Tuesday, 25 February 2020

My favourite Vegan Mother's Day gifts ~ #EtsyAffiliate

I'm a big fan of Etsy and can happily spend hours browsing through their website for unusual artisan and vintage gifts and cards. I've bought my favourite vintage kitchenware there too! So I was delighted when Etsy got in touch about creating a Mother's Day ideas post showcasing my favourite finds. Etsy themselves have curated a Mother's Day Editor's Picks page with an interesting selection of beautiful creations, but, for my post, I want to draw your attention to a selection of finds especially suited to Vegan Mums:

All links here are affiliate links and Etsy is sponsoring this post. Click the images to visit their individual Etsy shop pages.

Happy Vegan Mother's Day Card
by For Vegans
Applewood Vegan Cheese Cutter
by Hoarder And Maker
I Love My Edamummy Card
by Studio Boketto 
Handmade Hazelnut Praline Truffles
by The Dirty Vegans 
Cool (Vegan) Mom Card
by The Punky Bunny
Soap and Bath Melt Gift Set
by Craft Creation Gifting 
Vegan Mama Card
by Ice Cream Lady Shop 
Personalised Vegan Recipes Notebook
by Penguins To Peacocks 

Saturday, 22 February 2020

#SignAndShare Petitions Roundup #5

Thank you for visiting this week's Sign And Share post!
I use this regular feature to promote petitions about animal welfare, social responsibility and environmental issues. At the start, I'd hoped I could find enough petitions to share a different one for every day of the year. With the current state of our world, this is actually depressingly easy. We've a lot to change, but every signature and share can help towards positive change.

Here's seven of the petitions that caught my eye this week which I hope you will also be happy to put your names to.

Please get Signing ...

Friends Of The Earth are petitioning the UK Government calling for urgent government action to reduce manufacturers’ and retailers’ production of plastic waste
Our seas and oceans are being choked by plastic pollution. Fragile marine ecosystems that have been stable for thousands of years are now at risk of collapse. One of the main culprits is plastic packaging. Millions of pieces find their way into rivers, canals and seas each year. Please demand urgent government action to slash the production of plastic waste.
Friends Of The Earth will hand in this petition on Wednesday.
Please sign this Ocean Plastic petition now

World Animal Rescue are petitioning Htin Kyaw, President of Myanmar, to Help Protect the Loris
These cute little animals are nocturnal and when spotted with a flashlight, they freeze up like a deer in headlights. Unfortunately, this makes poaching trivial. Combine that with deforestation which destroys the hiding places and the Slow Loris doesn't have a chance.
The older ones are ground down into a powder which locals believe can "cure" cancer. Others are boiled alive in order to extract the oil from there skin. The oil is believed to slow down aging. The fur of the Loris is used to heal wounds, the flesh to cure epilepsy, eyes are used in love potions, and the meat is reported to cure asthma and stomach problems.
Despite being internationally banned, the Loris is still been sold out in the open in countries such as Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, and Thailand. A single Loris can be sold for as much as $100 USD while the fine for selling one can range anywhere from $2- $200 USD. Clearly, the enforcement of the ban is severely lacking.
Please sign the Loris petition now

Locals Against Mendip Farmers Hunt want Priddy Parish Council to Ban The Mendip Farmers Hunt From Meeting On Priddy Green
The Mendip Farmers Hunt are a law-breaking fox hunt who use violence and intimidation against anyone who opposes them.
Twice per year Priddy Parish Council allow them to use the public area of Priddy Green on which to meet; for their opening meet in November and their Boxing Day meet. For the last year or so locals have been holding peaceful protests on the green to show their opposition to the hunt and their illegal killing of foxes. Each protest has been met with violence and intimidation from the hunt and their supporters. 
Please sign the Priddy Green petition now

Kia Lee is petitioning DEFRA to Shut Down Oak Farm at Halstead, Kent
Oak farm has been going for many years, they use the animals for their butchers located in Catford. The way these animals are treated is totally unacceptable they have no food, no shelter and are in knee deep thick mud! The farmer has no interested in caring for the animals they are malnourished and severely underweight!!!
Please sign the Oak Farm petition now

Amelia Womack via The Green Party is petitioning DEFRA to Bring Back Beavers to the UK
Beavers were hunted to extinction in the UK centuries ago, but some have recently been set back into the wild in some places across the country.
After a five year trial in Devon, we now know that the beavers can help prevent flooding by building dams, holding water and slowing the flow before floods hit towns and villages.
In the aftermath of Storm Dennis, we must reimagine how we manage our natural world, and look at all options to lessen devastation like this in the future. The reintroduction of beavers will play an important role in natural flood management, while offering other environmental benefits.
We call on the Government to support the reintroduction of beavers across England.
Please sign the Beavers petition now

Yanery Resendiz is telling H. Ayuntamiento de Mazatlán that No queremos más corridas de toros en Mazatlán! (We don't want more bullfights in Mazatlan!)
El puerto de Mazatlán no necesita espectáculos violentos, bastante matanza y tortura tenemos con lo que vemos en el día a día en las noticias. (The port of Mazatlan does not need violent shows, enough killing and torture we have with what we see on a daily basis in the news.)
Ningún ser vivo, en este caso los toros, tienen porqué ser víctimas en nombre del "arte" , "cultura" o "deporte", solo para el entretenimiento de unos cuantos. (No living being, in this case the bulls, have to be victims in the name of "art", "culture" or "sport", only for the entertainment of a few.)
Las nuevas generaciones requieren de una educación ética, donde valoren y respeten toda manifestación de vida, dejando de ver a los animales como “objetos insensibles” o como mercancías sujetas a la apropiación y sometimiento del humano. (The new generations require an ethical education, where they value and respect every manifestation of life, ceasing to see animals as "insensitive objects" or as merchandise subject to the appropriation and submission of the human.)
Please sign the Mazatlán Bullfights petition now

Illthyla Bone is petitioning the Australian Government to Ban slow, painful rodent poisons
Commonly used anticoagulant rodenticides function by causing the target animal severe internal bleeding and a slow, painful death. They also impact other predatory animals such as owls and family pets indirectly if they eat affected animals. RSPCA, WIRES and other animal care organisations discourage use and suggest finding alternatives to this cruel method of killing - so why are they available at all?
More humane poisons could be developed with the right incentives, or there are other, less awful options available. A ban would provide such an incentive, at the same time as eliminating unnecessary cruelty to defenceless creatures and the animals that eat them.
Please sign the Rodent Poisons petition now

If you've signed or started a petition that you feel I'd want to sign, please Comment its link below or tag me @GrendHirl on Twitter.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

#VeganCommunity Meet Caroline & Steve @ Friendship Vegan Shoes

Being vegan means more to me than just the food I eat. It's also about standing up against abhorrent practices which I do here by sharing Petition Posts, supporting Crowdfunding Campaigns with which I empathise, and meeting other vegans to enhance our sense of community.

Today's post is the second of my regular Vegan Community series in which vegan creatives and businesspeople guest post to talk about themselves and their enterprises. This space is theirs and I'm now delighted to introduce today's guests, Caroline and Steve of Friendship Vegan Shoes in London.

We adopted veganism in 2012 after 30+ years of vegetarianism. We decided that we'd like to start a business that aligned with our ethics and we realised, at the time, finding good quality vegan shoes was top of our list of things that we struggled with. Yes we could buy vegan shoes but we found the quality and style of most of them wasn't quite what we longed for.
Freud Brogue Shoes in Silver 

Friendship Vegan shoes was born in September 2016 after a year of research in which we discovered that the best way to keep everything environmentally friendly was to keep it all as local as possible and so we went to Northampton, the spiritual home of British shoe making. We found a factory specialising in Goodyear welting which was perfect for our desire for comfort and quality.

Kinsey Dealer Boots in Copper 

Everything we do is very classically styled as our approach is longevity, Goodyear welted soles means that all our shoes can be repaired over and over again so will last for many years if well looked after. We have essentially taken some traditional British styles and given them a twist, we believe we are the only truly gender fluid shoemaker as we have no distinction in sizes for men and women. One size fits all and this has proven to be a very successful formula for us.

Thank you Caroline and Steve!
If you would like to offer a guest post about your own vegan-run business for this series, please Tweet Me!

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

#BookReview The Broke Vegan Bible by Lauren McCuen

The Broke Vegan Bible by Lauren McCuen
Self published on the 19th December 2018.

Lauren McCuen teaches you the basics of being vegan on a budget. No matter if you're short on cash or just looking to save some cash her tips will help you get more food for less. The book is full of recipe ideas, money saving tips, and creative ways to reign in your spendings. You don't need to clip endless coupons or starve to be a budget. Just follow The Broke Vegan Bible and you'll be on your way!

(This review was first blogged on Literary Flits in December 2018.)

As you might have seen at the end of My New 2019 Reading Challenges post over on my Stephanie Jane blog, I am going to take part on the global Veganuary Challenge this January. I asked for recommendations for books featuring vegan characters to read during the month, but have also been checking out a selection of vegan cookery books to inspire myself with potential recipe ideas.

I admit that I didn't have hugely high hopes of The Broke Vegan Bible mainly because it is short and it was free at the time I spotted and downloaded it. As it turns out however, this little books contains plenty of good advice regarding frugal shopping habits and potential sources of nutritious vegan food at bargain prices. I know from my increasingly vegetarian diet over the past year that, as vegetarian and vegan diets become more mainstream, there is an ever increasing choice of pre-packaged food options available at a price - often an eye-wateringly high price! Here though Lauren sets out her tried and tested methods to eat a healthy vegan diet and actually save money. I have picked up several good ideas that I am looking forward to putting into practice very soon and will also be trying out some of her suggested recipes too.  Most look simple enough to prepare in our motorhome mini kitchen. I am particularly tempted by the vegan Banana Coconut Ice Cream and the Peanut Butter Cups!

Buy from Amazon.com / Amazon UK
Affiliate links

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Sunday Wonders #10

I realised that HirlGrend is two months old this weekend - already! It certainly doesn't seem so long since that awful General Election result and, while the political news in the UK (and elsewhere) is just getting worse and worse by the day, having connected with so many other vegans as a result of HirlGrend has given me a much needed injection of Hope. Thank you all!
Thank you especially to the 86 of you who've followed my little blog with Bloglovin and to the 368 of you following via Twitter :-) If I've missed following anyone back again, don't be too shy to holler!

This week's HirlGrend posts:
And around the internet:

Follow HirlGrend with Bloglovin

Saturday, 15 February 2020

#SignAndShare #Petitions Roundup #4

It's a lovely sunny Saturday here in Totana and time for this week's Sign And Share!
I am promoting petitions about animal welfare, social responsibility and environmental issues. Here's the seven petitions that caught my eye this week which I hope you will also be happy to put your names to.

Please get Signing ...

Nicky Greenwood is petitioning Governments worldwide to Ban Wildlife Markets to Protect Pangolins
Greed and ignorance have led to Pangolins being trafficked in illegal wildlife markets potentially creating this new strain of Coronavirus. It is time the illegal trade in wildlife was stopped permanently to avoid future outbreaks of disease and the consequent deaths of both humans and animals.
Pangolins need to remain in the wild,they are nocturnal, shy and secretive creatures who keep well away from people. We need to stop all trafficking urgently and pursue the people at the top, who trade in and create a market for their meat, scales and leather.
Please sign the Pangolins petition now

Poly Victoros started a petition to Andrew Scattergood (Royal Parks Chief Executive) to Stop the Cruel Killing of Squirrels in London's Royal Parks
The humble grey squirrel that resides in London’s Royal Parks is loved by so many people - especially children. People often visit the parks to interact with the urban wildlife; to watch squirrels’ entertaining antics with interest, photograph them, and feed them. Indeed, squirrels can be so tame, that it's a common sight to see one climb up someone’s leg to share a sandwich! Animal therapy is also highly beneficial for people suffering from depression and other mental disorders - interacting with squirrels has helped me an awful lot.
But there is also a hidden, dark side: did you know that the Park Rangers put up traps to kill these innocent squirrels? This includes culling pregnant squirrels or lactating mothers, whose crying babies will slowly starve to death. The traps are sometimes visible at just 7-10 feet in the trees, causing distress to children and adults alike. This practice is barbaric, cruel, and evil.
Please sign this Squirrels petition now

DxE has an open letter to Bernie Sanders requesting that he Stop Propping Up the Dairy Industry
Sanders elevated major players like Ben and Jerry’s own Ben Cohen as his campaign co-chair, yet Ben and Jerry’s is chaining baby cows outside in below-freezing temperatures. DxE investigated a dozen Ben and Jerry’s farms in Vermont and found shivering babies with no food or water and piles of dead mother cows and their calves. Now, we’re protesting the company (including a rooftop-disruption earlier today) and asking our government to stop subsidizing the dairy industry and to just #LetDairyDie already.
Please sign the Bernie Sanders letter now

PETA is urging the British Fashion Council to Ban Leather and Fur at London Fashion Week
The British Fashion Council (BFC) recently acknowledged, "We are facing a climate change emergency and all need to act." As leather is the most environmentally damaging material in use by the fashion industry, it's time that the BFC banned it from its catwalks – and did the same with fur.
Please sign the London Fashion Week petition now

Karen Jardine at Notts SVS Services is asking all UK TV network bosses, Ofcom and DCMS Minister Nicky Morgan to Provide Support Information after all TV shows that feature sexual violence
Statistics show that three quarters of survivors contacting Rape Crisis centres do so over an incident that occurred at least 12 months earlier. It has been shown that where television programmes include storylines on sexual violence, there has been an increase in calls to support helplines. The Rape Crisis Helpline experienced a 132% increase in calls after the showing of Broadchurch, a similar spike in calls to support helplines was experienced following the rape of David Platt in Coronation Street. This information shows that survivors are often prompted to seek support following depictions of sexual violence on television.
Please sign the Support Information petition now

El Refugio del Burrito is petitioning the Spanish village of Villanueva de la Vera to Stop the use of a donkey in their Festival de Peropalo
El próximo 25 de febrero, el pasado vestido de tradición y cultura volverá al pueblo de Villanueva de la Vera (Cáceres) con la fiesta del Peropalo. (On February 25, the last dress of tradition and culture will return to the town of Villanueva de la Vera (Cáceres) with the festival of Peropalo.)
Otro año más, obligarán a un burro montado por un joven a abrirse paso entre una multitud ebria que grita, canta y dispara con cartuchos de fogueo al lado del animal. (Another year, they will force a donkey ridden by a young man to break through a drunken crowd that screams, sings and shoots with fire cartridges next to the animal.)
Como te puedes imaginar, el ruido es abrumador y la masa de personas incontrolable. Asustado en las calles estrechas y empedradas, el animal se suele resbalar, cayéndose y golpeándose contra el suelo en un acto que dura más de una hora. Durante esos 60 minutos cientos de personas rodean al animal aterrado, se suben a él, lo empujan y gritan. (As you can imagine, the noise is overwhelming and the mass of people uncontrollable. Scared in the narrow cobbled streets, the animal usually slips, falling and hitting the ground in an act that lasts more than an hour. During those 60 minutes hundreds of people surround the terrified animal, get on it, push it and shout.)
Please sign the Peropalo Festival petition now

Melbourne Cow Save is asking the Victorian Minister for Sport to Cancel the Bull Riding event at Melbourne Arena on June 27, 2020
Bulls buck instinctively in response to the tightened flank strap around their underbelly and being repeatedly kicked with metal spurs. These events create a scenario in which the bulls' reactions as prey animals are similar to being attacked by a predator. They experience fear, stress and panic, and buck repeatedly in order to get the rider off their back. Some animals become so distressed that they charge dismounted riders, which is further evidence of their fear response.
We no longer accept animals being used as a form of entertainment in circuses. We shouldn't allow bulls to be used in stadium shows with loud music, pyrotechnics and lasers. 
Please sign the Bull Riding Petition now

If you've signed or started a petition that you feel I'd want to sign, please Comment its link below or tag me @GrendHirl on Twitter.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

#VeganQuery How do I remember all these non-vegan E numbers?

As I get further along this vegan journey of mine, I'm finding out about more and more devious ways that animal products are pushed upon consumers, often without us having any idea they are there. For example, have you seen (and signed) Herbivore_Club' s petition asking Kellogg' s to Stop Putting Lanolin (sheep's wool!) in Breakfast Cereals?

This post will concentrate on hidden animal-derived food ingredients, especially those denoted by meaningless-to-me E numbers.

I got the following list from the Veganuary website:
  • E120: Carmine, also known as cochineal, carminic acid or natural red 4. Crushed up beetles used as red food colouring
  • E441: Gelatine. A gelling agent made from ground up animal bone and skin, often found in confectionary
  • E542: Bone phosphate. Ground up animal bones used to keep foods moist
  • E901: Beeswax. As the name suggests, this is wax that’s made by bees, and is used as a glazing agent
  • E904: Shellac. Another glazing agent, made from the secretions of an insect called the lac bug
  • E910, E920, E921: L-cysteine and its derivatives. Made from animal hair and feathers, these additives are found in some breads as an improving agent
  • E913: Lanolin. A greasy substance secreted by sheep and other woolly animals. While mostly used in cosmetics, it’s also often used to make vitamin D3, rendering many multi-vitamins and fortified foods unsuitable for vegans
  • E966: Lactitol. A sweetener derived from lactose, which is made from milk
Veganury say that these are the most common additives, but that this isn't a definitive list by any means. I say that's already ten effectively random numbers I need to memorise for every time I go shopping! It's so annoying. I have the type of brain which can remember words ok, but lists of numbers are far more difficult. I guess this is quite common and that's why manufacturers chose the numbers route?

So today's Vegan Query actually has two parts:

  • What major E numbers are missing from the list above?
  • What tricks do you use to remember them all?

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

#Crowdfund the rescued #HoadsFarm hens at Happy Pants Ranch

I'm a strong believer in the Be The Change You Want To See mantra. I might not have the resources to take on a community changing project myself, but I love being able to chip in to help others do so.

I was especially shocked when I saw the @DXE_Brighton photographs from inside Hoads Farm near Hastings at the end of January. Back in the days when I still ate eggs, this farm was in the same county as my home. I already had a good idea of the awful conditions that basic welfare egg-laying chickens endured so refused to buy caged eggs, but Hoads Farm's packaging claimed that their hens were raised to a much higher welfare standard. Local and free range - I thought supporting supporting Hoads Farm was responsible consumerism on my part. A good thing to do.

Now I just feel sick. Although I hadn't bought from them in about five years, seeing the neglect and cruelty I used to actively support through my buying choices was a real gut punch. It reinforced to me that, as consumers, we absolutely cannot trust food packaging to tell us the truth. This deception was my prime motivation for going vegan and the Hoads Farm expose is a depressingly perfect illustration of the industry's arrogance. It took a brave group of activists to reveal the truth of this disgusting place. The supermarkets didn't care to look until DXE opened the doors. The RSPCA apparently hadn't noticed what was happening either!

Fortunately, albeit only for 50 of the 32,000 hens, DXE does care and so does Amey at the Happy Pants Ranch in Sittingbourne, Kent. Amey is suddenly the chief carer for an extra 50 sick and traumatised hens and she could really use some help with the costs of looking after them. I donated my February Crowdfund budget to her GoFundMe campaign:
50 beautiful hens were liberated from the horrific conditions at Hoads Farm in Hastings, Sussex on Monday January 27th and were given forever sanctuary space by The Happy Pants Ranch in Sittingbourne, Kent.
Police intervened at the commercial egg farm, after animal rights activists found rotting corpses, bleeding hens and filthy conditions at the business and protested for the release of the birds. 50 were allowed to be removed and escape the horrendous conditions.
After the RSPCA investigated they were 'shocked' and 'appalled' by the apparent state of the farm's chickens and has suspended Hoad's Farm licence, which was that supplying major supermarkets such as Asda, Morrisons and Sainsburys.
Without a place where the 50 lucky hens could live and be cared for properly they might never have been released and for the first time ever for many of these girls, they'll be able to feel the sun on their back and grass under their feet - something they might never have experienced.

Sunday, 9 February 2020

Sunday Wonders #9

Did you know that February 10th is World Pulses Day? Me neither, so thank you to Helen Lloyd for posting about it in the One Billion Vegans Facebook Group this morning! The United Nations declared the Day after their successful International Year of Pulses campaign throughout 2016 (which also passed me by) and there's more information on this dedicated Food And Agriculture Organization page. If you're fed up of the 'can't afford it' excuses against veganism, send the naysayers to visit it!

I spotted brilliant news in a PETA newsletter earlier this week. The giant French drinks company Pernod Ricard have finally withdrawn their financial support from bullfighting. PETA said: The victory sees the Pernod Ricard group end its financial support of the Union of Paul Ricard Bullfighting Clubs. The union is the largest bullfighting organisation in the world and has 400 bullfighting clubs and 16,000 members throughout France. More information on the PETA website here. Having observed a young matador practising (without a bull) at the local sports centre, close to our current Spanish camperstop, on Friday, I was made aware that, although I think of bullfighting as an archaic and barbaric practice, it does still have its supporters. Fortunately its popularity is dwindling and removing legitimising aspects, such a big money sponsorship deals, can only help to speed up the industry's demise.

And Spain is certainly making great strides towards veganism and plant-based eating. I've always been impressed by the displays of fresh fruit and vegetables in Spanish supermarkets and markets, but didn't see much in the way of ready-made vegan food during my first Veganuary last year (when it first occurred to me to really look). This year, however, there's a noticeable difference. Tofu is now frequently in a dedicated vegetarian/vegan display rather than hidden at the edge of the cheese section, even our current small town Consum stocks nutritional yeast (and for a good price - I shall stock up!), and I've finally found a vegan mayonnaise there too! I've tried a couple of time to make vegan mayo with okayish results, but now I've found Olivera d'Atenea Salsa Mayonesa Ecologica y Vegana. (Ignore the egg serving suggestion!) I would say the flavour is a little more salad creamy than Hellmansy, but it's Perfect mixed into crushed chickpeas with a sprinkle jerk spice seasoning and a hint of salt as a delicious sandwich filler.

Finally, Happy Valentine's Day if you celebrate it! You might notice rather too much chocolate in this week's Around The Internet links!

This week's HirlGrend posts:

And around the internet:

Follow HirlGrend with Bloglovin

Saturday, 8 February 2020

#SignAndShare #Petitions Roundup #3

We're back on Saturday for Sign And Share!
I am promoting petitions about animal welfare, social responsibility and environmental issues. Here's the seven petitions that caught my eye this week which I hope you will also be happy to put your names to.

Please get Signing ...

Joelle Larney is petitioning via Change.org to Shut Crayford Greyhound Stadium.
Greyhound racing is animal abuse the dogs are drugged and die racing  kept in disgusting conditions. Born to be abused   It’s barbaric and not wanted in 2020
Please sign the Crayford Greyhound petition now

PETA UK is petitioning East Suffolk Council to Stop an Intensive Chicken Farm in Shadingfield
Plans have been submitted to East Suffolk Council for an intensive chicken farm in Shadingfield. If the proposal is approved, over 1 million sensitive birds will be sent to slaughter every year.
The chickens will be forced to spend their short lives in barren, dirty sheds with up to 47,000 other birds. Bred to have large, heavy upper bodies, they may suffer from severe health problems, including deformed or arthritic legs.
Local residents are already extremely concerned by these wretched and inhumane plans – they're worried about pollution, noise, smells, health risks, and cruelty to chickens.
Please sign the Shadingfield Chicken Farm petition now

World Animal Defenders are asking garden retailer Primrose UK to Stop Selling Cruel Glue Traps
Garden products retailer Primrose is selling animal traps that have been condemened by the RSPCA as “cruel and indiscriminate”.
Glue traps catch mice and rats in a sticky base where they suffer a slow death - the doomed creatures struggle desperately to get free, often pulling out their hair or biting off their own limbs. If they don’t die from these horrific injuries, they die of suffocation when their faces becoming stuck to the glue. Others will spend days dying from starvation and dehydration. Other victims include birds, squirrels, frogs, snakes
Please sign this Glue Traps petition

38 Degrees is petitioning Boris Johnson and Priti Patel to Stop Deportations until the Windrush report is published
The UK government are planning to deport dozens of people - including many who’ve lived in the UK since they were children - to Jamaica. This means ripping them from their communities and sending them to a country they don’t know and tearing their families apart.
The government claim they’re doing it because all of these people are extreme criminals, but there's mounting evidence this isn't the case. And the ones who have been convicted have already served their time. Deporting them would mean punishing them twice - just because they weren’t born here.
Please sign the Deportations petition now

38 Degrees are also campaigning to Stop Benefit Sanctions
Errol Graham, a disabled man who claimed benefits, has starved to death after having his money cut off. His benefits were ‘sanctioned’ by the government, leaving him with no money for food, rent, or heating. It’s heartbreaking.
The Government has made no assessment into the impact of benefit sanctions on people's lives and their mental health. It can’t go on. We are calling on Therese Coffey, the minister in charge, to scrap benefits sanctions now and ensure there are no more unnecessary deaths.
Please sign this Benefits Sanctions petition now

The Foul Truth are petitioning Gressingham Ducks to End the Cruel Practices on this farm
An industry that has fallen under the radar - despite killing the same number of ducks as turkeys each year in Britain - and one that has rarely been exposed. But we want to change that. Help us show Gressingham Ducks the abuse and neglect we found on their farms and ask them to end duck exploitation for good!
Please sign the Gressingham Ducks petition now

Direct Action Everywhere Milwaukee is petitioning the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to Cut Ties To Animal Killing Contest Fundraiser
2020 marked the 18th year for the “Hunt to Cure MS.”  The event is hosted annually by Rabbits Unlimited, LTD and benefits the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Every year hunters in attendance needlessly kill hundreds of rabbits. Children are also invited to participate in the killing contest. 
Please sign this Rabbit Hunt petition now

If you've signed or started a petition that you feel I'd want to sign, please Comment its link below or tag me @GrendHirl on Twitter.

Thursday, 6 February 2020

#VeganCommunity Meet Peyton at Anomalous By Nature

I've talked here before about how being vegan means more to me than just the food I eat. It's also about standing up against abhorrent practices which I do here by sharing Petition Posts, supporting Crowdfunding Campaigns with which I empathise (I'll be talking about where my February donation went next week), and meeting other vegans to enhance our sense of community.

Today's post is the first of what I keenly hope will become a regular Vegan Community series in which vegan creatives and businesspeople guest post to talk about themselves and their enterprises. I love to support vegan businesses and while it's usually easy to spot the vegan food retailers, other vegan-run businesses might not obviously be identified as such. So this space is theirs and I'm now delighted to introduce my first guest, Peyton who is the artist behind Etsy shop Anomalous By Nature.

My name is Peyton, I am a 22 year old artist based out of Caldwell, Idaho. My art is kind of all over the place at the moment but I'm getting closer and closer to narrowing in on my specialty. I describe my style as creepy, strange, and nature based, some items are only creepy and strange, some are only naturalistic, but most is a mix of both. I am currently offering jewelry, stickers, magnets, stand alone art pieces, accessories, and now an adult coloring book.

My most popular items so far are my body positive magnets. I create custom butts, torsos, boobs, and dad bods. I was inspired by the body positive movement and how it was infiltrated by conventional bodies. Everyone deserves to be proud of the skin they're in and feel like they're beautiful, but there are so many conventional bodies that see themselves represented everywhere they go. Billboards, ads, models, actresses and actors, popular social media personalities, and even in art. Even plus sized bodies that get attention are a certain *type* of plus sized. So I first created a polymer clay sculpture of an unconventional plus sized torso with hair and loose skin. From there I put magnets on the back and ran with it. I made boobs, butts, and eventually an unconventional male torso, because masculine bodies need positivity as well.

My most recent update was centered around anatomical human hearts. The idea behind it is raw emotion. I had the vision of a two stranded necklace with a dagger charm hanging above a human heart charm with another chain holding a teardrop shaped red bead, representing a wounded heart. Everyone that experiences emotion can relate to hurt, maybe not everyone can relate to the kind of hurt where it feels like your heart is literally broken, but we've all been close. When I created the necklace it was exactly as I imagined. I made two sets of matching earrings, a hair bow, a coloring book with 13 designs featuring human hearts, a stand alone painted wooden centerpiece, and two stickers. One of the stickers strays more into the body positivity theme as well. The suggestive design represents the feeling of your heartbeat in your pelvis when you're nervous or scared. The words "the power within" are recognizing how powerful the emotion can be that you feel it everywhere in your body. I label it as a sex positive piece because genitalia, specifically vulvas, are seen as taboo, but that shouldn't be. It's a body part that over half of our population has!

I have much more to come, in February I'm hoping to release a series of creepy nature prints. I'm very excited to watch my shop grow and have a goal of making it to 300 sales this year, which may seem a bit unattainable considering I have yet to reach 20 sales, but I will be working extremely hard to get there. All support is very much appreciated!

Thank you Peyton!

If you would like to offer a guest post about your own vegan-run business for this series, please Tweet Me!

All Etsy links in this post are affiliate links so I would earn a small commission if you were to click through and make a purchase.

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

#BookReview The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan

The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan
First published in America in April 2006 by Penguin Press. Young adult version published in 2009 and young adult audiobook, narrated by Macleod Andrews, published in 2015.

"What's for dinner?" seemed like a simple question - until journalist and supermarket detective Michael Pollan delved behind the scenes. From fast food and big organic to small farms and old-fashioned hunting and gathering, this young readers' adaptation of Pollan's famous food-chain exploration encourages kids to consider the personal and global health implications of their food choices. In a smart, compelling format with updated facts as well as a new afterword, The Omnivore's Dilemma serves up a bold message to the generation that needs it most: It's time to take charge of our national eating habits - and it starts with you.

AudioSYNC chose the young adult version of The Omnivore's Dilemma as one of their free audiobook download pairings over the summer of 2016. I understand that the book has the same overall content and message as the original adult book, but has been simplified and given a new preface. Pollan encourages readers to 'vote with their forks' and explores the different way foods are produced in order to enable an informed choice. This is a very America-centred book, but the horrific industrial farming practiced over there is rapidly making its way to Britain so I found it scarily relevant. I don't think British cows are yet raised as callously as so many American ones, but certainly a high proportion of our chickens and pigs suffer as theirs do. And, of course, our post-Brexit Tory government is likely to try and do away with EU legislation surrounding food standards in the name of 'encouraging trade'. I would like to encourage everyone to read or hear The Omnivore's Dilemma and/or Farmageddon before they allow their future health to be compromised and the rules protecting our food to be swept aside.

I didn't agree with everything Pollan maintains, especially his stance on long-term vegetarianism and his assertion that hunting animals with guns 'should' be a rite of passage. (I was still an omnivore at the time of reading.) He does repeat himself quite a lot too which began to feel like hectoring towards the end. However, issues such as the insane subsidies of corn and its subsequent takeover of fast and processed foods are fascinating. Feeding ruminants, such as cows, corn irrevocably damages their health, so how can corn-fed beef be good for us? Is industrially grown organic food missing the point? Whuy are Scottish shellfish shipped to China for processing, then all the way back to Europe to be sold?

I enjoyed listening to The Omnivore's Dilemma. Pollan's personalising of his journey to food awareness makes for an interesting book and he puts his points across well. The difference in available food, especially by way of organic options and farm shops, a decade after its first publication is certainly encouraging and means it is less of a struggle for most of us to find healthy food. Whether we choose to do so though is still a very big question.

Buy from Wordery / Waterstones
Affiliate links

I am linking up this review with February 2020 Foodies Read at Based On A True Story.
I received a copy of The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan via AudioSYNC. This review was first blogged on Literary Flits.

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Sunday Wonders #8

I'm delighted to start this week's Sunday Wonders post with Good News! Congratulations to Cheryl H who won the HirlGrend Veganuary Giveaway! Cheryl's Ethicoco chocolate is on its way to her and I hope she enjoys eating it. And for my British readers who also fancy winning a vegan sweet treat, I've a new giveaway here running throughout Februdairy to win a Mixed Bag of Peachy Green Vegan sweets.

I admit I chuckled when I saw the dairy industry's attempt to counter Veganuary with a month of their own naming - especially as, on my Twitter feed at least, the hashtag is already predominantly vegan! Last month I wrote a #VeganQuery post about the environmental impacts of various plant milks compared to dairy milk and dairy is bad on every score. I'd love to see your Dairy Alternative Recipes on this month's linkup so I can try them out myself. There's already a coconut yoghurt Eton Mess and an oat cream Mushroom Stroganoff! We managed to get 49 delicious recipes together through January - huge thanks to everybody who shared links!

Finally thank you to everyone who is chipping in with suggestions and empathy in reply to a menopausal vegan tweet I sent yesterday. Recommendations useful to me include cutting down on the amount of oil I cook with and consuming less processed sugar. It was great to learn that my vegan diet is already mitigating menopausal symptoms though so I'm likely to have a much better time of it than my Mum did.

This week's HirlGrend posts:

And around the internet:

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