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.
Not too long ago I wrote about needing a change. Desperately. My life has been quite simple up to this point (those who know me may disagree with that) but essentially it's been - pursue acting, make coffee in the meantime and stay focused.
This plan has made for a very predictable six years. Since graduating from my Acting degree in 2009 I've done just that; made coffee while pursuing acting and, let me jump in with the obvious; there's been significantly more coffee making than there has been acting jobs.
This does get me down sometimes. Of course it does. A few days ago a friend of mine had a game-changing audition and I felt the jealousy creep in. I want only good things for those I love, but it's much easier to wish them success if you're successful too. It's much easier to "like" a promotional poster on Facebook when you've got a poster of your own to push around.
I don't know what's happened this year to create my breaking point. But it happened. Stupid customers are inevitable, but shifts were becoming more and more frequent where I could not hide how stupid I thought people were. I couldn't pretend that I cared how often the coffee machine was cleaned. I couldn't pretend that I wanted to stock up the fridges or do a temperature check or ANY THING along those lines. It's upsetting and tedious and soul-destroying after a point. I am not someone who will ever intentionally be bad at their job. EVER. That's been the motto for everything I do (even hospitality): always do a good job. Always. You never know who you're serving, you never know where something is going to lead. So always put your best foot forward and give 100%. So, with that ethos, when you feel yourself incapable of giving that 100%, something HAS to change.
There are "bread and butter" jobs for actors that I've done and washed my hands of. School Touring being the most obvious example. Actors can make a lot of money going around schools and doing educational shows and, sometimes it's okay. You can get lucky with your touring buddies, a decent script and a decent company, but MOST of the time, it's a load of shit, hard work, underpaid and as soul destroying as six years behind a bar.
I vowed to never do a schools tour again.
After my Hospitality Breaking Point, I took the plunge. I auditioned for a Theatre in Education company (a five-week tour) and quit my hospitality job the very next day. In a blink, my entire life looked different. I was terrified.
I'd just given myself five weeks to decide what I would do with my life when this tour is over and how I could escape hospitality forever.
I'm 26 years old now. I have adult responsibilities like Council tax, rent and bills. Life is much easier when you don't have to worry about finances, but that is not the case for me. I do have to worry about my finances and make sure I have a certain amount coming in each month, which, up until now has largely been from coffee making.
But now, I'm going to get creative with my income.
Getting Creative With Your Income - Hannah's Financial Tree
I have a dream.
A dream where I make money doing things I enjoy.
My weeks of touring provided invaluable alone time to figure this out. Our final week was up in Stroud, surrounded by beautiful English countryside and I had plenty of time to think about creative income. The picture above I took sitting at a gorgeous English pub with my laptop, a glass of water and nothing but silence.
So, what do I want to do?
1) Actress, check
2) Blogger/Writer, check
3) Foodie (of the Vegan variety) check
4) Theatre Lover/Producer, check
And, as a skill - 5) Coffee Making, check
Surely there's a way to make this work? Could I be the freelancer I dream of?
Acting is the hardest one. As I mentioned above, there are 'bread and butter' jobs you can get, some enjoyable, some less-so, but it's preferable to be doing SOMETHING. A great job is role play, which is in no way reliable or full-time, but you can get days here and there that pay well and keep your toe in the Acting water. Besides school tours, independent theatre, role play and getting together with mates, there isn't much more I can do towards my acting other than be available for my agent and keep myself positive!
My blogging and writing is a long-term goal that I need to be more proactive towards. I blog regularly and love it, but I'm no closer to making this a financially viable career. To do so I need to commit to seeking advertisers and networking more and maybe finally learning how to use Twitter. Screw you Twitter.
Coffee Maker? Well, this one is surprisingly lucrative! I have gone to a few cafes to train staff, but never advertised or taken it to the next level. I recently posted an ad on Gumtree, nothing special, advertising my services in this area and have actually had a decent response! Hello Coffee-Trainer income. Check.
About a month ago I went to Oak Street Cafe (you may remember from the latest post!) and found my cafe kindred spirit. A gorgeous haven I had never stepped in before, but was there training staff and fell in love instantly. "Do you need staff?!?" I begged the owner. She didn't at the time, BUT, as fate would have it, only a week later one of their part-timers left and I was offered a job. Immediately it felt like things were falling perfectly into place. A reliable few days with this gorgeous vegan-friendly cafe and with the rest of the time I can pursue my other income branches?
Another game-changer happened back in June when the delightful Rosie and I did our Zoodle Bar food stall at the Leeds Vegan Festival.
Vegan Foodie income? CHECK!
We worked our bottoms off, made lots of yummy food and it paid off in spades! Not only did we have an amazing day, but actually made profit. BONUS.
It opened up an obvious possibility. Should I do a food stall more regularly? I know that I don't want to be a caterer, but this may be a perfect additional branch on my financial tree.
I love cooking and here is a way I can make some money doing what I love. Set up a food stall, have some business cards ready with my blog and contact details and see what comes of it.
A New Average Day
It's now been six weeks since I left my job. The same job I'd had since arriving in Manchester, only taking short bouts of time off to perform in plays.
And my life looks pretty different. I'm so, so much happier and, incredibly, my bank account has never looked healthier.
These days I have four days a week at the beautiful Craft Centre. Yes, it is still hospitality, but with some massive differences. Firstly, it's a lovely, creative atmosphere that inspires me. I feel inspired to write, to talk to customers again, to feel proud of where I am. It makes a difference selling vegan salads than it does selling Pulled Pork burgers, let me tell you!
Another difference is that I get to cook at the Craft Centre. A few shifts will be spent cooking away in the kitchen and that is beyond enjoyable.
I spend a few hours each day plugging away at my theatre company "Play With Fire", set up with my best friend only a few months ago. We have applied for Arts Council funding and, if that is successful, I'll have a month of creative income while producing our debut show. At the moment, I spend my time building up a social media presence, brainstorming networking events and production planning. Theatre lover income? Check!
There's my blog, of course, coffee training days, a food stall to work towards in October AND I even have two days of role play.
I love this life. All branches are enjoyable and every day is different. Every email I get to book in coffee training, every message with a new follower on twitter, every new salad recipe, every theatre company update or blog post idea .... it's all just utter bliss. I'm not rich and will likely not be for a very long time. But I'm happy.
Acting comes first and it always will. The day I get an amazing audition or opportunity, my priorities will undoubtedly shift. But for now, my priority is ENJOYING myself. So much of life is spent making money, so I refuse to not enjoy it a moment longer.
Today I have spent nearly completely on my Mac, I've booked in a training day, I've written out a budget, I've written this blog and, as a happy random surprise, been asked to understudy in a new play with some amazing people.
Every day is different.
AND I can pay my rent.
Not too shabby.
Love and Sweet Potatoes!
PS - A very happy image for you below. A GIANT banana smoothie and some website work on Play With Fire. Yes, happy with this life right now....
There is a hidden gem in the centre of Manchester that too few people know about. I visited Oak Street Cafe a few weeks ago and could not believe there weren't more people there.
Manchester loves good food. It loves good coffee and (amazingly!) seems to love good, healthy food too. Therefore, when I find a cafe that has all of these things, but is quiet and tucked away, I must TELL THE WORLD.
The gorgeous Oak Street Cafe is located in the Manchester Craft Centre, which is both a blessing and a curse. It's a curse because no one seems to know there is a cafe tucked inside, but when you do, it's never too busy and has a relaxed, calm and creative ambiance. Oak street is divine - it's got delicious food, free wifi, outdoor seating, delicious coffee, friendly staff and... the best part -
.... 99% of the food is vegetarian and the salads, soup and stew is always vegan! Huzzah!
Manchester has some vegan spots, but very few that are this nice to sit in and has food, coffee and cake this delicious.
Oh yes, we need to talk about the cake.
Every day Oak street make their own cakes and always have vegan and gluten free options.
My most recent meal here was a delicious Green Thai Curry Stew with some fresh bread and a side of salad. I may or may not have tasted some vegan brownie for dessert. Mmm.
The Craft Centre in located in Manchester's Northern Quarter. Just head right onto Oak Street when walking down Thomas Street and look out for the blue bike.
Head in, devour some delicious vegan food, then PLEASE tweet, share and tell your friends. This spot should be heaving with people, but I suppose a huge part of the charm is that no one seems to know about it.
So, tell only the cool people.
Let me know if you visit the Craft Centre! Tweet me @oopsimavegan and follow the Oak street on @oakstreetcafe
Love and Sweet Potatoes
- Hannah x
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,
If you have ever strolled onto my blog before, you'll know I'm not rich by any stretch of the imagination. I'm a broke struggling actress, getting by making coffee and trying to be as healthy as humanly possible.
..... potatoes happen a lot.
Like - a lot.
Luckily, I LOVE potatoes. I even loved them before Freelee the Banana Girl made them popular (swear). Potatoes are nutritious, filling, CHEAP, tasty and - believe it or not - versatile.
Potatoes have a bad reputation. Too many people believe they aren't good for us or fattening, which is absolutely crazy! Potatoes are a nutritious, cheap vegetable that fill you up for a measly hundred and forty calories. Yep, you heard me, a jacket potato will be just over a hundred calories depending on the size. Eat three of them for dinner with an amazing sauce and shut the hell up about them making you fat. They are high carbohydrate with plenty of protein, fibre, Vitamin C, Copper, Magnesium, Potassium and Zinc.
Do not worry about eating potatoes at all. And if you're trying to be vegan and don't have all the money in the world - they are a fantastic staple food.
Here are five ways I've been cooking up my potatoes recently. The options are endless! But here just five examples. Enjoy!
Stuffed Jacket Potatoes
For this meal the potatoes just get shoved in the oven - easy peasy. Put some giant potatoes into the oven for an hour or so and get cracking with your sauce.
For the Sauce/Stuffing: (Tomato and Bean)
Sautee one chopped onion and garlic in a large pan until they are slightly browned. Add chopped mushrooms, stir until browned and lower the heat. Add two cans of organic tomatoes, one can of kidney beans, one can of lentils, 1 teaspoon of cumin and a tablespoon of tomato puree. Leave this for about fifteen minutes or to simmer. Make sure everything is combined and stir occasionally.
Add some fresh Basil and Thyme (dried works too!) and salt and pepper.
Twice Baked Spuds
Full credit for this goes to my brilliant partner, Chris. (And the long list of things they WON'T be called, which includes "Bi-Baked Stuffed Spuds" and "Barry")
Oven roast 2 large potatoes and, once cooked, take out of the oven and cut in half.
Scoop out the insides, being careful to leave the skin in-tact.
Put into a large mixing bowl and add - one tablespoon vegan mayo, 1/2 tablespoon Mustard, 2 chopped Spring Onions, salt, pepper and a dash of Soy Milk.
Stuff the skins with this mixture and place back in the oven for about ten/fifteen minutes.
SERVE and devour. (You're welcome).
Lemon, Garlic and Basil Potatoes
Boil baby potatoes and take them off the heat when they're just about ready. Keep in the saucepan for now, but drain of any water so they don't overcook.
In a small bowl combine: juice of two lemons, 2 tablespoons of dried basil, 2 chopped spring onions, 2 diced cloves of garlic and a generous sprinkling of salt.
Stir around in the bowl and, once your happy with the flavours, pour over the potatoes. Put the lid on the saucepan and shake vigorously to coat the potatoes in the lemony sauce. Super good ;)
Vegan Potato Bake!
I will admit - pretty proud of this recipe.
I concocted this baby up for a dinner party and it was a huge hit. It's not the healthiest of dishes, but certainly not going to do you any harm. And hey, we need some indulgence in our lives now and then!
Check out the recipe here: Creamy Vegan Potato Bake
Pesto Potato Salad
One of my favourites! Pesto is just the greatest.
The recipe for this bad boy is on Vilda Magazine - check it out!
YOU WON'T GET FAT
So, how will you avoid getting fat eating potatoes?
Simple - make sure the food surrounding your potatoes won't make you fat. Crazy right? What makes chips fattening? It's not the potatoes. It's the oil and salt that make up 80% of the dish.
If you are eating wholesome food; surrounding your potatoes with fresh plant foods, I promise you won't get fat. Don't drown your potatoes in oil, don't smother them in cheese, don't eat one and then a family block of chocolate.
Love and (Sweet?) Potatoes,
My relationship with soy has always been a good one, to be honest. I approach soy as logically as anything else; eat it if I want, but an organic, wholesome version, don't have in excess and do my research. I drink organic soy milk, I eat organic tofu and that's about it. It worked for me and I didn't think too much of it.
But, after being vegan for a few months, it wasn't long before I started reading about how I should avoid soy. The most common is: "soy contains Estrogen!" or "Soy is destroying the environment", which isn't wrong at all, but I think we can all agree that's not because vegans are having a soy latte.
Kris Carr said in "Crazy Sexy Diet" that soy is the "Ping pong ball of the diet debate", meaning it's always going back and forth. Soy is healthy, soy is unhealthy, soy is healthy, soy is unhealthy.
What are we meant to believe? And, most importantly: who is saying it?
Well, personally I've never felt anything but fantastic since being vegan, apart from some obvious exceptions. Drinking alcohol doesn't make me feel great, drinking too much coffee doesn't make me feel great and eating too much bread doesn't make me feel great. But, apart from that, I've never had an issue.
Tofu isn't a major part of my diet, I have it sometimes and it always tastes good and gives me energy. Soy milk is delicious and, again, has never made me feel badly. Obviously if I had three soy lattes back-to-back I'd feel pretty rotten, but, that's just logic, right?
A few days ago I came upon this fantastic video on Youtube by one of my new favourite discoveries: The Unnatural Vegan.
If you have a spare 20 minutes and are interested in Soy (or just learning about diet in general!) I highly recommend giving it a viewing. And then, have a good old binge on her videos.
This is science, facts, studies, EVIDENCE.
Not opinion, bias, feelings or "vegan-logic".
I can't imagine a better or more comprehensive run-through of whether or not we should eat soy. It lays out all the facts, gives you a well-thought out conclusion and now, you really can make up your own mind.
I'd love to hear your thoughts if you have any to share. How does soy make you feel? Do you avoid it because of the environment? Because of your health? Or, like our friend above, are you comfortable knowing that there really isn't any evidence to suggest soy is doing us any harm? (Yay! Bring on the tofu stir-fries!)
Let me know if you have any thoughts!
Okay, I'm off to buy a hundred kilos of vegetables for the food stall this weekend!
Love and Sweet Potatoes everyone!
- Hannah xx
i haven't written a personal post in a LONG, long time and now feels like as good of a time as any.
Life has been funny lately. I've been in a bit of a rut if I'm honest. My job has changed over the last few months and now - is not as amazing as it once was. I am an Actor, a creative person, and my job provided a way of being flexible enough that I could whisk off to an audition at a moments notice. Sadly, that's not really the case anymore. After ten years of making coffee, I can feel it draining me. Both emotionally and creatively.
Hospitality has always been the most obvious answer to "what do I do to make money as a struggling actor?!" but now, after so long, it's hard to keep going. I no longer look forward to a day of socialising and drinking free coffee and thinking about life. I cannot smile at customers anymore. I cannot enjoy their indulgent, ridiculous requests. i cannot pretend I care.
For example, quote of this week was.
Customer: "Glass of Prosecco and a pint of lager please"
Me: "Would you like a strawberry in your Prosecco?"
Customer: "Better not, I have diabetes"
Now, I laughed my head off (inside). I enjoyed the hilarity and relayed it to everyone who would listen. A brilliant real-life moment and it's these that make hospitality bearable. The funny stories, the weird customers, the great encounters you won't get in a 9-5. They make the day tick over....
BUT - after ten years? It's waring thin. I've always wanted more, but now I NEED more. I need to leave hospitality, but to do what? What do I do while I wait for the audition that could change everything?
The Game Plan
So - I'm designing my life and my income.
I wish income wasn't such a big part of life, but after 26 years of being poor and not minding, I confess: I want a bit more money. I want to be able to buy organic food only, I want to be able to buy nice clothes, I want to be able to get my bike serviced. I want to be able to pay for theatre tickets.
Call me crazy.
But most importantly, I want to enjoy my work, while not giving up on my dream.
I'm not giving up on Acting, I'm giving up on hospitality.
So, what's the game plan? Well, this blog is my other major passion. I love this thing. I love writing, I love sharing, I love making food... this blog has been an incredible part of my life over the last four years and I don't plan on stopping.
Apparently, some people making money out of this. Crazy right? I have never made a CENT off my blog and don't want to necessarily, but the idea of being a full time blogger who spends all the time they desire writing posts, creating amazing food and sharing articles with vegan advice? Well....that sounds pretty great. At the moment I get up fairly early in the morning, park myself in a coffee shop near work and spend an hour or so each morning either there or home, blogging and catching up on emails before starting work. I love it, of course I do. But I would RELISH being able to write full time. Or more than I do now. I just get in the swing of it and then it's time to go.
So, operation PROFESSIONAL BLOGGER is underway. Over the last few weeks I've been taking small steps to try and take my blog to the next level. It will be a slow process, but so worthwhile.
Hopefully, over a few years, I will build up some income from what I love doing. How? Well, I'm in the early researching phases, but things look good so far! I've got some really exciting news coming up in the next few weeks, which will hopefully raise my profile a bit and open up some amazing networks.
In the meantime, it would mean the WORLD to me if you could "like" or even "share" anything you see of mine that you enjoy. Likes and shares equal more people coming to my blog and that is the number one goal!
The Yorkshire Vegan Festival!
I am insanely happy to announce that I'll be co-hosting a food stall at the Yorkshire Vegan Festival next week!!!! Super exciting.
(AKA: I'm going to do a million projects to satisfy me until I'm not a Barista anymore.)
Myself and (a VERY similar gal) Rosie, who lives here in Manchester will be making some abundant, delicious, organic, healthy salads, raw noodles and truffles and setting up our very own food stall in the heart of Leeds.
Raw Zucchini Noodles (Zoodles!) with Avocado Pesto
Asian Rice Salad
Lemon, Garlic and Basil Potatoes
Sun dried Tomato and Buckwheat Salad
Beetroot, Carrot, Sesame, Coriander Salad with Lemon Juice
Moroccan Chick-pea Salad
Raw Chocolate Truffles (Mint, Jaffa, Peanut Butter, Coconut and Rose)
Sounds good right? If you're anywhere near Leeds on the 13th of June, please pop in and see us! We will be serving up all the food we've got till it's gone. And hey, if it goes well, maybe we will get to do it again one day.
See you at the Festival!
Look at for us as the "Zoodle Bar" :)
Okay, off for a bike ride now after a lovely weekend of practicing food prep for next week, one audition and some time with friends.
On Monday I'll be going to make coffee for the day. And on Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday. BUT - on Friday I get to spend the entire day cooking. And on SATURDAY I get to spend the entire day serving delicious homemade goods to thousands of vegans.
And, hopefully, within the next six months I'll be able to tell you that I successfully moved on. I'll be a blogger, a stall-holder, an actress, a theatre maker....
All baby steps. But I like them.
Love and Sweet Potatoes!
Let me tell you about my latest amazing discovery...
VEGAN TUCK BOX!
Vegan Tuck Box is an amazing, fairly new vegan company that specialise in guilt-free, DELICIOUS vegan snacks that boxed up and delivered right to your door!
I nibbled away at my Tuck Box for about a week and found it an amazing staple to have sitting in the pantry. I primarily used it for snacking (which I do a lot of!) and sharing with friends. Some samples I took with me for a hectic day, some were great for after exercising and others, perfect for when I had friends over and needed sweet treats to share.
Where I live in Manchester, it's not exactly easy to find decent vegan snacks. Having my Tuck Box made my life (and shopping!) that bit easier for the week. (And more delicious.)
So, What Was in My Tuck Box?
I honestly don't know where to start bragging about these snacks. My first endeavour was the Fig and Linseed Flapjack - which was a no-brainer as someone who is slightly obsessed with Flapjacks.I saw it in the box and dived in straight away. This one was super healthy, nutritious and a perfect, high-energy snack.
The Doisy and Dam Chocolate Bar was saved for sharing with friends, which was a good move because if I'd attempted that alone, the entire thing would have been polished off, no problem whatsoever. I got this out along with the Emily Apple Fruit Crisps and the Thai Summer Heat Peanuts for everyone to share. It made an amazing sharing board, but have to confess - the Peanuts stole the show. They were perfectly spicy, a delicious combination of flavours, wholesome ingredients and SO moreish. I was fighting for the last mouthful.
My partner and I shared the Raw Brownie and it was great. Kind of exactly what you expect from a raw brownie - but up there as one of the best I've had. Again, perfect for taking in your bag for a sweet snack during the day. The company, Elements for Life, seem fantastic also, which is always a bonus. I'd never heard of them, so thank you Vegan Tuck Box for introducing us.
Honestly - everything in this Tuck Box was worth bragging about. The Promamel Cashew Milk sample was super handy for a busy work day, the Sarelle chocolate was delicious (and they have an amazing array of sweet products on their website!), I LOVE the Maca Superseeds and am still finding ways to include them in my meals.
A quick favourable mention has to go to the Ten Acre Hickory BBQ Crisps, which were really tasty (coming from someone who usually doesn't like crisps!) and JJ's Chocolate Covered Vanilla Cocomels. These two bites were really sweet, deliciously chocolatey and no one would guess were vegan.
If you've not yet discovered them - definitely go check out the Vegan Tuck Box haven. They have Gluten Free boxes, Classic Boxes (which change each month), Mini boxes and Gift Boxes, which I will utilise for my next friend's birthday!
Love and Sweet Potatoes (and snacks!),
This entire post is basically an excuse for food photos.
Although, it's true there are plenty of people who still, in 2015, cannot imagine what a vegan eats. And I get it. If you've never been exposed to a meat and dairy-free lifestyle, it can be overwhelming. What do you eat for breakfast? What do you eat when you want a treat? What do you eat EVER?!
I'm more than happy to answer these questions and show you a MASS of vegan food. Basically - what I've been eating over the last week.
I keep my food simple, healthy and as true to whole foods as possible. I want to be a vegan for the rest of my life and for that to happen, I cannot live on Linda McCartney sausages, however delicious they may be.
I've been very slowly shifting to a Raw Till 4 lifestyle recently, which I will write a full post about soon. For now that's not affecting my diet a whole lot, but there will be plenty of photos of bananas and potatoes, hope you don't get too bored.
If you want more inspiration, be sure to check out my: "Seven-Day Vegan Meal Plan Extravaganza Cleanse of Abundance and Deliciousness" which is great if you're just getting started on this lifestyle or aren't sure where to start.
Jumbo oats cooked slowly with organic soy milk and a sprinkling of cinnamon, finished off with sliced banana and flaked almonds.
I EFFING LOVE PORRIDGE.
When I'm running around "on the go" - I cannot go past Overnight Oats. I make them in the evenings after dinner, shake 'em up, pop 'em in the fridge and they're all ready to carry around the next day and eat at the first opportunity.
In my attempt to live more "Raw Till 4" - fruit for breakfast is ideal. And a lot of it.
Just mentioning here - the bananas below are not at ideal "ripeness". You want to eat them when they're a bit spotty.
For days when I'm craving it, you really cannot go past classic Avo on Toast. I mix in some lemon juice and a tiny bit of sea salt with my avocado.
These may not be the prettiest photos as the food in question has likely been rolling around in my bag all day, but here ya go! Seven Vegan Lunch Boxes!
(They're usually leftovers)
This right here is a great Raw Till 4 Lunch to be carrying around. I have a delicious salad plus some bananas to snack on and a giant bag of dates. God, I love abundant eating.
This was lunch out today at an amazing spot called Earth Cafe in Manchester.
The above dinner I cannot take credit for - but will happily promote! My partner is quite a cook and (thank God!) enjoys a wholefood, high-carbohydrate, vegetable-orientated feast as much as I do. You're looking at delicious tomato and celeriac soup with thyme and with it, crispy parsnip fries!
Above - Asian Rice Salad and a big Raw Green Salad (Spinach, asparagus, avocado, tomatoes, spring onion, toasted almonds, red pepper and lemon juice). One evening I had friends over for dinner and made these two along with my Vegan Potato Bake.
Happy, abundant table :)
Below - Crispy potato wedges with homemade hummus, Brown Rice and a simple tomato, mushroom, spinach and bean sauce.
Dinner below is oven baked Sweet Potato, a simple salad with Hummus and some of the best god-damn potatoes I've ever made. Boiled and then dressed with lemon juice, crushed garlic, fresh basil, spring onion and sea salt.
THE VEGGIE STACK!!!
I love this recipe. This time I added a side of parsnip fries and a pretty incredible salad.
Okay - one of the best things I've made in a while. And delightfully simple.
A Vegan Mezze! So easy to adapt to whatever you like and improvise as you go along. Mine had homemade Falafel, Pita breads, Sweet Potato wedges, grilled artichoke, Hummus, Guacamole and Salad.
When in doubt? Go for Jacket Potatoes! I love a simple Jacket Potato dinner. Serve with a giant salad and a stuffing to go inside.
Sautéed onion and garlic, chopped mushrooms, 2 tins of Organic crushed tomatoes, black beans, lentils, fresh basil, thyme, salt and pepper. Let the flavours all marinate together and leave on a low heat until ready to serve.
And Some Treats to Finish....
And, what's a week without some treats? Yesterday I made some pretty banging Banana bread and do enjoy a good Mocha when I'm writing in a cafe....
I have a recipe for this particular Banana bread here. Too good not to share ;)
And there you have it! A weeks worth of low cost; super simple, mostly High-Carb vegan meals.
For daily updates - I post in Instagram constantly. Yes, maybe a little too much.
Have a great weekend everyone,
Love and Sweet Potatoes!
Over the last few weeks I've been fortunate enough to try an amazing new product, "Nothing Fishy"; a 100% Vegan Fish Oil that is a healthy source of Omega 3, ethical, non GMO and completely sustainable.
(UNLIKE fish farming.....)
If you're new to veganism, long-term vegan (or just a damn regular human being) you should take your health seriously and ensure you're getting what you need. Our body is an amazing thing, but it needs building blocks to work properly and function at its optimum.
Vegans get a lot of buzz issues to stress over: protein, calcium, iron, B12, OMEGAS. "Where do you you get your Omega 3 if you're not eating fish?!" "Where do you get your protein if you're not devouring steak?!"
Bless them, they get so concerned.
Thankfully, most vegans can answer these questions in a heartbeat. Plenty of fruits and vegetables have protein, not to mention beans, tofu, nuts and such, but it can get a bit complicated after that. Looking after your Omega 3 is very, very important and something maybe not all vegans are clued up about. Non-vegans tend to associate Omega 3 with fish and fish oil (eww) and may imagine it's difficult for vegans to come by.
Well happily, it isn't.
I've always used Flaxseed for my Omega 3, sprinkling it over my porridge in the morning or adding into smoothies, but after doing some very enjoyable research on the Nothing Fishy website, I read up about how Omega sourced from Algae is far better for us and comes straight from the source. (Always the best way, surely?)
"We choose Omega 3 from algae as it's healthier, it's highly sustainable and it doesn't contain any toxic chemicals. Each capsule packs at least 200mg of DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) - which is a miracle supplement for your eyes, brain and heart. Our algae is fermented in a controlled environment. It's non - GMO, vegan-friendly and there's no unpleasant aftertaste. As algae is the original producer of the beneficial Omega 3 fatty acids, it's the purest form."
If you need any reasons why Fish Oil is a no-go zone, Nothing Fishy have great information on their website to keep you informed and they promote a healthy, sustainable vegan lifestyle.
Just one of the scary statistics (proving why humans shouldn't be relying on fish for any form of nutrition or well being) is that the levels of mercury in the sea have risen by 30% in the last 20 years alone. Fish are living in contaminated waters. They are caught, killed and then processed in a disgusting, unsustainable, unethical way (taken to a processing plant, mashed up on an industrial scale, cooked, chemicals added, encapsulated) for us to take AS A HEALTH SUPPLEMENT. It's ludicrous. If we can get the essential omegas, vitamins and minerals we need straight from the natural source, surely that makes the most sense?
I cannot recommend this product highly enough. It's as simple as taking 2 tablets a day with food and you never have to think about your Omega 3 again.
I've never really been very diligent (or bothered) about supplementation, but it pays to be careful and many people supplement with brilliant diets. If you want to have a carefree, sustainable, healthy option for you Omega 3 - I highly recommend Nothing Fishy. They are clearly a caring, compassionate company and are putting out a product they believe in.
"We don't believe a health supplement should be poisoning people or destroying the environment."
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