Home made vegan sushi

We are still in Lockdown 3.0 in England and as it has also started to rain and snow most days, I am spending my weekends wrapped up warm inside with the heating on and a cup of tea constantly brewing next to me. What better time to perfect my sushi making skills, especially when I can no longer go to my local store to buy some premade packets.

I have made sushi a few times before so I understand the general idea. I am just not….great with it.

You will need:

  • rice – You can buy proper sushi rice, but I only had basmati rice on hand and it worked fine. I overcooked it so that it was a lot ‘mushier’ than normal so was stickier. For me, one cup of rice was enough to make 5 full nori sheets of sushi.
  • a bamboo roller – I bought mine from tesco for about £2
  • Nori sheets – you should be able to find these at any supermarket.
  • fillings – i used thin slices of carrot, cucumber and avocado but you van get as wild as you like.

Making the sushi

  • lay your nori sheets rough side up on your bamboo sheet.
  • Lay a thing layer of rice on about 1/4 of the nori sheet, leaving a finger width from the bottom of the nori sheet (the end closest to you). Other instructions say to put the rice on 2/3 but I found that this just made the sushi too big to roll and never stayed together. Less was definitely more.
  • lay your fillings down the middle of the rice. Again, less is more.
  • wet the opposite end of the nori sheet before rolling. I found this helps the sheet stick together at the end and prevents it from unrolling.
  • roll the sushi – use the bamboo sheet to firmly roll the sushi away from you. As you roll, make sure to press firmly along the entire width of the sushi so that it is level throughout and maintains a consistent shape.
  • Once fully rolled, place on a hard surface and use a sharp (very very sharp!) knife to cut it into even slices. – I actually have really bad knives, so I found that the serated knife (usually used for slicing bread) was better than the actual cutting knives. I found that moving the knife slowly at an angle to the sushi made a much cleaner cut then going straight down.

My first attempt was…bad. Well it tasted absolutely fine, but it was definitely a sushi burrito rather than a cute little sushi roll. Look at this chonk! Poor thing had too much filing and just…exploded.

I found that adding less ingredients actually made it much easier to roll and they also tasted nicer. It was also much easier to get a consistent size and shape the whole time and made much less mess.

Overall I am actually really happy with how this turned out. If you need extra tips, a quick YouTube search shows a lot of far more talented chefs than I making way prettier arrangements than me. But for an amateur, I feel this turned out really well!

T xxx

Vegan resources

I am aware that going vegan can seem like a hugely daunting process, especially with the amount of information out there. It can be hard to keep up. So in an attempt to help make this entire process a bit less daunting for you all, I have a list of the most helpful resources for you that can help provide you with more information. If you guys have any questions too, I am always happy to help as best as I can!

Films

Earthlings – I will warn you, it has VERY graphic images of animal abuse and slaughter, so be prepared for a very jarring experience. However, it is this film alone that has been the main catalyst for many people to go vegan. It is hard to watch, but this is the reality of the world in which we live in and to shy away from it is to remain ignorant.

Cowspiracy – Netflix – looks at the impact of animal agriculture and the lack of conversation around this from the largest environmental charities.

What the Health – Netflix – Focuses on the health impacts of a vegan diet in treating (and reversing) chronic diseases.

The Game Changers – Netflix – Looks at how athletes and fitness professions get their macros on a vegan diet.

Food Inc – Amazon Prime – Looks at the food industry and the supply chain, showing each step of the process and how big corporations attempt to monopolise this.

Books

Animal Liberation by Peter Singer – He is sometimes deemed the Granddaddy of Animal Rights, so check this out for an overall summary of the main issues surrounding animal rights and animal liberation.

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

Striking at the Roots: A Practical Guide to Animal Activism by Mark Hawthorne

Among Animals: The Lives of Animals and Humans in Contemporary Short Fiction by John Yunker

V is for Vegan by Ruby Roth – A great way to introduce veganism to children

Websites

Veganuary – Lots of vegan recipes and restaurant guides

Viva

PETA UK – Regardless of how you may feel about PETA as an organisation, they have some useful resources regarding meal plans, shopping guides and activism opportunities should you wish to get involved.

The Vegan Society

Animal Aid

NHS website – A breif summary of the health aspects of a vegan diet. If you do have any concerns or worries, then always consult your doctor or health care practitioner.

Happy Cow– a guide to vegan restaurants. Also comes as an app that you can get on your phone that will show you directions to each restaurant

If you guys find any others let me know so I can go check them out! If you have any other questions in the meantime, do let me know as I am always happy to help 🙂

T xxx

Dating a non-vegan

One of the most common questions I get when I mention that I live with my boyfriend and that I am vegan, is whether or not he is vegan too. When I say no, they immediately respond with ‘then why are you with him?’. And to this day I never know how to respond to that question. So in an attempt, here follows a rather soppy post of appreciation for my boyfriend, Henry.

fb_img_1584870579028Henry and I at 19, in my university halls

For background, I met Henry in secondary school. We have now known each other for around 10 years at this point, and have been dating for just over 5 of those years. We now own a home together and are slowly but surely filling it full of fur babies to grow our little family together. But before we dated, he was (and still remains to be) one of my best and closest friends. He was my best friend long before he ever became my boyfriend. He has been by my side through all of life’s ups and downs, from going into university, to entering the job market, to moving out of home for the first time. And to this day he supports me in everything I do, which also includes my veganism.

I will never be the type of person who will ‘force veganism’, but I also do not hide away from the facts behind it. That chicken on your plate was once a living being, with it’s own life and thoughts and interpretation of the world around it. It didn’t have to die, but by continuing to buy meat you add to this cycle of killing animals for your own consumption. If after I tell you all of this information you still choose to eat meat, then fine. But then don’t sit there and say you love all animals when your food choices clearly state otherwise. And this realisation was something that Henry never shied away from: He knew that his actions and his words would sometimes contradict each other, but he has been so open to learning new things that he inspires me everyday to try something new and to be open to new opportunities.

IMG_20181116_111630Henry and I at 25, being cheesy tourists on our trip to LA in 2018.

When me and my partner moved in together, he agreed that we would not have any meat in the house. The only exceptions I have made are for fish fingers, eggs and cheese, but even these are a rare occurrence. Everything else is vegan friendly, so the majority of our meals together are vegan. Recently he has decided that he wants to go vegetarian: My partner loves to cook and as such watches very many a YouTube video about how to prepare stunning dinners. But he watched one where it involved preparing lobster and he made the connection between the living animal becoming the dead meat on your plate. I also like to believe that he has seen how easy it is to avoid meat products and animal products all together, and so never feels like he has to miss out on any of his favourite meals. Yes I have helped to show him alternatives, but he made the conscious decision to give up meat on his own terms and in his own way. Which is really all we can do sometimes.

Veganism is not about living the perfect life. It is about living a life that causes the least amount of harm possible. And this is a concept that is constantly changing and evolving as more and more information comes out and nowadays people are going vegan for a whole variety of different reasons: for the animals, for the environment, for their health, for fitness reasons, for cultural reasons. Every single vegan has their own story and their own journey into veganism and it is not my place to force someone to follow veganism for the same reasons that I do. I have found that veganism only works, and only becomes a true lifestyle choice, when you have a very clear and personal motive for going vegan.

But the reasons why I am with him are not simply determined by his willingness to go vegetarian. And I don’t think that veganism should be the only reason why you are ever with a person. Yes your morals and values need to be compatible, but the biggest thing for me has been the amount of respect he gives veganism. When I said I wanted to go vegan he simply said ‘ok, if that’s what you want’ and has never stopped supporting me. Whenever we go out for dinner, he makes sure that I can eat something there first. If he is out somewhere and sees a new vegan treat for sale, he will pick it up for me to try. He doesn’t make me sit in steak houses, or attend spit roast dinners. He will take me to rescue centres and nature reserves rather than zoos or aquariums. He respects that veganism is an important aspect of my entire personality and accepts and encourages this without any caveats.

So why am I dating a non-vegan? Because he is funny, kind and caring. He is one of the loveliest people I have ever met and he inspires me everyday to be the best version of myself possible, be it in the gym or in my career, or even in my vegan culinary pursuits. It also helps that he is makes me cry with laughter on a daily basis, and always knows how to cheer me up. He is also insanely handsome and still gives me butterflies even after all of these years. The fact that he eats eggs or cheese once a week barely registers on my radar, and it is not something that I would ever consider a deal breaker. This doesn’t mean that I care about animal welfare any less, or that I am not that committed to veganism, it simply means that I have a partner who is learning and growing and we are building a life together that helps to promote all of the ideologies that we as a unit share. Henry is passionate about health care policy and mental health initiatives, and while I am not as clued up about this as he is, I am still learning so much from him that is helping me to understand more of the world around me and how I can help different causes that I would never have known existed were it not for him. We grow together. Slow progress is still progress and we are learning together every day.

Also, people need to stop thinking that a person’s relationship defines who they are as a person. Both Henry and I are separate entities that have our own ideologies and desires that are separate from each other, but the joy of a relationship is learning how to mix these together and to build a lasting relationship with someone that is based on mutual respect and understanding.

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So that is why I am dating a non-vegan. 

T xxx

 

 

Plant Kitchen chorizo puppies

Restrictions in the UK are now starting to ease, I decided to venture out into the normal world and go to M&S. My local store has been open throughout the lockdown but as it is located in the middle of the town centre, I haven’t been brave enough to venture into town until this weekend.

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So when they say ‘puppies’ I believe that it is because they look like tiny hot dogs. If that is not the reason, then it should be because I felt very clever making that connection!

I have never tried chorizo, not even when I did eat meat. However my partner, who is has been using the lockdown to transition to a vegetarian diet (WHOOP WHOOP!!), is a HUGE chorizo fan so was very excited to try these. They come in a pack of 8 so will last u at least two meals this week.

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So having never had chorizo before, I sort of expected them to be spicy. As I thought that was what chorizo was like. These definitely had a slight kick to them but it wasn’t too overpowering and was actually very yummy! The other surprise for me was how sausage like they were. When I saw puppies, I had sort of expected them to be like frankfurter-type hot dog sausages (where they’re quite floppy and light) but these were proper ‘meaty’. They are small sausages but they are very filling and were definitely compact. So the texture was very similar to that of a sausage than that of a hot dog. My partner did confirm however that the taste was uncanny – if you didn’t know that these were vegan you wouldn’t have known any different.

Next time however, we are going to try them on pizza. As a sausage these were good, but we think if we were to cut them up into slices and place them on our pizza then these would be a must have in our fridge. Especially if you are still transitioning to a vegan lifestyle or just wanting to cut down on meat consumption, these little puppies could make that process so much easier.

Overall: 7/10. Will come back to you once we have tried it on pizza and let you know the final verdict!

T xxx

Black Lives Matter

The death of George Floyd has shocked and enraged the world and the protests that have been and continue to be carried out in the USA over this past week are long overdue. But this is also the first time that I have ever been face to face with my own privilege. As it stands the only thing I have working against me is that I am a woman, and this is something that I have always actively fought against. I am here to hold my hands up to say that while I was aware of the injustices that have been happening, I never felt like there was anything I could do because I am not American.

But enough is enough. I recently came across a video that was shared by Vanessa Grimaldi on Instagram (her page can be found here) which showed how black parents are having to raise their children to deal with everyday racism. No one should ever have to be raised to fear the police, or to fear that they will be killed or unjustly punished purely because of their skin colour. I am sickened, angered and appalled that racism is still as pronounced as it very clearly is and I am also so embarrassed that I was not aware of this. But on her page, Vanessa also shares a really helpful document (here) on all different types of resources that us white people can use to educate ourselves and to help support anti-racism work.

Billie Eillish also released a statement that perfectly sums up why the #blacklivesmatter movement is so important and she expresses it in a way that I can not do justice to. You can read it here, and again it shows the massive issue that seems to always follow anytime Black Lives Matter is mentioned. Yes all lives matter, but as it stands society still seems to believe that black lives matter less than other lives.

I have spent so much of my time fighting for the right of animals, to protect our environment and to ensure that everyone is respected and protected – regardless of their gender, race, sexuality, religion or any other identifier that you want to pick. A person’s life and their value as a person should never be based on their skin colour, and it seems so alien to me that this sort of hatred still exists in the world today. If I was to be completely honest with you all, I am not 100% comfortable about discussing these issues, but this isn’t about me. These conversations need to happen and change needs to come about. Proper, real change that will mean that black kids can go to school without fear of being harassed by the police, or that their skin colour will effect opportunities throughout their life. So get uncomfortable, get mad about this and do something about it. This list here is also a good place to start!

It’s time that I, and all white people, use our privilege to help those who have been oppressed. The list above has been a great resource to start with and as I find more I shall share these with you too. I am learning and currently educating myself more about this issue and how I can help, and if you guys have any other resources or comments or advice to help to spread the message then please do get involved, leave a comment and let me know.

Stay safe, stay strong and together we will all get through this. If 2020 has taught us anything it is that we need to support every member of society and to work together to ensure that racism is once and for all a thing of the past. 

UPDATE: 2/01/2020

Here are a few more resources that I have found if you are also looking for more information:

https://www.theblackcurriculum.com/ourcurriculum – a social enterprise to bring Black British History to the general curriculum. They have a lot of information, worksheets and lessons available for teachers and students to use in school. You can also donate to their cause through the website.

There is also a link here to add more diversity to the current English GCSE curriculum, by adding titles such as ‘I’m no longer talking to white people about race’ By Reni Eddo-Lodge to the list of books that are to be studied.

Here is a list of American Bail Funds that you can also donate to (if possible) should you not be able to attend a protest in person but still want to help those at the protests. This is American specific, but anyone in the world can donate.

You can use this template to write to our MP. You can find out who your MP is by using this website.

This one is a little outside of the box, but you could try to protest virtually: Chinese players of Animal Crossing have been using the game to display political protest messages. Create your own signs and have them available to download for the wider community, or share these creations on other social media to help spread the message further.

A fellow Blogger, Blogging By Hayley, has this really useful history page about black history in the UK.

Update: 05/06/2020

Here is also a full list of the petitions that you can sign in the UK. They only take a few seconds to sign and are also a good way to be involved with change if you aren’t sure where to begin.

T xxx

Keeping entertained during Isolation

No matter where you are in the world it is likely that you are having to self-isolate, or at most practice social distancing as the dreaded coronavirus spreads. I am required to remain at work (let’s not even get into that!) so am probably one of the few non-key workers not in isolation at the moment. However my weekends are spent doing my best to self-isolate with my partner, not going anywhere crowded and just trying to keep calm and carry on amongst all of this madness.

I imagine that people are very nervous, and anxious, and above all things – bored. I always loved the idea of being able to stay inside for two weeks and not have to see anyone or do anything, but the reality of that is actually pretty naff. Also coupled with the order to stay inside as much as possible, it means that I can’t even spend my days lazily wandering around shops or people watching in a cafe. This has meant that I have had to find other ways to entertain myself. And in an attempt to spread some good vibes, I am sharing a few of my new finds with you!

Down Dog (app) – a yoga/barre/Pilates/meditation. The classes are easy to follow and they range in levels from beginner to intermediate. I find yoga and barre has always been a great time for me to refocus, as I have never been good at sitting still. The classes also vary enough that I have yet to repeat a routine.

Headspace (app) – One of the best meditation apps on the market. Personally, I do not get on too well with meditation, but again that is because I don’t do well sitting still. I do find that it helps me with sleep though, as the little classes are long enough to help me relax without being so long that I just fall asleep half way through it!

Journalling – I would be lost without my journal. Or just any old notebook in which to write down whatever thoughts are going around in my head. I have kept a journal since I was old enough to write, and over the years my journal has been a constant source of reflection, self-expression and a creative outlet. I do not keep my journals once they are completely full, so for me I find it very relaxing to write down my thoughts and then forget all about them. I do not write every single day, but knowing that the outlet is there whenever needed has helped me through some real dark moments.

Animal Crossing – Ok this one is very precise, but if you have never played an Animal Crossing game, you should! The game is stupidly wholesome and simple, and because of that it is the best form of escapism going. I can run around, doing menial chores at my own pace and not have to think about any real world issues during that time. That being said, I find that ANY game can have this effect – especially a really juicy RPG where you can easily sink hours into it and build a unique story and experience. A few favourites include: Divinity Original Sins II, The Sims, Skyrim…you get the idea! Do some exploring and find what works best for you.

Audible – As someone who cannot sit still for too long unless needed (such as on a train or a long car journey) I find it very hard to sit with a book and just…sit and enjoy the book. So now I use audible to listen to books while I’m journalling or doing chores or just going for a long walk. Currently I am listening to a reading of Anna Karenina and – somewhat surprisingly – I am loving the story!

Learn a new craft – I have recently taken up learning how to crochet and so far I have only manage to make headbands. But it is nice to have something to keep my hands busy that is, for the most part, rather repetitive and does not require too much excursion. Depending on how things continue to progress, I may end up with an entire outfit finished!

Learn a new language – I’ve always used Duolingo, mainly because it is all very simply laid out and teaches you the language in easy to remember bite size chunks. However, I know that there are many other options available on the market. If you are forced to stay inside while this Covid-19 runs its course, then you might as well come out of it the other side with a nice new skill added to your belt.

NaNoWriMo – This organisation is primarily for National Novel Writing Month, which actually takes place in November. They do however run Camp WriMos in April and June, and their website has endless advice on how to begin writing your story. The community is also super encouraging and welcoming, and every idea is a welcome idea. If you have ever wanted to try and write a story – no matter how long or how detailed – this community will help you through each stage, from planning to writing to editing and onwards!

Stay connected – Above all else though, self-isolation does not mean that you should be isolated completed. Thankfully we live in an age where everyone is less than a click away, and staying connected to one another will keep us all sane and help us all through this mad time. Arrange weekly phone calls with friends and families, set up skype parties or Netflix parties with people that allow you to be social without actually being face to face. Reach out to people and not feel guilty about talking to them for hours on end, because at the end of the day, you might as well make the most of this situation to wallow around your house on the phone all day! The only way we will get through this is if we are all in this together.

I hope these help give you some ideas of how to spend your time, and please know that no matter how much everything sucks right now, and how scary the world seems to be, things will be alright in the end. Maybe not right away, and maybe not before things get a whole lot worse, but things will right themselves and we all need remain calm and look after each other if any of us hope to get through this sanely.

Stay safe out there, look after each other, and remember to wash your hands!

T xxx

 

Wash your hands!!

It has been a bit of a weird time this week. Half of the world is going mental about coronavirus, while the other half is pretending that nothing is happening.

I have been super busy this week, trying to figure out what the plan is for everything moving forward. And I’m sorry to say, there is no real plan because there is so much unclear at the moment. So this is just a little note for everyone:

Stay safe out there, look after each other and keep your hands clean!

T xxx

Taylor Tries to free roam bunnies: A journey

We have had our two bunnies, Lola (the fluffy lionhead) and Sasha (brown and white) for just over 6 months now, and I love them more than anything else in this world. They may be small, but these little bunnies make up for their size with their sass and their silly antics. They have been a test to say the least, but they bring so much more to our lives that I wouldn’t change a thing about them.

MVIMG_20200111_222523Do not be alarmed…Sasha is flopped and asleep. Lola is leaning on her. My heart cannot take how cute they can be.

When we first got them, they obviously had a big old cage to sleep in and to get used to us. After a few weeks, we started to leave the cage open while we were home so that we could let them come in and out as they please, and start to explore their new home. It did not take them long to get very used to the area and to start binky-ing around the flat.

We still kept them closed in the cage at night, but as they got bigger and started to spend more time out of the cage, we bought a fold-able puppy crate to put around the cage and a small area to let them have a bit more space at night without having to worry about them getting into any small spaces that they shouldn’t be in. It also meant that they could have more of their toys around them to keep them busy, while still having constant access to their hay and water.

Now, we have graduated to being totally free roam through our flat. They are not allowed in our bedroom (they like to run around under the bed…at full speed…at half 2 in the morning.) or our bathroom (they chew all of our toilet paper and try to get behind our sink) but other than that they have full access to our living room/kitchen area and the hallway. They definitely seem calmer having more space to run around in. They do, however, scratch at our bedroom door if we are not awake at a time that suits them for their breakfast pellets – so lie ins are now out of the question! Honestly, we were woken up today at 7.30am and we opened the door to two very impatient bunnies staring up at us with their best ‘puppy dog eyes’. You’d think they’d never been fed!

Free roaming a bunny is definitely a learning experience: what worked for me, is not necessarily going to work for you and your bunnies. But as basics, you need to be sure that your bunny has access to the basics:

  1. Constant access to hay – their diet is mostly made up of hay, with pellets and fresh greens once a day in small portions. They therefore need constant access to fresh hay.
  2. A litter box – bunnies can be house trained, and to be honest our girls learnt after about a day where they were to go to do their business. You will also need to keep the little box filled with hay because they need to eat while they go to the toilet. Because rabbits.
  3. Water – despite what pet stores will say, bunnies do not drink well when they have one of the drip bottles. We bought our girls a fairly big bowl (similar to the one a cat may use) and fill it with fresh room temperature water twice a day – once in the morning and just before we go to bed.
  4. Toys and chews – bunnies chew. A LOT. Again, this is very much trial and error, as some toys will be super fun for about 5 minutes, while others will be their most beloved thing in the world. Our girls for example, will chew on no other toy than the carrot chews from Pets at Home. No other toys will do. But you can also try some sticks or twigs (provided you check which are rabbit friendly), some maze toys or even some treat hiding toys to make your bunnies work for their treats.
  5. Cover all cables – even if you think your rabbit cannot reach them, cover them with cord protector. Because bunnies have a special power of being able to find the ONE cable that makes your TV or playstation work, and chew through it. This is bad, not only for your electronics but also for your bunnies safety. So cover every single cable in your house…just to be safe.

While this is a very basic list, it should be enough to at least get you started, so that you can then see what works for you and your bunnies in your home. It has taken us 6 months to finally find a set up that seems to work for everyone and trust me…it was not without casualties.

IMG-20191104-WA0002My bag strap…a moment for our fallen cords, bag straps, shoe laces and skirting boards.

 

T xx

 

Taylor Tries the Gregg’s Vegan Sausage Roll

The dish that started it all. The one pastry that was supposedly responsible to every Gregg’s employee getting a tidy little Christmas bonus due to it’s resounding success and popularity during 2019. Such success was greatly deserved, as these little pastry wrapped Quorn sausages are just the right thing.

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Not only are they super cheap, they are also the perfect balance of greasy fast food and healthy on the go snack. They can also be enjoyed hot or cold, and in all honesty they taste no different. Make of that what you will, but as an easy to please vegan junk food junkie, these are amazing.

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Obviously, any food is going to be bad for you if you do not also eat a balanced diet. But as someone who does her best to eat relatively healthy the majority of the time (despite what this blog may suggest!) these little sausage rolls on the weekend are a little help in maintaining my sanity. So much so that I can eat two of them, without feeling like a super greasy mess afterwards, as can sometimes happen with other fast food alternatives.

Overall: 10/10. Perfection. Bury me with these. I may even name my first born after Gregg’s. 

T xxx

Taylor Tries Almond Magnums

Magnums speak for themselves. They are known for being the best ice creams around, and I can’t even deny that. So finally, us vegans got to enjoy magnums all over again with their vegan range of ice creams.

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They also do a standard vanilla ice cream with just plain chocolate on the outside, which are also very good and taste identical to the Magnums I remember having before my vegan journey. But the almonds add it a really nice extra crunch and a little bit of extra flavour to it.

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These are SO GOOD. Magnums do speak for themselves and they have not disappointed. Unfortunately, they are still somewhat expensive, at £3.90 for a pack of 3, while the regular dairy magnums are £3.20 for a pack of 4. But this is a step in the right direction, and with the popularity of vegan options increasing everyday, hopefully over 2020 the price difference will equal out a bit more.

One ice cream also gives me a really good sugary ice cream fix for quite a while, so having a pack of three will realistically last me at least a week – maybe two if I show some degree of restraint.

Overall: 9/10. Price aside, they are my favourite ice creams. If you want a little treat after dinner these are a must.

T xxx