What is a Flexitarian?

At the start of the year I took part in Veganuary. Then for Lent I gave up meat.

I enjoyed being veggie so much that I extended my non-meat eating period until a weekend in Berlin where lots of beer weakened my resistance to currywurst (oops). Since then I have only been eating meat on the odd occasion.

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It turns out eating meat ‘on the odd occasion’ is actually a thing. It’s called flexitarianism.

Described as vegetarians with benefits, flexitarians are people whose diet is mostly vegetarian but sometimes includes meat. Many vegetarians and vegans consider flexitarianism as cheating, but research shows that the diet just might be one of the best ways to reduce environmental impact and improve health.

Mostly my diet contains no meat but I now allow myself an exception if I really fancy some when I’m eating out or I know that it is good quality.

For example last week I was working in London. On Tuesday evening I had Moroccan food, lots of tasty veggie mezze at Oasis in East Finchley. Then on Wednesday I went to Flat Iron in Soho for one of their famous steaks because I knew it was going to be a) good quality b) ethically sourced from their own herd in Yorkshire and b) absolutely delicious!

Personally I think giving this way of eating a title is abit silly. I can however vouch that having this type of diet certainly comes with benefits.

Benefits of being flexitarian:

  • Less meat = less cost – meaning more money left to spend on good quality meat when you fancy it instead of processed or chemically enhanced
  • Improved health – it’s a win-win as you still get the protein that comes from eating meat occasionally but also have the nutritional benefits from a plant based diet
  • Reduced environmental impact – livestock requires more food, water, land and energy to grow and transport than plants

Next week I’ll post some of my favourite  veggie recipes for you to try. But for now, I’m off work and heading out into the sunshine to kick start my bank holiday weekend with a delicious brekkie from The Farm in Harrogate.

Have a gooden! x

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Asquith – Yoga

I usually do yoga at my local leisure centre and recently they’ve added some extra sessions of piyo and pilates which I can’t wait to get stuck into.

I’ve also started going to an outdoor yoga session which is held at Whistlewood Common (a community-owned area of land in my parent’s town) one Friday a month. Typical UK style – this month’s session was held inside a yurt because of the rain…

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For yoga I used to wear old leggings and a scruffy t-shirt, but since I’m doing it more and I’m getting slightly better at it, I decided to invest in some proper gear and headed to Asquith.  They specify in yoga clothing made from bamboo and organic cotton at a family run factory in Turkey.

Bamboo is a sustainable and environmentally low-impact fabric, it grows faster and absorbs more carbon dioxide than hardwood trees (always a positive!). It is ideal for activewear as it is naturally anti-bacterial and breathable.

All Asquith’s fabrics are Oeko-Tex certified which means they have a low carbon footprint and biodegradable fibres. Their cotton is also GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards) certified meaning it is ethically grown, chemical free and responsibly manufactured. It keeps it shape, doesn’t fade, bobble or stretch unlike other activewears.

This morning I wore my new clobber to a Sunday session at the leisure centre. As soon as I put them on they felt much more suitable to yoga than what I was previously wearing. They felt like a second skin, gentle and breathable. I might not yet be able to do ‘floating lizard’, but at least I look the part!

Even if you aren’t a yoga/pilates/piyo goer I’d recommend these clothes for loungewear. Proof – I’ve still got mine on now 4 hours after my session this morning!

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Beautiful Bank Holiday in Berlin

This time last week I was begrudgingly returning to work following a long weekend in Berlin (which now seems a lifetime ago). Having visited the city just last March, this trip’s aim was to practice our German ‘skills’, see the sights we didn’t manage to see last time and to experience some of the cool suburbs Berlin has to offer.

Whilst there we racked up a daily average of 27,000 steps. But do not fear, the calories burnt were soon topped up with booze and food.

Friday night after lots of German beer in Neukölln we headed to the Quasimodo jazz club in Charlottenburg to see Alexandra Savior perform. She was good, but as often happens didn’t even play our favourite song Shades!

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Saturday was spent mooching round the many vintage and independent shops. My will power somehow miraculously kicked in stopping me from spending a fortune on a beautiful handmade belt from Hoffnung or on a new pair of brogues from Zeha. That evening we hit Torstraße, having a different gin in each place and returning to our favourite smoky cocktail bar – Neue Odessa.

Berlin has a huge hipster scene. After watching a Rick Stein programme earlier in the year where he visited Berlin and called every cool place he entered ‘noir’, we also began calling these hipsters ‘noir’ and created a ‘noir scale’.

Sunday morning we ticked off the Reichstag from the tourist list. We’d booked to do this tour of the German parliament buildings last time but were too hungover to turn up. That was silly of us because I definitely recommend doing it, the views are amazing and you get a great overview of Berlin’s history, so make sure to pre-book before your visit and pick up the audio guide. Final pointer on this… it is FREE!

For lunch we headed to Kreuzberg for a famous Burgermeister and then crossed the Spree to the East Side Gallery to look at the graffiti and umpteen selfies being taken on the Berliner Mauer (wall).

On our way back to the hotel I was determined to find a Photoautomat machine just like Richard Ayoade in Travel Man. Nearly making the full journey back to Alexanderplatz and not finding a machine we decided to follow a ‘noir’ looking fellow to see what cool place he was heading to. This ‘noir’ chap all of a sudden dipped off the path under some old bits of wood, so we followed. On the other side of the wood stood what I’d been looking for, a Photoautomat machine! There was also a mini beach, fire pit, food huts, a bar and Bob Dylan blasting from the speakers. Holzmarkt was an amazing find.

Berlin, once again you were a blast. See you next year! x

Ethical Food Shop

As someone who absolutely loves food, but wants to buy and eat a product that is sustainable and safe, is from a company that looks after its employees and does not damage the environment, I was very much looking forward to Ethical Consumer Magazine’s latest issue.

Every issue Ethical Consumer focuses on a specific area, in which they investigate brands and products and publish their findings alongside an ethical rating. Their May/June issue brought focus to supermarkets and food.

I am under no illusion that supermarkets are an ‘ethical’ way to buy food. Personally I try where possible to buy from the local grocer, market, butcher or baker. However sometimes, for convenience and cost there is simply no other way to do a food shop than to head to the nearest Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Co-op or Aldi.

supermarkEthical Consumer assessed the supermarkets on environment, animals, people and politics to generate an ethiscore. Their full range of products sold, company policies and strategies were reviewed.

As you can see, none of them scored very highly.  The highest being the Co-op with 5.5/20.

Specific findings on animal welfare, climate change, cocoa, cotton, fish, palm oil and timber were detailed in the article.

Did you know that all the cocoa in Co-op brand products will be Fairtrade by 27th May?

Did you know that only 2% of Morrisons fish is MSC-labelled compared to 72% at Sainsbury’s?

As their findings are pretty disheartening Ethical Consumer goes on to explain what the alternatives are. Shopping at a wholefood shops, farmers markets or ordering veg boxes.

If we are to keep shopping at supermarkets, the next best thing to do is buy ethical products from their stores.

Here are some of my favourite products with an Ethical Consumer review:

  • Baked beans – I count myself as abit of a baked bean conosoir. I just love em! Branston tend to be my go-to. And that is why I was gutted to find Branston only have a 4.5 rating. Geo Organics and Mr Organic were found to be the best with a score of 17/20! I will be giving these the taste test and let you know how it goes.

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  • Bananas – I eat a banana every day and always buy Fairtrade. Ethical Consumer’s ‘best buy’ is to go to supermarkets that only sell Fairtrade (Co-op, Waitrose and Sainsbury’s). For non-supermarket bananas Eko Oke is the best as they are Fairtrade and Organic, however I don’t think I have ever seen one of these in an independent shop. Below is a ‘banana split’ showing where the sale of a non-Fairtrade banana is distributed, shockingly workers only receive 7% of the bananas cost. For me, the best advice is to carry on buying Fairtrade.

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  • Coconut oil – I use coconut oil for all sorts. Not just for cooking but for my nails, face, hair and teeth. The brand I use is Lucy Bee’s (scoring 18/20). Sourced from Sri Lanka the oil is unrefined, extra virgin, Fair Trade, organic and raw. And personally, I love it.

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I hope this has helped in some way. If you have any suggestions on how to do an ethical food shop, please comment! x

April Book Review

Since getting a Kindle back in February I have managed to worm my way through 9 books. I set myself a challenge on Good Reads to conquer 24 books in 2017. So far I’m not doing too bad.

In April I read 4 books and started a 5th. In this review I would like to talk about 3 of those books.

The Cows

Written by an idol of mine (Dawn O’Porter) and released just last month. It begins with such a poignant opening passage regarding a cow and it’s comparison to a woman’s stereotype, to reproduce and be used solely for milk or beef. A story of three very different women whose lives somehow intertwine around sex, men, struggles, independence, family, the media and babies. This book was emotional, inspiring and entertaining. I give it 5/5.

“COW n. /ka?/

A piece of meat; born to breed; past its sell-by-date; one of the herd.

Don’t follow the herd.”

101 Ways to Live Cleaner and Greener for Free

Written by Anna Pitt I read this on a train journey to London. It is a great book, set out in a simple format of three parts – a short passage covering the various topics such as waste, water, food and energy – the maths, what savings you can make both in money and helping the planet – the tips, a quirky illustration alongside tips from real people.

Many of the tips covered, if I am honest, are common sense and already how I live my life. However some of the facts around how much we waste in the UK were fascinating and I did find some tips really helpful. I give it 4/5.

“The average UK household uses around 500 litres of water every day and about a third of that water is flushed straight down the toilet!

#GIRLBOSS

Having recently watched the new Netflix series Girlboss all in one sitting on a Saturday afternoon (loved every vintage minute), I did some digging into what the show was based on and found that it surprisingly was originally a book. Written by the creator of Nasty Gal, Sophia Amoruso, this book is full of inspiration on how to become #GIRLBOSS.

Sophia tells the tale of how she grew her business from selling vintage on ebay to become a huge successful corporation. What I gathered from the book is that the key to success is to find what you are passionate about, combine that with what you are good at, and work ridiculously hard. This book isn’t supposed to be a feminist book, but from reading it, I’d say it is. I give it 4/5. I also give the Netflix series 4/5 (fabulous clothes and soundtrack).

“I’m telling you that you don’t have to choose between smart and sexy. You can have both. You are both.”

I hope you’ve found this helpful! Stay posted for my May Book Review…

My Homage to Girls

My Girls journey began right at the very start, in 2012. I was in my last year of uni, facing big life choices, having an identity crisis, coping with a new boyfriend, losing and making friends, gaining parents approval, blah blah blah… Watching Girls provided me confidence, solidarity and a good old giggle.

Over the last five years as Hannah, Marnie, Jessa, Shosh, Elijah, Ray and Adam grew, so did I. They are all messes in their own special way. None of their relationships are conventional or perfect. And this gave me comfort. It made me realise that very few people actually have their shit together.

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I would like to thank each one of them.

Hannah for embracing her lumpy bumpy nakedness and making me feel worthy to embrace my own.

Jessa for her no fucks given attitude.

Marnie for her annoyingness.

(yeah I struggled to find pics for Marnie, she really did annoy me)

Shosh for her honesty.

And the lads (Elijah, Ray, Adam).

I am very sad that Girls is now over. Throughout the final series I have burst into tears over and over again. The penultimate episode for me was amazing, in my mind it should of been the last. It would of been a great ending. All of them together, hashing it out, laughing, dancing. It gave me some satisfactory closure. Then along came Monday’s episode. I’m unsure if it was really needed, I feel we could of all just left how Hannah would be as a mam to our own imagination. Nevertheless, the final scene gave me goosebumps.

Along the way Girls has mirrored my relationship with friends. Some off getting married, others having babies, others off travelling, others doing great in a career, others doing not a lot at all. Some I have drifted apart from, realising that perhaps what we had in common we no longer do. Some I have grown closer to, depending on each other in new ways.

What Girls has definitely done is revive feminism. Never before has twitter, instagram, blogs, newspapers, tv been more littered with feminist talk. Again, for that, Girls I am grateful.

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Anyway. Thank you Girls.

I’m now off to yoga in my fangirl t-shirt to pay further homage.

Easter Weekend – Adventures on the Doorstep

I very rarely get to spend a weekend at home, nevermind a bank holiday weekend. That is why this Easter was very special as I got to spend it at home with my nearest and dearest exploring what is on my doorstep.

Despite having lived in the East Midlands now for about four years I’ve rarely had the time, or not made the time, to explore what the local area has to offer. This weekend I began to scratch the surface.

My Easter weekend started early as I took Thursday off from work for my sister’s birthday (HAPPY 25TH FIONA!!!!).

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We spent the daytime eating and drinking in Nottingham. I finally got to experience Annie’s Burger Shack which definitely lived up to it’s reputation. Annie’s has an amazing burger menu, in which every dish can be done meaty, vegan or veggie.

Then as my birthday present to Fiona we went to see The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night at the Theatre Royal. Having previously read the book myself, it was probably quite a selfish gift. The play was a success. It told the story really well, making you appreciate how an autistic boy lives. I’d definitely recommend reading the book or going to see the play.

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We stayed over in Nottingham and on Friday morning decided to not waste the day away looking round shops at things we didn’t want to buy. Instead we ventured to the well hidden City of Caves. Who knew underneath the shops and pubs were over 600 man made sandstone caves?! I certainly didn’t until we painstakingly managed to find them. Heads up Nottingham… you should shout about this more!

After the Caves we had a nice walk up to Nottingham Castle. Again, we were completely unaware that Nottingham had a castle! It’s a beautiful area of the city, full of Robin Hood history.

Saturday was spent being productive. I did a 5k park run at Conkers beating my previous time by two whole minutes (buzzin!!). I then had a good ole spring clean of the flat. Finished off reading Dawn O’Porter’s The Cows (blog post to follow on this great read) and then went out for a couple of drinks in Ashby with Rob.

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On Sunday I took Barney out for a walk with Rob to Carsington Water. We packed up a little picnic and set out for a nice 8 miler.

Finally today I went with my mam, dad, sister and Barney to Mercia Marina for a walk along Willington canal  with a stop off at The Dragon for lunch.

I have thoroughly enjoyed a long weekend at home. I’ve managed to have a proper catch up with close family, get some much needed fresh air and see what the East Midlands has to offer. The rest of this precious time off work is now going to be spent eating chocolate and watching films. #lazydays

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If you live in the area and know of any other fun days out I can sample, please let me know.

Happy Easter x