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
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,
So, I've got the secret guys. This is a big deal.
I haven't EVER bragged about converting before. It's something I've kept pretty tight-lipped about because I don't want to sound like a dick. BUT I have got a pretty decent track record of converting people and that's something to be proud of (perhaps even shout from the rooftops?!) If all vegans could successfully convert a few friends, we would be on a fast track to a much greener, healthier and more logical future!
My first conversion was my divine, beautiful, incredible mother. The greatest woman on the planet.
Initially I think she was concerned. There was an awkward phase where I would make a plate of vegetables for myself and give everyone else in the house salmon, you know, to keep the peace. But there were many evenings where I had to share information and talk about my feelings. Mum was there for me. She let me wail about the horrible truths swarming around my mind. My poor mother was forced to learn about meat and dairy because she was a phenomenal parent and there for her daughter in a confusing time.
I vaguely remember our first conversation about her stopping eating meat and then she went completely vegan.
I'm so lucky.
I got lucky with Mum because I wasn't very delicate in my first year of veganism. I was verging on Preachy. I wanted to tell everyone what was happening to chickens at that very second. "You need to know about the chicken beaks getting cut off!! Oh my god do you know what's happening to cute little piglets?!?"
I was traumatised to begin with. It's normal. It's understandable. Going vegan; you come out of the Matrix and take in the real world.
And the real world fucking sucks.
BUT, if you want to convert anyone, it's imperative to get out of this stage so you can talk to people without mentioning slaughter and veal and the like. Vegans should be normal people who just happen to not eat animals. Any ethical vegan understands how hard it is being constantly aware of the suffering happening every second, but, I promise, if you can manage to put this aside most of the time and enjoy your life; it will help save animals.
Most people aren't assholes who don't care about anything, they legitimately have reasons to not be vegan, which I've kindly listed below to debunk....
Why People DON'T Want to Go Vegan
1) Because they don't think there's anything wrong with eating meat
2) Because they love the way meat and cheese taste
3) Because they don't want to become a weird, crazy, preachy, asshole Vegan
4) Because they don't want to be a weak, anaemic pussy
5) Because they don't think veganism is necessary
6) Because they think it will take over their life
7) Because they think they should care more about children in Africa than animals
8) They knew someone who failed on a vegan diet
9) They still live at home and have someone else cooking for them
10) They think it will be expensive
11) They think it's too extreme
12) They're emotionless psychopaths
13) They have backyard hens
14) They believe they are sourcing ethical animal products
Have I missed anything? Probably.
When I enter a conversation with someone who is not vegan but wants to talk about it, either antagonistically or kindly, I first establish what of the above barriers stop them from being vegan. It's usually the first one. Even if they know about factory farming, they still think overall, eating meat is okay.
Once I've established the WHY, I figure out what they need to hear. Do they need evidence and research? Do they need compassion? Do they need good old logic and carefree chats? Trust me, there's something for everyone.
I'm going to start with a basic guide ... the following three things should be applied at all times (if you care about animals and want to save their lives anyway....)
I know this can be hard sometimes... I still struggle with it. Sometimes I want to yell at people for their ignorance, but it never works. Inner peace, confidence and relaxation truly is the best way. But, this comes with time.
One of the secrets to my converting is this relaxation. I don't wear veganism on my sleeve. It's a part of my life, it doesn't TAKE OVER my life.
Some meat eaters worry that being vegan would completely take over; take over their shopping, their relationships, their health! And this is simply not true. Maybe at the start, as making any change can be overwhelming, but in time, it's simply a choice in the moment. It's an immediate choice to put broccoli in your basket instead of beef or to say "hummus" in a restaurant instead of "halloumi".
In time, you'll honestly see it is that simple.
Be an example. Prove veganism doesn't take over your life. Have a colourful, varied existence! Talk about all kinds of things, not just food and animal rights. I'm sure we all know people who are obsessed with one cause or religion or diet... don't do this with veganism. Show that you are still the same person, just with different values and more awareness of the world around you.
Don't ALWAYS Talk About It
I set myself a fun experiment years ago - to never be the one to bring up veganism in a conversation UNLESS it's necessary.
It's necessary in obvious circumstances - someone offers me a biscuit, talking to a waiter or telling someone about myself. Apart from these circumstances, I try to never bring it up. That may ruffle some feathers, but it's my personal preference. I don't wear veganism on my sleeve and still; everyone who knows me knows that I'm a vegan.
It's INCREDIBLE how often I end up talking about it. I highly recommend trying this experiment for yourself. Try not bringing veganism up unless it's necessary and see if people start asking you more questions.
People ask me all the time why I went vegan, how I feel, what I eat for breakfast, what I think of various industries .... I truly believe this is because of my relaxed, carefree attitude. People know they won't be met with judgement, militant ideas or overwhelming passion. They will be met with logic, reason and relaxed conversation.
DO. NOT. FUCKING. PREACH!
1) Make non-vegans believe going vegan will turn them into assholes
2) Make non-vegans stubborn and more set in their animal-hurting ways
3) Make veganism seem like a cult or religion
4) Usually do not seem at peace with their decision. Which can look suspicious.
So, for all these reasons and more - try to just be comfortable, content and RELAXED about your vegan stance. It's far more infectious and assuring to any non-vegans out there.
I have an entire post about this you can read here - How To Spread The Vegan Word Without Being a Preachy Asshole. Please read! ;)
Make AMAZING Food!
The way to EVERYONE'S heart is through their stomaches. Make a feast, invite friends over, buy a bottle of organic vegan wine and show off how good this food can be.
It's a MYTH that vegan foods are deficient. it's a MYTH you cannot be an athlete and vegan. It's a MYTH you have to supplement protein and iron. Spend a bit of time researching and you will see that everything you need (apart from b12) is in plant foods and it's a BETTER source of your minerals, vitamins, proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
Also - the food can be fucking delicious. Even salad is delicious if it's made well. Focus on whole foods, eat enough, eat often, eat well. Be merry.
And yeah, get all your friends around for dinner to show them how good it can be. I have a post about this too ;) - Hosting the Perfect Vegan Dinner Party
Be the EVIDENCE. Be the Proof.
This is possibly the MOST IMPORTANT point.
Be a healthy vegan. Be an example. Have energy, eat enough, exercise, be happy ... If anyone tries to use any of the above arguments - the BEST way to combat it is if YOU are evidence their argument is wrong. I still have friends tell me they couldn't be healthy as a vegan when I am sitting right there at the same table; EVIDENCE that they can be.
I do not buy into any of this "one diet doesn't suit all" bollocks. That is utter crap. Yes, we all need different calories, yes we all need different amounts of protein and carbs and fats, that's fine, but it's NONSENSE and has been DISPROVEN by science countless times that human beings need meat or dairy.
ANYONE CAN BE VEGAN. Say it with me - ANYONE CAN BE VEGAN.
"It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes"
SNAP. Read the full shabang here - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19562864
And... Why? Why Convert?
So, why even write an article like this? Why convert people to something they don't want to do? Is veganism REALLY that important?
Animal enslavement is horrible; even meat eaters acknowledge this. Factory farms are inevitable while there is high demand for animal products and the animal's welfare will never be a priority in industrial-sized farms.
We MUST reduce demand. This is step one.
Eating animals is linked with various health issues, it's depleting the environment at an alarming rate and - IT'S CRUEL. Eating living, sentient, thinking, feeling, intelligent beings when we have ZERO need to is insane. It's insane, greedy and illogical.
Meat tastes good. We've always done it.
These aren't excuses. They are reasons why people do, but they do not stand up to:
Meat is bad for your health. Diabetes rates have increased 60% in the last decade. Our planet is dying and factory farming is the leading cause. Even Al Gore has gone vegan! Come the fuck on people. But, most importantly, breading innocent, intelligent animals, simply to cram them in tiny cages, stuff them with drugs and then cut them up into pieces so that human beings can eat chicken nuggets is insane.
Take your blinders off. Learn the truth and be appropriately horrified.
And, for any vegans reading - understand that your message is best delivered with positivity, understanding, compassion and relaxation.
Make delicious food, try not to preach your message; be a logical, healthy, happy vegan and watch your friends slowly ask you more and more questions. When I see someone doing something positive, I will naturally start to wonder about it. I will begin doing my own research and making up my own mind.
All my incredible friends who have gone vegan in the last few years made life-long, ethical changes and I can't see any going back. They went into it with sound mind, educated and carefree. This is much easier to achieve when you have a chilled-out vegan to inspire you.
That's what I have learned anyway ;) My mum is superior. Not all will be like her.
I'm a Barista. I make coffee for a living. I get it.
Years ago, it felt super cool to hate on soy milk. I remember getting the orders in for a "decaf, half shot, soy latte" and doing the eye-roll, the look to my co-workers, the whole performance that says: "one of THOSE customers, guys."
Then, I gosh-darn went out and turned vegan. What a stick-in-the-mud. I became the asshole who has the temerity to ask the Barista to use soy.
"Soy milk doesn't froth the same way," if I had a pound for every time some idiot told me that I'd be a millionaire. I'm telling you now - soy milk DOES whip the exact same way as normal milk. Of course it does. I do this every day of my life, so anyone who tries to argue, come show me in person.
When I go to cafes and I'm the person on the other side, "THAT customer", I can't help but laugh to myself. Mainly because I know what utter crap their eye rolls are based on. I'm telling you from the other side.
Your Barista Thinks -
A) You're just a bit difficult. We do deal with annoying requests every day. Stupid ones, often. So soy drinkers can get lumped in this category of just being "difficult"
B) You are a health nut. And coffee people don't always love health nuts. We like people who look after themselves, of course, and latch on to every ridiculous Guardian article proving "coffee drinkers live longer", but health nut? Who will ask about the gluten free bread, order a soy decaf flat white and then have a slab of chocolate cake for afters without a bat of the eye*? Yeah, you're hated.
C) Soy milk is just "bad". It's bad guys! It's shit. It gives men boobs and girls muscles.
D) Soy is so BAD for the environment guys. Stupid soy drinkers killing forests.
E) The big one. Soy is annoying. It's "hard to froth" and likely, I have to run to the shops to grab a carton because my employer doesn't have a stash easy to hand. He will buy three in the morning and after that, I have to go myself.
I can tell you know (and I'm the authority on all things.... har har) these are all UTTER BOLLOCKS. ABSOLUTE UTTER BOLLOCKS. I remember my judgements, I remember how i would feel about soy drinkers and treat them if they dared request I go all the way to the other fridge for a carton of health-nut milk.
Guys - I was WRONG. I was wrong and you know why? Because all of these arguments. Yes, all of them - incidentally promote milk. It's that simple. No matter what you think of soy milk - all of your anti-soy arguments (even that come from VEGANS!) are promoting the use of real milk.
Let me explain.
Nine out of ten coffee houses have milk or soy milk. And that’s only taking into account the ones with both! Some places still don’t have soy milk at all and out of the ones that stock both, I would say one in ten have a third alternative (usually Almond).
Almond milk is becoming increasingly popular, which is impressive, but it is still a rare find. In your average coffee house - there is milk or soy milk. End of story. Anyone who gives anti-soy arguments to your average person - is telling them to drink milk again. Even if that's not the intent, that will be the reality with the world we live in. All of the reasons that prompted them to give soy a try - usually because they’ve heard it’s healthier - will disappear and they will go back to milk again, which, in my eyes is a travesty. If they only have these two options and if they are not remotely interested in animal rights, all they will do is think "oh, okay, Milk is better for me, then" and give up on the dairy-free milk idea.
Milk is unsustainable, cruel, evil and abhorrent. We are in desperate times and need to get people off the stuff as fast as possible to save animals lives and save our planet. I’m not under any illusions that soy production is good guys, I’ve done my research and I know that soy production is down the crapper - but for anyone who doesn’t know WHY this is - please go to your nearest “Vegan 101” page and figure it out.
I wish there were enough vegans in the world drinking soy lattes to justify the amount of soy production. But of course, there is not. Soy is in EVERYTHING and it’s not good. It’s in our foods, its in magazine pages, it’s in drinks, it’s in cartons but mostly, it’s in animals stomachs, feeding them up with cheap shit that is not healthy for them in the slightest.
Do I think everyone in the world should be drinking soy milk? Of course not. I don’t think this is the answer at all - but I think it’s a better transition to get people off dairy. Get off dairy and find the best alternative that is farmed organically. There are PLENTY of organic, wholesome soy brands out there producing soy milk free of any nasty additives or preservatives (my pick here in Manchester is just soy beans, water and sweetened with apple juice… mmmm) and farmed sustainably.
Soy milk is like anything - there is corruption, there is shit, there are wankers, you need to DO YOUR RESEARCH and find the companies doing a good job and give them your money.
In my humble opinion, the priority needs to be getting people off milk and ending animal slavery. Everything about our food model needs work, it’s completely fucked. Soy included. But that does NOT mean we should just get back to torturing animals. NO. Fix one problem, then move on to fixing the next. In my opinion - animal slavery and torture is the biggest problem of our time and requires drastic action.
So, this morning, what inspired this post, was getting my morning coffee at 7am before embarking on my epic train journey to rehearsals. The two baristas started having a chat as she made my coffee; the girl announcing (I didn’t hear the context) “No, I don’t drink soy milk anymore.”
My heard did a little sad flop. What? What’s going on? Can I intervene? I listened intently and all I heard was muffled talk and laughter and I was imagining what they must be saying about soy milk. Memories. I felt sad; someone has almost made a brilliant change, but now, is not going to see it through. I may not be an activist who is breaking into animals cages (though I hope to one day!) but I am absolutely a day-to-day activist and if every vegan did this I think we would make some serious ripples. As she handed me my coffee a few minutes later I asked: “sorry, as a soy drinker, can I just ask why you’ve stopped drinking soy milk.” She replied: “oh, my partner has gallstones and the doctor said soy milk is a contributing factor.”
Okay, I wasn’t prepared for that.
“Really? Wow… I can’t see how that could be the case..” I fumbled, making mental notes to Google as soon as I got home. I know absolutely NOTHING about this, but my immediate thought was: “I know plenty of people who’ve had gallstones that don’t drink soy milk.” I voiced this to her and she agreed with me. We had a really nice conversation where I just expressed my confusion, as someone who ultimately believes soy to be a healthy alternative to milk and urged her to do her own research and not just take the doctors word for it.
Leaving the coffee shop, I felt a bit angry. THIS is what doctors are telling people with gallstones?? Oh my god. So now, this girl who needs to be healthier and heal, is going to start having cow milk over her cereal in the morning and milk in her coffee instead of the soy milk she’s been having. Well, awesome, that’s going to make her healthier.
I have a drastic idea for people in bad health. Are you ready? CUT THIS MILK SHIT. If soy milk doesn’t work for you - please don’t just run back to milk. A much better idea would be cutting a reliance on milk from your life. Cow milk is NEVER the answer. Yes, you heard me - NEVER. If you want a cup of tea, coffee, bowl of cereal or to bake a cake, that’s great, the vegan community have come up with many alternatives to milk, I’m sure ONE of these can work for you. You only have to like one. Soy milk seems to work well for most people and, again, if farmed organically is absolutely not going to do you any harm at all.
Let’s also remember that most of your “milk needs” - cereal, cake baking, coffee, tea - ARE NOT HEALTH FOODS. If you want to be in supreme health, you shouldn’t have any of these things in your life as it is. So, let’s not pretend soy is the only thing wrong with your morning bowl of cereal. The cereal is the problem with the cereal. Have fruit, have a smoothie if you want to be in the peak of health. If you’re not so worried about being in the peak of health; some porridge with water or dairy-free milk is great, avocado on toast is great, plenty of vegan breakfasts are great - here is a post full of them - but be realistic about what your ‘healthy choices’ are and always be logical.
Be A Day-To-Day Activist
In conclusion I want to encourage three major points:
1) Don’t feel bad ordering soy in a cafe. The Baristas are probably more educated these days, but if they roll their eyes or give you a hard time, they’re just being dicks.
2) Soy > Cow Milk every time. If in doubt, just cut them both. EASY FUCKING PEASY
3) Be a day to day activist. Always ask people questions if they’re spouting weird logic. Don’t lecture them, ask them questions. Make people think for themselves. And always look for opportunities to be a vegan activist. They are all around you.
My last piece of advice? Have a juice in a cafe. Then all problems are solved ;)
Love and Sweet Potatoes,
Listen, I get it. If any of this applies to you – trust me you’re not alone.
When I began facing the realities of the world I live in and contemplating changing my entire life (to reflect a new set of ideas in conflict to everything I'd been told my entire life) it wasn’t exactly a walk in the park.
I didn't want to seem like I was judging anyone. I didn't want my friends and family to see me as some "smug vegan" looking down on them and every meal they consumed. Nothing could be further from the truth and the idea anyone could think it affected me deeply.
I’ve always been a people-pleaser. I want to make people happy, cause as little damage as possible and make others lives easier, wherever I can. The ideas of which, work both brilliantly and ironically with concepts of veganism.
Veganism embodies doing our best; trying to screw up the planet as little possible, hurt the least amount of animals and be as good to our own bodies as we can. On the flip side, veganism can also mean segregating yourself from your friends, looking like a smug asshole, being difficult at parties and saying “no” to innocent looking things like cupcakes and mini-muffins. No one wants to be the dick in the office saying “no” to Stephie’s birthday cake. Whether you’re “dieting” or politely pointing out that the cake is made of pain and torture, no one wants to be that guy. And if you do? Well, you probably are a smug vegan.
I'm convinced a lifetime of people pleasing made it easier to be a likeable vegan. I've never wanted to rock the boat, stand out in a negative way or make people feel bad about themselves. Many vegans tend to push this idea they are "right" while others are "wrong" and wonder why no one wants to discuss veganism with them ever again!
I admit; I find pushy, judgmental vegans almost as annoying as meat eaters. Surely the end goal should be encouraging this lifestyle? Saving animals? Am I right or did I get lost along the way? Is the goal saving animals and the planet? Okay great, if we can agree on that, can we also agree that being aggressive and rude and preachy is NEVER going to convert ANYONE? I've never seen a successful execution of "I yell at you, tell you you're wrong and you want to be like me".
Being a Scary Vegan
Your approach will usually dictate how people react to you. If you go at someone, guns blazing, defenses up and ready for war, that's most likely what you will get back. Many vegans, I'm sure subconsciously, go at meat-eaters in this way. I've watched kind, loving people with the best intentions act in a way that will do NOTHING for their cause.
Who would want to join a group that seem defensive, angry and miserable? That's not appealing. I want to be part of a group who seem intelligent, well-read, logical and kind. If you are receiving negative reactions, try and assess if you are being overly intense or defensive when you talk about your lifestyle.
And I promise - I GET IT.
I get the passion. I get the anger. I get the frustration. It hits me hard. But, I reserve my anger for people who are cold and arguing their point absent of any compassion. Don’t go attacking any Tom, Dick and Harry for eating meat because chances are, they are either very minimally aware or haven’t had THEIR personal light bulb moment yet.
It could even come from you.
I've been so surprised in the last four years who will come and ask questions. It has even been that same cold person convincing me "they don't care".
How To Encourage (and SEIZE) a "Light Bulb Moment"
My ethos (after the first few “scary vegan” months) has always been: positivity rules.
If someone asks “why are you vegan”, which can be a genuine question or someone trying to get a rise out of you, my response is always along the lines of: “it was the best decision I ever made” or “I did way too much research", which can prompt follow up questions depending on your delivery.
My veganism is a relatively new-found lifestyle, so I cannot and SHOULD NOT judge anyone who hasn't found the right trigger yet. Even if someone doesn't want to become a vegan, they will absolutely have a compassion trigger. Something that makes them understand, even if they don't want to commit.
You can show someone a million animal-cruelty videos and get nothing. Then, randomly, they can see a vegan cartoon or listen to a celebrity they respect and their blinders are ripped right off. I’ve heard so many examples of meat-eaters getting suddenly affected by something I never would have predicted.
We are all different. That’s the most beautiful and frustrating part of life. We are all going to care about different things. Your greatest power is that when someone has their light bulb moment, they may think of you, the closest vegan they know and make a point to talk to you. When this happens, try not to jump out of your skin in excitement, try play it cool, but it is the greatest feeling ever.
No pressure – but you are a part of something really important.
You are a part of trying to save animals, end factory farming, save the planet and get everyone a hell of a lot healthier. So, if you find yourself in a conversation with someone about veganism, whether it’s horrible and negative or whether it’s tiny amount of curiosity, try and be cool about it. Try and be as nice as possible so people don’t think they have to change their entire life or suddenly become a raging hippie to join the club.
You don’t’ have to do ANYTHING to join the club apart from buy different stuff, care about shit and not eat rotting corpses.
Sounds like a fantastic club to me.
1) Throw Vegan Dinner Parties
They work. Get friends around and cook them up a delicious, wholesome vegan feast! It doesn't need to be fancy or impressive, just yummy and abundant. Most people imagine vegan food is boring and will result in starvation. As long as you debunk those two things, you're onto a winner.
2) Show off Your Lunch Box
There's a great smug cloud that forms when your lunch looks like this while every one else is eating cold ham and cheese sandwiches..... muhahaha.
3) DON'T SHARE ANIMAL CRUELTY VIDEOS EVERY DAY
If you have the guts to post about animal cruelty in your news-feed - I salute you! Truly I do. I have my blog for that and keep my personal page pretty people-friendly. I applaud those who share important information and remind people what atrocities are happening BUT - I'm not sure about doing it every day. If you sandwich animal cruelty posts amongst a fairly normal, every-day Facebook profile (my friend Jasmine is a great example) I imagine you're more likely to impact people. You don't want to be "that friend I blocked" ;)
4) Take The Piss Now and Then
Most cool people take the piss out of themselves now and then. Vegans are cool. Vegans should take the piss out of themselves occasionally. End of story.
Overall - remember that being a VEGAN is an important, beautiful and incredible part of who you are, but it shouldn't make you feel alienated from everyone around you. Show your passion, show your brilliance, show your knowledge, but share it in a way that feels inclusive and kind.
Compassion is key. You don't want to give voice to the MOST frustrating vegan stereotype: "vegans care more about animals than people!" (even though it's kinda true sometimes...) har har.
Hey, who doesn't cry more when animals die in films than people? They're the INNOCENTS! We just have made that connection a little earlier than everyone else ;)
I'm lucky to know a lot of wise and amazing people.
My mother is a constant source of inspiration; the most brilliant and accomplished woman I know. She can solve any problem and never fails to make me feel empowered. My Father overflows with wisdom from a phenomenal amount of life experience and is always there if I need his advice or help. I'm currently living with my best friend Dan and he is the smartest, wisest, most compassionate person you'll ever be lucky enough to enter a conversation with. Finally, I have a network of incredible girlfriends and when we get together to unpack each others lives, it's brilliant and complex and inspiring. I want to record everything we say for posts just like these.
My loved ones are constantly helping me. I take little pieces of them all when I need help, a pep-talk or just to feel better as I go about my day. (Especially needed now I live in another country!) I think, thanks to all their wonderful advice over the years and my own life experience, I'm finally starting to understand how to make the most out of life. How to ENJOY it. How to CONQUER it.
It's an amazing feeling.
So, here is a little summary of some of the BEST advice I've received. Some from myself, some from others, some from midnight revelations....
All of which help me on a day-to-day basis.
YOU Are In the Drivers Seat - Don't be a Passenger.
How empowering to just accept the reality that we are in control of our lives? 100%.
That may sound simplistic, but I like to not over-complicate things. Over-complicating can be detrimental, especially when talking about a very simple fact. YOU are the only person who has to live your life. If you're not happy with something, you CAN change it. If you are feeling overworked, you CAN take something off your plate. If you don't like your relationship, you CAN leave it. If you are bored, you CAN find something that excites you. I know life isn't simple, but for the most part - we don't do things because we can't be bothered, or we think it's too hard, or we are worrying about others, or we are simply afraid....
Fear has a lot to answer for.
I find personal control empowering, especially when I'm not happy with decisions I've made. It means I can look at my involvement getting there, instead of just feeling like a victim and being unhappy with my circumstances.
I'll never forget the Skype session when Dan explained this concept to me. He said: "Hannah, on some level, you've chosen this. You WANT to do this, even if it's subconscious ... It's okay to not be happy right now, or regret making that choice, but don't act like you're trapped. You're not. Just start making new choices...."
And he was right. As soon as I realized I didn't want to be doing that anymore - I made new decisions, that eventually took me on a new path. It wasn't overnight, but I did it.
Because I'm in the drivers seat.
Commit to Your Feelings
My Mother always taught me gratitude.
We are some of the luckiest people in the world and we should always be aware of that.
I'm conscious every day to keep my "problems" in perspective. If my "problem" is that I've double booked myself, or I'm having a bad day at work or I'm worried I've pissed someone off, it's a pretty good life, isn't it? My problems aren't how I'm going to feed myself, or how I'm going to leave my abusive relationship or how I'm going to look after my children. I am grateful every single day.
My Mum is so selfless that when she's having a bad day, she will fob it off because "we are so lucky" and it doesn't compare to the suffering of others. I love this amazing woman. What a role model, huh? On these days I'll make her a cup of tea, hold her hand and then say, "Mother, just because people are worse off, doesn't mean you don't deserve to feel upset sometimes, or hard done by."
By denying feelings it makes them harder to get over. It's okay to have bad days and to be upset and give time to our emotions.
We are all human! As long as we spend most of our time being grateful, I think we certainly are entitled to the odd bad day. Better that then let it build up into something far worse. You are not ungrateful for all your blessings if you have a bad day or want to have a cry. I love having a cry!
At least a cup of tea and a hug can solve most of our bad days. Let's be grateful for that.
Self Sabotage is a Safety Net
How terrifying to be confident. To just be really super confident and happy with yourself? Isn't it easier to fail yourself before others can?
I am guilty of this. If everything feels like it's going well and I have no problems, sometimes I'll just create one. I'll start worrying about my body, something that hasn't happened yet, something that MAY happen, money... Things I wouldn't even be thinking of if I had an ACTUAL issue to focus on.
I self sabotage.
I know I can do something, I know I can nail this audition, I know I can talk to that guy, know I can wear that dress ... but I'll talk myself down or make myself feel bad and, essentially, take myself out of the running.
And I finally know why. Thanks to great advice ;)
Because if I was just "happy" with everything: I had my dream body, was the best actress in the world, had flawless confidence, money to burn.... and I STILL failed... I STILL didn't make it ..... Then what do I have to blame? What can I blame if I never become a successful actor? What can I blame if I never fall in love?
Well... nothing. How much easier it is to have a scapegoat. How much easier it would be to say: well, I'm a bit chubby, so I'm not gonna be famous. Or - well, I missed a lot of auditions, so maybe one of those was the big one.
Imagine not having ANYTHING to blame? That's scary.
We need to stop self-sabotaging and let go of the scapegoats. By putting them in front of us, they will become more and more real.
It's Okay To Be Selfish
You will be the best "you" for everyone else around you, when you are well, happy, content, energized and looked after. No question.
Being selfish is NOT a bad thing.
It means you are investing in yourself so you can give more to those in your life. Be better for everyone who is relying on you, who enjoys your company, who needs your help. You can only do these things if you're looked after yourself.
Be selfish. Take time for yourself. Put yourself first. Ironically - it's quite selfless.
No One Is Watching You
(Just a quick hilarious note - I love this photo I took in a coffee-shop of this woman, looking so peaceful and zen. She was in her own little world and it inspired me. I wanted to use it for this point - but it's ironically called "No One is Watching You".... even though I was doing just that. Hehe. Okay, hilarious point made, now on with the wisdom!)
Are you doing anything for other people? Are you still in a degree you don't want to do because you're afraid of what people will think? Are you still in a relationship because you don't want to seem like a failure? Are you not doing what you want to do because you're afraid of judgement?
I'm sorry to sound harsh... but NO ONE CARES WHAT YOU DO WITH YOUR LIFE. If anyone truly cares - it should only be caring that you are happy. Anyone who wants you to do something that is stressful or negative or unsatisfying - are not worth bothering about.
If you are someone who compares your life to others, making assumptions based on news-feeds and engagement rings and happy selfies, I promise - those people are probably comparing their lives to yours and likely not as happy as they seem. The grass is always greener. One person's success is another person's failure. Everyone is (and should be!) too bogged down in their own worries to think about your life.
My friends and I all lead completely different lives. If I chose to - I could get upset thinking: "gosh, I'm just an unpaid actress, still making coffees, living alone ... all my friends have partners and are thinking about buying houses and making so much more money than I am.... " BLAH BLAH BLAH. But what is the point of that? Who knows? Maybe those amazing successful women envy parts of my life that I happen to treasure? Like my freedom, my creativity, my travel? I have DESIGNED my life to be exactly what I want at this point in time. Just as they all have. We all love these differences; it's what gives us our dynamic, our perspective and our empowering conversations! We all come from different perspectives and priorities.
Take inspiration from others, but never comparison. And remember you are in the drivers seat ..... do what YOU truly want to. Whether that's being the President, a Teacher or running a little cafe. People only want you to be happy.
(In my opinion) we only live once. So don't do it for anyone else.
Don't Question What Makes You Happy
I'm through with sweating the small stuff. I'm through with questioning why a Soy Mocha, a few hours and my laptop makes me happy. I'm through with questioning why I don't enjoy wearing make up. I'm through with questioning why I so much prefer to have a night in with friends rather than going out and get smashed.
I know what makes me happy.... IT MAKES ME HAPPY. So, why stress about it?
If you have things that make you happy, provided they don't hurt others, why stress about it? Why question it or worry about it? If having a glass of wine with your friends makes you happy, don't stress about it. If being a waitress makes you happy, don't worry you have to do anything more than just that! If sitting in a coffee-shop makes you happy, don't stress you should be out walking or doing more with your time.
All we really want is happiness. If you're enjoying something - you are succeeding where most of us are searching.
Kick back, relax.... don't question what makes you happy. Whether it's a job, a person, a past-time, an activity.
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