humanity today – that of Climate Change. Our government acknowledges the huge problems we face from Climate Change, but carries on with business as usual. We demand DEEDS NOT WORDS because individual choice alone cannot curb CO2 emissions if we are to stop runaway global warming.”

Climate Rush are going on a roadshow! 16 suffragettes, 3 horses and 2 caravans will be traipsing around the South West, joined by scientists, comedians and YOU (and me) in an effort to raise awareness of global climate issues and how we, locally, can make a difference.

The roadshow begins in Sipson on the 4th of September, taking in Oxford, Stroud, Exeter and Bristol (among others) along the way. I’ll definitely be there for the Bristol portion, which focuses on the fact that while Bristol is England’s first cycling city, the public transport is more expensive than London!

So if you live anywhere in England, get your rears down to the South-West (sustainably, of course) and get involved! Email them for more information, or if you want to help out and get involved!

See you there!



August 27, 2009

Dear All,

I haven’t updated recently, of this I am aware. After my dissertation goes in on the 1st of September next week, normal programming will be resumed. I have just returned from Amsterdam as well, so look out for things to see and do and eat over there, over here, in the next few days.


InsteadOf Travelling

August 7, 2009


#Speak French for a day. If no-one understands you, talk louder and slower. Try hand gestures. If you don’t speak any French, an accent and confused frown will do just as well.

#Grab a bike and a tent. Cycle ‘til it gets dark. Camp. Eat beans cooked on a camp stove.

#Rent a boat! Local bay, local river, local lake. Or a pedalo.

# Hang around in coach stations (or train stations, bus stations – but they get funny about it in airports.)


#Sleep in a car. Or park. Or at the beach. Or in a cave.

#Watch German TV.

#Send postcards from your hometown.


#Let a foreigner surf on your sofa. It’s not quite staying in a hostel, but waking up to a different language in your kitchen never gets old.

#Visit an overpriced tourist attraction at home. Latch onto a foreign tour group.

#Bribe a corrupt official at your nearest border.

#Paint a mural of a desert island on your bedroom wall.

#Follow a local tourist trail, one signpost after the other.

#Nap in a hammock.


#Get tourists to take photos of you in front of the local Cathedral/City Walls/giant ball of wool.

#Wear a bikini, or boardshorts, everywhere.

#Go barefoot as much as possible.

#Drink cocktails on the veranda. (Or personal equivalent.)

#Check out local events; beer and/or music festivals, street carnivals, church fetes, funfairs, battle re-enactments, craft fayres, food fayres (my favourite), open air theatre, Dickens Land…

#Ride a donkey.

#See how far you can get for a tenner.

#Find your nearest outdoor pool. Bonus points if you manage a tan.

#Head to your nearest beach location. (Bonus points if you miss the last bus home and end up stranded.)


#Hitchhike. (Remember your towel.)

#Sit in a park all day, chatting to strangers.

#Eat only bread, cheese and beans for three days.

#Get heatstroke. Or dysentery. I hear dengue’s popular at the moment too.


Further explorations into time-wasting

August 3, 2009

“How you live each day is, of course, how you live your life”

#Not so Free Hugs

# Eco stationery for stationery addicts!

#I. Love. Cake. The ark! The animals!

#Is self-help helpful?

# All Men are Liars comments on the social contract

#I like my books made with paper, not grey screens and buttons. You?

# The Disconnection Epidemic

# Security is an Illusion

#The Treehouse Gallery. Currently in Regent’s Park. Gogogo!

# World’s Oldest Computer. Like, Ancient Greek old.

# Anti-time wasting.