What I learnt from NaNoWriMo

NanoWriMo has finally ended!!

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Alright so it actually ended about a week ago, but I have spent that week catching up on sleep and just getting used to the fact that I actually managed to write 50,000 words in 30 days. I WON! As proud as I am that I managed to do such a feat, it also taught me a few valuable lessons.

1. Writing is not an easy job

Writing every day is, as I always thought, a relatively easy task. I did what every good Planner would have done and I had a set time line of how I wanted my story to go. But no matter how much I planned, sometimes the words just would not come. For the most part, I was just writing whatever came into my head and normally this had no story, no relevance and absolutely no sense to it whatsoever. At first, this made me mad: Why was this so hard when I knew exactly what I wanted to write about? Why could I suddenly not string words together? But after a few days of this, I just decided not to bother: Clearly the words will not come today so why force it. And then suddenly, as if out of spite, the words would not stop coming. I would be sat at work and the slightest phrase would appear in an email or in a conversation and I would suddenly be hit with inspiration.

Point is, when you stop trying to force the words, they come to you in a wave that can not be tamed, and all you can do is roll with whatever is being thrown at you throughout your wiring day

2. Planning is usually pointless

As mentioned before, sometimes the words will only come to you when you don’t want them to. The same can be said about the characters. In many cases, as much as I wanted to take my characters on one journey, as I wrote and the story began to unfold, my characters started to take me in a different direction. Again, at first I fought this, as I knew what I wanted to write about and I knew what I wanted my story to say. But as I wrote, my characters were constantly fighting me to take a different path and, finally, I let them. What followed was usually completely different to what I had planned, but it also allowed me to follow my characters naturally progression in the story and made them even more real than beforehand. For example, what had started as an innocent meeting between two of my characters, soon turned into a powerful love story that began to question where my story had originally planned.

My main message here is that when writing, let your characters take charge sometimes. Just let the words flow and see where your characters take you. As your characters begin to develop into true and real identities, they will undoubtedly behave in ways that you hadn’t thought was possible and you hadn’t ever considered. When this happens, follow them. Even if you go back and delete everything that you had written, you have explored a new avenue and learnt more about who your characters are and how they can help the story along in a new manner.

3. It doesn’t matter if you finish, just as long as you start

On the days when the story was disheveled and the characters were misbehaving and everything was going wrong, it started to become more of a chore to finish. As much as I wanted to ‘win’ NaNo, I also didn’t want to finish on something that was not true to what I had wanted to write. So I let go. I let the story go as it pleased, let me characters do as they wished, and most of the time I would end up with about 3000 words in one day about a scene I had never had any intention of writing. And with NaNo, it doesn’t matter if you do not get to 50,000 words and it doesn’t really matter if what you write is complete and utter drivel, but as long as you get words onto paper then you at least have a chance. And whether it is 5 words or 500 words, you are still in a better position than you were when you first started. And sometimes, that’s all that matters in that day.

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NaNoWriMo 2017 and Preptober

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and is a non-profit organisation that wants to encourage people to write a novel. You have the entire month of November to write 50,000 words…so I thought I’d give it a try.

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I have always loved writing but I will admit that it has been quite a while since I wrote anything fiction. The closest I get to writing these days is this blog, and let’s be fair I’ve been pretty sporadic with my posts lately. I think it’s because work is always so busy and life itself is just so hectic it can sometimes be hard to motivate yourself to do these little creative projects. So I have gone into NaNoWriMo as a complete newbie. Fresh meat. Or…fresh Tofu as I should say!

When it comes to writing for NaNoWriMo there are two types of people: Pantsers and Planners. Planners are those writers who have an entire scene by scene set up for the start of November, who know exactly how their story is going to go and how it is going to end. Pantsers on the other hand are writers who have nothing but a few ideas and their imagination to guide them once November 1st hits. Now I have always been a bit of a Pantser when it comes to my writing: I would write because I felt inspired in that moment to write a story, and can not remember the last time I actually FINISHED a story. So I have decided to become a Planner for the first time in forever…I have a notebook and everything! I even went so far as to colour code my story by main character perspective. How shmancy am I?!

The main reason I wanted to write about this is to let you guys know why I may be a bit quiet for a while in November. But also, and probably most importantly, I wanted to let all of you who read this know about NaNoWriMo. It doesn’t cost anything and if nothing else it should be a load of fun to just write a novel. Set yourself the challenge and finish that novel you always thought about writing. I have also seen just how social it makes people: Every area has it’s own ‘territory’ of writers and they run Write Ins and Plan Days throughout November, where writers of all backgrounds and walks of life can get together and just talk about writing…get some feedback, share ideas and just enjoy being creative with like-minded people…just for fun!

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While there are no real prizes at the end of the month, you will leave the process with at least two things: A brand new novel (or at least the start of a new one) and maybe even a new found love for writing in general. In this day and age, when there is so much bad stuff in the news and in our minds, I want to use NaNoWriMo as a way of showing everyone that there can always be joy in a good book…especially one that your wrote yourself and could even lead to inspiring others to write their own too!

So what do you say? See you at a Write In soon! ❤

T xx

The little things in life

Every day at work, at around 12.30pm, one of the council street cleaners will do her round outside of my office where I currently work. She pushes her cart, sweeps up old cigarette butts and crisp packets, before taking a 5 minute breather on the park bench. At around 12.45pm, the man I can only assume is her husband comes strolling out from one of the side streets with the tiniest and most excited pug puppy I have ever seen. The pug pulls his owner over to the lady, who meets him with almost equal excitement, and they have a little walk around the green patch of scenery close by, sit down, and have a little lunch break together.

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I have watched them enough times while I am waiting for my documents to print or for certain files to finish copying, that I have their routine down. I am very much a people watcher – leave me at a little coffee shop with a massive mug of tea, my book and a nice window seat and I could happily spend my day there watching the many passers by go about their business. It is one of my little pleasures in life, and one I wish I could do more. Plus, I genuinely believe that a proper cup of tea can cure all ailments…so that always helps!

The last couple of months have been pretty stressful for me for a whole array of reasons and while I sat watching the little pug bounce happily around his owners’ boots, I began wondering if it would ever be possible to be as happy as that little doggo. I feel that this is something that has been left off of the curriculum at schools: How to be happy. More importantly, how to be happy wherever you may be in life. Yes I may be 25, and as far as society is concerned I am a fully functioning adult that should be more than capable of looking after myself. In reality, I am not…or at least I don’t feel like an adult. I still live at home with my parents, I’m still on their car insurance and I have only very recently finished my education and managed to get my foot onto the career ladder of my choice. All the while I have my peers – or worse, the younger generation – working in high flying jobs for better pay, with their own mortgages and living the life that I at 16 thought I should be living at 25.

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However, every now and again I am reminded that life is short: With all the horrible things going on in this world from terrorist attacks, mass shootings and the threat of nuclear war, I am reminded that time is fleeting. My first 25 years have flown by and I already feel like I wasted so much of it worrying about things that did not even deserve a minute of my attention. Who cares if my hair is getting frizzy? Why do I care if I look tired or have bags under my eyes? Last night I stayed up until midnight (for the first time in months may I add) and watched a movie with my Dad, eating biscuits and candy and laughing about the events of Geordie Shore. Was I tired the next day? Ashamedly so. Did I regret my choice? Hell no. The little things in life, as cliche as it sounds, really will become the most important things.

So this is my message to you, lovely few of you who will read this, or stumble across it late at night by accident: Enjoy the little things. So what if your thighs are a little bit thick?! Revel in the fact that your legs are strong enough to carry you wherever you need to go. So what if your hair is super untame and won’t style right? When you’re 80 with thinning grey hair you will long for the wild locks of your youth. Ignore the negativity that other people will try to force on you because at the end of the day, the only person you need to impress is you. You are the only person you will have to live with every second of every day for the rest of your life, so you might as well learn how to love the little things that make you special.

Let me know what makes you guys grateful. What little everyday things make your day infinitely better?

Should Photoshop be illegal?

In recent years there has been a lot of controversy around the use of digital enhancement software: The main issue of debate tends to focus on the fashion industry, as it is argued that magazines and editorial shoots gives young people an unrealistic and, in many cases, dangerous expectation of how their bodies should look. But it does raise an important question, as to when – and if ever – digital enhancement is necessary.

Why use it?

For most people in the creative industries, photo-manipulation is a basic tool in every trade. You can use it to make photos stand out more by making certain colours pop while other colours are muted; It allows you to ‘revamp’ images over the years to keep up with the changing industries; it also allows you to perfect every image that you take by allowing you to remove blemishes, straighten out lines, level the contrast and so on. The possibilities really are rather limitless as you can essentially make any image you have into a completely new and maybe even completely different picture. Furthermore, photo-manipulation is not an easy task: Besides from needing a very steady hand and a keen eye for detail, you also need heaps of patience to be able to sit and stare at the same pixel images for many hours at a time while you work on a particular project. This means that the more you practice, the better you get, and if you are someone who wants to work in a creative industry, these skills are invaluable.

Does it really show skill?

On one hand, it does take a certain level of skill to manipulate a photo: Even if you are simply adjusting the colour ratios of a photo, you must still have at least a basic understanding of the software as well as an understanding of photo composition. However to some extent, it almost doesn’t matter if the photo you have taken is completely pants if you have the knowledge to manipulate the original into something artistic. On the other hand, can you still deem yourself an ‘artist’ or a ‘photographer’ if you need to rely on software to make your photo great?

Does it create false expectations?

One of the universal truths of modern day society is that when you compare yourself to other people, you are undoubtedly going to become sad and disappointed with what you have in life. This is made worse when the pictures you are looking at are not the entire truth of that person’s life, nor is it an accurate representation of society as a whole: As beautiful as celebrities can be and as flawless as the Victoria Secret models are, the majority of photos taken of them are then manipulated to look more appealing than they are. The time old story of ‘sex sells’ means that we are more likely to pay attention to a beautiful body than we are to the sight of your average person, even though the average person is an attainable role model to have. In recent years, fashion companies such as Dior have even banned super skinny models in their cat walks, so why are we not banning them in photographs?

The dangers?

To begin with, super skinny models only add to the stereotype that in order to be considered ‘beautiful’ you have to weigh as little as possible. This is not only bad for society, where the percentage of people with eating disorders is gradually rising every year, but it is also bad for the industries that condone them, as it almost suggest that they care about making money more than they care about the people who sell their clothes for them. It also portrays an image that the people in modelling campaigns are the ‘normal’ people of society, and it is everyone else who looks bizarre, when it reality it is the opposite way around. But not only do these people already have incredible bodies (simply because they work out, eat healthy and, mostly, because it is literally their job to look stunning) but then editors set to work to exaggerate the images more: legs get longer, skin gets smoother, lips become fuller, muscles get more defined, until we see an image that is not only a poor representation of society, but a bad representation of that model as a person, as though the hours they have spent in the gym and all that clean eating was pointless because a piece of software s what makes them look flawless in the end.

The upside?

Photo manipulation can be hours upon hours of fun and since the software is still surprisingly new, it is very hard to become a master of it. The software is constantly developing and improving and as such so are the skills that come along with it. It also is now becoming a sought after skill in the creative industry, with more and more employers wanting at least a basic understanding of photo manipulation software. It stands to reason that there is a clear need for it in society otherwise why such a high demand for the skill within the workforce? It could even be argued that photo manipulation is an art form in its own right, as it combines many different disciplines, while still requiring an in-depth knowledge of them all in order to create an image that is new and striking.

So what do you think? Is it really necessary in an artistic world, or is it doing more damage then it’s worth? Let me know 🙂

T xx

 

Jaws: Book vs Film

I’m sure I speak for everyone when I say that Jaws was a damn good movie. I saw it for the first time when I was about ten and I don’t think I took another bath ever again: Literally any body of water that I could submerge myself in was a no-go for fear of shark attack. I was ten…leave me alone. Recently in a little charity store I found the book of Jaws by Peter Benchley, and I have noticed quite some stark differences in them both.

SPOILER ALERT IN PLACE.…if you have not seen Jaws, or wish to read the book, do not read further!

1. The people

In the book, the most appealing character of the whole story is the shark. The people of Amity are seriously xenophobic: Anyone that is not from Amity is simply there for money-making. The whole town relies on the summer tourists visiting the town and the beach so much that everyone there has to struggle through the winter to afford to stay in a relatively expensive seaside town. The houses are all rented out to summer folk, businesses hike up prices, and the main beach is opened to attract everyone even though there’s a man-eating shark around. The town is also pretty corrupt: There is only one journalist who runs the local newspaper, and he is best friends with the chief of police and the Mayor. The Mayor is also funded, it turns out, by some New York mobsters before they invested so much

Even the main characters are pretty nasty people. In the film, the main characters are pretty likeable: Brody is your run-of-the-mill chief of police, keen on public safety and a loving relationship with his happy wife and happy children. In the book, he is blunt, old fashioned and, most of the time, drunk. His wife, Ellen, is bitter, yearning for her younger years of rich friends and socialite lifestyle. Hooper is a cocky and womanising young man, who’s arrogance is almost as high as his IQ. The only character is somewhat endearing in his unlike-ability is Quint, the aged shark hunter, and only because he makes no apologies for who he is: He knows he’s a bit of work, but owns it.

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2. The affair

One of the main things that the film doesn’t cover is the affair between Hooper and Ellen Brody. Having known each other as upper class children, Ellen begins to fantasise about having a fling with Hooper. He is everything that she feels she left behind when she chose to marry Brody and live in Amity: rich lifestyle, fancy dinners, big social events, and a high profile name. Hooper doesn’t say no, but throughout the book Hooper is simply your generic rich-kid: He is used to not being told what to do and so very rarely will do what is needed. He and Ellen, while it only lasts for one night, go about their affair with blatant disregard for Brody. But at the same time, Brody is such a detached husband you almost can’t really blame Ellen for wanting someone more attentive. In the end, the very brief fling makes Ellen realise how lucky she is to have Brody and how much she does love him. Plus…well it’s not like the affair could continue…

3. The deaths

While the film hit most of the key deaths – the opening scene is quite possibly iconic in the horror world – the book has a few extra ‘deaths’ that the film played on slightly. In the book, the only deaths that are really talked about are, obviously, the very first attack on Christine Watkins and then the death of little Alexander Kintner. Every other death is only simply guessed upon: When Ben Gardener fails to communicate with base while he is out on his boat, people assume he has been eaten. The fact that no body is ever found also convinces everyone that he has been eaten by the huge shark. In the film, the floating severed head coming out of the boat sort of confirms that he is absolutely shark-meat, but the book seems to try and high light how paranoid the little town is becoming. Furthermore, even when the main characters die – Hooper is actually bitten in half by the shark when he is in the shark cage, and Quint is dragged under the water and drowned when his foot gets tangled up in a harpoon rope – you don’t really acre that they’ve died. If anything, I was almost proud of the shark for ending the lives of such horrible characters.

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4. The shark itself

The book did a wonderful job of making the shark seem like the innocent victim in the situation. He is just a fish, surprisingly clever for a ‘mindless predator’, who is simply just trying to have some dinner and survive. The attitudes in the book highlight just how old the book really is: Written in 1974 the book plays hugely off of the general scariness of sharks. In modern day, and most likely due to the huge success of the film, more and more people are realising that sharks are not mindless killers, that they have intricate and complicated lives that we are still learning about to this days. The solitary lifestyle is something that the book plays on, making it seem that this fish has picked this little town to terrorise. In reality, sharks very rarely attack people, and of these attacks few are ever fatal. When it comes to sharks it is having respect for the sharks home: Don’t swim near seals, if attacked/if a shark gets to close punch it on the nose, or stay close to shore within sights of a life guard. The book (and to some extent the film) is very old fashioned in its view that sharks are nothing but viscous predators, but to some extent that’s what made this book so enjoyable to read.

Final thoughts?

The book is a great read: Story aside Peter Benchley writes in such a way that you can not put the book down. Even just reading about a dinner party he can create tension so thick that you need to keep reading to find out what horrible thing happens. The book constantly puts the reader on edge and has you reading way into the early hours of the morning because you just can’t tear yourself away from it. The film is also excellent: I don’t think I would have researched sharks as much as I have done over the years if not for this film scaring the absolute pants off me when I was 10. Both do an excellent job of telling the same story, but simply with different end goals in mind: The film wants you to cheer for Amity, while the book wants you to cheer for the shark.

Which version did you guys prefer? Let me know in the comments below and follow me for more comparisons! 

T xx

The importance of Pride

So this weekend was PRIDE weekend in London…and I feel it needs to be celebrated! July is also PRIDE month, and it is also something I feel very strongly about. I feel it’s important to acknowledge how far our society has come and how it has changed over the years.

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First off, I would like to clear the air of something: I am not gay, nor do I really fall anywhere on that spectrum of sexuality. At least, I wouldn’t say I would. I am pure hetero and so while PRIDE does not hold as significant a place in my own being, I am very proud to live in a society where everyone is welcome and where love is, quite simply, love. I do not believe that people ‘need’ labels but I also appreciate that many people like to have labels as a way of identifying themselves. Being the lovey dovey ball of equality that I like to think I am, as long as you are happy and you are healthy, then keep on doing you!

The power of PRIDE

It is no secret that the LGBT community (lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans) have had a very rough time of things throughout history: In some parts of the world this is still seen, where those who are gay are seen as ‘sinful’, ‘unnatural’ and even ‘disgusting’ by some societies and cultures. However, as people became more understanding and more accepting of these different sexual orientations, society as a whole began to view them in a new light. PRIDE is a way for society to celebrate how much has changed and every year these changes are becoming more and more plentiful. Granted, it may be a slow process at times, but as long as we continue moving forward then we are moving in the right direction!

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Why is this important?

I am a strong believer that people should never feel embarrassed or ashamed of who they are as a person. I only have two rules when it comes to sexuality: 1) It must be legal and 2) there must always be consent. Granted, these two things go hand in hand…if there is no accepted consent, then this is can not be legal, and that is when I have a problem with it. I am all for self-expression and self-discovery and I appreciate that this is not always a quick process. I am a very open-minded person and (I like to think) I do not judge people based on what their sexual preference is: You like whips and chains? Go for gold. You want to wait for marriage? Good on you! You want to dress up as a giant panda and have sex with other people dressed as foxes and badgers? You do you Boo. I believe that this is important to acknowledge because, whether we like to admit it or not, our sexual orientation makes up quite a large part of our identity and is something that should be talked about more in society. I am not saying we need to have sit down, in depth discussions about what everyone likes done to them in the bedroom, but I also don’t think that people shouldn’t celebrate their love simply because it is not considered the societal norm of the time.

PRIDE is also important because it helps to celebrate something that is very rarely seen in the news: Love. Pure and simple love. The news is always full of such horrible and depressing stories that it can be hard to see any good in the world half the time, and the media like to create panic and fear in society, because then we continue to buy papers and listen to the news so we can see if these things will ever end. But I think PRIDE allows everyone, in every nation and (mostly) every country, to celebrate all that we have in common with each other rather than the differences. I may not understand what it is like to be attracted to someone of the same gender, but I do understand love. I understand, in my hopeless romantic way, that everyone has someone out there for them and that should never be forgotten.

Can we progress more?

Absolutely. Society is always changing and with every new generation there is more discussion about what it means to be human. In recent years, the discussion around gender especially is becoming more and more prominent in society. The idea of being ‘gender fluid’ or even ‘gender less’ is no longer such an abstract concept, because we now live in a society where ‘boy things’ and ‘girl things’ are becoming more intertwined. One of the ways society lately is accepting this concept was when the MTV Movie Awards did away with ‘Best Actress’ and simply had ‘Best Actor’, even more fitting that Emma Watson who founded the HeForShe campaign won it for her role in ‘Beauty and the Beast’!

Image result for emma watson mtv gifsG’warn girl!

Final thoughts

What I would like to say to everyone, is that you should never be ashamed of who you are. I wish I had learnt this lesson when I was younger because it would have helped me avoid some truly horrific years of self-loathing and bad habits. Love should always be celebrated and no matter who it is that you love, celebrate that! I also don’t mean love in the strict romantic term, as one of my ‘Great Loves’ is actually my best friend! Love each other, and treat each other with understanding, respect and an open mind. Treat everyone how you would hope to be treated, and if peop

 

le can not do that for you, then you don’t need those kinds of people in your life.

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What does PRIDE mean to you? Let me know in the comments, and follow me for more discussions and debates.

T xx

Does gore still mean scary?

In modern day pop culture, it seems that if something is ‘gory’ then it will automatically be ‘scary’. But is this really true?

I will be the first to admit that I am a pretty squeamish person: I passed out twice just getting my ears pierced so you can imagine what I’m like around actual blood! But that being said, I don’t find blood ‘scary’ as such. I don’t have nightmares about blood rivers down corridors, or get freaked out by Red Weddings (well, I do but not for this reason!). Grossed out, sure…scared? Not so much.

Image result for horror film gifsScary, or just plain gross?

Why is blood considered scary?

For one thing, having an actual phobia of blood is one of the most common phobias around so this may be why horror movies, scary games and Halloween costumes have relied so heavily on it to be a scare tactic. No one really knows why it’s a phobia (early childhood trauma or just something on the inside now being on the outside?) but with so many people affected by it, it is a very easy tactic to go for. Plus, it’s relatively easy to make fake blood: Any costume shop will have a fake blood pack, or failing that you can find a simple recipe online that can save you a couple of quid.

Does it still work?

Personally, I don’t find blood scary. As i said before, it grosses me out but it doesn’t scare me. Most of my friends when asked this question, they agree that blood is gross rather than scary. The reason most people don’t want to watch ‘slasher’ films is because the blood makes them feel queasy, and most chances you spend your time waiting for the gore to be over rather than paying attention to the story. Now I will admit that in some cases, blood can help a movie: The very first Saw for example, was amazing! It had the right amount of gore to keep you interested as well as lending to the story arch of increasing desperation. But everyone can agree that as the franchise went on, it became more focused on how imaginative the deaths were rather than whether it actually add to the story.

Have we become desensitised?

I like a good horror film, but I love a bad horror film. On Netflix, Amazon Prime, even some TV channels, they all have a wonderful selection of B-Class horror movies. Story aside (if there even is a story) the ‘horror’ aspect of it is normally nothing more than blood and guts. But these days, it almost seems the aim to make the gore so shocking that it is laughable…the more blood used in a death scene and the funnier it seems to become. And i don’t mean funny in a ‘haha jokes’ I mean…it is just laughable in it’s absurdity. But are we becoming desensitised to this type of ‘violence’ or is it simply because it is so over the top we automatically know that this can not be real? While blood is far more common in all films these days (especially those with some sort of violence), we as a society seem pretty sturdy when it comes to blood and guts. However because we are so used to seeing blood even in our TV shows, horror movies now have to go above and beyond with the ‘gore factor’ in order to truly scare us. It seems that most horror movies theses days though are aiming to be so outlandish that they’ll become cult classics, or have to steer clear of blood all together to even be taken seriously in the franchise.

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What makes for the best horror?

While we all watch a film to see something that is very different to our normal everyday  lives, the joy of horror movies is that they all try to play on the reality: These movie scenes have to convince us that they can happen in real life in order for us to be scared of them in the first place. The more camp the horror, the less likely we are to be scared of it. Some of the best horror films (at least, the best in my opinion) are the ones that play on our reality in order to make us fear that what we have just seen could very well happen to us.

How do you guys feel about gore in horror films? Let me know in the comments, and recommend your favourite for me to watch this weekend!

If you liked this article, please have a look at some of my other articles and make sure to subscribe and follow me!

T xx

Veganism: Common questions answered

 

Before I went vegan, I had a whole heap of health problems: I was constantly tired, always exhausted, my skin was terrible and I had so many issues with my stomach it became the norm to just be in pain with it. I was vegetarian for 7 years prior, but only after cutting out diary and eggs did all of my health problems more or less fix themselves. Yet despite my vast health improvements, my mental improvements and my overall happiness, I am always greeted with the same responses whenever I tell someone that I’m vegan. So I thought I would share these with you, and how I combat them.

Image result for vegan gifsIn case you didn’t know…this ^^^ is meant in sarcasm 😉

“Where do you get your protein?”

This is one of the most common questions that vegans are asked. All of a sudden, people become very concerned with the amount of protein that you are eating as there seems to be the understanding that ‘protein deficiency’ is something very common. It isn’t. In most cases, protein deficiency is not a real thing: Yes you can have low levels of protein, but the only way you can truly become protein deficient is when you are deficit in EVERYTHING else, or in other words, are seriously malnourished or starving. In modern day society, the only reason a person would be lacking protein is because they are not eating enough of the right thing: Beans, tofu, lentils, even certain types of vegetables have enough protein in them to meet your daily targets.

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“But our ancestors ate meat…”

Yes…meat that they hunted down and killed with their bare hands, used the skins for their clothes, and lived in caves…it’s a bit different. Your ancestors also believed that the Earth was flat, that women aren’t people and that blacks should be the slaves of white people. Your ancestors lived in times where food was scarce, where foraging for their next meal was all that they spent their time doing and would normally eat more fruit and veg than meat for the most part (mostly because berries don’t fight back when you grab them). Your ancestors didn’t let women vote until 1918, but that was only if they were over 30. Your ancestors also believed that university was for the super rich, and that the idea of premarital sex was punishable by flogging, whipping and stoning. Your ancestors didn’t think that marital rape was a crime until around the 1960s. Your ancestors, quite literally, are monkeys. When I hear this excuse I can’t help but laugh, because just as everything else in history has changed, so will our attitudes towards animals and the environment change.

Related imageOh Scott Pilgrim ❤

“But if we didn’t eat cows, they would overrule us”

I like this idea that all of the cows in the world are currently planning world domination, and are waiting for us to stop eating them to begin the uprising. It’s hilarious! I just picture cows in factory farms with little blueprints, planning Mission Impossible style. In reality, veganism is not a movement that will enact change overnight: No change has ever had effects overnight. Veganism is the gradual movement to a cruelty free lifestyle, and as such is something that will gradually over time become more normalised. Due to this, factory farms will get smaller and smaller as the demand for meat slowly declines, and as such not as many animals will be bred to keep up with these demands.

“But if you lived on a desert island, would you eat animals?”

This is another one of those unrealistic scenarios. If I am ever unfortunate enough to end up on a desert island with NOTHING to eat but a pig, yes I would eat it, as a matter of survival…as would every single other person in that situation! But how did the pig get there? Are there berries or fruits on the island that the pig has been eating that I could eat? How am i going to kill the pig? Am I supposed to wrestle it to the floor and rip it apart with my bare hands? Do I have a knife? Can I make a spear? How did I end up on this island, by myself, with no other means off of the island, with no supplies ANYWHERE to be found? This is one of those situations where context is key: Am I on a desert island now? No? Oh…well are there thousands of other alternatives to eating animal products? Oh there are…hmm…I think i’ll go the most harmless route then.

“So do you believe in complete freedom?”

Now this is a rare one, but the fact that I’ve been asked this at all baffles me. Why is this asked as though this is a bad thing?! The thing about being vegan is that it is a lifestyle choice rather than a diet: I didn’t go on this diet to lose weight (I actually think I’ve put on weight thanks to the yummy vegan chocolate and junk food I can find!) but rather to live a life that spoke to me. I went vegan so that my actions coincide with my ideology. If you want to read a bit more about this, I wrote a previous blog post about why I went vegan so feel free to have a little browse of that too! In short, you can tell a lot about a person by what they eat and as far as I have noticed, all vegans I have met are wonderfully open minded individuals who just have a lot of love to give and have a lot of care to show the world. I have also noticed them to be genuinely very happy and go-lucky people, who take everything in their life as a new experience that they are grateful for. And if that makes me a weirdo for believing in that kind of lifestyle, then I think I can live with that.

In summary…

Simply put, we are all living in a society where veganism is no longer this weird and hippy-ish ideology…it’s cheaper, it’s healthier, it’s good for your conscious and it is now SUPER easy to live a cruelty free lifestyle, without really having to think about it. No matter what your reasons though, I would like to mention that just with this, as with all things in our world, education is the KEY to success. There are hundreds of amazing resources out there to help educate you on animal agriculture, your health and your mental well being, and even if they don’t convince you to try veganism, you’ll have definitely learnt something new…which is never a bad thing!

If you have thought about going vegan or even have some questions about it, feel free to ask away! Also, I’m trying to get into the flow of writing more often so if you want to keep up to date with me, subscribe! I would like that rather a lot 🙂

T xx

How going vegan changed my life

No hyperbole intended…But it’s true. I have been vegan now for about 1 and a half years, and I am still learning new things every day. I am in no way, shape or form the ‘perfect vegan’ and I think that’s what makes this whole life style so exciting. So if you have ever thought about trying it, even for a few weeks or a month, here are some things that helped me make the decision and, most of all, stick to it!

1. My health

Anyone who really knows me will know that I have always had problems with my stomach. Countless trips to A&E, meetings with doctors and at one point I even tried alternative medicine practises to diagnose what my problems were. My stomach would cause me so many sleepless nights, from intense pain to constant discomfort for weeks at a time, but since going vegan these occurrence are few and far between. While I still do not have a definitive answer as to what the issue is (IBS? Hormone imbalance? Endometriosis? Chronns? Food allergies?) there is no doubt that switching to a plant based diet has helped lessen the symptoms dramatically!

Furthermore, my health in general is way better. I sleep better: I no longer wake up feeling tired and slugish, or wake up multiple times at night. I have more energy to do things: Recently I’ve started hitting the gym at 6am, heading to work for 9, rushing around all day until 5pm and then still having the energy to go for a long walk in the evenings before I cook my dinner and settle down for the night. I’m also a better runner, in that I feel my body is less achey after a hard gym session, my legs don’t feel as heavy when I run, and while I’m still not at my ideal level of fitness, having a stable plant based diet has undoubtedly helped me along that journey.

Furthermore, my diet is better because, quite frankly, most junk food isn’t suitable to vegans. Next time you go to a shop, pick up a bag of sweets, or a chocolate bar or even a can of soup and you will see that they almost all contain some sort of milk ingredient. Due to this, no matter how good that chocolate cake may look, when you have learnt all that I have about the diary and egg industries, the cake really doesn’t seem worth it at all. When I want to buy quick and easy food now (such as ready meals or microwavable foods), I have to really think about the food I am buying and normally, if I have to think that long about it, I don’t really want it to begin with! Plus, with all of the amazing alternatives being created every day, I am still able to enjoy all of my favourite comfort foods but in a way that causes the least amount of damage to our planet.

2. My appreciation for food

Now this may just be me, but I swear food tastes so much better now I’m vegan. Also, food just looks nicer. Every plate is bright with colours, smells amazing and tastes so much richer than any meaty meals I had in the past. Even when I was vegetarian, food didn’t look as inviting as it does now that I’m vegan. Now this may be simply because I am eating a much more varied diet of fruit, vegetables, tofu, lentils and nuts (to name but a few) but I just feel that vegan meals look so much more inviting than other diets out there.

I also have a better understanding of food. I have not always had the healthiest relationship with food, but since going vegan I feel I have gotten to understand food, nutrition and even my own body more. I am almost at the point where I can work out the exact food that it is craving, to the point I actually look forward to coming home and having a huge bowl of carrots and broccoli, or a nice cold smoothie. I now understand that calories are not necessarily all there is when it comes to food: Peanuts may be high in calories, but they are the super good fat that I need to get through a morning, and while bananas may be high calorie, they are the perfect way to stop my sore muscles from aching at the gym. Food not only looks and tastes better, but I also no understand how to nourish my body and how to eat in a balanced and healthy manner.

3. I feel like a better person

Now I am in no way saying that I am a better person when compared to others: I don’t think meat eaters are barbaric, or all a bunch of idiots, just as I don’t believe that all vegans are angelic activists. I feel that I am a better person when I look back at how I used to be as a person, which I think also shows how I no longer try to compare myself to others or try to appease other peoples desires: I am living my life in a way that is ideal for me, as an individual. I am able to live my life knowing that I am acting in a way that fulfils ME, that fulfils MY needs for MYSELF and allows ME to be the kind of person I wanted to be growing up.

I have always loved animals and the environment, and even though I went vegetarian at 16, it wasn’t until I was 21 that I finally started to understand the gap in my logic: I love animals, yet would cause them pain and suffering just by eating eggs. I am against oppressive and exploitative practices, yet still drank milk every morning with my tea. I feel as though I live a life that is now in line with all of my beliefs and that in itself is a very empowering feeling.

Now I’m not saying it isn’t tough sometimes: vegan junk food may be hard to find on a daily basis but it is not exactly impossible to find. Crisps, vegan chocolate bars and now sorbets and ice creams are all becoming more and more readily available, to the point I am probably eating more food than half of my friends! By understanding my food more, I now understand the difference between nice sugar (oranges, apples, kiwis etc) and bad sugar (vegan cakes, soy milkshakes, plant based candy) so that now when I want chocolate, I know that I really want chocolate, rather than just because it was convenient.

Still not convinced?

I am in no way saying that this should be a snap decision, as just with every lifestyle choice, it can be done wrong. The good thing about living in this day and age is that information is at the end of our fingertips no matter where we are and I believe veganism has taught me the importance of self-education. There are hundreds upon thousands of vegans in the world, and most of them are very lovely and encouraging individuals. Join a facebook group of vegans to get inspiration and motivation, follow vegan youtubers for yummy food ideas, google the animal agriculture business and learn about the industry on a deeper level than it’s advertising campaign. There is so much information out there that I know for a fact that I will NEVER know everything there is to know, but that’s what makes this entire life style so much more exciting. If in doubt, I find this little quote always gets me through:

Image result for dumbledore quotesDumbledore always came through with the nuggets of wisdom

If you guys have any questions then by all means ask away and I will be more than happy to help…or at least point in the direction of someone who knows more! 

T xxx

 

 

Easiest ways to help the planet

While this post is technically a day late, I thought it would be a good time to right a list of everything you can do on a daily basis to help protect the Earth. Whether you chose to believe in global warming or not, there is no doubt that our planet is not in a good state: Ocean temperatures are rising, coral reefs are being bleached into obscurity and the amount of pollution we are producing is not a maintainable standard of life. Therefore, in honour of Earth Day 2017 here is a list of how to be kinder to our planet.

Image result for earth quotes

Recycling

This is probably one of the easiest ways in which you can lessen your impact on the Earth. In 2015, the EU made it mandatory to separate out all recyclable waste from normal rubbish, and for the most part it is pretty easy. But why is it good for the environment? For the most part, rubbish that is not recyclable just ends up in a land fill where it can be burned, but is usually just packed into the ground. Everywhere has their own method of dealing with it, but these are the most common solutions. Obviously, land fills are bad news: They are dirty, contaminating and not to mention a complete eye sore for anyone who happens to live near one. It’s not nice to look at and it is just using our earth as a dumping ground for all of our unnecessary stuff.

Recycling on the other hand allows us to reuse the things we need to throw away: In most cases, recyclable products such as plastic bottles, paper and tin cans can all be melted down to create new tin cans, new water bottles, and in some cases even make handbags, notebooks and shoes. By doing this, we can create a maintainable resource as we do not have to continually cut down trees to make new paper, nor do we have to make room in our countryside for unnecessary landfills. It is kinder on the planet, and a more resourceful way of making our products so that we don’t have to worry about the future of our planet every time we buy a bottle of water.

For more facts about recycling and it’s benefits, have a look at this!

Reusable items

Something that links on to the above point is the use of reusable items: Water bottles, coffee cups, thermos flasks…the list can be endless and for most part of relatively cheap alternatives to buying one every day. Plastic water bottles are surprisingly expensive, especially when you can drink the tap water for free in almost every part of the world. Why spend £1 every time you need a bottle of water, when you can spend £5 and have a bottle readily available to fill up throughout the day as and when you need to. Personally, I drink a lot of water anyway but when it’s hot or I’m out and about a lot seeing friends or running errands, having a bottle of water on hand in my bag is a genuine money saver and life saver.

You can also do the same with reusable coffee cups: Most disposable ones are not recyclable, so if you buy a Starbucks or Costa coffee every morning on your way to work, then it is definitely worth investing in a nice, sturdy, washable travel mug that you can reuse each morning. You can pick up pretty good ones for about £3 or less on ebay, and they can come in so many pretty colours your main concern will be choosing your favourite!

Diet

It has long been known that red meat has been linked to climate change, but how so? Well, aside from the animals rights side of things, raising animals for food requires massive amounts of land, food, energy, and water. In a report by the Worldwatch Institute, 51% (at least!) of global greenhouse-gas emissions are caused by animal agriculture. Furthermore, most deforestation is caused by the demand for animal rearing land, where large areas of the rain forest are being cut down to make room for even more farmed cows to be raised and slaughtered. With less trees, more CO2 is released into the air and thus causes a rise in climate change, as trees take the CO2 and convert it into oxygen during photosynthesis.

Therefore, if you care about the environment, it is advised to leave meat, especially red meat, off of your plate. This however is also not considering the impact that even fish, chicken and pork have on your health and the overall impact it has on the environment: Chickens may not be as gaseous as cows, but they still take a huge amount of land, water and food to raise them so that they can become food themselves. Over fishing is now a problem across the world, with many ecosystems being negatively effected by the amount of fish that we are taking from the sea. Many other species of marine life are also being killed by mistake, including whales, dolphins, turtles and sharks, all because we as a species have such a high demand for fish meat.

Needless to say, cutting out meat from your diet is a huge way you can combat climate change without even trying to and in this day and age where more and more people are realising the positive impacts a vegetable diet can have on their life and their environment, there are so many new and exciting replacements out there that can make going vegetarian or vegan a very easy and straight forward process. I, for example, have been vegan for about a year and a half now, and have saved around 2,269,326 litres of water, 1,526 sq. metres of forest, 4,960 of CO2 and 545 animal lives. Even if you don’t care all that much about animals, you can’t deny that just by cutting out meat from your diet you are combating huge amounts of climate change.

Have a look at this website to see how much you can save by switching to an animal free diet.

A few extra tips

Next time you buy a kitchen appliance, get one that is Energy Star-approved, and only plug in electrical equipment when you use it often: Don’t leave them on standby, or leave your phone charging all night long.

Skip the pre-rinse when using a dishwasher and only run it when full as this can save up to 7,300 gallons of water a year!

Buy local, plant-based food to cut back on the distance it has to travel from farm to plate, as this will in turn reduce the amount of emissions caused.

Doggy bags or composting are the way forward: only order or make as much food as you can eat in one sitting to prevent waste. If you happen to have leftovers, store them in a reusable glass or stainless-steel container and compost any inedible scraps. Compost can then be used to grow your own vegetables and thus teach you how to be self-sufficient and with less chemical pollution in our soil and our air.

Organise a clothes swap with friends or work colleagues, or even donate unwanted furniture and clothing to charities. This way your trash doesn’t end up in a landfill anywhere but rather can become another person’s treasure. Most cities have clothing bins, but most charity shops are happy to take any unwanted clothing, furniture, books and china (provided they are all clean and still usable!). If there is no chance anyone else would want it, why not get creative and turn those old jeans into a storage box, or that old knitted jumper into a comfy pillow or even a throw? The possibilities are endless!

As you can see, there are many ways that you can help lessen the impact we have on the environment, and with scientific and technological advances being made every day, we as a society should be focused on moving toward a sustainable and healthy way of living so that generations after us can enjoy all of the wonders that this world has to offer.

Image result for earth quotes

Do you guy have any environmental friendly tips too? I’d love to hear some other ideas!

T xxx