Ben and Jerry’s Vegan: Save our Swirled Now

It has been 28 degrees (Celsius) here in England for the past week, and let me tell you that us British are NOT PREPARED for such prolonged heat. It happens so rarely in England and without any warning, so naturally we all just sort of freak out a bit when it gets to anything over 25 degrees. To anyone reading this who lives in a tropical or normally very hot country who may be thinking that 25 degrees is not very hot at all, please do remember that England rains 90% of the year and when it is not raining it is either completely grey or snowing. Heat is a strange occurrence that we still have not got to grips with.

I, however, love the heat. As someone who normally runs about 5 degrees colder than everyone else around her, I love being able to wear a t-shirt and not freeze instantly. If I am being honest, 25 is the perfect temperature for me. Mainly because it means i can eat ice cream for lunch and no one says anything because they too are melting.

Ben and Jerry’s are probably the best ice cream makers in the world. I don’t even think that’s an opinion anymore. They are so universally loved that you cannot think of ice cream without thinking of Ben and Jerry’s. And while I am STILL holding my breathe for a vegan phish food to be released, their vegan options are still a really good choice if you want something a bit more exciting than simply chocolate or vanilla.

The Save our Swirled Now flavour is their social justice campaign flavour to bring to light the issues surrounding climate change. So not only are they selling you ice cream, but they are also bringing your attention to a very real issue that needs very real and urgent support. The packaging is 100% plant based recyclable, and all ingredients are fair trade. For more information on the whole campaign and to read more on climate change, see these links:

The Ben and Jerry’s official Page

WWF Climate Change Fund

Earth Day page

National Geographic info page

There are hundred of articles out there about climate change and what we can do – individually and as a society – to reduce our impact on the environment, but these are the best starting point to see the facts and figures.

As to the overall flavour of the ice cream…it’s nice. It is quite sickly – due to the coconut, the caramel and the chocolate chunks – so you can’t eat more than a few spoonfuls in one go. But it does have a very nice balance of the flavours, and it is very refreshing on these hot summer days: With some fruit and maybe a little bit of whipped cream you’d have the perfect summer treat. The chocolate chunks also add a lovely crunchy texture to the ice cream, but just be careful you don’t crack a tooth on the very large chunks. I am not a fan of vanilla, so it is actually really good to have a flavour that is a bit more exciting than vanilla without being just pure chocolate.

But honestly, when my food also comes with a side of environmental activism, I am 100% a fan! The price of most Ben and Jerry’s Ice creams seems to be about £5.50 which is actually such a rip off when the non-vegan versions are only £3. Is it worth that money? For some flavours yes, but not so much for this. But would I pay that extra £2.50 to help support global activism and outreach tasks across the globe, and all I have to do is eat some ice cream? Absolutely.

Overall: As a flavour, 5/10. As a way to make an eco-conscious purchase, 9/10.

T xxx

Why perfection is a myth

Following on my previous post, I wanted to take another little opportunity to reiterate that veganism is not an all or nothing lifestyle. That just because you are vegan does not mean that you also have to try and right every other wrong in the world. The idea of the ‘perfect person’ is a myth and it is not something I would ever tell people to try and aspire to be.

I have met so many vegans who burn themselves out because they try to do too much. The reality is, the world is a very messed up place and there will always be someone in need of help. I have nothing but admiration for those people who do try to help everyone they meet and to fight for every cause under the sun, but I also see these people burn out so quickly and get so bogged down in the badness that they don’t ever stop to just enjoy even the smallest things.

I try to help the homeless as much as possible, but I also do not earn that much money and at the end of the day I still have my own bills to pay, my own pets to support and my own roof to support. I give food when I can and spare change when I have it, but I will never advocate for anyone to bankrupt themselves just to help others. Because that doesn’t help solve the larger situation nor is it a long term solution for the homelessness crisis.

I try not to support big corporation businesses, but if the only place available for me to meet my friends for a coffee is a Starbucks then so be it. I make sure to always have a reusable mug in my bag or to use my own metal straws. But no matter how good a person you are you will never be able to do everything, and I think it is so damaging to have that perfectionist mindset.

As I have mentioned previously, one of the most damaging parts of the vegan community is the idea that veganism is about being perfect. That if you cannot be perfect then you might as well not even bother being vegan. The reality is though that everyone has their own life outside of their vegan one: We all have hectic jobs and busy family lives and complex social circles that we are constantly trying to juggle. So yes, you may want to only go to a locally owned, completely plant based bistro, but if your family want to go to a chain because it’s the only place that offers an option for everyone, then it doesn’t mean you are a ‘bad vegan’. If you work somewhere which involves working with a lot of paper or plastic, then you are not a ‘bad environmentalist’.

Over the years I have tried my best to help as many as possible in the best way that I can. I cannot financially support every homeless person I see, but I can donate old clothes to homeless shelters, and share resources with my wider community in the hope of inspiring them to also assist. I donate to charities that can provide long lasting support to those in need and I try to always educate myself on how these situations come to be. It can be anything from drugs, to mental health issues to just bad luck and tough times. I do my best to signpost people to charities or resources that could help them get back on their feet and to move forward with their lives.

I also cannot save every single animal from torture. At least not over night. If the most I can do is simply not eat meat and dairy and eggs, then that is still a powerful statement to make. I share resources on my social media, on this blog and in my general discussions with people that I meet who ask me about why I’m vegan and sometimes those little acts can inspire someone else to start refusing meat products or to swap their dairy for nut milk. In the grand scheme of things I am not on the picket lines protesting against factory farming, but I am still doing what I am able to do in my current situation.

And I think that is the most important thing to remember when it comes to any type of activism, is that you can only do what you can do. In many cases you simply sharing resources or information online is more than enough. One of your followers could see that picture of a baby cow being torn away from it’s mother and change their diet there and then. They could then forward it onto to other people who also decide to change their diet and to stop supporting the meat industry and it snowballs from there. All because you shared one little picture. Sometimes it can be so hard to see the far reaching influence that we as individuals have, even though there is literally an entire career market based on being an influencer. If someone can convince you that you need to try this new make up product, what’s to say you can’t convince someone else to give up eggs?

Veganism is about living a life that causes as little pain as is possible. No matter what you do, you will never be perfect and someone who obsessed over ‘Perfection’ for the majority of my teens and twenties, let me tell you it is never achievable. There will always be an injustice somewhere int he world that will need righting and so you will never achieve that utopia you chase after. Sometimes, when I get so depressed at the state of the world and the issues that are so prevalent within my society, I stop and I just sit for a moment. I try to remember that even if I was the only vegan in the entire world, by not eating beef I saved at least one cow’s life. By not eating eggs, I have saved at least one female hen from a life of demand. By not eating dairy, one baby cow gets to stay with their mom. And if I never achieve anything else in my life, I know that at least I have done that.

If you ever need a reminder of the impact that you as one person can have, even by simply changing your eating habits, see this calculator. Even the smallest of acts matter and over time those tiny acts can have massive impacts across the world. Veganism is going from strength to strength and the number of people changing to a vegan lifestyle are doubling every month, let alone every year. Below is my impact and…ignoring everything else, 1915 animals are alive today because of me. My goal in life has always been to save animals, so I am pretty bloomin’ chuffed!

Above all things I want people to remember to look after themselves. If you don’t look after yourself, you will not be able to do as much as you want to do and it will inevitably lead to you to feeling nothing but disappointment and sadness. Their is a wonderful phrase which says that when you are on an aeroplane, the first thing they say to you if there is an emergency is to put your own mask on first. Once you have your own mask on, you can then help everyone around you. It is a phrase that I have been hearing more and more, especially with 2020 and the whole COVID19 malarkey, and yet it is such a true statement. You need to look after you first, and everything else will come together easier.

I made this blog as a little way to share my vegan journey, and if I happen to help a few people come to grips with the lifestyle then I consider this a success. I want this blog to be a place of open and free discussion, so if you have questions, or resources or thought that you just want to share, my comments and emails are always open to you.

Stay safe everyone, and I shall see you all soon!

T xxx

Should vegans get vaccinations?

I have been seeing a lot of stuff going around online lately about whether vegans can have vaccinations and still call themselves vegans. It is an issue that is very much up for debate, even if you are not vegan. Personally, I will always advocate for modern medicine as much as possible and it is something that I feel very strongly about. I do not think it makes you any less of a vegan or any less of an animal activist if you require modern medicine or vaccinations throughout your life time.

One of the biggest issues I have with the vegan community sometimes is the thought that veganism is an all or nothing approach: If you cannot be 100% vegan in every single aspect of your life, then you are not truly a vegan. And it really really REALLY bugs me. It is an impossible standard to try to achieve and it can be hugely damaging to people who are just starting their vegan journey.

Obviously you need to do your own research in vaccinations and medicine and make your own mind up about it all. But for me, I will never and have never advocated that vegans should not take modern medicine or should not take vaccinations. It is a reality of life that you will, at some point, require medication – even if it is just painkillers for a headache or some cough medicine for a cold. While animal testing is – unfortunately – a very big aspect of modern life for the sake of medicine, it is one of those areas that is constantly progressing too. There is constant research being carried out to find alternatives to animal testing and I truly believe that soon animal testing will not be necessary.

That being said, this change – as with all changes in the world – happens gradually., and i think it is even more damaging to the cause to think that the issues within society around animal exploitation can be changed overnight. These issues will take years, possibly even decades, to fully eradicate and it would be naive and dangerous to ignore the reality of this. If you need medicine to cope with day to day life (such as if you are asthmatic, have allergies, depression or mental health issues that need medication to regulate) then I will always encourage you to take that medicine. You need to look after yourself first. If the vegan community does not look after themselves first, then who will be there to fight for the animals and to challenge the practices currently in place? It does not make you a hypocrite, especially if you depend on medication to just get you through the day.

The vaccination for COVID19 is being rolled out very quickly now and I for one cannot wait to get the vaccine. Yes, I know that thousands of animals had to suffer in order for this vaccination to be allowed for commercial use, but once we have all been vaccinated we can get back to demonstrations, talks and protests to continue fighting that fight for the animals. If anything, the fact that animals are the only way to test medicine is a huge issue: If we had multiple alternatives that were correctly funded, researched and utilised within the medical industry, then vaccines and medication could be rolled out way faster and in much larger numbers due to the fact that we are not relying on only one method of testing to green-light any of the products.

Society is constantly evolving, and there have been huge steps forward for animal rights in the last five years. Imagine what we could do in the next five years?! The idea that veganism and activism requires a certain degree of perfection is damaging, illogical and – quite frankly – idiotic. NO ONE can ever be perfect in any aspect of their lives and I think it is horrible to try and force the vegan community to aim for that. You can only do what you can do: The entire ethos behind veganism is to live a life which seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose. It is about doing as much as possible with what you have, and in some cases that may be something as small as sharing petitions on social media or simply following a plant based diet.

You need to look after you, and in the modern world in which we live that includes taking modern medicine when you need it. I for one will definitely be getting the vaccine (and any other vaccines and medicine that is required of me throughout my life) as it will keep my body healthy and allow me to continue doing the activism work which I am so very passionate about.

Some further reading if you are interested in learning more about this topic:

There are hundreds of resources out there, so if you find any that you find very helpful or informative please do leave a comment below with a link.

Stay safe everyone, and look after yourselves and each other.

T xxx

2020 favourites

As we near the end of the year and also the end of my first full year of Taylor Tries, I thought it would be fun to go back through and list what my overall winners of this year were. Then next year, I can go through the list and see what has changed!

Best Cheese: Vitalite – shredded or slices, both are fantastic!

Best Burgers: Linda McCartney’s Pulled pork burgers

Best Cookies: Oreo fudge brownie

Best Sausage Roll: Wenzels – full review to follow!

Best Pizza: M&S Three Cheese vegan pizza

Best Dessert: M&S Chocolate cherry pots

Best sausages: Richmond

Best restaurant: Wagamamas – Fingers crossed in 2021 we can be reunited once more!

Best home recipe: Mac and Cheese

What have been some of your favourite finds this year? Veganuary beckons in the New Year so no doubt I will have tons of new stuff to review for you all.

Happy New Year everyone! Thank you to every single one of you lovely people who has stopped by this year and followed my little blog. I appreciate you all so much and am so thankful that so many people have joined me on this little venture. I hope 2021 brings you happiness and more luck than 2020 has…stay safe everyone and I shall see you all next year!

T xxx

How to have a sustainable Christmas

Christmas has just jumped up on us hasn’t it?! Usually you have all of November to prepare for Christmas and to ease into the festive spirit after Halloween, but as the UK spent all of November in lockdown, I emerged from my lockdown to endless Christmas tunes, Santa figures everywhere and far too much red and green decorations.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas: cosy pj sets, lots of food, time off to totally relax with my family and friends, wrapping up presents so they look all cute. But Christmas is also quite a wasteful time of the year, largely in part to the amount of wrapping and packaging that comes along with it all. I have tried my best to make sustainable choices this year, and thought I’d share with you guys some of my ideas that I have found really helpful over the Christmas period.

1. No wrapping paper

Most wrapping papers contain a plastic backing or covering on them and so cannot be recycled.I no longer buy wrapping paper. All of my presents have been wrapped with brown paper and I then also buy some ribbon or string to tie around presents to make them somewhat presentable. I have also seen some examples of people who buy a stamp to decorate the brown paper whoever they wish. Other alternatives is to wrap presents with newspaper, or even to wrap them with another gift: If you have bought someone a pretty scarf, you can use this scarf to wrap up another one of their gifts. You could also use reusable canvas bags or gift bags, so that once the present has been given the person then also has a useful bag to use moving forward.

2. Shop second hand

This can be hard, as I appreciate that not every single area of the country will have affordable charity stores, but even just buying a few good books or DVDs or CDs, or a nice new jumper for the winter from goodwill or a charity shop can make a big difference. Normally these places are cheaper than buying brand new in store (although with some charities this is not always the case) and you can also find some really cool, vintage style pieces that the recipient will no doubt love. It also helps you get used to not buying into fast fashion and helps you look out for more sustainable shopping options.

3. Shop locally/small

As with the above, this is not always easy. Places like Etsy have a lot of options available, but can sometimes be really expensive for what they are. That being said, if you know of someone on your Facebook or local area who makes candles or embroidery kits or can paint really pretty portraits, why not support them? Not only will you be getting some lovely handmade gifts to give people, you will also be helping to support a local and small business, all of whom have probably had a very tough 2020.

4. Make your own

Now you do not have to be overly creative in order to do this sort of gift. For example, if you know that your mom’s favourite hobby is sitting down with a good book and a big mug of tea, why not create a ‘Christmas Hamper’ for her which includes a few charity store books, a selection of different teas and maybe a fair of really fluffy and snugly socks. Not only is this way more personal for the person getting the gift, it can also be a lot of fun hunting out tiny little bits that you know the recipient will really appreciate. In previous years I have also made ‘Activity Jars’, where I fill up a jar with a load of different activities to do so the recipient can use it throughout the year if they are stuck for something to do. Get creative and see what you can come up with!

5. Buy sustainable gifts

One of the easiest ways is to buy people useful things that they already use every day. Items such as reusable coffee mugs, metal straws, wax food wrapping, canvas bags and refillable or insulated water bottles are all really good gift ideas that also support sustainability. Most people will use these items on a daily basis already, so buying them a sustainable version will mean they get a useful gift that they can use the whole year round.

Have you guys found anything else that helps with a sustainable holiday season? Let me know in the comments and I shall make sure to try them all out this year! Now to actually begin my own shopping…

T xxx

Mental Health and lockdown

This is slightly different to what I usually talk about, but I feel it is important and needs to be addressed. Mental health, to me, is just as – if not more – important as physical health, and 2020 has been a year that has truly tested us collectively. From the threat of a global pandemic, to world-wide lockdowns, to the constant fight for many social justice issues across the globe, it has been a very trying time. I am someone who has always had issue with what I like to refer to as ‘The Mean Reds’.

Shikhaa Talks: The Mean Reds
Made famous by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s

They have been particularly bad during this year. Now I am a very logical person, so I know that there are very real reasons to be afraid right now: Covid is very much a real threat and even though it’s been nearly a whole year since it was discovered, we still don’t seem to be making much progress in finding out how to fight/combat/deal with it. I also hate that this is the first time in a long time where I feel like so much of my life is no longer under my control. I cannot simply go wherever I please, travel where I please, see who I please. I haven’t been able to hug my parents or my best friend in nearly a whole year, and there is no guarantee when it will be safe to do so again.

Now I am in no way qualified to give anyone advice about how to deal with their own mental health, and if you are struggling to manage it on your own I beg of you to go and speak to a professional. Some very useful links are:

www.mind.org.uk
Anxiety UK
Beat Eating Disorders
CALM
No Panic
Samaritans


Some of the coping methods I have found though that really help my own mental health though are as follows. I have used these over the years and find that when done regularly they really do help me keep my head on straight and keep my mental health in check.

Journalling

My biggest thing is journalling. Having somewhere to just completely brain dump all of your thoughts and feelings can be such a helpful exercise. I just use a standard notebook and just word vomit onto the pages. I very rarely go back through my journal to read past entries, as I have found it never helps and just reminds of me of things that I was otherwise trying to not dwell on. But it has also been helpful to sort out my thoughts and my plans, letting me have somewhere completely private and non-judging where I can say whatever I like and to stop all of my thoughts rushing around my head.

Exercise

In the winter this can be hard to keep up with, but even just going for a nice long walk in the evenings can work wonders. It can be good to do something that allows you to move your body and also get you out of your head for a bit. For me, my go to exercises are running, yoga or barre workouts. They don’t have to be very long runs or a really bendy yoga flow, just taking ten or fifteen minutes to move your body and to completely focus on something else for that time. I find that when I do take that little bit of time to just really get into my exercise, I come away with a clearer head and a calmer outlook. Mainly because I’ve usually forgotten about all of the tiny little things I was worrying about before I started!

Being creative

Right so I cannot draw. Nor paint. And really my sewing skills are lacking. But there is something very freeing about completely losing yourself in a creative act. For me, writing has always been my outlet, and even if it is just a couple thousand words, it gives me a way to stretch my imagination and also gives me something concrete at the end of the day that I alone have created. Even my paintings, which look like a four year old could have painted them with their teeth, are a fun way to spend an afternoon where I can just have a bit of fun and make something completely my own.

Connect with people

This is even more important in 2020 than ever before when it can so easily feel like we are all way more isolated from one another. But that is the joy of modern technology: I can call anyone, at any time, and usually get through to them. I can phone my Mom and hear about how her gardening is going, or call my friend to hear about her work dramas. I can play online video games with friends and send my friends funny pictures of my pets. While 2020 has felt like a somewhat lonely year, it has been very helpful for me to have the reminder that we are all feeling this. The entire world has had to sort of stand still for the year, and everyone is finding something about that situation that stresses them out. It’s what makes us human and it is sometimes a nice reminder that you are definitely not alone in any of this.

What do you guys do to look after your mental health? Are there any methods you’ve found that really help you get through the Mean Reds? Let me know in the comments as I am always up for trying something new.

T xxx

Vegan Food Wraps

Over the past year or so I have been trying so hard to limit my carbon footprint, which also means I have been trying to create less waste. Unfortunately this is not always possible. I am no where near zero waste, but I have been trying to actively make decisions that mean I am throwing away as little as possible. Or at least ensuring that anything I am throwing away is at least able to be recycled.

I had heard some good things about these wax wraps but could not find any near me. With everything going on with lockdown, I have felt a bit odd ordering off of Amazon, and the local places near me didn’t have this stuff for sale. Luckily for me, my Mom found a set on her travels and I was a very happy birthday girl!

So far they have been pretty handy. They do work like clingfilm…kind of. Because they are wax papers, you can mould them and shape them with the heat from your hands, and they do hold their shape really well once done. They are way more rigid than clingfilm (which I guess is obvious) but so far they work exactly the same, with none of the environmental waste.

If you guys know of any other handy zero waste swaps that I can make please let me know in the comments below!

T xxx

Rescuing an injured stray cat

So my weekend was eventful! Our plan had been to paint our bathroom, possibly buy some new shelves and pictures to give our old bathroom a new face lift. On our way to the supermarket though, after a whole morning of painting, we saw a little cat sitting on the side of the road. He was up on a little grassy stretch next to some bushes.

We walked past and he meowed at us. To which I obviously responded with a little hello and then he kept meowing. So naturally I took that as an invite for a cuddle! I walked closer and his poor face was covered in scratched. He had clearly lost a fight with…someone or something. He kept meowing but seemed quite happy for me to give him some head rubs. He was definitely scraggy looking and had no collar, so assumed that he was either a stray cat, or just a bit of a scoundrel (as many cats can be).

He was happy with the head rubs but as soon I tried to go down his back for pets he would hiss. But he wouldn’t back away, as you would expect. He would just hiss. Which made me think that he must be injured in some way because usually, if a cat doesn’t want you to pet them, they would let you know with a hiss, back away from you and maybe even a sharp slap on the hand. Henry and I then made the decision that he was injured and that we couldn’;t leave him next to a relatively busy road.

I ran back to ours and grabbed one of our pet carriers. I phoned quite a few different places to see what we can do. Cats Protection – no answer. Local rescue centre – not something they cover. RSPCA – answered and said that if we can get them to a vets then hopefully they can look after them, as they didn’t have anyone in the area to help. So…in all honesty not the most helpful. I phoned our usual vets, explained that we had this stray cat who we think was injured, and they said that if we could catch him and bring him in, they would hacve a look at him.

We put the box in front of him and he immediately tried to run away. I say try, because his front legs were twisted under him and he couldn’t balance or walk properly on them. So then I knew that we had to get this little dude to a vet asap. Truth be told he could still crawl well enough, and it took us at least 2 hours trying to get him into the carry case. In the end, the only thing that worked was filling the case with cat treats and then shoving him in the case while he was too distracted by the food to put up much of a fight.

It took….a lot. He weighed a surprising amount for such a little cat who was clearly starving. The vets gave him a look over, scanned him to a microchip (to no avail) and admitted him to their care. He is now, hopefully, in the best place that he can be and he will now be looked after. And hopefully whatever the issue is with his legs it can be fixed.

Tips I learnt from this experience

Call the RSPCA

The main tip. Depending on the animal and the seriousness of what has happened, they may be able to help. If they can’t, you still need to lodge the call. They will also give you a case number. This is super important. If they tell you to try and catch the animal and to take it to a local vets, the vet will then go to the RSPCA for any fees due to perform emergency surgery. If you do not have a reference number, it is very likely that this will be charged to you. For our kitty, the chance of surgery was pretty high and that would have cost us thousands, which is not something we can really afford, no matter how much we want to help the poor little dude. But with the RSPCA involved, the risk isn’t as high.

Now of course this may only apply to situations such as ours, where the animal is a common pet. It may also just be a policy of our vets, and not one adhered to by every vets practice everywhere. Igf in doubt, phone the RSPCA, get a number, and then phone around your local vets to check that they work with the RSPCA and are happy to assist.

RSPCA emergency number is 0300 1234 999.

Treats

When trying to get a cat (or any injured animal I would imagine) is to use food. In some cases the animal may not have eaten at all, so use treats to coax them into a carrier or out of hiding so you can grab them and get a proper look at them. If I had done this right at the beginning, I probably wouldn’t have had to try and corner the little dude in the middle of a bush and get covered in god knows how many creepy crawlies. *shudder*

It also helps the animal to trust you a bit more. When I was just sitting there quietly, thinking about how best to coax kitty out of his hiding spot in the bushes, he did actually come and poke his head out and meowed at me quite a bit and accepted a few more head rubs. But as soon as he saw the carry case move he would bolt…or at least stumble as quickly as he could.

Be tough

Now I was useless at this, because I am a massive softie and would never want to hurt an animal even if it was done by accident while trying to help them. Henry however, was fantastic for this. He is firm and tough and managed to push kitty all the way into the carry case with little issue. I had tried a few times before and never gotten far.

I know it sucks, because it really does. To think that this animal is already in pain and now you come along to add to it. Because the issue with animals if you just say to them ‘please get into the carry case, you are injured and I am here to help’….you have to force them sometimes in order to properly protect them and look after them.

Be safe

I know this may seem obvious but sometimes the stress of the moment can make you forget. I mean I did climb through pretty deep hedge growth to try and corner this injured kitty, and I do not want to even think about the amount of spiders and bugs that I probably got in my hair in those two hours. Nor the amount of grazes I got from pushing aside thick hedges and branches. But you won’t be any help to the animal if you go and get yourself really injured too. If possible, call for help and have someone else be your wing man/woman for the task.

When handling animals you also need to be careful of the animal itself. Obviously with cats and dogs, they can give pretty nasty bites and scratches, but if it is anything else a bit more wild (such as a badger, hedgehog or deer maybe) then be especially careful. A bit of kick from one of them could seriously injure you and also runs the risk of making you quite sick it any injury gets infected. If you do not think that you can manage it safely, then do not do it. Call the RSPCA and really impress upon them that it is not safe for you to approach this animal. At least the animal rescue officers will be a) trained to deal with this and b) fully equipped to approach an animal with a lot of sharp pointy teeth. The best thing I had was a chunky batman jumper, so I was very lucky that I wasn’t clawed!

Mr Kitty managed to get himself quite nestled underneath a thick hedge. This is the only photo I could take, which I did to try and get a closer look at his legs. Even in this picture you can see they aren’t quite right…

My only issue that I really had from this, was how unhelpful most people and organisations were. The amount of passerby who just walked past and didn’t even ask what I was doing or if I needed help was shocking – although I do appreciate I must have looked like a bit of a nutter just standing in a bush shaking cat treats when no cat could actually be seen. I also get that COVID-19 is a thing, and it is a very serious thing that we should all be doing our best to prevent from spreading, but for a few of the charities and organisations that I rang to get help, this was their main excuse as to why phone lines were not open or why they were not going out to help animals unless it was a genuine emergency. I mean….if I can go into work (bearing in mind I am a paralegal, and there is ZERO emergency involved in my job) then surely these organisations can find a way to work around COVID: yes they may have to be short staffed, and the staff may be very busy, but I think that the work that these animal rescue charities do is too important to be completely shut down. That being said, the RSPCA did give a lot of useful advice over the phone, and a few of the charities near me that I rang did try their best to give me the direct numbers for some local vets or other rescue centres. So maybe it’s just the animal lover in me being a bit fussy after an emotional rescue mission!

As of this post, kitty is safe and sound at our local vets. They could not give me too much of an update on him but said that he was eating fine and was being given pain relief. They are not yet certain what is wrong with his legs or what their next step is, but will keep me updated once they have any more information. As he had no microchip, locating an owner may be difficult. If all is well with him and still no owner can be found, then he will placed for rehoming. I won’t be getting my hopes up, as there may be a chance that his legs can’t be saved, but for now I just have to wait for an update.

I shall let you know how it all goes! Please send lots of love to him and every cross your fingers that he makes it through ❤

T xxx

100 POSTS!

How strange to think that this is now my 100th post on Taylor Tries Her Best! To think that I started this blog purely to talk about my newest vegan discoveries and now look at where we are!

What’s even weirder to think about is that I have written 100 posts, of which at least 90 of them have been about a vegan meal in some way, and yet I have only just started to try everything that is available out there. Which is why I find it so hard to answer the question ‘What do vegans eat?’ because – clearly – we are just as spoilt for choice as the rest of society is. The idea that vegans are super lean, super green, animal loving machines that only eat salads and fruit is so alien to me: If this blog teaches you anything I hope it’s that vegans come in all shapes and sizes and get their food from the exact same places as everyone else does…we just don’t use animals to do so.

But mainly, thank you to everyone who has joined me on this platform. I appreciate every single one of you and hope that over the many years that I hope I can run this blog for, we can discover new and exciting recipes, treats and meals together as a team.

Be safe out there guys, and I shall see you all soon for another day of me stuffing my face!

T xxx

Can vegans visit zoos?

One of the big dilemmas that many vegans face (myself included) is the issue regarding zoos: We want to see wild animals that we may never get to see, but we also don’t know how we feel about these animals being taken from their natural habitat and put on display for us to stare at. Now there are laws in place that state how big animal enclosures must be, how these animals are to be treated and how these animals are to be transported and cared for during the move between zoos. However, just because something is protected by law that doesn’t mean that it is inherently moral to do so.

Animal rights and zoos will always be a minefield because there are so many conflicting points to debate. So much so that you could write a 10,000 word essay on animals within captivity and the influence this has on their rights…which is exactly what I did for my undergraduate law degree! But for ease, I shall try and summarise the main points as best I can, as well as provide you with further information where you can read up on the matter and come to your own conclusion.

Conservation

One of the big reasons to keep zoos part of modern society is that they could be argued to be a huge source of conservation for endangered animals. London Zoo, for example, carry out conservation efforts in nature reserves around the world, using part of the money they earn through donations and zoo tickets to fund these efforts abroad. But with all conservation, the real reason why conservation is needed is because the wild animals are being hunted to such an extent that they are now at the risk of becoming extinct. One could argue that the main issue regarding animal welfare is that the trade and hunting of animals needs to be (ideally) completely stopped and properly policed, which would then allow the animals in turn to rebuild their numbers naturally without the need for human interference. However as this is unlikely to ever happen (at least not in the next 20 years) conservation efforts allow zoos to help these efforts abroad while collectively looking for a better solution. You can read more on the London Zoo conservation programmes here.

Education

This is very closely linked the conservation work, as most zoos run education programmes. These programmes help to educate their visitors and schools about the real life issues that are facing their favourite animals: deforestation, hunting, wildlife trade, pollution, human interference etc. All of these issues impact on animals in a variety of different ways, and for many people they would not know about this impact had they not learnt about it at the zoo. Now during university I actually worked part time at London Zoo (as a retail worker, not actually with the animals…unless you count the guests…) and it always surprised me how little people knew about the animals they were looking at. For many of the guests I spoke to, the zoo was their first real introduction to these animals as real life, living beings that needed our help. It is one thing to hear about the threat to tigers due to poaching in the news, but to actually see these beautiful creatures up close brings the reality to your doorstep. These animals do not want to be in captivity, but for many of them these animals have not known any different: They have been bred in captivity to keep their numbers up because their wild counterparts are being hunted to the point of extinction. By educating people to this nasty reality, zoos can help people take real action by donating to conservation efforts, volunteering abroad or by spreading awareness themselves of the issues that are affecting animals world wide.

Now of course this raises the other issue of breeding animals within captivity, only to keep them in captivity, but again these issues are so complex and have so many different aspects that require further research and debate, that one blog post would never be able to do it any justice! One big reason against animal breeding programmes in captivity is that zoos physically do not have the space to ensure that the animal gene pool is varied enough in order to help those animals survive in the wild. You can read more about these issues here.

Lack of natural behaviour

Another thing that really struck me while doing my research is how different animals react to life in captivity. It may seem quite obvious: prey animals thrive while predatory animals tend to suffer more. For prey animals, in the wild they are – naturally – hunted for food by the bigger animals and thus do not tend to live very long lives. Therefore in captivity, with this threat of being eaten removed, they can surpass their usual life expectancy. Plus with all of this extra free time they’ve now gained (since they no longer have to fear for their lives every day) they are free to play, explore and mate as much as they wish, meaning that when you see them in the zoo they are most likely displaying their very natural behaviours that you are less likely to see in the wild.

The predators on the other hand do not display this behaviour. When I worked at the zoo, I sometimes got to work near the lions, and people were always upset that these lions were not running around and roaring 24/7. To which we would always reply ‘why would they?’. (PSA: Lions do not roar unless in a fight, but they do make strange howling noises at dawn. If you are ever near Regents Park at about 6/7am, listen closesly and you may actually be able to hear the lions morning alarm!) In the wild these predatory animals would usually have to walk vast distances every single day in the hunt for food, but in captivity this food is delivered to them, every day at the same time, and so they have no need to hunt. And also, let us not forget that lions are called big cats for a reason, and when was the last time you saw any cat do something that it didn’t absolutely have to do? If my cat is lying close enough to her food, she sometimes won’t even stand up to eat. This is why you do not see many big predators in captivity: The longest a Great White Shark has ever been kept in captivity was 198 days, and this was only because it had to be released for eating the other sharks in the exhibit with it. While I am all for education, I somehow don’t think a child needs to see another creature ripped to shreds by a shark.

Feeding issues

Another big issue that keeping predatory animals in captivity raises is how to feed them. Many large predators eat whole other animals in a day or two, and this puts a massive strain not only on the zoo to be able to afford to supply such food, but also on the animals that are being killed needlessly to feed an animal that does not need to be in captivity in the first place. As we saw with our friendly shark above, most sharks feed off of seals, turtles and other large fish, which would not only be hugely costly to have imported into the zoo on a weekly basis, but also counterproductive: why pay money to help turtle conservation efforts while simultaneously paying for turtles to be captured and killed to be turned into food for your zoo animals? While this example is a bit extreme, it does raise the question of the needs of the few or the needs to the many: Is it better to let one animal die out in the wild, or let hundreds of less endangered animals die to support it in captivity? This is not an easy question to answer, and it is essentially an issue that needs to be debated in an entirely separate blog post, but it is still important to think about this issue and to research if there ever could be a happy medium.

Nature reserves

For those who do not go to zoos for moral reasons, nature reserves could be the happy alternative that combines the best of both worlds. The animals are kept in relative freedom (i.e, they are not confined by cages but their territories are limited to the space of the reserve) and yet people are still able to visit and to see these animals in a more natural setting. Nature reserves also bring with it their own levels of protection, in that hunting in national reserves are (for the most part anyway) illegal. There can be some work arounds, but for the most part the animals within nature reserves are protected from any poachers and are a big source of tourism: People will travel far and wide to see an animal in their natural habitat, and this in turn provides money, jobs and continued support for the countries with nature reserves and the communities around them. Nature reserves still help to educate people, and help with conservation efforts, while allowing the animals within them to live almost entirely free of any human interaction or interference. But it does also allow for humans to step in when needed, to patrol the boundaries for any poachers, to provide veterinary care whenever an endangered animal becomes sick. Nature reserves therefore help to provide a healthy balance between humans helping animals to survive while still allowing them to live free and natural lives.

What are your thoughts? How do you feel about zoos? Let me know in the comments below as I always want to hear the different opinions surrounding these issues.

T xxx