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Veganism for me

I wanted to talk about something that I am very passionate about, and that for me is veganism. I think we are now in a culture where the concept of being vegan is more accepted, however,  there is still some controversy around the topic. Many still ask the same question: ‘so what do you eat if your vegan?’, and I can assure you the answer is not simply leaves. Veganism for me is something much more than what you do or do not eat. It is a lifestyle choice; an autonomous decision to abstain from using or consuming anything that is associated with an animal. I truly do not think there is another way to sustain the world unless we start to refrain from using animal products.

My journey towards veganism begun when I was 12 where I decided I wanted to become a vegetarian. In January of 2013, many supermarkets were exposed to what was the horsemeat scandal, where it had been found that horse DNA had been discovered in supposed ‘beef burgers’. At the innocent age of 12, I could not imagine consuming a horse and so, with the encouragement of my close friend, I decided to try initially going pescatarian. The first few days were hard since I had to remind myself that no, Bolognese was not vegetarian, but after a while, it became incredibly easy. I can confidently admit that I have never been the biggest “meat lover” in my life at any point; I would always moan when I knew chicken was on the menu. Thus, for me, I did not have to remove very much out of my diet. It is also notable that my Grandma and Aunty are vegetarian and my Mum was when she was a teenager, therefore, the concept was certainly not alien to our family. Of course, there were days where I would get cravings for meat, but after a few months of the transition, I was disgusted altogether by the prospect of it.

For quite some time I was a pescatarian, however, that too was not enough for me. In 2015 I was admitted to hospital and it was promised to me that if I could try and fight it I could get a goldfish. It then hit me: how on earth could I buy a goldfish in which I would love and nurture yet be eating their species? The two seem completely contradictory to me and so in the June of 2015, I decided to become a full veggie. This decision was again relatively easy as I did not love the taste of fish - actually just writing the “taste” of it kind of freaks me out now as I could never imagine eating one. I now have my Oranda Sebastian who I love very much. Unfortunately, I did lose his friends Flounder, Melody and Bubbles L but nevertheless, they will not be forgotten.

However, I would say it has been in the last year and a bit the idea of veganism has really been brought to my attention. We are seeing an increasing trend in “clean eating” and I think many have considered veganism as a form of this. But I want to make it extremely clear that I do not think the two fall in the same category. Veganism is an ethos that rejects the commodity status of animals, not a 5:2 diet. It frustrates me that people use veganism as a way to restrict because this simply undermines what the philosophy stands for.

I must warn that the next section of this post might upset you. So, if you do not want to know about what goes on in the dairy and egg industry, I would recommend you stop reading. I am grateful for the media promoting veganism since it made me look into what it was a lot further. At first, I had a very narrow view of being vegan, by thinking “those people must be so strict”. But when I informed myself of the horrors of the dairy and egg industry, I was absolutely horrified. I could not and still cannot to this day understand how they have been able to get away with what they do. How on earth did it ever become acceptable to impregnate cows and tear them away from their calves? That’s right…The “skinny milk” in your latte comes from a cow who has been impregnated with artificial insemination which causes them to involuntarily produce milk. Cows are then hooked up like a patient to an IV drip, to milking machines multiple times a day which has toxic effects on their health. Cows may also be medicated with recombinant bovine growth hormone so that they can produce more milk at the cost of an increased risk of getting mastitis which is known to KILL cows. Most cows should live around 20 years but because of this barbaric treatment, they are now living at least 5 years less as their bodies essentially give up. This leftover carcass is then turned into a soup such as “bone broth” or ground beef.

You are probably by now wondering that if this is the treatment of female cows, what about the males? Male calves are typically separated from their mothers to be slaughtered. Many are shipped off in devastating conditions where they can barely move; making them more “tender” for slaughter. These poor calves only see the light for a few months before they are sold for their flesh. You would never, ever wish these sickening conditions on your pet dog or cat, so why is it any different for cows? Why do we have the right to cause this inane torture on an animal? Surely the answer is that we do not.

As for the egg industry, it does not get much better. Hens have their beaks sliced off with a burning hot blade just after hours of birth. They do not get any anaesthetic or painkillers like we would in an operation: they have to suffer. It then makes it incredibly hard for them to eat after they have had their beaks mutilated and so many hens naturally die from extreme hunger and dehydration. Then the hens that do survive are shoved into battery cages where they can barely breathe, let alone move. The battery cages typically measure 18 by 24 inches which according to the egg industry – is ok for 10 hens who have a wingspan each of up to 36 inches! These hens are squished so closely together that they have no choice but to urinate and defecate on each other. Many of these birds consequently die from the stench of ammonia meaning that the surviving birds are forced to live with their dying cage mates. After two years of this torture, the hen’s bodies are exhausted and so their egg production drastically drops, thus their flesh is instead sold to produce animal food. Then as for the male chicks: they are worthless to the egg industry. So instead they are blended alive by high-speed grinders. That’s right – male chicks are shoved like your kale in your nutri-bullet ALIVE. It horrifies me.

I know that these facts are distressing and horrifying to read, but we need to be aware of what is going on behind the scenes. I am not saying that everyone NEEDS to go vegan, but even just making one small change such as switching your skinny latte to a soya latte would make a difference. The less we buy into the industry, the more likely these animals will have a chance. I truly hope this gives you an insight into my own beliefs and you understand why I live the way I do.

Lots of love,
Is xxx

Here are some of the sources I used:

On a More Musical Note...

Whilst thinking about my next blog post, I frantically searched in my bag to find my inevitably tangled headphones. However, this insignificant moment of my day gave me the perfect idea: why don’t I write a blog post about my music taste.

Most people that know me or are at least a mutual acquaintance will be aware of my love of the person that is Steven Patrick Morrissey. His satirical lyrics have helped me through such dark times in my life that songs such as “Asleep”, still make me cry to listen to. I would say I have been a true fan of Morrissey now for three years; which may sound relatively short considering the impact he has had on my life. Quite understandably, I discovered Morrissey from his renowned work in The Smiths. The lyrics to "Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now" (if you are like me you have to sing the line whilst you read it) seemed to offer assurance the cynical part of myself that I was not the only one who sometimes feels miserable at point in their life. It was then after truly embracing The Smiths that I decided I really liked this man from Manchester and thus decided to find out a bit more about him; ranging from reading his autobiography and "The List of the Lost" to watching just about every interview I could find. Now from that moment where I first heard his music, I feel incomplete without my daily dose of Moz. No matter how cringeworthy it sounds to say it: I think he has a talent with his lyrics that no other artist does quite the same. And,,
I cannot fucking wait to see him next year. 

Another artist I am very fond of is David Bowie; the title ‘artist’ feels underwhelming when describing Bowie. His unparalleled gift for not only music has most definitely influenced my life. It is through Bowie that I have learned to embrace the creative side of myself and not be afraid of being slightly different. I have been raised up by Bowie from the first day I can remember; I was born in the year of the releases of “Seven” and “Survive”. Although, I must admit I cannot take the credit for discovering Bowie as truly it is my Mum I have to thank. I don’t think I know a bigger Bowie fan than my Mum and I am positive that those who know her would agree. From shaving her eyebrows and dying her hair bright ginger to look like Ziggy to having a house plastered with his face, I do not think my Mum could love the man more. Bowie is a part of who my Mum is; a part I cherish. When the tragic news came on the 10th January last year, my heart sank.  I still remember my Mum almost smashing her bowl of cereal she was holding when it was announced. Though the phrase heartbroken would not really cover the grief she felt (along with many others), my Mum still continues to play him every single day; along with me. Bowie, you truly have left a legacy with us.

Both Morrissey and Bowie would have to be my top two male artists however, I am also a huge fan of many female artists and bands. Many people look at me with confusion when I tell them I love the band Alt-j. I usually get the “Who?” response. But yes, they are a band, and a very talented one to say the least. Yes they are (well were since Gwil Sainsbury left) just four average men who formed a band at Leeds university, but there work is a piece of art; both metaphorically and literally. I would hate to choose a favourite album but in this case ‘An Awesome Wave’ would have to come at the top. This is another album that I could not live, nor do I think I would have got through some of the times I did without it. Equally, one of the lyrics from “Blood Flood” will be tattooed across my ribs next year. 

It was actually through Alt-j that I discovered Wolf Alice since they were the support act for their tour in 2015 at the O2. I am not ashamed to say that I have seen the boys four times in concert! I fll in love with Wolf Alice after I heard the song “Heavenly Creatures” and ever since I have been so impressed with their work. I would actually say that their latest album “Visions of a Lifetime” might just be my favourite one yet.

I guess I could go on forever about my favourite artists and bands but this post would probably end up being an essay by the time I had finished! Thus, what a better way to incorporate some of my favourite artists by making my own version of a "Dessert-Island" playlist. Although, I am already conscious I will have missed some out. I hope you have enjoyed this post and it has maybe told you something about me that you might not have known. Feel free to leave any comments.

Lots of love,
Is xxx

1.     Asleep – The Smiths
2.     Lazarus – David Bowie
3.     St Purple and Green – Wolf Alice
4.     Make it up – Shura
5.     Obsessions – Marina and the diamonds
6.     Do me a favour – The Arctic Monkeys
7.     The Magnificent Seven – The Clash
8.     Blood Flood – Alt-j
9.     Bloodstream – Ed Sheeran
10.Suedehead – Morrissey
11.High – The Cure
12.Down by the Water – PJ Harvey
13.Somebody Else – The 1975
14.Siren Song – Bat for Lashes
15.What you Know – Two Door Cinema Club
16.The Wild Ones – Suede
17.Song for my father – Brett Anderson
18.Sweet disposition – The Temper Trap
19.It Means Nothing – The Stereophonics
20.Married with Children – Oasis
21.Wish you Were Here – Pink Floyd
22.Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of – U2
23.Electric Feel – MGMT
24.Eleanor Put Your Boots Back On– Franz Ferdinand
25.We Are The People – Empire of the Sun
26.Heavy Metal Lover – Lady Gaga
27.Truth is a Beautiful Thing – London Grammar
28.Ooh La – The Kooks
29.Mile End - Pulp
30.There is a Light That Never Goes Out – The Smiths
31.Hope is a dangerous thing – Lana Del Rey
32.Karma – Marina
33.I Found – Amber Run
34.Skyline, be mine – Shura
35.Mother’s Daughter – Miley Cyrus 
36.Summer Depression – girl in red
37.F**k ‘em only we know – BANKS
38.Spent the day in bed – Morrissey
39.Starman – David Bowie
40.Bartender – Lana Del Rey