Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Life | Why the hell am I vegan?

Holy shit, I just realised I switched to eating vegan on the 1st of November so right now I've been vegan for three whole months!  Before this I'd been vegetarian on and off a few times in my life but for at least the 6 months preceding November I'd been a full on carnivore, eating meat, eggs, fish and dairy with almost every meal.  So what the hell changed?  Well, there were two key motivators for me.

My health has been crap
My health was such a huge pain in the arse throughout 2015 and caused me to become the heaviest I've ever been in my life, so I knew I needed to do something about it.  I'd been watching videos from Deliciously Ella and The Happy Pear on YouTube for a few months and it became obvious that eating a plant-based diet didn't have to be extreme or restrictive and it could do incredible things for health.  It was a complete no brainer and once I made the switch I felt better than I have in over a year.

I don't want to eat animals anymore
I'm not going to get into a too much of a vegan stereotype thing here, but once you start doing some research there are certain things about industrial farming and the way people treat animals (and more specifically those meant for food) that are fucking disgusting.  Of course I knew some of this while I was still eating meat and dairy but somehow had blocked it out.  After listening to some speeches from Tim Shieff and Gary Yourofsky, amonst others, I couldn't do it anymore and switched to eating vegan the next day.

So what next for me?
Well first I should say that I don't plan on making my blog a place where I'll preach about my veganism, I wouldn't enjoy it, and I don't think anyone else would either.  That's not to say that you won't see posts about vegan food though, I love cooking and eating so of course that has a place here.

Now I'm more comfortable with a vegan diet it seems a natural progression for me to start exploring more cruelty free beauty products too.  It will be a slow progression as I use a lot of different products, but from what I can see there are plenty of brilliant options out there for me.  Expect to see more posts about that too.

Anyway, the decision to try to live more ethically just seems right to me right now, but I hope that it hasn't put you completely off my blog.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on my latest post, no matter what they are.

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Vegan Eats | Nakd Bars

Woo, it's good to be back!  It feels a bit difficult to keep up with the blogging game when much of your home town (York, in case you're wondering) gets flooded.  Thankfully the flood water didn't hit us, although it got scarily close.

Today's post is hopefully the first of many, about some of the fab snacks I've been trying since I decided to switch to a vegan diet.  The most recent snacks I've been sampling are the very tasty Nakd Bars, a range of healthy snack bars that were kindly sent to me by Natural Balance Foods.

Natural Balance Foods | Nakd Bars

I've always been a bit of a fan of Nakd Bars, the ingredients list is mercifully short and there is never anything in the bars that isn't immediately recognisable as food.  There are no refined sugars or processed rubbish in them either, just lovely wholefoods, dried fruits and nuts with a few spices and natural flavourings depending on the flavour.

Natural Balance Foods | Nakd Bars

My local shops don't stock anywhere near enough of the flavours so what's great about getting a case of these bars direct is that I can sample loads of flavours at once.  There haven't been any arguments about who gets what in our house either, Gaz goes for the chocolate flavours, like Cocoa Mint or Cocoa Orange, and I always like the fruit based ones, like Rhubarb & Custard or Berry Delight.  I don't think either of us have found a flavour we don't like yet.

Natural Balance Foods | Nakd Bars

I've gotten into the habit of always having Nakd Bars on hand, whether that's one in my handbag or rucksack or a few in my desk drawer at work.  I've only been vegan for just over two months now but on those odd occasions where I've been caught out with no easy access to food that I can eat, these bars have been a bit of a lifesaver.  I even like to have one after I've been to the gym, if I just need a quick hit of calories.

If you fancy trying some stuff from Natural Balance Foods, their website is great to have a look around.  In the meantime, leave me a comment below, I'd love to hear what your favourite healthy snacks are!


Thursday, 10 December 2015

Beauty | Space NK Arrives in York

Well it's been been a pretty exciting day for my fair little city; today we finally have a Space NK Apothecary in York city centre!  If you're not familiar with this brand you probably have no idea why I'm so very pleased, but let me give you a quick run down...

Space NK opened its first boutique in Covent Garden over 20 years ago, it originally sold designer clothing, accessories and beauty products and even had a juice bar, over time however it became more focused on an offering of carefully curated, quality skincare, makeup and general wellness products.  To date Space NK has 63 stores throughout the UK and Ireland.

Space NK York | Space NK on Davygate in York

I got a tour of the brand new store on Davygate today, and got a chance to speak to the very friendly and knowledgeable PR team about the general ethos of Space NK and the many amazing brands they have on offer.  If you've been to a Space NK anywhere in the UK before you'll know that they all have a very familiar feel, very serene, bright and premium, but incredibly appealing and welcoming at the same time; this latest boutique is no different.

Perhaps one of the best things about having a Space NK open in York is the sheer number of makeup and skincare ranges on offer.  You can, of course find some of them in the city's department stores, but many of brands are completely exclusive.  For makeup, I was particularly pleased to find Chantecaille, Becca, By Terry, Nudestix and Kevyn Aucoin, to name just a few.  The abundance of skincare was fantastic too and I can't wait to get my hands on some lotions and potions from names such as Ren, Oskia, Nude, Radical Skincare, Sunday Riley and Sarah Chapman.  What's also great, is that each of the members of staff is fully trained on each brand and can help you choose the best products for your needs.

Space NK York | Chantecaille, By Terry, Becca and Kevyn Aucoin
Space NK York | Sunday Riley, Sarah Chapman, Radical Skincare and Nude

I must have spent a good hour in the store, getting to know everything, speaking with the PR team and staff and generally playing with lots of products.  It was kind of sad when I had to be on my way but I didn't leave empty handed, in fact I left with a fabulous bag of treats to try out from Oribe, Ren, Eve Lom, Aromatherapy Associates, Diptyque and Smith & Cult.  You can see exactly what I got pictured below, and you can bet you'll see reviews of these products appearing on my blog in the very near future.

Space NK York | Oribe, Ren, Eve Lom, Aromatherapy Associates, Diptyque and Smith & Cult

The only minor negative about a having a Space NK apothecary in York?  Why, the effect on my bank balance of course.  I wonder if I should just set up a standing order to them now in exchange for regular product deliveries and be done with it?

Join me, find your nearest Space NK and spend all of your money too!  Until next time...


Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Work It Out Wednesday #5 | Being a lazy b*stard

Work It Out Wednesday #5 | Being a lazy b*stard
The last post I wrote in this series feels like it was forever ago, I was all motivated to get on with my 90 Day SSS Plan and was feeling like things could be starting to look up.

Fast forward a few months though and I'm now deep in the realisation that the thyroid issues I have are a bit more serious than I first thought and that it's going to take more time to get myself back to where I was even a year ago.  We're not talking dire in terms of the seriousness, but I'm still in a situation where no matter what exercise I do and what changes I make to my diet, my weight stays the same.  Another lovely side effect is that I'm bloody knackered all the time.

It's been an incredibly frustrating situation to be in; for the last year I've really prided myself on my active lifestyle, but getting nowhere has made me act like a right lazy b*stard for these last couple of months.

So what's changed, and why am I writing this series again?  Well for the simple reason that I don't want to start the festive season in a negative frame of mind and when the doctors and I do get my thyroid meds right and this god-awful tiredness lifts, I want to be doing everything I can to keep my metabolism up and to keep me in good health.

I think I remember reading somewhere that it takes 21 days to make a habit, so I figure if I can eat well and keep doing some light exercise every day for at least that period to begin with, I'll be in a good position again in a short while.  And who knows when I've got more energy I might be ready to start the 90 Day SSS Plan again (with a few tweaks since I'm now vegan).

Wish me luck!  Until next time...


Monday, 7 December 2015

Christmas Gift Ideas | Men's Gifts from The Body Shop

Well this is a first, I've got stuff for boy's on my blog... weird eh?!  It's all for a good cause though, finding some great gifts for the men in my life.  The opposite sex, can be tricky to buy for but The Body Shop have some great gift options this year and they're not too expensive either.

To tell you a little bit about some potential gifts The Body Shop have on offer I've enlisted the help of my husband Gaz...

The Body Shop | Modern Gent's Shaving Kit

Modern Gent's Shaving Kit*

Containing a shaving brush, Maca Root Shave Cream and Maca Root Razor Relief, all presented in a cool little tin, this kit seems to have covered all of the extra products a man might need to have a good shave (with the exception of a razor of course).  It's a great little gift as far as I'm concerned.

The Body Shop | Modern Gent's Shaving Kit

Gaz's thoughts: "I don't shave very often, but when I want to, this is a handy kit to have, it reminds me of one my grandad used when I was little.  The brush and the Maca Root Shave Cream work together with a bit of water to lift up and soften the hair on my face making it easier to get a close shave.

My skin can get a bit irritated by the whole shaving thing so the Maca Root Razor Relief was good to soothe my face and neck afterwards.  The smell of the cream and moisturiser is clean and fresh and overall my skin feels softer from using these things during my shave.

Aside from the products, I can tell you I'll definitely be using the tin when I've used everything up.  I just haven't decided what I'll put in it yet."

The Body Shop | White Musk Sport Eau de Toilette Pour Homme

White Must Sport Eau de Toilette*

I always think it's nice buying a man a fragrance, they never usually think to buy scents themselves so Christmas is a great time to stock up for them.  I personally liked this eau de toilette because it's not a heavy, cloying, overtly masculine scent, instead it's a little bit crisp and zesty.

The Body Shop | White Musk Sport Eau de Toilette Pour Homme

Gaz's thoughts: "Sharon is right that I wouldn't normally buy aftershave for myself, but I'd probably buy this one again since I've tried it.  I really like the smell, at first it's fresh and you can definitely get citrus in it, when it dies down it gets really mellow which I like.  I've been using the eau de toilette every day since Sharon asked me to try it, so it's been used at work and when I've been on the odd night out, I've had a few compliments on how I smell too which is always good."

I'm really pleased that Gaz has liked these little gifts, it's given me a few ideas for presents that I could buy for the other gents in my life and I hope it might inspire you too.

I'd love to hear about the presents you have planned for your boyfriend, husband, dad, brother, etc. - leave me a comment below.

Until next time...

*Products provided for review purposes.  All thoughts and general ramblings are honest opinions from myself and my husband Gaz.


Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Vegan Eats | Café Rouge, York

Since I decided to switch to a vegan diet at the beginning of November (there were all sorts of ethical and health related reasons for this which I’ll save for a future post) I only had one real concern.  Would I still be able to indulge my love of trying out new restaurants whilst eating vegan?

I could have let this worry stop me, but instead I’ve set myself a challenge, to eat at and review lots of different restaurants for their ability and willingness to adapt their food to a different way of eating.

Vegan Food at Café Rouge, York

The first restaurant I had the pleasure of trying as part of this new challenge was Café Rouge on Low Petergate in York.  Now let’s face it, being a French restaurant chain that’s pretty famous for its menu of steak, duck, chicken, fish, etc. you perhaps wouldn’t expect to find much vegan food, but it can be done.  I went along with an omnivorous friend, by the name of Lisa, to sample the menu.

It was a horrible night when we went to the restaurant, it was cold, raining, the wind was blowing and I couldn’t wait to get inside.  The surroundings were warm and comfortable, it was pretty busy for a weeknight evening, but we were seated very quickly and ordered our drinks.  Café Rouge has a great wine list, but neither of us were drinking, so just went for soft drinks.

The menu at Café Rouge is pretty extensive but with lots of meat and fish and with sauces made with milk, butter and cheese, there wasn’t anything at first glance that was vegan.  I’d thought ahead though and before going had talked with the team about some options that could be ‘veganised’.

Vegan Food at Café Rouge, York

Vegan Food at Café Rouge, York

For a starter I had seriously considered going for the Champignons À L'ail, a concoction of mushrooms and garlic on grilled rye bread (the version on the menu has cream, but this could easily be left out), but as I was having a fairly carb-heavy main I opted for the Rouge Olives instead.  I wasn’t disappointed, the mix of olives, cornichons, capers and roquito chillies was a great little starter.  I really loved the chillies especially, they were sweet at first, but then hit you with just a little bit of heat, yum!  Lisa went for Champignons À L'ail and was very appreciative that the chef hadn’t skimped on the garlic, cream and herbs to complement the mushrooms.

Vegan Food at Café Rouge, York

Vegan Food at Café Rouge, York

When it came to mains there was one choice I really wanted, the Risotto Aux Champignons, it was really easy for them to make vegan too, simply removing the butter, cheese and crème fraiche that the dish would have had on the standard menu.  I adore a good risotto, this was the first one I’d had since deciding to go vegan, and I needn’t have worried that I’d miss the cheese, it was tasty as hell, really savoury thanks to the mushrooms but with a light/fresh flavour from the lemon and herbs.  I had no trouble at all finishing my plateful.

Similarly, Lisa really enjoyed her Demi Poulet, a half roast chicken with thyme, black pepper, serves with frites and a thyme jus.  She described the chicken as succulent and herby and the frites were perfectly crisp and were delicious with the jus.

Vegan Food at Café Rouge, York

Vegan Food at Café Rouge, York

By the end of both of those mains we were absolutely stuffed and couldn’t face desserts, we did want a little something though so Lisa had a hot chocolate and I chose a peppermint tea, it was a great end to a really tasty meal for both of us.

So my first test of eating vegan in a not traditionally vegan restaurant was a success!  With a little forewarning the chefs were more than happy to tweak food to suit me, hopefully in the future I’ll see vegan options appearing on the Café Rouge menu too.

Now I’ve just got to decide where to try next.  If you’ve got any suggestions I’d love to hear from you.

Until next time…

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