Something happened that made my face hot. It made the blood rush to my head.
Anger. Frustration. Irritation. Emotions I do not feel often. So when they happen, you better believe it's serious.
One comment. One little comment from someone I don’t even know well.
“What is Hannah? What is she? I don't know how to place her".
Well, I’m a person, for starters. Granted, a busy person. I spend a lot of time doing different things, which might result in me being tricky to ‘place’. #SorryNotSorry
The individual who made this comment has seen me in many forms. They have seen me working behind a bar, performing on stage, producing shows .... I’m sure it must be getting quite difficult for them to put me in one of their boxes. #SorryNotSorry
This comment was made in the context of marketing ourselves. The importance of marketing oneself and knowing what we are. I was used as an example of what not to be. An example of a confused creative who is trying to do too many things, and therefore no one knows where to place me.
Well, now I just feel bad confusing everyone like that.
I am an actress, right? And like every actor, I occasionally feel frustrated that I don't do more acting. I'll pay to get new head shots, invest in showreels, go to every press night, audition, class and theatre event in town. I understand that is part of the profession and you need to get out there. But, what this comment implies is that it is my fault people do not see me as an actress, because I do too many things that are not acting, despite these efforts.
I am represented by one of the top agencies in the North West. I recently performed in a professional production and received rave reviews. I have an actors profile on every major casting site in the UK. It seems none of this is enough clarity.
Why? Because I dare to be more than just one thing. I dare to extend my passion for the arts and love of theatre into other areas beyond performing. I dare to help CREATE work and facilitate it by producing. I dare to care about my friends making work. I dare to want to be involved! I would rather be involved in some regard than not involved at all, right? So yes, Il’l come and help paint the set, I’ll email press on your behalf, I’ll organise a community where we can all read scripts together twice a month, I'll find somewhere we can all rehearse together.
Because I love it.
Are each of these tasks and moments taking me away from being seen as an actress? Are people really that small minded? Is our world so depressing that if someone dares step outside their box, they will be punished?
I don’t believe it. I can't and I don't. Because I love my life too much. Every day is different and every day is varied. And when I look up my “mountain”, my life ahead, my dreams, my “ladder” I do feel that I am climbing upward. Getting further towards the woman I want to be. The life I want. Not everyone can say that, so I’m proud to be able to.
Can I pay my rent creatively? No, I cannot. I still pull pints three days a week to make ends meet, and I don’t even mind. When you have a lot going on, pulling pints actually feels quite nice. It's like a relaxing place to go and chat with friends, drink free coffee and walk away with a fistful of tips to cover travel for the next week. It's ace. And, when juggling so much, paying rent and earning income tends to be lower down on the priorities list. You end up in a job that enables flexibility. You need to be able to drop it at any second. You need to be able to put your art first. This is why so many actors work in hospitality. (I can’t believe I still have to spell that out for people, but it seems I do.) If you see me working behind a bar, how, in what universe, does that confuse you as to “who I am” or “what I am”? I don’t want to pull pints! I want to perform. I want to be on stage. I am paying my rent. And if you cannot understand that, or you never had to do a stint of working a flexible job to make ends meet on the path to your dream, then I am truly astounded and envious.
So, who am I?
I’m an actor. From the age of five everyone who met me knew I was destined for stage. I’m loud, ambitious, emotional, committed, can learn lines like a motherfucker and recite Titanic having seen it three times. I’m a fucking actress mate, do not deny it. I studied acting two afternoons a week my entire childhood, went on to study at university at one of the most prestigious courses in Australia. I performed consistently in my home country before setting sail for the UK to take on projects that I felt suited me more. I wanted adventure, I wanted to take over the world. I wanted to start fresh and see what happened.
There is something very empowering about going where no one knows you. A fresh slate. And that’s the only way I can think to describe the last four years of my life. I came somewhere where no one knew me. I could be anything I wanted, do anything I wanted. So I started from scratch – theatre. I need to get into theatre. I need to know people, meet people, make connections, find the creative spots. So that is what I did. I acted, yes, in fact I performed at the Royal Exchange only six months after arriving in Manchester, which is something I would currently kill to achieve. My first ever job was in a play that went on to win a Manchester Theatre Award for Best Play. It wasn't a bad start. Believe me, I arrived here as an actor and pursued acting effectively. But, I suppose I just have a thirst that could not be satisfied with the occasional play when I happened to get lucky. I wanted more. And I saw gaps in this beautiful Manchester scene. Gaps that desperately needed filling. More opportunities, more venues, more spaces, more wages, more grants…. There are too many talented people here and not enough opportunities. So, instead of clogging up the casting calls with another young brunette female, why not write them? Create opportunities, and while I’m at it, give myself a job too?
I currently run a theatre company with my best friends, as well as a thriving creative organisation, which is now a collective of over 1000 artists from the North West. I also love food and writing a blog (obviously), I love socialising and going out for dinner, I love fitness and health, I also love walking and outdoors. I wouldn’t mind writing a play and producing some of my own work. And hey, I still have to pull pints, so I guess that makes me a barmaid too? There are SO many things I want to do that I have not done yet. And maybe that will mean I ‘make it’ as an actress never, or slower, than the rest. Maybe. But I think I’m just the kind of person who wants to make opportunities, rather than waiting for them. I want to make theatre, be involved in great things. If that means my path to performing dream roles is a little longer and slower, I guess that’s the sacrifice I have to make. Because I tell you what, the highest high I have experienced, was not performing, it was calling one of my best friends and telling him that I wanted to employ him, in a dream role and give him the kind of opportunity I would die for.
Enabling someone else’s dream actually does feel better than getting it. I don’t know what that says about me, but there it is. Make your judgements. I love enabling and that’s clearly what makes me a good producer. But it is also no reason to ignore the 5-year old girl who danced around in leotards and forced her parents to watch every Friday night. She’s a performer. She wants to perform and entertain. And she’s not bad at it. She’s kind of good at it. She has enough positive re-enforcement and jobs and validation to know.
So, why bother sitting around waiting for the phone to ring? Just so those in the biz can “label” me, and know “what I am”.
Yeah, I said it. Fuck them. I’m me and I’ll do whatever I want. And you just better not discriminate against me if I’m right for something and you don’t give it to be because I pull pints. That would just say far more about you than it says about me.
I’m doing my best. And my best is to not be just one thing....
I'm not going to lie... I'm slightly in shock. Here I sit, doing what I love: writing.
I have been craving to sit down and write a proper blog post for months. Literally months. That's the sad thing about hobbies we love - they always take a back seat to 'real life'.
Things have been very hectic lately - I opened a play in Manchester that I was both performing in and producing (never do that), beginning a job hunt, juggling a few other lovely projects... It's been hectic to say the least.
And always, when I am busy, this blog is the first thing to suffer. It's my private, selfish, happy place, so if you haven't heard from me in a while, it's evidence that I'm stretched too thin and not having enough 'Hannah Time'. Which is dangerous. We should always be making time for ourselves. But also, it's not the only thing to suffer - everything does - sleep, exercise, relationships, making time for my family... Our foundations are foundations for a reason, we need them to be our best selves and take whatever life throws our way. When you don't have those basics in place, it can be a lot harder to cope when the going gets tough.
Life has been a funny old thing lately. In many ways I've been living a dream, performing, producing, building my theatre company, spending time with friends. I'm incredibly lucky. But there is something about our society that makes me feel like I can't ever just be settled and content. I sometimes feel that everything around me is designed to keep me dissatisfied. Designed to make things more difficult than they need to be. Of course, this may just be me, my natural anxiety, my investment in wanting things to go perfectly getting in the way of me being able to just stop and enjoy life.
But whether it's me or society, it's there. This niggling dissatisfaction with things. It's like until I'm a full-time actress who doesn't have to worry about money or time, I will be dissatisfied, which is of course complete nonsense because there have been many times in my life - as a barista, a waitress, a producer, a social media guru and everything in between - that I've been happy. I'm not only happy when I'm acting, not at all, so it's time to focus on the little things. Time to remember that whatever is happening in life, wherever we are on the long path, life is amazing. It's brilliant and it's here to be LIVED.
Here's how I'm going to spend the next few weeks, soaking up the small things, getting back on track and remembering how lucky I am.
1. Money is not important
Can I pay rent? Can I eat? Can I survive?
Well guess what? i'm a hell of a lot luckier than most. And that's a fact. It's time to stop panicking about money all the time. It's not healthy and it's also not necessary. Money is out there and it can be made by getting a shitty bar job, working in an office or doing any number of things. The one thing it's not is impossible. Get a job, make the most of it, and stay focused on the more important things in life. Get a job that will enable you to do the things you really love and don't get bogged down in thinking it defines you. It doesn't. This is me talking to myself here, in case you hadn't noticed....
2. Life is not about success
I care a lot what people think. GASP. Anyone who knows me will smirk reading that, because it's so painfully evident to those in my life. But for anyone who just reads this blog, you may think I'm a carefree person who lives their life with a smile and not a care in the world.... not true. I get very bogged down when I feel I'm not meeting expectations or not the person others think I am. Crazy, I know. But I'm working on it.
Something that I know will help keep me on track is remembering that NO ONE CARES. We are all too wrapped up in our own lives and insecurities to really invest that much time in what's happening to others around us. Especially to monitor and consider their successes and failures. It's just not a thing. Do I spend a moment of my time considering other actresses around me and their auditions? No.
I'm going to keep telling myself that the same applies to others around me. And cross my fingers.
3. Remember the vitality of basics
Although I hate him now, I always remember Durianrider (a vlogger) reciting the mantra "sleep, sugar, water, sleep, sugar, water" over and over again.
It comes into my mind when I'm tired and frazzled and I know that my "basics" are not in place. I'm not sleeping enough, I'm not drinking enough water and I'm certainly not getting enough fresh fruits and vegetables. Over the last few months, the busier that I've become, the more I've let myself slip into the mindset of 'it's okay, I'll just have another coffee"... "it's okay, I'll just grab something quick"... and it really isn't good. Sure, it doesn't matter once or twice, but it really does build up and start to become habit. I think about Hannah a few years ago, who was eating so well and so prioritised what she put in her body and I almost can't believe how I've shifted. It's amazing how our foundations can slip when our priorities do. But it's important to remember WHY they are foundations. They matter. And I need to remember that.
Sleep, sugar, water...
4. People are golden and vital
I am surrounded by some exceptional people. Truly. I need to make sure I see them, make time for them and for myself too. That's all.
5. If you're a creative person - you don't need permission to be creative
Do creative things. Always. I am a creative soul and I need to (again) stop slipping into the trap of thinking that my job is where I do what I love. No. I love creating and I can and SHOULD do it anytime. So, Hannah, get back to the blog and do some writing, you love it. Get back to those million stories you are working on and devising. Take some time away from the Clinton/Trump saga and do some writing instead. It's oxygen. It's breath. It's so incredibly important.
If you're a creative person in any way. Do it. Get in a room with some friends and make a piece of theatre, write a poem, draw something. On the way home from Liverpool with my partner a couple of weeks ago, I sketched the man asleep opposite us and I am NO ARTIST. The drawings were crap, but I loved doing them. It was fun. And it was way better than just listening to a podcast to pass the time. Which leads nicely into my next point....
6. Time In Our Own Brains
How much time do we really spend just with our own thoughts, in our own minds? These days, I'll guess most of us have barely any without a computer, music, radio, friends....
I used to be very good at making sure I had time without any noise blasting in my head for at least some small part of the day. Even if just while walking to the bus stop, or before bed, whatever it may be. Our minds are full of thoughts, inspirations, ideas, worries... the list goes on. And if we have no time to let that all mull over and stew and process, that's usually why we can't get to sleep at night! Because our minds are turning over all of the things that it has not been able to throughout the day.
Let your mind think, let it settle. Don't give it non-stop entertainment. It doesn't need it.
7. Be Grateful For Everything
Final bit of wank. Be grateful for everything. This is what I need to improve. Because, I'm always so keen to IMPROVE. I want more, I want better, I want the best. It's time to enjoy every tiny thing that I'm so lucky for. Who knows what will happen tomorrow...
Love and sweet potatoes,
One of my favourite things about having this blog, is that I get to reach people. People I do not know, but get to connect with over something so important and personal.
I still don't understand HOW anyone finds my words helpful, but the fact they do, makes me very happy.
An email I got today inspired me to write as much of a reply as I could. Olivia got me at a good time. I've had a lovely long holiday in Cornwall, and am sitting on a seven-hour train journey home. It felt like a perfect time to thank her for her lovely words and, as much as I can, help her with this tricky situation....
Hmmmm tricky! I SO sympathise with Olivia. There are many people out there who want to change their lives, however big or small, but feel they cannot because of others. I've been there myself, not just with veganism.
I sat down on the train, to write Olivia as decent of a reply as I could, which I hope may be useful to anyone out there having the same concern. For any "intense" vegans out there, you may not like my reply - as I do not tell her "GO VEGAN NO MATTER WHAT!" because I'm not insane. I hope this is sound, USEFUL advice that can truly help you Olivia, and anyone else out there....
Also - I'm going to litter this post with AMAZING vegan food pictures - you know, any extra inspiration ;)
Thank you so much for your lovely message. It really made my day. I’m happy you found my website that inspiring.
I really sympathise with your situation. It’s very difficult to go against what our families do. Diet and most lifestyle choices really are quite personal things and we don’t want to feel like we are critiquing others by choosing a path different to them. Especially our parents! When I went vegan, there was definitely a difficult “patch” when my family didn’t understand what I was doing and had concerns. However, I must confess, I was 22 at the time, not 15 like you are - so it will likely be even more challenging for you.
My honest advice would be to sit down with your parents in a really calm, reasonable way and tell them that you’re thinking about giving up meat and animal products (or maybe just start with meat if that feels too scary?) and ask them how they would feel about that? Tell them it feels important for you to try because you feel vegetarianism might be the right way forward for you. You’ve done lots of research and know it’s a healthy way to live and would like to give it a try. I think having a sense of flexibility, calmness and kindness in the air, will get a better reaction than announcing you’re now vegan and they have to “like it or lump it” ;) I don’t think anything like that would ever get a good response!
I don’t know your parents, of course, so maybe tailor how you tell them to what you think will work best. But i imagine that most parents would want to feel they have some input into their children’s lives and they want to know you value their opinion.
Great question about what can curb their concerns. If you think their main concern will be your health, and not worrying that you’re rocking the boat (which was my situation) that’s great news. If you need evidence to show them how healthy veganism is, I recommend looking at www.vegsource.com and a great YouTube channel to look at is The Unnatural Vegan. She does an entire video on Vegan Nutrition which is very helpful and worth a watch :)
My personal advice on nutrition would be to just eat as much FRESH fruit and vegetables as you can, with some nuts and good starchy potatoes/sweet potatoes/parsnips in there. Obviously get in some vegan sweets and fun recipes (like burgers, pastas, etc) - but as long as you’re getting in some fresh stuff every day, you will be right as rain. I DO recommend supplementing vitamin B12, but primarily because all studies done on B12 suggest that almost every human on the planet is deficient and we should all be supplementing, due to the lack of nutrients left in our soil, but it can often get palmed off as a “vegan issue”, when the evidence proves otherwise.
As a last resort, I believe a really nice option for you could be to just do whatever you can at this time in your life. Maybe eat as little meat as you can at home, choose vegetarian or vegan when you go out with friends for meals, or when you cook for yourself, but don’t feel you have to rock the boat too much if you feel it will upset things too much? Then, when you move out, you are free to eat and do as you please! You can eat a fully vegan diet and feel the benefits for yourself, without the negativity of having to do it at home. Having said that, I hope, and do truly believe, that by finding this path and doing it in a very positive, happy way, you can bring some new information and inspiration into your parents' household. You can introduce new yummy vegan recipes, some very healthy choices, and best of all, that compassion for animals, which so many people are completely closed to until someone opens their eyes. You can do that for your parents, as I did mine.
My Mum is now a vegan and my Dad is a vegetarian, something I didn’t think would EVER happen when I made the decision to go vegan. Don’t get me wrong, it didn’t happen overnight, but it did happen in time. It’s amazing what a positive influence we can have on people without even knowing it.
I really hope that helps, Olivia.
Love and Sweet Potatoes!
- Hannah xx
Yes, I watched your video and yes I’m going to talk about it.
I admit, I saw the title and I felt dread. Oh God, what is she going to say? What more bad-press for veganism is going to be drummed up this week? Then, I watched and... my lord, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. Why? Because you use nearly every argument that a meat-eater should never use in a debate against veganism.
And not because they're “rude” or “offensive”, but because they make you look really ignorant. And a little psychopathic. There are genuinely thought-provoking anti-vegan arguments out there, trust me, I've heard them.
There are none in here.
When people act the way you do in this video, (which I know is just for views and attention) pretending to have zero compassion, you look, yeah, a bit psychopathic. I believe, Nicole, that you do have feelings, you do have compassion, and if you were watching a dog getting beaten to death in the street, I think you would do something. Or… feel something.
Let me explain. You begin the video by making animal noises of “the most delicious animals”.
Great start. I can tell this is going to be full of intellectually complex, scientific, logic-driven discussion. Here’s a
reality check: most vegans (and I say “most” because I would never, unlike you, attempt to speak for an entire, complex collective of people), do NOT make the argument that meat isn’t tasty. Of course meat is fucking tasty. We aren’t aliens without taste-buds. We just happen to think that there are more important things (and quickly realise vegan food is fucking amazing). Like the future of the planet? Like the value of life being more important than a moment of pleasure? Maybe the most delicious food in the world is actually baby hearts… dipped in your best friend’s fresh tears. You aren’t going to start having that for breakfast, lunch and dinner every single day ‘cause ‘it’s your right’. Are you? Delicious doesn't equal right. Fuck that shit.
Your next point is one of my personal FAVOURITES. “I eat meat because I’m an animal too and they would all eat us if we weren't eating them".
Here’s a fun head scratcher for you – humans are meant to be smarter, more evolved, more forward thinking, more intellectual than other animals. Right? That’s what makes us better, that’s what makes us humans and not lions or tigers or cows or pigs or giraffes or snails or bees.
I don’t know if you’ve heard about this thing of protecting the weak and not taking advantage of weaker beings just because we can? It's kind of a thing, yes a relatively new thing, I grant you. The reason veganism is growing by the day, is because more and more people are realising this. They are thinking that we shouldn’t just kill and beat and enslave living beings just because we can. And, hey, lightbulb – NO OTHER ANIMALS DO THAT.
Other animals do not enslave their food and fatten it up with hormones and force it to grow at twice the rate it's meant to naturally and only eat its breasts covered in barbecue sauce and throw away the rest.
You get me? You get what I’m saying? I'm trying very hard to stay calm and not play into any "angry vegan" stereotype. But the truth is Nicole, you have made it hard. Very hard. Even worse – I know that’s what you want! You want me to get angry and write this post and get you more attention. The only reason I am bending to your will, is because we need intelligent, logical vegan voices out there undoing the damage your video will do.
Do you not understand that we are in a desperate time? (Obviously not) That our planet is dying? That tens of billions of animals are being slaughtered every year so humans can have KFC and discounted chicken thighs and jam donuts and chocolate milkshakes and sushi and fucking Starbucks lattes? These opinions you splurge out of your attractive gob are doing SO much damage. Because they are WRONG. If you want to keep eating meat – fine, go for it, but do NOT, do NOT spread these lies and ignorant ideas of what vegans are like or what they represent.
There are annoying people in every group, I know. There are annoying vegans who go around pushing their opinions on others and I hate them way more than you do. They are a detriment to an important cause and I hate that. But do not paint us all with the same brush. Do not. Just as I am not going to go around saying that all blondes with great boobs are attention seeking. Or, that all meat-eaters are as uninformed as you just made them out to be.
My meat-eating friends would HATE this video. You make all meat eaters sound like they disrespect vegans and find them annoying. I can tell you, AS a vegan, my meat-eating friends love that I’m vegan. They respect it and understand it. It broadens their culinary horizons; they come over for dinner and we have intellectual, intelligent debates. There really are genuine arguments against veganism – like, hens in the backyards, what does a vegan world look like, etc, and you do not raise a SINGLE one of them. Not a single intelligent point.
What were your points again?
This is quite interesting coming from you - Nicole Arbour. One of the most universally annoying and disliked personalities on the internet. I do not want to speak badly of anyone and I'm trying to use my words carefully, but this is a fact. I honestly believe that a hate-video from you is the biggest endorsement vegans could ask for. If Nicole Arbour is anti-vegan – stick me in the vegan camp please.
This is just pure wank.
I'm sure some assholes do. Ignore them. Some men think they’re superior to women. Ignore them too.
Just – open a science book. Please. Here is just one article you can read "Humans are Meathooked, but Not Designed for Meat Eating".
I disagree with this. You know why? Because I am proud that I was able to question what I was told my entire life. Since birth I was told that eating meat was normal, healthy and expected. It’s hard to go against the grain. It’s hard to question your parents, your friends, your very existence. Anyone who CHANGES THEIR MIND and changes their life for the better should be proud. Anyone.
You do some kind of weird back-track at the end, along the lines of: “eat whatever you want, just don’t be annoying” which is confusing. It suggests you don’t really believe any of the anti-vegan crap you've said and are just saying "don't be annoying". (Alongside gaining views and controversy)
I know there are annoying vegans out there and I’m sorry. I really am. To anyone who has had a shitty conversation with a vegan, felt judged by a vegan for eating lunch, felt attached for doing what you’ve done your whole life, I’m truly sorry. That isn’t cool and should never happen. Most cool, normal, nice, logical people out there, who just happen to be vegan, would not subscribe to this behaviour. At all.
Veganism is NOT my religion. It’s a damn important movement that is trying to make the world a better place, with no factory farms, less unnecessary death, less methane gas destroying our world and better health for all those people out there who are eating bacon for breakfast, chicken for lunch and steak for dinner. There is a middle ground people – and it’s us all getting along, some vegan, some veggie, some meat-eaters, but less animal cruelty. An end to factory farming. A sustainable way forward that doesn’t rape our planet.
I could literally go all day on this, I have to stop. That will do. My fingers hurt.
As a final word - please don't paint all vegans this way. Just as we should not say that all muslims are terrorists, all feminists hate men or all atheists hate religion. It's just wrong and ignorant to paint a massive collective of people with one brush.
I'm not stupid. I understand that Nicole calls herself a 'comedian' and any day now will release some shitty press statement that one of her best friends is vegan and she doesn't hate all vegans, blah blah. But it's not about that. This isn't about YOU, Nicole. It's about creating a world that UNDERSTANDS why veganism matters. Why animals matter. Why the circle of life (which ironically, a lot of meat-eaters use in argument) matters.
We are trying to save the damn world. Even Miley Cyrus gets it!
As you can see I'm intentionally not linking to the video. You can find it if you so wish.....
This was my first time at Mary & Archie, despite living super close. My partner and I were looking for somewhere to have a kick-ass Sunday breakfast and not having much luck at all.
Any Mancunian would assume Chorlton is haven for vegan food .... Sadly not the case. There is Tea Hive (which is great if you want mushrooms on toast) and an ENTIRE vegan grocery store, which is the best place on earth, but Chorlton isn't a spot with a wealth of vegan food options. (Which is okay by the way! I ain't the entitled type.)
We were walking past Mary & Archie and it looks gorgeous from the outside. I'm Australian, so anything with a great-looking coffee machine, big open doors, outdoor seating and fresh flowers on the tables is going to take my fancy. Once we sat down and got a glass of water, I felt I could close my eyes and pretend I was home in Brisbane... it had the same feel and vibe of a curb-side Aussie cafe. And I love that. (The weather is even nice today!)
We grabbed a menu and, as expected, there was no vegan breakfast (not shocked. Ever.) We approached the counter like naughty children to ask if we could be the Annoying, Menu-Changing People and the staff were fab. "Yeah, change what you want!" "Vegan? Totally fine."
THANK YOU. I guess we are in Chorlton. We can't be the first ones.
We sat down at a lovely table, right by the open doors and were served pretty much immediately. All the staff were ace - warm, friendly, didn't treat us like vegan-aliens. She jotted down our breakfast amendments and then, tragically informed me that they don't have soy milk. Only almond and coconut.
This is growing more and more common and it devastates me. I inquired why and she said they are just trying it out, seeing what sells best. Totally understandable - business need to be good businesses and stock what sells.
But I have gone to more and more places lately that are not serving soy milk and I fear it's a response to the fear-mongering around soy, which has been largely proven to be baloney.
There is a LOT of negative press around soy (though it has eased off in the last year or so) and I certainly took the time to do my research to see if there was something in it.
Is soy actually bad for us? To save you time and energy and me typing for ever and ever, here is an awesome video from Unnatural Vegan on YouTube that is great watching, and very well researched.
All I would say to cafes is - please don't shun soy for any health reasons. I WELCOME any comments on this post or on my Facebook page if you have new information to share - I am always eager to learn and I keep an open mind. But, from my previous exhaustive research and drinking soy every day for the last five years and feeling absolutely ace (not to mention my partner's 33-year-long soy consumption without sprouting boobs) I don't believe there is anything to fear. Science has done it's thing and they haven't found anything scary.
So, aside from my not-soy latte (which is not Mary & Archie's fault. As I am one of the only vegans in the world who don't worship almond milk) our experience was fantastic. The breakfast arrived and I nearly cried into the perfectly ripe, perfectly seasoned avocado.
It was delicious.
I highly recommend any vegans popping by this place. You'll get a lovely coffee (depending what milk you like!) a delicious breakfast and a very warm welcome.
Thanks Mary & Archie for treating us good :)
Mary & Archie is located in Chorlton at 111 Manchester Rd, Manchester M21 9PG
So, this is the post where I come clean about my YouTube obsession.
I am obsessed with YouTube. I confess. Please don't run for the hills and begin doubting any depth you once found in my words.
YouTube, despite the often shallow content, vapid vloggers and non-stop drama, is - at the end of the day - a community. A community of different worlds, perspectives, information, cliques and, I'm gonna be honest, it's fascinating. Fascinating as all hell. I started off only being invested in the vegan community. It was helpful to me as a new vegan getting to see what people were eating, where they shopped, how veganism was discussed and received. This vast, incredible resource at my fingertips - helping me and guiding me forwards.
Then... I discovered the drama. Oh boy the YouTube drama...
Active YouTube watchers and vloggers love controversies. And even more so, they love a good old fight between two YouTubers. In the vegan world different YouTubers are constantly making response videos to each other, disagreeing, going back and forth, sending their followers to go and write mean comments on the other's channel. It's MENTAL. And... addictive.
In any world, there are kings and queens, those who reign above all others. And, like any world, it's quite a mystery how they got there.
In the vegan YouTube world, the queen is Freelee the Banana Girl. Without question. I'm sure many readers will have heard of her, or stumbled across her videos. If you haven't, I would say go and have a watch. Most of her earlier videos are great; she got to this level of stardom from making genuine, raw, inspiring videos about being a healthy, high-carb vegan, living an active lifestyle and promoting and overly positive message.
Freelee started out raw but after about five years on YouTube, made a controversial move to promoting a "Raw Till 4" diet - introducing cooked foods onto her channel and encouraging the (enormous) following, to shun the raw movement and, instead, include healthy, high-carb cooked foods like rice and potatoes.
I personally LOVED this message and it was easy to understand the change in her thinking. Raw ain't sustainable. And it's more important to have VEGANS than it is to have Raw Vegans. In fact, who cares about having raw vegans? That is a (very admirable) personal choice and one that should only be made to enable personal growth or health. In terms of the greater good and humanity - vegan is definitely good enough. Don't add more and more restrictions - get people vegan and give them a lovely long list of foods that are delicious and easy. I was over the moon that Freelee developed her message into something more accessible for the every day viewer.
But then, weirdly, everything went sour. I could sit here for hours and hours explaining the complexities of the YouTube world, which of course I will not do. So, in a nutshell, Freelee....well... she changed.
She came up with a new "strategy". And her new strategy was to target high profile celebrities (and then, high profile internet personalities) to critique their diet and, essentially, tell them to be vegan. And blame their diet habits and fluctuating weight (argh don't talk about women's weight!) on the fact they WEREN'T vegan.
These videos varied in their approach, some were okay... drawing young girls' attention to the implications of their diet choices, and how most celebrities are eating unsustainable, unhealthy, low-calorie diets. However, some were not okay. Some were, well, just AWKWARD. Freelee became a bit of a bully, for lack of a better word.
In her opinion, the animal deaths and implications of eating meat are far more severe than any "hurt feelings" or "poor old celebrity who felt attacked" and I get that thinking, I do.
But, I cannot pretend that I believe attacking people is EVER okay. I can only speak from my own experience, but any positive conversations I have had with an individual about being vegan, changing their diet or animal agriculture in general, have only been positive (even to the point where they've gone vegan!) was when the conversation itself, was positive.
If a conversation feels judgemental, unpleasant, rude, or really, ANYTHING negative, both parties are likely to respond badly. And, well, that's what's gone mental on YouTube over the last few weeks.....
The girl I had never heard of, but with that thumbnail, I just had to click. And, I've got to be honest, I feel like this girl NAILS IT. Of course, there has been Freelee backlash, and she has addressed every claim Tana makes, essentially saying none of it is true. But what she DOES NOT do, is take on board any of Tana's core message.
Which is: please just be nicer. Be more positive.
Now, I get it, veganism isn't about positivity. Veganism is a dark, complex, awful issue, with a whole load of complicated problems and things that make me so sad sometimes I can't get to sleep if I think about them for too long. I'm not saying I want Freelee to be another sunshine and daisies vlogger, going on about how perfect life is. No, I love that Freelee isn't like that.
But, what I cannot condone, and I never will, is bullying. And despite what Freelee says to defend herself, and how she feels that is not the case, I have felt uncomfortable watching her videos, because I've felt that she, at times, speaks with overwhelming disrespect.
If you want to stand up for the little guy (and who is littlier than baby chickens?) you can't really shit on everyone else to do it. Not in my opinion.
You need to embrace that overwhelming message of - we want things to be BETTER. A better place. Feminists who shit all over men, are ineffective feminists. Similarly, vegans who shit all over humans, are absolutely ineffective vegans. Do not perpetuate the stereotype that vegans care more about animals then people. That's stupid, but it's easy to see why people regurgitate that anti-vegan idea. It's because of people like Freelee.
Freelee, I know there is no way you'll ever read this, but, if you happen to - I do respect you. Some of your videos are amazing and I genuinely LOVE that you tell it how it is. You are probably now (along with Gary Yourovski) responsible for converting more people to veganism than anyone else on the planet. And for that, I will always bow down in respect. But, please, I beg of you - go back to doing it without this venom and disrespect.
You can critique and you can "tell it how it is" without shaming people.
Because really, vegans are anti-bullying. We are about speaking for those without a voice. Shunning the ultimate bullies. Any steps we take that make US the bully, are, I believe, a step in the wrong direction.
This (I plan to be 'short!') post is a reaction to a, rather good, article I read this morning: 'Should we all go vegan if it will save the planet?'
How fun right, because if the answer isn't 'yes' to that overly simplistic question - I choose to depart the planet immediately. 'No! I want bacon over the planet!"
Anyway - the article..
It's good. It is measured, not overly rude towards vegans, but hey, I have issues with it and I'm going to address them. Because I have a blog and that's what I can do. Power!
Firstly - the introduction: Leonardo DiCaprio"demanded his own menu." Hold up just one damn second. "Demanded"? If by "demanded" you mean - he chooses not to eat animal products and requested a vegan menu - why say "demanded"? Does this author know that Leonardo DiCaprio is actually a major dickhead who walked into the kitchen and demanded them whip him up a coconut creme brulee? Just saying - that shit takes time and would certainly have been prepared in advance.
There is nothing wrong with opting out of eating certain things, if done respectfully. I am happy for vegans to be critiqued to be demanding, but only if they actually were! Was he demanding? Tell me how. Prove it. Don't just say that he was because he is a vegan.
My blood boils.
It's these stupid, casual sentences that contribute to this notion that vegans are "pushy" or "demanding" or "inconvenient". I take some comfort knowing ANY diet requests get treated in a similar manner in the world of hospitality. If you can die from a peanut allergy and tell the waitress so, you can almost guarantee the chef will still roll his eyes and act annoyed. It's even worse with things like gluten and dairy. If you have a genuine intolerance to these things, some small-minded people out there don't even believe they are real! They think gluten allergies have just materialised in the last five years and everyone is jumping on the band wagon. While there may be an element of truth in the band wagon, there is no denying that people are allergic to some foods and they have a RIGHT to ask for a burger without the bun, however ridiculous staff may think it is. They have a right to eat and live.
So, when it's an ethical vegan in question? Boy oh boy, the hatred comes thick and fast. Which leads me to my second frustration with this piece. His little insertion of the oldest vegan joke in the book - (How can you tell a vegan? You can’t, they tell you!) To me this screams that the author didn't want to write this piece so has taken every chance he's got to have a little dig; disguised as a 'fun', clever insert. Well mister Godwin, I may be completely wrong but think I see through you. With your well-chosen wording (I know how much choice goes into every single word of an article like this) you are continuing to paint the picture that vegans are in some way "difficult". Without any proof other than that Leo had the temerity to eat quinoa on BAFTA night instead of dead chicken.
Shame on Leo.
The irony for me is that Leonardo DiCaprio may just be the quietest, least obnoxious vegan in Hollywood, so the fact he is the subject of this post is a bit odd (he's topical. Mystery solved.) Many vegans in Hollywood have stories going around of them being a bit on the egocentric-side (as does every damn celebrity in the stupid place), but Leonardo? I've barely heard of him being a vegan! Is he even one? I knew he was vegetarian but maybe the veganism is a fairly new thing. Well Leo - welcome to the club! You're already getting bad "demanding" press. Welcome to your life as an ethical vegan.
My rant is basically: stop making up all this shit about vegans. If we actually did or said have the things people constantly TELL me that vegans do - I doubt I'd be one.
I am told constantly (in life and on the internet) how annoying vegans are. All they do is talk about veganism (insert previous shit joke), they judge me, they make me feel guilty, they think they're better than me.
Well guys, I hate to break it to you but... I AM A VEGAN. I am a vegan and have been so for over four years and I don't think I could ever be accused of the above. Although, I have been. I have been many times, simply for writing a blog post, having a blog, having a vegan lunch, having vegan shoes. God Hannah, all you talk about is veganism! Erm, all I did was tell you where I got my shoes from.... because you ASKED!
These are genuine conversations I've had. I've even been accused of being "preachy". PREACHY. I am a self-evaluating kind of person and sometimes I get passionate, but never preachy. I have never, ever made a meat eater feel bad about eating meat and I do NOT believe that all human beings should be vegan. (Insert gasp). The main reason I don't believe that though is because then every illness and ailment would be blamed on veganism. And I don't want that life.
It goes without saying that some vegans are horrendous, mostly on the internet. There are god-awful vegans out there who make me hang my head in shame. As there are god-awful HUMANS out there. Let's not make the mistake of judging a group on their worst. We know how bad that is by now, right?
My final point, which is where any depth may appear in this post, is that the author rounds off his initial points by saying that there must be 'other ways' to solve these serious environmental problems.
"would we be better off investing in collective action? For there are surely legislative avenues that could be explored — carbon and water taxes, sustainability incentives, advertising restrictions — as well as vested interests that could be challenged. Change is cultural, true, but there’s no surer way of changing a culture than changing a law."
This is what it always comes down to. People are SO desperate not to make a lifestyle change, so desperate not to give up their bacon that they will look to any other options. They will try to invest all our money into more sustainable "incentives", add taxes onto water and carbon (which I'm supportive of in a sense). I'm supportive these things, of course, BUT I must say, because this is my blog and I'm aloud to just type something a bit mad now and then:
WE HAVE THE ANSWER! YOU DON'T NEED TO DO ANY OF THAT. JUST CUT DOWN ON YOUR ANIMAL PRODUCTS AND WE WILL BE FINE.
The answer is staring us all in the face. He STATES the facts in the article and still comes to the conclusion that we don't have to change our eating habits. Not if we just... find another answer... oh, I don't have it.... but we just... find one. Add taxes, or something...
I am not perfect. I am no where NEAR perfect. I don't believe that veganism is a shining perfect thing (far from it). But I certainly believe scientific facts when presented before me and relatively indisputable. I think the debate is over that factory farming is bad for the environment. Right? Can we agree that debate is over? Which is exactly why I'm not saying EVERYONE has to be vegan. We don't all have to go vegan, but we do have to stop consuming shit, cheap meat that you are picking up in your grocery store. And cheap milk! I saw a frustrating infographic the other day comparing milk to nut milks. An ad from the dairy industry demonstrating "Milk's better for you and it's cheaper too!" Well, you have not convinced me to buy your product because it's cheaper. I don't want cheap shit fueling me thank you very much. And don't you think your product should be more EXPENSIVE seeing as it's come from a LIVING BEING?! And the processing and making of your amazing product is contributing to the death of the planet?!
Okay, deep breaths. Rant nearly over I swear.
In fact, I think it's over.
I feel better now. And why do I feel better? Because I cannot have this conversation in real life. I can't. I have to have this conversation on my blog, typing furiously over my morning coffee. That's how I can vent my rage and then move onto the much more important things in my day. I can't share this with a friend or with my workmates and let out my frustration there. Why?
Because then I'm "pushy", "preachy" and "judgemental".
Back into the corner, vegan.
PS - if you are reading this post and NOT a vegan, please remember my blog is FOR vegans. Comment if you wish, but do so with respect. I respect everyone, which I hope is evident in my writing. I am passionate, but never disrespectful.
I treated myself recently; what can I say? I deserve a treat. I've been working hard and felt it was time to look like I give a damn about what I put my possessions in.
Thus - my beautiful new vegan, cruelty free accessory! (That I just had to share with you all....)
It's getting easier to find vegan fashion; shoes, clothes and bags (thankfully!), but my biggest issue is still style. I find a lot of vegan brands don't match the sense of taste and style I want out of my clothing and accessories. Just because I'm vegan, doesn't mean I want to scream "HIPPY" with every stitch of clothing I wear.
I am so happy to have discovered Mechaly. I had never heard of this vegan company and don't know how that's possible (probably because I spend more time eating then shopping....) But they are fantastic; high quality, ethical, fashion forward; specialising in vegan leather, handbags, scull wallets, jewellery and more.
Mechaly was born out of the wish to blend social action with the love of fashion and style. Mechaly aims to address the obstacles and challenges facing cruelty against animals; inspired by people who lead busy lives and are looking for accessories that encompass style and comfort, while fulfilling a higher cause.
This is me to a T!
I am vegan, I care, I want to do the right thing and make the right choices. But, I'm also hectically busy and don't always have time to spend hours on the internet looking for the most ethical option. Here is one company, where you can guarantee style, ethics and ease!
Mechaly is all about design, fashion, the environment, social responsibility, excellence, inclusiveness, integrity, authenticity and, of course, being a voice for animals. The mission is to take animals out of the equation. HALLELUJAH!
Mechaly is proud to be certified vegan by Vegan.org and a PETA approved cruelty free & vegan brand.
I highly recommend taking a look around - www.mechaly.com
My bag is beautiful and screams quality. YAY VEGAN FASHION PROGRESSION!
I'm proud to say that if you want to treat yourself to a Mechaly beauty, I can offer you a discount code! Woo.
Enter - SHOP35 as a coupon code for 35% off your order and FREE SHIPPING within the US.
Thank you Mechaly. Keep up the amazing work.
As a little bonus, I wanted to include the Mechaly founding story...which is genuinely beautiful. As French designers operating out of Beverly Hills, I found their story beautiful and worth sharing :)
"You're probably wondering what the name "Mechaly" means. To us, Mechaly represents our Legacy; it is our Culture, Heritage, Family, and Tradition. Mechaly is the maiden name of our mothers.
"We have vivid childhood memories of our grandfather, Henry Mechaly, and the principles he instilled in us. As children, we would often visit our grandfathers’ farm where he taught us to respect all living beings! He taught us that life is precious and to cherish good health and each day that is given to us on this earth. Grandpa always believed in us and pushed us to pursue our dreams. The Mechaly brand commemorates the confidence & determination our grandfather instilled in his grandsons. Mechaly is also dedicated to all grandparents who believe in their grandchildren unconditionally."
Well - amen to that. Let's all keep working together to build a beautiful, compassionate, cruelty-free world.
Over the last few months I've had the ENORMOUS pleasure of being involved with the 2016 Veganuary Campaign Video!
Over two days of filming I met so many fantastic, inspiring people. I went to two of my favourite places in Manchester, got to eat phenomenal food, meet so many like-minded people and most importantly, spread the Vegan message.
I'm so happy with the finished result; it embodies how I feel about a vegan lifestyle and what I want to shout from the rooftops. Being vegan does NOT have to change your life. It doesn't have to turn you into a new person, stop you from doing anything fun or change your personality.
It is simply a PART of who I am. An important part and a part that has changed me for the better, but it will not stop me eating in restaurants, being fit and active, eating delicious food or hanging out with my friends.
It's a detail, a detail that will be as important as YOU make it. It can take over you life if YOU want it to - but it does not have to. Life is about balance, doing what makes you happy and what will make your life better. For me, going vegan has only made my life better. I'm healthier, more compassionate and have more understanding of the world I live in. I've debated so much in the last four years - I've heard every anti-vegan argument there is. Some intelligent, some not-so-intelligent, but they all make me think. I do not and will never live my life in a vegan bubble, believing only what some people tell me. I want the whole story. I want the entire picture. And it is that very attitude that has gotten me here. This lifestyle makes sense, it checks out, it's logical and it's VARIED. Most anti-vegan arguments can be debunked with a simple Google, others are for brains far more powerful than mine.
But, if it's a risk I'm taking - I'd rather risk eating plants than eating innocent animals. We are over 10 billion land animals a year now... slaughtered.... for our stomachs. That doesn't even account for marine animals. Seriously people, the madness must stop. And what great timing with the most recent World Health Organisations report on Meat and Cancer. The facts keep rolling in and we KNOW animal products ARE NOT HEALTHY. Red and processed meats are finally without debate now (though many will try). The rest will follow, I guarantee it. Studies like this take time and the WHO most recent report took 800 studies into account. That shit takes time. So again, why wait for the study that will tell us what we know to be true.
Go vegan - save some animals and let's build a better planet together. The entire world will never be vegan and I know that. If you want to keep eating meat, please, at least try and find the most local, sustainable option.
If you know anyone who is flirting with the idea of giving up animal products - please do "share" this video with them and inspire them to take up the Vegan Month challenge.
It's only 30 days and there is so much support from an enormous, caring community.
Not long ago, I posted about the changes my life has undergone recently - mainly in the form of employment. After ten years of making coffee I had reached my wits end. I have creative dreams and ambitions, but no idea when these will become something tangible; more than just a dream or a hobby.
Can what I love ever become what pays the bills?
What has kept me sane over the last ten years has been - BEING BUSY. So busy. So, so busy. Any creative endeavour I can sink my teeth into - I will. Any company I can get involved with, any acting role, writing, blogging. I love it all. I love it, but none of it pays. Occasionally an acting job will give me some money, occasionally I will be able to get some added income from a freelance job, but mostly - my income has been: coffee-making. Cafes. Hospitality.
I've been an actress, a producer, an administrator, a writer, a social-media wiz, a production manager... you name it - I've probably done it. I took a two-year internship in an independent theatre space basically doing every job under the sun to help keep the place afloat and didn't receive a single pound. That's how desperate I was and AM to do what I love.
I have taken almost any opportunity to act, to be in the theatre, to be creative. If someone asks me to be involved in something - I say "yes!" and this attitude has served me incredibly well thus far. The downside has always been time. I spend most of my life feeling like I'm chasing time, which isn't ideal. It seems the opposite of what every 'self help' book and wise friend tells you do. Time is precious and it's so important to stop and make time for ourselves. I'm good at that....when I have time. I am brilliant at being alone, brilliant at relaxing with my laptop in my favourite coffee shop, but the issue just seems to be WHEN.
If you've read my Getting Creative With Your Income post, you will know that I quit my job three months ago. God, it's only been three months. I took a temporary opportunity while re-building my life in every aspect - creatively, professionally and personally. Some aspects I took control over - namely a theatre company, but others have simply come my way and Lord, let them stay.
Five Weeks After Quitting My Job....
Five weeks after quitting my job I received an email from a brilliant and inspiring writer and entrepreneur, Ravi. My theatre company (Play With Fire) approached her about mentoring us into our first endeavour, which she accepted with open arms and was an enormous help.
Then... this email. How mysterious. But every gut feeling in me knew it was good. I've been burned a few too many times to get overly excited about potential opportunities, but something about this felt different. Safe. Secure. Dare I say - professional. In the creative world there are a lot of people "talking the talk" and not a lot of actual results. I have fallen victim too many times to people who talk the talk and started to lose hope that a creative position would ever come my way that I could truly throw myself into without fear.
And... it actually happened. This incredible woman was in fact - offering me a job. And not just any job - a dream job. A job where I get to link brilliant people together, work on promoting creative work that truly helps people, that raises awareness, that tells stories that MATTER.
And why? Well - because she stalked me. She stalked my history, my endeavours, THIS BLOG. She knew I was a hard worker, that I shared her passions, that I would deliver on my promises. I can't believe my long history of attempts to find a suitable career and all of my volunteered experience actually got me to this moment.
I will never forget sitting with Ravi, in the sunshine at her beautiful home and just thinking: 'this is what all my work has been for. This is why I took all those opportunities, why I didn't get that role, why I quit my job.... because of Ziggy's Wish'.
I have now been working with Ravi for seven weeks and it is a true dream. It's hard work and a full time emotional investment - but it's incredible. It feels like the answer to a lot of questions I have had about what my future involves and how I'm meant to pursue my skills.
What an incredible feeling.
And of course - my own theatre company - Play With Fire. Play With Fire was a dream set-up between myself and my best friend Daniel. We knew that we could produce theatre, we knew we could do it well, but - we wanted to do it properly.
There is a lot of inspiring work being done in Manchester; it's a thriving, exciting city. BUT - there are a lot of people working for free. I personally have worked for free FAR more times than I've been paid. It's an assumed thing. We are making a play, you're doing what you love, therefore - we don't have to pay you. Wouldn't be accepted in any other field, right?
So - Play With Fire was born - a company where Dan and I could make the kind of theatre we care about and do it as professionally as we know how.
The first step was to seek funding. And our approach to funding encompasses everything I'm trying to say in this post. Namely - WE WORKED OUR BUTTS OFF. Dan and I spent literally months on this application. We drafted and redrafted - we gave it to many professionals to read over and edit for us.... we made sure it encompassed our goals as best we could, we crossed everything, kissed it and sent it off. Perhaps one day I will find the time to write about the day I found out we were successful (it's a bangin' story) but for now - let me just say - it was a brilliant day. We got the funding and the incredible, mad rollercoaster to Orphans began.
I am seeing the results of my hard work every single day and know that I have never been so creatively satisfied. I spend my days with Ravi and Stacy in the beautiful Ziggy's Wish office, scouring the internet for inspiring stories to share, I am involved in some truly intimidating conversations about future projects that terrify me, but I know will help me grow. Then, in my evenings and spare time, I get to work on Play With Fire, my own baby. I get to write exciting emails, update our website, write the next schedule....
I may be a nerd. But I love it.
And, best of all, my life feels perfectly balanced at this point. I am still working two days a week in the beautiful zen of Oak Street Cafe, which I value so so much. And - without it, I wouldn't be able to take beautiful photos like this (and eat beautiful meals!)
A life COMPLETELY without hospitality still seems a bit strange. It's been an enormous part of my life for TEN YEARS - it's paid my rent, it's given me daily entertainment and, surely, the reason why a quiet cafe with an easy-to-reach powerpoint and yummy soy latte is one of my favourite places to be.
But - What About Your Blog??
I feel truly sad that blogging has had to take a back seat over the last few months. This place, my happy place, is so important to me. Here - I get to connect with you all - I get to WRITE, I get to share my thoughts and feelings and, best of all, hear your thoughts back.
I need this. I will never stop. It just may be a little less regular. I promise you - delicious meals are still happening every day and I'm trying to stay diligent on Instagram! ;)
What was the point of this post?
Really to say - work hard. Try everything. And if you WANT to throw yourself into something - do it, even if you're fearful the payoff may not come. It likely will, even if in an unexpected package.
I truly have never been happier. My future has never looked so bright. And a day like today, where I have done NOTHING except eat delicious food with my partner, sit in front of my laptop to write and am heading out to a movie later, are so so precious because they are so rare.
Love and Sweet Potatoes,
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