Thank you, mum

Thank you, mum

My comfort and my biggest fear both at once, you have helped me to win battles, and avoid them at your own peril too.

You have sacrificed the hollow of your womb for me to develop and be nourished by you. And now, you would give it all up for me, from financing my education, rent, practical survival, to ensuring I look and feel my best with the occasional treats and salon appointments.

Meeting me in McDonalds at 8am after I had thrown up on my clothes after a heavy night, buying me orange juice and a bag full of warm clothes, you wouldn’t have thought twice.

Pushing me to be the best. Sometimes, reducing me to tears because I didn’t believe in myself. But you always did. You never lost faith in me.

I hated having overprotective parents. Yet, I have become an independent, intelligent woman thanks to my upbringing. You didn’t want to see your youngest go into town on her own at the age of 14, but you didn’t want to smother me either. You nailed the whole parenting thing.

Giving me the big half of every food we would share, even buying me another ice cream after I would ask for mint chocolate and throw a tantrum after taking the first lick, and learning that I hated it. I did this more than once. And every time you still coped.

You have always accepted my friends  with open arms, treating them as your own and never judging their faults. You treat my boyfriend like a son too, which is something you didn’t have to do, but I appreciate you for it.

Juggling a full time job with caring for two daughters when my dad would be working abroad, cleaning after us, ironing all weekend or with your arms in a bucket of hot soapy water, you don’t relax enough.

Anywhere with you is a sanctuary, because you are home to me, and you are my mum.

Happy Mother’s Day to my glorious, wonderful mum. I hate to get soppy, but as every Mothering Sunday comes along, there also comes the eventual realisation that one could be the last you get to celebrate for your mum’s sake.

I genuinely couldn’t function without my mum, as I seem to text her every day with some form of advice being sought.

I love you, mum, this day’s for you. X

 

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What do you meme?

What do you meme?

The year is 2031. You open your news app up on your phone to a short string of emojis, depicting a headline. No, it is not an Orwellian notion of newspeak. It is the regression of humankind back to the use of hieroglyphics to represent words and phrases.

The way we present and transmit information has transformed a great deal over the past decade, particularly over the last few years too with the rise of the emoji and apps like Snapchat. Either my family is a constant in this swirl of change or my mother is just vintage for forever prodding me to send thank you letters to my relatives in 2017, where even my 84 year old granddad is on our WhatsApp family group chat.

Social media, of course, has been the major phenomenon to embrace the amalgamation of conveying news stories with, well, stupidity.

With the Internet fast and furiously reacting to a shocking news story with memes and viral Tweets, humanity is either doomed for eternity or cleverly adapting to our world of constant interconnectivity.

Remarkably, this generation is quite frankly the first to be so immersed in politics and revolutionary ideas. And what better way for media outlets to interact and engage with teenagers and twenty year olds than with funny images? And to think it all started with that viral YouTube video of a guy singing about shoes and lolcats, which is well, pretty self-explanatory.

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Memes can be completely inappropriate, particularly if they are deemed as ‘spicy’ or ‘creamy’. There are enough savage Facebook groups out there dedicated to sharing such monstrosities, even though I do laugh at pretty much of all of them, probably representative of my own debilitating self. Yet, there is more to the meme than dark humour.

Richard Dawkins was the first to coin the word ‘meme’, whose description is an idea which is spread from one person to another within a culture, while they physically reside in the brain. Memes are, therefore, the conveying of information. Of course, it would not be practicable to use memes as the first source of information, as things get lost in translation, particularly when being subjective concepts.

The dangerous twist of real and fake news is fuelled by such concepts, where objectivity is being falsely perceived in one person’s conception.

What with all of this ‘fake news’ debacle which has been completely thrown out of proportion, it is up to an individual to use a range of sources rather than one biased one anyway. Especially if that source of legit-I-promise facts is The Onion. Do we not understand sarcasm anymore?

Images and expressions get lost in translation, whereas the fluidity and eloquence of the English (or alternative) language is timeless. Words may come and go, such as ‘golly’, but you cannot achieve any more certainty than using precise language. I like the engagement between social media, mainly Twitter, and receiving the news, but there are always going to be flaws in how this information is presented. To articulate a complex news story in under 140 characters is pretty impressive, I must admit. Though, if you haven’t jumped on the 2016 bandwagon yet, download Quartz, an app allowing the news to be messaged to you.

However, such simplicity in these snappy, dramatic headlines is what leads far too many into treating the headline alone as the news story, which ends up shared among every other Facebook user’s profile with fearmongering comments abundant.

Clickbait has already been picked up by Facebook to resolve its prominence across its website, thankfully. Although, my issue isn’t with obviously fake articles that start with ‘You will NEVER believe…’ or ‘X did this, but when Y happens, I was SPEECHLESS’. My worry are exactly these farfetched names of genuine articles, especially by accounts like Lad Bible. If you’ve miraculously never heard of this website, good job. But, it initially began its life as a hub for ‘lads’ to read stories about t*ts and borderline rape culture, yet now becoming a really ambiguous means of sharing day-old memes, viral videos and things that are ‘deep’ which don’t really belong on the site.

Then again, what a way to direct 16-30 year olds about important issues than on a group perceived to be dedicated to lad culture, on the flipside. One example of one of their clickbait is this article. Now, read the title: Family of Woman Given One Week To Live Asks For Favour In Post. The favour is to simply “live your life to the absolute fullest”. How is this article-worthy? Why am I wasting characters ranting about this? I’m hungry, that’s why. But, my point being, that while compellingly worded stories grabs our attention, particularly of the naïve, they have the potential to be dangerous.

Obviously we don’t all need an in depth reminder of the fake news scandal around the US elections.

Ultimately, we are never again going to solely rely on printed newspapers for our news, what with the concerns about the environment and people not recycling paper, as well as the clear fact that politics and current affairs move incredibly quickly these days. So, it’s much easier to receive on demand notifications of what’s happening around us rather than wait a day for stories whose development hasn’t been fully scripted in a newspaper anyway.

On the contrary, I also hope the news retains some dignity. There is a certain limit to how far silly things like memes can go with the sincerity of the news. Of course, chat shows and panel shows are exempt from this, naturally.

I also hope that clickbait can be fully prevented, most probably from professional journalists who know how to craft a headline without misleading the public but still encapsulating some eagerness to know more.

Maybe all my desires will be rebutted in 2031, and we’ll actually get a daily meme messaged to us which somehow amalgamates all the relevant news stories represented as the 2013-equivalents of Pepe the Frog and doggos. Oh, who am I kidding, Pepe is always going to be around.

 

 

 

 

 

Being happy anywhere 

Being happy anywhere 

You know when you find yourself rambling and waffling on and on… That is the epitome of this post, which I normally don’t embrace, but hey, it feels good to let your mind wander sometimes.

So, I remember being sat by the pool in Bali just last summer, noticing the bright white of my skin under my bikini contrasting with the dark caramel tan I had acquired elsewhere. I was sipping on my daily Coca Cola, convincing myself I was sweating out all of the sugar, eating bruschetta and listening to my Southeast Asia playlist on Spotify; an amalgamation of songs I incessantly played on repeat for those two months abroad.

And in that moment, I felt somewhat content. I was on a beautiful island, somewhere which many even dream of as their honeymoon destination, and I had already travelled through three incredible, unique countries. Bali was my last stop before home.

Yet, there was still that nagging feeling in the back of my mind, reminding me of all the anxieties I would face back in England. Despite bathing under the sun in one of the most beautiful places in the world, I realised that my happiness and mental health do not miraculously change because of the location I was in.

To escape your everyday life because you’re ‘unhappy’ is a façade. I think overcoming this misconception allowed me to feel even happier that I was broadening my knowledge and cultural awareness being abroad, knowing that if my state of mind will still feel anxious about matters like rent and university, I can wait until I get home to deal with it.

After all, mental health is within you, therefore it’s always going to be with you regardless of being in your bedroom or abroad. So why should I let things affect me on holiday when they’d affect me just as much at home?

This acknowledgment enabled me to feel content and happy, borderline ignorantly, and not let the trivialities of life get in the way of my travelling. I’m not a passive person. There are some problems that you just have no control over in life, and for these things you just have to let go and ensure they don’t get in the way of your own enjoyment and happiness.

Feeling empowered that I can make myself happy wherever I am has made such a difference. Occasionally I find myself feeling down and lonely at university when really I have to remember the gratitude I emanate for having a roof over my head, being able to afford food, and having a great support network. That instantly lifts me up. I get strangled by my own pessimism and overthinking that I create problems for myself. When I feel lonely, it’s because I’ve made myself lonely by pushing people away.

Evidently, I do get caught up in my own emotions that I therefore forget how I do have friends who care about me and wouldn’t think less of me for bringing up my feelings. While both women and men may have down days, there’s nothing wrong in confiding in a friend about how you feel. I think what makes things worse, for me anyway, is the acceptance that I’m unhappy. Acquiescing to negativity can set off a whole downward spiral of defeat for me. Though of course, if you identify that you’re not yourself, sometimes it is then easier to gradually work your way back up.

As soothing as it is to wallow in your own sadness, we can all find the influence within ourselves to embrace happiness and a positive mind-set. Of course, when you really are at your lowest, finding inner happiness seems like the impossible. It took me years to be content in myself and exert this inner peace and serenity.

I even went to New York in January with my university, and upon realisation that I didn’t have enough money on me to revel in the best delicacies and excursions as stated by my travel apps, I did feel as though I was wasting my time being there. Though, what helped me persevere was just the acknowledgment that I’m stood in this crazy city with the snow crashing down on me in -14 degree weather. In other words, I made the most of the little things, my senses, what I’m aware of. There’s no greater, more powerful feeling, than the acknowledgment of being alive.

Too many people believe they are worthless and that nothing would change if they were to drop out of existence. This is a complete irrationality which I wish less people would think about. In New York where the roads are rarely quiet, simply perceiving your aliveness in that other pedestrians move around you as you walk past each other is something in itself.

Being inherently happy within also means you should feel complete as a person without needing another to fuel your everyday existence. The concept of having an ‘other half’ quite literally means you aren’t complete without needing to be in a relationship, which is an awfully outdated notion. As RuPaul quite rightfully says, if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell are you gonna love somebody else (can I get an amen up in here).

While I accept that whoever I am with, wherever I am, whatever I’m doing, I can still find happiness within myself, does not at all mean that I still see things negatively. There’s a definite distinction between the perception of bleakness and the generator within your brain that can convert these negative thoughts into happier feelings, in simple terms.

To be honest though, I cannot wait to be back abroad. Travelling makes me happy and that’s not something I can just conjure up like a ready meal. Sometimes the best means to be happy is, simply put, by faking happiness.

Then again, in life do you want to be blissfully ignorant or painfully aware? This is something I ask myself daily, and my answer will always be the latter, despite my best efforts to be inwardly happy when the rest of the world is a drab at times.

 

The perception of menstruation gives me the cramps

The perception of menstruation gives me the cramps

On Tuesday, I felt disheartened to read how many UK schoolgirls are skipping school several days a month because it links to their inability to afford sanitary protection. Some are relying on toilet roll to relieve their clothing of stains, or even using socks. Personally, the only time I have had to resort to toilet roll to soak up menstrual blood has been my irregular cycle striking my uterus at unpredictable times i.e. being in a public place and having no reserved rations of towels on me. Being a woman is hard.

When your family struggle enough to afford food, despite the influx of families receiving help from food banks, access to what should be basic toiletries is going to be restricted. Hopefully as of next April, the tampon tax, which sees sanitary products be taxed a further 5% for being a ‘non-essential’ product, will be axed, thanks to the tenacity and determination of Laura Coryton’s campaign. The sorts of taxes and laws which exist under a heavily male government are almost satirical.

While the abolition of this tax will make a slight different, sanitary products are of course still expensive. By the time periods are no longer stigmatised, the whole population able to menstruate probably would have churned out millions of vats of period blood. At Tesco, you can buy 24 tampons for a £1 which is the cheapest rate. However, women shouldn’t have to resort to what’s cheapest for such a function of the product, but then again, beggars can’t necessarily be choosers.

Not only due to costs but also convenience, I have opted to go on the mini-pill – a form of contraception which means I take the pill back to back, therefore not bleeding at all. Obviously, this isn’t an option for everyone, due to factors like age, necessity, the health risks. As with anything these days, of course.

In the BBC’s article, Tina Leslie who created Freedom4Girls mentioned that “we need to give these girls dignity back”. Having no dignity makes it sound almost shameful that these girls are sat at home bleeding out of their vaginas in fear. There really is no shame in menstruating, and schools should ensure they are establishing this view in pre-teens early on and maintaining it throughout the years.

We really are living in a divided nation where some stay quiet about a bodily function natural to a girl which signals the blossoming of her womanhood, and others ‘free bleed’ and make recipes using their blood. Okay, I don’t know if that last part is true, but I wouldn’t be surprised.

Personally, the best means of going forward is to now provide a wider range of what’s available at food banks. My mother donates toiletries to the homeless, and I think more similar initiatives should exist. For example, a monthly box of toiletries you can collect including enough sanitary products for however many in the household require them, unisex shower gel, basic razors etc. This not only solves the problem of affording sanitary products but also gives a range of other basic toiletries which everybody should be entitled to.

Of course, there are charities who you can send sanitary products to as donations so that they can distribute them to the needy, such as Bloody Good Period and The Homeless Period among various others across the nation.

 

 

Oppression or liberation?: the headscarf

Oppression or liberation?: the headscarf

I read just yesterday that the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that Islamic headscarves can be banned in the workplace, following two female employees being dismissed from work for refusing to remove their headscarves. This would be an umbrella ban presumably, prohibiting the ban of the khimar, burqa, niqab, hijab and chador. What with the fear in Western society of a Islamist attack being prevalent, many are quick to associate a woman wearing a headscarf as dangerous. But to discriminate in a generalised manner does not remove the problem. The problem is one of religious and feminist freedom in a woman.

If wearing a headscarf does not impede on that woman’s ability to carry out her job, why should there be a ban? Tabassum emailed the BBC to say that she would “definitely choose [her] head scarf” over her job. A headscarf is not a fashion accessory, so of course the religious connotations should come paramount. This ruling reminds me of the many occasions where typically male teachers would not allow schoolgirls to wear short skirts because they are ‘distracting’ which is just a whole other problem in itself.

There is an argument that children who have not become accustomed to the symbols of other religions or cultures may become naturally fearful of somebody who is wearing a niqab, for example. Yet, then surely it is the role of that child’s parents to ensure the child does encounter people and experiences that are out of their conception of ‘ordinary’. Our society is a multicultural one, therefore not only should we be aware of other religions but we must respect them too.

Many associate the Islamic headscarf with the woman being subservient to the men’s needs, what with the man having more freedom than the women in Islamic culture. The ban is therefore an abominable ridicule of hypocrisy. If we can point the finger at Muslim societies for oppressing women, then why should European societies have the right to demean them even more?

Many female Muslims perceive wearing a headscarf as being a symbol of liberation and feminism, rather than the opposite. In a world where women are still being objectified for their sexual prowess, wearing a headscarf rejects this notion which I think is incredibly empowering.Hanna Yusuf opined that in a society where women are being told how to look by the media, the hijab, along with other headscarves, resists the capitalist concept that women are not only the merchandise but also the consumers.

As she rightly states, there are women who are forced into wearing the headscarf, which of course is what is derogatory and belittling. But, “liberation lies in the choice”. Having laws which disallow wearing the headscarf imposes on the right to choose. Yusuf goes on to question “why is social pressure, or legal pressure, to not wear [a headscarf] excused as female emancipation?”

It is not the headscarf which controls sexuality, it is the powers in place such as the ECJ’s ruling which are powerfully dangerous. Either way, law should play no part in religion, ideally. To ban Islamic headscarves should mean that any and every religious symbol should be banned surely? If not, then that illustrates that the reason for banning only Islamic symbols is due to racism and Islamophobia.

Now having a legal basis to prevent a woman from wearing her headscarf is undoubtedly going to cause more problems for these women. Somebody who has quietly become fearful of the headscarf may now audibly protest at the sight of one, knowing he has the ECJ on his side. This is what is oppressive.

For my degree I was reading a journal article by Professor Susan Marks called ‘Backlash: the undeclared war against human rights’, regarding whether our conservative government are against such human rights, particularly of women. Marks makes the point that we are facing a certain backlash against women, quoting Susan Faludi in that this movement attempts to push women back into their ‘acceptable’ roles – whether as Daddy’s girl or fluttery romantic, active nester or passive love object”. Furthermore, feminists are not taken seriously, but either as ‘whores’ or ‘witches’. According to Marks and Faludi, there is an undeclared war on a women’s rights, whether that be her choice over her body or otherwise.

While I truly recommend anybody to read the article, I find the final paragraph the most compelling. In that, “the problem is not ultimately the Daily Mail‘s “Hey you, get that veil off!” bully-boy. The problem is the world that produces him”. In other words, while women are objectified in the media and told not that they are too skinny and have to look younger, but they are also too fat and look too fake. Such notions are only prevalent because of the antifeminist views of those around us. In an ideal world of feminists, if advertising were to still exist, it would simply encourage women to establish a much more progressive society. Capitalist greed in exploiting the rights of women, wherever they come from, is wholly regressive.

Despite the ECJ’s ruling, I hope that no Muslim woman feels any less empowered to wear her headscarf. Resistance of the ruling is key to social change. And, maybe one day, we will live in a world where the choice of a woman’s clothing does not require a ruling in the highest court in the European Union.

 

 

The place that doesn’t exist: the friend zone

The place that doesn’t exist: the friend zone

When I visited Bali last summer, I was overwhelmed at the amount of Balinese folk who actually came up to me to ask the rather invasive question of “where are you going?” Thanks to reading the ever so shallow novel of a white-girl-who-found-herself-abroad i.e. Eat Pray Love while sunbathing, I realised that the Balinese aren’t just nosey. They want to insert people into their own map, apparently, as this gives them a sense of order and balance.

Then there would be the question of “are you married?” if you’re a woman. If you say no, they’ll probably seem shocked and asked whether you will be soon. In Bali, you’re either married or you’re not married. There’s no compromise.

Upon arriving back in England, I then entered into a relationship with somebody I had been dating for a while which is now long distance. And I cannot lie, suddenly exiting Singlesville may as well require you being branded with hot coals stating that you are in fact married and you have to alert the Balinese that your situation has changed, as that’s how it felt. I lost a handful of male friends simply because I was now somebody’s girlfriend.

If you’re friends with a guy for a long period of time, and you then enter into a relationship with somebody else, you’d expect that friendship to still sustain and be maintained regardless of your relationship status. In an ideal world this would be the eventuality anyway.

To have a male ‘friend’ cut off all communication with you just because you now have a boyfriend basically presumes that that person was never a friend in the first place. To have romantic intentions implies you need some sort of genuine platonic background first surely, but not for a sexual intention. So, perhaps it is a good thing for a significant other to practically indirectly audit your ‘friends’, removing the ones who were basically only there to get in your pants. Like, what I was I meant to do, ask the permission of all my male friends before I could have a relationship? Will this be the same when I’m married? Modern dating has too many unspoken rules.

If a friend, regardless of gender, liked me platonically, they would get over the fact that I am unavailable to date. If they fancied me or wanted to enter into a relationship with me, they did have their chance at asking whether I wanted to go on a date. If I were having drinks or a meal with a male friend, this does not automatically mean we’re on a date unless one of us stated expressly and the other accepted. But then, if they merely wanted sex, then good riddance.

I still think the concept of a ‘friend zone’ is ridiculous though. Why should my friends be painted with the same brush anyway? I have different levels of friends. There are my close, tight friends, then friends who I probably only talk to because it’s convenient, then mere acquaintances, people you work with, etc. Does that mean my parents are in the friend zone? Is there a people-I-hate zone? Does the zone have Netflix? This is how absurd the term is.

Of course, as with my situation, this zone is barren of any so-called friendship. Real friends support each other, whether they’ve broken up with somebody or have just become Facebook offish with somebody. The zone is an excuse for an individual to wave off their rejected efforts of seduction and sexual advances in an attempt to restore their ego and pride. It’s as if this person assumes the other on the receiving end will say yes to them, should something transpire.

Being nice to somebody, being a friend, does not entitle you to sex. Not even a kiss. We don’t owe everybody who is friendly to us any romance or sexual reward. A lovely old lady at the post office helped me the other day, but I didn’t pull down my trousers then and there and demand she pleasure me, did I?

The other thorny issue is when these guys are rejected. Things can turn violent with all sorts of abuse being thrown at the girl’s end, when all that the girl has done has been a caring friend and actually perceived this other person as a decent, honest person. The hilarity.

Back when I used Tinder, sometimes a match would pop up on the chat complimenting me in some way or another. I was the worst replier so didn’t of course reply straightaway. Then soon enough the guy would put “f*ck you then you ugly b*tch” which I still can’t get my head around. I don’t think my lecturers would appreciate it if, upon them not responding to my email queries, I tell them “actually, you know what, I hate your journal articles”. It doesn’t really achieve a lot.

The friend zone doesn’t exist. Rejection is rejection. There’s absolutely no need to fake a friendship just for the possibility that the other will bend over backwards for you. Of course, if you do suspect such a fake friend pretending to be nice to you, you can always quote Trump and tell them they’re fake news. That’s one way of scaring them off.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I will never become vegan

Why I will never become vegan

I call myself a bona fide meat eater. I am not vegetarian, but I care for animals and their welfare. While I have tried vegetarianism and even pescatarianism, one diet I could never embark on is veganism. But there is a great case to go vegan. I respect vegans but something I do not respect is them almost bullying somebody for eating meat. What you put in your own body is your choice, but I think everyone should know where their food is coming from, and whether it’s of cruel means or not.

Got milk?

I’ve always been described as a ‘milk baby’ by my parents, explained by my tenacious cravings for milk as a chubby baby. Now, at 21, not a lot has changed. I will buy the largest carton of milk at the supermarket just so I can revel in a glass of cold milk every so often. When living at home, my dad would end up buying UHT cartons of milk for me, so the fresh milk could still be used by my parents wanting endless coffees and morning cereal.

Milk is rich in calcium, necessary for your bones. Probably why the only broken bones I’ve encountered have mainly been fingers. However, apparently there is a link with drinking milk and developing acne. Perhaps I’m an anomaly, I rarely even got a spot during puberty. Lactose makes us rather flatulent too. But then so do lentils and pulses, but we aren’t condemning these?

The big problem with milk isn’t necessarily what’s in it, therefore, but where it has come from.

Being painfully aware

If you follow PETA on any social media, or you’ve just done your research, you’ll know the horrors of the dairy industry. In short, female cows will be artificially inseminated in order to later give birth. If we took a human woman and restrained her in a small cage with barely enough room to turn around and inserted semen inside of her, it would be a human rights scandal and very close to rape. I understand that artificial insemination is a controlled measure, but this isn’t the worst part of the industry. Exploiting the reproduction of an animal is the first of a plethora of issues.

After about nine months, the calf will be born, before baby and mother will then be separated. About 97% of calves will be taken away in the first 24 hours following birth.  There are ‘humane’ dairy farms which take the calf away in the first hour, since it means the mother and calf are therefore unable to establish a bond, so the experience is less stressful, more ‘humane’. Either way, it is a cruel practice, but necessary for the industry and human consumption. Every drop of cow milk wasted on the calf is a loss of profits. The calves will then be fed on milk-replacer for the first few months of their life. In humans, we are thought to think that ‘Breast is Best’ until the baby can be weaned off on to powder milk anyway. Cannot animals receive the same respect?

The mother cow is now able to lactate out of her udders of course, which has been the primary reason for allowing this cow to be pregnant. This female cow is both a vessel for another cow to be forced into such animal slavery, and a source of consumer goods: milk. Milk achieved from painful vacuum machines which can cause cow teat flesh to scar as well as becoming dead.

What keeps the cow producing milk is the constant cycle of insemination, birth, lactation. Due to the high supply, calves are nearly worthless to sell off, whether that be for veal, another dairy victim, or to be ground down into your next McDonalds.

I am not blissfully ignorant to the dairy industry, and neither should anybody else. Especially if you do drink milk. I buy milk being painfully aware of what cruel industry I’m buying into. Maybe I am a hypocrite. But it is sure better than not knowing about the industry.

The alternatives?

I have tried coconut milk, almond milk, soy milk. Almond milk is possibly the only substitute that tastes decent in a cup of tea. The only reason I cannot go purely dairy free is because of cheese. Until every kind of cheese can be replicated with non-dairy products, I will be happy. The other problem is how expensive it is to be vegan. I guess if all you ate were lentils and vegetables, it would be bearable. But whatever diet or lifestyle you lead, you should always vary your pallet. The more people that demand vegan products, the more that supply will increase, as a basic principle of economics. Therefore, to want to go vegan but say that price is an obstacle may be so in the short term only.

Of course, going vegan or cutting any meat or dairy out of your diet doesn’t mean you don’t miss eating a steak or mozzarella sticks. Seriously committed individuals will simply treat the ethical implications as overriding the taste of cruelly acquired foods.

Meat: a real treat

It’s sometimes a strange thought to remember that while we are human beings, we are also part of the animal kingdom too. We are omnivores, meaning we obtain our nutrients from both plants and animals. To solely rely on eating plant based foods means we need to substitute the nutrients we are wired to receive from animals. Whether that be Quorn or protein-rich foods such as pulses, there are still certain benefits to eating meat and fish.

I have tried the pescatarian diet and I loved trying different kinds of fish. Fish is a great source of omega-3 fats and vitamin D. If you want to try the renowned Mediterranean diet, oily fish is abundant, and a superb food to incorporate into your diet. While meat can be replicated to a degree with Quorn and strange synthetic things that can create a meatless burger and even make it ooze with ‘blood’, fish could never be substituted.

Of course, if you are conscious of the environment, as anyone should be, be sure that you are supporting sustainable fishing and farming only. This is the same with eggs. It is a shame that due to the recent bird flu risks, free range chickens have had to be kept inside. Although fortunately, the relabelling of free range eggs should be over now.

Local produce

It’s all well eating fruit and vegetables, but your first point of purchased should be from your nearest market, not supermarket. It is not practical to purchase natural foods from a supermarket where the produce has either been imported from other countries or elsewhere in the UK. The fruit and vegetables I buy at markets not only are of better quality, but I know where they’ve come from. Sometimes you are dealing directly with the farmer too. I’ve also been able to buy twenty of the juiciest oranges for just one quid. While the food might not last as long as supermarket produce, this is merely a good indicator that the local produce hasn’t been tainted with various chemicals for life longevity.

My verdict

I probably will never become fully vegan. There are probably always going to be significant ethical issues with eggs, meat, dairy. If we want the most ethical farming, either certain foods wouldn’t exist or we would have to shell out too much money, which would probably turn us all into seed and kale eaters anyway.

I have only touched on the serious animal rights issues at stake. The egg industry is a whole other story, what with male chicks being slaughtered without hesitation.

My best advice is to stay knowledgeable of what you consume, whatever diet you’re following, so long as you get the right nutrients and vitamins out of that diet. Humans were not born to live off quinoa and spinach smoothies. If you’re relying on multivitamin tablets, you need to change your diet. Though, as a student and generally being skint, I’ll always recommend taking daily multivitamins.

For more information, visit PETA or Animal Aid. Also if you feel differently to anything I’ve said, let me know; I like a bit of debate.