Adopt, Don’t Shop

It’s approaching Christmas time, and we all know how popular pets are to be given as gifts. I don’t often do serious posts but I feel this topic is important to write about.

Animals are amazing, and I’m sure my vegan readers out there will be agreeing with me. Pets bring life into your home. They become one of you with their personalities being known to you and the love you have for one another. They become a member of the family.

I never had pets when I was growing up as I was never allowed them, but when Tom and I moved in together, we took in his childhood dog, Max, from the family home. Max was not adopted by his parents but was a cheap buy back in the day! He was a gorgeous long haired border collie with a speckled ear and one eye patch. We sadly lost him 2 years ago, and my heart was in pieces. I still miss him terribly to this day.

Dog breeding is becoming a serious problem in the world. They’re being so heavily bred that they are starting to have serious genetic health problems, all just so that designer breeds such as pugs and frenchies exist for people to buy.

Every Christmas, numerous dogs are left on the streets and abandoned due to families not being able to take care of them or their expectations not being met. For me, this is no different to abandoning a child. It is not acceptable to bring someone into your home, only to leave them when it doesn’t suit you anymore.

Some shelters will euthanise animals due to the unmanageable numbers they receive which is horrendous and unfair. An animals life is not the decision of others which is why I urge you to re-home an animal instead of buying.

Sami

Sami was adopted by Tom’s mum and dad a few years ago after they found her roaming around Greece looking for scraps. She was a stray dog with fleas and matted fur. They took her to the local dog home, Animal Rescue Kefalonia, but couldn’t bare to leave her so started the adoption process. Sami joined us back in the UK only a few short weeks after and has slotted into the family.

Sami has so much love for everyone and has such a gentle demeanour. She’s well behaved with the backyard chickens, and has even been known to pick up their eggs gently without cracking them! She’s cheeky but soft and loving and we all love her unconditionally.

Ned

Ned is a feral cat that Tom’s sister, Hannah, adopted from a local rehoming centre. Like all cats, he’s incredibly independent but has had no issues settling into the family home. He’s a cheeky cat who snuck into his first pack of Dreamies and ate the entire bag! He gets along well with their Alsatian, Shadow, and is now an integral part to their family.

Even Lucy Watson, reality TV star from Made In Chelsea, has said previously that she regrets not rehoming her first 2 pets and has since re-homed a kitten.

Before you go out and search for pets, please strongly consider adopting and rehoming one. There are so many different homes and kennels where there are plenty of animals who require forever homes.

Here are just a few well known re-homing centres, but make sure you put in the research as there are plenty of them all over the UK!

The Cruelty Free Beauty Box Deluxe [October 2019]

Another 2 months has passed us by so it’s time for another run through of my latest delivery of the Deluxe Cruelty Free Beauty Box! I was lucky enough to win this box this month in their usual sharing giveaway. I was so chuffed.

If you want to read about the box before this, click here for the post. Previous posts can be found under the Beauty section.

As always, the box did not disappoint and had so many goodies that I cannot wait to try!

This months box contained the following:

  • My HairCare Rescue My Hair Hydrate Shampoo Bar (RRP £14)
  • Natura Pumpkin Sheet Mask (RRP £5.95)
  • Fairypants perfume (RRP £1.50)
  • Palm Bar Body Butter Bar (RRP £5)
  • Bellapierre Liquid Gold 24k (RRP £30)
  • Niu Body Glow Facial Serum (RRP £27.95)
  • Gardner’s Halloween Cookie (RRP £2)
  • Vegan Bunny Chai Latte Soy Candle (RRP £13)
  • Jeavon’s Rizo (RRP £2.75)

The total value of the Deluxe box comes in at £102.15 but will only cost you £39.95.

I’ve eaten the cookie and Rizo bar already and both were a dream. I haven’t had shortbread for a long time and the Gardner’s cookie was a delicious shortbread.

I’ve written about Natura products in various other blog posts I’ve written and I love the sheet masks. They’re a really lovely treat so I’m looking forward to using this pumpkin one.

My final favourite is the Vegan Bunny Chai Latte candle. I’ve actually bought Vegan Bunny candles off Etsy before, but not for myself! I’ve bought Christmas scented candles as stocking fillers for my family members and regretted not buying one for myself. The Chai Latte smell is incredible! I haven’t lit the candle yet but I can’t wait till I do!

I absolutely cannot recommend The Cruelty Free Beauty Box enough. They only send every 2 months which is more than enough for me, and every month is full of new and interesting treats. I adore The Deluxe box with the lifestyle treats. It’s so nice to receive new things that I’d never normally buy for myself or want to try.

Why I Became Vegan

So a more serious blog post this week… I’m going to share with you guys the reasons why I became vegan in the first place.

My vegan story isn’t your normal vegan story, but I’m sure many of you share a similar story.

I’ve been with my boyfriend, Tom, for nearly 6 years now and a year or so into our relationship, he started transitioning towards vegetarianism. This started with going pescatarian first (for those of you that don’t know, that’s eating only fish and no other meat) and the plan was to slowly move from that into veganism.

Before Tom went vegan, he was a big meat eater. He rejected salads, never tried houmous, and was a regular KFC customer. He abandoned his plan of slowly transitioning and went straight into veganism from pescatarianism. I remember when he told me, we were lying in bed and I cried. I told him it was an entire lifestyle change which he didn’t understand at the time but slowly realised.

My reaction was certainly over the top, but veganism wasn’t anywhere near as accessible as it is now. We went out for food a lot and I knew that eating out would become a struggle. Our supermarket shops took longer due to the research required into our ingredients lists, but we adjusted. We remained an omni household where I continued to eat meat. With Tom being the cook of the household, he cooked meat for me for a while until he said he didn’t want to anymore. From that moment, we became a primarily vegan household but I continued to eat meat outside of the home.

Tom had a knack for making people think. He didn’t do it on purpose, but he eventually got his entire family to transition to vegan. Even my sister went vegan before I did. In fact, we used to argue about the discussions we had and I asked him to stop speaking to me about veganism, which he did.

Documentaries started coming out such as What The Health and Cowspiracy. I still haven’t actually seen them, but the world started changing with the demand. More and more people were signing up to veganuary and with this demand, everything was becoming easier. Supermarkets and restaurants were offering more vegan options, veganism was finally becoming accessible!

I was sat on the sofa one day and turned to Tom and simply said, I’m going to go vegan. I wouldn’t say anything just switched, but I’d already made the majority of the way there with being vegan in the household. The only additional change at that point was to only eat vegan outside of the home which was really only at work.

With my clearer understanding of veganism, it just made the most sense. It may have taken me a few years to get there, but it was the best decision I’ve made. It’s not possible to argue with facts.

  • Veganism is better for the environment.
  • Veganism is better for your health.
  • Veganism is accessible.

For those of you who haven’t taken the plunge yet, or are planning to, make sure you educate yourself. I was fortunate to have Tom to help me and educate me, but it is an important life decision. You need to eat the right things to remain healthy and your journey will be eye opening.

Don’t worry about what people have to say either. This is your decision, not theirs! For those of you still with omni other halves, play the long game. They’ll get there through exposure, not pushing.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post and I hope it helps you.

I’m far from an expert on veganism, but if you have any questions or would like to know more about my experience, leave a comment!

Being a Vegan Wedding Guest: Issue 2

I had the absolute pleasure of being invited to Tom’s sister, Kate’s, wedding a few weeks ago which was an absolute dream. Her and David got married in Coed Y Mwstwr Hotel in Bridgend which is tucked away in Coychurch, and conveniently only down the road from us.

I’m close to Tom’s family and love them like my own so I had the luxury of being involved in so many parts of the wedding, but with little responsibility!

In this blog post, I’ll write about all the little vegan bits that were thought about and catered for.

The Night Before The Wedding

We were invited to the hotel for a family meal before the nuptials the next day in the hotel restaurant. There was a vegan menu available and we were given the menus to peruse in the lounge area of the hotel.

We ordered and were taken into the restaurant when they were ready for us. We all ordered Tempura Vegetables to start, most of us ordered the Cauliflower and Pea Curry and Tom’s mum ordered the Chickpea and Lentil Roast for mains. To finish, myself and Hannah ordered the Vegan Chocolate Brownie and everyone else ordered the Grilled Pineapple with vegan ice-cream.

The food was lovely and the service was great. The Vegetable Tempura starter was a big hit with everyone and something that I highly recommend. It was a lovely start to the weekend!

Tom and I then headed home, ready for the next day…

The Wedding Day

Tom and I had a lie in as the ceremony wasn’t until 2:30! We were lucky to have an early check in at the hotel so we were able to check in at 12 so we started getting ready and packing some bags ready for the day!

On the way to the hotel, we stopped off in Who Cult Coffee + Donuts on Bridgend Industrial Estate on request of the bridal party, so it was impossible to say no! It was the first time I had actually gone inside so I took some photos but I’ll write another post. Here’s an older post from when I originally tried their doughnuts.

We arrived at the hotel and ran a few errands with Hannah, Tom’s younger sister and Kate’s maid of honour. We checked in and went straight up so that I could finish getting ready. Once I was ready, I spent the morning with the bridal party, taking photos and tearing up at the sight of Kate in her wedding dress. She looked beautiful.

The ceremony was lovely and there was so much love in the room. It was so clear to see that Kate and David shared so much together and were meant to be. It was an honour to be a guest.

After a drink and photos, we were seated fo the wedding breakfast. The favours were seeds to plant to help encourage bees, so we’ll be making sure we do that!

The wedding breakfast provided by Coed Y Mwstwr catered for both vegans and omnis. Kate herself is a vegetarian so she had the vegan option also.

The vegan option was: Vegetable soup, Black Eyed Bean Bourginon and Vegan Chocolate Brownie with ice cream.

For those who are curious, the omni option was: Leek and Potato Soup, Turkey Roast and Cheesecake.

I didn’t rate the bourginon. The mashed potato was delicious and creamy and the veg was great, but the meat replacement I found to be plain and dry.

The vegetable soup was really delicious. I could have eaten a vat of it! Tom appreciated the croutons too. He said he’d never had croutons before which shocked me!

The chocolate brownie was the same as the previous night but was much nicer with the ice cream.

Remaining on the topic of food… Kate and David’s wedding cake was made by the incredibly talented Vic’s Vegan Bakes. The cake was absolutely stunning and was made of 3 tiers:

  • Red Velvet and Chocolate
  • Salted Caramel and Biscoff
  • Vanilla and Raspberry

Every tier was absolutely delicious. Everyone loved it and I don’t think they even knew it was vegan. Vic bakes amazing cakes and makes them look like an absolute dream! Check out her instagram for all the inspiration.

The evening buffet came out around 9:30pm and has various vegan options and a small section of the omnis too. I picked up a cucumber sandwich, vegetable spring rolls and wontons and potato wedges. Tom had spicy falafel which he loved and couldn’t stop eating.

In between all of this, Tom and I spent the evening dancing the night away, pulling out all of our best wedding dance moves and trying to get everyone we know up on the dance floor with relative levels of success.

The Day After The Wedding

We stayed the night at the hotel. The room was lovely but I didn’t find the bed particularly comfortable. I had very particular comfort needs but it was a nice stay and it was very quiet.

What I did love was that instead of a hanging door sign to indicate you don’t want to be disturbed, they had the cutest cuddly toy dogs! “Let Sleeping Dogs Lay”.

We were invited to join the bride and groom for breakfast at 9am. I never usually eat much in the morning so I only had a coffee and juice but there was lots of lovely fruit on offer as well as cereals. We were also provided with soy milk for teas and coffees. Everyone else ordered vegan breakfasts which from what I remembered had sausages, toast, hash brown and a grilled tomato.

A huge thank you to Kate and David for having us and making the day so special for everyone. Thank you for catering for us and including us in so much of your day!

Vegan Gift Guide

I know it’s early, but I’m going to mention the C word… Christmas!

I’m sure plenty of you (if you’re not vegan yourselves) have vegan relatives and friends that you don’t know what to purchase for.

I pride myself on being a good gift buyer. I pay attention to the people I love and note their needs for future reference. I won’t know your friends and families personally, but here are some shops and generic gifts that many vegans would be pleased to receive!

Holland and Barrett

H&B is a health shop that you can find on most high streets. H&B has so many vegan products available in their stores, including chocolate and snacks, as well as beauty items so it’s always worth popping in.

For Tom’s birthday recently, I popped in to pick up chocolate for him. They have a great range of vegan chocolate there which includes Vego and Nomo. He’s made his way through most of it now and loved it all.

My personal favourite was the Cocoalibre raspberry bar!

Lush

Those of you who are avid readers will know that I’m a fan of Lush. I usually stock up on bath bombs and bubble bars which I think make fantastic gifts for people during the holiday season.

Come Christmas time, Lush releases a whole range of Christmas gift boxes as well as individual items. Gift boxes are always a great gift as they usually give you a bit of everything. There are plenty of boxes to choose from so this isn’t specific to Christmas but I do love the Christmas boxes.

Another thing that Lush offers are knot wraps instead of boxes. This gives you the flexibility of choosing which items you’d like your receiver to have, including the design of the wrap.

Everything in Lush is labelled so make sure you pick vegan items. There is a clear distinction between the vegetarian and vegan items so if you’re not sure, ask the staff and I’m sure they’d be more than willing to help.

Ethical Superstore

When we start approaching the Christmas season, I like to take a visit to the Ethical Superstore online store. There’s usually lots of goodies and it’s really easy to filter for vegan items on their website.

My usual Christmas order will consist of chocolate for stocking fillers and there will always be some Booja Booja chocolates, usually for myself…

There are so many items available to browse and buy. Scented candles, clothes, bags, shoes, etc! Depending on who you’re buying for, there’ll be plenty of selection available.

Clothing

There are lots of vegan clothing brands that I’ve come across in my short time as a vegan with their appearances at various vegan events in Cardiff!

Viva La Vegan

Tom loves the Viva La Vegan range. There are plenty of t-shirts, hoodies and accessories to choose from. Their designs are simple and effective but here are so many designs and options to choose from that there’s bound to be something there.

I love that they also do badges, stickers and reusable items like tote bags and reusable cutlery! If clothing wasn’t what you were after, then these are great options too.

Wear Your Voice

Wear Your Voice have some truly beautiful designs for their clothing. It’s impactful but gorgeous. Their designs range from stunning animal drawings (which are designed by them and won’t be found anywhere else) to some more simple designs.

Eden Perfumes

We’ll finish this post off on Eden Perfumes. I’ve written about Eden Perfumes before in this blog post. They are based in Brighton and are completely vegan and cruelty free. They make so many different fragrances and there will be a cruelty-free and vegan version of your favourite there!

If you know someone who’s recently turned vegan or is transitioning over, Eden Perfumes will be a great alternative for their favourite perfumes. Lots of people forget about the need for cruelty-free and vegan cosmetics so this is also a friendly reminder, as well as a great gift!

If there’s anything you guys would like hints and tips on, please leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to help!

Birkenstock: Vegan Arizona

I’m an avid online shopper and whilst browsing ASOS a few months, I noticed that there was a vegan Birkenstock on their website!

What does this mean you may ask? Shoes aren’t vegan?

Well yes, some are. Leather and other animal products aside, the glues used in making shoes are often not vegan either so it’s something people will need to be mindful of.

Moving on… After finding this vegan Birkenstock on ASOS, I did a bit of digging and found that Birkenstock have an entire vegan, leather free range of their shoes (and in various colours!). Here is the link to the vegan product page on their website for those of you that are interested.

I added it to my ASOS saved list and was biding my time before I bought the sandals. Then one day, I happened to be looking through my saved list and noticed that the sandals had gone down from £60 to £48! I jumped on the opportunity and bought them.

Vegan Arizona Birkenstocks in Stone

My sister already had a pair of Birkenstocks and recommend that I buy them. She also recommended that I up-size so instead of a UK size 5, I purchased a UK size 6.

The shoes were clearly labelled vegan which was nice to see. The classic style was ever present and arrived in a streamlined box. I was excited to put them on!

The buckles allow the shoes to be tightened to fit your feet as comfortably as you’d like them. I originally had them a little looser and found them a little more difficult to walk in as my foot was sliding a lot. I’ve tightened them since!

They are the comfiest sandals that I have ever worn. The base is elevated at certain parts to mimic the contours of the foot. I actually have very flat feet and these contours are still very comfortable and I think improve my foot positioning.

I know they’re expensive, but I think they’re worth it. They’re a very comfortable Summer shoe and the style is so well known and popular that I don’t see them going out of style any time soon.

Have a browse on their website and see what’s there! You might find a style and colour that you love!

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of going to the Warner Bros Studio Tour in Watford, London with my lovely friend Emily as a treat to ourselves!

This was my second visit to the studio tours, having first visited 6 years ago in 2013!

So much has changed in those 6 years, and I won’t detail too much or post too many photos on this blog post because I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who was planning on visiting because it’s worth it. Emily and I were living our best lives and we absolutely loved it.

Vegan Food

To warn you all, the tour is a long one! There’s so much to see. Emily and I spent a good 4 hours there with a short lunch break, which takes me nicely onto this heading… Vegan Food.

I’m not gunna lie, the little restaurant wasn’t filled with vegan delights. I was pleased there was something though! Having a look at the menu, there were a few bits and bobs that were vegan and/or could be made vegan.

I chose to have the veggie hot dog made vegan and a bottle of coca cola. This came to a very pricey £11, but with no snacks and no where else to go, we didn’t have much choice.

It wasn’t great. It was incredibly average and I didn’t enjoy the burger bun change. I’m guessing due to the original bread being a brioche, it wasn’t vegan but the replacement was poor. The one positive is that the cutlery was vegware so was completely compostable!

If you’re planning a visit as a vegan, don’t have any expectations of food. If possible, you’re better off bringing in your own snacks and food to save yourself a pretty penny and to get something that tastes better.

On the plus side however, the gift shop sells some vegan dark chocolate options which included a dark chocolate wand (which I didn’t buy) and dark chocolate peppermint toads which are delicious!

The Tour

As mentioned, this was my second visit to the studios and it was completely different to the first time. Even the entrance has completely changed and the gift shop is so much bigger.

The queuing area was a bit longer but was filled with interesting prints on the wall to intrigue us as visitors and were perfect photo opportunities. There’s a little introduction with a few VTs before you get to the good stuff but it’s all worth the wait!

My favourite part of the tour by far was the Hogwarts Express. I remember they were building it when I visited 6 years ago and I was disappointed it wasn’t ready in time for our visit. Being on Platform 9 and 3/4 was an absolute dream.

One of the more recent and incredible additions was Gringotts Bank. Turning the corner after seeing how goblins were made and seeing Gringotts was such an incredible sight. It was spectacular.

For Harry Potter fans, this tour is a must! Tickets were £45 which might seem quite expensive, but in the grand scheme of everything you get to see, it’s a bargain.

In fact, I’ve been suffering from HP Tour blues since I’ve returned home so I’ve started re-watching the movies to bring me back some of that magic.