2017: In Review

I’m aware I’ve been very quiet on here of late but hopefully that’s about to change as I really want to get back into the LVB blog life again.

To ease myself in and remind me of what a pretty good year I’ve had, here are some of my highlights from 2017.

Moving back to Shire

2017 saw me moving into my own place in the town where I grew up. Something I never thought I would do but I now know in my heart it was right thing. Being back in the countryside, near my friends and family is where I’m meant to be right now.

London marathon

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My second marathon and it was a toughy. In hindsight, I definitely over trained for this one, rocking up to the line with 3 20 milers, a 21 and a 22 under my belt. By the time April had swung round I had most definitely lost my running mojo. Still, the atmosphere pulled me round and the celebratory Wagamama with my friends was nearly worth it.

Lake District and Lakeland Trails

One of my favourite races last year, the Coniston Half Marathon made me fall back in love with running. It was a challenging and hilly course but so beautiful and spending the weekend with friends made it all the more wonderful.

Northampton Half Marathon

Sometimes, not often for me, you get those races where everything falls in to place. Having been ill the night before, my hopes of a sub 2 hour were left by the wayside but my friends who also happened to be Northampton Half pacers had other ideas. Running with my Run Club was so special and I enjoyed every moment. I finally got that elusive sub 2 finish to top off the day. Oh and that’s me in the middle of my gorgeous friends who also smashed it that day!

Florida

One of my favourite places in the world, I was lucky to tag on to a family holiday and visit Indian Shores in Florida again this year. Running on the beach everyday was a definite highlight and it was great to see how many more vegan options/places.

So many events, races and activities planned for 2018 so stayed tuned.

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Wildlife Wednesdays: Seals

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5 Fun Facts about Seals

1. Only common and grey seals breed in British waters, though vagrant northern seals can be seen around our coasts. Common and grey seals are difficult to tell apart when in the water. The common seal has a relatively smaller head and its nostrils form a V-shape. The grey seal has an elongated ‘Roman nose’ and its nostrils are parallel.

2. Because seals hunt in the open sea and usually travel long distances in search of prey, returning to land means a significant drain on their energy reserves.  Therefore, seals tend to fast when ashore and minimise the time they spend on land.

3. Blubber is a good insulator at sea, but seals can overheat on land, even on cool days, so they often fan themselves with their flippers.

4. Because seals are evolved from land carnivores and, unlike whales and dolphins haven’t evolved ways of giving birth at sea, they must return to land to give birth to their pups.

5. Pups of both species are fed for up to four weeks, during which time they can more than double their body weight. Their mothers then abandon them.

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Where to see Seals? 

While seals can be seen basking at any time of year, they primarily return to land to moult (common seals from August to September; grey seals from February to April) and breed (common seals from June to August; grey seals from September to December).

Common seals are not actually uncommon in fresh water rivers and have been known to travel several hundred miles upstream. Grey seals, on the other hand, are much less likely to enter rivers.

The top 10 seal watching spots in the UK can be found here.

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Links to my previous Wildlife Wednesday posts can be found here and here.

Thanks for Reading.

London Vegan Bird

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SOURCES : RSPB, Discover Wildlife, Countryfile

Wildlife Wednesdays: Foxes

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This weeks’s WildLife Wednesday is all about the beautiful fox. Adaptable, clever and unmistakable, here are 5 fun facts about this wonderful animals.

 

5 Fun Facts about Foxes

  1. The fox’s success is mainly due to the fact that they are willing to eat almost anything. They have become particularly good at living alongside humans in farmland and urban areas.
  2. Foxes are traditionally  thought of as being sly and cunning, they are very clever and adaptable creatures.
  3. They often only live for one or two years, although they have been known to survive for up to nine years.
  4. Foxes are territorial, and for most of the year they live in small family groups. Foxes mate in January, and cubs are born in March, looked after by the ‘vixens’ (females) of the family.
  5. You are most likely to see foxes at dawn or dusk and you may also hear them howling in at night, particularly in the breeding season.

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What’s the deal with fox hunting? 

Whilst hunted in the past, fox hunting is now banned, but foxes are not welcomed by everyone and still suffer cruelty in some areas. Campaigners claim that illegal fox hunting still continues.  Despite public opposition, it was reported in September that Theresa May is planning to go ahead with a vote to repeal the Hunting Act in Parliament, a pledge included in last year’s Conservative election manifesto. This would lift the ban on hunting. Keep a watch for petitions and other ways to get involved in the Keep the Ban movement. https://www.facebook.com/AntiFoxHunt/

Where can you find them? 
Foxes inhabit almost every habitat – sea cliffs, sand dunes, salt marshes, peat bogs, high mountains, woodland and particularly abundant in urban areas.
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Thanks for reading.

London Vegan Bird

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Wildlife Wednesday: Robins

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I have always been fascinated by animals and Wildlife. My holidays as a child were spent looking for nature in some shape or form and always involved at least a few animal related activities , be it visits to local farms or dare I say it, zoos. I no longer visit zoos (a subject of a future post) but there are still so many ways of seeing, discovering and finding out more about British Wildlife.

Which brings me on to my new weekly topic. Each week, I will focus on a new beauty of British Wildlife so we can all learn about these amazing animals that are right on our doorstep. As it’s December, I thought I would start with the Robin.

5 Fun Facts about Robins

  1. The robin was declared Britain’s National Bird on December 15th, 1960 and again in 2015.
  2. Robins are one of the only UK birds to be heard singing in the garden on Christmas day, warning off intruders with their songs as well as using their sweet tunes for finding a mate.
  3. When the male robin has found a mate, he will strengthen their bond by bringing the female food, such as worms and caterpillars, which she begs for noisily.
  4. Robins will defend their territories to the death, and so in the poem “Who killed Cock Robin?”
  5. Their nests are made from grass, moss and dead leaves and usually in a hole in a tree stump, bank or wall.

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Where can you see Robins?

Robins breed throughout the British Isles, and on almost all of our offshore islands. They can be found all year round across the UK in woodland, hedgerows, parks and gardens.  The best way to see a robin in your garden is to dig.  Within minutes one may perch on a fence or branch nearby waiting to inspect the newly-turned soil for earthworms.

I hope you enjoyed the first Wildlife Wednesday post.

Thanks for reading.

London Vegan Bird

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Sources: http://www.discoverwildlife.com, https://www.rspb.org.uk, http://www.garden-birds.co.uk, https://onekind.org/animal/robin-european/

Vegan 101: Eggs

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Continuing on with my Vegan 101 series, my beginners guide to veganism. This time I’m looking at Eggs so let’s begin with some FAQs.

What’s wrong with eggs? The facts

  • Living Conditions at egg factory farms are terrible. Caged hens are kept in cramped conditions with wire mesh floors. What’s more,their beaks are cut off so as not to peck each other from frustration.
  • Male chicks are killed. Because male chicks are no use to the egg industry, they are either ground up alive or suffocated. And yes, this happens on Free Range and Organic farms too.
  • They’re not healthy Despite being heavily marketed as a health food (raw egg smoothie anyone?), eggs actually have zero dietary fiber, and about 70 percent of their calories are from fat—a big portion of which is saturated. They are also loaded with cholesterol (eggs have 3 times more cholesterol than a steak).
  • Chickens have been genetically modified to produce 300 eggs per year instead of their normal 17. How can this be good for the chickens?
  • The life span of chickens naturally is 10-15 years. In the egg industry, it is just 2 years.

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But what about Free Range or Organic?

Free Range means that hens must have outside space. However, there are no rules to say how often the chickens go outside. And in truth, many never do.

Organic hens have less crowded living conditions indoors and debeaking is forbidden but unfortunately, feather pecking is still a problem (when one bird repeatedly pecks at the feathers of another).

What if the eggs come from my own pet chickens?

This is rare that this scenario actually exists but apart from the fact that these eggs are not ours to take, they are not healthy either (as explained above). Not to mention the fact that eggs really are an equivalent to a chicken’s period. Gross.

What are the Alternatives?

The wonderful news is that there are tons of alternatives to eating eggs. On toast and as part of a Full English (vegan) breakfast, why not try Tofu scramble. Follow Your Heart even has a Veganegg product that is pretty darn similar.

For baking, you can use an egg replacer http://www.orgran.com/products/174/, flaxseed, apple sauce, cornstarch, vegetable oils, tofu, apple cider vinegar…the list goes on.

 

32125_1For more information: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/animalsandnature/scary-egg-facts/ and http://freefromharm.org/eggfacts/

For studies into the health of eggs, see here: World Health Organization and here National Institutes of Health s International Urology and Nephrology.

Thanks for reading.

London Vegan Bird

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LVB’s Documentary Recommendations

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When I started on my vegan journey, I wanted to learn all there was to know about veganism and animal activist issues and I continue to do so.  Here are some important movies that I found helpful and educational and only served to reinforce the best decision I have ever made.

Black Fish 

Blackfish, the documentary which tells the story of Tilikum, a performing killer whale that killed several people while in captivity, has gone mainstream and had such an affect on the general public, must be almost wholly responsible for the theme park giant’s dwindling profits and ever diminishing reputation. A true testament to the power of social media spreading the word and making a difference.  Oh and check out Steve-O’s campaigning antics.

http://www.blackfishmovie.com

The Cove 

The Cove is a 2009 documentary film that analyses and questions dolphin hunting practices in Japan. It was awarded the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature in 2010. The film claims that 23,000 dolphins and porpoises are killed in Japan every year by the country’s whaling industry. It highlights the horrifying fact that migrating dolphins are herded into a cove where they are netted and killed by spears and knives over the side of small fishing boats. The film argues that dolphin hunting as practiced in Japan is unnecessary and cruel.  It is an emotional watch and definitely left me angry at the world!

http://www.thecovemovie.com

Forks Over Knives

This extremely fascinating documentary looks at the claim that the majority of degenerative diseases such as Cancer, Heart Disease and Type 2 Diabetes etc can be avoided and even reversed by adopting a plant based diet. It follows the personal journeys of highly acclaimed scientists in their field,  Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn whose research is gaining ever more traction to support this claim.

The recipe book is also worth checking out, including some super easy and nutritious meals, snacks and desserts.  Check out this documentary on Netflix right now.

http://www.forksoverknives.com

Earthlings 

A powerful, emotional and difficult watch, Earthlings explores the suffering of animals for food, entertainment and medical research to name a few. Narrated by Joaquin Phoenix, this film includes some horrific footage which is often very hard to watch but an important eye opener for all.

http://earthlings.com

Vegucated 

Vegucated is a feature-length documentary that follows three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. In learning about the cruelty of the meat eating industry, they find themselves more affected and involved than they had bargained for.

http://www.getvegucated.com

Cowspiracy 

Another documentary hitting a mainstream audience by the acquisition of one Leonardo DiCaprio coming on board as Executive producer and getting it in front of the Netflix big wigs. This entertaining and educational film follows Kip on his journey of enlightenment about the terrors and truths of the animal agriculture industry and its wider effects on the environment.  It is filled with unbelievable facts and figures and incredibly eye opening discoveries.

I would love to hear any recommendations you may have of further documentaries and movies to check out.

Thanks for reading.

London Vegan Bird

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Bird’s Eye Review: Vegan Life Magazine March/April 15

z04eanoT The March/April issue of Vegan Life magazine comes with news and treats a plenty. My boyfriend was happy to see the article on Vegan beers and I will most definitely be trying out the recipe for the Portobello burger (as shown on the cover above). Here are a few of my other favourite articles from the issue:

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We love a good Indian in our household and I have recently been experimenting with making Indian starters and accompaniments as well as the traditional curries. (Do you realise how easy chipati’s are to make?). I will definitely be trying out this recipe for Indian style pancakes. They look delicious.

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I also loved the article about Vegan cosmetics. As someone who initially found it difficult to find make-up that was cruelty-free and contained no animal derivatives, this feature is super helpful for anyone beginning their vegan journey or transitioning their beauty products. A lot of the brands mentioned were new to me so I will be checking these out (and of course, bringing you reviews).

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I read with interest the feature on the link between Yoga and Veganism as it is something that I have practised on and off for years. The article suggests that yoga makes us more aware of our bodies, thoughts and actions and this is definitely something us vegans can relate to.

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If you haven’t bought a copy of this month’s Vegan Life magazine, you can enter the competition to win a fabulous Suma hamper here: http://veganlifemag.co.uk/category/competitions/

Check out where you can find the mag here: http://veganlifemag.co.uk

Thanks for reading.

London Vegan Bird

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London Protest March against Taiji Dolphin Slaughter

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Have you seen the documentary The Cove? If not, you need to stop what you’re doing right now and go watch it.  It’s a difficult watch. It’s emotional, thought-provoking and eye opening but it’s important.  If you don’t know what this Oscar-winning film is about, it focuses on the mindless, pointless, barbaric dolphin massacres that happen every year in Taiji, Japan.

From 1st September 2014, the start of the hunting season, to 8th February 2015, there have been 654 dolphins slaughtered in the cove, according to data compiled by the website Ceta-Base, from estimates given by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and the Japanese Fisheries Ministry. Last season, 831 dolphins were killed. These dolphins are being sold for meat (which is ridiculous due to the high mercury content) as well as being sold on to theme parks across the world for a large sum. Disgraceful!

Ric O’ Barry is spearheading the campaign. He started his career in dolphin training, most famously for training Flipper in the highly acclaimed TV series. But since then, he has dedicated his life to saving these beautiful creatures.

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Ric O’Barry

I have attended a few protest marches against this massacre and the biggest of which was most definitely the march in central London on 17th January.  We started at Hanover Square and accompanied by signs, banners and whistles paraded down Oxford Street and into Soho finishing in the grandeur of Trafalgar Square,  where several speeches took place.  All inspiring and touching.  I was personally excited to see Will Travers , CEO of the Born Free Foundation who gave an empowering and empassioned speech about the battle against captivity across the world.  He remains positive about the ‘inevitability of change’ that will come.

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Please check out the following websites for further information and dates for the next event.

 https://www.facebook.com/pages/London-against-the-Dolphin-Massacre-Taiji-Japan/212520505611738?sk=events
 http://dolphinproject.net
 http://www.seashepherd.org
Thanks for reading.
London Vegan Bird

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Cowspiracy Documentary showing at Goldsmith’s University Thursday 26th February

If you have watched and been moved by such documentaries as Black Fish and The Cove, then the next documentary creating a lot of buzz is Cowspiracy.  Goldsmith’s University in London is hosting a showing and a lovely vegan meal at Natura Cafe next week so please see below for the details and how you can get tickets.

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