Wednesday, 28 March 2007

Vegan Cat Food

I have been asked to look after someones cat for a while. I was wondering if anyone knew of any vegan cat food that you can buy in the shops. I don't fancy my 2 year old deciding to try cat food to see what it is like, as my eldest did with the food from our previous cat when she was a baby.
I know that there is cat food that you can make up yourself as I looked into that with my old cat and it did seem like a real effort. I was hoping that things had moved on now and there would be a product I would use that would be easy and vegan.

New Vegan Forum

Today I have created a vegan forum to run alongside the website .

At the moment it is looking very empty so I would appreciate it if you could go on and leave me a comment!

You can link to the forum from

Thanks in advance for any comments you put up there.

Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Review of the Site

I have kindly been given a review of Recipes for Vegans and this blog. If you would like to read it take a look here:

Easter is on its way

Easter will be soon upon us and the search for a nice vegan egg will start again soon.
I have already found some cheap eggs for the kids but decided that I wanted something more special for myself. I found this egg which I think looks delicious and would be a stunning treat for me despite the price:

Hotel Chocolate Vegan Products

I know that you can buy little simpsons and bang on the door eggs for children for only £1.99 in my local Sainsburys and they also do Green and Blacks eggs one of which I think was vegan.

Does anyone know of any other vegan easter eggs and whether they are nice or not.

Monday, 19 March 2007

Using up leftovers

After a houseful for mothers day yesterday I had lots of leftover vegetables and some gravy and wasn't sure what to do with it. I was going to heat them up together as a stew but I knew my kids wouldn't be that keen on it, as my youngest doesn't like carrots and neither of them are keen on cabbage etc. So in the end I reheated it and made it into soup and they really loved it.

Todays recipe on Recipes for Vegans is another way to use up leftovers - Herby Cabbage Stir fry. You can add all kinds of left over vegetables to the stir fry if you want to.

Monday, 12 March 2007

Cruel to force your child to be vegan?

I have had a lot of people say that is it cruel to subject my children to a vegan diet. I should let them experience all kinds of food and they should be able to choose what they want when they get older.
Of course I cannot do this. I'm sure any other vegan would agree that they couldn't get anywhere near meat let alone let their children eat it.
I also don't give my children much sugar as we all have a sugar intolerance. Interestingly, it is usually this that causes more people to react as far as their diet is concerned. It is amazing how many people think that we need sugar to be able to live.
I started a discussion on it, on a website and was amazed at how many people reacted to the fact that my children were missing out on nice treats!

Wednesday, 7 March 2007

The Story of Pork

Kill it, Cook it, Eat it

7th March 2007

We start by seeing the pigs who are going to be slaughtered. They look dirty and quite thin, not pink and chubby and cute. However unlike the other animals they look into the camera and we see their bright eyes looking at us with intelligence and questions.

The animals are treated calmly and quietly so they don’t injure each other or the people handling them says the vet, the butcher says a stressed animal makes tough meat. I wonder which of those reasons is the most important?

The pigs slaughtered are 20 weeks old. The farm we see has small cages full of pigs (and remember this is a farm with good conditions). Sometimes 3 pigs in a cage twice their size.
The pregnant pigs are put into the farrowing crates where they can’t turn round and risk squashing the piglets while they are giving birth. They are moved into a slightly larger crate for feeding. We never see them outside.

The pigs are stunned and then bleed in the same way as the lambs yesterday. When the first pig is being stunned you can see the noses of other pigs pushing through trying find out what is happening. When the pig is being bled the pig squeals and moves around and it really looks like it is still alive.

The pig then has its hair removed and once cleaned the insides are removed. It is then ready for butchering.

A member of the audience says the death is calmer than that of a wild animal so they can justify it, as the animal isn’t stressed.
Another person says that they would like to compare this slaughterhouse to one that is of less quality as this is one of the best in the country, but the vet is soon to point out that they are always monitored so they aren’t allowed to let the animals suffer.

At the start of the show Liz from the Vegetarian Society wants to see the reality of what happens, but isn’t interviewed after the process so we don’t get a vegetarians view at all.

Tonight’s program was very different in manner to the previous two I think. The slaughter seemed much shorter and we didn’t see any revolted faces of the audience. Afterwards they all seemed happy with the process and eating the meat.
The focus to me seemed to be on how much better the animals in this country are treated than those in Europe in a bid to get people to buy British meat, and certainly not giving a balanced unbiased view which is how the program was marketed.

Tuesday, 6 March 2007

The Story of Lamb

Kill it, Cook it, Eat it

6th March 2007

Our story begins with 8 month old lambs which we see happy in the field where they apparently live all their lives. They are produced from specially bred parents who have new lambs every year. We don’t learn at what age they leave their mothers or the conditions in which their parents are kept. The farmer says sometimes it is hard to put them to their death, but is consoled by the fact that she has produced a quality animal that will be enjoyed when it is eaten.

The lambs are given and electric shock with tongs producing an epileptic fit and making them unconscious. Then they have to be bled out quickly or else they could regain consciousness.

The lamb being knocked out seems less painful than that of the cow, maybe because it falls down and looks asleep and there isn’t the harshness of the shot. However they are moving around a lot when hung up and bleeding and that makes it seem like they are still feeling the pain even though we are assured this isn’t the case.

To me as soon as the head is gone and the skin starts to be removed then the lamb's no longer look like something that was living. It would be easy for me to disassociate the slab of meat with a real animal; I guess that’s what most people do.

The people butchering the animals ‘respected the carcass’ says one audience member.

One lady said she cried and couldn’t watch the whole process but thinks she will be eating meat in a few weeks time.

The male vegetarian in the audience who hasn’t eaten meat for 6 months after seeing a film about how they were treated, ate the meat saying he was happy that these lambs had a good life but wasn’t sure if he would eat it again.

Another member of the audience who eats lots of meat, wouldn’t touch his. The ordeal has made him feel ill because he is squeamish about seeing the blood but is unsure of how it will affect him in the future.

A farmer’s wife couldn’t watch the killing of the animals but says she loves meat, and as long as she doesn’t watch the animal being killed can eat it.

Again we have the view of the sole vegetarian asking people to think carefully about what they are eating.

Like yesterdays program the word ‘humane’ was used many times to describe how the animals were treated.Would we really do that to another human – stun them, cut them up and eat them? You would get locked up for doing that, so why do we let ourselves do it to animals?

Monday, 5 March 2007

The Story of Beef

Kill it, Cook it, Eat it

5th March 2007

The Story of Beef

When I started thinking about writing this review I was determined I was going to be as unbiased as possible, however the longer I watched the program for, the more I realised that it just wouldn’t be something I could do. The program to me seemed to imply that it was going to show the story from both sides, but it was certainly in the favour of the meat eater, concentrating on how the animal must have been in good conditions to be producing such healthy meat, but didn’t even mention the small cages they were kept in before they were killed.

It appears from the introduction of the program that people are demanding to know more about where their meat comes from and are buying more ‘quality’ and organic meats since the outbreaks of BSE and Bird Flu. So the program is here to prevent the slow down of the sales of meat but reassuring people it isn’t a problem.

We then look at the farm that the animals are reared at. The animals are supposedly kept in great conditions and fed good quality food before being slaughtered but the pens are crowded and we never see a picture of a cow in a field. The farmer says the calves are taken from their mothers at 6 months old, when the mother has apparently had enough of them anyway! We see a mother with calves in a pen that is barely twice their total size, so its no wonder she is desperate for some freedom.

We are now shown round the abattoir by a vet talking about the killing process like it is a lovely calm and pleasant experience for the cow.
When they bring the cows in we get very short shots of what they look like, we certainly don’t get to see into their eyes and get any evidence that the cow has a character.

The cow is slaughtered by stunning, cutting the throat to let it bleed out and then the head is removed. Soon the skin is taken off and the cow is cut up ready for the butcher. If you think I described that very quickly it is because it is how I saw it, maybe because I’m blocking out the horrible reality of what I saw. One minute the animal was alive and the next it was a steak, still warm.

From this point on the program seemed to move into a description of how the animal is checked for quality and how to see if the meat is from a healthy animal or not. The shots of the abattoir are stopped even though they are still working on another cow, as now they are looking at the animal as food we don’t want to make the connection.

The meat is cooked and then all the audience are shown eating it. They did show a few distressed audience members during the slaughter but didn’t show any during the serving up of the meat. Even the one vegetarian that was interviewed wasn’t shown after the meat was served. Although it was claimed that the audience was made up of vegetarians and meat eaters, I suspect she was the only veggie there.

The comments from the audience are very biased all taking about ‘craftsmanship and ‘quality’, and lots of people using the word ‘humane’. A lady who works in a fast food burger restaurant said ‘It was really quite nice the way they treated the cows and everything’.
To me it all looked like an advert for the meat marketing board, and certainly nothing near the unbiased view I was hoping for (but certainly not expecting). I hope the slaughter process made a few people look at animals in a different way, but I doubt this will be looked at in a positive way by many vegetarians.

Any comments you have would be really appreciated. I'm not sure if there is anything to be gained by me watching and reviewing the further two programs about lamb and chicken as I'm sure they will be more of the same, but let me know if you would like me to.

Kill it, Cook it, Eat it

I have had a message asking to write about this program in my blog. It is on at 10.30 for the next 3 nights on BBC3. I will certainly do my best to write about it on here and would be interested in any feedback anyone has about the program. Also I would be grateful if you could fill in anything I miss out!

Tonights program review on the BBC website says this:

Series presented by Richard Johnson which follows the journey of farm animals from the pasture to the plate. In a specially constructed studio built around a working abattoir, guests watch as the animals are brought in for killing. The animals are then cooked and eaten in the studio by the audience. In the first programme, three beef cattle are brought in for slaughter from a local farm. With scenes which some may find upsetting.