Thursday, 19 December 2013

A Vegan Journey (& incredibly bad animal puns).

I love animals with every bone in my body. I love protecting them, fighting for them and standing up for them. They're a voice in this world that cannot argue or debate or fight for themselves. In this horrifically cruel and violent world, our voice is the only hope they have.

I was raised vegetarian. Well, for the most part, I did eat some fish from time to time. Not eating meat, to me, is normal, it's the way I've been raised. So, a fifteen year old me contemplated just why people would choose to be vegan, and exclude all dairy produce and meat from their diets, when being vegetarian prevented so much destruction. The answer was pretty terrifying and yet pretty simple, but it came as a shock. The twenty four year old me has contemplated this concept for a few months, even over the last few years it was a seed of an idea; I would eventually go vegan.

As a generalisation, vegans tend to be very highly principled individuals. They're certainly brave. One thing I've noticed, as a friend of mine pointed out - they're quite criticised and judged. Even vegetarians face their share of inquisitive questions and occassional judgements, but vegans are still on another playing field. She explained that she felt there was a sense of expectation from vegans, that they disapproved of meat and dairy diets so much that they almost didn't accept it.

As a child, I frequently ran off in supermarkets, telling shoppers on meat aisles that eating meat was wrong and it was cruel. This was a five year old me. My parents never told me to judge those who ate meat, they never told me it was cruel - but my tiny brain told me that the reason we didn't eat meat was because we had a greater sense of feeling on the issue, that we felt it was wrong, we wanted to be different. My parents never said a word.

I worked out that I felt it was cruel all on my own.

At ten years old I would tell my friends not to say "Aw" at the little lambs in the fields. "You're going to eat one of those some day." I remember telling them. It was hypocrisy at its most innocent - but I still recognised it and called them out. Now I feel deeply remorseful for being such a cow (no pun intended).

As I grew older, I realised that you can't affect what people decide to do by guilt trips and making them feel bad - or judging their reasons to eat meat. A lot of people don't have reasons, just as vegetarianism is my norm, eating meat is theirs. As I grew up I experienced varying stages of convincing my friends not to eat meat. By 14, I realised, it's their choice. I do feel strongly that people should eat meat responsibly. That is, you don't need to eat it EVERY day. You should buy from reputable sources, you should buy locally. You should give a damn about how those animals are treated. The way you consider that you and others treat animals says a lot about your character in general.

SO! Veganism...

Being a vegan will be extremely hard for me. There's no doubt about that. I eat okay as a rule but veganism is a whole different kettle of fish (har har). I'm going to start in the new year and spend a few weeks researching what I can eat and which are the biggest dietary products I will need to replace. The trial period will be two weeks and then I will re-evaluate. Ultimately, I want to be a better person, I want my diet to fully reflect my values and I feel like a continuous fraud for not being vegan sooner, for eating fish in the past (I was given fish as a child, hence the acceptance) and for not being true to the guilt I feel every time I think about the cows in the farms, calves taken away from their mothers and killed and hens (yes I buy free range but does that mean cruelty free, I don't know!).

Eventually, if I do manage to get my own hens, I would probably eat eggs again. I would know, without a doubt, that they would have been treated with care and love and that would be amazing. But until then, the vegan trial begins. Wish me luck! If anyone has any tips or hints or suggestions, please leave them in the comments below. All welcome! Peace, love and Christmas hugs!

N x

Saturday, 14 December 2013

New Year's Resolutions!

As we slowly say goodbye to 2013, the time comes to make resolutions for the brand spanking and shiny new year ahead.  This year, mine aren't as specific -- but they are very important to me!

1. Put more effort into trumpet practice (enough so I get better!) and at least ten minutes practice per day.

2. Be more involved in nature/animal activism (protests and other activities), fundraising and raising awareness.

3. Be more healthy. Less sugar and caffeine and more veggies. No more than one cup of sugary coffee every two days.

4. Go for a mini, 30 minute run every day.

5. Volunteer my time to some form of animal charity

6. Do more for others - even if it's something small

7. Save money wherever I can - ultimate goal is not to buy useless crap or waste as much (and ultimately money).

8. Stop biting my nails. Just stop. Also stop being such a massive moron and giving in. They're just nails.

9. Attend at least one kick ass festival in the summer.

10. Volunteer for a conservation/animal care project in Africa (and magically sort some time off work to do said project.

Finally, a sneaky resolution. I vow to try to forget the pain of the past, forget the people who have forgotten about me and move on with my life. There are amazing things to see, to do and to be. I'm not living in the shadows anymore.

Peace and hugs!

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Elephants and badgers

I'm currently in the process of writing up last weekend's adventures, gathering my notes and ideas from a jam packed weekend. Firstly, I went to London to attend the Say no to Ivory protest near Westminster. This protest was to raise awareness of the illegal ivory trade and the devastating idea that African elephants face extinction (in the wild) by 2025 if we don't do something pretty soon. We protested to gather ideas and try to get our ministers and large figures in government to convince other countries to act on this.

President Obama has already set aside a large sum of money to protect the elephants but huge countries like China play significant parts in this cruel and unnecessary trade and we want our MPs to urge China to stop!

Secondly, I travelled (on the same day) to Taunton to take part in the Wounded Badger Patrol during Somerset's final weekend of the pilot culls.  New news has surfaced that original populations were not as high as previously estimated and they also want to extend the cull, as they did not achieve their initial targets. This comes as a tragic piece of news as many people have taken illegal measures outside of the agreed cull to kill badgers, meaning their numbers have dropped significantly. A figure of around 80% of this population of badgers is thought to have been killed. This is a devastating piece of news. The events of my badger patrol are quite lengthy and that coupled with this recent sadness has prevented me from writing the piece sooner.  I want it to be accurate and it might take a few days to procure, but stayed tuned for my recount of the events of being in the heart of the badger cull area, even if only for one night.

Fear not though, I will be back out in that cull zone if they press on with these plans to extend the cull or even worse, gas our badgers.

I sincerely hope this blog will encourage you to fight for the badgers and help us in this plight. They only have us and we're not as powerful as those bigwig government heads and the cruel and relentless NFU (National Farmers' Union).

I welcome your comments and suggestions for discussion.


Monday, 30 September 2013

The Conservative Party Conference - The Badger Cull Protest & NHS Protest

The weekend before my week off was filled with lots of fantastic things, friends, family, fun and protesting.  It was the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester on Sunday - so I woke up, bright and early (after an hour's sleep) and jumped on a train with my mum. My family are avid wildlife fans, I've been brought up with a respect and love for every animal - but my mum is probably the most inspirational of these - and the most hardworking.  She fights every day for the things she believes in - and that is truly the only thing you can do in this hard, cold and increasingly corrupt and tangled world.

 So, we knew roundabouts where we were meeting (the guy who organised the march for the badgers was actually sat somewhere in Gloucester in the cull zone so couldn't be there) but organisation wasn't my concern, as long as we were there and we fought for our beliefs, we demonstrated that we wouldn't back down or sit down or shut up and accept this cruelty and corruption, I was okay.  It was a lovely sunny day in Manchester, a bit cool and breezy but we made our way to Deansgate and on to the main street where the other marches were rallying. Plenty of representation for socialist worker, teachers' cuts and the NHS cuts - banners were being handed out, placards, leaflets.  Huge bulbous balloon type things plastered with the names of the National Teachers Union and Unite, various trade union bits and pieces.  We walked to the bottom of the road and there was our meeting point - with a few lonely badger supporters looking slightly confused. After my mum explained that some people were also taking part in a static protest (she explained everything about six times to these people!) we decided to stay and wait and take part in the city march (as the organisation was quite off so we weren't sure which location would best represent our numbers and our cause). There was a lot of support for the NHS and various other cuts and unions - as you would expect. As a healthcare professional, I was there to represent my NHS too.  

Slowly but surely, a few people at a time, mostly dressed in black and white, the badger supporters arrived.  Stickers were handed out (and I finally got my Green Party anti-cull poster!).  I was wearing my Brian May/Brian Blessed Team Badger shirt (as were many others). By the time we looked up again, we were surrounded by lots of badger dressed friends! 

It felt empowering to be surrounded by so many people who share the same beliefs and values, to such a passionate and active extent.  Apart from my mum, I rarely socialise with anyone who supports this cause and spend most of the time defending it to people who either try to wind me up or don't actually understand the facts (or maybe they just don't care - who knows). But I urge any naysayers to watch Dominic Dyer's speech (either in Taunton or Manchester) and try to disprove his knowledge. 

Shortly before the march set off, Dominic Dyer (as mentioned above), policy advisor for Care for the Wild International, gave a very empowering and passionate speech about the badger cull.  The small minority that is the NFU (who have big power and control over the government) don't actually represent the good farmers and good farming practice in this country.  Instead of changing their practices or maybe asking supermarkets to charge a little more for milk and dairy products (so they can put better bio-security measures in), they're spending millions of pounds on a cruel and unscientific badger cull.  That was his basic message in summary.  He told us to keep fighting for our beliefs and standing tall, we are better than anyone who tells us we're wrong. With that passionate assurance in our ears - we set off through the streets of Manchester.

The march was an interesting one, long and lots of stops and starts along the way.  Fellow badger supporters were leafleting and I witnessed the most horrendous and hardfaced response from some passers-by (and the few security and door men offered leaflets and their rude and callous responses). Despite a rant from a Tory MP that he was racially insulted and abused and protesters were violent (which obviously wasn't acceptable if it happened) but I saw no violence of any description and everyone was polite, amiable and there to stand up for what they believed in.  This MP basically wrote off an entire march on the basis of one (or a few) people's behaviour. Not to mention he only referred to the march as being about 'the cuts'.  It wasn't just about that, our badgers were not mentioned in his article at all, nor on the BBC's news. They deemed it more appropriate to report on news that nearly happened but didn't quite - never mind 50,000 people in Manchester standing up for their beliefs and ultimately, their (and animal) rights. 

Even the police were calm, polite and many were interacting in a friendly way with the marchers. But in all honesty, their services must come under some pressures and cuts from this government.   We were not their to create chaos and try and overthrow Cameron and his hideous ingrates - we were there to shout our beliefs and our feelings and to try and make those toffee nosed people at the top, who were drinking £45 bottles of champagne, realise that this country is struggling.  The same £45 that they make disabled people may extra a month for having a 'spare' bedroom. 

BBC coverage was slack and scanty at best. A tiny news article which only referred to the 'cuts' and implied that some violence had occurred somewhere. Let me add, there were NO arrests. No mention of badgers or any other cause. Very lax, BBC. 

However! All in all it was a very positive, knackering day! We got to fight for our beliefs and listening to other badgerists and Dominic's speech empowered me to act more, to do more and fight for this cause harder than ever.  

My forthcoming wounded badger patrol will be a different and hopefully positive experience. 

Ultimately, what I gained from this experience was more knowledge.  The NFU lobbied the government to go ahead with this cull for a sizable time and what's worse, it's partly due to bad farming practices (not all farmers are bad and not all support the cull, and I thank those nice farmers for caring and considering). We've learned that the cull isn't working. Secret World Wildlife Centre found badgers shot and still suffering. That's not a clean, humane kill. This hasn't worked and their ideals of postmortems on a small proportion of those killed is no way to test whether something is humane. 

Sadly, the next step is research into gassing badgers in their setts.  Badger friends, please don't back down. You can visit my other posts on this blog for more information on how you can help.

Furthermore, sign the new petition here:

Thank you for reading

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

As a lifelong vegetarian, animals have always been close to my heart.  I was brought up this way and this remains an integral part of who I am; someone who loves animals.  My childhood years were spent with cats, hamsters and rabbits and for that, I am grateful.  This appreciation for animals has made me, in some ways, more empathetic and understanding of this great, wide world.  The problem, I realised, when I was about twelve years old, is that our animals and indeed our planet, are in grave danger.  From human excesses, misunderstanding, cruelty, harm and our species' general feeling that this is our planet to stomp all over.  Of course, this isn't everyone - but large countries like the US and even our smaller UK - are damaging our planet at a rate that our children and their children, will not see certain species of animal - because we will have wiped them out.

I've often petitioned online.  I do spread animal activism all over my Facebook page, in an effort to get people to notice what is happening to our world, to get them to care - and if they do care, to get them to act!   Our government's environment minister is completely blind - he has little regard for environmentalism and saving our planet - and even questions climate change as to whether it is actually a negative process! My online petitioning can only go so far, so after years of sitting back and doing nothing - I'm now acting!

The term 'hippy' is bandied about my generation a lot.  My parents were the generation to go on CND marches and shout their voices loud about causes they were passionate for.  However, as my sociology teacher told me when I was 16, there is something about younger generations today that is sometimes apathetic.  I sometimes feel that way, I'm just one person, what difference could I possibly make? However, I did take part in the student protests in London in March 2011, and the sense of unity and desire for that cause was almost palpable - people do care, you've just got to find others with similar views and passion to band together and fight for something.  This is completely true for me.  I don't often socialise with other animal activists.  I'm sure my friends care, but this only goes so far. Would they go on marches to support a cause? I've never really asked.  But the crux of my situation reached a precupice the other night: I might not have friends who care to such an extreme extent like me - I just have to act, to do something to make a difference.  

Two causes that have been very well publicised on animal social media pages are the UK's badger cull and the elephant Ivory Trade.  Both causes are wholly worth looking at.  You can read all about the cull, its objectives, its flaws and cruelty in the following links: Brian May's Save ME site and the Badger Trust  and Team Badger  (a coalition of wildlife charities against the cull). You can sign the petition at Team Badger too. 

You can read here about the barbaric Ivory trade.  Both species are under threat.  The badger cull relates to the issue of bovine TB, which some badgers can carry and transmit to cattle. It is in its pilot stages and began in Gloucester area a few days ago (the pilot cull seeks to test whether badgers can be culled humanely in a specific way, not to actually control TB at this point, they are only testing a small proportion of these badgers- so how can they know whether this is humane?) and furthermore, a widespread cull could spread TB even further.  Not to mention, they do not know how many badgers are in this area and there could be little more than the number they want to kill.  They risk wiping them out in that area.  

The elephant Ivory Trade is a cruel and barbaric slaughter of elephants for ivory.  Every fifteen minutes an elephant is killed for its ivory and they risk African elephants potential extinction by 2025.  That's twelve, 12, years from now. If somebody had told me that elephants would be made extinct in my lifetime, I would not have believed them - now, it's imperative that myself and anyone who believes in this cause - fights and marches for our elephants. We have to stop this cruel and barbaric murdering! 


So, with both campaigns in mind - I've decided to take action!  I'm not sitting behind a screen campaigning for these causes anymore (well, at least not just doing that).  Firstly, on 4th October in London, it is International March for Elephants day in London. Several other protests are taking place all over the world, this is an international campaign! It is organised by the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust (a charity for wildlife in Africa). 

The website (iWorry) has fantastic props for dressing up as an elephant, and the Sheldrick site has shirts you can buy to support the elephants and march.

On the Saturday, myself and my mum will be going out with badger activists to patrol cull areas, looking for bait and injured badgers.  I've signed the petition and donated money to the patrol and bought the single and t shirt! Now it's time to ACT! 

The Badger Cull

It's been a long time coming that I wrote a post on the badger cull.  As all my friends, family and Facebook friends will now be aware, the badger cull is a topic I feel very strongly about.  I love badgers. I love wildlife. I also accept that Bovine TB is a real problem for the farming industry in our country.  However, using the badger as a scapegoat is not right. Using any animal as a scapegoat is not right. Just because it's a wild creature and it can't fight back or defend itself, it does not make this cull fair or just.  Just as a starting point, the badgers did not magically create TB and give it to the cows!  The two 'pilot' areas in Gloucestershire and Somerset are already underway. We have to act now to save our badgers.  What's more, the NFU (National Farmers' Union) has around 14% of farmers as its members but constantly lobbied the government to go ahead with a cull, they have a lot of control there. Instead of asking supermarkets to charge more for products so they can install fair biosecurity measures, they indulged in poor farming practices and made the situation worse. Now, they want to continue to sell milk to big countries and sorting it out through cattle is too ARDUOUS for them....I know, let's just blame the badgers!  

You can act now, sign the petition

Here are some facts from Brian May's site,

1.) No country has successfully tackled TB in cattle through killing wildlife
2.) Vaccination is the only way to tackle TB in any species
3.) Owen Paterson is ignoring Defra's own scientific research
4.) Culling badgers could make the problem of cattle TB worse
5.) Badger culling will not help TB in British cattle.

We don't know exactly how many badgers actually exist in the UK, if we kill a large proportion of that population, how many will remain?

What I'm doing to make a difference:

It's all well and good shouting out and sharing facts and information on this issue - but the real way to make a difference is to be dynamic. I'm sharing videos, interviews and links to the petition online, I've bought the badger single, a t shirt (which includes the cost of a vaccine) and I'm going to Somerset to complete some badger walks.  You too can help, it doesn't have to cost money, it doesn't have to take up a lot of time. If you care, please share! Signing the petition and sharing it costs nothing! The petition is already number one on the government's site, but still, we need to get it further!

More information and what YOU can do too! 
For more information, the site Team Badger is a fantastic source of information.  From interviews and links to the petition, to information about how you can help. It's a coalition, an allegiance of grass roots wildlife organisations and experts who don't agree with this cull. Their video, featuring Brian May and Brian Blessed, is particularly fantastic and even though it's very light hearted in parts, it does make me cry, because in reality, this is really happening.  Read the Badger Myths dispelled here, which dispels the common myths about badgers and gives strong scientific reasoning and facts for why this cull is cruel, unfair and a crime on our wildlife.  It is supported by every wildlife charity in the UK.    Furthermore, read about how the public have been kept in the dark: Defra's freedom of information response

View the video
Buy the single 

 Let's get this baby to number one! 

Please speak out! We are more powerful in numbers. We don't even know how humane these 'pilot' culls are, which means many badgers will be suffering and we don't even know the what extent. Badgers, I know you can't speak or understand these crimes, but hear us now, we will NEVER stop fighting for you. We care.

If you love badgers, please don't shy away! I know this is horrible, it truly is cruel and inhumane. The only way to make a difference is to fight, to get together and try to change this! 

Thank you for reading and please, if you care, join our fight and protect our badgers.

A new blog!

Hello everyone
You may be familiar with my old blog (Formerly, Girl in the Window and The Book Girl), now return to its original name and purpose - The Book Girl, reviewing and writing about books.

This blog is to showcase all my other life passions, thoughts and stuff. I'll be sharing and writing about the music I've found and loved, environmentalism and animal activism and much more!  I hope you'll join the blog and follow me.

Anyway, welcome to the new blog. I'll be writing lots about my animal adventures - including protests, patrols and marches!

Please join in :)
Much love