Ninety Per Cent Vegan

“So what’s the other ten per cent?” asked Cousin’s Husband, “Do you eat sausages?”
I don’t think it was a serious question, and certainly he was quickly shushed by others in the room, but given the attitudes of some vegans, my other ten per cent might just as well be a love of rare steak.
It’s not though, it’s vegetarian. The odd bit of dairy, usually in the form of a hidden ingredient, still creeps into my meals. Then there are the eggs from hens kept as pets. I don’t have them very often, but they are there. A lot of my food is made from the same ingredients it always was, but used in different ways. I never used to eat butter beans in salads, or tofu in sandwiches. I didn’t have tahini spread on toast in the morning topped with fresh fruit, or with tomatoes, capers and olives. But the tahini, the tomatoes, the olives, the fresh fruit, the tofu, the butter beans were all staples.
The capers? I used to love capers, then suddenly, inexplicably, went off them. I haven’t eaten them in years. Then a neighbour brought some to our Equaliteas event, and since then I have eaten loads of them.
As I have said before, I don’t know that I shall ever be fully vegan. It is more of a lifestyle than vegetarianism. To reach nirvana all animal products including wool, leather and honey need to be excised. I still have quite a bit of honey inherited from Aunt. As I don’t eat it often, that statement will probably be true for some time to come. Equally most of my footwear is leather and unlikely to wear out overnight. Despite the best efforts of the moths (London has suffered a moth invasion this year) I still have some woollen jumpers. Now I am wondering about silk. I guess that might be on the forbidden list too. Maybe I am only eighty or eighty-five per cent vegan. Continue reading

A Hit With a Pig

Closing the car door, I realised I was giving off a fairly strong smell of pig. It's not a bad smell, but it is fairly distinctive; earthy with an overtone of muddy straw. Fortunately Vicki was probably similarly aromatic. Anyway, she didn't seem to mind, and after all it was she who had organised our trip to Edgar's Mission and a spot of pig cuddling.

Not only cuddlesome pigs, but a gorgeous dog called Ruby who was sent to be shot because she was a failure as a farm dog, hopeless at herding stock, and far keener to interact with humans.

Do you feel a bit of a theme developing here? Last week Gem/Jem, now Ruby. Though the first would be my childhood's black Labrador Tessa, the gun dog who wouldn't retrieve, whose days were at one point similarly numbered.

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A Sad and Tragic Mess

I picked up a free paper on the way home from work last night. The headlines screamed that a child in Halstead, Essex had been savaged to death by a dog. The report described how a neighbour had seen a white dog sitting quietly, its face covered in blood moments after a child’s wild and distressed cries had startled the neighbourhood. The report went on to mention the number of attacks by dogs reported in recent weeks. The underlying message, intentional or otherwise, was that dogs were dangerous. There were also hints that it might have been a breed on the banned dogs list. A list that has been shown over and over again to be nonsense.

Later I watched the news on the television. The same story was covered. The attack sounded horrific, the stuff of nightmares. I was wondering how this could have occurred, then the camera panned back to show a windowless shed, the place the dog had been kept.

Now don’t get me wrong. A child attacked by a dog is not something I take lightly, and this child was killed. It couldn’t be worse. But if someone acquires a dog and then keeps it shut in a shed, it is not likely to acquire the skills that will make it a happy socialised animal. Something is likely to go badly wrong. Continue reading

Wet Weather Boating

The rain is streaming down the windows. We got afloat in a window of pale blue skies and light winds. MasterB walked to das Boot on his harness, having a good sniff around, and deciding that as the cows were in the field he preferred to got on board earlier rather than later. Which was a bit of a shame I thought, as no one was around, no sign of any feral cats, the rain we had been driving through had stopped, and it was a lovely evening. Maybe tomorrow. But despite the fact that I forgot to bring an adequate supply of his favourite biscuits, he has been and is being a little star.

To those of you who have heard and believed that cats are aloof, standoffish, users, it may stretch your belief when I say he’s a great little companion. But he is. I sometimes (make that always) feel guilty about bringing him to das Boot where he has a mch more restricted life, but his being here makes it so very much better. Right now he’s alternately dozing and listening to the sounds of the birds beyond the boat. I have the curtains open, and when a bird flies past his attention is caught. Continue reading

Stand Up for Chickens

In a week where the headlines have been dominated by another terrorist attack, this time in Brussels, I am grateful to The Guardian for making chickens their main front page story today.

I believe the way a society treats its animals and its weaker, more vulnerable members says a great deal about it. It’s been a long slow haul to improve the living conditions of animals raised for food. Just four years ago battery hens were outlawed but that hasn’t seen the end of eggs from caged birds, and determined poultry farmers more concerned about profit than the welfare of the sentient creatures in their care have made the free range label somewhat suspect.

However, it did seem that we were slowly moving in the right direction, maybe at times if only because research showed meat from humanely reared animals is more nutritious.

So today’s headline was a shock:

Farm animal welfare codes to be scrapped

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