Sasieology

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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.

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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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Travel theme: Bountiful

Posted by Sas on October 3, 2014

When I read that Ailsa’s travel theme this week is Bountiful, I immediately thought of our little community garden. OK, we may not be feeding the entire neighbourhood just yet, but we have seen some pretty good harvests for a previous piece of waste ground run by volunteers.

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

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Signs

Posted by Sas on October 3, 2014

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If you’ve read my blog before, you may have noticed that I have a habit of photographing signs. I’m obsessed with them. Every place I travel, I take pictures of signs. There’s something that just draws me to them, I love the bold colours and fonts. I’m fascinated by the fact that so much information and instruction can be boiled down to simple symbols and images that are quite often universally understood.

I took the photo above on a recent trip to Austria. I was walking to a local park with my nephew, nieces and their friends when the bright yellow and orange of the safety sign caught my attention. It stood out amongst the organic greens and browns of the surrounding alpine landscape, which I guess is what a sign is meant to do.

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

Posted in Photo Challenges, Places I've Been | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Plant-Based Pause No 39: Your Decisions Affect Every Other Being on the Planet

Posted by Sas on September 30, 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 maps of the world will have to be redrawn’ – Sir David King, UK science advisor

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I don’t have a problem with omnivores, I have a problem with ignorant omnivores. If you know where your food comes from and how it impacts the planet, and you’re still comfortable eating it, then go ahead. However, most people have no clue about the truth behind what’s on their plate and how it got there. I used to be guilty of this myself. Even when I was a regular vegetarian, I ate milk, eggs and cheese believing that I was genuinely hurting no-one through my actions. Now I know just how wrong I was. Every choice we make impacts the planet and other humans, and now is the time to end the ignorance.

This quote from Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth explains the issue far better than I ever could:

‘One reason climate change doesn’t consistently demand our attention can be illustrated by the classic story about an old science experiment involving a frog that jumps into a pot of boiling water and immediately jumps out again because it instantly recognises the danger. The same frog, finding itself in a pot of lukewarm water that is slowly brought to the boil, will simply stay in the water, in spite of the danger. Our collective ‘nervous system’ through which we recognise an impending danger to our survival is similar to the frog’s. If we experience a significant change in our circumstances gradually and slowly, we are capable of sitting and failing to recognise the seriousness of what is happening to us until it’s too late. Sometimes, like the frog, we only react to a sudden jolt, a dramatic and speedy change in our circumstances that sets off our alarm bells. ‘

A report by leading water scientists at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) found that about 20% of protein in human diets is animal-based. Unless that drops to 5% by 2050 there won’t be enough food to nourish the additional 2 billion people estimated to be alive by 2050. If America alone reduced their intake of meat by 10%, 100 million more people could be adequately fed by the land freed. Most of the grain grown in the world goes towards animal feed. Cows consume 10 times more food than they produce, and we only get a third of the food back from chickens that we put into them. If we all lived plant-based, we could free up enough land and return enough nutrients to the soil to end famine within a couple of generations.

Some people question ‘What’s the point?’. As a species, we easily get defeatist. The damage we have done to the planet seems so overwhelming that you can be forgiven for thinking maybe we have gone past the point of no return. History has shown us that we do have the ability to change, and the ability to make a difference. In 1987, 27 nations signed the Montreal Protocol, the first global environmental agreement to regulate CFCs. Since then, the levels of the most critical CFCs and related compounds have stabilised or declined. At the time, the thought of even stabilising the hole in the ozone layer seemed insurmountable. I can remember consumers looking at the new, strangely shaped light bulbs in the shops and stating that they would never catch on. People complained that they didn’t shed enough light, there was no possible way they could live under those conditions. Conventional incandescent light bulbs are now no longer sold in the UK. The same people who complained about the new, energy saving bulbs now use them without thinking. On the odd occasion that I walk into a room lit by an old bulb, the brightness is so uncomfortable I wonder how we didn’t all suffer from sight problems back then.

Thanks to the wonders of the modern world and the internet, help is just a click away. There are lots of resources to help you make simple changes and improve your carbon footprint. Chasing Ice is a good place to start.

As humans, we are privileged on this planet to have a certain amount of control. We have free will, the ability to make decisions and the ability to question. Don’t just give up this freedom by accepting what’s on your plate.

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Travel theme: Inviting

Posted by Sas on September 27, 2014

For her travel theme this week, Ailsa has asked us what we find inviting. For me, it’s:

Fresh snow…

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My favourite vegetarian restaurant…

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Ripe grapes, ready to pick…

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And a treehouse hidden in the forest…

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

 

 

 

Posted in Places I've Been | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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