Sasieology

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Too Young to Wed: Photojournalist Stephanie Sinclair’s fight to end child marriage

Posted by Sas on November 21, 2014

Sas:

Please find 10 minutes in your day to watch this film. Child marriage is something that happens all over the world. I have lived in parts of Europe and heard stories of child brides just down the road. One day, the thought of marrying children off anywhere in the world will seem as archaic as it already does here in the UK and other western countries. We need to bring that day forward and end child marriage as soon as possible. I’ve always believed that education is the key to solving a lot of humanity’s problems. I’m lucky to have a father who believes I am entitled to the same education as my brother. We should pay that right forward to every young woman and girl in the world.

Originally posted on Thirdeyemom:

“Stephanie Sinclair has spent the last decade documenting some of the world’s most controversial subjects, from Yemen’s child brides to Texas’s polygamists. But her goal is simple: to record what is in front of her and pass as little judgement as possible”. Her beautiful photographs take us in and make us want to help change the tragic realities we are seeing. Her work also inspires hope that change is possible. 

In October, I had the honor of attending the ONE Women and Girls inaugural AYA Summit in Washington DC. The summit was an inspiring two days filled with some of the world’s leading speakers and do-gooders who advocate the rights of women and girls in the developing world.

On the first morning of the summit, I had the fortuitous opportunity to met a woman who has inspired me for years, award-wining photojournalist Stephanie Sinclair. Sinclair’s famous photo of Nujood Ali, who stunned the world in…

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Plant-Based Pause No 46: Plant-Based Travelling

Posted by Sas on November 18, 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.

‘Freedom is the right of all sentient beings.’ - Optimus Prime, Transformers

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I don’t think it’s a secret that I love to travel. I love exploring new places, especially those off the beaten path, and experiencing as much as I can in the time I have there. In my head I have a list of destinations that I still want to go to based on articles I’ve read, things I’ve seen on TV and stories that other people have told me. One thing that does annoy me when others are telling about countries they recommend is the phrase ‘But it would be no good for you because they eat a lot of meat’. As a plant-based vegetarian who is allergic to gluten, there may not always be the biggest selection of meals for me to eat, but I will always find something. And I usually find a lot more than people expect. Let me put it another way. I’m not a churchgoer. Therefore, when I visit somewhere new I don’t generally pay much attention to how many churches there are or where the nearest one is. However, if I were looking for a church I’m sure there would suddenly be lots.

Eating vegan food on the road can sometimes be difficult, and many times is interesting, but it is definitely possible. Here are my top four tips to help you on your travels:

1. Yes, it’s my number one tip for everything – BE PREPARED. Plan ahead and do your research before you travel. HappyDSC_0147 Cow is one of my favourite sites of all time. Simply enter the name of any major town or city in the world, and they will give you a list of vegetarian and vegan restaurants and shops in the area. The internet is such a valuable tool these days. I went on holiday to Spain when I was sixteen, before the internet was widely used, and I lived off chips and salad for a week. There are some really good vegan travel guides on the market now too.

2. Book self-catering accommodation. Not only is it generally cheaper, but it means you can have total control over what you eat. I travel on my own a lot, and I choose to stay in hostels whenever I can. For the most part they have great kitchen facilities when I can prepare plant-based food and chill out with a glass of wine after a long day exploring.

DSC_02033. Eat what you can. Unless you’re lucky to find a local vegetarian restaurant, you’re unlikely to have more than one or two options to choose from in restaurants. So, if that’s all that’s available to you then that’s what you should eat. You never know, you might even discover a new favourite food. Eating vegan has definitely made me less fussy.

4. Learn the word for ‘vegan’ in the local language of wherever you are travelling to. If you’re not very good with languages, google the word and write it on a scrap of paper or type it into your phone and carry it with you. Then, when you’re desperately trying to explain to a waiter what you can and can’t eat, you can whip it out and sit back and relax.

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Photo Challenge: Achievement

Posted by Sas on November 14, 2014

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It might not have been the New York City Marathon, but last year I completed my first 5k run. Even though I’m now a personal trainer, I still struggle with running. It’s more psychological than anything else. I have the attention span of a three year old, so getting me to stay on a treadmill or do any endurance training is a challenge. Although running 5k is not so difficult, training for the 5k was an achievement for me. I’m determined to keep going with my running, and I hope to one day be able to tell you all that I’ve completed my first 10k, half-marathon, who knows maybe even a marathon.

Click here to join in with this week’s photo challenge.

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All New “Nakd” Snack Bars From Natural Balance Foods! Gluten-Free, Vegan and made from 100% Whole Foods. Plus a Special Sample Offer for Vedged Out Readers.

Posted by Sas on November 14, 2014

Yippee – it’s great to see that some amazing British products are making in over the pond :)

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Plant-Based Pause No 45: Don’t Be Afraid of Where Your New Lifestyle Will Take You

Posted by Sas on November 11, 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.

‘My body will not be a tomb for other creatures.’ – da Vinci

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The lifestyle I live now is radically different to the one I was living before I committed to becoming a plant-based vegetarian, and certainly totally different to the one I thought I would be living. About 95% of my meals are now cooked from scratch at home, with fresh ingredients that I have bought locally. Every action I take, from choosing an item in a supermarket to throwing away plastic wrapping, is done with the question of how ethical and environmentally friendly I am being in the back of my mind. It’s a far cry from the days when I survived on whatever convenience food I could get wherever I was, and I produced over twice as much waste without a second thought. I feel ashamed of how I used to live. It feels like my eyes have been opened to the real world that we live in, and I want to help others see that too.

Although I was vegetarian, albeit an unhealthy one, for many years before I switched to plant-based, animal welfare wasn’t something I got involved in. I considered myself someone who cared about animals, which I realise now was hypocritical as I still ate dairy and eggs. I knew there were people out there who campaigned for animal rights, and although I didn’t always necessarily agree with their actions I always thought it was good that someone was doing something. Since becoming plant-based, animal welfare is something that has become more and more important to me. To be honest, I don’t think you can avoid it when you decide to stop eating animal protein. Things that I once accepted as fact now seem ridiculous. I read an article the other day written by a man who’s transitioning from omnivore to vegan, and one of his eye-opening moments was when he realised that cows only produce milk when they’re pregnant. That’s basic biology, so why do we believe that cows just pee milk for us to consume?

I’m still not at the stage where I’m actively campaigning for animals, although I’d definitely consider it in the future, but I now keep animal welfare in mind. I was horrified to learn that a lot of charities here in the UK waste thousands of pounds of our money on unnecessary animal testing. I’m not talking about testing that results in saving human lives here, this is a whole industry based around experiments that are never expected to get any useful results. This year, I have refused to donate money to any of these charities. Instead, I choose to support charities that don’t test on animals instead. Animal Aid produce a really helpful list of charities that do and do not experiment on animals, and you can also contact charities direct and ask them if you are not sure.

Who knows what kind of lifestyle I’ll be living this time next year, or in five years time. Maybe I’ll even be the one stood out in the street leafleting and educating others about animal welfare. I know one thing, though. Wherever this life takes me, I want to embrace it with open arms.

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Plant-Based Pause No 44: How to Survive the Winter

Posted by Sas on November 4, 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 ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.’ - Martin Luther King, Jr.

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I try to buy only local produce whenever possible. I’d say about 95% of the fresh food I buy at home is grown in the UK. Recently, for nutrition reasons I have started to add some imported foods such as fairtrade bananas and avocados, but I try to stick to my pledge as much as I realistically can. Here in the UK, that’s pretty easy in the summer. We have lots of fresh fruits growing such as apples, pears, strawberries, blueberries, rhubarb and raspberries. Vegetables are also not a problem. Potatoes, carrots, parsnips, broccoli, beetroot, spinach, kale and lots of other vegetables grow well in our damp, humid environment. When it gets to winter, though, eating seasonally can become a bit of a drag.

I’m sure this happens in a lot of places around the world, through different seasons. All of a sudden that once abundance of fresh food suddenly seems to dry up. Never fear, though, there are ways to survive your equivalent of a British winter. Make the most of the seasonal produce that you can find. If, like us, you see a lot of carrots during this time, search online for carrot recipes. Carrot soup is a personal favourite of mine during the long winter months. Local farmers’ markets are a great place to find out what is available locally at any time of year, and you can download seasonal food calendars for your area.

If you grow your own food, buy seeds that grow at different stages throughout the year. We may have long, cold, wet and sometimes snowy winters here in Wales, but we can also grow lettuce all year round. Dried fruits and vegetables are also a good fall back when the fresh alternatives aren’t available. If you’re crafty and creative like my aunty Christine, you can pickle and preserve produce in the summer and store it until needed. Or, if you’re like me and a little lazier than that, freeze berries to use in smoothies in the winter. Most berries will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.

I’ll admit, by the time it gets to April every year I am sick of the sight of carrots. But I’m still willing to keep eating them so I can enjoy fresh, local produce. Besides, when we do get round to the new summer season again, it makes it all the more exciting to see all that lush, tasty produce.

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Travel theme: Autumn

Posted by Sas on November 1, 2014

A very seasonal travel theme from Ailsa this week (click here to see other entries). As well as the usual falling leaves, autumnal colours and longer, colder nights, autumn in our neighbourhood also means it’s time for our annual local arts festival. I didn’t have time to take any photos of Made in Roath this year because I was too busy being a part of the festival, but here are some photos of last year’s activities.

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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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