Environment, Galway, Lifestyle, Uncategorized, Vegan

VEGAN VEINS: LIBERATION FOR ALL

In this earth, in this immaculate field, we shall not plant any seeds
except for compassion,
except for love.
– Rumi


We’re in the middle of world vegan month, so naturally myself and Julia dropped everything and took to The Burren Nature Sanctuary to envelop ourselves in the wonderful world of some rescued animals. It was a day where the city felt a little too heavy for us, and the open fields, stone walls, and brightly coloured houses of Kinvara were calling us home.

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We had previously been there a year ago and it completely healed me at a time when I needed it the most. I guess I was very much in need of that again, even if I hadn’t realised it. I’ll tell you something though, the minute I stepped foot on the stones in the yard, it was as though I felt my heart lift in my chest. It really is one of my favourite places in the world.

The motivation for our journey was one of adventure, and empathy. I wanted to spend some time with these animals in my Vegan Veins shirt which was kindly sent to me by the owner, Emily in an adorable packet from Canada. The mission of this little company is to provide people with influential apparel that raises awareness about animal rights everywhere you go. Absolutely Everything is sweatshop free, locally printed, and shipped in 100% biodegradable, eco-friendly packaging. I thought the Burren was a perfect place to show it off as 10% of all proceeds from these products are donated to farm sanctuaries and animal/human rights organisations each month. It was my way of showing that across the world, there are so many kind people who are caring for animals, it shows just how far empathy can stretch.

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And really, that’s been the biggest question on my mind recently: how far can your empathy stretch? I believe that veganism is an incredibly high reflection of empathy and that power that we have in making the world a better place through our choices. What we are eating is having an astronomical impact on the earth. Our environment is collapsing, our seas are full of plastic and empty of life, and animals are needlessly suffering every day. I guess, when I type it out, I can tell why my heart feels heavy.

When I hear about palm oil, I see like may people, orangutans with no homes and families. When Christmas comes flooding into our TV sets, I think of puppies being bought in December and forgotten in March. Our empathy for dogs stretches the ocean as we are heartbroken when we hear that they are eaten at festivals in countries that are far from us, but we need to look closer to home. We are frowning on practices as barbaric. We might not carry out these acts of violence ourselves, but we pay for someone else to do it.

That’s the thing about empathy for animals, I believe it should extend to all of them. When I look at food being served, I see the animals that the food once was. Pigs are dogs, donkeys are dogs, goats are dogs – but they are not. We have othered them, not into their own individual selves, but into something which says they are less than us. We harm them, abuse them and eat them.

We take from them, what is not ours – we take from animals who are so kind, so giving. We do it out of greed, and out of need; we’re part of many systems which profit from the exploitation of animals, we’re marketed food that is fresh, or made by animals who have lived happy lives in some ‘circle of life’. We are offered convenient processed meats to feed our starving families, or our own tummy after a busy day of work. I have spent so much time researching, and working in human rights, sustainability and animal activism. I am aware and I want you to be too, of the privilege of choosing ethical food and clothing, it is something often ignored, but I want you to know the biggest secret – it can be changed, we can work for a world that gives choice, freedom, and food that doesn’t harm us, the planet or animals. It can be done.

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First, we need to make the connection, their lives and ours, depend on it. I’m spilling out facts onto a keyboard in the hope that people will see what they are eating. I spent a day with wonderful animals in the hope we can all learn from them. I am asking from my heart for you to consider the rights of animals, other food, and ethically sourced clothing. If you can find a day that allows you to bring them all together, like we did, I hope you let your heart open to all of the feelings. I hope you feel the glorious warmth and welling in your soul of the empathy stretch. May it guide you towards a world where there is liberation for all.

#worldveganmonth

Thank you to @veganveins for collaborating on this post and to @lovejoules for the wonderful photos and company that was simply simpatico. Also, a million thanks to all at The Burren Nature Sanctuary, please support them, and all that they do.


P A P E R M A C H E M I N D | I N S T A G R A M | T W I T T E R | F A C E B O O K 

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Galway, Sustainable Living, Vegan

AUTUMN WITH THE FOODS OF ATHENRY

Winter is an etching, spring a watercolor, summer an oil painting and autumn a mosaic of them all.”

– Stanley Horowitz


It’s here! It’s here! I haven’t exactly launched into Autumn this year as I usually do, I’ve sorta’ slumbered my way in and slowly layered up the flannel shirts and red scarves with knitted socks. But, I made up for it all a few days ago when I dived straight into a pile of leaves in my October best, hot drink in hand and a mouth full of biscuits from The Foods of Athenry. No better way in my book.

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It was a crisp day when we took these pictures, and to be honest, when I woke up I didn’t think I would be able to take the time out to prance about with Julia. Likewise, she had piles of boring adulting to do, but we persisted with childlike abandon and made our way to NUIG to immerse ourselves in Autumnal magic. Boy oh boy were we pleased, and proud as punch that we had dismissed that little voice that tells you the things your heart calls out for are frivolous.

A great deal of anxiety in this life comes from the things we tell ourselves we are unable to achieve. That perplexing web of thoughts, reinforced by society and the ideas of who we are and who we should be. We lock ourselves into systems, patterns and routines that feel heavy and concrete. Of course, we come from different backgrounds, experiences and beliefs which impact our ability to make choices. This can harbour our energy and impact our opportunities for moving forward. It’s hard to be as creative as we can be, to be as free as possible, when we have bills to pay and people to please – but we are deserving of the kindness we bestow upon others and we should afford ourselves that. How many times have you told yourself you should follow your own advice? Anxiety also comes from our fear of moving forward because in that we must let something go, but the changing of the seasons teaches us that with everything we lose there are always adventures to gain.

Julia and myself – we’re going through a bit of a phase at the moment, where we listen to the magical outpouring of creative possibility and we run with it. Rebels but with many a cause. I was feeling under the weather recently and had been listening to my fears a bit too much, as was Joules, so I think a day like this was much needed for the both of us. Our hearts were getting heavy and it at that point humans usually give in and succumb to the niggling thoughts. These pile up into an insurmountable muddled mess that can take some time to emerge from.

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My favourite season, I believe that Autumn is beautiful because it teaches us how things change, from the leaves on the trees to the day you wake up and reach for another layer to cover your body. On this crisp day, we took the time out to enjoy ourselves, to mind ourselves and most importantly to truly be ourselves – having fun in the leaves on a morning in Galway that wasn’t expecting our presence. Claiming the colourful debris and taking them all for ourselves. I finally got to enjoy some of the vegan treats sent to me by the lovely local company The Foods of Athenry. I was doing what I love best, enjoying Autumn with good company and great food. I wanted to show these treats in the most honest way – how I would really eat them, not posed on a table with shiny cutlery – instead, submerged in Galway goodness with a big Keepcup of cinnamon topped Oatly oat milk from McCambridge’s. Happy, wholesome and heart-warming – just the way they are. I’ve more to share on them soon, and they too have more things to offer from festive vegan mince pies to gingery chocolate coated goodness when the next season rolls over and our homes are filled with a different kind of magic.

Make time for something that makes your soul happy, something which makes your eyes smile and helps clear that lump in your throat – that dormant resident who makes a shy appearance when you least expect it on an Autumn evening. It is in these moments we really have a shot at seeing who we hope to be. Open your eyes to them, and feel the colour rush in.

Images: @lovejoules 

 


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Galway, Self Help, Vegan, Wellbeing

SWEETNESS OF OTHERS: VEGAN CUPCAKES

“If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”
― Roald Dahl


We ate, oh boy did we eat. The hall was lined with amazing vendors from all over the country, willing and wholeheartedly excited to sell vegan goodness to the masses. I did that thing you do, you know when all of a sudden you let out a tiny squeak, followed by a jump because you can’t wait to explore? I realised I was somewhere that meant I didn’t have to utter those words when ordering my  food, ‘sorry, is it vegan?’. I found myself laughing with people I only recently got to know, and stuffing my face at Veg Fest with an array of beautiful, decadent, and delicately created cupcakes while having my photo taken on the streets of Cork.

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And you might be wondering, how did I get there?

There is something so wonderful in the sweetness of others. When you see that beautiful glow and feel the gentle light that comes from them. And there’s a real skill to that I think, in allowing yourself to see the kindness they have, a skill in knowing who invite into your world. Similar to how I wrote about placing yourself around people who make you shine, there is a gentle but strong ebb and flow in finding other humans who you want to travel with, dance with, eat ice-cream with and inevitably at some stage, cry with. A form of intuition in seeing someone on the street every day and eventually approaching them for coffee.

There is a magical wonder in trusting others. In accepting from them, and sharing their journey. That building of a friendship is so incredibly powerful. From the moment you first speak to them, to winding up driving across the country to a festival, or sitting on the street eating ice-cream. I have made the best friends, in the most unusual ways. Some things move slowly and others quickly, but they all move, we must remember that.

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I believe there is a skill in allowing the light of others into your heart, especially when you are not burning so bright yourself. I know it heals you, but sometimes it can also hurt. There have been times when my heart was aching and I believed I wasn’t going to mend. I was permanent, but now I know, nothing is. There are times when the softness of others is a shock to our system because the world around us is often hard.

But it is in that, where you will see the sweetness of others; a towel at the beach to clean your feet, a suspended coffee in a cafe, a lift to veg fest, someone stopping to say, ‘sorry your bag is open’, the person cooking your meal when you’re cranky, a tote bag of goodies, a walk in the morning sun, warm hands closing over yours on a cold day, and a surprise box of cupcakes made with love.

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Thank you to Lauren of Buttercream Dream for reaching out and offering me sweetness when I needed it. The vanilla chocolate was my favourite, followed closely by the others. You can find her vegan cupcakes around Dublin cafes, at her pop-up, in selected Super Valu stores (with a view to expand to others) and you can order some online. I would recommend that you spread kindness to someone else, and yourself, because the world needs more of that, especially when we least expect it. And thank you to all the new friends I have made, who radiate light in all they do.

Oh, and finally thanks to Casey (carbonspice) for the lovely photos, and for helping me look cool on the streets of Cork – plus thank you to Cork Veg Fest for their kindness on the day.

https://buttercreamdream.ie/


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Galway Vegan Guide, Sustainable Living, Vegan, Wellbeing

SPENDING TIME: OUR VALUABLE CURRENCY

“Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.”
― Allen Saunders


Over the last few weeks I have engaged in a series of firsts.

First attempt at a YouTube video (pending), first purchase of Netflix, first run, first brunch with a new friend Joana, first early morning walk along the beach and cliffs with @saibhegan, first time buying a mindfulness magazine, first guided meditation with @baibasustere, first veg fest ticket, first cube of truth, first One Planet vegan pizza, first slow fashion meeting, first leap card (and second, because I lost the first one), first jump at setting up a new organisation with Carlos named @edgeactivism and first raspberry ripple Booja Booja ice-cream in the sunshine.

I have experienced these things largely because I have been drawn towards people who are out there trying to make the world a little better, while also embracing it for what it truly is. But mostly I have tried these things because I am acutely aware of how valuable our time is and I want to share that time with people who inspire me. I want to eat things which make me feel happy, I want to appreciate the spaces I fill. I realise that the energy around you is what feeds you, that and a pile of plants.

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This weekend, after starting back into a full-time job (which I adore) I really appreciated my time off and I wanted to spend it with those I cared for. So, myself and Joules started the sweltering Sunday perched in the nook of McCambridge’s coffee bar drinking iced almond milk coffees and Oatly drinks while munching on moreish Goupie chocolates.

I love nicely designed packages which are made from recycled materials and the packaging on Goupie is environmentally aware, with minimal fuss and plenty of charm. The chocolates are delicious too, which definitely sweetens the deal. I was actually sent a selection of Goupie last month to my house  – you may remember this from my Instagram stories. I can tell you the delivery was smooth and free from unnecessary waste. I was delighted to see that McCambridges stock some of their products, so we decided to try another flavour while we chatted, I used my new glass Keepcup which you can buy in store. You also get a discount for bringing a reusable, and there are plenty of alternative milks to choose from. A sustainable living vegan dream. We sat into the curved counter, let the sun light up our faces, and folded softly into our conversation.

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While sitting by the window, we spent our time discussing dreams, the vastness of the universe and how the two can make for a powerful combination. We spoke about firsts, we spoke about the feeling you get when something new is starting; when you’re hanging on the edge of a tingling feeling and anticipating the rush of excitement. How we connect with other humans in this world, and how for many reasons we deny ourselves truths. We also discussed the ways in which we heal ourselves after losses, be they big or small. We offered Goupie chocolates to everyone to try, and they were highly impressed. We shared with others, and it brought smiles to their faces. I think it’s remarkable what a good cuppa’ and some chocolate can do for the heart, not to mention the conversations it can support.

I’ve learned in the last week that finding people who share your vision is something which is not just complimentary, it is a necessity. For example, through connecting with other vegan activists in Ireland, I have learned that empathy is actually abundant in this world and we must work together to strengthen and nurture it; we must highlight it. I have been spending my time with some truly wonderful people, I know some incredibly kind, caring and beautiful beings. I have met people who brighten the world, through most of my first steps forward into the unknown.

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This idea of surrounding yourself with people who inspire you also relates to the products we buy and the industries we support. That is why I continue to explore brands such as Goupie who are hand-produced by a small team in Kent. They are also making delicious vegan-friendly chocolate (13 of their 17 flavours) for everyone to eat. Likewise, it’s why I am always in McCambridges, picking up a few bits. I love to spend my time in places that make me happy and remind me of how far I have come since I first moved here.

And I think we should all do that a little more. We should be kind to ourselves. We should of course also be kinder to ourselves, but many of us haven’t even started to be kind. It takes time to learn how to tell yourself that you are worthy, beautiful, and strong. We are surrounded by information, images, workloads, responsibilities, commitments, pressures, heartbreaks, grievances, losses and pains. But we are also enveloped in a world full of empathy, compassion, love, wisdom, happiness, heart-mends, connections, beauty, and laughter. Both lists make life worth living.

There is a skill to learning how you want to spend your time on this planet and I am working on enjoying it everyday, step by step – but this weekend I ate delicious chocolate in the sunshine with Joules, had vegan sushi with Steph and Fiona, meditated, read, sang, munched a pizza with @foynotfox and walked in the seaside air with Saibh, Juno and Arthur. I think that’s a good place to start, I think these are the firsts of many new firsts.

 


P A P E R M A C H E M I N D | I N S T A G R A M | T W I T T E R | F A C E B O O K 

Thanks to Goupie for the batch of chocolate https://goupie.co.uk/ and thanks as always to McCambridges for their hospitality and kindness while we claimed the coffee counter as our own https://mccambridges.com/ – there are kind humans in the world, find them.

 

 

 

Feminism, Galway, Human Rights

REPEAL THE EIGHTH: GET INVOLVED

“Feminism is the radical notion that women are people.”
― Marie Shear


On this wonderful day, International Women’s Day, I want to share a post which fits in with the IWD themes of #pressforprogress and #beboldforchange. I’ve decided to compile a short feature on how you can get involved in the fight for reproductive rights in Ireland, and make society are more inclusive place for women regardless of gender, race, class, ability, religion, or socio-economic status. This truly is a wonderful time in herstory and I am proud to be involved in such a creative, feminist movement. First things first, if you’re a little unsure about repealing the eighth or want some questions answered, I’m here to tell you a few short reasons as to why we need to tackle this human rights grievance in Ireland, there are many more than this but I’m just going to highlight a few to get us started.

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8 reasons to repeal the 8th

1. Every day approximately 10 Irish pregnant people travel to access abortion services abroad. This is calculated using those who give their addresses. For many reasons, such as shame, stigma, security or fear, Irish women do not provide addresses and omit this. In Galway alone, 9 women travel per month. You can read these statistics here.

2. 52% of those who access abortions are already parents. This is an incredibly important fact and illustrates the varied circumstances in which abortion is required. For example, No contraception is 100% and many individuals are using contraception at the time of becoming pregnant. The 8th amendment impacts our choices and consent to practices during childbirth, and although this is of course about abortion access, the negative impact of this law stretches across a woman’s pregnancy. It also impacts women’s treatment during miscarriage and denies her compassionate care.

3. In Ireland women and those who help that woman access abortion pills are at risk of a 14 year jail sentence. Denial of reproductive rights is a human rights violation, not a criminal offence.

4. No person currently of reproductive age in Ireland has had a vote on this matter. The 8th has no place in our constitution and is not reflective of our current society where the majority of people are in favour of repeal.

5. Banning abortion does not stop them from happening, it just makes it unsafe and puts women’s lives at risk. Not to mention the time, hardship and financial burden of having to travel for this healthcare. There are also many people who are unable to, or can’t afford to travel. We are making an already serious decision more complicated, adding stress to a personal situation.

6. Women have already died in Ireland due to being denied safe abortion procedures.

7. Abortion does not increase when made legal in countries, countering the idea that we will for some reason have more people using the service. In fact the rates steady out and decline when it is available.

8. We deserve to have control of our own bodies and minds. You may not want to have an abortion yourself, but being pro-choice means you would not impose your views on another person. It is the inclusive and respectful position.

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So, moving on from those facts, considering we have a couple months until the referendum, I thought I would write a quick guide on how you can get involved in the campaign and use your presence to secure a pro-choice referendum in Ireland. This is your chance to make history and create a more compassionate Ireland, one which reflects our changing attitudes and want for a fairer society towards women.

“we all move forward when we recognize how resilient and striking the women
around us are”― rupi kaur, milk and honey


8 ways to repeal the 8th

join your local group

There are many local groups around Ireland who are fighting for reproductive rights and are in need of your support, skills and energy. You can give as much or as little time as you feel to these groups as every bit counts. They will hold regular meetings, like Galway Pro Choice do, and you can come along and get involved. There is also a Galway Coalition which connects multiple groups, parties and people in the repeal fight, Knocknacara for Repeal, and Galway East for Choice. Also, shout out here to my homestead of Tipperary and Tipperary for Choice, if you’re down south show them some love. Every person brings something new and special to this campaign. Groups have many activities such as stalls, events, canvassing and crafting for you to choose from. Don’t be afraid, pro-choice activists are friendly and fun to be around, join today!

If there isn’t a group in your area, set one up! Contact the Abortion Rights Campaign for more information. You can also link in with the wider campaign on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And, remember, you can also contribute by emailing and writing to your TDs and telling them how you feel about the issues.

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use social media

Make sure you’re following relevant organisations on social media to hear about events and ideas between now and the referendum. You can also share posts and engage with content as this is a great way to show your support on a tight schedule. If you have any platforms you use regularly why not use the hashtags #repeal or #repealtheeighth to connect and link with others, or give a shout out to the campaign if you’re a blogger or have a media presence.

support local stalls

Come up to a stall in your area and engage with the activists who are there, sign petitions and buy some badges and wear them with pride. A little word of encouragement goes a long way.

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wear badges, merch or stickers

Wear your love for reproductive autonomy on your sleeve. Buy a badge from your local group or wear a pro-choice item on you. It shows people that it is okay to speak about the topic, and also offers support to those who have had abortions.

chat with family and friends

Some people just need to hear the facts from someone they know and care about. If you can tell others why you’re voting pro-choice, they will be likely to do the same. Try your best, and save your energy for those who will appreciate your conversation. Remember to take care of yourself during activism.

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come home to vote

If you’re not in Ireland right now, and are eligible to vote you can find out more ways to get involved and travel home by reading more at https://hometovote.com/

fundraise and donate to the campaign

Have some ideas like a gig, coffee morning, marathon or clothes swap? Fundraise for your local activist group or contact them to suggest ideas. Galway Pro Choice are always looking for creative ways to raise funds.

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If you don’t have the physical time to be involved right now that’s okay, use social media to spread the word and also donate to your local groups because they really need your support and also donate to the wider campaign here. Donating anonymously is also great way for people who can’t openly speak about their views to contribute.

Oh, and finally,

VOTE

– or if you can’t vote, find someone who is unsure and ask them to vote because together we can do this.

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These are just a few quick ways in which you can get involved in the campaign in Ireland for women’s rights. We deserve to have control over our own reproductive choices, so we can live more wholesome and healthy lives as individuals. It also helps women and pregnant people during pregnancy and in raising their families if that is the choice they wish to make. We are a nation of kind, compassionate people; we can do better for women and pregnant people.

On this day, I would liked to dedicate this blog post to all of the incredible women in my life who are fighting for change, using their voices, and challenging gender norms and binaries, but I would like to especially dedicate it, to the women of Galway Pro Choice.

Join the campaign today.

#repealtheeighth

images: Thank you to another incredible feminist and strong woman, @saibhegan – these images from the March for Choice, 2017 are used with thanks and hugs #marchforchoice2017

Galway, Sustainable Living, Vegan, Wellbeing

GRATITUDE: A CONSCIOUS STEP FORWARD

“i have / what i have / and i am happy / i’ve lost / what i’ve lost / and i am still happy”
– rupi kaur

Over the last few weeks, since I published this post on anxiety, I have been really working on taking some time for myself to consider the things I am grateful for.

This has meant revisiting things I might have been taking for granted such as the availability of rhythmic breathing exercises on my Headspace appcalling my Mam on the phone every few mornings even just for a few minutes to see how she is and chatting with my Dad about his day, cooking delicious food at home with loved ones, snuggling under blankets and spending time with or talking to those I care about; generally surrounding myself with the people who are positive lights in my life.

It has also meant pushing myself to try new things such as eating food in places I have always spoken about trying but, never actually tried (as I am typing this I am thankful for my life in Galway which allows me to eat in places like this). I’ve also been grabbing tea with new people, and following up on the casual, ‘we should go for lunch’, that is dropped in conversation.

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“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
― Marcel Proust

This week I crossed Kai off my list here in Galway and treated myself. I had always wanted to go and when Baiba suggested it on a whim, I went with it. I’m trying to do that a little more. On that same day we strolled along the beach in Salthill and I walked to the lighthouse for the first time. Walking along the beach with a belly full of sustainable and locally sourced food with a like-minded human made me feel grateful for the world around us, especially the ocean. I’ve been reflecting on our impact on the planet a great deal recently and I want to help make a difference. Baiba is thinking of doing a beach clean up and I’m eager to help her. I’m constantly inspired by the people around me who take the goodness in their hearts and shine it outwards, they are truly exceptional.

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Likewise I am becoming more conscious of how I spend my time, and how I fit in with the routines of other people. I caught a bus out to my friend Joules house this week on Galentine’s Day and set myself the goal of getting there on time. A small step towards a more conscious life for myself and others. I missed the stop and she picked me up, a lesson that trying is better than holding yourself back for fear of failing. We had a wonderful day and I completely forgot it was pancake Tuesday but managed to gobble up some home-made cinnamon buns instead. I washed that down with two cups of herbal tea, and chatted with Joules and Kenny about empathy, compassion and how we treat others.

Oh, and not to disregard the brilliant human company on the day but I also met Julia’s cats for the first time in person! Robyn was off somewhere mooching about but Watson graced us with his photogenic presence for the pricey sum of some crunchy treats and a few chin scratches. He has a good system going which I’m impressed with, I’m learning to be assertive and he taught me the way.

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.”
― Epicurus

Animals bring me so much joy, and I am so thankful for them and my interaction with them growing up. In fact, being with Watson and Julia in this fairy tale room reminded me of my own childhood. I am grateful for the life I have had so far, the hard work and kindness of my parents, the animals, vegetable gardens and their influence which runs through the fabric of my being. As we get older we stray away from that part of ourselves where we play, explore, and create. I’m grateful for my ability to bounce back and make new things with an open heart even when I’ve felt shattered.

And, I am grateful for the people in my life who make every day a little brighter. Those who I spend time with often and those who are further away. The kindness of those who are willing to help; this week I got some beautiful socks, made a new friend who I went for vegan cake with, and received a membership card for The Burren Nature Sanctuary. I was humbled by these acts of kindness, and the people who instigated them. I am surrounded by beautiful people.

These feelings I have been having, is why I wanted to write a post about some of the things I am grateful for. I’m thankful for so much, and many small little things that I might neglect on a daily basis. I’m starting to really breathe the air, stretch out my limbs, listen to music, read my favourite poems, marvel at trees and watch new space discoveries online. I’m trying to be present, to put down the phone more, to taste the food before virtually consuming it. I was motivated by these lovely vegan socks from Conscious Step. Each pair is partnered with an organisation for good in order to fight poverty; some socks feed those who are hungry, others plant trees, deliver life saving medication, give books, or provide water. The beautiful blue ones I wore when snuggled at Joules house protect our oceans, clearly influenced by my early week strolls along the wild Atlantic way. Our oceans are suffering from pollution – plastic, straws, coffee cups, and shopping bags are all in there, destroying wildlife and the ecosystem, but we have the power to change that. These little socks which arrived in minimal cardboard only packaging are a step in the right direction.

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“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”
― Maya Angelou

I wanted to share Conscious Step with you all because their products are made with the animals, people and planet in mind. As always, I only feature companies and people who are doing something a little bit special for the world around us. Sustainability is at the core of what they do. Made with Fairtrade cotton, 100% vegan and animal friendly, manufactured in an ethical sweatshop free environment and incredibly comfortable, these socks are here to last and be loved by all.

Conscious Step sheds light on all the wonderful organisations who are trying to make the world a safer, fairer and more equal place for others. They give back to the planet, rather than taking from it.

We need more of that in this world right now, we are running out of time and how we use it, is vital. We are a world of take, with little give. Gratitude for the earth, the ocean and all it’s inhabitants will allow us to realise what we have previously taken for granted. There is so much beauty out there, if we open our eyes to it. There is beauty in the every day also, and we can find it in the smallest of places. Early morning sunshine, when there is just enough hot water in the kettle for your tea, and while you sit in comfy socks, a big jumper and leggings with people you care about.

This has been a week of firsts and new personal challenges. I urge you to take a conscious step forward, who knows what impact you will have on the world and those around you. Every step counts.

Keep your eyes on my Instagram for a chance to win your own pair of Conscious Step socks, I’ll be sharing some more images from this shoot and telling you how you can win a pair for you and someone you love, I’m there @papermachemind

You can follow Conscious Step on Instagram // Facebook // Twitter

Ordinary purchase. Extraordinary purpose.

https://consciousstep.com/ 

Photos by the wonderful @lovejoules


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Galway, Lifestyle, notspon, Sustainable Living, Vegan

VEGANISM FOR BEGINNERS: A LITTLE GUIDE

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Emila, resident at The Burren Nature Sanctuary in Kinvara Co. Galway

‘Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose’. – The Vegan Society.


The internet is swarming with jokes about vegans, and it’s true that there’s a lot worse stuff floating about in cyber space. Sometimes though, it can be disheartening as the comments sections, media and recently Irish television, have perpetuated untruths about veganism. It’s seen as something extreme and unnecessary. Even worse still, there is a lie about it being unhealthy. Fortunately we are seeing more and more campaigns highlighting the truth.

I want to add a little caveat to this post regarding food intolerance, food issues, and eating disorders; as someone who knows another human quite well who has dealt with anorexia, I am aware that not everyone perceives food in the same way. I know that around the world, food means different things to different people, and that access to resources and money is something which should be considered. So, this post on veganism is in no way telling anyone how they should behave, it’s how they could live, if they wished and why I personally choose a vegan lifestyle. Whatever you individually want to eat, wear or use will be your decision, and I respect that, I’m just here to highlight the reality of the industries and the impact they have on animals, people and the planet. Knowledge informs choice.

First things first, veganism is different from eating a plant based diet and on the internet these days, the two have become a little bit conflated. Veganism is about choosing to refrain from eating animals along with using their bodies or products for consumption in all forms. This means no meat, fur, leather, or by products such as milk, eggs and honey. It also focuses on boycotting industries that are harmful to animals. The rationale behind veganism comes from the understanding of animals as sentient beings who are not ours to use in any way. Their lives are not ours to exploit.

There are many reasons to become vegan, for me, I moved to veganism after being a vegetarian, so the starting point for me was always with the animals themselves. The TED talk by Melanie Joy on ‘Carnism’ is actually something which inspired me to be vegetarian again after a year or so eating meat in college. She explains it so eloquently when she illustrates that our psychology towards animals and, our social conditioning reinforces our idea that some animals are for consumption while others are not. Think cows, v’s dogs.

A couple of years ago, during the summer before I started my Master’s degree, I was researching topics on globalisation, sustainability and gender. I came across some great academic papers about human rights and food production, which inspired me to look at where food comes from, who makes it, and who benefits. I was starting to focus on living a more sustainable lifestyle, since I had started using reusables such as the Keepcup and, a different type of cup, the Mooncup. I was running (and still do) workshops on sustainable consumption and menstrual products with my friend V, and everything in my life was slowly turning into plants. I reduced my plastic consumption, bought an eco-toothbrush and started bringing a canvas bag for my shopping.

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In my personal life, I grew up with a real love for animals and the environment as my parents care very much about these issues, so I definitely had that starting point to inspire me. Following that, the more I read and watched about these topics, the harder it was for me to turn a blind eye. Some great documentaries which I am sure you may have seen mentioned on social media are Earthlings and Cowspiracy.

If you want something more academically grounded you could read something on ecological feminist perspectives or climate change and gender as these highlight how what we eat impacts the planet but it also explores how the environment and animals are exploited in a similar way to women. These things may motivate you to then consider changing your lifestyle. I really believe we need to find something we connect with in order to make a personal change. For me it started with asking myself this question; If you love animals, why would you eat them?

Every now and then something reaffirms my veganism for me. It could be an article on how women are disproportionately impacted by environmental disasters, hearing that 1.3 billion farmed animals are slaughtered every week, or taking a visit to an animal sanctuary like my favourite place, The Burren Nature Sanctuary in Kinvara, Co. Galway where you can meet animals who have many stories to tell. Animals who were abused, used and mistreated before these humans took them in.

But I suppose all of this doesn’t really answer the question that gets thrown my way quite a bit on social media; what does eating dairy and eggs have to do with animals health? and even more so, why are you all ranting about the environment?

The dairy industry and the meat industry are inseparable from each other. Your milk comes from a cow, who only produces milk because she was pregnant. Her pregnancy was forced, and when she is done, she will be sent to slaughter. You might come from a farm that does this differently, and I know people often say this in comment sections, I know many people do not mean harm. The truth is, however, the industry is inhumane, and even if it was humane, it would still compromise the core belief that animals aren’t ours to use. In many developing countries, people starve themselves so they can feed animals which will be killed for richer families meat. I think that there is something deeply wrong with that. Animal rights and human rights are interlinked.

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Female chickens are forced into confined spaces without room to move, and male chickens are killed instantly. On your organic and free-range farms? They are still forced to produce eggs. Forced birth and production causes extensive harm to these animals. Chickens are incredibly affectionate and caring creatures who love being hugged, Cows form intimate close bonds with their young and will cry for days when their calves are taken away. Pigs are smarter than dogs, which doesn’t really matter as all animals are deserving of love, but they also having incredible depths of understanding and feeling just like your favourite household pets. Take Emilia who is pictured above eating grass and oinking. I first met her when I went to shoot this blog post at The Burren Nature Sanctuary (which is worth a read as it is full of animals), and I have loved her ever since. Pigs are my favourite animal, they even love music and being sang to. Before they reach your plate, they were a being with their own desires, emotions and family bonds.

On your plate, they are often a convenient option.

And what about the planet? Raising animals for food is an environmental disaster. Water pollution, land use and deforestation are all caused by animal agriculture. It is also financially and ecologically wasteful as making 1 pound of beef requires 1,799 gallons of water (National Geographic). Food insecurity and animal agriculture are inseparable from each other. As noted by The Vegan Society, ‘In Brazil alone, the equivalent of 5.6 million acres of land is used to grow soya beans for animals in Europe’ (The Vegan Society). We have the power to make a difference in our lives, and the lives of other creatures, but we can also make the planet a better place for all.

It is much easier to eat vegan now than it was even a couple of years ago. Restaurants are often very accommodating in cities and towns. It can still be difficult if you’re dining in some rural areas but if you can make your own food, there are thousands of recipes available and you can make lots of them on a minimal budget. I mean that too, I’m not talking about those recipes that basically want you to own a whole health food store and seven spices you’ve never heard of. I talking about vegan stews, lasagnas, roasts and curries that can feed you happily. Likewise, there are great vegan companies out there making cosmetics, beauty products, cleaning supplies and clothing.

And my health has never been better. I’ve so much energy on a vegan diet, and I also know of people’s allergies subsiding remarkably once they removed dairy. I found that many of my health issues disappeared when I cut out milk from a cow. Which makes a lot of sense, because I’m not a calf! Also, vegan oat drinks, coconut, rice milk and cashew are so delicious and creamy. As you’ll know from my posts, McCambridges has me covered for hot drinks and snacks and Evergreen is a haven for us vegans. I’m not missing anything.

Below I’m going to list a few companies, brands, foods, blogs and websites/Instagram accounts that have some good vegan tips and tricks. It’s also a list of things you could use to help adapt to veganism. In Ireland we are starting to get access to some great vegan foods, and I’m excited for more and more choices as supermarkets start to cater for this lifestyle. Some of these products listed are sadly not palm oil free, so make sure you check them out, I try to eat these in moderation or find similar ones without the palm oil as this isn’t sustainable for the planet. Nevertheless, these items are good starting points on the vegan adventure.

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I hope this list helps you in some way. Perhaps if you haven’t taken on the Veganuary challenge this year you could now try it this month, or one day at a time? Starting off cutting out meat is a really amazing step and then removing dairy really makes a massive difference. If you use this Vegan Calculator you can see how many animals, forests, water and Co2 you have saved over your journey. It’s really inspiring. Let me know how you get on, and if you have any questions message me on Instagram or send an email. Becoming vegan is one of the greatest choices I have ever made, and I wish you well exploring it for yourself.

Enjoy all the plants, and also the chocolate ❤

Snacks and Treats

  1. Lentil crisps from Eat Real
  2. Vego chocolate bars
  3. Chocolately Clare bars
  4. Anandas Marshmallows
  5. Freedom Marshmallows
  6. Goupie
  7. Vegan Town Chocolate Co. boxes
  8. Biona chickpeas roasted in the oven in some oil and chilli or curry powder
  9. Hummus, of course.
  10. Nakd Wholefoods bars (particularly pecan pie and lemon drizzle)
  11. Choices caramels
  12. Marks and Spencer Iced Buns
  13. Nobó vegan ice cream flavours
  14. Lots of biscuits are vegan just give the packet a quick read
  15. Rolling Donut Dublin if you’re up there and in need of a treat
  16. Little Green Leaf Artisan cheese in Cork
  17. In Galway? Anything in Cafe Temple, The Lighthouse, Cafe Builín Blasta and The Kitchen
  18. Cadburrys Hot Chocolate for starters (or, if you’re looking for an eco option try Oatly Chocolate heated up in a mug or some great brands in your health store)
  19. Chicory drink (also great for cramps)
  20. Teas are usually vegan but if you’re looking for something local to Galway or made here in Ireland try Solaris

Foods

  1. Violife pizza cheese melted
  2. Spring rolls, waffles, chips etc.
  3. Moodley Manor 3am Garlic Mayo (and they also make brilliant vegan meats)
  4. Linda McCartney sausages
  5. Lentil stew; Marigold vegan gravy and lots of vegetables with some kalo stock cubes
  6. Homemade vegan lasangna; lasngna sheets, oatly cream, vegan cheese, pasata
  7. Engevita flakes (makes everything better and is great for a cheese substitute in meals)
  8. Oatly oat drink, especially the Barista version as it foams!
  9. Veggie Deli VBites Sage and Marjoram sausages
  10. Pizza dough topped with vegan cheese, your veg of choice and sauce (most dough is vegan)
  11. Dairy Free Dream Cashew milk
  12. Vegan french toast made with egg substitutes or just a little oil and some flour
  13. Banana bread (banana holds everything together)
  14. Fry’s Family Foods
  15. Follow Your Heart do the best vegan Cesar dressing and a brilliant ‘honey’ mustard
  16. Bread, lots of it is already vegan, many in the supermarket but also great local fresh batches of sourdough and ciabatta can be chomped
  17. Great organic vegetables can be delivered to your door by Green Earth Organics and Larder360

Cosmetics, Personal Care, Clothing and House Hold

  1. Ecover cleaning supplies and soaps
  2. Faith in Nature biodegradables, shampoos and deodrants
  3. Lush shampoo bar for a zero waste version
  4. Mable Brush toothbrush
  5. Kat Von D Beauty
  6. Youngblood Cosmetics
  7. The Body Shop
  8. Homemade alternatives using vinegar, lemon, baking soda
  9. Lillys Eco Clean
  10. Bulldog Cosmetics
  11. Thrifting and borrowing from friends saves clothes, water, and recycling power
  12. Sassy Spud https://www.sassyspud.com/
  13. Mooncup

Vitamins, Well-being, Inspiration and Health

  1. I take Viridian B Complex and Vitamin D
  2. Make sure you’re eating Iron rich foods, plenty of greens, and taking VItamin D so you’ll absorb it
  3. Speak to your healthcare professional about seriously considering veganism
  4. Read plenty of articles on veganism
  5. Watch documentaries like Earthlings, and Cowspiracy for some starter information and YouTubers who are known for giving reliable information like Kiera Rose

Instagram

  1. The Original Vegan Society
  2. The Vegan Kind
  3. James Aspey
  4. Accidentally Vegan
  5. Mercy for Animals
  6. Kiera Rose
  7. Vegan
  8. Kat Von D
  9. Veganbowls
  10. Follow Your Heart

For a quick run down on why to go vegan you can read some points made by The Vegan Society here: https://www.vegansociety.com/go-vegan/why-go-vegan

Please visit The Burren Nature Sanctuary in Kinvara, Co. Galway and donate to their beautiful educational wonderland. Places like this need you!

Images in this post are from my day with @lovejoules which you can see here


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