There’s a knock at my door, it’s a delivery. I wasn’t aware I had ordered anything, let me think..ah, is it that time again already?! It's the precious, petite box of pure joy I’ve been eagerly waiting for, and it’s not a day too late! I tear into the paper, I can smell the warm, soft sweetness alluding to what’s inside this month. I find the signature note from the crafter of these little creations, then carefully open the box (so not to disturb the contents) to take a peak inside, with as much excitement as if receiving a puppy on Christmas morning!
Sitting there I see nine individually wrapped chocolates. My very own, personalised smooth chocolate truffles created just for me! ‘Chocolates?’
you may think, ‘All that anticipation for a box of chocolates?!’
Well, I say unapologetically, yes! These aren’t just any high street chocolates, nor were they mindlessly ordered online - popped in the basket and paid for without a second thought. No, these OMmaZing
bite-sized pieces of heaven were purposefully chosen by me and thoughtfully made for me.
I must resemble a wild bore snuffling in the undergrowth for a seasonal truffle rummage, eyes rolled back, digging in to these in utter delight! I can’t just stop at one, you see, it’s a problem (but one I’m not willing to change). I’ve heard there are others who suffer the same happy addiction. I think Daniella could create a self-help group for us called 'OMmaZing's Anonymous'? No? Well it sounds as if the amazingly Exclusive VIP Chocolate Club is the only other alternative then!
is the perfect option for those of us who eat chocolate more regularly than to celebrate our own birthday. Especially if you treat yourself to chocolate at least once a month and consider yourself a healthy eater with a sweet tooth; desiring to know even the ingredients in your ice cream. I love chocolate but I don’t eat it too often, so when I do, I like my choice to be something I can take my sweet time to delight and indulge in. Chocolate Club is clearly the answer!
What I love about Chocolate Club, is that as well as it conveniently saves a trip to the supermarket to stock up on a couple of bars (which I’m not fussed about but eat anyway), I get to choose my own favourite fillings from a vast selection of flavours, right down to the type of chocolate used - from milk to raw cacao. I get the satisfaction of receiving a box just when I’d forgotten all about it, and usually right at a moment when I appreciate them most too. Upon their arrival, it sort of feels like I’m getting a reward or like a present to myself just to say ‘well done you’. I think it’s important to treat yourself sometimes and what better way to do it?
Those of you of a certain age may recall that ‘ Don’t Believe The Hype ’ is a half-remembered rap song from some years ago. At that time I was still working in my previous life of advertising and design. It’s a strange industry – obviously it makes its money from clients who have products and services they wish to sell to particular groups of people – and advertising agencies are as much a mainstream business as the clients they work on behalf of. Yet, the creative studios in which I spent many years were populated by very ‘alternative’ people who thought, bought and behaved very differently to the consumers they by and large were employed to influence. I felt quite comfortable there for a long time, but I look back with a certain discomfort on that world now.
Advertising is extremely influential in the highly lucrative and extremely competitive food and drinks industry (although I have never worked on campaigns in those sectors). Think how we have been persuaded to ‘ go to work on an egg ’, or that British Beef, New Zealand (and more recently Welsh) lamb and Danish bacon are somehow better than other counterparts. More recently, food and especially snack food, advertising aimed at children has become a hotly debated political issue. Jamie Oliver is a vociferous campaigner for a 9pm watershed for such advertising as are former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and former Health Secretary Alan Johnson. Yet little has changed. Major food brands have continued to target children with junk food products that dazzle young eyes and create a sense that such products are a normal part of everyday diet.
It was my birthday over the weekend. I played the game of reversing the numbers of my age as I often do, so for example, two years ago I was 15, last year 25 and this year I reached the ripe old age of 35! The game also involves recall and reflection too. Shortly after my 19th birthday in 1983 I left home to go and study in Wiltshire, leaving behind my South Devon comfort zone. I had been vegetarian for a relatively short time at that point, and I was excited about taking complete control of my own food. I regularly visited a health food shop called Swindon Pulse, which was an Aladdin’s Cave of open sacks of beans, grains and cereals with shelves piled high with meat replacement products that required rehydration, tins of exotic Eastern foods unfamiliar to me and also soya milk. At that time it was completely unavailable anywhere other than health food shops. I loved that shop – such shops had yet to re-imagine themselves as ‘pharmacies’ selling mainly supplements and bodybuilding potions, as they seem to now. I also liked one of the girls who worked in the shop, but that’s another story altogether.
Also I remembered being at primary school in the 1970s, at which point the full horror of school milk came flooding back to me. Miniature milk bottles holding, I think, 1/3 of a pint that arrived in the classroom first thing in the morning and were then stored on the radiator and in full sunlight. Needless to say, by the time my teacher had brutally stabbed the lids of each bottle with a knitting needle and inserted a straw later in the day, this full-fat bottle of misery was warm and thoroughly sour. I will forever be grateful to the late Margaret Thatcher for scrapping school milk (although there is little else in her legacy I am grateful for). I hated that school milk with a passion and as a result I’ve had a strong dislike for milk ever since.
Milk was no loss to me whatsoever when I shifted my diet to a fully vegan one a couple of years ago. To many, however, it is a default in the household fridge. Why? How did it come to be that humans became the only animal group to never become fully weaned?
Photography by Lisa Lavery
A guy we know went vegan last week, he announced to the world (on
Facebook of course). Actually that’s not quite true, he has adopted a
plant-based diet for a while in order to help him to lose some weight. He’s
quite a big guy, he’s also a bit of a bacon butty and burger type character. As
a result of his post he’s received many comments essentially sneering at his
decision and making jokes about his eating habits pre last week. No doubt
that’s been disheartening for him, but he has already shed 5 pounds. Not bad
He proudly posted images of his enormous basket of fresh vegetables – a rainbow of colour which he intends to be the basis of his meals this coming week. We have given him some help and support with a few pieces of advice around supplementing his vegetables with other food types to help him feel more full and also to balance his diet a little better.
Now… perhaps this sounds like you. Or, you may already have made a more long-term decision, you could even be thinking about ‘meat-free Mondays’ or perhaps introducing more plant-based days into your weekly meal planning. All power to you, I say. What I want to discuss in this week’s blog are ways in which you can eat satisfactory, healthy and nutritionally balanced meals.
This will sound a little odd at first, but you need to prepare to eat more! I know, great isn’t it? Plant-based food can be extremely filling, but you will require greater volume. To put it in simpler terms – a meal comprising vegetables and pulses, for example, will need to completely fill your stomach. A heavily meat based meal should only half fill it, and a dairy-based meal a bit less again. So fill your plates, people!
The day the world went vegan. Well, for a few hours it seemed that
way. Amidst a Bank Holiday weekend blessed with welcome but long awaited
sunshine, Saturday became Cheltenham Vegan Fair day. Something approaching 100
stall holders, charities and talk/workshop ‘deliverers’ descended on the Town
Hall to be joined by in the order of 2000 visitors throughout the day – many of
whom waited patiently in a queue snaking far into Imperial Square and beyond,
to get in.
Food and nutrition were high on the list of offers inside the Town Hall – some amazing caterers performing miracles with plant-based ingredients. Independent cake and savoury bakers working wonders with pastry or whipped dairy-free frostings. Artisan cheese-makers, dairy-free mayonnaise and coleslaw producers, raw food specialists and nutritionists added an incredible diversity to the products on offer. Visitors were also treated to a long list of excellent talks and workshops which approached food and nutrition in a variety of unique ways.
Let’s not forget either the organisations who are dedicated to changing our lifestyles. Shoe-makers doing incredible things with faux-leather goods, ethical clothing makers and sellers, cruelty-free cosmetics and powerful change-makers such as Friends of the Earth, Sea Shepherds, several animal sanctuaries and many inspirational speakers. I’m sure I’ve missed other contributors too, if that’s you, I’m sorry, my memory isn’t what it was!