Saturday, 29 June 2019

Plan Your Summer with Vegan Event Hub


Summer started, then stopped and then in the last week seems to have got going again, and with Glastonbury kicking off in an unusually sunny haze, it seems like it's time to get serious about summer fun.  Not that veganism dominates our lives or anything but if there is an event or happening of a vegan nature we like to know about it and will plan weekends or holidays around any that tweak our vegan interest.  Therefore having a one stop shop for such events is a great help.  Enter Vegan Event Hub.

Vegan Event Hub has been around for a time flying four years and has grown at an equally flying pace.  Given the round up of international vegan events it offers, that is no surprise.  UK based events sit on the events page alongside those in Berlin, USA, Brazil, Australia and India.  However, it could be even bigger, and the generous free offers available to event organisers, via the members dashboard, give ample opportunity to advertise your vegan ventures and happenings to a worldwide audience.  Alongside the free inclusion in the Event Hub, they will also sort out the web page, SEO (that's Search Engine Optimisation for those like me who struggle with the tech terms!) and promote it for you.  Again to reiterate, this is all free.  

For vegan event vendors, and also available free of charge via the membership area, there is the ability to promote your presence at all the events you are attending, as well as join the international event vendor directory.  There are also sections for vendors wanted, event jobs and volunteers wanted.  Basically Vegan Event Hub is the glue that can stick together the vegan audience/customer with the vegan event world and vice versa.  

Karen White, the designer and founder of Vegan Event Hub, is one of our very own Cornish Vegans and an all round lovely person. Vegan Event Hub is her grassroots contribution to the vegan movement, and one that she is passionately committed to.  Yes, we are therefore biased.  However, this lovely grassroots lady has created a really highly polished, great looking, unique online community space to not only benefit the advertisement of worldwide vegan events but to support the vegan community as a whole.  We would love to see more content and that content needs to come from the vegan community itself.  Please do take a look, support and spread news of Vegan Event Hub far and wide and ensure it continues to grow.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Petition to Cornwall Council

Cornwall councillors recently shared their initial plans for a 2030 target for Cornwall to become carbon neutral. Although many of us have been way ahead of the game in terms of identifying the environmental crisis that faces the world, even belated action by the council should be encouraged and supported.  That there was also a recommendation to engage with the public to ask what they think of these initial plans is also to be applauded.  What was less of a good idea was to initially test out these plans with the public at the recent Royal Cornwall Show, Cornwall's 'premier' agricultural event and a hotbed for all those very much reliant on livestock farming.  Perhaps there is a nervousness with Cornwall councillors in mentioning anything that relates to animal agriculture in a predominantly rural county, but the omission of any mention relating to such within their initial plans to combat climate change is a little amiss to say the least.....or am I being cynical?

Within their plans are ideas around transport, housing, energy, environment and waste. Whilst many of the suggestions, if not all, are reasonable, pledge number 3 suggested by Cornwall-based climate change consultants Climate Vision rings the truest with me.  It states "Educate yourself about the science and impacts of climate change".  Do that one thing and you might then hit on addressing the environmental impact of animal agriculture.  

Being that this is a vegan blog, predominately read by vegans, I am not about to start stating the facts about the impact that can be made by changing to a plant based diet (read down further for useful links).  All I am saying is that anyone living in Cornwall will understand that suggestions of using more public transport, the push towards electric car use, and building more (energy efficient) homes (don't get me started with that one) are a little laughable at the present moment and even looking a few years ahead.  To sit these suggestions in a list that omits anything to do with animal agriculture very much skews the responsibility onto very few residents of Cornwall that I know of.  Farmers may disagree but I doubt they would agree either with using more (mostly inefficient) public transport, have enough money to buy an electric car, or building more housing full stop (unless they make a ton of money by selling off development land).  Reality needs a little checking here.

Sorry once more I am being cynical.  The thing is I am fed up of piecemeal suggestions that are either designed to make other people richer, out of the reach of many, or just plain guilt infested unrealistic suggestions.  On a very personal level, you can make a change that will have a huge impact, and that is changing to a plant based diet, or at least making even small moves in that direction.  It doesn't have to cost that much either if you avoid the vegan 'junk food' items out there.  An open mind and a commitment to make a difference is all you need.  You vegans out there know that already though so on that note, and the reason for this blog post in the beginning, is that a petition has been started to Cornwall Council calling for them to recognise the environmental impact of animal agriculture.  Please sign it.  I don't think it necessarily matters if you are not a resident of Cornwall as by signing it will send a message to all councils planning the same initiatives around climate change.  

The link to the petition is below Beautiful People and for those not familiar with the science behind the impact of animal agriculture there are plenty of useful links to read within the petition - 

Monday, 10 June 2019

Vegan Retro Nutty Barbecue

In this new age of seitan, jack fruit and other funky vegan meat alternatives it is easy to forget those ones that have been out there forever.  Whilst some of them are best forgotten (anyone remember the 'tough as old boots' Jumbo Grills of the 80's?), some deserve to still be considered and respected for standing beside the vegan principle all these years later.

One in particular we still enjoy is Granovita's Nut Luncheon (years back it was called Nuttolene by Granose).  It is one of those things that we buy and stick in the store cupboard and then find when we do a 'ready steady cook' style rummage.  However it really does deserve much more credit beyond the desperate 'what have we got in the cupboard' rummage by a long way on the basis of its pure ingredients alone; with just water, peanuts and sea salt, these days you'd be hard pressed to find such an honest and simple product.  It's also palm oil and gluten free.  That is before you even get to taste it.  By default, yes it is peanutty but in a sweet umami way and that can definitely blend very well with a multitude of flavours.  

This evening we definitely went into 'let's make it up as we go along' cooking mode and along the way I was absolutely delighted to find that snorkeled away can of Nut Luncheon in the cupboard.  With a bottle of half used barbecue sauce in the fridge it was crying out for a simple skewered solution, alongside several other 'use up' small dishes.  It would be equally as good in a stir fry, sandwiches, curry or whatever other wonders you can dream up. Basically, you can't go far wrong if you have a can of Nut Luncheon in your vegan store cupboard.  At this time of year, particularly with camping trips planned, it can really come into its own for its no fuss and non demanding storage requirements - no fridge required here!

Keep a look out for it in health food stores and failing that you can buy it online.  If you buy from Holland and Barrett at the moment it is not only buy one, get one half price but by activating and choosing Viva! any purchase you make will raise 4% for them.  

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Inclusively Vegan

Recently I wrote a blogpost about a local vegetarian cafe.  It is completely vegetarian but with a large selection of vegan dishes.  Somebody commented in response to my post indicating that it was a shame it wasn’t fully vegan.  I of course agree but my response back was that if such establishments get supported by more and more vegans perhaps this would eventually lead to a full vegan establishment.  It really made me think more about the progression of veganism in terms of its infiltration into the mainstream and whether our impatience to move towards veganism at breakneck speed might actually be slowing down the progress.   I haven’t totally made my mind up about this but writing this post is a way of exploring this thought.

I’m going to start on a basic level.  Over 30 years ago when I first became vegan I was full of it and full on.  Nobody really wanted to know and, like all vegans of the time, I was seen as a weirdo.  Admittedly that was also the sign of the times and a lot has changed since then, including the mellowing of age.  I don’t shout about being vegan now, well apart from writing a vegan blog that is!  Interestingly though, now when people in my everyday life find out I’m vegan I get mostly interested questions.  In addition people now seek my advice.  Again, this could be the sign of the times but it does seem as if the less I’ve shouted about it and led by example, the more interest it creates.  Phil has had the same experience.  Don’t get me wrong though, it is hard to be ‘gentle’ in my approach in the face of sentient abuse and if anyone ‘attacks’ they get the full vegan barrel from me.  Generally however, gently does it.

Moving on, put a vegan cafe or restaurant in my path and I’ll be there, and there are more and more appearing in my pathway these days.  I will not dispute the fact that they are always the first I support.  However, life as a vegan can still be slightly restrictive in high street eateries, and I would suggest it is short sighted to purely support vegan establishments. If a cafe or restaurant is making efforts to provide vegan options and particularly so a whole vegan menu, to not explore and create a market for their efforts would be a step backwards surely?  The more the market is recognised, the more it will be catered for and form a bigger portion of what they provide.  You could argue it is driven by finance; everybody wants their share of the vegan dollar these days.  It’s better to make their money in a vegan way though surely?

Another way at looking at it is that by providing these options it gives more chance for people to explore vegan food, paving the way perhaps towards a gentle transition.  A study by the London School of Economics a while back found that eating establishments that listed non-meat dishes in a separate section reduced the chances of those dishes being chosen by 65%, and this was with survey participants who often ate vegetarian meals.  Basically it seems that, listed beside meat dishes, vegan dishes may stand more chance of being ordered by non-vegans.  I obviously prefer to choose from a separate vegan menu but have personally heard on several occasions people discussing and considering vegan dishes on menus that listed all the choices together.  On all occasions it was clear they were not vegan.  Very rarely I imagine would non-vegans ask for the separate vegan menu.

A similar dilemma for vegans occurs in supermarkets.  Fairly recently some supermarkets have provided separate vegan sections within their aisles.  It’s been a welcome change, especially as it means you don’t have to deal with searching through the meat sections.  It’s actually lovely to see a crowd around the vegan section, especially when you overhear discussions clearly from new vegans and can potentially offer advice.  So separating vegan options in supermarkets is a success and definitely makes it easier for new and old vegans alike, but what again of the potential for non-vegans to choose vegan options on impulse from within the meat and dairy aisles?  Every vegan option chosen over cruelty is a definite success after all.  I have noted there has been some integration again in some supermarkets in addition to the separate section which is the best of both worlds really.

I think I’ve come to a conclusion that the pathway to veganism is a multi-directional approach.  The pathway is definitely being solidly laid down by vegan activists, vegan cafes and restaurants, producers and retailers; and very much giving us existing vegans an easy and much appreciated stroll along it.  Signposts are being put up along the path by those who provide separate vegan menus and sections in shops.  Some people however don’t know where the pathway begins or even that it exists unless they stumble across it in their everyday lives.  That’s when being equally inclusive with menus, supermarket shelves and your own gentle guidance can make some difference.  We all know where we want the pathway to lead but helping people on to and along it is the most important thing we can do in order for us all to reach that destination.