Sasieology

Aim to achieve your dreams

Photo Challenge: Descent

Posted by Sas on October 31, 2014

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Sorry, I couldn’t resist. There were lots of photos that I could have used for this week’s challenge, Descent (click here to see other entries). However, me being me, of course I chose a skiing shot. It’s obvious, isn’t it?

I took this shot whilst I was skiing down the mountain behind my mum and dad in Pila, Italy in January this year. We’re currently planning our ski trip for January 2015 and I can’t wait!

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Plant-Based Pause No 43: Be Warned – You Will Get Addicted

Posted by Sas on October 28, 2014

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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When I meet other plant-based vegetarians, there’s often one thing we share in our stories. We all start with ‘At first, I just wanted to cut down on the amount of animal protein I was eating…’. I’ve heard it so many times. I’ve said it myself so many times. When I first watched Planeat and had my eyes opened to the truth that humans are not meant to eat animals, all I intended to due was avoid animal products most of the time. I figured that I could still eat cheese, eggs and milk when I was out and about with family and friends. Five weeks later, my parents came to visit me and we went out for dinner. I chose pizza from the menu, loaded with cows’ cheese, and about five minutes later made the decision that I never wanted to eat dairy again. I felt so ill, I couldn’t believe that I used to eat that stuff all the time.

Since the pizza incident, I have become more and more addicted to living plant-based. Every day I’m looking for ways that I can improve my diet and health and be more environmentally conscious. I search out new websites, read books, sign up to mailing lists and try as many new recipes as I have time for. I can’t get enough.

If a plant-based lifestyle came in a packet or a tin, this would have to be written on the side:

WARNING: Contents will probably cause long-term health benefits such as reduced illness, more energy and weight loss. Prolonged use can result in addiction.

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Learning to Scythe at Scythe Cymru

Posted by Sas on October 27, 2014

DSC_0927As I’ve written about before, I regularly volunteer at Plasnewydd Community Garden in Cardiff. My interest in the garden initially was to learn how to grow vegetables, but I’ve gained so much more from the experience. I’ve learnt about growing food and plants, composting, I’ve made new friends and got to meet lots of people from my neighbourhood. A few weeks ago, me and two other volunteers from the garden braved the drizzle and  headed over to West Wales for a scything workshop. Scythes are making a comeback in modern gardening and farming, and are a clean, environmentally friendly method of cutting long grass that also give you a free workout. After years of wrestling with an unco-operative diesel lawnmower, we recently bought two scythes for cutting the grass in the community garden. And, after a couple of attempts where I think I in particular looked more like a baddie from a bad horror movie, we thought we’d better learn how to do it properly from the professionals.

Scythe Cymru offer, amongst lots of other activities, courses on scything. You can also buy scythes and accessories from them. As soon as we arrived, we knew we were somewhere special. We were greeted by two goats before Philip, our teacher for the day, led us into the barn. This is where he explained to us the basics of putting our scythe together, how to sharpen our scythes and, most importantly, how to be safe.

Once we were all set up, we headed outside to practice our scything technique. I soon learnt where I had been going wrong in the community garden, and with Phil’s expert guidance we were ready to head out into the field and cut some real grass. I must admit, if I had to genuinely do this as a job, the sight of a large field filled with knee high grass would be more than a little daunting. However, having a go and scything a tiny section of that field was fun and taught me a lot that I can take back to the community garden. Plus, when I looked behind me at the area I’d just cut, I was overcome with a sense of pride.

Our afternoon was spent back in the barn where we learnt all about peening. In order to keep your scythe in good working order, you have to make sure that you flatten out the blade at regular intervals. Although I generally have the attention span of a 3 year old child, there are certain tasks that I can really focus on and this is one of them. Peening my scythe blade took me back to when I worked as a ski technician and I would edge and wax hundreds of skis by hand. I was in my element.

Come next summer, our lawn at Plasnewydd Garden will be expertly scythed and looking neat and tidy. Failing that, we might just have to buy a sheep.

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Eat Well: Live Well Expo 2014

Posted by Sas on October 26, 2014

OK, I’ve got something to tell you all.

Don’t worry, it’s nothing bad. If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you may have noticed that I’ve not been as active on it this year. That’s because I’ve been sooooo busy, I’ve even pushed my own definitions of what the word busy means. At the beginning of March I enrolled on a course that began four months of intense physical and mental study, exam papers (haven’t had to deal with them since I left sixth form in 1998!), what seemed like endless coursework and very little time to sleep. I’m very proud to say, though, that all that hard work was worth it because at the end of June I became a fully qualified personal trainer! If you’d have known me six years ago, you’d have thought I had more chance of becoming an astronaut or brain surgeon in my thirties than working in the fitness industry.

Since qualifying, I’ve kept myself just as busy working three jobs whilst I transition between my current full-time role and hopefully working for myself one day. Hence the reason sasieology hasn’t been posting as frequently. You’ll probably also notice some changes in my blog, because now not only am I obsessed about living plant-based and travelling, I’m also obsessed about fitness as well. I’m learning more and more every day, and I love it.

On Saturday, I took myself along to the Eat Well: Live Well Expo right here in Cardiff. I enjoyed the day so much and came away with so many great ideas for my blog and my business, and I want to share with you what I learnt about the amazing products, services and people that I met during the day. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see all the events because I had to dash off to one of my paid jobs (the story of my life at the moment!), but here’s what I did manage to catch. PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERA

Tara Hammett actually told me about the event, so I have to say a big thank you to her. She put some lucky volunteers through their paces for one of her 12 minute workouts, and having witnessed first hand the sweat pouring off them at the end of it I can testify that they really do work. I also got to try one of Tara’s famous chocolate sprouts. They may sound strange, but don’t knock it until you try it because they are delicious. Check out her website for info about the chocolate sprouts, workouts and lots more tips and tricks to stay in shape.

Having recently started adding vegan protein powder to my diet, I was excited to discover that Marvellous make their own right here in Wales with hemp and pea protein. I’ve started using it alongside Sun Warrior on days when I’m training and I already feel more energised. As a rule I advise people to stay away from protein powders, especially animal proteins, but Marvellous is 100% organic, gluten free and vegan, nothing like the synthetic chemicals I see people guzzling at the gym. They specialise in other superfood powders too, and you can order straight from their website.

DSC_0941Juicing is something that I’ve wanted to get into for ages, but I’ve not been able to make it work for me so far. Until I discovered the Natural Juice Junkie that is. If you have any questions about juicing, juicers, what to juice, when to juice, how to fit juicing into your life or how to make it work for you, this is the guy to ask. During a fantastic, informative and entertaining presentation, Neil told us his personal story, how he came to completely change his life through juicing and how he helps other people through their own journeys. I then harassed some of his team with lots of questions, and they were brilliant. They answered everything I asked, and encouraged me to download some free juicing recipes from their website. The Natural Juice Junkie is holding a 2 day masterclass in Swindon in November which I would recommend to anyone seriously considering incorporating juicing into their healthy diet. I’ve already had my juicer back out and been giving it another go, and I’ve found it so much easier with the great, simple recipes and advice Neil gave us.

If you’re still unsure about buying a juicer and venturing down the juicing path yourself, there are great companies out there that can deliver the juices straight to your door for you. Fresh Start offers such a service here in Cardiff and they deliver all over the UK. I tried two of their lovely juices on the day. Beat It is a comforting mix of apple, beetroot, carrot, lemon, mint and a kick of ginger. Super Survivor is a healthy green blend of apple, cucumber, kale, pineapple, watercress and lemon. They both tasted delicious, and I can’t wait to try more of the other juices that Fresh Start make.

I was happily surprised when I came across the Hero Health Room stand, because it’s the first time I’ve seen the DSC_0940term ‘Plant-Based’ actually written on anything in the UK. Luke and his team are committed to helping people live a healthier, happier, plant-based lifestyle. As you can imagine, I had lots to talk to them about and it was great to share plant-based experiences with people face to face.

I am a chocaholic! There, I said it. Even though I no longer eat dairy chocolate, I still treat myself to vegan and dark chocolate and when there is some on offer I can’t resist. Shirley’s Raw Chocolate is some of the best vegan, gluten free chocolate I have ever tasted, and believe me I have tried a lot of different brands. I was spoilt for choice with all the different flavours to choose from, but in the ended I went with the orange chocolate and it is to die for! You can find Shirley’s-Homemade Raw Chocolate on Facebook.

PENTAX DIGITAL CAMERALuckily I didn’t fill up on the chocolate, and I left enough room to try some of the great snack bars from Ernest Food Co. Filled with nuts, fruit, chia seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg, cocoa and puffed quinoa to add a satisfying crunch, their bars are totally natural with no added sugar, syrups or flavourings. I have officially found my new snack of choice for when I’m travelling/hiking/away from home in the middle of nowhere with no plant-based food around.

PROMO CODE ALERT! The lovely people at Ernest Food Co have given me a promo code to share with you guys so you too can experience the yumminess of their snack bars. Enter the code “ernestlove” when you order a carton of snack bars from their website and receive 20% off.

As well as chatting to all the amazing people I met, and trying all the free samples, I also had lunch from The Parsnipship, a long time favourite vegetarian caterer of mine. Some of the Boulders team were also there with the mobile climbing wall. I’ve been a member of Boulders for a few year, and as you know I love climbing, so it was great to see them. Anyway, I’ve got to go and try and get some sleep before I’m up at 5.30am for one of my jobs :)

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Travel theme: Numbers

Posted by Sas on October 25, 2014

Ailsa’s travel theme this week is Numbers (click here to see more entries). I’m not very good with numbers, I usually get them mixed up. However, I do occasionally take photos of numbers on my travels.

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A Little Reassurance on a Friday

Posted by Sas on October 24, 2014

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I saw this cartoon in the Metro today. It’s good to know that not all publications are too scared to print the truth.

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Plant-Based Pause No 42: Get Involved in Your Local Community

Posted by Sas on October 21, 2014

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘In the hopes of reaching the moon, men fail to see the flowers that blossom at their feet.’ – Albert Schweitzer

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As we already know by now, living plant-based is about much more than personal nutrition and health. The food that we choose to put in our mouths affects every other being on the planet. Since I chose to stop eating animal protein, so many other parts of my life have been affected as a result. I am constantly finding more ways that I can live more ethically and environmentally friendly. Which has led me to my very own doorstep.

Nowadays, not only do I shop local but I try to get involved with local activities as much as possible. The more we can look after ourselves from within our own communities, the less we have to rely on the Earth’s resources and the less of an impact we have on the planet.

I’m very lucky in the neighbourhood where I live. We have great local farmers’ markets, craft fairs, skills swaps workshops, groups and initiatives to improve the local area and opportunities to learn new skills from pottery to plumbing. We even have our own arts festival every year where the whole neighbourhood gets involved to showcase our local talent and share a fun-filled week of exhibitions, film showings and workshops.

My favourite local activity is the community garden where I volunteer. We have a few community gardens in the area, each with their own goals and visions, and ours is a great place to work alongside other volunteers, meet new people and learn about growing flowers and vegetables. As an added bonus, I get free fresh vegetables that I picked from the ground with my own hands (all the vegetables in the above photo came from the garden).

I know that I am fortunate. There are many more neighbourhoods out there that do not have these opportunities. That doesn’t mean you can’t start your own community activities and groups, though. Even something as small as a monthly book club can make a huge difference. I’d love to hear what activities you all have in your local communities. You might even give me some new ideas for my neighbourhood.

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Plant-Based Pause No 41: 4 Easy Steps Everyone Can Take

Posted by Sas on October 14, 2014

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘I don’t want to be running around barefoot, pushing my car like Barney Rubble. I don’t want to go back to the Stone Age. I just want to maintain what we have for a long time… for ever.’ – Cameron Diaz

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My dream would be for everyone on the planet to live plant-based. However, I am a realist and I know that is very unlikely to ever happen. There are a lot of people out there, though, that still strive to be more environmentally conscious even if they choose to continue consuming animals. The meat and dairy industries are a huge threat to our planet and our species, but there are other areas of your life where you can make positive changes. Here are four easy steps that everyone can take to help reduce our impact on Earth.

1. Carry reusable shopping bags with you wherever you go. It is estimated that UK shoppers go through 13,000 carrier bags in their lifetimes. That’s a whole sea of plastic you’re creating by using single-use bags.
2. Refill ink cartridges or donate them to charity. Over 65 million printer cartridges are sold each year in the UK alone, and it takes 3 pints of oil to produce just one of them.
3. When buying wood or paper products, look for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo which shows that the product comes from a responsibly managed forest.
4. Go paperless. Banks will now email your statements straight to your inbox. Not only does this save paper, it reduces clutter in your home and is a lot easier on the postman’s back.

Posted in Plant-Based Living | Tagged: , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Plant-Based Pause No 40: Take a Deep Breath

Posted by Sas on October 7, 2014

In November 2011, I made the decision to progress towards a plant-based diet and lifestyle. Since then, I have learnt so much about where our food comes from, and what it does to our bodies and the environment. Along the way, I have encountered many obstacles and challenges. I have also been asked lots of questions, most of them valid and a few off them more than a little odd. One of the aims of my blog is to chronicle my experiences as a plant-based traveller. So, hopefully these Plant-Based Pauses will provide a little more explanation and maybe answer some questions that my readers may still have.

‘You cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.’ – Indira Gandhi

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If you’ve been following this series of posts from the start of the year, by now you’re possibly living a plant-based lifestyle. Making ethically led, environmentally friendly decisions that impact humans and other beings as little as possible will be ‘normal’ to you. You might think it crazy that you ever ate meat and dairy, or you might be horrified by the amount of waste that you used to create.

You may also be feeling frustrated by other people’s actions. When I see people making the same mistakes that I used to I get angry and annoyed. I want to scream out loud and tell them that what they are doing is not only jeopardising their own health, but it is slowly killing the planet and all other beings on it. However, I also know that doing that is futile and I will only be accused of trying to convert everyone. So, instead I take a deep breath and remind myself that I once lived like them too. I take a deep breath and try to be patient. I take a deep breath and share my knowledge in a way that I hope is inoffensive. I take a deep breath and remember that we’re all still learning.

I take a deep breath every time I hear someone make a joke about how they ‘need’ meat.
I take a deep breath when people make wisecracks about my vegan food.
I take a deep breath when I see yet another colleague throw yet another disposable plastic cup in the rubbish bin.
I take a deep breath when I’m told it’s natural for us to eat animals.
I take a deep breath when omnivores tell me they don’t want to know how animals make it to their plate.
I take a deep breath when people ask me where I get protein from.

I’m sure I have a lot more deep breaths ahead of me. I also know we can make this world a better one, one deep breath at a time.

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Playing on the mountain in Austria

Posted by Sas on October 5, 2014

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As you know, it is one of my missions to try at least one new activity every year. I’m fortunate to say that I usually get through a few before winter comes around.

Sometimes you plan new activities months in advance. They’re dreams, items to tick off your bucketlist. You’ve read articles about them, heard accounts of experiences from other people and you can’t wait to try them for yourself.

DSC_0578And sometimes, new activities get thrust upon you by surprise. That’s what happened to me last week when I was in Austria visiting family. Muttereralm, just outside of the city of Innsbruck, is home to a 5km toboggan run in the winter. Ever efficient, the local Austrians couldn’t just let the track sit there all summer not being used, so they’ve turned it into a mountain carting track. My brother has three young children, and had been wanting to try out the carting with the eldest two for a while. However, the logistics of looking after three children between two adults meant that he hadn’t been able to. So, when I arrived, he asked me if I would come along and have a go too. I’d never heard of mountain carting, I had no idea what it was or what I was required to do, so of course I said yes straight away.

The carts, or buggies, are fairly basic, just a frame with three wheels, two brakes and a DSC_0678low seat. After some safety instruction from one of the team at the top of the mountain, we were off. I had my niece on my knee and my brother was in front of us with my nephew.

I’m not really an adrenaline junkie, but I have to say this experience was so much fun. I will warn you that it’s a bumpy ride, in fact I’m convinced that they dig out extra ruts in the track for the buggies because I’m sure the toboggan run in the winter is much smoother. My niece, holding on tight to the cross bar, was bouncing up and down on my knee as we bumped along the off-road path and negotiated hairpin turns. She was also laughing her head off all the way down, and I am so grateful that I got to share such an amazing and fun experience with her.

DSC_0889At only 10 euros each, I think mountain carting at Muttereralm is really good value for money. It works out about the same as catching the gondola back down the mountain.

Whilst I was in Austria, I also got to go rock climbing with my niece and nephew. Climbing is not a new activity for me, and pretty much everyone in our family has climbing experience, but we never get to do it together. Sharing a sunny afternoon together and having fun was a highlight of the trip for me. As an added bonus, my mum also joined in with the climbing. Climbing with my mum is another first for me, and I never thought I would get to say that I belayed my mum!

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