Very Vegan- What’s It All About?

 

Here at Portlebay we are particularly proud of our vegan products, and understand the importance of these in a world where veganism is a increasingly popular lifestyle choice.  Currently three out of our six flavours are vegan friendly, these being the delicious Chilli & Lime,  Sweet & Salty and Lightly Sea Salted. Unfortunately some of our wonderful popcorn relies on ingredients such as milk (our seasonal flavours; Cinnamon swirl 1st October- 31st March and Lemon Sherbet 1st April-30th September) and bacon (in  our Crispy Bacon and Maple Syrup), however even these flavours are carefully hand-popped using completely natural ingredients and as always no palm oil!

For those of you who are completely new to the vegan world, veganism can be defined as the decision to abstain from the use of animal products and the belief in excluding all forms of exploitation or harm to animals for the use of food, clothing or any other purpose.

People choose to become vegan for many different reasons including dieting, compassion, health and environmental reasons. We decided to interview some young and vibrant vegans who go by the names of Elena, Imogen, Emmy and Naomi, to learn a bit more about the world of veganism and how it affects them on a day-to-day basis.

Each of these four lovely ladies are at a different stage of their vegan journey and are happy to give us a little insight into their vegan lives:

Emmy– A year and a half into the journey!

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Elena– One month into the journey!

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Imogen- 6 months into the journey!

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Naomi- 10 months into the journey!

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1. What Are The Main Struggles You Face With Being Vegan? 

Naomi: Definitely the lack of choices when going out to eat!

Elena: I’d say sometimes helping people understand why I’ve made this choice is difficult, particularly with older generations.

Imogen: Alcohol is a huge struggle. A lot are filtered through fish bladders, so finding vegan ones at the bar is difficult unless your vegan alcohol knowledge is faultless. Also, I hate how products can be marketed as vegan just as an excuse for it to be priced ridiculously.

Emmy: The main struggles I face being vegan is to know what’s vegan when you travel, especially abroad. Many places don’t cater for vegans, or don’t make it easy to identify which products are vegan or not. But I think many places in the UK are becoming increasingly better at this, and you can find some vegan options both from the shop ‘on the go’, or in restaurants. Also, I find it really annoying how almost all product have some sort of milk-powder or dried egg, even though there shouldn’t be a reason for it.

2. What Do You Tend To Look For With Vegan Friendly Products? 

Imogen: I look for fresh ingredients that are written in plain English (not chemistry compounds), no preservatives or artificial additives, it being organic is a bonus, it has to be dairy-free of course, and depending on the product I might see if it’s recyclable and what the brand’s ethics are, oh and the protein content.

Elena: Ingredients that I recognise and aren’t just full of loads of long weird chemical compound sounding names are a must. Otherwise I feel I’m back to square one. And yeah, it has to be macro-nutrient. The fact that Portlebay use natural ingredients as well as being vegan is a great bonus to me!

Emmy:  I look for ingredients and nutritional value in vegan products, and try to avoid stuff which has palm oil, high levels of saturated fats and sugar. I also try to find food with high protein levels, and fewer ingredients.

3. What Made You Decide to Become Vegan?  

Elena: I disagree with the meat and dairy industries ethically, the meat industry is one of the biggest contributors to the planet’s pollution problem, I don’t believe humans need animal-based products and in fact believe they are detrimental to our health. I just want to eat food that I know is good for me and leaves me feeling guilt free. This is a recent decision for me so I’m still learning and am transitioning my products and clothes slowly.

Imogen: environmental reasons, ethical reasons of course, so many of our British farm animals and homeless cats and dogs are put down it makes me so angry! Also, weight management and religious reasons too (the Hindu holy book, The Bhagavad Gita, states to not harm any living things which is interpreted by some Hindus as going vegan whilst others opt for vegetarianism). I also feel so much more energised on a vegan diet. I just like making sure what I put in my body is healthy and wholesome it makes all the difference mentally too.

Naomi: You guys put that perfectly, I’m literally exactly the same!

Emmy: I became vegetarian first for environmental reasons, but then got more engaged with ethical and animal welfare arguments, as well as the health benefits of a vegan diet.

4.What Do You Wish People That Aren’t Vegan Knew About The Vegan Lifestyle? 

Naomi:  People always assume it’s really expensive and you don’t get your ‘protein’ when actually there is so much more protein in beans, nuts and vegetables than there is in meat. A lot of people don’t realise the cruelty that happens behind closed doors especially in the dairy industry, I had no idea until I actually properly researched it! I feel like if everyone knew what meat and dairy products were actually made from and the process in which they are made a lot more people would become vegan, also people just don’t hear about the possible side effects of eating meat such as cancers, bowel problems and weight gain.

Elena: It doesn’t have to be some massive deal when you decide to be vegan and with a bit of research it’s not too difficult!

Imogen:  I wish people knew that it’s not hard to transition when you realise what you were taking wasn’t yours to begin with! So many places are now expanding their vegan range so it’s not as hard to find alternatives. It took me five attempts to become vegan but you get there in the end! Also, nutrients are easy to find in non-meat sources. Omega 3, commonly known for residing in cod liver, is actually in a whole range of things like Chia Seeds for example.

Emmy:  I wish people knew that it is not hard to get enough protein, and it doesn’t need to be more expensive to eat a vegan diet. Also, I wish people understood that when you truly believe in the reasons why one has chosen to become vegan, it’s not hard to avoid animal products.

5. How Has Being Vegan Affected Your Overall Lifestyle? 

Imogen: I’ve been looking after myself better as a result, going to the gym more because I feel great and energised and I am always coming up with new meals in the kitchen now. When I go out for food I am always discovering new flavours and I love that. I’m a little greener now too! Recycling more, growing fruits and veggies, being wary of our declining bee population and that sort of thing.

Naomi: I was vegetarian for four years and then became vegan in September 2018 and have lost over a stone! I also have less spots, my hair is way less greasy, I feel more energised and mentally I’m so much happier as well- so there are just loads of health benefits!

Elena:  I feel more lean already, I feel excited to carry on discovering new foods and am more mindful about what I put into my body and the way my actions affect the environment.

Emmy:  I’ve become more interested in nutrition, changed my cooking habits and experiment more with different ingredients. I probably have become much more aware of environmental sustainability, and may end up preaching ethical consumerism unintentionally at times. Other than that I wouldn’t say it has changed my lifestyle.

6. What Advice Would You Offer To Anyone Wanting To Convert To Vegan? 

Imogen: Listen to your body – you don’t need to go cold turkey vegan right away! Start by reducing meat and dairy and then eliminate over time, I found my body was initially not coping with the sudden change too well so that’s why it took five attempts for me! You shouldn’t do it just because its deemed an Instagram trend, do it for you and never stop educating yourself, get in the kitchen more and browse the web! There are so many vegan recipes out there to begin transitioning!

Elena:  Just don’t be too harsh on yourself, if you slip up just learn from it and don’t quit. Also don’t do it for anyone but yourself, consider it a self investment.

Emmy:  My best advice would probably be to educate oneself about the impacts of animal products on your health and the environment. Watch a few documentaries, read some articles and get familiar with your own reasons for changing your eating habits. Also, I’ve got lots of inspiration from vegan Instagram accounts as well. And lastly, not to be to hard on oneself. As I don’t think everyone has to be vegan for the world to become a better place, as long as everyone raises their awareness of issues related to animal products, and cut down their consumption of these.

Naomi:  My advice would be that any change is going to help, especially for the environment, even cutting down slowly, for instance, having one less meal with meat in a week and slowly making it less and less. Or have a list of companies that test on animals so you know that what you’re buying is cruelty free! Also just experiment with different food especially alternatives like milk, I had to try loads until I found one that I actually like!

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So, we hope this discussion of the vegan world has answered a few questions and maybe even made you consider your life-style choices. We, for one, can’t wait to tuck into one of our delicious vegan friendly flavours!
For more information about veganism visit: https://www.vegansociety.com/

Row For The Ocean Q&A!

Ros, Kirsty, Laura and Kate, are the founders of Row For The Ocean, a 3000 mile row of the Atlantic; to raise awareness of the ocean plastic crisis. The girls are working with the charity Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) to establish a Plastic Free Exeter by 2020. Working with SAS and also the charity’s Ocean Schools Programme, the girls want to also inspire and educate the younger community about the future and the environment. 

We were lucky enough to speak with these four very amazing ladies, who told us a little more about their mission! Keep reading to find out more about Row For The Ocean…

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Some of the girls with our popcorn!

Q&A with Row For The Ocean!

Why did the four of you amazing ladies decide to take on this challenge?

I think we see it as the ultimate challenge, once we have stepped on to the boat there is no escaping until we reach the other side. Since starting the campaign, we have also been driven to succeed by the amazing support we have received and the want to create real change in Exeter by reducing single-use plastics.

What was the planning process behind the idea of the row and when was the idea first thought up?

Ros had the idea, she sent us through the link in January 2017 and it took us 6 months to decide to sign up after realising we couldn’t think of a reason not to (apparently the fear of dying at sea isn’t enough to put us off!).  For the past 9 months we’ve spoken to as many people that have gone before us as possible to make sure we’re ready for the race start, it’s a big learning curve, but absolutely worth it! 

What do you hope to achieve through your 3,000-mile row?

 Our aim is simple, we see Exeter as a Plastic Free Coastline Community by 2020; and us winning the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge, to ensure we get the most coverage possible for Surfers Against Sewage and the fight against single-use plastics.  We want to raise £60,000 for SAS to go towards their Ocean Schools programme.

 Where will you be launching and finishing the row?

 The row starts in La Gomera in the Canaries and finishes in the lovely English Harbour in Antigua.

 Prior to this challenge how long had you each been rowing?

Kirsty, Ros and Kate had all rowed for 5-7 years before takin on the challenge.  Laura , whilst not rowing in fine boats (think Olympics), has rowed around GB in 2016!

How long do you think it will take to complete the row?

We’re aiming for under 40 days however we’ll be taking food for up to 60! It really depends on the weather we get so we’re hoping for winds – in the right direction of course!

What does your weekly training schedule look like?

3 sessions on the rowing machine and 2 weights sessions is our base training schedule, however some weeks we’ll also add other cardio workouts in to up the workload and mix it up a bit.  Training for 12 months can become monotonous so it’s good to make sure you’re enjoying it!

Have you had to train in a specific way for this challenge?

 We’ve recently been lucky enough to get Silver Olympic rower Guin Batten on board who rowed across the North Atlantic a few years ago.  She’s currently helping us to build up our endurance on the rowing machine so that we’re ready for the 2 hour on 2 hour off shift patterns.  James Parkes from Exeter Chiefs Strength and Conditioning team has also put together our weights programme – it’ll be important to have core strength when getting bashed from all angles by the Atlantic.

Can you tell us a little about the boat that will be taking you across the Atlantic?

We’ll be taking an R45 Ocean Rowing boat built by Rannoch Adventure in Essex.  She’s already crossed the Atlantic twice and weathered a Force 10 storm so we know she’s up to the task! She’s 8.5 x 2m in size and has two cabins at either end that can sleep two people; she also self rights after capsizing (great!).

 How much ‘stuff’ can you take with you on this adventure? What will your packing lists look like?

As we’re aiming to be the fastest women in the race we’re going to be very careful with how much we take.  The race specifies the essential items and equipment we’ll need – Watermaker for fresh water, first aid kit, lots of food, jetboil, suncream, wet weather clothing and about a hundred other items including an anchor (not that useful for the Atlantic which is 5000m deep in places but the risk of hitting the reefs in Antigua makes it a necessity).

What are the biggest dangers/ scariest situations that could occur?

Capsize is always a danger, whilst we’ll be tied to the boat at all times the moments we enter and leave the cabins with the doors open are the riskiest.  If we capsize with a door open the boat won’t self right which has caused crews to need rescuing in the past! Help can also be quite far away so we’ve had to train ourselves to know what to do in an emergency – including getting the liferaft out as a last resort.

 What are you most looking forward to during your adventure?

The simplicity of life will be fantastic – no distractions, no mobile phones, just you and the boat.  There will also be amazing sunsets, wildlife, and views hardly anyone else have ever seen!

What will you miss the most?

 We like to answer this one with family and friends excluded – of course we will miss them!  A good shower will be missed,  a coffee in bed,  and also just some alone time – whilst we’re all good friends a 8.5x2m boat doesn’t allow more much personal space!

 Will supporters be able to track your movements somehow?

The race is tracked by Yellow Brick – they have an app that updates every 4hours so you can see how we’re getting on.  I always say it’s good to leave it a day so it looks like we’re moving faster!

 What are the different ways supporters can get involved?

We will be launching a Crowdfunder campaign for some of the final items of equipment on the 19th May 2018 so we want as many people as possible to support and spread the word! We’ve also got the opportunity for businesses to become a Row for the Ocean partner, here they’re able to get their logo on the boat and receive coverage through our social media, the press and the race media! You can visit www.rowfortheocean.co.uk for more details or send us an email at rowfortheocean@gmail.com.