Claiming exceptions

We are responsible for our actions. We need to question more and stop following blindly. This is an excellent piece I suggest my followers read.

There's an Elephant in the Room blog

‘That’s not true. That just happens on factory farms.  It doesn’t happen on allfarms‘.

This depressingly common statement appeared recently on a friend’s page in response to a post. It’s been lingering on my mind ever since because variations on ‘that doesn’t apply in every case, there are ‘good’ ways of doing it’, are a very common retaliation used by those seeking to defend, justify and solicit approval for their use of members of other species. It is an attempt to invalidate what is being said on the basis that someone, somewhere, claims there is an exception to whatever is being stated.

‘The way I use animals is different from the way that everyone else does it’

‘That only happens:

  • in ‘factory’ farms;
  • in ‘other’ countries;
  • in ‘battery’ chicken farms;
  • in ‘foreign’ slaughterhouses;
  • in ‘other’ cultures’.

‘That may happen in some places but:

  • not in this country (wherever);

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Does wearing faux animal skin and fur products encourage the use of real animal products? Lets discuss.

Fur? In 2018?! I know..

It is fair to say, despite my rage, that fur is making a comeback. A study by Copenhagen University has found that real fur is more popular in the UK than it has been for decades, and that UK fur sales had doubled in the last five years (cited by The BBC in 2016). Despite efforts from animal rights activists across the UK the fur trade seems to be booming. I only have to step onto Reading high-street and within seconds I’ll spot someone wearing coyote, mink or rabbit. It’s both disgusting and heart breaking.

So why is fur making a comeback? Well, it’s largely to do with the fashion industry and their celebrity endorsements. Whilst it gave me some hope to hear in the latter part of 2017 that Gucci pledge to go fur free in 2018 I am still worried by how many influential fashion companies are still buying into the cruel fur industry.

On the topic of celebrity endorsements, the Kardashian’s are apparently the most photographed family in the world and therefore their obsession with wearing dead animals is seen by millions through their social media accounts, as well as on TV and in the press. The Kardashian’s aren’t the only guilty party though, there are many other celebrities on the cruelty waggon, including; Lady Gaga, J-Lo, Kate Moss and Rihanna. But lets not just target women here because men are certainly just as bad. Kanye West, Justin Beiber and Kid Rock are openly proud fur wearers.  It seems for many celebrities that parading around in the skins of dead animals is one of their favourite ways to flaunt their wealth. Whilst members of the public, desperate for some sort of status among their peers are copying the ‘trend’.

The facts about fur

According to Last Chance For Animals each year, more than 1 billion rabbits and 50 million other animals, including foxes, seals, mink, cats and dogs, are raised on fur farms or trapped in the wild and killed for their pelts. Because we import from China and other countries with poor regulation, it can often be mislabelled as “faux.” Depending on the size of the garment, up to 100 animals or more may be killed for a just one coat.

Common ways that animals are trapped involve leg holds, drowning sets and conibear traps which can all leave an animal suffering extreme pain for a lengthy time before they die. Animals are known to chew through their own limbs just to escape.

Please head over to Last Chance For Animals website for more facts about fur.

How can you tell if you’re wearing real fur?

How to spot the difference:

  • Separate the fur at the base. If it’s fake, you will see fabric webbing. If it’s real, it will be attached to skin.
  • The burn test: Clip off the tip of the fibres and set light to them. If they melt like plastic, it’s fake. If they singe and smell of burning hair, it’s real.

How not to spot the difference:

  • Don’t be fooled by the price. It can be cheaper to produce real fur in China than synthetic alternatives.
  • Don’t assume fake fur must be poor quality. It can be difficult to tell fake and real apart because fake fur can be of such good quality.
  • Don’t believe everything you read. Complicated labelling rules are often flouted and the label only has to reflect 80% of the item’s composition so a fur trim may be omitted. Labelling laws do not apply to accessories such as shoes and handbags

So, with all that in mind..

..are we helping or hindering the anti-fur campaigners by wearing faux fur, considering how many people are buying real fur mislabelled as faux? When confronted by activists many members of the public try to defend themselves by saying that they are not aware they are actually wearing real fur. Let’s assume all these people are in fact innocently telling the truth and they didn’t know, they’re still showing us that faux fur is very popular and as long as we continue to import from countries with poor regulations we can’t promise faux is ever really faux.

‘But what about leather?’ I hear you say – and rightly so! There are so many synthetic leathers available now. Whilst this is fantastic and I adore my vegan Doc Martens I do find myself wondering if I’m actually fuelling the ever-popular leather trade in the same way that faux fur might fuel the fur trade. I have noticed myself subconsciously choosing only to wear them around close friends and other vegans, or if I’m out in public not waving the vegan flag. Here’s why…

I go out on the streets and get involved in activism when I can to try and educate the public about the ways in which animals are exploited by humans, as well as to try promote a vegan lifestyle. On occasion I have worn my vegan Doc Martens and I have had members of the public accuse me of being a hypocrite because ‘[your] wearing leather boots!’. My response is usually that if you are that convinced my shoes look like real leather, then I have proven my point that we don’t need to kill animals and wear their skin! However, I can tell that sometimes they just think i’m lying. I find myself wondering if for every one person that spoke out about thinking I wore leather how many other passers by are thinking the same thing without saying anything? So am I really getting people to consider stopping wearing animals or to listen to me about animal exploitation at all? This could apply to any other activist wearing faux fur, wool, suede, silk and so on.

Now, I just want to stress that I am not claiming that we should or shouldn’t be wearing the synthetic alternatives and of course, if we are wearing synthetics we aren’t directly paying for animal cruelty. However, I can’t help but wonder if we are unknowingly persuading others to go out and buy both faux fur (which could and often does turn out to be real) or if people are just going straight for the real fur because they think everyone around them is wearing real fur and therefore it must be okay. If so, should we consider not wearing the alternatives? Again, this post is more me thinking out loud than dictating what other vegans and animal rights activists should do. I would honestly love to hear other peoples thoughts on this topic.



Smear for Smear – My Story

Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust are running a campaign called #SmearForSmear which aims to draw attention to the importance of women 25 and over routinely booking and attending smears to prevent cervical cancer. According to the Office of National Statistics cervical cancer is the most common cancer for women aged 35. Research has shown that a smear test can prevent 75% of cervical cancer cases. But according to the BBC, two thirds of women are too embarrassed to go and have their smear test.

Perhaps there isn’t enough emphasis on education surrounding this hugely important health check when only one third of women turn up for their smear test. It certainly feels like the importance of this issue has got lost somewhere and that women may believe they’re unlikely to get cervical cancer and at such a young age. With that in mind, it’s understandable that women would just push it to the backs of their minds for a few years, maybe many years.

Talking from personal experience I want to stress how crucial it is that you book and turn up for your smear test. Yes, just the thought of it sends shivers down our spines and makes our faces heat up but lets be real here, a smear test takes 5 minutes and can save your life. Whilst it may seem embarrassing it will be far more embarrassing and upsetting to find you have cervical cancer and have to keep going back for more extensive tests and treatment.

I went for my first smear test in 2016 when I was 25. My GP, with clearly an excellent automated service, sent me a letter to invite me for a screening. I put it off for a few months because I work in East Berkshire and my GP is in South Oxfordshire, therefore finding the time was a little bit difficult – tut tut, excuses excuses. Alas, I went! My nurse was lovely and comforting and clearly understands the embarrassment of these screenings. She did it as fast as she could (whilst still be gentle!). The actual swab was done and over in less than 5 minutes – knickers back on, a promise that your results will appear in the post within six weeks and you’re out of there!

So about 4 weeks later I received my results. Unfortunately the screening had picked up abnormal cells. I was informed that as a matter of procedure I will need to go for a Colposcopy at the hospital. Whilst it may seem embarrassing to go to your initial appointment, going to a hospital and having 4 people (including 1 male) poking around AND a screen showing your insides was a little step up. But I have to say the staff were so so lovely and just talked to me about my tattoos and normal stuff throughout. I waited another 2 weeks for the results. The colposcopy showed that I had severely abnormal cells on the surface of my cervix (known as CIN 3). I didn’t know what this meant off the bat but the hospital had included a leaflet for me. I discovered that if left untreated, these abnormal cells may become cancer and spread to nearby normal tissue. I’ll admit that this was when I started to freak out a bit. However, I was informed there are several types of treatment for removing these cells including; cryotherapy, laser therapy, large loop excision of the transformation zone (LLETZ), loop electrosurgical procedure (LEEP), or cone biopsy. I was booked to have the lletz procedure in hospital under general anaesthetic in December 2016. By this point I wasn’t at all embarrassed because I had accepted what was going on and I knew that I would be asleep for the procedure anyway.

I was booked in as one of twelve other people having a similar procedure that day and was told to arrive at the hospital for 7.30am, but that my procedure could happen anytime before 5pm in the afternoon. Thankfully, someone was on my side that day because I ended up being bumped up the list from sixth and was the first to undergo the procedure. I don’t remember how long the procedure took but it must have been less than hour. When I woke up I felt space out and half remember chatting nonsense to the nurse checking on me before being wheeled back to the ward. I probably only rested for an hour or so and then come back to life. I asked to have my intravenous cannula removed and said I wanted to go home. I was written off work for a week which I didn’t know was going to happen! I had only told work I was out for the count for two days. My employer was amazing and told me not to worry and rest up. Because of how close it was to Christmas I ended up not going back to work until the New Year. Result really!

After I had recovered I was told I would need to go back to my nurse to have a check-up smear in six months time. At this point I reached out to Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust for some support, as I was worried that I might end up in this position again a few years down the line. They were incredibly caring and supportive and they got back to me really quickly. They reassured me the the Lletz procedure usually works and prevents further cell abnormalities. My six month check-up showed I was clear of abnormal cells and I was told that I could go back to the three-yearly smear test.

So, that was a long story and thank you for sticking with it. I guess I’m hoping that by sharing my somewhat embarrassing story I can give other women the confidence to book and attend their smear tests. Maybe what I shared sounds a bit scary? But please remember, had I not gone and got checked out at 25 I could have ended up with cervical cancer seeing as I was already showing high grade cell abnormality. Please remember that it only takes 5 minutes to have your initial smear. The nurse will have carried the test out a million times before and is probably blind to vaginas by now. What’s important to remember is that by going for this small, routine check-up you really could be preventing something far, far worse for yourself. Half the worlds population are women, so you are not a lone. Talk to your partner, a friend, a family member, a nurse, someone from Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust, anybody. Just don’t just don’t ignore it altogether.

Thank you Jo’s Cervical Cancer Trust for the individual support you gave me and for all the work you are doing to educate people and to ultimately prevent women getting cervical cancer. Thank you also to my amazingly supportive boyfriend for holding my hand all through it.

I will be taking part in the #SmearForSmear campaign when I get home this evening. I will post a picture on my Instagram!

Please leave a comment if you want to discuss anything further. I am more than happy to talk about my experience and support anyone who might be having a hard time. Remember, the more we talk about these issues, the less embarrassment there is.

N xx

me op

Are you silent in the face of injustice?

‘Silence in the face of injustice is complicity with the oppressor’ – Ginette Sagan

‘There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest it’ – Elie Wiesel


I am (a ‘pushy’) vegan for the animals and I will never be silent in the face of injustice. I will always stand up for those who are bred into captivity to be used and exploited by human animals. It is not down to personal opinion and it is not down to choice when the animals are victims and do not have any choice at all. Animals are not ours to:

  • Eat
  • Wear
  • Experiment on
  • Use for entertainment
  • Abuse in any other way

It is 2018 and veganism is the fastest growing social justice movement. Join us or be left behind – Try Veganuary! I’m always open to discussions around this topic but wont acknowledge or tolerate trolls or nasty comments.

Disclaimer: I do campaign for human rights issues as well because we can care about more than one issue at a time!


Vegan Stick-to-your-ribs Porridge

Nothing is better on a cold, crisp morning than a steaming hot bowl of delicious oats, whilst snuggling under a blanket with a good book. Whats even better is that no animals were harmed in the making of this bowl of greatness, which is naturally good for your heart health.

Good for heart health you say?

Yes! Old-fashioned rolled oats keep you satisfied for longer and naturally contain a form of soluble fibre called oat beta-glucan which dissolves inside the digestive tract to form a paste which binds to excess cholesterol and helps to prevent cholesterol from being absorbed into the body. Nuts are rich in heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats and monounsaturated fats, which lower bad cholesterol. I like to add Cacao nibs as they contain phytonutrients which help absorb free radicals that cause damage in the body. Phytonutrients have been said to enhance immunity, repair DNA damage from exposure to toxins, detoxify carcinogens and alter estrogen metabolism. They can also be found in colourful fruits and vegetables, legumes, nuts, tea, whole grains and many spices.

Whats more, by adding some fruit (I’ve opted for banana and raisins) and an unrefined sweetener like agave nectar you get the natural sweetness that satisfies that pesky sweet craving!

What’s not to love!?


  • 40g Oats (I prefer old-fashioned rolled oats)
  • 10g Flaxseed
  • 20g Walnuts
  • 20g Raisins
  • 1tsp Cinnamon
  • 10g Cocoa Nibs
  • 1 Small Banana, Chopped
  • 1-2 Cups Oat Milk (or other vegan milk – I use Oatly Original)
  • A squirt of Agave Nectar


  1. Add the Oats, Flaxseed, Walnuts, Raisins and plant milk to a pan.
  2. Bring to boil and turn down the heat. Continually stir, being careful to avoid the oats sticking to the pan.
  3. Add the cinnamon and warm through for 5-10 minutes adding extra milk if the consistency is too thick for your liking.
  4. Transfer to a bowl and add the banana, cocoa nibs and agave nectar.
  5. Fill your belly with goodness!

You’re welcome! xx -N

Surround yourself with what you love


The autumn equinox had me feeling a bit deflated this year. Don’t get me wrong I love Autumn, it’s my favourite time of the year; all the colours, smells, big jumpers, cuddling under blankets and hot chocolate but that change in season affects me physically and mentally. Its a slow transition but I get there. Needing a little pick me up I thought I’d treat myself to some visual beauties. I try to surround myself with things I love to keep me happy; books, art, flowers, photos. I bought two stunning prints by the incredibly talented artist and illustrative tattooist Becci Maryanne. Becci tattoos at The Aviary in Leeds and has lots of prints available, as well as a few originals. I’ve not been tattooed by Becci yet but she is on my radar.


I bought the prints on their own and therefore had to source my own frames which is fine because I’d been looking for these double-sided vintage style glass frames for my own personal art projects – watch this space!

As you can see the prints are framed and ready to be hung. The only problem is I don’t know where.. I love our flat but because we’re in an attic conversion the walls turn into sloping ceilings half way up and so there isn’t much hanging space (welcomes that frequent fantasy of that big light filled house – ahhhh one day). I also don’t want to cause too much damage to the walls seeing as we (Peter Bunny) have already done so much damage to the carpets *rolls eyes*.


For anyone interested in finding beautiful prints like this I came across Becci’s work through a really cool store for artists call Stag and Raven. I found the store on Instagram but they have a physical store on the third floor of Afflecks, on 52 Church Street, Manchester, UK. I haven’t had the pleasure of visiting the building filled with indie boutiques but it looks fab – Go check them out!

Wagamama’s NEW Vegan Menu is Here!

Last week Reading Vegan Outreach (RVO) were invited to try the NEW Vegan Menu at Wagamama’s. As one of the organisers I wrote a post for RVO and made a short YouTube video. Check it out 🙂

Reading Vegan Outreach

Last week Reading Vegan Outreach were invited to try Wagamama’s new Vegan Menu and enjoy a private cooking demo.

Check out our short video!

In Reading we have a big outreach team and the number of vegans is growing rapidly. However, we don’t yet have a wholly vegan restaurant or cafe in or round town. We are lucky that we have a lot of chains that offer great vegan options and there are enough vegans to ensure these options remain and are expanded upon.

Wagamama has had vegan options for some time. If you were to check the allergen menu you would see that you can swap out egg noodles for rice noodles, chicken for tofu and just ask to leave animal products out of a certain recipes. However, it’s not ideal to have to sift through allergy charts and can be confusing for those visiting for the first time…

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