Sasieology

Aim to achieve your dreams

Photo Challenge: On Top

Posted by Sas on April 20, 2014

Views from on top:

On top of the steps down to Church Doors…

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On top of the cliffs in Anglesey…

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On top of the ropes, and more than slightly nervous, at Go Ape…

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On top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa…

View from the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa

And finally, one of my favourite places in the world, on top of the Grand Canyon…

Free in the Grand Canyon

Click here to see more entries from this week’s photo challenge.

 

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Plant-Based Pause No 15: One Small Step at a Time

Posted by Sas on April 15, 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.

‘Dyfal Donc I dyr y Garreg.’

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Understandably, when people first become aware of the dangers of a modern Western diet, and the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle, they panic. Once they’ve got over the shock that is. I understand because I felt exactly the same way. Cutting out all animal protein from my diet sounded like it was going to be really difficult, even with my vegetarian head start. And it would have been really difficult, if I’d tried to do it all at once. The above quote, which my Welsh tutor taught me, inspired me to make the change an easier way. It translates into English as ‘It’s a steady tapping that breaks the stone’, and is a great philosophy to live by. Just like the ant who couldn’t carry the whole leaf on his back, it’s easier to break things down and take them one step at a time. For me personally, my first step was to cut out cows’ milk. Then I got rid of cheese, found alternatives for eggs and so on until I was eating plant-based. For me, the conversion didn’t end there. In fact, I don’t think it will ever end. My most recent steps have included replacing my make-up and cosmetics with more ethical, plant-based alternatives and changing to biodegradable baby wipes (which by the way are so much better than normal baby wipes). Taking baby steps towards living healthier and more ethically has definitely worked for me. Not only is it easier to make the changes, I’m also less likely to revert to bad habits. I’m heading in the right direct, one tap of that stone at a time.

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Street Art in Reykjavik

Posted by Sas on April 9, 2014

Just as when I travel anywhere, I took lots of photos of the street art I saw in Reykjavik. I was really surprised at how much there is there, and the range in quality. From professional pieces on the sides of restaurants and bars that have obviously been commissioned, to the scrawlings of a teenager with a spray can, I’ve never seen so much graffiti in such a condensed area. Here are some of my favourites:

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Posted in Bits on the Side, Places I've Been | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Plant-Based Pause No 14: Eat More!

Posted by Sas on April 8, 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.

‘We live in a society where pizza gets to your house before the police.’ - Anonymous

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Wait a minute, didn’t I tell you a few months ago that you can lose weight by eating plant-based? And now I’m telling you to eat more? That’s right, by living plant-based you can have your cake (or carrot) and eat it. With the exception of nuts, plant-based food is generally much lower calorie density than animal-based food, so you can eat lots and lots of it. As for the nuts, unless you gorge on cashew nuts three meals a day or nuts particularly make you pile on the pounds, I wouldn’t worry about it. Since I switched to a plant-based diet, my portions have doubled. Eating more good food also prevents me from being tempted to eat unhealthy snacks.

Be prepared for some shocked looks from omnivores. I have male, rugby playing friends who are three times the size of me and eat a lunch half the size. I quite often get asked ‘How can you eat so much?’.

When eating out in non-vegan restaurants or with omnivore friends, remember to ask for bigger portions. Omnivores will give you the same size portion as them but meat free. Or, even worse, exactly the same plate only minus the meat. Be prepared for smaller portions by carrying some healthy snacks with you. When I attend special functions like weddings, my handbag usually contains lip gloss, safety pins, cashew nuts and vegan energy bars.

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Mini Plant-Based Pause: Hemp Milk

Posted by Sas on April 7, 2014

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A few weeks ago, as part of my plant-based series of posts, I told you about the problems with dairy and how you can replace it in your diet. As a follow-on to this, I had to tell you about my new favourite dairy milk alternative – hemp milk.

The story of me and non-dairy milk is a bit like Goldilocks and the 3 Bears. Each alternative I tried was too sweet, too difficult to use or I was allergic to it.

When I began my conversion to a plant-based diet, the first change I made was to start drinking soya milk. And I happily drank soya milk for two years. Unsweetened, it tasted nice enough to drink on it’s own, and could pretty much replace cows’ milk like-for-like in recipes. The only problem I had with soya milk is that, unless you heat it up first, it flocks when you add it to hot drinks. Apparently this is a common problem with non-dairy milks because of the temperature differences with plant-based foods. So why did I want to change my milk of choice if soya was working for me? Well, my brother was the first person to put a spanner in the works. Ever the one to find an argument against anything I choose to do in life, he loudly announced one day that his children weren’t allowed to drink soya milk because it contains too many ‘females hormones’. This wasn’t a complaint I’d heard about before, but in the interests of education (and beating my brother), I kept an open mind. Since then, the only reference I have come across about the side-effects of soya milk is in Rich Roll’s book ‘Finding Ultra’. He doesn’t drink soya milk either because it increases the levels of oestrogen in the body. Personally, I have never experienced any of the side-effects that Rich describes in his book. In fact, if anything my hormones have been a lot better balanced since I changed my diet. But, I thought I’d find an alternative and prove my critics wrong.

Unfortunately, due to my allergies, I’m unable to drink rice milk or oat milk. I did try rice milk once, but I thought it was way too sweet anyway.

Next up was almond milk. Obviously, this one is out for anyone who has problems with nuts. I’d heard people talking about almond milk and how tasty it is, and how it’s their treat of the month (almond milk is quite a bit more expensive than other milks). When I tried it for the first time, though, I have to say I wasn’t that impressed. I mean, it’s drinkable, but nothing amazing. And it flocks soooooo badly in hot drinks. It’s OK if you heat it separately, but when do I have time to do that at 6am when I’m half-asleep and trying to get ready for work? I tried to stick with the almond milk for a few weeks, but I was starting to think it would just be better to cut milk out of my diet altogether. Then came the revelation.

I’d heard of hemp milk mentioned in recipes and articles online, but never seen it in real life. Was is just a myth, a common typo or, even worse, one of those amazingly great vegan ingredients that isn’t available outside the US? Then, whilst shopping in my local health food store one day, I spotted a couple of blue Good Hemp cartons hiding on a bottom shelf. A quick read of the label, and I was more than impressed. Produced right here in the UK (yipee, it’s local too!), hemp is one of the fastest growing plants on earth and it captures a lot of CO2. It doesn’t need pesticides, and as well as being healthy it’s suitable for virtually everyone to drink. As if all that wouldn’t encourage me to use it anyway, it tastes lush (that’s Welsh for ‘good’) plus, and this is the best bit, IT DOESN’T FLOCK IN HOT DRINKS!!!!!! That’s right, you can use it exactly as you would dairy milk. So now, I walk straight past all the big displays of soya and almond milk in the shop and head straight for the blue cartons.

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Travel theme: Misty

Posted by Sas on April 6, 2014

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When I saw that Ailsa’s travel theme this week is Misty, I was immediately reminded of the day I arrived in San Francisco. The above photo is actually of the Golden Gate Bridge, believe it or not. I wouldn’t usually take a shot of cloud, but I thought it was funny to join in with all the other tourists who were excitedly having their picture taken in front of the almost completely white background.

Here are a few more misty shots from my travels:

Maid of the Mist at Niagara Falls…

... or getting soaked on the Maid of the Mist tour at Niagara Falls.

 

This is actually the clearest shot of Aran that I managed to capture on my trip to Bala last year…

 

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OK, I know this picture of the geysir park in Iceland is actually steam, not mist, but I thought it was still appropriate for the theme…

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Click here to see more entries from this week’s travel theme.

Posted in Places I've Been | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

Weekly Photo Challenge: Threshold

Posted by Sas on April 5, 2014

On a trip up the west coast of America in 2010, I was fortunate to travel with an amazing group of 12 other women (plus our male driver Casey, the only boy bless him). Even though we were only together for 8 days, we developed quite a few rituals. One was to take a group photo on the threshold of every National Park we entered. The pictures capture our excitement for what the rest of the day would bring, dreams grown out of the stories that Casey had told us and anticipation for the adventures that lay ahead.

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Click here to see more entries from this week’s Photo Challenge.

Posted in Photo Challenges | Tagged: , , , | 11 Comments »

Travelling Plant-based in Iceland

Posted by Sas on April 2, 2014

When travelling anywhere, my tip to sticking to your plant-based diet is BE PREPARED. If I know I’m going to be in transit, I always pack enough snacks to see me through until I’m confident I’ll find another meal.

DSC_0136Although I try not to eat processed food, I do make an exception when making travel meals due to convenience. For my Iceland trip I made some vegan cheese sandwiches (on gluten-free bread) along with some of my recently invented breakfast wraps (spinach and mushroom pudla, vegan soysage, vegan cheese and organic ketchup all bundled up in a gluten-free wrap). Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find the wraps that I usually buy, so this batch didn’t look so neat and tidy and were actually held together with two layers of clingfilm, but they’re still a great way to keep my calories up while I’m on the move. DSC_0137Chuck in some fresh fruit, cashew nuts, cereal bars and of course my ever present water bottle and I’m good to go.

As a plant-based traveller, I quite often have to make compromises. Eating the same meal five days in a row isn’t uncommon, and some of the plates I’ve been presented with can only loosely be described as a meal. In Reykjavik, I’m happy to say, I didn’t encounter any of these problems. There are three health food shops to choose from, all with a huge DSC_0147array of products, and one was only less than a minute walk from my hostel. Glo and Graenn Kostur are both restaurants that specialise in vegetarian and vegan food, and I didn’t have any problems getting soya milk in coffee shops.

All in all, Reykjavik has a culture where vegetarianism is accepted. Don’t get me wrong, alongside the vegetarian restaurants you’ll also find eateries serving puffin, whale and shark meat. But, for an island where they can only farm sheep, cows and horses, they more than cater for us plant-eaters.

Check out Happy Cow for a list of vegetarian and vegan-friendly stores and restaurants in Reykjavik, as well as lots of other places in the world.

 

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Plant-Based Pause No 13: Your Doctor Will Miss You

Posted by Sas on April 1, 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.

‘The Western diet guarantees that a half-a-million people in the U.S. each year will have the front half of their body divided, their heart exposed, and then veins taken from their leg and sewed on their heart… some people would call that extreme.’ - Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., MD

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From the moment I was born until I reached my thirties, I was ill pretty much most of the time. Doctors would prescribe every new lotion and potion that came out on the market in a fruitless attempt to ‘cure’ my eczema and allergies. I spent many evenings in pain as my mum was made to administer these various creams, ointments and treatments to me. Most of them made me feel like my skin was on fire, and usually only made me even itchier, therefore defying the point of trying to combat the eczema in the first place. Eczema isn’t only skin deep, either, as most doctors falsely think. When your skin becomes so infected that it dries up, splits open and bleeds constantly, it provides a direct route to your bloodstream. The ‘treatments’ I was receiving alone would give me blood poisoning and cause me to be sick, especially the ones that contained steroids, let alone all the other baddies in the atmosphere that I was at the mercy of. A skin reaction may look just that on the surface, but trust me when I say it makes your whole body feel ill.

In this endless stream of doctors visits and prescriptions, nobody thought to look at my diet. Even back then, during the 1980s, it was commonly known that dairy in particular is bad for people with skin problems. It would have also solved the puzzle as to why I had difficulties breathing, even though I passed all my asthma tests with flying colours. In fact, the doctors were so convinced that I was asthmatic ‘because asthma and eczema go together’ (their words not mine) that one GP added the illness to my notes in the end. I still get asked questions about my non-existent asthma to this day. Whenever I questioned whether it would be more logical to look at the cause of my problems, rather than just treat the symptoms, I got the stock answer that ‘you can’t avoid the things you’re allergic to, so there’s no point trying’. Granted, I was born with my allergies and nothing that my mother could have done before my birth would have changed that. However, since educating myself about plant-based living over the past couple of years I have improved my health and life hugely with just a few easy changes to my diet.

These days, visits to the doctor are few and far between for me. Interestingly, now that I’ve worked out for myself that plant-based living is the healthy way to go, they seem happy to add it to my notes and congratulate themselves on improving my symptoms. I still have the occasional allergic reaction, but for the main part they are atmospheric, of which I have little control. Plus, when I do have a reaction, my general good health allows me to pinpoint what the cause is a lot easier and deal with it. Apart from the odd tube of steroid cream for bad contact reactions and antihistamines to control atmospheric reactions, I’m happy to say the potions and lotions are all gone.

It’s not just my allergies that have improved either. Since converting to a plant-based lifestyle, I can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve been sick. Even when there’s one of those really persistent bugs going round the office that everyone catches, I very rarely fall victim to it and if I do it only lasts a couple of days because my body recovers so much quicker.

Unless you’re lucky to have a doctor who is particularly good looking, and I don’t, I can’t see why people would want to visit their GP more than they have to. And if your doctor does happen to be Brad Pitt/Jessica Biel (delete as appropriate) in a white jacket, then you’ll just have to find some other way to spend time with them.

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Travel theme: Statues

Posted by Sas on March 29, 2014

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When I read that Ailsa had chosen Statues as her travel theme this week, I was instantly reminded of these interesting folk that I met in Pisa, Italy a couple of years ago. They are somewhat overshadowed by the famous leaning tower, in whose shadow they live, but I think still impressive none the less.

Click here to see other entries from the travel theme.

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